90. We’re Busy Doing Nothing

I am so sorry, you’re probably thinking I’ve poisoned us both with all that old food and that’s why you didn’t get a cocktail recipe at the weekend. Fear not, I’ve just been remiss and neglected you all. And before JD tells me off for the title today, we are very busy. I just like the song, it’s sung by Bing Crosby in the 1949 film “A Connecticut Yankee in King’ Arthur’s Court” based (very loosely I suspect) on the book by Mark Twain. Sing along now…

Post 89 received a few comments that I should reference. “Shower caps” are available from Ikea, they look much more robust than the ones I’m using. https://www.ikea.com/ch/en/p/oevermaett-food-cover-set-of-2-silicone-light-blue-70461936/. I cannot agree regarding Hobnobs, I won’t tell you the remark that JD made but I’ll send the next packet straight through to Wiltshire! Finally, some boxes of wine do indeed hold 12 bottles but more and more I’m seeing boxes of six (unless my reputation has gone before me and they think that’s all I can handle). I was under the impression it was due to EU regulations and maximum weights, such as we had many years ago in our profession, before computer submissions became the norm.

So, what shall we get up to today?

Post 88 on 18th April, ELEVEN DAYS ago, left you waiting for a cocktail. Who guessed the magic ingredient? Not Aperol (which comes next in my alphabet) but Amaretto. You can find (non alcoholic) Amaretto biscuits as well as the drink, the word apparently means “little bitter” (I don’t speak Italian so didn’t know this). I’ve just found out, while doing my research, that 19th April was Disaronno Day last year so I’m on trend for this year! http://www.disaronno.com/en/news/disaronno-day-2019. This is the brand I like (others are available, maybe I should try them). It has a very distinctive shaped bottle which I’ve finished off (there was less than an inch in the bottom) and thrown away so no photo of it I’m afraid. Here’s a magnificent wisteria instead.

Bearded iris and wisteria

Amaretto is an almond flavoured liqueur (from almonds or apricot kernels) which I love (as well as the biscuits), especially after a good dinner in front of a roaring fire. However, there’s no excitement in that for you so what mixture did I come up with? After I’d dismissed the shots (see Post 86 on 7th April), I was left with nine possibilities, although there are many others on the internet. I’m not a fan of egg white or cream in cold drinks and the ones with tea seemed like a cheat from Prohibition. There were a few with just Amaretto and one other ingredient (lemon juice, Irish whiskey, tequila) which I didn’t like the sound of. This left me with three: Cosmic Bliss, Bad Attitude and Big Red Hooter. How to decide between three such wonderful sounding names? Let’s look at the constituents of each: the first has orange, lemon and lime juices; the second FIVE other spirits (gin, rum, tequila, triple sec and vodka) plus Grenadine, as well as three juices (cranberry, orange and pineapple); the third has merely tequila, Grenadine and pineapple juice. Decision made, I need my five a day and don’t have any pineapple juice. Cosmic Bliss it is! As I’m trying to see the Starlink (Elon Musk’s satellite train) when it passes overhead this is very appropriate as well.

Cosmic bliss!

The rest of the time has mostly been taken with routine tasks mentioned previously so of no interest. I’ve made lemon and cardamom drizzle cake as well as caraway seed cake. Yes, you’ve guessed it, I’m trying to use up the spices that we have in the cupboard, this is a great book to have as an inspiration for recipes. Author Dhruv Baker (what an apt name!) won MasterChef in 2010 on UK television (for anyone not au fait with such programmes, including me).

Adie has not eaten anything she should not have (to the best of our knowledge). The garden and lambs continue to grow. The vegetable seeds I ordered before I left London (see Post 84 dated 27th March) finally turned up so I’ve planted those as well as some old ones I found in the shed, we’ll see what comes up. The rain that has now arrived is most welcome. Also looking back at that Post, I see that I said I’d missed the daffodils. Not so, yesterday I came across these in the garden.

