And the journey of the little people continues... I am currently for work in Singapore and will use my leave to tour Asia a little bit. Based on the amount of keyrings I still have, I made approx. 200 little people since last year and will bring these limited edition keepsakes to the stopovers in Ha Long Bay and Zhuhai.
I look forward to meeting crew and staff but also supporters in the stopovers especially as some had been on leg 1 or training with me. This way my Clipper journey continues and the good efforts towards UNICEF and Rotary equally grow.
After two cancelled flights I am now finally heading back to work 😅.
The last six weeks of travelling through South America were amazing. Nature, people and experiences were great and I truly believe that many strangers are just friends you haven't met yet. During the doldrums, and many of the flights after that I made my little people keyrings that are now making many keys and bags more fun.
Let me know if you want some as they make great gifts too 🥰.
We made it ! We crossed an ocean, crossed the Atlantic, crossed the equator, crossed many time zones and many personal boundaries. Punta del Este is our new home for a few days .... after that my journey continues, but now we still have a week before the team sets off for South Africa.
Race 1 is done and our mini stopover in Puerto Sherry almost too. Check the video below for some highlights from our first race.
Personally I didn't have the best week with seasickness and injury but luckily I got the all clear and nothing is broken. Hopefully with time the bruises and sores will vanish and I look forward to sailing to South America.
Positives in the negatives were seeing plenty luminescent algae around the boat , millions of stars, shooting stars, the Starlink parade of satellites, little birds finding a rest on board, a flying fish adding to night watch excitement and of course many many dolphins and bigger birds circling our boat along the way.
Today is finally the big day. Livestream from Portsmouth will start at 12h15 pm British time. It includes departure procedure (parade, stage photo, fleet blessing, line slipping, parade of sails) and race start (4pm) https://www.clipperroundtheworld.com/livestream All further links to the race tracker etc. are above in the description.
Here the link to the racetracker - we are CV28 or Unicef https://www.clipperroundtheworld.com/race/standings
And here the Route map: https://www.clipperroundtheworld.com/race/route-map
On the train to the south now... This means I completed what I would say is one of the most stressful parts of this adventure... Packing 😅.
It isn't easy to really know what you will and won't need. Of course we practiced this during the 4 levels of training and have established what we don't need, but then there are also all those possible scenarios of where you might need or want this or that... No shop or delivery service in the middle of the ocean though.
As space is tight we will each just have one cubby hole available to put our personal stuff. In addition our foulies stay in the wet lockers on either side of the galley and boots will probably be stringed on to the bottom bunks.
If you now see a huge pile of stuff everywhere you might not be far off from what it will look like during watch change. For all those random items found on the boat we actually even have a lost and found bag that we will discuss during the daily crew meeting.
Packing and kit are I think some of the most discussed topics during training... what to pack, how to pack and then simply try it out. In comparison to the trainings I have been on, we are hot bunking during the race meaning that you also can't really get to your cubby hole without waking up your bunk buddy 🤭 so in comes a day pack for the saloon.
Let's see if what I packed fits in my cubby hole this week. If not I luckily have my sister that can take the excess back home 😊.
Part of packing is also your bed... below my borrowed (massive, warm and dry) ocean sleeping bag that I improved with velcro protectors as they were rather annoying during training 😎. The owner of it was very happy about this improvement and looks forward to having it delivered for his participation in Leg 2 😉.
Last day at work today until December.
Loads of colleagues are now team supporters and parading off my fundraising paracord bracelets 💙😎⛵
As international employees we travel a lot, meet plenty of people and get to live with some of them too. One of my colleagues had this cool graphic made and now it's hanging on the wall with the QR code to the UNICEF fundraising page. Thanks again!
Everyone wished me well and reminded me to stay safe and help the others to do so too. Slow is safe, and safe is fast😎
Funny how many reacted the same when they saw the image I had immediately printed "oh wow, but it's not blue” 🤣 I clearly trained them well. 💙
Voilà ! The article in "The Way Ahead" (TWA) is now online 🤩.
TWA is the Young Professionals magazine of the Society of Petroleum Engineers and engages with the YP community by sharing interesting topics, career tips, or YP spotlights to help inspire others about what is possible.
Thank you so much for supporting my adventure this way.
Read the full article here.
What's with this odd fundraising goal?
Together with the 733 USD I raised with the last two fundraisers I had increased my target to 1079 USD for this one.
