67. Another Day of Sun

So here I am in Airlie Beach. As I’ve been too lazy to post for a while, here’s a whistle-stop tour of the rest of our stay in Sydney.

A good thing to do in a new city is to ride the hop-on, hop-off bus. You see the sights, get a feeling for the geography, know how to find the places that sound interesting and end up where you started so you can’t get lost. Unless, of course, the bus is so full that you might as well be on a rush-hour London tube. In which case you cannot hear the commentary and you can’t see the buildings around you. We had planned to get off at the Powerhouse Museum purely because it was the first stop that had a cafe and we had skipped breakfast. We are so glad we did, after sustenance we went into the museum (which is being closed and / or moved to a less convenient location). It was free and full of good design icons, including the first train in Australia (Train Number One).

There was an exhibition of fashion by Jenny Kee and Linda Jackson. I feel embarrassed to confess I’d not heard of them as they had such an influence in the 1970’s and I have a number of knitting patterns that were obviously inspired by them. They had been based in the UK for a while and as well as knitted garments had the most awe-inspiring dresses. We actually went around twice, partly because my camera had decided not to take photos but also because we could. If you are in Sydney before March 22nd (when the exhibition ends) then go.

Back on the bus, we eventually managed to get a seat and plug in our earphones. Despite this being January 2020 and thus after Christmas, the sound track, when we were not being told about stuff (mostly how new luxury apartments were being built in previously run-down areas), was CHRISTMAS MUSIC! AAARGH!

Moving on. We had some great meals, Intermezzo in the GPO building, Cafe Sydney in the Customs House (still in use) and Gowings restaurant in the old Gowings Department store (a lovely old Art Deco place) to name a few. It seems that most of the restaurants are in buildings that previously had another function. Not just the restaurants either: the Conservatoire of Music was originally built as stables. I know this from reading Mrs. M by Luke Slattery, a novel based (loosely) on the life of Elizabeth MacQuarie, the wife of Lachlan MacQuarie, the last Governor of New South Wales. There’s a stone “seat” in the Royal Botanic Garden that she sat on to look at the view. Val is recreating the scene below. A good read if you’re looking for a new book to while away a few hours. It was recommended by Fiona, who will be sailing on Punta del Este.

We met Fiona at the Art Gallery of NSW and saw a small exhibition of paintings by Ben Quilty, a local artist who had been to Afghanistan as a war artist. His art was incredibly powerful, not just the war veterans he painted after they had returned but also his Rorschach paintings depicting local atrocities. Although the inspiration for these was of disturbing episodes in Australia’s past, the artwork itself was stunning.

Ben Quilty

Having been to the Opera on New Year’s Eve, we decided to have a tour of the Opera House. Very interesting even though we did not do the back stage tour. Our guide Peter turned out to have been one of the architects involved in the building when he had just qualified. You can’t get much closer than that, on a par maybe with being shown around Robben Island in Cape Town by one of the former political prisoners. We then walked around The Rocks, which had been an area of ill-repute in the past and saw the Ovation of The Seas, the largest cruise ship that visits Sydney. it can take around 5,000 passengers and looks at first glimpse like a block of flats.

We donated some funds to the NSW Firefighters, all volunteers and working in almost impossible conditions, and felt lucky that we had not suffered any ill effects whilst in Sydney. We are blown away by the number of shops in the CBD, there’s a veritable underground city of them. You go down one escalator, wander around, come up another and have no clue how you ended up where you are. The bookshop where I bought Mrs. M fills a whole floor of one part. On our last night we ventured out of the city to have dinner at Coogee.

Sydney artwork

The next day we said our farewell to the city and flew up to Proserpine for transfer to Airlie Beach. On arrival there was a smattering of raindrops but nothing since. It is such a relaxing place we’ve done very little: walked to the marina to work out where the fleet will come in, done our laundry and bought a few snacks for when John and George arrive, met a few other Clipper people and mooched around generally.

