19th January 2018

Our night watches on this trip have been amazing. Everyone agreeing that for viewing stars and constellations these have been the best most of us have ever experienced with many of us learning to tell our Perseus from our Andromeda.

But the main event was the luminous displays put on by three dolphins as they swam round the ship leaving ghostly phosphorescent mermaid trails in their wake. Giving rise to our understanding of the ancient mariners tales of sea monsters and St. Elmo’s fire.

Today dawned bright and sunny with the winds freshening. We have doubled our speed to above 8 knots. Rory having realised we are all navigationally challenged gave us a talk on navigation so we should not get lost on the ship now.

Watches are busy as anyone caught gazing at the sea is handed a piece of sandpaper and lashed to the bridge handrail as it needs sanding.

A pair of turtles were spotted heading in the opposite direction.

After afternoon smoko we had the excitement of launching one of the two drifting meteorological observation buoys overboard, but not before all of the voyage crew had signed it. A 21st century “message in a bottle”. It will feed back local weather conditions to the met office. Something to remember when you are watching your next weather forecast!

Aft port watch

Melanie, Philip, Derek, Mark, Jesse, Ed, Rory, Michael and Jeanne

20th January

After a lumpy night, I rose at 05.30 hoping to catch a spectacular sunrise. It was a pretty, peachy sky today but clouds low on the horizon obscured the sun until it was quite a way up in the sky. No ships have been sighted for 3 days now. Breakfast was a boiled egg, bacon and tomato

After breakfast we were launched into a mission of cleaning the ship, this operation illustrates perfectly why Britannia rules the waves. Jobs teams were appointed, rubber gloved donned and colour coded cloths allocated to each task. In a flash the whole ship is spotless; all traces of last night’s dinner removed from the walls and ceilings, and disposed of.

As the work finished early the conversation inevitably turned to the contents of the previous evening’s dessert, described by the chef as the “nellies” answer to Eton Mess! It was brown with some white sauce needless to say it was described as all kinds of men besides Etonians and caused much hilarity among the voyage crew (it was chocolate, biscuits and meringue!).

Some crew have interesting ways to keep themselves occupied during quiet times. Mr Sextant has been plotting our course since we left Gran Canaria using the sun and stars and a clever bit of software on his phone. He kindly allowed me to hold his sextant and I identified our position to within 20 miles or so. If I was sailing to a planned destination I would hopefully reach it at this level of accuracy (provided it was a reasonably large destination).

So that was good for my ego and re-enforces my belief that sailing is in my blood even though I have never set foot on a ship before last weekend.

I shall tear myself away from this message to make preparations for the all-important egg throwing competition organised by the captain. There are points for the entertainment value, contribution to scientific knowledge and conveyance of egg unbroken from main mast to deck.

Over and Out


21st January

As steady progress towards the Cape Verdes continued, furtive groups from each watch could be found in odd corners of the ship as watches prepared for the great egg drop. The challenge was to propel an egg from the main mast platform, towards the stern to land unbroken as far astern as possible. Marks would be given for ingenuity, presentation and distance with a bonus for puns. When the time came, the crew assembled at the mainmast, where the second mate appeared with a scoreboard around his neck. In a late manoeuvre Richard the captain changed the rules, having decided he had heard too many eggsaturating puns. Presentations followed, with much amusement and jollity. Attempts emerged with various shanties adapted to the cause.

Just as the presentations finished a late runner emerged as the BM’s entered a bag of old rope in which nested an egg or so they claimed. The throwers climbed to the platform and eggs in their various protective casings were propelled towards the stern. Surprisingly all managed to stay on board the ship. But when the contents were examined it appeared that only the Cape Verde Birdie team (aft port) and the BM’s team had kept their eggs intact. But attempts to discredit the B.M’s egg and say it was hard boiled, back fired when the accuser had a fresh egg smashed on their head. Due to points difference the Cape Verdi Birdie was declared the winner, though it still soars lonely in the sky looking for its prize. We continued our progress towards the Cape Verdes shortening sail so as to avoid arriving at Palmeira on the island of Sal in the early hours of the morning. With dawn on Sunday the low profile of the island enlivened by small cones, filled the horizon. In tricky wind conditions we reversed neatly onto our berth on the newly completed quay. Now we had to wait to see if immigration would clear us on a Sunday. After several hours we were allowed to go ashore. In the time honoured tradition of sailors, some of us filed ashore to the nearest bar.

Forward port watch

24th January

Our last meal ashore didn’t happen because we had to cast off again in a couple of hours later to make room for a tanker to come alongside. In the interval we were mesmerised by the stevedores technique involving simultaneously unloading from the bow and loading at the stern all on the same side – inducing a remarkable list in the cargo/ ferry astern of us. We dropped anchor outside the harbour, our last night meal ashore then came to us on the DOTI boat. It was a choice of delicious fish or spicy chicken with rice and chips. It arrived on board still warm. Yesterday we enjoyed a full day anchored of Boa Vista. Lovely sandy beach, tepid water and reasonable restaurants. But if you don’t stay in an all-inclusive hotel, expect a rustic and authentic atmosphere in the town. The previous evening we had anchored with the port and starboard anchors, and then it was “hands to bathing stations.” Some jumping or diving of the ship others swinging. So we have covered 955 miles on this voyage and when we got to Sal 98% was under sail with no engines. Tomorrow it is a general wake up at 06.00 before weighing anchor and moving onto our berth. We are grateful to the permanent crew deck officers for manning the anchor watches overnight. All round an excellent trip.

