It’s definitely time to finish. Although I do have times that make me smile every day, I am very ready to get back to ‘normal’ life. It’s less about flushing toilets and readily available glasses of wine than you might think. But more about a number of other things:- being in control of what happens to me i.e. when it is wet and windy I can choose to stay indoors, I do not need to be at the mercy of the weather. Not having to get up at 2am to ‘go to work’ for 4 hours. The luxury of walking from bed to toilet in the middle of the night without a gymnastics routine over/round/under/clinging onto things/other people and being able to do it in whatever attire (or not!) I choose. On the subject of going to the loo – being able to go at a moments notice (unless stuck in a traffic jam on the M6!) and only having to lift a skirt or drop some trousers, not take 10 full minutes removing layer upon layer of cold, wet clothes. Also the delight of a toilet that is completely flat, not at 35 degrees. [I’ve just re-read this, there’s a lot about toilets isn’t there!]. Oh the pleasure of time to myself, not worrying about who can see my wobbly bits as I’m getting changed, who will be in the way when I want to get into the kitchen, that when I want to sit and read, no one will talk to me. The joy of knowing that the tin opener/toilet cleaner/sharp knife/electrical tape/gaffer tape etc will still be where I left it and it will not involve a 20 minute hunt for them and if it did I will not be getting soaking wet from water pouring through a hatch or clinging on for dear life as I look. Oh the joy of turning on a light to find the thing that I’ve lost in the dark and not having to worry about waking anyone up. Knowing that there will not be 5 or 6 different opinions on the best time or way to make soup/clean the toilet (toilets again!)/store the food etc. being able to pick and choose who I spend time with and choose not to spend time with others. Southampton and the 22nd of July cannot come quick enough. Family, Friends, Greenery, Driving and even work are all things I’m looking forward to. I am lucky, I love working for Mars and have learnt to appreciate even more over this year how great a business it is, how much I love my line of work and what great people I work with. It’s been eye opening racing alongside people from all walks of life and I’m happy to say that the people I work with at Mars are really the cream of the crop. I’ve also realised that I am an average sailor. I cannot help but bench mark myself against Rich/Triinnggg/Daisy; he started sailing the same as me, from a base of zero and in this year he has become watch leader. He has picked everything up so quickly and not only sails from a technical perspective but from intuition now as well. I am no where near as good and without a gargantuan effort, I never will be, so if I’m honest I’m a bit bored now because I’ve stopped putting in the effort and am satisfied with average (I know that I will have sailed more miles than most other people who own boats etc and yes, compared to Jo Bloggs who potters around once a month on nice sunny days in the summer I may have a bit more knowledge and skill but my bench mark here is high and I’m nowhere near). That’s one of the reasons I am so keen to get back to work. I am looking forward to adding real value again (something that is so important to me, feeling that in some small way, I do something that makes a difference for people) and to doing what I do best every day, also, working with great people as opposed to my days now which consist of hoping for sunshine and wildlife to ease the boredom (I’ve just re-read this and it sounds a bit doom and gloom aboard for me, don’t worry I still laugh every day and am positive and optimistic most of the time, after all there are some people here to have great fun with). If the race had ended in Panama it would have been lovely having survived the Pacific then having had a bit of sunny downwind sailing to ensure that I was re-energised about sailing again and not ready never to set foot aboard a boat again. Of course there have been many highlights and some real benefits to this year. The simplicity of eat, sleep, sail has for the most part been a pleasure and made for a very easy life with very few decisions or complexities. I’ve visited many places in the world in the last year and am looking forward to going back to some of them. I’ve learnt a lot more about how strong my values are and how I react when they are constantly challenged. I’ve discovered how different people can be, and how, when people have similar values amazing friendships are created. I’ve realised how much I know about some stuff (leadership/management/motivation – again, a bit of benchmarking went on here!) and how little I know about other stuff (wind angles/engineering). I am sure there will be lots more when I have a chance to step back from it all and get everything in perspective but right now I am looking forward very much to getting home. Not long now – woo hoo.

