China. Asian Record Circuit: Ellen MacArthur & B&Q following pilot on 55 mile trek to Shanghai
Shanghai River: © Offshore Challenges Sailing Team
Photo: Shanghai River: © Offshore Challenges Sailing Team - click picture to enlarge
Print E-mail
Tuesday, 11 April 2006
Team Ellen:

Over three weeks into the Asian Record Circuit, B&Q secure record number 5 as they reach China’s largest city, Shanghai as the trimaran crossed the finish line at 22:30:34 GMT yesterday [Monday, 10.4.06] in a time 1d 5h 25m 33s to finish Leg 4 out of 10 on the Asian Record Circuit. It was a welcome surprise for Ellen and her crew as they beat their self-imposed target time of 32 hours by 2 hours and 35 minutes– a feat that was looking doubtful mid-way through this leg as the wind practically disappeared, but a fast finish delivered the result they were looking for. B&Q is now being guided by a pilot boat, 55 miles along the Yangtze River – the world’s third longest river at 3,720 miles.

Latest news from Ellen:

This leg has been an unbelievable leg of challenges, both logistically, and sailing wise. We are as I type sailing up the channel into Shanghai, still 50 miles away, but from the number of ships around us you would think that we were in the middle of a harbour. It's unbelievable. Compounded by the fact that we have been sailing in the fog all the way here, we are all tired, and getting to the port in time to catch the pilot then discovering that the Yangtse river was closed was a tough one to take.

Just sailing in the night to get here was incredible, the phosphorescence, the fishing boats, last night sailing through a zone of beaconed fishing nets - four lines of which we sailed over. Almost ghost like in the fog we watched from the front beams. Everyone was on deck, waiting for the lines of floats, and hoping that the next would pass safely under the boat, as the previous one had. Our fingers were firmly crossed, and with ships in the area, less than 3 miles away and on a collision course you wonder just how they do it. The eerie silence haunted by the echoing fog signals sent a chill down your spine, not too comforting mixed with the chill in the damp moist air. I have never seen so many fishing boats as we did when the fog cleared a little this morning, a sight that I fear disappeared in Europe probably 30 or so years ago. There was boat after boat, light after light, strobe beacons on the ends of the fishing nets, everywhere you peered deep in to the fog you where you were sure that you saw a boat, or something, but was it just your imagination!

Below deck we have been on radar watch for what seems like forever, also staring deep into the screen - trying to determine if it's a wave, or a fishing boat, or a line of floats or nets all of these are interspersed with cargo ships. It’s like a computer game, with only one life. It’s quite incredible, you have to use a different set of reactions here compared to Europe - and they are being trained within all of us. Ships somehow don't seem quite as stressful as they did - when you look on the horizon and see close to 200 vessels, your perspective changes...

This morning we had to wait six hours on arrival before we could leave to make our way towards the pilot station. We waited in the anchoring zone for ships, assuming that life would be a bit quieter - but it never is. We had fishing boats, massive ropes with buoys the size of oil drums, anchored ships, and a mixture of fishing boats that appeared to wave us 'hello' or 'go away', it was hard to tell which was which...

Sailing up the river now reminds me of my years on the river Humber, sailing amongst the ships on the brown chocolate coloured water. We're sailing at 18 knots, but with only 3 meters of water under the dagger-board, which doesn't sound like much to me - but it's enough and it's all that we have right now. We hope to rendezvous with the pilot in the next hour - then after that we shall be heading to the dock in Shanghai on our 55-mile trek up this incredible river. The tide is against us, but that appears to be the least of our worries here! I think we are all relieved to be in the river finally - to see the fog lift - and a blue sky is a massive contrast to all we have had since Qingdao. We are hoping that the next 6 hours are safe ones and that we make it into the marina safely.
Last Updated ( Tuesday, 11 April 2006 )
< Prev   Next >