All the gear – no idea: A definitive kit list from the Clipper Race 11-12

A year in a sail boat has taught few lessons about the whole kit and caboodle. Some gear was indispensable and some just utter nonsense. I’ve jotted down some notes on my experiences from the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race 11-12 (onboard Clipper 68 CV11), hopefully it will help future crew to avoid piling up useless stuff.

It’s worth also realising that all items brought onboard may get lost or broken, so one cannot be too precious about anything at all.

Please note: I am not affiliated with any of the companies, brands or products mentioned here.

Few particulars

Clipper Race is an amateur race, this year competing for the last time on Clipper 68’s. The crew brought onboard their own gear in addition to branded foul weather gear, lightweight jackets and a shirt provided by the race organization. The sponsors arranged most of the teams a uniform of some sort – a t-shirt, vest, cap or jacket that was used for ceremonial purposes only (e.g. the race start, race finish, prize giving, public events.). This way the condition and appearances of the team gear could be preserved during the year-long race series.

The weight limits for the crew kit varied from a team to another, generally hovering around 20-25 kg. It was entirely up to the skipper whether this weight limit was enforced in any way. On Visit Finland we had a weight limit of 20 kg excluding foul weather gear, boots and a sleeping bag. Our gear weight was not monitored at any point of the race.

One of the most important learning during the journey was to buy only minimum amounts that I needed for the leg in question and to eliminate stuff that was brought onboard “just in case”. For example I did not need a hot water bottle at all during the race, despite of lugging it all the way from Australia. As a matter of fact, nobody used hot water bottles in our team, even though this was an item highly praised and recommended by Clipper Race 09-10 crew. Neither hand or toe warmers were used widely, quite the opposite: in New York the fleet friends offered them to each other before finally chucking them to the bin.

It just goes to show that all recommendations (like these) are given based on experience of one particular year and race, as the conditions may be colder, hotter, milder or stormier each year.

Bunk & storage

We drew bunk lots in the beginning of each leg for equal opportunity’s sake, therefore the needs varied depending on the location of the bunk and weather conditions during the leg. For example crew inhabiting mid-lower bunks on wet legs rigged shower curtains to protect the bunk from water splashes entering through the forward hatch during sail transfers, or put a plastic sheet between the bunk and the mattress to prevent bilge water soaking the mattress. Any other bunk did not suffer from these problems. Shower curtains etc. was easily found from the shops after drawing lots – carrying a shower curtain around the world just in case would have been complete waste of space, and once one crew member had rigged it, generally it remained in place until the end of the whole race.

We did not do hot-bunking in Visit Finland. The bunk was my home, my refuge, my private area in the crowded boat. Few simple things kept it clean and tidy.

  • Stretch terry fitted sheet. A must-have item for better hygiene and easier mattress cleaning after each leg. This item makes so much sense from health point of view, that I find it incomprehensible how so many people leave to seas without a sheet of any kind. Especially in warm climates all kinds of skin issues like rash, fungal infections etc. spread easily, so I’d rather not risk it sleeping straight on a mattress shared by many! It weights next to nothing, so there really is no drawback at all in the Clipper Race environment.
  • Waterproof sleeping bag. Mine is an Ocean Sleepwear sleeping bag. The benefits and drawbacks of different brands have been discussed in the Mid-race kit review comments. I like OS for its easy rolling and packing properties. Round the world crew and cold leg participants need a waterproof sleeping bag, otherwise it is not essential. I stowed it away for the warm legs / races (legs 5 except couple of last days, leg 7).
  • Rectangular sleeping bag silk liner. This kept the sleeping bag clean: it is much easier to wash than the whole sleeping bag or layers of it. I washed the silk liner during each stopover while the actual sleeping bag got two washes around the world. Rectangular cut gives more leg space, so I also used it as a lightweight blanket in warm climates. Silk is warm and quick to dry, therefore it can be washed also onboard.
  • Travel pillow. Small, lightweight, easy to wash and pack.
  • Waterproof pillow cover. Kept the pillow dry.
  • Synthetic lightweight fleece throw blanket. It costs next to nothing, weights nothing, and has multiple uses. I used this as a second sheet during warm & sweaty legs, as a blanket on cooler summer nights, inside my sleeping bag during really cold times, stuffing under my knees etc.
  •  Travel bungee washing line. Travel line with two intertwined threads does not require clothes pegs at all. I rigged the bungee cord above the bunk either from deck fittings protruding from the ceiling or lashings of the above bunk. Essential for keeping small accessories within reach at all times in bunk, e.g. woolly hat, cap, sunglasses, buff, jay-cloth, socks, gloves etc.
  • S-biners or carabiners. Nite Ize stainless steel s-biners are The Best. They can be used to hang anything and everything from the bunk edges, including deck shoes, sailing boots, water bottle, dry bags for instant access. Lightweight. The spectrum coloured ones did not rust, while the silvery s-biners did get some corrosion spots.
  • Small & medium sized dry bags. I was very happy with Overboard dry bags: they did not get mouldy (unlike some thinner and porous materials) and were sturdy enough to survive around through thick and thin. There was no room for large dry bags, I’d say 30 l was probably the largest useful size. On the hindsight I’d get now mainly 5 l, 12 l and 20 l bags in addition to the odd 30 l for larger stuff like a dry suit. I also had all electronics in Crewsaver Aran dry bag (each device individually packed into thinner stuff bags with plenty of silica gel), which was great for it’s transparency, however I’d now get a PVC free transparent dry bag, e.g. SealLine EcoSee brand. Guiding principle for packing: small things go into small bags, large items go into large bags. Bags with windows are the best for easy identification, and same sized bags can be bought in different colours for colour-coded categorising. The Overboard bags come with shoulder straps and carabiners: I’d leave the straps home, there’s no use for them on the boat. Stuffsacs by Mountain Equipment are my all time favourites, although made of thinner material. They are superb for trekking and camping.
  • Laundry bag. A thin, large stuff bag for the dirty clothes.
  • Sturdy coathanger (x 1) if the wet locker design requires use of coat hangers, like onboard Visit Finland.
  • White and black marker pen. For labelling everything from socks to hats to cheese.


