54. It’s Raining Again!

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!

Which do you vote for?

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!

Unicef crew at Alex’s 30th birthday party

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.

Punta del Este Lighthouse

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 view from the yacht looking at our fleet.

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.

Which bit goes where?

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.

Ian (Unicef) and Chris (Qingdao)

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.

Race 1 third at the bottom, then Race 2 first, then Chris’ local yacht club in Essex and Punta Yacht club at the top

Next time, a bit more about Punta plus what I’m up to back in Blighty.

53a. It’s A Small Small World (8)

One of the crew on George’s boat, Qingdao, is Dr Martin Mills, known as Pip (I’m not sure why, must try to find out). He’s a doctor from Bristol and is sailing on the first two or three legs. George thought they might have people they know in common as they live relatively close. He asked Pip where he practiced, to be told Royal United Hospital Bath. Gosh, says George (or some such expression), I was born there. After a fair bit of discussion, it turns out that it is more than likely that Pip was the doctor who delivered George, as he was the only male registrar in that department at the time! Not only George, but another Qingdao crew member was operated on by Pip. We did wonder how they allocate crew to the different boats, is this a clue? A very small world. here’s Pip looking gleeful with his 1st pennant from Race 2.

53. South of Rio

Back to my trip. I set off from London on Wednesday 9th October for a ten pm flight to Sao Paulo. I had to change here for a flight to Punta del Este: it was meant to be a five hour layover but the flight was delayed so I arrived in Punta at half four on Thursday 10th, with an hour’s taxi drive to the hotel close to the port. Thankfully not cancelled like Portimao! I didn’t know it at the time but there were at least another four Clipper people on the same flight. As I walked to the gate, I noticed this, with two of the five destinations being places I’ll be visiting. A long way round though, via Brazil!

Punta del Este airport is tiny, even thought International it’s not got any amenities at all. A shed is the customs and passport area. I had a walk around Punta in the evening and ended up having an early meal with a crew member from GoToBermuda at a self-service fast fish restaurant. Although he is a circumnavigator, he had to get off at Portimao and fly home for his daughter’s wedding in the USA. He’s not the only one, another circumnavigator had to do the same for his daughter’s wedding in Australia. These children are so thoughtless, interfering with their dads’ plans! Punta is a typical seaside town out of season, the view out of my hotel window seems to be a burnt out cinema. The summer starts in December and finishes in February so very short. Most of the tourists are from Brazil or Argentina, they have weekend apartments which are shut up most of the time. The Uruguayans are very friendly, nothing is too much trouble and the crime rate is one of the lowest in the world. A new chap joining Unicef left his phone and cards on the bus: it turned up safely (but not, unfortunately, until he’d cancelled all his credit cards).

On Friday there was the excitement of waiting for the first two boats. There was a thunderstorm in the morning which blew over so I didn’t need my raincoat. I called into the Race Office to confirm that I was on the list for prize giving and other events, of which more later. Those of us who had arrived in time walked along the coastal path to see if we could spot the first yacht: as you’ll have read in Post 52 it was Qingdao. We waited to see them in, so we supporters had our lunch at about 3 pm. (They’d eaten before they came in, whilst preparing the boat and themselves for port). That evening we went to Moby Dick’s, a pub that seems to be the unofficial headquarters for Clipper. I also managed to book George into our hotel as he’d only booked an airbnb place from the 16th.

Spot Qingdao on the horizon

On Saturday there was an even bigger and noisier thunderstorm with fork lightening which lasted all day. George and I went out only as far as the next corner, where the Cuatro Mare restaurant was. Great food, a buffet with lots of salad which was just what George wanted after a month of tinned and dried food on board. As one of the first supporters into Punta I had been tasked with finding somewhere for us supporters to eat on Saturday night. Even though no boats were scheduled to arrive, I found us Le Marea, on the seafront just in case any sped up and arrived before they were expected. After that we had a post dinner drink at Moby Dicks.

Sunday was taken up with watching boats arrive and the celebratory beers in the Yacht Club. We waited at the Punta del Este Yacht Club and had lunch there. Each boat in the fleet has local “ambassadors”. We at Unicef are incredibly lucky with the Canepa family: Gabby, Norberto and their children Tito and Flopi! They are really looking after everyone and helping out with supplies, hospital visits etc. The hospital was for Angie, a RTW’er who managed to slip and break her wrist in the shower the first morning. She obviously hadn’t regained her land legs. Flopi is a photographer and a lot of the shots you’ll see on the official website were taken by her.

