9th June

We arrived at West India Dock which was a hive of building activity in typically British, drizzly weather. It wasn’t long before boarding that Captain Richard decided to get us on our way.  Following an intensive briefing, we left South Quay passing through the dock gate and onto the ebbing tide in the Thames.

Having passed through the Thames barrier we started to climb to the first platform and out onto the yards.  Later we anchored off Southend where the Anchor watch witnessed a spectacular thunderstorm with lightening.

This morning was an early start for evacuation drills including trying on immersion suits to protect us in the event of us meeting problems on the fringes of the Arctic.  They are definitely not a high fashion garment!

With all safety measures taken, we sailed off the anchor which required bracing, raising halyards and setting all the square sails.

After Smoko there was more training, followed by lunch and our first full watch.  We soon blew away the rain and had some lovely sunshine with fairs winds.

Happy to be aboard, looking forward to seeing the Scottish Isles soon.

Aft Port: Robin, Barbara, Roly, Tadhg, Beryl, Doris, Euan, Myles, Jane.

10th June

Morning brought a spectacular sunrise and after a hearty full English breakfast, all crew were briefed on upcoming sailing plans and the weather forecast. ‘Happy Hour’ cleaning made the boat shipshape, and ringing alarm bells brought us to our final evacuation drill. Prepared for arctic seas in our red telly tubby immersion suits, we were all pleased that this would be the last drill and – touch wood – the last time we’d have to use them.

After a morning’s work, smoko commenced along with a briefing of sailing past, and what was to come. The whole crew relished the sudden sunshine that appeared as we enjoyed a picnic lunch on deck.

Afternoon watch was uneventful except for the pop-up vet service on the bridge, that was responsible for the saving of three worn out sea-bees. Mr Bumble and Lyndon Bee Johnson, our first visitors, were resuscitated by sugar water and a nap on the engineer’s controls. Our final patient, BeeBee King was given up for dead after half-drowning in a watery ash-bucket. However, the watch persisted and BeeBee was soon dried off and flying over the North Sea!

Nellie had a quiet afternoon sunbathing and being rubbed down with oil by the crew. The promise of a stormy night and gale-force winds tomorrow has made us all appreciate the fine weather and light conditions.

Forward Starboard: Steph, Colin, Kevin, Tracie, Keith, Anne, Cooper, Eduardo, Portia

11th June

On day 4, life on board is beginning to settle into a routine – however the weather around us continues to keep us on our toes. After yet another delicious breakfast, the call for ‘all hands on deck’ was made. Much to the relief of the mess crew, who were swift to set about clearing our places, and getting everything ship shape once more.

Any call for all hands on deck is met with great excitement by the voyage crew, but it was especially so today, as we had a special detail that had to be met – and although we still had some time on our hands, there was a risk of jeopardy if we could not bring the ship to a standstill.

Captain Richard had explained in the early morning that we would be ‘heaving to’, for a short while just off of the coast of Scarborough. However, this became more urgent when the winds threatened to carry us past our destination – so we were given short notice to change the sail configuration in order to ensure we made our rendezvous, with a local fisherman – Fred ‘the fish’ Normandale.

Fred is so much more than a fisherman. He is also a Bosun’s mate who has been sailing with JST for more than twenty years. He is a great supporter of the Trust, and a man who is held in great regard for his commitment to the organisation. Sadly, Fred’s father died recently, and two weeks ago, he and his family decided to scatter his ashes at sea on the morning of June 11th.

Incredibly their decision meant that there was a good chance of our voyage crossing Fred’s path, and indeed at a little after 0900 two boats with about twenty of Fred’s family aboard pulled alongside the Lord Nelson for the scattering of the ashes.
It was an incredibly touching and privileged event to witness. The small boats in the shadow of our grand vessel, bobbed in the early morning sun, and as the family tossed white roses into the blue sea, they said their final farewells. Nellie, resplendent and dignified offered a peaceful haven and protection from the elements as the small ‘ceremony’ took place; whilst the crew watched on with their own private thoughts and blessings.

