HMSTV Adventure Blog
Keep up to date with the crew of HMSTV Adventure as they share their experiences of their amazing voyage with you in this blog.
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On a bright, sunny Saturday in July, I was proud to represent the RAF component of the UK's Joint Services Adventurous Sail Training family at Gosport for the naming of our two new Challenger 72 yachts. That was 13 months ago; it is now dark and dank on deck as we motor across Lyme Bay in Dorset, en-route to East Cowes for our final stop prior to returning to Gosport on Sat 20 August 2016. The ship's log tells us that 37,802 nautical miles have passed under the keel during the circumnavigation of the globe.
As a crew our journey started a month ago: on Friday 22 July when we all gathered for the first time at the Joint Services Adventurous Sail Training Centre. Briefings, kit issue, personal preparation, too many new names and faces to remember and a baking-hot July weekend, now seems long ago. We flew out to Halifax, Canada on Sunday morning, joined our Yacht, ADVENTURE, and set about buying and stowing food for 21 days (over 1000 meals), 1.7 tonnes of water and 2.1 tonnes of fuel. We formed up in three teams (Watches) and practised our basic sailing and emergency drills alongside before conducting a day's sail training in Halifax Bay.
Being on board Adventure provided the context that enabled us all to focus on the practical, physical and mental challenges ahead. Adventure is a very big yacht: everything is big and heavy, and most jobs require teamwork and a careful eye on safety. At 45 tonnes, she felt really solid and safe, light on the helm and very steady under sail.
We slipped Halifax on Thursday 28 July to a great send-off from the Royal Nova Scotia Yacht Squadron. They had been fabulous hosts to ourselves and our sister yacht DISCOVERER, crewed by the Army. We made firm friends in Canada, they were genuinely interested in our circumnavigation and impending Atlantic crossing; and not surprisingly we had a succession of visitors, many with a military association.
Each crew member had their own motivation and reasons for signing up to the last leg of Ex TRANSGLOBE 15-16. Most were looking for an adventure, a challenge, or both; and all were keen to learn about sailing or to build on their sailing experience. Seven of the crew were novices, having never sailed before.
Fair weather and the infamous Newfoundland fog, made for a gentle introduction to ocean sailing, ensuring that when one of several Atlantic weather depressions we were tracking caught up with us, the crew were ready and well prepared. High winds and big seas are intimidating, but teamwork, and the trust and interdependence that had by now developed between the whole crew and our very able skipper, made this an adventure to remember rather than forget.
The aftermath of the storm including a polite inquiry from the Captain of a passing tanker as to our well being (he said he had never before encountered a yacht in mid-Atlantic!), and light winds for the final three days as we approached the UK. We made landfall in Falmouth in the early hours of Saturday 13 August with an immense sense of achievement. A few days to relax and clean the yacht was very welcome; the novelty of cooking whilst heeled over at 25 degrees had long worn out, so a level, steady deck was much appreciated. Walking on land, in a straight line and without handholds, also took some adjustment, but the attractions ashore provided plenty of motivation.
The journey up the English Channel has exposed the crew to coastal sailing, which is quite different to ocean crossing. During the latter, we saw only a handful of other vessels once off the continental shelf. In the channel there were lots of boats, dozens of lights and hundreds of lobster pots (which we need to avoid lest we damage our propeller).
We have also attracted a great deal of interest as we visited Falmouth, Fowey and Plymouth. We met many ex-servicemen and their families, and quite a few who had sailed with Joint Services previously, including on earlier legs of TRANSGLOBE 15-16. The wider sailing community had evidently embraced our challenge, knew of our journey and were quick to send their best wishes. This definitely added to our sense of achievement.
So what have we gained for this epic adventure? Each individual will have their own personal perspective but let me share with you my own observations. The British military have a reputation for delivering results: on this journey, our success as a crew was borne out of good leadership by the skipper, mates and watch leaders; a clear "chain of command"; and good communication, including the ability to clarify understanding, ask "stupid questions" and not fear making mistakes.
In turn, this lead to rapidly increasing competence, trust, camaraderie and real teamwork. The ability to change sails as the storm built, on a heaving deck, under breaking waves, is not for the faint hearted.
Everyone was stretched, many outside their comfort zones, some significantly so. If you want to know how we managed, I imagine most would say they didn't want to let the team down and "someone had to do it". Underpinning everything was the trust and assurance from the more experienced crew members that the activity was achievable and safe.
It takes courage, fortitude and no small amount of commitment to undertake a journey you know will challenge you mentally and physically. It did, and we would all acknowledge that we have benefitted hugely from the experience. Fear of the unknown is perhaps the greatest fear of all, and having conquered it once, it provides any individual a mechanism for doing so again, probably when deployed on operations protecting the UK's National Interests. This is why the UK military invest in adventurous training, and in offshore sailing in particular. At an individual level our journey has been unforgettable: we have all gained life skills which will benefit us, the Services and any future employer.
Nine months before the scheduled departure in July 2015, we had no certifiable yachts. That two were located, procured and re-fitted in 8 months is an astonishing feat which owes everything to the team at JSASTC and Navy HQ.
The success of the circumnavigation was down to the crews, Service and staff skippers, JSASTC staff providing reach-back support, individual Service leads who coordinated participants and the front line commanders who released personnel for the Exercise.
This great endeavour was very evidently an enterprise that required the intimate collaboration of the UK MOD's Whole Force: Royal Navy, Army, Royal Air Force; both Regulars and Reserves; and Civil Service personnel.
Adventure's crew on this final leg comprised five females and eleven males from the Royal Navy, Royal Marines and Royal Air Force Regular and Reserve personnel, including young adults from the Air Cadet Organisation and University Air Squadrons, and personnel from the Civil Service. Looking to the future, we must now seek to encourage and develop further those who have gained experience on TRANSGLOBE to ensure the viability of future Joint Service Sailing expeditions.
My final word is reserved for our family friends and loved ones who once again have endured separation. Without their support none of our endeavours would have succeeded and it is right and proper that their contribution to Ex TRANSGLOBE will be acknowledged at the arrival event planned for Saturday in Gosport.
We have have just motor sailed past Hurst Castle at the Western end of the Solent to be welcomed back by a fly past from the Lancaster, Spitfire and Hurricane of the Royal Air Force's Battle of Britain Memorial Flight. A sharp reminder of the personal attributes required by our forefathers in the defence of our Nation.
Per Ardua Ad Astra.
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On Thursday, and for the very first time(!), Blue Watch enjoyed 'mother' duties in calm seas and quiet winds; allowing the creation of an excellent Chilli Bacon Pasta followed by Trifle.
Our thoughts turned to home as we closed in towards the Scilly Isles and Cornwall; the approaching land heralded by pods of leaping dolphins and familiar seabirds.
Friday, our final day at sea, started with a series of sail changes attempting to utilise the very light winds as we neared the Channel: the little wind we had soon died, but we had at least kept busy!
Spirits were running as the topics of land and pasties began to dominate conversation.
At around 2 AM we pulled into a quiet Falmouth Harbour and rafted up with Discoverer on a mooring buoy.
We had made it!
Sat in the cockpit we enjoyed a quiet celebratory drink; proud in our achievement and and stress-testing Falmouth's 3G network as re-connected to Social Media.
Following a geat sleep we came alongside at Pendennis Marina for a Big Clean, Big Tidy and a food re-stock; plus some well deserved R&R in this delightful town, seeped in nautical heritage.
OCdt Jonathan Spence RAF and OCdt Matt Rogers RAF.
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We had a hectic night of battering with waves and a sail change for the first time in the dark.
This entailed dropping the biggest head sail we have, feeling like the size of a tennis court, with the aide of the deck flood light.
The on watch team "worked like Trojans" said the second mate Simon for 3.5 hours, packing away the number 1 Yankee and replacing it with the slightly smaller number two Yankee.
Meanwhile the watch leader David stayed on the wheel during this time. The result was that we had a smaller angle of heel, making life more comfortable downstairs.
Afterwards as our arms recovered, we were treated to clear skies which meant we could identify stars and the 'Big Dipper' as there was no light pollution.
This was followed by an amazing sunrise which lead to calm waters and a spot of wildlife watching which we believed to be a minke whale.
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Mother Duties for the last 24 hours has been Blue.
It would seem that whenever we are on this watch, life is to be lived at 45 degrees.
For the watch chef (Kirstin Dunlop) this means that pasta will not cook as required and tempers will begin to fray.
Hence our watch is unable to fulfill their duties of ensuring the hungry mouths are fed on time.
However some of the Blue Watch are content with this angle as we will have well defined calf muscles by the time we reach Gosport.
Watch Leader (Thomas 'Pip" Ridsdill) took great pleasure in being allowed to climb the mast to fix the loose radar enhancer at first light.
Once again whales and Portuguese Man-Of-Wars were aplenty for the day.
Meanwhile the 22 Press up's for 22 Days challenge raising PTSD awareness in Veterans continues with over half the boat nominated, with the rest quivering in their bunks in anticipation....
Clifford 'Cliffy' Scott & Emily Jo Simister (Blue Watch)
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Today crew member spirits are high as we are celebrating the less than 800 miles to the Lizard, the most Southerly Point in England.
We have a sweep stake for our arrival predication at this milestone.
A celebratory sub 800m cake has been made and devoured as we continue to enjoy a post storm sea state with long swells, minimal winds and sunny skies.
In these ideal conditions we enjoyed a joint Sunday service via the VHF Radio with Discoverer courtesy of the Padre.
The church pennant was flown above the Ensign, it is formed of a St Georges Cross alongside the Dutch flag dating back to a truce in battle in the Anglo Dutch wars.
At sunset were returned the boat to normal having looked like a Chinese laundry for most of the day!
Officer Cadet Jonathan Perry RAF
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There is a storm brewing!
Our morning was interrupted by the news of two low pressure weather systems on our tail which could make life interesting.
For mother watch in the galley duties proved challenging as the seas picked up and the yacht maintained a steep heel angle.
Activity on deck picked up with reefs being put in and taken out. We took advice from the fleet Met Office (JOMOC) and tacked south.
Every bodies spirits were maintained by good tunes and top scran, even better perhaps as we learnt that brewing storm was actually in Mexico....!
OCdt Matt Rogers RAF
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"There she blows" came the cry from the helmsman Jim, the off watch crew rushed on deck with cameras and were greeted by a pod of 25 dolphins in the morning.
The afternoon watch had whale sighting, which made up for the tedious day of motoring due to light winds.
The opportunity was taken to do some boat admin which included a tweak to the shaft break whose job it is to stop the propellor shaft going round when the boat is under sail and hence slowing the boat down.
Post evening scran was followed by inter- service merry banter and lots of timeless singing in the galley.
CPO Thomas (Pip) Ridsdill RN
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After a few rough days an improvement in the weather has seen even the most fragile members of the crew coming back to life.
Today we saw a clear sunrise for the first time, the sea was calm which meant all hands were on deck doing laundry and soaking up the rays.
In the evening we had a general knowledge quiz with Discoverer via the VHF providing valuable training.
However the Armys questions for us appear to a be a little blinkered, with a strong focus on all things green!
During the clear night we enjoyed amazing stars whilst Blue Watch discovered sea birds are attracted to white light like moths to car head lights, resulting in one of the team taking a direct strike!
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A windy start to the day wth gusts to 29 kts and a confused sea provided our first insight to ocean sailing on a dark night.
The day dawned grey, overcast with a dying wind but warm due to the gulf stream.
Just after midday Disco and Adv met up about 70m north of Titanic's resting place for a short Sunday service conducted by Padre Simon.
By the afternoon the sun was shining and the spinnaker was soon up.
A whale sighting followed by a pre-dinner spinnaker drop and a great chilli con carne for dinner ended a perfect day.
AVM David Stubbs RAF
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Saturday began with a warm weather front coming through which lead to lots of rain and windy conditions.
As a result we had to change head sails at the breakfast watch change.
The more choppy conditions took their toll on the crew with a number suffering from sea sickness however, once the front passed it grew warm and we were kept busy putting reefs in and out in bright sunshine.
It finally feels like we are crossing the Atlantic.
Officer Cadet Matt Rogers RAF
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Adventure departed the Port of Lunenberg at 0800 for the 50nm transit to Halifax.
Unfortunately light airs meant a continued dependency on the engine however best use was made of the conditions. A broad reach saw the journey accomplished in little over 5 hours.
On arrival the Royal Nova Scotia Squadron were particularly receptive and accommodating. Fueling and preliminary cleaning / maintenance was achieved prior to the crew stepping ashore.
Halifax has lived up to its reputation as a city steeped in history and culture. The crew enjoyed Canadian hospitality at its best, setting up nicely for the deep clean.
With all objectives now achieved and the vessel in an appropriate state to hand over to the incoming party, the crew are now looking forward to a final social event this evening.
Lt Daniel Waskett RN
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The day started with a late night transit into Lunenburg Harbor, Nova Scotia. After finding a suitable anchorage in the bay around 0100 we settle into the anchor watch routine. This involves taking some bearings of prominent features, normally three fixed objects roughly 120 degrees apart.
With these known bearings the lucky pair of anchor watch buddies can spent their hour each on deck amongst the starlit sky, keeping a check on the boat holding its position at anchor. The anchor watch routine needed at 08:00 ship time, which after some consternation turns out to now be 09:00 after a slip forward to -4 hrs GMT.
The plan for the day was to firstly square the boat away from its sail plan, stowing sails and preparing things like rubbish to be taken ashore. With the crew eager to see what looked to be a very scenic waterfront, reminding some people of a Scandinavian coast, with multi-coloured houses and a rocky pine tree coast. The first job of the day was to officially arrive us into Canada.
The skipper went ashore to find customs and shortly returned with word that the Canadian Border Force wish to see all the crew, us being of a military nature.
A stealthy black rib appeared from nowhere shortly after, and what turned out to be four very friendly Canadian Border Force official's came alongside to welcome us to Canada and go through our passports. With the formalities completed the crew could have an afternoon ashore and use the wash facilities in the marina, along with a bit of site seeing, and all important ice cream sampling.
Lunenburg is a historic sailing town, with many shipwrights, a blacksmith and other business to support building schooners in the past and the locally shaped boat called a dory, which looked much like something you might make from paper to sail down a stream as a kid. Having had a good afternoon run ashore and with some charcoal sourced, the skipper suggested we make for the headland opposite the harbour and have a crew BBQ.
This was a great way to spend the evening and allowed the crew to catch up with each other on their activities of the day, and a rather competitive stone skimming contest to break out.
While out in the bay the locals have a friendly Wednesday night dinghy sailing race, using it seems most of the boats at anchor in the harbour as racing marks. Fully fed, watered and eaten by mosquitoes we returned via the boat's flubber dub (dinghy) to see out a nearly full moon rise over the bay and say cheers to another great day on and off the water.
We then settled down in our cots to another tuneful nights snoring for the early start towards our final destination of Halifax, Nova Scotia tomorrow.
Cpl Alex Daly RAF
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After a rough night at sea the wind settled and the fog once again accumulated meaning that the dreaded fog horn belted throughout the yacht. The dropping of the wind led the yankee and stay sail to be lowered and adventure was under engine.
At 1100 the mood was lifted as more whales were sighted. The wild life fan club pleaded with the skipper to change course to get closer to the whales, not wanting to break the law the skipper sadly declined.
After more sightings of whales and dolphins the hours under engine started to fly by and land was on the horizon.
Once round the corner of the headland the wind picked up and adventure was flying along with all three sails. This caused the on board speaker system to be put to good use with jez ensuring his Queen CD was out for the crews first Canadian sunset which was arguably the most beautiful of the leg so far. This provided a moment for the whole crew to be on deck to enjoy the moment.
By 2300 the sails were dropped as we arrived at Lunenburg, adventure then rested at anchor for the night.
OCdt Rachael Brook RAF
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Adventure by name, adventure by nature. We got a rapid plan in place to lift our beautiful Adventure into the dockyard hoist first thing this morning in order to replace the prop.
Amazingly, our sister yacht Discoverer had a spare prop which we were able to utilise.
Quite a magnificent feat to see her being hoisted into such beautiful surroundings and you really got to see the sheer beauty and magnitude of her in full hoist. The predicted difficulties of catching tides so we didn't run aground, were met by some speedy engineering repair from our skipper, meaning we were back on our mooring within two hours.
With the replacement prop, came the refitting of the forestays. We also had to swap the morse direction as currently it's fitted for going into gear makes you go into reverse and vice versa.
It's amazing how many talented individuals we have on board that have been able to turn their hands to some quite complex repairs and maintenance. Two hours of repairs and tests, meant that we were able to slip by 1500.
Once we were out of the Gulf of Maine, the sea state crept up to 4 and mixed into the pilot a clash of tides which meant for a very bumpy nights sailing with a few people choosing to eat or rest up on deck.
A great nights sailing with Red and Blue Watch taking the helm, reaching over 10 kts with a beautiful sunrise which was quickly replaced with fog, meaning our radar and fog warning were utilised. We are now in Canadian territory, we have raised the Canadian courtesy flag and are looking forward to our next stop in Lunenberg.
Strange to think that a week today this amazing experience and opportunity will be over and we will all be back to our daily grind.
This truly has been a chance of a lifetime to be part of such a varied team from all parts of the Armed Forces, visit some spectacular places and to sail such a magnificant yacht.
Sqn Ldr Anne-Marie Young
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HMSTC Adventure's journey along the Maine coast continued on 17th July with a passage planned between the islands of Penobscot Bay to Southwest Harbour on Mount Desert Island.
We started under motor but hoisted sails when the breeze started to build. However, it was obvious to all where all the lobsters for sale in the local restaurants come from as we were confronted with a 'sea' of pot floats.
With lookouts closed up in the bow to shout 'turn port/stbd', we continued our sail training with mast climbs for some more of the crew. After almost 6 hours of pot avoidance, our luck ran out at the narrowest channel of the pilotage - Casco Passage - between swans and black islands.
On the helm as we slowly sailed through the calm waters, Jez noticed our speed dropping and although we couldn't see a pot, it was obvious we were dragging something.
The crew lept into action and dropped the sails while the skipper quickly risk assessed whether we should start the engine. With rocks being nearby, we had no choice and driving astern, whatever we had caught dropped off.
Motoring out of the narrow channel, we now realised we probably had something trapped in the rudder and so we planned an immediate anchorage and readied our 'diver'.
On the approach, a sudden excessive vibration was felt back aft through the deck and although Dan the diver confirmed that there wasn't any rope trapped, his question 'how many blades should our propellor have?' did indicate the source of the vibration.
A further dive with a gopro allowed us all to review the stump where the third blade should have been.
With our engine now 'emergency use only', we called on our sister yacht Discoverer for a tow for the final 6 miles to Southwest Harbour, picking up a buoy on arrival.
Thankfully, there is a large yacht shipyard here (Hinckley) with a 160 tonne hoist but it being closed on Sunday, the crew headed ashore to explore Mount Desert Island, a walk around Echo Lake - part of the Acadia National Park which is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year - or a visit to Bay Harbor on the free bus.
With the yard open on Monday, our skipper has made plans for a lift on the high tide and we have been informed that Discoverer has a spare folding prop so we should be back on our way shortly with less stops in Canada being the likely outcome.
It's hard to believe we will all be back in the UK one week today.
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After an evening ashore in Boston we started the day with a food shop, six monthly maintenance, and refueling the dinghy.
We slipped around midday and headed out of the harbour into a 20 knot following breeze. This gave us the perfect opportunity to fly the heavy kite until the breeze built towards the end of the day.
We sailed into the evening under white sail alone, getting up to 11 knots through the water.
Through the night we poled out the headsail, allowing us to point directly towards Camden Harbour, our destination the following day.
Around 2am a huge wind shift forced us to gybe and we eventually settled on a beam reach.
The famous Maine fog rolled in at 6 and the wind abandoned us, leaving us to motor in through the final pilotage.
We arrived in Camden mid-morning and picked up a mooring buoy, the cheapest so far. The water taxi was included which gave the crew a chance for a run ashore for the day.
Some decided to climb the nearby Mt Battie and others explored the town.
Camden Harbour is a brilliant place to visit and should be on the plan for anyone cruising the Maine coastline.
AB William Sutton, First Mate, Adventure, RNR.
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We all had a fairly early wake up call which was swiftly followed by a light continental breakfast before weighing anchor, and setting off underway at approximately 0900 hrs in preparation to come alongside at 1000 hrs.
All crew members donned on their best attire 'crew shirts' and were briefed by the skipper and mates on job roles and responsibilities prior to our arrival.