Pheasant’s eye narcissi

George had his birthday last Friday. We were expecting to be celebrating in Seattle with a crowd of sailors. Instead George is still “on his tod” in London so we held a virtual party with his Godparents, a couple of friends and us. (If you’re not familiar with this saying, it’s Cockney rhyming slang for being alone. I didn’t know where it came from so looked it up. There was a US jockey called Tod Sloane at the end of the last century. Sloane = on your own). We tried to get together on WhatsApp but that only allows three people, so George had to set us up on Zoom, while the rest of us ran around turning on our computers. Lessons learnt: as well as not trying to WhatsApp too many people, do not leave your wine in a garage behind an electronic door. If there is a power cut you’re stumped! (I’m glad to say we do not have any electronic locks so we had plenty of champagne to toast George).

And finally, in case you want to know how the lambs are getting on, here’s two of them yesterday aged eleven days.

56. Leg 2 Race 3

A few more photos of Punta del Este to break up the text before the next post, from Cape Town.

Casapueblo, passed on our bus trip

This is the first time crew members will have changed, some getting off at Punta del Este after Leg 1 and others getting on for Leg 2. Looking at the farewell photos on the Clipper website, https://www.clipperroundtheworld.com/news/view-gallery/the-fleet-departs-punta-del-este it would appear that there are 15 crew on Bermuda, 16 on Dare To Lead, 18 on Ha Long Bay, 19 each on Sanya, Unicef, Seattle, Zhuhai and Korea, 20 on Qingdao, 21 on Punta and 22 on WTC Logistics.

Much discussion goes on about weight, whether fewer crew means faster boats (not just the crew themselves but the food requirements as well), or whether fewer crew means more tired crew as they have to do more. I’m not sure, based on the results to date, that it has any meaningful impact.

A local bird that builds nests of mud

For Unicef I think there were four people off and five on. For Qingdao it was four off and three on. Josh, Skipper of Ha Long Bay, told me he had about eleven new people joining. I’m sure that could have a bigger impact on how well they do compared to the overall weight. Although Ha Long Bay, at the time of writing, are up near the front and Bermuda and Dare To Lead further back. It’s not an exact science. Do I hear you ask who’s at the front? Well, let’s hope it’s not a repeat of race 1 as Unicef and Qingdao are leading. Will the famous wind hole caused by Table Mountain be their undoing? I hope they’ve got evasive action planned this time, I’m not sure I could bear the stress of it happening again.

Another local bird

The race started from Punta del Este on Wednesday 23rd October and the arrival window into Cape Town is two and a half weeks later, Thursday 7th to Monday 11th November. I’ve taken a bit of a gamble and am arriving on the morning of 7th so I hope Qingdao don’t repeat themselves and arrive early. It’s not looking likely, current ETAs (1400 UTC 5th November) are from Saturday morning to Monday morning.

The famous “La Mano” sculpture by Chilean artist Mario Irarrázabal

The results for the Scoring Gate are in Post 55 so I won’t repeat them. Before the Ocean Sprint, Seattle went into Stealth Mode, although it didn’t gain them any places. Imagine Your Korea went into Stealth Mode during the Ocean Sprint and came out in fourth place. As I can’t remember where they were before I don’t know if they’ve improved their position. Unicef and Punta both in Stealth on Tuesday night / Wednesday.

Accordionist at the prize giving

Qingdao have been constantly in Stealth Mode due to the fact that their tracker is playing up, so we’re never sure where they are at any given moment. You can play with the “ruler tool” if you’re looking at Race Viewer on a computer (not on a phone, I don’t know about tablets, in my world they are things you swallow to make you feel better). This will help you guesstimate where the boats are and is fun (well, what passes for fun to me, sad I know).

