Tim Thomas spends the strangest Christmas ever at sea in the Southern Ocean

Tim Thomas has the most bizarre Christmas ever:

‘If you were tuned in to the SSB on Christmas Day at around 2300 GMT, you would have been treated to a strange, yet remarkable, audio treat. It had been decided that the evening schedule for the BT Challenge boats should be followed by a fleet rendition of The Twelve Days Of Christmas. Seeing as the fleet is 12 strong, it all seemed to add up.

‘After several pained minutes getting everyone tuned in and co-ordinated, the group sing-song began, with Save The Children leading the way. Each yacht had its own verse to sing, and as the carol progressed, each yacht transmitted their line. It was an extraordinary moment of Christmas cheer, laughter and synchronisation.

‘That capped what was generally though to be the most bizarre Christmas any of us would ever be involved in – thousands of miles from land, racing across the Southern Ocean, sharing that special day with 17 relative strangers in immediate proximity, and 11 other yachts nearby. The celebrations had been special for most, with dehydrated food replaced by fresh beef, carried from Argentina in the cold bilges, and Christmas puddings brought out from England. Mulled wine greeted each watch as they came down from the frozen wastes of the deck, and we on Norwich Union were even treated to a post-prandial cabaret show by skipper Neil Murray and his brother-in-law Blue Robinson.

‘Father Christmas arrived twice once in the dead of night to leave individual stockings stuffed with goodies, and then again dressed festively, but somewhat impractically, in the galley. It was indeed a Christmas to remember.

‘For New Year, it has already been decided that we shall change the clocks at 0030, thus ensuring we get to celebrate the true Millennium twice, both times in the wastes of the Southern Ocean. There are not many people who will be able to claim that.

‘That’s if we can remember any of it, of course, for a certain someone on the boat is known to have added to the supply of bubbly on board with bottles of Drambuie and Cognac amongst others. Plus I have my miniature of vodka, courtesy of Yachting World, to keep me going through the cold nights.’