Towards Liverpool; 12th-14th August

The Delivery to Liverpool

Day 4 – Sat 12 Aug 2017

What’s Been Happening:

A gentle day though it started with a good breeze and some nice sailing. Up for the  04:00 – 08:00 watch. Reaching back and forward in the Irish Sea south of Dublin. Then headed up towards Anglesey and the wind backed to the West. Light wind sailing towards Blackpool.

Had a chance to do deck walk on the port side. Corrected a few minor issues including a missing split pin on the top forward guard wire.

How I’ve Been Feeling:

Not in tune with the watch system yet. Struggled to wake up at 4am. My body didn’t feel awake until about 6am. Once awake, all was good. Feeling happy in the boat which is a huge relief after the earlier battles with seasickness. However the reality of 11 months of this is beginning to sink in.

Should I talk about the impacts of seasickness and living at 45 degrees of heel on toilet habits?  Probably not!


In fine form. With the windseeker up we had Rick reclining on the beanbag, looking very relaxed while trimming. This caused good laughter as it seemed he was asleep in the sunshine.

Mothers are doing a great job with the food preparation (now that I am enjoying eating again)

I need to get better at spotting the photo opportunities and keeping my phone available.


Breezy to begin with but the wind died down.  Beautiful day developed

Through the evening the wind dropped. For hours we struggled to make any headway.

Day 5 – Sunday 13 Aug 2017

What’s Been Happening:

Due to the changes in the wind the plan to go to the Isle of Man was changed and we headed to Blackpool Bay. Firstly his meant the journey back to Liverpool on Monday would be easier, secondly the Blackpool Air Show is on so we could watch it from the sea!

24:00 – 04:00 watch was great fun. We had 4 hours of breeze and sailed along beautifully.  The other watch unfortunately had no wind before us nor in the watch after us. Engine was turned on at 07:00 for the run up to Blackpool. Within wind and blue skies we got in with maintenance duties, including trying to fix our wrongly rigged outhaul.

Arrived off Blackpool in time to watch the air show!

How I’ve Been Feeling:

Really good to be able to feel some of the maintenance things coming under control. Good chat with Mark V (our Engineer) and pulled together a list of outstanding items to be done in Liverpool.

On days like this it is all easy and confidence is high. I’m still not thinking about the actual race start – that can wait.

The nerves are certainly beginning despite this. At the moment it seems to be more apprehension than excitement. Fear that I am going to be so uncomfortable that I won’t be able to continue, worry about not knowing what I am supposed to be doing, concern over how I am going to get along with the rest of the crew.


Happy and content. Lots of laughter from both watches so that must be good.


Glorious and sunny with no wind. Great for an airshow but not good for sailing!

Day 6 Monday 14 Aug 2017

What’s Been Happening:

Motored from Blackpool through the night towards Liverpool. Allowed to sleep through to my 06:00 start of watch as very little to be done overnight.

Was on Mother Watch today which meant doing the cooking – but an easy day as only had breakfast and lunch to do as we were arriving in Liverpool in the afternoon. Cereal and toast for breakfast and corned beef hash for lunch!

As the “home” boat, Liverpool 2018 led the Procession of Sail down from the mouth of the Mersey to the city centre docks. Pride of place!

Now safely berthed in the Albert Dock and ashore for a break.

How I’ve Been Feeling:

All is good. Looking forward to some time off between the final bits of boat prep to spend time with Bronwen.

The BIG day is fast approaching. Distraction by doing stuff helps as I don’t really want to think about what I am about to do.  Had a lovely message from a friend who did a couple of legs last race – encouraging but also some of the hard realities were mentioned. Time for a deep breath and the carry on with the course decided upon.


Looking forward to arriving in Liverpool. Lots of talk of beer …


…. not good. Raining early this morning. Dried up and was OK for our arrival into Liverpool. Now raining hard.

Towards Liverpool; 9th August 2017

The Delivery to Liverpool

Day 1 (9 Aug 217)

What’s Been Happening:

Left Gosport about 10:30 for Parade of Sail followed by Formation Sail off the Isle of Wight.

Once released from the Formation Sailing, we headed down towards Land’s End

Into the watch system from 16:00

How I’ve Been Feeling:

Although not very rough, started to feel seasick. Not good. Lunch didn’t last long. No supper. Not even water would stay down.