One could be mistaken for thinking those few moments as being somewhat sombre, and although undoubtedly many of us had goose-bumps and perhaps knees of jelly as we witnessed something so personal and private, it felt touching and peaceful. There was a tangible unity among the group. Fred’s obviously generous character smiled through as he chatted animatedly with those he knew on board Nellie, as he handed two large crates of fresh haddock to the Captain.

Vigorous arm waves, loud wishes of “safe travels” and a blast of Nellie’s horn crossed the sea between the three vessels, and as the family made their way back to land, those on Nellie returned to duty, or made their way to the foredeck to hear Richard conduct a short Sunday service. Across the ship, thanks was given to the Gods, and perhaps inwardly to other higher powers, but all accompanied by Hywel’s wonderful Welsh singing voices. As we turned our faces to the sun and our backs to the wind, we continued our journey North.

13th June

Last night’s watch started with the news that we had travelled 500 miles. 500 miles under sail, 500 miles closer to our destination and 500 miles closer to each other.

Fortunately during our travels the weather has been wonderful, the worst being a smattering of rain here or there. The wind has stayed consistent and in the right direction for us. In fact we have been able to stay under sail for the whole trip so far, each sail out in its full glory from the inner jib to the spanker. Conditions have been so good we have even been able to go for a little pleasure climb, going up the mast to look out over the captivating sea. Amazingly none of the crew has been sea sick as the calm weather has allowed us to acclimatise. Some other highlights of last night’s watch were the beautiful sunset and of course the great tea runs made by our fellow watchman Tadhg.

We woke up today to the promise of dolphins, however their passing was fleeting and few of the crew were lucky enough to see them. Hopefully we can spot more wildlife later in the voyage. All the crew have been kept busy, between setting the sails, lessons from the permanent crew and sleeping we’ve had no time to be bored.

Yesterday’s lesson from Steve was on setting the sails and today’s was from Captain Richard himself on the weather. It’s a special day for Steve today and Simon has been slaving away in the galley to prepare. It is his birthday and we all wish him the best, and can’t wait to get a bit of birthday cake either. Simon does put in a lot of hard work for us crew and has produced some amazing meals so far, haddock, steak, our cooked breakfasts to name a few. We wouldn’t make it through the day without him.

Over the course of our journey people have been setting up emails to message loved ones back home. Today, however, a very special message came and our friend Doris has received news that she is now a grandmother to a little girl called Naomi. The rest of us will be telling people back home that we are passing through Shetland. A certain second officer was particularly excited as he was filled with patriotism while entered his homeland.

Our first sight was of the Fair Isle which seemed so strange after a couple days of nothing but sea. We are now continuing on through Shetland and towards the Faroe Islands looking forward to our first stop, but at the same time apprehensive as we wonder what standing on land for the first time in a week will be like.

Aft port: Euan, Robin, Tadhg, Jane, Barbara, Roly, Beryl, Doris

14th June

Foreward Starboard Watch Blog 14. 06.17

Day 7

Whilst we remain under sail, the wind dropped last night and Capt Richard decided to start the engines. This kept us going at between 4-6 knots.

Our last watch was 8pm-12 midnight yesterday and it was a beautiful evening with a dramatic  sunset. The sky was clear as we sailed past  the small island of Foula. It was strange to be sat on watch at midnight and it was still light!

Today is a different day altogether. Fog, drizzle and cold. We are back using just sails and the wind is improving enabling a speed of 7 knots. Fortunately Victoria opened the shop yesterday and people have purchased extra JST sweatshirts to help keep us warm.

A whale was spotted on our watch today but it was in the distance and we only managed to see its tail.

Plans are that we will reach the Faroe Islands tomorrow and Captain Richard is looking into arranging a tour for us. We are all looking forward to the first landfall of our journey.

