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!)

62. I Think Its Gonna Be A Long Long Time

Not long after I published Post 61, John called me from Durban, where they’d diverted when Andrew developed suspected appendicitis. As well as Andrew, crew member Thomas left Unicef as he’d fallen earlier in the Leg and damaged some teeth. CV31 stayed in port long enough for the two of them to be medevac’d by the NSRI (equivalent to the UK’s RNLI), the crew to have showers and for the boat to be refuelled and re-victualled. They were back on the water within about three hours. They should get back to where they “stopped” and then their race time starts again, but I think in view of the time lost they are just racing to get to Fremantle. Depending upon the winds, I guess that will take another two to three days and that they’ll be about a week late. I’ve not changed my flights as George will be there and I have pals in Perth. We’ll all be getting as much victualling etc ready as we can for the three late boats, Unicef, Punta del Este and Visit Sanya. These latter two set off on Thursday 28th with a race start for them on Friday 29th. Here’s the path to Fremantle with all in sight (just).

Sanya and Punta far left, Unicef under “art”, Qingdao just in front

There’s possibly a bit more excitement on Friday, as Zhuhai discovered that their planned route takes them through an area where the US Navy will be doing some rocket missile practice, whatever that means. I’ve not had the chance to read today’s Skipper reports to see if Zhuhai still exists. Let’s hope they don’t use our yachts as target practice!

On a more personal note, I had another family phone call, one of John’s grand-daughters auditioned for a film and got through. I’ll tell you more about it when shooting starts. So it’s not just OBB who are stars! Talking of stars, you should remember that I took out a sleeping bag for one of the Unicef crew. She sent me a bouquet of flowers as thanks:

Thanks from Sophie

Enough about everyone else. Since I returned to London, in addition to being glued to the Clipper website with all the shenanigans going on, I’ve had a busy time. The first thing I did was reduce my resemblance to Boris Johnson’s unruly mop of hair. Then John’s brother and wife came over for the weekend so we celebrated whatever needs celebrating.

Me, Claire and Alan

On Friday night we went to About Thyme, a local restaurant which would have been even more local if we’d not walked past it first time! A couple more pals came over on Saturday and we had a late afternoon tea starting at seven, as you do. Then Monday night I went out for supper with yet more friends and had my first experience of using Uber. The day it was announced their licence has not been renewed in London. Better late than never?

Wednesday evening Rene and I went to the National Osteoporosis Society Gala Dinner with a fashion show by Julian Macdonald. Here we are enjoying the evening.

Rene and me

It was held at Banqueting House in Whitehall, so I experienced another travel first when we caught the bus there. Easy! Not so easy the next morning when we caught the bus back to Rene’s place and caught the right bus but going in the wrong direction. One stop on we got off and walked back to where we’d started.

A bit of history here, Banqueting House was where Charles I was beheaded in 1649. While he was still on the throne he commissioned Rubens to paint the ceiling which is magnificent. This is not the best picture of it you’ll ever see but you’ll get the picture (sorry!).

Rubens’ ceiling, Banqueting House

I thought that there had been a Christmas tree installed outside Tate Britain as there were a lot of bright lights. I walked down to have a gander and was rather thrown by the fact that it is an art installation of what initially looks like toilet paper. On closer inspection it is cut-out material. I have to confess I think it looks better from a distance.

Tate Britain

On Friday I went to the Royal Academy in Piccadilly with Val to see “Eco-visionaries”, to “Discover how architects, artists and designers are responding today to some of the most urgent ecological issues of our times”. It was interesting but I’m not sure I discovered much. I missed the message of what to do to help avoid future problems and took home the message that jellyfish are going to take over the world. Maybe I should go again and concentrate harder. After that Val and I went to Fortnum and Masons to have a snack. I can recommend it, you get a tiny ice-cream with your coffee!

