13th March

Today we entered the Antarctic Convergence Zone, this also means we are now on the same chart as South Georgia – our first destination on this voyage.  Sea birds are spotted in abundance, albatross, tern and petrel. You can still see Dolphins jumping out of the water and spinning, despite being in the coldest seas we’ve seen.

Life aboard is settling into routine – we’ve even got the hang of the laundry routine. We have travelled 537m from the Falkland Islands so only a couple of days until we make land. Trying to race the storm and the cruise ships so we can enjoy our time there.

Bridget, Megan, Tamsin,  qv  Chris, Liz, Shannon, Andy  and Nicola Forward Starboard Watch

We awoke this morning to the wonderous sight of a towering iceberg off our starboard quarter. We now have a second berg of the day off our port bow, which we are on course to pass within a mile of.

Temperatures have plummeted, resulting in competitive clothing layering. Jess is the current record holder with eight layers, but this record could be in jeopardy as we head further south. It must be cold because bosun Stu is wearing long trousers for the first time in more than 60 days!

We have a book running for our arrival in South Georgia, likely sometime tomorrow. However the forecast for strong nor’easterly winds this evening/overnight may delay our arrival alongside. We watched a BBC documentary on Britain’s whalehunters, a lot of which was filmed in South Georgia, giving us a bit of a history lesson. We had an orca sighting briefly and later a second sighting of 3 orcas. Then another group orcas swam closer and their backs came out of the water…amazing sight!

We still have many majestic gliding albatross keeping us company as we travel. Otherwise the last day or so has been pretty uneventful, which is no bad thing in the South Atlantic. Hello to all back home from Forward Port – Laurie, Ruth, Carter, Ryan, Jo, Anna, Kate and Jess

14th March

That was a watch for the memory bank! We’ve just finished the 1230-1600 watch. Winds over the port bow 35-45 knots – force 9 in Beaufort speak – with occasional gusts over 50 knots (force10).  We are muffled in many layers of  most of  our clothing and those who had the foresight to bring ski goggles are discovering just how useful they are on a ship as well as the ski slopes. We decided that John is the Watch optimist when we noticed he had a tube of sun screen poking out of his camera bag – OK it was only factor 15 but still….

We are making our way around the southern tip of South Georgia seeking more favourable winds and sheltered waters. In the meantime we have had the huge and breath-taking bonus of sailing up the coast of South Georgia. We awoke to a range of jagged, snow-capped mountains rising right out of the sea to 3000 metres – a bit like suddenly sailing up to the foot of the alps. They stretch away as far as we can see with huge and impossibly climable glaciers almost from their peaks right down to the sea. Inhospitable, uninhabited but sufficiently magnificent to make even the most cynical and unimaginative draw breath and go quiet.  An added bonus was the blue-white iceberg majestically drifting north between us and the shoreline.

We are lucky to   have a clear day of magical silvery  grey light, the occasional startlingly blue  patch of sky massive pure white clouds rolling slowly over the mountains and down the glaciers towards the ocean.

There continues to be an abundance of birds and sea life – seals, wandering albatrosses, petrels and even a king cormorant offshore and, like us, seeking out calmer waters.

We are lucky to have Skip Novak on our Watch until South Georgia when he will become the ship’s expedition leader. He knows these waters well and is able to identify birds and mammals far more expertly than the rest of us.

We have the midnight – 0400 watch to look forward to and hope to be safely anchored or alongside the British Antarctic Survey base at King Edward’s Point sometime tomorrow.

In the meantime love to all at home from aft starboard: W/L Chris H, Fran, Jennifer, Linda, Charlotte, Michael, Skip and John.

15th March

After sailing around the southern tip of South Georgia and up the coast, we arrived at King Edward Point just after breakfast. The last few hours were in calm waters but thick fog so the water tight doors were closed.

But what an arrival. At the entrance to the bay the fog lifted to reveal what looked like a landscape from an Indiana Jones movie: breathtakingly tall, jagged peaks of snow and ice running right down to the sea where they ended in sheer black rock with the big Southern Ocean surf breaking on them. The old, rusty factory at Grytvyken lies at the head of the bay with several beached and abandoned whalers on the now disused jetties and slip.

