Day 19/20 – 16th / 17th March 2013
Early “wakey shakey”. Last day. Anyone for a sail?
We left Horta at around 10am bound for Ponta Delgarda (PDG) on the island of San Miguel where the first leg of the Atlantic crossing was due to finish. Having had 2 days to recover on Horta it was hard to get motivated again there was no doubt.
However, with the thought of only another 165 miles to go to PDG, which the weather report suggested would be F4/5 NE, and therefore take approximately 24 hrs we donned our by now thankfully dry Foulies and boots. It wasn’t long before these were appreciated, as we went through a series of sail changes, as the wind decided to play games with us. Reefs came out, headsails were changed, reefs were put in, the engine was put on, the engine went off, and the headsails went up. By 1800 we were sailing again accompanied by numerous dolphins and the pleasures of sailing at night with a new moon and stars was a delight once again.
It was noticeably colder, though thankfully not wet. The phosphorous in the water glowed bright green as the waves slapped the boat. Thankfully the stormy weather of the previous days was no longer evident and we raced towards our final destination at 7-8 knots. During the night we passed the Trust’s 200ft Tall Ship, Stavros S Niarchos port to port, about 5 miles apart and had a little catch up on the VHF. They were off to Horta where we had just come from.
By the morning light the wind had deserted us once again as San Miguel came into view. A strange outline of extinct volcano vents appeared in the side of the island amid the green terraces. The Ancient Greeks believed that the rich kingdom of Atlantis lay to the west of the Mediterranean and that it was once a great island that exploded. Perhaps the Azores archipelago really is the remains of the long lost kingdom of Atlantis?
And so at 1000 we arrived at PDG marina, where we moored up and put the boat to bed. In all we have travelled 2493NM, spent 20 days at sea (14 of them continuous), experienced a storm with winds gusting over 50 knots true, hauled sails up and down the deck, had lifejackets self-inflate being totally immersed in waves on the foredeck, seen whales and countless dolphins, studied the night sky with moon and stars so bright you can understand why the ancients navigated by them, told stories on our night watches that we will never forget (nor understand), sung Abba duets without knowing the words, and laughed til we cried. What more could you want from a Transatlantic crossing????
Our thanks to Paul Wise our skipper and Beth Terrell our 1st Mate who safely navigated us here without whose constant vigilance we might still be sailing the high seas!!!!
The Crew of Challenger 2, Antigua to Azores March 2013
Day 18 – 15th March 2013
Funny how after a good night’s rest everything seems so much simpler and easier. Our first meal eaten in a restaurant where the food did not come served in a blue dog bowl and the table did not move at a ridiculous angle made our first night ashore a real pleasure. The Challenger 2 crew certainly left their mark in a well known local hostelry. However, many were to pay for it the next day, when the Skipper gave us all a rousing “right you lot – 9am time to get up there’s work to be done”. Bleary eyed, fuzzy headed and somewhat confused (why is the boat moving? It’s your head silly!!! Oh yeah that was a good night).
Gradually we all got working on various tasks not least getting the old main off and the replacement main on, emptying the sail locker and repacking it and preparing the boat for an afternoon departure. Before that we had to say goodbye to one of our crew “Super Mario” who unfortunately injured his shoulder earlier on the crossing and had been advised by the local hospital not to continue. Tears all round. How would we survive not having to look for his tobacco, or dodge the M&Ms, or listen to his awful jokes!!!! Sadly sailing can still be a “dangerous” sport. So Mario was off to the airport and we carried on with prepping the boat.
Just when we thought we were done and ready Skipper got an updated weather report and decided that the weather would be much more favourable if we delayed our departure to the following morning. Cheers all round. Time to explore Horta and another full night’s sleep and the possibility of a meal and a few drinks ashore. Mindful of the early start the following morning most of us had a quick drink and a pizza and turned in early.
Off to PDG we go……………..
Day 17 – 14th March 2013
The morning after the night before and the crew were kindly allowed a lie in until 9am, bliss! A breakfast of Coco Pops ensued with a bribe of bacon and eggs once the boat had been cleaned and did not so closely resemble a teenager’s bedroom.
