OBR Cherie Bridges Blogs

21 January 2020

Leg 5 - Race 6 - Visit Sanya, China

Tuesday 21 January 2020

So the start of Leg 5 was a little anticlimactic, with the fleet being postponed an extra two days in Airlie beach. But honestly? I was delighted. It gave me a chance to essentially not do anything for the first time in a very long time – which is just as important as anything else. It’s been easy to see the wear on crew members faces in this stopover, especially those crazy enough to take on round the world. The journey is physically, mentally and emotionally exhausting at times, and at our (almost) halfway point across the globe, our delay was a perfect reminder to breathe.

However, now four days later, I’m staring at a very flat ocean and wondering if the Gods of wind have actually forgotten that we exist. As fun as it is watching the sweat drip off of people's noses and chasing the two inches of shade on deck, I think it’s safe to say that we all would quite like to move… somewhere. With the entire fleet within eyesight, it’s apparently hard to decide where to wave, moon each other or slingshot soft fruit at the opposing teams. With down below a balmy 100000 degrees as well, the evenings have been the highlight of the day. Last night Guan and I watched lightning fill the sky as we lost sight of land, which was quite spectacular.

But, that’s not to say we are wasting all this time on our hands. This morning we sent Afshin up the mast for some repairs in full Chinese new year gear, and found out that Seumas hates the Black Eyed Peas rendition of ‘Tonight’s gonna be a good night.’ Guess what I’m humming for the next four weeks? Side note: Thank you, Karla for the two mangoes you gave me before we all set off (as awkward as the comments were walking down the docks,) they were enjoyed today in egg, cheese, and mango wraps? There’s a new one for you.

That’s it from me right now, I’ll leave you with…

Anonymous quote of the day:

- ‘Every day is a success if you set your standards low enough.’

Leg 4 - Race 5 - Ha Long Bay, Viet Nam

29 December 2019

So I've joined Ha Long Bay, Viet Nam for a nice stint around Australia as their on board reporter, after spending the rest of the race with various teams, and I have to say - I was quite excited for this one. I'm happy to report that all the rumours are true, they are a very happy boat, and yes, they are obsessed with drinking tea. Josh's hair actually reacts to the amount of caffeine he drinks, his Mohawk on deck this morning was the first sign that he hadn't had his cuppa yet. Hugo, being as French as possible, doesn't understand the importance of tea at all. In his words - 'it iz only a diuretic, it makes you want to peez.'

The sailing has been fantastic, with our speed record at 22 knots with a nice Code 3 pushing us towards Tasmania, hopefully getting us well round the corner before new years. When I asked what our plans were Jacqueline turned around, grinned, and whispered cryptically, 'Rave… with glow sticks.' We'll keep you updated on how that one turns out. Today the clocks went forward half an hour (queue all the team putting their hands up in glee and shouting 'TIME TRAVEL!') We also spotted some whales this morning, although much like our Christmas decorations, they seemed reluctant to stick around.

Christmas on HLB was actually fantastic, although we all inevitably missed family and friends. I was personally taken back to my teen years when my sister would drive me around in a slightly mouldy and very damp Peugeot 206 down some very narrow and foggy Welsh lanes. I'd usually have a muddy pair of shoes flung up on the dashboard and when I wasn't fearing for my life, we would listen to Coldplay (specifically, 'Christmas lights.') Side note: Thank you for the stick on the wall Christmas tree you sent to Australia for me Aims - the crew loved it, and I hear rumours that it's staying up until we return to London (or until the condensation gets to it).

For now, the team carries on, fuelled by copious amounts of leftover Christmas cake. With GoToBermuda at our heels, we're trying to play our cards right whilst we still have wind.

Love to everyone back home,


Leg 3 - Race 4 - Zhuhai

Thursday 5 December 2019

Day 18, and I won’t lie to you, the crew are looking a little frayed around the edges. Some watches cope by singing loud renditions of Bohemian Rhapsody and drinking copious amounts of coffee, others collapse into sleeping pile ups on the floor, in the sail locker, and across the galley cushions. Watching everyone have very public highs and lows is one of the more challenging things about the race, there really is nowhere to hide when your inner, sleep deprived crazy rears its ugly head. Chris Ball and I are trying our hardest to provide daily musical ‘jams’ to get everyone going, but were reduced to hysterics when Kath overheard us and suddenly exclaimed ‘WHAT?! HAVE WE RUN OUT OF JAM!?’ The victualling is starting to get to her clearly, although she has done an absolutely sterling job.

