I was nervous and excited by the prospect of going to sea and commencing Clipper training.
A last minute dash to the 'chandlery' aka boat shop, for all things boat related. Some sailing gloves to protect my nursing hands. After the kind assistance of the gentlemen in the chandlery I was well equipped, including the gift of a piece of rope to practice my knots; I was yet to realise how valuable this would be.
As you journey with me you I welcome you to join in 'sailing language learning,' our first class 'sailing 101' commencing today. I will try to explain new words as We go so our understanding can grow togetjer. If you're stuck and not in possession of the essential 'Clipper training manual', I suggest looking on the wibberly wobberly web so you can really enjoy the stories.
The moment I was slightly apprehendive about arrived all too soon, tying knots!!! Trying (but I fear failing) to look cool, calm and collected we were put through our paces; after some patient and consistent coaching from my skipper and fellow crew some who could tie some of the knots in seconds! Well we were grouped in watches, (a sailing term for the team responsible for 'watching' for other ships, the weather, water and navigating.)
In the early rounds of our 'knot off's' a new trend catching clipper training by storm, who can knot quickest! Knotting under pressure and, leisure knotting are very different scenarios. As a novice knotter I was becoming comfortable with the leisurely knotting, but once the pressure was on all knotting capacity left me. I had a fleeting thought I am joining a yacht racing team and had a suspicion that my race skipper was not going to appreciate my leisurely sail knot ability as it dosnt really mark the standard of a winning team.
Not to be daunted on my journey to achieve something remarkable I mustered all my knotting abilities and was gently shown the 'bow line' I thought I had just tied was no more than a wiggled up piece of rope......
The 'bow line' one of the many knots that are absolutely essential for safe sailing, it's used to attach the lines (the ropes that hold the sails on the boat and are adjusted to enable the most effective performance of the sails.)
The crucial quality knotting ability became all too clear on about day 3, when our headsail - the smaller sail in front of the mast started flapping wildly in the wind as the lines had become disconnected. The sails are heavy and take a group of people to move them and hoist them and have heavy metal rings that the lines are attached to, as the sail is flailing, it is the moment you open your ears and listen carefully to the I at ructions your skipper is calling out to keep the boat and crew safe, a risky moment which would be worse in rough seas.
We were reminded of the importance of the 'check and chuck' checking the knots on the lines pre hoisting the sail and check the knots and chuck them over the side to prevent them catching when being hoisted.
As the week progressed many of the crew in our moments of steady sailing could be seen grabbing a length of rope and diligently practising a range of essential knots.
The knots session and flappy sail was not the first or only moment where I wondered if I could reach the high standards that were being expected from professional skippers who were used to working on super yachts.
Super yachts are not just yachts that people think are super, they are an elite class of their own that are kept in a near perfect state that are maintained daily with a lot of scrubbing, buffing and shining. When you see a gloriously shiny yacht in a picture its likely to be a super yacht, lovingly cared for by a dedicated crew. I was jokingly advised when we were cleaning the boat needed to 'not hospital clean, but super yacht clean'. This is the constant standard expected!
Sailing action, me guiding the crew to put up the spinnaker pole.
If you would like to see my knots and learning progressing then follow me on twitter @akabundlesofjoy