The “catamaran” from which we saw the fleet leave

I have not spent all my time on the Clipper website and Race Viewer, but one last mention of the Unicef skipper’s report today, read it and shiver! https://www.clipperroundtheworld.com/skipper-report/unicef/race3-day14-team48

Part of the packing

I have ended up with two incredibly heavy cases this time, as not only do I have John’s warm fleecy sleeping bag layer but also a sleeping bag from Sophie, another Unicef crew member, who got off at Punta and is getting back on at Cape Town after doing a safari. And also 23 (I think) Qingdao tee shirts for someone so we can save postage! Then there’s the usual bits and pieces for both John and George, John’s “civilian” clothes and somewhere in all this, my stuff. I started to pack on Monday, I thought I’d finished early on Wednesday then realised yet again I’d not got my bathroom cosmetics and toiletries. They are usually what I forget until the last minute, and of course they can’t go in hand luggage. I’m glad I’ve not got contact lenses any more, the stuff for them took up far too much room.

By the time you read this I’ll be on my way, probably sitting at Heathrow waiting for the flight to take off. I’ve checked Race Viewer, read all the Skipper Reports, tidied the flat, checked Race Viewer, read all the Facebook and WhatsApp messages, had an odd meal of all the food that won’t keep during my absence, checked Race Viewer, sorted out what I’m planning to do for Seattle in APRIL and so on. Now to check that I’ve not forgotten anything vital (phone charged? Rands? Passport?) and head off. Not in the vehicle below, it didn’t look like it had moved for ages, judging by the tyres.

Garzon truck outside PdE Yacht Club

Next time, greetings from Cape Town and possibly race 3 results!

47. Over The Sea And Far(o) Away

Having told you about MBB and their arrival in Portimao, here’s the blog of my journey.

The hotel

We (my pal Jane and I) should have been on the flight to Faro from Gatwick leaving about 2 pm on Saturday 7th September, but when I turned my phone back on at 5.30 am that morning (just to check Race Viewer you understand) I had messages from BA telling me it had been cancelled. They were offering me an alternative on Sunday via Madrid arriving about 8 pm. No, I need to be there now! MBB are on their way! They are currently first and second! The latest ETA for them is Sunday morning. I can’t wait!

Me, panic? Make a drama out of a crisis? Well, this whole blog is here for a reason. Once I’d let the world know via Facebook, WhatsApp, email, text etc I set to work. First phone BA to see if they can get us on the Heathrow flight. The irony is I chose Gatwick because I thought Jane would find it easier to get there, but she had to transit London so Heathrow would have been better. Needless to say, when I eventually get through, after 40 minutes, the two Heathrow flights were full. The Gatwick flight was not cancelled due to the impending strike but for technical reasons. Lots of suggestions from my pals: train, drive, other places to fly from. To cut a stressful couple of hours short, we returned to my new favourite place, Southend. The airport this time, to fly with Ryanair, four hours later than planned but still Saturday. As a comment in Post 44 said, I go to all the glamorous places, not once but twice!

On arriving at Faro, about an hour’s drive from the marina, we collected our luggage and headed to the passport check. On turning the corner it looked like the queue to get into Glastonbury. Thousands of people and no one going anywhere. The electronic automatic passport gates were not working and of course the staffing levels have been cut down as they’re no longer needed. We reckon there was one chap on duty.

Forty minutes later we were lucky to spot our driver. Thank goodness I’d booked a car and he’d waited. Even though we took so long he was very cheerful and understanding. A high five for Favourite Arrive Transfers of Portugal, especially when we found out that the hotel had not told him of our delayed flight so he’d done the trip twice that day! On arriving at the hotel, 21.55 Saturday night, we asked reception when the dining room closed. In five minutes was the reply, and he then took ten minutes to check us in. We dropped our bags in our rooms (via golf buggy) and rushed to get a drink, having had very little to eat due to the disruption. (We had popped into Tate Britain and had a beetroot wrap and a jackfruit wrap about 11 in the morning. We cannot recommend jackfruit). Thank goodness for Ana on the bar, she told us we could have room service until 23.00 (what, back to our rooms? No, she offered us room service at the bar). I cannot remember what I had but Jane had a club sandwich which was enormous. In the restaurant people were still eating, then they had some Strictly-style dancers. Ana moved us into a quiet corner so we could watch them, and found us a couple of puddings that were spare.

We made it!

We didn’t sleep well as there was a disco opposite our rooms that went on until the early hours. It didn’t help when I discovered that my bedroom window had been open all night. Never mind, the boats were not due in until the afternoon so we took life easy. At 1700 we rendezvous-ed with other supporters also waiting. After two hours, with the ETA going back and back, we decided to go and eat. After a very raucous meal (imagine six very restless women who had been drinking for over an hour) on the top floor of the hotel (so we could see the boats arrive) we realised it was going to be a LONG night and adjourned to Sandra’s room where she had a bottle of fizz cooling to drink with Geoff when he arrived. At midnight we signed onto the alert set up by Clipper and went to our beds.

We thought we’d be here a short time!

I woke about six, checked Race Viewer and saw that Unicef were about to arrive. I’d totally slept through any alarm we may have had and missed Punta del Este coming in about half past midnight. As you already know, Qingdao were third around 3 am so I missed them too. Unicef were sixth. Go back to the previous post for more details.

Lunch with George

The next day, MBB slept and /or cleaned their boats then had briefings regarding the prize giving ceremony that evening. Jane and I decided to top up our Vitamin D by the pool. For this we needed the dull pale brown towels everyone was walking around with. Off to reception to see the chap who booked us in on the desk. “Where do we get the pool towels from please?” “By the pool” “Ok, thanks”. As we start to head towards the pool he tells us we need a token. We ask where we get these and he (reluctantly) produces them! He tells us to go left but we cannot see anyone or anywhere that looks like it may have a heap of towels. We head to the far end and ask someone there, only to be told we get towels from reception. OKAY. We sit on a lounger and hope we’ll get told off for not having a towel (there is a sign telling us not reserve loungers). Eventually we find a pool boy who takes our tokens, heads off to (you guessed) reception and returns with towels! Victory!

The prize giving was in a restaurant by the marina and it was great to see Qingdao receive their pennant for coming in third. Every team member received a small one. I did offer to bring George’s home so he wouldn’t lose it but no way was he letting it out of his sight. They were rather damp, having been dropped in the pool before the presentation, but they got a lot wetter when the whole crew started to dance in the pool!

Third for Qingdao, blue pennant at left of photo

The next day Jane and I had a tour of Unicef and pretended to helm. I’m not really that much taller than Jane, there’s a board at 45 degrees that becomes the floor when the boat is heeling over.

I may give you a more detailed report of conditions on board in another post, but meanwhile here’s John showing us his cabin, with his storage space by his side.

The next day we went around the Museu de Portimao, an old sardine and anchovy canning factory, which was not too big and very interesting. As well as the commercial aspects of canning there was an exhibit on a famous accordionist of Portimao, the history of the region and some information on the underwater reserve that’s been created by sinking four naval ships some years ago.

Conveyor belt to take sardines off the boat into the factory

George had planned to go and dive in the reserve on the Friday but the water was too murky; some others went and said they could not tell if they were inside the wrecks or not, the visibility was so poor.

Photo from one of the other divers

We also had drinks provided by the Marina as a welcome on most nights and a wine tasting with oysters at the other end of the marina. Apparently they were the best, creamiest oysters ever tasted. As I lost half a stone last time I had fresh oyster I demurred. I prefer to lose weight by lots of walking in beautiful weather.

John and Donna enjoying oysters

Mostly during the day we sat by the pool whilst the sailors did maintenance on the boats. The day we went over to Unicef, one of the support crew from Gosport had to go up the mast to repair something. It looked challenging when moored up, I dread to think how it would feel at sea.

On his way up.