Val and coffee

As we were sitting there we heard a commotion outside and saw a dozen or more police vehicles and ambulances trying to get down Piccadilly. It was only later that we found out there’d been another London Bridge attack with two victims dead and one critical in hospital. I can’t let the terrorists rule our lives and stop there, on such a sad note, so I’ll show you the bracelet I’ve been building.

Go back to Post 42 in August and I mentioned a Pandora bracelet I’d been given to add mementos of my journey. I’ve not found trinkets I thought special enough so I’ve been having some made by Jo who is @work just up the road from me. Here’s the work-in-progress:

Bracelet with charms

You’ll see numbers for the podium positions, a Portuguese rooster and a sun from Uruguay. I think it may get pretty crowded by the time next August comes along.

Before then, however, I’ll be in Australia for Christmas. Knowing I’d not be home, Anne very kindly bought me a tree to take with me. It’s here together with the souvenir I brought back for myself from Cape Town, a rather stylish red wine glass (so you get an idea how big the tree is!).

I snapped the message in the header at a local coffee shop and I think it could be applicable for today. If you can’t read it, here it is again. With luck and a fair wind, the next post should be more optimistic.

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

57. Race 3 Results

Here I am in sunny Cape Town ignoring the sun to bring you the news. It’s a hard life. Actually I think I’ll go get some sun and come back to you later….

The view from our room on a sunny day

Later, the next day. The sun isn’t so strong and there’s a wind so here I am again.

The view from our room on most days

Day 3, will this blog post ever be finished? I ended up helping with the sails yesterday, not the sewing this time but the folding (“flaking”) once they were ready to go back on board.

Sail packed up ready for the boat

If you’ve been following the Clipper website you’ll already know the results but here they are for those of you relying on me. I arrived very early on 7th November, the first day of the arrival window. As we know from the last race, boats may arrive before the window if racing hard, but I did ask Qingdao not to come in too early as I didn’t want to miss them. I was sitting at breakfast when I saw them in the distance. I didn’t want to get too excited after Portimao, but no-one else was in sight.

Qingdao in the distance

I finished my breakfast and went down to the docks to see them come in, FIRST, at six minutes past seven on Friday November 8th. (I was not eating a very early breakfast, once over the finish line they spend about an hour taking down the sails and tidying themselves and the boat up then have to motor into the dock). They had an amazing welcome with Isebane se Afrika performing for them. You can watch it here although it is rather blurred in places. https://www.facebook.com/ClipperRaceLIVE/videos/532013007361150/

Unicef in view

Next in was Punta del Este at 15.25 that afternoon, THIRD was Unicef at 17.02 and fourth Ha Long Bay at 18.00. As you can see from the times, a hard fought race for these positions. At one point on the breakwater we could see Ha Long Bay behind Unicef and it was very tense watching. You can see from the photo above how strong the wind was. They were tacking close up to us then way off into the distance to try and reach the finish line. We were able to distract ourselves with the black oystercatchers and George managed to get a good shot for me. I couldn’t hold the camera still enough, the wind was so blustery. If you go onto Facebook live again you’ll see a video of Unicef arriving, with John being interviewed. I can’t get the exact link for some reason but if you follow this you’ll know which video to click on! https://www.facebook.com/ClipperRaceLIVE/videos/

Black oystercatcher

On Saturday another five of the fleet came in. It is now Monday and we are waiting for the last two, Dare to Lead and Zhuhai, expected late tonight and very early in the morning. They will miss the prize giving ceremony tonight but I think they’d be too downhearted to celebrate with the others after taking so long to get in. The wind here can be very fickle and they can see Table Mountain long before reaching the shore.

Last night we heard that, due to infringement of the rules on how close to the coast they can sail, Punta del Este had a six-hour penalty imposed. If you go back to the times above, you will see that this meant they were actually placed fourth and Unicef promoted from third to second! Our first double Dawson podium one-two (first of many we hope, with Unicef allowed to beat Qingdao some of the time). It was extra special as two of George’s Godparents plus a very good friend from Somerset had joined us in Cape Town. Here are three of the groupies!

