Full Frontal – The Pacific Rim Race, Qingdao to Seattle

Monday 21st March – Faking It

Hi ho, hi ho, it’s back to sea we go… Strange race start. We did a pretend show start for Qingdao and then stopped racing so we could get past most of the fishing fleet/gear and Le Mans start it properly. Weather is currently calm and we have been quite relaxed on board. Despite the cold, cold temps I managed to get sunburnt.

Some questions that have bothered my brain over the past day:

  1. Do they still start Le Mans style at the Le Mans 24 hr race (apparently yes – thanks Paul Upson!)
  2. How do you taxidermy a fish (following a fisherman offering us what looked like a dried sample)
  3. Is Whoopi Goldberg a real or stage name?

Tuesday 22nd March – Is that a sea monster?

Still bobbing along quite slowly avoiding fishing nets. some have a long stream of floats so look like a sea monster has laid its eggs and guarded them with an interconnecting acid coated string waiting to melt yachts it catches and absorb them so its young can devour us for nutrition.

It is still cold, but looking forward to potatoes for lunch.

Wednesday 23rd March – Spit or swallow

Yesterday Diarmuid found an empty condom wrapper in the engine room bilge. Upset that my engine room has been violated. >:-(

Also spent yesterday evening trying to catch a dying swallow as it flew round the accommodation. Not sure about the swallow tattoo anymore. They seem to come on board to die.

Sailing is quite pleasant atm, but will soon be a bash up the Japanese coast.

Friday 25th March – The Code 1 spinnaker gets its way 

In my reporting absence we have been sailing intimately close to Garmin. Watched them rip their Code 1 spinnaker. Felt smug. Our spinnaker saw what their spinnaker was allowed to get away with and copied. Didn’t feel so smug. Beating up the Japanese coast. I took off my sea sickness patch because I felt itchy and then threw up everything for 24 hours. 😦

Saturday 26th March 

Had some slow stuff last night where boats further south (not using the current) made gains. Not especially enjoying this trip. Feeling a bit down.

Sunday 27th March – The Easter Bunny visits

Best thing today – the Easter bunny visited and laid us some Cadburys Creme Eggs. It would have been better if we’d had an easter egg hunt round the boat, but hey.

I spent the past 24hrs helping with the round the clock spinnaker repair with Sharron. Long process, but we’re getting there. Think I have caught boat lurgy.

In sad news my Nexus has stopped playing Homeland. Also Rob fell in the sea. Fortunately on his tether but he smacked his head pretty well.

Tuesday 29th March – D-L-D lends a hand

Had a nice day mothering with Ruth yesterday. Weather was calm so we got a decent shower and watched an episode of Downton Abbey. Always hate returning to reality after watching that.

This morning we transferred our spare watermaker and filters to Let’s Go Garmin. Then the weather suddenly got very fruity and we are now sailing in an uncomfortable 40-50kts wind.

I have a cough and bad period pains but determined not to complain publicly.

Wednesday 30th March – The wrong trousers

It is still soooo far to Seattle. Going to be a long and boring and stressful 3 weeks. Highlight of the past 24 hrs was when Tony accidentally put on my drysuit. It was very tight looking (like tight trousers Thomas from work).

Pretty much everyone on the boat has the lurgy.

Tuesday 31st March – Joke of the Day

New favourite joke courtesy of Tony/The Vicar of Dibley – 2 nuns in the car are driving through Transylvania. A vampire jumps out. One nun turns to the other – “quick sister, show him your cross!” The other nun winds down the window and shouts, “F*ck Off!” Think that is a new Derry favourite along with Sally’s “Just In” joke 🙂

Another time travel today. Will soon be Marty Mcfly day. Question is – would you rather re-live 1 amazing day from your life again OR go back and change 1 day. I think the former, although I’m not sure which day I would choose.

I have added ‘ability to unicycle’ to things I would like to accomplish in life.

Friday 1st April – Feeling like a fool

Places I’d rather be today – in Sedbergh, for Nicola’s wedding x x x

For April Fool’s Day Diarmuid got the other watch running to the sail locker to get the spinnaker out. I suggested saying at watch changeover that an albagull had flown in the lazarette and was going through the bins and we were too scared to get him out. It has also been suggested that we chuck a couple of “reefing lines” down below and a) see how long people would stand there holding them or b) tell them to pull and have them attached to nothing.

