MY TALL SHIPS RACE JOURNAL DAY 4 – (07/07/2015) – Sea sickness, Christmas songs, disturbed dinners, and killer whales disguised as ducks!


It was very wet on watch last night!  We were on the 8 pm to midnight watch and it never stopped raining once!  It is becoming a very bumpy ride with the ship rolling, pitching, swaying and heaving through the sea, doing about 11 knots at one point!  Not great for sea sick tummies and it doesn’t help that Lord Nelson seems to have a strange motion to her movement as well.  Before going on watch I got myself feeling really sea sick when I was below deck because of the motion of the ship.

Before watch we were called to brace the yards ready for the night so we would not have to do any major adjustments during the night.  At least this way the crew that are down below sleeping tonight will not have to have their sleep disturbed unnecessarily unless something goes wrong.  I was struggling with getting ready for watch when the “bing bong” went off with an announcement calling all crew to bracing stations.  I told hubby to go on ahead and I would catch him up.  I felt guilty that I could not be ready as quickly as the rest of the crew who were pulling on jackets and hats as they hurried through the ship and up the stairs.   I also felt that if hubby remained to help me then they would be short of two hands instead of just the one.  This is why I told him to go ahead, after all what could possibly go wrong, I am safe below deck and as soon as I am up top I would call on someone to help me if hubby was not in sight.

I was struggling to get my salopettes on, extra fleece, neck warmer, and thick sailing coat, all whilst the ship was heaving, pitching and rolling through the rough sea.  It is difficult enough if you are not disabled to manage this quickly.  It is even harder when you hurt all over, trying to balance with weight predominately on one leg while trying to pull salopettes over your bum, all while the floor is lurching this way and that under your feet.  I really need to find out how to sort out my balance issues, I knew they were bad, I just hadn’t realised how bad my balance had got.  It got a little hairy at times and a couple of times I went to stand up I had to fling myself back onto the bunk to prevent me ending up on the floor. The wheelchair also has a mind of its own and a couple of times, with brakes applied, it decided to take itself across the corridor, thank goodness it was still just within reach from my bunk where I was sat at the time!  I just had to be super careful of it hurtling its way back at me.  It is all part of the fun though.

It wasn’t quite as much fun when my head started spinning, my stomach started churning and I was starting to feel that if I did not get out in the fresh air pretty quick then the retching would start.  I hate being sick!   I find that by getting overheated is when the underlying symptoms of sea sickness really set in, and I was starting to get too hot with all my layers of clothing which are needed when you are up on deck outside.  I still had my big outer coat to go.  I decided, with coat on lap, that I would get myself up top and finish getting dressed where I could get some fresh air.

I headed towards the bow in the wheelchair.  Crutches are a definite no at the moment – way too dangerous.  A wheelchair is not much better as I have not quite mastered moving around on the ship in a swell.  So this was a difficult challenge in itself.  I never realised just how challenging it would be but I had no choice now other than to get up top on my own.  After all it was me that bravely sent hubby away saying “yeah sure I’m OK, I can manage, after all it is only a matter of getting my top layers on and heading up on a lift.”

After struggling forward along the corridor and rounding the corner to the lift.  This was a highly tricky manoeuvre in itself with the steep incline that the floor was at, plus the fact the incline was never in the same direction for more than a few seconds.  I managed to drag myself onto the platform of the lift.  The concentration taken to get along the corridor and onto the lift had taken my mind off feeling sick, however it all came hurtling back when I found that the lift was not working.  I had lowered the safety bar and operated the lever and absolutely nothing happened.  “Come on, come on, please work, you’ve got to work” were the thoughts in my head.  I was also looking up the stairs thinking if only I can get up there I will be alright.  I felt trapped.  I felt giddy.  I felt utterly useless and incapable.  Then I started to feel extremely sick.  As I keep saying I hate being sick and I kind of get panicked if I am going to be sick.  For a moment this panic set in before sanity returned.  I realised that sitting at the bottom of the stairs, panicking about the potential of being sick, would not stop it happening.  I needed to take action and I needed to do it now!

