HMSTV Discoverer Blog

Keep up to date with the crew of HMSTV Discoverer as they share their experiences of their amazing voyage with you in this blog.

Leg 9 Blog 

Monday 25th April

Sunday 24th April

Saturday 23rd April

Friday 22nd April

Wednesday 20th April

Leg 8 Blog 

Day 4 – Wednesday 9th March 2016>>

Day 3 – Tuesday 8th March 2016>>

Day 2 – Monday 7th March 2016>>

Day 1 – Sunday 6th March 2016>>

Day 0 – Saturday 5th March 2016>>

Leg 7 Blog 

Day 8>>

Day 7>>

Day 3>>

Day 2>>

Day 1>>

Leg 5 Blog 

Day 14>>

Day 12>>

Day 11>>

Day 10>>

Day 9>>

Day 2>>

Day 1>>

Leg 4 Blog 

Day 31 - Monday 23rd November 2015>>

Day 29 - Saturday 21st November 2015>>

Day 28 - Friday 20th November 2015>>

Day 27 - Thursday 19th November 2015>>

Day 24 - Monday 16th November 2015>>

Day 22 - Saturday 14th November 2015>>

Day 21 - Friday 13th November 2015>>

Day 19 - Wednesday 11th November 2015>>

Day 18 - Tuesday 10th November 2015>>

Day 16 - Sunday 8th November 2015>>

Day 15 - Saturday 7th November 2015>>

Day 13 - Thursday 5th November 2015>>

Day 11 - Tuesday 3rd November 2015>>

Day 10 - Monday 2nd November 2015>>

Day 9 - Sunday 1st November 2015>>

Day 8 - Saturday 31st October 2015>>

Day 7 - Friday 30th October 2015>>

Day 1 - Saturday 24th October 2015>>

Leg 3 Blog

Day 21 - Sunday 11th October 2015>>

Day 18 - Thursday 8th October 2015>> 

DAY 17 - Wednesday 7th October 2015>>

DAY 14 - Sunday 4th October 2015>>

DAY 13 - Saturday 3rd October 2015>>

DAY 12 - Friday 2nd October 2015>>

DAY 11: Thursday 1st October 2015>>

DAY 8: Monday 28th September 2015>>

Day 4: Thursday 24th September 2015>>

Leg 9 – Monday 25th April

Our Sunday was one of surprises, firstly a long low cigar type cloud rolled in from astern, odd as the wind was coming from the other direction at the time. It was followed by an eerie silence.

Secondly an appearance of 30 knots of wind bringing helpful 10kts of speed, meaning a very busy couple of hours for the watch taking sails down and reefing.

Lastly blue watch provided a gastronomic surprise with a creation born of defrosting chicken and sausage packs.

Chicken chasseur avec sausage was delivered.

A good day with 163m in the right direction.

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Leg 9 – Sunday 24th April

The armchair experts following Disco for the last 24 hours will be wondering about the course and track shown via the Yellowbrick Tracker.

But the torrential squalls, 40 knots of wind, thunder, lightening and rain like you have never seen before, aren't shown.

At times you couldn't see the front of the boat 35 ft away from the snake pit making interesting sailing.

Also to consider the inshore route, meant dicing with cargo vessels (which don't give way) and the need to stay within the continental shelf.

However the team are in fine form having worked hard in last 24 hours & r looking forward 2 being able to dry out!

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Leg 9 – Saturday 23rd April

Discoverer's day was punctuated with fine sights, an orca whale was a great excitement to all.

Sunset of Hollywood style had most on deck followed by a perfect moonrise that had the couple going 'goey', however not all enjoyed 2 day with mal de mere on the increase.

Dettol chuckled about other plight only to rush to the deck, as much chucking followed.

Sail change at supper to set us up for the night, over all a good days sailing.

Yours blue watch.

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Leg 9 – Friday 22nd April

Greetings from brazil. The broken gangplank owner was placated, but was not as happy as the crew that finally start sailing, however the apprentice aka #2 was cheered when his lunch headed back 2 Monte at speed.

Adventure left early bedecked in flags for Her Majesty’s 90th birthday. Our starboard heads required advanced plumbing technique 6 hrs of attention.

All compliments to kiwi, but now last call, email to loved ones are behind us the watches are settling into the routine. The sea has started rolling past, sails are full and Disco's next adventure has begun.

Bruce Spencer blue watch leader

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Leg 9 – Wednesday 20th April

This is the first entry of the log of the good ship “Disco McBoatie” on its five week mission to explore strange waters, make new friends and eschew civilisation. This entry would have been written earlier were it not for trying to configure a new laptop fitted with modern software followed by Giggles (all names in this log have been changed on the advice of our lawyers) practicing “Man overboard” drill with the semaphore flags.

Due chastisement has been apportioned with the Cat-o-nine tails to set an appropriate example to the rest of the crew.

We must begin this log with an introduction for those gentle readers (for we anticipate there will be some) who are as yet unfamiliar with this new crew press-ganged in the main from the really large crowd. .

Our tale does not begin with the traditional shilling in the bottom of a tankard, although we all looked long and hard for same in the Gosport taverns. Our move commenced with a 20hr trek across the waters to the mystical resort of Punta del Este; described as “mystical” due to the fact that nobody has seen it yet due to the low cloud cover and torrential rain. .

The local admiralty office informs us that the weather currently being experienced is the equivalent of one year’s rainfall in five days. All ships remain in harbour and the local fishermen are relaxing by feeding the portly sea lions. .

Captain Calamity is keen to set sail, having done her best to escape from port twice. She informs us that cleats just aren’t made the way they used to be. The Tinkerer and his Apprentice have been exploring everything that moves or sparks. .

Meanwhile Pedro and the Grocer have supervised a raid on the local supermarkets, spending almost £2,500 on enough food to feed a squaddie for 15 months. In doing so, they have won our first race, trumping the First Sea Lord’s fleet of shopping trolleys with a home delivery van. .

Now where do we stow it all? Dettol is much happier now that we have stocked up on cleaning materiel. .

We understand that this yacht has recently been refitted at great expense to remove all mod-cons, such as furling sails, washing machine and multiplex cinema. .

In consequence we have practiced how to raise and lower all sails by hand. The Prince has redeemed his knowledge of nauticalia with a good demonstration of how to rescue a man overboard, however Tats, the cabin lad, is now a little apprehensive as to what tomorrow will bring, having only previously experienced Disco legs on the Hull to Rotterdam ferry. .

As laptops and yellow bricks are still suspect, we are consigning this log to a bottle in the hope that someday somebody will find it and understand the true(ish) tale of the good ship Disco. .

White Watch log, sea date 20 April. .

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Leg 8 Day 3 – Tuesday 8th March 2016

Life below deck.

As the boat sails along at about 9 knots, it rises up and down on the waves, heels over to about 30 degrees left and right as the wind gusts and pitches around as the helmsman fights the swell to maintain his course. This is all very pleasant on deck but down below it makes life quite difficult.

Imagine your house for example. Now tilt it back and forth, side to side and shake it around a bit; that is what living down below is like. Nothing stays where you put it, drinks spill and cupboards empty themselves on top of you if you open them at the wrong moment.

Walking around can be uphill one minute and downhill the next. But life must go on, food needs to be prepared and cooked, the boat must be kept clean and tidy and personal admin must be conducted in order to keep trucking on towards Cape Horn in good order. If these basic requirements are not met, life and routine could fall apart and crew members could start to suffer.

Worst of all for some, the onset of the boat’s uncomfortable motion can mean seasickness. This debilitating condition can take its toll on the effectiveness and morale of a crew. Those afflicted struggle with basic tasks, spend their time asleep waiting for it to pass or praying to God for relief or death!

Dangerously, when suffering from seasickness, victims rarely eat or drink, and if the do, struggle to keep it down. This leads to dehydration and lack of energy, drowsiness and apparent clumsiness. However, being on deck helps cure it and the knowledge that is usually passes in a few days gives some hope to those worst affected. Only 30 odd days to go....

I have been lucky, my watch has largely escaped unscathed but as I write this, we assume responsibility for ‘Mother Watch’, meaning 24 hours below deck cooking, cleaning and resting after two days sailing the boat. I don’t believe that anyone simply doesn’t get seasick, but that as a sailor gains experience, they learn how to avoid it and manage the symptoms and tell tale signs of its onset.

Keeping busy, not allowing myself to get to hot and getting a breath of fresh air on deck at just the right time keeps me from getting seasick.

We are all busy getting on with our jobs at the moment: Aled is dividing out the day’s ration of treats and snacks between the watches; Rory is prepping tonight’s dinner: chilli con carne followed by pear and apple crumble, and Jack is doing some laundry and cleaning the heads (Toilets). We hope to take advantage of a calm spell before the wind pipes up to get ahead of the list of jobs to do.

So far we have sailed 800 miles, eaten 10Kg of potatoes, baked 25Kg of bread, drank around 250 cups of tea or coffee, seen hammerhead sharks and more dolphins than you could shake a stick at.

Capt Donall Ryan, 1st Battalion, The Royal Irish Regiment.

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Leg 8 Day 3 – Tuesday 8th March 2016

Good evening from Disco. Today’s blog is sent after 630 Nm of sailing and the theme of today’s blog is team work. The conditions found on board Disco over the last 24 hours have been the ideal demonstration ground for an effective team and also ideal for exposing the not so effective teams. Disco is firmly on the former side of that coin.