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6 Responses to REFLECTING

  1. Sal says:

    I remember going on my sabbatical round Europe in a 28′ campervan with a (now ex) husband and 2 children. I left a role as a Global Key User on a system I knew backwards and with a group of colleagues who valued and respected me and my values and opinions. Then I had an 8 year old throwing things at me and telling me she wouldn’t do her schoolwork cos I wasn’t a proper teacher! So I can relate to many of the things you mention – although my toilet was generally always level it still needed emptying and cleaning – the constant company in a small space was often hard to manage. We will all be delighted to see you on your return and clearly you will have lots of tails to tell but we will wait for you to be ready to share them. I’m sure you will sail again and then you will realise you have learnt more than you image. Just a month to go now 🙂

  2. Gregor says:

    Hiya gorgeous lady, loved your reflections, and have been following your progress (although not been saying much). Maybe it will be quite a while before you realise all the things that you learned, maybe when you’re sitting in the office at Dundee Road and trying to get people to learn stuff you’ll think of something and go “ah, thats just like the time I had to use a slopey toilet for a year”…I did something last week where we reviewed a timeline of our life and thought about the big incidents and how they had changed or reinforced your values, and maybe altered your purpose in life. I wonder how a year on a wet boat changes your values?

    Can’t wait to see you, and since you left I have had a baby, moved house, changed company and changed job, so we can swap very different experiences. X

  3. david cockburn says:

    Hi, I think you are being overly hard on yourself with your “average” rating and benchmark against some others. UK Sailor of the year a few years back had just achieved his yachmaster status attained over a period of 37 years. Some pick up technical aspects of sailing very quickly but plateau quickly too and don’t necessarily have the people and leadership skills to go beyond that level. Lets not forget you outlived skipper number one who had all the technical knowledge but was lacking something – details yet to be revealed of course!

    Racing a big boat with big crew and cruising as skipper of a small yacht are two entirely different things. But picture this…after 6 or 9 months rest away from all this you find yourself missing the freedom and sheer joy of being in nature and making your way around the place mostly by harnessing the forces of nature. You decide to muster a group of friends and charter a yacht somewhere in and around the beautifull west coast of scotland. Firth of Clyde means, lovely scenery, sheltered cruising grounds and no tidal streams of any force worth bothering with – that means go where you want when you want. Luxury marina’s dotted everywhere you can shower twice a day if you like and your boat will have one or two showers anyway, no need to ration or make water as you can top up again in a day or so. Stop at any number of fantastic pubs and restaurants who provide free moorings (and showers) for lunch or anchor somewhere nice and have some wine with you lunch if you like – you make the rules. Access all those chalk white sand beaches only accessible by boat with crystal clear waters and best seafood in the UK available to purchase locally or drop your own lobster pots overnight. Plan your trip in nice 2-3 hour hops, a run ashore every night if you like or pick up of an abundance of free moorings in some staggeringly beautfiful spots while you sip a cocktail and watch the sun down. No need to sail at night so normal sleep patterns. Not so nice weather next day…well stay in harbour, go to the pub and wait for it to pass. ie cruising is a different kettle of fish but the ability to call on your racing experience if and when needed only serves to give you confidence.

    Something can always go wrong but with your experience you’d know how to manage the situation your boat and crew to a level they’d all be able to relax. In contrast, we watched a nervous newly qualified lady day skipper having just purchased the 37 ft yacht next door to us spend 2 hours confusing the novice crew with the pre-sail brief and then after 20 minutes backwards and forwards nearly hit everything on the way out of harbour. After luckily bouncing into my dinghy instead of the transom, finally off they went red faced and we thought, phew, that was going out but somewhere sometime they are going to have to attempt to come back in!

    When you come back and benchmark yourself against what you find in a typical marina (above being an extreme of course) you’ll pleasantly discover that you long surpassed average and you’ve got experience in a year that some don’t get in a lifetime.

  4. Rob Eley says:

    Hi Lesley,
    You write well. It’s an amazing experience and I well remember feeling as you do, but nearly 3 years on I still miss the excitement of the race start and knowing that 5,000 odd (sometimes very odd!) miles of ocean racing lie ahead. You now know what I meant when I said that it is the most relaxing time ever. I also agree with David Cockburn’s comment, you are a far better sailor than you realise. Enjoy the rest of the race, the finish will come soon enough.

  5. Bep says:

    You have done such an amazingly brave thing & grown so much as a person, I’m humbled just hearing about what you’ve put yourself through!! I can’t wait to hear all about your highlights & in particular your learnings that will enable you to fulfill different parts of your life! I’m going through a bit of a personal journey myself &can’t wait to get your perspective!! Stay safe and enjoy your last few weeks!! Lots of love, Bep xx

  6. Caroline says:

    Just read this out loud to my husband and made me cry!!!
    What an amazing adventure you have had – you write brilliantly, time for your next venture methinks – writing.
    Come back and see us a.. First though!
    Looking forward to seeing you!!
    X Caroline

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