The boat was scrubbed and disinfected, before the crew went off to enjoy a much needed hot shower. Reports filtered back that some crew members had been adopting the now commonplace “brace position” in the shower and were also unable to work out why their toilet paper had not been pre-dampened for them.
The laundry lady at the marina obviously began to regret her decision to not call in sick, as she was swarmed with bags of damp, dirty clothing. Scotty picked the short straw and had to leave his laundry overnight, leading to him being forced to wear “pity clothing” from various crew members. After a few hours of exploring Horta we all headed out for a crew meal at a local restaurant where we cooked food on hot stones. It was a really nice meal and great way to celebrate getting safely to dry land.
Everyone then headed to the infamous Peters Bar, where a few non-alcoholic chilled drinks were consumed, relationships built with the locals, and unintelligible Portuguese songs were sung. Having read in a guidebook that Peters Bar is a hang-out for secret agents, Ceri and Danielle posed as “haberdasheries on tour” in order to conceal our true identities as Peruvian agents. Crew members eventually filed back to the boat, some of whom must have thought they were still on the watch system judged by the time they arrived back on board.
By Danielle and Ceri. Haberdasheries.
Day 16 – 13th March 2013
Today we awoke with land in sight. Paul the skipper was on the foredeck dishing out scoops of ice cream, and as we neared Horta, we were overjoyed to see all the places we’d been fantasising about for the last two weeks – Starbucks, Primark, a karaoke bar, and a chips-and-curry-sauce shop.
Then I woke up and reality struck. Instead of heading to the Death Star, we had inadvertently sailed at warp speed 5 straight into a gale with 50 knot winds. We had a character building few watches, complete with massive waves and sidewards rain, which was described by first mate Beth as being like “pixies with ice daggers”. Attempts were made to stave off the worst of the pain by wearing a scuba mask at the helm. As fetching as this looked, it worked out to be quite impractical.
At lunchtime a brave few crew members attempted to prepare some lunch. This soon led to the infamous “tomato soup tsunami” which was still being mopped up 24 hours later as well as being found in surprising places (ceilings, cabins, wet locker, behind the paperwork on the wall, Bob).
The weather continued to be appalling all day, and at one point life-jackets were going off in the cockpit as there was so much water coming over the side. We eventually crawled into Horta with a ripped mainsail at 10:30pm and were rewarded for our efforts with curry ramen noodles and cups of tea. 9p packet noodles have never tasted so good. Most of the crew managed the five metre walk to their bunks, except for Ceri, who managed to collapse and sleep in the saloon.
By Danielle and Ceri
Day 15 – 12th March 2013
As day 12 broke, we were still motoring at warp factor 5 towards Horta. The report of approaching gales, was still fresh in our minds and we were willing the boat to go faster and faster. Those of us that are seasoned sailors, wanted to be safely tucked up in Horta by the time the gale was to hit us, but the young lads wanted wind and more wind. Oh how they were going to regret their wishes. Somebody on board must been whistling to bring us bad luck, or we hadn’t appeased Super Puffin enough, because as the day progressed, the wind increased and so did the waves.
Unfortunately for us, the low pressure system had shifted slightly south and we were now starting to feel its effect. By late afternoon, we had the Yankee 3 up and 3 reefs in the main and we were beating towards Horta. Moving about the boat was like being in a washing machine, and everyday tasks were now becoming harder and harder to perform. It was hard to accept, that we were going to have to face these conditions all the way into Horta, which by now was so near and yet so far. The crew were now wet through with rain and spray and most people had hardly any dry clothes left.
Due to the boats movement, people were finding it hard to sleep and so were getting very tired and this combined with being permanently wet and cold, made the watches hard to endure. However, nobody complained and everybody took their turns on watch. We hope tomorrow brings a change in the weather, but somehow I don’t think so. It looks like we are going to get a kicking, all the way to Horta.
Day 14 – 11th March 2013
The last 24hrs have been testing times indeed.
The day began well with a few hours of sunshine to complete some well needed (in some cases) washing and drying of clothes. The highlight of this exercise being when said washing was mistaken for a hand towel by another member of crew and then dropped in the food waste bucket.
