Exploring the South China Sea – Airlie Beach to Da Nang


Weds 20th Jan – Le Mans start

So the little Derry team of 16 (minus poor Paul O who didn’t get his Vietnam visa in time) are making our way north to Asia.

A different start this time because they didn’t want us racing across the great barrier reef and causing another PR nightmare. Instead we made our way through the hydrographers passage and did a Le Mans start. As in training our Le Mans start was super and we came out in front. The boats have now split to go around a reef so we’ll see what happens.

Yesterday was a long day and I got tired and sunburnt (despite factor 50 every hr again). All our new starters are seasick but are doing well getting themselves on deck.

Thurs 21st Jan – the dream club reunites

I wrote a blog for online consumption today so won’t repeat here but the themes were:

  1. My magic Mystic Meg prediction of the broken impeller and sweaty nights in the engine room becomes a reality.
  2. Dream club is back although we are now spread over 2 watches. Today’s dream selection included my mum opening a beauty salon with no mirrors, abandoning Deio to get arrested at a hotel (see Deio we haven’t forgotten you!) and DJ Calvin Harris as my alter ego.
  3. The near loss of Sally’s twat hat
  4. Frazzling under the sun whilst enjoying a trim off against other boats

Sat 23rd Jan – feeling hot, hot, hot

It is horrifically hot. Pretty sure it is worse than leg 1. Passing through the doldrums we have had some periods of windseeker some refreshing showers and a little bit of wind. Tempted to sleep in the sail locker but concerned I might be woken by a spinnaker being dropped on my head then be forced to wool said spinnaker.

Sunday 24th Jan – still sweating!

We have switched to 4 hour day watches and 6 hr nights. Should be interesting, especially in terms of food. It is still swelteringly hot and progress is slow. At least there is progress though and for the moment we are doing OK.

Monday 25th Jan – the Camembert disaster

Woke up to the news that LMAX are speeding along whilst we have all but stopped, there is a fly infestation in my Camembert and I have to cook bacon for breakfast. Have had better starts to the day. Mother watch is almost unbearably uncomfortable in the heat.

Had a thunderstorm last night. The other watch got soaked.

Engine room got quite wet again as the hose came off the watermaker pipe.

Tues 26th Jan – Sweat, sweat, sweat

There’s no disguising the fact that I am a sweaty, sweaty, sweaty creature. Last night’s shorts are still soaked in sweat. Post mother sleep was hard due to the angle of heel (fans cannot access me and windows shut due to rain) and sweat.

On the plus side it looks like we got some scoring gate points – yay!

Need to stop picking my bug bites.

My deck shoes have given up the will to live and have become super slippy death slides. Barefoot is OK. I can move like a monkey but risk broken toes.

Weds 27th Jan – Wet, wet, wet

It has not stopped raining for 6 hrs and undulates between still and rainy and windy and rainy. Inside of foulies wet.

Crossed the equator last night.

Thurs 28th Jan – Ellie’s classy Clipper dinner party

When I am home, I am going to host a classy dinner party, clipper-style.

  • Guests will be allowed to use the toilet then place their feet (shoes on) on the furniture
  • Everyone gets their own spork (as long as there aren’t more than 8 people)
  • Guests are offered a piece of kitchen roll to wipe their dishes clean in between courses
  • I will walk around with a pot of Sudocrem telling everyone about the progress of my yachty botty whilst they are still eating
  • I will serve tepid, weak squash and call it “juice”
  • We’ll have a slops bucket and I will ask someone to empty it into the river at the end of the meal.

Friday 29th Jan – Squalls

You know it’s squally when… the rain sets off your life jacket! Last night we had squall after squall. Foulies soaked inside and out. To cheer us up further we lost ground to other boats 😦

Noticed how indecent my bikini top has become with weight I have lost. I look a right state.

An absolutely massive log floated past us. Generally don’t see much sea debris.

Sat 30th Jan – Neptune cometh

Neptune visited today to convert the stinky pollywogs to worthy shellbacks. All good fun.

Not only do I have a bad case of yachty botty but I now have a rash  on my leg.

Sunday 31st Jan

Not so much sleep again today because the generator decided to misbehave. Well, technically the battery charger for the generator, but they are related.

Feel tired but struggle to fall asleep.

Other boats are catching up fast. Will be gutted if we lose our place and a podium. Absolutely gutted. It is difficult being scheder because you can’t put boat positions out of your mind and just concentrate on racing. Will try to imagine we are in 4th or 5th place and not 1st.

Mon 1st Feb – That’s not fair!