Me, Anne and Fiona

With the overall points known, but no penalty points yet announced (for damage to sails or other equipment, costing over £500 for the whole race), Qingdao are still in the lead with 48 points. Punta and Visit Sanya are joint second with 32 points each, Ha Long Bay fourth with 29 and Unicef move up from seventh to fifth with 23 points. I think Qingdao are the only boat to have a podium position in each race. We have been told that it’s consistency that will win the whole Race so let’s hope this continues.

Next up: a brief rundown of the rules and details of the next race, plus total results and scores.

55. A Fistful of Pesos

Should you decide to go to Uruguay, a word of warning. You can use credit cards (and the tax is refunded or knocked off your bill) or you can take US Dollars or Uruguayan Pesos. Well, I’m not sure you can actually take pesos, I only took dollars as the exchange places I tried looked incredulous when I asked for Uruguyan pesos. You can also take money out of an ATM with not too much of a problem. My card worked most of the time but sometimes I had to try it three or four times and I was unable to get any cash. At the ATM you will be dispensed $100 bills only. On spending this, probably to try and get smaller notes, you will be given change in the local currency. Hence the handful of change you see above (if you can’t see it, go onto the website by clicking the email title, blue underlined) which I donated to Unicef on my last day.

In Portimao we bought souvenir mugs and a tea towel (see Post 47). Realising that this could result in 15 tea towels and 30 mugs by the end of the Race, we controlled ourselves this time and bought a beach towel from YCPDE.

Having mentioned the live footage last time, there are good shots of MBB on the Clipper website gallery of photos about the beach clean, numbers 13-15/36 (far right of the pictures). https://www.clipperroundtheworld.com/news/view-gallery/punta-del-este–beach-clean

In https://www.clipperroundtheworld.com/news/view-gallery/the-fleet-departs-punta-del-este picture 10/57 shows the Unicef crew, with a good one of John number 18, and 14 the whole the Qingdao crew. I think that’s it until Cape Town, meanwhile it’s Race Viewer, Skippers Reports (I get mentioned in Imagine Your Korea dated 24th October) and Crew Diaries every day.

Two things that were important in Punta, the UNICEF banner and The Commodore’s Cup. I think you may have had glimpses of them in certain photos and on the Clipper website, but here they are again.

A bit wrinkled, where’s the wind?
That’ll never fit on the mantelpiece

And I think that’s all from Punta. Back in London, I’ve not stopped. On Saturday, my first day back, I met two pals at the Tate Modern. We started with lunch (and I can see why the people in the flats opposite complained about us tourists looking into their rooms) then went around the Takis exhibition before it finished. Even though it’s obvious, it looks like magic. Sadly, he died whilst the exhibition was being created.

The wonders of magnetism

The remaining nine days I had in London were taken with pals visiting me, lots of food and wine, buying yet more stuff for MBB (back to Arthur Beale), knitting beanies for Karla from the Clipper Race Office, getting Rands for the next trip and general household tasks. I thought George was asking for a citation book, what on earth is that? See the next picture for what he actually wanted. His diction, NOT my hearing. Honest. I had my first online food delivery which was very exciting for me. What will they send instead of what I ordered? A bit like Christmas. (It’s different in the sticks, I just drive to the nearest shop as it’s quicker). I also had my first experience of Vagabond, a bar in Victoria that dispenses wine by the glass from a lot of cabinets that have different types: robust, smooth, elegant etc. Well, I’m assuming that was meant to describe the wine, not the customers. Hmm, maybe I need to go back and do more research. You put credit onto a card then use that to buy your wine, in volumes of 25 ml (taster) upwards.

An early Christmas present for George

And did I mention Race Viewer? Yes, our addiction is back! It’s very exciting as Unicef and Qingdao are both doing well (so far, please no more wind holes). More about the actual race next time but the results of the Scoring Gate are known: Imagine Your Korea three points, Visit Sanya two points and Punta del Este one point. This puts them on nine, 25 and 24 points respectively. The results for the Ocean Sprint won’t be known before I get to Cape Town, when we’ll find out if anyone has collected penalty points for sail repairs etc. A last reminder of Uruguay before I sign off for today.

52. Race 2 Results

I’ll keep you in suspense a little longer. What do you mean, you’ve already looked at the Clipper website and know the results? I’ll show you photos not on the website then.

Stuart Skelton singing at The Opera Awards dinner

I left you with Sanya in Stealth Mode trying to pull ahead of Qingdao. I’m sorry to have to tell you that it didn’t work and Qingdao went into the lead. Yes, you’re right, these are crocodile tears. I’m not at all sorry, but the lead between the two kept changing as the winds veered around. Then four others went into Stealth: Seattle, WTC Logistics, Dare to Lead and Zhuhai. Meanwhile, there’s another Crew Diary from George, if you’ve not seen that on the website. https://www.clipperroundtheworld.com/crew-diary/qingdao/381

Qingdao in sight!

Whilst all this jiggery-pokery was going on at sea I had a busy couple of days after the weekend, before trying to pack my case for Uruguay. I went to the Opera Awards Gala Dinner at the Great Hall, Lincoln’s Inn. Such an impressive venue. Stuart Skelton was the host for the evening and there was some wonderful singing from recipients of Opera Award bursaries. There was an auction of various opera-related events but as John was not with me I was able to resist bidding for anything. Over the years that we’ve been supporting the Opera Awards we’ve met some new friends, and now that I’m in London I had lunch with one at Lorne near Victoria. A good place to meet and a good lunch. I’m turning into a lady-wot-lunches! I did walk there and back so some exercise before my long flights.

Part of the Great Hall

When it came to the packing, in addition to all the items John had requested I bring (not just shore clothes and his shoes, which weigh a ton, but new stuff too for on the boat), I was asked to bring out other supplies for other crew members.

Over the finish line!

I only had half a case to myself and didn’t want two big cases so I deployed my Clipper bag (see Post 5 from November 16th 2018) for books and squashable items that wouldn’t leak. Even that proved too small so into action came my trusty Musto sailing bag from 2012. Perfect. I’m glad I claimed it back from John as he used it for his training weeks (without asking first!). The extra sleeping bag layer will have its own case to Cape Town.

Taking sails down and putting battle sail up

I had to find a little corner for my clothes. As the weather forecast for Punta del Este was variable (predicted day time temperatures between 23C and 13C, night times 16C to 8C) it was a case of layers. There was also a risk of showers so I needed a raincoat. Then, when I thought I was ready and had zipped up the bags, I realised I’d not put my make-up in. Not something you can risk taking in hand luggage, that mascara can be very dangerous in the wrong hands! Open the cases up again and move things around to make a little more space.

In port

When I checked the forecast I saw that on October 9th there was a waxing gibbous moon. Nothing to do with monkeys’ ears, it means the moon is going towards full (as opposed to a waning moon going towards new) and that it’s more than a semi-circle, less than the full circle, which it will be when full on October 14th. Don’t say this blog isn’t educational!

A welcome beer for George and Donna

Back to the race. Most of the way it was Sanya and Qingdao swapping first and second places, I’m overjoyed to tell you that Qingdao came first, crossing the line in Punta del Este on Friday 11th October at 15:35:46 UTC. Sanya were second almost five hours later, coming in at 20:10:55. Both finished the day before the official arrival window started so I’m glad I travelled a day before I thought I needed to. We then had to wait until Sunday for the rest: Ha Long Bay at 1 pm, Dare to Lead at 3, Unicef fifth at 17.51 quickly followed by Zhuhai, Seattle and then WTC at 19.24. Punta came in just after eleven and the last two were GoToBermuda just before 5 am Monday and Imagine Your Korea just after 6am. I only watched my two boats come in.

