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


LI002 – Antigua to Antigua

Monday, January 19th, 2015 - No Comments »

Blog 4

We were all hands on deck at midnight to prepare for the night sail to Falmouth Harbour. Our mean skipper woke us up for our first watch. We raised the anchor, put up the main sail and set course for Antigua.

It was our first experience of night sailing, and some of us learnt how to steer using the compass, stars and a lighthouse. The sea was to our favour, calm and peaceful. It was a warm, starry night and the shooting stars were magical.

The drowsy second watchers took over whilst we deeply slept.

By the time we started out next watch, we were greeted with a stunning sunrise over the Guadeloupe Mountains.

We had a special Sunday morning breakfast, a real treat, egg and bacon sarnies, followed by the usual tea and coffee.

The wind finally picked up a bit and we managed to get some sailing done on the way to Falmouth, arriving as scheduled at 1pm. Only to find out when we got there the dinghy engine failed. After a lot of effort trying to get said engine to work, the skipper decided to row all the way to harbour. Half way through they luckily managed to hitch a ride from a passing boat.

There they managed to make arrangements for transport to and from the harbour for the evening activities.

A fun evening was had at Shirley Heights with Caribbean music, the famous rum punch and a BBQ set over a magnificent sunset towards Monserrat.

We returned to the boat very merrily singing along to the Sunshine song, with happy memories of our visit to Falmouth Harbour.

Maggie & Sara


Blog 3

We arrived in the port of Bourg des Saintes last night and anchored in the bay, no moorings free.   Had Lindsey’s delicious lemon and honey chicken for dinner and watched the huge yacht Christopher anchor alongside us, are they following us?! Saturday morning Paul had arranged for croissants to be delivered to the boat for breakfast, what a treat, then with the baguettes that were delivered with the croissants, we made sandwiches for lunch and set off for the island.   Gordon, Linda, Maggie, Sara, Toby and me walked through the little picturesque French port up the hill in hot sunshine to the Napoleonic fort with wonderful views out to sea and back to the yacht.   There was lots to see there, interesting exhibitions and a botanical garden, down the hill for a welcome coffee in a bar on a typical Caribbean beach (no euros, thanks Gordon).

Time for a swim, after a walk through the hills to an amazing beach with huge Atlantic rollers – no swimming there the currents were too strong, Gordon navigated us to a nearby calmer beach where the swimming and snorkelling were wonderful.   We ate our sandwiches, Maggie and Linda did their Pilates, Gordon collected coral, Sara and Toby swam again.  We walked back into the town and after a drink (thanks Linda-moral bring euros) we found the rest of the crew in a bar, quick Wi-Fi to contact home and back to prepare the boat for our sail back to Antigua tonight.   An early night after delicious roast chicken and salad dinner and up at 12.30am ready to leave.

‘There was an old man of Antigua whose wife said what a pig you are,

He replied, my queen is it my manners you mean or my figuar?!

Dilys, with thanks for the latter to Lady Wilson


Blog 2

Slept well after tea punch last night at Deshaies and great craic on deck under the stars at anchor afterwards. Breakfast sorted and suntan and swim gear on; motoring under warm sunshine to Pigeon Island for some swimming and snorkelling. What a brill time was had by all. After Pigeon Island, it was off to the Saintes. We are spending the day here tomorrow to relax and enjoy what is on offer. Fourth day on board and smiles and relaxed happy faces all round. This is the life. If anyone reading this hasn’t booked a holiday yet get on the website, “better than skiing” ”wish I’d known about this years ago” are just some of the comments this morning..

Vic’s t-shirt sums it all up neatly “Just add Rum” …….



Blog 1

Arrived Jolly Harbour Tuesday evening and joined Challenger 2.Weather warm and balmy, crew very warm and welcoming and a super meal of fajitas laid on by Lindsay and Andrea….looks like we are going to be well fed this week. Interesting finding our accommodation, meeting all the crew and fellow passengers; all happy that our skipper Paul is very experienced and reassuring and that we already feel in safe hands. Stowing our gear away was fun and picking our pipe cots .Delighted to find both the boat and all the participants in great form. Rum punches ashore and a chance to get to know each other and let our family and friends at home, via free Wi-Fi, know that we are about to have a fantastic experience.

Wednesday morning after a healthy breakfast, incl.real coffee and fresh fruit, we are all given a comprehensive briefing and instruction on everything from lifejackets, jackstays ,pumping heads to where the tea and biscuits are stored. We then motored in quite heavy seas, all taking turns to steer, (Maggie loved the big waves) to Falmouth Harbour and prepared for our sail to Guadeloupe tomorrow.

Thursday, awaiting  for Paul to clear out at immigration ,we have enjoyed a leisurely breakfast, made the sandwiches and salad for lunch, and applied the suncream…and we have all already forgotten what day of the week it is; Maggie feels like she’s been afloat for days, she has assured us it is in a good way! And we are looking forward to a swim and snorkel and maybe a tea punch in Guadeloupe.

Happy days, lucky people…..

Dilys, Maggie and Lynda

CF326 – Mile Builder and Deep Sea Adventure – ANTIGUA TO PORTSMOUTH

Monday, January 12th, 2015 - 19 Comments »

Friday 30/01/15

The wind increased steadily during the day and settled at about 40 knots with occasional gusts to 50 so we can truly say we are sailing in a proper gale ( 34-40 knots which will certainly blow the froth off your beer ) Sadly the no 3 Yankee blew out and the metal thingy holding the boom up snapped. Rapid jury repairs were expertly made by Gary, the mate, and we continued rapidly towards Falmouth. Night brought yet more wind and rain which made helming interesting but everyone stuck to the task. Several crew members were flung across the cockpit but all were tethered to a stout point and apart from some impressive bruises no harm was done. Despite the tricky conditions our cooks produced miracles from the galley and spirits remained high ( mostly ). Unsighted our destination is now less than 50 miles away and we are surrounded by vessels as we carefully thread a path between traffic separation lanes. Hot showers, clean clothes await but not until we’ve berthed and given the boat a thorough clean. Mobile phones are primed to contact you all with more news or our adventures.



Wednesday 28/01/15

The wind has picked up today giving us a steady 30 knots for the first time on this crossing, meaning we have been able to make an average of over 10 knots for most of today with a much more ‘interesting’ sea state and a much more ‘fun’ time for those on the helm. The weather is only forecast to ‘improve’ with 40 knots of wind expected tomorrow and a rather serious sea state predicted with some fairly large waves! It is rather difficult to live down below once again, with lots of crashing and banging of loose items in cupboards, the boat tipping from side to side violently and the occasional unexpected moment of weightlessness as the boat skims between two waves – not the best if you are boiling some water or carrying a drink! It was noted by Richard at dinner today that we should now have a strict rule that no pot, pan or cup be more than half full from this point onwards.

Life on deck is also more precarious with a large amount of water coming over – while writing this blog I have heard several loud bangs followed by screams that any sailor would instantly recognise as the noise of a watch being drenched by a wave hitting the deck. Some people have again started to suffer from seasickness with the motion of the boat being somewhat more violent, but it seems to be (thankfully) much more mild than at the start of the crossing.

The end of our Atlantic crossing is now tantalisingly close with only 350 nautical miles left to our first UK port of call of Falmouth with over 200Nm being knocked off within the last 24 hours. We are currently looking at an arrival sometime Friday but do not hold me to that! Morale is high with the food and banter between the crew continuing to be of top quality despite the more challenging conditions and everyone glad to be experiencing some sailing that can be described by a word other than ‘idyllic’ – it would not feel right to cross an ocean and not have any rough weather at all!

Regards to my Mum and Grandad, my friends Beth, Cara, Kayt, Becky, Jordan, Leigh, Jayde, Steve, Brian and Alex. That should cover everyone I promised a mention to! Hopefully the next time I speak to you will be in a couple of days from the UK! : – )

Andrew x

P.S. Julie: you and your cooking are missed on board and we all hope you are settling back into home life without too much trouble.


Tuesday 27/01/2015

Yesterday started overcast but just after midday the sun burst through and we enjoyed a relaxing day in the cockpit. However everybody was wearing at least one extra layer, testament to the falling temperature as we head north. A single whale swam past and for a moment we thought it was changing direction to investigate us further but we were disappointed as its next spout was far to the south. Several common dolphins joined us for a while and a few solitary birds. It must be a lonely life flying around, hundreds of miles from land, with no friends to squawk to and have a good beak wag. Sadly, wind remains elusive and whilst making good progress under engine the constant drone is annoying. Under power the boat seems to have lost her soul and we long for the vibrancy that will return with sailing. A very bright half moon didn’t detract from a clear night’s stargazing and everybody is now able to recognize the major constellations and planets. Venus always causes confusion as it sets around 20.00hrs for it alternates between white and red light ( perhaps because it travels through denser air ) mimicking a ship. Finally just after dawn the wind suddenly reappeared and we are now under full sail on the port tack. A delight for those with bunks to starboard who have spent the last 3 weeks struggling to stay in bed as the boat lists. We anticipate a stronger blow later to give us some excitement and speed us towards Falmouth.



Monday 26/01/2015

So back to the peculiar freedom and routine of life at sea, where your body clock is only dictated by sunrises, sunsets and some oaf prodding you in the middle of the night telling you to get up. A shuffle about in the watch groups keeps faces fresh the now exhausted list of bad jokes to be recycled to the rest of the crew.

All is well on board, with no one having a second wave of sea sickness and everyone finding  their sea legs again pretty quick. I think the Azores was a welcomed break, but everyone was keen to get back to sea which helped this.

As predicted the wind has died on us a little over night and we have resorted to our iron sail, but promise of some bigger winds to come keeps morals high. Mutiny was narrowly avoided this morning when it was thought that we had run out of tea bags!! Some minutes later, just before the mayday call was sent, we found a stash of around 4000… I think we’ll make it. (Thank goodness or they would have started on my limited supply of Girly Grey)

I’m sure there’s been all sorts of important news that has happened since we departed Antigua, but for now, I’m quite happy with our 72ft of steel and a few flappy things on top.


Oli omitted to mention another huge pod of dolphins playing with us as we left the Azores, and we also seemed to have acquired a monkey on deck, with Andrew swinging on ropes and hanging upside down from every available spar or rope –his intake of chocolate is something to behold! Think it has made him a bit hyper….

We had two other vessels pass close by last night, one, a fishing boat with its decks illuminated like a floodlit sports pitch (very inconsiderate of our night vision, we thought!), and the other a container ship heading straight towards us but after excellent steady helming on our watch safely gliding past a mile to starboard.

Still enjoying excellent food (French toast for brekkie this morning – must have been good as James (Exley) managed to put away 8 slices – yes, 8!!), and pork chops with yacht-made apple sauce and all the trimmings last night, followed by a crumble made by George of pears, peaches and raisins marinated in Drambui served with custard! I didn’t partake in that but it disappeared pretty fast and the crew went pretty quiet for minute whilst they demolished it…..suspect we might all get home a bit chubbier, which wasn’t what any of us expected, but a well fed crew is a happy crew!!

Once again everyone sends their love to their family and friends back home…Em to Julie (and me too, I miss you, but the pillow slightly compensates for your absence…), Tim to Jen, Andrew to mum, and the rest of us to our loved ones too numerous to list!!

Corrections to homework by Oli, and additions wrote (sic) by me, Jes xx


Saturday 24/1/15

Hello to all, friends and families following our adventure…

This Em. On the keyboard today. We left Horta yesterday morning after a few days rest, it was a pleasant stay with some interesting sites, light house by the volcano, huge crater left by another extinct eruption, amazing rainbows and a very interesting and educative visit of an old whaling station, some great meals as well, did manage to indulge and find a baccalau (cod/garlic/potatoes and cheese), typical Portuguese dish.

