Halfway across the Atlantic

So it’s been rather a while I know. I do have blogs but kinda forgot to load them whilst on land.

Day 7 of our Atlantic crossing and it’s been pretty mental and full on. First few days was rather benign coming out of NY, and then bam we were most definitely in the rock an rolling Atlantic!! Winds were consistently in mid teens but with a really mixed washing machine like sea state… so as usual a lot of us were looking rather green!! That passed soon enough (for me with a patch for 36 hours) lots of sail changes and our skipper had decided that we were going the slightly longer route to catch the Gulf Stream – unfortunately as you can see on the tracker, not quite panned out for us… so IYK is last again… reassuring that the usual leaders of the pack had decided on this route too though!!

It’s kind of hard to describe everything that’s been going on, the last 48 hours has seen us in solid mid to high 20’s, an gusts of up to 36 knots… of the watch of 7, only 3 of us have been helming it, which is physically challenging and exhausting. There’s a definite physical difference between men & women, so at times (every time we start to round up), I’m pretty much using to entire body to keep the helm over… it’s much easier during the day as you can see what the bow is doing, night time is a whole different ball game!!

Thankfully with Jamie & Johnny we’ve been having some great banter, and I’ve had the tunes playing non stop, when the boom dies Jamie an I are usually doing some form of karaoke (he shouldn’t ever give up the day job!)

The code 2 is up and we’ve hit a bit of a wind hole, I’m finally in my bunk after skipper managed to turf my bunk buddy out after a rather long time…  having done mother watch on my own today, I’ve finally fallen into bed and am looking forward to more than a snatches hour or so in various locations!! I must admit has felt a bit odd being stuck below and not helming today…personal best on the helm is 16.5 knots… pretty mental in a 70ft boat with our sails (our code 2 is over 130sq metres!). Also managed to wash my hair today – which given it had started to dreadlock wasn’t much fun…  feeling much better an very much looking forward to my 8 hours sleep.

Sorry blogs a bit rambly and I’ve been rubbish at blogging… I’d say I’ll be better but despite best intents, I probably won’t!! Unless we get stuck in more wind holes… Derry here we come!! Big hugs all x


So its been awhile, again, since the last update. Its been hard to know what to write & the heat kinda zaps any energy you have. We obviously finished Race 11 last, and it was somewhat soul destroying being so far behind with no ability to catch up due to the epic wind holes we had. That obviously impacted crew morale a lot and so it was hard to write anything with any level of positivity. We did see a fair amount of wildlife on the rest of Race 11, dolphins and turtles galore. I swear some of the turtles were waving at us (editors note – suspect JoJo making friends with turtles should probably be seen as a concern?)

As I mentioned, we had a lot of wind holes, with the temperature on deck hitting 39c, even hotter (and sweatier) down below. Can’t say much more than that as we spent the last part of it motoring.

We got to Panama late and spent the next day victualling, so no real downtime but I did manage to procure a Panama hat to wear through the canal. Not sure what I was expecting through the Canal but after the first 3 locks (after we rafted with Seattle and DTL), the canal opens up to in effect a lake and verdant greenery along the banks. Fair amount of video footage that I’ll get around to sharing one day.

We then got to Colin, and managed to make happy hour, one bar and 10 boats all trying to get beer!! Was a good night in the end and one that was very much needed by all, shore food, beer and catching up!

Today is the start of race 12, an interesting course that sees us going between Cuba and Haiti and then tactical decision on what route we take through a south and north gate. Decided to sort out mail on phone so hopefully I’ll get better at sending blogs through to the child to load! 

Wish us luck!! JoJo out

Hot Hot Hot

Would you like a sauna?

If so, I would highly recommend signing up to Leg 7 of the race. Over the last 4 days or so, the temperature below deck feels like it’s increased to what can only be described as a sauna, and quite frankly not a particularly pleasant one. I don’t even like saunas! The heat and stickiness is relentless, meaning that the entire crew are short on sleep, despite the whir of personal fans on in the bunks. Shade on deck is non-existent, but we all seem to be good at slathering ourselves in suntan lotion, I haven’t resembled a possum yet, progress!

The day watches, well lets just say by the end of each shift, everyone is exhausted and slightly tetchy, tempers fraying especially when we keep going through wind holes. In such light winds, you have to keep trying everything you can to keep moving, so it’s Code 1 down, Windseeker up, main down… and then repeat, several times. (I “may” have uttered numerous expletives to JB when he asked us to get the main back up, 15 minutes after we took it down) By the end of the shift, you are mentally & physically shattered, and you know you aren’t going to get much rest below. Who would have thought we’d look forward to the night watches so much. Don’t panic readers, we’re still mostly laughing & having fun… JoJo’s night-time disco is a regular feature on the watches.

Last night we were treated to a blood moon eclipse. WOW. Starboard watch was fortunate to be on watch when we got the moonrise and the eclipse. The moon was incredibly large during its rise, with a slight red tinge and then once it had risen, we watched the eclipse happen, eerily beautiful. And anyone who knows me knows how excited I get watching bioluminescence, trailing off the back of the boat. Last night we got DISCO BIOLUMINESCENCE, did you know that was a thing? I didn’t! Patches of water around up started pulsing with light for a good half hour, absolutely magical.

We can see Mexico on our port side and are currently coming down the turtle highway (Finding Nemo fans, you will know what I mean) and we’ve seen quite a few of them, quite often bobbing alongside us in the water and who seem to like giving us a wave with a fin. The Boobies are now only perching on our bowsprit, Skipper finally decided he didn’t want a poopy stern so he proceeded to chase them off with the tuna. Bizarrely they haven’t come back but cleaning it down did at least give Skipper something to do and kept him from getting the crew to do yet another sail change.

With that people, time for comedy dinner courtesy of the Brigadier Brian & Cabin Boy Johnny,

Stay safe, JoJo

Week 2!

Well another week has passed and I’ve struggled to find time to blog. Yesterday was Mother Watch so I had my first proper wash and managed to wash my hair, which was bliss, and there’s a few hours before I’m back on watch – we’ve gone from freezing cold in foulies to shorts and tee’s.

We have two watches on board, Port & Starboard. I’m on Port with Vince, James, Kirsten, Brian, Fran and on Starboard you have Brooke, Gill, Richard, Mike, Johnny & Annette. Rob our skipper and JB (Johnny) our first mate switch it up between the two. We’re a little light of a full contingent so a lot less active sail trim than I’m used to, but we’re a boat that at least let’s everyone do everything.

Catering Corps Vince (VP) has promoted Brian to Brigadier Brains, although Catering seems to like wandering around in pants on a daily basis, we haven’t figured out if the snoring or pants is funnier!

Helming is something that I really wanted to get to grips with on the race as back home it’s not something you get to do much of unless you own a boat. After my little crash gybe the other night I was somewhat reticent to get back on the helm, but with the supportive pushing from Brains (who seems to know when to push me), I got back on the helm during the day… average of 16-22knots, building to 33. Back home that would be considered quite a breeze and we wouldn’t really go out, here it’s just a good breeze. It appears that I have a helming monologue – lots of muttering and cursing, Fran has competition!

Seem to of largely cracked the surfing too, depending on the waves and wind (with the surf here you get a lot of random sideways rogue waves) you can round up or down at the bottom of a wave. Figuring out how much of a helm twitch to make to keep you on course, is a skill… but when you get it right, it’s bloody marvellous… I will admit to much cackling and whooping whilst helming that day! Feeling more in control and knowing what to do, meant that Brian decided I needed to get back on. At night. With the code 3 up.

Accidental gybing terrifies me, especially when you have 13 other people on onboard, but with the quiet talking from Brian behind me, helping me to identify stars to helm by, I did it… felt much happier with things and much more confident. I won’t make a race skipper anytime soon, but getting more confident in knowing what to do and when, no matter how intense it is.

We’ve had all sorts of wildlife, finally! Orcas, boobies (brown-footed, blue-footed and another type that I can’t recall) and of course never enough dolphins. There was an amazing display from them last night, leaping in the distance playing as the sun set. We’ve had another halo, amazing sunset and sunrises,  moon rises and sets, and stars… stunning stars, planets and shooting stars… can’t do justice to the colours, nor how much they all make me smile. Almost forgot, the flying squid! Vince wanted to cook one up, but persuaded him to liberate it, shortly afterwards I got hit by one, which Annette discovered the next day… definitely not cooking material that one.

Finally got some wind after the current drift in the last 24 hours which is awesome, down below is still like a cheap sauna however, thank god for the USB fan! We have 5 possible finish gates as it’s looking like due to the wind holes we will get a shortened race. Trying not to think of our position. We’ve got a few more races to do yet before homecoming!

