In preparation for training I started reading a book about a number of people trying to sail single handily, without stopping around the world.
This ‘race’, the Golden Globe happened in 1969. My journey to Gosport was almost entirely taken up with this book.
I was really getting involved in the story of a number of the most prominent sailors and adventurers of the age including one Knox-Johnson by the time the train rolled in at Portsmouth Harbour leading me to my own nautical adventure; the ferry from Portsmouth to Gosport (which lasts about 5 minutes!) I was told to go to Ariel, a 60 foot clipper where I would be assigned a berth.
I was allocated to ‘Blackadder’ a similar 60 foot clipper and my immediate thoughts were of Baldrick and Lord Percy’s expedition to the Caribbean with the ‘legless captain’. The rest of the crew arrived within the hour – eight trainees the skipper and 1st mate. The initial briefing filled us in a little on what was planned for the week as well as giving us more information on Clipper Ventures. It also spoilt my book for me as they told me that the founder of Clipper Sir Robin Knox-Johnson was the first to sail single-handedly around the world, so much for surprises.
The plan outlined was 3 day sails then a 4 day 3 night sail to get a feeling for what the race was about. Amongst my fellow trainees were 3 other complete novices, 1 day skipper, 1 quite experienced sailor and 1 chap who had been involved in the 1979 Fastnet race. In 1979 a number of conditions led to the Fastnet race being the most tragic sailing race disaster, with 15 people dead.
Our ‘trainee’ was the last man pulled out of the water alive, and was there to train so he could finally complete the race (in 2009) and get ‘closure’. We had our first meal aboard (curry from tins) – good training for the race we were told, and then off to the pub to bond!
Three of our number were planning to do the whole race, with four of us doing one or more legs, and one doing the Fastnet. However not all of our number had been strictly honest with their employers – two were planning to hand in their notice at the last minute!
Our first night on board the boat meant finding a berth for each of us. Emma and I shared the honeymoon suite, so named because of the relative isolation that came from being in the bow of the boat. The two remaining bunks at the front of the boat were empty, as there were twenty bunks on board.
One thing we had not anticipated was the cold, it was freezing. Almost all on board ‘layered up’. It was my first time to sleep in jeans, socks, two rugby tops, but needs must…
David Harper is director of consultancy Leisure Property Services and has been working in the hotel property world for more than 10 years. He is a Chartered Surveyor and member of the Association of British Hospitality Accountants and author of Valuation of Hotels for Investors. He was previously head of international hotel brokerage and hotel valuations with CB Richard Ellis.
David is taking part in the Round the World Clipper Race 2009-2010. A complete sailing novice, he will take part in the 5,100+ mile (8,200kms) leg from Australia to China via Indonesia, through tropical heat and near arctic conditions. The six week race will start on 2nd January 2010. Over the next few months David will undergo a rigorous training schedule, which began last week aboard a boat named "Blackadder".