8 June 2012 -Reflections

Direct from On board:

As the sun set over the big deep blue waves that were crashing against the boat I looked back at the last three years of how this all began…. With only two nights left at sea after all these miles the GOR has passed by with so many exciting, scary, fun and difficult moments.


Today we sailed into the entrance of Biscay passing the 600, 500 and 400 mile marks. We had winds up to 30 knots in the squalls and the waves were from all directions and sloppy. As the day went on the wind eased off and the sea sorted itself out. We had several ships pass us: Flintersun, Sluisgracht, Maersk Needham, Benguela Stream and one with no name with the MMSI number: 226 324 000. The Maersk Needham passed within a mile of us crashing into the waves as she headed South West. She is 210 m by 30 m doing 18 or 19 knots straight into the waves and pitching over them.


We changed our weather forecast area as we crossed the 12 degree line of longitude. The new area is called Pazenn. We have no idea what Pazenn means but we think it is a Breton name. The forecast read correctly:



West or Northwest 5 or 6, occasionally 7 in north backing Westerly

3 to 5 soon, then Southwest at end. Gusts. Rough or very rough becoming moderate or rough. Showers, rain in west later.


And in the next 24 hours they predict a gale… well how unusual. Either this is just Biscay and that’s what they always predict here or its true… In August last year we crossed Biscay on the way to Mallorca for the start of the GOR. My folks were on board with us. One of my most spectacular memories of Phesheya was one night here in Biscay with my Dad on watch. I was helming with the A4 up and the numbers were just climbing… The moon had just come out and there was spray everywhere.  We were soaked but having a blast. My Dad shouted “Whooh! 16, 17, 16, 17, 18, go go go….. 19 knots!” Nick poked his head out the hatch and said “No, you missed it we did 21 knots!!” My Dad could not believe it so he scrabbled down below to have a look. We have had some great sailing in Biscay and lets hope the next 48 hours will be just like that.


Three years ago Nick and I found ourselves having just completed my first double handed race on a big boat. The 1000 mile Normandy Channel Race, up and down the English Channel. It was up to us to use our initiative of how to sail Phesheya so we learnt to sail our Class 40 through trail and error. We had had a few scary moments in the dark and in some windy conditions but it was three years ago that this all started. I never thought I would actually sail around the world even though that was the plan. I know that my folks never believed us either. With no real outside help or training Nick and I pitched up at the start line of the Global Ocean Race with what we could afford or as much as the budget would allow.


I had three transatlantics and one run through the Southern Ocean from Cape Town to New Zealand under my belt and that was it. So diving a bit in the deep end we started the GOR! We have had lots of ups and downs, scary and fun moments but there are a few that we all remember:


Going through Gibraltar and almost hitting the breakwater off Tarifa, dropping the kite in 34 knots and gybing inside the South cardinal in very little water and then almost getting hit by a ship!

Being becalmed for 4 days off Morocco and then breaking the prodder mounting while pushing the boat too hard to make up lost miles.

Arriving in Cape Town on a beautiful Sunday with such a warm welcome!

Getting hammered by Cook Straight on our final approaches to Wellington in

45 plus knots sailing in the overfall’s in the middle of the night!

Beating for a 10 solid days in the South Pacific, it was wet cold and miserable!

Fixing our pilots in the South Pacific while hove-to when they both failed!

The wonderful moment of seeing Cape Horn!

Clearing weed off the keel and rudders off the Falklands!

Lying on our side in a lightening storm off Argentina and thinking that it was game over!

The whale that followed us for over an hour through the oil fields off Brazil.

The debris in the ocean that we saw in the Atlantic startled me.

Cruising through the Caribbean.

Getting caught in a water spout and shredding the A2 spinnaker.

Oh and lets not forget about being seasick in the first 72 hours of legs 2 and 3!


… to name just a few of the moments that spring to mind right now. I can not begin to explain what I have learnt. I must not forget that I had never been to Uruguay or to the States before either so that was an adventure too. I think my Spanish has definitely improved even if it is just ordering tea and coffee.


So what is next, Nick and I have been asking ourselves? Some more racing offshore, a over land adventure, cruising in the Pacific or up a river somewhere… we are not sure but we will have answer for you in the next 2 months or so. This will not be the last of our stories to tell.


At sunset a few common Dolphins came to play around the boat. They leapt right out of the water as I stood by the mast watching them and it is for moments like this that sailing across the oceans makes it all worthwhile!

18 Responses to 8 June 2012 -Reflections

  1. Dad L. June 8, 2012 at 6:39 am #

    Here is a thought…. how about staying put and writting a book? Well done , you are the Champions! You stuck it out all the way together. Well done. Mum

  2. Dad L. June 8, 2012 at 7:00 am #

    Research results : Yes, Pazenn is Breton. Pronounced with the accent on the first syllable – Pá zen. It means something like a border area or frontier.

  3. Des June 8, 2012 at 7:22 am #

    What a wonderful adventure, congratulations and I’m looking forward to hearing about the one that will follow. Well done, great achievement, savour it!

  4. Dad L. June 8, 2012 at 9:17 am #

    It seems appropriate that today, probably your last full day at sea, is World Ocean Day.

  5. Etienne June 8, 2012 at 9:19 am #

    Dear Philippa and Nick,

    Thanks for your latest post.

    This is a little bit of a tall order, but if it is possible to give some feedback after you have finished the GOR it would be appreciated.