Conditions have gone from sailing downwind with full main and No. 1 Yankee (the biggest triangle sail on the front of the boat) to reefing (making smaller) the main sail and changing down to the No. 2 Yankee. As the wind went forward of the beam, we were able to hoist the staysail, an additional sail in front of the mast which defines these boats as ‘cutter’ rigs.

This was all completed at night which is no mean feat as each sail is a minimum of a 2 man lift (we have no ladies in board), and each action has to be split down into a series of smaller tasks, with communication between the front of the boat and the helm made more complicated by the wind.

Each change of sail or taking in of a reef is like a mini team challenge, made more fun by the skipper’s stop watch. The arduous nature of the on watch/off system and the sea and weather conditions are an ideal arena for the watches to develop their collective character.

During the day today, with no sail changes, these team have formed a wrestling-like tag-team approach to all activities on board. The hilarity of tag-team cooking as each successive watch member goes up top to vent their sea sickness will never wear thin. Semi-conscious bread makers calling instructions through a delirium of hic-coughs and dry vomits to ham-fisted dough-fighters whose sole purpose seems to be to chuck flour about the saloon. We are having a lot of fun, and smiles never leave the faces of those on board.

The point is this: not one function on this boat is a solo job, and the success of the boat is dependent of the team who run it. The team is working, those stronger today are taking up the slack of those who may be stronger tomorrow, with not a moan or grumble or change of pace. There can be no better environment for training the core values of the Army or to test individuals, teams and leaders where the conditions, moderate as they are today, are unforgiving.

However, there is one member of the team who has set about making herself a nuisance in all aspects of her life. This individual initially proved her value but, since yesterday has set about being in the way and constant hindrance to anyone trying to access the heads, whether for normal function or the emergency heaving (your dinner up) dash for the bowl, or the forepeak for a sail change. This is made more frustrating as she is clearly the skipper’s favourite, Private Spinny McSweat, the exercise bike.

Spinny is not a team player, the crew have started to ask if it is possible to patent an off road spinning class as the waves get bigger on this trip to be marketed to gyms across the land. Food for thought PT Corps? That said, we would not be without her and her whirring charm.

We will sign off with the generator on, brews being made, cottage pie on the table, and chocolate brownie (which came out runny) being served to the on-going watch.

Tor Peebles, Air Trooper 679 Sqn, 6 AAC

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Leg 8 Day 2 – Monday 7th March 2016

Into routine.

After lifting anchor following our epic mountain trekking on Great Barrier Island, we set into our first shift routine as we sailed Eastward towards Hicks Bay (one of the last bit of inhabitable land Eastward of North Island). With 15 people on board; the After-Guard (Skipper, 1st & 2nd Mate) and three watches (see previous blog) we set to our routine of On watch, Off watch and Mother watch.

On and Off watch rotate on a four hour shift, swapping between deck sailing duties as the other takes a four hour rest with Mother watch being the administrative party for 24 hours looking after the crew’s welfare including all the cooking, cleaning of the heads (toilets), checking and emptying the bilges, and general tidiness. They of course make the brews as well!

Anyway, as we started our watch on deck slowing leaving the silhouette of the mountainous island as the sun set; the swells started to become bigger and as the south-west wind picked up we took down the Staysail. With wind speed picking up to 13-20 Knots we were able to boost our speed over the ground up to 9-11 knots. We rotated at taking the helm for an hour each which was exciting and passed the time well.

During light hours we navigate by picking whatever reference points we can find, these could be part of the mainland, islands and even clouds for a certain amount time. In darkness we navigate by using a digital screen in front of the helm which includes a heading course, way points, compass course and radars etc. Our sister ship, Yacht Adventurer was in front of us as she set sail a couple of hours before. With her in our sights we made it a challenge to overtake her and just after nightfall we did!

We achieved this by replacing the Yankee 2 sail (middle size foresail – right at the front of the yacht) to the Yankee 1 instead which is the biggest foresail on board. Before we knew it, our relief was on deck taking over the role of On watch. Being woken up the next day for our third watch we found ourselves surrounded by a pod of around 100 dolphins.

Being curious about us as we were about them they would take it in turns to surf the waves next to the boat and leap out of the water to have an eyeful to see what was on board – look forward to some amazing photo when we get home.

We stopped at Hicks Bay for some last minute essentials from the local store. Because the anchor was already stowed away for the big ocean crossing the shore party had to lower the dinghy off the deck as the boat was still manoeuvring slowly in the bay. Sails were down and the motor running so it made the task more manageable. Within an hour they were back on board and we were on our way again. We are now on Mother Watch, stand by for pork schnitzels and potato wedges.

I am the ship’s Bosun, this means that I run the upper deck security, maintaining all the cordage and ropes and generally keeping us ship shape and tidy above decks.

Corporal Jack Cox, 13 Air Assault Support Regiment RLC

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Leg 8 Day 1 – Sunday 6th March 2016

We’re off!

After a week of victualing, boat preparation and then some sail training/cruising in the Haruaki Gulf, we hauled our anchor for the final time to depart on our epic 6100 nm adventure across the remotest and wildest oceans on the planet. As Rory reported in his previous blog, the local scenery has been stunning and for our final day at anchor, we took up General Sir Michael and Lady Roses’ suggestion over dinner to climb Mount Hobson (Hirakimata), the highest point on Great Barrier Island at just over 2,200 ft.

The walk was stunning; an easy track through luscious woodland, deep gorges, rope bridges and waterfalls was a followed by an equally spectacular view from the top. Our departure from the island was beautiful and we were pleased to follow OIC JSASTC’s recommendation to sail through the narrow inlet called Governor’s Passage.

Departing at 3pm, our first few hours were spent motor sailing in a light breeze, although by late afternoon the breeze filled in from the SW where it has remained at a reasonably constant 15k. Sailing conditions are perfect; we’re carrying a No 1 Yankee (our biggest foresail), the staysail (the inner foresail) and a full main, which generates a steady 8.5 k of boat speed which is not bad for these 57 tonne beasts.

The sea state is reasonably benign, with small 1m waves and a rolling swell. So far no-one has suffered from the dreaded mal de mare and I suspect we have found our sea legs over the last few days, which has been useful. Time will tell.

The crew are in fine fettle and all have been on a steep learning curve since we arrived a week ago. We’ve mastered the basics and now we need to become masters as we venture into the deep ocean. Donall, our chief purser, and his assistants have done a great job victualing the boat for 42 days at sea (includes 20% reserve rations); Ben has done a sterling job mustering all the ‘QM’s’’' stores (cleaning materials etc.); Rory has squared away the engine and generator; Andy has fixed all the minor niggling electrical issues and ‘J’ has been exceptionally busy as shipwright fixing all manner of items, including the pump in the shower tray.

But not withstanding all the hard graft and effort under the watchful eye of the 1st Mate, the crew has bonded really well and that bodes well for 5 weeks of fun, great banter and camaraderie. For me, this is going to be a sail of a lifetime and I often reflect how privileged we are to be serving in an organisation that lets us do these things.

But soon things will get very tough; we’re prepared for some monster seas, strong winds and survival conditions and that’s what adventure training is all about; stretching individuals and the team to their absolute limits – I can’t wait (!), although personally I’m not a big fan of the cold...

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Leg 8 Day 0

Great Barrier Island – the final anchorage before setting a South Easterly course to Cape Horn. What an amazing place to do it as well!

I write this instalment sitting beneath a fluttering Blue Ensign whilst gazing across to an idyllic shoreline. Unspoilt and pristine Lord of the Rings rugged countryside with only our sister ship ADVENTURER and a couple of other intrepid locals to share it with. Since departing Auckland we have gone through a series of training serials that have tested and ensured that the crew and our craft are ready to set off on our epic adventure.

Beginning with man overboard drills allowed us to all be absolutely sure what to do if this happens; rest assured we have an excellent procedure and can recover any unfortunate soul who should fall over the side. Our constant vigilance and team work should make this almost impossible and the fact that we all watch each other and cajole anyone who does not wear their life jacket make for a safe atmosphere. Running the sails up in their various configurations has also allowed us to appreciate how enormous the rigging is. Solid and reliable; our confidence in the equipment has grown as the training has evolved.

For the last two nights we have anchored in Oneroa Bay on Waiheke Island; a short sail from Auckland and a place that the crew have all decided to move to immediately with its stunning scenery, wide sandy beaches and laid back locals. This was also our final opportunity to stock up on last minute supplies and, using the inflatable dinghy, we mounted an expedition ashore which included running up the beach in crashing waves!

We ate like kings today at lunch after an epic fight on our trawling line. A gigantic Yellow Fin Tuna (around 12 lbs) provided us with the most succulent steaks along with Sashimi and Ceviche and an appetite to catch bigger and more ‘fighty’ fish.

Before we anchored; Dan, our Doctor trained us on various scenarios and how we could deal with them so we feel confident that should the worst happen, we are able to react and treat any casualty. We even successfully managed to move a casualty (me!) in the stretcher down the companionway, which involved halyards, sail ties and lifting arms. It was tricky and no doubt will be tougher on a rolling deck, but at least now we don’t have to think it through when the chips are down.

