Round Britain Challenge Blog: Follow the crew’s progress here. Welcome aboard!

15th June 2016

Welcome to the Round Britain Challenge 2016 blog.


To help keep up-to-date about life on the Round Britain expedition, read the crew members blog posts below.


 

For his final blog post, Russ reflects on the Round Britain Challenge and how he feels it changed him as a person.

After completing the Round Britain Challenge over the last two months, I feel I should reflect on what we have achieved.

Screen Shot 2016-08-22 at 15.22.34We set out from Falmouth and were faced with a huge challenge right from the start when spirits engine gave way and saw us towed back to Falmouth by the amazing RNLI. It was like the script for a black comedy coming to life. After a strip down and semi-permanent rebuild, Spirit again made her way along the south coast of Britain to encounter problems once again with a massive gear box failure. These challenges – and those of sitting around waiting – were different to the ones we expected.

After building relationships, the people of the Isle of Wight will always hold a special place in our hearts. The mammoth leg round to Newcastle was a thing of beauty they should have songs written about that get sung in the Halls of Valhalla.

We crossed the Pentland Firth after great advice from locals that no chart or book could have given us. The Orkneys brought a glimpse of how the world should be with community being at the heart of the islands. My faith in humanity was restored when the local fishing and diving community mobilised in the early hours of a Sunday morning just in case we needed help as Spirit’s engine was again playing up. People stopped their lives in order to make sure us random weary strangers were safe.

We visited the Western Isles and the Hebrides and saw sunrises and sunsets on all coasts of the country. We ran from storms and hid in an idyllic loch where thousands of jelly fish surrounded the boat. We got caught in storms and struck by lightening. We saw dolphins and whales and killer octopus (it’s my story and there can be octopus if I like).

We visited random war graves and walked on beaches less trodden. We explored castles and woodland, walked mountains and crossed streams. When the adventure was near someone went to find it. We spread the word about Turn to Starboard and we made contacts and learned tips and trick galore. The world is full of amazing people and it seems lots of them are called Colin.

We did all this knowing we were a part of something special. We did it with pride. We walked the walk and we talked the talk. We sailed for days straight to spend time in isolated locations. I have lived more in the last few months than at any time since I left the Army. I owe thanks to the charity and bigger thanks to my amazing Michelle for giving me the chance to follow my dream.

At the start I was scared about how I would cope. About what would happen and about would be at the end of it. I was nervous about meeting people and not being liked. I was fearful of storms both physical and emotional.

I found new friends, a new family, a new passion but more than that I found myself. I was there all the time just hiding in the corner of my eye. I have been happy, sad, bored and exhilarated. I have traveled a path that has led me to new place in my life. I’ve become comfortable in my own skin.

Going back to the real world after this will not be easy. Things will stay where you put them and the shop will be round the corner. I will have changed. I can already feel a need for adventure coursing through my veins.

I don’t think I would do it again as I did this time. I would only do it again as a skipper or first mate as to me surely that is the point. To progress and then pass on the knowledge to the next lucky guys who undertake this mammoth endeavour.

I could see in the final days the toll this trip has taken on Shaun and Tamsin. I don’t really have the words in my heart to pass on the level of gratitude this event has taken to organise and then achieve. Their leadership and instruction was patient and calm. I will never be able to say it enough but “Thank you Shaun”. Tamsin you are amainzing and to put up with us rag tag band of weirdos deserves a medal? Dan your story is inspirational when you hear where you were a year ago and where you are now. It gives hope and that is the greatest of gifts.

Would I do anything differently? Well, obviously there is one thing that would need to happen. As we leave Falmouth to travel around the country. Let’s ‘turn to starboard’ and go the right way.

Stay safe, Speak soonish

Russ


 

 

 

Day 59 – Helford for home

The Isles of Scilly are beautiful but we are currently sat in view of September and Quivira in sniffing distance of the finish line.

Screen Shot 2016-08-22 at 15.20.27As we got on our way today (after a little issue) we set about putting up our sails which was, for the first time on the trip, far from slick. We were not super-good today, everyone seemed to be lagging. Again Tamsin led a weary team to a successful conclusion with the sails flying. Spirit again keeping us on our toes.

As far as ancorages go this is by far the most beautiful we have been in. Maybe it’s because its so close to home. Maybe its because all three boats are back together after our enforced separation due to the horror that was the Irish sea. I like to think it’s because it’s the last night I get to be surrounded by these few adventures.

There are not many of us left who have sailed all the way round and fewer still who can say they did it on a rickety old gaff rigged schooner. (She is beautiful but rickety).

This morning started with a bit of a panic as somehow we had run out of water. With no access to a tap on the anchor, shuttles via the tender resupplied us so we were able to finish our journey. Spirit tested us again to ensure we knew this challenge was still on and not to rest on our laurels too soon. She has tested us from the start till the end. Lets hope tomorrow she has the grace to sail home in style. Only time will tell.

Tonight will be our last family tea and it is an extra large family at present with 15 people on board. I will miss spending the days when it’s my turn to cook – planning prepping and feeding the crew. I will miss chatting and enjoying everyone’s company.

One thing we have lacked in the food area is desserts – we have not had many at all. Mainly due to time constraints and massive main meals, but lets face it there is always room for cake. I am hoping for cake tomorrow at our welcome home.

Stay safe, speak soon

Russ


 

 

 

Day 58? – To be fair I have no idea.

Today we went sailing around the Isles of Scilly. It was really nice and our last chance to sail and chill before we set off for Cornwall tomorrow at 06:30.

Chris is skippering us home before our final leg round the corner and into Falmouth on Sunday at 12:00. If you are about it will be lovely to see you and I am pretty sure all the guys and girls who have taken part in this adventure will be happy to tell you tall tales of lightening and killer octopi. If the others are not willing, I will start a story corner where we will just believe what I say and disengage our disbelief function.Today went really well. We have missed Dan’s guiding hands on the boat. Today, as we were sailing, it felt like we were coping without him. Well not just coping but thriving. This is taking nothing away from what he has achieved. His tuition and buoyant approach to teaching us left us with the skills we need, even if we did not realise it until we needed it.

Screen Shot 2016-08-22 at 15.19.01Tonight we are having a picnic on the beach and holding our final court of the trip. I have been asked to stand in as defence or prosecution. I am not sure which one but to be fair they are both the same. We only have two ANCHORCISE sessions left. I am not going to miss it to be fair.

I have written a lot about the closure of this journey but I will save it for the end as I am sure as I sort out my grammar and punctuation I will shed a tear or two.

While out today there was lots of filming going on ready for the Round Britain movie. The crew were disappointed that there was no equity pay for the outstanding acting that they undertook.

