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.

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32 - Sailing around Malaysia - April 2003

Welcome to new crew

There was a big change of faces in Hong Kong - we have said goodbye to Chappers, Frenchy, Becks, Dave and Ross and now have an all male crew (with the exception of Jazz and Lesley) for the next 6 weeks.  Welcome to:-

Al Boyle (aka Al Quaeda) who has joined for the rest of the race.  Al is another city boy who has given up life at a desk in a bank for the glory of life as an offshore ocean racer.  No celebrity look-a-like at the moment.

Rinaldo Marcoz (aka Ronny) has also joined us for the rest of the race.  Our insider into the minds of the Jersey boat, which is where he comes from, Ronny has already been tasked with organising the biggest party that Jersey has ever known for the first re-union of the London crew on our penultimate stop.  Again, celebrity look-a-like is still being worked on.

Paul Coleman (aka Paolo) is the second competition winner and will be on board until Brazil.  He is London's first true cockney and as such, he has written a little message below.  Celebrity look-a-like is Frank Lampard.

Tom Jenks (aka Jenksie) is with us until Mauritius.  Another city boy on a break from his desk, Jenksie has introduced to the boat the game of Perudo, a game of dice that has already helped break the monotony of light winds and towing.  If he thinks that game is leaving Mauritius with him....  Celebrity look-a-like is James Hewitt.

Finally, John Traver (aka JT or Lovejoy) is also with us until Mauritius.  The father of the boat, JT has already taken Paolo under his wing although we are not sure which of the two of them will lead the other adrift first.  Celebrity look-a-like was invented because of JT - he looks like an old Mel Gibson (so as not to be too flattering) or Lovejoy or best of all, son of Robin Knox-Johnston.

Welcome all to the mad ship London.

Paulo's welcome

London has its first real life cockney geezer, Paolo the cheeky chappie.  I asked Paolo to say a few words for the website to mark the occasion.  His response was:-

Alwight, welcome to my gaff, Laaahndan Clippa, don't shake me hand or I'll nick your rings.  Having a right bubble.  Crew alright but too much Chas and Dave abaaht the ole Cockney chit-chat.  Someone was giving big potatoes yesterday so I pushed him down the apples and pears and gave him a dough boy.  I'm  geezer I am.  Am loving this sailing lark though, it's the b******s.  Cooked a ruby murray for everyone, it was hansom, everyone was pleased as pucker.  Roasted by the ole currant bun, look like a crab stick, red on one side, white on the other.  Can't wait to get to the  battlecruiser to the Jean Michel Jarre for a Nelson.  Have a Steve McGarrett in me sky rocket.  Roast Potatoes!

Roughly translated, this means:-

Greetings, welcome aboard my home, London Clipper, nice to meet you.  Really enjoying myself so far.  Lots of jesting about my Cockney accent though. Someone overstepped the mark so I admonished him slightly. I'm very clever I am!  Am really enjoying the sailing though, it's marvellous.  Cooked a curry for everyone which they all enjoyed.  Bit sunburnt though.  Looking forward to getting to the bar for a nice gin and tonic.  Money is in my pocket at the ready.  Ding Dong!

Quick key to the Paolo's form of Cockney rhyming slang is:-

gaff = home

bubble (bubblebath) = laugh

Chas and Dave (rabbit, rabbit, rabbit) = too much talk

big potatoes = giving it large

apples and pears = stairs

gave him a dough boy = slap round the face

ruby murray = curry

currant bun = sun

battlecruiser = boozer or pub

Jean Michel Jarre = bar

Nelson (Mandela) = Stella

Steve McGarrett (Hawaii 5-0 character) = #50

sky rocket = pocket

roast potatoes = luvverley jubberley

Swimming in the South China Sea

We have seen a tremendous array of wildlife since leaving Hong Kong. Dolphins, sharks, sea snakes, huge tuna.  All of these were seen after our little swim!

We were very concerned at the lack of speed that we had and suspected that we might have a problem with the bottom of the boat.  So, when the wind went light, it was decided that someone would have a look underneath the boat to check to see if we were dragging something or if we had a feathered prop.  Jenksie donned flippers and a mask and dived down to establish what the problem was and fix what turned out to be a feathered propeller.  (This means, by the way, that one of the blades was out of place causing drag through the water - not very much drag, but when you are a finely tuned racing machine like the good ship London, drag is drag.)

Of course, their was interest in Jenksie's work.  So it was inspected by Ossie, Rory, and JT as they all went for a swim around the boat.  The water was a glorious temperature and the water was so clear, it was easy to see the whole bottom of the boat and the shoals of fish several metres below.

The sharks fortunately came later.

Quiz

With the winds so light and the days so hot, we have tried to find ways to relieve the boredom to make the day go faster.  There has been Jenksie's game of Perudo.  There has been lots of reading.  And there has been the return of the London Liverpool quiz.  Questions are set in a variety of topics and each boat has a few hours to come up with questions before spending several hours trying to answer the obscure and the ridiculous.

A little taster for you - what is Van Morrison's real name?  Answers on a postcard to good ship London.  The prize will be a meal for one on board London on 28 September.  A full list of prize winners can be obtained by writing to London Clipper etc. etc.  The answer will be revealed in a later diary entry.

A little bit warm!

It is so hot!  We do not have a reliable thermometer on board but it is hot - and the water temperature is 32.3 degrees.  The deck burns your feet if you don't have shoes on, if we had an egg we could fry it up there.  Shade on deck is fought over ferociously.  Down below, is like living in an oven and our on board sauna doubles as a toilet and shower. The fans on board, which are completely inadequate, struggle to push yet more hot air around.   Sleep is nearly impossible and the deck at night is a mass of bodies trying desperately to stay cool.

We have used buckets of saltwater to stay cool and are drinking enough water to float the Titanic.  Their is a promise of air conditioned rooms when we get to port - that thought is like a mirage in a desert.

Finishing last

Everyone on board was extremely down after finishing last in the race.  Another good start to the race was for nothing due to the feathered prop and then all our efforts in the pack of four at the back were for nothing  as well as the race was cancelled at the one sched that we had fallen behind at, due to a tactical decison that we felt would get us ahead of that pack in the next 24 hours.  Luck and London are not going together at the  moment.

We have reacted very positively though.  The last three days of motoring have given everyone on board the chance to hit the jobs list hard and London is looking in good shape again after a battering over the last few months.

And we have finally been able to arrange for the court of Neptune to be set up in order to change our luck.  Sailing legend says that when a sailor crosses the equator for the first time, that person must be put before the court of Neptune and tried by one of Neptunes' representatives (someone who has already been welcomed in by Neptune.  Failure to go before the court of Neptune, so legend states, will result in bad luck until the appearance in court.  (I thought that I had got away from appearances in court for a year!)

Our luck since Galapagos has been terrible.  So to try and put it right, Simon, Jersey's skipper agreed to conduct the court as Neptune's ambassador and he came aboard on the motor into Indonesia.  Each round the worlder (the only ones on board to have already crossed the equator) had a list of crimes read out to which the only plea is one of guilty.  The punishment follows, in the form of a bucket of water, or something a little bit worse.

My crimes included supporting Pompey and telling everyone about it incessantly - my defence that they had just become champions was dismissed immediately.  I was also found guilty of eating too much resulting in great waste polluting Neptune's world.  And I was found guilty of wearing wicking pants - an essential bit of kit in my view.  My punishment was a bucket of seawater.  Jazz and Cookie were not so lucky.  They had promoted themselves to the role of Neptune's assistants and Neptune wasn't very happy about that.  So they were treated to the contents of Jersey's slops bucket for a punishment.  Jazz didn't find comments about it being good for her hair to be very helpful.

The upside of all this for the round the worlders is that now, they can then sit back and enjoy the court  being re-convened after Singapore to welcome in everyone else on board, including Rory.  Neptune has a big crowd coming.

Motoring and pirates

With the race being called off early, we had a lot of motoring to do.  When the race finished, the fleet headed for Kota Kinabalu in Sabah (part of Malaysia and next door to Brunei) to refuel before setting off for a week of motoring and towing.  Kota Kinabalu supplied us with fuel, beer, burgers and an amazing tropical thunder storm.

The boats motor in twos, one towing the other, which helps with fuel efficiency.  There is very little to do on board except work or relax and we did both.  The boat did look in good shape when we arrived in port.

The other reason for motoring together is piracy.  The Singapore Straits is the busiest commercial shipping channel in the world and it attracts pirates.  By motoring together, pirates are less likely to attack.  We did have a practice run though - a little practical joke on the girls who did not know it was a practice run and who have to sit in the engine room if the boat is under attack.  We left them there for 20 minutes whilst we opened a bottle of wine.  Very amusing to everyone on board - except two!

Singapore - nearly!

We were not able to get to Shanghai or San Fernando in the Philippines for various reasons and the Asian leg of the race ended with Singapore refusing to accept the fleet because of SARS.

It has all worked out rather well though.  We have been berthed in Batam, an Indonesian island just a 30 minute ferry ride away from Singapore.  It is a beautiful island, with tropical beaches and golf courses everywhere.  Our hotel comprises beach huts on stilts and the three rounds of golf I have had this week have been accompanied by a buggy and a caddy - I will never be able to play at home again.

Being so close to Singapore, I have also been able to spend a few days there although it has been limited.  Highlight of any trip to Singapore is a Singapore Sling in the Long Bar at Raffles Hotel.  But there were plenty of other things to see in the short time we were there.

It has been a very good stopover.

Race 10  - delay

We are still in Batam, two days after we should have left.   The reason is that Hong Kong have destroyed their generator due to a major oil leak which led to the engine seizing up.  We are waiting for a new engine to arrive from the UK so they have a generator to run their watermaker and charge their batteries.  It makes a change for it not to be London with the problem!

Am looking forward to getting on our way again now though.  Am keen to make progress and nice as Batam is, there is still a long way to go.  Mauritius is three weeks and 3,500 miles away.  We also have one of the most exciting races to come as the winds are strong and consistant with big waves and loads of wildlife.  It should be a lot of fun.  

Click here for diary entry 33 - Race 10 - Indonesia to Mauritius - May 2003

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