Day 1  24/02/19

Hello again Nellie

We could see Nellie from our Bird House eyrie, an open-sided cabin, part of the Pinapple House B&B, overlooking the whole of English Harbour, Antigua. At least Ros, my wife could see the Lord Nelson moored off the Antigua Yacht Club moorings, (I am the sightless one in our marriage).

One thing perplexed me as the information from the JST had it that Nellie would be ready for boarding at the Antigua Yacht Club moorings, Falmouth Harbour, (I thought Falmouth Harbour was on the opposite side of Nelson’s Dock Yard). This little niggle of doubt created a whole series of scenarios in my imagination that had us struggling along these pontoons among the billions of dollars of flash-git luxury cruisers and finding out that the 3 master on the end of the pontoon was not Nellie, we then had to backtrack and order a local taxi. I never thought I was a worrier until later life and this is a prime example of worrying about nothing as the 3 masted ship at the end of the pontoon we were greeted by Lesley, the ship’s first officer followed by Chris, our watch leader.

I went up the same gangway I had last descended in March 2018 at Grand Canaria Harbour after my first 21 day voyage from Cape Verde Islands.

The first couple of hours plunged us into a dense tangle of information. You could almost hear the stream of verbals advising or instructing about ‘musts’ and ‘mustn’ts’, facts and fire drills, alarms and exursions, all going in one ear and large bits popping out of t’other. One comfort was that it was thought highly unlikely we would suffer petty theft as the route for potential thieves would be past much juicier prey. I did not think though at the time that security on behalf of the billion dollar brigade would be a much tougher nut to crack than here on Nellie. The most likely reason for us not to be targeted is the immensely long series of walk-ways and pontoons beofre you reached Nellie as we can attest having dragged our over-full luggage there.

Day 2  25/02/19

More intensive training happpened covering nautical miles of necessary information, involving steering, watching, hauling on various ropes, tidying coils of ropes away and heaving on different ones. We eventually set sail at 3pm on Monday.

One thought I had as I went to find a place to sit and eat lunch before we sailed was that Nellie is definitely a working ship with a working crew. There are no comfy deckchairs on deck, nor sun beds nor relaxers and certainly no steward proffering trays of drinks. But of course this was what we had signed up for. You will find no seating on deck unless it is a solid wood with a solid wood back, set at a solid 90 degrees from the seat, (except where there is horizontal rail sticking in your back!).There is one chair but that is for the helmsman or helmswoman who need to sit while helming.

Our first watch started at midnight and was due to end at 4 am. We were in the Lee of Guadeloupe, (however you spell it!). The lights on the island polluted the view of the stars but on the starboard side the night sky was magnificent. The volcano on the island shielded us from the easterly wind off the Atlantic and nothing much was reported except the odd sailing craft moving away from us and assorted other lights of little interest. All in all a quiet and pleasurable watch bathed in sweet mild breezes. As we handed over to the next watch Nellie emerged from the volcano’s shield and the Atlantic wind started whistling through the rigging and the sail plan had to be changed. During the watch we had gleefully rigged the main t’gallant sail and had to hand it back into its box 10 minutes later – hey ho, it was a great chance for high fives!

Day 3  26/02/19

During day 2 we had sailed south passing the lees of Caribbean islands at a great rate and ahead of schedule. We anchored off St Lucia and looked forward to our day’s release from shipboard life for some swimming and rum punches over lunch and dinner. In this way I managed to avoid 1 mess duty while we tucked into lunch by the harbour.

This where the latest instalment of the blog ends.

Before I finish I will sketch some about the wonderful group of crew of the Nellie. Among them is a smug Welsh rugby supporter, an opthamologist I had to spend time speaking to, some ex-forces people, a dynamic Irish woman in a wheelchair who has challenged non disabled people of note to emulate her disability while cycling, skiing and going on adventure. Some of the voyage crew are old hands and some compete novices. All are very friendly and great company. It’s a very different mix from my voyage last year but endlessly and joyfully a proper JST mixture! The permanent crew of course are as professional as you like and need but as friendly and easy to get on with as you would hope.