So back to the grind, managed a good average speed up to this morning, covered about 180 nm since we left, too early to speculate on our eta but it might be sooner than originally planned, wait and see. Promise of a decent blow in a few days, brought a smile to some of us ( me included J) wishing to experiment heavy weather.

Just set two fishing lines over the side, hoping for some suicidal tuna to hit my lures, wish I could have an idea of the water temperature which would give me a better idea on potential fish which could hit us, 19 degrees is pretty much the cut off for yellowfin or big eye, atlantic sip jack might be a possibility.

First night back on board, missing the hotel bed and as well my wife Julie who had to leave us in the Azores to take care of things back home. I do feel fortunate to have been able to share a good part of this experience with her.

Back in the daily routine of the watches, cooking etc… signing off now

Special hello to my wife Julie.



Monday 20/1/15

Yesterday began as normal for Red Watch following a night duty at the helm. Fluctuating and falling wind speeds with a cloudy sky presented us with a different challenge to what we were used to during the early hours. Unable to focus on a distant star to guide us we relied on the ships compass to maintain the right course. Little did we realise what excitement lay ahead during the day.

Our morning stint at the helm began at 6.00am and for the first three hours, or so, was uneventful. Though slight, the winds were sufficient to maintain a steady speed of about 6 knots. Sometime after midday with George at the helm a pod of about fifteen dolphins were spotted approaching from starboard. In no time at all, all hands were on deck with cameras at the ready. We all looked in awe at their playful display as the dolphins darted around the bows often leaping in tandem. This was the first time some of the crew witnessed so many dolphins in their natural environment. The excitement of seeing the dolphins was just a taste of what was to come later in the day.

Gary (First Mate) delivered a lesson on the marine engine and water systems. Meanwhile John and George were tasked with creating ‘potatas bravis’ for lunch – a real challenge as neither of us had a clue what that was! We winged it, using the available ingredients provided by the skipper creating a super spicy variation on the theme that was christened “potatas scousis”. Without thinking we tipped a whole jar of jalapeno chillies in the sauce. It was good to watch people’s faces on taking their first mouthful.

At about 2.30pm, while relaxing below deck, the shout came, “WHALE”.  In an instant the whole crew were on deck, poised to capture photographs of a magnificent minke whale. Ricky took the helm to enable all of us a chance to observe the whale at close quarters. At times it surfaced merely three or four metres from the boat, close enough to be doused with the spray from its blow hole. We estimated this majestic beast to be forty feet in length. It kept us entertained for an hour or so as it moved from one side of the boat to the other and then the stern. It was playing a game with us as it kept us guessing as to where and when it would appear next. Some people felt that it was an adult with a calf at its side. Just when we thought it had gone it surfaced on the port side, merely three metres away, as if to say goodbye. It was not seen again. We were all left with a profound sense of awe at witnessing such an incredible creature in its element.

All that remained in the day was an anti-climax, the constant hum of the engine reminding us that we were no longer under wind power as we as a stabiliser.

Several large container ships up to 300 metres in length passed us in an otherwise uneventful night.

Once again we send our love to our families and loved ones at home. And cats.

George, John, Oli and Gary


Sunday 18/1/15

Probably our penultimate day at sea on this leg of this voyage as we near Horta. We all await the cry of Land Ho and expect to motor the last few miles as we come under the influence of the Azores’ high pressure system and its lack of wind. A sweepstake has started to estimate our time of arrival with finish time being the first line ashore. Currently, the early hours of Tuesday morning is hot favourite. Today, there is a definite end of term spirit and whatever our arrival time, sponge bags are already prepared for an assault on the hot showers. The canny also have their running shoes handy to give them a head start in the rush. Half the crew have been sleeping in the “uphill” berths due to the ship’s list for 2 weeks which keep tipping them out so they are looking forward to a level night’s sleep. Victualling by the skipper has been superb for we still have fresh meat for our last supper and the biscuit box remains full. Presently we are sailing on a broad reach with a nasty rolling motion whilst tidying the boat so that we arrive shipshape and Bristol fashion.

It is likely we will spend a couple of days in port and leave for the second leg on about 24th January .



Saturday 17/1/15

Until now I had no idea what day it was, we all seem to have lost track of the days and with multiple wake ups during the day, time keeping has become confusing. We’ve reverted back to the old ways, if its light outside its daytime and if its dark, its probably night. The moon rose last night at 03:00 boat time (still the same time as in Antigua) and then the sun rose just 3 hours later, which seems odd. However this may be completely normal, I’ve never sat and watched the moon rise and sunset at home.

The food yesterday was incredible, tuna fajitas for lunch caught by our local fisherman and ‘gaffed’ by yours truly. A gaf is a metal hook on a pole which you use to stab the fish and ensure it doesn’t wriggle free. And beef stir fry with noodles for tea. I don’t think we’ll be losing weight onboard.

I have been trying to introduce fitness to some of the crew on my watch, mainly press ups and pull ups. One smoker is putting in a lot of effort (mainly because every time he has a cigarette I have been making him exercise as punishment). Emanuell has agreed to let me give him a 20 minute metafit class on land, he really doesn’t know what he’s let himself in for.

Someone has been messing with watch leader james’ stuff which we are all finding hilarious. His prize pink shirt being hoisted up the mast for all to see!

509 miles to go…still no pirates sighted

James – Love to family and girlfriend etc, but mainly to the cats


Friday 16/1/15

Time for another blog from Red Watch. Currently at 34.30 North 42.31 West and still on a beam reach. We are trying to outrun a storm system chasing our tails. This has meant some healthy competition between the watches for the speed record; Green Watch boasted of hitting 11.2 knots as they handed over to us at 3.00am, it didn’t take long for each of Red Watch to equal or better it, with our best being 11.4 knots. At this pace we can look forward to reaching the Azores on Monday and all getting a bloody good wash.

North Atlantic tuna continue to oblige with another Skipjack caught yesterday. The prospect of another tasty dish excites the taste buds of all on board. The menu plan even without the fresh fish still provides us with flavourful and nutritious meals despite having been at sea for ten days – credit to Ricky. Speaking of victualing, Ricky delivered his second Watch Leaders lesson on the various aspects of ensuring a steady supply of food and other consumables while at sea. He also showed us how to whip the end of a rope and set us our first homework task – to estimate the breaking strain of the main sheet. This led to a lively debate with estimates ranging from 5 tonnes to 30 tonnes – the correct answer being 8.5 tonnes.

If you know of anybody looking for their surfboard (white with a yellow stripe down its length) please tell them that it can be found approximately 800 miles west of the Azores – it floated past yesterday.


Watch Leader Gary is running out of bad jokes and is threatening to down load more in the Azores. Best one to date:

“Why did the baker have brown hands?”

………..”because he kneaded a pooh!”


On that uplifting note farewell from all on board Challenger 1.

George, John, Oli, Gary 


Thursday 15/1/15

Jes here. Good morning from 30 degrees 29.8 minutes North, 46 degrees 17.3 minutes West, mid-Atlantic 912 miles from the Azores…..as the crow flies! Day nine at sea out of sight of land, and probably 5 to go until we hit land (hopefully not literally), with all the luxuries which that entails and which we usually take completely for granted – stable toilets, long hot showers, beer…. :)

What an exciting 24 hours it has been! The wind has veered and we are now on a lovely beam reach bowling along under a blue sky at about 10 knots and heading straight for the Azores – perfect sailing. After out lovely gourmet breakfast which Corrie mentioned yesterday, Em caught the tuna, and we played Blood on the Dance Floor (actually on the transom) as he filleted it on deck filmed from every angle as we all drooled at the thought of fresh tuna steaks for dinner. It weighed about 25kg so we have plenty for dinner and more to spare. Fresh sashimi sounds good to me!

But before that our skipper Ricky rustles up a mean couscous salad for lunch, and life is good. Later in the afternoon someone shouts “whale sighted” and we all rush on deck, but it was more of a whale glimpse as the rest of us see nothing, so go back to whatever we were doing before slightly disappointed!! Ricky has offered those of us who wish to to complete the RYA Watch Leader course during this voyage. It is a great opportunity so most of us are doing it starting today, and it will add an interesting couple of hours instruction and tuition to our already satisfying days.

The sun here is rising at about 06.20, and we have always enjoyed a good view of it rising, and setting about 18.00, with equally good views. The moon is waning, and even I am starting to recognise some of the stars and constellations (under guidance from my watch mates who are all more knowledgeable about the solar system than me, especially Richard). Yesterday my watch had the 18.00 to 21.00 shift so we enjoyed our fabulous baked tuna steaks with a peanut and lime crust, rice and vegetables under that amazing sky whilst sailing Challenger 1 ever onward. We later also had the 03.00 to 06.00 watch when a remarkable thing happened – despite the vastness of this ocean another vessel was sighted on the AIS system heading straight towards us! We both altered course to safely avoid each other and 30 minutes later a 200 meter plus cargo vessel silently glided past us about 2 miles to Port. A very unusual event!

Between  06.00 and 10.00 our watch is on mother watch and watch leader James and I rustle up an impressive brekkie for everyone (well, we think so anyway), but I will let whoever writes this blog tomorrow tell you about that if they wish…..

Now our mother watch is over we are on our rest period, so I am going on deck to enjoy the sea, the sun, the sailing, the warm breeze and the camaraderie.

Until tomorrows entry, we all send our love to friends and family afar…..

Jes x


Wednesday 14/1/15

Last night we passed the halfway point to Horta – 1208 miles down and only 1125 to go! We celebrated with a wonderful breakfast from Em of scrambled eggs, bacon, fried potatoes and homemade bread. And to top that off he has just caught us a tuna for lunch! We also had the excitement this morning of trying to check the compass by lining it up with the sunrise, which involved Gary doing lots of complicated calculations and didn’t quite line up so more maths today and we can try again tomorrow morning.

The night watches are amazing – so many stars, and last night we saw Venus, Mercury and Jupiter too.  The weather has been fantastic which is not what I was expecting for the mid-Atlantic – I should have brought more shorts! The winds are dropping off at night which means a bit of motoring, but we have the sails back up this morning and full steam ahead to Horta.

Lots of love to everyone at home – hope you are all well and not too jealous, and that you are prepared to sit through hours of photos when I get back…

Corrie xx


Tuesday 13/1/15

Hi to all the families and loved ones of the crew of Challenger 1. We continue to make steady progress towards the Azores, in fact we’re approaching halfway. Our watch, (red watch – Gary, John, Oli and George) were on duty during the night and had its first taste of motoring due to a complete lack of any winds. Certainly not as much fun as cruising under the power of wind but does have the advantage of horizontal toilet seats! We also had some rainfall as we hit a squall, the rain feels like needles on your face. Perhaps a small introduction to what lies ahead beyond the Azores. The following dawn was particularly beautiful and the sun dried our clothes.

Presently the sun is shining and we’re back under sail on a course of 085 degrees. The on board sound system entertains the crew with many a blast from the past. Those with memories of, or interest in the seventies are very well served. Pink Floyd, The Who, Simon and Garfunkel, Bob Dylan, Kate Bush, Deep Purple, Rolling Stones, Beatles still sound as good in the middle of the Atlantic. We also had a ‘Name the Theme Tune’ competition.

The galley continues to pump out good food, homemade bread and cakes being the latest additions. The bread makes particularly good toast – just what you need in the early hours on deck. The resident fisherman is starting to flag and letting some fish get away. However the excitement of a running line and screeching reel still draws most of the crew to the stern while a few wily ones scamper towards the heads and take advantage of the flat boat!

We saw our second ship earlier today, a car carrier heading towards Europe. The race in on!

