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!
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
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!
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.
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.
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