Diary of a Clipper Racer
Around the world in 333 days with Mark Osgood
Supporting my chosen charity - "Dreams Come True"
Final Diary entry, 54, added Monday 6th October 2003.
- Race 8 - Shanghai to Hong Kong - April 2003
Kong marks the half way point of the race, in terms of time, distance and races.
We were always due to have a long break in Hong Kong but as a result of
the Shanghai stopover being cancelled, we were able to look forward to a three
week break from the race. We just
had to get there.
was the getting there that created the problem.
One of the benefits of an early arrival in Hong Kong was the Hong Kong
Sevens that were due to be played over the w/e of 28 to 30 March.
We had eight days to cover 750 miles in order to be in Hong Kong in time
for the final day of the Rugby - having got used to 200 plus mile days as we
crossed the Pacific, we would surely make it.
this became the most frustrating race so far.
Firstly, it was very much a drag race.
The fleet had to follow a course that kept us outside Chinese territorial
waters and there was no advantage in taking the boat much further from the coast
than that. This was mainly due to
the second main problem with this race - the lack of wind.
On day five of the race, we travelled about 30 miles in 24 hours.
It is extraordinarily frustrating to get up and go on watch to find that
the boat has travelled no more than one or two miles since you were last on
deck. The wind was light for most
of the race and for large parts of the week, what little wind there was blew
from the direction that we wanted to go in - it added to the frustration.
With light winds, a drag race edging slowly to Hong Kong and HK Sevens
tickets that were rapidly becoming out of date, everyone on board was getting
more and more fed up.
getting away from the start line off the anchorage point in China, we managed to
drag ourselves into third place. And
that was effectively the end of the race, until the last day.
The order of all the boats stayed the same for the next six days and
while the distances between the boats changed a little each day, that was the
only excitement that existed in terms of the race.
To deflect the boredom a little, we began a quiz with Liverpool, the
closest boat to us, in that each boat set the other a set of six questions (on
sailing, entertainment, sport, music, geography and literature) and we then had
6 hours to answer the questions before spending 6 hours setting another set of
other excitement was the existence of hundreds of
fishing boats together with the pots and nets that go with them.
And they didn't like eight yachts drifting through their nets and their
pots. So we were often confronted
with angry Chinese fishermen driving their fishing boats within feet of us
presumably shouting obscenities at us in Chinese, although my knowledge of
Chinese extends no further than Sweet and Sour Pork and Egg Fried Rice.
Throughout the night, we were always ready with the engine in case the
situation got nasty or unsafe. At
times, the horizon looked like the Blackpool illuminations - very different to
the Pacific Ocean.
Gybe in China!
all changed on what turned out to be the last full night at sea.
The wind finally picked up coming from behind us and we took off towards
the finish line. We were finally
travelling at about 10 knots and with 160 miles to go, we were confident that we
would be in for a few beers on Thursday evening, happily in third place.
The heavyweight kite was up and as the wind grew, it was decided that it
would be sensible to change to a poled out No 1 sail.
Everyone was on deck ready to make the sail change but we waited due to a
large fleet of fishing boats had passed as they would have been in the way when
we lowered the kite. The boat was
rolling quite heavily but Foxy, who was at the helm was quite comfortable.
All of sudden, Foxy lost steerage of the boat. It was later established that this was caused by our shaft
very little control over the steering, we had to get the kite down as quickly as
we could so as to avoid a catastrophe. Everyone
ran to their positions and I was by the mast with Dave and Ben when a wave
caught the boat and the wind got on the wrong side of the main sail. And over we went!
Chinese Gybe is when the wind gets on the wrong side of the boat and pushes
against the main sail and the headsail/kite.
The boat is pushed over on its side as the main sail is held in place by
a preventer. It is not a good
saw the main fill on the wrong side and dived at the mast, hanging on as the
boat went over. All of a sudden, the guardrails were completely under water,
the spreaders at the top of the mast were touching the water and the kite was
flogging itself towards destruction. My
safety line was clipped to a part of the boat that was under water.
