Over the centuries, a vast number of ships have plied their way from the Southern tip of Africa to Australia via the Southern Ocean. I am wondering how they did it - it is not a trip to be taken lightly.
Earlier this week, we were warned by our skipper Vicky that our boat Switzerland would be covered by an area of high winds. As a precaution, we changed our head sail to a storm jib, only flown in very tricky conditions.
As the winds grew, the boat began to rock and roll and the waves breaking on deck became ever more powerful. The crew was under strict instructions to attach our short safety lines to prevent us being washed across the deck.
I was just getting out of my bunk one evening when I heard the call 'All Hands on Deck' shouted from above. Quickly, several of the crew members who were getting up got into their foul weather clothing and climbed up the companionway onto the deck.
One of our Yankee sails which had been rolled up on the deck had been knocked sideways by the wind and the waves. It had filled with water, massively increasing it's weight, and begun to fall over the side of the boat. The crew who got there first succeeded in pulling it back in and managed to stuff it down a hatchway where fellow crew member Steen Yde and I were waiting to pull it to safety.
It was a frightening reminder how powerful the Southern Ocean can be. Every few days, rough areas of weather have passed over us and every time we go onto deck, we have had to secure our safety lines and take care to hang on - as well as empty the water from our boots after each watch.
We are now a few days from arriving in Albany in Australia. It looks like the Clipper Race fleet will have some stories to tell.
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