Blog 5 & 6
The cruise continues – with a whole mixture of weather and sailing conditions. The mother watch on Thursday worked absolute wonders in conditions not entirely conducive to the culinary arts, and also a man down as Anna was not feeling great. Pascal was seen abseiling up the galley floor at one stage to stir the dinner, and Neil had set himself up in a bivouac for the night halfway up the cupboard door. The food was still very tasty, and although they may not have taken Richard B’s award for the best chef, they were mentioned in dispatches. (Steve also put in a late run with his highly commended sweet and sour chicken.)
The day before last saw the sea appear to be a moving mass of liquid mud, both in consistency and colour. It was rather like being on a bus and no one was fighting to get to the helm. What a difference a few hours makes! Yesterday saw the seas raging around us, tossing the boat every which way and some very exciting helming, particularly for the less experienced of us. Hanging off the side of the boat (strapped in, kids!) with the Go-Prop outstretched should produce some pretty exciting footage. Pity we can’t see it until I can get to a computer!
On that front Watch 3 (the Chris Crackers) would like to send a hearty thank you to Watch 2 (Nick’s Nutters) for the help they gave at the end of a couple of watches yesterday. Much appreciated.
The further north we go sees the weather getting increasingly cold. It also saw the appearance of the rare black lesser-spotted Scandinavian rubber bird – as Lena appeared in her all in one rubber dry suit, looking for all the world like she was about to invade the Iranian embassy again. On the bird front, Richard B refused to pass on that he had seen a duck floating by in the middle of the Atlantic, thinking we would immediately put him in a straitjacket and put him in a padded cell. It turns out that two other people had seen them too!
However, for all you keen ornithologists out there, you may guffaw at the idea, and Jackie wants to know if it is unusual to see adolescent puffins (possibly dressed as ducks) at the current location of 46 degrees north and 14 degrees 20 minutes west?
Karl sends his love to Rachel and he is looking forward to seeing her when we get back to Blighty. Rachel – if you are expecting a full naval beard on his return, you may be sorely disappointed. He has been brushing up his Ninja turtle moves with Lena (the only one smaller than him), but Skipper Darren has been disciplining on a regular basis and he is now at least house-trained.
Adam had made a couple of appearances recently – a couple of them through Darren’s legs as he was giving the daily debriefing yesterday – much to our amusement. (Good job Darren doesn’t know Adam. Oops!) Adam also appeared on the naughty list for other misdemeanours, and it came as a shock to none of us when he recalled the story of crashing a glider on a training flight as a cadet when he wasn’t even driving. He was banned from further flights.
On the rugby front, with one day and over two hundred miles still to go to Falmouth, we have had to concede that the chances of watching the rugby have disappeared over the horizon. Darren has offered to try to get the rugby on radio and if the reception is bad he will pop up the mast and set up an aerial (guffaw). No, we are sending up our pet spider-monkey – Pascal – although we have yet to break it to him.
One thing that will interest you all (or you wouldn’t be reading this tripe) is the arrival time back to Portsmouth. After a fair vote (see Trumps’s win) the decision has been made to strike out from Falmouth on Wednesday and arriving at Gun Wharf Quay on Thursday. After boat cleaning – there are some very dirty people on here – people will be able to leave that day. For those meeting people there later, the crew (ie any of us) will be able to stay on board until Saturday at 10 am – at which time Darren will switch off the lights and lock the boat.
Just thought I would mention Barbara (MIL), Vic, Paul, Lyndon and Lozza. And also Colin and Crystal and Chris and Rachel – as I did get inundated with complaints from various in-laws and neighbours.
Next blog from Blighty!
David, Karl, Richard B and Richard I(see previous blog)
After another entertaining night of multiple sails up/engine off – sails down/engine on fun and games we are currently motoring at 7kts on our now familiar 065 course for Falmouth. Whilst a little over halfway everybody is feeling the drop in temperature as we move further north and even the die-hard “I am going to wear my shorts all the way home…..” have succumbed and are now in thermals, mid layers and sea boots Very cold last night with fast moving clouds revealing and then obscuring a very bright full moon.