This would make 1812 USD in total which represents 1 USD for every 4 miles sailed (7250 planned in total).
Let's see if we can achieve this.
As inspiration below the video from Leg 1 race 1 to the Bay of Biscay from the last race. This year we will head to Spain instead.
Just over 3 weeks to go till #thebigblueboat sets sail for the south and preparations are in full swing.
This first week of prep many of our team leads got their respective training in Gosport incl. :
- sail repair,
- engineer with the maintenance team (engine, generator, water maker),
- media with the Comms team (for all stories and footage coming from the boat),
- bosun (lifejackets, deck gear),
- fundraising with UNICEF UK and
- medical assistant training (medical kit and shore support procedures for our doctors on board).
We also got all of our new ropes so that the team was busy whipping the ends before replacing the old lines as well as servicing all jammers and some winches.
As one of the team coordinators for Team UNICEF and fan of a good labelling system, I spent the week getting our admin kit below deck ready as well as sorting all the things we got as a team for additional comfort on the race. Labelling bunks, personal storage space as well as victualling space is crucial to keep the boat shipshape, know where to find what but also avoid any confusion or frustration about where to put your belongings. 20+ people living and racing day and night on a 70ft yacht for 11 months total means it's going to be very tight (just calculate the amount of meals we need to pack for each leg).
The inner child in me loves glow in the dark tape, so I am very happy I could make our operations on deck safer this way and apply a little personal touch for all spaces for crew and their belongings below deck. Glow in the dark and reflective paracord are also part of my kit to make my fundraising bracelets (fun and functional), which I made while others were still sleeping this week (see image below).
A donor on my justgiving page asked me to wear my life jacket at all times ... so here a little video showing how these are made.
Being an engineer, and wearing lifejackets also at work, I kind of fell in love with the buckle system on our jackets during my first training in 2021. We had the last race editions jackets on board and those lime green metal buckles were amazing - if you take the time to read / understand the instruction. Blind and with one hand (thanks to the little overlap) you can do or undo your buckle - best ever!
I will certainly wear mine at all time when on deck. It's a challenge especially when its hot and the sea is totally flat. We actually experienced this during Level 4 training where a few people forgot to put them on as the added weight or restriction aren't something you miss when your boat is just drifting and you are baking in the sun. Luckily this is where teamwork and training come in so that we help each other remember, same as we do with the lifeline when we need to clip on.
Tada! 🤗🧩 Puzzle complete!
We are sailing to Spain 🇪🇸 😎 I guess I really need to brush up on my Spanish now.
Less than 50 days to go until I say "bye for now 👋" So here as promised the introductory video I used during my presentations at work.
I also realised that I did not share yet that I took on the role of Team Coordinator (TC) for team UNICEF and will support the team also after my leg 1 participation.
Together with a UNICEF circumnavigator and all the other TCs we had a training with a former TC to learn the does and don'ts of this role. TCs will organise the boat and the crew on board and during stop overs to support the skipper and AQP in keeping the crew and the other leading functions in line with our duties and find opportunities. Other roles onboard for which Clipper is providing the respective leads with additional training are: Engineer (taking care of the engine); Bosun (taking care of anything mechanical e.g. winches, rigging, safety equipement); Sail repair (smaller tears can be repaired on board, if not we loose points); Victualling (shopping , storage and allocation of food on board); medical assistant (a medical professional that will help to keep track of our medical inventory on board) and not to forget,especially as we are UNICEF, the fundraising coordinator (coordinate all fundraising events and people's contribution towards the race's and team's fundraising efforts for UNICEF).
Luckily I work with vessels for a living so that I was able to get a template for a crew list to make a better overview for anyone involved on our boat. It's fun and a great learning opportunity.
We also create our own calendar of things to celebrate onboard. As you never know what a day on the water will be like, it's always good to be able to have a little celebration that might make a huge difference that day. This was also one of the ticks on my decision list when I signed up for leg 1, as I will have my birthday onboard. I had hoped to be somewhere on the water, but with the start date in September we will now most likely celebrate in port. Positive side of this, is that my sister and nephew will be able to celebrate with me.
Today, many of us are off to teambuilding weekend. I believe all teams ended up doing something in the UK afterall. We had tried to go elsewhere but then decided to go for numbers instead.
