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ARC 2016 Gran Canaria – St Lucia Challenger 2

Thursday 17 November – Monday 12 December

Entry 16

Greetings and apologies for the late arrival of today’s blog, it’s been a busy day.

This is our final full day at sea and it would be an understatement to say we are rather excited at our impending arrival in St Lucia tomorrow.  Various times have been suggested and it’s possible that by the time you read this we have crossed the finish line just outside Rodney Bay in the NW corner of the island.

You will probably see on the tracker that it is going to be down to the line as to whether it’s Challenger 2 or Challenger 3 across first.  It’s all to play for and I’m sure our amazing team; skipper Monkey, Mate Terry, Watch Leaders Glyn and Jim, and Bob will be eyes glued to the charts to decide which tactics are going to be used  through the night to give us a good shot at beating CH3.

Sail away, sail away, sail away (an Enya song).  We have most definitely sailed our way across the magnificent Atlantic Ocean.  A young child might ask, “Are we there yet?” Yes, almost.  We are so close only 118 nautical miles to go as I write.

If you remember we caught a Dorado fish yesterday morning and after it had been gutted, cleaned, prepared and seasoned by James it was eaten at dinner much to the delight of us all.

So today I have been back on mother watch with James and Thomas and it has been a pleasure, I will miss you guys.  We’ve eaten cereal and fruit for breakfast, followed by hot dogs and soup for lunch.  Dinner which will be served shortly is another dish prepared by James – think he should give up his job in advertising and become a chef.  Well tonight we are eating seasoned roast loin of pork, roast potatoes, mashed sweet potatoes and tinned veg.  Yes, we’re now using tinned food as the fresh veg has now all gone.

After lunch the skipper and mate called us all on deck to give us a briefing for our arriving in St Lucia.  This included us giving the boat a good deep clean and how to be kind and courteous to our neighbours, especially on our return to the boat in the evening.  So no loud sing songs on deck after 10pm.

Talking of singing we are avidly preparing for our crossing the line song.  I doubt if any of you can guess what we are going to sing.  Suggestions on a post card!

Later this afternoon Ollie, Steve (the younger) and Laurence were hoisted up to the pole.  Ollie proudly held out his school flag so we could take a photo for him.

Not long after the above event a tear was spotted in the main sail near the top.  Monkey was hoisted up in climbing gear to investigate and it was decided to bring the main sail down so a repair could be made.  Despite all this rather unexpected activity Challenger 2 continued at a good speed.

Once the main sail was down, Bob and Kathryn set to for another sowing session with Terry helpfully sitting on the boom I’m told, don’t know what he was doing but it must have been important!!  An hour later the main was up again.

After so much activity it was time for another cup of tea and biscuits.  Terry also re discovered his chocolate bar which he was so desperate to eat before the tear was spotted.

As this adventure draws to a close we have become an excellent team of ship mates.  Hopefully in the future our paths will cross again.  It’s been a privilege guys.

So sometime tomorrow you will hear from us.  We will be digging out our phones for the call home.   I know I can’t wait to speak to my loved ones.

So best wishes to you all from everyone here on the merry ship Challenger2.

Heather Perham xxx

Entry 15

Hi Dear friends and followers of life on board Challenger 2 – the adventure continues.

“Hark, now hear the sailors’ cry, Smell the sea, and feel the sky.

Let your sail and spirit fly into the mystic………….”  Van Morrison

I was back up on watch at 6am and it was so very hot already. Unless there is a squall approaching there is no need to wear oilies on deck.  Watched the sunrise fill the skies with glorious sunshine and a weather system of interesting shaped fluffy kind of clouds encircled us in every direction.   Off on our starboard side was a collection of squalls raining down heavily in the distance and at the same time a massive rainbow stretched from one part of the horizon to the other, reaching down into the sea – such an awesome sight.

OMG – As I write it would appear we have caught a fish, the first of this voyage, let’s hope it’s edible and so we will be feasting tonight. I will let you know before I finish this blog.

Couldn’t wait that long as I was shouted on deck and yes the fishing line has caught a massive Dorado.  YES – it’s massive!!!!!! and whoops as it came on board it was dropped into the helm area whilst Steve (the younger) is helming. Hilarious to see everyone jumping out of the way – it’s only a fish guys.