We berthed a half mile or so away at the tiny British Antarctic Survey base at King Edward Cove, where we were priveleged to come alongside the small jetty where the BAS vessel “James Clark Ross” is a frequent visitor.

We had a friendly welcome from the South Georgia Government officials (all two of them) and were briefed on the stringent bio security controls. The Government is concerned to preserve the island’s environmental purity and strict controls are in place including checking all clothes (especially Velcro) for seeds and soil, washing boots both at the head and foot of the gangway and blacking out the ship after dark to prevent bird strikes.

Once we’d completed entry formalities we were led by Skip, our expedition leader, along the narrow gravel path to Grytvyken for a tour of the disused whale factory. A fascinating place of huge rusting and brutal looking industrial buildings, slowly decaying and incongruous in such an otherwise pristine environment. It’s a devastating thought that it took the virtual extinction of the species to bring their savage business to an end.

After this fascinating but sobering tour we walked along the bay and then up to the cemetery where Ernest Shackleton is buried amongst the seafarers and factory workers who died down here in this bleakly but beautiful part of the world. We gathered around his grave and toasted his memory and honoured his achievements in the traditional way by passing a wee dram of whiskey – welcome in the cold.

Even on a calm summer’s day the weather in this remote corner can change dramatically and without warning. We were lucky to have had such a calm and peaceful afternoon.

We spent a convivial and warm evening in “Tenacious’” bar. Three staff from the base joined us for dinner and a fascinating talk about their work down here which includes everything from being local magistrate, policeman, border and fisheries control to the vital environmental and wildlife research and protection of the BAS.

We went to our bunks tired and looking forward to another day of exploration.

20th March

A glacier before breakfast.

It was a bright but chilly morning as we gave three cheers for South Georgia and slipped our berth at King Edward Point watched by bemused Fur Seal pups and the KEP staff.

We headed down Cumberland East Bay to look at the majestic Hamberg Glacier where it plunges into the sea. Breakfast was served on deck thanks to Micah, Fiona and the mess team.

Yesterday one of our watch mis-laid their phone in Gryvitken, only to discover on return that it had been handed to the cruise ship personnel in harbour that day. A quick look across the bay revealed the cruise ship heading out. Thankfully, a radio-call to the cruise ship stopped the ship and a tender was dispatched to return the phone to its rightful owner. Thanks to everyone for their help.

From the glacier the ship headed for St Andrews Bay, this wide sweep of  beach and the gentle slope behind is the home to a massive colony of King Penguins. Tenacious anchored in the bay and after lunch the crew ferried us across to the beach. What a sight!  Thousands of penguins as far as the eye could see with eggs and chicks. They were attended by the predatory Skuas and scavenging Sheathbills.  A stream running behind the beach contained playful seal pups while bigger seals lay on the beach belching. Everyone watched in awe and photographed this amazing spectacle.

Last night Bahama Dave gave us a wonderful talk with projected photographs about his climbing exploits. It was so good it’s difficult to see anyone volunteering to do the next talk. This evening we braced the yards, weighed anchor and headed  NE. Our visit to South Georgia will be unforgettable.

Aft starboard watch: w/l Chris H, Fran, Jennifer, Linda, Charlotte, Michael, Skip and Jon.

Location:  54 Degrees, 12 Minutes South, 36 Degrees, 25 minutes West

Launched the ships boat with the 2nd Mate and cadet to go and get some scenic pictures of the ship and glacier in the backdrop. Set sail due north towards the exit of Cumberland bay east in view and falling upon a favourable bay to release ships company for an afternoon of  scientific pursuits.

The coast of South Georgia is raised with lofty summits lost within billowing clouds.  Wild rocks are carved and twisted by the ever present force of wind and ice. Deep valleys lay covered in everlasting snow.

Alas inspite of what little safe harbours South Georgia may afford we chance upon a large commodious bay sheltered from the north west wind. Lying at approx. 54 degrees 26.5 minutes south and 36 degrees 11 minutes west, St Andrews Bay is skirted by high snow covered peaks with Cook, Buxton and glaciers bounding its interior with Mount Skittle to the East, with Clarke Bay below.

The foreshore is made of heavy black sand from  glacial white wash. Some 30 years previous the Cook Glacier would have reached the high water mark with 30m ice cliffs. This has since retreated leaving a plain of meadow grass and antartic hair grass, providing an ideal location for some 1 million King penguins and the various mammals relating to the seal genus and seal birds.