Luckily about 20 of team UNICEF will join for this occasion to bond and develop team spirit. We booked a little youth hostel on the coast. Our schedule account for several fun training activities incl. baking, orientation and navigation as well as creativity and ingenuity.
Hopefully the weather will adapt, keep to our plans too 😎
Another day another muffin 🧁.
Today I had another info session and recorded it for those at work that could not join last week. Remaining muffins were shared in the coffee corners with the link to my UNICEF fundraising page.
Why do I do this? For one to answer those many questions I had received before, without becoming a broken record. And to give other people the chance to know about this opportunity also available to them. If I had not seen the ad 2 years ago I would not be here right now.
One colleague already did further research 😎 will he go next?
I will share in the next few days a few of the videos I used to make these info sessions more realistic and interesting.
As I mentioned team Dan now became UNICEF!
To be honest we were hoping this would happen, as ,speaking to each other at crew allocation, we noticed that many of our team are either working or volunteering in the humanitarian sector or had expressed interest to be part of team UNICEF.
What does this mean to us and you ? Well we will be raising, just like any other crew member of the clipper race, funds for UNICEF UK, but we of course will be the boat also raising awareness by carrying the logo on the hull too. With the big blue boat, as it has been called in the past, we will race the world and hopefully remind some people to check out this children's charity and how they can help.
You can follow us on social media @thebigblueclipperboat and help me raise funds here: https://www.justgiving.com/page/carolineon-thebigblueclipperboat
Watch the video of this partnership from the last race edition below.
We did indeed eventually find a bit of wind so that we could do the actual Le Mans start offshore and sailed south to the coast of France before heading west and then back North-east. As the race was so short we had agreed to reduce all watches to 4h in order for everyone to get a bit of sailing and race feeling in.
Personally, I was very happy to see our skipper impressed with some of the French fishing buoys to have lights on them for visibility. This is often something we try to facilitate at work when we have projects or sailing routes crossing fishing areas. Nobody wants to catch a line or net by accident.
Anyway, back to the training race. The next morning we had a good run and had a nice overtaking around the first mark (see picture). I then spent some time below deck wooling the spinnaker we had dropped for the course change and then making breakfast. The wind certainly increased as the coconut milk oatmeal pot on the stove was getting to the maximum tilt 😂. Moving inside the boat was increasingly difficult, so that a mooring line was spun across the galley access, so that you could pull yourself walking from one side to another. For me in the cooking spot it was much easier. The 70s have definitely been well designed with less open space so that it might feel tighter but at least you have a wall / barrier to use and can safely move around at a 45 degree angle. Don't get me wrong, getting in my top bunk on the high side was more acrobatic than you would expect of me.
Around 17h on the 2nd race day, we arrived at the finishing mark - no cheers or anything joyful from outside our boat as we were alone ... we were the first ones there 😎. The news of our team partner had been published earlier that day so that this was the first win for team UNICEF! Well... Uni-hai or Zhu-nicef as we had called our mixed team that week.
It was great, we saw some of the other boats in the distance and some just about as they were on the horizon. The wind was decreasing and it took the 2nd one, team Ineke, that had been very far away from the other courses, another 30-60 mins to cross the finish. We had waited as we weren't due in port before 20h. We gave them horns and a Laola aka mexican wave when they arrived and were thanked and applauded for our win in return. Great race and great sportsmanship! The other boats were still far away and started drifting away due to the currents and no wind at all.
What a week! Only deep clean left to do the next day.
The power to unplug and be in the moment is certainly one I channel well.
Level 4 training is now already 2 weeks ago and so much has happened since. I will however first wrap up from level 4 for today.
Despite having basically no wind our joint team on CV 26 was able to perform well.
For the practice Le Mans start all boats lined up next to eachother with the mainsail hoisted, the motor running. All steering in the same direction at the same speed with the same sail plan ready to go. A 10 min Countdown is started.
At the 4 min mark all crew must be behind the first coffee grinder in the cockpit (all eagerly ready for the next steps). If someone does go forward all the other crew of the vessels next to you will for sure make some comments 😂.
At the 1 min mark the engine is turned off, the area gets really quite as we had no wind at all. People are excited and go through their tasks again.
The horn sounds through the VHF and from the race official dinghy. Every one runs to their marks and both head sails get hoisted simultaneously (see below). Once done everyone goes to the high side to help with every kilo of their being to trim the boat. After 10 minutes of the drag race the horn sounds again and our boat clearly won this practice race!
