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January 4, 2019

1/1/19

The new year started with a bang and a twang. First fireworks courtesy of Santa Cruz de Tenerife, then a Barbeque on the stern platform courtesy of Marco and Mr Pickles, the rest of the feast prepared and served by cookie Simon ably assisted by Ben, Mandy and Shell. During the rest of the evening leading up to zero hour we had exchange visits with the German crew of Alexander von Humbolt – another tall ship moored further along the quay. Our sound system was pumping out tunes, much to the enjoyment of the crew of a neighbouring merchant vessel. Midnight came with much sounding of horns and the ship’s bell was rung by the oldest and youngest members of the crew, watch-leader Robin, age state secret from Aft Starboard, and Ben, age 17, the Deck Cadet. Groggy revellers were left to sleep until 9 and we had a buffet style brunch at 10 at the main mast. Then came the twang!  As we were preparing to depart, another tall ship coming in to the quay ahead of us came too close while passing and caught two of our yards ends in their braces as they passed. There followed much scurrying up the mast and out on the yards to check for damage which fortunately there wasn’t. So, after all formalities completed we let go and headed out to sea into the wind and swell. Next land 3000 miles away. What a start to the year and the voyage.

2/1/19

A happy New Year from the superior Aft Starboard watch.

Since leaving Tenerife we have logged 150 miles which was cracking good start for our epic voyage. We left with a decent wind, but on the nose so we motored with hot sunshine and a fair sea. The wind eventually moved to the direction that we wanted so sails started to appear and we thundered along averaging 7 knots. After a peaceful night this morning saw a clear sky and around 15 knots of wind so more sails were set and now it is very pleasant with 12 knots of wind and warm sunshine. We are thinking of all of you back home in the wet and cold.

Our watch is led by superman Robin and he is conversing with our multi-lingual watch with great style. Pierre and Catherine from Switzerland are settling in well, as is Emi from Italy. A small outbreak of ‘Mal de Mer’ seems to be nearly sorted. We are now being instructed by Darren (our Captain) in navigation with a sextant. Nobody seem to have the same position so I hope that we avoid the Cape Verde Islands which are somewhere over the horizon. The plan is that we will do a handbrake turn before we get there and head off due west to make a landfall in the Windward Islands. Marco has three lines out astern so we are all salivating at the thought of fresh tuna for dinner. As I write the wind has started to drop and our boat speed has dropped to 4.5 knots. Oh well we will just have to wait a bit longer for our first rum punch!

So best wishes from Aft Starboard- Robin, David H, Eric, Pierre, Catherine, Emi & Vivienne.

3/1/19 2.30 pm

We have had good winds during the morning we were making 8+ knots. The weather is wonderful with blue skies and about 24 degrees –  so nice and warm.

At present we have lost all wind so are not going anywhere fast but at noon we had travelled 147kn since noon yesterday

After dinner this evening a game of murder starts so everybody will be on guard and all chivalrous thought will go out of the window

Mette has just treated us to some Norwegian chocolate which was much appreciated.

AP Jim, Peter, Sarah, Mette, Keith, Buster and Chris

4/1/19

Forward Starboard led the way again in the setting of the entire set of sails whilst working under a star lit sky and gently moving through the inky black water like a quill dipping in and out of an ink well. Dolphins played off the stern in the bioluminescence of the ships wake. The morning brought more glorious sun, some flying fish and the addition of a beautiful Dorado to the galley, thanks to the Chief Engineer, Marco. Once again Forward Starboard broke the 500 mile barrier and chose the Proclaimers classic as the theme song for the bridge. Stay tuned for more from this amazing crew……

5/1/19

More celebrations to report but fewer drunks – sorry, drinks. As is traditional on ships when crossing certain notable lines of latitude: The Arctic and Antarctic circles, tropics of Cancer and Capricorn, and the equator, a court of enquiry is convened with King Neptune presiding and Queen Aphrodite assisting; in our court, however, Queen Aphrodite took more of a central role probably because she was played by Captain Darren in a Basque, amply filled where required. and a blond Vera Duckworth wig. Members of the crew were accused of various, spurious crimes read out by Ailish. The verdict was announced by the rest of the crew relieved not to have been accused. One of the crew was found guilty of being Italian, one of the cadets for taking sights whilst reading the sextant the wrong way around and being a Liverpool supporter, you get the idea. They were assembled on the stern platform and the remaining crew dispensed justice from above in the form of cups of water. I’m told this is a lot tamer than the ceremony for crossing the equator. I can’t wait to experience that. Another time! Moving on, during the midnight to 4am watch Forward Port were fortunate to see the entire ship illuminated from above by a brilliant flash of light that appeared in the sky astern. The point of light then faded and disappeared. We decided it was probably a meteor.