I lent round and lifted the safety bar, which is no mean feat when you hurt all over and find twisting difficult, it had been difficult to lower it and even harder to raise it, however I did it.  I struggled back round the tricky corner trying to time the release of the brakes with a forward facing slope so I was not struggling with trying to go uphill.  Brakes on when the slope ran down behind me, brakes off when it ran down in front of me.  Yep I was learning.  Learning to work the movement of the ship in my favour.  I felt empowered that I could do this.  There is a second lift on the ship, I just needed to get there along a floor that is constantly moving uncontrollably.  A floor that reminds me of being in the haunted house at a fairground.  You know the one.  The kind that you walk through with twisted mirrors, moving floors and things that pop out at you.  The twisted mirrors was me feeling giddy and sick, the moving floor I’ve already described, and the things that pop out at you were the curtains on the cabins!  To me the ship was rolling quite violently and I am convinced that hubby’s porthole would have been under the waves a few times.  Did I tell you I can’t look out of the porthole because it makes me feel sick seeing the water and waves rush by.

I managed to wheel myself aft, getting more and more in control of the wheelchair in a heavy sea and feeling immensely proud of myself that I was doing this on my own.  It was a very slow process but I was doing it.  I got onto the lift that goes up the stairs from the bar and found I could not use that lift either.  I found out afterwards that I needed to be on this lift backward not forwards otherwise the safety bar does not drop fully because of the handles on the wheelchair.  When the bar does not drop into place the lift will not work.  If I had not been in a panic to get out into the fresh air, I may even have seen the sign about going on the lift backwards.

I had a choice – sit there and sulk that my disability had got the better of me and just succumb to the sea sickness until someone came and found me, or take the only option that was left open to me.  I didn’t do the first lets put it that way, I was determined not to let negative thoughts enter my mind.  I did the second which was to take myself back down the corridor, through the haunted house, to my cabin where I ditched layers of clothing faster than I had got them on.  I dumped the layers on my wheelchair, no way I could hang them up the way I was feeling at this point.  And sunk onto my bunk.  Head down.  Eyes shut. Positive thoughts.  I needed to get rid of the sick feeling and this was the only way I knew how without getting out into the fresh air.  By the way it works!  I actually fell asleep – it is hardly surprising having used up about a days worth of spoons, plus some, just by going back and forth by wheelchair between the two lifts.  A distance that takes less than two seconds for someone without a disability to walk!

A while later hubby came to find me, helped me get all kitted up again and took me upstairs via the lift in the bar.  I was feeling quite exhausted from all the effort I had put in earlier and had no energy.  It was quite rough with a fair height between the peak and trough of the waves.  An amazing and exhilarating sight.  No land, just wave after wave, after wave.  The fury of the sea, only a minor temper in comparison to what it can be like in a storm.  Up on deck it was a bit daunting in the wheelchair because even with the brakes on I still felt like I was sliding across the deck.  I don’t feel safe, I don’t feel secure and I am seriously lacking any confidence.  Plus I am exhausted and in pain, I am not going to let it beat me though. I vowed I would throw myself into ship life.  My attitude being to just suck it up, after all, I knew when I came on board, in fact right back when I booked the trip last year, that it would be a challenge like no other and it is certainly proving to be that.

We went up on to the bridge for watch just before 8 pm.  B had allocated me starboard lookout to start off with.  However, I remained on starboard lookout, with others of my watch for company at times, for three hours.  I did not want to move, I felt secure sitting there kind of wedged in a neat little corner holding on to a bar that was in easy reach.   I was warm wrapped up snug in all my layers and dry considering it was raining.  I also didn’t want to move through fear of injuring myself or others by them helping me or me running into them if the ship were to pitch at the wrong time.

It was a weird watch and a great one too.  First we were singing the Twelve Days of Christmas orchestrated by our lovely H (a 16 year old on our watch).  We all had our own part to sing, mine was “eight maids a milking.”  It was fun, helped pass the time, and kept our morale up.  Well done H, great job you did on this watch with building morale.  Very weird though singing Christmas songs in July!

