Tall Ships Adventures are pleased to announce that we now automatically include travel insurance within your booking costs.

We have arranged this specialist travel insurance for all crew members taking part on all Voyages aboard any vessel owned or managed by Tall Ships Ltd.

Full Policy terms and conditions can be found on our website www.tallships.org

This can be downloaded or if required please contact us and we will send you a full copy in the post.

Please read through this documentation carefully to ensure it meets with your requirements.

A brief Summary of this cover is set out below.

Main Sections of Cover:

Cancellation or CurtailmentUp to £5,000

Replacement & Re-joining Expenses Up to £3,000

Medical, Repatriation and Additional Expenses Up to £1,000,000

Personal Baggage & Money Up to £1,500

Personal Accident £25,000

Journey Continuation Up to £500

Travel Delay Up to £500

Hospital Benefit £50 per day up to a maximum £2,500

Personal Liability Up to £2,000,000 (excluding whilst involved in sailing activities)

Legal Expenses Up to £25,000

Delayed Baggage Up to £250

Political and Natural Disaster Evacuation Expenses Up to £15,000

An Excess of £50 applies to some Sections - see Policy for details.

General Exclusions that apply to all Sections

It is important to be aware that Trips booked or commenced contrary to Medical Advice, contrary to health and safety regulations of airlines, to obtain medical treatment or after a terminal prognosis has been made are excluded.

This insurance also excludes certain types of claim arising from any of the following conditions in respect of an insured person

    (a) who is waiting for an operation or post operative check-up, any investigation or results, or any other hospital treatment or consultation (other than regular hospital check-ups for a stable condition where the medication and dosage has not changed in the last 12 months.)

    (b) who has received treatment for any of the following during the 24 months prior to date of booking a trip:

a stroke, any form of cancer; leukaemia or tumour; a transplant; any heart problem; hypertension; dialysis; diabetes (not including diabetes II); any blood disorder; any breathing or respiratory problem (not including asthma, unless requiring inpatient treatment); any psychiatric illness or dementia; any gastro intestinal condition e.g. colitis, stomach ulcer; any neurological system related condition

    (c) who has been seen by a specialist in the last three months (other than regular hospital check-ups for a stable condition where the medication and dosage remains unchanged).

You are advised to read the full policy terms and conditions (www.tallships.org or on request) which set out the full details of all exclusions and limitations

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CF324 ARC – Canaries to St Lucia – Challenger 4

Monday, November 24th, 2014 - 3 Comments »

Day 5

We are having wonderful conditions on sea and wind and are progressing adequately. Yacht behaves quite well and is running amazingly. We are heading directly to St. Lucia. We have gone 774 nm since Monday, what makes an average of around 190 nm per day.

Conditions on board are great. We are divided in 3 watches, with 3 hours on duty and 6 on leave, what make the routine affordable. Small room does not matter, as everybody try to make it easy for the others. Crew is great, and everybody is keen to help the others with any work.

Showers are every 3 days (if everything still running smoothly) and today I’ll have my first, deserved (by me and mates) and desired one.

Sailing by night in the Atlantic looks to me the most remarkable experience of the crossing, with the loneliness feeling that you have not seeing a light around, just the stars over you. That makes you feel so privileged and keen on what we are do.

Days are warm and nights are cooler, but as much southward are we getting, hot is coming more.

To Miriam and my family and friends, I am feeling really great, enjoying a life experience, and being quite happy on board. Wait for your e mails (to be sent to Tall Ships). GE

All the best!



Day 4 / Day 1 at Sea - Great expectations and some challenges with sea sickness.

The Skipper Mike/Monkey and First Mate Mike skilfully got our yacht into the colourful and noisy parade of sail of racing yachts at 9.15 am. The atmosphere was hilarious as this was the start of a major voyage for many – a trip of a lifetime! All of the crew were feeling well but some were in trepidation of sea sickness when we reached the ocean.

The race started at 10.30 with moderate wind (force4-6) and dry weather. The wind increased somewhat with quite choppy seas around midday. We were making speeds of 15kts down the waves.

A 3 hour watch system was established starting at 15.00 hours. An interesting days sailing was had with the crew getting the opportunity to practice their sailing skills – most got some experience on the helm.

The winds dropped during the evening and night as we went through the winds holes off the canaries. Some of the crew were challenged by sea sickness due to the swaying of the boat!

We are making slow speeds this morning as the winds are very light but all the crew are doing and getting into the running of the ship.



Day 3

A blustery day in Las Palmas, 30 knot winds making leaving the Marina too dangerous. A lot of disappointed crew members as the start has been delayed until tomorrow morning and not sure what we should do for the rest of the day. Perhaps another afternoon sitting outside the sailors bar keeping ourselves hydrated!

The day yesterday was spent by some of us recovering from some fairly intense hangovers, mostly through the hard work of unpacking, washing and storing our mass of fruit and veg for the trip, cleaning the yacht from the stern to bow and setting up for the race start. Big shout out to Dave and Tim “the tool man” for the inventive hanging fruit storage nets.

We capped the day off with an amazing tapas meal organised by Carlos at a local restaurant La Herreno in the old town. We feasted on everything from cheeses, patatas, pork and even managed to taste an amazing goat dish.

Need to make a shout out to Jade Blake at Physio4life who has helped me immensely over the last few weeks with the ligament I damaged in my left wrist, it has held up amazingly to date with little to no pain. Recommend her if you are ever in need.

Hopefully when you come back to read this tomorrow, we will be on our way to St Lucia with some good fish being dragged behind the yacht!

Travis (aka Tdawg)


Day 2

Last night was definitely a time to try out the super earplugs we brought with us – No names but a certain person on a “low level” bunk is now on “snoring watch”. Otherwise another busy day yesterday, cleaning the boat and disinfecting every last surface. There was a steady flow of crew members to the ARC shop to purchase branded shirts. At least we will be able to prove to the folks back home that we have “done that and got the tee shirt”. A couple of us who are used to a bit of comfort in a bunk went ashore and cleared out the local housewares shop of large pillows. General agreement that it was the best four euros we have spent so far.

Weather is still a fairly brisk North Westerly with heavy showers blowing in from time to time. When that happens the whole trot of 50-60+ foot boats visibly leans over and mooring lines creak. Early dinner ashore – just after a severe downpour which caused problems with the café outdoor seating.

Then on to a rather classy farewell party put on by the President of the Canaries – who wished us good luck and bon voyage. Early night for the “old guard” but some of the “young bloods” partied and made it back by 4.30am! Another busy day tomorrow – food arriving am.

Congratulations to Jasper Bailey-Ray from Granddad. Well done Gemma on your new job.

Jeremy & Tim


Day 1

The first day was all about everyone arriving and by the end of the day we had a full crew.  The four who had sailed Challenger 4 down from Portsmouth had almost survived and had a few stories to tell but were now looking relaxed.  Everyone then unpacked their stuff and made their bunks their new home including Pippa and Patricia sticking up photos of the family on the wall. We then had a lazy afternoon looking round the marina before heading out for drinks and tapas. A fun evening was had in town after much fun with taxis and random dropping off accompanied by thunder and lightning and torrential rain. The first lesson of the trip was to not leave the windows open while out or sleeping. :) Simmer down Alex, simmer down #archiboi.

CF324 ARC – Canaries to St Lucia – Challenger 1

Monday, November 24th, 2014 - No Comments »

Blog 5 / Beating the bug and Thanks Giving Day:

Today was all about beating the bug on the boat with Simon, Terry (first Mate) and Victoria all feeling much better and like they wanted to be on the boat. We just needed to make sure no other crew came down with the same. Wishful thinking, with James (Hendo) and Caz (Caroline O) in bed for the whole day. Are we ever going to see an end?

To celebrate Thanksgiving for Victoria, our resident US crew mate, the girls had planned ahead and found pumpkin seeds and Spanish cakes which we presented to her at midday lunch. Well received and a welcome reminder of celebrations from home.

Because the mother team Caz and Hendo had been unwell, Victoria was left on her own to mother the ship with welcome help from Terry and Karl. Breakfast was pancakes, a hearty American breakfast, Karl has found a new skill in cooking them for the crew. Terry took bread making duty, working his whole grain baps and loaf for our cold cuts lunch. The smell of fresh bread on the boat lifts your spirits.

The first washing was done with Simon airing his colourful smalls and Caroline (frosty) bleaching the tea towels. Washing on the rails added a new dimension to our red white and blue flying flag.

In terms on sailing we have made excellent progress with the milestone of breaking the 2000 miles mark pending, can’t wait to find out at lunch time if we have made it. Very lazy day for sailing in terms of trimming the sails. “Point and shoot” was the approach.

During the night shift we had shooting stars and a visible small moon and some clear skies. Simon and Bob decided to get out their star gazing apps.

The no shaving rule with the men is proving a challenge for some (great goatee Stewart) and an irritation for others, can Simon really make it without breaking out the razor. I think the grey hairs coming out might be the breaking point!

