50;12.53N 2;12.77W

Wed 19 Mar 2008 19:05

Callsign GXHA also known as HMSTC ADVENTURE has been our home during the first Ex Midnight Sun sail training session from 15th – 20th Mar 08. I say home, but imaging your wardrobe being a 2ft square plastic box and sleeping on a stretcher and these, as well as the rest of the boat, being cold wet and at a 15 to 45 degree angle. Just carrying out the simplest of tasks takes a huge amount of effort and much longer than you think.  The first task to crack is getting dressed into the all of the layers of clothing necessary to keep warm and dry.   Initially this took about 15 minutes.  But as this operation has to be done at the start and end of each Watch and also eats into your very precious sleeping time it is essential to crack it as soon as you can and get it down to under 5 minutes.


Saturday was spent familiarising ourselves with the boat and generally preparing for sea. We left on Sunday after practising some Man Overboard and tacking drills we left the Solent for the Fastnet Rock and points west.  It was quite a strange feeling for some as they had never been on board a large boat before, and for others they were excited to be there and part of the adventure.


The wind was from the North/North East.  No sooner had we left the relative shelter of the Solent and settled into life in our watches then some of the crew started to succumb to the effects of mal de mer.  Some were better than others and some took longer to succumb and a few lucky ones did not succumb at all.   The golden rule was not to be sea-sick down below, and to get ‘top side’ onto the low side of the boat.  Depending on what one was doing when one felt ill depended on what needed to be done to get top side quickly wearing a lift jacket – not necessarily wearing full oilskins.  As we slipped from afternoon into evening and some of the crew went to bed we were treated to some unusual dress codes.   Sometimes there were combat indicators of an event – someone a little quiet, sitting in ‘Cloud Counting Corner’ trying to get their mind onto something else other than the motion of the boat, gate crashing into the heads no matter whether they were occupied at the time or not or someone rushing through the lower deck grabbing a life jacket enroute get topside.  Those people top side on watch soon became used to grabbing those succumbing to mal de mer to stop them falling over the side.


 The aim of the training session was to become proficient at running ADENTURE in preparation for our trip north in the Summer.  As result each Watch has had to master the sailing skills necessary to safely handle the boat - sail changes at sea, helming the boat, putting in and taking out reefs from the main sail and acting as Mother.  In some ways this latter task was the most demanding as it had the most immediate effect on crew morale if a meal was late or the wrong rations were used (see Greg’s blog) or brews were not hot enough.  


White Watch is made up of Greg, Andy M, Emma and myself, Andy W.  All of the others are committed to leg 2 and, as I am not I was soon nicknamed Plus 1. So far and 4 days into continuous sailing we have come through our Watches well and learnt a great deal.  We are a tightly knit team and have learnt a huge amount in a very short period.  Greg who cannot drive a car, can now ‘drive’ a 50 ton 67 ft boat close to wind at 7 knots, Andy M is an excellent Helm and Emma is the ‘Happy Barometer’ for the whole crew.  When she is not happy she is usually feeling sick – be warned though her sense of humour quickly recovers.  Like all the other Watches we have had our fair share of hard work and more than an occasional drenching from the sea while working in the fore deck.  We saw those who failed to follow the maxim of ‘do it nice or do it twice’ being called back up on deck to finish a job, had an excellent moon-lit Watch while we sailed round the Scilly Isles, seen Bishop’s Rock during 3 watches, experienced schools of dolphins racing along side us while we changed sails off Land End and many, many laughs. The work is hard but enjoyable and great fun.  But if any of you are tempted to change to Crew 2 do be warned there is a Watch, not mine, which must have tapeworms and they never stop eating.  Perhaps it is just as well they are on the second leg as there is a slim chance that there will be some food left when ADVENTURE arrives in Greenland at the end of leg 1. 


 Andy Whitmore