I had met a lady on my Level Four training that lived in Albany, and she had offered for me to stay with her on this stopover.  Not getting off the boat until nearly midnight, I did not hold up much hope of having a comfy bed for the night.  But I was wrong.  Linda was there, and we soon were at her house, where a lovely hot shower and a beautiful night’s sleep awaited.

She had to work the next day, but I had plenty of menu planning and shopping lists to keep me going.  I could also put my washing on and get it hung out, and just generally enjoy the peace and tranquillity.  I get on really well with all my fellow crew members, but I also need to have my own space just once in a while.

That first night was the prize giving party, so we only just made it by the skin of our teeth.  Visit Seattle came in a few hours after us, but two boats were still on the high seas.  This time it was in a pub.  Just the right place for most of the crews!  One of the local girls from Albany was on one of the boats, and she was welcomed home in a great way.  The mayor of this city seems to have a very good sense of humour – his speech was fab.

On Friday Linda had left me her car for the day.  She had got a lift into work, which worked out really well.  When I got to the boat, Emily was ready to be taken to an industrial unit a couple of miles away where all the boats were doing their sail repairs.  Not a work shop exactly – more like a big open space to lay them out and then get on with it.  Our main sail had been damaged, and was now laying on the floor looking rather sorry for itself.  David and Emily had been there all day the day before – it was going to be a long job.  David had gone to the hospital this morning with Michael – one for his leg and one for his back.  It turned out that David had actually fractured his leg.  It was well on the way to healing itself by now – but if he had gone to hospital when it happened they would have put a cast on his leg from his foot to half way up his thigh.  Michael’s back, he was told, was just old age.  That pleased him immensely!  It had been a tough leg all round!!

First job was to go to the bakery across the road and get coffee and lunch.  David is the main intelligence on sail repairs, so we both thought it best not to do too much until he got there.  David turned up, and we got stuck in to running a new leech line, prising out a shattered batten, and deciding how best to repair a part that had come unstitched from the side.  It was decided that we needed the sewing machine there from the boat, so off I went to get it.  Along with two rolls of duct tape and four new battens.  I was successful with the sewing machine and the duct tape, but only managed one new batten from the container that follows the boats into all the ports with all the spare parts.  Three more to follow!

What I forgot to bring was the extension lead for the sewing machine, so had to beg, steal and borrow from one of the other crews who had a multitude of white flappy things on the floor.  Well done Derry – your crew is amazingly friendly and helpful.  Then we discovered we didn’t have an Australian adapter.  All of the adapters that were there were being used, but the helpful Derry lot pointed out a hifi shop that sold them across the road.  David decided he was going to come with me, so we could stop off at the bakery on the way!!  Funnily enough, the guy in the hifi shop gave us the last one – he had had a run on them today!  Back to the unit, and Emily and I got to work on the sewing machine.  Several broken needles and a broken track foot later, we had to give up for the day.  This was not going well.  Not only did we have a broken main sail, we now had a broken sewing machine as well.

We went to several shops that looked as if they may have a spare part on the way home, but to no avail.  The man in the music shop (that also doubles as a sewing centre) said Jerome Pilkington has one of those machines, along with a yacht and an aeroplane.  Jerome wasn’t answering his phone, so we had to call it a day.  Considering we didn’t know what make the sewing machine was, the music man did very well to know that Jerome had one!

As I had spent the whole day on sail repairs, the next day I really needed to go shopping.  As it was Saturday, Linda wasn’t working and had offered to help.  There was a large supermarket quite near her house, so we started there.  She couldn’t believe how much food we had to get.  Didn’t like to tell her that we were nowhere near finished.  We have, on this leg, one garlic intolerant, one nut allergy, two pescatarians, two vegetarians and two shellfish intolerants.  It took a long while to read all the labels on the way round.  I was aware that the food had to be taken back to the boat and packed by 4pm, as we had a presentation by the Consulate General of Vietnam who had flown down from Perth at 5pm.

We took back all that we had, and as usual there was a distinct lack of people on the boat.  The boat had also moved, which meant it was at the end of the longest jetty in the marina.  Great.  After a bit of wheeler dealing, I managed to negotiate a space in a warehouse next to the car park to do the packing in.  At least it wouldn’t all be precariously stacked and likely to go in the drink.  Matt and Kat helped to carry the food into the warehouse, and then Lauren’s dad came to help.  That is going above and beyond!  I bet he didn’t think he would have to be doing that when he came to drop her off.

It was done quite quickly and put away on the boat in good time for the Vietnam Consulate General’s arrival with his friends and family for a tour of the boat.  Not one can of baked beans showing!  They had a tour of the boat (didn’t take long!) and then we all went to the Albany Entertainment Centre for a formal presentation, champagne and canapés.  My sort of night!  The people from Vietnam are so proud to have us represent them – they are amazingly friendly people.  His wife couldn’t stop putting her arm around me all evening!

Sunday was open boat for Danang.  We had a rosta of people that were guiding people and chatting to them about the race.  After making the final shopping list, and re doing the menus as to what I had bought rather than what the recipe needed, it was my stint.  I have never seen so many people coming onto open boat in any of the other ports.  It was packed throughout all of the two hours I was on duty.  There were six of us showing people around, and I think we were all a little horse when the doors finally closed.  Linda’s brother came on, and someone she worked with.  And, just as we were packing up, a couple came up to the boat and asked if I was on board.  They informed me that I wouldn’t know them (true!) but Tony Radstone from England said to say “hi” – a travel agent friend I have known for years.  What a small world.

Today, the last day we are in Albany, was spent shopping.  We had just about the same again if not more to get.  Craig had a hire car, so he was my designated chauffeur.  I also put him in charge of the “tuck” buying.  At least that is someone else to blame when peoples favourite sweets/biscuits are not on board!  But before that we had to fill out the forms for our Chinese Visa.  We had to be at the boat early, get the Sydney Hobart forms filled in, get the Chinese Visa forms filled in and registered at the race office with a passport photo (brought one with me, luckily) and $100 Australian.  Clipper will then take all the forms to the Embassy when we get to Sydney, and we should all have visas for the next leg.  Hopefully!

Then we had to go to the unit and get the main sail ready for transportation back to the boat.  By the time we had phaffed about, it was gone 11.00am before we even started shopping.  We had a crew briefing at 3.30pm, so no time to spare.  Craig’s car was quite a small one, so we had to do the shopping in two halves to get it all in.  Again, some of the things I just could not get, so we will see how the prawn curry tastes with tinned salmon!  This leg is only two weeks, so it won’t be so bad even if it is absolutely awful!  Craig did a great job with the snacks – as he is Australian he knows all the good brands – Tim Tams were one that was mentioned and I had no idea what they were.

We finished the shop and unloaded it all onto the boat about five minutes before the crew briefing started.  Close!  We went to the Town Hall to hear what awaits us on this leg.  The infamous Bass Strait will not worry us this time, as we will be sailing under Tasmania and coming up the other side, missing them completely.  Until the Sydney Hobart that is.  Apart from the usual “the weather is going to be challenging, the winds are going to be on the nose, take your sea sick pills etc etc” Danang Vietnam had a bit of good news.  One of the photos that Sergej had entered into the media competition for this leg won – we get £100 for our crew fund.  And it was a jolly good photo.  You can’t actually tell, but it is Matt in the photo.  Even when his face is completely covered he is photogenic!

After going back to the boat and having a crew briefing with Wendo, we had to then pack all the food away into the dry bags and store it all.  The main sail was still on the deck – the wind had been too high to put it up all day.  Another job for tomorrow morning – there are still quite a lot of them!  We went out to dinner to a steak house and they had plates signed by many of the crews of this and previous Clipper Races, so we had to do one for our boat.  It seems to be quite an important event in the Albany calendar.

Tomorrow we head off for Sydney……………………….