An early start yet again – we needed to be on the boat by 8am.  The gear
was meant to be stowed the day before, but I hadn’t so far put any on.
Just in case I changed my mind!!  I didn’t.  But that did mean that I had
an awful lot of stuff to get out of the hotel and over the busy road.  The
Novotel had very kindly made us some gluten free bread to take, and as I had
forgotten to buy the tofu for the vegetarians, one of their staff nipped up
the road to get some for me.  That’s service.  I put everything on a big
luggage trolley, and a concierge took it over the road and right up to the
boat.  No chance of not getting on now!
We sailed out of Danang with the same amount of pomp and ceremony that
we sailed in with.  Drummers, red carpets, people cheering and waving amongst
the hundreds of paparazzi. This race really is a big deal for them.  There
were speeches from the “important people” of the city, and each team was
presented with a trophy on the stage.  Even to the last, we had to show our
passes in and out to get to the boat.

We were the last to slip lines, each boat leaving to their boat song.  A
quick handbrake turn after the marina, and we all passed without incident
under the bridge and along the narrow dredged channel.

We nearly had some stowaways.  I ordered all the fruit and veg from the
market – and it really was a rustic delivery.  It came with a small family
of cockroaches, that were found quite quickly and removed.  Let’s hope
any of the distant cousins didn’t remain undetected!
Not sure on the quantities though – there didn’t look quite as much as what
I had ordered in a lot of the bags.  I expect we will run out of something
– we usually do!

We had to motor for about three hours to get to the starting point, which
was around the peninsular and off the beach.  The start was at 4.15pm – and
as usual we were not hot off the mark.  The last but one to go over the
start line I believe.  But it is a marathon and not a sprint, so they say.
After tacking a few times in the bay, we headed north eastwards towards
China.  We had been told that we had to keep a twelve mile limit from any
Chinese waters on the way up – apparently China and Vietnam are not the
best of friends at the moment.  Not sure how our boat will be welcomed
then! We had to go round a group of islands called the Paracel Islands last
night – Chinese owned.  I think they have some sort of military base on
them, as Garmin were escorted out on the way to Danang when they
inadvertently went through them.  Clipper were taking no chances this time,
and we all had to go round.  Not sure what they must have thought on the
radar, with a fleet of twelve boats all heading for them after leaving
Vietnam – albeit at a very sedate eight knots.

Just before the islands we passed what looked like a brown parcel in the
water – a parcel /paracel.  Anagram!  We also passed what looked like
several steel unexploded bombs, but I think they were just buoys of some
description.  Nobody blew up, so I hope my presumption was right.

The weather so far is not awful, but it not pleasant.  The wind is on the
nose, so it is living at 45 degrees and bumpy.  I have no doubt it is going
to get worse.  Half of the crew are ill – including me.  I have come down
with flu like symptoms, as have three or four others.
Marc had it the week before we left, Kat got it the day before we left,
Wendo has it and I should imagine several others will follow.  A few have
got sea sick, and Lara has taken a fall on deck and bruised her ribs.
That means several bunks are out of action for the opposing watch.
Some have not left their bunks since we left Danang.  I decided to keep
going on shift – I hate laying about and feeling sorry for myself.  Been
doing enough of that just lately.  I got the “Tough it out” award today –
not heard of that before, but I think it was appreciated
(especially by my bunk buddy) that I hadn’t missed a shift.

As I sit here typing this, the boat has been airborne several times, so I
think the weather has just turned for the worse.
Wonderful.  I will make my way to my bunk for three much needed hours sleep!