Slept whenever I could even for parts of the night watches.


Seem happy. Settled into watch system. A few others feeling rough. The rest absolutely fine!


Cold grey start to the day but with a good breeze. Dried up through the afternoon.  So calm seas and a nice wind from the north.

Day 2 (10 Aug 2017)

What’s Been Happening:

Sailing along south coast of England. Down to the Scilly Isles before heading North into the Irish Sea.

How I’ve Been Feeling:

Can’t understand why when the sea state is so calm I am still feeling sick. As soon as I stand … no, don’t go there!

Slept through off watch from 08:00 – 12:00. Then up on deck. Took helm to try to help how I felt. Good session.

Felt OK through the afternoon, 70%ish. Hungry at dinner time so that is a good sign that I am getting over it. Sausages and mashed potatoes were great.


Everyone seems to be getting along fine.  Excellent work from those on mother watch keeping us fed.


Lovely day with variable northerly winds. Flew the Windseeker for a while in light winds. Wind up to 16kt later on.

Day 3 (11 Aug 2017)

What’s Been Happening:

Gently heading north up trough the Bristol Channel and Irish Sea. No rush as we have more time to get to Liverpool than we need.

A grey start to the day which makes helming difficult. Nothing definitive to aim towards or to act as a reference.

How I’ve Been Feeling:

Was allowed to sleep through most of our 24:00 – 04:00 watch, sleeping on the saloon bench. So slept pretty much from 20:00 through to 08:00. Still started the day feeling below par. Struggled to put on my foulies and life jacket without overheating. But managed to have breakfast (cereal and a piece of toast) so not too bad.

Cold on deck but had a spell on the helm. Began to feel better again. Towards the end of the watch was feeling normal again.

We had advance warning of a Man Overboard Drill so I put on my dry suit and volunteered to be the rescue swimmer. The suit worked well and kept me dry and we rescued Bob so all was well. Amazing how a dunk in the sea cures any last vestiges of seasickness.


All generally happy. The two watches have some good banter going on between them, just need to ensure that this doesn’t turn into sniping.


Grey morning turned into a sunny afternoon. Wind was Northerly about 30kt but has swung around to the South-East and dropped to about 10kt. Sea state is calm.

Heading off now to the 20:00 – 24:00 watch as we head towards the Isle of Mann!

More to follow!

The Count-Down is Under Way

A few days ago we passed 50 days until the race start, so it must be time for an update!

Lots has happened since March: my Level 2 training where we learnt about 24hrs per day sailing and getting used to the watch system; the Clipper Race Coxswains Course with a complete refresher about navigation and safety at sea with a full systems review of our boats; my Level 3 training where we learnt about flying the spinnaker on these large boats.


It is confirmed that we start from Liverpool on 20 August.  Most of the race route has been confirmed:

Length Days at sea Races Ports Dates
1 Liverpool – Punta del Este, Uruguay 5,200 nmi 33 1 2 Aug – Sep 2017
2 Uruguay – Cape Town 3,400 nmi 18 1 2 Sep – Oct 2017
3 Cape Town – Freemantle, Perth 4,750 nmi 23 1 2 Oct – Nov 2017
4 Freemantle – Airlie Beach (Queensland) 4,300 nmi 28 3 4 Nov – Dec 2017
5 Airlie Beach – Qingdao, China 6,300 nmi 53 2 3 Dec 2017 – Feb 2018
6 Qingdao – Seattle USA 5,700 nmi 33 1 2 Feb – Apr 2018
7 Seattle – New York 5,400 nmi 38 2 3 Apr – May 2018
8 New York – Liverpool 3,350 nmi 22 2 3 Jun – Jul 2018

Seattle confirmed as West Coast USA Stop-Over

The latest announcement confirms that Seattle is again a host prot and will be sponsoring one of the boats.  We now seem to konw more about the second half of the race than the first!