    I’ll try to compile something again for the Afrikaans Radio Service by making use of your latest comments / reflections, etc.

    Now it is only VASBYT for the last couple of hours ! We are proud of you guys !

    Take care.


  6. Barbi Rickard June 8, 2012 at 10:10 am #

    As the gale blasts us in London I think of Phesheya blasting her way over the sea to the finish. What an experience, your ‘Reflections’ sum it up, to a degree, but your ‘book’ will be the real telling of the story. Enjoy your last day and a bit at sea, stay on that high when ashore. We are with you all the way to the finish, hour by hour. Hope you can finish in daylight so the crowds can welcome and congratulate you on a momentus achievement.

  7. Steve June 8, 2012 at 12:51 pm #

    In the closing hours as you approach the finish it is wonderful to see you have the time to reflect on the whole event. You have realized an amazing journey, and have the stories to show for it!! I have enormous respect for what you have accomplished together! Enjoy Biscay 😉

  8. JP & Suki June 8, 2012 at 1:54 pm #

    Phillippa – we have just had a meaningful Jubilee reunion with your parents – a one night sleep over in Cambridgeshire during which we focused and savoured all the details of your hugely impressive ocean adventure. We send you and Nick mega congratulations – savour every moment of the finale – take masses of festive pictures! The photo coverage and daily logs to date are excellent – particularly like the magazine cover picture and the wildlife snaps! You have added to the Diamond Jubilee celebrations and memories ! xx

  9. JP & Suki June 8, 2012 at 2:02 pm #

    just in case my first eulogy did not reach you – Phillippa, we have just enjoyed a brief sleep over visit from your folks during which we focused and savoured all the detail of your epic ocean adventure. Many congratulations to you and Nick for a great achievement, for all the entertaining logs, the superb photographs. Loved the sailing magazine cover shot, and the wildlife snaps. We wish you a sparkling finish – savour every minute. We will look out for the completed book! You have added an extra highlight to the Diamond Jubilee celebrations and secured a library of stories that will keep dinner tables afloat for life ! Suki and JP

  10. Len Davies June 8, 2012 at 2:11 pm #

    Wow, a great adventure nears its end as you close the French coast. This is not the end, but rather the start of the next chapter in your book of life. Nick, my admiration of the calm and seaman-like manner in which you have led Phillippa to reach her heights as a round-the-worlder and now, a recognised sea’person’ of note, knows no bounds. To think that I virtually had to escort Phillippa around Zeekoe Vlei bot that many years ago and now see in her this global adventurer whose sailing achievements will be recognised world-wide is beyond belief. Phillippa, full credit to you for having picked up the baton and overcome obstacles in order to conduct the oceans of the world.
    Thanks for taking so many of us along for the ride; what a ride it was!
    Bravo Zulu!

  11. Doug HS June 8, 2012 at 3:51 pm #

    36 hrs to go and a finish in the equivalent of the Cape Doctor! Bring that baby home safely now. Tomorrow is the 1st day of the rest of your life! You guys are amazing!

  12. Jannie June 8, 2012 at 4:59 pm #

    Basically , you have done it. You are champions. Shorthanded around the whole wide world. I never doubted that you would not finish. Only vessel failure could stop you. You are now recognised international sailors. Now come home and have a beer with me!!!

  13. Doug HS June 8, 2012 at 5:27 pm #

    Also the only boat to have completed the race with the same crew! Not using any subs must make you the winners of the race! 🙂

  14. Greg HS June 8, 2012 at 9:01 pm #

    Doug makes a good point! Well done, huge back slaps and hand shakes and cheers to you both, around the world on a sailing skateboard!! Nutters!! But you did it and bought her home, can’t wait to see ya! Greg x

  15. Barbi Rickard June 8, 2012 at 11:10 pm #

    It’s midnight, just waiting for tracker to upload before I go to bed. I have been thinking of you ALL DAY! Every time the gale here blasts and bends the trees, and breaks them too, I think of you on a surf down a wave. I try to replace the green of Enland with foamy blue sea. At least you are on same time zone, till you land in France. Hope you have had a peaceful day till Beryl tosses her last bit of force at you in the night. Good planning strategy to line up for the finish, hope you get the wind behind you for a fast run home.

  16. Janet Gibb June 9, 2012 at 5:57 am #

    Hello Phillippa and Nick…While our Christchurch had heavy snowfalls this week and I believe the coldest day on record in 140 years of records (something half a degree C) you I hope are in somewhat warmer climes and enjoying the reflective moments. I imagine it feels quite strange to be completing this leg of your adventures. I’ll we watching even more closely as you approach the finish line. Since I looked this a.m. you have covered some 100nm…Kia Ora from Aotearoaxxxx

  17. selwyn soffer June 9, 2012 at 6:12 am #

    A magnificent journey of epic bravery, calm & calculated seamanship all the way. This ,a steppingstone to a greater journey along the path of life, & we look forward to sharing it with us. SALUT

  18. Liz and John June 9, 2012 at 6:37 am #

    Gosh, come in a bit late here and all the best lines taken!
    When you skidded home in the snow that night and said you thought you had found the right boat, we didn’t envisage how much it was going to change your lives and how much pleasure you have given to others who have been able to be part of that change through the daily update.To everyone of us readers it has been OUR boat racing around the world.
    Enjoy the last few miles and can’t wait to give you a big hug at Les Sables d’Ollone!

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