  • Simple race wrist watch. Absolutely necessary item for all legs. It doesn’t have to cost arm and leg, mine cost around £35. Essential for tracking time onboard, log keeping, watch changes, helm changes, spinnaker trimmer changes, cooking, personalised wake-up times, race starts etc. My Optimum OS sailing watch was brilliant. It doesn’t have any fancy firework functionalities – only everything you really need onboard. Countdown syncing feature was especially great, which helped to synchronise countdown if a gun was missed.
  • Silica gel for removing moisture from bags & electronics.
  • iPod + Waterproof casing & headphones. Music brings privacy and peace in otherwise busy boat.
  • Amazon Kindle e-reader + Waterproof casing. Books transport mind to other worlds when one needs mental space & escape routes. Alternatively people brought iPads onboard if they already had one. It all depends what entertainment one enjoys during off-duty.
  • Waterproof pocket camera. I cannot recommend brands, as I broke two Olympus Toughs during the journey – both times a metallic frame came off around the viewfinder. The older model had good image quality (and withstood several years of bashing and banging), the new one left a lot of space for improvement. For example the newer model could not focus using the contrast between white clouds and blue sky! What use is such camera for a cloud-spotter? Nonsense. A crewmate swears in name of Canon pocket cameras for their image quality, but they are not waterproof.

Clothes & stuff for hot legs (for women & experimental men)

White colour is extremely difficult to keep clean onboard, I would seriously opt for any other colour just for aesthetic reasons. White shirts started looking diseased with all sun cream, bilge water and food stains on them. (And no, washing does not remove stains from whites.)

  • Bikini. (x 1) For salt water showers on deck & swimming for cruise phases.
  • Quick-drying shorts with built-in brief liner. (x 1) UnderArmour has some absolutely great products that fit the bill, e.g. running shorts. They can be found easily from Australia. The built-in mesh pants are very comfortable for quicker drying when being soaked by waves – cotton or merino wool undies take forever to dry.
  • T-shirts or tops. (x 2) Loose enough to let the air flow in-between the skin and the shirt.
  • Polo / golf / tennis shirt. (x 1) Collar offers some relief from the chafing life jacket. Icebreaker does merino wool polo shirts, BAM does same from bamboo. They’re both really good, although I’m partial to merino wool clothing. There are other companies in the markets too.
  • Sports bra tops. (x 2) Sweaty Betty became my favourite sports bra brand very quickly, their Agile All Sports Bra is splendid.
  • Undies (x 3). Merino wool for its antibacterial qualities.
  • Light coloured long sleeve shirt. (x 1) Protection against sunburn.
  • Long trousers (x 1) for dirty work.
  • Deck shoes. I prefer sneaker-style deck shoes made of mesh and with removable inner soles, my good old Harkens have been serving well, and still going strong.
  • Flip flops for life down below (& showers on shore)
  • Cap or a wide brimmed hat. Essential against heat stroke.
  • Sunglasses. Must block all UV bands, polarised are the best for water sports. I went through 4 pairs of sunglasses during the race, so I avoided buying anything too expensive. (Mine either broke because of corrosion or scratched lenses. I don’t think low price had anything to do with the damage – the most expensive pair went overboard!)
  • Water bottle with bite valve or other mouthpiece. Water bottle allows monitoring water consumption – important both in hot and cold weather. 0.6-0.75 l size was the best. Even though CamelBak bottles were a popular option, more or less everybody broke them during the race (myself included). The bite valve of CamelBak bottles is attached with horizontal pins that easily snap off in frequent use, then the valve starts wobbling and eventually comes off altogether. Also bite valves are difficult to clean: mould starts growing inside the tubes especially in warm weather. (Clean with baby bottle sterilising tablets.) Cheaper water bottles can be far superior. Updated 12/07/2013: I have found recently Aladdin Aveo water bottles, which are perfect for boat life. They have a two-level screw cap giving options to use wide-mouth opening or a drinking spout. There are no moving pieces prone to breakages. I have used and liked this very much on a transatlantic boat delivery.
  • Suncream. I started with 50 SPF and later settled to 30 SPF. The team might buy suncream for general use instead of everybody bringing their own.
  • Facial suncream. For vanity’s sake I had a non-comedogenic suncream for the face.
  • Head torch. Red light feature is mandatory. Black Diamond Storm head torch was really good and truly waterproof – thumbs up. Two regular water-resistant Petzl head torches just corroded and gave up, they were complete waste of money.
  • Light coastal sailing jacket. Hood is mandatory for squalls. My Musto Sardinia jacket made it to the end despite of some hiccups with a drawstring around the hood. Mine got mouldy, but another crew members jacket didn’t.
  • Light salopettes. My Gills are great. Women’s OS2 salopettes have a drop seat – a bonus. I also wore these during coastal races in Atlantic, sometimes combined with mid-layer salopettes underneath if it was coldish.

