Apr 2014

We thought it was time we introduced one of our round the worlders again so here’s an insight into the Clipper Race life of Neil Reynolds, a pharmacist with a confused national identity; born in England, lived in New Zealand for 10 years and Sydney for 1.5 years, with parents in Scotland!

In your pre-race questionnaire when asked what you were most looking forward to you mention sea shanties and mermaids! Have your dreams been fulfilled yet and is so how?Neil And Albany School

I have learnt a few sea shanties during my time on board. Steve Ewens, who crewed on Leg 4, brought a load on his iPod and we had some good afternoons on the way in to Sydney singing along to those (see the lyrics to ‘South Australia’ below, one of the favourites). I now know a dozen things to do with a drunken sailor, including putting him in a long boat (or bathtub, no-one can quite remember) 'til he's sober, shaving his chest hair with a razor, and putting him in bed with the captain's daughter.

As for mermaids, we've not seen any but I'm not giving up hope quite yet! I reckon they'll be getting some sun in the Caribbean when we pass through. We could have used a mermaid on board a couple of times, for instance when cutting weed from the prop on the last leg and when we got a spinnaker sheet tangled round a rudder. However, I'm not sure where one would live if she came on board and I would be concerned about her leaving scales below decks.

You are one of the on board medics for PSP Logistics with the keys to the drug cabinet; what is the medicine most often administered to the crew and what item in the on board medical kit do you hope never to use on the race?

We have a comprehensive medical kit on board ‘Dixie’ (the nickname for our boat) that would cover a whole range of medical problems arising on board. However, thankfully (fingers crossed) we haven't had to dig too deeply into it. The main drugs used on board are a bit boring, so pills for aches and pains caused by all the physical work on board, cold/flu remedies and aloe vera, which is great for sunburn. Tablets for headaches are also quite popular in port, I'm not sure why!

The items I most dread using are the rectal drip set, for administering fluids rectally. I think this is included as an incentive for people with severe seasickness to persevere with oral fluids rather than refuse. I'd also not like to have to use the urinary catheters. We have two trained nurses on board so if the need arose I'd delegate these duties to Nicky and Kath, I'm not sure they know that yet, though!

Lyrics to ‘South Australia’

‘South Australia’ was sung to a flexible combination of customary verses, floating verses from within the general shanty repertoire, and verses improvised in the moment or particular to individual singers. The song was of indefinite length, and created by supplying solo verses to a two-part refrain followed by a grand chorus. Coincidentally, it used by the wool and later the wheat traders who worked the clipper ships between Australian ports and London. The following is a sample.


(solo) Oh South Australia's my native home;

(chorus) Heave away! Heave away!

(solo) Oh South Australia's my native home.

(chorus) We're bound for South Australia.

Heave away, heave away

Oh heave away, you ruler king,

We're bound for South Australia.


Solo verse couplets documented to have been sung to ‘South Australia’ include the following from sailors of the 19th century:

I see my wife standing on the quay,

The tears do start as she waves to me.


I'll tell you the truth and I'll tell you no lie;

If I don't love that girl I hope I may die.


And now I'm bound for a foreign strand,

With a bottle of whisky in my hand.


I'll drink a glass to the foreign shore

And one to the girl that I adore.