Our Skipper and Mates have really put us through our paces over the last few days and we have all gelled; we know our watches and have worked well together. The boat is ready and tomorrow we weigh anchor and then the next time we set foot on dry land (time permitting) is on the Falkland Islands where we hope to visit the Goose Green battlefield in San Carlos water. Then it’s off to Uruguay.

Please keep the emails coming; they have been most welcome for those that receive them. We have no idea what is happening ‘back home’ so any news is most appreciated. Finally, once we’re at sea we’ll get into daily blog mode and the skipper has promised that it won’t just be me writing them!

Capt Rory Bate REME, OC LAD 75 Engr Regt

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Leg 7 Day 8

Morning watch: Having had cold, blustery conditions on Sunday morning, the sun finally appeared as we sailed along the spectacularly rugged east coast.

By early evening the deafening noise of the engine was gone and we were reaching in 15kts of wind towards the sunset. At 41 degrees south, this is as far south as many of us have ever been or ever will be.....

On Monday morning we entered the Tory Channel and thence into the Queen Charolotte Sound. To say this was utterly spectacular is just such an understatement. The pictures we have do not do the scenery any justice......

Now alongside in Picton, having managed to squeeze onto a short pontoon nose to nose with Adventure. All crew are now enjoying 2 days ashore - showers, restaurants and all the facilities this small attractive town has to offer.

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Leg 7 Day 7

Afternoon watch: Just as the tuna was about to be put under the grill, Neptune had other ideas. Winds increased to 20 kts TWS, so the main needed to be reefed....... our world moved from being flat to 30 degrees leaning.

Unperturbed mother watch dished up grilled tuna as the starter, bacon pasta in tomato sauce and mixed fruit salad - good effort to serve up three courses at 30 degree heel....

The wind lasted until approximately 0400hrs which allowed Discoverer to make good progress and although no one is racing Green watch were pleased to record a SOG of 9.4 kts showing at one point.

All good things must come to an end however and at 0400hrs the sails were lowered through lack of breeze and the dreaded engine came into play once more.

Red watch recorded a shark breaching sometime this a.m. although this failed to be verified by the rest of the crew (currently graded F6!)

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Leg 7 Day 3

Reveille at 0600 followed by a full English breakfast set the crew up for a day at sea. Two watches prepped the yacht for departure under a steady drizzle and two of the crew checked their fishing line.

The weight and some of the lures were missing, however, a Red Snapper was landed, gutted and currently sits in our freezer. The wind was calm, the tide gentle and the rain let off as Discoverer and Adventure slipped without issue and made for the channel taking us from Bayswater Marina, Auckland.

A day of sailing helped to bring the team up-to-speed with tacking, gybbing and understanding the new nautical parlance. Man overboard drills were practiced in Auckland harbour before setting course for our overnight destination at Waiheke Island.

We arrived and dropped anchor before digging the tender out of the forepeak. En route to the island we spied sharks on several occasions, but this didn't stop Stokesy snorkelling in the evening!

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Leg 7 Day 2

A curfew of 2359hrs ensued that most of Discoverer's crew enjoyed a pleasant evening in Auckland with a few social sun downers and a meal prior to returning to Bayswater marina via the Auckland city ferry.

Reveille at 0700hrs awoke all from dreams of high winds, continued 27 degrees centigrade and clear skies. Today was a continuation of yesterday’s victualing with arrival of frozen meats, all individually wrapped and prepared for the yachts freezer.

Concurrent to stocking the boat was further yacht familiarisation with the crew getting their first introduction to raising the mainsail, reefing and lowering, combined with foresail and stay sail training.

A brief lunch was a welcome interlude from the searing heat on deck. Post lunch MOB drills were completed with the token 'Royal' on the Army boat being dispatched to demonstrate the role of the rescue swimmer.

Early afternoon Mother Watch was sent below and an hour later the crew were sitting down to a hearty meal of Thai green curry and rice - compliments to the chef all round - although some could have done without the spice after such a hot day in the sun.

Excitement is now building as we look forward to our first day at sea tomorrow. Plan is to slip at 1000hrs.

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Leg 7 Day 1

On Thu 22 Jan 16, all HMSTC Discoverer ranks assembled at JSASTC Gosport to undertake final administration and essential safety training. An icebreaker in Gosport preceded a restful night’s sleep before re-assembling ahead of a marathon journey to Auckland NZ. Departure finally took place from Gosport at 1430hrs, before a journey on Singapore Airlines to Christchurch via Changi airport.

Then followed an internal flight on NZ Airlines to Auckland. All would agree that the safety brief on the internal flight was one not to be missed and had everyone enthralled - the Kiwis demonstrating that they take things slightly less formally than other airlines.

Arrival in Auckland some 36 hours after departure provided all the opportunity to acclimatize, leaving behind thoughts of a depressing cold, wet and miserable UK. Skipper Discoverer welcomed everyone aboard and the crew were relieved to find that he had raced ahead and prepared a spaghetti bolognaise extraordinaire, meaning that no-one was faced with the galley on their first night.

Introductions were made and an initial program of activities was outlined leading to much deliberation and minor dispute for the yachts victualing. Just how many bags of Haribos are required to feed a 3 watch system for an initial 10 day haul?

On the morning of 25 Jan 16, the crew initially split. A shopping party deployed to get the much debated Haribos (amongst other more nutritious food items), whilst the remainder took turns to send each other 'up the mast' as part of the essential pre-sail checks.

Lunch on board followed whilst the Skipper took the Mate and Watch Leaders through the intricacies of Discoverer.

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Leg 5 Day 14

04:00 Blue watch on shift for another four hour stint, breaking down the miles. Only 370 miles to go at this point, this is the most popular shift between the crew as we get to see dawn through and hopefully get the a beautiful sunrise that gives you a very uplifting feeling for the day.

We were lucky as today we had the perfect sunrise and for the first time on the trip even at this small hour in the morning we were able to wear shorts and a light upper layer which was pleasing, especially during the sail changes as we went from the number 3 Yankee (forward sail on the boat) to the number 2 and then the 1 giving us a constant speed average of around 6.5 knots over ground, not much but better than motoring along, after all we all love a sail.

We have sighted a lot of land over the last 48 hours which is a relief after not seeing anything for days. Mainly big rocks and green bush but no signs of civilisation as of yet. Although we did see some awesome looking offshore oil rigs with their big flames burning as they drill oil from the sea beds.

More dolphins came to play; so inquisitive and playful they always bring bags of morale for the crew. I managed to get some great underwater footage from my go pro and a selfie stick from the bow (front) of the boat as they were barrel rolling and playing, its actually quite funny seeing 17 people trying to get there at the same time to get the best snaps.

The weather has been building on us all day with some low pressure heading from the north. 

Strong wind force 7 is heading our way as we cruise with the number 2 Yankee and staysail up and at this point we have our first reef in the mainsail and on the AWS (apparent wind speed) we have 15 knots.

This may change later as we are currently seeing at least 3 separate areas on the horizon with squally looking clouds and we are experiencing warmer winds also, not going to lie it does look amazing, but I’ll keep the excitement at bay for now.

Morale is high between the crew and everyone is looking forward to stepping on level ground, only about 36 hours to push. The one thing I am most looking forward to is a proper shower that I can stand in for at least 30 minutes and not worry that I am using all the water on board.

Anyway that time again, racking out.


Tom Kingsbury

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Leg 5 Day 12

After a fabulous birthday bash yesterday, presents including: a few hours off watch (thanks Phil!), ‘Jimmy’ the sock puppet - lovingly made by Rachel and Jake, and a personalised adaptation of ’12 days of Transglobe, Bacon clumsily…’ composed by Barnesy and Rachel. The balloons and confetti were cleared and life continued as normal.

We have spent the day much like the past 3, pottering along at a steady 6 knots under engine, slowly knocking off the miles to Sydney. The weather has been less pleasant however, with sea fog impinging on valuable tanning time and giving our oilies a good test before the infamous Bass Strait.

But as the days roll on ‘Donall’s Blue Force Diner’ menu has gone to new levels, resulting in some fairly questionable meals, including todays lunch ‘tuna fried rice’ – but with a good smothering of condiments, it went down a treat. However, our taste buds were salvaged by James’ Cottage Pie.

In other news Barnsey’s laptop became victim to the merciless southern ocean and is currently sat in a bag of rice - thus no movies, leading to James creating a chess board, Jake teaching everyone to play risk and Will teaching the crew to play cribbage. Also, to everyone’s delight the moon has been sighted, although theories of its disappearance were highly amusing.

OCDT Emily Bacon


Red Watch

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Leg 5 Day 11

Hello world, all the way from the Southern ocean on board HMSTV DISCOVERER 250 miles away from the Bass Straight.

So today was a special day on board as it was one of the crew’s birthdays, it was Emily’s 21st , so while she was sleeping this morning we all whipped round and decorated the boat with banners and balloons, myself being the apparent native cockney with some help from blue watch baked the chocolate birthday cake, I seem to have gained a new nickname being (Mary Berry) not very masculine I must add.

Today’s weather has changed our sailing tactics, we are motor sailing on the bearing we need to take, making ground slowly but being but not as fast as we had hoped, the wind and swell beating up the bow of the boat and the occasional stray wave that decides to comes over the boat and tests our hatch seals. But although a change in weather, nothing can stop us celebrating even more with Will Naylor the ships first mate, (the responsible senior), masked and dressed as Neptune on the deck with his trident made from a broom handle and most of the cutlery presenting Emily with her birthday treats.