Late morning an enthusiastic mother watch of Kathryn, John and Laurence were busy cleaning and preparing lunch of Jacket potatoes and fillings.

As we are heading ever closer to the finish line a process of cleaning and reorganising the boat has started.  Much of the fresh fruit and veg is finished and sadly some has gone overboard now quite inedible. We’ve even had an exploding melon.

Another team led by Monkey, our skipper serviced the winches in the snake pit.  Well done Ollie for jumping into learn how it’s done.

So the day finished with another scrummy meal of pasta and chicken in a tomato, and herb sauce. Yet again our fantastic meals have been down to the hard working mother watches and of course to our wonderful skipper, mate and watch leaders for organising for us to have such wonderful fresh food.  Dinner was followed by a personal thank you by John to his mother watch with Kathryn and Laurence.  A huge cheer went up as we all agreed John and his vote of thanks.

So for me personally it has and continues to be a massive adventure and I am enjoying every minute of it.  Who would have thought it would be easy to get up in the middle of the night to go on watch with only 20 minutes’ notice.  Who would thought I could go to bed and sleep at any time of the day of night because we’re all so weary and so very steamy hot and sweaty.

After slowish speeds yesterday we are now rocking and rolling along at an average speed of 9 knots.  Challenger 3 is now within range and we continue to do our best to hold our lead.  Anyway we look forward to our arrival in St Lucia and as I write we now only have 371 nautical miles to go.

“Throw your dreams into space like a kite,

And you do not know what it will bring back,

A new life, a new friend, a new love, a new country.      Anais Nin (Pilgrim fathers)

So I take my leave and say cheerio for now.

All my love and best wishes to our followers but especially to Peter, Fiona and Mike.

Love, Heather xxx

 

Entry 14

There comes a time when every great commander stands amongst the bursting shells and acrid smoke of battle and says to his troops, ‘take that hill’. At which point the troops cast their eyes upon the dark foreboding mass of earth and enemy positions, and think to themselves, it’s just not possible.

Today, the mate of challenger 2 was that commander.

Terry looked at the mother watch without a trace of humour or doubt and said ‘Two roast chicken (whole), roast potatoes, Yorkshire puddings, mashed sweet potatoes, peas, carrots, cabbage… and of course… gravy.’ Bearing in mind that the mother watch consisted of a vegetarian urbanite more accustomed to Hoxton than the Hamble, a teenager recently graduated from a Swiss boarding school who most likely has a personal chef and chocolatier, and a bloke from Kent who eats 90% of his meals in a pub (the remaining 10% being sourced on his way home from said pub from the local take-away)… it was a tall order. Add to this an oven that measures 14 x 18 inches with a top speed of warm-ish, and you can imagine the confused looks.

Like any great commander, when Terry saw their eyes he grabbed a rifle and jumped into the galley. They duly followed. Chickens were roasted and set aside, veg was rotated and scheduled, even the Yorkshire puddings were north of a disaster. It took hours, almost all day, but you don’t become Gloucestershire’s leading male, solo, over fifty, interpretive dancer for nothing. Terry led his band of misfits to Sunday roast glory.

At 4pm ships time we all sat down to a fantastic meal that lifted our spirits after a day of mixed, overly hot, and sometimes frustrating sailing. While our speed was down our will was resolute. We’re 524 miles from a rum punch and the wind is forecast to return tomorrow.

Onward and upward!

James

Entry 13

Hi to you all who are following us. As I am typing we are enjoying bacon and tinned tomato sandwiches and tea for breakfast, whilst the rain and a squall pass us with music full blast! Making those on galley duty work very hard in the heat as all hatches are closed. All the crew are well and enjoying seeing our progress plotted on the chart in the saloon.

The wind remains steady east south east with Yankee one polled out, our stitching holding out really well! 178 miles have been covered since the last blog with 620 to go. All are beginning to think of our arrival to St Lucia and then returning to the UK as we sing along to Robbie Williams Angels and Pink Floyd. We start the countdown preparation today to sort through provisions which have been dotted all around the boat and centralise in the saloon.