Clothes for cold legs

Cold and wet legs require much more complicated logistics of getting dressed than warm legs, just because it is so important to try and keep clothes dry all the way from the bunk to the deck. The guiding principle is: they can only get wetter, so I kept my precious mid-layers and other dry gear always zipped up and in a dry bag when not in use. Even when they got slightly damp, because they can only get wetter, never drier!

I’d warmly recommend learning the basics of layering before going to cold climates, because I’ve heard and seen so many outrageous cases of people wearing far too many layers when it gets cold. (Come on, 9 tops?) This is complete nonsense, says this girl grown up in -30°C winters. The layering works only if there is space for air in between the layers – it’s the air that keeps us warm, fabric just traps it in. Even during coldest of the cold nights, I wore only the following: Panties, sports bra, long sleeve thermal top, thermal leggings, running shorts, long sleeve fleece top, gilet (body warmer), mid-layer salopette, mid-layer jacket, liner socks, waterproof socks, dry suit, neck tube, beanie, gloves, boots. Full stop.

It is also worth noticing that all cold weather gear and thermal layers MUST be bought before embarking to the race. You cannot buy cold weather gear from countries in tropical climates! For example merino wool thermals can be bought with 100% certainty from the UK, New Zealand, US and Canada, maybe from Cape Town and Australia (except during summer season), impossible from Brazil, Indonesia, Singapore or China.