Things went rapidly downhill from here when the pirate radio station we had set up was busted by ‘the feds’ and the tree-house we built on a desert island was blown away by a tropical storm. Last seen heading towardsKansas.
Sightings from the boat in the last day included a bird and a lone drifting lobster pot. Surely both signs of a nuclear apocalypse on land???
From here the winds died, the heavens opened and the fog closed in. Sails were dropped and warp speed 5 towards the Death Star ensued.
The mood was lifted somewhat when another episode of ‘bath time for the kids’ was authorised by the Skipper. Though a chemical sheep-dip would have been more appropriate for some.
Danielle slaved selflessly in the galley for 3 hours cooking corned beef hash for the crew, complete with baked (not fried!!!) eggs on top. Paired with Oliver’s freshly baked bread it was declared ‘meal of the voyage’ by the Skipper. Danielle was devastated to find out that the RYA do not issue certificates for such accolades.
Night watch delirium for Starboard Watch is going from strength to strength. Debates including, but not limited to, who would win in a fight between Han Solo and Indiana Jones? How long do dogs live? The life and times of Dale Winton. And why are fun sized M&M’s smaller than regular M&M’s? All this was a distraction from the mile marker dropping below 300 miles and a possible only 24hrs left until we reach dry land. Hooray!!
That’s all for now folks, until next time.
Danielle and her merry band of men, and Ceri!
P.S. A belated Happy Mother’s day to my lovely mum Elizabeth. Also to Fran on her first few weeks as a Mum. Happy Birthday to Dad and Emma for last week. Love to you all xxx
Day 13 – 10th March 2013
The Crew of Challenger 2 would like to wish all our Mothers Happy Mother’s Day! We hope you all have a wonderful day, even if we’re not there to bring you flowers and breakfast in bed!
Port watch got collared with a downpour the previous afternoon, with 4 hours of torrential rain; needless to say the sun immediately came out when starboard watch came on! We were still drying off throughout the next day, as the rigging was put to good use in the light airs to hang out the clothes.
Challenger 2 is such a well built yacht, weighing in at 57 tons, she easily converts 50 % of the wind speed to speed though the water, so a solid force 5 sees us creaming along at 10 knots, pretty much hull speed and only bettered, when surfing down the waves. Of course there is great rivalry on board with the cry resonating across the boat “11.2” knots, only to be followed with a chorus of “not on course “so it doesn’t count. Paul the skipper is eagle eyed and relentless at insisting on a constant course, admonishing those who go off piste, if only momentarily leaving them in no doubt as to what he thinks.
The first landfall is now in sight, with the port of Horta on Faial due in two days, with the precise arrival time subject to a sweepstake amongst the crew. As we near the end of a memorable first Atlantic crossing for 11 of the 13 crew, we start to reflect on the highs and lows. Right at the top is the sighting of the Minke whale spectacularly leaping clear out of the water five times as it swam across our bow, we think making amorous advances to Challenger 2! The epic battle with a 10k Dorado fish, which escaped at the last gasp , the happy cavorting of dolphins, as they playfully dived under the bow wave , the slow but purposefully swimming by of turtles and a few seabirds inspecting us over a 1000 miles from land . Most of the challenges have been coping with the relentless watch system 4 hours on 4 hours off- 24/7. Red watch have composed a boat song about all the crew (available on cd for 10 east Caribbean dollars) and spent many an hour telling group stories. Above all, it has been a great delight getting to know the diverse crew members and finding out about their many hidden talents. It is always amazing on these trips how complete strangers can live and mix in a confined space 24/7 mostly in harmony, but above all, support each other through what is thrown at them. After exciting sailing, the run into Horta seems more routine, as we motorsail in light airs, as a high pressure system asserts itself. We wait patiently to close on the Azores, only for our dreams to be interrupted with the skippers’ cry of “all hands on deck”
Bob Footer - Watch leader port watch
Day 12 – 09th March 2013
“We’ll be motoring until 8am tomorrow morning”… Famous last word from Skipper Paul.