Around 10 pm I knocked something else off my bucket list (I think).  I spotted a whale like creature in the water off our starboard side.  Only its fin and part of its back.  It was certainly checking us out.  One of the permanent crew came, had a look, then went to check what it was in the wildlife book – he told us it was either a very large bottle nose dolphin or a young female killer whale.  I think she was the latter.  She stayed with us for about ten minutes before turning and going back the way we had come showing her fin and a good part of her back as she went.  Beautiful and amazing!  We all had a good laugh though when B thought she saw a duck with the whale (it was the whale’s fin she saw – so funny).  It was drizzling and visibility wasn’t the best!

Due to the rain and the cold I began to get very cold all in my left side despite all the extra layers I had on.  It is a symptom of my CRPS anyway – freezing cold burn in my foot and I also get it in my hand too – usually though if I don’t get somewhere warm this freezing cold seeps into the whole of my left side and worsens the longer I am in a cold environment.  I finished watch just after 11 pm, I would have been silly if I had remained on watch, so I was excused and relieved of starboard lookout.  Hubby helped me to get down below and I took another of my anti sickness tablets as soon as I got downstairs.  I also lifted myself some sick bags just in case.  I climbed out of my wet gear with lots of help from hubby who then hung it all up for me and I rolled into bed with a hot water bottle to warm me, and the lee cloth up to stop me rolling out of bed as the ship is still rolling and heaving – I certainly don’t want to be falling out of bed.  After hubby had sorted me he went back on watch for the last half hour.

I slept very well considering the movement of the ship had not eased any.  I woke probably about three times and dozed straight back off each time.

Today I have mess duty, which is straight after my 12:30 pm to 4 pm watch.


On watch we had a talk about the chart room with Leslie, which was very interesting – showing us the equipment, what it did, along with the charts we are using and where we are on the chart.  It is very fascinating and there is so much to take in.  We also helped write Nellie’s blog – starting to use her nickname out of affection for this beautiful vessel that never stops rolling!  Of course we included in the blog about the “duck” that was spotted!

July 7, 2015

07/07/15 LN872

Our resident chef prepared for our evening meal a delicious roast lamb dinner, which after a hard day of setting sails, the whole crew devoured quickly leaving the whole crew content and tired! This was ok for some but for others about to go on watch it was a wet and cold night but enjoyable as the watch rallied in singing Christmas songs and various Queen hits – you don’t have to be mad to sail on Nellie, but it helps! The watch was kept company by a female killer whale and a duck, spotted by watch leader B. The rest of the evening and night was uneventful leaving those not on watch able to get a good nights sleep in a rolly sea. Lee cloth and boards were definitely needed to start Day 4 fresh and full of the joys of life. The ships crew awoke off the west coast of Barra to a full breakfast and a very happy half hour, cleaning below decks. After some sail trimming it was time for an educational and expert display of knot tying by our bosun, who set a task of how to tie a  granny knot without taking your hands off the rope. It was then after being called to deck for bracing of the sails that lunch was served. We are currently writing this whilst on watch with a few seals and dolphins for company, which are seeing us safely up the westerly side of the Hebridies.

Forward Port watch – B, H, B, N, G, H, A and S who is stuck in the Galley!

Pour B, I think that duck will haunt you forever!

We are still on the western side of the Hebrides with ORP Iskra somewhere slightly behind and closer into land.  She is just out of sight.  In fact most things are just out of sight with the visibility being poor.  All we can see is a grey lumpy sea and a grey sky.  We have had a couple of dolphins follow us though and some seals come to say “hi.”


I had another go on the helm, this time using the Aston Martin covered seat, under the cover this leather seat has the crest of Aston Martin on it.  I decided to give the Aston Martin seat a go because I kept feeling sea sick at the lower level of my wheelchair.  It was far better, as I was able to see ahead and not just see the instruments.  It has also been a very cold watch, so cold I retreated right inside my clothing!  It really has been bitter, also I was feeling sleepy so it gave me a few moments of shut eye.