All the best from Red Watch, time to go and enjoy some fresh fish.

Love to Leila, Keziah, Imogen and Bryony.

Also Marguerite, David and Alasdair.

Oli says, “Mum, stop worrying, I’m not dead, Dad, don’t worry there’s still time!”

George, Ollie & John


Sunday 11/1/15

Hello there, I am Tim, part of Blue watch on this epic ocean voyage.

We have had 706 nautical miles slip under our keel as we journey across this immense fractal landscape that is the Atlantic Ocean. Things finally seem to be settling into a routine as we get used to the watch system and the cooking and cleaning. It feels awfully vulnerable sometimes sailing here in the middle of this vast expanse of water but our little ship is a tough thing with a steel hull and a stainless steel deck, that sails to windward beautifully, one can almost spin the wheel with one finger and when the wind gets up a bit, it is so exhilarating to be at the helm! Spending time on deck is fantastic, although there is no land to be seen the colours and patterns of the waves are endlessly fascinating and the star-scape at night without any light pollution to get in the way, is just phenomenal!

I am having a really good time on this trip, all of the crew are really lovely people, I have had some great conversations. The only damper on things is the horror of using the heads when the boat is leaning over and bouncing up and down over the waves, which is basically all the time!

I hope all is well with everyone at home and there have been no disasters. Special love to Jen and the cats, I am missing you loads.

That’s all for now!

Tim xxx


Friday 9/1/15

Progress is good as we begin our third day at sea with 370 nautical miles run since we left Antigua with about 200 of those being in the right direction – us sailors are at the mercy of the wind! Happily the weather is expected to change in the next few days to allow us a much better course up to Horta. Most of the crew have now found their sea legs with everyone now feeling quite at home on deck with just a couple people still feeling a bit rough when down below. The whole crew is getting stuck in with all the jobs both on deck and below – even those feeling a bit rough – so extra credit to them for pushing through their seasickness.

There was a lot of excitement on deck just after my watch came on duty this morning when one of the two lines that Chief Fisherman Emmnuel had set behind the boat got a bite. After quickly stopping the boat a combined effort between all the watches meant that the fish was reeled in, bought on board and fileted all within about 15 minutes! The Dorado was later baked in a lovely marinade by Ollie and George which gained them much brownie points with the crew.

Unfortunately the water maker has not yet been commissioned so the crew are all feeling very sticky with temperatures below deck being very high – with the lucky exception of my watch who spotted a squall in the distance around lunchtime and had the foresight to get some soap on deck and have a shower in the tropical rain which was a new and very pleasant experience for most of us. Definitely not something you would try back at home!

A fond hello to my Mum, and all of my friends at home who I miss very much and will contact when I can!

Blue W/L Andrew, 20


Thursday 8/1/15

200 nautical miles under our keel, only 2000 more to the Azores. Seasickness is abating and it now only takes three times as long for a wee. Great things are coming out of the galley as we take tums at the cooking. Wind is variable and we have tacked several times to maintain course. Some of the manoeuvres were even deliberate and we are getting slicker in executing them. Still heading north looking for some fair winds before turning east. Our fishing guru Emmnuel tells us he caught a monster fish but few of us saw it and sadly it was lost in the fight to land it. Watches are divided into 4 hours during the day, 3 hours at night and we are anticipating the next 4 weeks of broken sleep. Easier for those of us who have had children. Morale is high and nice bonds are forming between us all so  roll on tomorrow. Love to O & C from Ma and Pa.

Richard, 63 ( grandfather to the crew )


Wednesday 7/1/15

Today we left Jolly Harbour, Antigua, which had everyone with a camera, or the 6 go pro’s on board, standing on deck looking very touristy. The view and perspective was fantastic! After we motored out to a sufficient depth we began training, we raised the main sheet, the stay sail and the yankee switched off the engine then tacked and jibed a few times. We were shown the procedure for a man (or woman) overboard and after that we set sail for the Azores! The first impression most people had of life at sea was that going for a wee takes about five times longer than normal. We are currently trying to shake off the sea sickness and are all looking forwards to whatever the next day will bring!

– James, 23

Atlantic Circuit – AC 004, Barbados – Antigua

Tuesday, December 16th, 2014 - No Comments »


Well, we arrived at the 24 hr marina at Rodney Bay St Lucia but they were out, and so we anchored outside under two pitons (big pointy hills)  which brought Jean-Paul Gaultier and his most famous underwear model to mind.  7 very sticky ladies who had been promised a shower whimpered pathetically, and Kev was heard to weep silently into his towel,  but we bedded down in our bunks and at 8.30 the next morning the 24 hr marina opened and we motored into our berth in the superyacht basin because we are too big to go with the other yotties.  While ours was undoubtedly the most beautiful boat, as a crew we didn’t half let the side down. For some unaccountable reason the superyachts seem to be manned by leggy blondes and bronzed hunks – and we can only muster two of those on Challenger  2.( Kev and Darren, need you ask.)

This being Challenger, not our neighbour Tosca  –a giant sleek catamaran with undoubtedly a crew of hundreds – our next task was to deep clean, which was done with incredible teamwork and skill until we gleamed.    And then we could get to the showers , O hooray!. The crew then accepted various challenges for the rest of the day, including sourcing a tour of the island from the lady at the the charity stall’s brother-in law’s best friend and his mate (Ronny and Lucius), mastering the eating of cassava bread with raisins, or salt fish.  You pays yer money and you takes yer choice.  The tour visited the sulphur springs, went to a funeral, and did some quality checks at a Rum distillery.  Hard work but someone……….. A set of cultural encounters of true international relevance and importance.  Honestly.

Those left behind managed the laundry –either done in house, hung on the guard rails with undies covered decorously by a towel (St Lucia’s superyacht clientele possibly not ready for the sight of our smalls we thought) or managed by the Marina laundry – Suds – which delivers directly back to the boat, baked a cake, found a binnacle and polished it.  Could not find a barnacle to remove otherwise would have done.

So imagine 5am, awaking on your superyacht between the Egyptian cotton sheets, perhaps sidling to your self contained ensuite, and what do you espy twinkling past your porthole.  The sturdy, and to be honest at this stage fairly hairy, legs of the Challenger Crew, walking the ¼ mile back from the shower to set sail and leave port at 6am.  en route to Guadeloupe. And not one of us would change places.  White tailed tropicbirds accompany our passage.

Alison and Anne – mothers for the day.



We eventually arrived around 9pm at Bequia, where we dropped anchor.  Having decided that it would be nice to eat out, we visited Bequia by night – now experienced hands at getting in and out of the dinghy to get ashore.  We had a good meal at Jack’s Bar and later returned to challenger2, ready for our bunks.

Jane and Linda were on mother watch today and everyone enjoyed fresh fruit salad, cereals, fruit juice and bacon butties for those who wanted it.  Breakfast over, we all returned to shore to explore the beautiful island of Bequia.  Princess Margaret had good taste!  We set off to explore and were met with beautiful white sandy beaches, crystal clear seas which appeared full of fishes. The locals were very friendly and welcoming.

Even in the Caribbean there is time for retail therapy.  We indulged ourselves in local tea shirts and shopping bags.  Prize for the brightest Caribbean shirt goes to Kev – definitely requires sunglasses. We had the best ice cream of the trip so far, lunch at Whaleboners and time for a quick swim in front of Jack’s ~Bar before setting off for St Lucia.

Back on board, the treats continues with gingerbread and fresh pineapple all round, courtesy of the mother watch.

Right now, we are motoring in the lee of St Vincents before continuing the sail up to St Lucia.

New experiences:  close up encounter with a brown Noddy, Sarah now reports dolphins and 2 turtle sightings, reefing the main.

Linda and Jane 



After a good night’s sleep, Ann and Penny were on mother watch.  They (we) did all their duties at record speed, preparing fresh fruit salad, egg and bacon baps, fruit juice, cereal and hot drinks, before cleaning below decks.  We drew the line at checking behind people’s ears!

After applying copious volumes of suntan cream and Off! Insect repellent, we motored round to the front of the island to clear customs, taking the opportunity to explore, buy fresh fruit and meet the really friendly locals.  The team walked along Main street, marvelling at the art, graffiti and policemen dressed in full black uniforms including bovver boots.

On the way back out to our anchorage, we stopped at Happy Island – and we were!  Then, all aboard again to what could only be described as paradise.  Tobago Cays.  It epitomises everything you could expect from the Caribbean brochures.  White sand, palm trees, turquoise water and incredible wildlife.  New challenge for some members today were learning to snorkel and tread water.

Ann was kissed by a stingray and headed for the beach at record speed, thinking it could be a shark attack. Then a kind and friendly local explained that the rays come in to the shore because they feed the waste from the fresh lobsters to them.  We spotted puffer fish, groupers and stingrays, sea urchin, crabs and a number of reef fish varieties.

Now safely back on board, we are en-route for Bequia, eta 8.30 local time.

The great Penny and Ann mother watch is over! Eating out tonight, under the stars.



The morning started with a fabulous swim in the infinity pool which was a refreshing start to what was apparently the hottest day to date on this challenge.  All tired and a little the worse for wear after our long journey, most of us spent the day trying to hide from the sun and escape the heat.

After lunch we flew the spinnaker for 6 hours, until the wind dropped, when we were forced to motor the rest of the journey to Union Island.  During this lovely sail, a large pod of dolphins raced alongside us and under our keel as if welcoming us to the Caribbean. Alison Ryan, nature enthusiast extraordinaire, was able to introduce the entire crew to cloud spotter’s guide and informed us that the birds we saw were brown boobies, gannets and regular gulls.

After anchoring, lights were out by midnight and the light breeze helped to cool our steel sardine tin, so we all slept better.


Here we all are on Leg 4. After a good flight, we all landed in Barbados, where a slow clearance through customs meant that we didn’t arrive at challenger 2 until after dark. We were welcomed aboard to a magnificent supper on the open deck. We shared stories about our sailing experiences (or lack of them) and how we had found ourselves on this incredible adventure.

Of course we also benefitted from an intro to the bar and facilities of the yacht club at Port St Charles…

CF324 ARC – Canaries to St Lucia – Challenger 4

Monday, November 24th, 2014 - 39 Comments »

Day 21

After a quiet night with most of the crew eating on-board, everyone was up early. Half the crew which where involved in a deep clean of the interior yesterday, have this morning booked a tour of the island taking in some of the amazing sights, including the stunning waterfalls and mud baths, the boat might need another clean on their return!

The other half of the crew who ventured out yesterday, have been this morning giving the yacht a very good deck wash down and scrub. She defiantly deserves it, after getting us all here safely. As we have a birthday boy today (Archie) we are planning a crew meal, not only for the 19 year old but as a goodbye and end to the amazing voyage we have had.

I would like to thank everyone who has followed and supported us through this adventure and hope next time you will be the ones taking on the challenge. It has been my privilege to skipper and sail with everyone on-board and I now like the crew look forward to returning home to -8 conditions! Though for us lucky few including Archie, Robbie and Dave we are sailing 200nm up to Antigua first where the boat will be based for Christmas.

Wishing everyone an equally good build up to Christmas

Michael Collier


Day 20

Yesterday was a fairly chilled day with a few of us (Travis, Robbie, Archie, Steve and Pippa) spending the day at Pigeon Island, climbing the fort and admiring the stunning view of the island, enjoying the beach and sea and a bite at the local café with a great view. Some amazing Roti’s were devoured and delicious cocktails consumed.

Some of the others (Carlos, Tim, Dave, Jim, Bob) took a tour of the South Island on a large Catamaran which included a mud bath, swimming in a waterfall and a look at the “caldera” of the volcano and loving the rotten egg smell. Much punch was consumed and good food eaten.

