111. The Drifters

Ok, so you may be forgiven if you stumble across the title of this blog and thought, “Great, my kinda music, I must listen……”

Apologies but this blog remains about my involvement in the Clipper 2019-2020 Round The World Yacht Race (with a few notable “diversions” relating to Masterbaking, Weather, Beards, Booze, Fashion and even Talking Socks!

Masterbaking – (Blog 20: Masterbaking .. or .. Mother Watch preps .. or ..”If I knew you were coming I’d have baked a cake”, published 4 September 2018); Weather – (Blog 22: Florence, Mangkhut and Helene .. with memories of Michael Fish, Daria and Luis, published 17 September 2018, Blog 23: The weather theme continued .. but spare a thought and a prayer this Sunday for Abhilash Tomy, published 23 September 2018 and Blog 83: Dollydrums! WHAT Dollydrums??, published 25 September 2019); Beards – (Blog 11: What will crossing the South Atlantic, Southern Ocean, North Pacific and North Atlantic REALLY look like??, published 14 July 2018, Blog 12: A Bakers Dozen of Famous (and Infamous) Bearded Sailors (1), published 21 July 2018 and Blog 19: Half A Dozen More .. Famous and Infamous Bearded Sailors, published 31 August 2018); Booze – (Blog 49: Manannan Mac Lir, published 23 February 2019 and Blog 66: Another post about booze! published 21 July 2019); Fashion – (Blog 24: Does/Will My Bum Look Big In This?, published 28 September 2018 and Blog 50: Does/Will My Bum Look Big In This? (2), published 2 March 2019 and even a blog about talking socks!!!! (Blog 4: Curiosity …… or what my birthday socks “said” to me! published 31st May 2018).


So its not about those Drifters ……….. its about these Drifters:

The Clipper 2019-2020 Race has been engaging in citizen-science research efforts, collecting ocean and weather data which is being utilised around the world. The project aims to monitor climate change and the impact it is having on the oceans. Racing through some of the most remote waters on the planet, the Clipper Race is uniquely placed to be able to collect data that would otherwise be difficult to access. Back during the Cape Town stopover, Race organisers collaborated with a team of experts to enable the deployment of drifter buoys on the Southern Ocean, Leg 3, to Fremantle.

Global Ocean Observing System (GOOS) drifter buoys we’re put onboard four Clipper Race yachts (Seattle, WTC Logistics, Go ToBermuda ………. and UNICEF) for deployment in pre-planned positions in the Southern Ocean. Carefully secured down in our lazerette prior to Race start, the buoys were donated to the South African Weather Service by NOAA (The United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration), who had previously worked with Clipper during the 2017-18 edition. The buoys are designed to provide data on barometric pressure, water temperature and ocean current drift for up to 3 years. Once finished these buoys will be retrieved.

Details were explained during the main crew briefing in Cape Town the day before Race Start

Eventually, despite our diversion to Durban, we reached 90 degrees East and, with due ceremony, our drifter buoy was brought on deck, carefully unwrapped and deployed by UNICEF’s own Drifters. Mike even read the instructions first!



DrifterDeploymentt coordinates


The UNICEF “Drifters” aka Danny Lee and Mike Miller

A further 4 buoys were deployed by Ha Long Bay Vietnam, Seattle, Zhuhai and Qingdao during Leg 4 from Fremantle to The Whitsundays. In addition to the drifter deployments, two of the yachts were provided with training on a Voluntary Observing Ship Scheme (VOS) while in Fremantle. The first two teams to participate in the trial were Seattle and Zhuhai, with the training delivered by the Australian Meteorological Agency (BOM). The teams provided observations of barometer readings, visibility, cloud formation and sea state every 12 hours.

GOOS is a global system for sustained observations of the oceans comprising the oceanographic component of the Global Earth Observing System of Systems. GOOS is administrated by the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission and serves oceanographic researchers, coastal managers, parties to international conventions, national meteorological and oceanographic agencies, hydrographic offices, marine and coastal industries, policy makers and the interested general public. GOOS is a platform for international cooperation for sustained observation of the oceans, the generation of oceanographic products and services and for interaction between research, operational, and user communities. It is implemented by member states via their government agencies, navies and oceanographic research institutions working together in a wide range of thematic panels and regional alliances.


The oceans cover 71% of the Earth’s surface and they are linked to human livelihoods in multiple ways. From its role in modulating the climate to how it provides a variety of socio-economical, cultural and environmental benefits, the oceans contribute greatly to human wellbeing. A better understanding of ocean climate and ecosystems, as well as human impacts and vulnerabilities, requires the coordination of a continuous and long-term system of ocean observations. In this context, the GOOS coordinates observations around the Earth’s oceans for three critical themes: climate, operational services, and marine ecosystem health.

CV22 Seattle


Climate: a changing climate is linked to a changing ocean. Warming results in land and sea ice melt, and increased carbon uptake is causing ocean acidification, both at alarming rates. The accurate modelling of global climate change and variability, and the monitoring of impacts of climate change migration programmes require sustained and extended observations, including those in the deep oceans and in remote regions.

Operational Services: operational ocean data services provide improved weather forecasts and early warning for ocean-related hazards at the coast. This enhances the safety and efficiency of all ocean industries strengthening the global maritime economy. Societies and economies also benefit from this near-term ocean and climate information, such as El Niño forecasts, that are essential to global agriculture, water management and disaster risk reduction.

Marine Ecosystem Health: the global ocean offers a variety of social, economic, cultural and environmental benefits to human livelihoods. Scientific evidence shows that marine ecosystem health, measured in terms of productivity, species diversity and resilience, is both impacted by and threatening human activities. The GOOS contributes to the marine ecosystem health theme by facilitating ocean monitoring for the conservation of biodiversity and the maintenance of sustainable ocean ecosystem services.


Although there is a lot of this out there ….. there is still much to do.

and meanwhile …… back in the South China Sea the lead yachts are already off Taiwan. Competition has been fierce and it remains pretty much anyone’s race. The Philippines wind holes have given way to upwind sailing, challenging weather conditions, wet decks (and crew!) and life at an angle. Additionally the fleet is having to navigate around large fishing nets, buoys and other vessels in the busy commercial waters. At 1830UTC Tuesday teams had to decide which of the Ocean Sprints to go for and 9 teams have opted for the north bound sprint. That’s the entire fleet minus Qingdao and WTC Logistics, a lucky call for those two guaranteeing a minimum of 2 bonus points.

The fleet (as seen on Race Viewer) beginning to clear the blue coloured wind holes west of the Philippines on Monday
The TIMEZERO (a kind of onboard Race Viewer) view pm today
Race 7 Day 4 on the bows of Dare To Lead

5 days now until I fly out.

For Diabetes UK and the National Autistic Society see




Please take a look. Thank You.

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