27. ‘‘Twas the night before Christmas..… ooops sorry! ‘‘Twas the night before Clipper”

                  “Twas the night before Clipper, when all through the house,

                                Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.”

……… which is not entirely accurate as the creature that was stirring was me for final pre-Clipper Level 2 training preps.


Phone is in it’s waterproof case. iPad likewise. Anti-snore devices (earplugs) packed, base layers, mid layers, thermal socks, waterproof socks, some spares etc etc etc. As I touched on previously I’m trying out “stuff” I will probably race with – a combination so far of Musto (gotta use that Clipper discount!), ISObar, SportsPursuit, and even ALDI kit.

I tried very hard not to take too much gear on Level 1, with some success, and now I’m looking at, and trying out, minimum packing, organising my kit and reducing weight. So this is the time to try out some of the waterproof kit bags I will be using on the race. I have purchased some Musto kit (other yachting suppliers are available 😉) but I have also shopped around and Aldi were selling merino wool base layers on line and in stores recently. I’ve got some thermal gloves for helming but otherwise I’m not bothering with gloves. I already feel much more comfortable handling sheets (ropes) particularly in the vicinity of winches, without them. I’ve not yet replaced my knife (not sure it’s quite up to the task) nor my sailing boots (fine for the first couple of training levels but NOT good enough for the 4 big ocean crossings) but my Ocean sleepware sleeping bag seems just the ticket.

Knots practiced (bowline, Round turn and two halve hitches, clove hitch, rolling hitch, reef knot, sheet bend, double sheet bend, admiralty stopper knot) and even the tugman’s hitch practiced on the aga kettle  substituting for a winch and the kettle spout doubling for the self-tailor! No expense spared!


Sail anatomy, points of sail, mainsail controls, headsail controls and safety all revised.

So, how am I feeling?

Nervous to be honest. I think there will always be a certain degree of excited trepidation. Heck, as I explained on Tuesday, I don’t even know if we are turning left or right out of Gosport when we start, nor for that matter who I will be sailing with. There is much to remember, or try to remember, and still much to learn. And I know it!

There is also a degree of comfort and familiarity as I return to a world I have long inhabited where left is port, right is starboard, beds are bunks, toilets are heads, kitchens are galleys, floors are decks, ceilings are deckheads, doors are hatches, stairs are ladders, speed is in knots not mph/kmph and perhaps more relevant to an RN readership, food is scran, salt is sea dust, waves are gophers, a mile is 2000 yards, your day is split into Middle, Morning, Forenoon, Afternoon, First Dog, Last Dog and First and “all night in” means …… no overnight watches.

Fitness (also see Blog 3: It’s All Really A Question of Balance, 21 May, and Blog 21: Somewhere a clock is ticking………, 11 Sep). Good news so far. 40 lengths of the swimming pool at lunch time yesterday, only missed one yoga session since Blog 21, still got elasticity in my band (so to speak!) and Trevor continues to enjoy the walking.

Weight (also see the penultimate paragraph of Blog 21: Somewhere a clock is ticking ………., 11 Sep). So far so good.  0.8lb UNDER the top secret target weight that I set myself to hit for the start of Level 2 training and a full 7lbs lighter for this blog (no. 27) than I was for Blog 21.


Weather forecast (also see Blog 22: Florence, Mangkhut and Helene ……., 17 Sep, and Blog 23: The weather theme continued ……..., 23 Sep). Storm Callum hits NW UK today with forecast wind speeds of 50+ knots and rough/very rough conditions in the SW approaches to the English Channel. Hurricane Michael is currently battering Florida. If Michael doesn’t blow itself out (which it might) then any remnants could be here towards the end of my Level 2. Right now it’s blowing quite hard up here in Staffordshire. Storm Callum is currently 100 miles west of Shannon, filling, and will be in sea area Faeroes by midnight tonight. There are gale warnings in force for every sea area (See Blog 23) around the UK except Thames and Dover and this morning sea area Wight is wind: southerly force 5 to 7, increasing gale 8 at times, sea state: moderate or rough, occasionally very rough, visibility: moderate or good. The longer range forecast is for Callum to blow through by Sunday, in fact Sunday looks much, much calmer. I hope not too calm.


Lets be honest, as regular readers will appreciate from Blog 9, and at the risk of labouring the point/tempting fate, if I don’t fall off the yacht it’s got to count as an improvement. “See” you at the end of next week!




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