Unfortunately due to the wind ... Or the lack thereof we don't practice the line start and instead are told by the race office to motor towards our first race mark and search for wind...
Final night at anchor. This time with a few alarms, that could be reasoned away with current and tidal influences. Modern technology is great and yet simple tools like a glow in the (diving) compass and a good anchor watch rotation with handover and note taking is all you really need to sleep safe at anchor.
Today is finally race day. Due to light winds we will only do 1 race, starting at lunch and planned to finish on Friday evening. We will head towards France do a course and come back. If you are keen to follow us with the other 5 boats this week on level 4 training you can check here. We are CV26 and the others CV2x .
Level 4 is all about preparing us for the unexpected and getting us ready for anything life, weather or the boat will throw at us.
We already had done towing (see picture below) and boat to boat transfer drills when our engine didn't quite want to play along at the end of the second day. Therefore the skippers decided to sail through the night instead. Our teams were great going into an unexpectedly early start of the watch system with three 4h periods during the night and two 6h periods during the day.
As we are close to Gosport the maintenance team was able to help again set us up for a safe continuation of our course.
Day 1 is done.
In order to accommodate best to everyone's schedule some level 4 weeks the training doesn't happen on your boat or only with your team. We are theoretically on our boat, which is nice to find out all the little things that are yet to bet improved. However we are not alone, as team James with their 5 crew members joined us 7 crew members on team Dan for the week.
Personally, I like it, as I get to meet even more people and teaching styles. Also big advantage when we will go fully into our watch system, we will all have both our skipper and 1st mate for the entire watch.
Talking about watches ... No not the one to read the time off ... the shift / duty / watch. I am currently on anchor watch in order to make sure that we aren't drifting away to land, sea or the other vessels while the rest of the boat is sleeping. For this I was handed over a handheld (glow in the dark) compass and three fixed reference points on shore. Red flashing post 226, 5th bright light on the street 004 and slow white flashing light 078 to be marked in the logbook when taken. If any reference changes more than 5 degrees I need to wake up the skipper so that we can investigate and correct in time and not aground or collide. In case I also fall asleep or don't do my job we also have an anchor alarm set on the plotter that will wake us all up. As I am alone on deck and it's night, I am picked into the jackstay with my tether.
5 more minutes before I need to wake up the next watch. Let's take another reading.
It's been 3 weeks since crew allocation where 42 of our 65 strong crew had met for the first time (picture below). Most of us are total strangers - I actually knew two. One lady from the Netherlands which I had met during one of the many local crew meet-ups we have organised around the world to meet more of the upcoming clipper crew. The other one, one of the 9 circumnavigators of our crew, was on my level 2 training, but on the other watch 😊. Nevertheless he already has seen me at my worst 🤢.
We have created various ways to communicate, group chats, group pages etc. We have created a playlist to define our team song. We started planning the team building weekend - I had put my hand up for this one and tried hard not to have it in the UK again and have something special elsewhere. As most members could join in the UK, even if just for one afternoon, it became the English south coast though. We started our crew fund and had very enlightening discussions about equipment leading to hygiene and other topics. E.g. a toilet seat (currently removed on the yachts) will rip off quickly anyway, might lead to very uncomfortable injuries for the men (yes at a 45° angle of the boat everyone has to sit down and defy gravity!) and needs additional cleaning. So - no toilet seat for those who were missing that piece of comfort onboard.
As you can see funny but also very open communication is exactly what we need to gel those 65 people together.
On May 20th the big day had finally arrived. The day we had all marked in our calendars and had been waiting for, for so long.
May 20th was crew allocation day, which meant that over 450 crew members arrived to Portsmouth from almost 50 countries to find out who they would be sailing with. We all got our pictures taken, could see and talk to various race partners and of course were proudly wearing our new soft shells marked "race crew". It was great to see so many people from the different training weeks again and catch up.
After some initial information the time finally came to reveal the skipper and AQP (additionally qualified person / 1st mate) pairings and their team members. For this we were all given wristbands up front that would light up to confirm when our team was on stage.
Imagine 450 people looking anxiously at a small white piece of plastic / silicone in hope it would light up when their favourite team was on stage. 10 - 9 - 8 ... the room is buzzing with excitement ... 3 - 2 - 1 blue/green light !!! Stand up and see who your team members are.