The Canepa family

John has a real beard, as you should have noticed in the last picture in Post 52. If not, here’s a close up. Whilst everyone agrees he looks like a real sailor now, they don’t have to kiss him! It’s very rough, like having a bristle brush thrust in your face. He’s allowed to keep it till next August then we’ll have another discussion. If he buys himself Crocs as well then I’m definitely not having him back!

Every day John had some task either on the boat (deep cleaning, sorting sails, showing local school children around) or near by (manning the spinnaker for signing at the Dome, sorting out the medical records and supplies for the boat). We managed to meet most days for lunch, sometimes with George, and had dinner together every evening. Tuesday night there was a tango demonstration which we felt was too short. Wednesday was the prize giving which of course was very exciting for Qingdao. Before that, in fact the first award of the night, was to Holly Williams on Unicef. She’s a paediatric surgeon from the USA who had raised the most money of all crew across the fleet. A great start! It was in the Yacht Club so not easy to get a good view. Here are the winning team with their pennant and Commodore’s Cup (which has to stay behind, I’m sure they’d not want that weight on board).

Spot the Joker

On Friday everyone had the afternoon off to go to an Asado hosted by the city. This is basically a meat feast. WHOLE cows, sheep etc are cooked on massive grills. I have some photos but thought you might be put off your chickpea stew. It was in a sculpture park around a lake and the weather, for once, was warm so no need for raincoats.

G&T at the Asado

Cast your minds back to Post 51. I mentioned that John had won the sweepstake for guessing the time they crossed the Equator. I think he won a Chupa Chup (he said “a lollipop”). That post was also where I said I’d bought something for Skipper Mike on Imagine Your Korea. I found him at the Asado and handed it over:

Mike’s Penguin keyring

If you’ve read his early blogs you’ll have seen he was desperate to see penguins. Now he’s got one to look at whenever he wants! Although I understand that some of the fleet saw Magellan penguins close to Uruguay.

On Saturday there was a beach clean which John and George took part in. I decided I didn’t have the energy to walk along the sand slowly digging things out so I went to help Holly in her new day job, as sail repairer.

I know it looks as though we’re all in bed, but we were doing a very important job. You can’t see the sewing machine behind the sail but we had to wrap the surplus material very tightly so it could pass behind the needle then feed it through whilst Holly sewed it up. You can just see Thom sitting behind us, he made sure the tension was kept steady. As the sewing machine only goes one way we had to thread it backwards and forwards. Prior to sewing, strips of material are cut and stuck to the tear. There are four to six lines of sewing per tear, so it’s a lot of work for each one. Then the sail is the size of a tennis court so it’s not easy to lay out and find all the damage. There were crew there every day for four days, on Saturday there were four of us supporters helping out to make sure it was finished. If you cannot mend it then it’s sent to professional sail repairers elsewhere. For ALL damage to the boat, any costs incurred are added up and if it exceeds £500 (across the whole race, not per leg) then penalty points are “awarded”. If you go into Race Viewer on a computer, under “overall race” you’ll see the penalty points in the final column before the total points. There aren’t any yet but keep an eye on it. https://www.clipperroundtheworld.com/race/standings.

That evening we had a birthday party for Alex, one of the Unicef crew. He and a few others had rented a “crew house” which was along the coast. We could not believe we weren’t back in the UK when we saw it. Maybe the colour of the sky is a giveaway.

This is in sharp contrast to George’s airbnb, which was a converted retail unit. The first hint of trouble was the railing he had to climb over to enter the block. There was then what looked like the ramp of a multi-storey car park to negotiate before he got to the unit, all glass so nice and airy. There was hot water, a bed, a shower with the toilet integral (I guess it was probably there first and the shower added when it became somewhere to sleep). However, there was no insulation and no heating so after one night he moved out to a place where other crewmates were, which was heated.

I’ve got lots more to write but other things to do so no more for now.

52. Race 2 Results

I’ll keep you in suspense a little longer. What do you mean, you’ve already looked at the Clipper website and know the results? I’ll show you photos not on the website then.

Stuart Skelton singing at The Opera Awards dinner

I left you with Sanya in Stealth Mode trying to pull ahead of Qingdao. I’m sorry to have to tell you that it didn’t work and Qingdao went into the lead. Yes, you’re right, these are crocodile tears. I’m not at all sorry, but the lead between the two kept changing as the winds veered around. Then four others went into Stealth: Seattle, WTC Logistics, Dare to Lead and Zhuhai. Meanwhile, there’s another Crew Diary from George, if you’ve not seen that on the website. https://www.clipperroundtheworld.com/crew-diary/qingdao/381

Qingdao in sight!