Unicef in sight

To the points for this race: Qingdao 11 for first, doubled to 22 as they played their Joker plus 2 for the Scoring Gate = 24. Visit Sanya 10 plus 3 for the Scoring Gate and 1 for the Ocean Sprint =14. Ha Long Bay 9 +1 +2 = 12. Dare to Lead 8. Unicef 7 (one better than the last race). Zhuhai 6, Seattle 5, WTC Logistics 4, Punta del Este 3 doubled to 6 plus 3 for the Scoring Gate, GoToBermuda 2 and Imagine Your Korea 1.

Coming into dock

For the Race so far I calculate: Qingdao 36 points, Sanya and Punta 23 each, Ha Long Bay and Dare to Lead 18 each, Zhuhai 16, Unicef 13, Seattle 7, Korea 6 and WTC and Bermuda both on 5. If I’ve miscalculated then the Clipper website will be updated soon and I’ll correct any I need to.

Spot John!

51. Leg 1 Race 2 (c)

First, I’ll try not to post any more shots of Gloomy London, I realise I finished Posts 49 AND 50 with similar views. If there’s snow later in the year I may change this decision (but snow isn’t gloomy). The header is of the view I had when I woke up yesterday.

I forgot to tell you that John won the Equator sweepstake on Unicef. It sounds like he may not have won in everyone’s opinion, due to the application of ship time and/or UTC. When I next see him I’ll find out what he won, probably an extra Haribo or something! https://www.clipperroundtheworld.com/skipper-report/unicef/race2-day17-team48

I also forgot to detail my cinematic experiences. At home, we often plan to go and see a film but usually by the time we get around to it the film has moved on. Since Portimao, I have been to see The Farewell (a film well worth seeing, even if the synopsis sounds depressing, a Chinese family getting together for a fake wedding when they hear that Grandma has only a few weeks to live. Based on an actual lie it says). Then Downton Abbey. It possibly helps to have watched the TV series so you know who is who. I mentioned Netflix in an earlier post, well to make up for never having seen Downton Abbey I’ve binge watched the first two series of The Crown. I think I still prefer Matt Smith as Dr Who. I’m now binge watching Sherlock (the one with Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman, not Basil Rathbone or Peter Cushing!).

In John’s crew diary of 27th September he mentioned needing to buy a bird book in Punta to enable him to identify the birds that are flying around. In Ian’s Skipper report of 4th October he says they have one, ‘Seabirds of Southern Africa and the World’, by Gerald Tuck of the Royal Navy Ornithological Society. https://www.clipperroundtheworld.com/skipper-report/unicef/race2-day19-team48

I don’t know how old that book is, but I managed to find a different one for John with photos. As it’s over 300 pages I’m not sure how easy it will be to ID a bird flying past at speed though. THE book on ocean birds was, apparently, Peter Harrison’s 1983 “Seabirds: An Identification Guide” but this new one builds on that with the use of DNA and subsequent reclassification.

Reading Nick’s Zhuhai log of 3rd October, I think maybe I should have bought the book for George instead. Nick says that Qingdao seem to think all the birds they see are some sort of gannet. https://www.clipperroundtheworld.com/skipper-report/zhuhai/race2-day18-team45 . Another skipper seemingly preoccupied with birds is Mike on Imagine Your Korea. I’ve bought him a little present but you’ll have to wait until I hand it over to see it.

As well as managing to see films that otherwise pass me by, and eating foods that have not yet hit rural England, I walk to the shops most days with my little carrier bag to buy food (no filling up the boot once a week or less). This does mean I look more at what I’m buying, and imagine my glee when I found this, a combination of my favourite cocktail (espresso martini) and my favourite brand of yogurt (The Collective).

I needed it before I tried to squeeze the warm sleeping bag layer John wants me to take to Punta or Cape Town into the compression straps I had to order. On its own it takes up my whole suitcase. I was assured by John that the straps would make it small enough that I could pack my clothes (and his) as well… Really? Just take a look and tell me what you think.