Whenever John and I go on holiday we try to buy two mugs and a tea towel as a reminder of the place. This trip was no exception. I tried to find a trinket to go onto the Pandora bracelet John’s daughter Penny gave me as a memento but no luck, so I’ll see if I can find a “3” on the internet to commemorate the podium finish of Qingdao.

On Saturday we said goodbye to George and on Sunday morning John left at 9.30. We supporters had lunch next to the pontoons so we could watch the fleet leave. It was pretty emotional waving them all off, their team songs blaring away in the background. We say them go upriver then come back but missed the race start as we had our flight back. I forgot to mention the techno pop festival that was on the last three nights from 1400 to 0600 the next morning. Once again, no sleep. Here we are enjoying some relative peace in a beach bar.

Now back to normal, slept late, did laundry, bought food, had my last Hepatitis B injection and ordered yet more stuff to take to the next stop for John. I was reading “Piano Man” by Charles Beauclerk on holiday, a book given to me by Caroline, my piano teacher. If anyone in the Yeovil area wants to learn I can recommend her, as long as you do not steal my slot! Not particularly light reading but a compelling story and heart breaking. I am now listening to recordings of John Ogdon playing Rachmaninoff and Bartok whilst typing. Meanwhile, back to Race Viewer. The fleet are off the African coast above the Canary Isles. The next excitement is which route they chose through the Isles and who goes for the Scoring Gate.

44. Leg 1 Race 1

Picking up from Post 43, I headed off to Southend to make sure the boats really did leave with MBB aboard on Monday morning. Forgetting that the nights were drawing in, I arrived in darkness and exited at the end of the platform. I asked the ticket collector where the pier was and was greeted by a blank stare. As I walked down the street, hoping to find some helpful landmark, I contrasted the Dickens Inn at SKD with the one I was walking past, not favourably I regret to say.

St Katherine’s Docks

Maybe it was the lack of sunshine or maybe the lack of people around. I kept going and found myself in a deserted high street. Well, it was a Sunday night, I’m sure the place is packed on a Saturday.

Southend

I continued under the railway bridge and suddenly all was revealed: very clear signposts at every corner so I knew which way to go. As I marched down to the hotel I came across two other Clipper bods, Jo who will be on Unicef for Leg 7 (I think, I’m sure I’ll be corrected if not) and her partner Vicks. A welcome sight, they turned round and escorted me back to the hotel. At check-in the receptionist noted I’d not booked breakfast, for a mere £9.50 I could add it in. Without thinking I agreed and paid there and then. Vicks, Jo and I then headed off to the best restaurant in town or possibly the only one that was still open at 9.30 on a Sunday night: Nando’s. Can I confess that, in addition to this being my first time in Southend, I was also a Nando virgin? True. It was fascinating to learn that you ordered and paid before sitting down, a bit like an old fashioned fish and chip shop.

The next morning I woke up to see the sea and the fleet. As it is now officially winter the door to my sea view balcony was locked to prevent me going out and slipping on the ice. I opened it as far as possible, slid my hand out and took the best picture I could. Another confession, we did not go on the fairground rides after Nando’s, which I’m sure we should have done.

As it is difficult to tell who is who I have another shot for you, of Race Viewer from the Clipper website. You’ll probably be seeing a lot of this, either via me or because you too can become addicted. Here you can see Adventure World marked, in the foreground of the shot above, and the pier stretching out to sea. The eleven Clippers are there, we are interested in the red one (Qingdao) and the mid-blue one to the very left (Unicef). You can also see the race start marked and the line they would take in an ideal world (the rhumb line). OK, if you are a sailor and reading this I know I’ve simplified but if totally incorrect please post a comment so that everyone else can see what it really is.

