CLIPPER RACE 6: New Lunar Year

Undulating silk smooth waters have given way to waves, cresting and occasionally spattered by rain. Squalls erupting from low flying clouds bring fresh winds, exciting helming with unpredictable wind shifts and occasionally a light shower. More often a torrent. Mischievously these last long enough to go down, grab your shampoo, get on deck and lathered up but not quite long enough for a rinse. Regardless, these are welcome relief for days of relentless heat and sunshine. Coming on deck is a relief.

The Clipper Race don’t advertise this but, I can exclusively reveal that as part of your charter holiday, apart from the first-class cabins, there is also a Swedish Sauna provided centrally in the boat. The bar serves food and soft drinks while the clientele slowly dissolves on the saloon seats. The dress code is relaxed although some clothing is encouraged.

As recognition of the New Lunar Year, our sponsors and mostly because we like the idea, our watch has adopted a Korean name: Pado. Chosen from a selection of sea, sky, wind and waves, we went for waves, that’s where we play. We also see all manner of things above, on and below.

Ominously pursuing us, the counter-camouflaged killer came within only a few meters. No black or white tip, no stripes, an Oceanic Grey. At only 1.5-2m a small one, but if it brings friends back, we’re going to need a bigger boat!

Afloat we see flotsam of all sorts, including large trees and coconuts. Jetsam, fortunately very little which is good news for the oceans although a 4m cylinder we passed provided a useful perch for red-footed boobies. Birdlife is surprisingly scarce considering the proximity of atolls and islands, but at least I now have a full set of Tropicbirds, Floating effortlessly at the masthead, brilliant white sharp winged with streaming tail almost as long as their body. Overall about the size of a kestrel.

Plenty to keep us occupied on watch, but busy currently with our Code 2 Spinnaker flying, trying hard to go just that little bit faster than the surrounding boats. Small gains are important and hard won. As a crew we are pulling together really well and getting decent boat speed. We will keep pushing and hope for a result that rewards our effort and hard work. We know the others are trying just as hard too.

News of the change to Subic Bay has sunk in and other than the accommodation consequences, everyone is happy to have the certainty that comes with this. Our thoughts go out to the population of the affected areas of China and hope that this all ends soon with as little harm as possible. What happens after Subic Bay will become clear in time, partly dependent on public health and on other authorities’ rules for possibly visiting affected areas.

On a lighter note, our two watch leaders have taken a turn as “mother” so the hot dog wraps for lunch and mac and cheese for tea went down well. That one of them is the victualler and pulled some rabbits out of hats.

A small reminder in case you didn’t know, there are also blogs from IYK by me on the website that cover life on board as well as a few pictures and videos, the benefit of being the Marlow Ambassador.

Best wishes to all our followers and especially my family, Jane & George – hope to see you soon.