Once alongside the crew were met by the friendly marina staff who very kindly assisted with our on-board lines.
It wasn't long until 'HMS Discoverer' joined us by proceeding to come alongside us on our port side, as we swiftly gave assistance where possible to ease the strain for the Army in their evolution.
Once both yachts were alongside Constitution Marina the crew were briefed and secured for the rest of the day.
Taking advantage on this short period alongside Boston, most of the crew explored the naval history, walked 'the freedom trail', explored its culture, visited 'USS Constitution' in all its glory and sampled the local cuisine with some light refreshments.
LSC Naomi Doyle
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After making it into the Nantucket bay at around 1800 the crew were surprised by the first sights of the bay and marina.
Far from the sleepy historical town that many were expecting the entire marina was filled with superyachts of all varieties.
After some deliberation we picked up a mooring buoy in the centre of the bay and promptly sat down for a well earned meal, expertly provided by red watch, after our first night sail.
Once the usual tasks of putting the boat to bed had been completed the crew then piled on board the local water taxi for showers and some time ashore.
The following morning saw a later start and some monthly maintenance taking place. This included several hours becoming acquainted with the bilges whilst hunting for an elusive fresh water leak which is still at large.
The afternoon saw another trip into Nantucket to explore some of the nautical history it had to offer. With dinner kindly cooked by the 1st and 2nd mates the crew readied the boat to leave slipping the buoy at 2200.
We are currently on our way to Dorchester Bay for a brief anchorage before heading for Boston.
Nathaniel Rowan, Thunderer Squadron
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After a particularly wet and windy nights sailing, encountering a spectacular storm where the wind shot up from 8 to 30 knots in just a few minutes, we arrived into the bay of Edgartown on Martha's Vineyard, famous for the film jaws, but thankfully no great white sharks were encountered on our passage.
Breakfast consisted of a hearty bowl of porridge and numerous brews, setting the crews up nicely for everyone to explore Edgartown.
After sampling seafood, sweet delicacies and more brews, the crew headed back to HMS Adventurer to get underway towards Nantucket.
En route the crew set about completing daily tasks such as cleaning, emptying some 200 litres of water from the bilages from a fresh water leak and preparing a one pot wonder feast for our arrival in Nantucket that evening.
A fantastic afternoon of sailing, the crew appear to be gelling together very nicely after week one, with everyone playing their part and everyone getting stuck in.
The more inexperienced members of the crew are starting to gain confidence and knowledge towards their competent crew.
AB Tom Parker from the mighty red watch
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We had an early start out from Port Jefferson. We left the bay by 7 and headed further east with the main sail and the engine, but started sailing with 3 sails in the afternoon till we approached Mystic Seaport.
The weather for the day was overcast with good viability but dry with calm seas and a gentle breeze.
All the crew had breakfast soon after setting sail. followed by cake and tea/coffee for elevenses. For lunch, mother watch cooked up chicken fajitas.
Adventure sailed through the historic marina of mystic, and moored alongside in a historic naval museum. The crew went ashore for for a meal and explored the town of Mystic.
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After a long journey we arrived at liberty landing marina ready to meet our skipper oli on Sunday evening, who welcomed us all with some pizza.
The following morning we ran through some understanding of the yacht including a deck walk and life on-board.
This gave us the perfect opportunity in the afternoon to explore the city of New York, Rockefeller Centre, Ground Zero, Brooklyn Bridge and Central Park were just some of the places we managed to see.
The second day consisted of fitting of life jackets, rescue swimmer practises and understanding of the ropes and sails.
In the afternoon we again got the chance to head over to New York, and most people enjoyed the American cuisine at various locations including east village.
Today begins with an early start and a sail past the Statue of Liberty, the journey begins.
OCdt bethany stones
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Team Adventure were firmly settled in Hampton for the weekend. Whilst we eagerly awaited the arrival of our repaired mainsail following our unfortunate encounter with a 'weather bomb', we seized the opportunity to fully explore the history and culture of the surrounding areas.
Two unnecessarily large American cars later, the team split up into smaller Adventurer sized groups and set off to make the most of the time we had alongside. Between the team we visited Williamsburg, James Town and York Town, allowing us to appreciate the local history of colonial life before the war of Independence.
Others took a short drive to a number of the museums in the local area including the Nauticus and Maritime museums. A self-guided tour of the IOWA class battleship, USS Wisconsin, was eye-opening; the sheer size of the vessel was comparable to the new Queen Elizabeth Class Carriers, to which we have our very own QE Seaman Spec onboard Adventure.
It was interesting to identify some of the similarities between the ships in terms of the anchor cabling and equipment. The most notable difference however was the Wisconsin's two doughnut shops on-board - we are seriously considering suggesting this as a possible compartment within the design of future RN ships.
Despite the enormity of the IOWA class, it compared little to the magnitude of the Nimitz Class Carriers. Some members of the crew were fortunate enough to be offered a tour of the Norfolk Naval Base by a kind member of the yacht club.
They enjoyed an up-close view of the USS George W Bush and other US warships berthed in the yard. Needless to say, Norfolk Naval base made us appreciate the size difference between our two nations' navies.
As well as the educational aspect of our stay, came the goodwill regional engagement. Our presence proved to be surprisingly popular not only with the adult members of Hampton Yacht Club, but more so amongst the younger generations.
Adventures' crew provided tours to two groups of 15 children, who were attached to Hampton sailing club. Lt Cdr Dan Bleasdale was the dressed as the ship's pirate and much to the amusement of the crew, the children chanted to him to “walk the plank” - he did so willingly.
Children and adults alike enjoyed unlimited access to the yacht over the weekend, exploring below decks and learning about the equipment on-board. The consensus from the children was that they could not fit all of their things in our small personal belongings box and that they would much prefer to have air conditioning down below.
We mentioned this to the Skipper (the crew would like it too) however we were informed that such luxuries were not aligned to the principles to Adventure Sail training!
Tuesday afternoon arrived, as did our newly repaired sail, and it was time to say goodbye to Hampton. We have been overwhelmed by the generosity and hospitality of the staff and members of Hampton Yacht Club, who have gone out of their way to make us feel welcome and ensuring we achieved the most out of our stay there.
Having said our goodbyes, Team Adventure are very pleased to be back at sea and embarking on our final passage of Leg 11 to New York.
Lt Sarah Vines, White Watch, HMSTC Adventure, 39 24N, 74 01W.
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Since the last blog entry was submitted, Team Adventure continued to sail on a northerly course from Charleston towards Hampton although things where about to get a lot more exciting.
In the early hours of Thu morning, the boat was sailing between 2 rain clouds when we believe they merged into what is commonly referred to as a weather bomb.
Around 0510, the wind increased suddenly from 10 knots, classed as a gentle breeze, to 55-60 knots, officially a violent storm and only a few miles per hour off a hurricane. Visibility instantly reduced to zero and lightning was striking the water all around the yacht.
Despite the best efforts of White Watch, Thomas, Sarah, Jessica and Neil, along with the skipper, Shane, nothing could be done to save the mainsail which effectively blew out in seconds.
The crew alarm was activated with the entire team pulling together to bring down what was left of the mainsail and drop the No 2 Yankee headsail which managed to escape unscathed. The wind returned to a gentle breeze in about 7 minutes with all on board coming through without a scratch.
Many of the crew have said that this storm afforded the most challenging 7 minutes (thankfully, that is all that it lasted for!) of their career. In true British fashion, once the storm had passed, we shared a huge pot of tea and reflected proudly on the Team's communication skills and will to 'get the job done' - all of this 'on the hoof', of course!
At 0730, it was time for the first meal of the day; Red Watch serving up hard-earned crispy bacon sandwiches. Under the combination of engine and 2Y sail power, we continued our voyage.
Some identified Waships and military aircraft as we passed the USN's Norfolk Base and transited Chesapeake Bay. JSASTC and the Skipper co-ordinated collection of the blown main sail.
Once we arrived at Hampton, we were met by a sail maker and made to feel most welcome by members of the Hampton Yacht Club (HYC). After carrying the main sail ashore for inspection and handover, Team Adventure headed to the club house for an enjoyable evening with its members and Team Discoverer (whose main sail had also blown en route to Hampton).
Today, we have carried out some scheduled and 'as required' maintenance on the boat, the Skipper has spoken with the local press and we have hosted 2 groups of children from a local sailing centre. They evidently enjoyed their tour of the yacht, wearing our 'oilies' and 'forcing' 1 of Team Adventure to 'walk the plank'!
We are likely to be in Hampton for a few days, more to follow...
CPO Doran and Surg Lt Morrow RN
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After leaving Chalrleston and raising the sails we were blown eastwards by a healthy south westerly. We powered through the Atlantic at a strong ten knots, enjoying the relatively steady roll of the boat surfing over the waves.
The sun was shining and morale was high as we tucked into our expertly crafted, one pot pasta bolognaise, washed down with America's finest....chilled...fruit squash.
As the sun set and we settled back into the watch routine, the wind remained strong and the air began to cool. For the first time in the trip, T-shirts were replaced with long sleeves and shorts with trousers as the dry air and dark skies washed through.
Then the evening watch was gifted with the most spectacular sight as a deep auburn moon bubbled up over the horizon, eventually rising into a full beam spotlight high in the sky.
This fresh light (and of course the AIS) displayed the east coast sea traffic that our comparatively tiny yacht was surrounded by. Merchant vessels, tugs, tows, motors yachts all cruising out there in the dark provided a great classroom for some nav light revision.
As the morning watch took over the crew carried out a new evolution in poling out the yankee, setting up a perfect goose wing to keep us powering on. The gentle roll of the downwind transit reminding us all that we do have our "sea legs" and the choppy beating (and associated side effects) of the passage to Charleston, are a but a vague memory.
And this is where you find us now south of Pamlico Sound, escaping the blistering sunshine, and writing the blog at the Chart Table. As the only Reservist on board, I can categorically state that this beats the day job, hands down!
HMSTC Adventure, 34 11N, 75 53W, Mid Anna Thomson, HMS Flying Fox
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After a windy evening the weather settled in the morning ready for our approach into Charleston.
The weather gave us plenty of opportunity to hone our sail setting skills and helmsmanship especially useful for those working towards their competent crew qualification.
The passage into Charleston took about an hour and gave us our first glimpse of the history surrounding this previous colonial town. We initially passed Fort Sumter where the first naval battle against a land fortification took place during the American Civil War.
This was followed by a glimpse of the mighty aircraft carrier USS Yorktown which is now a memorial and tourist attraction. On entry to the Ashley river we were also treated to an impressive aerial display by the resident pelicans diving for fish.
On arrival into the marina in Charleston, we had a few minor repairs to make including one to our main sail which was quickly sorted by our expert engineers onboard. Whilst the post sailing preps were being completed the purser team stepped ashore for some fresh victuals.
On the upcoming menu this week is spaghetti, chicken tagine and Thai green curry. As well as getting more adventurous as we get used to cooking at sea often at a 45 degree angle there is a healthy bit of competition between the watches to produce the best meal!
The marina was very welcoming and hosted evening nibbles which gave us an ideal opportunity to speak to some of the local sailors and tell them about Exercise Transglobe.
The following morning prior to sailing the crew made the most of their time to explore Charleston. We visited the city battery, historic market and sampled some Southern cuisine including sausage biscuits and gravy.
We are now on our way to Hampton and looking forward to spending the next three days at sea along the Eastern coast of America.
Blue Watch - Jenna, Laura, Andy and Dan.
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As always, we had a plan. Discoverer and Adventure had poured over the charts, gulf stream position and weather to work out the optimum route from Cape Canaveral to Charleston, our first real offshore sail of Leg 11 and with some North wind forecast it was likely to be an interesting 48 hours. However, Mother Nature and King Neptune were in a mischievous mood and wanted to play.
Our departure from Cape Canaveral was delayed due to extremely active thunderstorms moving through the area at our original departure slot but the Cape Marina Staff where very helpful and let us stay as long as required - the additional 2 dozen ice creams bought by the crews might have also helped.
The plan was to clear the shoals off Canaveral, head out to the NE whilst the wind was in a westerly sector to the edge of the Gulf Stream and then be in deep water, just out of the main current, once the wind veered to the forecast NE 20-25 knots and make best speed to Charleston - simples.
What really happened was a viscous squall arrived whilst we where skirting the shallows off Canaveral, not helpful; then very quickly followed up by a monumental thunderstorm measuring some 15 miles long and 5 miles across on radar that persisted and effectively herded us with precision to the exact spot we had been trying to avoid - in the gulf stream where the ocean floor rises from 600 - 60m depth in a strong NE wind.
To say the crew have found it a challenging night would be an understatement but then this is the exact reason why we participate in Adventurous Training - developing teamwork and leadership skills in challenging and unpleasant environments which of course is exactly the skill set that we want to see in times of conflict from our young Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen.
The team on Adventure dug deep in the hours of darkness, pulled together and did what they had to do to get through a very bouncy and wet night.
As I type this at first light, the sun is out and dolphins are putting on a great acrobatics display in the large waves and there is laughter in the cockpit. The team is a better one than it was yesterday so all in all a most successful night at sea.
I am very happy to report that the yacht took it all in her stride - these really are amazing machines and we are very privileged to be able to sail her in the warm, if not rough, waters off the Eastern Seaboard of the States.
We have all learnt a lot about ourselves and each other since leaving Cape Canaveral and also been reminded that Mother Nature and King Neptune really do hold all the cards out here and will have the final word - that said a well founded plan will always have its place.
Regards from Adventure - 29' 54N / 80' 11W
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Greetings from the Adventure Crew. We have all arrived safely in Cape Canaveral after just over 24 hours at sea and approximately 170 miles.
It has been a thrilling 24 hours. It began with a slight snag when the Discoverer Crew run aground outside the Port in Miami but after an hour we were able to successfully tow them out using an ingenious method.
This consisted of using the halyards from the Mast. A great team effort solved the issue and we were soon well away. We all enjoyed Miami including the beach, unsurprisingly!
As the evening drew in we watched a spectacular moonset, a bright clear starry night, as well as a thunderous distant horizon with bolt lightning. In one evening we experienced a lot en route to Cape Canaveral.
Towards the end of our passage we had both the mainsail and number one yankee up and were picking up a fantastic rate of knots. It was as if we were flying over the water. Our Watch systems have bedded in well. Food has been great and on time and we have all helped and looked after each other.
On my White Watch we worked 2-8, 12-4 and today 8-2. We soon got into it.
I found navigating in the dark a useful experience as I had never sailed at night without reference points before. Using the stars or clouds soon became the way of navigating and we all soon grasped the concepts.
No one has been sick yet! The crew and I were amazed today to see three dolphins chase our boat for a good half hour and they provided some fantastic photo opportunities.
We also saw the Launch pads of the Kennedy Space Center on the horizon.
All in all it has been a thoroughly enjoyable 24 hours. We are now at Cape Marina and plan to visit the Kennedy Space Center tomorrow, which we are all really excited about.
SAC Neil Robinson RAF
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Good afternoon from a sunny and warm Bayside Marina in Miami, Florida! We have had a very hard day training today in extreme dead heat of around 33c with zero wind.
Half of us slept on the main deck last night due to the heat, while the others including myself braved the bunks below...we regret that decision now as it was like sleeping in the Eden Project! We have the sail bags laid out on the main deck so hopefully will be able to use them as make shift beds and sleep under the stars tonight.
The skipper went into a lot more detail today with the safety briefs, including a practical man overboard session. Gareth Williams was the willing volunteer and donned a full sea survival suit and bouyancy aid. We then watched the process of lowering him into the waters of the Marina and hoisting him and a dummy casualty out of the water in the event of a Man over Board. (MOB).
We then swapped with the army boat and practiced raising and lowering the main sail, learning the ropes (literally!), and the reefing of the sail by an Army Sailing Instructor. This was very hard work in the heat but we pulled together as a team. Tomorrow someone brave needs to put on a harness and scale the 110ft tall mast to inspect it for any damage. I am simply amazed at the size of this boat. It is nothing like I have sailed before.
We have calculated what food we currently have on board, against what we need and recipies for the next few days ahead. The pursers have gone out shopping for us. Tonight we are having a meal onboard, tomorrow morning we are going through some more briefs, then the rest of Tuesday will be our own time. Many of us plan to go down to Miami Beach.
The plan is Tuesday night to prep the vessel ready for our first passage to Cape Canaveral first thing Wednesday. This will involve approximately 30 hours of sailing. The Gulf Stream will provide warm waters for the potential for us to jump in and have a swim along the way, watching out for 'nobbies' - or Sharks.
The Navy lingo has really baffled myself and the other two RAF guys onboard! We need a translator... also Duff apparantly means Pudding! Mike Berresford joked we need a Visa to be onboard!
It is going to be great to get going sailing on Wednesday to get some breeze. I have been sweating non stop all day. None of us are at all acclimatised yet.
I need to go now because the food is due back shortly and I need to muck in with storing it all away. Please keep reading, sharing and following our blog as we prepare to embark Wednesday on a trip of a lifetime up the East Coast of the United States.
SAC Neil Robinson RAF
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Hi all, I am pleased to report we have all made it to Miami, Florida safely to kick start Leg 11 up the East Coast of the United States.
The flight was long and very bumpy towards the end, perhaps this was 'training' for our potential rough ride ahead!
We arrived into Miami Airport at 4.45pm, got through to our awaiting coaches and were greeted by the hot, sticky humid Floridian heat.
This is just a quick blog to say we have met our skipper, introduced ourselves and talked about our previous sailing experiences, as well as our passage plan. It sounds amazing with plenty of opportunities for team building work, swimming and sight seeing. It will be great to practice and put together our sailing skills. Some are looking to gain their Competent crew tick on this leg, so it will very beneficial for them.
Our Skipper, Shane Doran dished out all the jobs and called out the watch teams. I am on Red watch. I have been blown away by the boats, they are impressive in size and completely kitted out.
They are very spacious inside compared to my previous experiences on a Victoria 34.
We all seem to be getting on well with each other already and are bedding in well. We have already discussed sleeping out on the deck tonight as it is just far too humid onboard!
Watch this space for further updates. Tomorrow we have numerous safety briefs, sail training and boat familiarisation. Also the sizing up of our oileys.
If we werent so tired, we would be tempted by the numerous boat parties going on beside us!
However we are going to grab a bite to eat and get some shut eye. It has been a long day.
Stay tuned for more updates from Adventure. Over and Out.
SAC Neil Robinson
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Hello everyone and welcome to the start of Leg 11 of Exercise Transglobe, undoubtedly one of the most exciting legs of the UK Armed Forces round the world expedition.
The crews for Adventure and Discovery have all safely arrived in Gosport to begin our epic voyage traversing up the Eastern Seaboard of the United States, beginning in Miami and culminating in New York, New York. (So good they named it twice in fact!).
Today we spent the day introducing ourselves, being issued our snazzy JSASTC polo shirt and sailing boots - alongside going through expectations for our journey.
Seasickness was the main one. We watched clips of previous legs including someone leaning over the side and let's face it, sailing is not always for the faint hearted.
There are a range of abilities among the RAF and Navy crew boat. Some are total novices while others are more seasoned.
We posed for our crew photos in the Marina today and it was funny sharing banter with the Navy, (I am RAF). Including myself, there are two other RAF personnel that will be onboard Adventure. There are a total of 15 of us that make up the Adventure crew composition. We were comparing our flag sizes against the navy and proudly posed with the RAF Ensign despite being outnumbered by twelve Royal Navy Personnel!
Another funny side today was the safety brief, in that human gas problems onboard are perhaps the reason for the leg changes on Transglobe!
We are set to fly out to Miami tomorrow to meet the Skipper, get familiar with the yacht, have a crew meal ashore and take in what lies ahead for us over these next three weeks. It is going to be tough, tiring, uncomfortable and exhausting but for me this is a once in a lifetime opportunity and I am over the moon to have been selected. A reserve place came available at the last minute.
This experience for me shall be a world away from my familiar life on No 1 Air Mobility Wing (1AMW) at RAF Brize Norton. We recently celebrated our 50th anniversary a few weeks back.
On the Wing I am familiar with hotel comforts when not on exercise or on operation, but this time around the unrelenting Atlantic will be unforgiving to say the least... might be payback?! What have I let myself in for...
I am here to challenge and push myself to the extreme. I have only sailed around the Isle of Wight before and in Weymouth.
To combine the RAF, with my new found hobby, Sailing, alongside one of my favourite countries, the United States, is going to be awesome and a dream come true. The goal for everybody at the end will be the golden moment when we sail past the Statue of Liberty, signalling the completion of three gruelling weeks.
