We left Panama late in the evening so that we could meet up with the last set of yachts transiting the canal. Panama was a forced relaxation stop as being in Shelter Bay Marina limited the activity you could do as it was in the middle of nowhere. We were leaving the relaxation but also the Mosquitos so I was glad to get back to sea!
Race 11 was another Le Mans start with all of us lined up together. This race was going to test out sailing skills in new ways as we were hit by lightning during the motor at the end of race 10, so we’re without wind instruments.
As we left Panama and headed up through the Caribbean the wind was light and unpredictable. As a team it turns out we aren’t as good at light wind sailing. The fleet was pretty much together as a pack for the few days and we could see other yachts around us. It was an us and them game with each schedule that we received having us all leap-frog each other for positions. It took us a while to realise why we were going slower than the others – turns out the spinnaker repair done to the leach of the code 1 was too heavy and therefore we were flying a mis-shaped sail which ultimately was slowing us down. Shame we didn’t realise this in the last race too!
The weather was warm again – I love sunny sailing but wish it was possible to have the sunshine, warmth and the wind! As we traversed between the islands we wondered what it would be like to stop there. I do know what I signed up to do, but sometimes when you pass these remote places I think wouldn’t it be nice to see what’s there too (judging by our results this leg we might well have done so!). After seeing no wildlife for days, we were treated to another spectacular show by a pod of dolphins which must have been at lest 50 in number. I’m going to miss sights like that when I have to return to ‘normal’ life. Dolphins bring joy to even the darkest of days on board.
There was an exciting 24 hours as we waited for tropical storm Colin to hit us. Some crew were worried by the thought of a tropical storm but those of us who had been on windier legs previously were ready for it! I do like a good storm to keep you on your toes and the boat moving along. It wasn’t as bad a storm as predicted although Colin did managed to blow up our spinnaker!
It wasn’t long before race 11 was over and sadly we ran out of water to catch up the yachts in the lead meaning we finished in 5th place. I’ve found this leg and race particularly frustrating. It has been a mixture of the weather, characters on board and the fact this experience is coming to an end. I’m such a competitive person that not making the podium hurts. I’m happy for my friends on other boats for getting their results, don’t get me wrong, but that doesn’t stop my frustrations. I hope that moving forwards to the next leg I feel like everyone has given 110% all the time as this was sometimes lacking this leg from some. I also struggle when people say well done for the race when in my opinion we didn’t do well…! Clipper has turned me into an over-competitive individual!
We arrived into New York in the early hours so got to experience the city lights and Statue of Liberty in all their glory. I’m in New York and I sail all the way here… That’s pretty mental when you think about it!
Thank you for all your support and messages along the way – I’ve got mixed emotions at this point in that I’m ready to come home but also don’t want my Clipper life to be over! I fear there will be many tears ahead as we begin to come to the ‘lasts’ in this amazing experience. Next stop, our ‘home’ port of Derry and I really hope we do the city proud over the next weeks.
Big love one and all