I leave for the boat as soon as this blog is posted. We sail at around midday for the 6200 nautical mile race to Seattle.
Time has certainly not waited for me in terms of writing blogs and I am disappointed that all I have to offer is this rather brief “see you later”. So here are a selection of photos covering the passed couple of weeks…..
We have played our joker on this Leg, race tracker is up and running on the official website and the race proper gets underway on 24 March when the Fleet meets up for a Le Mans start north of the Philippines. In the meantime we do some offshore race training and here is a video of what lies ahead …..
Links to my justgiving pages for Diabetes UK, the National Autistic Society and UNICEF UK are at the bottom of previous blogs.
It turns out this title is something of a misnomer. This blog already has a foodie element to it. Every time I posted something about Mother Watch routines
and how many other blogs do you know with personal messages from that “patron Saint of all Mother Watches” Mary Berry
This short video message (courtesy of my eldest daughter, Heather, strong-arming Mary to record it) was received pretty much slap-bang in the middle of our leg to Fremantle. While such personal “endorsements” are frowned upon in some quarters, it was also amusing having to explain to non-Brit team members exactly who “Saint” Mary is. It helped pass part of a long afternoon watch. My Mother Watch skills even warranted a comment in the Skippers personal blog, but you have to trawl through his daily reports on the UNICEF page of the official website – back to the first week of Leg 2 Race 3 to find that one.
So there you have it. This is already a blog with foodie overtones. Ok, maybe not recipes you can use at home. Unless, that is, you’re cooking for up to 24 in a kitchen that moves around quite a lot, but you get the idea. Lighting the cooker without blowing your eyebrows off is a skill worth perfecting, as is the timing required to bake anything. And in this instance I’m talking about the “timing” required to get your cake mix INSIDE the oven as it moves one way and you move the other. There are a few things that belong inside sailing boots. Socks and feet spring to mind. Cake mixture does not.
I have always been impressed with the quality of the food we produce onboard. Some fantastic meals. Due in no small part to the victualling team but the meals still have to be cooked and served. On time. The cooking challengd is particularly evident the longer a leg goes on and the lower our stocks get. JD (John Dawson) and I managed to conjure up a kedjerie on the last full day at sea on our overly extended leg into Fremantle when onions was almost the only thing we had left. Earlier that same leg we had produced a roast chicken dinner to mark Advent Sunday. Many other UNICEF “mothers” surpassed themselves. Acer (Anne Elizabeth Serigstad) produced cinnoman swirls one evening in the Southern Indian Ocean that would grace any High Street bakery. At one point, bread-making became a competitive sport. I had some success with my breads and one notable failure. I did try to make a gluten-free loaf one night. Let’s just say it was buried at sea with NO military honourz the following morning and, even now, it probably constitutes a navigational danger to shipping somewhere in the Southern Ocean.
It’s fair to say that quarantine meals out here, as I hinted in the previous blog, and as illustrated above, have not lived up to UNICEF standards. Eating some of it has actually proved less challenging than identifying it in the first place. Writing about it all is going to prove impossible. So here’s a selection of meals for you (like me) to guess at from the last 12 days or so …..
And in fairness, and with due deference to the Philippines Department of Tourism, I should point out that “other dining options” are available ……
For Diabetes UK and the National Autistic Society see
After the PCR trauma of actually getting out here it is fair to say that outside of hotel quarantine lockdow the time has flown by. Hotel lockdown is mind-bendingly boring but spare a thought for Danny Lee. His room has no windows! It’s already Sunday 6th March. I’ve been here 12 nights, am currently confined to my room awaiting results from my second Government PCR test and, subject to a negative result, I should be at sea again in a little over 24 hours. But there IS an 11th hour twist – isnt there always – see my very final PS comment.
It was a good job I had some time on hands immediately on arrival as it gave me time to cancel my missing American Express Card (last seen during the emergency PCR testing airport-trolley-juggling episode of Blog 138) which itself killed time waiting for the arrival of my missing bag of sailing kit!!! Oh and it was raining. I spared all that from blog 138 but if “these things happen in threes” I got my three out of the way early.
Rain on the afternoon of 22nd Feb was the last rain I have seen. The days are hot and humid with temperatures in the high 20s C and often as high as 25C in the shade. The Phippines are not as much in lockdown as I expected but your temperature is taken in all major shops and buildings before entry. Masks are compulsory, even outside in the heat of the day, and I have yet to see a local WITHOUT a mask, even when riding a bike or moped.
None of us “first arrivals” were allowed into the Subic Bay Yacht Club or onboard the boats until we received a negative result from a Government PCR test conducted in our Department of Tourism approved hotels on 25 Feb.
Prior to that I was allowed out and I tried to exercise (walking – too hot for anything else) between 2 to 5km every day. Sometimes more than once.
When back at the hotel a variety of quarantine meals were delivered to our rooms. I use the word “variety” adviseadly! The earliest breakfast delivery was 0645, the latest 1050! Dinner has been any time between 1730 and 2220! And ahead of my latest and strictest lockdown I did visit a local supermarket for some additional supplies!
Those of us who had arrived and tested negative were allowed into the yacht club (via the tradesman ‘s entrance – temp check, medical certificate and formal logging in every time) on 28 Feb and, until this latest lockdown, the 5 or 6 of us cleared to do so, plus the skipper and AQP have been down there every day.
and Ian and Dan took the boat to sea on 2nd and 3rd March with skippers and AQPs from across the Fleet for their own refresher training.
I think we are the only unchanged Skipper/AQP pairing in that Dan was one of our Round-the-Worlders before taking over as our AQP. Although there WERE jobs for the rest of us to do, including when the boat was at sea, it is fair to say that Ian and Dan had already broken the back of virtually ALL of it in the three weeks or so they have already been out here.
No doubt refresher training will reveal more to do, and we want to replace the port rudder after training for reasons I’ll cover in a future blog. But we all think the boat is in great shape and we are raring to get going. The rest of the UNICEF team arrived between 1 and 4 Mar so we are now all here, even if we haven’t all been in the same place yet. We went into hotel isolation at 1800 on 4 Mar and after our PCR tests yesterday we have all been confined to our rooms. Test results are due later today.
But ……….. and here’s the 11th hour twist ……… there have been crew who have tested positive for COVID since we arrived and we are all expected to LFT test every Wednesday and Sunday. Whilst I LFT’d NEGATIVE first thing this morning, one of my team mates has tested POSITIVE this morning. And yes, I and others have been in contact with him prior to locking down at 1800 on the 4th. I have just been informed I must now complete a further LFT test first thing in the morning irrespective of the result of yesterdays PCR test the resulg of which are expected any time soon.I cannot even begin to tell you how I feel right now.
For Diabetes UK and the National Autistic Society see: