149. The Atlantic Homecoming Leg.

Here is what some of the official Clipper website has to say about what’s coming next.

“While this might be the homeward bound leg there is plenty of racing still to be done. With an Atlantic crossing and an emotional homecoming, this is one of the most sought-after legs of the Race.And, with almost 40,000 miles of racing already behind you, there are still valuable racing points to be won. The podium places on the overall Race have been decided on the last race of Leg 8 on the last three Clipper Race editions.

The weather might be mixed but the competition is hot, with teams battling it out for the final race points. The New York to Londonderry race takes you north and a check on sea water temperatures will tell whether yachts are getting a helping push from the Gulf Stream. A further check will tell you when it gives way to the cooler Labrador Current and the mixture in seawater temperatures often produces unpredictable fog banks. It may feel like familiar ground but don’t take this mighty ocean for granted. You need to stay focussed, race hard and race safe. The route will have waypoints to avoid any risk of ice, even at this time of the year, and will take the Fleet close to the Flemish Cap, a fishing ground made famous by the book and film, The Perfect Storm. Then its a 2000 mile blast back towards Europe and one if the warmest welcomes of the race in Ireland.”

For my part I’m certainly not about to underestimate the North Atlantic, even in the summer. Two of the biggest waves I have ever encountered were in the North Atlantic; in the South west approaches in HMS FALMOUTH and the North West approaches in HMS NEWCASTLE, and both were big enough to damage the ship. Two days ago we learnt that Colin Golder, skipper and owner of Morgan of Marietta, competing in the Newport to Bermuda race, went overboard 325 miles from Bermuda in heavy seas. He did not survive but his body was recovered.

We spent most of yesterday on final sail repair/maintenance and packing/storing our 21 days of provisions plus checking and repacking lifejackets and filling our fresh water tanks. We also completed our Race 14 crew brief. For my own part as Team Coordinator I had already published the bunk allocations for this race and the jobs rota from sailing (this morning) through to the arrival window {and a little beyond just in case).

and last night we all had a relatively quiet night ahead of an early start – it is currently 0540 in the morning here.

We sail this morning shortly after 0900, straight into a Parade of Sail between Jersey City and Manhattan, which we will lead, and then we have a 110 mike motor/sail transit to the start line out in the North Atlantic clear of shipping lanes.

The Fleet will r/v at 0600 tomorrow morning for an 0800 Le Mans start for which we will be the leeward boat. 3 teams have played their Jokers on this race, potentially doubling their race points, it remains tight at the top and we continue to lead the fundraising table (thanks to those who have already donated). The sun is just up and it looks like a nice day.

For fundraising for Diabetes UK and the National Autistic Society see:


for fundraising for UNICEF UK see


148. The Montivideo Maru

If you have no interest in Naval/military history and would prefer to skip over a rather tragic story then this is not the blog post for you and I recommend you give this one a miss. I started writing this in Subic but never got around to publishing it before we left for Seattle.

Some years ago, for reasons I wont bore you with now, I wrote an MA thesis for King’s College London about the qualities and characteristics required by senior military commanders in peacetime, in “total” war and “limited” wars. Leaving aside, for the purposes of this blog, my belief that the academic characterisation of “limited” war is of no practical relevance when YOU are the one being shot at, the only thing you need to know about that work is that I chose General Douglas MacArthur as my illustrative case study. Deliberately non Naval. Deliberately non British. A man who saw active service on the Western Front during WW1; rose to be peacetime head of the US Army in the early 1930s; retired in 1937 and who was recalled at the beginning of the war in the Pacific. For various reasons he served in the Philippines from 1935 to May 1942 and famously kept his “I will return” promise 2 years later. He went on to be the de-facto ruler of Japan during the Allied occupation 1945-1951 and commanded UN forces during the Korean War. A character as flawed as he was brilliant, it is no surprise that the title of William Manchester’s biography of MacArtur is entitled “American Caesar.”

But I digress. The net result is that I know quite a bit about what was going on in these ‘ere parts in 1942. This, however, is a story I am saddened to say I knew nothing about until Clipper brought me to Subic Bay.

The Montevideo Maru was a 7766 ton twin screw diesel motor vessel built in Nagasaki in 1926. She was operated by the Osaka Shose Kaisho shipping company for service between Japan and South America – hence the name. During the early moths of the war in the Pacific she was used by the Imperial Japanese Navy as an auxiliary transporting troops and provisions throughout SE Asia. After taking part in landings in the Dutch East Indies and operations around Java, the Montevideo Maru was ordered to New Britain.

