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.

25. And The Boys Watch The Girls

Because of course everyone can go on Clipper! Although on this header more people seem to be watching their phones. Some of you will have already found out what happened on Crew Allocation Day, May 11th. If you watched it live you can probably miss out this post. For those of you waiting for this update, I’m sorry you’ve had to bite your nails for a week. The next post will tell you what else we’ve been up to.

Back to May 11th. We arrived in Portsmouth the night before to meet up with George, who had been on his Day Skipper course. The next morning we joined the queue to get into the venue.

Outside the Guildhall

We found out that it was the biggest crew allocation to date, with over 400 crew in attendance and 300 watching live. There are five weeks of Level 4 training, starting in June, with 535 crew booked and about 140 yet to book. Sir Robin warned that anyone NOT completing Level 4 will NOT sail in Clipper. In addition there were over 150 of us supporters in the room. We had a reminder of the race rules and features (see Post 18 if you want to remind yourself). During the night hours, the racing is according to IRPCS, the International Rules for Prevention of Collisions at Sea. Race specific course instructions will be sent to the crew about five days before each race.

The race skippers have completed eight weeks of training with another 14-15 weeks to do. We were introduced to them, here’s before they sat down and obscured the details. We have AQPs (additional qualified person, in effect a First Mate) for the first time but we didn’t get their specific details. You can find them on the Clipper website, https://www.clipperroundtheworld.com/news/article/meet-the-clipper-201920-race-aqps

Skippers

Four yachts have already been rebranded: Unicef, Sanya, Zhuhai and Qingdao. At the meeting we found out that both Seattle and Punta del Este will be host ports and boat entries. Only another five to go! I’ve not got any pictures of them but I’m sure you’ll have had enough by the end of the race. We also had a LOT of information on safety. Crew will be clipped on if the speed is over 15 knots, at night time and if the Skipper says so. Both tethered and untethered Man Over Board (MOB) will happen before each race and the Skipper will have to email HQ that this has been done.

We then heard a bit about Brand Ambassadors, essentially crew who volunteer to represent a particular brand associated with Clipper. Team partners have not all been confirmed (see Post 14 for the different types of partners and Post 23 for announced ones) but they should all be announced in the next few weeks. After this each crew will know their team colours and identity and be issued with kit. Cape Town and The Whitsundays (in Australia) were announced as host ports in addition to Seattle and Punte del Este. We still don’t know a couple, see the updated table below:

LegRace numberLeavePortArriveDestination
0 (Prep)16th Aug
1a11st SeptSt Katherine’s Dock London??????
1b2??????14-16 OctPunta del Este
Uruguay
2323rd OctPunta del Este7-11 NovCape Town
3417th NovCape Town9-14 DecFremantle
4522nd DecFremantle9-12 JanWhitsundays
5a618th JanWhitsundays10-15 FebSanya
5b721st FebSanya25-26 FebSE Asia
5c828th FebSE Asia2-3 MarchZhuhai
6a99th MarZhuhai17-19 MarchQingdao
6b1026th MarQingdao19-24 AprilSeattle
7a112nd MaySeattle27 May -1 JunePanama
7b125th JunePanamaMid JuneEast USA
8a13/14Late JuneEast USAMid JulyN Europe
8b14 or 15?Late JulyN EuropeEarly AugSt Katherine’s Dock London

As you can see, the very first race destination isn’t known and once past the Panama Canal we’re off into the unknown. The Race will actually start on 2nd September from Southend Pier. I’ll update when I can. We then had information on stopovers (see Post 22); we’ll know more eight then four weeks before each one. I hope to get myself organised before that though. We heard that there is a travel company who will be announced in the next few weeks, mainly for crew who are only on one or two legs and so need to arrive in the right place at the right time, but I’m sure we can piggy-back on this. Unicef updated us that each yacht will have a fund-raising co-ordinator for the first time. This is not an extra person but one of the crew. It’s becoming increasingly obvious that every crew member is going to be wearing a number of hats, especially the circumnavigators.