We are sailing fast downwind but still in 6th place.

Saturday 2nd April 

Wind 50-60kts – bouncing along and hard to write but I will anyway. Very sad news today about Sarah Young dying after falling overboard. Awful for iChorcoal.

After hearing the news we had a long, hard watch breaking a baton and reef 3. It was windy, wet and cold. My drysuits hook got broken, my clothes are damp and I shouted at people for putting shoes in the engine room.

Sunday 3rd April

Conditions at the moment are cold and damp. Tired but occasional wave/wind increase makes sleep on the high side difficult.

Monday 4th April – Cold. So cold.

Will write again how horribly cold it is so I remember never to come back here again! Hands quickly get wet and freeze like ice blocks. There are no decent gloves. It has sporadically hailed on us. Everything on the boat is damp, even in dry bags. But we are halfway there and currently in the lead.

The albagulls here are bigger than Southern Ocean ones. If one of them flew onboard he could have my bunk, I wouldn’t argue. Apparently they mate in Hawaii. Not sure why they don’t stay there.

Monday 4th April – again!

We crossed the international dateline so are reliving Monday 4th again. Not sure if that’s great. It was cold. There’s so much condensation in the boat it’s dripping from the ceiling. It made the nav. computer keyboard wet and it went mental and crashed the computer. I have a hot water bottle to try and dry my feet. Worried it will burst/leak and make my sleeping bag wet, which is one of the only cosy, warm things I have.

Wednesday 6th April 

Was mother yesterday so got to watch an episode of Downton Abbey and sleep all night. We are due to get some horrible, wet, windy weather as some fronts come over tomorrow. I am scared and not looking forward to that. We were also allowed to send an email home because of the recent incident and I think people are freaking out (not my lot, I suspect, stoical bunch that they are!) I couldn’t think of anything clever to say, but emailed anyway.

Thursday 7th April – Cabin fever

Whizzing along to Seattle. Slightly scary but had sausage, beans and cheese for lunch so all is well. All my kit bags are mouldy and everything is cold, damp or cold and damp. People (inc. me) People (myself included) have been quite ratty with each other this leg. It is a bit too long, cold and wet and there is not much outside except sea, sky and the odd albagull. Worried my toes will never be normal again.

Friday 8th April – Just not Comanche

That has to be one of my least favourite watches ever. Was 40kts and we still had a large sail up with the boom occasionally surfing nicely in the waves. Really overpowered. Took the sail down finally when it was light but that plus the time travel meant less sleep.

In other news Jan told Diarmuid that Rob has a teddy bear with him. The response was “that’s just not Comanche”. Jan thinks it would be if we all got one and they had matching pyjamas.

Saturday 9th April – Dirty diesel

The sun is out so the mood on board is better. I am feeling like a bit of a physical wreck. Still, should be just 1 week to go.

The diesel is grunky and has made the filter housing in the generator clogged. Really hope it makes it to Seattle.

Sunday 10th April – Spinnakers, I am onto you!

Changed my mind about spinnakers. I now agree with Diarmuid that their favourite thing to do is lie in their bag on the low side wishing they had been made into hot air balloons (ok I added that last bit!) All the self-destruction, sea swimming and, on special occasions, a bit of forestay, all goes to achieving this aim. In positive news the Code 1 we repaired is flying again. Sharron and I agree it is now past its repair warranty period.

Oh and I saw a whale tail!

Monday 11th April – Ellie gets a taste of power

Wet, windy and miserable outside. Finished ocean sprinting. Other boats are catching us fast on the scheds 😦

Spent time doing more sail repair on the Code 3 and planning the stopover (self-appointed, unelected dictator that I am – mwah ha ha ha!)

Tuesday 12th April – Breakfast Streetfighter

Not long now. We have gone stealthy. Think I have finally gone mad! At breakfast I imagined a Streetfighter style battle between a Marmite ninja in black and a jam warrior (like Ken).

Just changed clothes as couldn’t bear smell. Da Nang had a knockdown so are motor sailing due to damage. Scary stuff. Hope they’re not too shaken.

We are dreaming of seattle whilst getting drenched by squalls.


Some Stormhoek to warm the cockles! (Photo by Ruth)


I was gutted it didn’t say “The Pacific Rim Race”

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