MY TALL SHIPS RACE JOURNAL DAY 5 – (08/07/2015) – Sunshine, starfish, St Kilda, and falling over!


Hello readers, only yesterday I said I could no longer write my journal because of sea sickness, yet here I am with Day 5.  A miracle you may ask?  Sea sickness cured over night – I wish!  Just the age of modern technology, I found the voice recorder on my mobile phone, so the journal continues with no breaks.

After a very bumpy night, rolling all over the place, lee cloths up, I actually managed to have a reasonable sleep considering.  In fact from talking to others I think I had the best sleep on board!  I was woken at 6:45 am to go on mess duty.  With the boat still lurching this way and that, plus hubby not being able to get up out of bed to help me, I was a bit slow in getting ready – a lot slower than I would have liked but I did it.  I managed it.  I got myself sorted.  Not that I had to get dressed because I went to sleep in my clothes last night, it was far easier than trying to get ready for bed, especially with feeling so sick and with the ship rolling all over the place.  So off I went to the upper mess.

It is very, very roly today.  Very hard work getting about without a helping hand, especially down below because I was trying to be super quiet so I would not disturb those that were still sleeping.  I managed to get up the stairs on the lift and then the next challenge awaited me – how to get over the lumpy bumpy bits.  These are the slightly raised bulkheads that the heavy weather doors close onto to make a watertight seal.  They have small ramps against them on either side for wheelchair users when the doors are open however it is still quite difficult to manoeuvre over them, especially as I don’t have the upper body strength in my arms plus they are like narrow speed bumps in a road.  Luckily though a helping hand was just walking by as I reached the first one – it just happened to be Captain D.  He helped me over the lumpy bumpy bits between the top of the lift and the upper mess and galley.

In the upper mess I didn’t do an awful lot, I couldn’t.  I couldn’t control me, the wheelchair and everything else going on around me so really all I did was get an early breakfast.  Even eating that this morning was very much a challenge.  I was tucked in against a solid part of the ship, sideways on, i.e. facing forwards to the front of the ship, and still my wheelchair insisted on trying to tip over with the roll of the ship.  So there I was watching the roll of the ship, shoveling food into my mouth as the ship leveled out and before it rolled in the opposite direction.  Each time the ship rolled I had to grab on to the table to stop me toppling over plus make sure my plate and cutlery stayed on the table.  Even with the sticky mats tableware still went for a wonder!

I was a bit disappointed with not being able to help much this morning in the upper mess, however the circumstances are very much against me with swell of the sea.  It is quite exhausting eating your breakfast while clinging on to a table to stop the wheelchair toppling, those on the benches didn’t fare too well either!

After my breakfast I went downstairs to help out with mess on the lower deck.  I also briefly checked on hubby, who was still in bed.  The medical purser came through and told me that hubby could get up and not do too much, this is fair enough as long as he does as he is told!

I continued to help in the lower mess, with the ship heaving and tossing in the wallowing and choppy sea. I wish she would bob rather than toss herself around like a two year old having a tantrum!  All this pitching, yawing, heaving and rolling is very challenging.  It is making it very difficult to help with mess.  Very difficult to move around in the wheelchair, one minute you are level the next you could be hurtling across the deck as the ship rolls – I am certainly learning when to apply my brakes and when to take them off to my advantage.  It is also making it very difficult for everyone to eat their breakfast.  Nothing stays where it is put even with the little blue sticky mats.  Have you ever tried eating a meal whilst one hand is holding the plate still and the other is holding on to the table to stop you flying off a bench – you need a third hand to use the fork!  It sure is a rollercoaster ride today.  Challenging and fun!

