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Rope, gear…and chick peas!

It has been a bit of time since I posted last…it is Saturday, August 26th, and I’ve been in the UK since the 17th. After an overnight in London, I took the train down to Portsmouth/Gosport on Friday the 18th to join the boat in preparation for the race. Members of our crew have been working on the boat since August 8th or so, as we make the run up to race start a week from tomorrow, September 3rd. I’ll be moving my gear onto the boat tomorrow, but still staying in a hotel here in Portsmouth.


So what is involved in getting a 70’ race boat (and its crew ) ready for a year long, circumnavigation race? I’ll break this post into a couple of sections…my gear, getting the boat ready, and provisioning for our Leg 1 race to Punta del Este, Uruguay.


It is getting real, really fast, and we still have a lot to do.


 

45 Pounds

Excluding my sea bag, sleeping bag, boots, foul weather gear (follies and dry suit), the recommendation is to keep your personal gear to about 45 pounds…and honestly, that is plenty. The key question is ”what should one bring?” That is all dependent on the various legs of the race you may be experiencing…right now in Portsmouth it is a cool 61 degrees F and sunny…I’ve been running around all week in t-shirt and shorts…but in the southern ocean, it may be in the 40’s and extremely wet. Choose wisely!


Throughout my sailing life, I’ve always hated being wet and cold…so I tend to lean toward a lot of wool…hats, socks, gloves, sweaters…even my underwear and base layers are wool. It stays warm when wet, doesn’t reek after wearing it for days, and drys reasonably well, even in wet salt water. Everything I‘m wearing is wool, or fast drying ‘tech‘ gear. In the picture below, taken as I prepped for training, this is about what I ended up bringing. I am able to fit it into two collapsable sea bags (North Face duffels are amazing!), and everything is compressed into vacuum bags and dry bags. One little bag per week, so expect to wear those spankies and shirts for a week! So what is the most important gear in my bag? In no particular order: merino wool underwear/base layers, foul weather gear/dry suit (gotta stay warm!), diaper rash creme and wet wipes (need to keep the nether regions in top shape…wet and damp for days on end leads to…well, lets not contemplate that!), boots and wool socks…if you can’t tell, I’m all about warm and dry! Keeping cooler is easier for me, and I have shorts and dry shirts for that!


All in, my total gear weight (for items to be used on the boat and gear around town) is just around 100 pounds. Jean and Katie will be taking a bunch of stuff off my hands…for gear on the boat, I’m right at the guidance point. It will all store in 1 to 2 cubbies, and I can tell you, we’ve all been angsting as crew on whether we have too much, the right amount, or dread we wish we had an extra “fill in blank” item. We’ll be fine.



 

Prepping 70 Feet of Racing Beast

After every Clipper Race, the Clipper 70 race boats get a complete refit: new running rigging (the “ropes” on the boat), new standing rigging (the “hard stuff” holding the mast up), new sails etc. In the video below, you can see our boat “Qingdao” (aka “CV27“, its official name) just after its refit and being splashed into the harbor in Gosport (across from Portsmouth). This refit ensures the boats are at the safest level they can be for racing. The stresses and strains on the boat are tremendous and they get raced hard.



Even a fter the refit each of the race crews are working on the boats for almost a month, getting the finer details worked out and implementing any customizations we want. We fund these details from our ‘crew fund’, a pot of money each crew chips in, within guidelines that Clipper sets. We cannot do anything to the boats that alter the performance characteristics of the boat, nor can a wealthy sugar daddy come along and fund high-end equipment for example. We have been busy making soft shackles, new shelves, netting, engine/system checks, fueling, water tank sanitizing, rigging, marking and stowing our 8 new sails, etc….and we got a new “Bob” our lifelike (and very heavy!) man-over-board dummy that we use to practice our MOB drills. But the biggest job is our “vitaling” prep which I’ll talk about in the next section!



 

Chickpeas

They say armies travel on their stomachs, and I guess the same can be said of sailing teams. To feed a crew of 20 for up to 40 days at sea is a massive effort. Rob Kerr, a Kiwi and fellow round-the-worlder volunteered to be our lead victualler. Rob has been working non-stop to get our menu for our Leg 1 race organized. We have a budget of approximately $5K for this leg…from the pictures below, you can see the scale of the purchases, the organization of the food into ”day bags”, and we store the food all over the boat: bins, bilges (under the floor boards), nav station, cubbies, and shelves! Each can is labeled with a Sharpie and the paper label stripped off (the dampness causes the labels to fall off and clog the bilge), plus we’ve taken bulk items like rice, pancake mix and pasta and broken it down into smaller bags. It took me two solid days to strip the labels off the cans, working with my mates Rob and Klas last weekend. Rob has done an amazing job on this herculean effort. We will be well fed…and we have no shortage of bean types, including chick peas!


Let me close for now…it is getting to be late afternoon in Portsmouth and I still have laundry to do. I’m settling in well, enjoying working with my team, and rallying with everyone to get the boats organized. The dock, with 11 boats is a beehive of activity as each boat preps. I leave the boat each night tired, happy, and thankful for this opportunity. The real test begins in a week and more crew will be joining next week.


As a quick update, we have collectively raised over $6K for UNICEF and the Michael J. Fox Foundation, so I thank all of you for your contributions. If you can ‘dig deep’, we can make a real contribution to these worthy causes over the next year as I strive to raise $40K…a ways to go, but the race hasn‘t yet started so I’m confident we can do it!


We’ll chat soon…thanks for reading!


Chris

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Guest
Nov 21, 2023
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

I have a lot of catching up to do! I am cheering for you, Chris and crew.


~Gloria

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Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

No Bad Weather ! Just Bad Gear! Have an awesome experience & great job in the fund raising & philanthropy! Hope more people can participate. Really great job testing & planning your gear to take! “When you sail for the first time, you have one of two experience. it becomes a one-time, bucket list thing you check off your list, or it becomes a part of your soul forever “. Looks like you are the later! Your Brother Kevin

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Guest
Aug 26, 2023
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

Thanks for the update Chris! I wonder if people lose a lot of weight during the race? All that physical activity and what not? And very interesting the removal of labels thing! Woulda never thought about it!

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Guest
Aug 26, 2023
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This is Eduardo btw :)

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