I hope that during these next few weeks I entertain you with this blog with the progress of our journey; the highs and lows, provide an insight into our daily routine, as well as detail our outings ashore.
We have plenty of stops and activities scheduled, including the Wounded Warriors Programme and Armed Forces Day. We are also away for the EU referendum vote so will be keeping a close tab on things back home.
As they explained to us today, this could make or break us and become a life defining moment for us, in that we may all learn something new about ourselves.
Lets see what happens!. Welcome again on behalf of the crew of Adventure, I look forward to updating you all once we arrive in the States in the next 24 hours. Talk again when we are across the otherside of the Pond.
SAC Neil Robinson.
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We are less than 500nm from our final destination, Miami. The beautiful BVI's are a distant memory.
We have not seen land or any other life for 3 days. Days are spent cooking, cleaning and entertaining on Mother Watch.
We all enjoyed the opportunity for a good sing along playing 'Heads Up' and our inter watch quiz went down well.
On Watch our sailing skills are put to the test with the wind fully at our stern, keeping on track can be
Today we welcomed the speed boost from our spinnaker. Ben was like an extra from Cirque Du Soleil as he wowed us with his skills on the spinnaker pole.
At night we admire The Milky Way, attempt to decipher the constellations, watch for shooting stars and dodge lightning strikes whilst trying not to fall asleep on the graveyard shift.
Whilst the company on board is of course exemplary, the accommodation is not to the usual high RAF standard with temperatures of 30 degrees plus in our cramped bunks.
Red watch are particularly suffering as their only fan is broken. Most importantly, we are still ahead of Discovery and have made good use of the Sat phone to check ourselves into the Mandarin Oriental
Bring on Miami!
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The 15-man RAF crew on Adventure are well into a routine as we sail around the British Virgin Islands.
The crew have bonded well and the novice sailors have learnt quickly completing all elements of their Competent Crew qualification in record time.
On the first night in the BVI we visited The Bitter End Yacht Club on Virgin Gorda where we moored amongst some serious power boating hardware assembled for the annual Poker Race.
Unfortunately even the speedy Adventure cannot match the 90mph some of those vessels can make so we watched the noisy race from afar while sailing tranquily to Tortola via a few hours exploring The Baths.
In Tortola the crew restowed for the 1000nm+ sea passage to Miami; if only we did do 90 mph and we could be there in no time!
At anchor for our last night in the BVI, the crew took one last chance to sort their kit and thoroughly deep clean the boat before swimming and snorkelling off a beautiful deserted beach.
Still no luck with the fishing but with the new tackle we acquired in Tortola it's only a matter of time until we catch enough to feed all 15 crew....hope dies last!
Morale is high and everyone is ready and excited for the sea passage; it is fitting that we head to the US today on Memorial Day.
Next stop Miami!
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Following the completion of the the crew familiarisation and training we set sail for the first of our 24 - 30 hour Island hops.
Arrived in Antigua, stowed the boat, waited for customs (a theme that is continuing to frustrate the crews Gatwick and Heathrow are positively supersonic in comparison.) and a chance to explore the local sights.
Back to the boat, midnight rain storm giving a brief respite from the stifling heat and humidity that is relentless. 7-11 litres of water being drunk by each crew member per day and we're still thirsty.
Next hop, off to the Virgin Islands. Another early start (due mainly to the gentle heat and humidity building in the steel boat to a point that would have been considered to be torture in World War Two) waiting for our sister boat Discoverer to slip moorings first and we're off.
This time round the shift system had fully kicked in, 4 hrs on 4 hrs off and the third watch does all the house keeping, not easy when the boat is being thrown around like a bobbing cork!
We still managed to catch a Barracuda which will be pan fried in a lemon and balsamic glaze and served as a starter on a bed of crisp watercress, tomatoes, and locally sourced sweet potato...!
Customs again...then a quick sail past #SirRichardBranson's Necker Island pad before mooring for the night.
The crew have bonded well and are mostly enjoying the sleepless nights and stiflingly hot days. The anticipation and apprehension for the main crossing up to Miami is steadily building.
We continue to sail and continue to lean (in at least two senses).
Two weeks left in a large tin can - can't wait!
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The crew for Leg 10 completed 2 days of team buiding and sail training in St Lucia before setting off for the 200 mile overnight passage to Antigua.
The crew is made up entirely from RAF personnel of mixed ranks and all levels of experience with everyone hoping to learn new skills and gain big boat sea miles.
The passage gave fair winds, some heavy showers but hot conditions on deck and below for the excellent Mother watch, who set the standard for the next 3 weeks with an excellent first meal at sea.
Tomorrow we set sail for the British Virgin Islands.
Red Watch Leader Sqn Ldr Hannah Brown
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Good morning to all our readers back in the UK!
We are still on course, skirting around the coast of Brazil. With strong winds we are
making good progress.
The downside is resulting in surf like waves which although fun to ride whilst at the helm, are less entertaining when a hatch gets left open and you are rudely awoken by a large bucket of sea
water hitting your face at 0330.
My blue watch counterparts are enjoying a relocated sleep in the saloon as I type quietly. Personally, for the first time on this adventure I discovered today the penalty for being a willing volunteer when a blockage was found in one of the heads.
Evidently with a secret desire to be a plumber, both myself and the first mate made for a 'quick' unblock with any tools that were to hand.
Seven hours later, with countless screwdrivers dropped in shin deep excrement from the pipes which we were both wading through, the assisted use of a mallet in order to rattle free the offending aged
faeces, and a great deal of 'poo flicking' from water pipes over the side of the boat into the water, we had a usable toilet.
Its a good job we both got extra pudding as a reward!
In my spare time when not employed on either of my primary duties as medic or chief toilet fixer, my secondary (and more important duty) is as social secretary.
In this role I am devastated to report the killing of 3 more of our members, but on the plus side we are all very eagerly anticipating our next social events including pay day - lets celebrate, happy 'May the fourth be with you day' and merry 'Matt’s been in the Airforce 4 years today' day on the 9th May.
The excitement doesn’t end here.
Next stop, Salvador.
Flt Lt Amy Hill
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30 miles to the east of rio de janeiro and already 3 are dead, the on-board game of killer has begun.
The apprehension in the crew to accept random items, in random locations from our fellow crewmates will only grow as more fall.
Outside of that though all is well, today we took part in our first 'hands to bathe' in a surprisingly warm South Atlantic giving a respite from the heat as we track north to the tropics.
For White Watch the majority of our day was spent in the galley making pizza for lunch...given the feedback I might set up my own Dominos franchise in the South Atlantic.
That was then followed by a prawn stir fry for dinner with salted popcorn instead of prawn crackers, Michellin can contact us on this blog to send a star through.
The calm seas have allowed the crew to do their first 'big wash' and should anyone be passing, Adventure is the boat that looks like a floating laundrette as clothing hangs from all available space on deck.
The eve of our one week at sea anniversary was marked by a visit of a large pod of dolphins as the sun rose over Brazil, the postcard pictures will no doubt be shown to you multiple times on our return.
Finally sticking to the animal theme, happy birthday beanpole from dad and the crew.
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The overnight light shows, whether from clear skies and the rolling expanse of the heavens, or the local, short sharp squalls with attendant thunder and lightning, continued last night. Big style.
Adventure's adventure showed how far Hollywood special effects still has to go. Fierce winds and spectacular rain and lightning bolts whilst tearing through the night will long be remembered.
Good speed sustained throughout the day but wind diminishing late afternoon. We were joined by a pod of dolphins that frolicked in the bow wave for 15 minutes, to the delight of all.
First mate went to the top of the mast for rigging checks, picking up some knocks which should bruise up rather well in a day or so.
Morale on board is good, with all having found their sea-legs and a game of killer (real life rendition of cluedo) having just started.
More good times ahead, i'm sure.
Belated happy birthday to my mum, 24 Apr.
Captain Alastair Jenkin RN, Red Watch Leader.
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The last 24 hours have sent us through a variety of different sail plans and various reefs in the main so we are keeping fit.
One watch saw a dolphin with its baby and flying fish. Last night we saw some fork lightening in the distance which was quite spectacular.
The sea is a bit lumpy today but the wind is supposed to come back around and we should then enjoy some flatter seas and we should make good speed.
Everyone sends their best wishes to all our friends and family back home.
Sqn Ldr Mandy Castle
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Sunshine broke the deck today and the weather settled enough that we all made for the deck in order to catch the suns rays, first time this trip, and no doubt not the last.
Some of us even took the opportunity to catch up on some washing.
I sit here typing this in more comfort than before, yesterdays lightning and thunder was a huge trough generated by a high pressure ridge.
The trough has now caught back up with us and the wind direction has changed from the north to the south.
This is something we are all pleased about as we are now making a direct run to our next waypoint with constant boat speeds of around 9-10 knots.
As for tonight, it looks as if we will be treated by another spectacular light show, courtesy of mother nature.
First Mate, Terry Smith JSASTC
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We are currently charging along in the the thick of a massive squall which is producing winds of between 30/40 knots and a spectacular sea state with breaking crests and long streaks of foam.
Sheet lightmning illuminates the deck followred by crashes of thunder. The helmsman is wearing goggles to look ahead into the driving rain.
Life on board is good however, and we are enjoying the ride. The galley watch are turning out some great food amd the weather is due to moderate soon.
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We slipped our moorings midday yesterday and set off on our voyage. Our first task was to practice some sailing drills including man over board and tacking.
Once the skipper was happy we could carry these out in anger we set sail on our course north east. I was on watch yesterday as the sun set and we watched a beautiful moon rise as a pink moon climbed over the horizon.
In honour of the Queen’s birthday white watch made supper in the style of a garden party with salmon and cucumber sandwiches.
Today we are off the coast of Brazil and making good progress with between 7 to 10 nm per hour.
Sqn Ldr Amanda Castle RAF
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Yesterday I introduced the watches so today I would like to introduce the main guys our Skipper Olly and our First Mate Terry.
Olly has been teaching sailing at JSASTC for two years. He once sailed into San Francisco at 27 knots, you can find this if you search Finland Clipper Surfing YouTube.
The First Mate is Terry who has been with the JSASTC for six months before which he was a freelance sailing instructor in Gibraltar. Having lived aboard boats for the last six years he has recently moved on the land accommodation. He has spent a lot of time on Catamarans which he says are less wobbly than their boats.
Today the sun is shining and the sky is blue the rain has at last passed over. So hopefully today everything can dry out before we set sail tomorrow.
After lashings of toast and Nutella for breakfast we were entertained by the Army boat Discoverer having to fish their gangplank out of the water as it had disappeared over night.
Tel (as the other Terry shall henceforth be know) was set off with his shopping gang for the final attack on the supermarket in order to ensure enough supplies are gathered to sustain the crew over the next month plus an emergency five days rations just in case.
Allastair J is doing repairs to the tricking line. Charles is sorting the Charts in readiness for tomorrows off.
The rest of the team are readying the boat and drying sails after yesterday's rain.
Sqn Ldr Amanda Castle RAF.
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Hello from Uruguay from the new crew of Adventure!
The watches for Adventure are split into Three: Red Watch consisting of Alistair J, Amy, Matthew (known as Sweets) and Myself, Blue Watch, Alistair P, Robert, Marcus and Ben; and White Watch, Warren, Sam, Terry and Charles.
So let's meet the teams … First let me introduce White Watch: Warren is Environmental Health Officer who has managed to escape the clutches Navy Command Headquarters to participate in Transglobe for five weeks.
Sam is an Aerospace Battle Manager at RAF Boulmer and this is his first big yacht trip, so he is keen to gain experience.
Terry is from the Group Quarter Master Store (GQMS) where 'he is the Man'; he works for the Quarter Master at 30 Commando RM. He is waiting for his invite to the Queens Garden Party on his return from Transglobe.
Terry sports an amazing handle bar moustache. Charles is from the RAF's Thunderer Squadron at DTUS at Southampton University. He is studying Physics and hopes to join the RAF Reserves on leaving Uni.
Blue Watch are currently repairing the freezer so I will introduce them next:
Alistair P is in the RAF Regiment and is a business partner with Ben in Bear Arms working behind the camera.
Robert is known as John and he is a helicopter pilot in the Royal Navy.
Marcus is a Marine at Poole. Marcus did the 2009 Transglobe Rio to Cape Town leg which was like being on sentry for three weeks being cold and wet.
Ben is a former tank commander now supplying guns, training, and equipment to TV production companies for programmes. The company is called Bare Arms and has just celebrated its first anniversary.
Finally there is Red Watch:
Alistair J was working in Naval Service Strategic Personnel Planning and is now sailing into retirement.
Amy is a RAF Reserve Physio and also a Physio in the civil service. This is Amy's first time on a boat.
Matthew, AKA Sweets or Sweetie, is an Information Communication Technology Technician and he is working towards his Day Skipper Qualification.
And Me, Mandy, I am a RAF Full Time Reserve. I look after Marketing for all the RAF Reserve Squadrons. This is my third big yacht trip. I am a Day Skipper and hope to gain experience towards Coastal Qualifications.
Today we did a huge shop for the entire voyage. We filled nine trolleys and received a receipt about two metres long. Then we put Alistair up the mast to inset the sheets and ensure everything was serviceable.
For dinner Amy cooked a giant lasagne and we had a load of salad. There was a little less rain today. After dinner it was knot practice followed by a lesson on parts of a sail taught by the Mate, Terry.
After that we ate cake and discussed how good morale is on our boat.
Weather is promised to get better by Wednesday.
Sqn Ldr Mandy Castle RAF
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38 05 South 055 28 West - 188 Nautical Miles to Montevideo
After nearly 7000 miles of sailing it is time for the team that is Green Watch to say farewell. We couldn’t have asked for a better ending, light winds under a clear blue sky – Spinnaker up (we had a day under the heavy kite yesterday, today was the turn of the big, light one – we have now used EVERY scrap of sail cloth onboard. Result!).
The 4 of us come from very different backgrounds and have all brought different experiences to the party, so we thought we would end by each of us reflecting on our journey.
James (RN Commander, Submariner, Engineer)
I will be brief. Two things make adventures worth doing; the challenge and the people. The Horn has been a massive challenge.
Whilst this trip has been incredibly varied (at times exciting, dull, frightening, exhilarating and so on), the people have been consistent in their good humour, professionalism and determination in the face of adversity. I have learnt a huge amount – thanks team.
Lee (RM Commando)
This has been an amazing adventure, both crossing an ocean and working with members of all three services. I’ve learnt how chilled out, warm and cosy life can be in the RAF!; how smelly, Will ‘4 shower’ Naylor can get! (and does he represent the Army?!); and the Navy showing they can achieve any goals set by anyone – but mainly from James for giving me the ‘near death experience’ I was after!
After six weeks at sea my top achievements are actually learning (nearly) how to sail and tie a bowline (both in week six!). I will say that another ocean crossing may not be on the cards, mainly due to the lack of bars en route!
More importantly, the great beard I’ve grown will be sadly disappearing in 9 days time when I report back to RM Stonehouse.
Dan (RN Engineering Technician (Weapons))
While there have been moments where we (or I!) have been moody or cold, wishing I had the comforts of home available, not once did any of us give up or throw in the towel.
Don’t get me wrong, in this last week there have been periods where there have been minor grumbles but in general we have all remained optimistic and resilient. The bottom line is that we are finishing this journey talking about ‘being willing to go sailing, or on another expedition of some sort again’.
In my short three years in the Navy so far, I have only served in one ship which has deployed (to the Mediterranean). I was beginning to think the Forces were a bit dull, unaware of the other opportunities available to the pro-active – things like this.
I will leave ADVENTURE not only knowing how to sail a 72 ft yacht, but also what is possible with a little determination. As for Cape Horn – I never knew much about it before now, or why it meant so much to others in the crew. Now I can see it as a great achievement and I now appreciate the various warnings given to me by others including the skipper - wrap up warm, remain optimistic and most importantly hold on to the boat and don’t go over the side!
Would I do this again?
Last week – I thought ‘not any time soon!’ but as we reach warmer climes and look forward to some down time my attitude has all of a sudden changed. I would be cautious about tackling such a long expedition with little time ashore again, but I will always be keen to go sailing in one form or another (preferably in warmer waters!).
I think that is sufficient at this stage – although not forgetting, everything we do from now on is as a ‘Cape Horner’. I wish to repeat the words of thanks of my other shipmates, to my Watch, to JSASTC for making this possible, to the Skipper for badgering me to come and for those waiting to hear from us back home who may feel as though we have dropped off the earth altogether considering we’ve had no phone reception.
John (RN Lieutenant Commander, Submariner)
As watchleader for most of the trip, I wish to thank the team; James for his calm demeanour in the face of adversity and his skill in the galley, Lee for the humour and the muscles (in that order), both of which eased us through the worst of watches and Dan for his unflagging ability to get stuck into whatever task was thrown at him. Hope to see you all on a boat again soon.
Looking at the broader picture, what have we achieved both for our parent Armed Forces and for ourselves?
Primarily, I hope we have demonstrated that today’s Forces offer unparalleled opportunities for the adventurous and determined. Service life comes at a cost, but the rewards are correspondingly great for those willing to take the risk.
Few people find themselves with either the time or money to undertake an expedition of this nature; the Armed Forces provided both - the experience of a lifetime at a nominal financial cost.
To anybody who has been following our journey and is considering a career in the Services, be assured TransGlobe 15/16 is not the end and planning for 2021 will begin shortly.
Even if sailing Cape Horn does not float your boat, Joint Services yachts range the globe from the Solent, to the Arctic, Caribbean and beyond. Come and join in!
For ourselves we have moved far outside our comfort zones, confronted and overcome personal demons and revelled in the comradeship that can only ever be achieved when a small group takes on a huge task and wins.
The experience has grown us as servicemen and increased our confidence in our ability to meet and defeat the next challenge; whichever direction it comes from. As sailors, we have all grown beyond expectation, be it surfing the boat in a 50kt gale, conducting astro-navigation, cooking in a rollercoaster or handling the yacht under everything from Storm Trysail to Spinnaker.
For me personally, I have satisfied a childhood ambition to sail around the Horn, had an outstanding time in the company of a fine team and now return with renewed determination to take every opportunity on offer, however it may present itself.
I will end as I began, with another thank you to all those who made this possible; to the team at JSASTC who provided the yacht and support; our employers across the Forces who accepted us disappearing for 2 months with only the promise of a more enthusiastic, motivated individual on our return; to Steve our Skipper who made us a team, keeping us upright and pointing in the right direction whatever happened; to our families who, as so often before, have managed our lives at home in our absence; and finally to our friends who through their emails have kept morale high and on occasion given us a much needed reminder there is life beyond the next watch.
To all of you who have read (and hopefully enjoyed) our Blog, Fair winds and following seas.
Green Watch. Cape Horners.
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45 18 South 055 42 West – 600 Nautical Miles to Montevideo
Today moral rocketed as the crew awoke to find we are now making steady progress at good speed in the right direction. Overnight the wind backed Southerly (I know you all know this but ‘veering’ is clockwise and ‘backing’ is anti-clockwise) where it is likely to remain for the next few days.
Visibility has increased and the sun has reappeared allowing us the well needed opportunity to dry out. Slowly the wet locker is turning back to a drying locker as the heaviest of our foul weather kit begins its retirement.
As I write we are making 8.5kts VMG towards Montevideo giving us an ETA of 3 days, Hoorah!(There are several measurements of speed at sea; 1. Log Speed – or speed through the water; 2. SOG – Speed Over the Ground, which is Log Speed +/- tidal stream, current or wind effects; 3. VMG – the speed you are actually making towards your destination which takes into account Log, SOG and COG (Course Over the Ground).
For example, if you are beating (ie the wind is coming directly from your destination and you need to tack to it, you may be sailing at 10 knots but only getting towards your objective at 5 knots, thus making VMG the most demoralising measurement in history).
Much to everyone’s delight the angle of heel has reduced and we are back to the slow side to side rolling motion typical of downwind sailing. Although sailing upwind is more predictable, the 25+ degree heel makes life that little more difficult – there are few who really enjoy that sort of permanent incline, although a wild Scottish mountain Haggis would be perfectly at home!
The blanking caps have been removed from the deck vents allowing much needed circulation of fresh air to flush out the lingering odours that would bring many a land-lubber to tears. Although it pains me to mention it, the forward cabins occupied by white watch are amongst the worst offenders.
As rounds was conducted by new Watch Leader Mark (after a robust ‘tip-off’ from the Skipper), an offending towel, described by many as ‘honking’, was found to be the main culprit and was quickly quarantined.
