Leg 5 Race 8 - Attack of the Chinese Fishing Fleets

Leg 5 Race 7 - Sanya, Hainan Dao, China to Qingdao, China

Number of souls on board: 18

Distance sailed: 2,081nm

Number of days at sea: 12

Finish position: 3rd - another podium!!

What an interesting race. Truly one hell fo an experience. We had an exciting race start with Sanya pushing us and Garmin out of the start line so we were over the line last. We raced down to the giant Buddha statue and were 4th around this mark then the race really began charging up the East China Sea. The wind was building and on the nose, perfect for our Liverpool boat and we climbed further up the fleet. The first nights saw us passing some massive oil rigs which was disconcerting to be sailing along at night but having enough background light to see everyone on deck perfectly fine.

As we passed Taiwan we received our heaviest weather but luckily it only last a couple of days and no one suffered too badly with the sea sickness (although someone didn’t make it out of there bunk and a bundle of mattress protecting sheet and sick was found stuffed down the side of a bunk making an awful smell nearly 5 days later! 

The wind shifted round behind us which was a nice surprise because we had expected a tough upwind slog the whole way. We popped the spinnaker and then the fishing fleets attacked. These fishing fleets creep up on you. First you see a couple of boats on AIS then as you get closer they just multiply and multiply. We counted 100+ boats on AIS at one time. You would be sailing in a constant circle of lights on the horizon. Pretty unnerving to be charging to towards lights on the horizon (i am only used to this meaning land and buildings) at 10+ knots with a spinnaker up. We had an difficultly half an hour trying to sail low enough to miss a massive fishing net - too low and we would wrap the spinnaker, too high and we would wrap the keel. We passed 150m from one boat. We hit a net but fortunately it bounced straight off the keel. All very interesting sailing. 

Another issue we had as we entered the Yellow Sea was the amount of seaweed, which we assume was kicked up by the fishing operations. We tried to fish it off our rudders but eventually there was too much and it was slowing us down. So I get woken up early for my watch by Nano handing me his neoprene top and shorts as he climbs into his wetsuit. “Hey bro we finally get to go for that swim we keep asking Skip for”. This would have been fine if we were still in tropical climates but I knew the water was already freezing. “Umm, don’t you think this is a one man job I said!”. But no, we wanted to do it as fast as possible to reduce the time we were stopped for. So the spinnaker was dropped, we rounded up into the wind and Nano and I left off the side with knife in hand to clear the weed from the rudders and check the keel.  Needless to say you have never seen two guys move faster, the water was baltic. 

The next amazing part was as we cruised up past Shanghai. Dodging the cargo ships and tankers coming into and out of one of the worlds busiest ports. I don’t think you will ever feel comfortable sailing closer to a ship than it is long. Passing a 100m from a 300m boat is terrifying. 

As we neared the finish we pushed so hard. We were in 4th place but had Sanya just 5 miles in front of us with a couple of clever gybes to be made to get to the finish line. One wrong move, one bad call from them and we would have them but unfortunately we didn’t manage it. We both sailed well but they managed to hold their lead. However, a we fought through a patch of very light wind all of 3 miles from the finish line and made it across the line we were radioed by Seattle to tell us we were in 3rd. PSP who had been in 1st for almost the entire race were caught in the wind hole we just passed through and had been for a number of hours. They hadn’t crossed the line yet. So we had such in with a cheeky 3rd place. Our second podium. We were ecstatic. 

 

Qingdao has been an even weirder place than Sanya. We are stationed and the Wanda Yacht club which is on an island purpose built just 4 years ago. Its like sim city or a toy town. Everything is new and relatively unoccupied. Slightly creepy. The hotels are amazing but there are no bars or places to go other than tiny local restaurants. The Wanda Yacht Club must be the grandest yacht club in the world its incredible and they put on the most amazing welcoming ceremony. All the skippers are presented with a red cape - a tradition given to returning generals who have been successful. We are treated like celebrities with the local visitors desperate to say and take photos with us. 

We have had a fantastic prize giving party and now I will take some time to catch up on rest, prepare the boat and prepare myself for the mighty pacific crossing. We set off on Friday and it is promised to be 4 weeks fo torture. We will see about that. 

 

Again I would like to thank Peripheral sunglasses for their support and contributions. If you need a new pair of decent sunglasses that are cheap (and stop you buying into that massive Luxotica conglomerate - Oakley, Ray-Ban etc) check them out and add me to your basket to send 50% of the price of the sunnies to Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation. www.peripheralls.com

 

P.S. Jakey Fagan - the East China Sea and the Yellow Sea have lots fo rubbish. It must be coming off all the fishing boats. We haven’t seen any of the big clumps or floating trash islands but a constant passing of plastic bags, bottles and thanks of wood. Afraid I wasn’t able to catch any good photos for you though. Will keep trying though.