“Uh what’s that smell?” we asked, looking suspiciously at one another, “John are we passing another one of those volcanic islands?” Turns out it was the smell of BS. Dan came up and told us the course mark had be changed and was now further north so down came the spinnaker and up went the white sails. Why this big change? Are we avoiding a storm perhaps? No, we were due to arrive too early so the course was extended because, apparently, Vietnam cannot issue visas during the Tet New Year,etc etc. The earliest we can arrive is 17th. We are not best pleased as we had expected to be in in a week. Also movement of the mark we had been heading for appears to put us at a disadvantage and the change is against the rules. So overall we are a pretty pissed  off bunch.

giphy (1)

Tues 2nd Feb – Expressing ourselves

The sun is shining and I had a good night’s sleep after mother watch. However this weather isn’t likely to stay. Looks like we’re in for windy, horrible, squally upwind fun. I also jumped onto my glasses and broke them.

Some relatively funny blogs came out regarding the extended race and the consequences. Diarmuid wrote a blog we didn’t expect to be published, but it was apparently.

The 17th seems so far away and I am running low on sweets.

Opened my matchbox of fun today. Messages made me a little bit homesick but the “emergency cards” cheered me up. Thanks George. Wish I’d opened it sooner for the “No Fancy Dress Costume” emergency!

Weds 3rd Feb – Feeling blue

Today is one of those days where I hate being on the boat and have a bit of cabin fever. The weather is wet and grim, we are heeled over and our lead on the other boats is decreasing. Damnit this year is supposed to bean enjoyable break from normality, why didn’t I just go diving??!!

It was lovely to get some messages from home but did make me feel homesick.

Erique the fan is being noisy.

Friday 5th Feb – A quickie today

Not writing much because I am going to try and write the comedy sketch for Clipper’s Got Talent. Update is we are sailing fast downwind but not looking forward to the inevitable beat back in strong wind and current followed by a windhole of disappointment.

My sheet is damp and I got forgotten in the morning wake up and missed pancakes 😦

Sat 6th Feb – Go Derry Go

It’s windy and drizzly and splashy and grey. But at least we are holding our position and going downwind. Other boats having been breaking things. Telemed went right inside to unwrap a spinnaker. Really now we can hold it together. Only another 1500nm or so to go. Hmm

Got to speak to a few ships on the radio, that was fun.

7th Feb – Catwoman the spinnaker

Only 10 more days to go. Aaargh!

Wrote a blog today about how the sole aim of  a spinnaker is to destroy itself and kill us all. Ours tried last night, but to no avail this time.

No one wants to go with my suggested spinnaker name of Catwoman.

Quite a lot of the time it has been too windy for a spinnaker >30 kts.

Have had a few birds around diving for fish. They are impressively manoeuvrable. They have also shat on our mainsail, which I think is a lucky omen. We certainly got a fast schedule after this.

8th Jan – Terror and serendipity

We are getting tired. Last night we tacked in 40kts + wind to get toward the waypoint. I was scared. We snapped a reefing line and Sascha got washed down the deck and knocked against the rail putting the preventer on cutting her lip badly. We have also made a hole in the Yankee 1.

In more positive serendipitous news, we sailed past our first Vietnamese oil rig and it was Bien Dong HT-HP 1! What are the chances??!!

9th Feb – Close to the edge

Close to breaking point. So hot and sweaty, my sheet smelled so bad I had to remove it, my yachty botty is rampant and super sore and I fell into the lazarette today. Sailing upwind is hard.

Diarmuid and I did some repairs on the Yankee 1 last night, it was very hot and bouncy in the sail locker.

A cargo ship got very close. Close enough that Daniel thought it would be interesting enough for a photo.

Fri 12th Feb – Scurvy dogs

You know you have been at sea too long when you hear “Jan, what are the symptoms of scurvy?”

I have condemned my sealskin socks to my stinky laundry because they smell like cat litter. I am so ashamed of myself.

Was a beautiful night last night. All the stars were out. Loads of squid fishing boats lighting up points on the horizon. Ruth said when one was up close it was to bright to look at.

We are currently sailing along the edge of an area called “dangerous grounds” which is full of reefs of unknown size and shipwrecks.

Passed Mission Performance last night heading in the other direction. Tried hailing them on the radio but we were ignored.

We all enjoyed Olivier’s blog last night ranting about his crew.

Sat 13th Feb – Submarines

Spent ages last night tacking to the last waypoint but we are now heading north, hopefully putting some miles between us and the boats behind. Spent the morning rerunning guard rails. Winds are light.

In honour of John Carroll’s supposed submarine sighting,Dan told his submarine joke at the lunchtime meeting. Ruth corrected him by saying that “seaman” was not the correct word but I would agree that the joke doesn’t work so well as “what’s long, hard and full of submariners!”

Sat 14th Feb – So close

We finally have a finish line declared. Fingers crossed AL goes well for the next 125 miles. Light wind so currently flying the windseeker. Can’t wait to get to Da Nang so I can do some laundry.

Sunday 15th Feb – Winners!

We have done it! We are winners! Yay! No boat quitemade it to the finish by the cut off time. The finish was a virtual mark in the middle of the sea anyway so it was overall a bit of an anticlimax.

We are now motoring to Da Nang trying to clean as much as possible so today I emptied and scrubbed the sail locker and took apart the Xbox. Seems weird that this race is about to be over.



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