Many aboard would credit the fwd bunks to be the most desirable; they have two single berths in each cabin (as opposed to 5 in the Port Aft ‘gulch’), they are outwith the main thoroughfares and allow a certain amount of privacy but on the flipside they have the most motion and require their residents to camp-out in bivi bags to keep sleeping bags dry. They are also the loudest; the mast is directly above and the bow immediately ahead.
The slam of waves, the slap of halyards and the size 10 hob-nailed boots the crew seem to insist on horn-piping in at every un-godly hour, can often be likened to incoming artillery fire. Nevertheless they all provide comfort in some form or other, but one mystery remains: Should you sleep head fwd or feet fwd??
Pusser Neil conducted a ration muster and it has been found that whilst many supplies are dwindling we still have three bags of cookies per man to get through before disembarking ADVENTURE!
Unfortunately the most beloved of our stores from NZ, the double chocolate coated ‘TimTams’ (think Penguin but tastier) have finally been laid to rest although suspiciously I have just found an empty wrapper on deck with Red Watch? - I’m sure there’s a perfectly reasonable explanation they’ll provide tonight at Sundowners.
Sweetcorn-gate continues. Todays home made COLNS soup (Cream Of Last Night’s Scran) was returned by the Skipper after yellow peas were discovered sheltering under a decoy bit of chicken.
Sundowners will reconvene tonight, the first since it was rained off just West of the Horn. Owing to recent more fruity conditions, it has been several days since we’ve had the chance to get together as a crew on deck so it will be good to meet and hear the final two ‘5 minute dits’ over the next few days.
Today’s name check goes to Mr Tim Colyer (Portland Bill’r!) who successfully provided the answer to yesterday’s winch question (How many winches does it take to tack ADVENTURE?) as follows:
Port jib (yankee) sheet winch
Stbd jib (yankee) sheet winch
Port staysail sheet winch
Stbd staysail sheet winch
Port mainsail track winch
Stbd mainsail track winch
Mainsail sheet winch (if you’ve got one left)
Port running backstay winch
Stbd running backstay winch
Simple really, well done Tim. Wish you were here to help out.
Finally, the command hierarchy on White Watch will see another mutiny tonight as Mark enters retirement for Matt to take control and see us safely into Uruguay. BZ to Mark (a tough 2 days!) and good luck to Matt.
Lt (SCC) Robbie Robertson RNR, Ship’s Mini-Jock, Minion, White Watch Leader Rtd, Cape Horner.
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48 05 South 055 26 West - 790 Nautical Miles to Montevideo
We are currently close hauled on the port tack making about 7kts to windward under 2 Yankee, staysail and a single reef in the main. The bad news is the wind is directly from the North resulting in us having to zigzag our way to our destination – if you’re watching on Yellow Brick, that’s why we aren’t pointing directly at Montevideo. It’s not because we enjoy going from side to side, it’s just we have to...
The good news is, a Northerly wind in the Southern Hemisphere is relatively warm, and we are at last able to come off watch without our fingers and toes in agony from the icy wind-chill.
Last night’s gale has moderated and we are now seeing about 18kts of wind providing a much gentler ride and allowing the off watch some sleep. We are also surrounded by a fogbank, reducing visibility to about 400 yards and ensuring everything remains slightly damp.
Some of us remain in our drysuits, but every mile is one closer to the longed for moment when we can finally break out the T-shirts and shorts again and the deck becomes a place to enjoy rather than endure.
As a Sun-dodger (Submariner) by trade, my personal experience of the Falklands visit may be worth airing. As all battlefield tours are, it was an interesting window into the challenges the infantry face, widely separated from their comrades yet required to co-ordinate with each other, dealing with the unexpected under chaotic conditions to achieve their Commander’s aim.
I saw the islands through a submarine periscope many years ago and, having heard so much about the conflict and met several men who served, it was a privilege to get ashore at last. We experienced a very warm welcome from the islanders while a special thank you must go to the staff at the Port Stanley Seafarers’ Mission who, at short notice, provided a full cooked breakfast for both crews on the morning of our departure.
The Skipper hit on a new gag yesterday. As the existing Watches have managed to get this far successfully, he decided to have a little reshuffle of Watch Leaders; giving 3 more people the chance to practise their leadership and management skills for the last 1000 miles of the passage.
Euan is now heading Red, while Mark leads White and James is doing his best with Green. As we found in the Southern Ocean, Adventurous Training of this nature provides the opportunity to get well outside our ‘comfort zones’ and reproduces many of the stresses we find when leading our teams on operations across the Services.
Changing Watch Leaders mid way through a passage, while unorthodox, if managed correctly will give others the same experiences and will prove the ‘team’ development.
Mid Blog, it is time for us to put a tack in and head back towards the South American coast and hopefully some more favourable winds.
Red Watch are on deck at the moment and the 4 of them swing ADVENTUREs’ bows ninety degrees through the wind, using a total of 9 winches as they reposition the sails on the port side of the boat.
Answers on a postcard, with a namecheck to the first person who successfully names each winch...(the crew are banned from this competition as I am not convinced more than half of them will get it right! – Skip)
Food supplies are just beginning to run low, leaving imagination the key ingredient! The last of the New Zealand apples went today and only half a bunk full of oranges remains from our original monster store of fresh fruit – sweetcorn however, is plentiful, much to the Skippers chagrin. More seriously we are almost out of nutty with only a few secret stashes remaining.
A shout of joy from the deck as the sky brightens. Our weather guru (Will) promised us sunbathing 48 hours after leaving the Falklands and even the Royal Marines on board have had their fill of being cold and wet for the time being.
We are all debating the priory list for arrival in Montevideo with a hot shower, a cold beer and a meal served on a table that doesn’t throw it at you all featuring heavily.
790 Miles to Montevideo. Not that we are counting.......
John Butler, Lt Cdr RN, Green Watch. Cape Horner…..
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49 32 South 054 25 West - 869 Nautical Miles to Montevideo
So, 24 hours after leaving the Falklands, ADVENTURE is back at home doing what she does best. 3 reefs in the main with a staysail and our smallest Yankee (the number 3) up forward dragging her solid bulk through the South Atlantic.
The wind is blowing a fairly consistent 25-30 knots from the North and she is bent to the task of getting upwind, shouldering tons of green ocean out the way with every dip of the bow. Every now and then a crash and a shudder resonates through the hull as another few tons of spray get flung aside.
I am constantly amazed at the molecular structure of water which allows it to be as soft and gentle as cotton wool, evaporate to nothing easily, or broken into a million parts with the slightest of taps; but when it hits you in formation it can be as solid as a wall.
While the stop in the Falklands was a great opportunity to visit the battle sites at Goose Green and Darwin, the real reason for the brief stop was to allow the me (Skipper) to get to see medics ashore and have a slightly more detailed appraisal of my arm.
The news is positive and I am fit to continue the Leg to Montevideo, but a visit to an Orthopaedic specialist will happen when we get back to the UK. The staff at the King Edwards Memorial Hospital in Stanley were brilliant and hugely accommodating to the slightly hairy, ripely smelling individual who walked in.
Before being allowed in the consultation room however, a separate room was pointed out in which I found a shower. The staff assured me that ‘ocean yachtsmen round here are a rare, but known problem!
’While in KEMH, I noticed a sign with charges for provision of care to non-entitled people (UK residents are entitled) part of it read;
Mortuary use; £150
Each additional night; £45.50
I wondered if you have to pay in advance or settle bills on check out? Also, is breakfast included?
It is great to be back at sea, although for some the slight delay on land has knocked their sea legs out and with the added motion of the boat going upwind, today has been a quiet day around the bazaars with not much to report on. The temperature is picking up by the minute as we are climbing through the Latitudes.
Soon enough our daily Blogs will be filled with complaints about the weather being too hot!, but in the meantime we all woke this morning to a layer of condensation and damp throughout the boat.
All the preparations we made before tackling the Southern Ocean, we now need to ‘un-make’, the dorade covers need to come out to get some air circulating the boat, emergency pants need to be found and the surfeit of sweetcorn needs to be dealt with. If I see another tin of it again, it’ll still be a million years too soon. As Neil pointed out, this may mean tomorrow I only have ‘fritter’ as he was planning sweetcorn ones. Hey ho.
As the inky black blanket of another night on the ocean covers us, our thoughts turn again to home. One we have been away from for so long, but which we have drawn strength from with every passing day.
If I forget to say it in my last Blog (on this Leg), thank you for reading and enduring our seemingly endless descriptions of stars and mealtime offerings. Thank you also, for allowing us all this opportunity to do something fairly unique and probably quite indulgent in this busy life.
Your emails have made us smile and laugh, have reminded us what we are missing and what DIY we have to come home to; but most of all have helped to remind us how lucky we are.
Steve. Skipper. Cape Horner.
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A memorable, moving and exceptionally interesting day in the Falkland Islands.
Firstly a huge thanks to Squadron Leader Tim Frogley – based here in the Falklands for organising our day and arranging all the detail for our short stop in the Falklands. After arriving in the small hours on 4 Apr and a few hours much needed sleep, we were met by a fleet of Landrovers which whisked us to our first stop on our battlefield tour.
The Argentinian War Cemetery, atop a bleak, exposed and windswept hill allowed us to begin to appreciate the scale of the loss of life on both sides of the conflict. Richard (Red watch leader) gave a short background talk on the Falklands war before Ken, a retired Royal Military Policeman now living on the Falklands arrived.
Ken proceeded to talk us through the conflict with depth and obvious knowledge and we spent the rest of the day immersed in the Battles for Goose Green and other pivotal moments and before we knew it we finished at San Carlos Water and the British War Cemetery before returning to our floating homes.
We visited the 2 PARA Goose Green Memorial to their fallen soldiers and ensured we paid our respects.
It was great to see the crew from Discoverer. We spent the day, in between our tour, catching up with the crew and swapping tales of daring do. To see them all after so long and have the chance to hear about how they had faired was great.
The Falklands are comparable in scenery to the Western Isles of Scotland or indeed Dartmoor (or Sennybridge!). With fewer people, there is a real sense of rugged outdoor living when farmsteads and crofts are seen. The Islanders are incredibly hospitable and welcoming and we felt genuinely included in their small community for our brief stay.
Whilst the chance to stop in the Falklands and immerse ourselves in a key moment in both military and political history has been a real privilege; we are looking forward to setting our sails for the final push North towards Uruguay and sunnier weather. We are due to depart just after lunch and are all keen to complete this amazing adventure.
A huge thank you to the Falkland Islanders and all for making our brief stop one we will never forget.
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51 40 South 058 02 West - 1100 Nautical Miles to Montevideo.
Ahoy Adventurites, another day passes with weather that is best described as changeable, starting with a small but rather fierce blizzard, much to red watch’s delight (they were down below), followed by the sun, although a rather chilly one as temperatures remained stubbornly low.
The age old cry of LAND HO! - after one month of sailing the first land since New Zealand was sighted this afternoon. The insignificant fly speck was Beauchene Island, the southern most Island in the Falklands Group.
However something that was stationary, rocky and green sent everyone on deck for a look and it was noticeable how morale and chat improved, everyone’s mood seems to have been lifted. The avian life has increased significantly as well, with red or blue eyed shags (well, which one is it? – Skip) added to the mix of albatross’ and various petrels.
We also had a visit from a single dolphin, who as it happens was a bit of an acrobat. He/she spent about an hour leaping out the water and rotating to enter on their back, almost as if it was a small child showing off, ‘Look at me, Look at me!!!’.
Back downstairs in the kitchen (Just had my knuckles rapped and been told to use the correct nautical lingo by the skipper – ‘down below’, ‘galley’ and ‘you clot’), Matt was rustling up a batch of bagels while Mark knocked up a couple loaves, all of which looked fantastic.
A wonderful baking ‘bromance’ blossoming out here on the ocean waves. Everyone’s baking has improved immeasurably, and it’s not uncommon to hear people who had never attempted it before offering advice or dishing out good natured banter on the success or failure of colleagues bready offerings.
With the end of our odyssey in sight, talk has turned to what people are looking forward to the most. Food, funnily enough features high on the list, particularly getting into Uruguay and finding the biggest steak possible accompanied by a fine red (may Le Sommelier d’Aventur recommend a fine Malbec, or perhaps something from the Rhone such as Gigondas).
It seems to be the little things people are missing most; being able to put food and drink down without the possibility of someone else or yourself wearing it within 30 seconds (on a good day); a drink out of a glass rather than a thermal mug or a can; being able to walk around your place of residence without the ever present danger of clattering off door frames, beds, bathroom fittings (Ouch! knuckles again, sorry Skip), hatches, bunks, head fittings; a stove that stays perpendicular to you and allows you to see into the pan you’re trying to create your gastronomic one pot marvel in.
Speaking of which the afterguard, (Skipper and 1st and 2nd Mates) cooked us a celebratory dinner this evening, conditions finally permitting after rounding The Horn. Fillet steak with pepper sauce, chips, onion rings and veg accompanied by splendid New Zealand pinot noir (in our dreams) - actually a can of finest New Zealand beer, very welcome all the same though.
After a month at sea and the continuous banter about meals it was disappointing not to be able to offer the same back, we did however get a flash from Skipper when we asked for ketchup - so mission accomplished there!
Don’t worry though, wives, partners, parents, concubines, (girl and quite feasibly boy) friends, colleagues and children, although I didn’t mention you in the list of things we were missing, our thoughts are first and foremost with you as always, and we can’t wait to see you all again.
Only 6 days of sailing remain now before Uruguay appears over the horizon. Although ADVENTURE has become our home and is quite dear to us, it is plain to see that everyone is quite looking forward to leaving her safe embrace and disembarking onto dry land before returning home.
This is Adventurer No 14 (we all have a unique number to help us identify foulies, lifejackets, beds, each other etc), no longer a novice sailor (erm...can I be the judge of that please - Skip) signing off for probably the last time.
I have enjoyed regaling you with our antics and daily niff naff, trivia and nonsense over the past month but fear not, the final 5 or 6 missives will probably follow in a similar vein and then you’ll all have to find something else to do to fill those empty 10 minutes a day where previously you sat and read this daily random blurb.
Farewell ADVENTURITES, wishing you fair winds and following seas.
Sgt Neil Innes RAF, Sommelier d’Aventur, Pusser, Proud Yorkshireman and Aquarius (waterboy)
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55 01 South 063 37 West
1246 Nautical Miles to Montevideo
So above you will see the change in distance to run. At 2245 local last night (as you slept at 0245 at home), the ghostly loom of a lighthouse 5 miles due North proclaimed our crossing out of the Pacific Ocean and into the South Atlantic. It could not have been any more dramatic.
A steady 50 knots breeze. Mountainous seas. A sail change up forward as the winds and seas built, a single voice from below calling distances to run then a flash of Cabo de Hornas light though the driving spray and rain from the shrouded shoreline.
The crew squeezed into the cockpit and a faint alarm sounded – Waypoint arrival. Neptune was toasted in true style (a bottle of Pussers Rum – he didn’t get all of it, which is why he may have been a tad grumpy) and a finely bounced / previously chilled in the bilge, bottle of Laurent Perrier Champagne.
Hearty handshakes and some back slapping later and then in a quiet moment of individual reflection, the haunting strains of an old sea shanty individually sung by Richard.
Not to be outdone, the Skipper pitched in with his recently penned effort, to the tune of ‘The Wild Rover’...
I’ve sailed ‘cross an Ocean an ADVENTURE it is,
With DISCOVERER, I’ve chanced on new way to live.
With the roll of the sea and the cry of the gull,
I’ll come back to dry land with tall stories to tell.
So it’s ware* round the Horn, boys,
With the foam at our heels.
And it’s set your course Northward,
With hoists, reefs and peels.
(*ware is an old term for ‘gybe’)
The mains’l it hangs from the halyard all day,
While grindin’ and sweatin’ beneath it we play.
Till ‘up with Yankee’ the Skipper will shout,
And ‘let draw your sheets, lads, we’re tacking about’.
Old Red Watch are hardy, they’ll never be beat,
and think 3 squares a day is enough food to eat.
Their nuttybox they view as a thing of disdain,
but they’ve taken to baking to lessen the pain.
The Whites all sleep sound in their castles up front,
With Neil planning the menu they’re up with the hunt.
Wee Robbie hides deep in his foulies all day,
While phys takes the minds of the others away.
The fellows of Green are a mystery to me,
But they seem quite at home in their home on the sea.
Their watch-keeping duties they try to get right,
Crash-gybing all over the ocean all night.
The Mates, they’re both vital, but I can’t explain why,
As 2nd spends his day staring up at the sky.
The 1st he is busy fixing things which ain’t bust,
And his spreadsheets and tables he thinks are a must.
6000 miles round the Horn, from the Kiwis we left,
followed Clippers from history to East from the West.
At Punte del Este we’ll make our landfall,
And ‘mongst other ‘Cape Horners’ we’ll hold our heads tall.
While we celebrate we are reminded of the unforgiving nature of the environment we face by the tragic news of a fatality, yesterday amongst the Clipper Round the World Race Fleet.
Sarah Young, onboard Ichor Coal – our sparring partner from the Sydney Hobart Race - was swept overboard yesterday. Our thoughts and prayers go out to her partner, family, the crew of Ichor Coal and the Clipper Fleet.
‘Those who go down to the sea in ships, and do their business in great waters’
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56 15 South 068 48 West
50 Nautical Miles to Cape Horn (at 1600 local)
We are now accustomed to the Southern Ocean. The weather, sea, wind and the days merge into our routine.
Highs and lows (both weather fronts and our moods) come and go. We take our time on watch stoically, telling each other its not “too bad” whilst knowing that the reality of swollen hands, cold fingers and feet are being supressed. “Nice day for a sail” we tell each other whilst actually dreaming of a warm fireside far from the waterside.
We even try to convince ourselves, let alone others that last night we had a great sleep whilst actually walking around with eyes and faces drawn. As we slip out of foulies, we hang them in the wet locker to try and keep the living area “dry”whilst optimistically hoping they might dry a little before we don them in 4 hours time for another stint in the on deck washing machine.
At the table we divide into those who are going off watch (a welcome meal precursor to bed) and those who are ongoing and trying to smile through what is almost the ambiance of a last dinner.
This reality is made bearable by two comforts; the prime one being the continual humour of our ship mates and the second, our holy grail; that fabled tip of South America.
Cape Horn now lies about 50 miles ahead and on current plans and assumptions, and barring mishaps, none of which should be taken for granted, we anticipate rounding at about 2200 local tonight (0200 in the UK) - the iconic, yearned for photograph is most unlikely.
It would be ludicrous to deny the build up to this event. It has dominated our talk and focus for the last few days as the countdown brought us ever closer and the optimism correspondingly higher. It has been preceded by four weeks of hard sailing, for some a life time’s ambition or at least a tick on a bucket list, and perhaps the very reason for applying for Leg 8 of Ex TransGlobe.
Rounding ‘The Horn’ is understood both within and outwith the sailing community; it carries emotive tribute to our forefathers who forged the route with journeys of exploration and discovery, to those of the original clipper era who plied their trade around the globe.
More recently it has become a challenge for the sailing community from Francis Chichester, through Robin Knox-Johnson to countless other single handers and crewed yachts, although that “countless” is said to be significantly less than those who have summited Everest.
The Drake Passage was and is revered as one of the most challenging and uncertain stretches of water anywhere around the world. Its reputation needs no exaggeration and we are now at its entrance.
Not all have been so fortunate, Miles and Beryl Smeton could have taught us a thing or two; pitch poled and losing everything above deck level,jury rigged for nearly a 1000 miles and after completing full repairs returned only to be broached and repeat the experience.
Although we follow in the tracks of others, our journey and challenge is no less daunting (even if technology eases some of the uncertainty) and it would be churlish not to allow ourselves a brief moment of satisfaction (the Pussers Rum is ready and Champagne on ice).
And yet Cape Horn is, in the language and science of the modern navigator simply another Waypoint (in our case Waypoint 38) in a longer passage. Beyond it there remains 1500 miles of sailing to Punta Del Este. Some time tonight the rounding will be an achievement in ones past and we have to turn our faces North East and work ADVENTURE North through more challenges and uncertainty.
Our passage and the risks are far from over tonight and we must find another goal to strive for. Then we return back home to family and friends, home and work, and normal life (whatever that might mean) will resume.
This experience might be pivotal in shaping our future, we might draw strength from it and it might even open doors into that future but it would be a lost opportunity if it became our zenith.
