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Crew member on GBR1702T Scarlet Oyster

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Beginners Blog Star Date 13 August 2011, Time, 21.34

My position on Scarlet Oyster had only been confirmed about a week

beforehand. A 48-foot Oyster Lightwave, she is 24 years old and has done

some hard sea-miles, occasionally with success. Winning her class at the

2007 Rolex Fastnet, the toughest race of recent times, was proof of

potential, crew competence and sea-worthiness. I have some long, lost

experience of offshore racing, overnighting in cold latitudes, following a

stint in the USA many years ago. Despite doing the 606nm Rolex Middle Sea

Race last year and reassuring myself that my sea legs were still in gear, I

was nervous going into this race. Like Tony Blair, I had three objectives

dont be sick, dont be sick, dont be sick. After that, it was in order of

importance: dont screw anything up, dont annoy the regular crew and be

useful as best I could.

A brief chat with skipper Ross Applebey on the phone and being included on

some last minute emails was my only contact with the crew before today. The

final email came from Chris King. His tone was authoritative and clear. Meet

at the boat at 1000 on Saturday, do not be late or be given an unpleasant

sandwich to eat. Nervous, me? I was at the dock at 0930. The email had said

bring all your kit in a 40 litre dry bag. Anything extra would be

discardedbut what about my laptop, cameras and paraphernalia? Did my

sleeping bag have to fit in the dry bag, along with my sea boots and

foulies? What was I doing? I felt a bit happier when only two others Daryl

and Richie (one of two) showed up before 1000 and the boat was late

arriving. No one paid any attention to my bags. Some people seemed to have

bags bigger than 40 litres too, maybe my sack of goodies would escape

notice. We then set about a list of tasks that ranged from cleaning the

heads (which Im not sure was done) to putting protective sheaths on

halyards (definitely done, I helped) to rewiring the AIS so it worked (must

have been done, all the green lights came on). I was given one task: put the

bow stickers on. Thanks. My position on the boat confirmed.

The jobs were completed, stores organised by Clinch (the name fits the man)

were loaded. We then headed off to the Hamble to overnight and pick up the

sails which had spent the day being primped and preened at the Banks loft,

courtesy of Daryl. On the journey over I gained some valuable intel:

mid-layer clothing was essential. What type did I have? Er, the type that

doesnt exist. Great. Nervous. Yes. Even more so now. Oh, and be at the boat

by 1000 tomorrow.

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