Some of you might know that my 5 year old Australian grandson, Zac, is addicted to the Clipper Race Viewer and he has been talking about it to all his friends. I have therefore taken the liberty to write this blog directly to his school teacher in the hope that she can share some of my fantastic experiences with her class and help them understand just what Zac keeps going on about! Thank you for allowing me to be indulgent.
To : Joy Wikaire
All Saints Anglican School, Merrimac, Gold Coast, Australia
My name is Robin Saunders and I am Zac’s grandfather. I am currently on a trip of a lifetime on board a 70 foot sailing boat taking part in the 2017/18 Clipper Round the World yacht race and I thought you might like to share some of my experiences with your class.
Twelve identical Clipper yachts started out from Liverpool in England last August on a 12 month, 40,000 mile adventure. The boat I am on is called “HotelPlanner.com”. The route the boats take follows the historic route that evolved from the old Clipper merchant boats plying their trade across the world’s oceans and includes stopovers in some of the most famous and beautiful countries….
Punta D’Este, Uruguay
Cape Town, South Africa
Airlie Beach, Australia
New York, USA
Londonderry, N. Ireland
And then back to Liverpool
I said the fleet was 12 boats but although 12 started in Liverpool one crashed into a reef 24 hours after leaving Cape Town and was wrecked! Luckily no one was hurt.
So how many boats are in our race now?
Each boat has a very experienced skipper and a crew of around 18. Some crew will be on the boat for the whole journey but some will do part of the trip. I’m going from Fremantle to Qingdao – 4 months and 12,000 miles.
Can you see my route on the map?
We can be at sea for anything up to 5 weeks at a time and have to carry everything we need with us as there are no shops out here on the ocean waves!
The number of crew on each boat varies slightly but try to work out a shopping list for 3 meals a day for 18 people on each leg and we only have a small freezer and no fridge! We will also need lots of drinks and snacks as sailing the boat is rather like playing a game of football as it uses up lots of energy and the hot sun makes us very thirsty.
How long do you think fresh vegetables last as we sail up the Australian coast and across the equator? Then what are we going to eat then?
Did you know that we wash our clothes and all the dirty dishes in sea water? We are allowed a litre of fresh water once a week to rinse ourselves off after a sea water shower! Otherwise our fresh water is reserved for drinking – we do have a water maker on board.
As we sail we see lots of wild life, for instance yesterday we saw flying fish! We have not seen any other fish because they are hiding under the waves! We do not try to catch the fish because we are going too fast! Well, most of the time we go fast, but sometimes we get stuck in a wind hole and the boat sits there bobbing around on the completely flat sea.
We have been chased by pods of dolphins. They seem to love swimming alongside the boat and then zooming off to one side jumping high into the air as they go.
An albatross followed us for a whole day and landed on the water not 10 meters from us! It is such an enormous bird it found it very hard work to take off again!
Do you know the wingspan of an albatross – I think it is the biggest in the world. Do tell me if I am wrong.
We haven’t seen any whales yet but we are sure we saw a shark fin pass by the boat one day.
The ocean is huge and most of the time we are completely on our own. When sitting on the deck we can look all around and all we see is water. The horizon is around three miles and sometimes the depth of water beneath us is greater than the distance to the horizon!
Can you find out how deep the ocean is off the shore at Burleigh Heads?
Sometimes enormous ships pass us by. Some carrying lucky mummies and daddies on a holiday cruise and others carrying goods such as new Lego sets from Europe for your birthday or food to go into our Supermarkets for our dinners.
At night the stars are amazing with the whole sky twinkling with thousand, no millions, of stars. We have seen the Milky Way and Orion and the Southern Cross.
Did you know that the shape of the stars in the Southern Cross are on the Australian flag?
As we were sailing past Melbourne in December we saw a ‘Super Moon’. This happens when the moon passes very close by the earth and appears to be very large up there in the sky.
A couple of nights ago there was a ‘Lunar Eclipse’, which is when the light of the moon seems to be turned off and it goes eerily dark for a few minutes. Sometimes this is called a ‘Blue Moon’. And last week we had the most amazing, brilliant orange, sunset that spread completely around the boat. I have never seen a 360degree sunset before!
Our boat is designed to lean over when sailing along and this makes life on board rather interesting. Can you imagine doing your lessons or eating your dinner tonight at home with your chair tilted to one side by 45degrees!
I have to take care not to fall out of bed each night! We can stop this as our beds can be adjusted to make them flat.
If you would like to ask me any questions please do not hesitate to send them to me and I will do my best to answer them.
I hope that one day you can have a wonderful adventure like mine- it has been amazing!