  • Dry suit. I would not sail around the world without this item, no matter what anyone else says. I was told it’s waste of money by many crew from 09-10 race, but no, it certainly wasn’t. I am convinced that my Henri Lloyd one piece dry suit was indispensable for my well being across the North Pacific. In fact I did not wear any other foul weather gear up on deck for the whole crossing – it was dry suit weather every one of those 29 days. We had two Henri Lloyd and two Musto dry suits on Visit Finland. Musto has a tube feature for blowing air inside the suit. Henri Lloyd has better hood design with transparent panels – great visibility even when the hood covers eyes. There was also pocket envy: Henri Lloyd suit has superbly warm fleece lined pockets. Wearers of both brands reported leaking socks / wet feet after some use, but mine were mostly fine thanks to meticulous sock-folding inside the suit and sealing them in with the velcro strips, whenever it was not in use.If anyone needs any reasons why dry suits are so good, here are a few:
    1) Small people have small body volume but large skin surface area, and therefore feel cold and hypothermic quicker than large people. Dry suit keeps the warmth inside with appropriate insulation. You can even blow air inside it to increase insulating buffer against cold air.
    2) I did not have to change my thermal layers because of wetness, but because I was ashamed to wear the same thermal shirt and leggings for solid one month! Less gear, less bulk.
    3) Crew wearing foulies & smock jackets reported regularly feeling cold and being soaked to the core across N Pacific crossing. I was dry and warm for most of the journey, then damp but warm.
    4) Helps to preserve life in the off chance of going overboard in cold waters.Dry suit requires some maintenance gear such as zip wax, oil for the silicon cuffs and tiny bottle of talcum powder. These can be shared with other dry suit wearers!
  • Waterproof mid-layer jacket & salopettes. (x 1) Fleece-lined Henri Lloyd mid-layer jacket and salopettes were absolutely brilliant. Fantastic even. This is a must-have thermal layer under a dry suit. This also is an important barrier between inevitable wetness down below, encountered before getting dressed up in foulies / dry suit or when stripping them off.
  • Long sleeve thermal merino wool tops (x 2). Essential. T-shirts are useless during cold legs, shirts must have long sleeves. I am a great fan of Icebreakers. Most useful thickness is 200 g/m² in my opinion.
  • Thermal merino wool leggings (x 2). See above.
  • Merino wool panties (x 3 – 4). As a rule of thumb I’d bring now one pair per week. During wet legs it is impossible to do any laundry, so freshness can be extended with the help of pantyliners & frequent wet wipe washes.
  • Fleece top (x 2). One fleece would be perfectly enough, but the second is for the odd case of getting wet or dirty. In normal use a fleece top worn over a long sleeve merino top can remain decent for 3 weeks or so.
  • Waterproof knee-high socks (x 2). Essential. I lost my second pair on the way to China, they disappeared from top of the generator, which was used for drying small items. (Still shaking my fist in rage! Label everything with marker pens! Everything!) Thank goodness I had a second pair. My Sealskinz socks were great: I wore the mid-weight knee length socks and Country socks. After losing the mid weight socks, the country socks were on duty in every single watch across the North Pacific from China to US – my boots were wet from day one of that leg. It is worth realising that waterproof socks will keep feet dry only if the membrane is intact. Punch a hole in them, wash in too hot temperatures, too much stretch etc, and the socks will become just as wet as any normal socks. These were best worn over liner socks and mid-layer salopettes for protection against wet boots and wet dry suit socks. I’d pick a size too large with hindsight. It required nightmarishly complicated logistics to keep the OUTSIDES of the socks dry in attempt to preserve dryness of the dry suit interiors. No wonder it took 30 minutes to just dress up!
  • Liner socks (x 3 – 4). One pair per week. These keep the waterproof socks somewhat decent and clean inside.
  • Merino wool neck tube / snoot (x 1). This can be worn under a cap, balaclava style, around the neck etc. Merino wool is much warmer and useful than similar products made of cotton. I used the snoot also in my bunk to keep the head warm – generally it remained dry under a beanie and the dry suit hood on deck.
  • Sailing boots. (x 1) It is impossible to find united opinions on sailing boot brands. All of them are ultimately rubbish, some just less than the others. I was happy with my Dubarry Ultima boots, until they truly gave up the ghost in China. It needs to be said that by then the loyal Dubarries had been on frequent duty for 2 years. It was impossible to find decent replacement in small sizes, until back in the UK! I got Crewsaver long rubber sailing boots from Ireland to ease my plight, they were ok. Leather boots suffer a lot during RTW because they can be cleaned and re-proofed so seldom. Rubber boots seemed to be generally fine apart from being cold, smelly and prone to punctures. The boot styles with integrated gaiters e.g. Dubarry Crosshaven Boot seemed to work fine for their wearers, but unfortunately they do not come in small sizes.
  • Gloves (x 2). Another impossible item. All branded, expensive offshore sailing gloves and winter mitts are useless waste of money. The best ones that worked well were neoprene sea kayaking gloves, e.g. Humboldt SQ 3mm gloves with silicone pattern for better grip. Neoprene watersports gloves are good, because the water forms a layer in between skin and the glove, just like wet suits. All gloves will get soaking wet in the first rain, and they are really needed only to block the wind chill when helming. At other times I’d keep hands in my dry suit pockets. Other fallback option is a combination of very fine merino wool glove liners  and plumbers rubber gloves. They are difficult to dress up, but very effective. I could not find fishermen’s fleece-lined rubber gloves, which were praised by previous race’s skipper Jan.
    Mitten style does not work onboard at all, and I found most offshore gloves too thick for helming – they completely blocked the feel and sensitivity for rudder vibrations. I tried Musto offshore gloves, Sealskinz gloves and winter mitts, but none of them were good at all for offshore sailing. I would not bother even trying to find waterproof gloves now with hindsight, but accept that hands will get inevitably wet.
  • Beanie (x 2). One of the most important items fending off hypothermia. My Sealskinz hi-vis waterproof beanie was fantastic. It fits under a hood and sits close to head so that it does not rotate with the hood when turning this and that way. When it got cold I wore the beanie with a merino wool neck tube underneath. Sealskinz winter hat was not quite as good, somehow it felt colder and bulkier under a hood. I carried also a spare thinner beanie just in case the main one got lost or overboard – fortunately this didn’t happen.
  • Lightweight rain trousers & jacket for the North Pacific leg. Boat interiors got so thoroughly wet across the N Pacific, that it was impossible to sit or lean onto anything without getting clothes wet. I thought our cameraman Stu was a genious for bringing very lightweight rain gear onboard. I bought trousers from Canada, and wore them regularly across the Atlantic back to the UK. It’s worth buying a size too large for easier wearing over other clothes.
  • Head torch (x 1). Red light feature is mandatory. Black Diamond Storm head torch was really good and truly waterproof – thumbs up. Two regular water-resistant Petzl head torches just corroded and gave up, they were complete waste of money.
  • Energy bars & chocolate. Personal stash of extra nutrition was essential especially across North Pacific. Our energy consumption was huge and intake too small, so without chocolate slabs I would have lost more weight than I already did. I’m a great fan of Clif bars: they’ve got also added vitamins and minerals to keep bodies going. The best range of flavours can be found from the US.
  • Water bottle. See warm leg equipment list.

Hygiene & medicine

It was unnecessary to bring any generic medication onboard just in case, because Clipper medical kit was so very extensive. Cough syrups, lozenges, pain killers, you name it.

We did not use the sweet water shower onboard Visit Finland for water preservation. Instead we washed using wet wipes in cold legs and sea water & rain water during warm legs. This was perfectly fine, although it was important to also use deodorant / antiperspirant frequently throughout the day. I did armpit wet-wipe wash every time getting up for a shift (every 4-6 hours), probably this is also a reason I could wear the same shirt up to three weeks!

