Leg 1 of the Clipper race saw us depart London, UK, a quick sail to Brest, France, and then embark on a long, eventful, and at times unbearably slow journey to Rio, Brazil. This saw all the crew really cut their teeth on sailing the yacht, with much being learnt about every aspect of sailing and living on a Clipper 70.
The short sail across the channel and down the French coastline saw the race end in thick fog, leading to a period of tense sailing in hugely reduced visibility, fog horns sounding from every direction, contributing little to their navigational assistance. However, collisions were avoided, and we safely arrived in Brest with plenty of time to carry out further preparations for our first ocean crossing. And then we were off…
Our first Atlantic crossing started off with a bumpy and eventful crossing of the Bay of Biscay, and an accidental crash-gybe leaving a bit of clearing up to do. However, a few days later and everyone slightly more accustomed to the helming and sail plans, things settled down, and we had a great few days trucking South.
The Doldrums hit us pretty hard, with multiple consecutive days spent drifting without a breath of wind to push us on our way. These extended periods of drifting were interspersed by sudden and violent squalls, keeping everyone on their toes. They weren’t, however, necessarily constructive in terms of sailing the boat in the right direction, and were more a matter of following the wind shifts as best we could with what sails were up, trying not to go backwards.
Out of the Doldrums saw some fantastic sailing with good miles made towards Brazil, and long runs under spinnaker honing everyones trimming and helming skills.
As is always the case, proximity to land often brings a raft of risks and excitement, and the Brazilian coastline was by no means an exception to this rule. Fishing is plentiful, and many nets, lines, and pots are left in the shallower water off the coast, the primary purpose being to snare as many innocent sailing yachts as possible. They also try to catch fish as a sideline.
Snared we were, on several occasions, including a particularly memorable moment when we managed to connect to two different fishing boats simultaneously. There was what I can only imagine as being some very colourful language coming through the radio, as we stormed along with various bits of nylon and steel wire attached to our Starboard rudder. Some quick knife action dealt with the issue, and it didn’t seem constructive to stick around and discuss the finer points of marking lines with dark blue floats in a dark blue sea.
After a long 31 days at sea, we finally arrived into Rio in the dead of night to days of cleaning, resupply, maintenance, and beer.