Our forefathers came back for more because for them it was a job, some of us might come back, but all of us must look beyond Cape Horn and take it forward.
Lt Col Richard Pattison, Red Watch Leader, Sinbad / Old Man o’the sea / Seadog.
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56 50 South 074 38 West – 250 Nautical Miles to Cape Horn.
With luck, the next 36 hours should finally see us round Cape Horn and crossing the threshold from Pacific to South Atlantic Oceans (the Southern Ocean doesn’t really exist, it’s just the bottom of lots of other Oceans). Hopefully it’s not all an elaborate April Fools joke (‘seven days to go’ calls Will. Again).
Everyone is excited about finally seeing it (although may be disappointed – Skip) and passing the second milestone of our passage (the first being Point Nemo which now seems like months ago). The last 24 hours has granted us decent Westerly winds which have allowed us to keep up a good pace towards the Horn, although there was a bit of a surprising lull for a few hours in the night – the first weather system went through a little quicker than anticipated, which means the next one (which is a biggy) is going to be on us a little earlier than we would like. Still, the sails are now prepped and we are ready as we can be.
We are still in water depths of 5000 metres, but in 100 miles the seabed goes from 4000 to 100 metres deep in the space of 20 miles, lumping the seas high at the same time as the winds get squeezed down the Chilean coast at speeds up to 60+ knots or more.
White Watches ‘Mother’ was marked by being bribed into baking Green Watches bread; pizza was the currency exchanging hands - and all seemed happy with the arrangement. Mark helped retain the baking crown with some superb loaves, but luckily for the other 2 watches, that was it and White decided to take a break from further baking.
Neil managed to rustle up mince and cous cous with a hint of North Africa in it (sand?) and followed it up with caramelised oranges – inspired! On that note the fruit stocks are still healthy on board with everybody still enjoying either apples or oranges each day. The last Pineapple, which has clung on bravely for a few weeks was today committed to the deep.
Several thousand fruit flies attended the funeral, but couldn’t contain their emotions and threw themselves over the side in sympathy (thank goodness). We have many, many bags of flour left over and are going to have to bake in overdrive to use it all. Our hearts go out to the Army in DISCO who sailed with double the amount of flour as us and must be using it as pillows / making sails out of it / having Indian ‘powder parties’ to get rid of it all!
We need to be nice to them though as we need to steal one of their wet and dry hoovers when we get to land after our 2 packed up with salt water inflicted injuries (rust) last week.
The Adventure Backgammon League – started with vast fanfare 10 days ago by the Skipper has proved a bit of a non (or slow...) starter with only the one full match played (which Will lost). The Skipper and Will have another match running which is set tantalisingly at 2/2 (best of 5) but has been stuck there for 10 days as well.
Everyone is too busy taking turns in the ADVENTURE time machine (bed) or being an active member of The Cape Horn Book club which is enjoying a bit of a resurgence of late.
Thank you to Flt Lt SW Naylor RAF (Ret'd), Yachtmaster (Offshore) for the song recommendations sent our way, with Yazz ‘The Only Way is Up’ being the most apt for the next stage of our journey (the BBC broadcast may be delayed by 24 hours owing to the unfortunate passing of Ronnie Corbett).
With that in mind we are all hoping that the rapid ascent through the latitudes will see the temperatures follow suit as the time to get ready for a Watch (as much warm kit as you can fit under a dry suit) eats into ‘rack time’ to almost unacceptable levels. White Watch continue to lead the way in the ‘Cape Horn Phys Challenge’ having done just short of 3000 of each exercise; Red Watch are still awaiting demonstrations of each exercise before they start; Green Watch are still too busy trying not to crash gybe the boat.
Doing any form of exercise is in art form in itself, particularly in rougher seas, as when the boat rolls one way you become nice and light and when it rolls back, you suddenly double in weight.
With the passage so far everybody has found their sailing has improved in so many aspects from helming, to tuning the sails, to knowing what a ‘Cunningham’ is when someone asks you to ‘let it run’ (a line attached to the front of the mainsail we use to reef or hold down the storm tri-sail).
As someone who had very little sailing experience beforehand, I have found I am a lot more knowledgeable and can no longer get away with claiming I don’t know what I’m doing! Beyond the sailing I have learned skills in so many areas from cooking, baking, meteorology, astronomy and countless other things.
If you ever get the chance to take part in something like Exercise TRANSGLOBE, and I appreciate how lucky I am as opportunities like this are increasingly rare both in Service and civilian life, I cannot recommend it highly enough.
Clipper Ventures, based in Portsmouth are pretty much the only operation worldwide which takes novices through a stringent selection and training plan before they sail around the world – and they go through the Panama Canal. Not down here.
Mne Matt HARDING, Ships PTI, White Watch
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57 26 South 081 21 West
450 miles to Cape Horn
450 miles; 2 days at our current pace. It sounds like nothing after the seemingly unending marathon we have been engaged in for the past 25 days, but Cape Horn still hangs tantalizingly over the horizon.
Miles, hours and the changing Watches come and go but it never seems to get any closer, except where the little post-it note ‘ADVENTURE’ clings defiantly to the chart in the saloon and creeps inexorably towards the great grey mass to our East.
We have not seen land since 05 March with the East Cape of New Zealand’s North Island disappearing into the evening mist over our stern. A lifetime seems have passed us by as we build memories which will last a lifetime.
Unlike other Ocean passages however, there doesn’t seem to be any indication we are approaching land. Normally, the sea life which is noticeably absent in the middle of oceans, tends to build in the approach to land.
Stray sea weeds float past, seals and porpoises play in the wake and the detritus which marks mans presence in the not far off distance, usually a beautiful array of plastic chairs, bottles, fishing nets and other environmentally disastrous flotsam and jetsam drifts by – but here, nothing (after crossing the North Atlantic, the South Western Approaches are full of life..and rubbish, borne on the North Atlantic Drift; likewise the seas 3 to 400 miles from the Cape of Good Hope; approaching the South of Australia through the Great Australian Bight, boats become festooned with flies blown out to sea from the coast).
A sailor will claim he can smell land before he sees it (which may explain a number of historic shipwrecks), much in the same way a landsman will smell the sea when it is still firmly beyond sight and sound. The winds and currents which roll relentlessly around the bottom of the world smash onto the lee shore that is the Chilean coast, keeping the man-made and natural drifts away from this empty and desolate seascape; blowing the smell of land far out to the East into the depths of the South Atlantic.
Where there is no land to windward, there is nowhere for rubbish to begin a journey across the ocean. As for sea life, I can only imagine if there is any here, it is all deep to avoid the dramatic rolling seas and wild winds.
If not, it has all been very sensible and realised that the ends of this earth are a god-forsaken place which should be avoided in the quest for warmer water and wafting zephyrs of breeze...and Rum.
After a night under white sails and beautiful sailing conditions of relatively flat seas and steady 20-25 knots of wind, the weather systems we have anticipated and seen building for a day or 2, rolling up behind us, have arrived and we are back to the Storm Tri-sail in preparation for a lively night.
The seas are lumping up and in the current 40 knots of breeze we are regularly skipping off the top of rolling seas several stories tall at a brisk 17 knots boats speed. All exciting stuff accompanied by our standing 80’s power ballads soundtrack and semi cooked food making a bid for freedom around the galley – the House of the Flying Victuals.
The weather (2 big systems back to back over the next 2 days) will likely stay with us to the Horn and it looks probable that Williwaaws and rain will scoot us around the bottom of South America.
There is a chance that having come all this way, the Horn will go past hidden in the curtain of low cloud which frequently obscures it’s bluff crags. There is nothing we can do about this as any delay will put us in the following 50-60 knot airstream which would be an unnecessary risk near such a bleak and inhospitable landfall.
The great news, however is that the sense of humour amongst the crew hasn’t dwindled – but it is becoming more stretched mostly out of desperation and a lack of new subject matter. Regardless, Will keeps us rolling in the aisles with his daily ‘only a week to go chaps!’ in reference to the Cape.
Meanwhile, Seb (Docto-Pussy) announced to no-one in particular (as mushroom soup was served for lunch) that no-one actually LIKES mushroom soup – they just endure it! My own humour was tested briefly last night as I climbed exhausted into my pit, only to hear the cry ‘Skipper! – Skipper! On deck! Now!’.
The follow up ‘there’s a massive light just appeared 10 degrees on the Starboard Bow, we’re going to hit it’ added urgency to my actions and I clambered out of the hatch, looked over the bow and just in the nick of time, managed to reassure the Watch on Deck that hitting the moon would take some doing and could I go back to bed until it was a bit closer.
I made sure I was on deck just before sunrise this morning just to reassure the team lest another celestial body suddenly pop up and catch them unawares!
I have sailed for 40 years (I started very young when Dad was looking for crew!) and I am constantly inspired by the novices and less experienced members of the crew who have decided to take part in this ocean crossing.
It is quite an introduction to sailing and nothing will come close for the rest of their sailing careers. There are faster boats to sail and racing yachts both inshore and offshore can challenge, frighten and drain you physically and emotionally in ways which this does; but it is the relentlessness of the motion and the inhospitality of this environment which drains your energy and your confidence.
Every few days a brief respite is granted but you live in the knowledge it is temporary and within hours you will be put to the test once again, day after day, until securely tied up and once again on land. I was asked if this experience (it is my first time round the Horn) has slaked my thirst for long ocean passages, and the honest answer is...yes. For now. Once we are ashore the sea will start calling again, softly at first but then...
By the way, I am pleased to be able to tell you that BBC Radio Solent will be running a piece about us tomorrow (Thurs 31 Mar) during their ‘Drive Time’ Show – not sure what time but probably sometime between 5-8pm?
If you live outside the range of BBC Radio Solent, it should be available through the BBC internet homepage or by podcast. They are due to interview us tomorrow afternoon and we are currently trying to work out what song to ask for.
Current bids are - I’m Horny (Cape Horny Horny Horny)(not sure the artist), Highway to Hell (AC/DC), Road to Nowhere (Talking Heads), Sailing (Rod Stewart), Take the Weather With You (Crowded House), It’s Raining Men (Gloria Gaynor)...as in (Q - What’s the weather like out there? A – It’s raining...men!), Rockin’ all over the World (Status Quo), Headlong (Queen), Mm-na, Mm-na (The Muppets) or Let’s go fly a kite (the cast of Mary Poppins).
Any more sensible suggestions you get to us before 1500 (your time) tomorrow will be duly considered (as probably being better than this list!!)
Lt Cdr Steve Walton RN, Skipper, HMSTC ADVENTURE
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56 55.02 South, 87 05.06 West.
640 Nautical Miles to Cape Horn
Well rested after a long bank holiday weekend, the crew of ADVENTURE continue on their path east toward the Horn. Easter Monday brought with it light winds, calm seas and clear skies allowing the crew some easier living and time to rest before the likely bigger seas in front of us (or trucking up behind us at about 30 miles per hour!). There was a consideration of ‘Hands to Bathe’, but uptake was low after the sea temperature was checked and found to be 6.5 degrees – we carried on sailing.
Lamb was off the menu last night and we instead sat down to a delicious* interpretation of spaghetti bolognaise complimented by a rather young mixed berry squash, this was followed by deconstructed crumble and evaporated milk, fresh from the can.
Dinner was again enhanced by the continuing and thankfully never-ending 80’s power ballads that serve as the soundtrack to our time under sail. As I scribble this down, the on-watch team are busily changing and preparing sails for the evening ahead.
The shouts, cries and grunts from above ease the sleep of those below who are off watch, and bring smiles the the faces (including mine) of those on mother. I am not sure if the Skipper is a sadist, but rather than put the red sails up in anticipation of the 35-40knts we are expecting overnight, he seems intent on using every sail in the wardrobe through the course of the day.
Since breakfast (and nothing happens before breakfast – we’re British after all), we have gone from full mainsail and 1Y, to 1st Reef and Staysail, 2Y (Staysail down), 3Y up with the Staysail this time and now it looks like the 2nd or 3rd Reef will be going in shortly.
He assures me this is something to do with the wind increasing gradually and changing direction every now and then to boot. Rest assured the red sails will be up later so in a sense I will be proved right...eventually!!!
I feel duty bound to correct an error in yesterdays blog and accordingly report an update*. Today, Red Watch continue their march toward baking supremacy; Richard continues to excel with his signature ‘recycling bakes’, today incorporating yesterdays duff (again unsure of the derivation but to everybody else: pudding) into a Stollen loaf.
Not to be outdone, Euan continues with his ‘technical bakes’ and has produced (albeit a day late), a batch of perfect hot cross buns (thanks to Little Red for the recipe). The “bake off crouch” is a frequent sight in the galley and made all the more comical with the additionally required bracing and failed attempts at holding onto the floor during rough seas.
When calmer, bakers have to account for the boats angle of heel and make allowances for a bake that might be deep and uncooked at one end and crispy and burnt at the other.
Natural history note of the day and one for the Royal Zoological Society I fancy: After literally 10 minutes of tireless study, we have deduced that the running speed of Albert Ross (across the water surface-accompanied with desperate wing flapping and the occasional plaintiff squawk) is substantially less than 9.2 knots.
The experiment consisted of the following apparatus – 1 x Challenge 72 yacht (with full mainsail and 2Y); 1 x Semi-useless fishing lure (semi-useless as in, it hasn’t caught any fish yet) on 30 metre line; 1 x Slightly dim Albert. The experiment was conducted thus;- Operate the Challenge 72 at full tilt with semi-useless fishing lure deployed to full extent off Stbd quarter.
Watch as Albert circles Challenge 72 and then lands immediately adjacent to the stern. Continue observing as lure passes Albert and he / she makes a concerted effort to catch it up whilst maintaining contact with sea surface. Albert will run/flap/squawk for 20 yds before realising his dignity has vanished with the lure and will instantly look in the other direction pretending that he wasn’t interested in the first place.
Albert thence returns to the sky (where he belongs) and conducts a few impressive fly-bys in order to try and regain some of the awe and wonder in which he was previously held. Experiment ends. Detailed notes and pencil drawings in leather bound notebooks will be forwarded idc.
* clear conflict of interest, but correct all the same.
Surg Lt Cdr Seb Bourn RN, Docto-pussy (for no other reason than it sounded quite funny), Red Watch.
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56 49.14 South, 092 75.41 West.
840 Nautical Miles to Cape Horn
The mighty ADVENTURE continues to push East on the far side of the world, making good progress towards the ‘gap’ (The Drake Passage); a topic that continues to dominate conversation onboard.
We are currently running over the Mornington (Crescent!) Abyssal Plain with water depths in excess of 4000 meters, slightly assisted by the southern ocean current running Easterly at approximately 0.5 knots. Every little helps as we countdown with both excitement and apprehension towards the summit of our ocean voyage.
Today Euan’s eagle eye spotted that an aerial on the very top of the mast looked to be a little loose, so it was decided to have a closer inspection. Climbing the mast at sea is not the easiest evolution with a constantly pitching and rolling platform however, a temporary break in heavy seas allowed a willing-ish crew member to get volunteered.
With a weight similar to that of a small child (and not quick enough to think of something else vitally important to do), John was the obvious candidate and bravely went aloft under the control and trust of his fellow crewmates to inspect the aerial and facilitate any potential repairs.
The aerial just needed a quick tighten and John returned on deck, job done with a big grin. In other news Robbie, continues to practice his astro-navigation, honing his skills on the Ships’ “star spanner” (sextant) to good effect, with his fix putting us quite accurately in the Southern Hemisphere! Matt looks set to regain his bread making Master title with a batch of bagels, but faces friendly inter-watch competition from a spiced fruit loaf (White Watch continue to streak ahead in Great Adventure Bake Off).
Second mate Will continues to reliably forecast the changing weather patterns (sometimes before they even arrive!) using a mixture of hourly observations, downloaded weather prediction software and more recently a mixture of chicken bones and orange peel.
Aiming to stay one step ahead of mother nature in a game of man versus environment is no easy task and it is a humbling experience to witness both the ferocity and unpredictability of the weather in this part of the world.
On a personnel note, highlights to date have included an endorphin pumping night watch helming the boat under gale force winds and a brilliant full moon; a Morning Watch sunrise accompanied by a friendly pod of dolphins dancing in the surf; and of course not forgetting Matt’s mouth watering cinnamon twirls.
I am sure that I speak for all onboard when I reflect on how fortunate we are to be partaking in an expedition of this type. When I announced to colleagues that I was embarking on this trip it was questioned by some as to why I would pay good money to live in a 70ft box with 14 smelly strangers for 7 weeks across the roughest seas on the planet?
For me it was simple. It was the call of a challenge and the opportunity to experience a wild and remote place. It was an opportunity to push the comfort zone and do something that is not readily available in civilian life. It is often all too easy to take life's little luxuries for granted in a day to day society full of excesses, where everything is available at anytime of the day or night.
After a period of relative austerity and abstinence, whether it is a full nights sleep, picking up the phone to speak with friends and family or having more than one slice of toast for breakfast, life always tastes that bit sweeter.
Of course none of this is even possible without the continued support and encouragement from friends and family back home and so on behalf of everyone onboard I would like to thank you for making this happen and to and let you know that our thoughts are with you this Easter Monday.
We look forward to our return, enjoying a pint around a roaring log fire and sending you off to sleep with tales of giant sea birds and waves the size of skyscrapers.
Lt Mark White RN – Sail Maker – White Watch
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56 15 South, 098 11 West.
1023 Nautical Miles to Cape Horn.
Happy Easter to all ADVENTURITES!
Today we have been celebrating Easter in some style. Overnight we put some traditional sails up (and then took them down again because it got a bit squally) while the skipper valiantly boosted morale by making some Easter decorations which are now brightening up the saloon – it looks a little like a Primary school entrance hall, festooned with eggs, bunny’s and a picture people are currently taking bets on (it’s Jesus coming out the tomb for goodness sake! – Skip).
Green Watch cooked up a special treat (bacon rolls) for breakfast which were so well received that Brian, Will and I didn’t get one! Still, we didn’t mind as we had lunch to look forward to. A delicious packet of vegetable soup (which, although I managed to get it out the packet, I then managed to burn) with left over tuna mayo, plastic cheese & ham or egg mayo wraps (to order...or endure!) - the weight loss programme is going reasonably well for most of us, less Dan who ensures nothing goes to waste by eating anything designated for ditching.
Morale will be sky high this afternoon as the Easter celebrations are set to be enhanced with an egg hunt. This might not take very long.
We are all very excited at the prospect of passing the “Cape Horn – 1000 miles” signpost, expected at some point this afternoon (3 miles to go now!). For those of you following us on YellowBrick tracker...or plotting our position daily, religiously, on a full scale wall map, you may have noticed that we are now on a Latitude SOUTH of that of Cape Horn (which sits on 56 degrees 01 Minutes South).
The reason for this is that we are following a ‘Great Circle’ route and not the ‘Rhumb Line’, nautical expressions I’ll grant you, but somehow quite at home out here! The difference is quite simple; the earth is round, therefore the shortest distance between 2 positions may not necessarily be a straight line by compass at anywhere other than the Equator, it may involve following the curve of the earth round a slightly narrower bit of the globe (the reason why when you fly from London to New York, you generally fly over Greenland).
This is what we are now doing (and have been, broadly speaking, since NZ – although there was a prudent navigation restriction of ‘not South of 55 degrees South until East of 105 degrees West’ which kept us North of the really gnarly weather, ice-bergs and those monsters you see on maps clutching tridents and breathing fire). The net result of this is that we should reach as far South as 57 and a half degrees before we start heading North again to the Cape.
In it’s geographical context, the limit of the Antarctic Treaty is 60 degrees South, so when we turn North we will be within 150 Nautical Miles of Antarctic waters – which may help explain the current temperature. The sun is currently shining and we have a gentle breeze to help us on our way.
It is however, a somewhat bracing (8.5 deg C day time); which, with wind chill added (or subtracted) means we are seeing the lowest global temperatures on record (well, our records anyway).
The starboard heads continue to present us with a management challenge. Any of our readers with advice on how to prevent blockages in gale force winds should reply to this email address.
Ideas so far have included blowing through them (in the manner of the foulest trumpet imaginable) or attaching a wire coat hanger to a hand drill to encourage any detritus to proceed to sea. Both seem a bit high risk. The Skipper seems to think that pumping them the requisite number of times after use would help...what does he know!!!
Cdr James Richards RN – Green Watch, Media Ops
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55 29 South, 101 59 West.
1150 Nautical Miles to Cape Horn
Easter weekend was welcomed with relatively pleasant weather and just a handful of hail and snow showers to remind the guys on deck that having blood and the ability of touch in their fingers is overrated - although none of this prevented Euan from making another snowman.
