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

Maximum age 80 at date of travel

This Policy is underwritten by Sagicor at Lloyd's Limited (FSA reference 204947) for Lloyd's Syndicate 1206 and is administered by Sagicor Underwriting Limited.

Click the button below when you have read the above in order to continue...

Click to close
Home » Blog


Atlantic Circuit – AC 003, Canaries – Barbados

Monday, November 17th, 2014 - 2 Comments »

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)

SSN 673 – Liverpool to Liverpool – North West Adventure

Friday, October 31st, 2014 - No Comments »

Day 4. Dundalk Bay to Warrenpoint

When we woke up we were reminded that we would be stopping off for the night at Warrenpoint in Northern Ireland but we needed to complete our work before this of course. The sea was relevantly calm and we got to work heaving and coiling the necessary ropes as well as laying ropes neatly along the decks ready to throw ashore. Part of the watch consisted of steering and keeping lookout on the port and starboard sides.

The Pilot boat came and met us leading us through a new bit of Ireland. A lot of work was needed for tying up the ship which the crew took care of. After instructions we were allowed ‘shore leave’, we went off with our new friends exploring Warrenpoint shops and the area. Afterwards we presented our ‘tackiest souvenir’ which we were instructed to buy, followed by interwatch competitions such as tug of war, race to go in and out of the life ring and throwing the rope challenge. It was fun and I enjoyed the experience of Ireland.

Martha Hughes, West Kirby Grammar School.    


Day 3. Anglesey (anchorage) to Dundalk Bay (anchorage)

Third day on the ship was tough, all of the training was tiring but I got there in the end and managed to succeed and complete it. I am now confidently able to steer the ship. I now know 5 different knots, also I have made lots of new friends and am proud of all of our team work. I am in red watch. In red watch you have the team leader Meera also along side Magic from Merseyside Police. They are the nicest people that I have ever met. The experience so far is amazing and I would recommend it to everyone.

Kyra Woods, Oldershaw School   


Day 2. Liverpool to Anglesey (anchor)

Second day on this ship was aaamaaaazing. All of our training now complete. I am confidently able to helm the ship on the right course. I have successfully mastered five new knots and I have made lots of friends. There are three watches and I am in blue watch. In blue watch there is Ruth the leader, Charley Merseyside Police Man and everyone else. They are all so friendly. The captain is firm but fair. He is not afraid to put you in your place if your messing. I love this trip so far, I recommend it to everyone.

Luke Copson, Oldershaw School 


Day 1. Liverpool

I had been waiting for so long, and the day had finally come for Tall Ships. I was excited but a little bit nervous because I only knew one person who was going….. As I arrived at the Dock, my nerves started to fade because I saw my friend, and everybody else who was going. When we got on the ship every one was really excited. I arrived in the room and everybody just clicked instantly and everybody seemed to calm down, when everyone made friends and got to know each other. I knew it was gonna be a long week but I was ready. We started training straight away, learning knots, climbing the rigging and collecting all our equipment for the week ahead. The day went really fast and everything went well and I know I made the right decision about coming on this trip. I was full of energy and ready to go.

Melissa Kelly, Bebington High Sports College. 

Atlantic Circuit – AC 002, Falmouth – Tenerife

Monday, October 27th, 2014 - 2 Comments »

Friday 7th November

Slow start today for most, possibly due to late night, but once up off for hearty breakfast and relaxation on beach. Weather lovely and sunny until mid afternoon when clouded over and started to drizzle, time to head for the bar ! Back to boat for delicious chicken fajitas, cooked by Rob, with some beer and tequila to help wash it down ! Few games of cards and plenty of music with our very own resident DJ Sam, before the hardy few dragged Charlie off to pub/club, with Adam providing much entertainment, as usual.

Thursday 6th November

Land spotted again in the early hours, this time Gran Canaria. Arrived in Las Palmas marina about 9am and after some negotiation managed to secure a mooring next to a very nice rather large sailing vessel, Win Win, The Creek? They seemed very nervous as the boat is brand new and gleaming, but Ricky glided perfectly into our mooring. We then set about packing up the sails etc and cleaning boat from top to bottom before heading to Sailors Bar for a well earned drink or two. In the evening off to a Japenese restaurant, where much rum was consumed, before most of the crew headed off for further entertainment in bars/clubs, returning in the early hours.

