MY TALL SHIPS RACE JOURNAL DAY 10 – (13/07/2015) – High pain, missed opportunities and reflections on modern day life.


I should have been on watch between 4 am and 8 am but due to sky high pain hubby thought it wise for me to remain in bed, take more painkillers and rest when he got up at 3:30 am.  He didn’t even wake me at 6 am as agreed.  I was a little miffed about this but I understand why he did it.  He knows that I am on the verge of burn out and my spoons are going overboard to become treasures of the sea.  He knows me better than I know myself sometimes, I get taken over by sheer determination that I fail to listen to what my body is telling me.  I didn’t sleep very well last night, the first night on board that I never slept.  I only got about four hours sleep and that was between 4 am and 8 am – ironically the hours that I should have been on my watch so maybe hubby was right to leave me where I was at 6 am.  I even slept through the 7:30 am wake up call! 

I am still exhausted and the pain is still high, so high that the movement of the ship hurts me.  It started last night on watch, worsened until about 3 am and has begun to improve in little stages since taking more Co-codamol at about 3:30 am.

Hubby banished me back to bed after breakfast whilst some more sail was set, including one that has now been renamed Mislav’s sail as it is his birthday today.

What did I miss on the 4 am to 8 am watch?  More rain – well I have come to expect nothing less.  The wind veering so we can now go in the right direction towards Alesund – yes, at long last.  An increase in speed from 1.5 knots to above 5 knots – we have gone supersonic!  And the best, which I am sad about about, a whale surfacing and blowing near to the ship.

Our estimated time of arrival at the finish line is now Tuesday at around 4 pm if the wind stays fair to us.  If this happens then we are on target to arrive into Alesund in the early hours of Wednesday morning.  That gives me three more watches at sea – today 6 pm to 8 pm, Tuesday 8 am to 12:30 pm and then again 8 pm to 12 midnight.  It will be a shame though to arrive into Alesund at night, I was so looking forward to seeing a little of Norway on our arrival, but we can’t control the wind or the sea, we literally have to go with the flow and with the way the wind blows.

It is so quiet down here with everyone on deck setting sails with just the slosh of the waves laping at the side of the ship.  I think this third dose of Co-codamol is kicking in, I am beginning to feel a little less painful.  I found out today that our lovely watch leader has been drying teabags to reuse.  Bless her.  Suitably told off and told to just say if she wanted a jasmine or mint tea, in fact she knows where they are and to help herself.


I went on deck to see the final part of the setting of Mislav’s sail.  Looks good and hubby was in the thick of of it all.  It is a bit of a special sail, not that it did much to increase our speed.

I have had a good rest this afternoon, I had lunch then slept for a couple of hours before going into the bar where I helped the bosun’s mate with a crossword puzzle, along with others that were there.

An announcement came over the loud speaker about our progress.  We are not going as fast as we would like to be due to the winds going lighter than what we need to keep going at a good speed.  We are about 130 nautical miles from Alesund and our updated estimated time of arrival to the finish line is 4 am on Wednesday 15th July, then there would be another 30 nautical miles to Alesund.  Captain Darren is going to see how we get on this evening and the decision may be made to retire.  I don’t know about the rest of the crew but I know I feel very deflated.  I don’t know what’s worse, retiring or coming last, however I do understand the reason behind it as there are still the assisted climbs to be done when we arrive, plus we want to be able to join in with the festivities in Alesund.  To boost our spirits a pod of Orca visited the starboard bow, by the time we got up to the deck we could only just see them out to the distance.

It’s 5 pm now – time to get ready for dinner and then for our watch between 6 pm and 8 pm.


Watch went very fast tonight and I think that was due to it not raining – hoorah!  H had the blindfold on tonight and there were a few high jinx.  I think it was a case that everyone was getting their own back.  Poor lad is very quiet, I think the whole experience of being blindfolded made him feel very insecure and vulnerable.

Spent an hour in the bar after watch drinking a drop of the old black stuff – Guinness. Some of the young ones were showing us card tricks and how to do them.  It was a good evening.  The only sad part about this evening is that people are now beginning to talk about journeys home, discussing flights and taxis.  I kind of get the feeling that the engines will be on either later tonight or tomorrow morning.  Time is running out on us.

I was sat on watch earlier thinking about the assisted climb and wondering how high I will be able to go.  I would love to get to the top but I think I would be happy to get up to the second Jacobs ladder.  I would be ecstatic to get out onto the second yard.  I can’t wait to go aloft, I just hope I can do more than get up to the first platform.

It’s kind of weird thinking that I have been at sea for eight days and solely under sail for the past seven.  The last land we saw was St Kilda and the Isle of Lewis – how many days ago that was I forget.  I think it will be strange to be back on solid ground.