Saturday morning the results of the Ocean Sprint were announced by Clipper. Unfortunately neither of our two boats were fast enough. Our arch-nemesis, Punta del Este, came first, gained three points and and so have leapfrogged Qingdao (17 points to 14). Grrr. Ha Long Bay were second so have a total of nine points and Visit Sanya scraped the third place, one point, to give them 10 points overall. Dare to Lead were in fourth place (nul points) only one second slower than Sanya. You have to feel sorry for them.

Skipper Mark of WTC Logistics says in his log of 5th October that they came sixth only nine minutes behind Sanya. He also comments on the fact that the fleet of matched boats but with all amateur crews can be so close. Read the full account from the link below (then click onto the other skipper reports as they are all interesting and you’ve got nothing else to do today, right!). https://www.clipperroundtheworld.com/skipper-report/wtc-logistics/race2-day20-team40

This weekend I had two pals visiting, Victoria up from Somerset and Rene. Well, I guess I had three as Clint came too. Victoria and I went to Tate Britain to see the William Blake (again, for me, but I still missed bits of information). First we went to the Members’ Room for some lunch. I’d not been there and it takes some finding. Up the spiral staircase and up and up. It’s pretty much in the dome that you see on top of the Tate. According to my clever phone I climbed three floors. It felt more like six, both of us needing to take a breath when we arrived before I was able to show my membership card. I don’t think it’s as impressive as the V&A Members’ Room, and more of a canteen as it’s self-service, but sitting up in the light-filled dome was an experience. I have said if I do it on a daily basis my fitness will improve, with the incentive of a coffee when I arrive, but I’ve yet to repeat the trip. Knowing what faces me should make it easier. Extinction Rebellion are out in force so I’m not sure I’m brave enough to wander near Parliament.

Lambeth Bridge, MIllbank Tower, Tate Britain

On Sunday morning all three of us (with Clint observing) had another go with the compression straps. I don’t know exactly how it was managed, but here we are with a better packed layer. It now doesn’t quite take up all of my case although I still don’t have room for everything I need. I’ve been advised it’s not necessary for the next race so I’ll take it to Cape Town, when I’m not having to change planes.

The other interesting thing that happened this week (if you’re a Clipper Addict) is the appearance of two posters depicting two of the Crew Members, as the recruitment for the next race (2021/22) jumps up a gear. One of these Crew Members you’ve already come across, you shouldn’t be surprised when I tell you it’s Donna. I went to see Victoria off on Sunday, then onto Arthur Beale to collect the head torches I’d ordered (see previous Post) and look who was smiling down on us!

I’ll remind you, Donna is a 48-year-old British chiropractor going around the world on Qingdao. We met her before we knew she was on the same boat as George and she’s doing the same job as John on board of Medical Assistant. Just to be fair, I’ll give you the shot of the other Crew Member, Mark Pollard. He’s a 30-year-old engineer from Australia and he’s sailing Legs 1 and 3 on Ha Long Bay, Viet Nam.

Now I have a new game, seeing how many I can spot and hoping that Clipper will add others for us to hunt down. A bit like Pokemon Go! Although less interactive.

Not to be outdone, you can see John to the left of the last picture on this Clipper news article about the Ocean Sprint. It doesn’t look as though he shaved his head. We’ve not seen George for a while, I wonder if he has? https://www.clipperroundtheworld.com/news/article/closely-fought-dell-latitude-rugged-ocean-sprint-sees-just-one-second-between-two-teams

Sanya have gone into Stealth mode, 06.10 UTC Monday morning, so we won’t know where they are until Tuesday morning. Meantime, Qingdao are effectively in the lead. Go Qingdao! The weather for the next few days has very deep lows developing, little wind and wind gusting and veering in different directions, so it’s all to play for. Are Sanya trying to get closer to the shore and benefit from the offshore winds that played such a crucial part at the end of race 1?

And on that cliffhanger, I’ll leave you with another picture of London Today.