On the fishing front Christian has now lost two lures and we have a twisted line, fresh fish is currently off the menu. Richard’s and Maureen’s fast helming at 10 knots may be moving us forward but is not helping the fishing cause.

That’s all for now folks: Simon over and out. Love to Cathy, Lauren, Zara, mum and dad x

Each lunchtime we all get to read out any comments you make on the blog post, so please keep them coming on informaatlanticchallenge.com.


Blog 4

Day  4 in what our skipper referred to yesterday as the big Brother ship    The ensuing joke about Eviction day was greeted with nervous laughs.  Most of us who suffered seasickness (including me) are now fully recovered and feeling much more lively.

We have so far covered 545 nautical miles and are well away from any land.   We occasionally catch a glimpse of other vessels This can be exhilarating as at least twice in the last few days we’ve had some near misses!  One boat didn’t seem to have any lights but started to flash a powerful blinding flashlight at us.

Our position right now is latitude 24.50.60,  longitude W24.02.2218

I think we’re getting used to the Watch system on board with 3 teams of 4 people doing 3 hours on and 6 hours off.   We have 3 watches : Red, White and Blue.

The night watches are amazing.    Star filled skies and silent apart from the swells crashing around us.    And phosporecence flashing bright white, green  and yellow at us from the surf.   3 hours can pass quite quickly including our hourly log,  taking turns at the helm and keeping each other awake with chatting.  Then waking up the next watch.  Just after sunrise today we were surrounded by a pod of dolphins leaping through the waves.

The other system we’re running is called Motherwatch .   (I keep thinking about making a documentary ….along the lines of Springwatch or Autumnwatch.  Wonder if the BBC would be interested. )  This entails 3 people – one from each watch keeping the boat clean and preparing all the meals, cleaning up after them and generally making sure that everything runs like clockwork.   Also included is cleaning the Heads (loos) possibly mopping out the bilges if they are too full and checking out the ‘grey water’ tank.   And of course making the teas and coffees all day long.  This hard graft is rewarded by a full night’s sleep as the Motherwatch don’t have to go back on watch until after 7 the next day.

So far we’ve been using up our fresh meat.   I was on Motherwatch duty 2 days ago and our evening  meal was pork chops marinated in garlic and herbs, with mashed potato and carrots, and a fresh fruit salad for afters.   We also made chocolate brownies which turned out like goo.  But v tasty goo we were assured.

But I suspect we’re now getting into some serious competition to see who can create the best meals for the crew.  Yesterday’s Motherwatch excelled themselves and in my opinion are in the lead,  with a chicken caesar salad for lunch complete with Jamie Oliver style croutons.    A delicious chocolate cake that was NOT goo, and a dinner of Turkey sate with rice.  Yum. It is amazing what you can create in a tiny galley and at an angle of 45 degrees..   For our Brownies we discovered that there is such a thing as the thin edge of the wedge.   One thing’s for sure we are not likely to starve on this boat.

As I sit here taking my turn to blog on behalf of the team, I can smell fresh bread baking.

Yesterday Steve our Skipper came up to the boats’ cockpit for our daily meeting/briefing with a list of comments from our friends and families, that you had all made on the informaatlanticchallenge.com  blog.  I can’t tell you how much those messages mean to us – so please keep them coming it’s a huge morale booster.    And today is Thanksgiving so we are supporting Victoria in keeping that front of mind… and sending Happy Thanksgiving wishes to all our friends and colleagues in the US.

Our water making machine is functional so we have started to have showers.  Like most things these are rationed so that we all get a fair share.   I had my first shower yesterday, sitting down on the loo and almost scalding myself with some lovely hot water.    I’m sure I smell a bit nicer now. My lovely shipmates certainly are.

Over and out and sending love and best wishes to all our friends, families and loved ones.

Caroline Frost (aka Frosty, as we have 2 Carolines on board.)


Blog 3 / DAY 2 At Sea…

Our first morning waking up at sea. Just after sunrise, as blue watch was passing off to red watch, we were joined by a lively pod of dolphins who swam along beside the boat for about 20 minutes, jumping up out of the water and putting on quite a show for us. The watches are settling into the routine now, learning when to sleep and how to quickly jump out of your berth, get a life jacket on and get up on deck for a changeover.

Good helming all around, as most of the crew have now successfully picked up the skill of helming by compass, wind direction and by the position of (increasingly fewer and fewer) boats on the horizon. In the afternoon we got the massive genoa sail hoisted and managed to pick up some good speed after a couple hours of low wind. We’ve been continuing to check in with Challenger 4 who are considerably to the south and running a bit behind us at the moment.

Fishing rods are now up on deck and we expect fresh sushi any day now, Christian has the seaweed at the ready.

The mother watch of Frosty, Stewart and Richard worked hard straight through the day from bacon baguettes to fruit salad for dessert (make that pudding, obviously the American is behind this blog entry!). In addition to a full clean and all the usual chores, they had exploding peppers and brownies in a tipping oven to contend with but still managed to find time to make an incredible dinner of pork chops, mash and carrots.

In olfactory news, the first watch got to take their first showers. Red watch finished the day smelling fresh and clean, the rest of us…slightly less so.


Blog 2 /  DAY 1 At Sea… The adventure begins

Well, well, well what a day to start off with. We left the mooring with all the other Racing division firing the horns to let each other know they were leaving. The crowds were waving us off as we lapped up the attention. We got out and prepped the main sail for the start of the race. All the other boats were jockeying for position ready to make the slip. The 1030 call came and we were off…pumped for the adventure of a lifetime.

The crew were divided into three watches consisting of 4 members; Red watch: Sarah, Hendo, Conny Frosty (Caroline) with Skipper Steve; Blue watch: Victoria, Christian, Stu, Steph, and first mate Terry; White Watch: Kaz, Maureen, Richard, Simon, Bob and Karl. Each watch lasts three hours, giving that crew 6 hours off after each watch. The watch involves helming the yacht, changings sails, looking out for other vessels and prepping a hot drink for the next watch at night. Rich, Kaz, Steph, Victoria, all had the challenging experience of helming the yacht in the choppy sea at night.

Each watch is further subdivided into a “motherwatch” system and are responsible for cooking, cleaning and support of watches for a 24 hour period, and are made up of one member from each watch. The first motherwatch consisted of Maureen, Conny, and Christian who all felt garbage except for ‘ironman’ Christian who pretty much spent all day down below. The watch were still able to prepare a lovely cake (I was whipping plenty of air into that mix to get it light and fluffy) even with the boat on a 45 degree angle, and despite half of it ending up slopped over the side of the oven.

Food on offer

Breakfast – Porridge with golden syrup / fresh baguette and jam

Lunch – Sandwich chorizo, ham and cheese, mayo, spicy habanero

Cake – Vanilla and butter cream

Dinner – Turkey Tikka Masala and rice

The choppy waters from the 2.5m swells meant some of the crew were finding their stugerons (anti-seasickness pills) tested to the limit, but everyone battled through it and people maintained their responsibilities despite the sickness. The crew were able to spot whales, pods of dolphins, and in the evening, bioluminescence in the breaks of the waves and a glimpse of a magical shooting star.

The adventure has already been testing for all of us and from my experience on motherwatch it has been non-stop with little down time. I am looking forward to getting involved in the watch system and mucking in on deck.

Conny over and out.


Blog 1

The day finally arrived after 11 months of planning and preparation, and pure excitement has set in! We set our alarms early to meet at Gatwick airport (while our US colleagues were already on their gruelling 24 hour journey!). We had a few final goodbyes, and before we knew it we were through security and enjoying a cool beverage in the departure lounge, excited for what we had in stall..

Unfortunately that excitement soon took a down-turn as we were met in Las Palmas with some very sad news. A close colleague has passed away on while on a vacation. Such a shock, and awful news, and our thoughts are going out to his family, friends and our colleagues back home.

On top of this, unfortunately, Andrew’s luggage didn’t quite make it to Spain with us! We have a couple of days here in Las Palmas marina before we set off so we are all hoping (for his sake) that it arrives in time.. otherwise he might be borrowing clothes/bikinis from us all, poor guy!

So we finally arrived to Las Palmas Marina to meet our fellow colleagues and crew. We spent a little time organising our gear, deciding on bunks and getting ready for the evening. An evening filled with team building (at the bar) and meeting other ARC crews. And of course, tasting the local tipple – rum..

After an impromptu swim from Captin Wetleg (Richard), on his way to bed last night, we all woke up early this morning (with a few sore heads) but feeling sprightly looking forward to the next adventure.

Everyone is currently busy cleaning the decks, doing an inventory of our food stock (which includes 30kilos of onions, 42kilos of potatoes, multiple chorizo and salamis hanging in the galley (kitchen),  and a huge parma ham hanging in the sail room, and that’s before all the fruit and veg arrives tomorrow before we set off.

This afternoon after we have finished our jobs, we’ll be popping to the shops to buy a few last minute items (suncream, shampoo, toothpaste) and then out for the final hurrah before the race begins on Sunday!

By Sarah Nightingale

Atlantic Circuit – AC 003, Canaries – Barbados

Monday, November 17th, 2014 - 4 Comments »

Friday 28th November

Last night was a bit bumpy with winds varying between about 17and 22 knots and a heavy swell coming from astern. We are on course 235.

Sailing at night feels really fast because you have no reference points to gauge your speed by. All you can see are the breaking waves and phosphorescence streaming by and all you can feel is the wind on the back of your head and the rolling of the boat. The night was cloudy with the stars and moon sometimes visible between the clouds. Yesterday was dry and sunny with another lovely sunset. There was a mackerel sky which is a sign of a change in the weather.

We have all settled down into a well organised routine of watches, daytime watches are six hours and night time watches are four hours. Every four days or so each crew member is required to do a mother watch which means cleaning the whole boat and doing all the cooking. The food has been really good, most of us came on board thinking we would lose weight but I think the opposite is true. There is a bit of a baking competition going on with some really good bread and cakes being served up. Trevor and I are on mother watch today and we will bake a cake this afternoon although we have not yet decided what it will be.

We currently have 683 miles to go to Grenada which means that at current progress we are on target to arrive Monday or Tuesday. I think that we are all looking forward to a really good shower, the opportunity to do some laundry and a full night’s sleep in a bunk that is not bouncing all over the place.



The Sailor’s Consolation

by Charles Dibdin


One night came on a hurricane,

The sea was mountains rolling,

When Barney Buntline turned his quid,

And said to Billy Bowling:

“A strong nor-wester’s blowing, Bill;

Hark! don’t ye hear it roar, now?

Lord help ‘em, how I pities them

Unhappy folks on shore now!


“Foolhardy chaps who live in towns,

What danger they are all in,

And now lie quaking in their beds,

For fear the roof should fall in;

Poor creatures! how they envies us,

And wishes, I’ve a notion,

For our good luck, in such a storm,

To be upon the ocean!


“And as for them who’re out all day

On business from their houses,

And late at night are coming home,

To cheer their babes and spouses,–

While you and I, Bill, on the deck

Are comfortably lying,

My eyes! what tiles and chimney-pots

About their heads are flying!


“And very often have we heard

How men are killed and undone

By overturns of carriages,

By thieves, and fires in London;

We know what risks all landsmen run,

From noblemen to tailors;

Then, Bill, let us thank Providence

That you and I are sailors.”


Thursday 27th November

Around 20 knots of wind over night and this morning. We are steaming along at around 10 knots with a rocky swell. A very eventful day yesterday; Ricky gave us a spinnaker briefing and then the vast sail was hauled up. Phil enjoyed handling the boat at 12 knots, then Darren had a bite on his line…it was a big one! A quick reduction in speed was required to haul in the catch….Ricky climbed out onto the spinnaker boom 4 metres out of the boat hanging over the sea to spike the kite but before we knew it Darens third catch was lost (plus his special favourite pink lure…its getting to be an expensive trip for him…all donations to his lure fund gratefully received).

Then the skies dropped buckets of rain and the wind rose so the kite was taken down. Once the wind had settled the sea was very calm and it was decided that it was the time to go for a swim in the Atlantic…Charlie jumped first then Jon, Steve , Joni, Darren and Trevor. We hung onto a rope off the stern …Darren thought it was a catch at last when we started biting it as well J.  The interesting bit was getting out…..or rather,  not getting out in my case. It appeared that my arms weren’t quite up to pulling up the bulk around my waist….Darren and Trev came to the rescue after many attempts we all landed on board…just lucky we are all in top physical condition!

More great food made by Jon and Vic, especially the ciabatta bread and the home made lemon drizzle cake….the brownie in investigation continues …senior management are suspected but a brownie package has been found under the pillow of one of the key investigators…the mystery continues.

We are expecting to arrive in Grenada on Monday or Tuesday and all are pleased to see some islands before we arrive in Barbados.

Message for my family and pals if I may. Loads of love to all and looking forward to seeing you all on return. Extra hugs for my lovely Karen, Jessie and Lizzie xxx

Joni ( strong arm) Hall


Wednesday 26th November

Training Day. As with all well run organizations/vessels a number of hours per working month are dedicated to staff training to encourage the advancement and efficiency of those involved and the orderly running of the ship.

After a thorough drenching of both the 07:00-13:00 and 23:00-03:00 watches, strict discipline was enforced as to the appropriate place for drying of foul weather gear – however Darren our trusty Mate was unable to oblige with either CH or AC inevitably leading to wet sticky bodies tumbling into their cots after a thoroughly miserable night.

Inevitably at early dawn when the sky stopped leaking the wind in harmony stopped blowing. So Mr Perkins was once again called upon for propulsion. Sticky wet and with effort little especially courtesy of the aforementioned saw Starboard WL summoned to the Galley to assist in the prep/serving and clearing of breakfast. Noting the haphazard and ill trained attendance it was suggested that the galley and heads be closed for the morning forthwith and notice posted accordingly to allow for management meeting and training to attend to these issues and ensure compliance.

This was not received well by every crew member especially those still in their cots and those photographing yet another sunrise.



Monday 24th November

As the morning started bright and sunny with a brilliant rainbow, the rest of the day’s weather could only get worse, and worse it got! Clouds gathered, sky turned grey and miserable and that was the last we saw of the sun and blue skies. Moments of drizzle, rain and some respite with the wind the squalls also brought.

Towards the evening the line snapped taught on the fishing rod and a monster was hooked, unfortunately nobody got to see what or how big it was as the line snapped when the reel jammed, taking with it Darren’s favourite big pink lure too.

During the night the sea state and swirling winds made for exciting and sometimes hair raising helming but we made it safely through the night to face another day.

The suns back out and normality on board has resumed………… that is if you consider Mr blobby blaring out anything like normal!!!!



Sunday 23rd November

Exciting Times. In approximately four hours we will cross the half way mark. The celebration Aunt Bessie lemon drizzle cake is in the oven! Yesterday’s British Boat Bake Off offering was parmesan bread and it was delicious.

Now then, about the sailing, a quiet night with downwind sail pattern of Main and poled out Yankee was punctuated by a squall with winds over 20 kn and maximum boat of 11.6 over the ground. When you look up from the helm there is an awful lot of sail up there! Still pursuing the straight line course of about 270 degrees due West.

Beautiful double rainbow arcing across the sky this morning. Looking forward to the rest of the day. All on board safe and sound.

Steve and Ray.


Saturday 22nd November

Nearly a week out already and we are now running with the wind further behind us each day. We crossed the 1000 mile mark last night! An exciting aspect of that for me was 1st Mate Darren providing a tub of Haribos to celebrate.

We had a pod of dolphins pass by the bows yesterday which was great to see. There must have been 20, they didn’t take much interest in us and carried on with their journey. More flying fish too; we had a discussion whether they are a shole when flying and settled on a ‘squadron’.

We have been star gazing at night and its interesting to spend time in the dark so near the water for hours on end, sometimes half awake, listening to the sound of the water rushing by.

Jon and Joni on mother watch today…we are baking bread and making biscuits in a few mins….top! So much for losing a bit of weight on this trip…eating like a horse….”why the long face they keep saying”.

Little note for my three lovely girls at home in Elmdon. Hope you all well and managing with all the hectic things to do. Dado lubs! Love to all my family and pals too. Can’t text until we get there .

Joni (Tubby) Hall


Friday 21st November

Happy Friday!!

We have a good night sailing with the wind going up and down between 15 & 20kt from on the beam (90 deg to the boat) and have been making good speed and time towards golden sandy beaches, warm blue water and hot sun shine of Barbados

The crew are all doing well and the people on green watch (sea sick) seem to have found there sea leg again and are back in the game, the watermaker has been running and the showers have been opened to anyone who is up for the challenge of trying to shower in the bumpy conditions we have at the moment.

The food has been good that the mothers have been cooking with some fresh bread and cakes making their way out of the Galley not easy in a bumpy sea state and the ever increasing heat down below! We have had Spanish omelette for breakfast, Pasta salad for lunch and Thai green curry for dinner.

I hope this blog finds you all well at home and you have a good weekend!!

Darren, 1st Mate 


Thursday 20th November

710 miles done/1965 to go.

Winds picked up since yesterday lunchtime, clocking in at around 15 knots on average, making the boat go at an average speed of 9 knots; definitely feels like progress is being made after using the engine for the first couple of days.

Hats off to the chefs yesterday for cooking pasta and chorizo for lunch, followed by gammon and potatoes for dinner; at what seemed to be a 90 degree angle and an oven in the galley, they topped it all off with parsley source and a bit of perspiration. Would’ve asked for more had I myself not been sweating…

One of the watch leaders is sea sick and in bed.

Mother watch: Heads cleaned, gallery cleaned, both port and starboard rooms cleaned.

For breakfast we had porridge and for lunch the crew will be fed on Jacket potato with bake beans and cheese, followed by pork curry for dinner – perspiration free.

Wednesday 19th November

Success on the fishing front, dorado baked with lemons was served as a starter last night!

During the night we were treated to a visit from a pod of dolphins, sparkling with phosphlouresnce.

Lightening storms over night as the weather turned and the wind built. Now sailing with a reefed main and number 2 yankee grey skys and gusts over 20 knots, boat regularly exceeding 10 knots.

Life on board is very much at an angle, but everyone is coping well and not too much tea is being spilt!


Tuesday 18th November

344 miles out from Santa Cruz. Almost no wind so motoring due West. More fantastic shooting stars last night. Lots of deep philosophical conversations about the stars, meaning of life and food. Today is beautiful with no clouds, a clear blue sky and bright sum, pity about the lack of wind. Breakfast this morning was porridge, lunch is BLT on freshly baked bread and dinner tonight is chicken fajitas.

We are fishing as we go but no luck yet however we will keep on trying, some nice fresh tuna would be good. All the crew are getting on well together and the watch system means that we look after each other and work together as a team.

We should hit the trade winds in the next day or so and the current weather forecast is that there should be some decent winds, so happy sailing.



Monday 17 December 2014

187 miles run since Santa Cruz. Motor sailing through the night after classic sunset. Crew settling into the watch system which is now running. Two watches each doing 6 hours on and then 6 off through the day. At night its 4 hours on 4 hours off 4 hours on. Night was lit by numerous shooting stars and we had light winds and calm sea with the start of a gentle swell.

Sparkling morning. The wind has picked up enough to be sailing under Yankee2, Staysail and full main. Queen on the sound system and lunch on its way. Food has been excellent up to now cooked mostly by the skipper Ricky. Now it’s the crew’s turn!

Main topic of conversation through the night an animated discussion about The Best Biscuit. The winner by a whisker a Chocolate Hobnob.



Sunday 16 November 2014

Yesterday our remaining crew members arrived bright and early after a 6am flight out of Gatwick. Ray, Malcolm, Phil and Jono got settled in after lunch and then we all did some boat familiarisation before a spagbog last supper before hitting the sack in preparation for our departure time on Sunday morning (today!). 0926 we cast off from Tenerife into very light winds which gave us the opportunity to practise our accidental gibe routine and master our knowledge of the various halyards etc. before needing them for real. Watch systems start at 1900hrs

Our two budding afishionados are all set up to catch the Blue Marlin and Yellow Fin Tuna which will give us a break from the inevitable series of curries that are coming our way further across the pond! We have the last of our fresh bread ready to eat before we begin our bread making challenge which includes cinnamon/Chelsea buns if anyone knows the recipe. It’s great to have set off now and we are all looking forward to our transatlantic. Next blog in 24 hours’ time…

Signing off for now……


CF323 – Deep Sea Challenge – Challenger 4

Thursday, November 13th, 2014 - No Comments »

Part 1: Highlights from Portsmouth – Cowes – Plymouth – Cascais

‘What is wrong with Challenger 1?’ or ‘Why were they 6 hours later than us into Cascais?’

Oct 30

We spent our first night in Portsmouth moored under the Spinnaker Tower after getting to know the boat (including the tripping hazards on deck, i.e. everything, and how to use the heads (‘if it hasn’t passed through you it doesn’t go in – if you only remember one thing from this boat introduction, remember that!).

Oct 31

On Friday we prepped the deck and set sail early in the morning for the Cowes fuel pontoon. After politely letting Challenger 1 into the river first and waving to Carol’s niece (in the union jack building) we refuelled and were ready to set off for our first overnight passage to Plymouth. Just before reaching the open sea, with the Needles in sight, we fended off a motley boarding pirate crew from Challenger 3 (who were actually passing us ‘packaged electronics’ via a rope across the water for our voyage …).

Out on the open sea the winds were friskier but the crew were eager to try out their skill at the helm and enjoy the view. As dusk started to fall it was time for the first victims to go below and prepare the evening meal – chicken curry and rice – which was soon seen twice by many of the crew. One of the chefs discovered a spectacularly inventive use for a saucepan and Alex spent a useful four hours (possibly longer) feeding the fish. Oiii oiiiii

Nov 1

By the time we tied up in Plymouth at 11:30 am we were all hoping that we would soon find which locker the Skipper had hidden our sea-legs in – all except our Skipper (Paul), our First Mate (Lindsey), WL Kirstie, AWL Alice, and Archie (recently promoted to Chief Head Cleaner) who apparently already knew and managed to stay upright for the whole voyage.

Portsmouth to Plymouth, 150 nautical miles.

Nov 2

Spent the day in Plymouth

Nov 3 – 6

08:00  – Slipped our lines and set sail for Portugal!

During the next three days as we sailed across the Channel, past Ushant and into the Bay of Biscuits (as named by Percy our resident parrot), then across Biscay, past Cap Finisterre, and onwards south down the coast of Portugal, the motley crew, encouraged by the Challenger crew and volunteer watch leaders became a team.

Our newly learned or re-discovered sailing skills were put to the test in the strong winds averaging force 5 and 6 during the first 2 days and nights. Many reefs were taken in and let out and several sail changes were completed as wind conditions dictated. One notable moment was at 00:30 on November 4th when we finally welcomed WL Sam back on deck, after a miserable 36 hours in his bunk making friends with a bucket.

We were frequently visited by dolphins which never fail to delight those on watch and starboard watch even sighted a pilot (?) whale which passed us going north less than half a boat length off the port rail.

Bay of Biscay Summary:

Favourite meal – Hot Dogs

Favourite breakfast – Eggy Bread!

Favourite lunch – SeaSub Footlongs

Favourite dinner – Chorizo pasta

Favourite WL event – Kirstie’s lifejacket inflating when she was submerged on the foredeck while untangling sheets.

Favourite voyage crew event – Archie and Robbie submerged on the foredeck while dropping the staysail (‘At one point I actually held my breath’ – Archie. ‘My wellies are full’ – Robbie).

Favourite under-oilskin wear – pyjamas (‘I only brought jeans and shorts so I’m wearing my pyjamas so I don’t get my jeans soggy’ – Robbie, ‘What about your thermals?’ – Alice, ‘I didn’t bring any’ – Robbie)

Least favourite musical instrument on board – Descant recorder

Least talented musician – brother of descant recorder owner, aka Charles (descant recorder owner not on board) – shout out to the biscaaay boiiis #bois

Most memorable quote – ‘Ease the main, ease the main, I said ease the *** main!’ – Lindsay (First Mate)

Worst medical calamity – skipper may have broken his ribs

Best wake-up call – contest still in progress

Best on-deck greeting to the new watch – Starboard watch ‘the frog song’ (led by WL Sam)

Best chunder dragon – Sam, pretty poor effort if I’m honest

Best snore – Dave the lad

Longest phone call – Charles, duration: lost track about 5 hours in #whippycharles

Longest time to keep an item of clothing on – Robbie: boxers on from Plymouth to Portugal #effort

Biggest lad – Archie #modest


Nov 7

16:30  – arrived alongside in Cascais (Cash-Kysh) Marina and after cleaning and tidying the boat, headed for the epic showers and then had an epic meal of bangers, mash, beans, apple sauce and peas. A lively few drinks and dancing to live music was enjoyed in the Irish bar, where we were joined by a belated and unwashed unsavoury Challenger 1 crew 6 hours later. Shout out to Somersby, what a beaut drink can I say #beaut #bois #boughtthemout #drankherunderthetable

Plymouth to Cascais 809 nautical miles.

Total so far, 959 miles.


Part 2: Cascais – Las Palmas

‘What is wrong with Challenger 4?’ or ‘Our engine is leaking’

Nov 8 – 10

After a couple of days in Cascais with frequent blue skies, followed by random outbursts of rain, just warm enough for flip flops and shorts (‘Every day is a shorts day’ – Archie #boi) and a crew meal ashore, and a mast climbing event involving Archie, Robbie, Alice, and most importantly, Sam (to fix the steaming light) we prepared to sail at 3pm on Sun 10th Oct. Unfortunately, during the pre-passage engine check the skipper discovered a leak, meaning that we can’t set sail until we have a happier, less leaky engine! It was quite disconcerting to see Challenger 1 slip her moorings yesterday evening without us. Even more unfortunately, the weather has been much less kind to us today and we haven’t seen the sun once. Despite this a few hardy members of crew (take a bow Ruth and Kirstie) have been for a swim in the sea (probably much to the entertainment of the locals). There are talks about a visit to the cinema and a day trip into Lisbon tomorrow while we await engine parts and a mechanic. (Fingers crossed we might be able to sail on Wednesday morning).

A little bird has told us that Percy has taken up a perch in a local seafood restaurant ‘Camoes’ until he receives his orders to sail  to Gran Canaria.


Nov 13

Hooray, we finally left Cascais, (thanks to John for flying out to our assistance) headed south towards the Canaries under gloomy skies with gradually increasing winds peaking at force 6-7, with 45 knot gusts. The sail changes were a very wet experience due to the rough seas and several crew members suffered the consequences (how do you dry your underwear/pyjamas at sea?) Carol’s cooking unfortunately largely went to waste due to an extended sail change and a lack of sea legs after the unprecedented length of our stay in Cascais. However, on a positive note the weather is definitely getting warmer and everyone is in good spirits!



14 Nov

A check in from Port Watch
And a sad goodbye to Charles and Alex (who have turned traitor to join Starboard – good luck boys) and a welcome to Archie and Robbie, the ultimate bois.
So – finally left Cascais, not a bad place to be if your engine happens to break!
Crew members enjoyed bonding more under the influences of a few G & T’s, live music, somerbys and a bit of dancing, a bit of a cultural visit to Lisbon and a spot of pretty narly surfing, led by veterans Kirstie and Alex, saw Archie, Robbie and Charles ride their first waves (tsunamis).

Mad Mechanics
After a slightly anxious wait for John, Paul and a few locals to expertly fix up the engine the crew took to the deck after a 5.30am wake up to escape Cascais and return to the open seas.
Port Watch
The sun arose and it was all on deck to spot for lobster pots – there were a few close calls in the rolling swell with pots appearing out of nowhere (as they do?!!).

“Racing Sail Changes” and a Skipper with and evil look in his eye
Strong winds and heavy seas called for a change of headsail – the so called “racing headsail change” (as Skipper Paul likes to keep reminding us) took over 2 hours!
Now I’ll set the scene – it was getting dark, there were strong gusts pummelling the deck and the bow of the boat was being driven into and UNDER large waves #scubadiving
Paul had an evil glint in his eye as he sent the crew forward, clipped on, to battle with the bucking foredeck, deluge of heavy water and high winds.
After humping the new sail to the deck and clipping on the tack, large waves took part of the sail along with various limbs under the guardrail. Frantic pulling finally got the swamped sail back on deck but not before an arm got trapped and there was a bit of a yelp! (Thankfully nothing bad! #trooper). Archie was unfortunate enough to be so submerged that for the second time since Portsmouth we saw a fully inflated life jacket, complete with flashing antenna and spray hood.
Eventually the new sail was hanked on, the old one unhanked, the new one raised and the old one dragged back to the cockpit where it was promptly sat on before being bundled off to the sail locker to await sorting at a calmer stage of the journey!
Paul did come forwards a few times to offer some words of encouragement, hold a GoPro, laugh and mock…I secretly hope he did get at least a wet foot!
Alice stayed at the helm/cockpit and was met by a wave of abuse after complaining about her wet right? knee!!!

Much to the disappointment of Port Watch, Paul decided the sails must be changed back. After more of the same (ie waterproofs becoming wetsuits) we were finally ready to hoist the new sail before discovering it was all hanked on the wrong way round and had to be redone. Lindsay was seen complaining later that all this had taken place above her cabin and she had been woken up on one or two occasions.

Sleep and Grub
So after all these fun and games everybody has been making the most of the ‘off watch’ time to sleep and eat, and there have been some sterling meals, a great effort by Ruth when everyone else felt dodgy and then there’s PG Dave, always on hand to deliver the goods.


Nov 16

Calmer Seas
As of about 1am the winds dropped and we have been motor sailing in order to deliver crew members to Las Palmas in time for their homeward flights on Monday… no one wants to put money on whether we will make it!


Starboard Watch

And now a few words from starboard watch who have been trying to get a word in edgewise!

At 1:00 am we found out what fun Port Watch had been having in our absence! The reefing lines were in a complete tangle, an enormous black snake had escaped in the snake pit and all the biscuit box was empty again.

A great day for sailing (even if we do have the motor on!) The calmer motion of the boat meant that the entire watch was finally able to sit down for an evening meal together before heading off to our bunks for a couple of hours kip.

We had sunshine most of the day and another visit from some playful dolphins. Even Percy put on his sunhat and came out for a turn at the helm. The wind has not been playing ball today and has died away to almost nothing so we have brought the main amidships until the breeze comes back.

Lunch was another favourite with the crew – brie and bacon baguettes, eaten on deck. YUM! Thank you Chef Archie and Sous-Chef Robbie (Editor’s note from Archie, “and I just say, the best baguettes ever made – Archie you are a natural”).

WL Kirstie (Port Watch) had a peaceful sleep on the staysail this afternoon but was unfortunately attacked by Percy the Parrot and a couple of pirates who tied her to the deck and took her crocs hostage. Better stick to your bunk next time!

Chorizo Pasta and cold Apple Pie with Custard for supper ….

Starboard Watch out.


Port Watch (A Team) – again, back on the helm, taking the lead
As mentioned previously we had a night filled with fun and ropes, with the winds dying the energetic port team needed entertaining this came in the form of un taming a great black snake.  We handed this mess over to starboard watch, who, after all our hard work declined to sort it out!
Mid-morning brought about a fantastic lunch (as mentioned) and an “all hands on deck” to fix a baton car that had escaped the runner on the mast.
Paul and Dave had also tamed the black conga snake earlier at first light.
Kirstie is still recovering from her traumatic treatment at the hands of starboard watch.
As the sun sets we are now motor sailing and awaiting another long night of watch changes, Gran Canaria will soon be looming on the horizon, but for now its word and observation games on deck, just to really push the weary sailor over the edge!!

Port Watch out for now!


Starboard Watch

So the wildlife watch are back hard at work under a starlit sky. Keeping the boat going as fast as possible with precision steering on the helm. No sooner had the watch started when the dolphins were briefly seen chasing us down, glowing in the dark as they swam just under the surface of the water. Seems like the whale calling, 2 crew members did earlier was actually the dolphin call. Nevertheless it didn’t bother the mighty crew. With so much wildlife seen by this hearty watch, a few more dolphins barely causing a raised brow. Seems like it effects the other watch more who don’t seem to be able to spot wildlife on their watch, instead they have to create their own ones in the form of reefing pennants becoming coiled snakes!!

As we continue into the night, the crew are happily singing songs, that everyone knows and that isn’t the frog song (thanks Sam!!!), and also playing memory games such as the name game.


Port Watch (3.39 am)

Thanks to the starboard team for our very loud awakening!  A lovely song about a snowman?!!
Lindsey, I hope you liked your newly decorated cabin ;)
The moon has not long risen in a dramatic (but slow!) ascent of a glowing crescent.  The earlier dolphin dances from Starboard** must have scared off most of the wildlife in the immediate vicinity…and possibly farther afield.  Although on hearing that Starboard had been banished below decks we did have an encounter with some dolphins in the phosphorescence** and the jazz penguins in top hats and dickey bow ties also jumped aboard for a quick tune (sorry guys you missed out on the penguins again).

Check out the artwork J hope you liked your wake-up call J

Port Watch, signing orff.

** (Thank you starboard watch for helping us with our spelling)


Starboard watch

6:00 am Sunday .. Good Morning!

A tricky course to steer once again this morning… 215 degrees will be ingrained in our memories for a long long time.

The lack of wind does have some advantages though. When we are not involved in complicated and important watch duties we can sometimes snatch a precious few moments to lie on the deck and gaze at the awesome view of the stars without the usual light pollution. There seem to be a lot more stars than usual!


The heat is gradually rising and it is time to stop the watch duties for a moment and dig out the camera and the sunnies for what we believe could be our first sunrise in this leg!

Everyone sitting in anticipation with their fingers poised ready to take that photo or two, it was a good sunrise. Slightly cloudy but still great to see. What a great time of the day. Ho Hey… back to the ‘Happy Hour’ duties we go!! J

While the Port watch catch up with their sleep, starboard watch are happily plotting their next move in the game off boat chess. After Kirstie had a fair attempt at making a spider’s web in the first mates cabin using bin liners, she is yet to realise that starboard watch members have already made their next move, taking full advantage of the sleeping gnomes and put their secret plan into action. All members are now ready for the off watch to wake up and discover what fun starboard watch are having.

So… the end of this watch (0500-1100) is Nigh for starboard watch, the end of this shift has had a variety of things going on, whilst some of the starboard crew were getting assessed for their Competent Crew member Certificate others were creating mayhem for Port Watch and especially for one of the Watch Leaders Kirstie who woke up to cling film covering her door way to help hinder her exit, Kirstie took this in good humour, but we are sure there is more to come!

Starboard Watch Out.

CF323 – Deep Sea Challenge – Challenger 1

Monday, November 3rd, 2014 - 1 Comment »

Blog 14

After two event-packed weeks (see the other blogs!) we have finally reached the Canary Islands and stepped back onto terra firma, and are now in the process of handing over Challenger 1 to a new crew who are lucky enough to be taking the ship across the Atlantic as part of the ARC.  I will continue to reflect on this experience in the days, weeks and months to come, and am grateful to the Tall Ships Youth Trust for organising this voyage and giving me the opportunity to be a part of it; moreover, inspired by our adventures, I dedicate this, The Mariner’s Song, to my sea- sister and brothers – Paul, Terry, Doc Bob, Henry, Holly, Bob C, Steve, Nigel, Mark, Stefan, Chris, Sam & Tom – for making this experience truly memorable…thank you all.

Rajan S


The Mariner’s Song

The mariner steels himself in the pit

Battling for control of all his senses:

Mighty Zeus, ruler on Olympus high

Cries thunder and splits the darkening sky

With ever closer cracks of blinding light;

Great Poseidon, Majesty of the Seas,

Crashes angrily against the ship’s beam,

The salty spray thrusting over head into

Faces cold, lips dry, red eyes stinging;

And Aeolus, Keeper of the Ten Winds,

Unleashes his treasures, a storm of gales

Howling wildly at many a numbed ear,

Battering the tall ship’s billowing sails.

His own belly full of dried bread and broth

Churns like the swelling surrounding seas

As if the Kraken himself raged below,

Rudely awoken from peaceful slumber.

Huddling tight with the other greenhorns he

Wishes himself below decks with those men

In their pendulous hammocks, stacked three tall,

Trying and failing to sleep through the torrent;

Driving rain penetrates upturned collars

As he wipes away crusting wretch with gloved hand,

Cold rivulets coursing down neck, then back,

Remnants of warmth retreating to the core.

The veterans meanwhile take all in their stride;

Jesting, telling their tales, singing their songs,

Swilling from glass jars of the demon drink.

“Always give her the respect she deserves, lad”

Grins the skipper, his outward gaze finding

An endless desert of white-cresting dunes

Undulating, unceasing, unstoppable.

“She’s a tempestuous mistress, m’lad,

Who lives and breathes and ne’er does she sleep.

She will caress and cradle you as a

New babe swaddled in a rippling blanket,

And just as happily toss you aside

Into rolling deep without cause or care;

Aye, she will make men of boys, and boys of men.

Ha, fear not, boy”, comforts the wide-grinned skipper

Spying something such in the pale-faced mariner

Reaching in vain for handrail cold and slick.

“She and her sibling Wind will cook up

A merry storm, that much is a certainty.

But the storm shall pass anon, lad!

The storm shall pass anon.”


The mariner crouches in the nest, eyes sharp

Eagerly scanning the far horizon,

Welcome respite from daily routine of

Scrubbing the decks, cleaning the galley,

Draining the bilges, and tending the heads

(Of the latter two, both tasks unfavoured).

“Remain vigilant, lad” shouts up the Mate

Heading to the foredeck to trim the sails.

“Anything you see, anything you hear,

You make sure that I am the first to know.”

And so distant lights are of swift report:

Some of bright beacons purposed to reveal

Rocky dangers; and others of Others

Bravely venturing through the deep darkness.

Sights and sounds of no report are of no

Less note, from the everyday pleasures of

Wavelets softly lapping at the smooth’d hull

And stillwater akin to mirrored glass,

To wonders that most men cannot dream to see:

Dolphins curious and inquisitive

Playing at the bow in crystal waters;

The setting of the blood-red sun at dusk

As if all the sky itself were alight;

The greenish glow in the wake of the ship

Known simply by some as ‘ocean fire’, and

Thought by others to be the manifest

Whisperings of the Spirits of the Seas;

Black sky darker than the depths of Hades

Transformed into luminous hemispheres,

A cathedral of twinkling monuments

Punctuated by rare starry missiles

Off’ring companionship through the cooling night.


The mariner stands proud at the leather-clad helm

Riding a wavecrest to its frothy peak,

With the entire world beneath his feet,

Once lonely despair now splendid isolation.

Greyclouds parting reveal his lunar path;

Under Orion’s gaze he eyes his shipmates -

Drawn together by the lure of oceans blue

To face the challenge of the deep,

Once strangers, then friends, now brothers,

Some turning thoughts to fires of families far,

Some to temptations of exotic shores,

Each as warm, inviting, as the other -

And he himself recalls his father’s words

Ere first setting sail. “Sit awhile and hear

The Mariner’s Song, my son, as told to me

By my father, and told to him by his.


‘By the lustre of the silvery Moon

And all the brightling Stars,

Let the Heavens be your guide

To distant shores afar.


And though the Heavens open,

Though the seas shall rise and fall,

Then cry “The storm shall pass anon!”

And you shall live to tell it all.


By the glory of the golden Sun

Let the Heavens be your guide

To hunt fair winds, clear skies, calm seas,

To return on favoured tides


And though the Heavens open,

Though the seas shall rise and fall,

Then cry “The storm shall pass anon!”

And you shall live to tell it all.


Then cry “The storm shall pass anon”

And you shall live to tell it all.’


Pride swiftly fades to melancholy with the

Memory of his father clutching his hand.

“I hear the Siren’s call, and must follow.

I wish you good hunting, now and always.

Remember this song in your darkest hours,

May it help you to find the courage to

Stay the course; do stay the course, my son;

Hold steady and true, and you will not falter.”

The doting youth nods his silent acquiescence,

His loving mother in quiet lament.

His father smiles. “You are a man now, my son.

And now, your watch begins.”


Blog 13

Hi I’m Sam, you may remember me from previous blog postings, such as Blog day 6: Big Brother Challenger and Blog day 11: Challenger night news.  I’m at the nav desk once more, only this time I have Gran Canaria and Las Palmas dead in my sights, but you know what, I’m not sure that I’m happy to see it just yet…myself and my fellow crew mates have faced challenges and seen some awesome sights over the past 2 weeks, and even though it has “only” been 2 weeks I feel as though we have all bonded very well.  I was discussing this very subject with Chris, a member of my watch, we were talking about how quickly you adapt to life on board the ship and that we both felt a little apprehensive about re-joining civilisation, while I am looking forward to some aspects of returning to life back in the UK, I know that I will miss life on board Challenger 1 and the atmosphere that exists with my crew on board.  I will however be taking some fantastic stories, life lessons of which one of the most important I have come across is that I have learnt to be more adaptable – even the best laid plans can go wrong, and in my case we have faced challenges – but we overcame everyone by sticking together working hard and helping each other as best we could (just read the previous blog posts).

Well what can I say, this has been quite a journey, I have seen things that I expected to see, such as dolphins playing with the bow of the ship, whales, lots! Of shooting stars and the most peculiar thing I most certainly did not expect to see…fluorescent light that appears in crashing waves, the only conclusion I can come to is that it is plankton, which has been disturbed by rough weather or the wake of the ship, either way it’s a fantastic sight.

To give you a quick report on conditions today, sun cream, shorts and sun-glasses have been top of the list…should give you an idea as to how things have been over the past 2 days, it’s just been brilliant after the heavy weather we’ve been through getting down here.

There is one example I can think of that puts the distance, time and effort myself and the crew have put into this voyage:

So I am currently about 50 miles away from Las Palmas, at our current speed someone could board a plane at Heathrow, fly to Las Palmas get their bags, check-in at a hotel grab a couple of beers…all before I get into port…I can see the lights of the port as I type and yet you, reading this, could probably get to my destination quicker than I could, but, it doesn’t bother me in the slightest – I’ve loads of fun and learnt so much about myself and simply just about sailing, plus I’ve seen some pretty awesome stuff that you’d miss out on if you were flying J

Even if I was offered a free 1st class return ticket to Las Palmas from the UK or 2 weeks sailing on-board Challenger 1…knowing the challenges I’d face and the satisfaction gained from overcoming them I’d chose Challenger every time.  I wish the next crew of Challenger 1 (and some of the guys I’ve been sailing with) all the luck in the world for their next leg, which is from Las Palmas to St Lucia…approximately 22 days’ worth of sailing (I might be a little jealous)…good luck guys and happy sailing!

So anyway, I’m going to head back up on deck now…got to make the most of it while I can on this trip.  I hope I get the opportunity to write more of these blogs in the future, maybe even as a volunteer crew member? J

But for now this is Sam Hepplewhite, signing off for the last time on voyage CF-323, it’s been great, thanks everyone!


Blog 12

Well, they’ve got me to do a blog finally. Jean Paul Gaultier reporting. When it said on the Tall Ships website it would be a challenging trip, they weren’t joking. I’ve had loads of ups and quite a few downs, mainly ups though.

From finding myself helming a 2 million pound yacht during a force 8 in the Bay of Biscay leaning at a precarious angle [an up] to watching my poor  mate Marky skidding around the “poop deck” in confusion, [a down ]from eating a delicious evening meal on deck in high winds with salad blowing off my plate as I look nearly vertically down at the freezing sea rushing past [an up] to me sweating profusely trying to get dressed at 12 midnight at a 35 degree angle trying to hold myself upright using my bottom and head as supports, whilst standing on one leg [a down] And as romantic as being 200 miles west of Casablanca may sound ,one piece of the ocean looks very much like the next!

Seriously though, what a fantastic trip .Never having sailed before and being a complete novice, this has been probably the most memorable and greatest achievement of my 56 years [and I’ve had some memorable ones]. The skipper Paul and First mate “Terrance “have been very accommodating and great blokes to talk to with loads of patience thrown in, and Doctor Bob, a watch leader, a mind of interesting information .I like to think I’ve made some lifelong friends on this adventure Raj [the victim] Chris [the encyclopaedia], Sam [Billy the Kid] and others, plus Bob Castello’s jokes and tales have made me laugh and kept all our chins up when needed.

I came to see some big seas and feel the thrill of feeling “alive” and the Bay of Biscay didn’t disappoint me,[not to mention the journey outta Cascais and towards Grand Canaria,phew] .  Looking forward already to doing another different trip in the future.

Canary Isles about to come in view and looking forward to some R & R now and a stable hotel bed in 24 hours or so and maybe a beer or 2. This trip, as I sail now in calm seas, lol, I recommend.

God Bless Challenger 1 and all who sail in her!!!!

Nigel aka JPG.    


Blog 11

Woke up early which in itself was not unusual, but it was the skippers voice and not his usual night time storytelling voice, but one that seemed a little more serious. It appeared that the engine, which incidentally lives in our cabin and the generator, had both overheated and needed to be shut down, so many mixed feelings from at least that won’t keep us up anymore to, will it take longer to reach a bar in Las Palmas?, And of course the realisation that this was a problem, no power, no light, no radar. We continued to work on deck throughout the early hours of the morning the weather wet and cold and made worse by the need to shut down lights and instruments, despite the skippers and mates best efforts it was clear that this would not get fixed before daylight.

The sun rise bought with it good news, the overheating engine was fixed restoring power and the first sunny day of our voyage, a great lift to spirits after a troublesome evening with a beer looming closer on the horizon.

Mark, First Sea Lord Challenger 1   


Blog 10

Hello! Sam here again, JI am currently sat at the navigation desk of Challenger 1 at what feels like a 45* angle (probably closer to 15) before you close the web browser thinking “I can’t be bothered to read anymore of his rubbish”, let me summarise today’s top stories J

In the words of “A famous BBC one news reader”…At this point I’d normally get Google on the case, but being in the middle of the Ocean I really can’t do that…so imagine one:

On tonight’s show, the top stories are:

  • Tales of wind, rain and a surprisingly warm ocean
  • The day that Challenger 1 turned from a sailing vessel into a power boat
  • Race against Fader’s Watch (which from my point of view sounds like a bad rip-off from Star Wars)
  • Hunted the weather (big up the Ships Mate)
  • I get the opportunity to lead a sail hoist
  • Stowaways in the form of wild dangerous animals

*Cut to TV splash screen and over-enthusiast theme tune to add a level of drama*

We left Cascais in the afternoon of 09/11/14 with fair weather and a light breeze, today I woke up to a beautiful grey day which was at least dry and relatively warm…until my shift was due to go on deck, then mother nature decided to throw us a curve ball…oh she practically emptied the bath on us and continued to do so over the course of the next 4 hours…or so I thought.  About 15 minutes before my shift was due to finish, the rain stopped, wind died down and the sun came out – just in time for the other watch to start their shift…”typical” I thought as I trudged down the ladder and into the wet locker room to peel my waterproofs off and hit the bunk for a nap.  From that you’re probably thinking that I didn’t enjoy that, you’d be right!…no, joking.  For some reason I did enjoy it, it’s probably the wettest day I’ve encountered on this trip but without it, when I get home, I’ll have no stories of nasty weather…I don’t want to miss out on that – and lets be fair everyone loves a little moan now and then.

Following on the from previous story, leaving Cascais on the 09/11/14, we managed to sail for all of about a mile…the sound of the ships engine has almost become background noise now as it has not been switched off since (apart from a few hours here and there when the wind has temporarily picked up).

As I type I can see “Faders Watch” a 40 something foot Catamaran that is travelling to Antigua via Las Palmas (which is my destination).  But, more importantly…we’re gaining on them.

So, about half-way through the day the ships Mate decided he’d had enough and wanted to find some wind.  So, do you know what he did?…oh, ok I won’t bother telling you then…

…he grabbed donned his favourite head gear and did a rain dance…and you know what…it worked…the predictions (that he actually got from a weather office in the form of Grid files…Google them J).  On the back of this new found wind and now that the vessel had been turned back in to a sailing vessel, it was my turn to shine.  I would lead the sail hoist for the fore-sails on the boat.

I first allocated people to their positions on the boat, felt just like the drill master from “Full Metal Jacket”…minus the cursing and general abuse toward people…

Guess who got to go forward, to the very front of the boat to release the sail and allow a hoist…yes…me.  I’d only just got dry, and now I was walking to the front of the boat, that was going up and down quite a lot…with waves crashing over the top. So, with my life-line attached (safety first), I walked down to the front of the boat, when I got there I was not surprised to see waves crashing against the bow of the boat that drenched me from head to foot…but you know what…it was warm, not warm as though someone had done a number 1 warm but more that it’s a sign that I’m getting closer to my warm destination…Gran Canaria!

Now, the stowaway, notice how I added this at the end of the Blog, the fabulous crew of Port watch aka the real A team (Terry) encountered an UFB, or unidentified flying bird.  Now normally I wouldn’t bother mentioning a bird in a blog…but I thought this little guy deserved a mention.  I was sitting beside the helm on the starboard side when I noticed a bird appear of the Port beam, it was immediately obvious that it wanted to land on the boat as it was approaching us like an aircraft approaching an aircraft carrier…and like most carrier landings he kept messing up on many occasions (no offense to carrier pilots J), every time he came around for another attempt it lined itself up against the wind and came right at us as though he was going to do a strafing run with his number 2’s…

Eventually he managed to land, on the life raft station directly next to me, at this point almost every person on watch got their cameras out and I’ve never felt so popular.  Eventually, he got sick of everyone trying to feed him nuts berries and crisps…Nigel…he didn’t go very far…he did another one of his fly around…only this time he decided to land in a place you wouldn’t expect…he landed, don’t know how, on top of my head – I have video evidence to prove it.

Breaking news: being on a boat in the middle of the ocean restricts access to the internet…and to really put the fear in you…there is no phone signal either! I’ve had to socialise with the excellent crew of Challenger 1 to pass the time…

And, apparently “The ship is stiff” according to the Ships Mate – if anyone knows please let me know in the comments.   Now everyone is scared of saying anything over fear of seeing their words appear on this blog.

On that note, and till next time, this is Sam Hepplewhite signing off (and going to bed/my bunk!)

Oh! And one of the watch leaders has just promised that she’ll bake brownies on the next watch…it’s in the Blog now Holly, no getting out of it.


Blog 9

With a bit of shore leave under our belts, today started with a push on vitamin c –a great fruit salad and prepping (read cleaning, prepping always involves cleaning!) the fruit and veg stores for the coming week.

Once the deck ceased to look like Tsar Tsar Gabor’s headdress we set to finalising the rest of the boat for our next leg of this adventure –Cascais to Gran Canaria.  This was promptly followed by prepping ourselves, with luxuries such as shaving, showering and using toilets that don’t bounce around one last time! Following a bit of a delay to help out our sister ship, Challenger 4, fix some mechanical glitches we hit the sea just in time to get the sails up in the light.

Portugal you were fun, but we have a date with the Atlantic again and we don’t intend to miss it J



Blog 8

Saturday morning didn`t come too early for some of the crew. Sore heads and bleary eyes greeted the new day. The effects of celebrations for our safe arrival at Cascias were very obvious. After a slightly late breakfast the crew set about their allocated ‘deep’ clean tasks about Challenger 1. There were also a number of boat repairs that required the crew’s assistance. Then there was the opportunity for attending to personal matters. Top of the list for most was a trip to the marina laundry to grapple with unfamiliar washers and dryers.

Morning sunshine was replaced with a little afternoon dampness which tested the ingenuity of some on how to complete the clothes drying process. Hot air hand dryers were the choice of some. With work completed it was down to the serious business of deciding where to take further refreshments in the evening. Fellow crew member Bob (a man who, it quickly became clear, enjoys fine dining experiences) and I headed into town in search of ‘fish’ in a traditional restaurant where we enjoyed the company of locals on their Saturday night out. We had an excellent meal. Then onto the town Jazz Club to meet with Maria the outrageously sociable host, take a few wines, listen to a great pianist and singer and chat with some delightful ladies from Costa Rica and The Cape Verdi Islands. We tottered back to the boat in the early hours of Blog Day 10.

Steve Staines.


Blog 7

On midnight day six we were motors ailing under main with one reef towards Cabo Finisterre in a decreasing wind. We saw a couple of fishing vessels but there was no problem to pass them. Wind has shifted towards south and that makes it hard for us to keep a good course. We have been trying to keep 180 degrees. At 03.00 I tried to get connected with my phone and for a while I got a signal from Spain. I managed to send some messages home.

We had porridge for breakfast and we went on with cleaning for my watch (starboard). We are now well into the routines and we made the boat nice and shiny. The weather has kept on being not the best. Wind direction is still around 200 deg all day and we keep on motor sailing. The dinner tonight was a good one with sausages and mashed potatoes. It was a little bit of a struggle to cook this when the boat is jumping around like it was today. Port watch had a hard work to wash up after this I think.

During the short 18.00 – 20.00 watch, when I was off, I relaxed in my bunk and I also organized some of the pictures I have taken. 20.00 – 00.00 watch offered a horrible weather with increasing wind and incoming squalls. We are waiting for soon we can start sailing. Now the port watch is having their tea and they are all prepared for the dogwatch and I am longing for my bunk. That’s all for today.

Stefan Ljungstedt    


Blog 6

Day 6 on-board the big brother boat Challenger 1, Port watch has just started preparing the evening meal for the ships fine complement of 14 crew (including the skipper and mate).  BBQ Chicken shall be todays 5 star quality meal (as it was prepared and cooked by Port watch), I considered preparing some sauvignon blanc to accompany the chicken…but then thought better of it as I’m not sure the skipper or first mate would appreciate me squashing berries in the saloon area.

The day started early for me (Sam) and Port watch (me, Chris, Mark & Nigel) and our watch leader Bob, or Dr Bob as he’s more commonly known.  Our shift started at midnight of day 6 with which I thought it would be appropriate to recite a well-known poem that people may or may not know:

“Remember, Remember the 5th of November, Gunpowder treason and plot, I see no reason why gunpowder treason should ever be forgot”.

With this coming to an end it almost seemed as though mother nature wanted to bring our attention back to her rather than guy Fawkes night instead as we encountered a squall soon after.  A squall, for those that don’t know is a localised weather area of low pressure surrounded by high pressure, the result is high winds, often accompanied with rain that can spring upon you with little to no notice at all – for a better description of a Squall please google it :) .  So, the squall hit us moments after, 35 knot winds hit us without warning.  The helm was immediately put hard-over to port to try and follow the wind round..but!…the wind was too strong and the boat started to round up. As if by magic, the skipper appeared on deck and the order was given to de-power the main sheet, at this point the hero of the squall (me, my blog I’m allowed J) sprang into action! Released the safety turn from the main sheet winch and started letting out the main sail – the desired affect: to de-power the main sail and allow the rudder to direct the boat out of the Squall.  This worked and we sailed out of the squall.  On a serious note, we do encounter Squalls and we get through them as a team.

At 4am my shift ended and Port watch headed down below to hit the bunks and get some rest before the next watch.  Just when I thought everything was calming down, I’d just finished brushing my teeth and was headed to my bunk, Mother Nature hit another curve ball our way, in the form of another, more powerful, Squall.  This squall hit Starboard watch with a force of 45 knots of wind, to cut a long story short we got through it safely and I got to experience something I wouldn’t necessarily expect…walking upright on the port wall of the cabin inside the boat…was quite an interesting experience.

When I awoke, 4 hours later, the sea had calmed from the conditions encountered at night and we had a brilliant day, clear blue skies, sun…and I can certainly tell we’re headed to warmer climates as I’ve reduced my layers from 4 to 2 J.  My watch went through without anything of worth, we did see some more dolphins that decided to pop in and say hello…I thought about inviting them on for a cuppa tea, but thought better of it…they’d probably prefer coffee…and I couldn’t be bothered to make any of that.  When starboard watch came up the music was on, biscuits were out and I thought I’d prefer a little basking in the sun to going below and sleeping…so that’s exactly what I did for a couple of hours, then I hit the bunks which takes me to this present moment and the start of this blog.

So far I can summarise this whole thing as one fantastic adventure that I wouldn’t change for anything in the world, the crew is great (even starboard watch) the sky at night is brilliant (no light pollution to get in the way) and! You’ll never guess how bright the moon is at night in the middle of the Bay of Biscay, it’s almost like daytime – its brilliant J

Anyway, I’ve rambled on enough…please excuse the bad grammar in this blog (I’m an engineer not an English teacher).

This is me, Sam Hepplewhite, signing off…for now.


Blog 5

Today we entered the Bay of Biscay in the early hours, numerous high winds and rain showers pass making for lively sailing. Life on board is good everyone is settling into their routines and watch duties, getting used to sleeping in four hour slots before our lovely watch leaders wake us up with a cuppa tea and a biscuit and ask us to go on deck!

In terms of passage so far we have now completed 320 nautical miles since leaving Portsmouth and have a further 580 miles to Cascais where no doubt we will enjoy celebrating the Skippers birthday. Our ETA is currently November the 6th / 7th but it depends on who is helming at the time. On route we’ve seen plenty of large cargo ships and fishing boats which so far the Skipper and Mate have managed to avoid, with much support from the keen eyes of the lookouts on watch. In terms of wildlife we’ve seen a school of Dolphins come right up to the vessel playing with the bowl wave. However, sadly we have not seen a mermaid or Neptune at this stage. As I write this Steve is keenly doing lunch which today is tomato soup and got crusty bread and I have just woken up the on-coming watch which means go to bed very soon.

Signing off,

Sleepy Tom



The afternoon brings moderate weather as we cross over the continental shelf, and the sun’s out giving us good visibility.  The wave pattern of Biscay so far is long and rolling waves across our starboard beam (translation: hitiing the right-handside of the ship), somewhat easier to contend with than the short choppy waves of the English Channel, though those trying to get some kip below deck may still disagree!

We continue to average good speed into the late hours of the evening, hitting up to 10 knots as the wind picks up (apparently that’s good so we can maintain our current schedule, and this keeps a smile on the faces of the Skipper and First Mate).  Quite a sight to see lightning split the night sky in distant squalls across the horizon.


Blog 4

D Day has arrived today is the big day we set sail for Las Palmas.  Now the storms have passed we set sail from Plymouth with some apprehension. It’s all new to so many of us, meeting new people and having new challenges thrown at us as we sail through heavy winds in the Channel and it’s all good. It pretty much what I expected it to and I am smiling all the way so far!!

After a cracking afternoon snooze followed by the best stew ever I turned to do my watch, out the comfort of CH1’s saloon the winds and rain is beating down but we press on regardless. Its night time now but on we go knowing that tomorrow morning we will be entering the jaws of the notorious Bay of Biscay!!

Stephen Staines


Blog 3

After an interesting night at sea we sighted Plymouth in the distance and woke the off watch crew to assist in preparing the boat for entry into Plymouth.  Soon we were through the breakwater and dropping the main sail for the first time, retracing Drakes footsteps we rounded Drake Island and prepared to come alongside at Plymouth Yacht Haven.  As we approached we were met by numerous dinghies racing around Catwaters which suddenly had a bit of a surprise as they looked up to see all 22 metres of Challenger 1.  Shortly after the Skipper skilfully parked CH1 alongside.

When sailing the work is not done until everything is put way so we spent about an hour putting CH1 to bed so we could sleep soundly and shelter from the Force 8 gale due to hit over night.  Little things in life mean much more when you go sailing.  Having chance to walk ashore and have a nice warm shower and a beer so is rewarding and ensured we all slept well after a bit of shore leave.

Overall a great day and looking forward to the next stage, tomorrow is Sunday and we have been promised bacon baguettes for breakfast!!



Blog 2

The crew got a leisurely lie in
Got the deck ready and emptied the bin.

Then it was off to Cowes to refuel the boat,
Relaxing with a cup of tea preparing their coats.

We set off to Plymouth, the sun shining,
The boat was going along and there was very little whining.

The fated pasties and beans were brought up on deck,
The sun burning everyone’s necks!

Soon it was getting dark,
We had reached the night time mark.

Despite the chunder dragon making an appearance,
We all went into watches no interference.

It was a starry night, and cuddles were nowhere to be seen,
The winches as a replacement were not keen.

Holly Taylor (aged 19)


Blog 1

And so starts another blog. I’ll make this as generic as possible so that the other crew members can copy the style (if they want to). The crew joined at about 1230, with the staff still running around, and eventually everyone sat down for introductions and nibbles.

After that, the above and below deck briefs took place, which involved the Watch Leaders talking whilst the crew looked on blankly and tried to remember the more important things, like how the heads work (SIT DOWN).

The crew then moved on deck for their first deck prep and lifejacket brief. H² dream team watch leader team prepared a delicious and nutritious and totally original meal of fajitas. The whole crew then went ashore to support the local economy.

WL Henry (aged 19)

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