Galley duty fed us a lovely chicken tikka masala for supper last night, and all are enjoying the bananas which are ripe now. We all have settled into a routine of sailing, eating, sleeping, doing some washing and having a shower when able, but with the humidity at times you wonder why you bothered!! During our free time I have taught Stephen to sew on two buttons on his favourite H&M shorts and Ollie practised his sewing by repairing the seams on them and then learning to embroider a motif.

We all send our love to family and friends. We have all been sharing our photos of family and are looking forward to getting back in touch.

Best wishes to you all love to the Smallers

Kathryn

Entry 12

Another day of relaxed sailing in the sunshine as our progress west and south continues. Even after 12 days at sea, it’s impossible to be bored with the constantly changing sea and sky, spectacular sunrises and sunsets. Every once in a while a shoal of flying fish will dart out of the way of the 52 tonne monster bearing down on them.

The winds are mostly following now and fairy steady at F3 so not much in the way of sail changes (though we are keeping a sharp eye on the yankee 1) but we are having to gybe a few times a day to keep us heading for St Lucia. We need to keep to the rum (or should that be rhum) line.

The only bone of contention amongst the crew so far was a dispute about whether to have ratatouiile and lentils or “stupid English beef stew”. In the end we cooked both and ended up with an amazing Anglo-French fusion meal.

Two more landmarks reached today: 2000 miles sailed, 900 miles to St Lucia. We feel the last few days and few hundred miles will pass very quickly.

Sail fast, live slow

Mark

Entry 11

Another beautiful sunrise started the day as we were pushed west by the steady breeze that seems to have settled aft of the beam. Quite an eventful day that will be remembered for a birthday, a blow out, and a Bolognese.

We celebrated Heather’s birthday with great fanfare. By 10am she was sitting in the saloon wearing an ‘I’m 60’ badge, surrounded by cards her family had packed for her. Cakes were baked, songs were sung, and Monkey broke out the fizzy drinks and chocolate bars. The volume of cake being consumed on this trip would make Paul Holiday proud. The quality… he may take issue with.

We worked off the cake with a spinnaker hoist that went remarkably smoothly. However, as we gathered in the cockpit for a Monkey moment, fate intervened. Monkey was talking through the douse procedure and noticed that there was a tear growing along a seam. The tear became a rip, the rip became much more.  So, within 5 minutes of hoisting our billowing battle flag we were dousing a sad and rapidly deteriorating bed sheet. I can confirm for insurance purposes that conditions were light and the tear appeared without human intervention. Get the sail maker on the phone and ask for a refund!

Kathryn, John, and Laurence did a fantastic job on Mother watch kicking us off with pancakes with all the trimmings for breakfast. They followed that with baked potatoes with a luxurious assortment of toppings for lunch. This included tuna from a can because our fishing endeavour remains fish-less. They closed out the day with a very good supper of pasta and Bolognese sauce. The sauce, naturally, was made from scratch.

All in all a good day. The only other things worth mentioning are that just before Thursday became Friday, at around 23:48 to be exact, our distance to destination dipped below 1000 nautical miles. A big moment for the boat, made bigger by earlier revelations that John is a close friend of the guy who owns the bar ‘Spinnakers’ in St Lucia. Rum, rum, here we come!

Heather’s Birthday Blog

Latitude 21 degrees 13.48 N and 42 degrees 56.59W

Greetings to you all from the birthday girl and the words on my card from Fiona –

‘Feel the warmth of the sun, the splashes of the sea and remember life is a gift to be savoured’.

A special thank you to Mike, Fiona and hubby Peter for your birthday emails.  Thanks for my cards and prezzies which I have just opened and as I write those up on deck are playing with the bubble wand.

Another pressie for the day, we are putting the spinnaker up – whoop, whoop!

Mike – the stars are out of this world – so magnificent and I continue to see shooting stars every night. The waves although initially a tiny bit scary are now my friends as they move us closer to the Caribbean.  I’m also very proud to be the final Perham in our family to have sailed across the Atlantic and ailing my dream.

Fiona – can’t wait to Face Time you when I reach St Lucia and to hear all about your adventures in New Zealand.

