Day 3 26/03/19
After a few lazy days ashore in Bermuda we prepared to set sail the 1625 miles (Great circle distance) to the Azores. As we made to leave I was assigned the task of Linesman which may involve getting wet in the ‘dotty’ boat. What I didn’t expect was a thorough soaking from, Marco, the engineer, and his hose!
First impressions from the Forward Starboard Watch. Mike our watchleader says he is very happy with his team – early days. We will have to wait and see if he still feels the same when we reach Weymouth. Darren is happy we are easing into things gently. Sam found he is a natural helmsman and was really chuffed to climb the rigging yesterday thanks to just the right amount of encouragement from Stan and Jelly. C.K has just completed his first mess duty and is impressed how everyone mucks in and helps. He’s also looking forward to time away from the internet. Emily took the helm for the first time and nailed it! She has enjoyed filling in the ships log and following the navigation chart with Poppy.
Another soaking this afternoon passing through some squalls. It’s amazing how quickly the weather can change. So, with excitement and anticipation running high and a great mix of people on board we are happily en-route to the Azores.
Mike, Bill, Gary, Darren, Sam, Emily, C.K and Diane
Day 4 27/03/19
Last night we had the 8-12 watch. For some, this was our first watch at night, and let’s just say, it wasn’t the driest. When I took the helm the showers truly came down and the wind and waves got up making it rather challenging to stay upright whilst also trying to keep to the right course. This morning after breakfast we got a chance to go up the mast and undo the harbour ties, for some it was a little too roly and they were better suited to being on camera duty. We just had our early lunch and are currently on watch 12:30-4, it is lovely and sunny and the boat is rolling less, making it a rather enjoyable and peaceful time. This evening we will have watch again from 12-4 in the morning so we are hoping for an early night before being woken. The night watches are probably my favourite with the sight of the stars and phosphorous/bio-luminescence making the watch fly by.
Day 6 29/03/19
Aft Port started the day by handing sails and then retreating to berths at 00:02am. 8 hours later we were in the lower mess marvelling at the food Ian and Charlie (cook & assistant) manage to conjure from the tiny galley – Bacon sarnies were in high demand. Then, not happy hour, but sail setting! In refreshing sea rain, which was just the thing to wake everyone up. At smoko, Jenny spotted the first of a school of porpoises playing in the surf off the port bough – besting the earlier top sightings from Woody (a cargo ship missing us by a mere 4 miles – pretty-darn close given the size of empty ocean around us) and Ryan (a bird). To round this off the sun came out, so we went on watch at 12.30 slathered in sun cream, with light macs as protection from the breeze. that tempted the fates – we think as most of our watch was spent in driving rain: handing, setting, bracing… all sorts of sail-y goings on. Sue M joined us from mess duty – with just enough time above deck to get fully soaked. Peter was our star helmsman, with sea cadet Poppy getting the star prize of organising a round of hot chocolate to warm us all up mid-way through. Narmada even managed to keep hold of her mug while helming. We rounded off the watch by joining a talk on sail-setting (the theory to follow the day’s practical), with Steve helming for the last wet 30 minutes of the day.
Aft Port Watch.
Day 7 30/03/19
For the first time the sun is not shining elsewhere. We woke up to joyous announcement from Alan, the medical purser. Also, the first time that happy hour (which means deck cleaning after breakfast) are truly happy times with no rain to fight against. After lunch, ever one (including the last sick one) are out on the deck, no longer wet and glum but happily and lazily enjoying the sun. Gary reported that Ian the cook, who loves oldies, were recommended a great song: “Attack of the Fifty Foot woman” by the “Tubes” with words “My God I screamed to my distress got a fifty-foot woman in a five foot dress”. A few brave souls requested to go aloft, with Steve making it all the way to the to the top, to the envy of all the watchmen on duty. Serving and bringing coffee from upper deck kitchen to the bridge, designed to test the dexterity and acrobatic balancing skill of every watchman, seems to be unbelievably easy on this day.
Since the 10knot wind is not enough the motor has been turned on since last night. Nellie has been a charm to handle. Apart from pulling on the main topsail, there are no other frantic calls to furl or unfurl the sail to answer to. Wet clothes are seen flying in breeze at the stern side to dry off. However, there are no sea creatures spotted. We are looking forward to some lessons from Rory the 2nd mate.
Emily, the ham radio enthusiast, successfully made two contacts with satellites passing overhead, receiving two short static noises from otherwise dead silent sky. Historic moment made and witnessed to the cheer of all watchmen on board.
Mike, Bill, Gary, Darren, Sam, Emily, C.K and Diane
Day 8 31/03/19
Forward Port Watch
Last saw w/l nick showing off his legs wearing shorts all watch. What a hardy fellow he must be.