Other matters on board; there is a game of murder ongoing, people drew the name of a victim, a location to commit the crime and a weapon to use. They then must arrange for all three to coincide – so far 31 people are left. Captain Darren handed out a quiz consisting of questions where the answers had to be an animal with a nautical connection. As usual with quizzes there was debate over an answer and in one case the correctness of a question, is the “Lizard” the southernmost point of the British Isles? In the end the female Bosun’s mates were judged to have won and the captain’s decision is final. So there!

Forward Port

 06/01/19

804 miles covered and still heading SW hoping to pick up the Trade winds in the next 24 hours when we can turn to the west and finally make our way across this vast Ocean to the Windward Islands.

Yesterday afternoon we had the ceremony for crossing the Tropic of Cancer. Our captain appeared from the depths dressed as a buxom witch and the mate was wrapped in our Union Jack. The clerk read out the misdemeanours of most of the permanent crew, BM’s and cadets and universally they were all found guilty and were made to kneel in the court of Neptune on the aft platform. The rest of us up above on the bridge were armed with beakers of water and a deluge of water fell on them as their punishment, Much hilarity and further bonding of our disparate crew.

Glorious clear skies, hot sun and no wind sadly finds us motoring at 7.5 knots and praying for the Trade Winds to arrive.

Despite it being Sunday, the painting of the scuppers continues along with much chipping, scraping and sanding around the upper deck.

A short while ago our first sighting of a large pod of dolphins drew many to the bowsprit to watch their delightful antics in front of the bow wave.

Just now, Marco has caught a good-sized Dorado so fresh fish will now no doubt be on the supper menu.

So, as we continue across this vast ocean with temperature around 25c we cannot help thinking of you at home in the January cold and wet.

Next update from Aft Starboard watch in four days-time. Our best wishes to all our readers and all those at home.

7/1/19 15:00

We’re heading towards Antigua!! We turned West this morning and are pottering along in search of trade winds. As the Sun heats up the wildlife gets more exotic, with dolphins frolicking under the bowsprit and droves of flying fish flitting along the crests of the waves. We’ve even caught another Dorada, so those at home should rest comfortably in the knowledge that we are being fed well with fish fresh from sea to plate in a matter of hours and fresh mango to accompany our morning smoko.

Speaking of smoke, we had the pleasure of watching a fire drill carried out by the Permanent Crew this morning. Leo the Cadet was unable to get away from the oncoming fumes, but was ably rescued from his false unconsciousness by our handy team of medics and firefighters – I’m sure we all now feel a lot safer!

On a personal note, my highlights of the past 24h have been seeing (with difficulty) dolphins at midnight and learning more astral navigation – for an inner-city London gal like me, stars like these are truly out of this world.

Aft Port Watch: Jim, Buster, Chris, Keith, Mette, Pete, Sarah

8/1/19

Another fantastic 24hrs aboard Nellie. We had an amazing roast beef dinner thanks to Cookie Simon, Mandy and Ben. Before that, the afternoon talk was given by Beth, our beautiful Bosun. When it was announced from the bridge that she would be demonstrating her skills in bondage a surprising number of crew turned up and were only slightly disappointed to discover it was, in fact, a knot tying lesson. The Trade Wind jobs are continuing aboard the ship with the smell of freshly sanded wood, paint and sunscreen filling the air. Not as much wind as one would like so we are pushing on with the donkeys until we catch the breeze. The dream team of Uncle Al, Donal, Dr Phil, David, Manel, Andy and the legendary Shell Bell continue to rock the ship keeping all concerned thoroughly entertained. Must be that old Irish charm! Shell’s culinary assets were displayed when she gave “cookie” a day off and provided lasagne with garlic bread followed by apple pie and custard for dessert. Plans are now afoot for our formal dinner party to celebrate the mid-point of our journey and tuxedos are already being fashioned from bin bags and tin foil. Plenty of music, plenty of craic and plenty of friendships being forged. Stay tuned to find out more about this epic adventure.