In the evening, we all took a large Catamaran organised by the ARC office to the local fish market for the first of two street parties where we continued to feast on freshly caught prawns, lobster and fish accompanied by a mixture of local sides and perhaps a little of the rum concoctions, some which were closer to rocket fuel than rum. Jim and Carlos were soon leading the locals in some sort of Spanish influenced river dance which went down well. Archie and Robbie were well chuffed with the dreadlocks that the locals gave them and kept getting confused for locals (according to them).

After a trip back to the Marina later in the evening with the same catamaran, we continued onto the next really packed street party close to the Marina where we boogied the night away to a great DJ with the friendly St Lucians and some of the crews which had recently arrived. A great day and night was had by all but I think we are all feeling really tired today after all the great food…

It has been an amazing time so far and we are all feeling a little sad that it is almost over so talks have already begun as to where we can pitch our tents if we remain here until 2018.

A shout out to the fandamily in SA and my peeps in London, I might just be bringing back my chilled island attitude to the big city.


Recuerdos a todos. GE (Carlos).

Travis(aka Tdawg, aka the sail locker gremlin)  


Day 19

Everyone’s enjoying the sun now, and in a much more relaxed mood. Some people went on a tour of northern St Lucia yesterday and even looked round a house that Amy Winehouse rented out! Today some of the older members have gone on a mud bath trip while the others are off to Pigeon Island for some snorkelling and a walk up to the fort. Everyone is definitely in the Caribbean mood.



Day 18

O’Mahonys & Irish – Greetings from Saint Lucia

Landed Tuesday morning at 9.30 am. We are well placed in the race – our yacht set a new record time for Challenger yacht class. Everybody on board are in high spirits – we were greeted with rum cocktails on arrival – party on man!!

The weather is glorious – warm with odd bit of shower, hence green vegetation generally.

People here are friendly and helpful. I met several Irish people at reception party last night.

I am planning to take a tour of the island soon. In the meantime we are enjoying the sunshine and warm sea – still a bit wobbly on land after spending 15 days on yacht.

I hope u are all well.

Looking forward to meeting u on 18-12-14.

Love Jim xxxxx


Day 17

Well we have arrived! In some style 09.52 local time. Cruising in on a close reach we rounded the Pigeon Island spit and the whole glorious Rodney Bay opened up in front of us.   We had the Island in view since well before 09.00am – a fresh Easterly breeze blowing clouds across the green and wooded mountains! What a sight. Hope the people in the luxury mountainside villas were watching. Three cheers as we crossed the line – all crew manning the windward side – then we put in a tack!  Difficult to remember how to do that – worse still – how do we drop and stow the mainsail?

Official photographer in zodiac – riding it like a bucking bronco obviously thought we were photogenic as we had several “posed” crew shots taken. Then into the marina – small bay but what facilities! Moored up to big concrete pontoons and stepped ashore – transition from rocking boat to flat land was made easier by some marina staff who served us all with a Caribbean cocktail from a plastic wheelbarrow full of ice! A representative of the St. Lucia tourist board then gave the Skipper a small basket of fruit – oh no! not more bananas!  Mind you this time they were perfectly ripe and not giving off noxious gases.

A couple of hours were then spent heaving everything out of the sail locker – folding and bagging sails and cleaning everything in sight. Then the rush to the showers. Yes – there really was no time limit to how long you could stand there. Good thing Challenger 1 turned up a couple of hours behind us – we had reached the point of putting up the big deck shade (well you try walking on a hot steel deck) and they were the ones with the knowledge about how to rig it

The rest of the day / evening passed in a bit of a haze. I can recommend the Rum and Ginger Beer cocktail. Events at the marina complex got going early evening as more crews arrived.  So tired though that an early to bed was in order – Tomorrow is another day – another party.

Jeremy N. 

Day 16

So another frustrating day with barely any wind, Challenger 1 is now in VHF range which means they’ve caught up a bit but we should still beat them in! My watch had the excitement of a storm last night so we actually covered 10 miles in an hour! Other than that we’ve averaged around 6 knots and are due to arrive in St Lucia at some point tomorrow , at the time of writing we have 120 miles to go so we’re all looking forward to getting in now and getting the first drink down us!

Last night was also the first night we kept our spinnaker up overnight and it looks like we will tonight as well, it means we keep our speed up but makes the watches a bit nervier as it’s harder to spot what the kite is doing in the dark! Don’t want to wrap that!

Other than that a pretty quiet day, enjoying the sun and peace and quiet before the celebrations of getting in tomorrow begin. Travis almost landed a huge fish this afternoon although it was a little bit too big and actually snapped his line, not disheartened, he’s up there now with a new line singing to the sea hoping to catch another.

I think we’re already to stretch our legs as 2 weeks is a long time to spend on our 72 ft Island! Thanks for all the messages from all friends and fam! Hopefully we will all be able to find a way of replying tomorrow as we find signal/wifi.

Signing off for now

Watch Leader Sam

(Thanks for the e-mail dad, chrimbo looking good now!)

Day 15

Yesterday I was woken up to the sound of chaos as the lads tried to dispatch a fish outside my bunk window – screams of ‘quick pass the hammer’ – thud, ‘it’s still alive’ – thud, ‘watch the spines’ – flap, flap, flap, ‘eek, its slippery’ -thud, ‘hit it, its lips are still moving’ – thud.  Silence. Then the sweet metallic smell of blood wafted past my nostrils – Time to get up I think!  Least I knew we had something fresh for lunchJ. From the commotion I was expecting them to have landed a whopper – but when I got up on deck it was clear that lunch was out of the question – possibly a canapé each.   Sam and Travis gutted and fileted it straight away – Well done lads, it may have been small but it was very tasty, and its more than I have caught on my rod!

With absolutely no wind, we made slow progress and bobbed about for what seemed like hours– despite the frustration of not moving it was a lovely day.  The sun was shining and as we were going nowhere fast everyone relaxed into a day on deck listening to music, reading and chatting.  We even got a glimpse of a large pod of dolphins as they rushed past us on a mission. For the first time in a long time I felt a real sense of calm – it was a little overwhelming.  Plus its shower night tonight – woo-hoo the perfect end to the day!!!

Not much fresh food left now, so a hotdog and onions lunch was enjoyed by all, followed by a pasta pesto dinner – not much wind up top, but plenty below deck!  The ham hanging in the sail locker is looking a little worse for wear – I think today will be the day it is finally consigned to the sea, it has done us proud.

We kept the spinnaker up throughout the night to at least prevent us from going backwards.  With little sailing to be had we kept our spirits up drinking hot chocolate, telling really terrible jokes Robbie and Sam who are the kings, and sharing embarrassing stories – a category in which I excelled in!  Now Monday morning, the wind has picked up at last and we have hit 8 knots – yay – we are still hoping to see St Lucia tomorrow!!  Can’t wait to speak to my babies (Bo and Sookie, mummy is thinking of you) I will be on that phone as soon as I get a signal – much love to you all – Pippa xxxxx


Day 14

Today is Feast Day. A day of feasting. Where feasts were had. Food was consumed. Beverages were downed. The day opened with an abundance of pancakes (fried by the skipper himself) until half of the crew were immobile with bursting bellies. Bacon and brie baguettes followed for lunch, with some being eaten on deck soon after a tropical downpour provided surprise showers for those who wanted. However the sun soon came through and reduced everyone down into a suffering heap, although the boiling temperatures are yet to deter the crew from turning away from their English roots and not having a mug of tea in their hands every hour of the day. During the afternoon many snacks were had including fig rolls and haribo, although the sun soon melted the haribo into a runny goop. Feast Day concluded with Classic Chilli Con Carne. With the wind threatening to die off at times, the lead on Challenger 1 remains at around 50nm.

Shout out to the Hinde fam #MALMP



Nik, Ryan and Caitlyn I found your video messages yesterday and they really cheered me up so thank you very much.  I love you too. We are hoping to arrive in St Lucia on Tuesday so I will give you a call then although we might have melted by then due to the heat and lack of air at night. I am even using a wet flannel on my head to keep cool. I hope all the appointments went ok this week – I have been thinking about you.  Love to all. Mum I hope you are behaving yourself. Trish xxx


Good morning Cox’s,Gilberts et al

06.00 and all well. Going like a train with poled out yankee.Only519 miles to go until a floor that doesn’t move and a loo that flushes. Hope all is well and I know you would hate this efernal heat and sun. Love to you all. Tim


Urghhh too hot – it is unbearable and everyone leaps up on deck when the rain comes. We have banned baking in the night – with the aim of not raising the temperature below deck any more than absolutely necessary – so no more midnight cookies or cakes from the lads – Carlos reckons we all eat far too much anyway – he is probably right!!  I’m missing my babies (Bo and Sookie) and can’t wait for big cuddles – hope you have a good last week at school beautifuls, and ill phone as soon as we hit land  xxxx.  The layers have come off and its very difficult to look anywhere without a getting an eye full – I’ve ditched the glassesJ My lily white skin is making the final transition to freckle-hood – there is no shade anywhere.  Looking forward to getting to the other side now – Christmas is going to be a real luxury  – love to you all Pippa xxx


Hello again from Grandad Steve! As you can see, still very warm, only the odd brief shower to cool us down. Just less than 500 miles to go and I can swear there is a scent of beer in the air…! Looking forward to swimming in bright blue sea with almost all you could want close at hand… Lots of Love to all and for Liza another SWALK ! (Getting soft, must be the sun!)


Day 13

Thursday – another day of sunshine and fair breeze.  Spinnaker up before breakfast and then turn and turn about on the helm. The rising temperature means the search for a comfortable place to sleep has become urgent. There are the “saloon sleepers” and the “forepeak sleepers” both seem to have found some sort of comfort.

A splendid lunch of tuna and pasta by Bob and Tim.  During the afternoon the “young people’s” art group swung into action – some very thought provoking (and “interesting”) drawings have been put on display. Big event late afternoon was the arrival of some whales! – some mini-whales – not the Moby Dick type.   They stayed with us for a good half hour – playing in the wake. We are yet to identify the exact type as we have mislaid the Observer Book of Whales (name suggestions included Titus and Brutus, Zeus and Poseidon and Wilhelm and Wilhemina)

Message to All Saints Primary School Putney – from Mr. Noble. “hope the rehearsals for the school nativity play are going well”.

Day 12

Day 10 in the big brother house. The constant rumble of thunder on the port side has us believing that a massive thunder storm is brewing – or maybe it’s just a certain somebody hoping that their partner at home will hear them. No bob’s / cough cough names mentioned. Needless to say, we are a little sleep deprived and constantly discussing with big brother in the diary room. Ag Big Brother won’t you play us a little Dido.

Trip so far has been really good although exhausting with the heat and I am looking forward to reaching the distant shores of St Lucia. Missing all my peeps in London and thinking loads about the fandamily in SA. Love to all!

Travis (Sail Locker Gremlin)


Good morning campers, and welcome to another day on the wet tundra.  Once again we see no ships as we weave our way towards St Lucia.

We had wonderful food starting with scrambled eggs on toast for breakfast, do-it yourself sandwich construction for lunch with the old favourites of different salamis, hams and cheeses and a wonderful chicken curry for dinner served on deck. The chicken curry base came out of tins which afforded more ammunition for the ‘clay pigeon shooting’ off the stern with Archie scoring a good hit as a ‘target’ can is thown up for others to try and hit.

The sun was pretty relentless so a duvet cover has been strung up as a sort of parasol for the helm – I am sure a real sailor wouldn’t approve.

The young lads baking skills are being honed to a fine edge with Robbie baking cakes in the middle of the night, although the quality control checks were so thorough that none were left for the following watch to sample. I am sure they will be offering their skills to their families on their return (not).