Off to mess duty I went at 4:30 pm.  I was dreading it because the seas were still rough and my wheelchair has a mind of its own on the constantly moving deck.  I managed to help set the tables in the upper mess which was more a game of stay still and pass the cutlery, then helped set the tables in the lower mess the same way.  I also assisted with handing out the plates of food by staying still and passing the plate down the line.  A good thing about mess duty is that you get early dinner in the upper mess so that you are available to help in the lower mess.

The winds started picking up through dinner and changed direction dramatically, causing a few sliding or should I say shooting plates!  One of the permanent crew came down and pointed at four people close to him “you, you, you and you, come with me now.”  No time for them to think or get dressed up in warm gear to go on deck, the urgency in the permanent crew’s voice was enough for them to shoot up from the table and go with him.  Within moments the “bing bong” went off calling all hands to bracing stations.  At the time you don’t know what is happening you just have to react by following instructions and orders. Again from the urgency in the tone of voice, plus what had happened moments before, and the fact that we were being called to bracing stations in the middle of dinner, everyone knew they just had to react fast and go.  So there was a flurry of activity with everyone getting up and leaving meals half finished on the tables.  It was amazing how quickly the lower deck emptied.  The crew were needed to brace the yards (that means turning the yards, which are the horizontal poles attached to the mast that the sails hang from) and take in sail.

I remained in the lower mess, I could not have gone out in those conditions without a coat on and it would have taken too long for me to get something on.  Plus the sea was very rough now and I knew activity on deck would be very frenetic.  All hands would be needed and fast, and there is no fast when trying to move around on a pitching deck in a wheelchair, no fast with me full stop without a moving deck.  Also for me to be up there I would have taken away one of the hands from doing something a little more important.  I know where I wanted all hands to be – and that was on deck pulling ropes, not moving me about and making sure I was alright.  At least down below I would be safe, I could still move around by myself – I really am getting the hang of using the movement of the ship to my advantage, and I could do something useful – clear away the plates for people I knew had definitely finished their meals, at least there would be less to clear up when everyone came back down.  Now this was a challenge – especially when the bucket for the dirty plates decided it would slide from one side of the ship to the other – lesson learnt I wedged it after taking a lot of effort to retrieve it.

I had to go and lie down after clearing the tables because I was feeling sick again.  There was no way I was going upstairs, so my bunk was the safest option.  As I wheeled along the corridor to our cabin I could feel myself getting worse.  I rounded the corner a little out of control because the ship just happened to lurch in that direction at the same time, hurtling into the side of my bunk just in time to grab a sick bag!  I won’t include the gory details, just that I felt much better afterwards – why is that?  How come you feel 10 times better after being sea sick!  One of life’s mysteries.

Just to be on the safe side I lay on my bunk with my eyes closed to keep the sick feeling at bay.  Also the bunk is a fixed object and not likely to role or move like the wheelchair does.

Hubby arrived down to the cabin a little while later with the medical purser, looking sickly and in pain.  He has only gone and pulled something in his stomach when the ship lurched whilst he was sweating on one of the ropes.  He is to remain in bed until the morning, so no midnight to 4 am watch for him tonight.  Also none for me either because I am on mess duty and when on mess duty you don’t do watches.

I am feeling a bit anxious about hubby’s injury – concerned in case it is something worse than just a pulled muscle and the implications of having something worse wrong with him.  Worried about our homeward journey and whether he will be fit enough for travel.  Plus if he is not fit for lifting, pulling or pushing we may have a problem getting home – poor soul I depend on him so much.  Also I am worried about it being something worse and him having to be airlifted off the ship.  Hopefully he will be alright in the morning and will only be a bit sore.  Even with these worries I had yet another beautiful night’s sleep with the lee cloth up and the rocking and rolling motion of the ship.

I have made the decision that I can no longer keep a journal as writing is making me feel very sick. Hopefully in a few days time when I find my sea legs and my head does not keep going woozy I will be able to pick up where I left off.  It is impossible to keep writing the journal lying down with my eyes half closed!


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