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  • Writer's pictureSophie Dingwall

The Laundry Lady Stole my Knickers

Sails fixed, food stowed and fuelled up, we were ready for the adventure ahead. Leaving offshore to sail 2400nm, with a solid number of 4 pairs of knickers…

We all had a lot of laundry and I pity the lady who took on that job after we arrived in the Azores. By the time I had realised the underwear fiasco, It was too late. It was clear the laundry lady had pinched my knickers and I was about to sail across the Atlantic with only 4 pairs, including the ones I had on - Mum, I promise I left home with way more!

Our new crew had arrived, eager, excited and in ore of it all. We kick things off with the safety stuff. In short… Don’t fall off the boat. Tether onto the boat so you can't fall off and if after all that you manage to still fall off, wear your lifejacket so you at least you float. Whatever you do, stay on the boat!

In reality our safety briefs were far more detailed and after going through every scenario which could or would possibly go wrong we still had 10 women who hadn’t been scared off.

“Now, I know it doesn’t look like much right now, but trust me, you’re going to love it!”

I say pointing to a narrow mattress with a basic white sheet and pillow. After a week of salt and sweat, the bed sheets are like that sharp toilet paper you get in a grotty petrol station. You know the type I mean?

Your Bunk

The one place onboard you can call your own space. Where you can go to be on your own, you can rest and where you spend a lot of time trying to get to sleep.

But not if you have my bunk. My bunk has been labelled the ‘communal bunk’. The rights to my own space have been ripped out from right underneath me. Being the biggest in size and most convenient for sitting, it makes for a good meeting area in our aft cabin. Films, food and god knows what else is consumed on my bunk. Getting into bed after my watch to find, the reminiscence of crisps, laptops, blankets, pegs, sweet wrappers is not unusual. When looking for any item, first suggestion is always “It’s probably in your bunk!” Embarrassingly I have gained a slight reputation for sleeping with nearly all my belongings. Feels like home!

The heat had got unbearable and motionless bodies lie starfished half in, half out of the bunks throughout the boat. Glowing faces with heavy eyes peep over the lee cloth, looking at passers by for sympathy and as if to say ‘I know you can’t help me, but please!’

This brings me back to some of the house rules that Anna was very instant of at the start - ‘please wear clothes’ Seems like a silly thing to have to mention but at 500nm to go wearing my naked birthday suit doesn’t seem like such a bad idea and you never know… might keep everyone off my “communal bunk’

The First Few Days

It’s amazing how quickly the land leaves sight. Within hours Sao Miguel has disappeared over the horizon and all that surrounds us is water. 360 degrees of blue. This was going to be my view for the next 16,18, 20 days?

Gentle waves skip alongside the hull of the boat and the sun glimmers daintily through the loose cloud cover. A consistent breeze allows us to travel at a fair speed of 6 knots and we sail peacefully away from the shore. I was about to write…Such a different start compared to leg 1 but there’s still sick all over the deck so maybe not so different after all. The night consisted of bucket after bucket being washed over the deck. The thing which we all fear the most, seasickness had taken two victims badly, but overcoming it the two could be seen lying on deck holding hands - the closest of friendships can be made at sea.

Sunrise rose. It was perfect. Feeling lucky to have watched it rise, it only got better when we were swamped with dolphins. Ducking and diving in the bow waves, their playful manner is infectious. It doesn’t matter how many times I see dolphins, it’s always just as exciting as the first time.

I knew then, it was going to be a good trip.

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