In other news, last night we counted 20 odd (although I’ve heard this number escalate up to 50) UFO’s moving in perfect formation across the sky. For sailing across one of the most remote places on the planet, we’ve managed to be target practise for US test rocket launches, in the warning path for space debris, and now witnesses to either an alien invasion or military exercise. Very weird stuff, and I’m not pointing any fingers, but it all smells an awful lot like a certain Mr Trump. So while we pull out our tinfoil hats, Ina is endeavouring to make Zhuhai great again by cooking up some cinnamon porridge.

With a high pressure ridge ahead of us, everyone’s trying not to get too excited about getting to Australia. Completely banned phrases on the boat include ‘what could possibly go wrong?’ - ‘the weather is perfect today!’ and ‘we’re almost there!’ All of these, of course, are known to tempt fate, from our experience of Leg 2 at least. Even Gordon sacrificing chocolate biscuits to Neptune didn’t help us in the least then, and he was eventually asked to please sacrifice the not so nice biscuits next time.

That’s it from me, I’ll leave you with…

The song of the week: Under Pressure

My favourite anonymous quotes of the week:

- ‘If you fart in this corridor one more time, I swear to god I’m going to kill you!’

- ‘This tinned dog food sure smells a lot like chicken curry!’

- ‘My toenails look like quavers crisps.’

- ‘It’s not the first time a girl’s tried to fend me off with Febreeze, trust me.’

- ‘How much mould do you think is too much mould on a melon?’

- ‘I always worry that when I lean on the heads curtain, one day I’m going to end up butt naked in the wet locker in front of everyone.’

- ‘As long as the chart plotter doesn’t look like you’re trying to draw your initials, we’re probably doing okay.’

- ‘You’ll be able to tell the difference between my boots and your boots because mine smell like faeces.’

- Cherie

Tuesday 26th November 2019

Yesterday morning we made the rather harrowing discovery that our heads were broken. By broken, I mean they had turned into a face splashing, poo flinging, gurgling sea monster. Nothing quite puts the fear of God into the crew like that low grumbling coming from the waste pipes. Enter – our fearless engineer Robby, stylishly brandishing yellow Musto foulies and a bag full of screwdrivers. After almost two hours of wading in contaminated bilge water, Robby found the root of the problem - the cap of the toilet cleaner had accidentally been flushed down, blocking the pipes.

Now after almost five weeks as an on board reporter on Zhuhai, Robby has become one of my favourite people. Whether that’s because of his gorgeous Viking beard or his complete lack of complaint at any god awful task thrown at him, I’m not quite sure. There are not many 19 year olds in the world who would spend their morning tackling the delicate plumbing of a Clipper 70 without so much as an eye roll. He is in fact, probably the most mature person on the boat – definitely one of the most useful. I’m happy to report that everything has gone back to normal in the heads department, although I’m not entirely convinced that Robby’s boots will ever be the same again.

In other news, the Southern Ocean is blessing us with a kaleidoscope of wildlife every day. Giant wandering Albatrosses, flocks of playful white Prions and the White Chinned Petrel are a daily occurrence. They are glorious reminders of how out of place we are, as the crew sit shivering on deck or bumble around slowly down below, breath fogging up the portholes.

This morning I heard ‘whale!’ outside, and mid pancake in mouth, I bulldozed my way on to the deck. It’s been a three month dilemma for me, hearing that word. I’m pretty sure that all the whales in the world have made a pact to disappear as soon as I pull out my camera. On my first Atlantic crossing, I actually handed my camera momentarily to my friend Mary, so that I could take a mouthful of cereal, after waiting (camera poised) for over an hour. Of course, this is when the whales magically appeared, and I spat my cereal down my shirt in excitement. Trust me – they’re doing this on purpose.

This morning, however, I managed to not only get some film of the whales spectacularly close to Zhuhai, but actually had time to enjoy them without a camera too. It was tear-jerkingly, heart-pounding beautiful watching them appear out of the fog next to our boat. James (sporting a very trendy pink beanie today) eventually gave me a very exasperated look as I bellowed ‘LOOK AT THE WHALE!’ for the fifteenth time from the foredeck. In fairness, we were trying to put a reef in.

Now, as I keep hoping for some bigger, photogenic waves (much to the crew’s exasperation) – the forecast is looking frosty enough to keep us all wrapped up. All my electronics are feeling a little under the weather too, which is a sure sign that things are about to get fruity at sea.

Love to all back home,

- Cherie

Join The Race