41. When The Boats Come In

Another blog I missed from my last post, Hannah Rumble https://changingtack.blog/ plus an update on the fund raising: so far on the Clipper just giving pages they’ve raised over £100,000, a quarter of the target. My two beanie pages have contributed a tiny amount, I’m hoping that on Sunday our supporters will contribute some more.

There are only three days before they sail and I’ve not yet told you about them coming from Gosport to St Katherine’s Docks last week. You had some shots in the last post, there will be some more here. With luck and good proof reading they will be different! The header is of them before they left Gosport, with Imagine Your Korea having their spinnaker up already.

I told you in Post 39 about them setting off on Tuesday 20th. They gathered outside Southend on the night of 22nd (some being later than others, George sent me a video of Unicef motoring in in pitch dark. Good practice for night sailing). They came into St Katherine’s Docks under motor but in a flotilla, Unicef (CV31) first with the others following, Qingdao (CV30) second and so on to CV20 (Imagine Your Korea). They had to come in together as the bridge has to be opened (picture in Post 40). Here’s the first to arrive, Unicef.

The day before, my cousin Andy contacted me and said he and his wife Lynda were coming up to see the boats arrive so we arranged to meet and wave them in together. This took a bit of arranging as I wasn’t sure of my way around SKD, what did we do before mobile phones and instant contact? He’s my only cousin so it was great to meet up, he’s recently moved down to Wiltshire just as we leave Somerset. Timing is everything they say, not sure what message that sends out! Here they are with Unicef in the background (I’m on Qingdao taking the shot).

I’ll give you a picture of each of the fleet, except Unicef and Qingdao as you must know what they look like by now, and WTC Logistics, who featured in post 40. The next shot shows the short distance between arrivals. Each one had to hang around, heading ever closer to Tower Bridge as the tide turned, as the one in front came into the dock then backed into their berth. All this time their anthem was played, so I’m sure some took longer than they needed just so they could hear it. I’ll tell you about their anthems some other time, I’ll have to find out how to play music on this blog. My brain is really getting a work out.

In no particular order, here are the others arriving:

Visit Sanya
Punte del Este
Imagine Your Korea
Ha Long Bay
Go Bermuda!
Dare To Lead

Ah, the order is reverse alphabetical, must have been my file names. Chose who you want to support and follow them on the Race Viewer, now LIVE! Although if you look today they are all just sitting there in Centre Basin at SKD. https://www.clipperroundtheworld.com/race/standings

Exciting!! What else can I tell you today? There was an article in the Waitrose magazine a few weeks ago and one in The Evening Standard last week. I’m not collecting them so I can’t give you a shot. The youngest crew member celebrated her 18th birthday last week and appeared on the Clipper website https://www.clipperroundtheworld.com/news/article/youngest-crew-member-turns-18 More interesting to us, MBB were interviewed by Clipper, you can see and listen to them on YouTube here (I think) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f3-eASX8tuY in their Clipper teeshirts.

I’ve been asked a few times to repeat the just giving pages we’ve set up. John and George each have one, https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/john-dawson25 and https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/george-dawson3

I OBVIOUSLY have two, ostensibly for beanie donations, but if you want to support any of us I’m more than happy to take your money. The Unicef team have already passed their target so please support Qingdao as John is winning this one. https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/qingdao-32 and https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/sam-dawson12

Last boat into the Docks (CV20)

One more thing you may be interested in, the official route. They’ll not be coming back in SKD but the Royal Albert Dock nearby on 8th August 2020. There will possibly be another post tomorrow, if I get the time, telling you what’s been happening since they arrived.

40. Words, words, words

By popular request, this is a round up of the acronyms you’ll see in the blog at various places. I’ve gone back to the beginning and I think I’ve found them all. To make it a bit more interesting, some photos of the Clipper fleet arrival last Thursday are interspersed. I’ll tell you more about this later in the week. (The boat as the header came in just before the fleet so I thought it worth a photo). I’ll give some useful websites for those of you new to this blog so you don’t have to trawl through the last 10 months. If you know it all you can skip this post and wait for the next.

Before I start, NO I have not been arrested, the photo in the last post was NOT a mugshot of me at the police station. Ready? Off we go…

Unicef mast just visible above the RN sign

AIS: Automatic identification system (on your life jacket). AQP: additional qualified person (like the first mate on the boats). DSC: Digital selective calling (the red button on a ship’s radio to send out a call quickly). GMDSS: Global Maritime Distress and Safety System. IRPCS: International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea. JE: Japanese encephalitis.