Sarah’s diesel engine purrs away not missing a beat, and everyone has got used to the start/stop nature of our progress, such that the “white-noise” background engine throb has become therapeutic for some, judging by how deeply they are sleeping. Some very humorous change of watch “wake-up” moments, retold over mealtimes with more than a little embellishment from those doing the waking and suitable embarrassment from those being woken. The joys of close quartered yacht life!
The author of today’s blog namely (Steve) as chief of mother watch for the day having got up at 05.15 hours to prepare breakfast for the ongoing 0600 hours watch surpassed himself by producing real porridge for 12 persons having up until today been a famous brand pour water into a pot man. His production was wiped out and enjoyed by the 12 who had breakfast with everything from chocolate spread to good old syrup being used. Well done Steve from one of his understudies Jackie. Conversion is GOOD!! The toasted wraps seemed to go down well at lunchtime, and a novel twist on the toasted sandwich which I suspect will transfer nicely into the domestic kitchen back home.
Jackie, Adam and Steve
Sarah’s journey back to the UK continues to be frustrated by fickle winds coming from the wrong direction or dying completely when sails are hoisted, so intermittent sail hoists, engine off to sails down engine on, trying to get Challenger 3 heading in the right direction at a reasonable speed. Frustration all round, owing to the wanting to sail the Atlantic, countered by the wanting to get home after 4 weeks away!
Shower privileges were restored today 14th March, restarting with Port Watch, after the Watermaker was able to top up the in-use 500ltr water tank with 260ltr in 14 hours. The apparent loss of all 500ltrs was due to an air block. Big relief all round as at least half the boat is now smelling sweet, although the same cannot be said for sea boots and some clothing which can be seen walking themselves round the deck at night.
Morale and appetites are good, and Mother Watch did not disappoint, turning out pancakes for breakfast, cold meats/cheeses and salad (with homemade coleslaw) for lunch and a warming Chilli con Carne to warm us up for the night.
The boat is getting back down to the watch routine, if in a slightly more subdued mood. The wind was mainly good yesterday allowing the genoa to be set – although it was up and down a couple of times as the wind became patchy in places, as had been forecast. Meals continue to be generally delicious and wholesome whichever Mother watch is on.
Anna has become the whale whisperer of Challenger 3, having merely thought that it would be nice to see a whale – and lo! two appeared within seconds. One astern and another off the starboard beam. Adam failed to heed the cries of ‘Whale ahoy’ and only discovered this later that night! He did, however, manage to spot the 200 metre long tanker – the Pentathlon – which skirted around us on the early morning watch. Also another turtle – amazing creatures this far out in the open ocean!
The big question (well, for me anyway) given the current forecast for the wind is whether we make Falmouth in time for the England v Ireland rugby match. This is an open request for my wife, Judith, to record it or face the consequences. Another grand slam and world record for the most number of consecutive test wins? Eat your heart out Eddie Butler.
I now have to add mentions of all my children, Gareth, Rebecca, Alexa (plus Apricot) and Kirstie, on the basis that I mentioned grandchildren earlier. I am now expecting criticism from various sons-in-law, daughter-in-law, aunts, uncles and neighbours about their non-appearance in the blog. The price of fame.
Another highlight as we head even further north and Karl has at last conceded that he needs to put his hobbit feet away (well at least at night) is that people are donning warmer thermal clothing. The question is whether thermal long johns are indeed trousers or unacceptable underwear? One for further discussion I believe, but I know where my money lies.
Showers are currently off limits – although most people don’t appear to be too fussed about that. Only a seven day cruise. Skipper Darren has invoked the ban whilst investigating the theft of 500 litres of water.
David, Anna, Richard I (that’s the letter, not Richard the First)
After 15 days sailing from Antigua we arrived at Horta Marina, Faial, Azores at 03:30 am where we were required by law to stay on board until we cleared customs the following morning. For the first time in 2 weeks we had mobile phone signal = phone calls home & messages to loved ones.
After many days living in close quarters at steep angles Sarah needed some TLC…
No Mum there is NOT a washing machine on board Sarah and we had strict shower rations, you try showering when the deck is at 45 degrees and you need to use one hand just to hold on to the rail. Actually after a time the dirt falls off when enough accumulates… honestly. 17 bodies with only occasional showers creates some interesting perfume!
So we cleaned every area, sail locker, heads, bilges, galley, and accommodation, deck…
some vegetables were even able to make their own way ashore L
4 hours later with Sarah having had full deep clean, she was gleaming ready for our next leg.
Once ashore we were amazed by the paintings and artwork, created by previous boat crews, adorning all jetty walkways, walls and rocks, including previous Tall Ship Challengers!
Our contribution to the jetty artwork, led by Ash, who revisited his childhood painting skills and produced a great painting of Sarah in full sail, signed by all the crew.
Finally we were able to take full advantage of unlimited hot showers and marina washing facilities to make us all smell fresh. The blown main sail was detached and sent for repair.
During our 5 days in Horta, the crew took the opportunity for various cultural visits & exchanges including:
- Whaling Factory Museum, a grim reminder of the brutal slaughter and processing of whales to produce oil. The factory was closed in 1974.
- Scrimshaw Museum, whale bone & teeth carvings, this collection is now very valuable collection due to the scarcity of whale bone and teeth since the cessation of commercial whaling. A local artisan still produces artwork from bones and teeth found by local divers.
- Walking & running by some of the more athletic crew to various local viewpoints and hills, when you have only a 72 foot yacht to exercise in it gets difficult to walk even 1 mile every day!
- Island bus tour, a coastal circuit round Faial taking 2 hours, showing off the lush green landscape, the agriculture, dairy farms, crops and vineyards which helps to make the Azores self-sufficient.
- Pete’s Bar – charismatic bar full of sailing memorabilia and a magnet for sailors from around the world.
- Faial taxi tour, taking in some of the more inaccessible parts of Faial: The main caldera, last eruption a thousand years ago; Capaleinhes area the most recent Faial island volcanic activity occurred in 1957-58, which destroyed the local village, whaling port and lighthouse however due to advance warning there were no fatalities; Local bread maker producing bread in the traditional way; Cheese produced from Faial milk.
- An excellent rock band provided entertainment for some of the crew, dancing into the small hours
- During the week we also saw UK crews from “Hummingbird”, a Clipper 60 from Rubicon 3 UK, and also “Lord Nelson”, 50 crew tall ship, JST UK.
Our main sail was returned expertly repaired and fitted by the crew on Friday afternoon ready for our Saturday departure. Restocking for the last leg of our journey: Do you know how many loo rolls are used by 17 crew in 7 days? Well Darren does! Remember there is no Tesco part way. So Sarah’s bilges full with food, fruit and vegetables, water and diesel we took are last photos on the jetty and said goodbye to Horta.
Thank you Horta we will return
Depart Horta Saturday 11 March at 12:30 UT next stop Falmouth!
With light winds forecast over the next few days we face the prospect of several days motor sailing in order to keep to schedule.
We shake out the Genoa for playing in the light winds, however this provides us all with more ‘gym’ work, as the Azorean ‘wind god’ spots the Genoa coming out and ensures the wind drops. Actually I think he is now sleeping as we have been making 7 – 8 knots over the last few hours.
We spotted a whale! There were actually whales (or maybe Klingons?) on our starboard bow!
We are all definitely “Having a Whale of a Time”…
Neil, Steve & Pascal
My Birthday started at Midnight with the team on my watch singing happy birthday to me, with the midnight to 3am watch, uneventful but it began under a clear sky lit by a bright half-moon, as the moon lowered into a distant cloud base the night became darker and the stars brighter, constellations that are easy to recognise at home become a blur among the millions of other lights not seen under our light polluted sky at home. But the Plough and the north star remain easy to identify and as it sits stoically on our port beam we must be heading east and towards the Azores. Pancakes for breakfast and Jacquie’s delicious Rum and Raisin cake, complete with candles and Party Hat! I have Put in a request for lightly seared Tuna Steak, freshly caught, for dinner. I am waiting to see the Evidence, but there is still time. If nothing is forthcoming from the Atlantic the mother watch have prepared bangers and mash.
Many thanks for all my birthday cards carefully secreted in my luggage and birthday wishes through the boats email.
After over a week of motor sailing and fickle weather we have had over 48 hours of downwind sailing with the competition between watches high to see who could get the best speeds. Still an ongoing challenge. We’ve only got 325 miles to go to get to Horta, and skipper promises us more of the same weather. Some of the off watch crew are sat below watching X Men!!! No naming and shaming at the noon briefing today. Skipper must be mellowing, he does run a tight and tidy ship, all with a little humour thrown in at ours and the crews expense. Carrot cake and Devils Chocolate cake waiting patiently to go into the oven. Again skippers request!!! He loves to lick the bowl.
It would be true to say that the Mother watch of Pascal, Knut and Steve were more than a little bit jealous of those on deck today (Saturday 4th March) of what without doubt was the best sailing day so far. Bright sunshine, azure sky, big swell crested with whitecaps and good constant wind behind us.
Food preparation was a bit of a challenge with the yacht corkscrewing as the swell lifted the stern on the starboard quarter and more than one vegetable had to be chased round the galley/saloon floor. Now that the temperature has dropped significantly cooking in this galley is far more comfortable and spirits are high. Crew appetites large and culinary expectations high – better not disappoint. No pressure!
Pascal, Knut and Steve
Day 12 on the challenger boat started off well with some lovely sailing on a beam reach and has sparked some rivalry between the watches as to who can surf down a wave the fastest Steve is the current record holder at 15 knots with others following in close pursuit.
Breakfast of scrambled eggs fueling the crew for the day ahead, was made by our fantastic mothers of the day, Pascal, Knut and Steve. Unfortunately having to stay below when there is brilliant sunshine on deck the mothers gallantly toiled away with their very important tasks.
As mishaps go the only serious thing to happen this past week is the lid to our biscuit box being lost to the deep blue ocean. This has led to a lack of biscuits on deck and almost sparked a mutiny with the quick formation of the Biscuits In Crisis Committee Incorporated (BICCI). However as we begin to near Horta this shouldn’t affect the morale too much as a replacement box has been found and filled with chocolate chip cookies lovingly baked by Mother.
Down time today for some of the crew was film club provided by Karl and Anna. Today’s viewing was Hot Fuzz we also decided that we would play with a roll of tape, watch two are currently feeling envious although we may do 2 viewings of tomorrow’s film which is yet to be decided.
Karl would like to say howdy to Ray missing you loads bubbles have been blown out to sea and I will talk to you soon, hello to family hope everyone is well.
Pascal also passes his love on and hopes nothing irreplaceable is on fire.
Love to Sarah and my family, missing you all!! Look forward to speaking once we get into The Azores – Alex xxx
Pascal, Alex and Karl
The fickle weather of the mid-Atlantic continued to throw its changes at us, as we went from light into Darkness. The high winds of the afternoon lessened gradually leaving a heavy sea and us night sailing in a direction closer to the Cape Verde Islands, than the Azores. The wind became increasingly weak and generally directionless and finally gave up the ghost in the early hours and we motor-sailed for 8 hours trying to find our way across the wind hole and into favorable winds for the Azores. Sails set at lunchtime and now beautiful blue water sailing in glorious sunshine but still seeking the favorable winds to take us eastwards.
Life on board continues to revolve around 3 hour work periods and 6 off and night merges into day merges into night without really Knowing what day it is, however this seems relatively unimportant.
The mother watches continue to be inventive and creative today starting with bacon Butties all round. There was disappointment from some quarters especially from Dave who thinking scrambled eggs were on the menu declined breakfast but on waking to find the rest of the crew had had bacon, there was an element of regret. Well I think that was what he meant!
The Bread mixes that may have carried out more transatlantic trips than most of the people on board failed to rise, but our eminent baker Richard B rose to the occasion and very inventively made flat bread instead. Today’s mother watch of Richard B, Lena, and Adam have a Thai Chicken Curry for Tonight and then a well-earned full night’s sleep.
Let’s see what tomorrow brings
Richard B & The Swede
Cracking on, from 0000 the wind backed and freshened so now on course 085 SOG of 7+ kts, with the wind just forward of the beam, and the promise of it backing further and continuing to build. Grins all round.
What an eventful day so far….. around 1100 boat time and contrary to all GRIB forecasts, the wind suddenly veered and picked up blowing a constant 30-35kts, combined with a deterioration in sea state and swell. Extra hands were called from below to help with a sail change from Yankee 2 to Yankee 3. The boat was moving around significantly with waves breaking over the bow and deck so a real challenge for those on the foredeck, who were getting soaked whilst wrestling with 2 sails, clipping on essential in these conditions. With Yankee 3 up and Yankee 2 pulled back to the cockpit, sounds so easy typing the words but a real team effort to get it back, under control. Then fun and games of flaking Y2 back into its bag in winds that were now gusting 40kts. Everyone was wet by this point. Sitting on deck with backs to the rail and bow waves breaking over you flaking the sail into the bag it is possible that more than one person was asking themselves why they signed up for this! Others were clearly in their element and loving every moment.
As is quite often the case, whilst this was all going on it was supposed to be a watch change and lunchtime (baked potato, beans and cheese) so things got a little mixed up. Just as Challenger 3 was drawing breath, the wind decided to freshen further gusting 44 kts, so it was back to stations to drop the staysail.
With things a little more comfortable and consistent, the watch was finally changed and normal if bouncy, service was resumed. The upside of all of this? SOG around 9-10 kts and a taster of what awaits us on the passage north from The Azores.
Steve, Jackie & Neil
After days and days of endless motoring (possibly a slight exaggeration, but that is how it feels) the wind has filled in and finally the engine has been switched off. Probably a good thing as we had run out of games to play on deck and ‘I spy something beginning with S’ was getting pretty boring. The wind was accompanied by quite a lot of rain overnight, but no-one minded as we were sailing again, although the skipper did find an urgent navigational task to do below decks as soon as the rain started. This morning the rain has gone, but the wind has stayed, leaving mostly blue skies and great sailing conditions.
Today we also celebrated Chris’ birthday with rum cake made by Jacqui, and he has been made to wear a party hat for his watch. For his birthday present, Chris has requested that we moor up in a harbour tonight and go to the pub. The skipper is working on it……
Blue skies, fair wind. Sailing again and just past halfway point to the Azores. The routine -3 hours on duty / 6 hours off duty are becoming more and more “normal” and gives plenty of time to enjoy the sun and also the incredible star-filled nights. As the burger –slogan… I’m lovin’ it!
Knut, Anna & Pascal
Day 7, after the initial excitement of the first few days’ life on the Atlantic has slowed to a rather too gentle pace. Watch 2 have settled into life on-board, being the least experience watch the last few days have given them the chance to find their feet and practice helming and generally get used to living with the routine of the boat. Sea sickness has abated adding to the general feeling of well-being. Having said that watch 2 are the least experience I have been hugely impressed with their willingness and enthusiasm to get stuck in, a quality which seems to be evident throughout all the watches. Despite our inability to sail at the moment, there is much to keep us occupied. The days are sunny with a gentle breeze and a dark blue ocean, perfect for fishing, (another one got away this morning). Night watches provide some interesting spectacles; port horizon thunder storms, starboard an impressive meteor shower. There have also been a number of reminders that despite our apparent isolation we are not alone. Last night’s tally, 4 ships, 2 aeroplanes, and the International Space Station. The people in the space station being very much closer to us than friends and family, a sobering thought. Today should see us reach the half way mark and the next couple of days will hopefully produce some wind to help us make up for lost time, however nobody seems to be in too much of a hurry and everyone appears to be enjoying the delights of blue water sailing.
On a personal note I am enjoying the luxuries of being on a big boat: showers, 3 on 6 off watches, and enough fuel to deal with the light spots without having to top up tanks from jerry cans. My beard is a little like the Atlantic wind at the moment, patchy and slightly irritating. Michael Foleys book ‘The Age of Absurdity, (why modern life makes it hard to be happy) seems even more relevant out here. Looking forward to a nice cold beer in Pete’s bar. Lots of love to everyone at home, looking forward to some laughs on my return.
Nick (1st Mate).
There was almost universal appreciation of the smell of bacon permeating the boat this morning. It was eaten by almost everyone showing that we are all getting our sea-legs. However, Steve decided to keep to his strict diet of water melon only.
Windy 25-30kts, 45 degrees heel and port toe rail in the water, great sailing with consistent speed over the ground of 8-9kts.
Watch 1 speed competition on night watch 0000-0300 in 30kts of wind. Achieved 10.3 – 10.7… well done Anna for showing us how it’s done. Big grins all round proper sailing! For the less experienced amongst us, helming a 72 foot yacht in those conditions was a little more on the exhilarating/scary scale! For those below, they may have wished for something a little less bumpy.
Yes, Seb, Zac, Ted, Ralphie-Roo and Fifi, Popsie was one of those hanging on to the steering wheel for dear life. Hoping to bring you all some exciting pictures back with me. Love to all.
Light winds continue to frustrate our progress, made worse by our reduced 3rd reefed mainsail. So limping on at around 3kts. Bright cloudless glorious day our consolation with so many hues of blue you couldn’t hope to catch on camera.
Following the proper sailing of Friday night there were consequences…… bit of a bombshell down below with all sorts of items strewn all over the cabin floor and elsewhere into interesting places. Underwear retrieval seemed high on the agenda.
Pancakes for breakfast, a firm favourite, although for some it was a case of pancakes with their maple syrup rather than maple syrup with their pancakes. No names!
Significant lack of wildlife so far although two small bottlenose dolphins did make an appearance just long enough for everyone to rush up on deck to have them do one leap and disappear, clearly important business elsewhere. Only other wildlife we saw was a bird which flew very close to the masthead which we believed to be a Frigate bird. Unfortunately it didn’t stay long and flew away in the same direction as the dolphins, do they know something we don’t?
The evening meal of sausage and mash exceeded expectations, especially when followed up by a lemon drizzle cake – courtesy of Neil creating icing sugar from granulated sugar grinding it down with as ladle. Dedication!
As the wind dropped off the engine was awoken in the early hours of the morning and after the head sails were dropped we begun to motor sail. As the sun arose at about 0600 local time the atmosphere was a good one, although frustrated at using the engine everyone was in high spirits and it looked like it was going to be a wonderful day with nice warm sunshine on the deck whilst it stayed at a present temperature below. At about mid-morning the decision was made to put the fishing line out with our lure (known as baby) it’s now just after lunch and were still waiting for a bite. I (Karl) and Ash decided that we would play with some rope whilst listening to music in the lovely sunshine, Ash making a bottle hanger for the skipper and I made 2 bracelets. With a thought for loved ones at home bubbles were blown out to sea to roll home. Written by Karl.
After seven days at sea it does NOT smell of Chanel no 5 on board. The odour is more similar to that of rotting food and smelly shoes are now banned below deck. Luckily we’re allowed a VERY short shower every second day which improves the aroma below deck – a bit.
One of the male crew had a bit of a pedicure today and had his toenails painted pink – very becoming! Won’t tell you who, but I’ll give you a clue: The little darling has a somewhat different tan… Written by the Swede (i.e. the nationality, not the root vegetable)
The relaxed, almost sleepy afternoon atmosphere on board was interrupted by the sound of the fishing rod reel running out. Engine was throttled back to slow the boat and give Alex a chance to reel in whatever we’d hooked. Having joked about catching a Tuna and having sushi and teriyaki seared Tuna steaks, it did indeed turn out to be a Tuna. Sadly far too small to be useful and so was thrown back. Looks like it’s going to be chicken fajitas tonight after all.
Contributors: Lena, David, Richard, Karl and Steve
Editorial supervision: Clearly none!
I feel it is time to quash the scandalous rumour put about by Jack and Billy that having watched series one of Black Sails this has given me some form of malevolent power. Allowing me to conjure up 50 knt winds when I take the helm, create hours of torrential rain just by stepping on deck or shed sails merely but looking at them. I regard this as superstitious sailors’ nonsense, besides I have found my lucky 2004 Cowes Week cap I thought I had lost in the Caribbean so all will be fine with watch 2 again. Nick (First Mate).
After having a wonderful bacon sandwich the crew are in high spirits and fuelled up for the day. Watch 2 took deck with beautiful weather caused by Nick’s lucky cap. With a good watch with no rain or high winds and no dramas watch 2 have begun the redeeming process.