Whilst all this jiggery-pokery was going on at sea I had a busy couple of days after the weekend, before trying to pack my case for Uruguay. I went to the Opera Awards Gala Dinner at the Great Hall, Lincoln’s Inn. Such an impressive venue. Stuart Skelton was the host for the evening and there was some wonderful singing from recipients of Opera Award bursaries. There was an auction of various opera-related events but as John was not with me I was able to resist bidding for anything. Over the years that we’ve been supporting the Opera Awards we’ve met some new friends, and now that I’m in London I had lunch with one at Lorne near Victoria. A good place to meet and a good lunch. I’m turning into a lady-wot-lunches! I did walk there and back so some exercise before my long flights.

Part of the Great Hall

When it came to the packing, in addition to all the items John had requested I bring (not just shore clothes and his shoes, which weigh a ton, but new stuff too for on the boat), I was asked to bring out other supplies for other crew members.

Over the finish line!

I only had half a case to myself and didn’t want two big cases so I deployed my Clipper bag (see Post 5 from November 16th 2018) for books and squashable items that wouldn’t leak. Even that proved too small so into action came my trusty Musto sailing bag from 2012. Perfect. I’m glad I claimed it back from John as he used it for his training weeks (without asking first!). The extra sleeping bag layer will have its own case to Cape Town.

Taking sails down and putting battle sail up

I had to find a little corner for my clothes. As the weather forecast for Punta del Este was variable (predicted day time temperatures between 23C and 13C, night times 16C to 8C) it was a case of layers. There was also a risk of showers so I needed a raincoat. Then, when I thought I was ready and had zipped up the bags, I realised I’d not put my make-up in. Not something you can risk taking in hand luggage, that mascara can be very dangerous in the wrong hands! Open the cases up again and move things around to make a little more space.

In port

When I checked the forecast I saw that on October 9th there was a waxing gibbous moon. Nothing to do with monkeys’ ears, it means the moon is going towards full (as opposed to a waning moon going towards new) and that it’s more than a semi-circle, less than the full circle, which it will be when full on October 14th. Don’t say this blog isn’t educational!

A welcome beer for George and Donna

Back to the race. Most of the way it was Sanya and Qingdao swapping first and second places, I’m overjoyed to tell you that Qingdao came first, crossing the line in Punta del Este on Friday 11th October at 15:35:46 UTC. Sanya were second almost five hours later, coming in at 20:10:55. Both finished the day before the official arrival window started so I’m glad I travelled a day before I thought I needed to. We then had to wait until Sunday for the rest: Ha Long Bay at 1 pm, Dare to Lead at 3, Unicef fifth at 17.51 quickly followed by Zhuhai, Seattle and then WTC at 19.24. Punta came in just after eleven and the last two were GoToBermuda just before 5 am Monday and Imagine Your Korea just after 6am. I only watched my two boats come in.

Unicef in sight

To the points for this race: Qingdao 11 for first, doubled to 22 as they played their Joker plus 2 for the Scoring Gate = 24. Visit Sanya 10 plus 3 for the Scoring Gate and 1 for the Ocean Sprint =14. Ha Long Bay 9 +1 +2 = 12. Dare to Lead 8. Unicef 7 (one better than the last race). Zhuhai 6, Seattle 5, WTC Logistics 4, Punta del Este 3 doubled to 6 plus 3 for the Scoring Gate, GoToBermuda 2 and Imagine Your Korea 1.

Coming into dock

For the Race so far I calculate: Qingdao 36 points, Sanya and Punta 23 each, Ha Long Bay and Dare to Lead 18 each, Zhuhai 16, Unicef 13, Seattle 7, Korea 6 and WTC and Bermuda both on 5. If I’ve miscalculated then the Clipper website will be updated soon and I’ll correct any I need to.

Spot John!

51. Leg 1 Race 2 (c)

First, I’ll try not to post any more shots of Gloomy London, I realise I finished Posts 49 AND 50 with similar views. If there’s snow later in the year I may change this decision (but snow isn’t gloomy). The header is of the view I had when I woke up yesterday.