And that’s not all, he is also connected to two amazing fishing catches: first Marco, the Chief Engineer, gaffed a marlin shark, expertly assisted by Nick, and then Marco and Nick went lobster hunting and came back with a fine specimen. Sadly, someone else caught it – not Nick.
Another fishy event happened last night on watch when the deep-water fish came up to feed and gave us an amazing light show with their luminescence. It was like a firework display in the water.
It is Sunday today, so no happy hour, but instead we had a service and sung some songs, prayed some prayers and had readings from the Bible. We also prayed for a fair wind – praise the lord!
It is also washing day today so hopefully the ship will smell a lot nicer.
It’s warm and sunny and a lot of people have climbed to the top of the mast – and it has given Nick yet another opportunity to show off those incredible legs.
Sue sat looking at the dirty brass plaques instead of keeping a lookout for ships and decided that she had to clean one. This set off an explosion of polishing with Scott even taking down the ships bell to polish it.
While this was going on Nick enjoyed scoffing his well-earned share of the Marlin.
The swell has calmed down and nobody is sea sick so we are a happy ship.
Today Peter initiated a murder hunt game which could last days – we will all have to be on our toes as well as thinking up cunning schemes to put our opponents to death!
God bless you all.
Day 9 01/03/19
Happy April fools to all readers – it certainly was celebrated on board. The various jokes included Simon, our watch leader, convincing us that we were having to skip the Azores due to a particularly nasty patch of low pressure weather, this was possibly the cruellest joke of the day. This was followed by a happy hour in which our very own Phillip managed to convince our Captain that we had crashed out of the eu without a deal the captain who was resting at the time soon rose with a face as if he was approaching a force ten……………..a cat like grin emerged on Phillip’s face. After happy hour the real plan was put in place. Our 2nd Mate, Rory, a fellow Scot, was sleeping after his 12 to 4, watch, we were then instructed to all gather in the foc’sle and close the curtain. The subsequent effect was, what looked like to poor Rory, an abandoned ship. After the crew had resumed their positions it was time to set sail and as if to distract us from our hauling a pod of dolphins was seen of the port bow, feeding, jumping out of the water and slapping their tails against the surface of the water in order to corral the fish into a single group. Once the excitement of our salty vistors had died down the sails where finally set: the outer, inner, and flying jib where all set along with the course, topsail, t’gallant and royal on both masts. This allowed us to move along at a steady pace of 5 to 4 knots, leaving the ship so well balanced that the watch on duty did not have to touch the helm for a total of 45 minutes. At 15:30 the cadets gave a well-received talk about life as a cadet – which definitely convinced a few to a life at sea.
The game of murder continues with the list of the dead ever growing, highlight being BM Gary’s brilliant kill with a guitar in the cleaning locker. In other news, the young Hamish was thrown over today to the massed celebration and joyous cheering of the entire crew. So, with sails flying and bellies full up with chef Ian’s roast beef dinner and Christmas pudding the crew of Lord Nelson are once again snoring in their beds.
Day 10 02/04/19 12.30-16:00 pm
Aft Port Watch
Time and date in the parallel universe…. No idea!
Log: 1101 nautical miles covered since Bermuda – making nearly 7 knots under full sail with a steady 20- 22 knots of wind. A fine day for sailing across the Atlantic, just what we all signed up for.
A complete watch present today. The excitement of the watch? A ship on the starboard side. The first sign of other human life we have seen since leaving Bermuda.
A special day yesterday; I spent the afternoon on the first platform of the foremast, watching dolphins with the sails being hoisted around me.
We’re back on watch at 12:00am – 04:00. It could be a whole different story then.
Oh yes… Did we mention that all the sails are up?
Narmada, Woody, Sue, Peter, Jenny, Ryan and Steve.
Day 11 03/04/19
We have been at sea now for 10 days – Today we were kept company by numerous sightings of Whales which never fail to amaze! Seeing such magnificent creatures in the wild is always such a treat. There is literally no wind at the moment which is both good and bad for us! Good that the ocean is as flat as a pancake so the boat is not rocking at all! However this is bad as you kind of need wind to Sail! – We are back on the motors for the time being. Skills are being passed around by the crew and Gary has been teaching us more knot tying while on watch. Stan taught us navigation skills using the sun/stars and a Sextant to pinpoint our location. Some super long mathematical equations but very interesting nevertheless!!
Nick is still in shorts.