The Opposition: Punta del Este supporters and Fiona

It’s now Friday in Australia, my birthday, and NEITHER of my boats are here, due in Saturday or Sunday. We won’t know the Ocean Sprint results until prize giving (Sunday) so I don’t think I’ve any sailing news. The various boats have gone into Stealth, wallowed in wind holes, turned around and confused us all with their movements.

66. It Will Be Lonely This Christmas

You wait weeks for a blog post then three come along close together, just like London buses. (Third one close behind if this one is full). Not only that, I got the title of the last one wrong, now corrected. I’m confusing my legs and my races. With luck a lot of you were fast asleep when I posted it and didn’t notice. Blame the never-ending jetlag I’ve probably developed this year.

Christmas wasn’t at all lonely, just different. Before then, though, we had a second prize giving with Punta, Sanya and Unicef. The night Unicef arrived we had our additional own private prize giving for them. The Elves had created certificates, pennants and medals (the last out of chocolate coins that were eaten very soon after being put around necks). We had a short speech for them, which I reproduce here.

“For anyone who has not heard, Unicef had to divert to Durban for a crew member who developed appendicitis. He had an emergency operation a few hours after being taken off CV31 and there is no doubt that the swift action of the crew saved Andy’s life. In addition, Thomas was taken off after suffering a fall on board and it transpired that he had a broken jaw as well as losing five teeth. These two crew members were on this leg only. We, the Unicef crew supporters, feel the need to acknowledge you, the crew’s, actions. You have been at sea for almost five weeks, sailing for two weeks longer than any other boat. I’d like to call you up by name to receive small tokens of recognition of the sacrifice you’ve made in this race. First, the man who has to take the responsibility for these actions, never knowing until afterwards whether he made the right call: Skipper Ian. Second, AQP Mike for being Ian’s right hand man and support during the race. Next, the medical team of Holly, Antonie and JD. The two watch leaders Dan and Alex. Two leggers: Tim and Rob. One person from the start who’s leaving us now: John Dillon. Four circumnavigators: Andrew, Danny, Sandra and Geoff. The youngest member of the team, Seb. The Norwegian representative, Anne Elisabeth, known as Aser. The on-and-off again crew member, Sophie. The three nicknamed crew, Kiwi Keith, Commo Keith and Mikey. And finally, the two crew members who are not here, Andy and Thomas, we hope you both have a full recovery and look forward to following you on Race Viewer in the next Race!”

We had a brief weekend before John and I parted, as I was flying to Sydney early Monday morning. Most of the weekend was taken with boat stuff once again. The morning after they arrived, all crew had to be on the boat for 0815 to see customs about any prohibited foodstuffs etc. We found out that one circumnavigator was leaving, as he was not feeling well, and another was not allowed back as she had hurt her hand in the first week from Cape Town and hadn’t realised how bad it was. The bones had started to heal but there were fragments that needed attention. I’m not sure of the outcome. After the customs, the general crew briefing had to be attended, even though they were sailing 48 hours after the others. There was a Clipper presentation of a match cup to Punta and mention of both Sanya and Unicef at midday. In the evening we had a Unicef dinner at Bathers Beach House. It was the only time that George and John really had to catch up, along with the “sausage sizzle” and drinks when Unicef arrived.

Clean-shaven at last!

On Sunday the first tranche of the fleet set sail. John had to be on the boat so I and my pal Liz went to the Maritime Museum area to see Qingdao sail past with the other seven setting off. We then drove around to North Mole to the start line (where we’d greeted Unicef on Friday night). It was nice and wide to avoid any more collisions. John and I managed to see each other for the afternoon and evening, and watched the first prize giving and other Clipper videos on Facebook Live.