Dave (PG Dave)


Buenos dias! La travesia sigue con muy buen tiempo, calor por el dia y nuboso, y a veces lluvia, por la noche. Seguimos sin ver muchas cosas, algunos delfines, peces voladores y ayer un pajaro con rumbo Este. Estamos a punto de hacer las 2000 millas y ya todo es hablar de cuando llegaremos o que haremos en St. Lucia. Hemos adelantado la hora ya dos veces y aun tenemos que hacerlo dos veces mas. Creo que llevamos un buen ritmo y ademas nos ayuda la corriente ecuatorial. Lo que mas impresiona es la soledad por la noche con el barco lanzado contra el mar, te sientes a la vez muy poca cosa y con muchisima suerte por poder vivir esta experiencia. Os quiero a todos! GE


Day 11

It is still searingly hot today – no respite from the heat anywhere. We are all taking turns in the sail room as it’s the coolest, shadiest part of the boat – but it’s all relative – We have a resident nightly sail locker gremlin (Travis) who hides amongst the fenders at night, his face peering out in despair! It’s by no means spacious either, having to make yourself comfortable among the fenders and sails is only made harder by having to contend with an entire Spanish leg of ham dangling from a sail tie.

Well done girls  (Bo and Sookie) on your nativities – mummy was thinking about you all day and wishing I was there – daddy tells me you did a fabulous job :)

We were woken up to a lovely breakfast of scrambled eggs on toast this morning – mmm thanks to Tim and Jeremy.

We are beginning to see more and more wildlife now – dolphins seem to appear daily but only for a few minutes at a time.  Flying fish pop out of the water throughout the day and glide gracefully across the waves before plopping back in (Both Robbie and Charles have decided they’re their new favourite animals).  One unfortunate flying fish made it on deck yesterday – the lads found it as stiff as a board – needless to say its flying days were over, but this didn’t stand in the way of it being named Eileen/Maximus Tyrone Duwayne (nobody knew how to tell the gender of a flying fish…) and being given the honorary position of boat mascot, however the rest of the crew drew the line at it being hoisted in the rigging.

Both Travis and Pippa have been putting their fishing rods out – but the boat speeds are too high at the moment to catch anything.

Nik, Caitlyn, Ryan – Hope you are all ok and that you enjoyed the lego show at the weekend. I expect you have a long list for Christmas now.  I am missing you all very much and looking forward to getting a big hug when I am back. Love to the rest of the family –stay safe and please email me some news

Tx/Mummy xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Shout out to any members of the vG family following our progress – please do your best to make sure mum isn’t worrying unnecessarily, love to all! Soph – the onesie went down a treat at the half-way party and the Christmas jumper’s due to make an appearance any day! Cx

If anyone I (Robbie) know is reading this, please pass on my stocking request to Santa: more socks and a tangerine. And send love to the dogs.

#MALMPGood morning Gina and Cox’s

All well 1700 down and only 1000 miles to go. Just made scrambled eggs for 16 and nobody vomiting yet. Pink elephants passing but looking forward to 1st rum. Love to Mum. Love Tim

St Lucia’s feeling closer by the day! Love to all, Charles and Pippa

Lots of love to Bailey-Rae and Jasper and of course the grown-ups too! Scorching hot here in mid-Atlantic, sun cream at a premium, shade even more so! Late afternoon is good when the sails cast their shadow over the deck.  We haven’t even got to the hot bit yet…! For Liza, SWALK.

Os quiero mucho a todos. Aqui todo es estupendo y la gente es encantadora. Tiempo muy bueno y ahora vientos ligeros, por lo que hacemos solo 7 u 8 nudos. Pequenaja me acuerdo mucho de ti. Un beso muy fuerte. GE

Hi all in SE24, hope  it’s nice and sunny there.  Thanks for your email, much appreciated. We are eating well here although the fresh vegetables are running low so will have to resort to jars/tins soon. Part of the routine here is daily anti-bacterial wipedown of all surfaces, handholds and toilets and full sweep and wash down of all floors, something that would be appreciated in some quarters, I’m sure. As you have heard it is so hot and humid, vey difficult to sleep at night {but then usually woken every 2 and ½ hours when the watches are changed!)  Take care Dx.

O’Mahonys & Co              Wednesday 3-12-14        Hi All Thanks for your comms

We are progressing well on Challenger 4 – we have done 1,732 nautical miles – just another 1,000 to St Lucia – Tally Ho! Great sailing in great company – esstumpendo!! Light winds at present, ideal sunny conditions – getting the tan sorted.  Brilliant blue seas.

Not a boat in sight – sailed into massive arc rainbow spanning the Atlantic on Tuesday.

Love to all Jim


Day 10

So the day after the day before…. It would be nice to boast of hangovers after our halfway party but feeling full from cake and burritos turned out to be just as satisfying. It was however still quite difficult to wake up at 3 AM this morning! So with the halfway point been and gone everyone on board seems to be constantly checking the distance logged/to go and seem quite ready for the delights of St Lucia! last night proved to be quite uncomfortable for some with incredibly hot temperatures affecting a lot of peoples sleep unfortunately some ‘hitting the wall’ meant Archibald (the sixth) and Travis fled to the sail locker for a cooler sleep. We were awoken/stirred this morning to another fine round of bacon baguettes cooked by Chef Robbie! A nice slow day was had by all with blistering sunshine all through the day enjoying jacket potatoes for lunch and a noodley meal for dinner. We are all looking forward to getting there now and are all quite concerned for Charles as he seems to be reading everything on board, he has to be averaging one book a day and others are finishing their books to give him something else to read, it’s as though we’re all a bit afraid of what he’ll do when he runs out! Hopefully ST Lucia has a book store!

Other important news today, myself, as a responsible watch leader has had to deploy myself as a peace keeping force as a war has broken out between Archibald the sixth of Yorkshire and Robbie the first of Hampshire, details are sketchy but it appears Robbie initiated the war with pouring water on a napping king Archibald in the hammock, the favour was returned with a bucket load of sea water down the heads hatch onto an unsuspecting Robbie. Many many mind games and battles have ensued this afternoon and I fear for innocent bystanders who may become involved, hopefully the two kings can come to a settlement before more water is thrown about! Under a peace keeping forces interview Archibald the sixth only response to questions was ‘loooooose’ Robbie the first was unavailable for interview at the time of writing. (zzzzz)

Anyway time for a power nap before watch

Peace out

Watch leader Sam

(hey Jem J)


Day 9

The halfway party has begun, and this brought out a variety of outfits, although surprisingly none in the theme of advent. Tim and Dave emerged as fearsome pirates (accompanied by a slightly more ‘confused’ pirate: Travis), whilst the Skipper, Mate and Watch Leaders went all out as Hula Girls. A less sensible approach was taken by Archie, Robbie and Charles who decided to dress fancy, wearing full Tuxedo attire. This landed them the job of waiters as they handed round the various baked treats and drinks on offer. Other costumes ranged from Lawrence of Arabia (Jeremy) to Wonder Woman (Patricia). All the while the kite was kept flying and rarely has the speed dropped below 8 knots, ensuring that our lead of around 40nm on Challenger 1 has been maintained, if not increased! The dancing was interrupted briefly by an exclusive invite-only live concert by the new up and coming artist Archibald VI. It was a sell-out, involving boisterous crowd participation. Rumour has it Jim was asked to leave at one point but was allowed to stay on the basis that after such copious amounts of cake he would be unable to swim the 2500nm back to Ireland. The half-way point was also celebrated with the long awaited leg of ham being hung in the sail locker, and Skipper Monkey and Archie did the honours of carving and serving the first round of fresh pig. The last tangerine has been replaced in the fruit hammocks by the still green bananas which are hopefully due to ripen just in time. So all is good as we look forward to the second half of this amazing journey. Please keep the emails from home coming as they are really appreciated and keep us smiling even after we get soaked changing the sails.  Hope you are all getting ready for Christmas as Dave, Patricia, Travis, Archie and Mike have been practising carol singing during the 12-3am watch.

:)  #MALMP


Day 8

Today the winds were steady and we got the kite up at dawn. This was kept flying all day, with frequent helm changes due to the heat. Lunch was a make your own sandwich, and this caused a clear out of all mouldy fruit and veg. To the delight of the bois (Sam, Archibald (the 6th), Charles and Robbie (and Alex, simmer down tiger)), a game of “fruit smashing” took place. Research was done on board by the bois, and we can now confirm that mouldy avocados are the best food source to use when playing… Fruit Smashing. After a delicious batch of special brownies cooked by Patricia, a competition arose after there was one last brownie left, but 3 of the bois and the mate wanted it. Many many manyyyy press ups lataar, a winner was produced. Some say he is the off spring of the hulk, but other just know him as Sam. Mid-morning pirates were on our tail, sneaking up on us through the sunrise, but forgetting to turn their AIS off so were soon spotted. After a swift spinnaker hoist and Travis’ unforgettable and mentally scarring short shorts, we left them in our wake, and the pirates of the Black Pearl will never be seen again. Supper was bangers and mash, and to the relief of Charles there was no salad as we have now run out of this. We were soon joined by dolphins which were quickly serenaded by Archibald the 6th, and these tunes carried on through sunset. The half way party will commence tomorrow to the delight of everyone, outfits are being planned, and rumour has it, the waiters for such a fine feast were brought in specially and will be suited and booted.

Shout outs from Archie go to Alex, simmer down tiger, to my bois in Yorkshire #SAV, Sash and Lils.

Robbie would like to make a shout out to his parents who haven’t noticed he has left yet, and also to all of his loved ones who haven’t stopped celebrating since his departure.

Shout outs from Sam go to all the crowd at the Plough Inn, all the famalamadingdon, the pooch and gem.

Written by King Archibald the 6th of Yorkshire. 


Day 7 - A blog from the Mate.

Today was a great day for milestones. Not only did we pass the 1000 nautical barrier, we also broke out the Christmas carols whilst on night watch. I’m not quite sure how these relate, but for me they are important since tomorrow will mark the first day when I can open my advent calendar which excites me to no end. I literally can’t fathom why and how I am the only person on board who thought of bringing one on this crossing. Tomorrow is also my mum’s birthday so happy birthday mum! I hope you like the card! I’d send you a postcard from out here, but I hear that the carrier pigeon mail service is a little unreliable this far from land.

The crew has settled into our 72ft island really well and have made it very homely. When I have to walk to the back of the boat to fish out some spares or tools, it is a little bit like entering Jurassic park. The smells, the random assortment of hanging clothes, the mess, the bodies sprawled out in unfathomable position and postures in an effort to get comfortable on a platform that is rolling from side to side. I often see the starfish pose, the coffin pose, the side roll to roll pose… it is rather like entering the wild, and I haven’t even started on the snoring yet…

The watch system is working well and allowing plenty of rest during the night as well as plenty of social time during the day. This allows time for baking which I am quite keen that the crew gets really involved in. There are few better smells than that of freshly baked bread or cookies which are just cooling down before they get eaten.

The highlight of the day was probably when Travis caught a Dorado and we had it as a starter for dinner this evening. It truly was like dining at a posh restaurant tonight. Dorado starter, beautiful spaghetti bolognaise main course with a pinch of parmesan sprinkled on top. Unfortunately no dessert officially, but it’s fair to say that there were a significant number of cookies eaten soon after.

The halfway party is looming on the horizon and it’s fair to say, the Skipper and I have quite a number of surprises up our sleeves and treats in store. Are the crew of Ch4 ready for it? I think they are!

