Leaving Airlie Beach and Headed for Sanya

Tomorrow we expect to sail away from Airlie Beach in the Whitsundays area of Queensland Australia for start of Leg 5 of this Clipper Round The World race and the circumnavigation that I am completing. This is the first of three races in leg 5 and takes the Clipper fleet from here to Sanya China. We will be crossing the equator on our approximately three and a half week sail. This marks my first time in China having only previously been on a very quick business trip to Hong Kong way back in the 1990’s.

This start will now be after a two day delay. Problem was our boat and a couple others had suffered damaged/non-functional watermakers during Leg 3 and the parts needed to fix them did not arrive here in time for repairs to be completed by planned race start day. Initially Sanya and the other affected boats had made plans to cary on board enough water for the entire trip and on Friday eve prior to race start day we were loading the additional water, some 50 large water cooler bottles, onto our boat and finding places down below to store the huge load.

Then on Saturday morning of the original race start day at time of the pre-race skippers briefing our new watermaker had made it to Brisbane and was on the way to arriving soonish. Clipper races officials then made the wise decision to delay race start for entire fleet by two days to allow all boats get their watermaker repairs completed by new planned start which would now be Monday. So we no longer face the prospect of rationing two liters drinking water per person pre day for three plus week sail across the equator and on into Sanya.

I was not actually part of that work of loading additional water on Friday evening as I spent my entire workday preparing and installing yet another new main halyard for the voyage. Something inside the mast where the main halyard runs down from the top exit point to its exit point about three meters above the deck level was chafing our main halyard over time and the best we have been able to do is add chafe protection in three key locations on the halyard. I do this work by sewing in three additional cover sections over those chafe points on the brand new halyard before installing it. I got great new guidance from Clipper maintenance person Harry on now to make my sewing of the chafe protection more durable as some of my previous work did not hold up well in the Southern Ocean. It is one of the great and commendable things about the Clipper race as crew do really pitch in and learn to and do all the minor maintenance and upkeep on these boats.

That said we are leaving the repair of the water maker to the professionals.

We had however routed our galley fresh water foot pump pickup line to be placed into the newly acquired water jugs. That work has been undone putting the pickup line back to the permanent on board water tanks in anticipation of a working watermaker.

As planned we need to complete about twelve hours of motoring by entire fleet to get out past the barrier islands and reefs to where we would be able to do a safe start of this race. The additional problem is that there is very little wind now and in near term forecast for the actual starting area. So the fleet may be motoring significantly further north before the start of racing. This additional motoring is expected to allow the fleet to maintain the original planned arrival window into Sanya China.

Our route will take us north through the Solomon Sea and east of Papua New Guinea. In the area of the Solomon Sea we pass through the Intertropical Convergence Zone. This is the so-called and dreaded doldrums where we may again experience poor winds for sailing. North of that area we cross the equator and then sail up and around the east side of the Philippine Islands before making the turn towards Sanya China. It is looking like three plus weeks of hot challenging sailing but nothing like the high winds, huge waves and cold experienced in the Soutrhern Ocean.

Here are our yachts parked at Airlie Beach looking mostly ready to go.

Sanya is in the forefront.

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