Bridge opening at SKD to let boats in

MBB (OBB, YBB): My (our, your) Brave Boys (AKA George and John). MCA: Maritime and Coastguard Agency (or, in my working life, Medicines Control Agency). MFB: My Foolish Boys (or some such). MHz: Mega Hertz (radio frequency). MIPDANIO: nonsense word used as a mnemonic for Mayday calls. MMSI: Maritime Mobile Service Identity (like a mobile phone number identifying the radio on board). MOB (BOB, HOB): Man (body, hat) over board.

Unicef coming in

PFD: personal flotation device (life jacket or similar). RIB: rigid inflatable boat (the things you see charging around). RN: Royal Navy. ROTS: Riddle of The Sands (book written by Erskine Childers in 1903). RTW: Round the world. RYA: Royal Yacht Association.

Qingdao coming in

SKD: St Katherine’s Docks (where the fleet are leaving from and coming back to next August). SRC: short range certificate (to allow you to use a ship’s radio). STCW: Standards of Training, Certification and Watch-keeping (see upcoming post!). TB: tuberculosis. TBE: tick-borne encephalitis. TLA: three letter acronyms (we also have four, five and eight letter ones here). TW: training week. VHF: very high frequency (radio term). WTC (Logistics): World Trade Connection (one of the sponsors of Clipper 2019/20).

That’s all the acronyms. Now to websites. The main Clipper one is https://www.clipperroundtheworld.com/ and the team diaries can be found at https://www.clipperroundtheworld.com/team/qingdao/team-hub and https://www.clipperroundtheworld.com/team/unicef/team-hub where you’ll find the crew diary has already started. The race viewer starts on Sunday 1st September but you can see it already https://www.clipperroundtheworld.com/race/standings

Clipper sailors (in no particular order) that I have found are Heather Broadbent at https://dreamitnowdoit.com/ Keith Winstanley’s “Pretty Much All At Sea” at https://keithsclipperadventure.com/ Susan Peart’s “Granny Goes Sailing” at https://susansclipperroundtheworldyachtrace.home.blog/ Mark Edmonds https://sailingadventure.home.blog/ Amicia Hopkins https://amisatlanticadventure.home.blog/ Rachael Leader https://ruleader.home.blog/ Ines Soares https://clipperchallenge.wordpress.com/ Dave Bouttell https://mangledneuron.home.blog/ Carl Forsander https://clipperdiary.blog/

Some of these have much more technical and sailing information, specifics on what it’s like being on the Clipper boats and photos from the boats. Try them and let me know if there are others I’ve yet to discover.

There are now FOUR days and 23 hours left till the off! Tomorrow (if nothing interferes), more on the fleet arriving at SKD.

39. Sisters Are Doing It For Themselves

The picture making up today’s header was in The Times a few weeks ago, I noticed it especially as it’s taken in Qingdao. I don’t plan to wear anything like this when I’m there but maybe it’s expected? I know some of you are worried that I’m going into hibernation and just waiting for MBB to appear, so I thought I’d let you know what I’ve done this last week. I left you on Sunday night after we’d been to SKD to assess the facilities. George headed back to Gosport that evening to continue getting Qingdao ready before sailing to London.

Monday John was rushing around getting ready to go down to Gosport so I just mooched around and yes, I did knit. I also ordered myself a piano, a bit smaller than this one and in better nick. I’m not intending to play al fresco either.

Tuesday I’d arranged to go and see my pal Rene who has Clint, one of our Welsh Springer Spaniel pups from last year. I walked to Battersea Park, near where they live, and we had a wander around and a coffee. It’s an interesting park, as well as the Pagoda I discovered the vegetable garden and a statue to “Little Brown Dog”, put up in 1906 as recognition of all the animals used in vivisection that people didn’t know about. It was taken down by the council shortly afterwards but put up again in a very secluded corner. At the end of our walk Clint wanted to come with me, so touching!

Take me home!

After all that exercise I was going to take it easy on Wednesday until Sue, another pal, called and said she’d come up to see the Dior exhibition at the V&A, did I want to join her? As I’d been talking about it the day before, getting cross with myself for not thinking ahead and getting a ticket, I jumped! A bit of make up on, didn’t have time to dress for the occasion or put on my Clipper necklace and earrings. It was well worth dropping everything (thankfully, no stitches in beanie number 7) and getting there in record time. The whole exhibition was fascinating and so much to see. I’m not overly fond of John Galliano, but you have to admit he’s innovative and there were a couple of his outfits I warmed to. I’m an old school girl though, it was the classic Dior dresses I could have brought home.

