PACKED LIVES

Ellen MacArthur, 20, has sailed single-handed round Britain and later this year will take part in a transatlanic race
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The Independent Travel
Only essentials are packed. There's no time or space for anything else. A luxury is Moby Dick, though after 9,000 nautical miles I'm still on page 38. I work en route on my Psion organiser with a fax modem though ocean racing yachts have satellite fax systems. My mobile phone is for arrivals and departures. With credit cards, family and favourite boat photos, and a little foreign currency, they travel in a waterproof Musto briefcase.

My main bag is made of inflatable dinghy fabric with heat-welded zips that seal it so it floats in the water. I just take two sets of Musto thermals, a middle layer consisting of jacket, salopettes and fleece- lined jacket in a light splashproof fabric. On top go waterproof salopettes and jacket with high collar, face-protecting hood and integral harness. To keep feet, head and hands warm there's three pairs of fleece socks, light deck shoes, Gor-Tex boots with leather protection, thick helming gloves, cap and balaclava. The rest of my wardrobe consists of underwear, shorts, a fleece jumper, pair of fleece trousers, two T-shirts, sleeveless vest.

One set of thermals, middle-layer boots and waterproofs are always on me. I sleep a couple of hours at a time in what I'm wearing. Pyjamas don't exist at sea. When my clothes get wet, I get into my damp sleeping bag and let body heat dry them as much as possible. I wind a long thin towelling strip round my neck to stop drips going down my collar and it doubles as all purpose towel. I carry a set of chemical handwarmers - though haven't used them.

Vital are a safety harness line to attach my jacket harness to the boat and a gas inflating life jacket worn inside my jacket that automatically inflates in the water. Getting the gas canisters through airport security can be a problem.

Other essentials are sunglasses, maximum protection sun cream, torches, a Leatherman tool kit in a small belt pouch, sailing knife with shackle key, marlin spike and lanyard. Toiletries are toothbrush with tiny paste containers and a small bottle of hair and body shower gel.

September's mini-Transat race - 4000 miles in 30 days - will need A Global Positioning System, an Emergency Positioning Indicating Radio Beacon for distress signals and comprehensive medical kit including self suture kit; 2000 miles from land you are your own doctor.

For luck I wear a piece of shell round my neck picked up in France when wishing friends bon voyage on a non-stop single handed round the world race.

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