“Who turned on the wave machine?” was the question heard numerous times on deck yesterday, especially from those in the crew who had mistakenly signed up thinking this was a luxurious Caribbean cruise and are still awaiting the arrival of the 5pm drinks trolley. Our weather forecast must have come from the Michael Fish School of meteorology, as we received a rather fresh 40 knots of wind instead of the 20 that we were promised. Arm bands and rubber inflatables were duly distributed as we sat out an extremely wet and windy 12 hours. The real casualty of the bad weather was the cancelling of Starboard Watch’s ‘Show and Tell’ session, to be rearranged for a later date.
Our collective anger at the weather, was somewhat abated by the arrival of breakfast pancakes, albeit ones made with bread flour. Doughy goodness indeed.
In other news, cabin fever continued to be on the up, with more reported instances of nasal hallucinations ,which now include phantom ‘smellings’ of bacon, peanut butter and soy sauce. However, in more positive news the source of the wind chime noise in the heads (toilets for you non-sailing folk) has been identified, proving (some of) the concerns over Ceri’s mental health state to be unfounded.
The evening Dog Watch for Starboard Watch revealed a large rainbow which ended (or started?) meters from Challenger 2. As there was no pot of gold or leprechauns at the end of the rainbow and the crew’s childhood dreams were dashed, Danielle broke down in a tsunami of tears, unable to cope with this fresh blow to all she believed in. Speaking of the end of a rainbow, there are concerns at reports that we may be nearing the end of our supply of Rainbow Chocolate Chip Cookies. Fears in particular are held as to how Skipper Paul will cope when he learns that we are down to only Fig Rolls and Ginger Nuts.
Starboard Watch over and out.
Words by Ceri, edited by Danielle
P.S. Ceri would now like to change the delivery address on her Dominoes order from Antigua to the Azores. And she isn’t tipping!!
Day 11 – 08th March 2013
Right so its time for me to write a blog. So yesterday we were on the 4-8 watch and it was raining when we got up there it was gusting 30 knots and we were all cold, but that did not bring us down and we started story time and this time Lancelot the polar bear went on the hunt for his skate board and all sorts of strange things happened. Then me and Rodger came down and made pancakes which was good fun rocking back and forward thinking we would get told off for using the eggs, but all was good and the other watch got up and had their pancakes (O yeah and just beforehand me and the rest of the crew sang a pirates life for me all the way to age 21) and all the crew heard us when they were sleeping hehehe.
So, just getting ready to cook pancakes for my crew when skipper calls all hands on deck to drop the Yankee 2 and me and Rodger at first thought we would get in the way but then just ran up there. I was wearing a t-shirt and me water proof bottoms. Skipper told me I would get wet, but I did not mind (at the time) so we ran up the front and some one shouted get angry with it, so I did and we got covered in water, but it was the best moment of the trip in my eyes. So then we had pancakes shower and bed. When we went back on watch at 12 it was still raining and we had to get the stay sail down wasn’t as fun as there was no wind but still fun.
Then I got given the helm after the first hour of watch and I started speaking like a pirate and this continued till the end of the watch and no one else wanted to helm but me and Rodger so we took it in turns on the helm speaking like a pirate got pretty weird but so much fun. I now only have my thermals that are dry borrowing Joe’s water proofs but loving it. Scotty out…
Day 10 – 07th March 2013
Today was a double whammy celebration with not only our half-way point to mark, but also less than a thousand miles to our destination. Having announced this seminal moment during our noon meeting, Skipper Paul declared the party started and 1st Mate Beth handed out celebratory cans of cold pop to a very happy crew. One can only speculate what other delights she has hiding in her cabin. The joviality continued with a game of deck cricket using a broom handle and rotten potatoes, the resourceful people that we are. And like the gift that keeps on giving, Paul also authorised a full crew shower, on an individual basis of course.
It was panic stations at midnight when the hob ceased working. Luckily this was merely due to the gas bottle needing to be changed and nothing more serious. We may have sacrificed two weeks without our loved ones, but our cups of tea will not be compromised.
Unfortunately, during the afternoon the wind died and our headsails had to be dropped and the engine switched on. This meant a rather sedate set of night watches and the delirium soon set in. Luckily on Starboard watch, we have the extraordinary Ceri who can recount every major storyline from ‘Neighbours’, 1993 to present day, to keep us entertained. As Watchleader I feel it my duty to keep my watch alert and have duly ordered a nightly ‘show and tell’ session from each crew member, sailing related naturally.