Simon (Cookie) is keeping us all well fed and Kevin has even wangled a bread recipe off him.

The daily education continues with today’s talk on Buoyage given by Rory. Thoroughly enjoyed by all.

Happy Hour continues on a daily basis keeping us all aware of the importance of tidiness, cleanliness and being organised.

Good water conservation to date has meant that Marco has allowed us to do some laundry today. 17 crew members washing in one machine! It’s going to be interesting sorting it all out on removal from the tumble dryer!

Foreward Starboard watch: Stephanie, Colin, Ann, Anna, Portia, Keith, Ed, Tracy and Kevin.

17th June

So we are back sailing again following a 2 night stopover in Torshavn, the largest town in the Faroe Islands. We arrived in port on Thursday 15 June following a short excursion between the islands and got some wonderful views on the many waterfalls on the islands.

Once in port we did assisted climbs and it was super to see James, Andrew and Keith aloft. They appeared to enjoy the experience. Thankfully the rain stayed off until all three were back on deck. Then it was off to explore Torshavn.

We all ate ashore and were surprised to find many of the restaurants booked however everyone did find a place to eat in the end. Most of us end up in the Irish bar at some stage in the evening. It was a great opportunity to meet some of the locals who were very friendly and engaging.

On Friday 16th June, it was a free day with most of us getting in some retail therapy. We were back in town for dinner too, where most of Aft Port watch ended up in Barbara’s Restaurant which was a fantastic seafood restaurant. Wonderful food and excellent wines.

This morning we left Torshavn to sail between different islands, leaving the Faroes via some extraordinarily beautiful cliffs. We saw puffins, Arctic Terns, Arctic Skua and many other sea birds.

Now settling back into life at sea. Best wishes from the Faroes. Aft Port: Doris (newly become a grandmother – congratulations to all in Canada), Tadhg, Barbara, Robin, Euan, Myles, Jane, Roly and Beryl.

18th June

Fair winds gusting up to force 8 has taken us over the 1,000 mile mark.  As we write this we are less than 60 miles from the East Coast of Iceland, and the temperature is dropping!

Moving around the boat has been slightly tricky. Special mention must be made of the sterling work done by the messmen, our esteemed cook Simon and his loyal sidekick Nate who produced and served a roast chicken Sunday lunch for the ships crew in extremely difficult conditions.

Courtesy of Portia McEwan, we held on to our hats, found religion and contemplated donning our immersion suits when she nobly took the helm. Against all odds, we have braved the conditions to write this blog, however, we lost a lot of good herbal/chocolate beverages! Whilst on the 12:30-16:00 watch, we enjoyed watching the different varieties of sea birds stalking us through the North Atlantic.

We hope to be able to see the highest points of Iceland soon as we are making good speed, and spirits are high on board Nellie despite a few turned stomachs.

Forward Starboard

19th June

Well, that was another exciting day! It seemed to pass quite quickly, I suspect because we had a little sail handling to do, and the coldest temperatures thus far to contend with.

Sadly, the plan to find a cosy fjord and drop anchor in for the night was scuppered by the wind which is blowing from Greenland in the North, and preventing us from making the kind of progress we have done in recent days. The latest report is that the wind is likely to die down, which will be welcome, however, the sea will stay large and imposing for a while longer.

The ocean around us is the most beautiful icy blue; almost translucent, somewhat glassy in appearance, with large waves that bowl us along. We were lucky enough to spy some dolphins this afternoon and they chased us momentarily, but clearly we were less appealing to them, than they were to us. We watched Skewers, floating around in the air nearby, against the back drop of an Icelandic mountain range. Aside from the cold, it really is quite magical.

We celebrated two birthdays on board today, and once again Cookie did himself proud with a magnificent birthday cake, which resembled the nearby mountain-scape, however, we’re not too sure if that was by luck or by judgment?! Still, it tasted good and looked amazing, even if the rolling sea had contributed to the final design.