Early on the morning of 22 June 1942, members of the Australian 2/22nd Battalion No1 Independent Company and civilian prisoners of war, including women, captured in New Britain were ordered to board the vessel in Rabul. The Montevideo Maru then sailed, unescorted for the Hainan Islands routing via the Philippine Islands in an effort to avoid Allied submarines. She was displaying no markings (Red cross for example) indicating she was carrying prisoners of war.

Eight days into the voyage she was intercepted by the USS Sturgeon. For 4 hours the Sturgeon manouvred into a firing position to fire from her stern torpedo tubes. Sturgeon’s log records a torpedo hit at 2.29am on 1st July. Japanese survivors reported two torpedo hits followed by a fuel tank explosion. The Montevideo Maru sank by the stern in as little as 11 minutes. According to the official Australian version of events, it does not appear that the Japanese crew made any attempt to release the prisoners although as recently as 2003 a Japanese survivor claimed that there were Australians in the water singing ”auld lang syne” as the ship sank. Of the 88 Japanese guards and crew only 17 survived the sinking and the subsequent march through the Philippine jungle.

Although the exact number and identity of the more than 1000 men and women onboard the Montevideo Maru has never been confirmed, Japanese and Australian sources suggest an estimated 845 military personnel and up to 208 civilians lost their lives in the tragedy. There were no Australian survivirs.

I came across the Subic Bay memorial during one of my ”fitness walks” prior to the start of Leg 6 and the clipper fleet sailed close to the position of the sinking during our week long refresher/level 4 training.

It remains the worst maritime disaster in Australian history.

147. An Affair To Remember …. A Result (but not a Race) to forget.

An Affair to Remember is a 1957 film starring Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr. What’s that got to do with racing from Bermuda to New York? Well, when you’re stuck in a wind hole going nowhere and you’ve exhausted your attempts to remember songs about New York, you turn to film. An Affair to Remember was set, very largely, in New York. As was Gangs of New York, West Side Story, Rear Window, Taxi Driver, Ghostbusters, Manhattan, Saturday Night Fever, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Funny Girl, Wall Street and The Odd Couple – just to name a few more. It was a BIG wind hole!

Race 13 will probably not be my favourite of Clipper so far, it is certainly NOT my favourite result. It started badly with the tragic news of the unexpected death of my brother-in-law (from my first marriage) just as I was leaving to join the boat. It included my wedding anniversary during which Ruth informed me she was not going to be able to make it out to New York after all, and concluded with us being the last boat across the finishing line. I wont dwell on the first two aspects but I will write about the race, and the result. With everything that occurred I needed no reminding that this was Race THIRTEEN starting from one corner of the BERMUDA TRIANGLE!

We were the 9th yacht to slip lines and there was a stiff and lively breeze blowing us on to the jetty and we had ”holding-off” lines rigged to mooring buoys in the harbour. With the assistance of a Rhib to pull our bow off the jetty we got away in a timely manner but within a minute of clearing the berth we suffered a serious overheating problem and had to shut down the engine. Less than 150 feet off the jetty and in danger of being set down by the wind across Hamilton harbour and hitting at least one multi million £ racing yacht and drifting amongst the Clipper Fleet executing the Parade of Sail, we ended up with our kedge anchor dropped from the stern and, assisted by another Rhib, our bow attached to a mooring buoy. And there we waited. The Parade of Sail came …… and went …… and the other Clipper yachts left the Harbour for the Great Sound. Clipper engineers came out to us, rectified the problem, and we waited for the engine to cool down so we could play catch up. Catch up would be the theme to our race.

We eventually caught up with the other yachts as they completed their demonstration sail and their man overboard exercises in the Great Sound ……….. only for our engine to overheat again. At least by now we also had sails up and we were able to tack across the Sound and await the return of the engine experts (and in this case a jubilee clip of a size we were not carrying) and the engine to cool again. Meanwhile the other yachts proceeded to the start line. Time was now against us. It was going to be touch and go whether we would get to the start line in time. Worse, if we couldn’t clear the channel out of Bermuda by 1900, we would have to return alongside and sail 24 hours late. As it turned out we did clear the channel, did complete our compulsory man overboard exercises and almost (almost) made it to race start. But not quite.