Having greeted the day I strolled down to breakfast with eager anticipation. Let me give you a hint: if they make you pay upfront for a meal then don’t let your hopes get too high. (That’s a bit harsh as Nando’s was perfectly acceptable). Breakfast consisted of coffee from a machine that sang a little ditty as it dispensed the brown fluid, a choice of three sugary cereals, sliced white bread with a toaster, pain au chocolate and an empty croissant basket. NO Earl Grey. Jo and Vicks, having arrived a bit earlier the night before and therefore more alert at checking in, had decided against the indoor feast and gone down to the local Costa. Probably cheaper and definitely a wider choice. We could also have chosen from two Greggs or two McDonalds, all within a ten minute waddle of the hotel. Here we have Clipper supporters arriving for the race, not waddling I’m happy to say.

Southend Pier is the longest in the UK or maybe the world, depending upon the source you consult. It’s over a mile anyway, and there is a train that runs from the shore to the end. We understood that the train would not be running so early but we could walk along and arrive in time to see the fleet setting their sails. The first hint of trouble came in the form of various WhatsApp messages from supporters who’d caught the early train from London and were now queuing by the pier waiting for it to open at 8.45. We arrived about 8.50 and saw a few people going up the stairs to the walkway so followed them, only to be stopped by the ticket lady telling us there was a barrier there (to be honest, there was a bit of cord across half the stairway) and we weren’t allowed up. We’d have to catch the train at 9.00. After a mild altercation we did so, paying £5.35 for the privilege. I could have saved myself 50p by deciding to walk back but not knowing how long we’d be standing I decided to splash out. It looked a long way.

Finally we arrived at our destination. It was fantastic, the boats were incredibly close and milling around practicing with their sails and stuff. Here are our two boats, I think you may just be able to make out MBB if you squint.

They were close enough to wave to us and were also getting very close to each other, although I don’t think they were as close as they look in the next two shots. Maybe they were practicing ship-to-ship transfers.

Qingdao and Zhuhai
Unicef and Ha Long Bay

In Post 43 I mentioned my special beanie that had been knitted for me by Sue. It’s reversible so you can be a supporter of either boat. Here I decided to wear it low so it appears that I’m supporting Columbia, although it should be red/blue/yellow rather than blue/yellow/red. It was nice and warm in the early morning breeze. I know George spotted it and I think John did too, I’ll have to check.

With the boats jockeying for position it was all a bit frantic. There was a ten minute gun that made us all jump, one at four minutes then the last at one minute. You want to be at the line not over it or you’ll incur penalty points. For this race there was a “leader” but we were unable to work out who it was as they were all so close. Prior to the race you can see here that it was a melee with them facing every which way.

But all became organised and here they are with their spinnakers flying heading towards the open sea.

Except for poor Seattle, who got their spinnaker in a muddle (technical term?)

We jumped up and down and whooped and generally made as much noise as we could, then calmed down and most of us walked back along the pier enjoying the sun. A surprising number of spectators had come along knowing nothing about Clipper, they just knew there was a load of yachts going off for a race, but one chap had raced in CV26 in a previous iteration and was planning a round the world cruise in a 62 footer next year. I found a Waterstones on my way back to the station so I was happy, I bought a Portuguese phrase book to remind me of some basics for next week and a couple of Science Fiction books as I’m getting a bit low, only 20 or so in my diminished library here in London. Now that I’ve finished knitting en masse I can get back to piano and reading (not at the same time silly). I enjoyed myself so much in Southend I even ended up buying a return train ticket! To put it another way, the sun was shining on the screen of the ticket machine and I didn’t realise I was buying a return until it was spat out. Still, if I do go again in the next year I’ll be able to travel back to London “for free”.

I’ll leave you with my final view of the fleet as I walked back along the pier, heading off towards a tanker and into the sun. NO, I can’t stop here, the race viewer is addictive and as I write (Thursday morning) both OBB are thinking of a podium finish. There are some days left before they reach port and plans can go wrong but they’re showing that they can do it! I’m out for the day with no internet access, how will I cope?

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.

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.

