Finished

20140111-093008.jpgI’ve finished and as expected the Bass Straits we’re not going to make it an easy finish!

Following our delayed departure after the medi-vac of two of our crew (Crew Evacuation) and us having to return to Hobart for repairs and to collect additional crew we set off some 20 hours behind the rest of the fleet. Fortunately Clipper Race management were kind, allowing us to motor back to the point where the incident occurred and we had stopped racing. Ahead we had Bass Straits to cross again, our third crossing of them in a month they have given us a beating each time. The forecast did not look favourable!

The run down the side of Tasmania was without issue but as we approached the Straits the wind built and yet again it was 40 knots plus of wind and breaking seas. Whilst we weren’t slamming into them like in the Sydney Hobart they we equally as dangerous as the waves were beam on and could potentially cause a knock down, something we narrowly avoided on at least one occasion. However we managed to cross these without incident and in one piece with wind dropping a piece, lulling us into a false sense of security as it happens.

20140111-093053.jpgWe were about to be hit by a secondary low. These are low pressures that form on the back of the earlier low and hence follow it in quick succession and tend to be nastier than the initial one. The other thing it would bring was headwinds! So that meant the bone jarring slamming preceded by that little period of weightlessness as the yacht parts company with the top of the wave before body, boat and sea meet again in a bang that is enough to loosen your fillings. I will not miss the slamming. These conditions are potential boat breakers as PSP discovered when their running backstay deck fitting was pulled off the deck in one of the slams.

During the day the wind built and the sea state increased and during daylight we were able at least to see the waves and steer around them to control the slamming. At night this isn’t the case, sometimes the only warning you get is when you go weightless at which point you Hold Fast and wait for the inevitable crash at the bottom of the wave, it’s too late now to bear away down the back of the wave. So we continued into the night. As we progressed it became clear that we were being chased down by a large squall and thunderstorm. In the end the only tactic to avoid it was to tack back into and punch through it as fast as possible.

20140111-093029.jpgThis is not an experience I wish to repeat! At the point we tacked we were faced by a wall of sheer blackness punctuated only by the lightning bolts; then the rain hit! It was like being doused with a pressure washer and under the squall the wind was gusting at 70 knots. Visibility was nil. How I managed to hold the boat straight in all that I’ll never know; it transpired I was on the helm for this enjoyable piece of sailing. Then we were through, the wind abated and veered so the upwind conditions had gone. Relief!

A great thanks must go to the 3 crew from other boats that stepped in to help us with short numbers. Without them we would not have been able to complete this race.

  • Mike – Team Garmin
  • Jess – Qingdao
  • Brian – Qingdao

20140111-093505.jpgThe last couple of days sailing, for me a least, were very enjoyable. Either under kite or close reaching under white sails.

We finished at around 4 in the morning at the entrance to Moreton Bay and I had the pleasure of helming the boat across the line for my last finish.

Certainly the last race will be memorable, as will be each in there own way. However I have decided that I’ve crossed the Bass Straits enough for a lifetime – that is one seriously nasty piece of water!

The icing on the cake at the finish was that Dee was waiting for me after being apart for nearly 5 months!

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4 Comments to "Finished"

  1. Peter Wilcock says:

    Another great blog thank you Neil. I have really enjoyed reading them and will miss them! The conditions in your last race sound astonishing but just think of all the memories you have to maintain a warm glow for months ahead. Will you be able to get to the crew weekend Jax is organising and is hoping crew who have sailed will be able to share their experiences? MP are organising some adventures for us there as well. It is Feb 21-23.. Have a fantastic holiday with Dee. Peter.

    • Neil says:

      Hi Peter,

      Still a couple of blogs left to go to summarise everything etc.!

      Not seen the details about the MP weekend in Feb, only stuff about the Boat Show. Will see what I can do.

      Cheers,
      Neil

  2. John says:

    Great descriptive and informative blog again.

    Thanks for sharing your adventure and adding insight to the challenging and at times arduous journey.

    I bet it’s going to be hard getting back to “normal” again. In fact I reckon you’ve been living in the real world for the last few months and are returning to the so called real world. I guess your take on things will be a little bit different now.

    Your comments about the Sydney Hobart briefing, comparing your thoughts and experience with those of some for whom this was about to be a major undertaking, really put into sharp focus just what everyone on the Clipper Round the World has achieved.

    Derek’s accident must have been very unnerving for everyone, that’s a long time to be knocked out. You couldn’t make it up could you – nasty accident, engine fails, helicopter aborts!!!

    Look forward to your summary. I guess the Ocean Master qualifying on leg 2 was rewarding, but there must be so many highs and lows to reflect on.

    Thanks again, John

  3. Peter Wilcock says:

    More blogs is good news thanks Neil. The Feb weekend is in Devon. Not sure if it is Fri to Sun or just Sat & Sun. Hope you can make it. Peter.

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My Clipper 13-14 Adventure