Wednesday 5th November

Wind cutting across boat right to left so more zipping along on our way to Gran Canaria. Wind direction changed during afternoon and now eventually we are sailing with the wind behind us, with yankee out on pole to starboard side and main sail out wide on port side. So now total concentration required to ensure no accidental gybes, which run risk of serious damage to boat and crew. Watch Leaders feeling the pressure, but will no doubt sleep well !! During the afternoon watch we crossed paths with a schooner, an American University sailing boat, almost close enough to touch relative to what we have been used to, but actually totally safe distance and good to have company at sea. Weather nice and sunny again with lovely sunrises and sunsets. Lunch was cheese and ham/salami sandwiches and dinner was one of Ricky’s specials of Chicken surprise, very tasty.



Tuesday 4th November

Well I promised the crew some downwind sailing, and a flat boat. We trained on polling out the headsail, and gybeing especially avoiding an accidental gybe, and in the use of the Preventer before we left the calm waters off of Cascais. What have we had so far – more hard (ish) on the wind, boat well heeled over, waves over the deck and life at an angle down below yet again.

The only positive is that we have had spectacular boat speeds. Even with a very conservative sail plan of Yankee 3, Staysail and two reefs in a down-tracked mainsail, we are hitting 11 knots on occasion (normally when off course mind you), and regularly recording 10 miles on the hour in the log book. All of this rapid pace is upsetting the planned schedule a little bit, with an earlier than expected arrival at Grand Canaria for a fuel stop, now expected on Thursday morning. Depending on whether we can stay there (it is busy with the Arc boats at the moment) will determine the rest of the plan, but it looks likely that we will finish in Tenerife on Sunday 10th a day earlier than the planned Monday the 11th.

Dolphins seem to be making a regular visit, maybe to check on how such a yacht is able to sustain such fast speeds – not that they have problems keeping up as they dart through the water and play in our bow wave. I guess we may look to them as a whale on occasion as we submerge ourselves as yet another wave crashes over the deck and the crew’s wet weather gear is tested yet again.

Warm and dry at the moment…


Monday 3rd November 

We arrived in Cascais on Friday afternoon around lunch which was a relief to finally get a warm shower and be on steady land after a few days at sea, even though the ground still felt like it was rocking.  After giving the boat good old scrub we all heading in to the town for a bit to eat and a well-deserved pint or two…..

After a “Relaxing” 48 hours in warm Portugal we hit the sea shortly after lunch next stop Gran Canaria. The watch system started last night at 7pm which was hard to get back into the swing of things after 2 nights off.  Amazing weather and stronger winds this morning even seen a few dolphins roll on the next few days.

Adam (The Hardest worker on the boat)


Friday 31 October 

Happy Halloween! Yesterday afternoon we managed to get some sailing in and enjoyed another day of clear blue skies and sunshine. Yesterday’s t-shirts were followed by some of the crew venturing out on deck in shorts. Reggie didn’t make an appearance but dolphins did and there were several sightings of flying fish. Lunch was jacket potatoes with tuna and sweet corn and after an afternoon of sailing Adam turned chef and was assisted by Charlie in preparing a great pork chop dinner.

On the night watch around mid-night as Halloween rolled in Adam was at the helm when all of the sudden a rather large white, flappy object, travelling from the bow of the boat and out of the sky fell  directly towards his head. The rest of us were seated around the helm and jumped out of our skin when all we saw was this strange object flashing by and Adam ducking behind the helm. It turns out it was a sea gull that must of accidentally flown into the sail. A rather spooky start to Halloween!

We hope to make landfall this afternoon and everyone is looking forward to Portugal and warm showers!



Thursday 30 October

Another relatively horizontal day today helping us recover from our initial few days out of Falmouth. With our watch on the 7 to 1 watch we had an impressive sun rise, a brief sighting of what we reckon were pilot whales, the first ship sighted in days and eventually followed by the sad departure of Reggie (the swallow who stayed the night, cared for and named by Charlie), we wish him all the best and hope he made it home to Mrs Reggie wherever she might be waiting.

With the sun out it was soon time for t-shirts on deck and just after watch change we gave up with sailing in the dying wind and began motor sailing on course towards Portugal. A welcome opportunity arose to open as many hatches as possible and get some air down below and a good sleep was had by off watch during the afternoon.

All in all a good day topped off with an exceptionally good curry cooked by Ricky! Just the job, now time for watch for our final few miles of a mirror flat Biscay, time for some star gazing I suppose!


(supposed watch leader who forgot to do the cleaning this morning, whoops!)


Wednesday 29 October

All tippy over again. The light winds forecast by yesterdays GRIB file have turned out to be 15 knot Southerlies. Doubtless todays GRIB file will rectify this. They are amazingly accurate at telling you what the weather is now, not so much at telling you what the weather will be. Come on Marc and Nicky, get it together guys…

We have spotted other ships for the first time in days, as we close on Cap Finistere and the Traffic Separation Scheme converging all the big ships. With the prolonged wind, the plan of motoring straight down to Lisbon today and tomorrow has been delayed and we are now continuing our sailing and tacking.

