Woo, what a welcome in Qingdao. Fireworks, drummers and everyone wanting to shake your hand, take a picture or have an autograph. A big thank you to Helen (a Round the Worlder from Invest Africa), who was a fantastic room-mate and had the wine and food waiting on arrival. With such a short stopover, we had little time to look around, but I can say that some of the food was interesting and not anything I have seen in my local Chinese. The most challenging was eating bird’ heads, I’m not totally sure what type of bird as they were so small. The priority was catch up with friends and family. I am amazed at how much I rely on technology to keep in touch, even with others in the same city. Thanks Nick for the loan of the laptop. A concentration of crew, meant that I was able to catch up with those I haven’t had chance to spend much time with on this journey and find out how different their journey has been. All have similar challenges as we adapt to living in the confines of this 70 foot boat.One boat that seems to have more challenges than most was PSP as they arrived only 1 day before the rest of the fleet left. I really felt for them as they watched us prepare for departure without them. It brought back memories of Cape Town and knowing that they would be always playing catch up across one of the most infamous oceans, the North Pacific. It leaves you with a sense of venerability that the nearest boat could be up to 2 days away from help. Similar to ourselves on Team Garmin, there is a sense of solidarity on PSP and getting through together that hasn’t been there previously.
After some TLC, all too quickly it was back on the boat for what I knew was going to be my most challenging Leg. The leaving ceremony was as dramatic as the arrival with lots of officials keen to shake your hand. After a short delay as we went through immigration, it looked like we may need to seek our 5th skipper as Jan was whisked away by officials. Eventually we saw him running down the pontoon and slipped lines in time to join the parade of sail. With a bit of fear and in trepidation, we headed out into the China Sea to see what the mighty North Pacific has in store for us. Its reputation proceeds it within Clipper, with stories of knockdowns, de-masting and air rescues.