I was so inspired and annoyed with myself that I’ve now signed up as a member for the V&A. I’m looking forward to the Mary Quant display, I’m sure I’ll find something I wore in my youth. I also signed up for the Tate and the Garden Museum. This latter is a little gem (sorry for the pun!) just by Lambeth Palace. It’s an old church, St Mary’s, that was saved from demolition in 1977. I remember going to it when I visited the Pharmaceutical Society for work quite a few years back. It was pretty dingy and overlooked. It’s now been opened up and is well worth a visit. John Tradescant was buried there and there’s such a great stained glass window with gardeners in it. All these memberships are for me and a guest so don’t hesitate to shout if there’s an exhibition you want to take me to.

I’ve decided after only two weeks of roughing it like a mad old lady from the country that I must find a hairdresser. That resolution didn’t last long! Here’s a shot of me now, once I’ve been scalped you can judge if it’s an improvement.

There is one other thing I’m doing, it takes me back to my very first job in Southampton Docks when I was 19, working in Goods Inwards. I’m taking delivery of parcels that the sailors have been ordering over the last week or so. I’d take a shot but there’s not enough room to show them all!

I’ll be back at SKD later today to see the fleet come in. They’ve left Southend in the last half hour and should be arriving around 5.30 tonight (John and I then have a fast turnaround as we’re off to Southampton tonight in preparation for our four-day MCA STCW Proficiency in Medical First Aid on Board Ship at Hamble). They moor up in the Centre Basin and will be available to view and go onto (if you’ve booked or have a crew member inviting you) from Sunday until 31st August. There’s a fan zone with lots going on if you’re around. If not I’ll be telling you all about it in a week or so.


They sailed late yesterday from Gosport after all the preparation and photoshoots from helicopters. It must have been on the local news but I’ve not picked anything up. Go onto YouTube and see them set sail. I think I’ve put the link here:

In case you didn’t see the lovely shot of George on Qingdao leaving Gosport, from the Clipper website, I’ll leave you with that. We now have 9 days and 21 hours to go!

38. And now it begins…

Today the fleet have set off from Gosport to sail to St Katherine’s Dock. The header shows most of them lined up last night. After a photoshoot they started sailing about 4 o’clock. They’ll be heading to Southend then parade up the Thames on Thursday 22nd with CV31 (Unicef) in the lead. I’m sure they’ll be hoping this is indicative of the future race! There are some great photos on the Clipper website, see photo 60 for someone you’ll recognise!


MBB came back Friday night after their prep week and we went out for a meal to a wonderful old restaurant, Grumbles, which has been in existence since 1964. George then headed off to spend the weekend with younger people and we (still) tried to complete all the paperwork that seems to appear when you go away for a year. On Sunday we headed off to St Katherine’s Dock (SKD) to work out where the spectator boats will go from and where to try and meet up with everyone. There are about 36 of us supporting our two boats, ranging from Felix, John’s youngest grandchild, to Nancy, John’s mam, with an age range of nnn years (daren’t say, I may be told off). This is the sort of boat we’ll be on to see them off. Not QUITE as exciting as the Clipper yachts!

BUT, I hear you ask, what about the landlubber? What’s going on there? Well, dear reader, I have not spent all my time knitting beanies (although some days it does feel like it). I have also been planning my trips. There are a few aspects to this, the flights and the hotels and The Companions. I had initially thought that I’d be like Dr Who and have A Companion for each stop. Very egocentric of me, like when John’s kids were small and couldn’t understand why the chocolate cake they’d started last week had all gone in their absence. However, life goes on for other people so I’ll be an unacompanied senior at some ports.

An old(ie) photo!

I have found out in the meantime that the Supporters Club is very strong. I now have five social media groups, three on Facebook and two on WhatsApp. I don’t know how people cope with these but I’m getting there. There’s a lot of excitement and planning going on with the supporters, especially those who have either only one port to visit or conversely who have Circumnavigators to follow. So, even if I don’t have my own personal pal along with me, there will be lots of Clipper folk. I’ll give more information for each stop at the right time, I don’t want to spoil the anticipation yet. I can say I’ve booked all the way from Portimao to Australia, next on the list is China.

I’ll be coming back between ports for two or three weeks, so I’ll be able to catch my breath. Meanwhile, missing my Penguin books, I have found a new collection to start. There are only 30 or so to collect so they should fit in the flat once I’ve put up a book shelf (shh, don’t tell John).

