#001 Living the Bucket List – How it all began

Living the Bucket List !

For as long as I can remember I have always had ‘Girl Power Rocks’ as a mantra it has seen me through some very tough times, I was going through a lot of life changes back in my early 40’s I wrote a bucket list, of everything I would like to achieve by the time I was 50! It really was a wish list of hopes and dreams, but nonetheless I had written them down, which had given me some comfort at the time, putting the list to one side, life moved on, I forgot about the list, lost amongst paperwork and the trials and tribulations of everyday life!
Fast forward 7+years, I am fast approaching 50, and out of nowhere, the forgotten list appears amongst an old journal, to my amazement I had achieved everything on the list, I had my own house (with a red roof …Jack Black thank-you), my business had grown, I had travelled and worked abroad, I had become an independent, a mum & grandma, worked hard and the rewards had paid off. However, reading the newly re-discovered bucket list, there were two things left on the list, which read. (1) To learn to sail and travel the world, (2) to find true love & happiness. I set the list aside with memories of the past 7+years after all, learning to sail can happen anytime and finding true love and happiness, I can admit quite openly passed experience has been a rollercoaster, but being the positive person, I am it has always been a never-say-never and secretly believing one day!
A couple of days later whilst on YouTube, a sailing advert appeared, intrigued, and having my thinking about sailing stirred from the newly found list, I clicked to find out what it was about. The advert was for Clipper Round The World Yacht Race…ooh I am curious, let’s find out more so clicked again to discover they were presenting in a hotel in Leeds and when I looked at the date, it was TODAY! and in 2 hours’ time, glancing at my watch, I could about make it, so grabbed my car keys, I told my daughter I would be home later, and she could make her own tea and off to Leeds I went. It was one of those spontaneous just do it moments! Little did I know that day would change my life!
Rocking up at the presentation, I had never sailed before in my life and here I was listening and fascinated to hear how 11 racing yachts circumnavigate the world ocean racing with crew from all walks of life with little and no experience!
Across the room I saw a familiar face, but didn’t know where from, so I took the opportunity to speak to her at the end, we made our introductions with the ‘I think I know you?’ which she said the same back to me, 15years previous I had given her, her weekly payslips at a company we worked for at the time! small world or the universe was talking, because on speaking to her she was now retired in her 60’s and when she had left work had gone on to participate in Clipper Leg 6 China and the Pacific, wow wow wow, just blown away!
After sleeping on the events of that day, a couple of days later I sent in my application, never thinking for one minute they would seriously consider me, after all why would they want me? my CV had NO- sailing knowledge, NO – sailing experience, I had limited fitness due to a desk job and living out of a suitcase with a corporate career and to boot, I had a career balance of ‘live to work’! a self-confessed corporate workaholic …. jeez, looking back I wouldn’t enrol me. But Clipper’s response was, you are a team-player, you have communication skills, you are willing to learn, we can teach you sailing, and we want you as part of the crew. As you can imagine wowsers! Told my family and now grown children, they thought I was completely bonkers! “Why would you?” ..of which I said, “why not! life’s too short.” But they are great, I am so fortunate for their support on such a random and wild adventure.
Spring 2019, I signed up for Leg 7 of the race, Seattle to New York, that summer, in Gosport, I undertook 4 weeks of intensive Ocean Racing Training, learning the basics, undertaking sea survival, RYA Competent Crew certification, night sailing, helming, engine maintenance, Crew Allocation came, and I became part of the HALONG BAY, VIETNAM Race Team.
September 2019, the boats set sail from St Katherine’s Dock in London, with Leg1 to Punta Del Este in Uruguay. By this time I had become more involved with my crew and had undertaken additional training in the role of victualler with responsibilities to ensure the boat is stocked with food and provisions for the journey ahead, which I fulfilled with a circumnavigator for London when the boats left and again will be fulfilling this role in Legs 7 & 8, so whilst the race has been underway, I have been researching requirements for different ports and countries, example Biltong (dried meat) /from Africa, can’t be taken into Australia it will be confiscated, so whatever you buy you need to eat and bread mix/yeast very difficult to purchase in China, so the yeast needs to be purchased ahead in Australia (important as we bake bread on board most days as it boosts crew moral!) and never ask for tinned Chicken in China the last crew from a previous race ended up with tinned chicken feet! And lost several meals over-board! But all of this will follow later in forthcoming blogs.
Over the course of the race, so far, HALONG BAY has reached 2nd place by Leg 5 Whitsundays in Australia and the fleet was well underway March 2020 for China and as planned I would be meeting them in Seattle. However, the Pandemic struck the boats and crew were diverted to Subic Bay in the Philippines. The Crews were sent home, the World was at a standstill.
March 2022, we are fully vaccinated the world is starting to move-on and the Crew have been redeployed leaving Subic Bay, to race cross the Pacific on the 26th March, (China races are still suspended due to the Pandemic); I am in full preparation mode to join them in Seattle albeit 2years later, whereby during that time I have also signed up for Leg 8 also to cross the Atlantic, “hey-ho why not!” was a voice in side my head, so now I am participating in both Leg 7 USA Coast and Leg 8 The Atlantic. I set sail 30th April, arriving 16th April to commence the victualling and boat prep.
I often think…what if I hadn’t picked up my car keys that day, life would be very different now. My bucket list I am pleased to say is complete (1) I have learned to sail in the most amazing way, I may of missed the conventional route of learning to sail by jumping straight into Ocean Racing, but I love sailing, it’s my new found passion hobby and way of life, during the pandemic I joined Ullswater Sailing Club, primarily to keep my skills up, but also, there is a difference between sailing a 70ft racing yacht with a 100ft mast and 11 different types of sails, which take full crews to man and change, versus a dinghy, because with dinghy sailing you can really hone your skills more and become more in tune with the wind, sails and weather conditions, Last year through Ed and Chris, sailing training at Ullswater, I completed RYA 1 & 2 so I could safely be on the lake and I now sail an Omega Topaz, recently this year I have signed up for volunteering for events which has been great to get to know so many of the members and be able to support where I can. (2) Finding true love & happiness well possibly one for another day but through sailing, I met Andrew during the pandemic in the co-op carpark! and he too also had a passion for sailing and joined the Ullswater sailing club, last Christmas we completed our day-skippers together.
The Universe was and is talking! Time for the next chapter and a new bucket list to be written on my return. For now, the focus is Clipper and what lies ahead in the coming weeks and months.
Clipper are major fundraisers for UNICEF of which the target for this race is £400,000, and with that my racing boat HALONG BAY Vietnam with Skipper Josh Stickland has a team target of £33,000. This is a great charity that really does make a difference. If you would like to sponsor me, you can find me and my crew page www.justgiving/fundraising/estellegirlpowerrocks
If you would like to follow me on the Clipper Race and see my blogs as I take on leg 7, USA Coast to Coast and Leg 8, The Atlantic Homecoming, then you can find me on the following: –
Clipper Race viewer: here you can see the Clipper Race in real time, and our standings Halong Bay is currently in 4th in addition if you hover at the top of the map there are options to see the terrain, wind, air pressure, swell which is fascinating. Writing this they are currently off the coast of Japan with one of the boats Qingdao diverted to Yokohama as the running backstays for the main mast are damaged! And the main players beat up-wind as they move into the mighty pacific. https://www.clipperroundtheworld.com/race/standings
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Hatch Open
Estelle x