Then goodbye again. Early on Monday 23rd I flew to Sydney. As the time difference is three hours I left Perth at 10.35 and arrived in Sydney at 17.45 after a four hour flight. Our friend and sort of relative (I don’t know, in-law in-law cousins?) Debbie picked me up and we went back to Mosman where she lives, a suburb of Sydney. We had intended to have Christmas in the Blue Mountains but due to the bushfires that was cancelled. However, Debbie had planned and bought all the food etc so we were ready to party! Debbie’s two daughters joined us for Christmas so it was an all girls’ party, unlike my normal life which seems to feature more men than women (starting with John and George of course). I’ve never had barbecued turkey but it worked very well. The actual cut was a bit of a puzzle: it should have been boned and rolled but there was a bone in it (one legged turkey?). The size was also not quite right: Debbie had asked for a joint big enough for four with some leftovers. This would have fed a whole Clipper crew and leftovers!

Despite only having two days in Fremantle John managed to buy me a lovely necklace for Christmas, which I am sure will appear in this blog sometime soon. George gave me a couple of bottles of wine from his trip to Margaret River which were much appreciated with Christmas dinner (outside in the sun, there’s different). We played a card game I’d never heard of, 5 Crowns, and I managed to lose twice. After that we went onto jigsaws. Debbie had bought two 1,000 piece jigsaws and we finished both during the holiday. We got the giggles one night when Debbie produced her special Orrefors glasses for the dessert wine and I misheard her, thinking she’d said orifice. A special Australian custom maybe?

On the evening of Christmas Day we had a stroll up a local street where all the houses seemed to have gone overboard with festive lights. As well as the pedestrians admiring them, there was a non-stop stream of cars cruising up and down.

Boxing Day (December 26th for those of you who don’t celebrate it) is traditionally the start of the Rolex Sydney to Hobart yacht race of 628 nautical miles. Hobart is the capital of Tasmania and the race takes a few days (exact number depending upon size of yacht and of course the wind). This was the 75th race and the first time for a few years that the Clipper fleet was not taking part. Debbie and I, with a couple of her pals, went to Georges Heights with a picnic to watch the start. As well as the actual 157 yachts taking part, from 30 foot up to 100 foot “super-maxi” yachts, it seems that anyone in Sydney with a boat takes to the water to see them off. For more information see this link: it makes Clipper rules seem very simple. https://www.rolexsydneyhobart.com/about-the-race/yachts/

Sydney-Hobart race start

Eventually I had to move on from this wonderful relaxing atmosphere and Debbie drove me to the Sheraton Grand in Sydney CBD. With my background, this acronym means cannabis oil, but well before that became fashionable it meant Central Business District. A great spot, not as boring as it sounds, with my hotel room overlooking Hyde Park and the Royal Botanic Gardens. It really is confusing here, so many places names relating back to the UK.

Sydney’s hazy sun

Val (George’s other Godmother) joined me on Sunday 29th for Sydney and Airlie Beach. We met two Unicef crew members, Sophie and the other John D, for dinner one night at The Butler, a great restaurant that should only be 15 minutes walk from the hotel if you can read your phone properly, and was actually nearer 30 minutes as I think I must have had it upside down. We got there eventually and grabbed a cab back to the hotel.

Me, Sophie and John Dillon

The highlight of my world trip so far came on New Year’s Eve at Sydney Opera House. First was a slap-up Gala Dinner with free-flowing wine, then the first two acts of La Boheme before the “family” fireworks off the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Darling Harbour. Back to the opera then a post-production party with copious champagne and canapes and a live band. Before the world-famous New Year Fireworks we were treated to a “parade of sail” where the boats had lights on them which changed colour as they progressed around the harbour. As if that were not spectacular enough, the firework display was amazing. It lasted about ten minutes and lit up the water as well as the sky. After it was all over we walked back to our hotel (the nearest taxi rank operating being beyond the hotel and the nearest open train station opposite the hotel).

Happy New 2020 everyone!

Sydney fireworks (looking away from the bridge!)

60. Bound for South Australia

Not the most encouraging of songs, with the lyric “and as we wallop round Cape Horn (heave away, haul away) you’ll wish to God you’ve never been born”, although it does refer to going the other way around the globe via Cape Horn, not the Cape of Good Hope as OBB are doing. This was originally called the Cape of Storms due to the unpredictable weather, so maybe another sea shanty, Roll The Old Chariot Along, would be better: “we’d be alright if the wind was in our sails “.