Time to play catch up. And with the benefit of the clarity of 20:20 vision that hindsight always gives you, I cant help but wonder whether a catch-up mentality convinced us all that we had to ”do something different” when it came to routing, rather than trust our sailing and our speed to ”reel the other boats in.” We were also aware that there were periods of light winds and wind hole conditions (next to no wind) in the forecast, very likely to affect all boats at some time or another. We did overtake Punta del Este on the first night, and did the same to Imagine Your Korea the following morning. But ….. when the other boats tacked north that day, we chose not to, seeking stronger winds (and less punishing light wind conditions) to the west. To cut a long story short this was (hindsight time again) a mistake. And remember our ”troublesome” engine? Throughout the race we had a salt-water cooling leak into the engine bilge. Easy to pump out (manually and automatically) when on an even keel, but requiring buckets, scoops and sponges when not. We were emptying the engine bilges every 2 hours and removing 4 to 5 buckets a time.

When we did eventually hit light winds and a wind hole we managed to find the Mother of all wind holes! In one 6 hour period between position updates we managed an average speed of just 0.5 knots. 3 miles in 6 hours. And not even 3 miles in the right direction. To make matters worse, those boats who had tacked north (basically everybody but us!) made better progress and when the wind “filled-in”, it filled in for them first. In very short order we were 150 miles behind the lead boats and 50-60 miles behind GoToBermuda and Dare to Lead at the back of the pack. In a long ocean crossing that’s not necessarily as bad as it sounds, but in a relativel short hop like Bermuda to New York it meant 11th place became a nailed-on certainty and the only real race left to us was crossing the finish before midnight on the 24th in order to get alongside on the 25th in time for a prize giving party the following evening. This would require a 52 mile motor – you remember our ENGINE at the start of this piece!!!

Ironically, some of the sailing, when we were actually sailing, was fabulous. It was warm, humid and at times the wind was strong enough to tip us over at an angle and put the low-side rail in the water. It was pretty much shorts and t shirt sailing throughout but occasionally chilly over night. We flew all three Spinnaker sails, all three Yankee headsails, the Staysail and the Wind-seeker, the latter sail for much longer than any of us wanted. The new joiners to the team (Ricky, Tom, Daniel and Greg) were all new to the Clipper 70 but settled in well. We enjoyed some spectacular star-lit and moon-lit nights and some glorious sunrises.

And the entry into New York on the morning of 25th June under a cloudless sky was stunning. Despite the result I consider myself extremely fortunate to have sailed into 3 iconic harbour/skylines during Clipper so far – Cape Town, Seattle and now New York.

Derry-Londonderry up next and we are very very keen to put this result behind us.

For Diabetes UK and the National Autistic Society see:


For UNICEF UK see:


We’re back at sea first thing on Wednesday.

146. Bermuda whistlestop.

Photo taken mid-way across the North Pacific in April

The Countdown clock to Race start now shows just a little over 24 hours of nervous anticipation until we are off once more. The weather forecast looks a little ”sporty” and we are all onboard for the Bermuda to New York race briefing at 1430 this afternoon. Thereafter its one more night of relative peace, quiet and comfort.

My kit is now either all packed (and goes onboard this afternoon) or laid out in my digs ready for Sunday morning.

We are all onboard the UNICEF yacht by 10am tomorrow. Team photos will be from 1015 and we slip lines from 1100. After that we have a Parade of Sail around Hamilton harbour before a practice start out in The Great Sound. We will then do some compulsory man overboard training, practicing rescuing a man overboard who has gone overboard still attached to the boat by his tether, and a recovery of an untethered man overboard who is no longer attached to the boat. From about 1445 we will sail out of the relatively sheltered waters of Bermuda into the North Atlantic for a Le Mans start at 1800. Thereafter its a relatively short race (depending on the wind speed and direction!) to New York. The Fleet is due into Liberty Landing on the Jersey City side of New York on the 23rd or 24th of June and will remain alongside until Sunday 29th June when we start the North Atlantic crossing to Londonderry.

This has been the first time Bermuda has hosted the Clipper Fleet and it has clearly been a great success. Here are a few images:.

