This song (by Supertramp) was played on constant loop at The Punta del Este Yacht Club (YCPDE) when it was raining. Heaven knows what the staff there thought if this happens every time, a form of mental torture. Whilst writing this post I’m listening to Supertramp so it didn’t put me off.
I really caused discussion with Post 53, I’ve never had so many comments. Go back and have a look: beard or no beard. A new B word!
To return to the end of Post 53. Tito came and set up a mini-Asado on the parilla (grill) at the back of the crew house. Most of the crew and supporters were there, although I have been asked to shout out to two of them who wandered up and down the road for an hour looking for the place then went home bereft. Cheryl, now you know what it looks like maybe you’ll find it next time!
We had a great time, as you can see from the empty plates and beakers. On our way back to Hotel Atlantico, a great little boutique hotel where we were staying (with a resident sparrow in at breakfast time!), we walked past a heaving Cuatro Mare restaurant. As John hadn’t been there we decided to go the next night. In the morning, some of Unicef had a bus trip showing us the highlights of Punta. If I say the best bit was going over the wavy bridge very fast four times you’ll get a feel for the sights. Just to show there is more, here’s a shot of the lighthouse (which was closed). The buildings around are only allowed to go up to four storeys so they don’t block the light.
We had lunch at Artico, the “fast fish” cafe where I ate on the first night. You take a ticket and join a queue: when you get to the front you order what you want. You then get another ticket and join a second queue whilst they cook it to order. If you cannot be bothered to wait there’s a cold counter with lots of fishy salads that you help yourself to. As you pay for these by weight and they all look so tasty, it’s not the cheapest option. We went there three times in all so we did enjoy the food. Early evening John and I went along to a caviar-and-champagne tasting on a private yacht belonging to the Vice-Commodore of the Yacht Club. Someone has to do it. The Clipper crew members were very taken with the heads, bilges and engine, as well as the fact that there were real beds with sheets and a door to close out the world! We then headed off to Cuatro Mare only to find it shut. The opening hours of all the restaurants were somewhat random, possibly as it was not high season. Moby Dick’s opened early in the season just for us, I’m sure it was worth it for them as every time we walked past it was busy. The music started at midnight or 1 am so I missed it all. Rumour has it that crew members picked up instruments when the bands were not in situ.
The next day, to ensure freedom from bias, I went on the bus trip again with Qingdao. It was shorter than the previous day: the church we’d been into was closed (scaffolding and hoarding all over it) and the rain was lashing down so no decent photos to be taken. We did, however, go over the bridge another four times! I’m not sure how it competes with being on real waves but everyone whooped as we went over. The rest of the day was taken by the sailors packing all their gear to go back onto the boat. In the evening we had a tasting of Garzon wines (one of the sponsors of the Punta boat). I’m not sure if we can get them here but greatly enjoyed the “Reserve” Albarino and Marsalan. (I’ve checked, if you’re trade you can order from Liberty Wines but not if you’re retail).
Tuesday was weigh-in on the boats prior to sailing on Wednesday then team briefings in the afternoon, first as the whole fleet then individual boats. Us supporters went along to Yateste (the old yacht club) and continued the wine tasting as we waited. Not sure what it was (we were offered red or white) but not as good as Garzon. Unicef did a deep clean as they’d had three school parties on board the day before, then we had a meal to say goodbye to Jayne, who only sailed on Leg 1 (but wants to join up again if she can). Unicef seemed to be doing much more cleaning than the others. They may not be the fastest (yet) but they have to be the cleanest! Half the actual boat seemed to be laid out on the dock being scrubbed.
I’m not sure my picture of the sail loft gave you the right impression so here’s a better one. If you see a sail with red writing on it (“The Race of Your Life”) then I’ve been told it’s a Code 2 Spinnaker. An egg-shaped triangular sail that you can’t lie flat, hence us having to roll it tightly to feed it through that tiny gap you can see in the sewing machine.
And so to the leaving of Punta del Este. Just before we get there I need to show you two pictures of a brass compass that Donna is taking around the world with her prior to auctioning it off to raise funds from the Qingdao boat for Unicef.
I’ve undertaken to try and get a shot of it in each port so you can see it travel around the world. It’s tied to Donna’s belt so will be even more used (and scratched) by the time we get to London next August.
Although the race didn’t start until 15.00 all crew had to be on board by 10.00 so we said goodbye and left them to it. We were on a spectator boat which was also bouncing up and down so I can’t show you the fleet leaving as I did for Southend (it looks pretty much the same). Before they set off there was a band playing traditional navy music which we’ve not had in the other ports. Then speeches in Spanish and English before each boat slipped its lines to the sound of its theme tune (battle song?). You can watch this on Facebook live (it starts after the band and speeches). Unicef are on at about 12 minutes 40 seconds with John at the back (stern) in white sunglasses (which get mentioned by the commentator!). He waved at me but I can’t catch myself in the crowd, maybe you can see the two-tone tee-shirt? George appears at about 24.20 minutes, he’s in the cockpit (?) just under the letter D of Qingdao. https://www.facebook.com/ClipperRaceLIVE/videos/531849127360175/
When the race started, Unicef were first out of the stalls (or off the blocks or whatever the nautical term is) with Qingdao second. I’m not sure if my two skippers planned it but they were talking together at the prize giving.
After we’d seen them off into the distance it was back to the Yacht Club for a celebratory, oops sorry, commiseration drink or two, then a last trip to Moby Dick’s for supper. Of course, on the way back to the hotel, ALL the restaurants were open, now that the fleet had left! A final picture, of Qingdao’s halyard with the two pennants they have won so far, plus two pennants from special yacht clubs.
Next time, a bit more about Punta plus what I’m up to back in Blighty.