Mike Perham, Ch4 Mate


Day 6

Hello to year J1 at St Margaret’s!  It was great to receive your message. Well done Bo on your White Maths badge – mummy is very, very proud of youJ.  Yes it is fun on board, yesterday we had dolphins follow the boat, and the night watch saw flying fish, 2 of which landed on the deck of the boat! The sky at night is magical and we are doing our best to spot all the constellations – all we can see is sea, not a boat in site.  It is very hard work, cooking and cleaning below deck is gruesome – cooking pancakes this morning nearly broke Steve and I, ughhh – it’s very hot and stinky and only going to get hotter and stinkier as the weather continues to warm. Plus with the boat constantly moving and listing, everything is an effort, it is hard to stand-up and move around without bashing into something – we all have lots of bruises everywhere!  We are on a 3hr on, 6hr off watch system, with 3 watches, this is surprisingly ok, although we are all tired.  I was allowed my first shower yesterday in 5 days – eewww – it was bliss; we have to ration the fresh water on board. The food is good, but the fruit, veg and meat are going off quickly. Patricia and I’s bunks smell of very ripe pineapples as they are stored underneath. Travis caught a 50 cm Dorado this morning, so maybe we’ll be having fish for lunchJ Maybe it’s time to get my rod out too! Keep those emails coming in, they give everyone on board a real boost (we aren’t able to reply so keep an eye on the blog).

Sending cuddles from Challenger 4, missing you all very much.

Pippa xxxx

Hi O’Mahonys  – Jim is enjoying the challenge as we past 1/3 of the way yesterday. Spinnaker is flying, dolphins are playing with the boat and we even caught a dorado fish this morning. I have to be even more organised than usual as living conditions are very tight – this yacht is racing 24/7.


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 - 2 Comments »

Blog 16 / And now we’re here

For once White Watch was on duty for a major milestone. We missed the one third, half way and two thirds marks. We were also off duty when we reached the 1,000 and 2,000 mile marks. But at some point during our 10pm-1am watch on Monday evening, our watch leader Bob came up from the navigation desk and announced we had just under 100 miles to go.

What a feeling. It was clear that we would reach St Lucia at some point early afternoon on Tuesday, or perhaps even on Tuesday morning.

The morning passed quickly, with lots of activity. We showered, for the first time in eight days for some of us; imagine how good that felt. We donned our Informa t-shirts, took down the spinnaker, raised the Yankee 2 sail and set our course for Rodney Bay Marina.

The island – lush and mountainous with stunning villas dotted across the hillsides – was in sight for a good while as we approached the finish line. As we got closer, the official ARC photographer appeared on a motorboat (how’s that for a dream job?!) to capture the moment. We’ve now seen the proofs and there is no missing the excitement on everyone’s faces.

At just after 12.30pm, with Hendo at the helm, we sailed across the finish line to a blast of a horn from the finishing boat. We crossed the line in silence, as instructed by Skipper Steve, and then broke into cheers and clapping. After a few rousing rounds of “hip, hip hooray” for Steve, his team and Informa, we lowered the main sail, prepared the mooring lines, started the engine and motored towards our allotted berth in the marina.

We’d been expecting to be welcomed with ice-cold rum punch by representatives of the St Lucia tourist board and the ARC organisers, the World Cruising Club. What we hadn’t counted on as we continued our approach was seeing Sarah’s dad and (Danish) mum waving madly at us from what appeared to be someone’s front garden but was in fact a bar! The lovely image of Sarah’s mum joyously waving the Danish flag to welcome us is one that will stay with us for a long time.

And then we were there, 15-and-a-half hot, sweaty, fun-filled days after leaving Gran Canaria. Steve expertly manoeuvred Challenger 1 into place and Victoria threw the mooring lines into the waiting arms of the Challenger 4 crew (they had arrived just a few hours before us). Amid multiple hugs, kisses and high fives, we all got off the boat, desperate for our rum punch.

Conny’s mum and dad then appeared on the pontoon, making our arrival sweeter still. Together with Patricia, Pippa and Travis (our other Informa colleagues who’d been on Challenger 4), and Sarah’s mum and dad, the welcoming party was now complete.

Job done. Congratulations, Challenger 1.


Blog 15 / It’s like Christmas Eve

We are so close!! Yesterday was our last full day at sea and I think we all revelled in it.

However, I think tiredness is creeping in due to the unrelenting night shifts and the heat meaning sleep is to a minimum at the moment. Whitewalkers had the pleasure of the 4-7am shift – it was the first time I nearly fell asleep at the helm. It was a stunning night though and we pulled on through to 7am with a great sunrise. The evenings have been great too – the moon has been rising well after dark and looks like another sun coming up – it’s so orange as it rises above the horizon.

The big clean started first thing – we cleared out the sail locker, cleaned all the fenders, re-flaked sails etc. I did think at one point if anyone walked on the boat they would have thought we had lost our minds at sea – we had Christmas songs on the go, and while I sat cleaning eggs and wrapping them up, next to me was Simon carving the huge leg of ham with a very satisfied and determined smile. Lord Edwards had also surprised us the day before with some Christmas decorations so the saloon is looking positively festive.

The day was absolutely boiling and we had to swap our roles on watch much more regularly then normal so we could get some shade. Mothers Sarah, Lord Edwards and Steph were really looking after us by bringing up chilled water from the fridge – what a treat!! We (Whitewalkers) also made a new friend on our watch – a very cute little bird who came and sat right next to us for a while. We nicknamed him ‘Doobie’ after Karl’s singing and assume he is a migratory bird who got lost or needed a rest – poor little thing looked exhausted! He may have been too keen for a nap as he flew into the boys’ bunk area and then around the saloon. He even flew around us as we did a gybe (with a back drop of a stunning sunset).

There’s a good atmosphere on board, and it was great to have the comments through at lunch and be told we only had 135 miles to go. It felt slightly like Christmas Eve and today we woke up to Christmas Day (kind of). As I type we had a shout from upstairs saying ‘land ahoy’ – at the moment it’s very hard to see, but we are 39 miles off now so it’s full steam ahead. Currently in the middle of another gybe as we are heading too far north due to the wind, and we need to swing to the west. It’s pretty exciting being able to finally see land on the AIS screen (the tool which shows our route and progress).

We also have the joy of showers today!!! This is my 9th day without a shower (surprised you can’t smell me through the screen), and in an unplanned experiment I found that after the 7th day of no showers, dry shampoo does absolutely nothing! Should ask for my money back….

Signing off – the next blog will be as landlubbers!! About to take some sea sickness pills in anticipation of land sickness (so weird).

Caz (Caroline O) x

(38 miles to go)


Blog 14 / Almost there!!

After a day of light winds we have continued to make good progress over night, with winds as low 7-9 knots we have still been able to maintain speed over ground of 6-8 knots which is pretty impressive.

Yesterday proved to be our last lazy day as crew now prepare for our arrival in St Lucia after we dealt with the squall of the trip. After watching an electric storm ahead of us for 12 hours it finally hit us.  As we hoisted the genoa we were hit by a good squall which suddenly gave us winds from 7- 30 knots over the deck within minutes.  As we battled to bring down the genoa, gybe and then tack all within 10 minutes we managed to draw a lovely figure of eight pattern on our GPS track, just goes to show how wind direction can significantly change when the squall comes right across the deck.  With words of encouragement from the Skipper and the Mate the crew fought bravely through wind and rain and thoroughly enjoyed the experience.  Everyone agreed it was great to experience the full force of nature at least once during this crossing which has otherwise been sedate!!!

Mother watch worked well again in the heat and product and excellent menu of the day with an excellent dinner of sausage casserole and mash, some good basic British food not over done with chillies, peppers or ginger for a change.  We have had some great mother watches on this trip and the food has been excellent to date!

With only 300 nautical miles to go, the excitement among is growing. Most of us are very keen on keeping the boat at top speed. It seems like the skills built over the last 15 days are retuning result. We have recovered our ETA during the moring. Steve was happy to tell that we made it better than he had anticipated. Terry gave each of us a quick feedback on our sailing skills and gave a few us an insight into on the projected weather routes on the seaPro navigation system that was just updated prior to our trip to include such projection. This morning we spotted a large squall forming on the horizon, with a few adjustment on to our sail and course we happily passed it by. A beautiful rainbow rounded of the event.

Joint effort by Terry (Mate) and Christian (Trusted Helm but no fisherman)


From Maureen: Jamie, good luck with your mock GCSEs. Show them what you’re made of! Xxx

From Steph: Happy birthday Daddy! I hope you are spoilt rotten. Mia – please give dad a HUUUGE HUG FOR ME! Lots of love & see you soon xx


Blog 13 / Wind hole? Really? Maybe check again.

Ahoy mateys! Writing to you following a VERY eventful Sunday morning! Before we get into all of that, lets crack on with a run-down of the last 24 hours shall we?

Yesterday was a pretty calm day. With the wind coming at us from the beam we’ve had some good sailing averaging a solid 8-10 knots throughout the day. We have made some good progress on our distance now having travelled a total of 2470 nautical miles since setting out, leaving us with a measly 341 left to go with an ETA of 10.12.14. Not long left now!

The mood on board remains high. Mother watch (Conny, Maureen and Christian) did a cracking job supplying the crew with hands-down the best breakfast we’ve had so far (bacon, eggs, beans AND pancakes – pure luxury!) followed by some wonderful, artery-clogging banana flapjacks – yummy! We had a good amount of cloud cover which meant that everyone was up on deck enjoying the brief relief from the blazing sun. While on deck, excitement coursed through the group as our very own Swede yelled “Whale!” at the top of his lungs. While all eyes darted in the direction Christian pointed, he lobbed a ‘jobby’ bag over board – very sly move indeed! While we didn’t actually manage to spot any whales we were entertained by a playful pair of boobies (the birds!) who were fishing for their lunch. They were swooping in and out of our sails having a play before diving deep into the ocean in search of fish.

With the sun setting and the sea a beautiful shade of pink, everyone settled in for the routine night watches. Blue watch (Victoria, Stew and me – Steph) kicked off proceedings with a Christmas carol sing-a-long, running through Silent Night, Last Christmas and a revised version of “Twelve Days of Christmas” – including six fluffy clouds, seven prawn cocktails and eight Turkish rugs!

For the next 12 hours we sailed parallel to a huge storm with lightening streaking across the sky to the starboard side at regular intervals, with an appearance of two jumping dolphins. It wasn’t until the 7am watch change that things got a little dicey. The wind had dropped to 3-4 knots and the order had been given to hoist the Genoa (a sail that is 150% the size of the main sail – so pretty big!). Mid-hoist the ‘wind hole’ we’d been advised we would hit decided to turn into a massive squall. Within about 30 seconds the wind speed flew up – topping out at 37 knots – and the direction flipped from the south (where we want to go) to the north (where we’ve just been!).

Now being pounded by rain, with the boat going in circles (the AIS system shows a very neat figure of 8 as our path!), we had to drag in the partially hoisted Genoa, secure that on board and stow the Yankee 1 sail to make room for the Yankee 2. As this all happened within a matter of minutes no one was prepared for the onslaught of rain that hit us – including poor Sarah who was caught out in her PJs! Within minutes all of the crew on deck were soaked through to their undies, with Bob and Conny taking the opportunity to have a cheeky little shower in the rain! With everything secured on deck the crew retired down below to dry off and excitedly talk over our first major squall. While we were all drenched our spirits could not be higher.

We’re now all on alert for another squall looming to our port-side with shampoo and shower gel at the ready!

That’s all for now from the slightly damp, but considerably less smelly, Challenger 1 yacht. We look forward to hearing from everyone at home soon!

Steph x

Blog 12 / On water and keeping clean

I’ve just come off watch (4am to 7) to be greeted by an epic breakfast of pancakes, beans, bacon and scrambled eggs.    Thanks to the talented Motherwatch of Maureen, Connie and Christian, with the lovely Carl on pancake duty.

