Saturday 31st March
We have finally arrived and have just moored up in Southampton on berth 49 gate 4. This has been a great trip for all of us especially as we were able to sail for so much of the trip between the Azores and Falmouth.
Last night to celebrate we had a barbeque out on deck followed by some singing in the mess until midnight. At 8 am this morning we raised the anchor and set off across Poole Bay towards the Needles. Two of the crew have parents living near the Solent and they rang home to advise we were passing. When we went for lunch two of the messmen were in fancy dress, Dave in a tiger suite and Scotty in a toga, both of them have completed three cruises in succession being away from home for six and five weeks respectively so we can only suppose the that this has something to do with their odd clothing.
Thanks to Clive and Bev for the food its kept us all going!!!!!!!!
Can’t believe it’s all over. Spent the morning saying goodbye to all the mugs, ropes, oilies and my beloved harness – we’ve had a few rows, but we managed to untangle all our issues in the end. Will say goodbye to everyone else tomorrow, then back to the real world. Boo hoo hoo!
Just taken off my oilies for the last time yipeee! Have had a fantastic time, with some fantastic people on a fantastic ship! Thanks to everyone!
What a brilliant trip! Virtually no rain and good strong winds for over 800 miles. The long trip meant that we all had a chance to try lots of different jobs around the boat that you don’t get on the shorter voyages. But the cherry on the cake for me was the chance to helm us through the Needles and along the Solent. Great crew; fantastic time. Thanks everyone.
To the pub!
Well we’re back whoop whoop and it has a fantastic time! Well im not much of a writer me, but I was in fancy dress as Jesus today, for the last supper and yeah…Scotty out!
Thank you for a memorable voyage. I hope we keep in touch.
1400 miles, dolphin sighting, egg throwing, midnight watch, rolling deck, deck swabbing, galley slave serving, amazing time so many nautical miles later, it’s finally time to say goodbye to Stavros and all who sailed (and a little bit of motoring) upon her, its been fantastic, thank you.
Prepare the world for this season’s sensation – the Harness Dance! It’s been a super trip, thank you to all. To the teahouse!
Thursday 29th March
Somewhere in the English Channel. Cruise is not turning out quite as anticipated. Shocking lack of deckchairs on the sun deck, no matter how early we get up. Weather has been glorious though and the outrageous capering of the vessel seems to have abated so that we no longer have to wear bibs to drink our cocoa. In fact we appear to be adrift in a calm glassy pool festooned with glistening ripples and container ships.
Yesterday we departed the port of Falmouth; a manoeuvre made tolerably entertaining by the wearing of amusing yellow hats and the unexpected appearance of a tiger. The morning entertainment programme continued with a rather rigorous game involving getting all the ship’s rigging out, tangling it up and then sorting it out again. We are not sure who won, but an awful lot of sun shades a.k.a sails, were erected in the process, which seemed to make all hands very happy. Spent the rest of the day apparently going round in circles in a bit of sea between Falmouth and France.
Calm seas again today, yet our suggestion of a badminton court on the boat deck continues to go unanswered. To our surprise, afternoon tea was interrupted in the most shocking manner when the Captain decided to push an innocent ‘buoy’ overboard, before sitting back to observe our frantic attempts to retrieve him. Fortunately, the recovery was affected with only the loss of a good round of tea, which was most sadly cold by the time we could return to it.
Having skilfully avoided the Channel Islands and the perilous shores of the Continent, we are now steaming north towards the tropical idyll of Swanage Bay for a BBQ, where we hope that the ship’s bar might finally serve something other than variously coloured soups.
The Twins (Red Watch)
Tuesday 27 March
We are in Falmouth, yes that’s in good old UK.
Over the last 6 weeks I have sailed from the Caribbean via the Azores and the best weather I seen since leaving Antigua is here in Falmouth. And it’s only March!
Last night most of the crew went into town for a meal and a beer(s). The favourite appears to have been fish and chips. Everybody had a good time although Freddy can not remember dancing on the boat deck at 11pm.
Today we had a social climb of the masts, for most people it was the first time they had been to the very top of the mast. It’s a long way down but we didn’t have to do any work on the sails. It is exhilarating and at time terrifying especially the nearer the top you get as the steps get narrower. At one point you have to lean outward and climb over an overhang. It gives us a great feeling of achievement but after we finally get back down on the deck. Tomorrow morning, when we leave, we will need to go up again to prepare the sails.
The two rowing boats were launched this morning and several people attempted to make them go along; there was a general lack of coordination that caused great amusement from those not participating. The things people do to get their RYA Competent Crew Certificate.
We will be in port again tonight so I suppose we will have to go and help the local economy with the purchase of yet another beer each.