26. The Self-Preservation Society (SPS)

Otherwise known as us supporters. To continue from yesterday, after lunch we were on our own with no racers. Ruth Charles is the Clipper supporters coordinator. She went around the world in the 2015-16 race so she knows what the crew are facing and how her supporters coped. This is only the second time we’ve had an official “role”, and we are (so far) over 2,000 so we outnumber the crew, not quite three to one but possibly by the start of the race? If you want to sign up as a supporter, here’s the link. You should then receive “daily” updates (see previous post). https://www.clipperroundtheworld.com/race/crew-supporters

The header photo is from the Clipper Facebook page, the first photo in this blog that is not mine. I’m not sure how to properly acknowledge copyright (ironic, as I’m a Lay Member of the Copyright Tribunal) so if anyone needs to correct me please do. As I didn’t take any photos on the afternoon, the ones lightening the text here are all from last year.

2018 Qingdao crew

Ruth will be at each stopover (as will I unless things go drastically wrong) and so she is our best contact. There is a (private) Facebook page for supporters of the 2019-20 race as well as the open stuff. There is information for Junior Supporters, mainly for the 5-12 age group although others may find it of interest. Each Junior Supporter will be linked to a crew member and will receive home-based activities to reflect what their crew member is up to (such as crossing the Equator). Often a class will plot the journeys on a map, so we could have whole schools following and supporting a team. The youngsters in our family are going to have to decide whether to support Uncle George or Grandad! Here’s the link for the Juniors. https://www.clipperroundtheworld.com/race/junior-crew-supporters

At each stopover there will be drop-in sessions so none of us need to feel alone whilst waiting. We’ve got the Race Viewer which although not live is worth visiting for the last race details. Qingdao came third and Unicef sixth, so MBB have something to beat as well as each other. https://www.clipperroundtheworld.com/race/standings

2018 Unicef team

During the race as the boats come in and / or when they leave each port there will be live streaming on Facebook Live ( http://www.facebook.com/clipperracelive I think). I’ve just looked at it but I guess there’s nothing to show yet. For the last few days as the boats are approaching harbour there will be live ETAs for their arrival. We’ll also be informed of other supporters at each stopover.

If you want to communicate with the crew, letters and parcels can be sent and the stopover information will give the address to send stuff to. Alternatively I will be going to each port and will possibly have space in my case, although I may be going from one stop to another without returning to the UK. More on that when I’ve done my research. What you could do is email me and I’ll pull them all together to give MBB a heap of them at each port. The official emails are not able to handle pictures, emojis or the like. We’re not allowed / supposed to give other information on other boats so I’m going to have fun biting my lip and maintaining a Chinese Wall (ha ha!).

We then had a Q&A session with supporters of crew members from earlier races. Of particular interest to me was Nicky, whose husband Mike is the AQP on Unicef this year (he was a RTW’er crew last time). We were told not to expect to hear anything whilst they are at sea. Any contact is a bonus.

Socialise with as many supporters as possible, not just your own boat, and help out at the ports wherever possible. As an example, “Seattle” was a week late into one port, so all their victualling had been sorted to save time for them. They may arrive at any time of the day or night so some spare cash, food (not tinned rations!) and somewhere to shower or sleep will be appreciated.

Coming into Liverpool

We were advised to start / join a WhatsApp group for the team supporters and get involved in fund raising. I’m already in the Unicef supporters group and I’ve started knitting team colour hats so we can be spotted on the docks. If at home, organise a “stopover” party for others so you all still feel involved.

At the ports, Clipper supporters do not receive any special treatment, we are part of the normal crowd. However, Clipper staff are also part of the crowd and usually this is where the best views are to be found. If there is capacity then supporters will be invited to the prize-givings and parties. We the SPS have our own parties anyway!

Then the exciting news that Musto have developed a Supporters Kit for the first time ever, in the team colours! It’s not yet live so I can’t share the link. I’ll need a seamstress who can take apart two kits and get me a jester’s outfit of half Unicef (pale blue) / half Qingdao (red and gold). Hmmm.

Look at those winning pennants!

Next time, what we did on our holiday (last week immediately after Crew Allocation Day). I think.