Stay safe, Speak soon

Russ


 

 

 

Day 58 – The Isles of ‘Silly’

It is pretty amazing to be in such an amazing place. The Scillies are pretty amazing, and to steal the words of Tamsin: “I bloody love them”.

4_dsc02902-copyThe world is so diverse and the British Isles are completely unique. There is nowhere I have ever been that evokes emotions so strong. I guess most people are the same about where they live. One thing I will take away from this journey is the community spirit of the outer islands of the UK. The Orkneys, the Outer Hebrides and the Western Isles. The communities on these islands and the Scilly’s are what I wish the communities of the UK were like.

Falmouth as a mainland location has this down to a tee and maybe that is why Turn to Starboard fit in so well. Life in the Scillies seems really idyllic and I think I would like to live here. I could say the same about all the islands I have been to.

We were interviewed for the radio today and it was pretty good. The station got the message out and people have been talking to us all day about what we have been up to. The people have been lovely. Looking from the shore to Spirit she looks majestic in the bay with the yachts anchored around us.

Our yachts (September and Quivira) have made it to Penzance and we will join them on Saturday for our journey to Helford – before our final passage back to Falmouth.

I have been wandering around St Mary’s all day and it’s been amazing. I walked around the garrison and the star fortress. I slept on the roof of a WW2 pill box for an hour or so and feel like I have really caught up on my sleep. It’s really strange to think we only have one day of sailing before we set off for home.

Tomorrow we will be sailing round the ‘Sillies’ looking for safe harbour from the storm before the journey to Helford river on Saturday, and then round the corner to Falmouth on Sunday.

Stay safe, speak soon

Russ


 

 

 

Day 54 – (I think)

Happy birthday Justin!

I am in a silly mood so am writing about mermaids today, I have no excuse.

Screen Shot 2016-08-22 at 15.14.26Having made it to Dulas Bay by 22:15pm last night, we all had a good sleep ready for our big passage to the Scillies. We started the day with a birthday breakfast for Justin which Tamsin, Shaun and Tony missed because Dan has broke another boat. That’s right, less than 24 hours after claiming Steve Spearos needed his help, he broke Quivira (again this is not quite true – it’s been a small ongoing issue that was easily rectified but it was defo Dan’s fault, or not).

After a quick brief stating we might not make our window to pass thought the ‘Scary’s’ (I know its not the right spelling, I like the thought of it being called that), the group returned on the tender and Quivira was up and running again. We were setting off. A real team effort saw a great session of ANCHORCISE(see previous post) before we left at 12:00pm.

We are on our final major passage and it’s feeling good. I heard where we were leaving and the route we would be taking I could not help but think we might be attacked by clown pirates on route. The ‘Scary’s to the Silly’s’ strikes me as killer pirate clown waters. It, however, was not.

Instead we came across some mermaids which much to our surprise were topless. This was ok though as it turns out mermaids are not the way round you would think. They are fish at the top and legs at the bottom. It makes sense when you think about it. How else would they breathe under water? After they sang happy birthday to Justin we carried on and are currently in the Irish sea somewhere off the Lyn Peninsular.

With Dan off the boat (who we miss really) everyone has stepped up to support Tamsin and Shaun as much as we can. While we don’t have the depth of knowledge they have over the last seven weeks we have come to a place where we all have a good levels of knowledge that can inform our decisions and take some of the strain off the skipper.

The atmosphere on the boat has changed like after every crew change. We seemed to have pulled together quickly due to the desire to support the skipper. It’s nice when a group of relative strangers are brought together and click so quickly.

Stay safe, Speak soon

Russ


 

 

 

Day 53 – Possibly

(I have no idea it could be anything. I am having a blonde moment. I’m not even blonde).

Today we have left Liverpool after some really good engagement with the public. Everyone was lovely and the Scouse sense of humour was out in force we never had a dull moment.

13775518_915455221911032_6718262390041803632_nThe Maritime Museum on Albert dock has just opened (on Thursday while we were there) an exhibition about Mersey Pilots. It was pretty impressive and we had lots of interest from current and retired pilots who came for a look around Spirit as she is a doorway to their past and the heritage of their service.

The public were interested in who we were and what we were doing and all seemed really impressed with the stories from our challenge. One thing I noticed during the public engagement was that while we are doing the same basic thing the challenges are seen differently from our individual frames of reference.

While we were in Liverpool I took the chance to get home and see my family who live just down the road in Warrington. It was lovely to see them but horrible to leave home again. My daughter Freya is six and I was so proud of how she handled me leaving again. It was lovely to have her to wave me off but I had to pull my sunglasses down to hide my emotion from the waving crowds.

Apart from me leaving home and saying goodbye to my family again we had to say goodbye to some of the crew who were only on for the last leg. Carl, Mo and Pedro have left us. As has the Padre (Clive). I am going to miss my sweets during the late watches. He has said he might join us for the party at the end.

A shock departure from the crew is Dan. The news is not bad though as we are joined by more intrepid adventures. Richie has joined from Quivira we also have Lee, Rich, Jordan and Chris joining us taking our crew up to 13 with Leigh (the camera man) joining us for the final leg.

Dan has abandoned ship to support the crew of Quivira. I heard him say “we can’t leave Spearos in charge, he got is Yacht master qualification out of a Cornflakes packet (while he obviously never said that, my way of thinking is why let the truth get in the way of a perfectly good rumour).

We have set off for Dulas Bay off the coast of Wales. We will hopefully be there by about 10pm tonight ready for a good night’s sleep before we shoot for the Scillies. It will be a bit of trek over 48 hours but will put us in sniffing distance of the finish.

Plus, let’s face it a few days in the Scillies is always a good plan.

Stay safe, Speak soon

Russ


 


Day 51 – Lightning strike

The start of the journey began with a brief from Dan about the storm we were going to pass through. Shaun told us that the storm would look closer than it was. Dan said we were more likely to be hit by a whale that by lightning.

13718518_913957365394151_4253143865691428683_nMy watch started at 03:00 and the storm was in the distance getting slowly closer and the lightening was spectacular. Dan showed us on the radar that the storm was around us, not over us. Then it hit and the storm took us like a pincer and grabbed us from both sides. It covered the boat and rain poured while lightening seemed within touching distance then there was an almighty crack and the boat lit up like something from a film. Sparks rattled down the rigging and the waves picked up, swamping the deck (ok maybe not swamping, but it did get a little more ‘lollopy’ for a second, but let’s say it swamped the deck just for poetic licence). The sparks came across the boom and discharged into the sea above my head where I stood on the helm.

Chris jumped four foot (not out of fear – more into action) and I gripped the helm and winced. Dan came up on to deck and told us to hold the course. Shaun asked us to stay below the mast while the rain stung our faces like angry wasps and a whale landed on the deck (okay no whale but poetic licence. Let’s face it that would have been cool and at least Dan would have been right).

We came out of the storm and into calm seas and lovely weather. We were met by a Mersey Pilot who guided us into Canning docks in Liverpool where we rest and engage with the public for the next three days.

Stay safe, speak soon

Russ


 


Day 49 – Manx cats have no tails

We arrived in the Isle of Man this morning and after setting anchor it was in to the same slick routines we have for arrival. Crew members get on with their jobs and Spirit look amazing. We will be giving her a special clean tomorrow ready for arriving in Liverpool. Hopefully we can clean the brass up to ‘Big Al’s’ exceptional standards. He is still off on September swanning about and generally learning to sail. Which the idea of the challenge!!

13726735_913957392060815_4339676878470353840_nI was really tired after the night passage down to the isle of Man as I had the 03:00 to 06:00 stag, which means while you do get ‘down time’ it’s very broken and then as we arrived I had to get up again to help drop the sails. This meant after the arriving routine and duties I spent a few hours catching up before I headed to the island to see what it had to offer. I also took my copy of The Alchemist. I walked up a hill and then went to the beach to sit and look at Spirit from a distance and read. I did well. I read three pages and fell asleep on the beach. LuckilyI was in the shade or it could have been painful.

While it was not really my plan it did work out well and having a few hours away from the rest of crew really made a difference and I returned renewed and refreshed. It is fair to say that people are irritating each other a little at times. This is not unexpected if you put enough people in a small space for long enough it will be a bit of a tinder box. It’s nothing serious it’s just little bits and bobs that resolve themselves as quick as they arrive but at times everyone needs a moment to themselves.

After our giant watch overnight and a day off in the town of Peel I found a tale and a tail. Manx cats don’t have tails. Something to do with snakes and witches I will find out more and let you all know about it.

 

Stay safe, speak soon

Russ


 

Day 50 – Hot hot hot.

Today had been hot. Not just hot but darn hot. Imagine the sun. Not just the outside but the really hot bit right in the middle. Imagine the heat that created that heat. That is how hot it is below decks on Spirit.

13700202_913957102060844_8701462151423216323_nThe view from the boat is pretty amazing. I have only been to the Isle of Man once before. On returning I must have missed something on my first visit. The town of Peel is small but perfectly formed with pubs and restaurants. A beautiful beach and a gorgeous castle overlooked by a majestic hill making it pretty idyllic.

Today has been a strange on with us waiting to set off on a night passage to Liverpool. We have done enough night passages during the trip to know how the routine works. This time though we are going just through the night. Normally we set off and do 24 hours. This was very different. We had the day to explore and visit the town knowing we were sailing through the night. Some of us rested and lazed about the boat. Some went off and cycled the whole TT circuit (not on purpose) while others went to the beach. To me the day was restful. The last couple of hours before we set off felt strange like I was waiting for something profound to happen.

We set off into the night. Before I got my head down ready for my customary 03.00 stag (its amazing how I always get that one), I played a game I made up with Tamsin called Venus to Mars where as a team you name 50 things that come in jars. An example of the rules is: you can have jam. Not raspberry jam, strawberry jam etc. Or you can have curry. Not chicken tikka, lamb tandoori, etc. I think you get the idea. Give it a go in teams of two and post your list. We managed 50. No cheating and looking in cupboards.

We have to be at a light ship near Liverpool at 10:00 tomorrow to pick up a Mersey Pilot for our Mersey Pilot (Spirit is a pilot in case I have not mentioned it before).

I have really figured out most of the mechanics on Spirit now. It goes ahead and to the stern. Left and right and forward and backwards in time. I think you need the topsails up for the time travel but hopes are high we can master it before the end of the trip.

That’s enough drivel from me today.

Stat safe, speak soon

Russ


 


Day 48 – Giants live here. Maybe.

We are leaving Scotland and I have feelings of sadness that fate conspired against us in being able to explore the Western Isles more. I will be back at some point when I can sail and will explore the lochs and islands of this beautiful part of the world in more detail. It’s been great and leaving feels a little like the end of something special.

13697184_913957265394161_2951362287061734039_nWe made our way for the Isle of Man and then onto Liverpool for a very tight window at Wednesday lunchtime. We will be coming alongside by the Maritime Museum in Canning Docks as part of the 250 year anniversary of Mersey pilots. Spirit will hopefully be a bit of a guest of honour being the only replica there is, and built off original line drawings.

As we pass from Scotland to England we will squeeze between the Galloway Peninsular and the Giants Causeway of Northern Ireland. While we are some distance from the causeway it’s still best drills to put a watch up to keep an eye out for a giant that might want to crush the bones of Englishmen to make bread. With that and the constant threat of another octopus attack its essential the crew remain on their guard.

As such, we undertook target practice with our water bombs as September and Quiveria left Port Ellen. We had little luck in getting shots on target and as such require more practice. Out of interest we did buy the Island of Islay out of water bombs. That makes for a more balanced battle between boats during our final leg of the journey.

Stay safe, speak soon.

Russ

 


 


Day 47 – I claim this beach

Due to wind preventing Spirit pulling away from the wall where we are staying in the beautiful island of Islay and the fishing village of Port Ellen, we have taken the opportunity to explore our surroundings and I claimed a beach in the name of Turn to Starboard. It is now our beach.

13781887_911328972323657_4130074802222152082_nWhile over there we went for a walk around a graveyard to pay our respects to the war graves on the island. We found six in total; two RAF and four Merchant Navy. It was good to spend a few moments remembering the sacrifices and thinking of those that never made it home. We are the lucky ones having the chance to take part in this unique experience.

Our trip to the beach was quite eventful, the swell was quite large and the tender got swamped a few times, I got to drive which was pretty good. My boots were full of water and I looked like I had wee’d in my pants but it felt pretty amazing. As we approached the shore there were four girls horse riding down the beach. It looked like something from a holiday brochure.

We came ashore in the wash and I filled my boots with water yet again. The beach had little folly on it that was derelict all apart from the gable end. It looked quite funny the gable end of a small building stood like a monolith from a forgotten time. As we walked back from folly there was a small horse jump randomly in the middle of the beach which Shaun decided to jump at a canter. I am happy to report that he never got a time penalty and is the best horse on board Spirit. I will see if I can find him a sugar lump later.

As we got back into the tender, Dan pushed us back into the sea barefoot. This was a great idea apart from the fact that nobody got in the boat fast enough to stop their boots filling with water.