I think we have all got used to the four hours on and four hours off routine now, myself and one of blue watches finest Steve Hudson have come up with our daily used quote (IF IN DOUBT RACK OUT) any excuse for a few winks, although living at a 45 degree angle and having the engine in our cabin is not the best for a peaceful sleep , most of the time it is like Piccadilly Circus our end of the boat with the chart table being so close and the watch on deck having the occasional rave, last night sounded like Michael Flattley had turned up with the rest of the river dance.

Everyone is looking forward to getting to Sydney and stepping on level ground for a run ashore, morale is high and there is always a good giggle around the corner whether that’s Barnes banging his head off the hatch every time he steps out on deck or watching Phil (the skipper) tuck into a pastry hotter than the sun there is always something happening between the 17 of us.

Roll on Sydney Hobart race going to be an epic end to our leg on EX TRANSGLOBE.

If in doubt rack out…

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Leg 5 Day 10

Discoverer continues eastward towards the Bass Strait, only 350 miles away. The crew continue to maximise the pleasant tanning conditions (no wind and hardly any swell) before sailing conditions become somewhat more challenging.

The trip is taking ‘slightly longer’ than we at first anticipated and so the crew are now experimenting with the remaining food on board. Today saw the allocation of tomato, ham, cheese and flour transformed into some great pizza courtesy of Red Watch, a welcome change from the ever decreasing popularity of wraps. This was followed by James’ inspired chilli bread with garlic mayo dip.

Today has also seen White Watch take the lead for feeding and motherly duties, the high point in every three days for the crew who indulge in White Watch’s professionalism, dedication and attention.

Bread baking continues to excel, every watch trying to outdo the previous. What started as a bit of fun and amateur antics is now resulting in genuine competition and ultimately panic. Individuals watch the bread rising in the oven hoping for the best results, do we slice the dough diagonally or straight in order to control the expansion under heat, there is even talk of adding cups of water to the oven, if you have any hints or tips please get in touch.

To note, the other night White Watch experienced a scene from the movie the Life of Pi. The Watch was maintaining the course and speed as usual then out of the blue we entered a thick band of ocean that had turned luminescent. We’re not totally sure what was causing this, but essentially it looked like thousands of bright green underwater lanterns, stretching as far as the eye could see left and right, and hundreds of yards across.

It was a moment that will not easily leave our memories.

So to conclude, another long day of sailing with the crew settling in to another cold night on the Southern Ocean, thoughts starting to focus on the upcoming race.

Capt Steve Gibbs PWRR

White Watch

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Leg 5 Day 9

This morning was the most miserable so far, and that includes the jetlagged mornings spent laboriously prepping the boat before we sailed. Cloudy, foggy, no wind, and raining. Once the sun came out, given that there was no wind, the traditional way to pass some time was to have a swim – but today we refrained as there are sharks, box jellyfish, and who-knows-what general nasty creatures lurking below….

Emily Bacon has made cherry bread today. I am confident it will be quite nice even though she also managed to spill a lot of cherry juice everywhere.

The skipper and mates are to make a roast tonight, although so far Will Naylor and Phil Caswell have basically stood agreeing that neither have a clue as to how to cook one, which does not bode well I think.

Henry Foster’s face continues to fall off, as he has yet to master the art of sun block. Blue watch have cooked two very good meals for us today and keep making superb bread. 

Tom Kingsbury and Rachel Beszant had a bizarre abs work out this morning also. Well that’s us. Still headed for Sydney, a nice slow one through the Southern Ocean. 

I would love to see what this ship can really do, though I guess we will have to wait for the race to see. I will catch a fish before Sydney. 

Trooper Jake Sloan, KRH, Red Watch

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Leg 5 Day 2

It has been a busy day for the crew of Discoverer. Final preparations for sea took up the first part of the morning and we slipped Fremantle Sailing Club at 1100 Local time with Adventure, watched by a crowd of well wishers.

We were even escorted on our journey by the club commodore on his launch, who personally led an enthusiastic 3 cheers! The club have looked after us brilliantly during our stay and we were sad to leave such a welcoming place with such friendly and helpful people.

Once slipped however, our minds turned to the imminent 2200 nm voyage. The afternoon proved exhausting - practicing handling the boat at sea – reefing, man overboards, and generally manoeuvring under sail. Only when the skipper was satisfied, in the early evening, did we harden the sheets and set the best course towards Cape Leeuwin.

We are currently sailing upwind in a queasy swell, with a fresh F5 – a little uncomfortable but all are taking it in their stride, a good warm up at any rate!

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Leg 5 Day 1

The Exercise Transglobe Leg 5 crew arrived in Perth mid-afternoon on Friday 4 December where our skipper, Capt Phil Caswell REME, met us.

We set off for Fremantle where ‘Discoverer’ has been moored since arriving from Cape Town, alongside the Navy/RAF ‘Adventure’. The past few days have been spent getting the crew familiar with the workings of the Challenge 72 as well as preparing for the passage ahead. Equipment has been checked and stowed, food shop completed and navigation planned, amongst all the other activities required to get us ready to go.

Monday will see us leave Fremantle and conduct further familiarisation on the water, taking the boat through drills and evolutions. We will then set course for Cape Leeuwin, the third great cape in the world, as we set out on our passage to Sydney.

The anticipated Australian summer has turned out to be the worst weather they have had here for a long time, with cold winds, cloud and rain, so we are looking forward to seeing the ‘proper’ Australian summer soon……hopefully. Fremantle Sailing Club has been incredibly welcoming during our stay here and huge thanks also go to JSASTC for the work to make this exercise happen, especially to Mike Barham, Becky Walford, Glyn Jones and Jon Greatorex for their efforts.

It looks like we will be beating into the wind for the first day or so to clear the cape, then hopefully we’ll have a more favourable wind angle. We aim to write this blog each day over our sat-phone to keep you up to date on our progress. Peace out cub scouts.

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Leg 4 Day 31 - Monday 23rd November

As Freemantle comes into view it leaves me as the skipper to write the final blog before arriving in Freemantle early on Tuesday after 29 days at sea and 5700 plus sea miles under our keel.

The crew are eagerly awaiting arrival at the Royal Freemantle Yacht Club and its showers, a cold beer and those other shore side facilities sailors crave after a long passage.

Ocean passages are never simple and leg 4 has had many challenges over its 29 days at sea, the crew experienced a force 8/9 gale within hours of being at sea and other gales we have experienced have not had the same impact as that first one.

Always seeking wind, but not gales we have dived south into the infamous roaring forties and back up again in our pursuit to head east. Our main source of weather information has been from the Joint Metrological and Oceanographic Centre (JMOC) PJHQ Northwood by satellite phone and a daily download of Grib files to our laptop both of which have been excellent.

As a skipper I could not have asked for a more motivated crew, they have been totally focused on sailing the yacht, undertaking at least 10 days as mother watch’s each without complaint and getting stuck in to the many repair tasks that were required.

I would like to personally thank the two mates WO1 Johnny Johnson also our leg lead and WO1 Daz Cattle IT guru and Challenge 72 skipper in waiting, both of whom have been very supportive.

The purser Major Steve Marsh and assisted by WO2 Scott Bowles have done an excellent job keeping us well feed in at times very challenging conditions and trying to plan the feeding of 15 crew over 29 days is never going to be easy and puts the weekly family shop at home into perspective.

A special thank you goes to the 3 watch leaders in Major Bernie Fowler, Major Steve Marsh and Sapper James O’Brien who have done an outstanding job in very challenging conditions and often in complete darkness.

We the crew of leg 4 would like to thank the Project team and staff at JSASTC for their support and facilitating this great adventure and when compared to participants in the Clipper fleet which are several hundred miles below us also heading towards Western Australia at a cost to each participant in the tens of thousands of pounds it goes to show how lucky we are to be servicemen and servicewomen.

The biggest thank goes to our wives, girlfriends and partners for allowing us to escape on this adventure of a lifetime, it’s been a truly memorable experience but I know by next Sunday crew members will be very keen to get home.

I hope readers have enjoyed our blogs and there will be a small gap before the crew of leg 5 takeover Discoverer who we wish well in the world famous Sydney to Hobart race.

Major (Retd) Chris Sumner

C2 Skipper JSASTC

HMSTC Discoverer

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Leg 4 Day 29 - Saturday 21st November

The last few blogs have focussed on the final destination for Disco and the first mate has tried to lift morale be adding 100 mile marks to the chart plotter track to give us all something to aim for.

The last 100 mile icon is a cocktail glass, we are all looking forward to that. Preparations for landing continue daily and tomorrow’s little peach for Red Watch will be to round up all the plastic waste from around the boat and bag it up for customs inspection before arrival.

Australian customs authorities are very thorough and there are a raft of items that cannot be brought in to the country or if they are will be taken for disposal to protect bio security.

We will have to consider everything food wise left on board when we reach the 12 mile offshore limit – not sure if my dirty washing might also need to be looked at!

We had our first sighting of another ship for some 3 weeks this morning generating a bit of excitement. It was one of those huge car carriers at a range of 15 miles and making 19 knots for Adelaide so it disappeared pretty quickly.