Had the cook prepare lunch for the ships’ company before disembarking them onto the ships boats then proceeded to land crew.

Once upon the shore of  St Andrews Bay teams set off towards a large penguin colony and base of the Cook Glacier. A walk consisting of approx. 1.5 miles allowed majestic views of the bay and numerous sightings of native Fauna. Skuas, Giant Southern Petrels, king penguins, elephant seals, Fur seals, Sheathfields and Antartic Terns.

Even its isolation, vast elevations, ice carved valleys and wretched coastline are no deterrent to the throes of mankind. The beauty and isolation provided an oasis, the last bastion of nature, glaciers filling the fjords, bays filled with cetaceans, hills lined with tussock grass and the air filled with sea birds.

E.C.R.M Edwards

21st March 

We are sailing! We are sailing!! More than 24 hours now under sail – Fore Course, lower and upper Topsails and Main lower and upper topsails.

Winds gusting 33 knots, but as from behind we are going at 9 knots – so more like 42knots!!

Noon to noon travelled 203 nm – but the record is 217 which we are aiming for now. We are also rocking and rolling with a few incidents of flying food, such as hot chocolate powder, yoghurts and mushrooms – not all at once!

The temperatures of the air and sea are rising and we’re out of the Antarctic Conversion Zone. We still have birds but I think the Albatrosses have left us now. Sun is shining and donning dry wet weather gear for this watch. A big improvement on yesterdays dampness.

Love to all who are following us at home – still a long way to Cape Town and plenty of sailing to enjoy.

F’ward Port – Kate, Ryan, Jo, Jess, Carter, Anna , Laurie and Ruth

25th March

Sunday 25th F’ward Port

Things are pretty steady as we are sailing making 5.2 knots on to Cape Town it’s quite peaceful without the engines and the motion of the ship under sail is lovely. We remain alone in the Ocean, the last time we saw any people was the staff that helped us cast off at Grytviken. No other vessels or islands for a week. We have been in thick fog for 48 hours which makes night watch very eerie and radar becomes so important. The permanent crew decided to close the watertight doors which causes much hilarity as trying to find the ‘up and over’ route to one’s bunk becomes like hide and seek!

Ryan gave us a talk on match racing in the Swan river all done by hearing sounds from the competing boat and the marks which was quite exceptional!

Happy hour was far too enjoyable as Daz suggested we shouldn’t be singing as we work!

Royal sail up on main mast (so 4 of the 5 sails on both masts). We are very amused that 2 of the permanent crew woke an hour early because of UK change to British summer time. It’s also definitely warmer and becoming quite pleasant on deck with less layers on.

For breakfast we all ordered eggs and bacon but mistakenly Lucy put in the order as eggs and beans, however we are making use of the beans by trying to add a few knots with fart-power, perhaps Lucy’s secret plan!

Love to all at home

F’ward Port which includes Kate (W/L) Carter (on mess) Anna (going onto mess) Jo (about to be 65), Ryan (official watch Joker, confirmed by tall Matt the cadet), Jess (cadet, who gave a great talk on lights on ships) Laurie and Ruth (neither got a single line of the song right, but do miss the kids!)

26th March

No nice consistent westerly’s for us but everything from next to no wind yesterday to 30 knots from SSE during our watch this afternoon. For the first time this voyage we’ve been heeled to port. Fortunately for those of us sleeping on the starboard side the forecast is for brisk westerly’s in the next day or so. Yipee!We’ve enjoyed some wonderful talks from our shipmates. One of the greatest pleasures on a long voyage like this is getting to know such a wonderfully diverse range of people. Everyone seems to have such a fascinating tale to tell. “Bahama” Dave has treated us to an account of his breath-taking climbing exploits around the globe; Linda to her equally daring race around the world aboard one of the Clipper yachts; Shannon to her pilgrimage along the Camino de Santiago in Northern Spain; Chris Roche to a session on sea shanties and traditional sailor ceremonies and Ryan to international match racing for the blind and partially sighted. And we have the delicious prospect of further talks to come.Talking of delicious, last night Anna, who has worked as a cook (as well as paramedic, organiser of adventure tours through Africa and various other interesting occupations) gave Micha our wonderful cook a bit of a break by preparing a delicious dessert for last night’s dinner and today preparing a tasty lunch of Indian vegetarian curries. Yum.It’s real pleasure and privilege to spend time with such an adventurous, interesting and talented group.Love to all at home from aft starboard: W/L Chris H, Fran, Jennifer, Linda, Charlotte, Michael, Skip and John.

