Taking to heart the recommendations in my assessment from the part A training I promised myself I would try as often as possible to firstly get to a gym, and secondly get on the water as much as possible.
However, first I had some work to do in Barbados - which I had also lined up to have a quick break with the family. It was planned to get as much "boat time" as the cricket would allow.
The first chance I had was an afternoon trip on a 60 foot catamaran, where 12 people from our hotel had chartered the boat for a sailing trip up the West Coast, with stops for swimming with turtles and a wreck dive.
Our captain Nick was a typical old school "captain". He looked about ten years older than he was (38) because of being out in the sun all day, and had been sailing since he was 4, and commercially since he was 14. He seemed surprised to have one of his guests asking if they could crew for him-the usual deal was most guests got on the boat, drank incessantly, had a few swims when they stopped and then got off the boat at the end.
The extra training I received on board was not quite as intense as it had been on Blackadder, as Nick thought it important that most sailing be done with a beer in hand, and I was keen to listen to all sailing advice I received!! (I will say here that no beers were had by him or the paid crew during the trip - it was their job he said, but when they went sailing without guests beer was never out of their hands).
Anyway with a cold Banks in hand, I watched as we cast off, and then once out of Bridgetown harbour we let the sails out. The boat was 30 years old but had been designed well, and could be sailed almost singlehandly. Suffice it to say I had no problems sweating the staysail and the mainsail singlehandly whilst in the cockpit. They were extremely light in comparison with the clipper sails and after tying off I had my first experience of lazy sailing.
Lazy sailing is in effect setting the sails just the once and then heading the way the wind takes you-we had an end goal in mind, somewhere where the prevailing wind would easily take us.
I was asking about the twins masts and checking which sails were which. I remember being told the middle mast was not a missen mast...but never heard what it was, as I was interrupted by another Banks arriving.
Chatting with Nick it became apparent that he still loved sailing whole-heartedly. The repetitiveness of the cruising (like the one we were on) was made up for by the changes in sea conditions, views and indeed the people he met. To be fair he seemed to think that taking bikini clad beauties on a boat in the Caribbean was a fine life-and I struggled to find a flaw in his logic.
I mentioned that during the race no alcohol was allowed on board-he said "there's always a way-smuggle the beer on board in empty shampoo bottles." It struck me that my crew mates would find it strange that I had quite so much shampoo for 5 weeks-they would probably think I had a hair fixation or something!