As I was helping in the lower mess the “bing bong” went calling all hands to bracing stations.  Like last night, as I had no top coat on and the length of time it would take to get it on, I decided to stay down the stairs and clear the tables as everyone had finished their breakfast.  I was managing really quite well, having learnt my lesson from last night by making sure the bucket for dirty plates was wedged where it could not slide from one side of the ship to the other.  I was methodically working my way back along a table, lifting the dirty tableware, putting it in the bucket and wiping the table and mats as I went along.  I was suffering the early signs of seasickness, the woozy head feeling and the stomach churning however I felt in control; that was until I grabbed the table when the ship rolled and stuck my finger into some cold scrambled egg (I will never be able to touch cold scrambled egg again without going right back to this moment I am sure of it).  That was it, I knew if I did not get up into the fresh air quick I would have my second bout of seasickness.  I literally felt myself turn green!  So without coat, leaving the bucket and cloth where it was, and feeling very queasy, I sent myself up on the lift.  That is when the fun began!

I got to the top of the stairs on the lift alright, thinking I am getting on far better than yesterday – for a start the mess room’s lift was working.  I got off the lift and looked at the lumpy bumpy bits to get out the door, and thought to myself as I can’t seem to get over them forwards on my own I will try to do it backwards.  I can push with my good foot easier going backwards and that will give the propulsion I would need to go up and over the bump.  I think I would have been fine had there not been a sail sack in the corner.  It was tucked away right against the opposite wall and there seemed to be enough space for me to reverse into once over the bump.  What I did not realise was that my rear wheels would in fact hit it once over the bump.  This, coupled with misjudging the roll of the ship, I ended up tipping my wheelchair backwards and landing on my back.  I have hurt my hip, my elbow and I gently bumped my head.  The fall was more of a controlled fall than a splat kind of fall, so although it was scary to tip up backwards, and I did injure myself, I could of injured myself more had the wheelchair tipped a lot faster and I had gone down with more of a bang.  One of the young crew members – A – came to help me, at the same time as one of the other lads went to fetch hubby.  Between them they managed to roll me sideways off the fallen wheelchair, get me up, right the wheelchair, and sit me back down in it again.  This all happened very quickly, and in such a small space too.  It was so fast I can barely recall how they did it so quick with the ship still rolling from side to side.  I think we used the motion of the ship to our advantage in getting me up off the floor, that is about as much as I do remember because I took control of this part of my recovery! The fall has kind of shocked me a little bit, and knocked the confidence out of me that I have gained over the last five days but hey ho it will all come back, I am sure it will.

After I had been recovered back into my wheelchair I sat out on deck.  It makes it all sound super beautiful as if I was sunning myself on deck – that couldn’t be further from the truth.  I was sat under the little shelter near the door – the wind was howling, the ship was violently moving through the peaks and troughs of the waves and, guess what?  It was raining, no surprise there then.  I was watching the rest of the crew brace the sails until I got too cold, I didn’t have a top coat on, so got hubby to help me back inside.  The sea was still very roly and it was making hubby feel sick, due to this he helped me to the lift and went back outside while I got myself downstairs and to our cabin.  I took a couple of co-codamol and lay down.  I was hurting quite badly as I had got cold and all I wanted to do was curl up under the duvet and stay still.  The medical purser came to see me, and was happy that I was alright and managing my pain.  I went to bed for a couple of hours and this is where I stayed until lunch time when I decided I was not fit for lunch.  I couldn’t face it, I was feeling very green.  Every time I sat up I felt sick so I remained in my bed.  Hubby went and had a spot to eat even though he was not feeling too grand.  I have decided my anti-sickness tablets do not work and there is no point taking them any more.  Although I have only been sick the once, it happened almost straight after taking one of these tablets.  Hopefully hubby’s Stugeron is getting back into his system because he missed a couple of doses, and this will sort hubby’s seasickness out.  I will have to just manage my seasickness as and when.

I stayed in my bed for most of the afternoon and got a real good rest.  My foot had been very swollen when I got back down to my bunk earlier, so much so my big toe was bursting.  The pain has not been too bad up to now.  I thought it would have been a lot worse  In fact it has only been today that the pain has increased.  I think this is because of the stress of falling over and hurting myself.  Unfortunately I have been unable to complete my mess duty and I am disappointed about this but at the end of the day I think these things happen.  Everything seemed to conspire against me today – falling over, seasickness and the ship just constantly lurching this way and that.  Hubby lay beside me on my bunk this afternoon and we slept until about 3 pm.  All I have done today is sleep – no let’s think of this logically, I helped with mess duty so I did do something today and I am determined to do watch this evening which is the first dog watch between 4 pm and 6 pm.