27th March

Port Aft Watch – SV Tenacious 27.03.2018

Time 13.00      Latitude 42’01’ S     Longitude 05’48’ W     Sea temperature 12.5’

Nog  1247 mylen en ons in Suid Afrika

You may have been wondering what had happened to this Watch – well…there are 9 of us making us the largest on board and therefore the noisiest by sheer dint of numbers.  Ja lakker!

As we approach SA, Afrikaans lessons have started in earnest.  The 2nd Mate has been more than patient as we grapple with throaty g’s and rolling r’s whilst attempting to remain on our current course of 070’ – with only 15 knots of wind we should be able to manage but when the Captain appears we realise that we have been found wanting!

Just before Smoko news reached the lower decks that Anto had unblocked the scuppers and Little Matt had finally brought the ship’s bell back to life.  The Bosuns are delighted to report that work on the ratlines is proceeding apace and we will soon have access to the dizzy heights of the Upper Top Yard and Seilskip (Sailing Ship) Tenacious will be looking her best for our arrival in SA.

As to our progress across the Southern Ocean, we can report that we are now 200 miles south of Gough Island explaining why we have been blessed with a flurry of notable sea birds including the majestic Royal Albatross and the more skittish spectacled petrel. As mentioned above in Afrikaans, we are now just 1247 miles away from Cape Town.

28th March

We are currently motoring along on a course of seventy degrees, at a speed of 8.4 knots. The sun is trying to make an appearance and we have reduced our layers of clothing. The sea is very calm and we are in the company of Wandering Albertross and White Chin Petrels.

This morning, the voyage crew were taught five basic knots by the Boson. Additionally, Anto gave us an insight into his Transantacrtic Expedition in 1979-82.

Despite motoring, the hot tea rounds continue in between sail handling.

Fair winds from forward starboard (temp WL) Liz, Megan, Tamsin, Andy, Bridget, Shannon, Nicola and Maikel (OOW)

29th March

Beautiful day with the Forward Port Watch.  The sun is shining, a massive wandering albatross is circling close to the boat, and we have sunseekers on the bowsprit.  The wind is on the light side, so we have a course on the foremast, lower topsail, uppertopsail, and a t’gallant on both masts, plus two jibs. Sadly no spankers up. Sorry Ruth, but hey we be sailing!!

Today’s talk is a slide show presentation on National Parks in USA by the charming Carter. Cadet Jess is our excellent stand in Watch leader while Kate is on mess duty.  It is a day of t-shirts, sun and smiles.

From the Forward Port Watch-Kate, Anna, Jo, Laurie, Ruth, Jess, Ryan, and Carter

31st March

We are still deep in the heart of the ocean with c. 650 miles to Cape Town but we have a retinue of about a dozen petrels and shear waters. The birds multiplied out of nowhere as soon as they saw Skip fishing of the stern (So far the big one has got away).

We’ve had a full sail up on a following breeze in the warm sun, although currently have had to hand sail to motor in to the passing easterlies and push on for Cape Town deadlines.

The ships beer bottle orchestra has made great strides under Linda’s baton and produced a fairly recognisable “Yankee Doodle”

Naomi, Lucy, Isabel, Alison, Fran W, Dave, Matt, Ted, Anto

1st April 

Today is a glorious day! The sun is shining and it is 18 degrees! The water is calm and twinkling in the light. The perfect day for two birthdays on board, wonderfully celebrated by chocolate cake and sun bathing.

April Fool’s jokes have been successful and the Easter Bunny even visited this morning with more chocolate and magellanic penguin pins for Forward Starboard!

Additionally, last night the moon was blood orange creating a moon rainbow. This was previously seen on the last 12-4am Forward Starboard watch, during 2am sail handling.

The mood is high, as some enjoy the rays of sunshine from the bow sprit and the platforms on the main mast.

Smooth seas and fair winds

Forward Starboard

Bridget (w/l), Nicola, Liz, Andy, Shannon, Megan, Tamsin and Chris.