Alan Brookes – one time Captain of HMS LONDON when I was CO of HMS NEWCASTLE – who I hadn’t seen in over 20 years. Tracked him down this time last week and he and I went to sea in his boat most of Sunday.

Lindy Scarborough, a UNICEF supporter – her husband Graham did Leg 7 – being congratulated by Sir Robin for her fundraising efforts making Clipper jewellery – go way back and see Blog 70: Advert time …. go on, its for a great cause, published on 2nd August 2019.

Just good friends!

For Diabetes UK and the National Autistic Society see:


for UNICEF UK please see:


Only about 4500 nautical miles to go!

145. Just remember, a volunteer is just someone who didn’t understand the question in the first place.

My late father volunteered for service in the British Army immediately after the Second World War and shortly after his own father was de-mobbed from the RAF following wartime service. The fact that Dad would have been called up anyway is not the point. He was proud of the fact he volunteered. He was offered a Commission in the Pay Corps and service in Scotland which he turned down, expressing a strong desire for service in the Far East. In a move all too familiar to anyone who has served in the British military, the powers-that-be promptly shipped him off to northern Germany for 3 years in the Royal Signals!

Finally leaving UNICEF in Seattle having posted the bunk allocations for Leg 7 and the jobs rota for Seattle-Panama-Burmuds.

He only ever gave me one piece of military advice. Shortly before I left home he told me to be, “careful what you volunteer for.” In his opinion, a volunteer was often someone who, ”didn’t understand the question in the first place.” I followed this advice if you are prepared to overlook the fact that I did once volunteer for UN service in Cambodia only to end up doing a UN tour with the British Army during the fighting in the Former Republic of Yugoslavia in the early/mid 1990s!!! So let’s overlook that one. Wind forward to late January/early February 2022 and the first of three Zoom calls with the UNICEF team preparing for the restart of the Clipper race. Ian and Dan were already in the Philippines and the rest of us were getting ready to join them. We “met” some of the new crew members joining the team for the first time and discussed plans and tactics. It was during this video call that we first discussed the possibility of playing our “Joker” on arguably the toughest Leg of the circumnavigation. I’ll come back to that in a future blog. During this first call the subject of ”additional duties” came up, and in particular (as far as this blog is concerned) the role of Team Coordinator, a role normally/previously undertaken by a round-the-worlder but now ”vacant” as a result of the impact of a 2 year delay to the Race.

“We need to appoint a new TC,” said Ian. There then followed something of a deafening silence. Ian held his nerve. Eventually I broke cover and offered the suggestion that, ideally, because of the role, the new TC should be someone completing all of the remaining Legs – 6, 7 and 8. Unfortunately I didn’t stop there………. Warning!….. school-boy error coming up accompanied by mental picture of Dad rolling his eyes to the sky ………. I went on to say that as I was doing two of the three remaining Legs I would be, “happy to assist.” And with that we moved on. Wind forward again about a week to our second Zoom call and fairly soon after we started proceedings Ian announces that ”Commo,” …….. ”Yes?” I remember thinking ……. ”Commo is going to be the new TC.” Thankfully my microphone was on mute and somewhere I could imagine my Dad roaring with laughter.

According to the official blurb the role of the TC is as follows.

“The Team Coordinator Role, more commonly known as TC, is there to support the communication between the whole team, crew onboard, crew leaving, crew joining, the skipper and the Race officials/office. The TC helps the skipper with yacht administration and organisation.” The instructions go on to say that this is a “varied role requiring good planning and time-management skills, integrity and tact!” The exclamation mark is mine. The full instructions run to about 3 pages and I wont bore you with all the detail, but one of the most important roles (at least as far as everyone else onboard is concerned) is deciding who gets which bunk and who they will be sharing with as bunk buddies and designing the onboard jobs rota for each race of each Leg. And all this has to await Watch allocation which generally follows refresher training and crew assessment. There is the additional complication of not knowing exactly how long each race/leg is going to take, further complicated on Leg 6 by the international date line and on Leg 7 by 5 separate finish line options and a Panama canal transit the date of which was not confirmed at the time of me completing this work for that Leg. And that, in a nutshell, is why I didn’t get away in Seattle until a few days after the formal end of my Leg 6 contract, why I have already been gently lobbied by some crew here in Bermuda and why I will be juggling with excell spreadsheets on Friday and Saturday. Oh and I have a meeting with the Staff and all boat TCs later. Obviously I have to be focussed on this next race to New York but I do now have to give some thought to (and be able to answer questions about) race 14 and race 15 plus Londonderry, London and, shortly thereafter, the return of the boat to Portsmouth. All good fun.