My main concern as I hung on to the mast with nothing to put my feet on -
I was annoyed that my feet were going to get wet again, having only just dried
Ben and I managed to drag ourselves to the high side and sort our safety lines
out but we had to listen to a commotion in the cockpit followed by a nasty
scream of pain - it later turned out that Chappers had got caught under the main
sheet as the sail was eased and she suffered some nasty bruising but was
otherwise OK. And then we sat there
and had to watch our second heavyweight kite slowly flog itself into a number of
pieces before being released, together with all its ropes, to sink to the bottom
of the East China Sea.
that was not the end of our troubles. We
had three foot of water in the galley - water had come in through ventilation
shafts on the coach roof when the boat had been on its side and one of the
battery boxes had broken loose, knocking the stern gland** off and creating a
hole in the bottom of the boat. It
did clean our bilges out but it took about 2 hours to empty out all of the water
that had come in and fill the hole.
during all of this, we had spent several hours going in the wrong direction.
When we got ourselves re-set with the poled out No 1 headsail, we found
that we had lost our third place and we were now in seventh place.
We were without an engine, due to the broken stern gland and would have
to be towed into Hong Kong. Very
disappointing, but despite that, I found the whole experience to be very
exciting - it is not somthing that happens every day!
we were there in time for the rugby.
shaft brake stops the propeller turning when the boat is under sail.
Without the brake, the prop will turn and create turbulance over the
rudder making it very difficult to steer. The
shaft brake had broken some time ago but had not been replaced - it was due to
be replaced in Hong Kong. It had
been held in place by a sail tie for the last 10,000 miles or so.
Unfortunately, the sail tie broke due to the pressure on the propeller)
stern gland is where the propeller comes into the boat and is supposed to stop
water coming in as well. When it
broke, we had water coming in until it was plugged up by Lesley's ear plugs and
some gaffer tape!)
Kong - there at last
eventually arrived at the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club (RHKYC) at about 5am.
Hong Kong is amazing to see at night and to see it from the water as you
arrive is wonderful. The beers
flowed for several hours followed by breakfast - a full English with a cup of
tea in a cup and saucer - at last!
big concern has been SARS. From
here, it seems that all the concern is a massive over reaction.
The numbers affected seem to be very small considering the total
population of Hong Kong and really, the media has overhyped it.
Clipper nearly made the decision to leave Hong Kong early but,
thankfully, they relented.
off to the rugby!
Hong Kong Sevens tournament is one of the sporting events that I have always
wanted to see - to be there when England won it was even better.
We went on the Saturday but the main day was on the Sunday when some 50
of us went dressed in our waterproof trousers and nothing else.
drink flowed! As did the singing as we watched England beat Australia, Fiji
and then New Zealand in the final. A
few of the photos from the day are in the Photo Gallery.
day was topped off by England winning the Grand Slam (watched when we got back
to the RHKYC) and then I had a beer with the England team who happened to be in
Joe Bananas when I got there - as you do!
am now in Phuket, Thailand for a week's break with Rachel, re-charging my
batteries before the second half of the race.
I can report that the sun is shining, Singha beer is both cold and
refreshing and the beaches are golden. Life
is very good at the moment.
next section of the race will be mentally very hard I think.
We are only half way round and we still have another five and a half
months to go. Yet the general
feeling amongst the round the worlders is that we are now very much on our way
home and the discussions about what we have planned when we get back have
think that there will be very few new experiences that we will now have.
We have already experienced trade wind sailing, the rough conditions on
the way into Japan, light sailing around China and a whole host of catastrophes.
It will be, to a large extent, more of the same.
It is now a question of completing our journey and I suspect that time
will start to go more slowly the nearer we get to the finish, especially as we
have a lot of long races in the second half of the race so there will be plenty
of time to think about the rest of the journey.
But there is a feeling that we are starting to get there.