Wed, 15 Nov 2017
A WOMAN from Cold Ash has returned from an incredible, but terrifying voyage across the southern ocean.
Julie Ashmore Dann braved crashing waves and freezing nights on a 70ft clipper as part of the Clipper Round the World Race.
Ms Ashmore Dann set sail from Uruguay on the crossing to Cape Town as part of the crew of Liverpool 2018.
The race sees amateur sailors, guided by an experienced skipper, take on legs or the full 40,000-nautical mile race around the world.
“No experience is required and that’s absolutely the case,” said Ms Ashmore Dann.
“It’s been incredible. The first week was absolute hell and quite terrifying; big waves, big swells.
“You are never quite sure what the boat can handle.
“One of the spinnakers exploded. It was quite surprising really but I realised quite quickly that the boat is stronger than us.
“I was seasick for days. I’ve never been seasick before. I thought ‘why am I doing this?’.
“You have nothing, no lights and trying to navigate by the stars.
“You are sailing up to 27 knots into blackness. You can’t see anything. It was quite scary actually.”
But as the weather improved, the 49-year-old mother-of-two settled into the adventure.
She said that sailing over a whale, spotting dolphins off the bow and watching “mesmerising” albatrosses were highlights of the voyage.
She added: “Seeing the lights of Cape Town and Table Mountain as the sun was coming up was just incredible.”
Ms Ashmore Dann, who has completed expeditions to the North and South Poles, said that the crossing was colder than those adventures.
Other racers were not so fortunate, however. The crew of the Greenings clipper had to be evacuated after the boat ran aground to the west of Cape Peninsula.
Ms Ashmore Dann said that all racers underwent training for emergencies, but it was never expected to be used.
“I’m so happy no one was hurt,” she said.
“I have friends on that boat.
“That could have been the end of people’s dreams, but it could have been much worse.”
Speaking about her crossing, she said: “We built a really strong emotional connection to that boat, because it’s protecting you.
“The boat is strong and protects you and it’s up to us to look after it.
“I didn’t want an easy adventure. Coming through at the end of it knowing you have been through it together.”
And the crossing is not the end of the adventure – as Ms Ashmore Dann has signed up for the final leg of the race from New York to Liverpool, ahead of her 50th birthday next year.
The race is raising money for UNICEF.