I have always wanted to do something like this since my first voyage which was on Sir Winston Churchill. I never felt we were sailing enough on that voyage even though it was ten days long.  We were constantly stopping in ports and going ashore.  Don’t get me wrong I really enjoyed the experience and the islands we visited, I just wished we had done more time at sea.  Now I have.

My thoughts have been turning to home a lot today.  Wondering how Pup is.  If the house is alright.  And how my son has been getting on at his nan and granddad’s.  In this day of modern technology where contacting family is at your fingertips every minute of everyday it has been strange to be out of contact with the outside world for so long.  No news.  No catching up with people by phone. No Facebook or other social media.  No emails.  The last time I communicated with someone off the ship was just over a week ago!  Anything could have happened and we would be entirely oblivious to it.  Have I missed being out of contact with the outside world?  No I haven’t.  It has been great to be free from the trappings of the modern day, to switch off entirely, to have a blank mind and to be entirely focused on the here and now.  Focused on my minute piece of the planet consisting of the ship, the crew and as far as the eye can see, and no further.  The ship has become my home.  The crew my family.  The view to the horizon my world.  Anything outside this might as well be on another planet.  The only updates of the outside world have been about our position in the race and they have been few.  I feel it will be strange being overwhelmed by the hustle and bustle of everyday life again.  I have truly enjoyed the pleasure of switching off from the modern day world.  By the day after tomorrow we will have our little world expanded again and our feet will touch dry land.  Am I looking forward to it?  Yes in a way because I will be heading home to catch up with family and friends.  However in another way I am not.  I have enjoyed the simplicity of life on board, the routine (although it has been hard), the motion of the ship that has lulled me to sleep, even the sounds of the generator.  Most of all I have enjoyed being part of the only group of people as far as the eye can see, the solitude of not being able to see dry land, and having the opportunity to experience tall ship sailing again.

It has not been an easy voyage.  I thought moving around and controlling a manual wheelchair on solid ground was hard enough; try it at sea, at midnight, on a rolling ship whilst stood on watch then you’ll know what difficult is.  My wheelchair was perfect when I came on board, not a scratch, I have looked at it this evening and seen all the dinks and grazes on the hand rims of the wheels.  Each one will serve as a memory of this voyage.  It will seem odd to have the footplates back on the wheelchair on Thursday.  I ditched them on the first day, they were a hazard for emergency evacuation from the ship, they got in the way to much and reduced my turning circle in an already very limited space, plus I have been using my good foot to help propel, guide and sometimes stop my runaway wheelchair.  I have had to adapt and evolve in my new surroundings.  My wheelchair has been used as a seat for hubby in our berth when we have just been relaxing and chatting (better than him sitting on the bunk above), a footrest for me, storage for various objects such as clothes, waterbottles and sick bags, a coat rack, a leaning post (although not too good of one in a rolling sea as it tends to try and roll too) and a leg exerciser (whenever I am being pushed my legs run along too to keep the circulation going as instructed by my doctor).  I have even become confident in using my crutches on board, moving in time to the movement of the ship.  My confidence has grown, I am sure of it.  I feel more capable and I hope I can transpose that into everyday life back at home.  As hubby says though, the ship is set up to help a disabled person be as independent on board as much as possible, however the real world still has many, many barriers and obstacles to be overcome.

Well it is now 10 pm, I am on watch at 8 am, I had better get some sleep to prepare me for the day ahead.  When you are on watch at 8 am the day is very long and tiring because the next watch is 8 pm to midnight on the same day.  I expect by this time tomorrow evening we will be almost there by sail or motor, we will not know until the decision is made to retire and motor the rest of the way, if it is made.

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

July 14, 2015

13/07/15 LN782

After all the excitement of the dolphins and whales the excitement continued with a traditional Sunday dinner including Yorkshire Puddings! After dinner the Leadership @ Sea gang organised an inter watch quiz where we all got together to answer various questions leaving one team victorious (even if they did have some inside info from the permanent crew!) Sadly Gandalf didn’t come through for us Aft Porters as no bonus points were given for impersonations. Watches were again drizzly and no matter how many sunny songs we sang no sunshine made an appearance. Monday morning and we’re all up and ready to set sails as the wind has finally picked up (we may be last bt we’re still going) and with a special help from Mislav sail we are flying towards the finish line. Speaking of Mislav we had a special Smoko today as it’s his birthday – Happy Birthday Mislav, we’ll make the tea! Mr Sunshine has made an appearance today so we’re a happy crew finally heading in the right direction with the finish line not far off.

Aft Port – Gandalf, Mrs Doyle, Snow White, Dr Death, JR Ewing, Skipper, Mastermind  and Tigger


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