Cuddly toys and a builder from Liverpool are an unlikely combination, but Andrew Tomlinson is far from the stereotype 14/7/06

Although the roster shows 18 crew and a skipper on boardLiverpoolthere are actually 19. Perhaps the reason the extra crewmember hasn?t made it onto the list is that he makes very little contribution to the running of the boat, in fact he spends most of his time asleep in the navstation, but when ashore he very much makes his presence felt.

Barnaby bear was given toLiverpool’s crew by the children of St Marks School, Knowsley, Merseyside, where Tim’s aunt is headteacher. He (or various doppelgänger) has been on board the boat from the start, appearing in photos taken in venues all around the world. When I first met him in New York, he had just returned from a Madonna concert in Madison Square.

Barnaby’s self-appointed guardian on board is Andrew Tomlinson, who first made the bear’s acquaintance on Leg 1, which finished in Salvador, Brazil. Andrew, known on board as Tomo, has struck up a curiously close relationship with Barnaby, and after spending several days in Rio waiting for a plane home has a large portfolio of photos of the bear enjoying his holiday. He seems to be a bear of dubious character – there are photos of him with all kinds of alcoholic drinks, lazing on the beach and even a picture from the flightdeck of a 747 after the stewardess took a liking to him.

Tomo is a builder by trade, running a business employing several workmen from his home in Ormskirk. He became interested in Clipper after seeing the last race enter Liverpool, and when the 05/06 race was advertised in the newspaper he applied to repeat the experience as a participant, sailing from Jamaica home to Liverpool. The Clipper training persuaded him otherwise; he was left wanting more, and chose to undertake Leg 1 as well. “I’d have liked to be away for longer,” he said, “but being self-employed I needed the time in between the races to recover the business.” As an employer though he has an advantage over many on board. “The business is still running while I’m away. I’m actually earning while sailing.”

With no previous sailing experience, Tomo has become quickly enthusiastic. “I’m definitely going to sail after the race. A friend of mine has bought an Achilles 9-metre which he keeps in Conwy; we took it out in the winter after my Part A training and there was snow on the deck. It’s a bit more relaxed than this though; I had the main sweated up in about three seconds. He had to tell me to slow down. “He also hopes to crew for some of the boats in Liverpool Yacht Club, and has longer-sighted, more ambitious plans. “I’d like to get 12 or 15 people from the Clipper race, and their partners, and set up a flotilla holiday in Turkey or Croatia,” he suggests. “That could be a lot of fun.”

Asked whether the race had changed him, Tomo said: “It definitely stretches you outside your comfort zone. I found after Leg 1 that I made decisions much more easily and quickly. I think it’s because you get used to getting up and taking on some quite big challenges immediately. It certainly puts your problems at home in perspective.” Another challenge surprised him when he got home. “I went to talk to the kids about the places Barnaby had seen, and to be honest I was terrified. But when I got up there I loved it; they couldn’t make me stop. The kids asked such intelligent questions, and they treat you like a celebrity.” Tomo is also supporting Alderhay Children’s Hospital in Liverpool. “I can’t see why people should sponsor me to enjoy myself,” he said, “but when they started offering money it seemed a good idea to suppport a cause.”

Liverpoolis currently close-reaching to a north-easterly Force 4; a surprise change in the wind given that the Grib files show a similar strength south-westerly. As a result everything is at an angle at present, making my mother-watch today slightly tricky, but otherwise we’re making good progress although being forced slightly south of our ideal route. Rumour has it thatNew Yorkhave stolen a lead of a mile on us, and although this is a yet unconfirmed it shows just how close this race really is.New Yorkwere 15 miles behind us at the previous reckoning and we haven’t been hanging about. According to the synoptics the current high pressure will shortly be replaced by a low, so hopefully the south-westerlies will re-establish themselves in the near future.