Steve Spearos and Big Al went on a distillery tour. Carl, Pedro and Justin went on a bus ride to the main town on the island. The feedback was that as a main town, it was not massive. I think that’s the beauty of these islands. The fact that communities are small and lacking the creature comforts of large towns and cities of Britain does not seem like a bad thing. We only need to stay in places for a couple of days and we become familiar faces that get stopped for a chat in the street.

It feels like life in a simpler time long forgotten by much of the world. It’s not that they are in anyway laggards. They have the same technology and opinions as everyone. They have something that seems precious and rare in the modern world – a community with Spirit.

Stay safe, speak soon.

Russ


 


Day 46 – Only dead fish go with the flow.

It’s a very different experience having days off ashore and the general life on board the ship. That’s sort of obvious I know but its still worth some comment.

We come ashore and everyone has their own jobs. Yanto and Clive nip off early to get the shopping in. Not because we are low on food but so Yanto can get out and explore the local area for a full recce report later in the day. Tamsin sets about project work making sure we have somewhere to go and arranging crew changes and spare parts (along with a million other tasks that I don’t even know about). The filming kit gets sorted out and set up the diary room. Dan tasks the crew for any small jobs like putting up banners and such like. He is not having a great day today. He has pulled a muscle in his back and is trying to rest it. He struggles with that as he wants to be there doing everything.

13726658_910442322412322_2325193269055668188_nI was left contemplating today about the toll this must be taking on the three staff we have on board. While it is a great experience for them their days are much longer than ours. When we get to places they have stuff to do. When one of us is running navigation they have to keep an eye out to make sure it’s right. They are running this part of what the charity is doing and at the same time planning and developing other projects. They are also away from their friends and family and like us, Shaun and Dan have their own unique issues from Service. We owe a massive thanks to them and their families for sharing them with us this last couple of months.

Less of the serious stuff and onto court. This morning saw the third sitting of the ‘Court of Spirit. Any minor or even imaginary discretions can be passed to the captain where they will be tried in a court with prosecution and defence (I use the term defence lightly). At the end of the trial, if your guilt has been proven, punishments are dished out. So far some examples of punishments are:

The Handbag of Shame: Yanto was accused of having poor admin and losing things so he has to wear a lovely gold handbag until we reach Liverpool.

The Ship’s Rat: Mo was accused of being involved in too many prosecutions and has to wear a stuffed rat for 48 hours. We are not to believe anything he says (unless it’s a point of safety).

There are plenty more but it would take too long. Tonight we are having a family meal with the crews of the other two boats which will be lovely. The plan was a BBQ but the weather has changed and it’s very windy and rainy.

This will all be good for our journey to the Isle of Man tomorrow. It’s about 100 miles so will be a good passage back in watches for the crew. It should take about 20 hours I think. Then we will be in the Isle of Man for a day or two before the hop to Liverpool.

Stay safe, speak soon

Russ


 


Day 45 – The brief brief

Today, one of the first things I heard was Shaun (our skipper) ask Dan (the first mate) “Can you just brief everyone that we are going to have a brief in 10 minutes. It was quite funny as we do seem to have lots of brief’s on-board. It’s not a bad thing as we always talk through what we have done and learn from any mistakes. The most important brief of the day is also one of the highlights. After tea we have the skippers brief where everyone gets the chance to have a say about the day and discuss ongoing issues pass on messages. It’s a really nice end to the day after we have all sat down for a Spirit family dinner.

13686527_909719012484653_8123349388122746910_nToday we have sailed down the Sound of Islay. The island is renowned for its whiskey and we passed by a few distilleries on route. It is beautiful and the remote location gives it a gentle radiance that wraps you up and makes you feel warm and cosy. I think I could live here. It has been a really nice day. We spent the morning and early afternoon getting Spirit looking her best. This is not a massive job anymore. The crew treat her well now and take great pride in making sure she looks good. Nobody ever walks past a job. We might not do it straight away as it could be part of a bigger plan. People do ask if it needs doing and then learn why not or crack on if it needs doing. She is our home and we love her.

We have been together as a fleet for the last two days which has been really nice. Quivira took her turn at engine trouble today. Just as they thought they got it fixed they came on the radio to tell us “the engine is runnin…….oh no its broke again”. They got if fixed a hour later. The skipper of Quivira, Mike, is an engineer and not really phased by any mechanical issues. It took a while but he sorted it.

September shadowed Quivira in case they needed to return the favour of a tow that had been given in Tobermory. Tonight we are in Port Ellen and are staying for the day. While on the radio today we were called by Pete and Nancy who are sailing up here at the moment. For those that don’t know, Pete taught a few of the veterans how to sail and Nancy is an amazing chef who often supports the crew as Spirit plods about on her adventures.

Today is day 45 and in 17 days this will all be over. I am already feeling a bit sad about that. So far I am pretty sure I have changed and grown. I owe that to Turn to Starboard, the crew and this wonderful lump of wood that we call home. I think as we sail back into Falmouth it will be important I am not on the helm as if I am there is a really good chance I will hang a right turn to starboard and go round again the other way. I doubt many of the crew would argue.

Stay safe, speak soon

Russ

 


 

 

Day 44 – What a day

Neptune was good to us today. We sailed from Oban to (according to the skipper) ‘just over there’. The wind was kind and after a faultless departure we got all the sails up with Chris running the deck. Spirit looked and sounded magnificent with the wind thudding through the sheets on the jib, allowing you to feel the force of the wind as Spirt pushed herself elegantly forward. We did not see the giant killer octopus today but we think it’s out there somewhere just waiting to pounce.

13718586_909719022484652_288201016947394053_nPeople have been on good form today with loads of laughter and plenty of fun. The crew are getting slicker than an oiled weasel down a greased drainpipe. After the sails were put up people thinned out and talked with some napping on deck. I was having a lovely little nap right up till we got hit by a gopper and it washed over me. I was soaking wet and the rest of the deck was still bone dry and in the sun, I got up and it looked like a crime scene silhouette where I had been lay. (It is ok to laugh, I did).
The new members of the crew have settled in and the fleet is still together. Spirit is sitting well at her anchor but Quivira and September look like they are rocking more than us, and it does not look like great conditions for them. I think Quivira’s crew will be fine as they are all quite experienced sailors.

September might not be fairing quite so well with some new sailors. They do have a full crew though so at least morale will be high. Everyone is a bit sleepy today as last night we had a good catch up with the other crews and it was a late night. (No it was not alcohol fuelled, it was just really nice to be together and people were talking late into the night) We are planning on a beach BBQ for all the crews which I am really looking forward to.

Thanks for engaging with the blog its really nice to read your comments and ideas.

