86. Rhubarb Rhubarb Rhubarb

Remember me telling you about our garden produce in Post 85? Here’s the meal we had on April 2nd: rhubarb and ginger cocktail (R&G gin, lemon juice, R&G jam, shake with ice and decorate with a tiny stick of rhubarb), mackerel with rhubarb, then rhubarb and marmalade sponge pudding. Interestingly the original cocktail used marmalade instead of rhubarb and ginger jam so continuity across the meal.

Making the rhubarb and ginger sour

Going back to the original purpose of this blog for a moment. On April 1st, with no joking, Clipper published an updated schedule. The plan is to re-start the race from Subic Bay on 21st February 2021, with Leg 6 resuming and taking in Sanya (arrival on 25-26 February), Zhuhai (arriving 5-6 March) then Qingdao (arriving 19-21 March). This will be the new end of Leg 6 (instead of finishing at Zhuhai). Leg 7 will then be to Seattle (arriving 19-24 April) and Panama (27 May to 1 June). Leg 8 includes Bermuda (arrival 15-17 June) and Derry-Londonderry (8-12 July) then finishes in London on 24th July 2021. Those of you with long memories (or plans to travel to this stop) will notice that we have lost New York (very careless) and will finish roughly two weeks before (but one year after) the intended finish date of 8th August (2020). Obviously this is all subject to change but that’s the route and timing for now. I’m not making any plans until nearer the time.

And drinking it

Day 16. Saturday 4th April. Finally finished all our unpacking. Still to go round the house and replace all the blown light-bulbs. They seem to delight in keeping the light-bulb manufacturers in business. I have four boxes of spares: small bayonet, large bayonet, small screw and large screw. I still seem to always be missing the one that JD wants when we need a replacement. Made the marmalade sour on which the above cocktail was based, with plum and clementine gin. Having sorted all our spirit bottles, from absinthe to whisky (Scotch), I’ve decided to make this a cocktail blog for the time being. If I become increasingly incomprehensible you’ll understand I’m sure. I’m ignoring shots as they don’t last long enough. Looking back, I see that without realising it, this has been an underlying theme for some time.

Marmalade sour

Before I get onto the alcohol recipes, the bird life here is expanding, even if I cannot take photos. A long-tailed tit tried to fly through the (closed) window, offering a good view of its undercarriage. JD saw a charm of goldfinch (I think that’s the correct collective noun) in the orchard. As usual, we have constant buzzards mewling and being mobbed by the rooks. In addition, we are beginning to embrace modern technology, with JD resuming his physio with his personal trainer via the computer. He says it’s much better than being in a class and it saves about an hour travel time. Good job I “mended” the internet last week.

Absinthe to whisky (Scotch)

As well as unpacking, I’ve audited the kitchen under-sink cupboard and the freezer (after defrosting). I went onto the local council website and discovered that the recycling centres are closed, so reminded myself what I could recycle at the kerbside (not that we have kerbs in the wilderness). I told you this blog would become boring.

So, to the first bottle in our store: absinthe. You only use drops in most recipes so yes, thanks Chris, it is still the same bottle for my birthday xx (I forget the exact number) years ago! I did make Midori and absinthe sorbet not long after receiving the bottle, it didn’t freeze and tasted aniseedy and melony at the same time. Not bad but maybe not to be put on the favourites list.

For those of you who have never heard of it, absinthe can be a vivid green spirit classically made with wormwood. As with so many spirits, it started life as a medicinal product, curing malaria. It tastes of aniseed and when water is added goes cloudy. Its main association (to my mind) is with Toulouse-Lautrec, with his hollow walking stick full of absinthe, and the Belle Epoque in France in the late 1800’s. You prepared it for drinking with a special absinthe spoon, on which you placed a sugar cube and let water drip through into the glass of absinthe. According to an exhibition at The Tate, it was apparently known as “the Queen of poisons” and the name comes from Greek meaning undrinkable. https://www.tate.org.uk/tate-etc/issue-5-autumn-2005/drink-fuelled-nations-art

Are your salivary glands watering? It could be up to 80% alcohol, definitely lethal, and was said to cause hallucinations due to the presence of thujone, a chemical in wormwood (or maybe the alcohol content alone?). It had such a bad reputation that it was made illegal. I’m happy to say that mine is clear (no contaminants) and a mere 53%. If you want to try some, look here: https://www.thewhiskyexchange.com/c/358/absinthe

Putting all that aside, I have a great app on my phone called Mixology so I consulted that for absinthe recipes. I chose ones where we have all the ingredients and shortlisted 14. NO, I’m not going to try them all. Well, not all at once. I then reduced the list further to those that used a reasonable amount of absinthe, not just a couple of drops. I dismissed two due to their names: Death in the Afternoon (although champagne and absinthe doesn’t sound too bad) and Corpse Reviver (gin, lemon juice, Cointreau, vermouth and absinthe). Not suitable under present circumstances. The names in general tell you something about absinthe: TNT, Hiroshima, Earthquake, Monkey Gland, Flying Fortress, Peep Show. I’ve decided to try two, purely because I like the innocuous-sounding names: Maiden’s Dream and Rimbaud’s Left Hand. No, checking the cupboard, Rimbaud will have to wait another day as I’m out of pineapple juice.

