Day 4  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.

Day 5  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.

Day 6  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

Day 7 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……

Day 8 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

Day 9 6/1/19

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.

Day 10 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

Day 11 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.

Day 13 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.


Forward Port

Day 13 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

Day 14 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

Day 15 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.

Day 16 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.

Day 17 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.

 Day 18 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

Day 19 16/1/19

As the islands of the Caribbean loom ever closer the crew of the Lord Nelson continue with the maintenance jobs, spurred on by the gentle waft of rum punch that any true sailor can recognise from 500 miles away. The last 24hrs has seen some serious cribbage as the competition heats up as steadily as the air temperature, thankfully Marco and Pickles are keeping us cool with some awesome AC! Shell was in the galley again giving Cookie a well-earned rest. The bridge today is littered with bare breasted beauties: Phil, Donal, Manel, Alan and Andy are just lucky that there are no whaling vessels within the range of the radar!! Safe for now guys ???? If everything goes to plan we should be swinging past Barbados and shouting “Land Ho!!” as we hit Bequia on Saturday morning and start enjoying the island life!! 😀

Forward Port

Day 20 17/1/19

Great excitement on the wildlife front as a Minke whale crested and blew on the port side next to the bridge. Fortunately, we were under sail so the whale had no problem keeping up with us at 4kts. It then swam to the bow and spent some time swimming either side and under the bowsprit. The water is so clear we could see the light on its fins and underbelly as it turned and dived under the ship then surfacing behind us, catching up and doing it all again. As with the dolphins a few days before we could see no reason for it apart from its own curiosity, or perhaps enjoyment. BM Stu gave a talk about stars and how to find them in the night skies. That’s it for today.

Forward Port

Day 21 18/1/19

Land ahoy! At long last after 18 days at sea and 2794 miles since leaving Tenerife we have Barbados approaching at 8 knots on our port bow as we continue to motor sail in fine airs and a flat calm sea towards our final landfall of Bequa, in 24 hours. Discussions now seem to centre around where the beaches and bars are. Once again, the temperature in the shade is 30c and considerably more in the direct sun. This really is a hard life!

For some while we have been sailing through large rafts of Sargasso weed which caused Marco to put our engines in reverse to free this binding weed from the prop-shaft and propeller. Many years ago, the Americans decided to change the system of buoyage on their side of the Atlantic, so that port and starboard buoys were reversed. Later this afternoon Rory is giving a talk on this.

Last night a very noisy crew assembled in the bar for a stunning festival of music played by Eric on his three-stringed guitar. This was followed by a pub quiz organised by Sarah, Sam and Mette. The team led by Captain Darren were, heavily disputed, finally acclaimed the winners. Comment should be made of the very hard work, in the considerable heat, of the BM’s and cadets in massive amounts of sanding, oiling, varnishing and painting from the woodwork of the bridge all the way down to the scuppers. Nellie is really looking very smart for her entry into the Caribbean.

For the first time on this voyage some hands are climbing aloft to get a better view of Barbados.

Your Atlantic correspondent will at the end of this afternoon watch be donning long trousers and joining the mess team for the next 24 hours. I fear that it will be very warm work. At least the sea is calm so no plates flying around the mess.

Aft Stbd: Robin, Eric, Vivienne, Catherine, Emi, Pierre & David

Day 26 23/1/19

Good morning All. It’s been several days since the last blog entry, and much has happened.  So, I have the pleasure of reporting on arriving at, and the subsequent two days shore leave on Bequia. Obviously, what happens on tour stays on tour, so names have been withheld to protect the “innocent”! Arrival at the first port after a long ocean passage involves a mix of feelings. On one hand we were filled with excitement and curiosity at places new, combined with the satisfaction and sense of achievement of helping get the ship there, and on the other a realisation that the voyage, although not over, will change from here on and the great expanse of the ocean is behind us now. For many, leaving that place of quiet solitude will be a wistful sadness. However, here we are.

After bracing the yards to clear a ferry in a neighbouring berth Nellie was squeezed alongside and “stern to” the quay. As soon as Captain Darren returned from the immigration office, having cleared us for entry to the St Vincent and Grenadines, taxi drivers and guides (sometimes the same person) had assembled at the end of the gangway offering their services. Crew swarmed ashore seeking an ATM and cold beers. Some people had been here four and a half years ago and sought out Papa’s on the hillside where everyone had watched the world cup on their previous visit. Cool drinks overlooking the bay with a breeze from the open folding doors was simply paradise. Then some more of our crew arrived and brought things back to reality a bit by asking if they could watch Arsenal v Chelsea on the television! Swimmers headed to the sandy beaches along from the town where they found a most agreeable young lady from a local hotel who was quite happy to bring orders to the end of the jetty, saving those of us in wheelchairs negotiating a route to the bar. Here we crossed paths with some other crew who had already explored around the headland to Princess Margaret Bay and had now settled in for a refreshment. One senior gentleman crewmember engaged with the rum punch with fair enthusiasm and having not yet found his “land legs” he left his companions laughing hysterically at his………erm, restricted ability to manoeuvre…….!

The next morning saw us leaving the berth to allow increased ferry traffic and moving to anchor in the bay. “DOTI” boat runs were arranged onto a jetty outside the Frangipani restaurant for more refined dining and revelling after gentle reminders of the potential hazards involved in boat transfers. Dining options were also more considered than the traditional Caribbean classics such as pizzas, burgers and fish and chips. After weighing anchor, we had a short motor around the corner to the lovely Tobago Cays, an uninhabited group of small islands which form part of a protected marine park. Sadly, being such an idyllic anchorage there were other people there including a large Dutch schooner, which had also been in Bequia, but had beaten us to the prime anchorage in the bay, so we anchored further out and ran “DOTI” boats to the beach again. Considerate local traders had set up tented areas selling chilled drinks and food so that no-one need worry about dehydration or getting peckish. Dinner that evening was an absolute triumph from cookie Simon and his team producing tender braised beef in a red wine sauce with mash, cauliflower and broccoli. The beef had been marinating all day and cooking for three hours – much like some of the crew on the beach really. Goodbye.

Forward Port watch Bradley, Jenny, Jo, John, Karen, Mike and Sam

Day 28 25/1/19

Currently powering to windward past the appropriately named Windward Isles. After anchoring in Tobago Cays and again in Chatham Bay, Union Island, we have sampled the good life. Grilled lobster and Rum punch in a beach bar at sunset. What could possibly be better? St Vincent, St Lucia and Martinique are now behind us and Dominica lies dead ahead. Wind is Force 5/6 from the ENE so we’ll soon be bearing away and setting more sail for Montserrat. Forward Starboard watch, under the leadership of Andy, continues to set the bar high with the perfect balance of quality seamanship when required, and quality craic when possible. Love to all back home. x