The previous and current Team UNICEF TCs seen here on Leg 3 from Cape Town to Fremantle. For future applicants, a damaged right hand is not a prerequisite!

For Diabetes UK and the National Autistic Society please see:


For UNICEF UK please see:


Please take a look. Thank you.

144. A brief Monday Race Update from a small, small world.

The first of the yachts crossed the finish line SE of the island in the wee small hours of this morning, Monday 13 June. The first of the boats got into the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club between 0700 and 0800 local with UNICEF finishing 5th (7 points) behind Sanya, GoToBermuda, WTC Logistics, and Punta del Este but ahead of Zhuhai in 6th, Qingdao in 7th and Dare to Lead in 8th. As I type this at approaching 1800 local, Seattle have ”pulled the plug” and are motoring in having accepted 1 point while Imagine Your Korea and Ha Long Bay Vietnam are still about 60 miles from the finish line in lights winds battling it out for 9th and 10th places. They are are not now expected in until early tomorrow morning. Along with KC (also rejoining) and a great turnout of UNICEF supporters I was up early this morning to welcome the Fleet in.

Me, Mike Miller (formerly UNICEF AQP and now the skipper of Sanya who won the race today) and Karen Corley (KC) who, like me, did Leg 6 across the North Pacific and now rejoins for Leg 8 across the North Atlantic.
Anthonie Botha, Mike Miller and me over two and a half years ago at Race start in London

The ”scores on the doors” BEFORE all the points for this leg are as follows:

Qingdao 112

Ha Long Bay Vietnam 110

Punt del Este 95

Unicef 88

Visit Sanya 74

WTC Logistics 69

Imagine Your Korea 69

GoTo Bermuda 60

Dare To Lead 55

Seattle 46

Zhuhai 46

and with GoToBermuda, WTC Logistics and Zhuhai all playing their Jokers (doubling their race points) on this current race and the Ocean Sprint and Scoring Gate points yet to be added, it’s all getting tight at the top of the Leaderboard and there is much to play for in the three remaining races in the final Leg 8.

Tomorrow I have a meeting with the Clipper Staff and all the TCs from the other boats before the Leg 7 Race 11 and Race 12 prize giving. UNICEF is back out at sea for two separate corporate sailing events on the 15th when I, and the other UNICEF new joiners and rejoiners, will go to sea in Zhuhai for our refresher training and crew assessment. Thereafter it will be final preps for Leg 8 Race 13 to New York. All crews are required onboard the yachts by 1000 on Sunday 19 June and we will slip lines at 1100. As the official countdown clock shows, 5 Days, 18 Hours, 44 minutes and the odd second or two to go until race start.

On Saturday afternoon, over lunch in Front Street, Hamilton, I decided to see if I could track down an old friend who I knew had emigrated to Bermuda over 20 years ago and who I had not seen in over 25 years. Courtesy of LinkedIn, Google Search, Google Maps and my second ”Dark and Stormy” I discovered that ”Brooksie’s” work place was a mere 8 minutes away. Not expecting him to be in work on a Saturday (he is a retired Royal Navy Captain and an aviator to boot!) I anticipated leaving my telephone number with his team and, at best, being able to catch up sometime before the 19th. To my great surprise and even greater delight Captain Alan Brookes MBE Royal Navy Rt’d was in his office and greeted my surprise appearance with a great cry of ”Ginsters!!!”

As Commanders Brooksie and I did Commanding Officers Qualifying Course together in 1995 prior to Alan taking command of HMS LONDON and me, HMS NEWCASTLE. We became great friends. Alan has the distinction, probably unique in the Royal Navy, of having survived ejecting from a fixed wing aircraft (a twin seat Hunter during take off as a young officer on the Junior Officer’s Air Acquaint Course!) and ditching in the sea in a Sea King helicopter. Having started a 20+ years catch up that afternoon, he and I took his boat out the following day, motored out of Hamilton Harbour, across the Dundonald Channel, between Watford Island and Somerset Island, and anchored in Mangrove Bay near King’s Point. Mangrove Bay was as idyilic as it sounds and a picture perfect setting for our prolonged reminiscing.