What, you want to know what it’s like before you rush out (or to the computer) to buy your own bottle? Tune in next time.

Proof that we also eat: rhubarb sponge

58. Leg 3, Race 4

Before I start to tell you about the next race, a little information on the rules. You can find them on the Clipper website under “The Race”. There are general rules that apply over the whole year, governed by international sailing rules in the main, then course-specific ones for each individual race. Of interest today are the penalties, either in the form of a time penalty or in penalty points. The time penalty will reflect where you are positioned in that race, penalty points appear in a separate column in the race viewer “overall race” section (on a computer, not on a phone). As yet no penalty points have appeared but we expect that to change very soon.

The fleet in harbour

If a boat is over the line when the start is signalled, they will have an hour added to their time, plus one minute for every second they are over the line. If they go around and recross the line the penalty will not apply but they’ll obviously lose time in doing this.

If they do not hand in the forms that are required before racing, at the appointed time, they will get two penalty points each for the three different forms that are required, so possibly six penalty points. Failure to hand the main ones in before starting to race will result in a disqualification for that race (no points awarded, wherever they come in the racing). For the others there are more penalty points as time passes with no forms appearing. Similar rules apply for the forms required at the end of the race, although instead of being disqualified they’ll get another two penalty points. Forgetting your paperwork could result in your having minus points for a race!

Cloud between Table Mountain and Signal Hill

Opposite to penalties is redress. If a boat has to divert to help another Clipper yacht or any other vessel, they may be granted compensation for time lost. This could result in a yacht being bumped up the results table, such that the first three over the line may not always be the three on the podium.

For any sail repairs by external companies costing more than £500 over the whole race there will be two penalty points for every extra £500. For example, you spend £250 in Race 1 having a sail repaired, then £300 in Race 2, you’ve exceeded that £500 limit. If Race 3 requires repairs costing more than £450 you’ll reach £1000 and get two penalty points. If a sail cannot be repaired and has to be replaced, a penalty of five to eight points will be allotted (depending on which stage of the race that this happens). This is why sail repairs by the crew are so important. As well as the repairs that happen in port, there will be people down in the sail locker carrying out repairs during the racing. Unicef are lucky in having Holly, a circumnavigator (and surgeon), as the sail repairer. Qingdao also have a circumnavigator, Bertrand, but have lost Jo, who only signed up for Legs 1 and 2 and was very experienced at repairs. The same rules apply to lost or damaged equipment. In the last Race (2017-18) I’m told there were only a couple of boats that did not exceed these costs.

Seattle and Bermuda

Course specific instructions will cover the exact position of the start and finish lines, the Scoring Gate and the Ocean Sprint. It will detail areas that cannot be entered, for example in Race 3, there was an exclusion zone of 3 nautical miles off parts of the coast around Cape Town, resulting in Punta del Este being knocked off the podium and leading to a Dawson One-Two of Qingdao and Unicef. I may have mentioned that already?

Unicef crew with their pennant

Enough technical stuff for today. Leg 3 consists of Race 4 only, from Cape Town in South Africa to Fremantle in Australia. Race 3 was described by many crew as “brutal”, constantly cold and wet. Race 4 is likely to be more of the same. Where Race 3 was around two weeks in length, Race 4 will be over three weeks. They leave Cape Town on Sunday 17th November and the arrival window is December 9th to 14th. I arrive very early on 9th so let’s hope I’m not kept waiting too long (nor that they are kept waiting for me).

As Cape Town was the end of a Leg, crew changes will be happening. For Qingdao, I think that four crew leave (two who did Legs 1 and 2, one who did Leg 2 only and one who will be returning on later legs). There will be an extra eight arriving, so overall Qingdao will gain four. For Unicef, five are leaving (three of whom did Leg 2 only, and two who will be rejoining the boat at a later leg). They are gaining seven, so an increase of two, although one of these did Leg 1 and is now returning for Leg 3. I know of other boats where people are leaving early, due either to illness or for personal reasons. I’m not aware of any getting off our two boats when they were expecting to continue.

Qingdao crew with their pennant

I had promised the Race 3 results in this post but as Crew Briefing takes place later today (Saturday) and any penalty points accrued to date should be announced then, I’ll keep this for the next post. The midday gun has just been fired, MBB are on their boats preparing for the race start tomorrow and I have other things to do. More later. Bye for now from your Cape Town correspondent.

Cape Town and Table \Mountain from the water

56. Leg 2 Race 3

A few more photos of Punta del Este to break up the text before the next post, from Cape Town.

Casapueblo, passed on our bus trip

This is the first time crew members will have changed, some getting off at Punta del Este after Leg 1 and others getting on for Leg 2. Looking at the farewell photos on the Clipper website, https://www.clipperroundtheworld.com/news/view-gallery/the-fleet-departs-punta-del-este it would appear that there are 15 crew on Bermuda, 16 on Dare To Lead, 18 on Ha Long Bay, 19 each on Sanya, Unicef, Seattle, Zhuhai and Korea, 20 on Qingdao, 21 on Punta and 22 on WTC Logistics.

Much discussion goes on about weight, whether fewer crew means faster boats (not just the crew themselves but the food requirements as well), or whether fewer crew means more tired crew as they have to do more. I’m not sure, based on the results to date, that it has any meaningful impact.

A local bird that builds nests of mud

For Unicef I think there were four people off and five on. For Qingdao it was four off and three on. Josh, Skipper of Ha Long Bay, told me he had about eleven new people joining. I’m sure that could have a bigger impact on how well they do compared to the overall weight. Although Ha Long Bay, at the time of writing, are up near the front and Bermuda and Dare To Lead further back. It’s not an exact science. Do I hear you ask who’s at the front? Well, let’s hope it’s not a repeat of race 1 as Unicef and Qingdao are leading. Will the famous wind hole caused by Table Mountain be their undoing? I hope they’ve got evasive action planned this time, I’m not sure I could bear the stress of it happening again.

Another local bird

The race started from Punta del Este on Wednesday 23rd October and the arrival window into Cape Town is two and a half weeks later, Thursday 7th to Monday 11th November. I’ve taken a bit of a gamble and am arriving on the morning of 7th so I hope Qingdao don’t repeat themselves and arrive early. It’s not looking likely, current ETAs (1400 UTC 5th November) are from Saturday morning to Monday morning.

The famous “La Mano” sculpture by Chilean artist Mario Irarrázabal

The results for the Scoring Gate are in Post 55 so I won’t repeat them. Before the Ocean Sprint, Seattle went into Stealth Mode, although it didn’t gain them any places. Imagine Your Korea went into Stealth Mode during the Ocean Sprint and came out in fourth place. As I can’t remember where they were before I don’t know if they’ve improved their position. Unicef and Punta both in Stealth on Tuesday night / Wednesday.

Accordionist at the prize giving

Qingdao have been constantly in Stealth Mode due to the fact that their tracker is playing up, so we’re never sure where they are at any given moment. You can play with the “ruler tool” if you’re looking at Race Viewer on a computer (not on a phone, I don’t know about tablets, in my world they are things you swallow to make you feel better). This will help you guesstimate where the boats are and is fun (well, what passes for fun to me, sad I know).

The “catamaran” from which we saw the fleet leave

I have not spent all my time on the Clipper website and Race Viewer, but one last mention of the Unicef skipper’s report today, read it and shiver! https://www.clipperroundtheworld.com/skipper-report/unicef/race3-day14-team48

Part of the packing

I have ended up with two incredibly heavy cases this time, as not only do I have John’s warm fleecy sleeping bag layer but also a sleeping bag from Sophie, another Unicef crew member, who got off at Punta and is getting back on at Cape Town after doing a safari. And also 23 (I think) Qingdao tee shirts for someone so we can save postage! Then there’s the usual bits and pieces for both John and George, John’s “civilian” clothes and somewhere in all this, my stuff. I started to pack on Monday, I thought I’d finished early on Wednesday then realised yet again I’d not got my bathroom cosmetics and toiletries. They are usually what I forget until the last minute, and of course they can’t go in hand luggage. I’m glad I’ve not got contact lenses any more, the stuff for them took up far too much room.

By the time you read this I’ll be on my way, probably sitting at Heathrow waiting for the flight to take off. I’ve checked Race Viewer, read all the Skipper Reports, tidied the flat, checked Race Viewer, read all the Facebook and WhatsApp messages, had an odd meal of all the food that won’t keep during my absence, checked Race Viewer, sorted out what I’m planning to do for Seattle in APRIL and so on. Now to check that I’ve not forgotten anything vital (phone charged? Rands? Passport?) and head off. Not in the vehicle below, it didn’t look like it had moved for ages, judging by the tyres.

Garzon truck outside PdE Yacht Club

Next time, greetings from Cape Town and possibly race 3 results!