  • Personal medicine.
  • Toothbrush + case & toothpaste. A toothbrush case is quite essential, if the boat has personal pockets for small items somewhere  near saloon or companionway.
  • Suncream. (Mentioned also in the warm leg gear list)
  • Travel soap. Small bottle of 100ml was perfectly fine for onboard consumption during hot legs. (Across N Pacific shower soap was unnecessary altogether.) I took sometimes refills from marina/public toilet soap dispensers.
  • Deodorant / antiperspirant. For obvious reasons. Stick deodorant is kinder for the fellow crewmembers who do not have to inhale other people’s deo-aerosols. Stick is also better than roll-on variety, because it is dry straight away and therefore does not stick to the clothes.
  • Travel towel. Also doubles up as a screen on lower bunks to give more privacy.
  • Small brush / sponge / wash flannel.
  • Facial exfoliating sponge
  • Travel shampoo. Compact shampoo bar by Lush was fantastic and lasts forever. I’ve still got half of it left after the race. I’d say one shampoo bar & tin is perfectly enough for a RTW race. It is so much better weight-wise than liquid shampoos – they’re just the same but with added water. Thanks Meg for the gift!
  • Leave-in conditioner for long hair. Small quantity e.g. 50 ml is fine and lasts forever.
  • Compact hair brush. The smaller the better. I brushed my hair maybe every 3 days (see next).
  • Hair bands (x 3). I kept my long hair on bun, ponytail or braided all the time. Good quality non-slip ponybands and those without metallic bits are the best. I went half way around the world using only one, so it’s unnecessary to lug too many of them.
  • Ear plugs. Silicone ear plugs blocked the noises away especially during mothers’ long sleep. The best ones are like putty for sealing the ear channel instead of stuffing anything in.
  • Travel laundry soap. Biodegradable non-bio liquid for handwashing onboard. More efficient laundry soap is useful on land, when washing the boat grime off the clothes. The team may buy a box for the boat so that everyone does not have to carry their own.
  • Vitamin supplements with minerals. I forgot to take them in tablet format, however guzzled water-soluble bubbly tablets.
  • Tweezers
  • Cotton buds
  • Nail scissors + nail file
  • Toiletry bag. Travel toiletry bag should have a hook for easy hanging. Sea to Summit makes great lightweight, water resistant toiletry bags. I washed mine in a washing machine every now and then.
  • Sanitary towels and tampons (if required). Tampons with cardboard applicators are ecologically better than their plastic counterparts. More compact, non-applicator tampons are not necessarily a great idea onboard a boat, because the cleanliness of hands and fingernails may be compromised due to difficult sea state etc.


I didn’t need driving goggles (sunglasses work fine during the daytime, during night time one cannot see anything anyway), offshore sailing gloves or winter mittens, hot water bottle, hand or toe warmers, multiple summer tops or shorts. I didn’t like Keen water sport sandals onboard, they are slippery. Also there was too much fussing about padded and waterproof shorts before embarking to the race. Complete nonsense! Women have enough cushioning on their bottoms already without any need for padded shorts, and if the water sloshes up the leg, it will enter the shorts were they waterproof or not!

It is worth packing some shore clothes too.

It is remarkable how little one needs after all, but this is A LOT of gear compared to normal delivery ocean crossings, which usually last only about 3 weeks in way more comfortable (and drier) boats with autopilots and spray hoods.

That’s it. Have I forgotten something? Do let me know.


My Clipper Race campaign has now finished, and I no longer update this blog. I will write about my new adventures on You can also follow my Twitter feed, see my old photos on Flickr and view videos on Vimeo.

I reached a true conclusion of my Clipper  11-12 campaign by making and publishing a book, The Great Escape: from Office to Oceans based on contents of this blog and photographs from the race.


A month ago the Clipper fleet arrived back to Southampton and the crew was united with friends and family waiting ashore. The celebration was over in matter of hours, and in no time we were on our own again.

Half a year ago Rich, the Gold Coast skipper gave me an advice to line up a lot of activities for the return: this would give continuation and something to look forward to after the Clipper Race 11-12. This advice was vital, and no doubt saved me from post-race void. A little thought is given to the life on land, when the race is on and the expectations span only from one meal to the next. The life onboard was very simple and organised; the choices in life were limited to five chilli sauces and the destination was non-negotiable.

It was difficult to imagine beforehand the quietness and solitude of the return, when the team and fleet friends had left either already in Southampton or finally from Gosport. It was very sad to part with Lisa and Karen, we shared many great adventures together – even before the race started! You are the best of the best, ladies.

Gone is the daily watch routine and the friends who could be hugged whenever you (or they) needed it.

On land everything feels infinitely more complicated, and it takes a lot of focus to remember what is important – and what WAS important in the middle of an ocean. There are too many choices and decisions to make on land, it muddles the mind. Instant access to the Internet and always-on connectedness is still draining as ever. Money is needed for everything. There are bills, taxes, GP’s and bank affairs to deal with.

Shooting stars

Make a wish. What is it that you want now and tomorrow?

I want to live, love and be loved. Love is an essential part of living, so I could just as well say:

I want to live.

Simple, isn’t it? This has been my shooting star demand since the beginning of the race journey.

