Thursday 8th October – Big Journeys

The next morning we were relieved to see our sail still flying.  No signs of stress or weakness in the repair and we stood in the morning sunlight studying the fruits of our sweaty labour and could now see that it was well worth it.  After all, when your racing the boat comes first and you do whatever you have to do keep her moving.  We were pleased to have played a major part in that – even though it had been a slog at the time!

The day passed very pleasantly – we had plenty to do as the wind was up to it's usual tricks to picking up and then dying again – so we went from heavy weight to mid-weight spinnaker several times. People are getting a bit touchy again – the heat is getting to everyone and coupled with the fact that we are not performing as we had hoped in the race - 8th is not somewhere we expected to be – tempers are fraying and people are snapping at each other.  On the whole there are always enough people who are cheerful and optimistic to keep the overall spirits if not high – then at least good.  That's the great thing about having such a varied mix of characters.  No matter who's down in the dumps – or should that be down in the Doldrums?! - there are always others to lift (or kick) you out of it.

We had two visitors today – a locust who dropped by to snack on a stray peanut that was lying on deck.  The sun shone down on the little fella as I watched him close-up, pick the nut in his pincers and munch on it for a good five minutes.  He stayed just long enough for me to capture his best side on camera and then went on his way... whatever that might be.   A few hours later a butterfly landed on one of our winches, soaked up some of the suns energy in it's wings for a few minutes and then it too set off on it's journey. 
I thought our 68ft yacht with 18 of us on it, seemed like the tiniest, most insignificant speck in the middle of this vast Ocean, so it's pretty hard to comprehend the scale and magnitude of the journeys for these two tiny but very obviously mighty visitors!
This also made me think of the “Butterfly Children” who suffer from EB (Epidermolysis Bullosa), so named because their blistering condition also makes their skin as fragile as a Butterflies wings.  Like this tiny visiting butterfly though, most of them bravely face their own difficult journey through life, with an inner strength that I can only hope to emulate as I face some of the challenges in front of me in this race.
The Doldrums for me, was always going to be tough.  The frustration of no wind, the hours on the helm trying to steer a course in the right direction but just struggling to keep the boat moving at all. The disappointment of seeing our position in the race go steadily down and yet not feeling like you can do anything about it.  All this and dealing with not being able to sleep through the heat and humidity and trying not to snap at people that are being intensely annoying who you can't escape from!  All these things I knew I would find difficult to deal with.  And yet as I sat and looked at the butterfly with it's incomprehensible journey ahead of it, and thought of the kids back home and around the world who live bravely with the EB condition everyday – and with no promise of relief in a day or so when the wind changes – my worries seem pitifully small and insignificant. And while I may not be able to do anything about our position in the race right now – or conjure up some wind to make us move faster,  I can do something else.  I can ask all you people who might be reading my blog – whether it be out of curiosity, something you've accidentally stumbled upon, or because you're interested in following our journey around the world – for whatever reason, please show your appreciation for my small efforts by making a donation to DebRA – the charity helping support people with EB. They are working hard to offer advice, fund specialist nurses, find treatments, and ultimately a cure for the condition. Please click on the 'Sponsor a mile' link in the menu to find out more or click here to go straight to my Justgiving site and donate whatever you can.  I may not be able to help our situation here but please help me to help others who are far more deserving of 'a little wind'.

Finally, if you're enjoying reading my 'Race ramblings' please send all your friends the link to my site – and more importantly tell them about DebRA and the Butterfly Children it supports.

Thank you  x