Day 13 05/04/19
Having just come off the afternoon watch with less than 125 miles to the Azores we all realise how lucky we are to be on this voyage. Lovely weather under sail in the warm sunshine today and with winds around 15kn we were managing to keep up a speed of some 7 knots, hastening our arrival.
As we started our watch a Sperm Whale poked his head out of the water and did a roll almost as though playing to the crowd! (I’m sure he was just waiting for his mum to return from the deep!)
The ‘murder’ game continues to cause much hilarity amongst the crew with some dubious goings on in-order to trap the victim, but good fun all the same. There doesn’t seem to have been a blog for day 12 but cookie made a wonderful chocolate cake yesterday to celebrate Narmada’s birthday, which was actually the day before!
On watch last night the stars kept disappearing behind the clouds but we managed to find Orion and several other directional stars with the added help of third mate Stan! It was a beautiful night.
Whilst we are all looking forward to new adventures in the Azores tomorrow for a few days the last couple of weeks have been a wonderful experience – in all that time our watch has only seen about three tankers on the horizon; the lights of one aeroplane way up north. No sign of other human beings – just whales; dolphins and birds! Fabulous!
Simon, Roger, Mike, Phil, Hamish, Stuart and Frances
Aft Starboard Watch [The ‘A’ Team!!]
Day 14 06/04/19
The Charge of LN 969 – after Alfred, Lord Tennyson
Half a knot, half a knot, half a knot onward,
Into the harbour of Flores sailed the Lord Nelson.
Fenders to the left of them,
Rollers to the right of them,
No dinner in front of them,
Out of the harbour of Flores sailed the Lord Nelson.
Theirs was not to wonder why,
Theirs was just to heave and tie,
Into the Harbour of dearth munched the poor-hungered.
(With a little help from AP watch)
Editor’s note. We arrived at Flores in the late morning with much anticipation of heading ashore to explore the first landfall since leaving Bermuda. Unfortunately, the surging swell was far too vigorous to remain safely tied-up alongside and the decision was made to head back out to sea to a more sheltered destination. Lunch was somewhat delayed.
Day 17 09/04/19
After a day discovering more of Faial, and a quick exit of ‘Nellie’ from the dock to avoid surging waters, and we were off to our next island Sao Miguel. FP had the midnight to 4am watch which is no one’s favourite as it’s long and cold with nothing happening. During the night though was some incredible starlight with a very bright meteorite flashing across the sky. Standing on starboard watch with Nick and Gordon I pointed out something moving in the water which they assured me was a wave highlighted by the light from the ship, but it turned out to be a dolphin lit up by phosphorescence leaving a wake behind it making it look like a serpent. Another one joined in to play. They shot up to the bow and disappeared. Pure magic was written on our log and it certainly was. Coming up on deck at midnight I asked for something spectacular to happen and it did! At least it made the watch a lot more fun.
Day 21 13/04/19
Last leg home! Only a thousand miles to go. The turquoise waters of Bermuda seem a long way away now as we stand on the wheel all wrapped up with the rain stinging almost horizontally into our eyes – yes, we’re motoring again. Guess what, the wind is against us once more….and we don’t want to return to blighty, we want another foreign run – Vigo, St Malo, spend some more money on fabulous meals like the amazing ones we had in the Azores.
So, we just have to remember too, the superb sailing we had across the ocean with the masts gently [and not so gently) waving back and forth across perfect star-filled skies, when each watch with Stan was a four hour astronomy lesson and advanced course of astral navigation. (So inspirational thank you Stan!)
And we have to remember watches that will stay in our memory for ever, such as sunset between the islands of Pico and Sao Jorge with the huge 7,000ft volcano on one side and whale spouts and dolphins all over the place on the other. And sailing at dawn in great winds touching 40 knots, our speed touching 11, as we sailed towards Faial and the port of Horta, coming into the channel between the three main islands of the Azores, a big wave engulfing the port waist, wind screaming and howling in the rigging, gamely struggling to keep the ship on course, heading round from east gradually round to south shaping up for land with a gorgeous sunrise lighting up the islands, beams of orange sun pouring out under dark, pink-tinged clouds.
That was why we came! And the graceful shearwaters endlessly racing across the wave tops, their long white under wings millimetres from the water but never touching, swapping from wing tip to wing tip.
So today, as a delicate little stray white tern clings to our taff rail, unable to get back to the Azores across the rainy grey wastes, we also remember the hot springs, lying soaking up the warmth and the sulphur among the sub-tropical vegetation, and swimming in the wild sea with hot water surging up from underground, being swept back and forth by cold breakers then warmed magically again, surrounded by jagged black hostile lava, in the wind and rain….earth wind fire water, elemental – like our very passage itself across the huge Atlantic!