More traffic is expected as we close in on land though that is still a whisker over 400 miles away. There have been many times over the trip that we have considered that nuclear armageddon could have happened and we wouldn’t know so the ship was an encouraging sight.

The piecemeal news we have received on passage also means that there will be many newspapers and magazines to digest on the 19 hour flight home.

Chipping away at the distance seemed easy last night but the fickleness of the weather forecast has hit us again meaning another 24hrs of enough wind but all in the wrong direction. Add to that wind over current and our (hopefully last) mother watch night will be disturbed by pounding through a large swell.

Like the British Rail of old “we’re getting there”.

Maj Bernie Fowler AAC – Red Watch Leader.

HMSTV Discoverer

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Leg 4 Day 28 - Friday 20th November

Last night’s blog said it all about the living conditions aboard and the never ending wait for the sight of land (hopefully Australia!) and that first beer….

The high weather pattern in the area has not provided the required wind for the use of sails so we have been on the engine drone for 48 hours.

This means a slow speed of only 6 knots per hour and the tortuous snail rate of distance being eaten into before freedom. The rations have done very well and nothing is in short supply.

Tonight’s meal was a 3 course affair of canapés followed by chilli chicken with pasta and fruits of the forest with cream for desert leaving coffee and mints to finish. Our resident Infantry member from the ‘Royal Scots’ provides endless amusement and his understanding of ‘up wind’ and ‘downwind’ has still not been worked out.

So, shaving his head today was done ‘up wind’ which resulted in hair everywhere on the boat and crew ‘downwind’ and when throwing food scraps overboard he still claims that he is ‘downwind’ of the food when he throws the food ‘up wind’! Needless to say the crew are still finding onion skins and garlic peelings on deck.

Congratulations go to Johnny as he joins the list of crew who have mastered the RUBIKs cube, well done from Daz.

We are 580 miles from our berth at the Royal Yacht Club, South Beach, Freemantle, which is approximately 20 miles South of Perth. Whilst there are too many factors to give an exact arrival date and time it will be approximately late evening on Tuesday 24 Nov 2015 at the earliest.

In order to reduce the time spent preparing the boat for the next leg whilst moored, a comprehensive maintenance plan was instigated two days ago, which will see the Discoverer brought up to scratch at sea and almost ready to sail again bar the main sail and Yankee 3 that needs to go to the sail maker for small repairs.

The crew are excitedly looking forward to being released from duty on the afternoon of the 26/27 for sightseeing and the departure flight from Perth on the evening of the 29th.

Major Steve Marsh AGC (SPS) – British Embassy – Washington D.C – White Watch Leader.

HMSTV Discoverer

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Leg 4 Day 27 - Thursday 19th November

The countdown to Australia is well and truly under way. Conversations of food that will be eaten as soon as arriving on land and served on a plate instead of a dog bowl. Beds that are solid on the ground and can’t throw you out in the middle of the night when crazy waves hit the hull. Having a shower without sitting on the toilet and bracing yourself not only for the waves throwing you about but the freezing cold water that’s about to hit you, but it does help keep water use down. The race to use the shower when the engine has produced some hot water is comical!

Being able to walk somewhere without hitting your body off every surface on the way. There are also things we will miss for example eating out of a dog bowl, although a bad point it is convenient and only requires one piece of cutlery. Baking fresh bread every day, the anticipation of is the loaf going to rise or fall. The amazing night skies filled with so many stars and questions, you can’t help but be taken back by its magnificence. Being able to make the same meals taste so different every day with the competition between watches to provide the best meal possible. Banter between watches to keep the boat on course and as straight as possible so we can cover as much ground as possible in the best direction towards the goal.

Becoming a RUBIK master has been an added bonus with a few of us on board completing the cube every time now, (Thanks Daz)

With the leg coming to an end, one treat is that the stores have been re-evaluated so that we can get all the food eaten before arriving in Australia. They have very strict laws on what you can and can’t bring in to the country, basically if it’s not in a tin it’s not coming in. On the stock check we learnt that we have a rat on board with a very specific taste for cereal bars. However it has been considerate enough to take the wrappers as well. Hmmmm!!!

Cpl Will Dop, 3 AAC

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Leg 4 Day 24 - Monday 16th November

There comes a point on every Adventure that time comes to a standstill or even worse starts going backwards. This morning was that point: a change to sail plan and eta in Freemantle! In order to keep the yachts within 100 miles.

As to not to sound to negative on this lowly day, Blue Watch has decided to share one of their favourite recipes for you all to try at home. Please note that the serving is for 15 adults and is best served in a chilled environment.


30 probably not free range South African ‘Humpty Dumpty’ eggs
Half jar of Pick & Pay,P&P, Mayonnaise {Pick & Pay is your Lidle or Aldi in South Africa}
250g of undescriptive P&P ‘No Name’ Cheese
30 Tortilla wraps

For the salsa:

1 tin of P&P chopped tomatoes
1 tin P&P chopped tomatoes with onion and basil
Sprinkle of salt and pepper 

Cooking instructions:

Boil all the eggs for 15 minutes whilst wearing fowl weather gortex trousers (in case the angle of the cooker tilts more than 30 degrees). Once boiled lay slip proof mats onto the table and peel all eggs (Note that this is easier if one person holds onto the pan and bowls whilst one person peels the eggs). Using a potato masher mix the eggs and Mayo together and add a sparing amount to each tortilla. Grate some cheese over each wrap and add to the oven 15 minutes before the ‘ongoing watch’ is woken for lunch. Mix the salsa ingredients together and serve cold alongside the eggchaladers for individuals to add as they prefer. 

Enjoy at an angle of 25 degrees rocking from side to side whilst holding a cup of juice with your third hand! Repeat this process on watch change for the ‘off going’ watch. 

I doubt a cookbook will be out anytime soon but I have to give praise to each watch for the inventive meals that come out each day to keep our energy levels up.

WO2 Bowles RE, 15 Signal Regiment Blue Watch

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Leg 4 Day 22 - Saturday 14th November

We have enjoyed pleasant weather on deck today, enabling the much coveted ‘dry foul weather suit’ to be attained, or at least hoped for. There was also a flurry of clothes washing undertaken with off-watch crew members optimistically draping underwear, towels and sleeping bags (in by now quite serious need of airing after three weeks use) over anything narrow enough for a clothes peg to grip.

The process is always the same, Meer cat like, you poke your head out of the hatch, gauge the auspices from the sky, pause, and then scuttle away to complete your laundry in record time and hang your kit before the sea changes its mind.

More pertinently for our journey, we have been blessed with near perfect sailing conditions (according to the enthused Mates; to most of us, they were just sailing conditions) allowing swift and efficient transit towards our now much anticipated destination. Interestingly, we are actually steering north over the water, but are being pushed east by the current so that our course over ground is correct.

Perhaps in a tacit acknowledgement of this good progress, positive thoughts allowed an unfamiliar ‘free and easy’ approach to the evening meal provisioning and preparation, resulting in three courses: canapés, a hearty curry and peach (alas, not fresh) segments, all very welcome.

Unfortunately, meal rationing and dishing up for 15 has become such a finely perfected operation that there is rarely any spare for seconds, which is dis-heartening news for the more food orientated amongst us.

Other than that, all remains very much the same as yesterday on board our small piece of real estate in the middle of the seemingly endless Indian Ocean. Not long to go now…

Lance Bombardier Joe White, 11(Sphinx) Battery, 16 Regiment, Royal Artillery.

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Leg 4 Day 21 - Friday 13th November

Eat, sleep, watch, repeat; this is what being at sea is like on an ocean crossing. The 2 days when you are on watch rotation of 4hrs on, 4 hrs off seem to just blend into one long day. Everyone has now got to the stage of looking forward to the 24hrs rotation on mother watch so you can get your hot or cold shower depending on if the generator or engine has been on.,/p>

One of the other benefits of being on mother watch is that you get to catch up on your sleep, which has become more and more cherished as the days have gone by even if you are getting thrown about in your bunk, or out of it as some of the crew experienced today. Today we sailed past the Ilse of Amsterdam and unfortunately we have not been able to see them as they are about 50 miles north of where we have been sailing.

Tonight has seen the best star gazing night so far on the trip, Orion and the Southern Cross are very clear tonight as we get smoother seas and 25knts from the port quarter; allowing us to make both course and 10knts SOG (speed over ground) towards our destination.

The Ocean currents are so strong here that we find ourselves steering nearly 80 degrees away from our true direction in order to get our COG (course over ground) to be correct.

Friday the 13th past without incident! However, Steve the purser is looking worried as we learned that in Napoleonic times, the purser was hung if he incorrectly victualed the ship, he looks confident enough, time will tell!

LCpl Harry Hartnett

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Leg 4 Day 19 - Wednesday 11th November

The storm came in during the night and steadily built up power in order to give Discoverer all it had at 8 am.

The force 10 gale with winds constantly above 50 knots for an hour battered the ‘on deck crew watch’ with huge waves coming across the yacht flattening anyone in their path. Sail adjustments including storm sails were our defence but as always nature has a way of reminding you who is the boss! The watch on deck whilst safe because they are strapped in, found themselves flung around and more than a little battered and bruised at the end of their shift, not to mention cold and very wet.

The storm depleted a little for the remainder of the day but Discoverer stayed on course and made good progress.

