This is the first in a series of guest posts from some of my fellow 17-18 crewmates and the current 15-16 crew in which they tell us a little about themselves, their Clipper experiences so far, and pass on any hot tips! 15-16 crew will also be sharing the 3 things they wish they'd known before setting sail and their funniest moments onboard.
I’m Jess! A teacher of Music and English as a Foreign Language, and musician based in Shanghai, China originally from Frinton-on-Sea, UK. I have always been keen on sailing / water sports generally, courtesy of my membership to a youth organisation called the Sea Cadets. I was lucky enough to attend a unit which was literally minutes from my house, and we lived very close to the sea, so I was able to get a lot of boating in! This was all well and good until 2001, when I noticed something physically wrong, that had been ignored previously… I have S.U.F.E (An acronym for a hip condition, which I can never spell!!) Basically, the growing plate was slipping off my femur resulting in my leg being hard to walk on and my back changing shape. At the age of 12/13 I as told to give up all contact sports etc. I am not one for being told no, so when the opportunity came to get back on the water, I did so, but very gingerly. I was scared that I would hurt my leg.
I was sponsored by my local rotary club to sail with Jubilee Sailing Trust, again, a charity that enables both disabled and able-bodied sailors on-board one of their two tall-ship vessels all over the world! I joined in Hamburg, Germany and sailed into London (UNDER Tower Bridge!) This revitalised my sailing confidence, as I gradually re-learnt what I could and couldn’t do… and this is now why I am here.
Caitlin, asked me to write a guest blog about my Clipper Experience. Now, I am a “rare species” because it is not the first time that I have taken on the Clipper Experience. I first joined Clipper for the 2013/2014 race where I completed Leg 6 (Qingdao – San Francisco). I was a part of a competition held by the Sea Cadets to raise awareness of the charity, and as a reward, to sail the North Pacific. I was a sponsored crew member, and it was incredible. We took part in three training, practically back-to-back. Which, on reflection, was very tiring!! We went from complete novice, to a race sailing crew! Our training was in Gosport UK using the Clipper 68’s as the 70s were already racing. The first week, was very much based around getting to know the vessel, be safe crew, and be able to do all jobs on board. The second week included sea survival training as well as more sailing, racing technique, and how to get the best “out of the boat” and then the third week was more of the sailing, and including the use of the spinnakers.
The training isn’t just about what you need to know about the vessel, it also gives you a chance to “practice” what kit you are going to bring, or how to pack it. No word of a lie, on one of my training weeks – someone, brought a SUITCASE! – Tip: DO NOT EVER, EVER bring a suitcase!! I found that I had two kit bags for the race… one was my clothing, and the other was my sleeping bag/foulies/boots. You will need to get used to packing light… absolutely NO luxuries! You will get used to wet-wipe-showers!!
In terms of the leg that I completed – it was just incredible. I was onboard CV27 (Then named Team Garmin) and we were a very small crew, only 12 of us! I was one of two leggers that joined for Leg 6. We set sail from Qingdao, took part in the “Parade of Sail” (which is where all vessels complete a set route, motor sailing, mainly for colours / promo shots etc.) then, we all made an attempt to start the race. It was called within minutes because of the lack of wind, and it was decided that we should motor to the coast of Japan, by which time the wind would fill in and we would be able to get sailing!
The race itself was great fun, full of adventure, and experiences that I will never forget. Seeing nothing for miles, but being in great company! I won’t go into the nasty details that you don’t need to know about sea sickness or injury…. But, yes. WHAT A RACE. When I got to San Francisco, I was extremely happy, but also very sad that I was at the end of my experience…. And this is why I am now returning to Clipper to join the 2017/2018 crew, as a Round-The-Worlder, not only because I want to do Leg 6 again, but get the satisfaction of circumnavigating, something that not very many people get to do!
I completed my level one training in Sydney (October 2015), something that I didn’t have to do, because of my experience…. BUT, I hadn’t sailed on a Clipper yacht for just under a year at that point… and it was just like riding a bike… a skill you don’t forget. I have already set my sights on becoming a watch leader… and the ball is already rolling with that as I was the leader of my watch for Level 1 – here’s to that being the case for the remainder of my training! I return to Australia to complete levels 2 and 3 respectively in April and October 2016, then I will complete level 4 in the UK when I return after completing my teaching contract in China.
As a returning of the favour, I am fundraising for Jubilee Sailing Trust, because without I would not have got the confidence back to get into sailing again!! To follow what I am doing, where I am, how the fundraising is going, and my blog… please see, www.facebook.com/jessbarton1718 you can also “click to donate” by visiting www.justgiving.com/jessvstheworld
- Jess Barton