And while we remember the culinary pleasures of the Azores and the lovely Pico Vinho Verde wines we are comforted by wonderful Cookie’s comfort food, hot chilli and apple pie, amazing cakes and biscuits. ‘Smoko’ was never so eagerly anticipated. Maybe home is beginning to too. Just hope we don’t all jump ship at Dartmouth…!
And so soon we are back in sea-watch routine. in the morning watch when the wind went against us the watch on deck spent 2 hours handing sails, poor dears. While all those with all night in slept, or rather didn’t sleep as the ship rolled horribly. Now as I try to type as the ship rolls the bosuns mates are busy with a replacement fore-t’gallant which had a tear from our windy sail into port. They are busy doing amazingly complicated knots which are not even in the complete compendium of advanced “knottery”, including one they call a Matthew Walker, which we all thought was the whisky we’d be trying once the Bermudan black rum runs out! Luckily, I don’t think it shows any signs of running out (the ship naturally being dry at sea, of course….)
Simon, Roger, Mike, Phil, Hamish, Stuart, Frances
Day 22 14/04/19
Today brings another delightful day of rain, drizzle and perfectly British weather- which would make us feel quite at home, apart from the fact that it is an American and Australian writing this blog!
Inspired by Bear Grylls’ famous saying “Improvise, adapt, overcome” regular winter gloves have become waterproof by covering them with large washing up gloves. Also breaking news, the sock crisis of LN969 has been averted. Today was the fourth day with no fresh socks, but the war of attrition is over and Alan, also known by some as the Flying Laundromat has swooped in and grantedt Aft Port Watch another wash!
With more happy news we’re please to announce that today was Scott’s Birthday! Happy Birthday Scott and congratulations on hitting another prime! also kuddos to Ian, the chef, the cake was amazing!
Trending in the gamaing world, Backgammon is back on the table! With the drizzle outside sailors have been forced inside to enjoy more… means of entertainment! Three new players have entered the ring.
*American and Australian reflect on the Nelly
- Ryan ‘air-head’ makes a PBJ sandwich for the first time using jam bought in the Azores
- Peter (the Australian) will combine with Ryan to make the World’s first (probably not) Vegimite and J sandwich tomorrow morning.
Aft Starboard Watch (The ‘A’ Team)
Day 26 18/04/19
On watch from 1:30, it has been full of excellent weather. The sun is shining and wind is fair and breezy. This is a pleasant change from what we have all been experiencing for the past 48 hours. We have been on watch at 4 am watching the sky change from dark grey into pale grey (which we should have seen as a glorious sunrise). These watches were accompanied by gales- real sailing weather. We all got soaked while on watch. We did have a beautiful full moon, and hope to see it again as we go on watch tomorrow morning, 12 o’clock to 4. After breakfast we were informed that the BM’s required help releasing some damaged sails. Who knows why they were damaged, maybe a cannon ball hit it as we challenged a French frigate, or that hurricane we sailed through as we crossed the mid-Atlantic ridge? One of our watch members was intrepid and climbed out on to the yards, even though he had not even had the training. Praise to Ryan! Releasing the sails was rather difficult, with the cold breeze freezing our hands, but our bodies were sweating because we were expecting for it to rain and be cold. The whole ordeal was only about two hours, when the BM’s by themselves would need a whole to do it. So even as our journey seems to be coming to a close this ship still presents us with some new experiences.
This to the tune of “Right said Fred” by Bernard Cribbins:
“Right” said Stu, “time to get the sails down,
Up on the Foremast and out along the yards.”
Well we tugged them, pulled at them and shoved them,
The sails were going nowhere, and all we wanted was a nice cup of tea,
And something to eat.
The Bosun shouted and everyone doubted we could get them nowhere,
So, we all called for a cup of tea,
“I’ve an idea” said Jell, so we cursed them,
Kicked them, and punched them,
And we finally cinched them,
Then we all climbed down,
Had a lovely cup of tea and then we sailed home.”
Day 27 27/04/19
We have just come off from the morning watch 8am-12.30pm. We saw lots of little birds last night and this morning, they are very tame and one even landed on my arm. Yesterday we had a voyage crew quiz, we were split in to our four watches and answered four rounds of questions. Our watch came second. This was a very lively time as all the watched got involved and got very competitive. The scoring was questionable with 0.5 and 0.25 point given out at different points. Whilst we were doing this the BM’s took the helm- we were wondering why it got so rolly and bouncy, there can only be one explanation. Tomorrow we should be arriving in the UK and be back in signal range so we can tell our families and friends all about the adventures we have been having.
Alex, Scott, Nick, Steve M., John, Sue, Steve P. and Gordon