If you are signed up to do legs 1, 4, 5 or 7, then you are likely to see the tropics at some point. Legs 1, 5, and 7, in particular, can be very warm for at least part of the time at sea. This brings with it several challenges, mainly revolving around choosing the correct deck clothing and apparel, managing fluid intake, personal hygiene and keeping cool below deck when off watch.
Trying to sleep in 38-45º C, especially when it's humid and you are salt-encrusted & sweaty, is almost impossible until you are very very tired.
Good, lightweight, wicking base layers with long sleeves (for UV protection) are critical. Don't use cotton. It gets wet, retains moisture once saltwater is on it and will get smellier, faster! A lightweight merino wool is good for comfort, performance and odour management. Icebreaker is a well-known Kiwi brand, although it is pricey.
Many crew will purchase sunscreen for the crew but make sure you have a plan to protect yourself against exposure to the brutal tropical sun. This will also mean a lightweight, ventilated wide brimmed sunhat with a chin strap (unless you want to lose it on day 1).
Bare feet on the deck of a Clipper 70 is a no-no. There are too many hard things to break a toe on. Believe me, you only kick a stanchion post once with bare feet to learn this lesson. Therefore, some robust, grippy well vented shoes are required. They should also be of a material that allows for them to get wet and not get smelly.
Keen Newports (open sandals with toe protection) are very popular amongst crew for this reason. Below deck, many crew swear by Crocs. This fashion crime is between you and your own personal God!
Finally, if you plan to send emails from your ipad or phone and run a fan, etc then you will need the option to run the fan and charge your gadgets. Clipper 70s have various charging points, but it is easy to overload the batteries and the circuits, especially as the boat needs to run satcoms, navigation equipment, water maker and things like rice boilers.
When I was skipper, I set up a charging schedule which allowed the on-watch to charge phones and personal battery banks whilst they were on deck. This seemed to work quite well, but it was something else to remember on watch change. Forget to charge your battery and you may end up having no fan for your next sizzling off watch.
For this reason, I'd suggest you consider a battery bank for charging your kit. 30,000 mA as a minimum, should suit. You will also need a means of fixing this to your bunk when in use. I used some heavy duty velcro.
I'm particularly impressed with some new battery banks which have a solar charging option. They are claimed to be robust, dust & splash proof and are able to be secured somewhere appropriate on deck by way of a carabiner. This gives you the option to always be able to charge your battery.
Last of all, in the tropics, the opportunity to shower in heavy rain showers presents itself from time to time. Keeping the crew and the boat as clean as possible is important, especially in the tropics, unless you enjoy tummy bugs and pink eye.
A small bottle of soap, easily to hand, will allow you to take advantage and soap up and rinse off (assuming you are not sailing the yacht, of course. Some crew are less modest than others, but a good place to wash is behind a helm station, offering some privacy.
Even without a rain shower, a clean bucket and some sea water can be refreshing in hot weather. However, you really need to rinse in fresh water after, because salt water showers just make you sticky and salty. Some boats carry one or two fresh water solar showers which work really well when hung off the A frame on the stern. Finally, remember to stay clipped on at all times where SOPs require and keep your lifejacket on.
As we approach the UK's winter, it's worth noting that Clipper Yachts are not heated! Some will have a small oil-filled heater & dehumidifier which is aimed, largely, at trying to keep the crew area and sail bags (in the same place on a Clipper 68 training yacht) as dry as possible when alongside and between courses.
However, overnight and when at sea, Winter on a Clipper Training Yacht is cold. When there are lots of people below, it can also get wet, with lots of warm breath and a cold deck making for a chilly rainforest in some conditions.
An alternative to this has been sourced by me and is available online for about £50. It's the Mountain Warehouse Sutherland sleeping bag.
We did a quick review of the Sutherland Bag here. And the Ocean Bag here.
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In this vlog, we go right back to basics and talk about the different parts of the sail.
His name is Alex Laline, known by those in the know as 'L'Oreal'.
If you've been lucky enough to have sailed with Alex over the years, you might be interested in following his latest challenge.
But let's hear it from Alex, direct.
We are finally in 2021, a year we’re all hoping things will get better and a year which we all want to start dreaming and living again. It hasn’t been easy for anyone for the last year and projects, jobs and life have been abruptly interrupted and changed for many.
If you'd like to support Alex, click here for more information.
Knowing how and why it's important to keep a ship's log is important. This video talks you through the log of a Clipper Race yacht.
This is a video recording of our first monthly webinar broadcast on our Fierce Turtle Facebook page. We hold a webinar on the last Saturday of each month.
This video goes through kit organisation.
If you are training in the UK between October and April, I seriously suggest you consider buying one of these warm, fleece-lined sleeping bags. The Volvo Ocean bag is brilliant, but about 5 x the price of this bag, so if money is tight, this bag will do the job. Alternatively, you can hire an Ocean Sleeping Bag from us - just click here for more information.
The Sutherland bag can be ordered on Amazon and delivered in the UK. They sell for about £50 at the time of writing.
In this short video I discuss what you should be thinking about packing for a cold ocean leg. In this context, I consider Cold Ocean Legs to be Legs 2, 3 , 4, 6 and Leg 8.
Fierce Turtle (Packing for Training) : http://bit.ly/PackingListfortraining
I came across this video the other day. It's an extremely thorough and, I think, clear explanation of how Atmospheric Circulation works, why we have air masses of warm, low pressure zones and cooler, High pressure zones.
Thanks to Amit Sengupta for the video.
Many crew us crocs for below deck, but on deck I think you have to go a long way to beat the Keen sandal / shoe. It is ventilated and has a closed toe, protecting you from all the hazards on deck.
On the Level 1 training week Clipper spends a lot of time on safety, systems and basic sail changes and evolutions. This includes reefing and headsail changes. Normally this is done at sea. However, one misty Spring day in 2013 saw us fogbound in Cowes. What to do?
We used the time practicing the recovery of an injured crew member from the foredeck. Another favourite is rig ascents, safety drills and lessons in navigation. We also did some reefing of the mainsail - alongside. We got some funny looks from our neighbours, after all it's fairly unusual to see a Clipper 68 being reefed against a stopwatch whilst still tied alongside.
Mark Burkes is a former Clipper Race Skipper, a round the world crew member, Clipper Training Skipper & jobbing RYA Yachtmaster Instructor. He has over 250,000 miles logged.
Mark also writes professionally both online and offline and has written for Yachting World.
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