The Mariners Library

I bought these two for John and George and told John to pick which one he wanted. I hadn’t realised they were inscribed, and that they would be so apt for each of them.

For the Experienced Man!
From his parents!

That’s all for today, I’ll be back later in the week when there’s more to report. As I finish this there are 11 days and 21 hours to the off.

37. Be Prepared!

Nothing to do with the Tom Lehrer song of the same name, but go and give it a listen if you want a laugh (depending upon your sense of humour). I promised last time to let you know what MBB were up to. The header to this post is Suhaili berthed in Gosport, the boat that started it all 50 years ago. (Most of these pictures have been provided by John and George’s crew mates so if anyone wants to claim copyright just shout at me). This is the last week before the current Clipper fleet set off for London. They’ve been racing each other in Training Level 4 over the last couple of months (unofficially, so no results posted). They all know how they’re placed though! George was there last week, he says Qingdao was winning at one stage then hit a wind hole and finished 10th. Here he is before then I guess.

There is a management saying “fail to prepare, prepare to fail”. None of the Clipper crew are prepared to fail. After George’s level 4 he stayed on to start preparing the fleet (well, maybe only Qingdao, we don’t want to give the opposition any help do we?). Officially “prep week” started on Saturday 10th August. All RTW’ers and those crew embarking on Leg 1 to Punta del Este are encouraged to go and get the boats ready. As they’ve been racing, all rigging (bits of rope and steel that you see all over the boat) and sails need to be replaced. Everyone with a role will have extra training. I don’t think I’ve told you about the different roles people have, I’ll check and make that another post if not. John is Medical Assistant on Unicef and George Social Secretary on Qingdao. John had a couple of days earlier in July learning about what he may need to do, such as hand out sticking plasters or contact Praxes, the official supplier of 24/7 remote medical advice. They will also be at each stopover providing support if needed. More on that and other official suppliers at a later date if there’s no room here. Gosh, there’s so much to say and so little time suddenly!


The main item on this week’s agenda is victualing, pronounced more like “vit’ling” than the spelling. This is getting all the food for 22 people for almost a month stowed on board. I’m not sure how long they will have fresh food, but I know from a phone call with George that they have bread mixes so that’ll be pretty fresh. I’m useless at making bread so let’s hope John becomes an expert over the next year. This must be a major job as it’s taking place all week (vit’ling, that is, not bread making!). Possibly two or three boats a day rather than a free-for-all every day.

Where’s our grub?

Various members of the crew get specialist training as well as the medical training that John did last month: Garmin navigation equipment, Media Crew, Sail repairs with Hyde Sails, Spinlock life jackets, Marlow ropes, Engineering, Fundraising co-ordinators with Unicef and Sat-comms. I think every boat has two crew attend the training then they’ll pass onto the others what they need to know (like how to put your life jacket on). In addition to this and the victualing (which I want to spell with two “l”s but this site KEEPS CORRECTING IT!) there are sails and rigging being issued and race start briefing. Fundraising is going well, as I type the whole fleet has raised over £77,500 with the Unicef crew hitting their target before they have even set sail.

John in his element

If you go onto the Clipper website they have the complete race details there. Notice of Race (the official details), Sailing Instructions (how the whole race is controlled with forms to show they’ve not broken the rules or incurred penalty points by, for example, losing a sail) and Course Instructions (how each leg is controlled, not yet posted on the website). There’s a one page form to be completed before they can race. This confirms that they (consider they) have enough food and water, all equipment is working, they’ve practiced their MOB drill, everyone knows what they’re doing etc. There’s a six page form of which charts and publications they’re taking, the intended route with distances and timings planned, when they’re likely to leave with weather forecasts for the first three days and any weather or navigational issues they could encounter, ports of refuge, exclusion zones and who is on board. At the end of each race they’ve got two 12 page checklists of all safety and rig checks. I’d be in my element with all these forms!

On Friday they all leave for a relaxing weekend (?), then on Monday MBB go back to start sailing on Tuesday, bringing them around to St Katherine’s Dock. If you’re in the area 22nd August (Thursday afternoon) at 5.30 you could stop by and see them come in. I’m planning on being there.

