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.

Foxglove

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.

85. Is This The Real Life?

Or is it just fantasy?

Greta with a skirt of hair

Before we left for the Clipper Race, we had the dogs neutered to make life easier for the house sitters. Unfortunately, their coats go fluffy and Greta looks like a woodlouse from above. This was my first big job when I got home, trimming as much as I could in ten minute intervals to not stress them or me out.

Day 8. Friday 27th March (continued). Meanwhile, OBB in London went out and had takeaway fish and chips whilst I had parsnip soup. Such is life in the boondocks. I was able to have a long distance chat (shout) about local conditions with Kate and her family, who have sheep in the fields around our house. It would appear that most of Somerset is taking the situation very seriously, John might not be allowed out even to go shopping during the “over 70” hour. The sight of sheep on the hill was most welcoming (see header to this Post), as well as the birdsong in the morning. I am sure that if I was technologically more adept I could add sound to this blog, but sorry, you’ll have to go to https://www.birdsong.fm/ which I have just discovered: it plays birdsong 24/7, or the RSPB website https://www.rspb.org.uk/get-involved/campaigning/let-nature-sing/birdsong-radio/.

Furry Adie

Instead, in these drear days, try listening to John Finnemore’s Cabin Fever on youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nhTBp1DRfx4. It helps if you know the Radio 4 programme Cabin Pressure, with Benedict Cumberbatch before he was Sherlock. Another good site to make you smile is a week of Georgina’s Isolation Diaries https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K7p-owybihQ by comedienne (or is it comedian these days?) Anna Morris. Every day she gives you a different song to sing when you’re washing your hands. At bedtime, we found out that there were no Bonio biscuits left: calamity! The dogs have one every night as part of their routine. I know they should clean their teeth afterwards but they’ve not yet managed to wield the toothbrush.

Tidy feet (untidy tail)

Day 9. Saturday 28th March. Got up late. Trimmed dogs’ feet. Spoke with a few pals. Wandered around reminding myself what was growing where. Noted that we have plenty of rhubarb so won’t starve. (But may get bored and vitamin deficient). Emergency supplies of milk, Bonio and the weekend FT brought over by Barry. Found out that the internet had gone down, very annoying. Realised that I had not missed all the daffodils, spring is later here than in London.

Day 10. Sunday 29th March. Still no internet so JD emailed our provider. Apparently a mast had come down so I need to be patient. Made spinach, garlic and ginger soup from items left in the fridge. Trimmed dogs’ tails. Found out that the kitchen radio has decided to play Classic FM only. I don’t mind this but it seems that after every piece of music there is a long ad about coronavirus and washing our hands and not going out and swinging a broom at people to make sure they are not too close. Or something like that.

At 5 pm I had a virtual cocktail party with Victoria. She made a yummy sounding “cupboard cocktail” from The Telegraph involving marmalade and a spirit of your choice. As I had been bequeathed some coconut water in the fridge, I found a cocktail that used that (rum, mint and coconut water). That plus the soup meant I had a rather limited eating programme today. Where are the Kit-Kats when you need them? The good news is that the clocks went forward so I only had to endure 23 hours of today.

Spinach soup anyone?

Day 11. Monday 30th March. I spoke with the chap who inserted our internet as it still was not working. I did the old trick of turning it off and on again: no response. He told me it was not reporting back to their system but the mast was no longer an issue so maybe the power was not working. I went to the barn where it comes into the property to find out that some idiot had turned it off. Turned it on and, behold, back in the technical world of the 21st century! I have to break it to you that there was only one person at home at that moment. Assuming that neither the dogs nor the cat have learnt how to turn things on and off, the idiot has to be me. Oops.

To celebrate having the internet I went onto all the major supermarket sites to see if I could order anything. Some of them (Tesco, Morrisons, Asda) had no delivery or click-and-collect slots as far as the horizon. (The click-and-collect would be no good as I’m without transport but I thought I could click then get a pal to collect on my behalf). The others (Sainsburys, Ocado, Waitrose) didn’t even let me onto the sites to see if they could help me. There are a few local farm shops around here that will deliver so I might have to go down that option.

Coconut Mojito (of sorts)

Day 12. Tuesday 31st March. Our house sitters emailed to say they would not be coming back. A great relief, I could finish off the spinach soup (and coconut water) without a guilty conscience. I started to go through the kitchen cupboards, fridge and freezer to see what items we had and what we would need to buy. Some rice, some pasta, a little flour, Weetabix amongst other foodstuffs. Enough for a few days. John’s logbook turned up so he prepared to come home and to go shopping on his way back. My last day of solitude.

Day 13. Wednesday April 1st. Despite going very carefully through the papers and BBC website, I could not find a single April Fool. Either life is too serious now or my sense of humour has fled. I chatted with a few more pals but did not trim any parts of the dogs today, we all had a break. In the middle of The Archers John arrived. I was told that Clipper would change him and so it proves. Prior to the Race he would never miss an episode, and had been known to drive around the block before arriving home if he needed extra time. I’m happy to report that his car was loaded with more clothes and equipment from London plus enough food to keep us going for a week or more, with a selection of things, not just rhubarb and spinach!

Honey, I’m Home!

I’m going to stop recording the day-by-day experience as it will become monotonous very quickly (got up late, trimmed dogs, phoned pals, made soup). Instead I’ll give you uplifting pictures of the countryside to cheer you up when you’re sitting on your own. wondering if you can really be bothered to watch your favourite box set again, or get out that jigsaw that you never managed to finish, or the jumper you started in 2001 when you were a size smaller and had different taste. You will come to appreciate that you really do want to live life like this, quiet and slow and satisfying. Or not. As the song says, it doesn’t really matter to me. (Of course it does, I rely on my audience, every one of you!)

39. Sisters Are Doing It For Themselves

The picture making up today’s header was in The Times a few weeks ago, I noticed it especially as it’s taken in Qingdao. I don’t plan to wear anything like this when I’m there but maybe it’s expected? I know some of you are worried that I’m going into hibernation and just waiting for MBB to appear, so I thought I’d let you know what I’ve done this last week. I left you on Sunday night after we’d been to SKD to assess the facilities. George headed back to Gosport that evening to continue getting Qingdao ready before sailing to London.

Monday John was rushing around getting ready to go down to Gosport so I just mooched around and yes, I did knit. I also ordered myself a piano, a bit smaller than this one and in better nick. I’m not intending to play al fresco either.

Tuesday I’d arranged to go and see my pal Rene who has Clint, one of our Welsh Springer Spaniel pups from last year. I walked to Battersea Park, near where they live, and we had a wander around and a coffee. It’s an interesting park, as well as the Pagoda I discovered the vegetable garden and a statue to “Little Brown Dog”, put up in 1906 as recognition of all the animals used in vivisection that people didn’t know about. It was taken down by the council shortly afterwards but put up again in a very secluded corner. At the end of our walk Clint wanted to come with me, so touching!

Take me home!

After all that exercise I was going to take it easy on Wednesday until Sue, another pal, called and said she’d come up to see the Dior exhibition at the V&A, did I want to join her? As I’d been talking about it the day before, getting cross with myself for not thinking ahead and getting a ticket, I jumped! A bit of make up on, didn’t have time to dress for the occasion or put on my Clipper necklace and earrings. It was well worth dropping everything (thankfully, no stitches in beanie number 7) and getting there in record time. The whole exhibition was fascinating and so much to see. I’m not overly fond of John Galliano, but you have to admit he’s innovative and there were a couple of his outfits I warmed to. I’m an old school girl though, it was the classic Dior dresses I could have brought home.

I was so inspired and annoyed with myself that I’ve now signed up as a member for the V&A. I’m looking forward to the Mary Quant display, I’m sure I’ll find something I wore in my youth. I also signed up for the Tate and the Garden Museum. This latter is a little gem (sorry for the pun!) just by Lambeth Palace. It’s an old church, St Mary’s, that was saved from demolition in 1977. I remember going to it when I visited the Pharmaceutical Society for work quite a few years back. It was pretty dingy and overlooked. It’s now been opened up and is well worth a visit. John Tradescant was buried there and there’s such a great stained glass window with gardeners in it. All these memberships are for me and a guest so don’t hesitate to shout if there’s an exhibition you want to take me to.

I’ve decided after only two weeks of roughing it like a mad old lady from the country that I must find a hairdresser. That resolution didn’t last long! Here’s a shot of me now, once I’ve been scalped you can judge if it’s an improvement.

There is one other thing I’m doing, it takes me back to my very first job in Southampton Docks when I was 19, working in Goods Inwards. I’m taking delivery of parcels that the sailors have been ordering over the last week or so. I’d take a shot but there’s not enough room to show them all!

I’ll be back at SKD later today to see the fleet come in. They’ve left Southend in the last half hour and should be arriving around 5.30 tonight (John and I then have a fast turnaround as we’re off to Southampton tonight in preparation for our four-day MCA STCW Proficiency in Medical First Aid on Board Ship at Hamble). They moor up in the Centre Basin and will be available to view and go onto (if you’ve booked or have a crew member inviting you) from Sunday until 31st August. There’s a fan zone with lots going on if you’re around. If not I’ll be telling you all about it in a week or so.

http://www.skdocks.co.uk/whats-on/clipper-round-the-world-yacht-race-race-start

They sailed late yesterday from Gosport after all the preparation and photoshoots from helicopters. It must have been on the local news but I’ve not picked anything up. Go onto YouTube and see them set sail. I think I’ve put the link here:

In case you didn’t see the lovely shot of George on Qingdao leaving Gosport, from the Clipper website, I’ll leave you with that. We now have 9 days and 21 hours to go!

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.

32. Sea Interludes

This post is a gallimaufry. No, nothing to do with Doctor Who’s home planet but a confused jumble of stuff. There, you can impress people with a new word today!

I’ve not managed to update the blog for a while, partly due to waiting for news to come in from the Clipper office and partly due to having a house full of different people at different times, including the three F’s who appear at the top of Post 2 way back in November last year. You can see them on the header here, if you go onto the website (not on the email). They have grown quite a bit in the interim!

So what’s been happening? Referring back to Post 30, we went and had our jabs, thankfully not as drastic as we thought. The very informative nurse we saw talked common sense into us: as we weren’t likely to be doing anything foolish (!) we could avoid having rabies, yellow fever etc etc. We came out having had just the normal boosters. The one proviso was if we were going to Brazil we would need yellow fever.

My new passport!

We found out last week that the first stop, on the way to Punta del Este in Uruguay, will be Portimao in Portugal. A nice short introduction to the race for MBB across the Bay of Biscay! It has affected the timings a little but as I’ve not got around to booking any flights or hotels that’s fine. The fleet arrival window here is 8 to 10 September, leaving for Uruguay on 15 September and they are now due into Punta del Este between 12 to 16 October. All other timings are (as yet) unchanged. I’ll do a review when we have more dates (we are expecting more announcements later this week).

The Level 4 week training started recently, where the actual 70 footers race against each other, in a small version of what they will be doing in September. George has yet to do his (due to the holiday in Japan and Vietnam) but John had his in early June, on the second week of Level 4. He clocked up 626 hours, with 46 hours night sailing. His attempt to grow a beard this week was not too successful, but maybe a year at sea will help.

A grizzled sea dog!

The results are very unofficial and do not get published, BUT we know that Qingdao beat Unicef in the first week. I was using VesselFinder to track them which means little else gets done. It’s great fun to see them racing when they are all in a line. You can track any boat, not just the Clippers, here’s the link: https://www.vesselfinder.com/

VesselFinder screen

Soon after that we had the Isle of Wight Round-The-Island race. Maybe not quite as tough as round the world. The Clipper yachts had been chartered out, they were in their own class, only three finished (due to lack of wind) but we had Unicef (CV31) first and Qingdao (CV30) second! Even though our teams were not crewing, the Skippers and AQPs were on board so it’s a real coup for the two boats we’ll be supporting. Once again we were all tracking them. Other systems are available and all are pretty similar, but here CV31 (Unicef) is the orange track, I think I need this system instead of the one above, much prettier! Once we start to race the official Clipper one will be the one to watch though, no other vessels interfering with the view.

Round The Island Race 2019

Also in the last few weeks John has officially left Alliance altogether, resigning from his post of Non-Executive Director. He had (yet another) farewell party and a few sailing-related presents.

Says it all!

Back to Clipper. Another two sponsors have been announced, WTC Logistics and ChartCo. World Trade Connections (WTC) Logistics are also a team partner, sponsoring a boat (Team Mark, CV23) as well as providing the shipping for all the equipment that needs to be taken to each port for the fleet. Important things like the pennants they win for coming first, second and third for example. As soon as I have a picture of their wrap I’ll post it. ChartCo is an official supplier, so they don’t have a boat. They are supplying the charts, piloting books and any other technical navigation documents needed.

Seattle (CV22, Team Ben) has been wrapped and she is quite different from the last race. She has an “ocean health” theme with Orca whales leaping around. You can see her being wrapped here: https://www.clipperroundtheworld.com/news/article/seattle-ocean-health-themed-branding-revealed

Finally, you’re not getting away without me mentioning the HATS! Having knitted lots for Unicef I felt I’d best pay some attention to Qingdao supporters. All the boats have a target of £33,000 to raise for Unicef (the official Clipper charity). John’s team are doing very well and are likely to reach that before they sail. Qingdao are a bit slower off the blocks, languishing in last place.

Qingdao colours

George donated £10 for the hat then took it to his team building event last weekend where it attracted much admiration. The upshot was it became an auction item and raised a further £60! Following on from that, there’s a raffle for a second one and other supporters are knitting. When we get to any port we’ll recognise each other (assuming the crew let us supporters wear them as well). Back to my needles…

Meanwhile, in 54 days and 5 hours they will be off!

30. Four wee wheels and a handle

To misquote a film! I know, all my preparation seems to involve buying bags of varying sizes. I’ve realised that as I won’t have Sherpa John to carry them I need things I can manage myself. As well as the Clipper bag featured in post 5, I’ve got one that will go in the hold. Here the dogs are modelling it (to give a sense of scale). It’s of a type I vowed never to have, with four wheels, so it glides alongside when you’re walking. It is very light and I’ve tried it for real so I’m converted. I’ll need careful planning on what to take as I have my suspicions that I’ll be getting wish lists from MBB.

Can we come too?

Now that we know the main stops, I can sort out my jabs. I’ve gone onto the WHO website and looked at the Immunization Chart. To summarize, I will need yellow fever (with certificate), Hepatitis A, Tetanus and Typhoid. I am advised to have Hepatitis B, Rabies, TB (tuberculosis), TBE (tick-borne encephalitis), JE (Japanese encephalitis) and Cholera. I’d best start now. There is one problem that you may have seen in the news recently, anyone over 60 (which I have to admit to being) has a greater risk of suffering nasty side effects with the yellow fever jab. A pal of ours has gone deaf and there was a recent death in the news. Maybe I’ll stay home after all. Oh, but we’ve got house-sitters coming in a month or so. Back to the travel clinic.

As for visas, I need them for the USA and China, possibly Panama, although I hear that the China visa has a time limit so I may have to leave that till later. In addition Australia may ask for a health check and proof of funds. They haven’t in the past so I should be OK. John did get a speeding fine out there some years ago which followed him back home, but we paid it so should be allowed back in!

Need to avoid this!

The languages are now known, I think. Spanish for Uruguay (which I’m learning how to spell) and Mandarin for China. The only hesitation is the first stop before Punta del Este. If it’s in Spain then great but if Brazil then I’ll need to add Portuguese. This does, of course, assume I have time to learn the languages as well as everything else I’m doing (mostly knitting hats).

I’ve started to look at the stopovers to see what sort of weather we can expect and what clothes to take. I rather wish I hadn’t. Ignoring the bit after Panama, which is yet to be confirmed, I’ve created the following table (at the bottom of this post). This is pretty simple but scary. If I don’t manage to get home between legs, then I’m going to need clothes that will be comfortable at 15 C up to 32 C during the day and down to 2 C at night. I think I’ll just copy John and George’s kit and have lots of layers. At least I won’t need ball gowns. I’ll put clothes on hold for another day.

As mentioned in post 3, I have a roll up keyboard which I can take with me. I found it the other day and unrolled it, only to find that half the keys were not doing anything. I’ve bought another as it was about two years old and I couldn’t find a warranty (nor for the new one).

What’s left? Oh yes, flights and hotels. The good news is that the official travel supplier to Clipper is also willing to help the supporters. I’ll be in touch with them next week about how to get from one place to another and which hotels to stay in. You never know, they may even be able to send bags of warm clothing to the right place so I don’t have to cart it around!

One last point for you all to note. Next Tuesday morning the Clipper website will be open to those supporters who wish to escort the Leaving Parade from a boat in the Thames at Tower Bridge down to the Thames Barrier. I wonder if it will be like Glastonbury and crash or be full within minutes? Most annoying is that I’ll not be home then so can’t sit on my computer pressing buttons. If I miss out I’ll just have to wave from the shore. This does have the advantage of seeing them slipping lines from the marina. Decisions decisions. I’m sure we’ll be having a farewell party in London before we go, but here’s the link if you want to see if you can get on a boat: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/clipper-2019-20-race-official-race-start-spectator-boat-tickets-tickets-63050263034

PlaceTimeTemp (day/night)
Punta del Este14 – 23 October22 / 13
Cape Town7 – 17 November23 / 13
Fremantle9 – 22 December25 / 15
Whitsundays9 – 18 January29 / 25
China (all)10 Feb – 26 March26-12 / 20-2 (yes, 2!)
Seattle19 April – 2 May15 / 6
Panama27 May – 5 June32 / 24

29. Rhapsody in Blue

Now to John’s boat. Before I start though, I thought you might be interested in a book John was given for his birthday, not by me!