Confirmed route so far:

Leg Race Start Port End Port
1 1 Unknown (UK) Unknown (South America)
2 2 Unknown (South America) Cape Town (South Africa)
3 3 Cape Town (South Africa) Unknown (West Australia)
4 4 Unknown (West Australia) Sydney (West Australia)
4 5 Sydney (West Australia) Hobart (Australia)
4 6 Hobart (Australia) Unknown (East Australia?)
5 7 Unknown (East Australia?) Sanya (Hainan Island)
5 8 Sanya (Hainan Island) Quingdao (China)
6 9 Quingdao (China) Seattle (USA)
7 10 Seattle (USA) Panama Canal
7 11 Panama Canal New York (USA)
8 12 New York (USA) Derry/Londonderry (UK)
8 13 Derry/Londonderry (UK) Unknown (Netherlands?)
8 14 Unknown (Netherlands?) Unknown (UK)

See the Clipper Round The World Announcement here:

Clipper Race Origins

Just come across this little video reminding me of the origins of Clipper and, to an extent, reminding me of why I am doing it!

Six Months to Go to the OFF

Time is rushing on … for my latest update please watch my video clip

What is the Clipper Round The World Race?

In essence, as it says on the tin, this is a race around the world.  A sailing race with a fleet of 12 identical yachts.  Each yacht has a professional skipper and the rest of the crew are amateurs who have paid for the privilege of sailing around the world or at least a part of it.

The race is split into eight legs and each leg can have more than one leg, as per the table below:

Leg Length Days at sea Races Ports Dates
1 UK – South America 5200 nmi 30 2 3 Aug – Sep 2017
2 South America – South Africa 3400 nmi 18 1 2 Sep – Oct 2017
3 South Africa – Western Australia 4750 nmi 26 1 2 Oct – Nov 2017
4 Western – Eastern Australia 4328 nmi 29 3 3 Nov – Dec 2017
5 Eastern Australia – China 6300 nmi 48 2 3 Dec 2017 – Feb 2018
6 China – West Coast USA 5700 nmi 30 1 2 Feb – Apr 2018
7 West Coast USA – East Coast USA 5400 nmi 32 3 3 Apr – May 2018
8 East Coast USA – UK 3350 nmi 24 3 4 Jun – Jul 2018

The race scores like a Formula 1 season with points awarded for each race though there are additional points on offer for particular elements of the race such as going around a particular way point and for an “Ocean Sprint”.  You can also lose points for damage to the yacht or its sails and equipment.

Clipper tries hard to balance all the teams to make it as equal a race as possible, balance in terms of gender mix, age mix, experience mix.  The idea is that winning is decided by the best decision making and not due to any built in advantage in the crew.  One element of crew selection that they don’t try to balance is competitiveness where they try to put all the ultra-competitive people on the same boat and the same for the party people.

And yes, I have chosen to do all 8 of these legs.  One leg seemed too easy so there was no option except to go for the whole thing!!

The Story So Far

Christmas 2015, if Gavin hadn’t been going to fly to Australia for a week’s holiday in the Whitsunday Islands with Charlotte who had just completed Leg 4 of the 2015/2016 Clipper RTW, then I would not be writing this now.

A dinner with Gavin and Charlotte later and I was on the path to joining the race.  A few months later with my application form completed and an interview arranged I strolled into Clipper Ventures HQ in Gosport where the plan seemed to be for them to try to put me off joining the race.

Not to be put off, I was offered a place and just had to sign the contract and agree to pay the fees.  The fees were scary and hence a delay while Bronwen and I figured out whether I should just do a couple of legs or follow my dream and do the whole thing.  The commitment was scary but eventually I signed the contract (yes, to do the whole race and become a “RoundTheWorlder”) and started to pay my dues.

Level one was completed in October, more of which in a later post.

But now it is already 2017!  This is the year the reality will hit.  I am excited and more than a little nervous about how much I have committed to.  But as a mantra of mine says:  If a new venture doesn’t scare you, why are you doing it?  For something to be worthwhile, it stretch you a little more than you want to be stretched!

Happy New Year to you all

Is John completely Mad?

Welcome to the new blog site from John Vearncombe!

This site will track John’s journey from the beginning of 2017, through his Clipper Race Training and then throughout the whole Clipper 17/18 race, from the UK back to the UK.  John will update the site regularly with posts from wherever he is in the race.

As part of this journey, John wants to raise money for two important sailing related charities, The Jubilee Sailing Trust and the Ocean Youth Trust.  John’s aim is to raise one pound in sponsorship for these organisations for each mile of the race, 40,000 in total.

Please visit John’s Just Giving Page to find out more about the charities and to make a donation: