92. Life In The Time of Covid-19 (3)

As you can see from today’s title, my imagination is not up to scratch this morning. I have a few items to cover from previous posts before I see if I can get into gear. It’s also getting difficult finding appropriate photos at times now that I’m not going anywhere, not even to the shops. You’ll get a lot of flowers, trees and sheep / lambs in the next few months. First though, for those of you who read this because of the sub-title (something to do with boats if I remember that far back), there are some items on the Clipper website you might like to read.

On Qingdao, with George, was another Circumnavigator known as Frankie. He’s one of the Chinese Ambassadors and sailed the first Leg of the last race (2017/18). His story is worth reading and there is a video in the article which features a certain George Dawson a few times. Here’s the link: https://www.clipperroundtheworld.com/news/article/a-life-changing-story-new-video-showcasing-the-story-of-qingdao-ambassador-frankie

Medlar tree

Back in Subic Bay, we left two of the professional crew to look after the boats: Jeronimo, the skipper on Punta del Este, and Hugo, the mate (AQP) on Ha Long Bay. They are there for who knows how long as current planning is that the fleet will sail mid-February 2021 (nine months from now). Here’s how they occupy their time: https://www.clipperroundtheworld.com/news/article/life-looking-after-the-fleet-in-the-philippines

A year ago this week was Crew Allocation Day in Portsmouth. Blog posts 24 to 26 (on 8th, 18th and 19th May 2019) cover the details as they were at the time, if you want to go back that far. Alternatively, the Clipper website brings back a taste of the event. See if you can spot OBB in the photo that heads the article (but remember, no beards!). https://www.clipperroundtheworld.com/news/article/new-beginnings-reflections-on-crew-allocation

And before you ask, I can’t see them and I know roughly where they were.

…It’s now afternoon and I’ve thought of a Post title but it would mean going back and re-writing the first section so I’ll see if I can use it next time. Back in Post 90 (29th April) I tempted fate by showing a picture of our wisteria, which is about four years old, and referring to it as magnificent. Of course, that led to pictures of truly magnificent ones being sent to me. Thanks everyone, wait a few more years and we’ll be able to rival you! Maybe. Also in that post I referred to needing my five-a-day. One unkind soul (who shall remain nameless but has the initials JD) verbalised what you were all thinking: that I was saying I needed five spirits a day, as in the cocktail Bad Attitude. I’ve still not made that one as I was obviously talking about fruit and vegetables. Honestly, what do you think of me? (Don’t answer that). Luckily, as well as using the drinks in cocktails, one of OBB (again, nameless…) is using the rum in puddings (banana or pineapple) and the whisky in steak dishes, so the bottles are slowly emptying.


In the newspaper this week was an article telling us that cocktails and baking were no longer fashionable, we’ve been in lock-down so long and we’re bored with it all. We haven’t had a cocktail since the Bois de Rose in the last blog post, but I’m planning one or two for this weekend. We are rather spoilt for choice as the next two bottles are similar: bitters. These are used, like the absinthe, in tiny amounts as flavours rather than main ingredients. One is the classic Angostura bitters and the other a Hotel Chocolat cocoa bitters given to me by George one birthday some years ago. I think I’ve found a recipe that uses both. More next time. As both are over 40% alcohol I don’t think they will go off. Unlike (possibly) the Hobgoblin stout I gave JD the other night. When he read the label he discovered it was best before 2017. I told him, that’s not bad in this house. That’s not “you will be really ill after this date”. However, I did play safe after making a ginger cake. The tin of black treacle I used stated something along the lines of throw the tin away once it’s been open for three months. As it was closer to three years I thought for once I’d better play safe. (It was almost empty). I’ve looked up on the Tate & Lyle website why it is such specific wording and apparently for this and the golden syrup cans, pressure can build up and it may explode. I wish I’d left it (outside) now, it could have been exciting.

I’ve knitted a new item this week, as shown in the next photo. It’s doubled over so there’s a pocket for coffee filters, tissues or whatever you feel best. We can throw them away after use as I can knit more quite quickly, although the I-cord was a pain to make. Oddly enough, I have some coffee filters left over from a Spanish holiday long ago: they are priced in pre-Euro currency. I’m sure they can’t go off? No best before date anyway.

This photo also shows my latest hair style. It’s beginning to remind me of when I had long hair, as a little girl. I hated it, the brush was always tangling it up and it hurt. My mum used to use Vitapointe, I wondered if it’s still going so I checked. Amazingly, it is still available and is THE product for curly (frizzy) hair. I think I should get some and report back, although at its current length my hair is not yet tangling. https://www.makeupalley.com/product/showreview.asp/ItemId=142646/Vitapointe/Unlisted-Brand/Conditioner

All seven lambs

As is now “normal”, a picture of the lambs to end.