Allan – Blue watch
Sunday 25th March
I think it is safe to say that Sunday has been rather eventful. It started with the excitement of scrubbing of the decks during Happy Hour instead of the usual cleaning of the showers and heads. Needless to say this resulted in a small outbreak of obligatory water fights resulting amongst other things in a soaking of my last clean pair of socks!
The second bit of excitement came when it was announced that we were allowed to use the washing machine at last and red watch had the privilege of going first, so I don’t have to put up with soggy socks for too long.
After and during Happy Hour the Murder Mystery game came into full swing, with the Captain being murdered less than 5 minutes after morning meeting, closely followed by the First Mate. Further casualties quickly followed including my very own first kill, where I had to kill one of the Deckhands with a tube of mascara. I was feeling rather pleased with myself until after lunch when my murderer (‘cough’ Allan from Blue watch) decided it was the right moment to strike. Taking advantage of his job as mess man for the day, as I handed him two empty mugs I was swiftly batted round the head with a pair of headphones followed by ‘You’re not actually in the pantry, but you’re close enough.’ I took exception to this as I felt it did not count, so attempted to make my escape through the main mess door. Only to be forcefully picked-up by my would-be murderer and dragged towards the pantry. At this point the girls of Red watch leapt to my aid, rugby tackling him, whilst another locked the pantry door. I escaped though the portside mess door only to be attacked by another member of Blue watch (‘cough’Simon) and the whole thing started again. Eventually I did evade my death; however I have informed my Watch Leader that I will not be volunteering for mess duties again anytime soon so as to avoid the pantry until it is safe.
This continued all afternoon and whilst Red watch were on the bridge. The only interruptions were the murder of Pete the Navigator and the yell of indignation as Kim the Bosun was murdered with her own hairdryer by Bev the Assistant cook.
It being the twins birthday meant that at supper there where not one but two birthday Banoffee pies, which were demolished in a matter of minutes, by a ravenous crew made hungry by lust for murder.
By 8 o’clock Red watch were on the bridge again, and as the last rays of sun left the sky and the ship fell into a sleepy silence, the final noise to be heard was the howl of victorious laughter as the final victim of the evening was murdered with a dustpan and brush!
Jess from Red Watch
Saturday 24th April
Engines on at 7.15 this morning, a weather front that we have been trying hard to keep in front of finally reached us and after it passed the wind that has been blowing steadily from the South/south/east at about 25 to 35 knots dropped to nothing. At the same time a thick fog developed. Allegedly the girls in red watch did some work this morning to furl the sails but nobody saw them.
Yesterday evening we had a social evening to celebrate getting over half way. There was a boat race on the mess tables followed by singing. The twins led some rather naughty singing, one of the male members said he had to have a shower afterwards because the singing was saucy!
Most of the crew had to climb the mast again today to stow the sails. This entails standing on a bit of wire strung under the yard, swaying madly, laying over the yard and pulling the sail up on top and then tying a bit of string round it.
Johnny saw a little bird today.
Further investigations are continuing on the disappearance of the soap dispenser. We have been told that a murder mystery is about to start…
Hopefully we will make landfall on Tuesday, possibly Falmouth. All the talk on board is about which is the best pub!!!!!!!!!!!
Jo has just offered to open the on board shop. Also we need to get info on the murder mystery.
Allan – Blue watch
Today was my first turn as a “galley slave” a.k.a. messman (thankfully the captain doesn’t hold with terminology such as messperson). And what a mess the rest of the crew turned in! I’m only grateful we don’t have a full complement of voyage crew.
As one used to having a dishwasher for the last 20 years the endless flow of dirty pots came hard and I’ll return home a chastened man but, for the good of mankind (as in male kind), still making an issue of hand washing the few glasses that are not safe to go in the machine.
And rest assured shipmates of masculine persuasion, I’m not going overboard. I’ll hold fast to the principle of leaving them to dry themselves rather than spread bacteria with a tea towel. It’s an excuse that’s served me well so why change it!
Serving the crew and reclaiming the dishes whilst maintaining an upright position with the ship rolling hard and fast added an extra dimension to the exercise, but I’m pleased to say none of the customers were slathered in gravy or custard and none were knifed in the back by cutlery falling off a plate passing overhead. Knives in the back follow this evening as the murder mystery gets underway.
Several people commented on my apron. In the absence of a photo I’ll do my best to paint a picture in words but bearing in mind that as a bloke my palette is limited to the spectrum available in car brochures rather than shades of No.7 cosmetics. Suffice to say the closest I’ve observed on the road is a girlie version of the Nissan Micra Coupe. Add to that a flowery pattern in a deeper pink and there you have it. Thankfully I’m not a sensitive soul and didn’t take on that colour following some of the comments it provoked from my shipmates.
Alec - White Watch
P.S. There’s no truth in the rumour that I chose it from several on offer, including a traditional butcher’s apron, or that I’ve enquired about the possibility of purchasing it as a souvenir of this particular voyage.
Friday 23rd March
Went up the rigging yesterday as it was getting dark, a force 8 wind with a 20foot swell with the boat rolling all over the place.
Just before I started to climb I had a confidence knock, as I was making my way over to the shrouds, mid stride the boat lurched, I lost my balance and took a tumble (slightly embarrassing ) almost taking out another crew member. When I got back up on my feet I got a cheer from every one on deck and I took a bow, and then carried on to the shroud.
I went up with Harriette and Willy, I was absolutely terrified on the way up as I hadn’t done this in about a year, I calmed down when I was up there. I had a laugh when Harriette casually tied her hair up aloft whilst the ships is swinging all over the place. We made our way out on to the yard and started stowing the sail, as we finished Harriette and I were trying to decide which one of us was bleeding all over the sail. Turns out Harriette had a tiny little cut on her finger, I don’t know how so much blood can come from such a small cut, at least she left her mark on the sail. Oh I also forgot to mention we had Kim the Boson making sure we did every thing right and safely.
We all made it back to the deck in one piece when I realised my legs were like jelly and my heart was beating ten to the dozen.
Update on the soap dispenser incident:
A witness has come forward saying they saw an unknown female carrying the described soap dispenser from the scene of the crime. All possible leads are being followed and we hope that this criminal will be brought to justice before the voyage is over .
Simon K – Blue Watch
Adventure and hi-jinks on the high seas aboard the Stavros!
In between the ongoing investigation into the soap dispenser murder, meal time plate juggling, shower corner jamming, and watching the absurd spectacle of 5 or 6 grown men and women doing the harness and overall dance in low light on a rolling brig, we see other life and fellow travellers on the sea every now and then.
The arrival of a small pod whales of the port side on Tuesday was met with happy cries and frenzied rush into pockets for cameras, the whales were in a photogenic mood, breaking the surface with splashes and great leaps.
Whilst on Wednesday, we had dolphins on the bow for breakfast (not literally!) and a large pod of around 30 at lunch time, crashing through the surf at a faster rate than us, though we are moderately drier than them.
Its not just the passing aquatic life that lifts our spirits, to date the following have been met with cries and cheers; a floating bread board, a yellow bucket, a lonely paintbrush, a mysterious pack of floating biscuits, some fleeting satellites ,a random sea bird and a very lost pigeon.
We hope to expand our repertoire of sightings with more living creatures, and I’m sure you’re all on the edge of your seats in anticipation. (A loud jovial cry from the waist is heard, heralding the spectacle of another voyage crew being soaked with spray)
Till next time true believers.
Dave T – White Watch
Thursday 22nd March
On board Stavros today we have a major concern, there is a witch hunt for the guilty, persecution of the innocent and suspicion all round. Why you may ask, has the brig suddenly stopped or the mast fallen off – no, nothing so innocent. A far more dastardly thing has happened. The soap dispenser from the volunteer crew (the deck hands and watch leaders) heads/shower has disappeared. It’s not a type fixed to the wall like all the others but an old hand soap bottle refilled many times. I personally was accosted at lunch time by one of the deck hands to see if I was on the voyage crew detail that cleaned their shower. I was not (thankfully) and have a good alibi that I was helming at the time.
Later in the afternoon as the deckhands sat in the mess room having a cup of tea, two of them continued to complain bitterly that their favourite soap dispenser had disappeared. They had searched every where for it, but being plastic it was not allowed to be disposed of overboard otherwise the Atlantic Ocean Garbage Police would fine us. After the two left another deckhand quietly admitted she did not like it.
A full scale investigation is now under way, suspects so far are the voyage crew cleaning detail from white watch and the deck hand whose own admission makes her a prime suspect.
Other thing of interest – we are half way to the UK and we saw three ships on the horizon…also a new wall mounted soap dispenser has been installed in the volunteers wash-room.
Written by: A Blue watch member (who wanted to be anonymous for some reason but is from the Forest of Dean so we all know who that is …)
Wednesday 21st March
As a first trip on a Tall Ship, I discover it is very difficult to explain the experience to someone who hasn’t done it! How can an experience feel so completely natural and yet so completely unnatural at the same time??
A piece of canvas slung between two scaffolding poles has suddenly become incredibly attractive and desirable – never thought that would happen when I first saw it. (Though not as comfy as the ‘high spec’ cots on Challenger!). On the bridge at night, with a skyful of stars and the occasional flash of phosphorescence in the distance. The sheer absurdity of nine people standing in the near dark, fighting their way into oilies and harnesses – and being so polite as we crash into each other ….
A dolphin fin breaking the surface of the waves. The constant, endlessly changing mesmerising patterns of the bow wave. Helming on the bridge and suddenly hearing the strains of the Beach Boys (Good Vibrations) and The Spice Girls wafting in the air – completely surreal. A seriously lost pigeon taking refuge in the rigging. Cleaning 11 heads in a rolling ship to the sound of “Welcome to the house of fun” and “I will survive”. The best coffee in the world, hot –ish and sweet at 7am on a cold bridge as the sky lightens.
The weirdest shower I ever had in my life, bodyjammed into a corner of the shower, chasing the shampoo across the floor. Coming back along the passageway to the cabin and seeing one of my watchmates slide gracefully through the door and across the passageway on her backside. The way in which the simplest things can take so long. The meals – three options – take them, leave them or wear them. A change from ‘Hitchhiker’s guide to the galaxy’ where it’s always important to know where your towel is (and to eat peanuts). Here, it’s always important to know where your Stugeron is, to eat and drink plenty, and never to stand in the path of someone who is feeling a bit queasy, to avoid getting pebble-dashed.
Coming into the office to type this felt really strange too – I thought I had left technology behind me, so sitting here catching glimpses of the steel grey sea through the porthole combined with using MS Word feels like two worlds colliding. My typing sort of works, except when the ship takes a roll and all my fingers go down at once, creating a dajksoljdfsssssssssss effect like this (I’ve edited out all the others).
And finally: it could be important to point out that it was (allegedly) someone on White Watch who threw up on the bridge, and although Red Watch was getting some stick for having a high proportion of sickly Watch members (AND has all the girls on it), I’ll just point out here that at morning meeting today, Red Watch have sailed the most miles so far. By quite some margin. (Not that it’s competitive at all, obviously…except it is, as the other Watches are now looking for ways to handicap us)
If you’ve never sailed on a Tall Ship, do it! Love it, love it…
Lucy, Red Watch –
Tuesday 20th March
Killing time in Ponta Delgado
What with the Pilot’s work to rule, time hung heavy over the
weekend. Even England’s encouraging win over Ireland, despite promises from bar owner that the match would be available live, half the crew sat expectantly with glasses of lager in hand only to find the Palma/Napoli football match being shown, there could be no contest between shots of a smiling Silvio Berlusconi and a rugby match in Portugal in the Azores. The Irish tri-colour was flown on Stavros at half-mast, so proper respect was shown.
So Sunday afternoon was the opportunity to explore ashore and a gem was found: behind an amazing two tone baroque façade with glorious
swags and curves carved from the island’s volcanic rock was the Carlos Machelo Museum. Formerly the Jesuit’s College Church it is now a museum; apart from the sacred art paintings and sculptures, which were very moving, the highlight was the floor to ceiling wooden sculpture contained within the Mother-Chapel. The 40 foot piece is in three dimensions encrusted with cherubs, double headed eagles and all sorts of figures and designs. The
uppermost ones are gilded giving a magnificent effect. Either side of the sculpture the walls are glazed with larger than life blue and white tiled scriptural
So another time I’m in Ponta Delgada, I’ll find the time to revisit this surprise.
Giles- White Watch
Monday 19h March
We were up early this morning ready to leave Ponta Delgadain the Azores at 9 am. Its now 10.35 and we are still waiting for the pilot to arrive, a cruise ship and five cargo boats have all moored up as we wait. Originally we intended to leave yesterday but the pilot and port officials decided to ‘work to rule’ and this meant they didn’t work at the weekend. On Friday evening every commercial vessel left port leaving only us tied alongside.
Of course we have not been idle, training has taken much of the time. All the voyage crew climbed up one side of the mast, went over the platform and back down the other side. Great we all thought, then off we went again to work out on the yard practising how to prepare the sail for use and how to tie it back up. There were also a few trips ashore to stock up on essential supplies such as chocolate and to check out the friendly local bars in the evenings.
Finally at 1.30 pm the pilot had finished his lunch and came on board so we could leave port. Now we are sailing, doing about 6 knots, along the south side of the Island of San Miguel. Almost immediately after leaving port dolphins appeared around our bow and swam with us for a time.
We are slowly turning North for the run home with about 1200 nm to go. Currently we have 5 square sails and 2 fore sails set. The weather over the last few days has been sunny and warm but with no wind, yesterday afternoon the wind started blowing from the Southeast which is exactly what we need for the homeward voyage. It’s still sunny and warm during the day but gets cold at night. Everybody is glad to be at sea and on our way…
Allan – Blue watch