I forgot to tell you that John won the Equator sweepstake on Unicef. It sounds like he may not have won in everyone’s opinion, due to the application of ship time and/or UTC. When I next see him I’ll find out what he won, probably an extra Haribo or something! https://www.clipperroundtheworld.com/skipper-report/unicef/race2-day17-team48

I also forgot to detail my cinematic experiences. At home, we often plan to go and see a film but usually by the time we get around to it the film has moved on. Since Portimao, I have been to see The Farewell (a film well worth seeing, even if the synopsis sounds depressing, a Chinese family getting together for a fake wedding when they hear that Grandma has only a few weeks to live. Based on an actual lie it says). Then Downton Abbey. It possibly helps to have watched the TV series so you know who is who. I mentioned Netflix in an earlier post, well to make up for never having seen Downton Abbey I’ve binge watched the first two series of The Crown. I think I still prefer Matt Smith as Dr Who. I’m now binge watching Sherlock (the one with Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman, not Basil Rathbone or Peter Cushing!).

In John’s crew diary of 27th September he mentioned needing to buy a bird book in Punta to enable him to identify the birds that are flying around. In Ian’s Skipper report of 4th October he says they have one, ‘Seabirds of Southern Africa and the World’, by Gerald Tuck of the Royal Navy Ornithological Society. https://www.clipperroundtheworld.com/skipper-report/unicef/race2-day19-team48

I don’t know how old that book is, but I managed to find a different one for John with photos. As it’s over 300 pages I’m not sure how easy it will be to ID a bird flying past at speed though. THE book on ocean birds was, apparently, Peter Harrison’s 1983 “Seabirds: An Identification Guide” but this new one builds on that with the use of DNA and subsequent reclassification.

Reading Nick’s Zhuhai log of 3rd October, I think maybe I should have bought the book for George instead. Nick says that Qingdao seem to think all the birds they see are some sort of gannet. https://www.clipperroundtheworld.com/skipper-report/zhuhai/race2-day18-team45 . Another skipper seemingly preoccupied with birds is Mike on Imagine Your Korea. I’ve bought him a little present but you’ll have to wait until I hand it over to see it.

As well as managing to see films that otherwise pass me by, and eating foods that have not yet hit rural England, I walk to the shops most days with my little carrier bag to buy food (no filling up the boot once a week or less). This does mean I look more at what I’m buying, and imagine my glee when I found this, a combination of my favourite cocktail (espresso martini) and my favourite brand of yogurt (The Collective).

I needed it before I tried to squeeze the warm sleeping bag layer John wants me to take to Punta or Cape Town into the compression straps I had to order. On its own it takes up my whole suitcase. I was assured by John that the straps would make it small enough that I could pack my clothes (and his) as well… Really? Just take a look and tell me what you think.

Saturday morning the results of the Ocean Sprint were announced by Clipper. Unfortunately neither of our two boats were fast enough. Our arch-nemesis, Punta del Este, came first, gained three points and and so have leapfrogged Qingdao (17 points to 14). Grrr. Ha Long Bay were second so have a total of nine points and Visit Sanya scraped the third place, one point, to give them 10 points overall. Dare to Lead were in fourth place (nul points) only one second slower than Sanya. You have to feel sorry for them.

Skipper Mark of WTC Logistics says in his log of 5th October that they came sixth only nine minutes behind Sanya. He also comments on the fact that the fleet of matched boats but with all amateur crews can be so close. Read the full account from the link below (then click onto the other skipper reports as they are all interesting and you’ve got nothing else to do today, right!). https://www.clipperroundtheworld.com/skipper-report/wtc-logistics/race2-day20-team40

This weekend I had two pals visiting, Victoria up from Somerset and Rene. Well, I guess I had three as Clint came too. Victoria and I went to Tate Britain to see the William Blake (again, for me, but I still missed bits of information). First we went to the Members’ Room for some lunch. I’d not been there and it takes some finding. Up the spiral staircase and up and up. It’s pretty much in the dome that you see on top of the Tate. According to my clever phone I climbed three floors. It felt more like six, both of us needing to take a breath when we arrived before I was able to show my membership card. I don’t think it’s as impressive as the V&A Members’ Room, and more of a canteen as it’s self-service, but sitting up in the light-filled dome was an experience. I have said if I do it on a daily basis my fitness will improve, with the incentive of a coffee when I arrive, but I’ve yet to repeat the trip. Knowing what faces me should make it easier. Extinction Rebellion are out in force so I’m not sure I’m brave enough to wander near Parliament.