As planned I am having the birthday to remember with my fellow sailors out here on the glorious and awesome Atlantic Ocean.  What started as a group of 17 strangers has become ‘family’.  Thanks guys for the card and huge birthday 60th badge I am supposed to wear all day. Will have to work out how to attach it to my lifejacket of course.  Our home, our island is Challenger 2 and most of the time it seems like we are the only inhabitants of this ocean.  We rarely see another boat although we were followed for the best part of the day yesterday by a 41ft catamaran.  Maybe they think we know where the wind is?

Yesterday evening I was on watch from 18.00 – 21.00 hrs and then from 03.00 – 06.00 so the celebrations started early this morning.  It also coincided with a sail change as the Skipper, Monkey had requested the sails set as ‘goose wing’ – don’t ask me to explain, best to google it.  However, the main aim is to catch the wind when there is very little around and so keep us making good speed as we head closer and closer to St Lucia.

A wonderful mixture of fresh food and veg continues to be a looked forward to highlight and all mother watches are rising to the challenge of cooking something very special.   Last night’s mother watch and indeed thanks to Sam cooked up a simply fantastic Indian banquet.  We are also being spoilt with regular batches of fresh bread and cake, yummy yummy.

So I am truly having the adventure of a lifetime.

Heather Perham

Entry 10

The last 24 hours we have hit light winds and completed little miles after what has been a great crossing so far.  These light airs allowed crew to relax for the day and enjoy the sunshine and attempt to do some fishing.  We did have some Dorado fish around the boat but our best effort to get them on board failed.  Crew enjoying some good down time today although feeling the heat in the mid-day sun which has clearly got to one or two as we enjoy good banter between us.

Overnight the winds returned and Challenger 2’s 56 ton body slowing moved in the water towards east, south, west and at times northern direction as helms struggled to keep her on any course in such light winds initially.  However, in the early hours we were on the move again at 8-10 knots and almost heading in the right direction.  We expect winds to continue to veer and increase later to allow us to correct our course to 245 degree towards St Lucia.

Now with just 1300NM to go and only 5 or 6 more days at sea things seems to be moving fast, what once seemed like a long journey as we slowly knocked of the miles now seems to be moving so quickly that this wonderful journey will soon be over. Now is the time to start to reflect on what the Atlantic Ocean offers each one of us.  Every crew member, despite the laughter and banter amongst us all has had a unique and very personal experience in doing this crossing and is about to become one of the small percentage of people in the world to do this trip.  For many, this trip is a culmination of a life time’s dream, for others it would have brought some fear, excitement, anxiety and personal challenges which makes this trip even more memorable.  The facts are however, that sailing a Tall Ships Challenge boat across the Atlantic is one of the best things you can ever do, the Atlantic is magical and different every day and continues to draw people to dare to cross it.  Challenger boats are robust creatures who need guiding and looking after as we cross 2700nm, but in return she looks after you like no other boat.  She is our safe haven, our home, our adventure for this short time.

Terry

A couple of messages from John and Bob

Hi Rose, Eloise, Violet , Hudson,   Papa has now been  10 days on the boat across the big ocean. We have had dolphins swimming alongside and a big blue fish with yellow fins came by yesterday. I have been taking lots of film to show you when I am back home.  Some days I am on the Mother watch where I and some other friends have to look after all the other people on the boat. We make them breakfast, lunch, dinner and also have to keep the boat clean just like your Mum does at home.  When I was helming the boat the other night I heard a noise behind me and when we turned round a flying fish had come into the boat. You could ask Daddy to get a picture of one off the internet for you.  My big friend Terry helps me to keep the boat on course so that Papa can meet up with Nana in St Lucia. Oh well, have to go now as I have to help sail the boat soon. Love Papa

Bob sends his love to Mum, Ollie, Jess, and everyone else – we are having a great trip can’t wait for the rum in St.Lucia

Entry 9

Hi to you all, we hope you are all enjoying the regular updates. Today after our lovely breakfast from white watch we all worked on deck for the final push to stitch the Yankee one. Success!! Then we did a sweep stake to estimate how long the repair would last!!!

Lunch was salmon with a variety of cheeses including the boats favourite blue cheese, Ollie is delighted it is being used up! The wind the last 24h hours has changed direction from south  East round to the North. We are looking forward by Wednesday/Thursday to having the wind behind us pushing us to St Lucia.

By late morning we celebrated getting half way, covering 1410 miles, this meant Party time!