10/1/19

DEEP JOY!  After days under engine searching for the trade winds we have finally found them!

As I write we are creaming along at over 7 knots in brilliant sunshine with flying fish scattering from our path in shoals, or is it flocks? when they take flight? Yesterday we were joined by a solitary dolphin which swam under the bowsprit and along either side of the bow, it’s hard to tell who was enjoying it more. Stu, the Bosun’s Mate, had a birthday today which meant he had the traditional cake at the main mast for morning “smoko”, which is the tall ship equivalent of elevenses, so naturally it’s at ten. The cake had a chocolate icing which didn’t hold up too well in the tropical sun so we had to eat it all in one sitting, well that’s our excuse and we’re sticking to it. Sanding and painting continues with musical accompaniment, anyone standing unoccupied is given a piece of sandpaper or a paintbrush so a lot of crew are busy reading, sunbathing and sleeping, all of which are essential activities as well. Mike gave a talk about the salvage of the Costa Concordia cruise ship as he was the lawyer representing the company. He had a slide show to accompany his talk on a USB stick, so by borrowing three laptops – one for each of the tables in the lower mess – he was then able to show pictures of the ship and rescue operation to all present. Jenny “Dodger” Martin was given advice on helming in a big following sea from a crew member more used to computer assisted cargo ships. This was not well received and she went into full “scouse” mode, saying, “Do you want a go?” Well, it was something like that.

Cheerio!

Forward Port

10/1/19

One of our Mid Atlantic correspondents – a certain, ex Chief Inspector –  has incorrectly reported events happening on our watch and is now on a charge and thrown in the brig. (The blog is traditionally written by the afternoon watch and covers the previous 24 hours. Due to a variety of circumstances the afore-mentioned offending scribe was late in composing his “copy” and has subsequently strayed into Aft Starboard’s news gathering window – a crime indeed. Have blog wars begun? Ed)

This morning at long last the Trade Winds picked up its skirt and we are thundering along with all sails set. One of our watch is sure he can smell the rum on Bequia, which is to be our first landfall.

The ‘Guess the mileage’ sweepstake has now closed and the result will be announced in our first bar visited ashore and the winner paying for the first round.

We are all in awe of the first intrepid sailors who set out to find the world. This ocean is vast, as the night sky, but we have every confidence in Captain Darren and his swarthy crew getting us safely across this pond. We will be having a full dressing up party, maybe tomorrow, when we cross the half way point.

Boredom is not a problem when not on watch, cleaning the ship, eating, debating every subject under the sun, or just sleeping. The latter is something that the Aft Starboard correspondent is very good at.

Later this afternoon we are looking forward to a lecture from Buster on Bee Keeping and in a few days a talk from Robin, our watch leader, on diplomacy. As he is a retired diplomat and High Commissioner this should be most interesting.

So, to all our families and relations, I can report that we are all well, apart from Eric who is snuffling and complaining that he has a sore throat. This has been treated by your correspondent with some essential oils so the bridge now has a curious smell as he walks around!

Our next exciting report in four days. Hope all is well with you. Now back to sunbathing.

Aft Starboard

STOP PRESS: We have just touched 8 knots and Marco has just landed a massive Dorado that should feed the entire crew tonight

11/1/19

From noon yesterday to noon today we have travelled over 150nm – sailing all the way.
It has been quite an uncomfortable ride with the ship rolling most of the time so sleep was a bit hard to get last night. But we are sailing with the trade winds, which is what we came for.
A cribbage competetion has been set up with everybody on the ship added to the draw. People who can’t play or don’t want to play can remove their names but some people are eager to learn so the competition should be keen, especially with marco and ted involved
Speaking of marco 7 dorada fish and 2 smaller fish of unknown variety have been caught today. So, fish on the menu i guess