A lot happened in Cape Town. As well as Punta being penalised six hours and ending up fourth, Imagine Your Korea (IYK) skipper Mike Surridge (see blog post 53) resigned during the stop-over. He’s been replaced for this race by Dan Smith, who was in the 2015/16 Race. At Fremantle Rob Graham will take over, who was a Skipper on the 2017/18 Race, so both have plenty of experience. https://www.clipperroundtheworld.com/news/article/imagine-your-korea-update

Then at the start of Race 4 out of Cape Town, Punta del Este (PdE) and Visit Sanya collided, badly enough to have to return to the dock for repairs. I was out in a spectator boat and got a shot of them tangled together but I can’t put it here, it’s too painful. However, out of a disaster comes some good, Punta donated all their fresh food to a local Captonian charity rather than have it go to waste. Both boats are being repaired and should be able to get to Fremantle in time to join Race 5 to Airlie Beach in The Whitsundays.

The fleet from the roof top bar of The Silo

If you are watching Race Viewer you’ll have been wondering what Unicef are up to. This morning I received a phone call from the Clipper office to tell me they were diverting back to Durban (on the South African coast) as one of the crew members, Andrew Toms, has suspected appendicitis. The poor chap only joined at Cape Town. I’ll keep you updated.

Unicef preparing for the off

Now that I have all the results I can summarise them for you. First the Scoring Gate: IYK three points, Visit Sanya two and PdE one. Next the Ocean Sprint: Seattle three points, Ha Long Bay (HLB) two and Qingdao one.

Unicef on their way

Penalty points for Leg 1 of the Race: PdE had five penalty points for a replacement Code 2 sail, I think a Yankee, or maybe a Spinnaker. I’m sure someone out there can let me know. Two others had penalty points for damage to equipment, IYK two points for damage costing over £1000, to the inner forestay, steaming light cage and pulpit repairs. Then Seattle one point for damage costing over £500 for pulpit repairs.

Unicef’s pennant

The Race 3 results were: 1st Qingdao (11 points), 2nd Unicef (10 points), 3rd HLB (9 points), 4th PdE (8 points), 5th Sanya (7 points), 6th WTC Logistics (6 points), 7th IYK (5 points), 8th Seattle (4 points), 9th GoToBermuda (GTB) (3 points), 10th Dare To Lead (DTL) (2 points) and 11th Zhuhai (1 point). Zhuhai had an injured crew member and had chosen to motor to Cape Town for the last few days for his comfort.

Qingdao’s pennants

Pulling all of this together, the current board reads Qingdao 48, Sanya 32, HLB 29, PdE 27, Unicef 23, DTL 20, Zhuhai 17, Seattle 13, IYK 12, WTC 11 and GTB 8. As there are still 12 races left plus Scoring Gates and Ocean Sprints, nothing is sure. HLB are playing their Joker for Race 4, so if they win this plus some bonus points they will be up there with Qingdao. In the 2017/18 Race the final winner was not decided until the very last race, with Sanya, Seattle and Qingdao all in the running. Who will need a full manicure by the end? Or will it be too late for our nails?

Me and Charlotte on the spectator boat

I hadn’t intended to write two blog posts so close together so you may have to wait for the next one, as long as no other news comes along. We should have the Scoring Gate result by Monday so let’s hope that nothing newsworthy happens this weekend. I’m sure there’s no news in the outside world that’s as interesting as life at this angle!

GoToBermuda heeling over

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

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.

45. Is there a doctor in the house?

This is totally out of sequence but who cares. Over the Bank Holiday weekend John and I went back down to Hamble School of Yachting to study for a four day MCA STCW Proficiency in Medical First Aid on Board Ship. (For description of acronyms go back to Post 40). This was in addition to the two day course John had done with Praxes, the official supplier of remote medical support to the fleet. See the video below for brief details of this, although you’ll not see John I’m afraid.