The four watch leaders Mel, Philip, Jim and Alan

26th January

Surprisingly for this bleak distant island of Sal, everyone arrived on time for embarkation yesterday by 17.00 we were all on board. Some had arrived a day or 2 early to take in some local sights. It really is an arid barren island with small pockets of habitation – villages with colourful houses that can be explored in a couple of minutes. As with most JST voyages, the crew seemed to gravitate to the best watering holes in town with delicious barbecued fish straight of the pier. After the usual briefings, we were informed that we would be making an early departure this morning, as the winds pick up by 09.00, making it very difficult to leave the berth after that time. After a delicious supper of fresh fish bought locally, most chose to stay on board for a quiet night in the bar, or retired to bed to catch up on lost sleep due to early starts to get here. We tumbled out of our bunks at 06.30, ready for action, we were then allocated our tasks for leaving the berth, and after being instructed what to do, fought our way against the wind and successfully left our berth in Palmieri. We soon hit large swells and the first green faces appeared. With the assurance that the rolling will get better once we set sail. We then went to our bracing stations to practice bracing before doing it for real. We now have 3 square sails set on the foremast and 2 on the main, plus some fore and aft sails, we are sailing at 7-8 knots with the wind on the beam. The rolling hasn’t stopped, so drinks are being spilt liberally and many had their lunch up on deck, one of the messman did a perfect toss and catch of a plateful of kedgeree when the ship rolled whilst she was serving lunch. A few more have succumbed to mal de mere. Still where would you rather be? Under blue skies at 24 degrees temperature and wind blowing through your hair or in the cold, wet weather back home.

Aft Port watch. Kumi, Terry, Barbara, Lizzy, Dave, Smiffy, John, Judy under the watchful eye of

30th January

We arrived on the west side of Brava at first light to investigate; the most sheltered anchorage so far. The chart showed no depths so the Doti boat did a quick survey with a hand held echo sounder. We were soon anchored with both anchors out.

The village with road access is 600ft up a very steep path. The Doti boat took boat many of the crew to the steep shingle beach. Ted BM was the only one to fall in when getting out of the boat on the beach.

The first voyage crew up to the top found minibuses. Then as more and more made it to the top, the minibus driver rang his boss who rang immigration and the
police. Captain Richard was told that he had to take the ship round to the tiny port to register landing. Apparently each island needs its own clearance despite having been cleared on entry to the Cape Verdes.

The permanent crew and few voyage crew who went back down the hill to the beach had to weigh anchor. The starboard anchor had a large rock in its flukes causing a delay, trying to shake it loose. The ship then battled the winds to get round Brava to enter the tiny harbour and retrieve our crew.

Stuart Kirkman, Forward Port watch

31st January

Monday afternoon saw us on passage from Sao Vicente to Brava with a NE force 5-6 wind and moderate sea. We anchored just before breakfast in a delightful bay to the southwest of the island. Steep green cliffs which continued deep into the water, which meant putting out both the port and starboard anchors, and 5 shackles of chain.

Two of the local fishermen were quick on the draw pulling alongside with patched oars to sell locally caught fish. They were in luck and as part exchange had coffee and bacon sandwiches!

The adventures of the day were about to begin. The voyage crew went ashore in relays via the Doti boat, the beginning of the transition from legal sailors to possible illegal immigrants. The zigzag climb to the village at the top of the hill was hot and steep and dusty. So the small café at the top selling cold beers and soft drinks was very welcome. One small group returned to the ship whilst the remainder continued to the bus terminal. A few people had already caught a bus, but the next group was detained by the local tourist manager. Contradictory to previous information, each island has its own administration and this had not been made clear. Captain Richard talked to local officials, those waiting for a bus could continue to the Forna on the NE side of the island, stopping for lunch in Villa Nova Sintra and meeting up with other escaped crew members in Forna. Whilst the ship weighed anchor and went round to Forna.

The hinterland was one of steep cliffs, deep dry gorges, dizzying heights and cobbled roads. The old road into Forna had been built by the bus drivers grandfather it seemed fairly ok but the new one was better. In Forna there is little except the ferry, we did find a little bar which kept us warm waiting for Lord Nelson. The toilet was a matter of consternation which will be passed over! Lord Nelson eventually arrived- what a blessed sight. She had had a difficult time the port anchor was weighed ok  but the starboard anchor proved more difficult to weigh in, causing a delay in getting the ship moving.

To those of us ashore we watched her rocking and rolling out at sea while she was prepared to enter the tiny harbour. It seemed a Hobsons choice a tiny harbour with a ferry at the end of the dock and a strong onshore wind, or Doti boat rides to a wave tossed ship at anchor. To our great joy, Captain Richard skilfully brought the ship alongside. Cheers all round!

Aft Port Watch