The sun was actually shining when we got up the stairs, which is really good.  At least it is not raining.  The sun glistening all across the water like thousands of sequins thrown on the tide.  The blue of the sea and sky contrasting with the creamy white of the sails.  The real bonus being that the ship isn’t pitching as madly as it was earlier on in the day so it is a bit more comfortable.  Even the ropes have been taken off on the main deck between the two deck houses – maybe this shows we are in for a calmer stint of weather.  So that’s good.  People are smiling, people being sick and still smiling!  Told you sea sickness is weird!  Couple of the young girls on our watch have been poorly, one is quite bad and is in her bed with a terrible migraine.  Young B our watch leader, bless her, just keeps going, even with being green!  She takes a sick bag, discreetly does what she needs to do, throws it over the side and carries on.  She is a very inspirational young lady who is putting other’s needs before her own.  A brilliant young leader who I am sure will go far in life.


We had a bit of Abba on watch today, a bit of singing to cheer us on our way.  We also had starfishing on the back deck, which was quite funny,  Two of the girls were lay arms out, legs out on the back deck, one in front of the other, we were having a great craic after the stormy type weather and sea we have been having.  There was also a bit of sunbathing going on with people lay on the back bench – I don’t know if it was sunbathing or just the opportunity to lie down somewhere dry and take a rest – probably the latter as we are all tired after the last couple of days.  It is great to be having fun in the sun though.


We saw no wildlife today apart from a few birds, don’t know what sort they were, and hey we have land ahoy and can actually see St Kilda.  We are hoping to pass to the east of St Kilda tonight between midnight and 2 am depending on how fast the ship is going.  We are not going very fast at the moment as we are not after speed, we are wanting to be in a good position to be able to catch the wind when it turns so we can head across towards the Shetlands.  We are currently lying 13th in the Class A’s out of 15 (Race Positions).  ORP Iskra retired last night after blowing a couple of sails.  I think there is also another one that retired earlier on in the race, there may have been a third.  So we are doing well to still be going, especially as ORP Iskra is a naval vessel with trained sailors on board!

Land ahoy - St Kilda

Land ahoy – St Kilda

At the moment we are on the outside of the Hebrides – to the west of them, along with Morgenster and Europa, so there are at least three of us taking this route.  The rest of the fleet have gone all inside between the Hebrides and the mainland, through a strait called the Minches.  This is fine if the wind is blowing in the right direction but at the moment it is not so a lot of them are just bobbing around trying to make way.  This may well put us in a very good position to slip across the top of Scotland towards the Shetlands to make good on our time and get a better position in the race.  So fingers crossed our plan will work out.


I think we are both feeling a little bit happier, a little bit less exhausted, and a little bit less sea sick.  In fact dinner was absolutely delicious, it was like the first thing I have ever tasted in a long while rather than just a few hours.  It was something very basic too – a shepherds pie, followed by fruit for me and ironically roly poly pudding for hubby – which he had two lots of.  Oh and brussels sprouts, I had hubby’s portion as well, they were to die for, they were the best brussels sprouts I have ever tasted.