With the end of the voyage in sight a sweepstake has been organised amongst the crew with each person placing their bets on when we will arrive. These range from various times between the early hours of 12th March to late evening on 15th. Coincidently, those with more optimistic estimations are hoping to be well settled in Ponta Del Garda in time for a certain rugby match on 16th. Fingers crossed…
Danielle – Starboard Watchleader
P.S. If anyone would care to give Dominoes a call regarding Ceri’s Mexican stuffed crust, it would be much appreciated.
Day 9 – 06th March 2013
Today there was a nice north-easterly wind of around force 4, and the Challenger was sailing along wonderfully, at a steady 8 or 9 knots making her a lot of fun to helm. Although the wind was nice the waves were quite large and sometimes those of us on deck found ourselves getting a good soaking as a couple of waves came over the deck.
We reefed the mainsail a couple of times, to keep on top of the variable wind. It was hard work, but also a lot of fun, and stopped us getting too bored on watch.
We passed the 1000 mile mark as well, which is almost halfway! This was an important milestone for the crew, making us realise just how much distance we had covered in under a week, but also reminding us just how far away we are from the rest of the world, and of the unique experience that we are getting on this trip.
While we were on watch during the evening we were surprised to find, floating in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, a football, and we were quite tempted to pick it up. Disappointingly though, as we neared it we realised it was actually a Fishermans bouy, so we were deprived of ball games on deck.
Roger the Cabin Boy (a.k.a Richard Jones)
Day 8 – 05th March 2013
Today we awoke to the news that yet another fish had escaped from our fishing line. Our inability to land a single fish in the entireAtlanticcontinues to be a source of amusement. Our pizza delivery still hasn’t turned up and I’m starting to wonder what state my Mexican stuffed crust will be in by the time it arrives.
Today we have been joined for about an hour by a whale which was circling the boat, no doubt checking our halyard tension. After checking us out, it then decided it was time to leave us and so with a breech as its final flourish it was gone. Shortly after this, we were joined by another whale, but this time it merely swam along beside the boat and then was gone.
After lunch the wind increased somewhat and so a reef was put into the main. It is fun doing these tasks, as it helps keep us active and burns off some of the calories we are consuming. With the increase in the wind, waves started crashing over the deck, which is a source of amusement for the crew. One of these waves went straight over Joe who was sleeping in the Snakepit and in a startled surprise he jump up and immediately blamed the incident on poor Scotty.
Finally, open season has been declared on the sweet locker, leading to a number of crew members (well mostly Joe) walking around with a sugar induced gleam in their eyes.
Spirits are high, our tans are improving and discussion frequently turns to what we’re looking forward to in Horta. TheAzoreshave a lot to live up to!
Ceri (and Joe, holding a torch)
P.S. ‘Hello’ to my lovely boyfriend Sam.
Day 7 – 04th March 2013
Today started squally with a refreshing shower of rain and an increase in the wind, and the crew learnt how to pole out the no. 2 Yankee. Practising with the sextant, I got a forenoon, noon and afternoon sight of the sun, which was more of a challenge today with an increase in the sea state and a bit more cloud around, occasionally obscuring the sun completely!
As evening came, we were hit by a squall and the wind decided to do a few pirouettes around the boat and finally settled in a new direction, WSW. This meant we needed to remove the pole, re-rig the Yankee sheet and finally gybe both Yankee and Main in what was now complete darkness. With the help of the deck floodlight and the aid of both watches we completed the task and starboard watch could retire below deck for their 4 hours well-earned sleep, while port watch remained on deck steering through an incredibly black night. We didn’t even have any stars to keep us company. Sometime around midnight the moon rose and, although we couldn’t see it through the cloud cover, it cast enough light to see the horizon, making life a lot easier for the helm. We did get some phosphorescence around the yacht and now we’re waiting to see what tomorrow will bring…
Beth Terrell (First Mate)
Day 6 – 03rd March 2013
Today was another beautiful day in the middle of the Atlantic with multiple distractions to break up our time watching waves go by.