We followed our very own RN-style two-man ”upper deck BBQ” with ”hands to bathe.” Clipper would have proud of the pair of us had they known we combined the ”hands to bathe” serial with some boat maintenance and both had a go at scrubbing some marine growth from the hull whilst swimming. Alan was the Fo’cstle Officer for anchoring and I “had the ship” and we reversed roles for weighing anchor and then returned to Hamilton. It is fair to say we had a blast and it really is a small, small world.

Alan Brookes and his latest command.

For Diabetes UK and the National Autistic Society please see:


For UNICEF UK please see:


143. Writer’s Block or Not Enough Hours In The Day.

I’m very disappointed that the last blog post I uploaded myself to this site was a rather hurried Blog 141: Time and Tide Wait for No Man, published on 19 Mar as I, quite literally dashed for the hotel door for the start of Leg 6 across the North Pacific. I seem to recall I was disappointed then as well. I’m happier to report that ”disappointment” and the race from Philippines to Seattle did not turn out to be bedfellows (or should that be bunk mates?) but more of that in later blogs. Ruth kindly uploaded Blog 142: Life as a Walrus, posted on 6 Apr when I was in mid(ish) Pacific and I wrote the boats official blog on or around 12 Apr as we were approaching the International Date Line. I’ll upload that to these pages soon. But between 19 Mar in Subic Bay Philippines and today, 10 June in Bermuda, nothing by my own hand for which I apologise.

Was it writer’s block? Do I need international air travel to kick start my writing? Not sure. I have LOTS of ideas for blogs, many mentally drafted over the intervening weeks, never mind a few that actually describe the race and Pacific crossing itself. I have a ”Life as a Walrus” style draft describing the trials and tribulations of getting dressed (and undressed) at an angle of 45 degree in the dark which I hope is as amusing to write and read as I find it to recall. I also have an imaginary conversation between my bladder and my brain that I simply must get down on ”paper” even if only for my own sanity.

Oh yes, and I did go right around the world by plane and yacht between February and May (Manchester-Dubai-Philippines-Seattle-Paris-Manchester) which is probably worth a blog in itself (Around The World In 74 Days – take that Phileas Fogg!)

So what went wrong? Why the prolonged silence? Well I would kind of like it to have been writer’s block. Sort of fits in and it would be quite a dramatically ”artistic” thing to be able to claim. The truth, as it so often is, is mind-crushingly non-artistic and self indulgently boring. I always ran out of time. There was always something personal (family and friends) and professionally (paid and unpaid/voluntary) to do and before I knew it I was organising video supervised COVID LFT tests, two sets of forms/apps to fly through Toronto airport, Special ”Green” visas to get into Bermuda by plane and out by yacht, overnight accommodation at Heathrow, here and for New York. Oh and packing again, this time to cross the North Atlantic. Somewhere at the beginning of all this between Clipper Legs Ruth and I found time to catch (and recover from) COVID. The good news is that flying out here yesterday was “Operation Easy Peasy” when compared with “Operation What The %€£@!” getting to the Philippines (Blog 138: Forget planning early or planning twice, In the Nick of Time will do nicely, posted 23 Feb).

Finally leaving the yacht in Seattle (post shave and haircut) having completed TC stuff for the Seattle to Bermuda leg.

So I’m now in Bermuda ahead of the arrival of the yachts with some Team Coord stuff to do (that will be another blog – the TC stuff) and I’ll update about the Race in due course but its all getting very tight at the top of the leaderboard. I’ve been in e-mail contact with UNICEF since getting here and will meet the boat on arrival. That’s all for now.

For Diabetes UK and the National Autistic Society see:


For UNICEF UK see:


Go on ….. Clipper is now in its penultimate month. Please take a look.

141. Time and tide wait for no man.

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.

Got to dash.

140. Stop Press. Pretty Much All At Sea goes Foodie(ish).

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.

Sunday breakfast 6 Mar

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


for UNICEF UK see


Please take a look. Thank You.

139. A day(s) in the Office – Philippines style….. with the INEVITABLE 11th hour twist.

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.

Dressed for the “office” Philippines style

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.

PCR testing

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.

Lockdown Sunday lunch. Chicken and salad fajita, boiled potato, 2 pieces of lettuce and a radio-active-looking orange drink!
All locked up pm 4 Mar.

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:




Please take a look. Thank You.