We had homemade pizza and potato wedges for tea at about 9pm. The sunset is lovely and the waves are rocking Spirit like a babies’ cradle which is making me want to go to sleep. We have no signal so you won’t get this for a few days.

Stay safe, Speak soon

Russ


 

Day 43 – Oban to Oban

Clive made us a wonderful breakfast which involved mackerel, scrambled eggs and bacon. The mackerel was caught last night by our own fair hands, so your really don’t get much fresher than that.

The day brought new people which has been really nice. The new faces on board are just trying to find their place. Two people have come over from September and one has travelled up from Falmouth to join us all the way home.

13619929_908674192589135_5172983427340481389_nThe crew welcomed them with open arms, partly due to the fact that we had 70 meters of anchor chain to pull up and many hands make light work. The hydraulics are due to be fixed in Liverpool so we are all making the most of the free fitness sessions in the morning. Anchor fitness – it might make a good business idea. Maybe we can make a fitness DVD for people to join in. “ANCHORCISE – AVAILABLE NOW. For just £9.99 you can have a body like mine.”
(Well maybe a body like mine is not much of a selling point but you get the idea).

We have moved from Oban Bay to Oban North Pier and tonight we are moving back to Oban Bay. This is not just for “ANCHORCISE” practice. We needed to fill our fuel and water up before we set off tomorrow.

We have a couple of short days followed by a couple of longer ones to get us to Liverpool in time for the tides. Morale is still high and life is still good (obviously, how could it not be on a boat with amazing people).

I am going to get a bit personal now and talk about myself again. I seem to do it a lot lately but this one is very ‘Turntosartboardy’. Today has not been an easy day for me. There is no reason for it. Sometimes, like most people, I just get low. Today was pretty bad and I let a couple of things get to me which I shouldn’t. The very special nature of the Spirit of Falmouth and the people on board make the worse days and the worst feelings melt away into nothing and life feels good.

I am ending what started as a bad day on a high and I will take that as a massive win.

Stay safe, speak soon,

Russ


 

 

Day 41 – Sails Ho!!

Day 41 saw us depart from Tobermory and arrive in Oban. The events in-between involved a giant octopus having to be fought off by the crew and the emergency stitching together of underwear to make a sail. We fought off pirates and followed them back to their lair where we used our cunning tactics to steal their treasure. So a pretty quiet day really.

We left Tobermory with our hearts full of wonder as it seemed we might be in the right place with the right wind to get the sails up. We set off after a spot of tender relay. Out tender is a bit worse for wear but luckily a nice chap in Tobermory called Colin lent us his. After getting back everyone back on board and slipping lines we navigated a cruise liner that seemed to have a unique style of anchorage and communication. I’m not saying it was wrong but it’s not like anything I’ve ever seen before.

We set out into the sound of Mull and the wind was with us we set about getting up a full sail set. Dan and Tamsin took the lead we had all the sails up in 28 mins which is a record for us (mainly because it’s the first time we have had them all up). We were with the wind and sailing, lots of other boats came to see us with September coming along side to take some pictures of us in all our glory. We did look pretty amazing and you could feel the power of the wind in the sails.

There was lots of learning done today by everyone. On helming under sail, on setting the sails, on navigation, and on life in general. We were a team that anyone would have been proud to be part of. (team work does make the dream work). There was no slack today everyone was involved and the long sails with sleeping between watches has slipped into storage just in case we need it in the future.

On a personal note – which again I make no apology for even though it is a little self-indulgent – I feel like I am part of something big, something special, something that will stay with me till the end of my days. While the crew are all very different with a wide range of backgrounds and needs, there is something about this boat that builds morale and a sense of belonging. Dan, Shaun and Tamsin give us time and patience to ensure we go beyond knowing how to do something and onto why we do it.

Stay safe, Speak soon,

Russ

 


 

Day 40 – What’s the story in Tobermory?

Well, here we are in Tobermory on the Isle of Mull in the Western Isles. The question “Why are you still there?” does pass through your head. Well keep reading and I will explain.

Our passage yesterday was great fun even though people seem to have gotten themselves stuck in the watch pattern of longer passages and spent much of the passage in bed. We had chicken curry for tea last night which was really good. Then we went ashore where I took the ships teddy bear, Fraser, to visit all the Balamory landmarks. This is for my daughter – I sent her the photos and she was quite excited about it.

lochWe then went for a social beer and after a pint a band came in and set up. It was a great folk band playing all the greats. The atmosphere was great as the crews of September and Spirit came back together. Stories were told and issues discussed and here we come to why we are still here.

September is feeling poorly. The crew are working on her but until she is fixed we are stuck where we are. The boat has been dried out and a fix is underway. Spirit is waiting and if September cannot be fixed we can tow her to the mainland. Has anyone else noticed that every problem we have had as been on a weekend and on an island.

It’s not ideal when you are trying to fix old boats. Except the Orkneys, them guys have got this boat fixing down to a tee.

So we are still here. We have made good use of the time with lessons from Dan on marine navigation. I have sorted all my admin and baked some bread. I have spent the rest of the day sorting tea out just to keep busy. That’s the thing that gets you down when you are stuck. Trying to be useful and busy without getting in the way. It’s easy to go to bed but nobody wants to do that. Our collective attitude is to get stuck in and get things done. Below deck on Spirit has never been so clean and tidy and she smells the same.

Hopefully we will be on our way tomorrow and I will have exciting new stories to tell you.

Stay safe, speak soon

Russ

 


 

Day 39 – Taller than we think?

“Quick question, how tall is Spirit?”
“Lets see if she will fit under this bridge!”
These were conversations that were happening at the same time last night. We were not sure how tall she is so after some measuring we left the figures in the semi-capable hands of Dan, who after lots of planning came to the conclusion we MIGHT fit under the bridge.

This effectively put nobodies mind at ease. He checked the maths several times to ensure that Spirit would fit under using his best commando maths of one, some, and many being the preferred units of measurement.

mathWe departed Broadford Bay and headed for Tobermory via the Skye Bridge. As we approached it looked low and Spirit took a deep breath and stretched to her full height to ensure nerves were on edge. We ensured we had plenty of cameras on hand to catch the bridge being hit, but it never happened.

With a sigh of relief Shaun told us he had never doubted Dan’s maths as he checked it himself!!

Todays passage is being run by Chris who is part of the Zero to Hero scheme and trying to achieve his Yachtmaster qualification. He is ‘upping the ante’ as skipper today by making bread and butter pudding. Carlsberg don’t do skippers but if they did they would all make bread and butter pudding like Chris does.

Some skippers on board really need to take a look at their priorities. The food on board has never been bad but over recent days it has gone from preparing food out of necessity to what would make a great new TV show ‘The Hairy Boaters’, (I stole the name from the crew of Quivira). The food is getting better and better which keeps morale high.