The thought of returning to my old office life has been impossible for almost two years now. It is like having revived from oppressive slumber and then having to choose between sleepwalking and wakefulness.  I’ll choose an existence that is worth striving for.

I left 1.5 years ago from London, after giving away everything that I owned apart from my sailing gear, camera, laptop and hiking boots. I desperately needed a lifestyle change, and I was willing to sacrifice for it. In this process I lost perhaps more money than I care to think of, but in return I have gained freedom, flexibility and faith in life. I have never felt happier and lighter.

None of this could have happened without unwavering support of my family and friends. That is the wonderful part about love. I have been given everything that I have needed when I’ve needed it, without clauses or grumbles. My sister and brother in law have taken care of everything while I’ve been away: first storing my random bits and bobs, then giving me a roof above my head. Without them I would have been completely lost. My mother was worried about my well-being before embarking to the journey, and then helped to fix my broken bones. She never said “I told you so”. My father beams pride. My brother – well, I think he wonders what is going on in his sisters head, but he’s a good man, he keeps it to himself.

My friend Miguel applauds to the adventure, Galit so thoroughly understands my mid-career crisis, Kwame lines up work and Ero is just wonderfully positive as always. Thank you everyone for being you! I wish I could one day give the same support to anyone who needed it.

The end credits

I love all the great friends I have made during the Clipper Race 11-12. Who would have known that there are so many amazing people crammed into so few boats?

Thank you Lisa, Karen, Annelise, Gina, Barry, Rich, Piers, Flavio, Nick, Martyn, Steph, Rachel, Raghu, Matt, Fingers, Admiral, Kyle, Kim, Rob, Vesna, Terry, Debs & mom, Wayne, Bryan, Mel, Babs, Nina, Alvaro, Hannah, Pete, Russell, Pierig, Sherlyn, Sarah, Willie, Wills, Reinhard, James, Ally, Bersi, Yvonne, Michal, Gil, Terry, Mike, Sam, Dave & Pauline, James, Anna, Vivi, Brett and Michelle.

Thank you Clipper team for making it happen: Gillian, Janice, Rob, Paul, Katie, Geoff, Jonathan, Amy, Isobel, Sam, Tess, Rachel and everyone in the Gosport office!

Big maintenance hugs for the triple-trouble: Jules, Greg and Jay. Thanks for fixing what could be fixed at ungodly hours.

Very special thanks to Visit Finland team for a memorable year: Oli & Lucy, Greg, Flavia, Commodore, Super-Sharon, Del, Punchy, Nick, Mel, MC,  Monty, Mark, Jess, Carter, Daniel, Frank, Pekka, Elin, Meg, Daz, Barry, Nigel, Jo J-M, Major, Noddy, Mary, Thomas, Tomi, Alec, Emmy, Inga, Perttu, Carlos, Mandi, Pauli, Polly, Jo P., Stefan, Kurt, Sara, Ole, Nina, Clive, Karin, Eric, Ed, Tea, Lexi, Janet, Linda, Steve and Stu.


The only way is onwards and upwards! I am almost ready to leave back to the seas again, after a hectic month of travel and courses with the UKSA. I have now gained certificates required for a professional sailing career, and will continue working towards RYA Ocean Yachtmaster skippers license.

I have a great feeling about the forthcoming year. Unleash it – I’m ready.

It’s a rare gift, you know, to feel reverence for your own life and to want the best, the greatest, the highest possible, here, now, for your very own. To imagine a heaven and then not to dream of it, but demand it.

– Kira in We the Living by Ayn Rand

The end is nigh

Visit Finland has accepted 10th position in race 15 from Den Helder to Southampton. We will take one point and keep an overall second position in the Clipper Race 11-12. We are now sailing slowly towards a ceremonial finish line in Solent.

The crew is packing their gear down below in anticipation to leave the boat as soon as we’ll hit the dock. I will continue with Oli and Greg back to Gosport to help packing the boat after the mandatory fanfare and finishing shenannigans.

We set out from Gosport to the race start in Southampton almost a year ago. For me the return to Gosport is the true finish, and boat packing is the last act of farewells to the floating home that has taken such good care of us. It is also an opportunity to spend the last days together with Oli the Amazing and Greg, who has been my stellar watch leader through the journey. I would not have accepted orders from anybody else but Greg and Oli – for them I’d climb to the moon to untangle lines, trip the spinnaker or just for the hell of it!

In a weeks time I envision myself having a croissant & Italian coffee for breakfast in a green garden in leafy Winchester. I will put my feet up to a dewy garden chair, enjoy hearing the birds, watching the neighbours cat and the silence of the town before anyone else is awake. I will probably miss the endlessly changing seascape, the sky and clouds, which for me has always given the feeling of change and freedom. Every time we’ve left a port, I’ve been looking forward to losing sight of land and civilisation, to be out there alone with the sea, sky and the boat. It is not a matter of IF but WHEN I will head out again: the sailor in me cannot stay landlocked for long.

Most likely I will not miss a blue dog bowl full of gluey porridge with dried fruit, honey and cinnamon. Nor chili con carne, or any other food that can be bought in family-sized tins. I will not miss cabin fever or social tensions, diesel smell and bilge bucket chain.

