Well it's been a while since my last post and a lot has happened in a very short space of time!   Having finished my big sailing adventure almost exactly a year ago it was apparent to me that I couldn't go back to my life as it was before. But necessity meant that I had to, initially at least, with a mortgage to pay not to mention a still substantial overdraft from having a year without work but I knew that I had fundamentally changed and that my life would need to change to suit it. Without a specific plan - other than I wanted to be on or around boats and the water - I set a goal of having made big changes to my circumstance by Easter 2011. I confided in a fair few friends about this plan (to ensure against me getting cold feet and backing down) and then gradually made moves to seek first redundancy from my job (where I knew there were soon to be large cuts) and then to get my house on the market - at a time when let's face it, the housing market is not at its most buoyant!
The house went up for sail just before Christmas 2010, with a small amount of interest in early January and then nothing. I was offered the chance of voluntary redundancy in early March - which I agreed on, with a leaving date of end of June, which was a gamble with no interest in the house. But they say 'fortune favours the brave' and within 3 weeks I had an offer on the house which I accepted.  It was now all systems go - I just wasn't quite sure in which direction!

Lots of people asked me what I was going to do and to be honest I had no fixed plan.  I wanted to sail and also to race and with that in mind managed to get a place as crew on a J109 - Jambo - entering in the famous Fastnet Race in August of this year.  I also was invited back onto Starcross, the Swan 42 that I had helped sail from Jersey down to Porto, north Portugal last October, this time to sail back across the Atlantic from Bermuda to Azores at Easter. It was another great sailing experience, with all kinds of weather, on solo watches, as there were just 3 of us on board but one that I wouldn't have missed for the world. I made lots of great sailing contacts and also made a very close friend in crew-mate and 'Hot Scot', Simon!

So with nothing more than a rough plan to "do bits of sailing and sail training" across the summer and then " take myself off somewhere hot for the winter, to try and write a book about my last few years of madness', I set about selling the contents of my house and trying to whittle my worldy goods down to a few boxes - whatever would fit in my Mum's loft and garage!   About 6 weeks ago, a month before I was due to finish my job, I was contacted by Carey from North One TV. They had made the TV series on the last Clipper Race, had just won the contract from Clipper to make the next series, and offered me a job, on the strength of the filming I'd done as crew on the last race!  Needless to say I jumped at the chance and said "Yes!" I left my job on 30th June, moved out of my house that weekend and started with North One the following Monday.
My feet haven't really touched the ground since. I've had to get my head around a new company, new people, the concept of making a TV series, a very packed filming schedule before race start on 31st July not to mention getting to grips with filming kit that I've never used before! 
I've just spent 2 days filming on CV2 - one of the Clipper 68s, as the skipper and crew start their final sail training week. It was thrilling to be back on the yachts that I know so well, one of which was home for me for a year of my life.  CV8 - which was Hull & Humber in the last race is now the Dutch Boat - De Lage Landen - which I believe means "The Low Lands".  I was extremely pleased to note that although primarily blue, there is small amount of Orange branding near the stern of the boat.  A little bit of our "Umba" lives on!


So, 2 weeks today I'll be back onboard one of the Clipper 68s, setting off on Leg 1, first down to Madeira and then on to Rio. I remember only too well the huge sense of excitement, mingled with slight apprehension of the unknown that we all felt.  And I feel for the crew that are about to throw themselves into this great adventure.  This time I have the advantage of knowledge.  I know just how hard it's going to be for them to get into the swing of life onboard an ocean racing yacht; coping with going the "heads" when the boat is at a 40 degree angle and bouncing around erratically; hanging on in the galley - hanging on to protect yourself from injury and hanging on to the supper as you cook it, to stop it from flying across the galley before you can get it into bowls to feed the hungry crew; dealing with the new pattern of working and sleeping, every 3 or 4 hours and trying to figure out when you clean your teeth and when you "wet-wipe" - your daily hygiene routine; having the confidence to put your 5 weeks of sailing training into practice, and race this hugely powerful yacht in an actual race across an actual ocean.  Up to now it's all been talk, a dream, a mission. Suddenly now it's very real and this is the point when everyone has to find out if they are actually up to the challenge or not.  
My last few days back on the boats have reminded me of all of this; reminded me of just how basic the boats are; of the mountaineering skills you need just to be able to climb into your bunk; the lack of any kind of personal space there is; the unpleasantness of blocked and leaky heads (loos) and now I wonder if prior knowledge IS an advantage or not.  Am I mad to want to put myself back in this situation again, knowing all the challenges that it can produce? Also how am I going to cope with being on board and not being able to sail?  This time I must be an observer not a member of the crew.  I can't jump on the helm or get stuck in and organise the snake pit when I see it's a mess.  This time my challenge is to conquer the new filming equipment I've been given; to keep it intact and working through all conditions; to successfully capture the events, life and emotions of the new Clipper recruits; to follow them on their journey into the unknown and to end up with a series that shares all aspects of this incredible adventure, the dark times and the joy and to hopefully inspire another wave of individuals to break the shackles of everyday life and reach for the unreachable. 
As I set off on what appears to be Part 2 of my relationship with this crazy Round the World Yacht Race, I intend to resume the blog that has charted my personal journey from non-sailor to circumnavigator. I had thought that my work here was done but it seems that The Story Continues...