Tobermory is a pretty spectacular place only topped by the whole team being together again as we re-joined the yachts who are also part of our fleet. We will be leaving in the morning for Oban where we will spend the weekend before we leave to start our slow passage to Liverpool for the 19th.

Stay safe, Speak soon

Russ

 


 

Day 38 – Neptune seems miffed with us

After a night in Loch Shell, we found a need to mark our anchor chain more accurately due to potential slippage last night. Good leadership from Shaun and calm reassurance from Dan made us feel secure and after a quick anchor watch all was back to normal.

The rain hammered all night and the boat swung on the chain as the storm raged outside of our safe harbour. We felt the raging gales from our safe haven. The weather was broken on our radio as our signal was blocked from the guardian mountains around us. It was decided we would leave later than the original plan using the best information we had, as by then the storm would have passed.

Screen Shot 2016-05-25 at 19.07.46The gale had left a legacy of choppy seas during the afternoon which swamped the deck and water rushed past the helm and off the back of the boat. As the weather reached its worse I was off-shift. Some of the crew went on deck to look and described the scenes as “something out of the Deadliest Catch.”

I decided my best option was to stay in my bed and adopt the foetal position. While I could feel the waves and hear the rain I never made it back to the deck in time to feel the full force of the waves. To be honest I was quite glad. As evening approached the seas calmed and our normal routine took over.

We are heading to Tobermory but it looks like we will have to sit out the night at anchor again to wait for the tides. It will leave us with a short hop tomorrow where we can catch up with the other two yachts taking part in the Challenge and bring the team together in preparation of our arrival in Oban on Saturday.

Morale is high. There is plenty of singing and laughing and I wrote a rubbish poem. Maybe I will share it at some point (it is deliberately rubbish as we were doing rubbish poems about the sea while on watch.)

Stay safe, speak soon

Russ

 


 

Day 36 – For real.

Stornoway, Isle of Lewis.

The ‘Spirit of Falmouth’ really attracted a crowd today. The press on the Isle of Lewis were excitable about our visit and pushed our arrival across different platforms. This meant we received a number of visitors throughout the day which was really nice to see.

People are really interested in all of us, yet Spirit is by far the star of the show. People have questions that most of the crew can now reel off parrot fashion having spoken about them on many occasions.

Some of the crew went out and explored the island today and others stayed close to the boat in local watering holes. A few went farther afield and a few went up to Stornoway Castle. It is an old castle that is undergoing renovation and overlooked a lovely golf course and Spirit on the harbour wall.

The crew are upbeat and morale stays high, so in celebration we have created a morale forecast in a similar style to the Shipping Forecast. Have a listen and comment what you think about it. It’s really just a draft and will get better.

http://bit.ly/29qW20V

Stay safe, speak soon.

Russ

 


 

Day 35 – What day is it?

Okay, so before any of you start I know its only Day 34 and my blog has been labelled Day 35 for 2 days, but I have no idea how long we have been out here. Plus I really like 3-part trilogies so you will just have to bear with me for a while.

Well today saw us tucked up safely in Stromness in the Orkneys after having to wind the anchor in by hand due to a small issue with the windless system. In true Turntostarboardy style, we proved that ‘teamwork really does make the dream work,’ taking turns winding in 40 metres of anchor chain by hand. After a night of rest and knowing we had a day on the island, people went their separate ways to explore.

cSome of the guys on board Quivira and September made a 17 mile (each way) trip to one of the islands distillery’s. I am sure there is a separate challenge in there somewhere but I’m not privy to the detail of the trip. Four of us took a bus ride over to the far side of the islands to look at a few WW2 landmarks.

Firstly, we had a look around a church that had been created by Italian prisoners of war in an old Nissan hut. They had used bean tins and boxes to create a fitting place of worship (if that’s your thing). Then a short walk took us to Churchill’s barriers. These are massive blocks of concrete dropped between the islands with roads on them connecting the islands. The true reason was to stop the German navy sailing a U-boat into the bay and sinking our northern fleets.

The day brought everyone some much deserved rest and a chance to explore a place many of us will never return to. We all came together at the end of the day for a big Turn to Starboard family meal. This is one of my favourite parts to the day. We all sit down and eat together and banter flows, with discussions about the strangest things. A recent discussion was about really rubbish superhero powers and what would be the most useless. Examples we had were:

1. The ability to fly but only 1mm above the ground and only at the same speed you can walk.

2. The power to be invisible but only when nobody is looking at you.

3. The ability to read people’s minds but only outload.

4. The ability to make cans of Coke go flat.

If you can think of any, please share them with us and we can add them to our useless justice league. Maybe we can design some outfits for them out of stuff on the boat, who knows? I’m just waxing lyrical now really.

After we have all finished eating Shaun will brief/debrief on the day and everyone gets a chance to speak, passing any information or comments on. It allows people to get issues off their chest but more often than not there is praise in the mix.

We are pretty much caught up with the schedule now and leave for the buzzing metropolis of Ullapool in the morning.

Russ

 


 

Day 33 – A jolly day of piracy

I will start with an apology for the length of the post but loads happened and I like writing.

After the harrowing long passage to Wick where we spent the night, we set off with expectation for the Orkneys the following day. Moral and excitement were high as we were about to cross the Pentland Firth, one of the most notorious patches of water around the British Isles.

The Skipper and first mate planned a route and discussed it with local seafarers who gave advice from their wealth of experience. We slipped lines slicker than a wet otters nose and left the sleepy village of Wick and crew member Steven Price Brown behind us. We set off and some slight doubt about the tides and local knowledge ensured a plan B was in place before we crossed Pentland Firth to the Orkneys. We could not afford to mess this up in unforgiving seas.

As back up plans were completed we hit an expected eddy that locals had warned us about which sped us to the start line at Bang on 09:04 much to bDan’s delight, as this was his time to be at the departure point for the crossing. This was all thanks to Chris ensuring we hit the deadline by taking his time getting himself back onto Spirit from the tender. So well done Chris for your professional procrastination and ability to make the First Mate look good (he needs the help).

We crossed the Firth with little issue and made it into Scapa Flow with sunshine and fair winds all the way. We turned to see how the crews of September and Quivira were doing and noticed they had managed to delay slipping lines just long enough to ensure they could enjoy the squalling rain we had missed as they crossed the Firth as the seas became rougher, all adding to value to the adventure.

We found a bay and dropped our anchor for lunch. With morale high from a sound crossing and glorious weather, our minds turned to mischief and we deployed our catapult ready for the arrival of Quivira and September. (If the next part sounds a bit childish that’s because it is). We have a water bomb catapult capable of firing 300 feet and a Lieutenant Colonel of artillery on board, so it seemed rude not to test out our weapon systems.