13. Very superstitious

So the last post went out early on a cliff-hanger. You’ll have to wait for post 14 as I have to do superstitions for number 13. Sailors are apparently REALLY superstitious! Here are a few.

A is for Albatrosses (albatrossi?). It is exceedingly bad luck to kill an albatross. They carry the souls of dead sailors so you’d be shooting one of your own kind. Remember what happened to the Ancient Mariner?

Looks happy enough!

B is for Bananas. Don’t know why but they should not be allowed on board. Could be due to spiders hiding in the bunches, the fact that they go off so quickly and smell / taste horrid (and let off noxious gases) or who knows.

C is for Cats. You can see Tessa on the header.  Ideally you want a black cat for luck, she was grey (blue?) but the good news is she was polydactyl (extra toes) which apparently is super lucky. You can see them here on her front paws.

D is for Dates. Not the type you eat but in the calendar. You should not set sail on a Thursday (Thor’s day, you’ll have storms and thunder), Friday (Jesus was sacrificed then?), the first Monday in April (Cain slew Abel?) or the second Sunday in August (Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed?). If you’re really superstitious, the only good day to set sail is Sunday (presumably after you’ve been to church and asked for a good voyage). This is good news for us as in May we’re off for a sail on a Sunday. More in a later post…

D is also for Dolphins. It is good luck to have them swimming with you, and even if not lucky they are a lovely sight.

E is for Earrings. Preferably gold hoops. John must have known this as he gave me some for my birthday this year with lots of hoops. Maybe the hoop miraculously becomes a life belt if you go overboard. Gold is said to have healing powers, and if all else fails you can barter with them. (I read the other day that our RAF pilots are still issued with gold sovereigns when they fly over enemy territory so they can buy their way home. Honestly?? Anyone out there know if this is true or an urban myth?).

Plenty of hoops here

F is for Flowers. These are bad luck to bring on board. Obviously the crews on cruise ships are not superstitious as these vessels are always shown with loads.

A flower girl

G is for Girls. Well, women actually but I have another W. Despite the fact that women were often on board (and if they gave birth then a boy would be a “son-of-the-gun” on warships), we supposedly bring bad luck if on board. The picture above is doubly unlucky then. HOWEVER, naked women are OK and often figureheads on the bow. Hmmm…

H is for Hair. It is considered bad luck to cut or trim hair, beards and nails whilst at sea. So not only are MFB (see Post 02), going to be very smelly after a month with no shower facilities, they will be unrecognisable with long lanky hair, beards and witchy finger (and toe) nails. May be time to reconsider my travel plans and go elsewhere.

Business is slack.

Thankfully, there are some letters of the alphabet I can skip. If you know of any superstitions I’ve missed then we can add them at another time. Meanwhile, on we go.

M is for Mast. Specifically, if you attach a horseshoe to the mast it will calm storms. As does a bare-breasted woman on the bow of the boat. As long as you didn’t set sail on a Thursday. Or whistle (see below). Thing is, it’s often stormy at sea, just listen to the weather forecast.

R is for Red Sky. We all know the saying “Red sky at night, shepherd’s delight” obviously also for sailors. This is an indication of good weather coming from the West, so probably only applies to the Northern Hemisphere. There’s no one down under who is superstitious surely?

This red sky is in NZ

S is for Sharks. Unlike the friendly dolphins, sharks are Bad News. We’ve all seen “Jaws” after all and know they eat small boats. If you see one following your boat I guess you’d be pretty nervous anyway.

Shark attack!

T is for Tattoos. Oddly I have no photos of tattoos and I’m not planning on getting one just for this blog. They were the sign of a sailor, I seem to remember when I was young that only sailors had them (or maybe everyone else covered them up). Having the North Star means you’ll come home. Only applicable in the Northern Hemisphere again I think. There is a rumour that MFB will be getting one or more during or after the trip. All I ask is that they go to a reputable tattooist as you can become allergic to the dye used if it’s not done correctly and DIE (dying to die is the slogan used by one of my clients when I was working).

FINALLY, W is for Whistling. This may be good or bad luck depending what you need. If you are in the Doldrums and need some wind, whistling may help. On the other hand, you may whistle up a storm if there’s already a wind.  If you whistle for long enough one or other of these will probably happen on a round the world trip.

To end, here’s a more likely view of an albatross.

Next time, the mystery is solved and continuation of the Crew Briefing.