Our watch (Red) has decided to re-name itself the Wet Watch as we got totally soaked on both our watches last night.  Squalls coming in made helming exciting, with wind speeds up to 25 knots and big swells rocking the boat.    I’m getting better at it, although both Sarah and Conny are real helms experts.

Getting so completely sodden has made me reflect on keeping clean.  We were joking about taking our shower gel on deck with us next time we’re on watch.    As you will know from previous blog entries, due to our water maker malfunctioning, we are now restricting water usage.   No showers, no laundry and washing up to be rinsed first in salt water then in boiled kettle water.

It’s really hot and humid.   We’re all starting to hum.

Before the restrictions, we were allowed to ‘shower’ once every 3 days, by Watch.    This entailed sitting in the heads, either on the loo seat or the floor, and squirting a small white shower hose at ourselves.   If not careful this could lead to a painful scalding as the hot tap (oh those were the days) was V hot indeed.   Adjusting the temperature was obviously best done over the tiny sink before aiming the hose at your naked body.

We then lathered up to the best of our ability and rinsed it off with the hose.  All this of course at the inevitable angle of 45 Degrees, while lurching crazily from side to side.    Any towel or clean clothes needed to be hung up as high as possible to keep them dry-  and drying off required exquisite balance, or more bruised elbows.  And I learned the hard way not to lather up the nether regions too much or slipping off the loo seat could complicate matters.

The idea of course was to minimise water usage.   And without exception I can say we all really appreciated the chance to get clean all over.     It felt like a million dollars afterwards!

For now however this is not a privilege we can enjoy as cooking and food hygiene take preference with our limited water.

As for laundry this was done in a bucket on deck with a bar of Marseille soap then pegged out round the boat’s railings to dry.   But again this is not an option right now.

We are now all reviewing and rationalising our remaining clean underwear and clothes.  For my part I’m collecting those that absolutely beyond redemption and sealing them in plastic bags.  We’ve been assured that there are laundry facilities in St Lucia.   So let’s hope we get there soon!     We did discuss using the power of our Group’s unwashed aroma to get us a good place at the bar…..

Temperatures are rising in the beating sun upstairs on the deck, which is too hot to walk on from about 11.00, and below deck it’s also very warm.    We are nevertheless all in good health and good spirits and thanks for all your supportive comments.  With love from us to you, humming gently

Caroline x


Blog 11 / Corn beef Hash, a Busted Generator, a full moon and the still unsolved mystery of the jobby brush?

Another full day of epic sailing, with a string of intriguing events keeping us all on our toes. Full details below.

The day started with another magical sunrise that was rudely interrupted by the 6 am raise of the spinnaker (as a team we are much quicker at getting this out of the sail locker and out to flight than when we first started doing it). The Triple S were on mother watch (Baroness Johnson, Lord Edwards and Lady Nightingale) whipping up a storm in the kitchen firing out eggy bread and tostadas left, right and centre to everyone’s delight. This is really starting to show what a well-oiled team we have become!

As we settled into our watches the news started to filter through that the generator was on the blink! Steve, Tez and Bob with looks of anguish on their faces, fought tirelessly to identify what the problem was (No it wasn’t Hendo this time!). After scrupulous inspection it was narrowed down to a fault with the temperature switch, something we did not have a spare for and shockingly ScrewFix were unable to deliver! In a nutshell we up are up a rather large creek without a paddle! Now faced with no water maker, no shower and no bog brush the situation has become dire. The significant but not catastrophic event is one of many which is really starting to build a resilience in us all that feels unbreakable.

Outside the sun is shining bright and the temperature has certainly started to rise (especially in the bunks which have become saunas and make sleeping outside the night hours a mere impossibility). Therefore, hiding from the daylight sun has become a necessity and the galley which was once almost empty during the day, is now bustling with a rather red and overheated crew. The heat is certainly starting to bring a new dimension to this already significant challenge.

As the sun set and the beautiful full moon shaped the skyline and glistened off the waves; morale was at an all-time high. Down below the mother watch were preparing the first meal which many were somewhat sceptical of, corn beef hash. However this was quickly overturned when it was served up and was met with widespread approval. The dish comprised of a bed of lightly fried cabbage, with a fiery chilli/ginger hash topped off with a fried egg. Delicious.

We had a very successful overnight sail catching wind speeds of 15-18 knots and were even able to rack up 86 nautical miles in 9 hours. Pure pace. We have now racked up over 2000 miles; a real feat. Another first for our trip involved the rising of the sun coinciding with the setting of the moon which was a moment to savour.

Over and out for another day folks.

See you soon St Lucia (or land, whichever comes first).

Hendo and Conny (James and Andrew) x

p.s Mum, David, Krystal, Lindsey and Poppy thanks again for all the messages, cannot wait to spend Xmas with you all! Send my love to Nana especially! Love you all, James xxx

p.p.s Mum, Dad, Laura, Bro, Megs, and all the family, love you. Mum – I will make sure I get those signatures great idea :) Andrew/Conny

Blog 10 / The mother of all blogs! Pirates, party games and half-way presents!

By Sarah Nightingale (and the crew!)

Yesterday was the day to celebrate reaching the half way mark! Party time! It was an absolute scorcher of a day. My team had been on watch since 10am so were feeling the midday heat by noon. At 12 we had our daily update from the skipper when he announced that the next two hours were to be spent playing children’s party games and having some well deserved down-time! It was so much fun.

We started out by donning our pirate outfits. The theme was ‘pirates with a twist’ – and boy did we have a variety! We had pirate Dame Edna Everage (amazing effort by Hendo) to a cheerleading pirate (Steph) and a full sized parrot (Stew!). You can look forward to the piccies.

We then all gathered on deck to open our midway presents from our family and friends – a wonderful moment (some hilarious and some very moving!). A very special thank you to James for my lovely card and favourite sweets from home – you’ll not be surprised that the little packet of haribo  liquorice has already been demolished J Amazing how the little things feel so special. Jodie and Clare your retro sweetie bags and letter to the crew was also fantastic. Thank you!

The motherwatch did a fantastic job in the heat, making popcorn (salted and sweet!) in their pirate outfits. And we had a special treat from Skipper Steve too – a cold beverage that had been chilling in the cool box! A very special treat as we have all been getting used to drinking luke warm water to keep hydrated!

Then the games began! Victoria’s cookie game kick started the afternoon’s hilarity (you had to eat a cookie that had been placed on your forehead without using your hands). Maureen was especially talented –while the rest of us struggled with some spectacular fails! Then came Simon’s banana game. We were split into two teams and raced to pass a banana along the team using just our mouths and knees, and then the final pair had to peel it without using their hands. Needless to say, it got messy! Steph’s sleeping lions was excellent, and Hendo definitely bore the brunt – being sprayed with suncream, and doused in a litre of water (and lifejacket inflated!). The final game was a treasure hunt, where each person was given a clue and a riddle to work as a team and find the treasure (Gold chocolate coins, only slightly melted) A great day.

We are so loving hearing from you all on the blog comments and so we thought we would also use this opportunity to each write a little thank you note.

I’d like to say a special thank you to my wonderful family, friends and colleagues for following and keeping me updated with what’s going on back home. James, I’m missing you lots and cannot wait to see you in just 12 days! PS – you’re right – the ceaser salad was my watch J Em, it sounds so wonderfully chirstmassy at home, hope the R. Colne didn’t flood too high. And Mum, dad and Lou – sounds like Aus has been EPIC. Cant wait to see you in St L!

Here are a few messages from the rest of the crew…

Victoria – Thanks everyone all the wonderful comments, they really make our day! Dad, I’m not surprised your charting skills are holding up but I hope the tracker has come back online as well; Mom: don’t worry, there is plenty of garlic and I am putting it in absolutely everything. Special thanks for the halfway gifts which are helping me look tough, fight scurvy, stay intellectual (and not), remember the Highlands and generally laugh and smile at all you crazy, wonderful people. Special shout-out to wifey for an AWESOME picture book, it is now the best reading material on the boat. As a very clever friend reminded me yesterday, I shouldn’t have to go all the way out to sea for an opportunity to say how much I love all of you (but I’m thrilled I have) so lots of love to you all, can’t wait to share photos and stories when I’m home, in the meantime keep the comments coming.

Caroline (Frosty) –  Hi to my family and friends -  getting your messages is the best part of the day. .  thank you so much for the support!   I miss you very much darling Stephen – hope Caspar is holding his own.   The poems and photos are fab (and choked me up a bit)…. John Cooper Clarke what a genius.   Sue Ratts thanks for the wonderful little note too!   Blista I love your messages… thanks for keeping up with us.   I can’t wait to see you all and show you some of the amazing scenes – will probably bore you all rigid.   Jayne, guess what we also had yesterday – a Huge tin of Quality street!   But no fighting over the purple ones.  Xxxxxxxxxxx

Conny (Andrew)– Hey everyone hope you are all well back in Britain. Mum and Dad, I got your halfway letter and present yesterday during our halfway party which was amazing! The Wilson ball was absolutely hilarious and quite apt given how I currently look. It was lovely to read the letter and could hear you saying the words J you’ll be pleased to know I have fallen asleep twice in the galley to the despair of the Skipper (however as you said, it was completely inevitable). To my lovely Laura, it was great to get your message yesterday. I am missing you. I wasn’t sure if you were getting the blog updates but please do keep them coming, want to hear what you have been up you. Glad to hear you have company in a little mouse; tell Minnie to get off her ass and pull her weight and catch it before I get home. Missing you all like crazy but having the time of my life. Love you all and can’t wait to see you in St. L. x x x

Caz (Caroline O) – Thank you every one for your messages, they are so uplifting and a real highlight of the day – please do keep them coming. Adam, thank you for your half way letter and the photos. It’s worrying the amount you have of me having a snooze (although obviously nap time during the F1 is a given). I got everyone to sing ‘We are Sailing’ at the half way party. I can’t say it was in tune (as you could have guessed with my lovely cat being murdered tones), so that’s another £5 you owe me.. and another for the spectacular car washing job I did ;) The luminous pink ceiling sounds fab ;) Hoping amongst all the decorating you are finding time to water my chili plant! Mum, Dad and Suz – love hearing from you. Suz, haven’t had anything to put in wildlife log for a few days L My eagle eyes are keeping an eye though. No whales since one blow on the first day, but was amazing to have a couple of pods of dolphins playing with us now and again. I’m losing track of days slightly but I believe you start your placement this week. Good luck!! Embrace the city and everything it has to offer.. and remember to take on a zen like state during your commutes. Who needs personal space… Mum & Dad – apologies for missing your birthday, Mum, but really looking forward to spending some time with you all at Kapsis over Xmas J Send my love to Grandma also and everyone. Adam, looking forward to seeing your face at the airport! Lots of love to you all…must get back to watch now! Xxxxxx

Steph – Half-blooming-way! Time seems to be slipping by in a seemingly endless stream of sweaty days and starry nights. The party was absolutely smashing – such a morale boost for everyone on board which has produced some seriously funny memories (with accompanying photographic evidence) for us all. Lots of love goes straight to Team Bracey for my wonderful half-way gift – the arm bands (for 6-12yr olds) made everyone chuckle, the chocolate was yummy and the cards were so thoughtful (well, Ali’s was. Amy, yours was so you!). Also, big love to the Fam – Thanks for the messages Dad & Craig – they really have helped to spur me on in what is quickly becoming a marathon effort. Dad – please give Mia an extra big kiss and hug from me today and let her know I promise to practise my swimming so that I can be as good as her! Please keep the messages coming and tell Shaun I’ll disown him as a brother if I don’t hear from him soon!! I look forward to boriung you all with my stories when I get home – maybe over family board game night with a pizza or two? Lots and lots of love to everyone following us! We’re having a great time! P.s – To First Mate Terry’s wife Diane – would PLEASE send him a message to stop his whining??? Thanks! Steph xx

Simon – Hi Cathy, Lauren, Zara, Mum and Dad. Thank you so much girls for the halfway presents, letters and wonderful pictures of the boat you have drawn for me, I won’t lie to you I welled up. The letters and pictures have taken pride of place on my bunk wall, a loving reminder of home. The bubble gum mushrooms have been polished off and the chocolate is cooling off in the fridge for later, I’ll share with the rest of the crew. My pass the banana game from mouth to knees then mouth to knees completed by peeling with using your hands at any time created a lot of fun. Lauren and Zara, I have a great new game we can play at home called sleeping lions, you try it tonight at bed time J . Mum, Dad and Cat keep your blog posts coming we all enjoy hearing from home, I might just make it to land for your birthday! Love Si (Daddy) xxxx

James (Hendo) – Hi Mum, David, Krystal, Lindsey and Poppy! Thanks so much for the half way present I absolutely love the photos and it gave me a real lift to see some more friendly faces! Although the chocolate has totally melted, it is the thought that counts I suppose. Also thanks for the messages keep em comin’…..was starting to think you had forgotten about me seeing as it was over a week before I heard anything! Lol! It has been all we imagined and more. Cannot wait to see everyone at xmas! Love you all xxx p.s the London tickets better be booked!

