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Around the World with Catherine Nurrsaw

September 13, 2005

Greetings all!

And it will no doubt come as a relief to hear that my ego has returned to manageable proportions after a salutory stay in Holyhead, where nobody showed any signs of wanting to film, interview or follow me around. I did try offering my autograph to a few people, but they just looked at me suspiciously and muttered in Welsh. I'm now in Liverpool, however, where the 10 Clipper boats are all moored together and people come and peer at us and take photographs - my ego is showing dangerous signs of reinflating....

Anyway, getting to Holyhead from Glasgow was a bit of an epic. We did an all-day, hard-fought race between about 7 of the boats, reaching the finishing line just outside Holyhead harbour wall shortly before midnight. We'd been racing with the spinnaker up and had to drop it quite fast, before we got in to the harbour, and various things somehow went wrong, ending with a shredded spinnaker and a man overboard. Ray was crossing the deck to help pull in the spinnaker, somehow got caught up in the wrong side of the spinnaker sheet and was tossed up in the air and over the side. He's a big guy - over 6 foot tall - but he was right up in the air going over the rails. Fortunately our skipper, Craig, was helming and was absolutely fantastic - he got the Danbuoy with the flag and the light over to Ray in an instant, so that it landed right by him and we were able to get back to Ray very fast and get him back on board. To our huge relief he was fine - lost some skin on his hand to rope-burn, but otherwise absolutely OK. It was a very salutory experience for all of us - I think we are all going to be clipping on after dark and in any kind of wind, and in some ways it was almost a good thing to have happened, given that Ray was OK, since I think we will all be even more safety-conscious than before.

The next morning, one of the crew from another boat congratulated me - I couldn't work out why having a man overboard deserved congratulations, but it was because we'd won the race. I'd completely overlooked that in all the drama.

We ended up spending a fair amount of time in Holyhead, as the arrangements for taking our boat out of the water and cleaning and anti-fouling the bottom changed about five times. I ended up buying about 3 or 4 different tickets to get home for a visit, because the dates and places kept changing - ouch! not cheap. However, it was well worth it to have some more time at home with my family - and to sleep in my comfortable bed and have regular showers and good food - I can't imagine how I'll be feeling after 10 months on the boat!

I also got in a brief trip over to Dublin - my first time in Ireland, and I had a lovely time. I even got to see the last performance of Riverdance in Dublin - it seemed like the thing to do! Anyway, we finally sailed from Holyhead to Liverpool - sailing overnight (in fairly bouncy seas) as we had to be at Liverpool before 11am to meet someone who was supposed to be swinging our compass. Why he should want to do this I have no idea - some weird nautical fetish I suppose - but in any case his car (allegedly) broke down so he didn't get there and we had to wait until nearly 4pm to get into Liverpool docks. Still, we got in a little more race training, so it wasn't a bad thing.

Now we're feverishly trying to get the boat ready before the race on Sunday. Loads of rigging stuff to be done - ooh, I've been whipping and splicing and generally carrying on like nobody's business.

Must go now, as there's a long queue of people waiting to use 2 computers which have been set aside for the Clipper people to use, and they've started muttering and looking at their watches as I do my hunt-and-peck style of typing...

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