At 3pm we all got dressed into our 1960s flower power party gear, Monkey (Skipper) gave his speech and said we were his best crew then handed out party gifts. The Mother watch baked lovely cakes to celebrate. With great hilarity photos were taken whilst Thomas tried to steer the boat. The crew blew up balloons and attempted to sing Disney songs. Terry and John embraced their feminine sides to compete with the girls. The crew are really getting along with each other it feels like one big family and learning from each other.

All are settling into our daily routine with washing lines for our washing to assist with our speed. We are all looking forward to our meat ball dinner tonight.

Becalmed during the night leading to flogging sails and the insertion of two reefs in the mainsail. At daylight the Atlantic Ocean resembled lake placid in the spring, so fishing lines deployed with the hope to achieve fish supper!!

70 miles sailed in 24 hours, crew fit and well enjoying every moment.

St Lucia here we come, should be a breeze!!

Kathryn

p.s.  Love to the Smaller family

Entry 8

Sunday morning started with the aroma of bacon and coffee filling the boat accompanied by singing and laughter from our three mothers in the galley (Katherine, John and Laurence.) The crew took no time at all in devouring the offering before taking stock of the day ahead of them – light winds and a lot of sunshine, it was a scorcher! The watches went about their typical duties throughout the day, clambering over bodies lazing about the deck – reading, listening to music / snoozing. Ollie treated the team to some of his Spotify classics with Enya blasting out of the speakers. (My Spotify has logged itself out so no Celine Dion I’m afraid, the crew are quite understandably distraught)

Ollie finally caught something with his two fishing lines – unfortunately it was one of James’ size 10 trainer socks that had dropped over the side.  He continues to try…….

The on board ‘boat murder’ game is in full swing… Steve B has already racked up 3 kills and still standing! (I am not sure of how many are still standing, but the numbers are dropping fast!)

The hot and busy day was thankfully following by a stunning, calm evening behind the wheel. A clear sky with Neptune ahead of us and the plough on an angle.

Excellent pancakes this morning provided by Mark with help from Sarah and Steve – the crew are looking forward to lamb meat balls for dinner!

A few of the crew (and skip) working hard repairing our torn Y1 sail, now taped both sides, a stitching rota has commenced – she will hopefully be good to go later this afternoon.

Look ahead for today – sunshine and stitching on all fours for the foreseeable future.

Steve B (Hey Peanut J)

Entry 7 

Today’s mother watch seems to have started out well – bacon butties for breakfast, and the plan is to make a start on the blue cheese that has been stinking out the back cabins with some of the Spanish ham (we bought an entire leg which has been hanging out in the sail locker) and some freshly baked bread. We’ve put out the fishing lines as our speed has slowed a little, so hopefully if we manage to catch some fish we will be having ‘catch of the day’ paella tonight (or if we aren’t so lucky then with chicken and chorizo). We all seem to have gotten our sea legs now and gotten used to the motion downstairs, so the mother watches have slowly been upping their game and the competition for the best mother watch is definitely on!

The sea has flattened out considerably overnight and the wind has died down, as we have decided to go through a bit of a wind hole – sailing around it seemed too much of a diversion, and it’s nice to have a bit of calm! Last night was surprisingly difficult on the helm – you would think that compared to the high waves and winds a few days ago it would be super easy, but in reality the window that you have to steer between is so narrow (to avoid the sails flapping) that it requires a lot of concentration. The clouds are finally going away and the sun is finally starting to peek through as we are now heading further south, so today should be a lovely day!

10:45 today on boat time (or 12:45 GMT) marks exactly one week since we will have started the ARC. At least for me, the watch system and simple rhythm of things seems to have completely distorted my sense of time, so it feels like we’ve been on the boat for more like a month rather than only one week! Not only that, but at some point later today, or perhaps early tomorrow morning, we will have hit the half-way point – tomorrow we will be celebrating our half way party, so a few cakes will likely be on the mother watch menu today!

Laurence

Entry 6

Hi Everyone,

Hope you are all enjoying our daily blogs.

Yesterday it was the turn of Mother Watch` A` again with James and Thomas.  On board Challenger 2 we are running three watches with five crew in each.  Each Watch is out on deck crewing the boat for three hours and then has six hours off.  This gives us plenty of time to relax and catch up on sleep.  Each day one person from each watch joins up to become a `Mother Watch`.