Lambeth Bridge, MIllbank Tower, Tate Britain

On Sunday morning all three of us (with Clint observing) had another go with the compression straps. I don’t know exactly how it was managed, but here we are with a better packed layer. It now doesn’t quite take up all of my case although I still don’t have room for everything I need. I’ve been advised it’s not necessary for the next race so I’ll take it to Cape Town, when I’m not having to change planes.

The other interesting thing that happened this week (if you’re a Clipper Addict) is the appearance of two posters depicting two of the Crew Members, as the recruitment for the next race (2021/22) jumps up a gear. One of these Crew Members you’ve already come across, you shouldn’t be surprised when I tell you it’s Donna. I went to see Victoria off on Sunday, then onto Arthur Beale to collect the head torches I’d ordered (see previous Post) and look who was smiling down on us!

I’ll remind you, Donna is a 48-year-old British chiropractor going around the world on Qingdao. We met her before we knew she was on the same boat as George and she’s doing the same job as John on board of Medical Assistant. Just to be fair, I’ll give you the shot of the other Crew Member, Mark Pollard. He’s a 30-year-old engineer from Australia and he’s sailing Legs 1 and 3 on Ha Long Bay, Viet Nam.

Now I have a new game, seeing how many I can spot and hoping that Clipper will add others for us to hunt down. A bit like Pokemon Go! Although less interactive.

Not to be outdone, you can see John to the left of the last picture on this Clipper news article about the Ocean Sprint. It doesn’t look as though he shaved his head. We’ve not seen George for a while, I wonder if he has? https://www.clipperroundtheworld.com/news/article/closely-fought-dell-latitude-rugged-ocean-sprint-sees-just-one-second-between-two-teams

Sanya have gone into Stealth mode, 06.10 UTC Monday morning, so we won’t know where they are until Tuesday morning. Meantime, Qingdao are effectively in the lead. Go Qingdao! The weather for the next few days has very deep lows developing, little wind and wind gusting and veering in different directions, so it’s all to play for. Are Sanya trying to get closer to the shore and benefit from the offshore winds that played such a crucial part at the end of race 1?

And on that cliffhanger, I’ll leave you with another picture of London Today.

50. Leg 1 Race 2 (b)

I promised some more photos of Portimao, there are some dotted around this Post. Also, before you sailors get too excited, despite the title, this is about life during Race 2, both theirs and mine, so it’s a pretty long post. Grab a cup of tea and sit down.

Sardine sculpture

A correction to Post 49, it was not Cyclone Garry but Jerry. This was replaced by Karen then Lorenzo. Some of the boats in the fleet were hoping to hang onto the tail coats of Lorenzo and get a faster push into the Doldrums, but this didn’t happen. A good feel for this is given by Jody on Qingdao in the crew diaries. https://www.clipperroundtheworld.com/crew-diary/qingdao/278

Portimao dome

The first two to start motoring in the Doldrums Corridor were Qingdao and Unicef. In addition, Qingdao had a problem with their generator so were burning fuel too quickly. Ha Long Bay and Sanya were diverted to perform a boat-to-boat transfer to them. They practiced this during training weeks: at that time I gather a tin of baked beans went from one boat to the other. Josh (skipper on Ha Long Bay) said he was going to ask for jam, peanut butter and Nutella in exchange for the diesel. What he actually received was some jam and a few Smarties! (Sanya had the promise of beers in Punta del Este when they arrive). Unicef are a bit more upmarket in the snacks they want us to bring out.

Back on Unicef, there’s a crew diary entry from John dated 27th September (day 12 of Race 2). https://www.clipperroundtheworld.com/crew-diary/unicef/294

Eventually every boat motored for a spell, the last one being Seattle. As they can only motor for a limited period, there isn’t necessarily an advantage to starting at the beginning of the Doldrums Corridor and getting ahead of the rest if you then get stuck at the end and wave to the latecomers motoring past.

Bridge in Portimao!

And while they’ve been battling the elements I’ve been enjoying London. Ironic really when you consider that John was the one wanting to live here and savour the sights. I’ve been to the V&A to see the Mary Quant exhibition, a bit of a disappointment after the Dior, but of its time. At Tate Britain the William Blake has just started so I went to that, the surprising thing is that his illustrations were so small as they were intended in the main for books. The development of his art was interesting as was the involvement of his wife and patrons. Imagine commissioning an artist to paint you 200 works of art these days! Although not commissioned, I did receive a personal journal made for me by my pal Sue (who also made me the amazing push-me-pull-you hat you saw in Post 44). This picture shows you the construction of the hat. You can see how it’s either Unicef or Qingdao depending how I fold it up.

