I haven’t blogged for a while, so I thought I would give you an update on my latest adventures. I’ve also decided that I will be posting one more Clipper Race blog, which will be more of a Q&A and should hopefully answer some of the many questions I’ve been asked over the last few months. Watch this space for that coming out soon. So, what have I been up to?…
South of France…
In August I returned from sailing across the North Atlantic. Finishing my 3 races, in 3rd, 3rd, and 1st place respectively. You can read all about the race in my previous Clipper Race blogs. On returning from my epic adventure, I spent two weeks in the South of France decompressing and exploring the beaches and waterways with my family. It was the perfect escape from what was quite an overwhelming feeling of returning to dry land. The Clipper Race journey coming to an end was tough and I will talk about that in my follow up Clipper Q & A blog .
The beaches in the South of France never disappoint, pristine sand and blissful Mediterranean sea is almost guaranteed in the summer. I highly recommend the Port Grimaud area, and Valras-Plage. If you’re ever in that area, don’t miss out on the inland waterways too – the Rivers make for a perfect swimming spot and there are many ‘safe’ spots which are called out on local maps.
Seeing the state of our oceans first hand, whilst racing from New York to the UK, I was quite saddened. Floating thousands of miles offshore were helium balloons and various bits of rubbish. It wasn’t just the occasional piece of rubbish, it was continuous. I was surprised and it has made me reflect more than ever, as to the sorry state of our wonderful blue planet.
On the race, we witnessed an amazing plethora of marine creatures, from beautiful Minke Whales and Dolphins through to the seemingly helpless Portuguese Men of War. I want to do more to protect our marine life.
I’ve managed to squeeze in a couple of beach cleans in the last few months. One with my family at Camber Sands where we spent one hour and collected over 4 bin liners full of trash. And and another beach clean, at Dungeness, which was part of the National Beach Clean campaign. There, with many other volunteers we collected an unimaginable amount of rubbish. On the weekend nationally 8,550kgs of rubbish was collected, and an astonishing 600 pieces of plastic were picked up for every 100 metres of beach that was cleaned. Want to get involved with beach cleans? – find out what you can do here.
With 6 million pieces of plastic entering the oceans every single day (and billions of pieces if you count micro plastics) something really does need to be done, beyond cleaning. The world must unite, and consumers must face up to this devastating issue.
At the end of September, I was pleased to get out on the water again. Sailing with a fabulous crew of mixed skills, we took a trip from Chatham and explored a part of the Thames Estuary. Dropping anchor in Stangate creek, we enjoyed a glorious sunrise and sunset, and let our hair down with a few glasses of wine and great company.
It was so good to just be back on a boat, feeling the salt on my skin and wind in my hair.
In October I was invited to join Team Tigress for a day of racing, on the Solent in the Hamble Winter Series. I’ve not done much inshore racing at all, as I’ve focussed mainly on offshore, so I thought I’d see what it was all about.
The boat (Olympus Tigress) was perfect. Fully stripped out and kitted out for optimal racing, a wave of excitement hit me when I arrived on the dock. The crew were very welcoming, and very competitive. They race almost every week, and were tough and spritely… the race was fast paced, and high octane. I loved it, that was despite the continuous drizzle and grey skies that we endured. It’s incredible how much fun you can have, even when you are soaked to the skin.
November – Thames Estuary Sailing
In November, I spent a weekend sailing in the Thames Estuary. This was a fairly placid weekend, there were a few inexperienced crew on-board, so we stayed very local. It was fun though nonetheless. I also got to make a short insta story for a work baking competition (to which I added a sailing twist), this earned me a few bonus points in the competition, so that was good!
The skipper for the weekend had recently divorced, and qualified as a cruising instructor. This was his first weekend in the role. I could see all his training running through his mind, he did well for his first time and took any feedback really well. It reminded me that we are all still learning – something I love about life. I like the saying ‘Remember you are not a victim of your circumstances, but a product of the choices you make’ – that is so true. It’s never too late for a career change, to learn something new or to change your path. An interesting thought, and one that opens your mind a bit.
January – Weekend Sail
This brings me to my most recent sailing adventure, which was at the end of January. A friend wanted to gain some experience as Skipper, and so invited me to join her as her 1st mate to support her first trip out. I gladly accepted and she recruited 4 other ladies to crew. We had an absolute blast aboard our charter (from Elite Sailing), despite it being minus temperatures. The sun shone, and the company was fabulous, there were plenty of seals popping by to say hello too, which is always great to see.
We ventured out to get a close up view of Red Sands Towers, off Whitstable, which is always a lovely little sail. After a perfect day on the water we spent the night at Queenborogh, testing out a micro pub. The weekend was a sterling success for my friend, who was looking to build her experience, and the crew loved it too, with everyone taking plenty of learning’s away from the weekend. Having never sailed with an all-female crew previously, and if I’m honest perhaps intentionally avoiding it previously, I would absolutely love to do it again… there were no ego’s or alpha men in sight… what a refreshing break!
Marine Biology – back to school…
I’ve always been fascinated with our oceans. I spent much of my 20’s diving all around the world, and as part of this my interest in corals, reefs, and marine species has always been huge. I have sometimes wished that I followed my heart and taken a degree in Marine Biology instead of Physical Geography, despite my degree including oceanography and coastal studies.
So I decided it was high time I did something about it! In December I started studying Marine Biology, enrolling on a Diploma course. I completed this and am now studying for my advanced diploma, which should take approx. 6 months. It’s been so interesting and has really grown my interest once again, in science and the study of our wonderful seas. In the future I’d love to get involved in some conservation projects, so having a more solid scientific background in the subject will be helpful, and will also help guide me in terms of the sort of project I’d like to volunteer with.
I hope the last six months have been good for you all, I’d love to hear what you’ve been up to, so leave me a comment below.