This means we have to prepare all the meals for the day starting with a cooked breakfast of scrambled eggs (34 eggs used!!) bacon and baked beans and toast cooked in the frying pan.  The saloon was filled with the amazing aroma of cooked bacon thanks to an early start by Thomas at 6am when his watch were on duty.

So the rest of our day was spent preparing lunch and then dinner, yes Mother Watch is all about food and keeping the boat clean and `ship shape`.  We have to put food in the stomachs of the boats crew and keep everyone happy.

We’ve had a nice East North Easterly wind and speed s of around 16 knots.

We are all settling into our routine of eat, sleep, sail.

Personally I am now enjoying the experience although sailing at night is difficult unless the stars are out.

Mike – now I know what it’s like to be in a washing machine!!!

Entry 5

The Cruel Sea

Helming tonight was not easy. Wind gusting  from 10 to 20 knots and a swell coming in from the port side made keeping  this  57 ton 72 footer on  course a real challenge,  eyes on stalks and concentration level  at heights I have never experienced, thanks to Terry for guidance. However, my dream continues and the challenge is still on. Mixed skies tonight, stars one minute then full cloud the next. Helming made easier with stars to help guide the way. When cloudy, helming off the apparent wind angle on the sails I find more difficult. James birthday today so a hearty breakfast of scrambled egg beans and bacon went down well after a jibe to course 265 and the end of the watch.

Finally Steve sends a big happy birthday to ‘Fluff Queen’ from 25.02N 29.01W

Have Fun John S

Entry 4

Allo Allo Challenger 2 calling: what a night!

It all started yesterday…

By midday Wednesday, the water maker stopped working, just as we realised we had already emptied one of the four water tanks  in the space of 4 days (oups!).

Then the generator had enough too and simply decided to overheat.

The sea became a bit bumpy too, with large swells coming from the north, which enticed the fruits to mis-behave and to get out of their storage nets, aiming to fall on the heads of the crew in the saloon (as you do!).

So far, nothing happened that could not be fixed. Monkey (the skipper) and the mate fixed the water maker issue in a couple of hours and got the generator working again.

The painful bumps on the heads also disappeared to by diner time, and we were all focused again on getting the best speed at the helm. I believe the record as I write is of 11.7 knts.

Then came the last watch of the day: 9pm to midnight. I was on that one. As we were happily finishing our watch at midnight, making good speed (ranging from 8 kts to 11) on a nice beam reach and were looking forward to go to bed, the Yankee 1 decided he had enough of sailing and started ripping itself! First, a little bit. Then a little bit bigger. And then it ripped itself completely. All hands on deck!

We got the Yankee 1 down and put the Yankee 2 up. By 1am, it was all over. We were flying the main, the staysail and the Yankee 2. We dragged the poor Yankee 1 in the cockpit, knowing that this time, there was nothing we could do to fix it.

The off watch went to bed, and in the morning we had porridge for breakfast. We knew it would be all right. Nothing than a good porridge can fix.

We are back to sailing, with love to all our friends and families, et aux didous J

Sarah

Entry 3

We woke up this morning to strong winds and a rolling sea. Quite a bit more dramatic than the first days. Despite the weather, spirits remain high and there is a feeling of friendship and comradery between the crew and watches. Night watches are fantastic with dazzling shooting stars and views of the Milky Way, phosphorescent algae creating what look like thunderstorms under the water and even a few dolphins.

Although a challenge, mother watch yesterday finished on a high note with the meals having been Michelin star worthy and chores finished despite the overwhelming tilt of the boat that made everything feel like an acrobatic sport. On another high note, we’ve managed to cover more distance yesterday than we did in the first 2 days combined!

Today’s delight is Beef stew with Katherine’s dumplings for dinner and hot dogs for lunch at Sail-tie café. Few new entries on the sick list but they’ll remain unnamed (it was Steve. Also, a few lost limbs here and there but nothing to worry about.

Ollie

So, day two….

Entry one: More eventful for what was happening on the boat than around it or to it.  We didn’t move very far, and the water was very calm and still.

