Losing the plot

Pink Floyd comfortably numbing Mark Covell in the Volvo Ocean Race

Friday November 21st 2008, Author: Mark Covell, Location: United Kingdom
Hello? Is there anybody in there? Just nod if you can hear me. Is there anyone at home? I’ll need some information first, just the basic facts. Can your tell me where it hurts? You are only coming through in waves. Your lips move but I can’t hear what they say. A distant ship on the horizon. I can’t explain, you would not understand. This is not how I am….. I have become, comfortably numb.

The Lyrics of Pink Floyds “Comfortably Numb” seam to perfectly say where I have just been for the last week. I think I’ve become comfortably numb. Yes, we have been through a wave or two at speeds in excess of 30 knots trying to be the first V70 to fly. Yes, I’ve had my share of electrical problems enough to tax R2D2 who in Star Wars once re-soldered, in mid space flight the crucial wire on the gun that then blew up the mighty Death Star. I can feel the force too brother. And yes we may have tried to reinact an aquatic version of Lionel Ritchie’s Dancing On The Ceiling when we Chinese Gybed and rolled over to wash the spreader cameras. (Lads, next time just ask, I have a special cloth). But after all that, the crew is still pushing on, comfortably as one. Watch on, watch off, no complaining, no questioning, they leave that to the media man.
It has been such a sharp shock leaving Cape Town, like a teenager confident and cocky on the way to a new University we finished our first leg high school, full of confidence and looking forward to the next term with a brash, bring it on, I have big plans attitude. With only one week into this ocean leg, battered by our freshers week, fresh winds and no sleep, no heating and not even a pot noodle to get exited about. Running out of money and no folks to call home to for a loan. It’s all been a bit of a growing up experience.

Sitting in my student media digs, feet on the desk, listening to Pink Floyd and writing this blog has reminded me how bullet proof and resilient you are when your young. Like Uni, it’s a test on many levels. We don’t know much about the other boats but we understand that they are all being tested in many different ways. We have now got to get up tomorrow, not sleep in and miss our first lecture. Find that assignment that Prof Jack Lloyd gave us at the beginning of term and get to that scoring gate in good shape. Find a clean pare of blue jeans and a new Chay Gavara T-shirt, turn left and head North to the sun, and try to end this leg on a high, comfortably done.

Friday's blog:

As it’s Friday I thought I would put down the heavy duty of bringing you the gritty reality of life on board Team Russia, so for today I will leave the normal topics of water, waypoints and whales to the other little bloggers. My story started on land way back in the summer, thousands of miles from my current lat and long.

I am lucky enough to live on a very small, beautiful, friendly peninsular making up one of the many fingers of Chichester Harbour in West Sussex, England. It’s a simple place with a simple set up, one school, one church, one sailing club and one pub. It suits my little family and me very well. Before signing up for this crazy Volvo venture I went about my simple life as any self-respecting six foot seven, dyslexic, ambidextrous, music loving, beer drinking, story telling, specialized boat builder, professional sailor would. Generally getting in the way when I’m home and missed when I’m away.

It was a warm summers afternoon and found myself sat at the end of the garden busy doing nothing, when I was meant to be doing something, but had forgotten what it was by the time I got to the guarded shed, so I sat down. Being Dyslexic has many advantages and not having a brain that holds more than one instruction is perfect for those tricky errands my loving wife sends me on. When I get a new thought I can hear the old ones falling out to make space. While I’m on the topic of my gift of dyslexia I want to thank Lizzie Green and Julie Turner for spell checking all of my work sent beck to Volvo and Team Russia. I can’t spell to save my wife! In fact I once rang directory enquires for the telephone number of the British Dyslexic Association and the lovely girl on the end of the phone asked me “Can you spell that please”

Anyway, back to end of the garden. As I sat smelling the sweet scent of the trailing lobelia, I notice that the rabbit population in the meadow beyond had crept up. The little bouncers were everywhere, hopping, nibbling and duplicating. Watching this same fluffy spectacle a few gardens down was the lovely retired gent who for many years have kept the little burrowers at bay. I cordially struck up a dialogue with my elderly neighbour. He explained that his eyesight wasn’t like it used to be and he doesn’t get rabbit pie as often as he would like. He then looked at me with a long heavy stare, a look that said you know what to do. A look that said, you’re a man of duty and honour, take up you task like a man. No words were said on that day, but his wise old eyes had said it all… The mantle had been passed on. I am now the hunter, I am the Mr Manwearing of the bunny home guard, I am; The Rabbit Man.

A few weeks later he quietly passed away in his armchair, off to drink real ale and eat rabbit pie with the angels. That same day I got my call up to fight at the frontline, battling deadlines, technical skirmish and pushing back enemy water in a gorilla media conflict embedded deep within a highly trained specialist outfit with only an apple and a Livewire to survive on. I took the mission on and left, without looking back on my sleepy little hamlet.

Now months on, deep into the assignment totally focused and dedicated to my work, hunting a giant red sneaker, an emerald dragon chasing Erick and his Son. I suddenly woke from a heavy sleep, sat bolt up right and remembered. Something deep inside my sub conscience had stirred, or should I say hopped. I felt an immense weight on my very being, a responsibility shirked. I remembered my commitment to the old man with the gun. Now not someone to reengage on a promise made, I set about fulfilling my pledge from out here on the edge of the Southern and Indian Oceans. That’s it I shall ride the seas of Rabbi… hold on I cant mention them on the boat, it’s bad luck. To get round this predicament I shall don a deerstalker hat and develop a lisp and call them wabbits like that well known wabbit hunter Falma Fudge.

I’m two days into it and still nothing…. But there’re out here, I know they are, I’ve seen the droppings. Little black ones with a grassy flavour. And If I find the little flopsy mopsy cottontail there will be one less bunny on the Volvo Ocean Race, just you see if I don’t.

That’s all folks…… until next Friday

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