Today marked the 17th day at sea with another 2300 miles to our final destination of Freemantle, Australia. This is expected to take at least another two weeks and the crew are already looking forward to warmer climates. We have passed today the Island of Le Kerguelen 500 miles to our south and will pass in 300 miles the islands of Le Amsterdam and Le Saint Paul to our north.

Discoverer, our 72 foot Challenger yacht built 2000 in Devonport has certainly proved to be a strong, safe and able vessel for the 15 male crew.

Major Steve Marsh AGC (SPS) – White Watch Leader

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Leg 4 Day 18 - Tuesday 10th November

Although we have been enjoying the past few days of calm weather and making the most of the sun to get all the washing done, we have finally got a good bit of wind. Were back to the preferred angle of 45 degrees and moving around 9 knots over the ground.

When I applied to do this leg I had no sailing skills or experience. It has been a steep learning curve but a very enjoyable one. With all the experience we have on board I don’t think there is a question that can’t be answered, as long as we stay on the subject of sailing.

Many of our conversations start with sailing but take weird and wonderful twists, without the power of Google we resort to answering our arguments or general questions with a majority best guess or whoever can come across the most confident with their answer.

Apart from all the sailing skills I have acquired on this exercise I have also learnt to bake bread. The Ex Transglobe bake off is well under way with each crew trying to best each other on a daily basis. The smell of fresh bread being baked is a welcome smell to mask the normal boat aroma.

Cpl Will Dop

3 Regiment Army Air Corps

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Leg 4 Day 16 - Sunday 8th November

Today started off with the familiar sound of the ‘iron sail’ pushing us along at an agreeable 5/6 knots. With the main sheet reefed and the foresail and staysail all tucked and tied safely away on deck, manning the helm on watch becomes a rather dull affair: a close relationship between you, the compass, the occasional small swell… and little else.

Familiarity with the barely muffled sound of the engine has been forged due to its close proximity to a number of bunks: 8 men in total sleep in the bulkheads immediately port and starboard of it.

This does help to counter many of the other sounds that can disturb your sleep between shifts (once you get used to it), but is nigh on guaranteed to wake you if started up when you are already out for the count.

In the absence of any measurable wind, the weather has been cordial today, with clear skies, calm seas and some gentle warmth allowing washing, reading and minor ship repairs to be carried out concurrently. One member of the crew managed to donate a sock to Davey Jones whilst collecting his washing in, giving the on-watch a good laugh.

Familiarity was dispensed with quite late in the day, with the sighting of a light on the horizon to our North, which soon showed itself to be a fishing vessel. Interest, excitement and euphoria erupted among a large section of the crew, who have become accustomed to seeing absolutely nothing over the last two weeks.

This was noteworthy enough, but, believing that the part of the vast Indian Ocean that they were occupying was not nearly as interesting as the part that we were chugging along in, they decided to come quite a lot closer to us. This caused mild alarm from the skipper, and a hasty radio hail to politely request that they give us some space, hard as that may be, was conducted.

International, high seas road rage in the dark, high octane stuff. They have now moved south, no doubt to soon become a problem to our Sister vessel.

Oh, and bread making has now moved into the truly experimental stage, as we attempt to create a loaf out of leftover Brazilian plain flour and yeast, in best guess quantities, with dates and walnuts rolled in for the sake of it.

LBdr Joe White

11 Battery, 16 Regiment,

Royal Artillery.

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Leg 4 Day 15 - Saturday 7th November

Another day, another round of watches on board Discoverer as we continue east towards Freemantle.

It has been a frustrating past twenty four hours as we are still in a high pressure system, this has made progress very slow despite the relief from wind and waves continuing to provide an opportunity to dry clothes and making watches somewhat more comfortable.

This morning we were still running a reduced sail plan to allow Adventurer to keep up which added to our slow progress. Midmorning we decided to pole out our head sail to enable us to steer a better course East.

It was a good opportunity for the crew to learn this technique and a first for Discoverer on leg four, after a couple of hours a wind shift made the pole unnecessary and it was brought down.

We have now plotted the locations of the Clipper fleet as they close in on our chosen route! Would be great to see them on the water?

As I write we are crawling along at 5 knots, the bread however is looking to be the best yet! Another twenty four hours of light winds are expected followed by twenty odd knots on Monday, Here’s hoping Adventurer can keep up or we may miss our flight!

SPR James O’Brien

REYC Bosun

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Leg 4 Day 13 - Thursday 5th November

Still bobbing along on this vast ocean, the morning started well with the mate and helmsman seeing far off lightning flashes reminding us of firework night and our loved ones back home around their bonfires. Watch follows watch as we pass each over going up and down the companion ladder. Once again Johnny (mate) was seen on deck doing his Para press ups after a couple of days on chart table duties due to injury.

The off watch and mother watches were woken with the smell of freshly baked bread, as the last of the mouldy Cape Town loaves went overboard.

The highlight of the day is passing into a new time zone, the skipper looks forward to at least 1 hour of darkness on the helm to see the sunrise above the bow on the 04-08 watch.

The ‘learning the RUBIK cube challenge’ has gained pace as Daz (mate) keeps the lessons going; 1 side conquered with 5 left to master! Concentration faces are a funny thing, with tongues out every where!!

Mutiny was averted when the food ration was upped, although the biscuit thief was still on the loose. The purser was given permission by the skipper to flog any hands caught grumbling.

Frustration is mounting at having to reduce sail for the other Ex Transglobe yacht to catch up and overcome their slightly inferior speed through the water. Of course we think we are sailing a better course J

SSgt Darren Hare VR

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Leg 4 Day 11 - Tuesday 3rd November

The sea is a cruel mistress

The past 24 hours she has been gradually revealing her true capabilities. Safe to say the waterproofs as well as the grin and bare mentality have been put to the test. Dealing with the waves would be enough yet with the heavens opening up it made life pretty grim in the dark hours of watch, but stiff upper lip and copious amounts of brews ( the British answer to anything), there was some grace by sunlight breaking through and a lull in the waves/wind made a good chance to thaw out.

Wagers have surfaced on when we land in sunny Perth and are we going to be present on our flight back to the Uk? I’m pretty content in thinking we’ll be there in no time with the degree of experience on the boat and the wind pushing us along nicely.

I think there should be a wager on seeing how many people will embark on another ocean crossing or for us novices amongst us even step foot on a boat again.

Lcpl Elliot Smith 2 Yorks

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Leg 4 Day 10 - Monday 2nd November

The storm of the past 24 hours continues into the evening with high gusts of 30+ knots of wind and temperatures dropping to 10 degree Celsius.

The good news is that at least we are heading in the right direction to the East along the 40’s. We still have 3 reefs in on the main sail (small as possible size) and the number 3 Yankee at the front in order to combat high gusts and help prevent every wave from coming over the bow thus onto the crew on deck.

Problems with the water maker caused concern today but every option the book was tried, including taking a jellyfish from the filter until the Skipper realised that our 45 degree lean on the boat actually exposed the sea water intake to the air thus no water was being drawn in in order to make fresh water.

Evening mealtime saw white watch’s two novice members taking to the pans: the outcome was a one pot concoction comprising every imaginable staple food. It was received well (perhaps to the surprise of white watch…) by a slightly cold and damp crew, especially those who straight after eating were back on deck for a four hour watch!

GNR Thomas Atkins 26 Regiment RA

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Leg 4 Day 9 - Sunday 1st November

Life at 45 degrees.

The yacht for the most of today has been at a constant 45 degree angle which makes even the simplest things difficult and depending on which side of the boat you sleep on can make it a bit precarious to get in and out of your bunk.

It is interesting watching others walking up and down almost walking up a wall, a bit like a film and rolling along the walls holding on so you don’t fall over.

Today we have been slowed down by unfavourable winds coming from the south east, which means we have been tacking over and under 40 degrees latitude for the whole day however all while maintaining good speed averaging between 7 – 9 knots over ground.

The yacht managed to hit 12 knots over ground but unfortunately it wasn’t heading directly for Australia.

LCpl Harry Hartnett 4 RMP

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Leg 4 Day 8 - Saturday 31st October

Mother Watch No 2 of a potential 8 started today for Red Watch.

The Halloween themed carrots cut with pumpkin style faces went down well with tonight’s beef stew but the highlight was Rob Templeton’s pancakes though, including the resultant smoke detector check! 

We have finally shaken off the north running current and picked up the Southern Ocean westbound one so a helpful shove is welcome as the winds continue to fluctuate.

We are currently romping along in the dark at 10knots over the ground with a favourable sea and weather so all looks good. The boat will also cross in to the 40 degree latitude in approximately one minute from now and we await those trade winds.  

Albatrosses follow us daily and our watch saw our first wanderer today, an enormous thing. The HF radio has kept us up to date with the Rugby World Cup and hopefully the Aussies will have got over the result by the time we arrive.

Maj Bernie Fowler AAC

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Leg 4 Day 7 - Friday 30th October

Quite interesting today watching the Skipper and both Mates huddled around the chart table analysing the wind, tide flow direction/speed, Met weather forecasts and how they were going to get down to the ‘Roaring Forties’ with most elements against them and a storm in the way if they got it wrong! 