Yeay ... Oh hello - I know you !
Ok - sit down again ... happy congrats from my ladies team around me and now on to the next team. Well this was exciting ! Wait - what is the name of my skipper? What team am I on? Checking the phone to find the picture of the pair on stage but I only see Laura's name - my 1st mate. Then a message from my sister, who is like my parents watching the life stream from home - Team Dan. Thanks for that! She also sent me a screenshot she took when my name ran through on the wall behind them - hehe.
Ok, now the other few teams. Our ladies group is cheering each time one of us get's allocated - what a great support stepping into the unknown.
"We can reveal that Clipper 2023-24 Race Start weekend has been confirmed for 2-3 September 2023. This weekend will be packed full of celebrations, including the Race Start Departure Ceremony, which is held before the teams leave for their eleven month circumnavigation. We hope that many of you are able to join us to say bon voyage to Round the Worlder and Leg 1 Race Crew."
When I originally signed up for the race, the fact of having my birthday on the water was definitely one bonus. With the info above, I will now make sure to also be part of the delivery crew that will bring the vessels from Gosport to our departure port. Any possibility to celebrate on the water always lifts everyone's mood. It won't quite be on the leg but at least during preparation 😎.
Let's see when the next bits of the puzzle come through.
Learning never stops.
I am on leave this week as crew allocation day is finally approaching with big steps.
In the UK many professional conferences and exhibitions are free to attend, so that I like to see and hear about what else is out there. End of April I attended the annual event in Birmingham and today I am off to London before heading further down to Portsmouth for crew allocation on Saturday.
Next to all the learning at those events it is so important and very rewarding to network. This isn't easy for everyone, which is why I hosted / am hosting a networking session for women in health and safety during both events. The support and encouragement from fellow ladies in this profession might make all the difference to some.
As you can tell by my luggage it reflects the mix of the two parts of this combined trip. Large handbag for the conference and practical backpack for the rest.
Being a regular solo traveller myself I also look forward to experiencing my first females only Hostelle in London! Great idea to encourage more female solo travellers on a budget feel safe.
"Experience... Comes from experiences, so make sure to get enough of those under your belt first and don't just pretend this license makes you experienced"
this was what the examiner told our group of coastal yacht master candidates once we all passed the practical exam in 2006. This remains with me as I don't take qualifications or time in service for proof of competency - for me it's more important that you know your limits, where to grow and how to transfer your knowledge to others.
The AQP / first mates for the race have been announced and it's great to see that age doesn't matter to demonstrate experience and leadership. It's their experiences and desire to teach and support the crew and skipper during the race. I look forward to having any one of them on my team.
This is actually the third fundraiser I have run since signing up for the race.
If you want to read more about what happened so far check these links:
2021: New year's resolution and level 1 (https://raise.rotary.org/CKannwischer/challenge)
2022: 25 year anniversary and level 2 and 3 training (https://raise.rotary.org/CKannwischer/challenge1)
In total 733 USD were raised over the years.
Today I finally got to finalise my sizes for the high tech pieces of kit that will keep me dry and safe during my race.
I love getting to know the processed involved in material engineering and item design. Everything has a reason and feedback is embraced to make it even better.
Looks a bit like a rubber ducky but I love the happy colour and look forward to defying the elements with it.
Very nice to finally see who the skippers are for this year's race. It's great to see that age doesn't matter and experience and attitude are key components to lead a team of strangers across oceans. No matter who I will sail with I am sure to learn a lot from them.
Currently in the Middle East for a week before heading back to Europe and the cold.
Currently for work far east, also living on a boat (at anchor though) and meeting loads of international sailors while visiting the vessels.
It's a great experience to see how proud people are of their work and that they enjoy being able to provide for their families. Therefore it's even more important to give everyone a chance for basic education and literacy so that they can later on find employment and lead a satisfying life.
Sailing, be that for work or for fun brings people together and makes them a team.
LinkedIn banner created to match this page ;) let's see how much more awareness and much-needed funds this can generate. Everyone who followed the link: check out the info below and share whatever you want! Comments can be added to the donations.
Here are the facts of Leg 1 - THE ATLANTIC TRADE WINDS LEG:
- from the UK to South America
- 33 days at sea
- 2 races
- 10 to 30 °C
- 7250mi / 12,000km
Together, we can empower communities and help support basic education and literacy and reduce gender disparity in education.