The next section addressed communications. Race crew news will be via email to the crew. The website will carry information as will Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. I’m going to have to get into this century and join all these. There will be on-board reporters (a crew member) and Youtube stuff, with Skipper daily blogs and crew will also be encouraged to blog. If you sign up on the Clipper website you should received updates in your inbox. However, don’t forget that they will be far from civilisation, so “daily” may not actually mean what we think it means. A RIB will go out to each boat at the end of each race to interview crew members and there will be local press interviews.

Smile and wave!

After all this and greater details of the race than I’ve given in the table above, we had what we’d all come for, the crew allocation (from midday, so we had about three hours of anticipation). To prolong the agony, each Skipper stood up in turn and announced HALF of his crew, so if you were in the first half you could relax. I didn’t have a bird’s-eye-view so not good photos, but here are our two teams.

George 4th out of the sorting hat!

Team Chris was first to speak so George didn’t have long to wait. Chris Brooks is Skippering the Qingdao boat: George needs to start learning his Mandarin. (Louise, you volunteered Neil to accompany me on this leg so we can test his Mandarin, you thought you were joking!). The AQP is Rhiannon Massey.

John had to wait a bit longer.

The eleventh Skipper to stand up was Ian Wiggin but luckily John was also in the first tranche. This is the Unicef boat, so John is already ahead of the game in terms of fundraising. His AQP is Mike Miller, who went round the world in the last race. For completeness here are the other two halves of our crews.

Rest of Team Chris (Qingdao)
Rest of Team Ian (Unicef)

After this we had lunch then split into teams for the afternoon. I’ll tell you more about these two boats and the host port Qingdao next time, as well as what we learnt in the afternoon session for supporters. You may be getting one of these posts a day for the next week.

17. Kinky Boots

This is the third browser I’m trying so with luck there will be no more cliff hangers or typos to annoy me (and possibly you too). Well the cliff hanger was quite fun, I may do that again if inspiration strikes. I do need to change the language to English English though, probably OK for you but it’s trying to “correct” my spellings.

Last week was very exciting, we went down to see The Yachts! George was there on his Week 3 but I think he was avoiding us. We looked at the boats in harbour, both the 68 footers that they have been training on as below (I think, maybe I need to be corrected). George was there somewhere but we couldn’t see him or the rest of his crew.

A training boat

And also the 70 footers that they will be on from now. One has been branded with the 2019/20 dates but as you can see from the rest of the hull she’s not ready to go out. Not all eleven were there so some may be out at sea or going around to promote Clipper at various boat shows. There was a road show in Leeds recently, not sure about a harbour or marina there.

Qingdao boat for 2019/20?

The ones painted white are ready for their new sponsors, looking carefully at the time the old paintwork could be seen. The only thing that they keep is their registration number; on the training boat about you can just see CV7 at the front (bow).

Once we’d had a good look at these (John had to use his special Clipper pass to get onto the pontoon!) we caught the ferry from Gosport to Portsmouth to go shopping. My first boat trip this year.

Spinnaker Tower

The shopping in Gunwharf Quays looked very good but we walked right through past all the restaurants and shops to get to…MUSTO! The whole plan had been to buy me some boots (I thought). We came home with four big bags of stuff, not all of it for me. As well as my boots I bought a big “foulie” jacket and some trousers. John bought boots, jacket and more. I think we’re keeping the company afloat single-handedly.

Diana Rigg I am not

We then wandered back to the ferry and looked into The Castle pub which is where the team all congregate after a day on board, but no George there so we came home. About half an hour after we left he told us he’d just got to the pub. Definitely avoiding us!

The other bit of news is that John now has a justgiving page to raise money for Unicef. As in Post 14, they are hoping to get to the £1,000,000 mark this time round with Clipper. I’ll get the link and put it up another time if you want to donate. (How much is it worth to stop me doing this blog??)

Next week John goes on his week 3 so I’m sure there will be more technical sailing info in my next post (or possibly the one after). He’s revising his notes but I’ve not noticed any knot-tying recently. I am now about to check this and see if it freezes or if I can post an entry with NO typos!

All lined up and ready to go