After a quick practice we waited patiently until our chance to attack arrived. Our initial attacks were successful but we soon found out that Quivira had the ability to return fire. It became a battle that will be talked about through the ages due to the fact that 25 fully trained veterans were unable to land a single water bomb on target.
As the fun from the water bomb died away the crew of Spirit spent time in each other’s company. Friendships were made and strengthened, stories were shared and the day felt very “turntostarboardy”(I make no excuse for making up words and will be doing it again).

The Round Britain Challenge has always seemed like it should be like this. Due to challenges faced and the adversity overcome, together we had a shared experience that allowed our bonds to grow. We had sailed through the long nights under the careful guidance of Dan, Tamsin and Shaun and we had arrived in the sunshine close to the half way point of the trip with tales to tell. We lifted anchor and sailed into Stromness where we would stay the next day.

Russ

 


 

Day 32 – Trolls and boogiemen

As the miles have passed and we have made it further North, the accents and the style of life has got richer.
When we arrived in Newcastle it was a huge morale booster, we were back on course, back on time and it was wonderful to be reunited with the other boats and crews.
They welcomed us like prodigal sons returning from on odyssey, we welcomed them with hugs of relief. We had sailed directly from the Isles of Wight using our now well-drilled system of 3 hours on and 6 hours off.

It’s been about 15 years since I visited Newcastle, so much has changed, it is now a vibrant modern town with a wonderful humour and the city looks incredible. Lots of history, lots of alleyways and cobbled streets, all mixed with shiny new hotels and museums. Go there.

We welcomed Lee, Clive and Russ aboard Spirit and restocked to be ready for another push.

aAs we sailed further North, daylight is a bizarre thing in these latitudes, staying light forever. Coming onto watch at 3am and seeing light in the sky is utterly bizarre, no wonder the Jocks have such a reputation for drinking, they always think it’s time for another wee dram.
Dan and I puzzled for hours over a red light on our bow, until we worked out it was a radio mast 40 miles away and sitting just perfectly behind Wick, a beacon to guide us to our next home.

Wick is in the far North East of our mainland just by John O’Groats. It was once a huge herring fishing port yet with the decline of the fishing industry is now a quaint town, full of happy and chatty locals. It can’t have been more than 10 minutes after arriving that people were bustling around the boat and giving donations, well done Mark for getting us in the local paper. Everywhere we went they all knew who we were and welcomed us with time honoured local grace.

It is also the stop off point before entering one of the most dangerous water passages in the UK, the Pentland Forth. The huge force of the Atlantic is trying to squeeze through a channel only a few miles wide, so there are treacherous waters with tides of up to 17 knots. Only the night before the RNLI had been called out to rescue a boat, with another boat having to rescue them due to the high waves.
However, we have such an experienced senior crew that they will wait for the perfect window then nip across to the Orkneys, a place I’m sure is full of trolls and boogie men.

Sadly for me this will be my last post, but don’t worry, Russ and others will be continuing to let you know what is going on. Russ is a talented, trained and funny writer and an all round good egg.

The reason I have had to jump ship is that I have to return home to take a job offer that I really couldn’t refuse. So I found a little B&B by the harbour, and while the guys left to continue their adventure, I stood silently at the Wick War Memorial with local veterans to honour the men of Scotland who like many others lost their lives to protect this wonderful group of islands.

I’m very sad to leave, not finishing something that you’ve started is the worst, but this challenge is about the whole, not the individual.
Good luck to all on this trip, thank you Turn to Starboard for all you’ve done for me.

Steven


 

 

Day 26 – Way Ays man!

All sailors love one sound more than almost any other, the moment when you get out of harbour and can turn off the engine, leaving you with the sound of wind in the sails and the waves licking along the bow….bliss.

How ironic that on the night of the 21st we all cheered when our beast finally kicked into life.

I can’t say it hasn’t been testing, our enforced lay off added various hurdles, but finally we were away. Everyone has pulled together, Chris and myself drove to Kent and back to get the new gearbox, Tamsin, Dan & Tony fitted it until 2.30am. Shaun, Steve, Yanto and Al then helped with passing spanners and making drinks through the night.333

We have so many people to thank for this trip, our partners, the generous sponsors, the Turn To Starboard who have organised it, here and those back in the office; who no doubt have been fielding lots of telephone calls asking what’s happening.

We spent over a week in Yarmouth, and two people stood out as new friends, Darren and Emily from the The Kings Head pub, they made us incredibly welcome and gave us a home from home; thank guys, you were awesome.

We are behind schedule, but I’ve got a quiet confidence that we will be back on schedule within the next week or so. To start with, we decided to travel directly to Newcastle, no stopping for selfies at the White Cliffs of Dover, no teasing the monkey. Continued watches for 75 hours and 400 nautical miles, which are bigger than land ones, all the way to the Toon.

On the way, Geordie Al has been giving us quick lessons in how to speak to the locals;

“You’ll rit like” means hello.

“Way aye man apparently means yes

“Are pet gissa pie like” means can I have a Cornish Pastie please.

Not sure what with putting the “like” at the end means, maybe it’s a new Facebook speak and I have to press his thumbs up sign.

Again don’t worry about us, we are doing what we always do in the face of adversity, whine and moan and get on with it.

I see while we were out of comms, that we are now an independent country from Europe, I reckon you have one boat that would volunteer to patrol our newly regained waters.

 


 

Day 17 – Ooo err missus

As I mentioned before, while we were having to do a few bits to Spirit, I thought it was a great opportunity to have a wander around the Isle of Wight.

My first bimble was from Yarmouth to West Cowes, the coastal path here is quite breathtaking, not in a Himalayan or Grand Canyon way, but in cute quintessential, click your heels, wot wot English way, weaving between sandy coast and sunlight dappled forests.

The sun was out, no one else around..yep I had made the right decision.

After about four miles the path meets back up with the road, I had packed quickly and light, so had therefore packed badly. I was getting the thirst of a vampire so went off to search for the helpfully signposted “village shop”.

It was 3pm and it’s only open 10-1pm then 4-7pm are there siestas on the IOW?

After a glance of the map, I decided to not walk along a grass verge for the next 5 miles and jumped on the next bus.

I got into Cowes and my plan was to “basher up”; as in finding a nice forest and building something that Ray Mears would give me at least a score of five for. I realised that England were playing Wales so with a local hotel at thirty quid, I decided to indulge in a guilty pleasure; so grabbed a room, watched the match and acted a bit more Bear Grylls than Ray Mears.

Cowes is like a mini Falmouth, everyone wears only one of four brands and it has the same friendly welcome.

