Race 5 - Day 4
Crew Diary - Race 5 - Day 4
27 December

John Dawson
John Dawson
Team Unicef
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A Christmas All At Sea

Whilst at our short stay in Freo, my wife showed me some photographs of our home bedecked for Christmas by our housesitters, who are looking after our house, dogs and cats. It reminded us of all the Christmases there over the past 27 years. How would we fare this year?

On a sailing boat, nothing is predictable and everything has to be flexible as we learnt in the previous leg we had to divert to Durban.

After many renderings of our Unicef Twelve Days of Christmas:

  • On the twelfth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, Twelve Calls to Praxis
  • Eleven Sails Needing Sewing
  • Ten Unused Drysuits
  • Nine Days of Diversions
  • Eight Phoney Forecasts
  • Seven Time Zones Crossed
  • Six Crewmates Injured
  • Four Fractured Ribs
  • Three Broken Teeth
  • Two hours in Durban
  • And Andy’s App-En-Dec-Tom-Mee
  • ...the 25th of December eventually arrived with strong winds and a rough sea.

    Flexibility was again the order of the day and it was decided to defer Christmas to the next day on the hope that it would be calmer. And our prayers were answered. A calm day for our celebrations, if not quite so good for our racing.

    We got up in the morning to find bags of presents everywhere – Father Christmas had truly come down the mast! We gathered on deck at lunchtime to Christmas music and carols, put on our fake moustaches, specs etc, were eating TimTams and sweets when Santa Miller suddenly appeared with his many sacks of presents from our supporters, Unicef and the boat’s Christmas Committee. The boat got a new pressure cooker and a new toaster, both much welcomed. And yours truly did rather nicely, receiving a Garmin watch that can play music, tell altitude, barometric pressure, my heart rate and blood oxygen level, provide maps and charts, oh and tell the time! Also a tube of eight hour Elizabeth Arden skin cream, two bottles of grape juice and a six-function pen that also acts as a stylus, ruler, spirit level and two types of screwdriver. And a fabulous Christmas card based on an aerial painting of Freo by artist Sara Drake. The punchline was that it was from my son George and Yangtze, the lovely Chinese ambassador on Qingdao, indicating that their relationship has gone from nought to one hundred in four weeks! This was “wow” news to me and the rest of the boat. In Freo he had merely and rather shyly told me he was dating someone on the boat.

    Then that evening for Christmas Dinner we had the most fantastic roast turkey, provided by Mama Cass, completed by Dan and Dermot cooking it with sausages, roast spuds, carrots, stuffing, gravy and cranberry jelly. Followed by real Christmas Pudding and cream.

    The end to a fabulous Christmas “Day”, made possible by the generosity of all our friend’s families and crewmates. A huge Thank You to all.

    So, very different to our previous 28 Christmases, this being in the South Indian Ocean, but by seeing Sam and George in Freo, talking to my mother who was staying with my brother in Yorkshire and having good long chats with my other children, Penny, Emily and Oliver, the family aspect fitted nicely into place. One of the many exciting pieces of news was that Freyja, my ten year old granddaughter has had her first day of shooting for the film The Perfect Enemy that is due for release in Autumn 2020. It is a thriller based on a renowned French novel in which Freyja plays the flashback childhood of the leading part.

    Belated Merry Christmas to Everyone.


    27th December 2019.