No comment!

This is a gripping book, addressing the original voyage that Sir Robin took. Although it was not intended as a race, it became known as the Golden Globe Race and nine men set off in various types of boats with varying degrees of experience. One man continued beyond the start as he would not consider racing and ended up living in Tahiti. One was Donald Crowhurst, who faked his position and looked as though he were winning until he disappeared. (There were two films made about him in 2017). I’ll not tell you the rest, it’s well worth a read.

John is on the Unicef boat, commonly referred to as the Big Blue Boat. They came sixth last year with 108 points. The Unicef boat is the official charity of Clipper and is the only one that does not have a sponsor. I may have said this previously, but I hadn’t realised that Unicef relies entirely on donations. This is the third time they’ve been the Clipper charity and are hoping to get above £1 million this time. As the last race raised over £374,000 and all three raised a total of more than £700,000 this sounds achievable. As well as John raising funds I’ve now joined in with my Clipper Supporter Unicef hats. That’ll add a few more pounds! I’ll not bore you with another picture, just go back to my last post. I have now knitted two decent ones. OK, here’s the proof. The next time you see them it should be at the race start on Supporter heads.

The Big Blue Hat

On the Unicef boat there are 63 crew listed, 42 male and 21 female, aged from 18 to 70 years old. John is not the only 70 year old so may not even been the oldest on this boat (and on George’s there’s a 72 year old). He may be the oldest Round-The-Worlder though, I need to research the other boats before being able to say this with confidence (see a future post?). On the Unicef boat there are eight circumnavigators. Fourteen nationalities are reported to be sailing, so far I’ve found eleven: British, Australian, Canadian, American, Irish, Swedish, South African, Swiss, Spanish, Norwegian and Italian.

The Skipper is Ian Wiggin, a 30 year old Brit who has been working towards skippering a Clipper boat for the last ten years. The AQP is Mike Miller, a 50 year old Brit who was a crew circumnavigator last time on Sanya, the winning boat. I’m sure he’ll want to keep that position! I have a photo of Ian, courtesy of the Clipper website. (I couldn’t get the others to download for some reason. Need more skills).

“Wiggy” on his boat

As I said last time, the RTW’ers are given a specific job, and John will be the Medical Assistant. This should not be too demanding as there are at least five doctors on board as well as a renal nurse, but not all going for the whole trip. The Skipper is responsible for medical care on the boat but John will be responsible for keeping the medical kit and log safe and up-to-date. We’ve been told by a crew member from a previous trip that everyone will have an injury at some stage, the vast majority being minor, so sticking plasters at the ready! He’ll be going on a two day course in July for all the Medical Assistants and we have both signed up for a four day course in August to learn about first aid on board. You never know when you’ll need it. You know the official colour by now, BLUE!

Every boat has a kitty which the crew can decide to spend on a luxury or two. George’s crew are busy discussing whether to have a freezer. Whilst they think of their stomachs, the Unicef team are much more cerebral. All John’s correspondence (?) on WhatsApp seems to have been about the Team Song. Even though there are only 63 crew it felt that about 150 songs were suggested. I have spent many a happy hour listening to them. Last weekend there was a vote (a bit like Eurovision but not so camp. I think). One crew member one vote. I won’t tell you which one John voted for but the winner with 17 votes was Here We Go by Wild. They are from Los Angeles so maybe they’ll come and cheer us into Seattle? The runner up had 6 votes and I’m Happy to say that no-one went home with nul points. If you don’t know the winning song here’s the YouTube link to it https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=08beVMVWfnI&feature=youtu.be

The words are up there so no excuse, I expect you all to be singing along on 1st September. Rather apt, in view of the fact that on the Golden Globe Sir Robin was considered to be lost, are the words “We’ll get lost until we’re found”. Let’s hope not. (He insisted he wasn’t lost as he knew exactly where he was, it was just that the communications had failed).

One last item of interest. John is sailing this week (level 1 helping the newbies) and next (level 4 on His boat). He sent me a picture of a proper BOB, not to be confused with the HOB we had in post 27. Personally I think it looks like one of the Dr Who monsters but that’s just me. Isn’t it?

A Cyberman in disguise?

Next time, for a bit of light relief from all this sailing stuff, I’ll let you know how my preparations are coming along.