The Mother watch begun the lunch making proceedings by attempting to make bread for the first time in their lives, which got off to a rocky start, with Pascal not adding sugar to the yeast and wondering why it wasn’t working for the first 5 minutes and Knut declining to wait on his yeast at all. Adam, the more experienced breadmaker had watched someone else make it be before and had a well kneaded loaf. Despite these hardships, it went very well making two lovely loaves of bread.
Life at 45 degrees has now become normal for the crew and everyone has settled in nicely. People are finding their grooves and learning to coexist within our shoebox-esque accommodation, to the point where all that’s left to complain about is a rogue Norwegian in the sail locker.
As we travel closer to the Azores the boat is starting to become a more comfortable temperature which everyone is very happy about, leaving everyone in high spirits. The jokesters are starting to appear with one crewman appearing at breakfast in a sarong and t-shirt, and Karlos, our press ganged watch leader, has given everyone a great laugh by the fact that when he was on deck yesterday he burned the strap marks of his lifejacket onto his back. Pascal & Karl
Here I am, a first-timer crossing the Atlantic by sail. After a few lazy days, reality kicked in. From steering this boat in high winds and great speed, I am now confined to do “mother” duties. This implies cooking, cleaning (no cuddling) .Perhaps not so fun, but also an important role and duty onboard. The Azores are still faaar away, but we will get there thanks to a good boat, and a great crew. Knut
Written by Pascal, Knut, Adam and Karl (press ganged watch leader)
Life continues aboard Challenger 3 aka Sarah. Lovely sunny day with a bit of wind in prospect, but more of the Caribbean cruising we had been promised. One or two still afflicted with the green munching monster, but hopefully getting better with the calmer seas. Perhaps a bit warmer than we had expected – sweat has been mentioned.
Wind speed increased a bit – gusting from 0 to 50 mph in pretty short shrift. Didn’t upset the delivery of a fine chicken curry by the Mother watch, although not too many of them stayed to sample it! A little later the gusty bits managed to make short work of the mainsail – even though it had two reefs in it already. The loud crack and ripping sound gave it away. Given the heavy seas on the first night and then this in darkness Watch 2 have had a pretty testing opening to the voyage! Looks like the sailmaker in the Azores is going to have some more business from Tallships.
The Noo-noo made its first appearance today, snaking along the gangway like an anaconda with Jackie pumping away with a stick (to clear the bilges below the main mast following several of several bouts of squally heavy rain not mentioned in the brochure) The shower also made its first welcome appearance today, as the starboard side got their turn.
The weather has turned nicer today and we are racing north in a most exciting manner. The dolphins have also joined in the fun at last, giving us one or two leaps in the air just to show off. Hoping that the move north will start to reduce the heat below deck and make cooking more bearable.
Some intermittent wind instrument outages meant back to sailing basics, and reminds us of our sometimes over reliance on electronic instrumentation. Fortunately Chris and Jackie are doing sextant sights and checking our position daily the traditional way!
Steve, Dave & Richard I
After a number of ‘on the bus / off the bus’ moments, due to the disappearance of Antiguan customs officials, we eventually left as planned on 20 February. The sky was blue, the water turquoise, and we had fair winds. Well for a while at least. Shortly after dark the first squall appeared, with wind speed increasing from 12 to 55 knots in just a few seconds. An introduction by fire for the sailing newcomers, and unexpected by those who had been seduced by the Caribbean sailing brochures! The morning broke to leaden skies and grey seas, reminiscent of the English Channel in July.
The day continued with a mixture of sailing and motor sailing, with quirky winds and a lot more rain (especially when Nick (First Mate/Raingod) was on deck). A quiet afternoon was interrupted by the squeal of the fishing line and the fastest appearance yet on deck of the skipper to reel in a 15 kg Mahi Mahi. There followed a gruesome and bloody fish murder with a winch handle. However it didn’t die in vain as it amply fed the whole crew beautifully cooked by Neil and Jacqui.
The stars finally appeared last night, and this morning has clear blue skies and sunshine. And the engine is off at last and we are sailing almost directly towards the Azores.
Anna and Richard B