As always, three minds are better than one and many hours of accurate helming (steering of the boat) brought Discoverer into an area of higher winds (in the right direction) which allowed us to continue the chase of the Royal Navy/Royal Air Force yacht Adventurer. 

Determination and probably a slightly faster boat ensured we made up the 7 miles and passed Adventurer just after 1300 hours with and entire Army crew on deck to wave on some encouragement! 

Spirits are high, food is good (whilst the fresh rations last) and only 2 members continue to suffer from sea sickness. 

Since leaving Cape Town we have completed 109 hours at sea and have travelled a total of 605 Nautical Miles (not all in the direction we would have wished but the current is very strong…).

Major Steve Marsh AGC(SPS) – White Watch Leader

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Leg 4 Day 1 - Saturday 24th October

Having been pinned down in the marina at the Royal Cape Yacht Club thanks to South Africa’s notorious South Easter winds (50 Knts plus in the harbour); some of the Ex Transglobe Leg 4 crew were beginning to wonder if we might ever escape on our epic voyage across the Southern Ocean. 

But now as we look out over Table Mountain bathed in sunshine and a remnant of smog after a day’s pre departure training, it is all looming up quickly with D-Day scheduled for Sun 25 Oct 15.

The crew that assembled in fairly short order has gelled well with a good mix of characters from some old duffers with lots of sailing experience to young soldiers with little or none.  We all look forward to what lies ahead with excitement and apprehension in equal measure.  

We take heart from knowing that our yacht Discoverer and the skipper and after guard will look after us.  Wish us luck!

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Leg 3 Day 21 - Sunday 11th October 2015

Skipper Lt Col Tim Hill

“LAND AHOY!” was the shout from on-deck at 0908 hours this morning as Table Top Mountain loomed into sight on the distant horizon at a range of just under 40 nm; a truly welcome sight since leaving Brazilian shores just over 2 weeks ago.

The wind overnight has been light, but despite this, the on watch crew has worked tirelessly trimming the sails in order to coax out every last fraction of a knot of boat speed. But the same can be said for the whole trip – the crew has worked incredibly hard, often in harsh and challenging conditions, to ensure that we sailed the boat as safely and quickly as possible.  

We have never been over canvassed and held on to a sail longer than necessary and similarly, we have never remained under powered, with sails up/down, reefs in/out 24/7.

Our entry into Cape Town was equally impressive and spectacularly different to our departure from Rio, with the rugged beauty of Table Top Mountain contrasting against the metropolis of South Africa’s capital city (or is it Pretoria?).  After 17 days at sea we were welcomed alongside the Royal Cape Yacht Club marina by the Club’s Commodore, Manager and a host of other willing helpers.

With the boat put to bed, there was only one thing ‘thirst’ and foremost on everyone’s minds – a cool refreshing beer in the clubhouse.  The next couple of days are going to be spent cleaning and preparing the boat for the Leg 4 crew, a task almost as important as our own transatlantic crossing.  And then we’ve got some well deserved sight-seeing to look forward – Table Top Mountain, swimming with sharks, Stellenbosch wine tour etc.

This has been a fantastic experience for us all, from Yachtmaster (Ocean) to the 6 novices on board.  We have had no injuries, damages or losses and I take my hat off to the crew for looking after the boat so well under the watchful gaze of the two Mates.  Everyone has stepped up to the plate – whether that be helming in rough seas and heavy airs or crashing around on a submerged foredeck in the midst of a sail change.

They have all enjoyed the trip, although some have decided that ocean crossing is perhaps not for them, but would prefer coastal hopping instead.  We’ve sailed a total of 3400 miles, 130 miles further than the Great Circle route of 3270 nm.  Whatever lies in store for future Transglobe crews they have much to look forward to; these boats are powerful and exhilarating to sail, but below deck they offer a degree of respite and comfort.

Our huge thanks must go to Cdr Nick Trundle, John Greatorex, Glynn Jones, Mike Barham and the rest of the Joint Services’ team for making this all happen. They have pulled out the stops purchasing and readying these yachts and crews for some serious Oceanic sailing.

And not forgetting Lt Col Frank Cannon, who as the Army lead, has the unenviable and relentless task of coordinating the Army’s participation – cheers Frank.

For me personally, this has been a fantastic experience and a tremendous opportunity to indulge in something I truly love with a great bunch of soldiers and officers.  They have made the trip; not one cross word, but plenty of banter instead.

I was reminded of one comment made earlier in the trip, when one of the soldiers, gazing out across the ocean said to me “isn’t it amazing how nothing can look so beautiful.”  I knew exactly what he was meant.

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Day 18 - Thursday 8th October 2015

Kgn Matt Lucas - 2 Lancs

Our 15th day out at sea, and for a novice sailor like myself, it’s been one heck of along time to be out on the open water but in another 600 nautical miles time we will finally arrive at Cape Town. I’ve heard the yacht club there is amazing, I can’t wait!

So what happened today..... for the second time on the trip we saw the lights of ship about 5 nm off the port side which tells us there is still life out there. The sun came out for a glorious start to the morning, but unfortunately this didn't last very long and the day turned grey.

Visibility was down to about 1 nm and the wind had dropped to about 10 knots from the NW giving us a average speed of 6.5 knots. Driving the boat in these light airs is more tricky than the windy stuff, as it requires precision helming to keep the boat going forward without stalling her.

Every cloud has a silver lining however, and the benign conditions allowed us to send my crewmate Alex out across the boom to reattach the topping lift.

Watching him walk across the boom armed with nothing but a Gerber knife, being held on by 2 ropes caused a lot of amusement and I have recorded it all with the go-pro, ready for our leg 3 video.

Animal sightings are still rare. We have seen an abundance of seagulls and flying fish and today we added two more to this list.

A lone dolphin made a short a appearance, although frustratingly it was gone by the time I was up on deck, and a small squid miraculously managed to hop on deck this morning, but only to be turned into live bait for our fishing gear!

As much I want to see dry land, this has been one hell of a great trip and I am proud to say that we are 80 nm ahead of the RAF/Navy boat, although the skipper keeps telling us we’re not racing..! 

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DAY 17 - Wednesday 7th October 2015

Fus. SA Warrington C Coy, The London Regiment

So sitting here in the saloon on Discover, enjoying the trip of a lifetime and also a trip to my home town.

Who would have thought that by joining the Army Reserves (The London Regiment C Coy), I would be doing a trip like this. I’m the only reservist on this boat so as you can all imagine the banter is continuous. Luckily its all-good fun and we enjoy the good laughter.

Our watch has bonded well and we work well together. The other watches are also fantastic and provide us with great meals.

The overall attitude on the boat is excellent and it has created a fantastic vibe on the boat. I must admit, there have been a few ups and downs on this trip.

The down being our bread that failed to rise, but turned out very tasty and the up, well lets not shout out ‘’dolphin’’ on this boat. Otherwise you end up with the whole crew standing on the decks looking like a bunch of meerkats on high alert for the dolphins.

As you probably all know by now, and those following us on Yellow Brick , we have been pounding our way towards Cape Town. The South Atlantic has no mercy and we have to show her a lot of respect.

Fortunately, this crew is up for a challenge and very eager to get to Cape Town. Over the past few days nothing has been easy and almost everything has been teamwork.

Even showering is an emotional task but certainly one of the highlights of Mother Watch. Today we are on our first of two ‘’On/Off’’ watches.

It felt like the best day of my life when we finished Mother Watch yesterday.  To sum mother watch up in a few words, image doing your house work, cooking, cleaning and personal admin in a giant washing machine. 

Not easy, but we got the job done! 

The watch started off last night with an overcast sky, rough seas with about a 3 to 4 metre swell and about a 30 knot wind. Just stepping into the cockpit, I was greeted by a massive spray from the sea…….it was a long and wet four hour watch.

We were up again at midnight to do another watch.  The sky cleared up for a brief moment but quickly decided we had seen enough stars!

Luckily it wasn’t raining so it was a dry watch. 

The watch this morning has been great. The clouds have mostly cleared and we have blue sky.

We only have 775 nautical miles to go to Cape Town. I would like to add that we are not racing Adventure (The RAF and Navy yacht) but we are 58NM ahead of them.  

Looking forward to catching up with them for a beer in Cape Town.

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DAY 14 - Sunday 4th October 2015

LCpl O Millman-Evans

Total Distance: 3300 NM
Total Distance Covered: 1797 NM
Distance Covered in last 24hrs: 176 NM
Distance to Cape Town: 1573 NM
Average Speed: 7.95 Knots

The last 24 hour period has been nothing less than spectacular. The weather has been kind, the water calm, good food and brilliant company.

The day has been very constructive, the crew doing their tasks to the best of their abilities, Blue Watch were on Mother Watch, creating a very tasty meal for all of us, Chicken coq au vin with potato.

For those of us that struggle cooking the most simple of meals with all the mod cons at home, it is quite embarrassing to witness such feats of culinary success when you are unable to even boil an egg, let alone being in the middle of the Atlantic!

So hats off to them!

Whilst having dinner we were receiving a live commentary via our Yellow brick on the Rugby world cup (Eng vs Aus). We were all waiting for those messages with desperation, when the game was drawing to an end, unfortunately it was not meant to be.

33-13 to the Aussies. But if you were going to be hearing news like that at least we are in the perfect place to be getting it!

However, we did receive some good news. We are ahead of the RAF and Navy boat, by a gleaming 34 nautical miles.