The life will be going onward and upward for sure.

Signing off from 50 43 19N 000 56 45W

Holding pattern

Visit Finalnd is now sailing in triangular holding pattern nearby Selsey Bill. The whole fleet is sailing in circles until Sundays welcoming ceremonies.

The race course has been extended and we’re sailing in circles now with the rest of the fleet. We are still tenth without any hope of climbing higher in the positions thanks to unfavourable tides. At the moment we are just sailing to kill time until we are allowed into Solent on Sunday morning.

Our last race of the Clipper Race 11-12 has been disappointing to say the least. The main sail rip practically ruined it for us, and we haven’t been able to sail well enough to pass other yachts despite of several opportunities. We have been stuck in light winds and then finally we were lagging behind enough to be caught in different tidal pattern altogether. In this situation there isn’t anything we can do: if the tide is against us and thus our speed several knots less than the others in the fleet, that’s it.

The leading boats are still engaged in the battle for first positions, but we on Visit Finland have now entered cruising mode and enjoying sunshine on deck. We will take only one point from this race, being the worst position we have ever held. What an unlucky race finish.

The race finish is for us competitors an anticlimax thanks to the holding pattern that keeps us out of Solent until Sunday. We’re like ten planes waiting to land in marine version of the Heathrow airport. This is all for the arrival show and audience coming to see us into Southampton tomorrow morning. Hopefully it is going to be a good show, because we’re getting bored here!

Should we be able to keep our second overall position, we will enter the marina second last. Singapore is fighting for the leading position with others at the moment, but if we’ll finish with 1 point and Singers get 10, we will still keep our second overall place thanks to the 10 points separating us at the moment. Unless we’ll manage to collect penalty points for breakages or other yet unknown reasons.

Border guard action

Border guards boarded the vessel a short while ago. The off-watch crew was woken up from their slumber and ushered on deck for a passport check. The military boat, their black rib and officials clad in black gear and helmets could have been menacing, if it wasn’t for the smiley guards themselves. They seemed like a very nice bunch of greying gents, although we probably didn’t offer any kind of suspicion to act any other way.

Tonight I will be mothering for the very last time in the race. We’re making chilli con carne and rice with Pekka.

It’s good to get back home and get some distance to this all before engaging in new bigger and better adventures. At the moment the round the world crew only cares about crossing our last years ground track that marks the completion of the circumnavigation. For me that is another reminder of the disappointment of not achieving what I set out to do last year thanks to the broken wrist that forced me off the boat in Rio. Obviously 9 months hasn’t been enough time to come into terms with the incident. I am a round the world crew member who has not circumnavigated. What a big, fat, glaring disappointment that is.

Frustrated and disappointed at 50 41 99N 000 27 69W

White cliffs

Visit Finland is now approaching the famous white cliffs of Dover. We have strong tide against us, but some of our competitors are in sight.

We managed to repair the main sail last night, and started catching up the rest of the fleet straight away. Unfortunately this morning we fell into a wind hole, and now the fleet has escaped again into distance. The white cliffs of Dover are in sight, and we’re listening to the only radio station that does not crackle: It’s French radio, and I’m not going to change my opinion of French pop music after these musical delights.

At least it’s not raining, and so I’m attempting to dry the laundry that just would not dry in rainy Den Helder. If there’s anything I’ve learnt about doing laundry during this journey, it is that merino wool clothing is quite demanding because they cannot be tumble dried. Sometimes it may take days before they’ll dry, since we cannot hang laundry down below for lack of space (and diesel smell) and if it’s raining – well, the laundry will not dry outdoors. Never mind, I still think that merino wool is the superior material for thermal layers. You can even compost or burn it once the garment has reached the end of it’s life! (To be honest, for the interest of public health, burning might be a good option for most gear after this journey.)

We passed an offshore wind farm some hour ago. That was cool.

Passing Goodwin Sands at 51 13 57N 001 35 28E

Mainsail rip

Visit Finland crossed the start line ninth in race 15 from Den Helder, NL to Southampton, UK. We had plenty of wind at the start but unfortunately our main sail ripped just two minutes into the race.

We certainly did not want to finish the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race 11-12 like this. We are currently in strong 10th position and sailing 3 knots slower than everybody else in the fleet. We are steadily falling behind now that we have dropped the main sail on deck and working on repairs for the second hour. The night is falling but we’ll have to repair the sail as quickly as possible. This somewhat experimental repair consists of sticky tape, bolts and cable ties at the moment.

The main sail ripped with an audible pop, although first we didn’t know where the sound came from. I was working in the snakepit, and was oblivious about the rip because of wind noises even through the protective reefing action. The main sail ripped along the third batten between the second and third reefs, and so we were sailing triple reefed until the first watch change in the evening. The wind has dropped steadily and all other boats shaken their reefs long time ago.

Mustard de Mer

We’ve had some hiccups with food as well. My personal lactose-free cheese stash was accidentally used for lunch sandwiches, and now my food options have diminished. It is such a drag to have a special diet on board: If you do not label, bolt, glue and electrify your special food in place, somebody will inevitably eat it. Nothing is sacred.

