Sat 2 Aug 2008 01:40
I think it is Saturday today - not that it matters really! That being the case I must be 45 and 2 days now and Adventure and her crew must be on Day 5 of the passage to Greenland already. I thought it must be time for me to provide my short assessment of how things are going.
12 months ago we started serious planning for this trip. Selection took place in the latter part of 2007 with short-listed TA personnel called forward for a selection and training weekend in January and February 2008. Those selected returned for a number of training weekends and a week's exped in March either side of Easter. Further training weekends took place until July. Behind the scenes all this time there was lots of administration and planning to complete. Captain Mark Giles and I worked with Major John H-W and Capt Cath Stephens to make the best of what was on offer from BT and its ERT. Staff at JSASTC worked hard to ready the yacht for us and a team gathered to complete last minute preparation during the week immediately prior to sailing. We secured money from the Royal Signals Yacht Club and MAG Projects Ltd sponsored some items of clothing. Several adventurous training expeditions were organised and completed, finances run and monies accounted for and training conducted by myself, Windy and MJ. Much of this was done so as to maximize availability for the TA personnel.
Some of our number dropped out along the way - for a host of reasons - and we recruited some last minute replacements. These people did not receive the same amount of training so were at a disadvantage initially. But then all the crew less skipper and mate were sick to begin with on this leg. As I write now, the sickness has passed and everyone is better. Touted by me as the Day 4 effect, it has worked again on this trip (we started out at 1730 hrs or so on Tuesday). We have charged along on a beam reach, covering a staggering 190 M in a 24 hour run - staggering because that was along the south coast of UK where we are usually thrashed by wind and tide, We rounded Bishop's Rock at 11.7 knots and bore away to a broad reach with a beam sea to close SW Ireland near FASTNET Rock. I was attempting to sail north of the approaching low pressure system so as to harness following winds. But the low pressure filled and became complex. After a day of lighter winds, the breeze filled in again from the west (generally) and since then we have been able once again to lay our Great Circle route north west from Bishop Rock towards Cape Farewell, 1600 M away. When we get there we will have another 600 or so miles to sail up the west coast - but more of that another day.
The weather has been good - southerly at first followed by a lull - at present we have a consistent 20 knots from the west. Whilst that means we are beating, at least it is in the direction we want to go - north west, So morale is boosted by that. At present Ireland has just slipped off the chart plotter so now it only shows sea. And we have been through our first time zone change too at 7 1/2 degrees west. We will have a few more to do at 15 degree intervals as we make westing. We have sailed over 500 miles so far and had breeze up to 32 knots but mainly 18 to 20 knots which is perfect, The light wind day caused us to use the engine at 1500 RPM to induce sufficient apparent wind so we could motor-sail. This is much earlier than I had hoped - expecting to motor for several hundred miles when we reach the high pressure around Greenland I was hoping to save fuel til then.
The yacht is in good order. We have fixed a few bits as we sail. Nothing dramatic wrong. The HF is working; I even managed to get a fax from the Weatherfax - a near miracle in itself. Windy has been making little improvements along the way and I have been fixing the odd thing too. The food is improving now that appetites have returned and I no longer feel as if I am on an enforced diet! The air is still warm, the Azores High has brought a warm air circulation up to meet us. It wont last though as we are bound for arctic air and seas.
Anyway I hope that gives you a feel from my perspective. I will write again in a few days to describe how we are getting along,