We went to bed early to relax and rest because we are on watch at 4 am.  It is going to get a bit pitchy and roly again and I think we have just set some more sails from the sound above my bunk.  It is supposed to be light winds however there is still a swell out their making Nellie start to be fairly roly again.  So the best place to be is to put our heads down, make sure we don’t get sea sick again and be ready for our watch at 4 am.  Fingers crossed we will get a little bit more sleep in the meantime.  I went to bed in my clothes last night and guess what I am doing again tonight – going to bed in my clothes again.  By the time I get changed tomorrow, it will be nearly three days I have had this set of clothes on, the only thing I have changed is underwear after washing each day.  I just have not been bothered with getting out clean outer clothes from the cupboard, especially with feeling so sea sick, it has been hard enough to wash in the little bathroom getting thrown about, without trying to fumble around in a cupboard for clean clothes.  Thank goodness for wipes as well, it means I have been able to freshen up sitting on my bunk in between times. I have lived and slept in my outer clothes, something I wouldn’t dream of doing at home.  Who cares though, we are at sea, worse things happen.  Fingers crossed they don’t happen to us!  Off to bed for now – enjoying the ride

One thing I will say before I sign off is that everyone is being nice, and have been checking on me, making sure I was alright after my fall.  It is amazing how quickly something like that gets around the vessel and likewise with hubby and his accident yesterday – people have been asking him how he is.

Things are also a lot calmer with regards to some of the permanent crew – they are not so abrupt as they were in the beginning but I guess that’s because they are learning us and we are learning them.  At the end of day we have to gel as a team and it takes time to do that.  We have been on board five days now, I think it is Wednesday, gosh I don’t know I am working on day numbers rather than actual days, so probably what another nine days to go.  Fingers crossed it is not going to be as rough as it has been for the last 24 to 36 hours.  At the end of the day it is still enjoyable, you have to laugh about these things.  It is an experience.  It is something that you don’t get to do every day.  It is something that I am thinking now I might not do again.  However I think I said the same after Sir Winston Churchill, and again after Prince William!  Yet here I am on another tall ship except this is a completely different experience trying to do this with a disability and a painful one at that.  It has also been kind of weird not seeing land for 24 to 36 hours, I think Monday was the last time we saw land, which would have been Northern Ireland.  It felt weird to see St Kilda on the horizon tonight – it was almost a case of woo hoo land, we can see land!  I don’t know if I would be up to fulfilling one of  my dreams of doing an Atlantic crossing on a tall ship at this time.  That would have to take some serious consideration.  Apart from the sea sickness and falling over and Gary hurting himself I think it is not too bad!  I do think I am still at the stage of love/hate, I am hoping as the days go on there will be more love for this voyage than hate.  I can’t believe we are on day five, how did that happen so quick yet so very slow.

Here’s what the Aft Starboard Watch had to say about the last 24 hours on Lord Nelson’s blog

July 8, 2015

08/07/15 LN872

Yesterday’s excitement started during dinner, but was nothing to do with the food (which was excellent as always – never upset the chef!!). There was a call on the tannoy for the permanent crew to go on deck to hand (take in) the Royals. Then R appeared in the lower mess, saying we need more help – you, you, you and you! So four brave souls abandoned their dinner and the rest of us congratulated ourselves on sitting in inaccessible places and continued eating our food . For a few minutes…

Then another call for all hands – so dinners were abandoned to help hand the spanker, royals and t’gallants, and to brace the yards. The gentle variable breezes of the day had suddenly changed to northerlies gusting to 30 knots. Naturally, it was also raining, and most of the crew had dashed up on deck without stopping to put on wet weather gear –  so an hour later there were a lot of cold, wet and tired bodies.

The sea was now a lot rougher, with Nellie rolling and pitching, which resulted in quite a few sick bags being sent over the side. Those not affected enjoyed the treacle sponge pudding, eaten only an hour after it should have been!

The strong wind and pitching and rolling continued through the night. The midnight to 4 am watch were called early, to help the previous watch to set the main staysail.

On the 12.30 to 4 pm watch today, the sun came out while we bumbled along under light winds, with the St Kilda islands in sight.

Aft Starboard: T, C, A, J, K, E, J, P, G



One thought on “MY TALL SHIPS RACE JOURNAL DAY 5 – (08/07/2015) – Sunshine, starfish, St Kilda, and falling over!

  1. Pingback: Reflection on a whole year of blogging | Spoons, Sailing, CRPS and Penguins

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