eXXpedition Round Britain crew member Deborah Maw updates us on what has been “rollercoaster ride” of a first couple of days:
“This is Friday evening and I’m writing from our storytelling venue – a very charming cafe next to the World of Boats and Doctor Who Exhibition.
We left Plymouth on Tuesday evening amidst much waving off and anticipation. Nothing had prepared us for what was to come, even hardened seafarers with stout sea legs. Only 3 people were spared of 14 on board. More of of that in a bit, but meanwhile we had a glorious sunset on our way out, drone flying overhead filming us, dark clouds ahead but they parted as we approached. The moon rose gloriously full and orange, playing hide and seek with black ragged clouds.
For many of us this was our first sailing experience, but we all took our turns on watch during the night and learnt quickly how to take the helm and steer. It started raining on my watch, but even that didn’t detract from the excitement and loveliness of being on the sea.
Riding the rollercoaster
We were due to round Land’s End at dawn and this was when the situation really started to reveal itself and one by one we were felled by the dreaded sea sickness. I couldn’t face going down below, even for the loo, however, it was described as like a war zone. Some people couldn’t leave their bunks, some couldn’t leave the deck. Kim, Holly and Cat valiantly carried drinks and bread sticks to those on deck as sustenance between throwing up.
Sea Dragon still had to be steered and tacked into the northerly, bumping and crashing over the Atlantic swells. It was potentially a fabulous rollercoaster ride. The only way I could manage it was to take the helm; someone suggested letting the boat do her thing, so I let go of some of the control and let Sea Dragon ride up and down the swells in a way that was natural to her, and then I’d gently return her to course. I found myself almost dancing with the helm wheel, sort of Tai Chi style – I loved it and I didn’t feel nauseous.
One last bit about the nausea: I was having a good chunder over the side, glance up and two dolphins leapt out of the water about 2 metres in front of my face. Was I hallucinating? Apparently not.
An early arrival in Cardiff
After another night of almost total wipe out, rocking and rolling, we entered the flat waters of the Bristol Channel. Argh, we were hours later than expected and the Cardiff barrage lock gates were about to shut for 7 hours. Our skipper, Diane, phoned ahead and persuaded them to leave the gates open for another 30minutes. About 30 minutes after that we squeezed into the lock, apparently with about 30cm to clear over the cill, all being filmed of course.
Cardiff has been full on activities. We were all desperate for showers and the docks had no facilities, fortunately Sarah had a flat nearby. There was a presentation with the Meeks – Kids Against Plastic – at Techniquest. Followed buy boat tours, and a reception at the Senedd, the Welsh Parliament, with various policy makers – we had to go through airport style security – who then followed us back to the boat for drinks and nibbles and more boat tours in glorious evening light. The rest of the evening was ours to shower, pub, sleep.
This morning, we learnt how to use the air filter system, had more boat tours, beach litter clean and several or us got out to do our first science. The harbour master took us out to collect sediment samples and mussels. The rest of the day involved learning how to set up the manta trawl, completing the safety protocols on the boat, learning about the next leg of our journey to Belfast, doing a story telling workshop, a brain storming workshop with Emily (see photo) on how to move forward with changing the world’s ocean plastic problem, finishing with a story telling evening – and somehow fitting breakfast, lunch and dinner into that.
So here I am and the storytelling event has just started – over and out.”
The Round Britain Crew will be sending us daily updates from Sea Dragon, which will be posted here on the eXXpedition website. You will also be able to see updates from the crew and ground team throughout Round Britain on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
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