70. Leg 5

I’ve not mentioned much about this Leg, over 6,000 nautical miles (nm), so here’s a brief rundown to keep you up to date (possibly). Contrast this with Unicef’s Leg 3 from Cape Town to Fremantle, with the detour to Durban, of around 7,000nm and five weeks at sea (as their alternative 12 Days of Christmas has it). Yet more Christmas music! I don’t think I’ve given you the link to John’s crew diary with all the words, you can find it in the list below, number 773. If you’re feeling brave you can listen to them “singing” on arrival into Fremantle last month here

Leg 5 (also known as The Asia-Pacific Challenge) consists of three races from Airlie Beach to Zhuhai: first to Sanya (Race 6, about 4100nm or roughly 3 weeks), to Subic Bay (Race 7, a short one of 750 nm taking 4 to 5 days) and then to Zhuhai (Race 7, an even shorter one of 650nm or 3 to 4 days). They (should have) started on 18th January but were delayed (see Post 69) and and have arrival windows of 10 to 15 February for Sanya, 25 to 26 February for Subic Bay and 2 to 3 March for Zhuhai. The first race involves going through The Doldrums (see Post 48 from September). As before, they are allowed to motor for a set amount of time due to the lack of wind, here it’s no more than 36 hours and 4 degrees latitude.

The yachts have between 14 crew (GoToBermuda) and 20 crew (Qingdao and Dare To Lead) on them, with the male:female ratio being close to 50:50 on Seattle and Punta del Este. Zhuhai lost skipper Nick in Airlie Beach and now have the first female Skipper, Wendy Tuck, who won the last Race in 2017/18 and will be with them until Qingdao. This is the fourth boat of the fleet to change skipper, with Seattle, Imagine Your Korea and WTC Logistics all having replacements along the way.

All lined up for Le Mans start

There are a few more crew diaries from OBB so in no particular order here they all are from the beginning in case you missed them, first George then John.

https://www.clipperroundtheworld.com/crew-diary/qingdao/206 https://www.clipperroundtheworld.com/crew-diary/qingdao/381 https://www.clipperroundtheworld.com/crew-diary/qingdao/545 https://www.clipperroundtheworld.com/crew-diary/qingdao/637 https://www.clipperroundtheworld.com/crew-diary/qingdao/776 https://www.clipperroundtheworld.com/crew-diary/qingdao/955

https://www.clipperroundtheworld.com/crew-diary/unicef/294 https://www.clipperroundtheworld.com/crew-diary/unicef/759 https://www.clipperroundtheworld.com/crew-diary/unicef/698 https://www.clipperroundtheworld.com/crew-diary/unicef/773 https://www.clipperroundtheworld.com/crew-diary/unicef/920

In George’s last crew diary he refers to an incident his dad had. I can reveal here that John, aged 70 and 8 months, was refused entry into a bar! He needed ID regardless of his age. The same will happen in the USA.

As you might have picked up by now, there’s not a lot going on. The delay due to the water maker spare parts not turning up was very worthwhile if you read the Skipper Reports and Crew Diaries for this race, with the heat and sweat being mentioned in almost every one. A more recent entry has been the rise of the coronavirus in China, with Clipper letting us know that the Sanya celebrations are going to be very muted this time. https://www.clipperroundtheworld.com/news/article/update-regarding-coronavirus-outbreak-in-china

I feel maybe I’m under a bit of a jinx (or Jonah?). First we had the Unicef diversion, then the bush fires, the Taal volcano in the Philippines on January 12th and the virus, first reported at the end of December and spreading rapidly. Will I get to China? Read on for the next thrilling instalment. OK, maybe thrilling is too strong a word.

33. The Bermuda Triangle?

We now know the last three ports of call. If you’ve been following the Clipper website you’ll already be aware of them, but just in case there are other things going on in your life, here they are.

The “South East Asia” stop is now confirmed as Subic Bay, The Philippines. Not an area I know anything about so some basic research tells me that it was a former US Naval base but is now a holiday destination. (I’m sure for some people that “but” is unnecessary). The temperature is likely to be in the low 30’s during the day when we’re there in late February, cooling to 20’s at night with a 1% chance of rain. Won’t be needing my flannelette nightie or Pac-A-Mac then! It specialises in beaches, good for the Clipper boats if they run aground. The fleet are due to arrive 25th-26th February and leave on 28th so a whistle-stop only. Not even worth unpacking the bikini.

What I’m usually wearing on holiday!

The “China” part of leg 5/6 thus starts with arrival in Sanya February 10th-15th, moving onto Subic Bay on 21st February, a quick beer there then off to Zhuhai for arrival around 2nd-3rd March, a crew change for those who are not doing leg 6 and departure on 9th March to George’s “home” port of Qingdao. They should arrive there around 17-19th March and depart for Seattle on 26th March.

Onto the final leg, leaving Panama around 5th June next year. Due to the way the Panama Canal scheduling works this date is vague. I suppose it’s possible I may not even see them transit. Once all the fleet is through the Canal, the last section of Leg 7 will start. They race to New York / New Jersey, planning to arrive around 16th-19th June. As this is the end of Leg 7 there’s a crew change-over and they set off on 27th June for Bermuda.

Couldn’t find Bermuda shorts!

The arrival window at the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club is 1st-2nd July, leaving on the 9th so not much time there to relax. Bermuda is an archipelago of seven coral islands with around 170 other rocks and islands that are important enough to have been named. Possibly because ships have hit them? The large islands are connected by bridges. It is nowhere near other islands I’ve been to, if you look it up on a map all you’ll see is sea.

From there we’re on our way home. Foyle Marina at Derry-Londonderry around 23rd -27th July. Actually, that gives me some time to spend in Bermuda if I feel the need to stay in one place for a week or more. Bring out the bikini.

Or maybe not!

Once we’ve left Ireland on 2nd August it’s back to St Katherine’s Dock in London for 8th August, unless they sneak in a late stop. Then we pick up our normal lives?

Next time: probably disappointing for the sailors, back to my plans. Unless something more exciting occurs beforehand.