Unfortunately, his creation had a short life as the great southerly winds quickly decapitated him (the snowman, not Euan). He will be sorely (if quite briefly) missed.
With the winds flirting around the 40+ knot mark, Green and Red Watch steadied the ship through Good Friday with the two bright orange storm sails (the Tri-sail at the back and the Storm Staysail up front) maintaining stability as the weather becomes more ‘interesting’.
It is not so much the 30-35knot winds which blow fairly consistently around here which are the problem, it is the 50knot gusts which sweep through almost hourly, accompanied by stinging hail and spray and which do not show on the Grib file weather information we download daily (in our quest for maximum wind speed we registered 113.7 knots today, but are fairly confident that it was caused by a hailstone striking the anemometer at the top of the mast!).
At midday, Red Watch replaced White for the Mothering duties and straight away set about planning for a traditional Good Friday dinner. Brian, who is in charge of fishing duties on ADVENTURE was left to deliver the catch of the day and considering how unsuccessful he has been over the last 21 days, Doctor Seb made a ‘reserve’ beef curry (which turned out to be a bit lucky!).
As the night drew in, the wind began to ease and then finally vanished, forcing a few hours running East on the engine. At the first crack of daylight (usually half an hour earlier at sea than on land) the wind managed to find our sails again and it wasn’t too long before the hail stones were horizontal with Matt at the helm, using his face to divert them back into the ocean.
Sails were hoisted again, the underwater whisk / donk / iron topsail (engine) was quickly shut down and the guys were steering the yacht like they stole it. It was that much fun that even the Skipper, like the legend he likes to think he ought to be, dusted his waterproofs, threw them on and jumped on the helm, weaving ADVENTURE smoothly through the waves, which was a welcome sight compared to White Watches usual renegade approach!
This morning also saw a pod of dolphins, immediately identified as ‘black and white ones’. Unfortunately, the ‘Sea Mammals Spotters Guide’ which was on the boat during earlier legs is nowhere to be found. The Army blog, however, is full of long descriptions, latin names, migratory routes and all sorts of other information which you would normally find in a Spotters Guide (but you shouldn’t draw any conclusions from that!!).
So anyway, if anyone is happy to inform us what they are likely to be (using the in depth description above) it would be much appreciated. Regardless of what they where, they kept us company for over an hour darting either side of the yacht, which was a pretty cool sight.
As the day went on, the weather moderated and we put the full mainsail up for the first time in 5 days, getting the orange storm sails down for a while. Almost an hour later and the first squall through had us reefing in quick time so eventually we finished the day with storm sails lashed and stowed but white sails back up forward and aft.
ADVENTURE is now looking a bit more like it did when it left New Zealand but considering how unpredictable the weather is in the Southern Ocean it won’t be long until the bright orange things are back up and with Cape Horn potentially 7 days of sailing away, we are literally welcoming any calm before the inevitable storm.
The trip so far has been a bit of a steep learning curve for some of the more inexperienced sailors amongst the crew, myself included, as controlling the yacht in these testing waters has been challenging. However, as it turns out the strong winds and big waves crashing down on the deck has brought out the best in our helming, with Dan getting special merit for his control under very tough conditions. (Nick is not so bad himself – but I have added this after he passed me the Blog for editing – Skip).
But with everything we have learned so far on this trip there is something we learned last night that will stick with us all: no matter what, under any circumstances, never, ever, cook the crews dinner in a pair of shorts*.
Hope you are all enjoying your Easter weekend and have fun with all your Easter Egg hunts tomorrow morning.
From the crew of ADVENTURE in the Southern Ocean, Happy Easter!
SAC Nick Bates RAF - Red Watch / Ships Mechanic / Wave Watcher
* There is a rule onboard that people cooking in the galley need to wear foul weather trousers to prevent possible scalding injuries. Some people have chosen to ‘forget’ the instruction. Occasionally the Skipper has to use ‘gentle reminders’. All sorted now!
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54 50 South, 107 53 West.
1367 Nautical Miles to Cape Horn
Yesterday we rejoiced at the astonishing news we were 400 miles closer to Cape Horn than the day previous!
But before anyone gets excited, we haven’t added foils to the boat to increase our average speed over 16 knots, nor experienced another International Date Line crossing debacle where we repeated a day and then argued for 3 days about what day it was! Navs had simply changed the route on the plotter to one more favourable to the Met Forecast. Nevertheless, the news was greatly received by all.
Snow and hail have became a regular occurrence in the frequent squalls which cross us, but today saw the first opportunity for snow to gather on deck. Being the mature, professional, seamanlike crew we are, the only reasonable action to take was to build a small snowman and have the smallest, wettest snow ball fight ever.
A stray round even made it down below into the saloon (which has surprised the skipper somewhat while reading this as he thought his last instruction before he went for a forenoon snooze was to keep the door shut to keep in the heat!).
On the subject of heat, we are fortunate in that we have a working heater which DISCO currently don’t have – air temperature inside their boat reached a cool 7 degrees last night, which along with associated damp cannot be much fun...
Mother watch provides the welcome break and respite from conditions on deck. Conducted correctly you can ensure a sound 16 hours + sleep, squeezed in amongst mother watch duties; as you finish up lunch after your last morning watch you can rack-out for a few hours before the prep for dinner has to begin.
After finishing dinner the keen members and heavy sleepers can visit the land of nod until 0700 (or maybe even 0830 if you employ the ‘2 people on for breakfast’ routine which is rapidly becoming a favourite). And if you really want there’s the opportunity after lunch for another few hours before kicking things back off on deck again with the First Dog at 1600.
Thus far, Mark retains the crown for having ‘more time off than the skippers’s foulies’.
Perhaps the best part of being ‘mother’ is the opportunity to have a shower and change into a set of ‘clean’ clothes. The best showers come after a spell running the engine or generator where the calorifier has had the chance to raise the water temperature slightly above tepid.
Showering itself has come to be defined as a new extreme sport, especially in some of the Force 11 winds we’ve had over the past few days. Much like a game of twister played in a washing machine (probably), with a strategically placed leg on the bulkhead, one on the deck, head propped against the mirror and an arm on the grab-rail, you can have a fairly successful shower with the remaining hand.
Alas, no ‘Hollywood’ showers here; the routine is - water on to wet the skin, switch it off whilst you lather up, fumble around swearing with soap in your eyes trying to find the shower head, then rinse off using as little water as possible ensuring you don’t see your oppo off who’s next in the queue (quite possibly with a cold shower the only option).
The more sympathetic crew members also use the shower as an opportunity to wash out undies...a sort of environmentally friendly 2 for 1 affair. Greenpeace would be proud.
Chat onboard is much like that on dry land and highly typical of a male only audience... Bread making and Clouds.
“Is that a CL3 or a CL7?”, “Can a CL5 produce hail?”, “is it the infant Jesus being cradled by the Virgin Mary?”, “Do we need to second knead bread?”.
Matt has fallen from the position of Master Baker and continues to feel deflated, much like his bread. Efforts to rise to the challenge have failed and Edmonds ‘Sure to Rise’ SureBake active yeast mixture (from NZ) is currently not living up to it’s marketing. If we were to go back to Auckland, there would be a legal challenge right there, under trade descriptions!
The phys challenge continues to be led by the mighty White Watch followed (at a distance) by Green in 2nd. Red are yet to reach the start line and continue to be scored DNS.
Morale remains high and inbound emails continue to be encouraged for all – a count will be conducted before Montevideo where the person who scored lowest on the ‘emails received’ scale will be invited to buy drinks for the rest of the crew until we all promise to be his friend in future.
t has been noted that 3 days ago this publication incorrectly credited Mark with a massive bread failure when in fact it was Matt. We would like to apologise to Mark, his family and friends for any distress this may have caused. Our thoughts are with you all at this difficult time.
Lt (SCC) Robbie Robertson RNR – Ships Jock (one of many it turns out), Navigators Assistant, White Watch Leader
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54’ 09 South; 112’ 45 West
1540 Nautical Miles to Cape Horn
Today started with some excitement for the deck watch in ADVENTURE. At 0600, the barometer plummeted (5MB in 2 hours...or lots) and an ominous black squall line appeared on the horizon behind us, heading in our direction at speed. The watch on deck dropped the No 3 Yankee rapidly and we braced for impact.
Absolutely nothing happened, the squall dissipated, we re-hoisted the Yankee and continued on our way.
The incident was a salutary reminder that, although we have experienced some big winds so far, we have by no means seen everything the Southern Ocean can throw at us and it is unpredictable at best and at worst just downright nasty.
As we approach the Horn the water will shallow, causing the swell to rise to greater heights. The gap between South America and Antarctica (Drake’s Passage) also acts as a funnel for winds that whistle un-obstructed around the world increasing their velocity as they pass through the gap. Imagine a 320 mile wide peashooter with us as the pea.
Added to these effects are the vicious ‘Williwaws’, local winds which sweep down the Chilean coast and spiral into Drakes Passage, confusing the already confused seas. The good news is that we are doing it on a boat built not only to sail, but also to race, through these waters in the opposite direction - against the prevailing winds and currents.
Our Sundowner’s talks continue, with Robbie giving a talk on his area of expertise - escape from oil rigs into stormy seas. A useful man to have around. From my vantage point on the helm I was able to get a good view of the entire crew in the forward cockpit getting goffered (see previous blogs for a definition) mid talk, thereby adding realism which I am sure they all appreciated.
Our friendly follower, Albert Ross (an Albatross for those who are reading this a bit too slowly!) continues to circle us, probably more out of curiosity than anything else - wondering what on earth we are doing in his neck of the woods. Today he turned up with some colleagues, which, while about the same shape, were slightly smaller (although still blooming massive) and brown coloured as opposed to Albert’s white. Are we becoming the local tourist attraction?
Does anybody know where Albatross’s (Albatri?) breed? We have seen Albert land and take off, looking like a huge seagull sitting on the water, but they must have somewhere more solid to lay eggs (there are some onboard who have watched David Attenborough and know the answer, but aren’t letting on...).
Food continues to be a bit of a hot topic onboard and lunch today consisted of artisan cup-a-soups served by James, with the rest of Green watch scooping out the residual water in the bilge with milk cartons after the failure of our wet and dry vacs.
Neil presented ‘el nighto italiano’ with HOMEMADE meatballs (Skipper showed momentary disappointment they were not tinned), followed by the remains of the pears, stewed. I have a feeling I will be writing that for a number of future Blogs.
As I write, we are on a broad reach under No 3 Yankee and Tri-sail making 10kts to the East in 30kts of breeze-it’s odd how we become ‘used’ to a steady 30kts, when, but days ago we would have considered such winds as being ‘a bit stiff’.
The odd hail squall blows through but apart from that we have had sunshine all day, although not enough to prevent our attempt to dry teatowels on the guardrail becoming an abject failure.
Before I, and my Green Watch team head for the deck until midnight, I thought I would give you an idea of how our 3 day watch routine works:
1600-1800 First Dog - A nice easy 2 hrs to start. .
2000-2359 First - No major problems, you get to watch the sunset and are in your rack just after midnight. .
0400-0800 Morning - The first 2 hours can be miserable but then the sun comes up and life improves. There is also a hot breakfast waiting when you finish.
1200-1600 Afternoon - Relax while everybody else is snoozing.
1800-2000 Last Dog - Straight off the deck, grab dinner then get your head down.
0001-0400 Middle - Absolutely no redeeming features. Whatsoever. My current pet hate.
0800-1200 Forenoon - Tidy up the boat, wash the decks down and secure anything that has come adrift overnight.
1600-2359 Mother - Cooking, cleaning and best of all lots of sleep, if the helm can keep us vaguely upright.
0001-1600 Mother - We usually start preparing breakfast at about 0630 but it only takes one person and I managed to persuade Lee to volunteer this morning.
Then repeat until we see Montevideo!
The sun has just set so we have just switched the Nav lights and Compass light on while the ‘Watch on Deck’ clip on their safety harnesses until dawn whatever the weather. Time for scran (not scoff -this is a Navy boat) so that’s all from me for now although I'm sure the skipper will review and add his own edits.
See if you can guess which bits are which!
By Skip - As I am editing, we have just had a squall come through with hailstones the size of big peas. The max wind registered on the anemometer was 97.2kts – for those of you interested in the Beaufort Scale, that is a cool Force 16...
Lt Cdr John Butler RN, Green Watch Leader
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53’ 01 South; 116’ 55 West
1762 Nautical Miles to Cape Horn
G’day all from Adventure. I hope all is well back in Blighty (or wherever you are). First of all thank you for all your contributions to the ‘where does the term ‘goffer’ originate?’ debate.
Of course the question was posed by a ‘crab’ who neglected to ask any of the 10 Matelots or Bootnecks onboard who would have told him it was a Naval term for a soft drink, the exact origins of which are lost in the mist of hundreds of years of Naval history (something the RAF don’t really ‘get’!) – but probably something to do with Alfred the Great and the first standing Navy in 897AD (I imagine).
Offers from ADVENTURITES out there have included the correct definition (from ‘Jackspeak’-the definitive Dictionary of Naval Terminology by Surg Capt Rick Jolly RN) to answers suggesting that somehow the French had something to do with it, which as we all know is impossible!
One intriguing possibility was ‘an iron used to press pleats and ridges’ (thankyou Marianne) so we have searched high and low for a ‘laundry’ but as the closest we came to one was ‘bottle of febreeze’ we decided that probably wasn’t it.
Today on board has been one of consolidation ready for the next blow. A lot and yet very little has happened. It was also Robbie’s birthday so I shared a dram of sloe gin with him at midnight.
Unfortunately it was a very wee dram but it was very tasty home made stuff (thanks Abbi!). Euan made an excellent chocolate cake (although with slightly suspicious writing on it) which we all enjoyed at sundowners, even though the candles were blown out by a 40kt gust before we had finished singing the first line of ‘Happy Birthday’ and it was eaten in double quick time due to the arrival of a vicious hailstorm!
Sundowners in 3 degrees centigrade before wind chill in 30-35kts of wind seems totally normal now. It wouldn’t have been a few days ago.
In other news we seem to have broken both of our ‘wet ‘n’ dry’ hoovers, which apparently aren’t great fans of sea water. Dan Dan Sparky Man has spent most of the day with tools everywhere, bits of hoover in his lap and his head in his hands – all to no avail.
Disappointingly, a REME style hammer was not required and we have resorted to a cut down sauce bottle as a bilge scoop. Skip has declared tonight a film night too for increased morale, mainly for his own as he had to repack 4 life jackets this morning. He was wondering why he was feeling a little queasy after all this time at sea and then realised it was the amount of CO2 he had inhaled!
As the 2nd Mate on board I am not a member of a watch, instead the 1st Mate and I do a 4 hours on / 4 hours off system all the time, with the exception of the standing Morning Watch (0400-0800 daily) which is the Skippers perk!. I am charged with navigation, weather and the techy stuff on board, so I seem to be fixing a lot of things, which would terrify my workshop at 17 Port and Maritime Regiment RLC.
It was all going well until I broke my laptop screen by launching it and myself across the boat what seems like months ago now. Much faffing, and a selection of Anglo-Saxon invective later, and I managed to sort the ships laptop to do what I want it to (eg. work). In morale terms I think I come second only to the Pusser as my job is also to ensure these emails get through and get sent.
Please keep the morale coming!! I am also one of two Army on board. As the token ‘pongo’ I have noticed that it is very different to sailing with my Army mates on our sister ship (which I did Leg 5 in).
The key differences are that most of the Army crew only have ‘boat’ experience through sailing. With skimmers (surface fleet), sun-dodgers (submariners) and bootnecks (Royal Marines) on board the ‘maritime’ experience is vast, making them used to living at sea and all the nuances that go with it – if not necessarily in so small a tub.
Most notably, although I am charged with ‘Navigation and Meteorology’ I have 3 professional Navigators and one Hydrographer in support! We do also have 3 RAF on board who are used to larger en-suite bathrooms and a slightly better ‘turn down’ service, but they seem to be coping very well.
So to finish for another day, the Skipper’s eldest daughter sent us a lovely email that he read out to the crew at ‘sundowners’ and thought deserved a mention here. Some of the little stuff from home which brings a bit of a smile - admittedly through the gritted teeth of those subjected to 35knot freezing winds while ‘enjoying’ themselves. Anyway, here it is...and thankyou!
And good luck to everyone who is taking part on Adventure (The awesomest boat ever!!!) I hope the seas are not too strong! Gusty is just fine and of course a bit choppy!
Have fun and i hope your injures are mending! How are you doing?! I bet your first…
But it doesn’t matter if you lose, it just matters that you took part and enjoyed yourself while it lasted, so theres advice that you could take from me as I’m the skippers daughter and he has taught me to sail (successively!!)
He is AWESOME!!!! Anyway i better leave you to get on with the RACE! Have fun and race like a TEAM!
GOOD LUCK FROM IMY (the skippers oldest daughter!)
It is not a race of course and it is absolutely the taking part that counts – certainly with this leg in particular.
PS. The Skipper has wholeheartedly endorsed the re-transmission of this e-mail as it does his reputation no harm whatsoever! Signed. Skip.
Maj Will Naylor REME – 2nd Mate
17 Port and Maritime Regiment RLC
Token pongo and winner of the ‘worst beard in the world’ competition.
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53’ 26 South; 122’ 11 West
1955 Nautical Miles to Cape Horn
Good afternoon (or whatever time of day this happens to land on your doormat) to all you ADVENTURITES out there, I trust all is splendid...and level, back onshore. ADVENTURE and it’s slightly damp cargo of humanity is now approaching you, we passed the ‘Pole of Inaccessibility’ this morning.
I’m sure it’s been mentioned in previous blogs, but if it has managed to pass you by, it’s the point on the Earths surface that is as far from inhabitable land in any direction as is possible to get. Therefore we are now on our way back.
It is quite cutely called Point Nemo, unfortunately no flag pole or big sign post (or small stripey cute orange fish), just a set of changing co-ordinates counting down and then past 48 52.637S 123 23.580W. We were wondering if we could get special ties made, possibly with clown fish on.
We are also less than 2000 miles from Cape Horn as well – a bit of a milestone – it’s now less than a complete lap of Great Britain and Ireland and should hove out of the mist in around 10 days time – Skip’s quote ‘it’s a bloody long way to come for 1 measly photograph’ seems to be about right!
The helming ability of the crew is improving rapidly in these conditions (it has no choice!). Special mention must go to Dan who couldn’t drive in a straight line with 20 knots and a gentle ocean 5 days ago, but is now absolutely nailing it in the gale/storm force conditions we are experiencing at the moment.
The new speed record was set by John last night at 25.2 knots surfing down the front of a wave, which is all the more impressive considering it was done on the smallest sail set up we have.
We are still trucking along through the Southern Ocean with big seas, bigger winds and a swell of 7-10 metres. When you’re on the helm you generally don’t see it, it’s down to your wave watchers looking astern to inform you when they’re approaching so you can take action. Being a wave watcher myself it’s quite a sight seeing house sized waves bearing down on you - all very exhilarating to the complete novice.
Being on deck is a whole lot easier than being down below where everything is a challenge; cooking, cleaning, sleeping, washing and the other stuff that goes on which is not talked about in polite society. Basically, if it’s not nailed down, it’ll fly past you at the merest provocation (60 degrees over on our side is considered advanced provocation).
The example of this morning stands - after breakfast today the galley became a bit Greek taverna-ish. Who would have thought that a plate rack wouldn’t stack and hold plates securely eh? During a particularly lively series of waves all the plates went crashing to the floor, you could almost taste the ouzo!
But still the galley team deliver;- after the quite top notch chilli and spiced pear crumble last night, White Watch continued to up the ante in the baking match so that although Mark suffered a somewhat dented confidence with a complete bread failure, Matt bounced right back to form with some fantastic cinnamon twists for afternoon tea, and new baker Robbie made the mother of all loaves, it is huge and may be saved for use as a damage control wedge in case we hit a whale and put a hole in the hull!
We are going through life jackets at a fair rate of knots which is as good as it is bad. Being salt water activated it is comforting to know they work, unfortunately they have something of a ‘hair-trigger’ and can go off if a wave gets a little excited and crosses the deck.
The ‘life-jacket inadvertent activation’ scores currently stand at Mark 2, John 2, Dan 1, Euan 1 and Lee 1. Skipper is grinning like a Cheshire cat (again) as he has decided he gets a free beer in Montevideo for every one he has to repair before we get there.