This is pretty much where the British seaside holiday started. Victoria and Albert took their holidays here, falling for it so much that they built the beautiful Osbourne House, so all the “face timing” elite rushed down to do the “new thing”.

It is one of the most unique of English Great houses, and reflects her so much, she was certainly a great Monarch, second only to Elizabeth I, she oversaw a Great Britain that pushed the boundaries in every discipline; science, technology and colonialism. The sun didn’t set and all that.

Funny timing with the two Eton boys fighting over Brexit at the moment.

imNext was Ryde….another innovative place for the English seaside tradition, I found a plaque that mentioned that a man named Donald McGill, who had his shop raided in 1953 and 1087 postcards were confiscated by the police. This was the man who created the famous postcards cartoon of pneumatic ladies and dirty euphemisms, surely he was the spiritual creator of the carry on films of the 60s and 70s (see main image).

Sandown the day after, I had obviously arrived during the annual island mobility scooter race as the place is absolutely rammed with them, at forty seven I was by far the youngest person in town and felt like a anarchic outsider showing off by using my legs to get around.

But I met some lovely people and pottered around enjoying the faded glamour of this town.

I felt it was time to get back to Spirit, as we are leaving soon, so nearby living Chris gave me a lift back and there she still was, looking majestic and getting many admiring glances by the locals.

We really are seeking the country we took our oath to protect.

 


 

Day 15 – Raising a glass 

We finally left Falmouth once again and had a small celebration when we passed our previous best of only six miles out.

The crew split into three watches and were able to continuously sail without everyone getting too fatigued. All was well, we had a lot of nautical miles to catch up on so up went a full sail plan and gave that a little boost by keeping the iron sail on as well.

The sea seemed extra quiet, with not a lot of the breeze to push us along but we were rewarded with very few other boats on the water. For those of you out there who have sailed and been on watch at night, you will know it has a wonderful unique quality that makes a three hour watch gallop by.

spiritEvery time that Spearos, Chris and myself took over from the previous watch, Geordie Al would comment; “I canny believe it’s finished, that was great mucker”.

Sadly we have had to nip into Yarmouth on the Isle of Wight to get a couple more bits for the engine. It’s all ordered from Norway can you believe, and we will be getting going Saturday.

Oh, and please don’t worry about us, almost every member of the crew can now walk into any one the four pubs in town and order “the usual please barman,” and get served with a happy smile and an enquiry into how we all are.

It really is a nice place, we have free showers and are moored right next to the ferry and receive lots of admiring looks from the tourists. We have the Turn to Starboard banners up, along with the International Paints and Endeavour Fund flags, and people are contributing to the cause.

We had a “pub and curry” night to raise a glass for the anniversary of the Paras on Mount Longdon and watching Yanto negotiate the six foot drop back on board after was hilarious; well right up until he swung his metal leg and caught me in the nether regions…ouch.

Our unplanned stop has given us a chance to keep up with the jobs of making Spirit look as good as she ever has. We will have to delay our engagement with our wonderful sponsor International Paints until next weekend, but those guys have been really understanding and we are looking forward to getting you all on board for a sail up the Tyne.

Today has been deemed a chill day by our skipper, so Dan, Tamsin and Shaun are ‘pottering’ on board with Shaun doing some painting, well all the low bits I suspect. Al is proving that the guards are the best at polishing by making the brass gleam and the rest of the guys are having a day trip to Cowes, after deeming the donkey farm and the model railway museum were really not our bag.

Chris lives on the island and is turning up with sausages and chips and a few movies tonight.

Morale is high, and mail is getting through.

However I’ve decided to go for a wander. I packed a rucksack and am now walking the coast walk, and as I write this I’m sitting in a wonderful pub in a place called…hang on let me check the map…Shalfleet. It’s one of those places where the village shop opens sometimes and the bus stop is also the pub.

Oh and if anyone asks for a volunteer to Sikaflex….say no…

 


 

Day 2 (or 7?!) – No plan survives first contact with the enemy..

I’ve been a bit quiet these past days, I’m sure you’ve noticed, that you’ve awoken each day feeling unfulfilled and that life is incomplete..

2

The reason for my unusual silence; well…we are still in Falmouth. If you’ve been checking the satellite tracker on the T2S website no doubt you’ve noticed, it isn’t broken. See I wasn’t sure how much you need to know about how good the fish and chips and Porthleven Cornish Ale is each day, so I kept my head down and wanted to wait until we had our new plan finalised.

To update you though, we have had some engine issues, serious enough to prevent us from sailing; but apart from that everything is dandy, we’ve had a chance to catch up on lots of small jobs onboard and Spirit is looking pretty swish. Us military types do adore a drama, as I’m sure the wives, husbands and partners out there will agree. It’s all been taken in our stride and the words “well it is a challenge” have been echoing around the town.

Our two sister yachts, September and Qui Vira II have gone ahead and are making their way ahead.

The remaining crew here, Shaun, Dan, Tamsin, Chris, Steve, Tony and myself are preparing for what will be a damn strong push to catch up, as in six days continuous sailing, four hours on and four hours off until we make up the lost time..

 


 

Day 1 – Best laid plans

50.1526° N, 5.0663° W

Honestly, someone should write a book about this…

So…err..it…well…damn I’ll just splurt it it out…..we got towed home, but I’ll get to that.

Screen Shot 2016-06-15 at 19.06.42We had the most amazing send off, speeches and tears, interviews with radio and newspapers, oh and cornish pasties. The mayor gave out raffle prizes, then as we boarded Spirit of Falmouth the Marine Band serenaded us and our flotilla of boats.

We shook the sails out, raised them to their full glory and swooped triumphantly out of the bay. Looking around at my shipmates, everyone was flushed with excitement and I felt I could see the anticipation of our first leg in everyone’s body language, it was flowing beautifully.

Then….clunk….sadly the gods of adventure were feeling a little mischievous: the engine had stopped….just six miles out. We spent a while running through problems, trying to fix them but alas we were fruitless.

So with no engine and no wind, and slowly drifting towards land, the skipper called the wonderful RNLI guys and they swooped out in their shiny boat, threw us a rope and towed us back. Throughout every moment of it not one person raised their voice, none were nervous, the deck was awash with laughter and joking all the way back in the dark, all helping others and working hard.

It was an anti-climax, but it felt like a win. I think when you overcome a problem or hurdle unexpectedly thrown at you, then surely it does count as a win. I think Spirit was just testing us, not enough to break us, but just enough to let us know that we’ve got a good thing going here.

So we will be delayed by a day, keep checking back on this blog and clicking on the tracker and some of what else we get up to…

We’ll get you home old girl…


 

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