So even if the Rugby didn’t put a smile on our faces, being ahead of the other boat certainly did.

Red watch took over when the winds died down, it was down to the watch to lower the Yankee and stay sail so that we could motor sail.

The water being calm made this an easy task for them.

The reason for this is so that the sails with all the flapping trying to catch the wind, don’t flog themselves to death.  After their 4 hour watch they retired back to their bunks to get some shut eye before having to go back on deck.

When it came to their watch again, the wind had slightly picked up so the skipper made the decision to get the Yankee back out and ready to raise.

After all that had been done, it was time to relax on deck and enjoy a cup of Tea in good Army fashion whilst enjoying the sun rise above the horizon.

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DAY 13 - Saturday 3rd October 2015

Pte A J Green - Blue Watch

During the last 24 hours Discoverer has covered 203 Nm, crossed a time zone and maintained an average speed of well over 8 knots.

The winds have varied considerably and between 0400-0800 hrs, Blue watch experienced a change from 16 knot winds to 3-4 knots and then back to 18 knots.

The natural swell of the ocean combined with high winds has produced some epic sailing and those helming have been fully tested, as those below on mother watch can testify!

While we have seen little wildlife, the precarious nature of the lives of the animals we have seen is a constant source of conversation.

The sea birds in particular, flying over a thousand miles from land, seem to have what can only be described as a challenging existence. The birds rest by sitting on the surface and appear immune to the crashing waves all around them. 

A number of the crew have taken the opportunity to use the satphone and call home over the weekend which has been a huge boost to morale. There have also been some complicated arrangements organised to get both regular updates on the England vs Australia rugby game as well as position reports on our sister ship, Adventure. 

On a personal level, I am thoroughly enjoying the experience and have developed some great relationships with the crew who are gelling really well.

Mother watch, although an onerous duty, has evolved in to a stiff competition with each watch trying to out do the others with the standard of meals produced.

Blue watch are on at the moment and their Coq au vin (without wine!) promises to raise the bar even higher.

So in summary, we are making good progress, morale is high and, although the wind forecast for the next 24 is a bit iffy, we remain firmly on course to meet our goal; of Cape Town by Tue 13 Oct.

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DAY 12 - Friday 2nd October 2015

Lance Sergeant M. McNaughton - 1st Battalion Irish Guards

A new month and along with it, new weather!

As a boat full of mainly infantry soldiers, today’s forecast can only be described as perfect exercise weather, bleak, overcast and wet but surprisingly lacking the one vital component...wind!

It was early hours in the morning when the change in the weather became noticeable due to the fact that people were able to wake up for watch without being drenched in pools of their own sweat and were also contemplating the use of a sleeping bag for the first time! (this is a slight over exaggeration, it was still pretty redders).

Never the less it was a welcome change, below deck at least.

Above deck men and women alike were clad in foul weather gear as the rain began to pick up its pace making the deck floor a slippery and dangerous place to be.

The front of the boat had also proved to have become some sort of Bermuda triangle for flying fish as they confusingly leapt from the water majestically, swiftly followed by a tonk on the head from the mast... I mean c’mon you do have to see the funny side, the ocean is enormous and these fish actually managed to land on a 72 foot platform of a boat.

We plodded along all day at a rough speed of around 8 knots covering a steady 182NM over the last 24 hours and as at 1200 GMT the total distance run tallied up to 1412.

This leaves us with 1948NM until Cape Town and about 0.2 knots above the required pace overall although this has now increased.

The lack of wind seems to be set to test the tactical sailing of the navigator and overall judgement of our skipper and watch leaders.  I have faith that we will be wine tasting in Cape Town on schedule though. *Touches wood*

Below deck the mother watches, who for 24 hours at a time are responsible for the cooking and cleaning on board of the boat, have been consistent in delivering an impressive array of meals and maintain morale by keeping the crew well fed and in typical good old British military fashion...brews in hands.

There have also been a number of birthdays on board and certain members of the crew have been treating the rest of us, who are less culinary adept, to some fantastic puddings and cakes.

This along with the freshly ground coffee (which those officers amongst you know that for some reason you just cannot survive without ) leaves us all sat in the galley closing our eyes imagining we’re members of the RAF on tour and forgetting for a brief moment that we are actually in the middle of the ocean.

Anyway, I must sign off now as there is a boat to be sailed and countless amounts of caffeine to be consumed in the process. 

I’ll leave you all now by describing a sparkling clean galley in which I’m sat with the scent of fresh bread yet to go into the oven for the morning and the constant swish of water against the side of the boat.

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DAY 11: Thursday 1st October 2015

Major Jim Green (British Army)- 2nd Mate/Nav

Disco continues to truck across the South Atlantic.

It is my job as the navigator to try and find us the quickest way to Cape Town. This has meant that numbers have become increasingly important to me.

Air pressure, wind speed and direction, our heading, course over ground and speed over the ground the last two abbreviated to COG and SOG respectively. It is through this strange lexicon I and the watch leaders use to communicate!

Every morning the crew gather around the nav station, my own little war room, surrounded by electronic charts, instrument repeaters and radios. It is from here that I calculate our progress.

Today’s figures were 205 miles run in the last 24hrs leaving 2127 miles to go to Cape Town, a third of the journey is behind us, a good day’s work from the crew.

The perennial question is when will we arrive?

The plan is for an ETA in Cape Town on 13 Oct. Arriving on time requires us to maintain an average speed of 7.39Kts and as I write this the instruments are showing 8.5Kts, so today we are on track and morale is high.

The second part of my job is to try and predict where the wind will be and the fastest route through the weather. I am aided in this with the very kind loan of a satellite phone and access to British Soldier’s (Army Sailing Association’s racing yacht) mailsail account which allows us to down load relatively accurate weather forecasts for the following 96hrs.

Even with this quite sophisticated approach it still remains educated guess work, but don't tell the crew.

Negotiating the South Atlantic High in the next 3 days will certainly slow us down. So I will be in the crew’s bad books as I deliver less rosy figures!

The make or break for our ETA will be the weather systems we will encounter as we approach Africa. I will need to make decisions as to how best we should route through them.

Thankfully those decisions are still a week away, so pressure off for now.

P.S.  Happy Birthday Ash!  19 years old today.  Cheese scones and a rocky road birthday cake currently in the oven...

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DAY 8: Monday 28th September 2015

Lt C J Pollard

Today’s blog is written from a far different Discoverer than the last few days; a completely clean bill of health on the seasickness front, fresh laundry fluttering on the windward side a testament to the routine and personal administration the crew have settled into, and most importantly some 10.5 Knots of speed over the ground thanks to a very kind northerly wind which finally came in last night!

It started very slowly in the hours after last light on Sunday 27, with slowly building gusts teasing us into thinking we might at last hoist sails and give the engine a much-needed rest. 

Dom, the First Mate, was with me at the helm pleading under his breath for the 12 Knots of steady true wind speed we would need to hoist the Yankee and Stay-sails. 

When finally he gave the word, the speed with which the on watch raised both sails in the middle of the night (albeit aided by the light of a fine full moon) gave proof to the increasing proficiency of the crew, thanks to the practice on the sails we have had with such temperamental wind conditions.

Mother Nature herself was clearly impressed by the efficient rigging of the sails, treating both watches to an unexpected full lunar eclipse as they changed over on the stroke of midnight. 

It was quite a moving and fitting end to a hard day of work trying to get every bit of speed out of Discoverer as we could; an extra-terrestrial show laid on just for us in our own little corner of the Atlantic.

Today’s sailing has seen us eating up the deficit of the last two days with the watches competing over who can cover the greatest distance in their four hour shift with this new wind to play with. 

As I write White watch are currently on deck pushing for a 40 Knot watch, which if maintained by all watches would give us a creditable 240 Knots for the day. 

We could certainly use such progress with 2748 miles still to go to Cape Town despite having covered 611 miles already by today; our navigator and Second Mate Jim estimates our arrival on around Oct 13 should conditions behave as expected.

The weather today is very fine with plenty of sunbathing taking place on deck, and the aforementioned 18 Knots of northerly wind pushing us towards our destination, and our next blog.

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Day 4: Thursday 24th September 2015

Major Jim Green (British Army)- 2nd Mate/Nav

We’re off!! 

After 4 days of boat preparation, sight seeing and sail training, we’ve finally left Rio de Janeiro at 1600 hrs for our 3270 nautical mile transatlantic crossing to Cape Town, South Africa.

At an average planning speed of 7 knots, we’re hoping to complete the crossing in 19 days, with an ETA of 13 Oct, although of course everyone’s hoping for a speedier crossing.

The departure from Rio was spectacular; fantastic views and a great wind for sailing, albeit from the east which meant we had to beat our way out of the harbour. Nevertheless, both yachts must have made an impressive sight as we sailed through the bay at just short of 9 knots.  

Out of the bay the wind got light for a bit and as predicted, remained stubbornly in the east in the direction of our proposed direction of travel, which meant that we had to head south on port tack.

That evening we were treated to yet another glorious sunset falling over the Rio skyline.

That night was reasonably uneventful – a great spag bol done by Bonesy and Lorna, coupled with some great reaching with No 2 Yankee, staysail and one reef in the mainsail. we left the shelter of the coastline the waves and swell began to build and people started to go green...

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