We as a crew would like to congratulate Richard for reaching the healthy age of 50. Thanks Richard for the extra puddings and birthday cake!!!
As if the sea knew it was Richards’s birthday it sent a Minky whale to put on a show for us.
The last few days have been a bit still, but today Mother Nature waved her wand and sent us some wind, which was well received among the crew, because it gave them some extra learning experience in sail handling.
Around midday, the wind started to pick up a tad more and it was the skipper’s decision to put a reef in our mainsail, which the crew learned a lot from- mainly about putting some waterproofs on before venturing to the foredeck.
The crew are now settling in to the 4 hour watch system and becoming used to waking up at ridiculous times of the day and night. Although everyone is tired we have not yet lost our sense of humour with multiple sea shanties being written about each member of crew. We have found ourselves singing away at our hearts content with our favourite childhood TV programmes being a popular topic.
P.S. Dear Jacqui (Joe’s Mum), you have produced an incredibly talented sailor and overall top lad, yours sincerely, Danielle (Joe’s Watch leader)
Day 5 – 02nd March 2013
Another cloudless day dawned promising more heat and beautiful sailing conditions. Unfortunately the wind died, so the best part of the day was spent motoring. You can’t do much sailing when there’s no wind!!! It gets a bit hot and sticky down below so showers were approved. A “sailor’s shower” is a rather brief affair – water all over, soap up and wash off. But boy do you feel good afterwards.
Everyone is taking their turn in the galley – Danielle baked our first chocolate brownies, which despite the heat were really well received. They always are aren’t they? We have a good diet on board – fresh fruit, cereals, and sandwiches at lunchtime and some sort of meat based evening meal such as chicken curry or stir fry.
Watch Leader Bob brought his fishing line and amid much teasing cast out from the stern of the boat promising us “fresh fish for dinner” if we were lucky. For hours we trailed his line behind us. Just as I was beginning to think it was a pretty pointless affair the cry went up from the stern – “Bob, Bob there’s something on the line”. Well I’ve never seen Bob dance so fast across the deck. He fairly fox trotted to the stern with his face all lit up. He grabbed the rod and all eyes were on him. For 25 minutes he reeled the fish in. “It’s a Dorado” shouted someone as a yellowy blue head broke the surface. “It’s got to be at least 2 feet” Bob yelled excitedly back to us. Yeah yeah!!! By now nearly everyone was on deck for “The Battle for the Big One”. Bob was sweating some what, but his little face was a picture. He was really going to land a big fish for tea – incredible. Young Oliver was told to get the winch handle “what for?” he said. “To dispatch it of course” came the reply. Marcus grabbed the boat hook ready to pull it up, but oh it wasn’t making life easy for Bob. The fish broke the surface again showing its beautiful colours and everyone was getting very excited. It was no more than 6 feet from the boat. Once again it rose up and this time flipped itself round. Was this to be the moment that Marcus would be able to hook it? A gasp went up!!! In its writhing turn which Tom Daley would be proud of it, flipped itself around and suddenly the tension on the line went and that was it – it was gone. Poor Bob. 25 minutes and all that hard work for nothing. Well at least we didn’t have some slimy shinny thing writhing away on the deck being pursued by Oli with a winch handle. Now that would have been a sight to see!!!!
It’s not often you can claim to have caught a fish in the middle of the Atlantic and although we all teased Bob mercilessly about his fishing skills, I think we can allow him that one don’t you?
And so another day drew to a close. As the sun, glowing golden red in colour disappeared over the horizon and the stars came out. The moon would not rise for another couple of hours, so in the meantime, we all gazed upwards marvelling at the stars and their brightness – completely unaffected by light pollution. And when the moon rose a surprising golden colour it was like someone switching on an energy saving light bulb – a gentle glow to start with until so bright you could almost read a book by it. The watch system sent some to bed and some back on deck for another night of “champagne sailing” and Bob – well he was dreaming of even bigger fish to come!!!