Some of the fleet

There are only 18 days left to September 1st and I still haven’t knitted enough beanies! Back to work…

36. Meanwhile, Back At The Ranch

I’m sure you’re all wondering how The Home Team are getting on with all this disruption to normal service. I’m glad to report that Mr & Mrs C, the House / Dog / Cat sitters, arrived a couple of weeks ago. They’ve come from California to see if they want to move to the UK permanently. We’ve been leaving them alone for a few days so that they can find out all the niggles in the house that we’ve forgotten to tell them about. We found out on their arrival that there’s one big local attraction we knew nothing about: LAWN BOWLS.

On their second day, Mr C had a call to go and play for the local team as someone had let them down. After less than a week here he was on the front page of our local paper, upsetting all the usual people who appear there! (I may organise a guest blog post on bowls if I run out of things to say or am away for a long time with no access to the interweb).

They have two small dogs with them, an old one to keep Greta company and a youngster who cannot keep still. I was a little concerned that Adie would resent a newcomer in her house, but after a few minutes of being invited to play they were running around the garden like they’d know each other since puppyhood. Blind Captain Catt (aka Polly) is not so impressed. She’s touched noses with the newcomers but has told us she’d rather sleep outside in this good weather thank you very much.

It’s been quite a few emotional weeks for me: last Pilates class, last piano class, last hair cut. I’ve got an exercise book and my roll up piano but it’s not really the same doing these things on your own. I’m not sure I’ll find such a good hairdresser anywhere in the world (how did you guess she’s a Follower?) so may come back with long grey locks. The Ancient Mariner look?

In the few weeks Mr and Mrs C have been here, they’ve got involved in more activities than we have in our almost 30 years. As well as the bowls, they are planning to go and see if they like bell-ringing and have discovered the local weekly markets. Their two hounds have very much made themselves at home, as you can see, and we have no concerns that the house will be empty and neglected for the next year.

We have now left home for the year, moving up to London when we’re not travelling (i.e. I will be in London between my travels, John and George both having one-way tickets on the race).

If you go back to the very first post in this blog, you’ll see John’s retirement greenhouse. Other than being used to grow Adie’s puppies and some impressive weeds it has lain empty until the day we left. Last weekend was our wedding anniversary and we went away to Cornwall for a few days. Our romantic break was not out of character, there were lots of nautical themed items in the hotel. It was a lovely place to stay and do nothing, although we had possibly not considered the fact that we’d be trying to finish off things at home prior to Clipper. We took our laptops so we could attend to urgent issues, but someone forgot to bring the cable for charging so was forced to relax!

Unbeknownst to me, John had researched some exotic plant places we could go to on the way back to buy some for the greenhouse. On the very last day we left home for the year, he was out planting them. It will be interesting to compare this shot with one when we return in a year.

Budding greenhouse

Also in this last week, he has sorted out my herbs. We did have herbs but spread around all over the place. I knew where they all were (mint by outside loo, sage in front garden, oregano elsewhere in front garden etc) but I’m not sure anyone else does. Or did, until now! Here is the fledgling herb plot, awaiting the actual herbs. I’m not sure if it will be planted whilst we’re away as I’ve not told anyone what I’d like there. Another blog post?

A very organised (empty) herb garden!

The day we left (Friday) the dogs were very out of sorts. To start with I’d sold my (their) car so that was missing. Then John’s car was full to the brim with things we thought we might need over the next year so there was obviously no room for two dogs as well. Normally they are at my feet and jumping around to see what’s going on. This time, they took to their beds in the kitchen and wouldn’t get out to wave us off. Once we’d gone, of course it was “nobody’s fed me today” and “can I have a play?” so no worries there either.

I’m in London on my own this week, MBB are down in Gosport on “prep week”. I’ve been wandering around the neighbourhood, once I’d unpacked everything. Remember I said in Post 34 that John wouldn’t be needing any “civvies” as he’d be living in Musto clobber? No-one told him, he’s brought suits and jumpers and shoes and (more to the point) filled up the wardrobe space I thought I’d have! Anyway, how refreshing to be able to walk to a coffee shop or decide I fancy eating a certain nationality for the evening and know the odds are that I’ll find a suitable restaurant. Maybe more exciting to me, I’ve found out that Penguin Random House are a few minute’s walk away. Maybe I could sneak in and find my 14 missing Penguins? (See the header to Post 3).

I’ll tell you about the Gosport activities next time, together with more Clipper website announcements. All the boats have now been branded so we know all the sponsors. Meanwhile, here’s possibly the last shot of us relaxing together before the off:

On the final note, there are now only just over 21 days before the off. Even more odd to think that in a year’s time it will be over, as they’re due back into London on August 8th 2020. Then what??