A/s watch

12/1/19

Day 15 in the Big Nellie House and the social experiment to see if a group of total strangers can get on is proving to be a lot of fun. Yesterday saw the talk delivered by Keith, our resident Justice of the Peace, on the UK Court system and instruction on how to avoid criminal prosecution through the bribing of officials. We are almost ready start the oiling of the Bridge woodwork but Beth is still not happy with our sanding ability, she reminds me of my old maths teacher, “near enough is not good enough, children”, but we love her anyway. Our Mid Atlantic celebration is kicking off at 16:00hrs local time and it may or may not be the actual mid-point? It depends on whether you ask Darren or Stan lol… Her Supreme Royal Highness, Shell, Lady of Venus continues to darn the party costumes for Forward Starboard, I fear that a last-minute change of theme may result in brief nudity, beware!  We are steaming toward our destination and are dreaming of having a poke (a “Poke”, in the vernacular of the scribe, is a 99 ice cream. Ed) on the beach when we arrive………the saga continues.

13/1/19

Yesterday, there was a party to celebrate being halfway across the Atlantic. Eric sang a song that he had written for the event and provided the music and chorus for a humorous song written by forward starboard watch. Andy their watchleader then sang two solos.   The fancy dress bag had been raided and inventiveness was applied where necessary with dinner jackets fashioned out of bin bags and bow ties from cardboard and tin foil. More flesh than usual was on display. Shell was lucky not to get a hairy nipple in her eye from the pirate king as she turned to talk to him. Revellers looking to sea over the stern were treated to the spectacular sight of a Dorado leaping out of the sea in pursuit of a flying fish. On to our night watch after being told by the captain that we were closer to space than civilization we spotted a ship on the horizon and it motored towards us passing close enough to see the individual deck lights. It then faded into the night and that was it for the night, No shooting stars, no phosphorescence. Nothing. At least we had something to write in the remarks section of the log. That’s all for now. Toodle pip. Forward Port.

 14/1/19

Bonjour! mes amis, from the premier international watch. As I write we are entering the time machine as we plough on relentlessly over a flat calm sea at 7.5 knots with no wind to speak of at all. We will shortly lose an hour as we adjust our clocks yet again.

I expect to be moved any moment now as the entire bridge woodwork has been sanded down over the last two days and now all the seats are being varnished and the rails oiled. It is looking magnificent.

Shortly after handing over our watch at midnight last night we logged 2000 miles since leaving Las Palmas, then this morning Captain Darren gave us all a briefing on the Windward and Leeward Islands as we now have only four and a half days to go before we reach Bequa and then, due to our speedy passage, we have seven days to explore the islands. He is leaving his options open for the moment as to where we will make a visit, however, St Vincent looks a warm favourite and probably one or two more Islands as we make our way eventually to Antigua.

There was great excitement last evening as the shout went out ‘Marco! there is a fish on the line’. Many of us rushed to the aft rail on the bridge and as he hauled in his long line, we saw that this was not the usual Dorado but a huge magnificent Marlin. This feisty fish had no intentions of being landed and thrashed about until it was eventually brought to the stern of the ship. Marco, with gaff in hand, successfully caught the fish and started to haul it aboard. The fish had no intention of being landed and with one large thrash escaped the gaff, snapped the line and escaped. Thankfully Mike had taken a video of the event so there is a record of Marco’s largest ever fish that got away.

It is 27c now with the sea water 26c. If only we had time to stop and have a swim, but no, the smell and tastes of the Caribbean draw us relentlessly on across this massive azure blue sea.

This afternoon we had a fascinating talk from Eric on the making and playing of a cigar box guitar. What started as a hobby has become nearly a full-time voyage into the craft of making these unknown instruments. From a simple £60 guitar to above £300 for a real craft job Eric has a passion for not only making but playing in groups for pleasure.

So, goodbye all from Aft Starboard watch and see you again in four days.

 15/1/19

This morning once again dawned warm but slightly cloudy. We could see rain on the horizon but none came our way.

We have had a couple of feathered visitors, namely a frigate bird and a brown booby bird. The watch before us saw Dolphins but as everyone else was at dinner, they had them to themselves.

Last night’s watch from 8-12 was very warm and now we had a half moon shining brightly which did mask the stars slightly

Sadly, we still have no wind so are motoring but as we now have a speed of over 7kts the Caribbean is getting ever closer.

A/S Jim, Keith, Buster, Sarah, Mette, Pete and Chris


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