Blog of Tuesday 9th September 2014 – day 26

The parrot’s in the liferaft and the  monkey’s in the chartroom… Some colourful creatures helped Debs with her voyage fundraising efforts and then travelled out with her from the UK.

Our flying friend is currently appearing all over the boat in odd places and the inflatable monkey’s started to do something similar (and he helped us wake the ongoing watch from their bunks last night)…

The week started badly for our watch, with only 4-5 kts of wind, we were disappointed to have to resort to motoring soon after leaving Horta. The Azores had enjoyed 20kts of wind on our final night in port and we’d thought some exciting sailing lay ahead! Nelly even bears the scars from those heavy winds along her rubbing strakes (the wooden strips down the side of the hull) from being bumped against the quay during the night. The gales (not gales – strong breeze – Ed.) were heavy enough to burst a fender during the rocky evening and we’d had to hang a noisy row of car tyres alongside overnight for protection. With many of the watch struggling to regain their sea-legs for the first 1-2 days back at sea (some of our number took to their beds!), Bill taking a tumble down the stairs when the steps fell away from under his feet and heavy hearts for leaving somewhere so beautiful, we were all wanting to turn back and spend at least another week in the Azores (one week per island?). [N.B. to AUDREY – Bill wants to let you know he’s fine from his fall, just needs extra pampering when he’s back to UK pls]

We’ve spent a few days hoping/hunting for some blowy weather, hearing Captain Chris guesstimating (no guesswork involved – entirely scientific – Ed.) how the weather and current systems would shift around the N.Atlantic and getting a bit bored of being under motor. But today we’ve come up on watch and we’ve got it – finally we’re gloriously under sail (shifting along at 6.1 kts!!) so we’re all thrilled, despite the drizzle!! Recent highlights have included seeing a rare ‘moonbow’ – when the moon is very bright at sea and the clouds are just sufficiently drizzly it is possible to see a ‘night rainbow’. And we all went to bed giggling last night when we passed over our bone-dry 8-to-midnight duty barely five minutes before the horizontal rain hit deck for the following watch. [We’d seen the BLACK rainclouds approach and had even considered throttling back the motors until midnight to save us from the soaking!]

As a watch we’re immensely proud of getting through our laundry day with no quarrelling and fuss like the other watches (with even congratulations for this from members of the permanent crew). Sailing and living as a team in close-quarters (inc. laundry) has been a tremendous team-building/learning experience for all of us! It’s been a little transformation for everyone on board these past few weeks. Coming up we have the SODS Opera and there’s been much talk and  rehearsal about this – following on from the Egg-Throwing Contest we’re being more competitive. Presentations by members of voyage crew have included ‘Walking to Everest Basecamp’, ‘Western Canyons of US by Harley Davidson’ and ‘Trekking the High Andes to Machu Picchu’ from Norman, ‘Short History of St. Helena’ from Dr. Sherwood, a detailed talk on the human eye’s form, features and functions from Dr. Tom and later today something about the ship ‘Amity’ from Linda. People have been writing journals and presentations, making lists, learning how to read books again, generally enjoying their thinking time and trying to be musical/creative etc etc. Many are  thinking about “what’s next?”, as sadly we find ourselves counting down the days…

W/L Count Bill the Numerate, Dr. Tom the Scribe, Wise Father Lou, Norm the Wise, James the Whale, Scrubber Rob, Debs of the inflatables, Queen Sarah of the Quiz, and The Fruit Flies (a nuisance, have they paid their voyage fees?) AND STOP PRESS – last 30 mins or so of watch saw quite some excitement – a fin whale came within 50m of the bow, and spent a long time coming parallel, blowing and surfacing alongside. Then as we’d picked up to 8.1 kts in 20-25 gusts of wind, we all dashed down to deck and hauled in the spanker, the topgallants and got soaked in the process too – suddenly we’re really sailing!

[We’re now the newly self-entitled  ‘Black Sheep’ watch – due to our bad behaviour we’re pleased to be generally talked about more than anyone else!]

Watchleader Bill and Doctor Tom did not attend for ‘Happy’ Hour due to illness/injury and Bill now won’t let us hear the end of it, as he constantly reminds everyone else to attend, to be on time etc at every opportunity; though we all had been doing exactly that!?!] [And to make matters worse, he was one minute late for breakfast himself having told us lot not to be – so we’re not letting him hear the end of that!!]