Back to our course. Someone asked me if there is any sort of first aid other than medical. It does seem tautological when you think about it but maybe we have engine first aid or sail first aid or some such. There were four of us, three Clipper crew and me. In contrast to the VHF course (see Post 35), John was in the minority with me, Michelle and Maite being the other attendees. Neither Michelle nor Maite are circumnavigators, they just thought it would be a useful course to do, like me I guess. We had a wonderful tutor, Sue Johnson, who has two boats of her own and pulls together the medical packs for other races such as ARC (the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers) https://www.worldcruising.com/arc/event.aspx

I’m not going to give you gory details, I don’t want you fainting when I’m not there to administer first aid! Although it was mostly “normal” first aid, Sue managed to make sure we were aware of special issues that could be relevant to Clipper crew. We managed to have great fun whilst learning a lot and we all passed our exams at the end, both written and practical. I’ve pulled out some of the more interesting / amusing situations for this post.

Let’s start off with John, and one bad limb. We all had to show that we could bandage a limb and use two types of sling for the arm, depending where the fracture or other damage was. There was a shot of me looking equally glum (I was told to pull my “Daily Mail” face!) but it’s gone AWOL.

I put John in a sling after bandaging him

The first thing we learnt were the three Ps (not to be confused with the three Fs who keep popping up in this blog): Preserve life, Prevent the situation getting worse and Promote recovery. It is quite easy to make a minor injury or other problem worse, for example if you move someone with a simple fracture (not open to the air) you could end up with the bone sticking through the skin and a possible infection risk. We tried to handle each other carefully to avoid this.

Michelle with a bad arm AND leg.

Having started with one limb, we then went onto two. Michelle’s arm may look over-enthusiastically bandaged but it was in order to stop too much pressure on the limb, the bandage is actually wrapped around a blanket. I think it may have been a compound fracture (bone through to the outside) this time. Once you’ve sorted out the most immediate problem (which may not be the obvious one on view) you go onto finding out what happened and how, in case there’s an underlying issue you’ve missed.

Maite ready for evacuation with three bandaged limbs!

After Michelle’s injury of course we had to go for three limbs. It was great that there were so few of us, we could all have a go rather than having to stand and watch. I think Maite said she fell down the companionway to sustain these injuries. We remembered we’d have to monitor her for a possible head injury. All the situations (heart attack, stroke, hypothermia, burns…) seemed to involve similar signs (what you can see) and symptoms (what the patient or bystander can tell you about it).

I, of course, had to go the whole hog and needed to be Medevac’d off the ship. The first thing the sadists, oops sorry, first aiders did was to tie my legs together at the ankles with a figure-of-eight to stop me rolling around (or walking off). Then they put my head in a cervical collar to stop the top part of me moving. As you can see, once they’d done that they strapped me securely to the spinal board and went off to lunch. Oh no they weren’t actually that cruel, just my imagination. They all lifted me to show they knew how to lift a heavyweight safely (note to self, must go on a diet).

Sue and Michelle

All of the above can happen anywhere. More specific to the sailing was hypothermia and what to do. The Ikea-looking bag that Michelle is being zipped into is known as a TPA or thermal protection aid. It looked pretty flimsy but is very warm once you’re inside. If you’re really cold and need extra help, a buddy can join you: there was some discussion on whether you both needed to take your clothes off but we decided this was unnecessary unless they were soaked through. Maite decided to try being the buddy and after much manoeuvering we managed to achieve this. It could be difficult if the victim sorry patient was unconscious. It looks like Michelle is being strangled here but I assure you no-one was harmed.

There is another type of TPA that Michelle also modelled for us. No buddy warming here but you probably need to be a burly stevedore for it to fit snugly.

There was lots of other useful information which I hope never to have to use, but as I’ve run out of photos I’ll stop now. I notice I’ve given you three new acronyms, maybe if I get to Post 80 I’ll do another summary of the extra ones that have crept in. In case you’re wondering of the relevance of the header photo, it was my Grandmother’s. I’m not sure I can ever be that competent but you have to start somewhere!

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!

https://www.clipperroundtheworld.com/news/view-gallery/clipper-201920-race-fleet-departs-hq-for-race-start

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.