Slightly less pleasing to him was the full box of oranges that decided to relocate itself from the bunk above him onto his knees during a bit of a roll while he was asleep this morning. Luckily his arm is improving and he has made a few guest appearances on the wheel which is improving his sense of humour a little.
Time to go on watch now, I’ll leave you with a challenge, if anyone can tell us where the term “goffer” comes from we would appreciate it. A Naval term it can be used either as in ‘getting goffered’ by a wave, to have a drink of ‘goffer’ or squash, or a tin of ‘goffer’ (fizzy drink). Before any confusion creeps in, a ‘gopher’ is a rodent or dogsbody, totally unrelated to ‘goffers’.
Answers by email please, competition lines close sometime and you won’t be charged for late entries. The prize is the knowledge that you made our existence down here a little less unbearable and you can walk around with your head held high.
Au revoir ADVENTURITES, sleep well in the knowledge that you won’t be spat out of your ‘pit’ by a wave, woken by a soggy, cold hand at 0330 for your ‘watch’, or have a high velocity box of oranges target you just as you are dreaming of...well that would be telling!
Sgt Neil Innes RAF. Ships Pusser and Sommelier d’Aventur, White Watch.
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53’ 48 South; 128’ 83 West
2100 Nautical Miles to Cape Horn
The storm arrived with a vengeance overnight and our early preparations have paid dividends. We’ve had blizzard snow and hail (we have just harvested a handful of hailstones all about 6-8mm wide from the deck as I write) accompanied by constant winds of 30-40 kts (Force 8) with regular gusts of 60+ (Force 11).
It’s really cold on deck (4 deg C without the wind chill). Our hands are the main source of discomfort as once they are wet it is a nightmare to get them warm inside the gloves, but the boat sails beautifully in these winds with the storm jib and tri-sail.
The big advantage of these sails is that they remove some of the usual risks associated with sailing downwind (eg the consequences of crash gybes are less severe because the boom is not used).
This has allowed for some on watch helmsman training to develop our skills ahead of the bigger seas we will encounter as we get closer to the Horn. The seas here are pretty big already (Sea State 7 – Defined as High, 6-9 metres (20-30ft) so the prospect of bigger swell is quite daunting.
Last night Lee knocked up ‘northern steak pie’ which surprised us all by being not only edible but delicious. I acted as sous-chef, ably adding powdered mash to hot water and skilfully warming some frozen winter vegetables. We also managed to mix things up a bit with our bounty of ageing fruit by knocking up some pineapple fritters (which came with custard or yoghurt for those of us who wanted something a little different to fruit and yoghurt).
For those at home excited by the prospects of their nearest and dearest cooking lots on our return, we would like to draw your attention to the small print.
The crew of ADVENTURE may well be Jedi’s at cooking in a galley the size of an understairs cupboard which moves erratically from side to side and up and down; however, we are far less capable in large, stable kitchens where things regularly get lost and the food remains in the pans. So, management of expectation is key...
From a professional perspective as a submariner, my observations are that there are many similarities between life here and at sea in a submarine. Living in close proximity to people, the requirement to wash / shower “carefully” and the requirement for careful management of waste / rubbish are all really similar. However, our inability to dive deep under the weather is a significant shortcoming.
Keep emailing us, we love hearing from you!
Cdr James Richards RN – Green Watch, Media Ops
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52’ 20 South 137’ 29 West
2656 Nautical Miles to Cape Horn
This morning woke to the news that the first whale sighting of the trip had happened during the Morning Watch (0400-0800). Reports from the on watch went from Whale, Black, Large, Mark 1 to possible Sperm Whale, however reports on size vary greatly from a few metres to around 12 metres in length. Of course, each time the ‘dit’ is spun the creature appears to grow!
Nevertheless, the close encounter (less than 10 metres) came as a bit of a surprise to all onboard and perhaps a bit more of a shock for the whale who snorted and then promptly left surface before any phots could be taken.
Weather reports indicate that during the next 24 hours we will see conditions deteriorate before a prolonged period of ‘heavy weather’. Skipper has advised us to “prepare for a beasting” and as such the hard work continues to ensure the boat, and probably more so, the crew are ready.
With predicted wind speeds of up to 60 knots we have continued our defect rectification at a steady rate of knots; this morning saw Dan Dan the Sparky Man lead his watch into the task of replacing the bulbs in the compass binnacle – without which we would have problems seeing and steering by compass at night (even in the technological age, we still rely on the earths magnetic field to find our way at sea – electronic navigation kit is really only a backup).
What may have seemed a straightforward task soon turned into open-heart-surgery as the binnacle was slowly torn apart to reveal the inner ‘gubbins’. At one stage 4 men were involved in the somewhat laborious process of holding the pieces together to allow us to continue on course, effectively turning the ships compass into a very heavy hand-bearing compass!
Richard gave up his afternoon off watch to make repairs to some chafe damage to the foreguy (a line which serves several essential purposes including holding the boom out, or the spinnaker pole down), whilst Brian continued to prepare the boat for cold and heavy seas by fitting blanking plates to the 14 deck dorades (the bent pipe air vents you see on ships like Titanic or others without air-con - while they let in air, they can also be overwhelmed by big seas and let in a bit too much water into the ‘people tank’, so we blank them off before big seas are expected...which adds a bit of funk to the air inside the boat!).
As Brian progressed for’d, he issued the immortal words “no goffers (big waves over the deck) please” to which our helmsman, who will remain nameless (Mark), perfectly executed the most beautiful precision goffering we have yet seen, drenching him completely.
Meanwhile, in the galley White Watch pulled out all the stops to produce extra loaves of bread for the coming days as well as a meal to be kept ‘in the bag’ should conditions preclude the daily production of culinary delights we have became used to.
For those that are interested (and everyone still reading) we keep up-to-date with the weather using a combination of electronic and traditional means. Our primary being a barometer, but backed up by the use of ‘Grib’ files downloaded via datalink on the Sat Phone. Gribs allow us to view wind and pressure charts several days in advance that cover the large sea areas we cross (approximately 200 miles a day) but with the added advantage they only use a very small amount of our limited bandwidth.
Through close observations of the barometer, what we can see in the sky and what is going on around us we are able to interpret these forecasts and adjust as necessary. So far we have tended to experience wind strengths around 5-10 knots greater than those in the Gribs, with gusts of up to 10 percent of the total greater. The next few days of Gribs say 40-45knots...!
To delight of some of the crew and dismay of others our pineapple supply is slowly starting to dwindle. Fruit rations are becoming shorter in supply and only the hardier pears, apples and oranges remain.
Neil our glorious ‘Pusser’ has issued the first of his warnings; we’re using too many kitchen rolls, eating too many savoury biscuits and having too much choice for breakfast – which has now been limited to one bowl (porridge or wheaties...NOT both!) per man.
Euan the Chippy (Shipwright) has been put on standby to install locks on the food lockers.
Alongside the hustle and bustle and continuing the theme of traditional over technical methods, I’ve taken the opportunity to refresh and hone my skills with the ‘star spanner’ (sextant) with the view to collecting the necessary evidence towards RYA Yachtmaster (Ocean) qualification (a 3 stage process involving a 1 week shorebased course, an ocean passage and a subsequent interview with an examiner about the passage).
From my last and relatively tame crossing of the Atlantic, watching others take and reduce their sights I took the Ocean (Shorebased) course to find out what it was all about. Easy I thought... until I tried taking sights on a wobbly platform and a horizon that moves up and down several metres, whilst trying to dodge the goffers and other goings-on at the same time.
Help from the sextant old-salts onboard has been greatly appreciated and so far I’ve been able to reduce our position down to within 13 miles of the GPS reading-for those of you who think that may be wildy inaccurate for safe navigation, it is not actually that bad.
The sextant is now safely back in bed in preparation for the rough seas ahead but we look forward to continuing our training and increasing our accuracy once the sun appears again.
Lt (SCC) Robbie Robertson RNR – Ships Jock, Navigators Assistant, White Watch Leader
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The sun is shining and life is returning to normal as we settle down after the excitement of 2 nights ago. We are flying our full mainsail and No 2 Yankee headsail (at the front), beating to the South at 7kts in a pleasant (if chilly) 10kts of breeze.
The Skipper is up and about and, disappointingly, refusing to make use of the hook Will carefully fashioned as a replacement for his right hand. We’ve completed a few other jobs on deck including replacing a few bits of worn ropework.
Green Watch has been Mother today and James is maintaining his usual standard, providing Cheesy Hammy Eggies for lunch – to universal approval. Lee is developing his baking skills with one loaf of bread complete and a second in the oven.
Brian has just asked me to note his heroic work covering for Will who was having a ‘teenage lie in’. Neil is currently waging a war of extermination on the fruit flies discovered infesting the boxes of oranges above the skippers bunk. As time goes on more members of the crew are finding their secondary roles (and attached nicknames).
Lee has emerged as the yacht’s Poet Laureate after his contribution to the blog the other day. For reasons that are not entirely clear, I seem to have been appointed as the boat’s DJ (JB – Jive Bunny) and have been maintaining morale with a selection of Dire Straits and other rock legends.
Our ‘5 minute talks’ at ‘Sundowner’s’ complete the cultural programme for the day (last night Dan give us a presentation on his gap year travels, complete with acting as an adoptive father to a baby baboon – something which apparently influenced him to join the Navy!).
Richard (ye Old Sea Dog) saw fit to remind us it was the anniversary of the death of Captain Oates (1912) in the Antarctic and hoped we would be ready to display the same spirit of self sacrifice. Not sure things are quite that bad yet.
Our rotating watch system means Green watch are back on at 1600 and will be keeping watches on deck for the next 2 days. The weather is getting distinctly colder as we head further south and the drysuits are proving a real blessing. We have also found the hot chocolate under a pile of fruit flies!
A watch starts with a shake (wake up call) about 30 mins before we are due on deck. We roll out of our bunks and the 4 of us start dressing in the confines of our tiny cabin. I am using a thermal underlayer, a couple of fleeces and a mid layer of jacket and trousers.
The drysuit goes over the top and debate continues over the best way to put on on. Head or arms first? Over it all goes a lifejacket with 270 Newtons of bouyancy if we need it. These are fantastic pieces of kit, self-inflating with a hood to keep the spray off, while attached to our belts we carry a firefly (a powerful strobe light) and a personal Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB).
If we end up in the water, this device will transmit our GPS position via satellite which will assist in the co-ordination of recovery efforts. Hopefully we won’t need these as we also have a 3 point safety harness clipped to a D-Ring on the front of the lifejacket.
The longer line allows us to work on deck, sliding up and down jackstays rigged along the length of the yacht, while the shorter one allows us to secure in a fixed position. With the exception of Nick, who regularly sports a panda hat, the rest of us have gone for more conventional headgear and a pair of gloves to complete the outfit.
We head for the deck, clipping on as we exit the hatch if it is dark or the conditions are bad. The oncoming helmsman heads aft and sits down next to the on watch helmsman for a few minutes to get his eye in before taking over the wheel. I sit down next to the off going watch leader and we handover the watch, discussing intentions, weather patterns, defects and other incidents of note.
The off-going watch head below, one by one and the yacht is ours (erm...only the deck...says Skip over my shoulder!) for the next 4 hours. The helmsman concentrates on driving the boat fast on the assigned course while the rest of us assess the sail trim. On a boat this size, successful trimming takes all 4 of us to work as a team, one man up forward calling the sail adjustments, 2 on the winches and the helmsman ensuring we remain on our course as we adjust the sails.
After about half an hour it’s time for our first hot wet of the night served in thermal mugs. The tiny hole at the top allows the tea to get out without too much salt spray making its way in.
Also on deck we have our most important item, the green watch nutty box! This is restocked by Neil every day and we take seriously our responsibility of ensuring it is empty for the next morning!
Some watches can pass without incident, others will involve us leaving the security of the cockpit and heading for the mast or foredeck to manage a reef (reduce the size of the mainsail) or sail change.
For those of you curious about how to reef a Challenge 72 the procedure is as follows:
1. Release the Kicking Strap (to allow the boom to lift as the reef goes in).
2. Tension the Topping lift (a line to take the weight of the boom as we ease the mainsail down).
3. Ease the Mainsheet (to depower the sail).
4. Ease the Main Halyard (The line holding the mainsail up).
5. Winch in on the Cunningham (A line fixed to a point about 10 feet up the mainsail to pull the body of the sail down to the boom).
6. When the leading edge of the mainsail is in the right position, lock the Cunningham and re-tension the main halyard.
7. Winch in the reefing line (a line running through a pulley at the back edge of the sail to allow it to form a fold along the boom).
8. Re trim the mainsheet.
9. Ease the topping lift.
10. Tension the kicking strap.
11. Sail away into the sunset (or sunrise...depending).
Simple enough, however the mainsail on a 72 weighs approx 1/2 ton and that is before we have to overcome the power of the wind. This is definitely a team sport and it is a distinct advantage having the muscles of a Royal Marine on our side.
Towards the end of the watch we shake our reliefs, put the kettle on for them and then wait in keen anticipation for the moment we can head below for a hot breakfast.
Lt Cdr John Butler RN ‘Jive Bunny’ and Green Watch Leader.
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Well readers, we are back in! In more ways than one. Will has finally managed to sort the laptop (again) after much frustration and swearing. We also have wind which is great.
The weather has been surprisingly light over the last few days, more the ‘Squeaking 40s’ than ‘Roaring’. They are roaring now and we are trucking along on a fine reach at 10kts in 20kts of wind and a light sea, but with a rolling swell beneath us-every now and then a blast of icy spray sweeps the deck making the helms eyes sting and leaving the watchkeepers sat in pools of frigid salt water until it drains into the cockpit.
With the wind due to free off and build, the crew are in good spirits and cracking out the banana suits again.
Lots of jobs have been on-going to keep us moving in luxury including unblocking the heads (twice), cleaning the decks, stopping sail chafe, repairing the constant list of minor defects and making water – some of the myriad of tasks which take to keep a boat ‘ship shape’ – normal people would crack these sort of tasks alongside in a comfortable Marina with a cold beer close by.
The fact we have chosen to do it all at a 35 degree angle with buckets of cold water being thrown over us 1500 miles from the nearest land is just one of life’s oddities.
What seems even more odd is that after 10 days at sea, across the other side of the world, having come so far and being so far from all other humanity, we are now back in sight of DISCO – a mere 2 miles to our leeward and we are on a Southern Ocean sleigh ride with our sister which harks back to the golden days of the Whitbread Round the World Race (not that this is a race as the skipper is at pains to remind us - usually when he’s on the wheel with a grin like a Cheshire cat!).
The food continues to improve across the board with watches now vying to produce the finest dish. Robbie’s watch (White) have just produced beef and beer casserole WITH dumplings followed by poached pears in chocolate rice pudding – this has raised the bar to levels yet unseen.
The ability of people to cook a 2 course meal for 15, at 35 degrees with everything moving in such a small space when their previous culinary experience was limited is astounding and demonstrates team work, imagination, resourcefulness and resilience of some magnitude.
It all stands testament to the benefits of this type of ‘Adventurous Training’ (AT) for developing individuals in challenging environments. Added to the food preparation, mother watch are also immediate standby for sail changes and deckwork for their 24hrs.
Today though, and as a special treat, while we have been off air the Adventure Poet Laureate, Marine Lee Dearden has penned a poem which we wanted to share with you all.
As mother watch ends for the team of green,
24 hours of nothing to see,
Heading to the helm while were all still keen,
Brings 48 hours of nothing but sea,
As we sail across the southern ocean,
Always battling that rocking motion,
Taking all types of magic potions,
Hopefully stopping that rocking motion
Engine on, reef out, red watch sends Yankee 2 sail down,
All I want to do is watch the rugby in town,
Engine off, reef in, white watch sends Yankee 2 sail up,
All I want is a beer in hand to sup,
2000 miles sailed in yacht Adventure,
4000 miles still to go on our adventure,
As the barometer falls we know what's about to form,
Standby and get ready for the storm,
Heading for the Horn at sailing speed,
Thinking about the next sleep or feed,
I end as I started with more sea to see,
That's me signing out, Marine Lee.
MNE Dearden 30 CDO RM
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Greetings from the Southern Ocean – 47 degrees South and heading South-er!
The unavoidable break in blogs and email traffic, caused by a particularly big wave which sent our blog laptop flying (along with much of the crew), is now at an end (although probably temporarily-until the next big wave anyway) and we are now back up and running again thanks to Will (the techie – although he probably won’t appreciate me calling him that!).
Apologies for the absence of news, but now we are back in the game let me give you a brief synopsis of the first week at sea. Windy, windy, rainy, lumpy, more windy, wet, cold; done.
After a couple of days of ‘character building’ weather – most of which involved 35-40 knot winds, 4-6 metre seas and daily runs of up to 250 nautical miles, ADVENTURE turned south yesterday in search of more favourable westerly winds and plunged south through some heavy swell.
For White Watch sleeping in the 4 bunks at the front of the boat this made for an exciting few hours, with occasional air time between waves whilst attempting some much needed beauty sleep!
With temperatures dropping and wind chill increasing the crew have now mostly made the change into our flattering dry suits or ‘banana skins’ as they have become affectionately known. All, that is, except for Richard who continues to believe it is still summer in the southern hemisphere (he’s not wrong!) and is still sporting a dashing pair of shorts in defiance.
The dry suits are providing brilliant protection against the constant battering by wind, rain, rogue waves and piercing sea spray so common in this neck of the woods. For Robbie however, it is just like another summers day in Aberdeen!
With a break in the weather today and something called ‘the sun’ appearing, the upper deck has turned into a big washing line with a selection of tea towels, thick socks and a pair of superman pants fluttering in the wind.
The short break in weather has also permitted a complete stock check, a number of small repairs (including the worst job at sea – unblocking blocked loo pipes) and a deep clean throughout; after all a clean ship is a happy ship!
Sightings are now becoming more frequent of the mighty wandering albatross who glides and wheels in never ending arches in our wake and we are all keeping a keen lookout for our first whale sighting.
The ‘Great Adventure Bake-Off’ has started with a vengeance with White Watch taking the lead by knocking out an outstanding White Bloomer and Double Chocolate Cake (in between deep cleaning the boat!).
The pressure is now on the other two watches to step up the competition and if rumours are to be believed then we could be in for a treat tonight as Red Watch attempts a pineapple up-side-down cake.
Stay tuned to see if they manage to pull it off – score cards at the ready, the report will be filed in tomorrows update.
Lieutenant Mark White RN – White Watch, Sailmaker, HMSTC ADVENTURE
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The day spent regrouping and tidying up after the storm was rudely interrupted by the discovery of quite alot of water sloshing about in the bilges.
Initial excitement about the chance of an inside swim were replaced by concern as the leak couldn’t be
traced until a look behind the fridge compressor revealed a loose pipe connection.
All hands to the pumps and 28 wet n'dry hoover loads later the water was back out of the people tank.
Our first beer since New Zealand was the reward for the work and after a stunning sunset and dinner of
Moroccan beef(eh?) and cous cous we are heading down to more favourable westerly winds around 50 degrees south
Lt Cdr John Butler RN aka Jive Bunny
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our steady plod across the southern ocean continues, accompanied only by the mournfull call of the lonely albatross, the incessant roar of breaking seas, and the fire alarm at 2 o'clock in the morning as brian
had a trial run with the heating system!
Apart from that, after 3 days of winds in excess of 35kts, the weather is moderating and should give us a chance to get the house back in order before the next system barrels through.
There was a brief respite the other day and we managed to get the team together for a celebratory glass of fizz for crossing the date line, but since then it has mostly been wet and windy.
Our dry-suits came out their bags today and provide a new level of watch keeping comfort, but the smell below decks after watches would put a dairy farm to shame!
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After caribbean chicken accompanied by bob marley last night we prepped for a heavy night and were not disabused.
Steady 35knots with gusts up to 45 and a nasty cross sea gave a first real test and apart from rolling about in bed we came through it well.
unfortunately a casualty of one particularly vicious roll was the mailasail laptop so we can't run emails at the moment.YB tracker is still ok for comms.
the sun briefly came out today but we have another night of 35-40kt winds ahead of us. but for a few bumps and bruises and spag bol on the ceiling we are all well!.
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We started the day still confused after having to adjust our watches and our minds around the fact we have crossed the date line taking us back one day and then to add to the confusion, at 17:30 last night we put our watches forward to 18:30. But some good news is that after our first few days at sea, adjusting to the constant moving parts inside the yacht and certain individuals falling sea sick (not naming names), we have become more familiar with life at sea.