Shenanigans being discussed for when we get to Panama, involving alcohol of course, as long as Vince keeps his clothes on it should be good!

Hope you’re all safe & well back home, JoJo x

Clipper First Week

Hard to believe it’s been just over a week since we set sail… the boat and crew are all getting into a groove. My original intent had been to blog daily, however the sea state hasn’t been conducive to sitting below focused on typing. I need to get better at that, if nothing else to try to remember all the cool stuff…

Weekly summary:
Le Mans start – first over the line, however we kept the Yankee and Staysails up longer than the others, and also didn’t have on deck like rest of fleet, so took us a while to sort that out, and we then dropped right to back of fleet. The first race day was a bit odd as the day watches all got mixed up. We got some good pics and vids (to be uploaded when we get signal again!)

We got the Code 1 up eventually, for all of several hours, at which point it kind of went kaput, ripped from the head all down to the clew, thankfully on the tape line, so it’s now going to dry. That’s when most of the boat started feeling ill. I couldn’t stand up without throwing up due to a very mixed sea state, more like washing machine, so didn’t eat yesterday have just managed small amount of pasta. I couldn’t move from the galley bench, layered up but couldn’t move to the deck, sorry guys. Whacked a seasick patch on before going to sleep so feeling much better now. Overall the sea state settled tons so everyone’s feeling much better, although still not 100%. TMI warning -urine less cola coloured and more treacle now, it appears discussion on your wee colour is normal whilst at sea😂 The team dynamics are a lot better now at sea, which is fab. The very expensive clipper diet is working!

The mixed sea state continued for a few days, and on board we have a 6 day rotation of jobs: bilges, navigation/engineer, heads, deck, mother & cleaning. Of course I got the emptying bilges in the mixed sea state. Which when you’re laying on your stomach, with your head in the bilges trying to get all the water out, not good. It was a case of empty a bilge, throw up, lay down for 5 mins before moving to the next one. We have 8 bilges to empty -fun fun fun. I’m painting a glamorous picture right?

I’ve been doing some helming, with coaching from Brian (thanks Brains)!! Did try at night, but managed to crash the gybe in mixed sea and wind state, got it back, but it’s one of my biggest fears, can’t let that put me off though. JB (our awesome first mate) and I have agreed he’s going to get me back on and do more coaching during the day, big girl pants on. I’m learning a lot more about wind, apparent v true, very cool and James is going to start showing me sail stuff & rope work, whipping ropes etc. Which is all stuff I’m really keen to learn…

Each day is the same, yet at the same time each are very different. We’ve had pods of whales, dolphins during the day and at night, the night dolphins stayed with us for over an hour, playing alongside us in the bioluminescence and squeaking constantly. Fran & I were whistling so clearly we now think we were communicating with the dolphins. Tons of birds here too, a lot of albatrosses, the brown footed variety apparently! (Jess, who’s editing these for me, thinks that birds with a 2 metre wingspan are very scary and shouldn’t be allowed)

We saw a really cool thing the other day, a 22 degree halo. That’s when ice crystals form and you get a rainbow around the sun. It was perfectly formed, and we’ve all got some amazing pictures of it circling the top of the mast.

The wind picked up massively in the last few days. We put up the Code 2 as we have proper North Pacific wind and waves, so we we were rocking an a rolling for a few days, tearing along, eating up the miles. When in the middle of the night/sleep time for me last night we got an “all hands on deck”, when you wake from sleep for them there’s a panic as your getting clothes and life jacket on that it’s a man overboard, thankfully confirmed it was just hands on. We get to deck to find our Code 2 had also decided to attempt swimming, but had also had a tussle with the halyard, spreaders and everything else that it deemed was in its way before swimming. Head had split in two. Took us about an hour to get the damn thing back on board. James is just starting to try to repair code 2 so we can get a kite back up. Unfortunately needs a sail shop repair, from reading some of the other boats, a fair few have damaged kites.

We’re now just past the California border into Mexico. Another few weeks to go, and we know we’re at the back. The tactics to head out and get the better westerly wind before the others didn’t pan out quite as expected, which is frustrating, but we’ve just been told it’s only 70 miles to the boat Zhuhai so, fingers crossed we can keep eating the miles up and close down the gap. (Jess note: since Jojo sent the email, there’s now only 50 miles to Zhuhai, so they’re doing amazing at catching up!)

Time to dash, pot noodles for lunch before heading up to deck for my shift.

Hope you’re all well, luv n hugs
JoJo x