We still hope to arrive on Halloween, hopefully that will be a treat for the crew. The trick is trusting the longer term GRIB files which currently show a nice 15 knots of North Easterly wind for us leaving Lisbon (Cascais) and making our way down to the Canary Islands. If correct then this will give the crew a whole different boat motion to get used to and the sea legs which they have found so far will seem very wobbly in the new rolly polly motion of downwind sailing on a Challenger yacht. If the wind is light enough then we can deploy the Spinnaker once everyone has their downwind sea legs, which should be a fun sleigh ride down to Tenerife.

Our visitor, a very tired Swallow, spent the night tucked up in the headlining in our galley, and seemed in better spirits and health when he headed off South for the winter again this morning. We have the occasional sea gull in sight now, and some larger mammals were spotted earlier today, white and far away – could have been pilot whales.

Musical harmony has been restored as I was able to copy more of my music, although Whitney Huston currently belting out “I will always love you” my not be to everyone’s taste. There is a wider range of music now, so at least I can now displease all of the people some of the time.

Hot dogs on the menu for lunch today ! Then Thai Chicken Curry for dinner – we are just that cosmopolitan on Challenger 2.


I am Zorro, I make my mark on the seas!


Tuesday 28 October

First update from voyage crew, which consists of Julie, Adam, Charlie, Brendan and Rob, with our 2 Watch Leaders Sam & Oliver. Now that the wind has died off we have the chance to enjoy the an almost horizontal boat, which is a welcome change for a few hours as life becomes so much easier getting around the boat and reaching the toilet now only takes a few minutes not 10 minutes, although I am sure we will get bored of this pretty soon and want to enjoy some more exciting  sailing !!

24/7 sailing certainly takes a bit of getting used to and is a bit of a shock to the system, along with the angle of the boat, but think we have now all settled into it.

Watches continued throughout the night with the wind gradually dying away and requiring some adjustments to reefs in the sails to keep us moving as much as possible.

We are now we now well on our way through the dreaded Bay of Biscay and what an experience it has been, although think the winds have been kind to us, the view of the large rolling waves is pretty impressive.

Looking forward to a few hours kip before next shift and whatever the Bay has to throw at us before we reach the coast of Spain, where winds are expected to pick up again.



Monday 27 October

We had visitors today, the dolphin came to play.

- Yay !

(A short poem by Ricky)

The Bay Of Biscay, long feared for its monstrous seas as the deep Atlantic Ocean comes crashing against the shallow continental shelf, gave us a small taste last night as we crossed off of the shelf to the deeper water. Thankfully just a taste though, and being upwind at the time, Challenger 2 took it all in her stride – that’s what she was built to do. The wind has turned from the South which was forecast but expected a bit later. The current Grib file shows that we should have a nice South Easterly. I will get an updated file at midday today, which will doubtless bring reality back in line.

Just heard a Spanish weather forecast pretty clearly on the VHF – 222Nm off the coast – must be strange atmospherics. Their forecast is for very light winds and smooth seas – sigh !

Wind aside, we are currently heading along pretty fast – just in not quite the right direction. We will continue to do so on the other tack, and will gradually claw our way south in a big Zig Zag pattern while the wind permits. If it does all die off, then the big 135 horses unleashed by the Perkins will be put to good use.

The majority of the crew have now found their sea legs. Some are still a little pale, but there has been no feeding of the fishes today – apart from the left over porridge. Lunch is soup and rolls and dinner, Pork Chops mash and peas. Hopefully we will have more of an appetite for tonight’s dinner than last night’s Chicken Fajitas.

The current projection from our MX400 GPS Navigator is that we will reach Cascais in time for Halloween, but then it knows nothing about the future winds, just basing our future progress on what has happened to us thus far.

Still making each day count…

Ricky, Head Honcho

Sunday 26 October

Good morning from the good ship Challenger 2

We left Falmouth at 1600 GMT yesterday 25/10/14 in search of the warmer weather. We started our watches at 1900 GMT after a roast chicken dinner working a 6 on 6 off in the day and 4 on 4 off at night. The mood on board is good as a whole as people try to get used to life at 45° down below. We have a few people on green watch (sea sick) at the moment but with only one person being sick. At the time I right this blog (1100 GMT) we have covered 132 NM and are making a good speed of 9.5 knt over the ground with 20knt of breeze from the SW and the sun is out. Well time to get back on deck, we will keep you posted of all the goings on over the next few weeks so keep reading!!

Darren Latimer, First Mate

Page 1 of 8212345102030...Last »