Sailing: A long-suffering lifestyle for the wife on the ocean waves

Yesterday's festivities provided some rare moments of respite for the crews, and family, of sailing's Whitbread Round the World Race. But as Nicki Dalton, the wife of Merit Cup skipper Grant, says the work is never really done for the travelling community who live for the competition.

The Christmas present we most wanted, a win for Merit Cup on the third leg from Fremantle, did not arrive, but perhaps it is just delayed and will be waiting for us when we, and Grant, get home to Auckland early in the New Year. Last time his arrival in New Zealand Endeavour was one of the most fantastic moments I can remember in yacht racing.

At least on Christmas Day we are able to forget the race for an hour or two. Grant's sister, her husband and family live in Sydney so we could not only spend the day with them and their children, but take time to open the presents in the morning then have the whole crew round for an Australian Christmas barbecue in the afternoon. Our two had already sent notes to Santa telling him not to send the presents down the chimney at home because they would be away.

But normally we are concentrating the whole time on the race. It starts with putting the project together and finding the finance. In some ways that is even more nerve-wracking than the race itself.

Once the project is under way it seems to be a 24-hour job, especially as we are working with people in different countries around the world, and then when it is on, although it is the time you have been looking forward to, there are the tortures known as the six-hourly skeds. These are position reports sent out by the race organisation in England.

We, that is myself and the other wives and shore crew, get really involved in it and these reports can make a huge difference to your day. You can have a good report showing position gained or maintained and you are having a good day. But six hours later it might be a bad one and then everything turns bad and your stomach churns until there is a better one.

It is hard to take your mind off it, though having to look after the children helps. But I never worry that he is away or that he is in danger. I would be more worried if he were driving a car the same distance than I would about sailing.

Before the finish in Sydney I thought that, on a scale of one to 10, our Christmas would score 12 if there was a win, eight if we were second or third, and anything below that would be five downwards. This is Grant's fifth Whitbread, my fourth, so we all know the way things work by now and children are remarkably adaptable.

My first race we were just going out together, the second we were married, the third we had one child, Eloise, and now, with Mack, we have two. Of course their arrival was planned to fit in with Whitbread schedules. The Shoebridges and Quilters are the same because none of us wanted to do the Whitbread with a brand new baby, nor did we want to stay at home pregnant. It has worked out well, the children get on well together, and a four- year gap seems quite good.

And would I swap this for a normal, nine to five, domestic easy of life? No. I have great admiration for all the guys, and that includes the shore crew, because I see just how hard they work. They go to great lengths to perfect everything they are doing and I have a lot of respect for that effort. But I cannot think of anything I would hate to do more than a leg of the Whitbread Race in a W60, even though I love the race.

My mother still wonders when Grant is going to get what she thinks would be a proper job, but this is his job, this is what he does for a living. I absolutely love the lifestyle. I really enjoy the closeness of the racing, and I love that he is doing something he is passionate about. I really enjoy the travel and meeting people from all over the world.

I am not really a strongly social person, but the environment of this community as it travels together is fantastic. Trying to watch the fleet come into Auckland and not be part of it would be sheer torture. Which reminds me, I have a house to get ready.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
video
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Southern charm: Nicolas Cage and Tye Sheridan in ‘Joe’
filmReview: Actor delivers astonishing performance in low budget drama
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
film
Arts and Entertainment
Up my street: The residents of the elegant Moray Place in Edinburgh's Georgian New Town
tvBBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past
Extras
indybest
News
Albus Dumbledore, the headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry has been the teaching profession's favourite teacher
education
Sport
Luis Suarez looks towards the crowd during the 2-1 victory over England
sport
Life and Style
Cheesecake frozen yoghurt by Constance and Mathilde Lorenzi
food + drinkThink outside the cool box for this summer’s frozen treats
News
John Barrowman kisses his male “bride” at a mock Gretna Green during the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony
peopleBarrowman's opening ceremony message to Commonwealth countries where he would be sent to prison for being gay
Sport
Sir Bradley Wiggins removes his silver medal after the podium ceremony for the men’s 4,000m team pursuit in Glasgow yesterday
Commonwealth games Disappointment for Sir Bradley in team pursuit final as England are forced to settle for silver
Sport
Alistair Brownlee (right) celebrates with his gold medal after winning the men’s triathlon alongside brother Jonny (left), who got silver
England's Jodie Stimpson won the women’s triathlon in the morning
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SQL Report Analyst (SSRS, CA, SQL 2012)

£30000 - £38500 Per Annum + 25 days holiday, pension, subsidised restaurant: C...

Application Support Analyst (SQL, Incident Management, SLAs)

£34000 - £37000 Per Annum + excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Lt...

Embedded Software / Firmware Engineer

£40000 - £45000 per annum + Pension, Holiday, Flexi-time: Progressive Recruitm...

Developer - WinForms, C#

£280 - £320 per day: Progressive Recruitment: C#, WinForms, Desktop Developmen...

Day In a Page

Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform