news / Helen's Diary
" Battling upwind in bitterly cold conditions, with the boat permanently at a 45 degree angle and slamming violently through a choppy sea... we began to wonder whether we would ever reach Qingdao, or even whether this mythical land really did exist. But all of the hardships were swiftly forgotten as soon as we arrived to a fanfare of fireworks, paparazzi & hundreds of drummers. On the way into the marina we were buzzed by a remote controlled flying TV camera; which was rather cool. The arrival ceremony was so overwhelming that I felt like I'd won the Olympics. Phenomenal. Everywhere we've been since, cameras are thrust in our faces & autographs are requested... we now all believe ourselves to be A-list celebrities!
I adore China. I've enjoyed a wonderful day with a Chinese family on a home-stay trip, experienced a traditional tea ceremony, visited a primary school & tried out the local delicacies in the street food markets - starfish, sea urchin & deep fried silk worms. Not bad actually.
But all good things must come to an end & tomorrow it's time for the "big one"... the Pacific, largest Ocean on the planet & approximately a 28 day crossing, without sight of land. It's going to be wet. It's going to be wild. It's going to be dark & stormy. So I'll let you into a secret - I'm scared. But to circumnavigate, there is no short cut, so it's time to face my fears head on. IVA is a great boat & she has looked after us wonderfully. The crew are phenomenal, so I know we'll support each other through the tough times. Before we know it, the Golden Gate Bridge will be in sight & my parents on the dock waiting to welcome us in. Roll on America... for once, I am looking forward to living the American dream.
So I'll leave you with a quick flavour of the last race..."
You know you're in the China Sea when :
-Fishing boats have dispensed with the traditional Navigation lights & replaced them with an array of multicoloured disco ball style lights. Great, only we have no idea which way you are actually going!
- A Chinese karaoke contest is in full swing on the VHF radio distress channel 16... so bad that we wanted to make a mayday call, to be saved from the horrific singing!
- I can confirm that the Yellow Sea really does have a yellowish hue to it
- You're wearing three pairs of gloves, have the dexterity of a Shetland Pony, but still can't feel your fingers!
- The fishing boats are all colluding to catch a Clipper 70. Working in packs, they surround their pray & all drive directly on a collision course at the helpless sailing vessel, in a multi-dimensional game of chicken!
- To stop yourself being thrown out of bed in the relentless wave slamming, you angle your bunk up so high, that you are pinned against the wall
- awaking in the shape of a Toblerone
- You take a sip from your mug & the person sat next to you on the rail gets to drink it... on the wind!
To sponsor Helen, please go to: http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/HelenJonesClipper
Follow our journey online via the Clipper Race Viewer (warning it is addictive!): http://www.clipperroundtheworld.com