Just a small ocean beween me and the US.  A mere 6,000 miles, and some of
the funkiest weather on the planet.  What can go wrong?

I actually felt OK about getting back on the boat this time.  No tears, no
regrets, no trying to book a last minute flight home. I had specifically
decided not to gather much information together about this leg – I will be
blissfully ignorant and deal with whatever hits when it hits.  No point in
getting worked up.  What can be worse than what we have already had?

The bad news is that Shona was not able to come with us.  When I saw her
at breakfast, the decision had been taken out of her hands by Clipper
Insurance, and she was on her way home.  She was still in quite a lot of
pain, so maybe that was a good thing that she didn’t have to make the
choice.  Heart and head can sometimes collide!  That makes us three short
– Shona, Steve and Chewie.  But we still have more crew than some of the
boats, but unfortunately mostly women.

The day started early – as usual.  We had to be on the boat by 8.00am and
ready to go.  I had my last breakfast – I must say the breakfast at the
Intercontinental was one of the best that I have experienced in any hotel.
Not for the healthy stuff I might add!  After the mandatory freshly made
omelette and hand carved ham with tomatoes and potato rosti with home made tomato sauce, comes the waffles and pancakes with mango sauce and fresh cream.  Unhealthy enough – but then I have a third course of ice cream.  I have never had ice cream for breakfast before, but when it is there and tastes as good as this one, it just has to be done!  And it is lovely ice cream.
breakfast

I had a phone call in my room just as I arrived back to say that the food
I had ordered was with the concierge and ready to go to the boat.  I
packed my last few things – most having already been taken to the boat
yesterday, and we headed off with a trolley with my bag and our lunch,
dinner and breakfast. We got the usual incredulous looks – I think this
time it was food envy!  Nobody else was having a delivery!!

skippers1
We then had to go through the departure ceremony.  Each team had to line
up behind there revered caped leader, staff in hand.  We were then
introduced to all the great and the good of Qingdao, and there were quite
a few of them.  The stage resembled a queue to get into a football match!
Only a few were introduced by name – the whole thing was being televised
live for Chinese television.  We then had a few fireworks, and each team
made their way back down to boat through the pool of satin dressed ladies
banging their drums.  It was a very moving ceremony, just by its sheer
size.
throng2

We then all slipped lines – Shona, Chris, Kirsty and Qui were on the
pontoon to see us off.  Kirsty had left me a jar of gummy bears the day
before – as if I needed reminding of what I looked like flying out of the
nav station!  I will enjoy eating them though – and I will miss her.  But,
as she is back on for leg eight I won’t have to miss her long!

We all sailed out of the marina, and did our circuits for the Parade of
Sail.  We then had a “start” and a small race.  The actual start is one
hundred or so miles offshore – so that we don’t have to race through a
busy shipping lane and various fishing fleet.  Somehow don’t think they
will be the only ones!  We did really well at the start, and after tacking
a few times and going on a three mile stretch we finished – quite well up
the leaderboard.  Shame that one didn’t have any points attached to it!
start

We did short shifts during the night whilst we were motoring to the start
position, so we all got a good few hours sleep.  The sandwiches we had for
lunch and the pork and rice dish we had for dinner was absolutely
excellent – as one would expect from the French chef at the
Intercontinental!  No complaints there!!

The start was meant to be at 8.00am the following morning, but it seems we
were still in the middle of a fishing fleet and a few container ships.  It
was put off until 9.00am, when we all lined up for a Le Mans start.  It
was one of the most relaxed starts we have ever had.  The sea was smooth,
nothing went wrong, nobody was being seasick.  Perhaps I have got on the
wrong boat going to the wrong place!  Hopefully this will keep up.
start2.jpg

However, some things don’t change.  I went to type my blog, and the
keyboard is still the old one that doesn’t work.  Lara thought that we had
been given a new one – maybe we just haven’t found it.  Somehow I think
not.  So, my blogs will be typed out in the nav station for this leg
again.  Except that this computer is now playing up.  This is the third
draft I have typed – the first two being lost in the ether.  Thank
goodness it isn’t rough!  The screen just goes back to the original screen
before windows is launched, and nothing is saved.  I have found a version
of “Notepad” and typed it on there.  It tells me that “this version of
windows is not genuine”.  It keeps asking me to activate it.
this-copy-of-windows-is-not-genuine
Not the professionalism that I would expect from a company like Clipper.  Or
perhaps that should have been done, and got left with the new keyboard!

– – – – – – – – – – – – –
Bridget only has basic email facilities on the boat.
Editing and the choice of images on this blog is entirely by Paul Keevil!
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