Talking of which, in addition to the dual beanies knitted for the three Fs I now have two unique tee shirts supporting Qingcef and Unidao.

Well, the way the scissors cut it’s Qinef and Unicgdao but that’s too difficult to say. Look out for me at the start and finish of the races!

By Monday morning 30th September the first three ships (Sanya, Qingdao and Ha Long Bay) crossed the Equator and presumably held their ceremonies. I hope to hear about it in Punta del Este and let you know more, although some details are on the Clipper website in the Skipper reports or crew diaries. A lot of visits from King Neptune and sins recounted with baked beans and flying fish featuring in the punishments. There is a suggestion that some on Unicef had their head shaved. Will we recognise them?

Unicef supporters tried to have a glass of bubbly as Unicef crossed the Equator, we weren’t quite sure of the correct time so I think we started on Friday and continued until Tuesday, just to be on the safe side. My toast was during Sunday lunch with some other Unicef supporters at The White Hart, a pub about two minutes stroll from Waterloo station.

The rest of my weekend consisted of brunch at Bill’s in Victoria (I think my next brunch will be at Browns, as they offer Lobster Benedict), followed by a doggy birthday party which ended up in Mazar, a Lebanese restaurant in Battersea. The host of the party was Milo, a three year old Golden Retriever who is best pals with Clint, who you saw in Post 39. The owner of Milo, O M Faure, has recently published some books and very kindly gave me three. I started the first one on Sunday and have been reading the series in every spare moment, including on the Tube. The first is called “Chosen” and you can find it on her website, https://www.omfaure.com/.

This Monday morning I received a communication (my first) from JD on CV31! “Thinking of you, can you buy me a head torch (exact type specified, an Exposure RAW Pro) and a water bottle to attach to my life jacket (Spinlock)”. I’d already sorted out the head torch, Exposure suggested I go to Arthur Beale, an amazing chandlers close to Covent Garden on Shaftesbury Avenue. They had to order one so I said make it two as John has already gone through two and it’s only one month into the journey. Should I place an order for another 18? They don’t stock Spinlock and I couldn’t find said water bottle on the internet.

On the way to Arthur Beale I was waylaid by a cosmetic shop selling lovely hand and body lotions. I bought some for myself and an appropriately named hand cream, Ocean, to take to Punta for the workers. On the way back to the Tube I called into Brigit’s Bakery in Chandos Place for brunch. Wonderful looking cakes but I avoided them (this time!).

Sam’s travel Journal

I mentioned the travel journal above, I’m sticking little mementos in it as I go along to remind me of the events, both abroad and in the UK. I’m sure it will appear a number of times over the months, here it is from the outside. It’s created from the book “Global Challenge”, a 1997 business management book based on the BT Global Challenge round the world race. The bookmark you can see poking out at the top is from Volume 1 of the Admiralty Navigation Manual 1938. It is the most incredible work of art.

Back at the race, the first three boats (Sanya, Qingdao and Ha Long Bay) are through the Ocean Sprint (Thursday morning 3rd October). As this part of the race is not first-past-the-post but the fastest passage, the points are not allocated until the last yacht is through, which may not be until Monday 7th October by current estimates. Imagine Your Korea has just entered the “course” and they could still win if the wind picks up for them. I gather that Unicef have squalls which are not helping their speed.

We are lucky enough to have thoughtful people back at home. Jane-the-gardener sent us some shots of John’s greenhouse. Look back at Post 36 in August to see a photo of the plants John put in before heading off to the wide wild blue yonder. These are from last week. Thanks Jane, a wonderful reminder of what we’ll be coming back to next summer.

burgundy palm
Variegated palm

It’s looking as though Sanya and Qingdao will be first and second into Punta, but we’ve been here at the end of the first race. We were wondering why Qingdao seemed to be so much slower than Sanya for much of the time, Captain’s Log Star Date 2nd October gives us a glimpse of what happened:

https://www.clipperroundtheworld.com/skipper-report/qingdao/race2-day17-team47

I’ll be in the air whilst the last part of the race is being run so I may not be able to tell you who won until I’m in Punta. The next dispatch from your own correspondent should be from sunnier climes than London, let’s hope it’s not another saga like the trip to Portimao! If anything exciting happens in the meantime, such as the Ocean Sprint Results, you may have an earlier post.

London October 1st