Day 4 – 01st March 2013
The day started with a glorious sun rise and a good breeze which lasted until about 1pm when the skipper decided to switch on the engine. We motor sailed on the course 040 deg heading north to try to catch the bottom of a depression that we hoped was filling in and blow us across the Atlantic to the Azores.
The watch system was working well – with no one late to take over their watch duties. The port watch came on at 4pm for a “dog watch”, which allows the timings to change between the two watches. They were the lucky ones that were on deck to see a whale breach a few hundred yards astern of the boat. Wow what a sight.
Marcus cooked up a super curry for the evening meal and this was followed by an excellent apple crumble for desert, ably made by Rob and crew. We then had a fabulous sunset, as the sun dipped into the sea in a reddish orangy golden glow – just magical. I love watching the stars. Out at sea there is no light pollution (in fact very little pollution at all). There is an excellent free app called Skyview, which shows the star names and constellations etc when you point your ipad / iphone at the sky. So we spent the night exploring the amazing light show that the sky puts on each night as there was hardly any cloud cover.
The starboard watch took over at midnight and whistled up a wind – Up went the Staysail / Yankee combination, which works so well on the Challenger yachts. Off we went with a force 2 to 3 beam reach, often touching 8 knots. I was amazed at how quickly the boat can accelerate if the wind increases, considering she weighs 57 tonnes (laidened with four full fuel tanks and four full water tanks, sails and ropes and 13 crew who’s not combined weight I am not sure of).
All in all a great day at sea was had by the crew of the good ship Challenger 2.
Day 3 – 28th February 2013
Thursday our final day in Antigua and it involved completing the prepping of the boat, ready for its trans-Atlantic voyage. We were given a final briefing by Paul (our Skipper) and Beth (our 1st Mate). We re-fuelled the boat at Jolly Harbour and then set off late afternoon, with a chorus of ships horns ringing in our ears to wish us good luck. We set off with a F3 wind and hoisted both the main sail and Yankee two sail. As we motored clear of the channel into Jolly Harbour, we saw a turtle swimming near the surface. Let’s hope it is a sign of things to come, with regards to the wildlife we see.
Once we were clear of Jolly Harbour and Antigua just before dark, Paul took the crew through a mock MOB drill, where we were shown exactly what to do in the event of a MOB, the Yankee two sail was re-hoisted and we set off at 010 degrees.
The Genny was rigged and hoisted around 19:00 course still 010 Degrees, and later removed at 22:00.
The first Watch began at 20:00 and it is a four hour on four hour off based cycle with two 2hr “dog” watches starting in the late afternoon. During the night the wind varied between F3-F4. We changed course to 030 Degrees in order to head north east towards the depression area and hopefully better wind. We remained on this course for the rest of the night. So far so good. Let’s hope the rest of the trip is the same.
Day 2 – 27th February 2013
Day 2 was boat prep day. It started off with a detailed and very helpful safety briefing by the first mate Beth and Marcus. We also had an opportunity to get a detailed look over Challenger 2. She is a very impressive boat – her stats are awesome – with a steel hull, she weighs in at 57 tonnes – the keel at 15 tonnes is heavy than most modern boats of the same size. I felt very confident that she could handle anything that the Atlantic could throw at us.
Paul the skipper explained what he wanted from the crew – while being flexible about the small things – he emphasised the key safety issues – so we knew where we stood.
And after a super lunch of brie, baguettes, and cold meats (thank you Bob for remembering the cheeses), we were given the afternoon off to enjoy the beautiful beaches near Jolly harbour. The harbour is aptly named as we had a great time on the evening – a few local beverages and good food at the local steakhouse.
Day 1 – 26th February 2013
The remaining crew joined the boat, after a slightly delayed flight from Gatwick, at Falmouth Harbour. After a initial safety briefing we left our mooring in the harbour at around 6pm and watched the sun set over Antigua, as we motored round to Jolly Harbour for an along side mooring in the marina.
A great first meal of spaghetti Bolognese prepared by Joe ‘jessepi’ our on board Italian was eaten as we motored through the early evening arriving at Jolly Harbour around 8pm. After sorting out bunks the majority of the crew retired to the ‘Crows Nest’ to socialise. Then it was back to the boat for an early night, in preparation of a hard days work tomorrow.