But, despite the lack of wind, we had plenty going on board, settling into the rhythm of our watches and snoozes.  Today was also the first Mother watch, with Heather, James and Tom stepping up to show us how it’s all done.  They certainly set the bar high, starting with hot drinks early morning, and there was particular appreciation for lunchtime veggies and dinnertime pork chops.  So, fair to say a degree of apprehension for the rest of us mothers, about following such an impressive act.

After a 6am sail change in the dark, the lack of wind meant there was not much in the way of action.  But the weather was lovely and our crew whiled away a sunny afternoon setting up fishing lines, learning some knots, and spotting dolphins jumping alongside us.  We had a gorgeous sunset and a lot more stars tonight.  No fish on the lines though 😉

Tummies and heads seem to be getting acclimatised to the boat – everyone is well and happy.

Hopefully some fish and more speed and distance to report on tomorrow.

Sam

Entry two: For the red watch today started with an early morning watch from 3-6am – but as horrible as that might sound, it was very exciting. We came up to a beautiful sky, and we were able to use a star tracker app on one of our phones to identify that the particularly bright star was actually Mars! There was also a lot more wind than we had had on our previous watch – it went from a mere 5 knots to around 20 knots, which was exciting.

Today’s Mother watch has had different challenges with Challenger “ heeling over well to port, despite this they have made excellent pancakes for breakfast and are now currently baking bread.

Laurence

First days

By late afternoon on Thursday the full crew had assembled, buzzing with anticipation of our journey ahead. A mixture of excitement and trepidation visible on familiar faces whilst we search for long forgotten knowledge gained on our training weekend in September.

Thursday night was the first team night which of course started as planned with a few drinks and some light tapas.

Friday was boat preparation day, setting her up ready for sea, but also more importantly the large delivery of our fresh fruit and veg. All of which needed to be removed from its packaging, washed and spread on the deck to dry before being stowed. Sarah volunteered to be our creative crew member painstakingly place each piece of fruit on our deck to form colourful patterns.

Saturday morning came, and Terry tempted the crew out of their pits with the smell of fresh sausage and eggs – all of which were seen to very promptly by the somewhat jaded crew. We had worked hard the previous day, so only had a limited amount of prep to do giving us the whole afternoon off.

A few of the gang (James, Sam, Ollie, Steve and Laurence) jumped in a local taxi and were given a guided tour of the south part of the island, stumbling  across some idyllic towns and gorgeous beaches. We were unable to resist the temptation of going for a quick swim.

Saturday night – our last night on dry land meant only one thing – Sundowners for drinks, followed by a team meal. Enjoyed by all and sealed with an impressive fire work display put on by the event organisers.

Sunday – Go Time!

All the crew awake at 7am itching to get to the start line, although this was some way off as the race wasn’t due to start until 1245. After some final boat preparation and life jacket checks we cast off and slowly glided of our mooring – all knowing that it would be sometime before we could step off the boat again.

The friendly locals lined the harbour entrance walls to cheer and wave us goodbye with the atmosphere electric from noise generated by the crowds and live band. Once out we had around an hour to kill before it was go time!

Ten minute warning…. and it’s starting to get exciting. We hoist our final sail and set our eyes on the start line – aiming to cross it close to, but not before the starter gun. Some vessels are pushing hard for a strong starting position, and cover our eyes as two boats collide some 50 feet ahead of us. (Hopefully no long term damage!)

We’re off…. heading on a bearing of 150 degrees – big grins on all the crew as we cross the line first.

A very enjoyable first day where all of the crew remain on deck talking, and getting to know one another. It isn’t long before hints are made about dinner time and what is on offer?

James kindly steps up to plate and disappears below emerging sometime later with what can only be described as a culinary masterpiece given the circumstances. Huge portions of spaghetti bolognese were passed around – with empty bowls soon to be passed back. A sterling first meal to lead us into what for many is a first ever night sail!

Throughout the evening, watches changed over smoothly, with polite small talk and cups of tea being exchanged – relationships clearly stronger after a night of deep and meaningful, conversations. We decide to put in a gybe before daybreak so the other boats (namely Challenger 3) cannot see our change of direction!

It’s now 9am on Monday morning and yet again James & Tom have donned their chef whites and are preparing some porridge with a variety of toppings. Conscious I do not want to miss out – I am off! Challenger 2 out.

Steve T