We seem to be eating our way through the fruit mountain on board as fast as possible before it goes off, freeing up space in living areas and making it easier to move around without the occasional comic banana skin moment.
The more nautically aware of you will have noticed that we are now in the ‘Roaring Forties’, the area between 40 and 50 degrees South that encircles the globe obstructed only by Cape Horn. This allows strong winds and big seas to build and we got a taste of what they can do during breakfast this morning with a 35kt squall.
ADVENTURE assumed a radical angle but some rapid mainsheet easing and a quick reef or 2 in the mainsail restored the situation to normal as porridge was scraped off the bulkheads and returned to bowls.
Mr (and Mrs) ‘Albert Ross’ arrived during the forenoon and we were circled by a pair of these magnificent sea birds for several hours (‘they look like one of my children with massive wings strapped to them’ Skipper was heard to say) but as we don’t carry a crossbow we left them well alone and continued on our way.
We have had a few questions on who is in each watch so for the interested amongst you the batting order is as follows:
Red Watch: Richard (Watch Leader), Seb (Doc), Euan (Shipwright), Nick (Engines)
White Watch: Robbie (Watch Leader), Mark (Metrological officer), Matt (PTI or clubz), Neil (Pusser)
Green Watch: John (Watch Leader), James (Head chef!), Dan (Electrician), Lee (Royal Marine and the muscle of the outfit)
There have been suggestions that James is only capable of producing ‘man food’ however, such an idea was comprehensively refuted today as he led the production of a tuna pasta salad (with recently caught Tuna) - I’m sure his talents will be appreciated by his loved ones on his return home.
A report to all vessels in the Pacific Ocean came through on our Satellite Comms system today reporting that North Korea had fired 2 ballistic missiles towards Japan and all vessels in the region were to keep a look...up – for falling debris.
Thankfully we are not really all that close to either country and are optimistic that North Korea possesses neither the desire nor capability to target ADVENTURE, so it goes without saying there is no need to panic – but it does make our expedition sound that much more dramatic!
Dan Wells, ET WE RN
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Quote of the Day: “Being at sea is like being in prison, with the added possibility of drowning” – Richard
Finally! Monday 7th March is now behind us! After 48 hours of the same day the whole crew were happy to see Tuesday 8th arrive. The evening of the longest day of our lives saw Red Watch take control of the kitchen, or The Galley, as the Navy guys keep informing me and served up a very successful (at times experimental) pasta carbonara.
We followed this by a not so successful apple crumble with the apple portion substituted by pears and bananas.
Last night also saw a change of wind and a number of sail changes were required. The No.1 Yankee foresail was changed to a No.2 Yankee and a spinnaker pole was erected (to open up the foresail even more) and quickly lowered back down.
The main sail was reefed (lowered to reduce the size of the sail) as the wind direction is now coming across the yacht. Green Watch have been the heroes throughout the night as all the necessary changes happened on their watch.
This new wind direction has caused ADVENTURE to sail at a 20 degree heel, which has made transiting through the yacht and cooking breakfast/lunch entertaining. The new angle of heel mixed with a slight increase of choppy waters has seen a few of the crew starting to feel the effects of sea sickness.
Although not feeling brilliant myself, there are a few crew members feeling it a lot worse, especially the Royal Marines. I do find it amusing that a RAF Technician is handling the motion of the ocean better than a couple of big, bad marines! But out of everyone who is feeling rough, one man stands above the rest.
After a little sweep stake of the first to be sick on Day 1, Matt and Dan were the front runners, but out of nowhere Doctor Seb made a dash for the deck this morning to show everyone what he had for breakfast! He blames it on the smell of bleach from the head (toilet). Nobody believes him.
As I am typing this email, with Matt at the helm and White Watch on deck, we have now sailed onto the roaring forties! I am not too sure what that means but the sailors of the crew seem to be happy, so I’m guessing its a good thing.
The new wind direction has caused the sailing to be more fun and people are starting to get splashed a bit up top, good preparation for when we tackle the Horn. The whole crew are still in high spirits, even the ones who are looking a little green.
One more thing, if anyone would like to provide ADVENTURE regular Bristol City scores, it would be appreciated. That's a request from the whole crew, not just me. Sort of..
SAC Nick Bates, (Yachts Mechanic)
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The big event of the past 24 hours was crossing the International Date Line during the night. Red Watch had the pleasure of taking ADVENTURE over at just gone midnight with Nick at the helm (he made me say that).
It took Euan a while to figure out that the longitude never actually reads 180 degrees but simply changes from E to W and starts counting down instead. We are as far from the UK as is possible on the planet and every mile now is one closer rather than further away. We have also gone from being 13 hours ahead of you all to 12 hours behind - Monday 7th March has happened again and is now pushing 36 hours!
White Watch took over ‘Mother’ Watch at 1600 last night and we were all excited about the prospect of a full nights sleep. Skipper delivered the first of our daily 5 minute talks at ‘sundowners’, all about the history of Exercise Transglobe and ocean yacht racing, after which I took my first phys session for the crew.
While attendance was small, it was a nice intro into exercising on a boat, especially with regards to how much harder moving up a wave can make a press up! Mark came up with the idea for ‘The Great Cape Horn Phys Challenge’ - a competition between watches for the first to achieve 6100 press ups, sit ups and squats (the same as the nautical miles we will cover).
White watch are ahead at the moment, with Green Watch keeping pace, meanwhile Red Watch might as well just be called Nick – who looks like he has a hard 5 weeks ahead of him!
Todays work in the galley (kitchen) has been interesting with the seas a fair bit rougher and a number of drinks being spilled already and people struggling to move about. One of the fish (a Bonito we think) caught in the previous couple of days was cooked up for lunch and went down a treat for most of the crew, served with salad, cheese and crackers.
Skipper arrested an overnight stowaway squid on the deck during his morning deck walk, the result of which is possibly the smallest Calamari starter ever produced. The day on Mother watch is actually a fairly intensive time and White Watch will be glad to get back to deck watches this evening.
Mne Matt Harding, (Boats PTI)
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After not being able to reach port Fitzroy before the fade of light, which would have been too difficult to navigate safely, we anchored off a bay further south on the Great Barrier Island with the aim to head off at first light.
With half the crew up and ready by 0600, the other half sleeping off the night long anchor watch, we raised anchor and floated out the bay to a beautiful sun rise, heading north. Four hours later, we cruised through a channel into Port Fitzroy.
Finding Discoverer, we pulled alongside for a quick catch up before anchoring off in a different bay. This particular bay was chosen for its access to trek up Mount Hobson, which several of the crew quickly proceeded to hike while others decided to explore lower reaches.
There were rumours of an old logging dam with opportunities to have a dip in lovely natural fresh water pool but to the dismay of the crew a storm on the island the previous week rendered that part of the trai closed.
For the next day, the Skipper had given us the choice of what to do. One option (to stay an extra day at port Fitzroy) was discounted because everyone felt more than satisfied with their day's adventures at Great Barrier Island.
It was decided to travel to a marina north of Auckland. Due to the size of the boat and marina we had to wait till 1700 for high tide to enter giving a great time-killing opportunity for a welcome cooling-off dip in the sea with a picturesque distant view of Auckland.
We finished off the day all together at a crew meal off the boat.
Major Mike Barham
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Following our unscheduled port visit, we departed Gisborne yesterday morning in mist and drizzle conditions.It being a Sunday, and having heard much of the town partying into the wee hours, there was nobody to witness our slipping bar a handful of trawlermen, the occasional jogger, and a Singaporean merchant vessel alongside to take on a load of timber.
Poverty Bay was a little bouncy for some of the landsmen amongst the crew, however the flip side of the coin is that we have been under sail ever since.
Adventure is now back on the nav track and making good progress for Great Barrier Island, with a rough ETA of last light tonight or first light tomorrow.
This morning sees clear blue skies and bacon sandwiches - morale is high.
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We have enjoyed a day in Picton, at the top of the Tory Channel. The town is a small resort, mainly focused on the summer holiday trade, with a population of around 4.500, which swells to approximately 12000 t the height of summer. The schools went back today, after their long summer break, but NZ is enjoying its hottest few days of the year.
The crew set out to explore yjr sound, by various means, by foot, coach and boat. The skipper and mate took the post boat to the tip of the sound, it must have been either the offer of all inclusive tea and coffee or the chance to recce the passage out of the Sound that enticed them.
There was also the chance to step in the footsteps of Captain Cook, and visit the Bay XXXX, albeit for 15 minutes at the end of the mail deliveries, see the stream where they found some fresh water and set the pigs and goats ashore to fatten them up.
All very different from this trip with our water maker and freezers. The water probably tasted better than the water maker produces!
We have enjoyed the trip south, and now have the prospect of a beat back north. We are still assessing if we will go west or east about, the weather system moving across the North Island is producing some confused weather, but will hopefully yield some good quality sailing and allow us to give the engine a rest.
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All well on Adv, less a few sea sickness victims. We are motor sailing towards Picton, and have just now rounded the East Cape.
Dinner was carbonara and pineapple upside down cake, both delicious. All the watches are taking great pride in their food!
We hope to arrive in Picton in Monday am, but could do with some wind to help.
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Wednesday saw our first day on the water, slipping from Bayswater marina at 1000 sharp we made the short journey out of Waitemata Harbour and into the Hauraki gulf.
The light winds and calm sea presented a perfect area in which for all three watches had a chance to have a go at some of the basic sailing manoeuvres we will be required to master of the next few days.
After spends a few hours acquainting ourselves with the boat, which is a lot larger than what many of us have sailed before, we made the short passage round to Waiheke island. This was a great opportunity
to ensure any of us who weren't already sun burnt now are!!!
Once at anchor and enjoying the stunning scenery some of us got the dinghy out as part of their competent crew qualification which the mate Mike is kindly taking the lead on.
Red watch are already showing everyone up with their sterling effort as mother watch and the rest of the crew are struggling through their sunburn.
White watch - SLT Edward Pearson RN
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After a mamouth 2 day jouney via Singapore & Christchurch we arrived at Auckland, just in time it hit the hottest day of the year. Berthed in Bayswater Marina, on Auckland's North Shore, looking out on the impressive Auckland Skyline.
After two days of crew training and food shopping we are ready in all aspects, confident and ready for the 4 day passage to Picton.
We are starting on Thu morning after a day sail training and night at anchor.
Messsage from 'Jacko'. "This is the most interesting and adventurous thing in the 4 years since joining the RAF."
Cdr Nick Trundle RN Skipper
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Today saw an early start for some members of the crew. A trek around great barrier island took in some spectacular views.
It was not without injury, Neil cut his foot in the mud whilst attempting to swim back to the yacht and Debbie was attacked by a primitive fresh water lamphrey.
We set sail for our final destination in glorious weather, unfortunately hardly any wind. Mid-afternoon the Auckland skyline came into view and we made our way to our berth, after refuelling.
Our final 'mother watch' saw us ending on a high with a good curry, which went down well with the crew. at long last Rafa has made us the cake that he has been promising, albeit at midnight he was putting the final touches after a couple of refreshments. it looks delicious.
All sailing is now completed and the crew are looking forward to the break in New Zealand
before heading home.
CPO Debbie Faben
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The slack winds continued today which led to a lack of sailing butprovided a steady platform from which to view the north island of New Zealand.
In other news, Pat shaved his beard off to display a half white, half red face. Paul continued his sterling work in the galley, making his first drink of the trip - it wasn't good and was swiftly ditched.
And most outrageously, Terry called Neil by his actual name, although he then went on to call the following people by the name in brackets: Pat (Liam), Liam (Graham), Chris (Debbie), Sue (John) and Paul
We have since mitigated any future problems by each dymotaping our names to our faces. The journey to New Zealandzis coming to an end as I write.
Adventurer is shortly to come alongside in Whangarei and the crew look forward to stepping on to firmer ground (once customs have cleared us to enter tomorrow morning - frustrating).
lt chris flynn rn
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At 1445 local we finally sight New Zealand, specifically the Cape Maria
Did we not just come from Van Diemen's land?
The wind has remained fickle for the last 24 hours, if the strength is sufficient to
sail, the wind angle is too low to permit more than a very tight close
As for the past few days the best sailing has been during the night watches and the days are spent motoring over a flat calm sea.
After 1200 nm with no sight of other human activity last night we saw aircraft in the distance and three ships on the horizon - evidence that apparently the human race has continued successfully without us.
The same is true of marine life, we are reassured that land is approaching and the abyssal plains crossed, by sight once again of albatrosses, dolphins and a lone shark.
For the RAF amongst us the watches have been an interesting insight into the slower pace of sea travel over long distances.
After a long night watch we look at what we have achieved on the plotter, and whilst the numbers may have changed, we appear frozen on track as if immobile.
We (and most of humanity) are used to swift travel, we are used to dozing in our airline seats and waking after an hour to see on the screen that we are over a new country.
Few journeys last more than a few hours and almost anywhere in the world can be reached in 24 hours.
The slow, but inexorable pace of passage making by sea is new to us, and for me it has been an opportunity reflect upon an earlier time when travel by sail was commonplace and usually the only option.
A time when travel required an investment in time as well as cash. We have made that
investment and have profited greatly from the experience.
Air Commodore David lee RAF, Red Watch Leader, Adventure of Hornet
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Today was warm clear day with good progress made but sadly most of that was through the engine as the winds are not playing ball, with the sea the calmest we have seen it, almost like a mill pond.
We have the last 150nm to go now to the north tip of New Zealand so spirts were high at sun downers in glorious weather with minds focusing on runs ashore and trips.
When we get to land the sea of nothingness will soon be a distant memory. The day was finished off with the best meal of the trip so far, if i say so myself, burritos and tacos with all the dips and pussers rice pudding.
Cpl l Hill RM
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The favourable winds continued through the night and into the morning. Despite a couple of questionable steers on the helm adventure chewed up the miles until a drop in the winds at 0400. With that the yacht became
level, the engine was started and the tone was set for the day.
A blistering sun and calm conditions brought a good deal of honking matelot bodies and the crew had what might be the first literal 'make-and-mend' of their careers.
The yacht and rigging was subjected to whipping, sticking and fixing of all types and skipper terry showed us his best pongo smile as the maintenance tasks were ticked off.
Rewarded with sun-downers the crew are content and morale is good, even more so now that the wind has just picked up again.
New Zealand bound for sheep, wine and whatever else they have to offer.
Lt Chris Flynn RN
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The last 24 hours has been a long but satisfying period under sail with warm,largely sunny days and cold beautifully starlit nights.
The vast majority of the time was spent unreefed in full cutter rig giving adventure a chance to show what she could do with moderate wind conditions.
The sea state was much flatter then in recent days creating a wonderful feeling of speed with the yacht carving smoothly through the water averaging 8-9 knots. with the heavy conditions over the first few days of the leg it has taken some crew members a longer time than others to settle in to sea routine.
The last 24 hours has probably seen all of the crew now comfortable and enjoying the unique experience.
Crew banter is flowing freely with no apparent personality clashes and the tri-service composition of the crew is working well.
Sqn Ldr Andy Robertson red watch
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It's the second time blue watch have had the delight to spend the day below deck on mother watch. The first wasn't particularly successful but most of us have found our sea legs now.
We enjoyed a relatively calm day with little wind, which allowed the crew to enjoy sun-downers for the first time with the added bonus of some very special cocktail waiters.
I think the crew all enjoyed my fajitas for dinner. Pat was in the heads 30 mins later but i'm sure that was just coincidence.
Flt Lt Adam Blair
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our second full day at sea is going well and all on board are now settling down and getting used to the daily running of the boat, red watch were on until 0800 and saw dolphins and a shark as well as a glorious sunrise.
We have had strong winds and rough seas at the start of the day but the winds gradually started to decrease.
The main was hoisted, reefs shaken out and the headsail changed from number 3 to number 2 yankee and poled out to help increase the boat speed but all this was in vain and the engine went on.
A few crew discovered fishing rods on board and are trying to catch something for dinner but no joy yet.
There are still a few sea sickness casualties but now the seas are calmer and the sun is out, things seem a lot better.
Regards Sue Bell
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Our first full day at sea since leaving hobart was for the majority of the crew a baptism of fire. High seas, strong winds and a following
swell ensured all watches had little time to catch their breath.
best efforts from the purser, what looked good on paper ashore, doesn't
always make the menu at sea. Suffice to say, our first full meal at sea
was put together by white watch and a pasta spag bol has never been so
The dessert has certainly left its mark on the baking tray.
Overall, we have settled into the watch routine and spirits are high. It is still entertaining to see grown men appear so excited at sighting
Best regards Pat O'Callaghan - White Watch
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Slipped Hobart at 1300 with a pleasant sail down the Derwent and quickly into the swell. Current sailing 30kn of wind hoofing along, it’s what these yachts were built for.
The REME on Disco are still in sight and I have a good strong crew. The two on watch leaders had an impressive baptism of fire doing dog watch sail changes and we are now set up for the night as this current system blows out to our north.
The first dolphin and albatross have been seen. Land will soon be behind us and we looking forward to going off grid for the next eight days.
Major Terry Hackett, skipper and token pongo on the RN RAF yacht.
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Having been enjoying the sights and sounds of Tasmania for the past 48 hours (including last night spent schmoozing with Madge from Neighbours) is was today time to get to work.
We sailed this morning and went straight in to a day of drills including hoisting and lowering sails and tacking. We also got some man overboard practice in for Neil (who Terry calls Ian), Jim (who Terry calls Ian) and Terry (who Terry has incredibly remembered to call Terry).
All in all it was a very good day of prep and as we prepare to leave Australia tomorrow and start the trek to New Zealand, we have all bonded and with a little understanding, found the perfect blend.
Shipmates should be there for one another. That's when good shipmates become good friends.
Lt Cdr Stuart Crombie
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Today was a welcome day of rest after prepping the boat for the last couple of days. We bomb-burst to various fascinating local sights of historical or natural interest.
One group investigated the awe-inspiring art museum at Mona followed by a drive up Mount Wellington (about 1260m) and trek down again.
Another group visited various historical buildings in Hobart including a penal institution, and probably one too many coffee shops. Thanks for acquiring and transporting 150 litres of emergency water though!
Our group of 7 sold out to the 'on the programme' touristy tour to Port Arthur. This turned out to be well-organised and absolutely jam-packed for 11 hours.
The penal colony proved fascinating and deserved many more hours than the 2.5 allotted, but other highlights of the day included Tasmanian Devil feeding time and a captivating walk along the cliffs of the Tasman National Park, where we were lucky to spot a wild kangaroo.
Evening spent swapping experiences and chatting about setting sail for the first time tomorrow. The weather is forecast to be on our side!
Flying Officer Rafael Russell
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Leg 6 crew have finally arrived at their respective yachts in Hobart at the Royal Yacht Club of Tasmania. After issuing foul weather gear and a bunk space everyone got down to it and settled into our home for the next 3 weeks.
Our thoughts were soon set on the Taste of Tasmania Food Festival, so the crew set off to enjoy the fruits of Tasmania! Today was spent going through safety briefs, sail evolutions and swimmer of the watch.
Rafa also enjoyed his trip to the top of the mast! Blue watch are mother watch for the premier evening meal, Chris (Will from The Inbetweeners) is attempting his famous chicken and chickpea curry.
Lots to look forward to!
SAC Paul Dugdale
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After glorious 'kite' flying day yesterday, today has all been on the motor.
The stowaway squid remains on deck and morale is high-it's skippers birthday so corned beef made the menu for lunch!
We float tested some mouldy part-baked bread but one of our Aussies, Darren, decided to salvage some as a snack - whilst turning down biscuits-"theyre mouldy enough!"-updates on his condition to follow.
The 'fresh Chris of AT' has been teaching us about types of fun- Type1, enjoyed at the time; Type2, enjoyed later and Type3 never really enjoyed! Not sure which this is at the mo!
Mid(RNR) Alex Watson
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Adventure is due south of Cape Knob (genuinely) heading East. Weather fair, spinnaker up today for first time so cooking, cleaning, eating and showering more vertically than horizontally.
The yacht is better at catching fish than the crew, Blue Watch (Helen, Stu, Alex, Tom, Chris) now have a mascot, a 'flying' squid landed overnight.
Healthy rivalry develops between watches and latest offerings from Red Watch (Adrian, Fran, Harry, SteveT, Gilly) are Bangers and Mash, with bacon butties for breakfast and generally improved smell (we've had a shower at last). Both Mates (Andy, Mark) practised astro-navigation, confidently placing us somewhere on the outskirts of Bogner Regis.
Sqn Lde Steve Treharne - Red Watch
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