Today the dinner was competing for the questionable “Worst meal onboard” prize. It was fish in sweet milk sauce and pasta. What on earth was going on in mother’s minds, I do not know, but sweet milk and fish have never been friends. “This is real Mustard de Mer”, even Carter exclaimed. For the first time in the history of Visit Finland cuisine I had to spit out the first bite and opt for an emergency pesto sauce that was fortunately available. I truly hope things will improve from now on!

Oh dear what a start at 52 18 01N 003 04 09E

What do you think?

The Clipper Race 11-12 is coming to an end next Sunday, when the Clipper fleet arrives to Southampton. We have only one more race to go, and then a one-year adventure will be over.

Dear readers, I would love to hear your opinions on my blog, no matter whether you have been following it regularly or glanced just briefly every now and then. This would help me tremendously on the way forward to documenting other adventures in an enjoyable way.

For example:

  • Have you missed any particular information or aspects about yacht racing?
  • Would you have enjoyed more photos, video or audio?
  • Have you enjoyed reading about the exploits?
  • Have I been posting often enough? Too often?

Any feedback is very welcome – also constructive critique!

Please leave your feedback to the comments, or if you do not want them to be published, you can also contact me more privately through the contact form.

Many thanks to you all!

Red pennant is ours

Visit Finland has taken yet another second place in the Clipper Race 11-12 in race 14 from Derry-Londonderry to Den Helden. A new red pennant will be added to our already extensive collection of pennants.

We passed the finish line of Race 14 at 0741 this morning, only a few miles behind CV7 Singapore and ahead of CV5 The Gold Coast. The Gold Coast has already secured their overall first position, while we’ll need DLL to finish this race 7th to secure our overall second position in the Clipper Race 11-12. Nobody else is threatening our overall second place, so now all we can do is to wait and see.

Visit Finland team has been pleasantly focussed and driven during this race 14 compared to some other races. I believe this is because of tactical, coastal match racing where the proximity of our rivals offered carrots and sticks that kept the focus on the performance during every watch. Unfortunately we had to drop our heavyweight kite when passing through TSS zones as otherwise we would have collided with a vessel with an unlit tow. Singers were able to keep their kite up through traffic, and therefore gained too many miles on us during the night time.

We surfed across the finish line in sunshine, 13.5 knots under a heavyweight spinnaker. I had the honours of being on the wheel again – what a pleasant way to finish a race. We had been catching up Singers during last two hours, but not enough to pass them. The same way Goldies had been steadily catching us, so I feel that the finish line was exactly where it needed to be this time. It was like being between rock and a hard place: whether you attack and push harder with higher risk of breaking something the last minute, or keep calm and carry on more defensive sailing.

Well done team. This was a good race.

Motoring to Den Helden & waiting for the media boat to arrive at 52 57 82N 004 43 33.E

Southeast-bound bus

Visit Finland is now 170 miles from the finish line. We are racing third at the moment, but catching Singers on second place rapidly.

Our current speed should see us into Den Helden within 24 hours, although the wind is due to change according to the weather forecasts. It remains to be seen whether it will move aft, switch directions or switch off altogether, so any estimates are just educated guesses. Our approach to Den Helden goes through several TSS (Traffic Separation Scheme) zones, which means that we will spend early morning hours feeling hollow in the stomachs for the fear of cargo ships running over us.

The rounding of Scotland was over in blink of an eye. First we were entering the tidal gate, then sitting in a wind hole, and now we’re already heading southeast towards the Netherlands. This is such a short 5-6 day race, that nobody bothers changing clothes or trouble themselves with a hair wash. (See how life on-board changes standards of cleanliness!)

There was some delightful wildlife to be seen on the way, for example puffins with their lovely colourful faces and playful dolphins that I haven’t been able to identify despite of their very distinct colour patterns and blunt noses. It was funny to hear comical bird calls during the hours of being becalmed, although I suppose not everyone appreciates peculiar squeaky-toy sounding noises when you’re grappling with light-wind frustration. I do, however.

Motivational chatter

Motivation has been the theme of the day, when a fellow round the world crewmember began outlining a talk for her company about the importance of motivation of a (work) team. We dwelt in the topic and compared experiences, rambled and ranted about various observations that we have gathered on the way. This thought exchange was extremely healthy and assured that I am not alone with my frustrations of under-performance and motivational issues caused by highly competitive personalities being randomly placed in teams with less competitive people.

It has been very clear to me since leg 1, that racing-wise I would have been more satisfied with some more competitive and performance-focussed team in Clipper Race, or in some other yacht race altogether. However there’s no denying the gained mileage and experience of sailing through various conditions: those are extremely important for my future exploits and a real leg-up on the way forward, higher, faster. If nothing else, it hopefully shows some optimism, mental grit and discipline to put up with motivational issues for a year without dropping standards or jumping ships along the way.

Entering Dogger North Shoal at 54 58 22N 001 14 78E

COG 139 SOG 7.7 SPD 7.8 Wind (A) 15.1 Wind (T) 8.8 DFT 170.4 nm