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A message from Jeronimo Santos Gonzalez in Subic Bay

by Clipper Round the World Race 13 Jun 14:42 BST
Clipper Round the World Race © Clipper Race

Punta del Este Skipper, Jeronimo Santos Gonzalez continues to do a fantastic job of looking after the fleet in Subic Bay, Philippines. He has been maintaining the yachts and keeping them secure ready for the crew to return in February 2021. The last month has seen an ease in lockdown, Ha Long Bay, Viet Nam First Mate, Hugo Picard, return to France, a typhoon and the opportunity to go sailing.

Hear an update from Jeronimo himself: Hola from Subic Bay!

My Clipper Race buddy here in the Philippines, Hugo Picard, First Mate on Ha Long Bay, Viet Nam has now gone back to France. Following the completion of the Clipper Race next year, he'll be taking part in the Mini-Transat race and so is using the time to prepare. So, for the foreseeable future it will be just me looking after the boats here in Subic Bay and the rest of the Clipper Race team are back in the UK organising things remotely.

Lots of people have asked me if I am getting bored here on my own. The truth is that working on eleven boats keeps me pretty busy. In my free time I am making the most of the lockdown time by working out every day, studying online and meeting fellow sailors at the marina.

Everybody here within the compounds of Subic Bay Freeport Zone had been waiting with anticipation for the 1 June with the news of an ease of the lockdown.

While the changes can be seen on the streets, with more people out and about and a huge increase of traffic, restrictions to enter Subic Bay are still in place. Most of the businesses remain closed but hopefully they will start to open gradually in the next few weeks. The good news for me is that sailing is allowed from now on and I have already organised a sailing session with some locals on their boat.

This strict lockdown has been put in place by the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority. Despite not having had a single positive case of coronavirus in the freeport, tough measures have been imposed to stop the spread of the virus.

May and June are the hottest months of the year here in the Philippines, with temperatures reaching high 30's. I must say I have never sweated so much in my life than here when doing engine checks. This time has also brought monsoon rains and when it rains here, it rains like there is no tomorrow. Every day, I play a game of hatch open, hatch closed, every time these menacing clouds arrive. So far, only one typhoon (named Vongfong) came close to Subic Bay and missed us by the skin of our teeth, when it decided to go northeast of the island. There will be more coming this way. An average of 8-10 typhoons cross the Philippines every year but the boats and I will be ready for them.

The fleet is in good shape with all engines running well and some generators need more maintenance than others. Prevention rather than cure is key on keeping the yachts in good condition.

The waters in Subic Bay are really warm and marine growth like barnacles are loving the hulls and rudders whilst the yachts are stationary. Underneath the pontoons are full of oysters and mussels. The locals here eat them (not for me thank you very much). This is why most of the big ships anchor outside the bay, where the water is cooler, to avoid costly removal of marine growth. Thanks to the fact that the fleet has had Coppercoat antifoul applied, this will not cause us a problem and will wash off easily when the time comes.

Luckily for me, the locals really enjoy jumping in the marina to clean their boats using air compressors or scuba tanks to reach every corner of the hull, leaving no trace of marine growth. I definitely will use their services to keep the hulls clean and at the same time helping to support the local economy.

Looking forward to sailing this weekend after months of lockdown. I wish you good health and fair winds if you have the opportunity to go sailing.

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