Maureen – Thanks to everyone for the lovely messages, drawings, thoughts and wishes. St Lucia here we come. xx

Rich – Thank you so much to Kat for my letter and present, I’ll make sure to keep it close to me. Glad to hear that everyone is enjoying following the progress, speak to you all when in St Lucia x

Stew – So happy to make it to the half-way point, making good progress!! Absolutely loved our little half-way party, complete with silly games and sing-a-long (even if my parrot costume was a little warm!). Massive thanks to the McEwan clan for my half-way gift and postcard (as well as for your blog comment) – the gingerbread men have already gone! Hope you have a lovely time in Prague. See you all soon!! Xx

Christian – Hi all. Everything very good here. We have had a few challenges; a few long 24-hour mother watches. The weather’s been very good though – I’m keeping myself away from the sunburn. The crew is great, getting along well and no tensions so far. We crossed the mid-Atlantic yesterday which we celebrated with a pirate party and some rewarding treats. We’ve been speeding fast. Not too much luck with fishing yet. Hope to be able to catch a fresh fish for dinner one day before our arrival in St. Lucia. Everyone’s looking forward to the taste of grilled fish or sushi. More later once we arrive in St. Lucia

Blog 9 / Happy Halfway 

Day 9 at sea was both a positive and a sticky one with the sun beating down all day. The spinnaker went up in the morning so the watches were trimming and easing throughout the day throughout  the heat.

I myself didn’t see much of the sun yesterday as alongside Vic and Hendo I was on mother watch. It was the first time we had mothered together at sea as last time both myself and Hendo were out of action with the bug. Vic did an outstanding job making fresh bread in the morning with some help from ‘bread consultants’ Lord Simon Edwards and Tezza. Later on we served up vanilla cake with haribo topping and a beef chow mein. I also got my first taste of emptying the bilges which is about as glamorous as it sounds.  However, spirits were high all day as we cracked out some 80’s and 90’s classics and had many dance interludes while doing our chores.

Spirits were extra high as we managed to hit the half way mark at roughly 6.30pm. Our half way party was postponed until today as the weather was looking unsettled with squalls. Really looking forward to our party and opening our half way envelopes! We will soon be getting into our costumes, following the lead of our mother watch, Christian, Maureen and Conny who are already dressed in their pirate get-up.

Alongside the upbeat energy of the beat we also had a bit of drama as the day drew to a close. The spinnaker was originally going to stay up all night but with conditions worsening it came down just after night fall. The boat was super rolly last night with our belongings crashing around all over the place, so it’s a good job the spinnaker did come down!! As I was on mother watch I had the privilege of a full night’s sleep which was something I definitely needed. I also missed the soaking which my poor watch (nicknamed the Whitewalkers) was treated to.

Please keep your comments coming – one of the highlights each day is us getting together at lunch and Steve giving us the low  down on our  progress and then having all your messages read out.

Signing off for now.

Dad – hope today goes well, sending lots of love.

Caz ( Caroline O) xx


PS  Frosty here… Happy birthday to Mina Frost for yesterday, sister Georgie for today, and a  BIG birthday hug for Sue Rattray.   Also Pat please be reassured that Hendo is wearing the special suncream you bought for him. IN fact his sparring partner Conny described him kindly as a ‘glazed pig’ yesterday when he’d slapped it all on.   Signing off at an angle of 45 degrees and lurching    love to S xxxxxxxx

Blog 8 / A day of first, but some things never change

Day 8 at sea was one which saw many firsts; a crew member early for watch, an illness free day, and a timely reminder of home in the form of weather.

As a crew we are adapting well to the watch system and the varying sleep patterns it brings. Most watches report for duty 10/15 minutes early to allow for handovers and the like. Not Frosty however, Frosty is keen. Frosty arrived fully dressed with life jacket on at 5.30am to be met by a rather bemused look by first mate Terry. “No Frosty, nobody came in to wake you up, nobody told you to report for watch, it was all a dream and you can go back to bed!” As the flying fish continue to hit crew members on board (Frosty again, what an eventful day!) maybe we are all becoming just as confused as they are!

It was also the first day that the entire crew was illness free, and long may it continue (touch wood, sailors are a superstitious bunch). The team dynamic over the past days has been fantastic, and we feel at a point where we can all step up and cover a job with confidence if we see someone is struggling. Without a doubt we are becoming more efficient with every passing task and day.

As a crew we also want you to know that you are not alone. As December 1st arrives (Happy Birthday to my sister Michelle Jennings and colleague Simon Green!), you may be trudging into work on a wet and windy Monday morning. It may comfort you to know that we have experienced our first set of mid-Atlantic squalls (rain showers to you and me). Sailing through the night into the gloom was really quite eerie, hoping to pass through the gaps of starlight in between the walls of falling rain. I can tell you, whilst it may be more dramatic, it’s not any more glamourous or any less wet than it is for you guys at home!

However, some things do not seem to change here on board. Yesterday’s ‘Motherwatch’ of Simon, Steph and Sarah continued to raise the culinary bar with perhaps the world’s best coleslaw with our lunch of Jacket potatoes, snacks of fresh fruit and chocolate orange cookies (they’re not Terry’s, they’re mine!), and a dinner of Meatballs with freshly baked Focaccias made by Simon’s fine hand (yes Cat and Mum I can bake!).

Please keep your comments coming, we all look forwarding to hearing from you. Keep a keen eye on the tracker too, as we are due to pass the halfway point later today!

Signing out,

Rich and the Challenger 1 crew x


Message from Caroline O (Caz):  Happy 18 Adam… Proving the man in Brighton wrong! Suz, M&D -  Thanks for your messages J Half way today!! All healthy again apart from my Kindle, which appears to have given up the ghost after 5 yrs of faithful service L lots of love xxxx

Message from Simon: Hi Cat, girls, Mum and Dad keep the comments coming, a great morale booster to hear from you all. I’m really getting into my sailing routine now and enjoying being below and above deck. As you will have read my bread making skills have been a talking point, every day is a school day right!.


Blog 7 / Spinnakers, mothers and squalls

Day seven at sea was an eventful one on Challenger 1 – with plenty of action on deck. The day began with putting the huge spinnaker sail up (the size of a tennis court!), ensuring a pretty intensive experience as the crew has to continually keep an eye on the sail and “trim” or “ease” when necessary.  Our helming skills were also put to the test as we had to get more precise to help avoid too many adjustments.

Later in the day we faced a potential developing squall, taking down the spinnaker in an avoiding action.

This required all hands on deck, including Andrew having to shimmy up a rope, along a 20ft pole over the sea, to unclip the sail. Repacking it was an experience in itself; requiring us to take it below deck along the entire length of the boat, rolling it and tying it up with knitting yarn to hold it in shape.  All the time moving while seemingly glued to the walls thanks to the angle of the boat (something we’ve learnt to get used to in all day-to-day tasks!).

For me, day seven had begun with the 10pm-1am shift. Our slightly sleepy watch was joined by a new friend – a fish leapt from the sea, hit Victoria in the chest and then danced around our feet in the darkness as we struggled to steer.  5 hours later I was starting my 2nd “mother watch” at sea. This is a tough day of keeping the boat ticking along in all things below-deck from food to cleaning and maintenance. We served pancakes for breakfast, hot dogs for lunch and a beautifully made lamb stew – crafted by Frosty – for dinner. I also inflicted my attempt at chocolate brownies on the crew. The fact that they seemed to be well received felt pretty good considering my lack of confidence in the realm of the kitchen!

We’ve all missed your comments over the weekend as we’ve had no access to them since Friday. We have a little crew get-together every day at 1pm where the skipper lets us know any important information, details on our progress and provides an opportunity for us to raise issues. We finish every one of these with a read through of the comments on the site and it’s a real highlight of the day…so keep them coming please!!!


Blog 6 / Hoisting spinnakers, custard showers and sailing into the sunset

This morning we were in theory on course for St Lucia but in reality we were going nowhere fast. So it was all hands on deck to take the Yankee down and put the spinnaker up. That may sound easy, but it took a lot of winching, grinding, easing, trimming and sweating (sweating in both senses – pulling the halyards to raise a sail and physically, as it’s really hard work).

People who’d just come off the 4-7am watch and were looking forward to going to bed were hauled back on deck to help and didn’t get “stood down” for the best part of the next two hours. Still, everyone is happy to pitch in as changing the sails is one of the more exciting activities around the boat.

With the spinnaker up, we’ve picked up a bit of speed and while we’re not going in precisely the direction we want, at least we’re moving.

The past 24 hours have been the most eventful in sailing terms since we set off as there were sail changes all through the night. Yesterday we were keeled over much of the time and keeping upright below deck was a real challenge.

In other developments, the washing of dirty clothes washing continues, despite Terry’s comment about the girls’ bras drying on the guard rails resembling the spinnaker! Terry’s jokes, incidentally, are becoming more ribald by the hour and are fast approaching the level of unrepeatable on land.

The biggest laugh of yesterday came at the expense of Frosty (sorry, Caroline, but it has to be told). Frosty decided to make bread and butter pudding to use the leftover bread, but when the boat pitched just as she was about to pour the custard and egg mix into the cake tin, the mixture ended up all over her instead! A full change of clothing was required.

Incredibly, we can all now helm Challenger 1 in the dark, with no guidance from stars, clouds, or the bow. Sometimes we navigate by the wind, sometimes by compass. We’re not all natural helmsmen and women, but in my case at least, you’ve got to force yourself to do it and you really do find out that practice does make if not perfect, then at least much better. Richard spoke for many of us when he said that helming into the sunset was one of the best half hours of his life.

Still no fish caught, but Victoria almost landed one without a rod when a flying fish leapt out of the water and hit her on the chest mid-watch last night! We have no idea how big it was as it was pitch black and the fish didn’t stay long on board!

It’s hard to believe it’s day 6 already and that we’re now – wait for it – over a third of the way there! Just 1,834 miles to go. We’re expecting that at some point the journey will seem interminable but at the moment the days seem to be rushing by.

That’s it for today, landlubbers. Maureen over and out. Love to all, especially to Andy, Jamie. Finlay, Mum and Dad. Finlay, hope you managed to fix the puncture. Mum and dad, hope the move went well. 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 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

Page 1 of 8312345102030...Last »