We’re all well, and the bursts of laughter that echo around the variety of decks is heartening. Teams are bonding, personalities are shining through, and one thing that exists in copious amounts are smiles. Long may it last, as we take our cold but happy selves into Iceland

Forward Port

21st June

The first watch manned by After Starboard last night was one of the coldest for us so far. At midnight on the change of watch we tacked ship to make for the island of Grimsey, the northernmost isle of Iceland. We were pleased to go below but it was one of those roly-poly nights when you can’t make up your mind which side or your back to lie on.

The wind was just off the bow and the fore and afters making a little difference to the rolling but not much. However morning eventually comes; breakfast of scrambled egg, black pudding and hash browns or any combination thereof.

Happy hour was followed by a talk by Captain Richard on the relative positions of the earth to the sun at different times of the year; all of this in preparation for this evening when we shall sail (hopefully) or motor to 67degrees North to witness the sun neither setting nor rising but just dipping to the horizon. It will be the longest birthday party time for our watchleader whose birthday it is today!

At 1pm we reached Grimsey, anchoring off the little harbour. Shore leave being granted for the afternoon, extended by an hour by setting our clocks back to GMT, most voyage crew went ashore by doti boat to explore the island. The tiny harbour was busy with several fishing boats being unloaded – some very good looking cod. There were not too many options for things to do, some walked to the arctic circle which passes through the north end of the island, others walked to the south to visit the charming little church dedicated to St Olaf, the national saint of Norway.

It is set in a square of about an acre (God’s acre?) on the road to the lighthouse. Two of us walked all the way to the lighthouse all the time being scolded by some charming but vociferous birds who we guessed thought we were on an egg gathering mission. Just before the lighthouse we came upon a family of three people obviously out of their minds as they were actually going into the sea! Fortunately they did not take their small child in with them.

Retracing our steps to the harbour we visited the café/bar where we found many of our shipmates already there. The coffee was very good and the cake even better.

24th June

Our watch started at 8am to lunchtime on a very exciting day after an interesting departure from our last port. As soon as we left the port things started to settle down with whale watching, whilst being hurt by nature with the wind and rain being blown straight into our faces.

As soon as we got out of fjord the sails were set and then the rocking started – so that by the end of our first watch of the day and the second watch couldn’t come any sooner. A dry, rough night saw the wind blowing at Force 8 coming from the North East. The sea was very rough and Nellie was rolling very heavily.

It was very exciting down below everything and everyone being thrown about within Nellie! As a result of this dinner was made very entertaining with everyone holding on to their things for their dear lives. The watch started with some heavy sail handling which warmed everyone up for the long 8pm to midnight watch.

By 0800 the wind had moderated to force 6. All sails were handed at lunch and soon after we entered Veidileysufjordur where we motored almost to the far end of the fjord to anchor. Tall snowcapped hills surrounded us, waterfalls plunging down their sides; a very remote, unpopulated and majestic place.

Boats were run ashore for those wanting to go. The foreshore made difficult walking with very large pebbles but making way to deep matted tundra with small pink and white flowers. The weather was dry but cold – about 5C.  Some stayed ashore for a beach BBQ whilst others returned to the ship for a BBQ there; the fire being made on the stern platform. Marco cooks a very good steak.

Aft Starboard on watch

25th June

Yesterday afternoon we arrived in the Western Fjords of Iceland and anchored in an unpronounceable fjord (Veidileysufjordur).  The weather was rather dreary however the calm waters were a welcome break from the high seas and terrific winds of the Icelandic Sea.  Dear old Nellie was positively racing with our watch seeing her speed in excess of 10 knots on several occasions during our early morning watch.

Having successfully moored (i.e. 2 anchors out) Captain Richard took a brave decision to outsmart the weather and sent the dotty boat to a lovely stony beach marshalled by three waterfalls capped by snow.  Very quickly Sherwood had a fire lit and Robin and Jane went foraging for drift wood to add to the supplies firewood brought ashore from the ship. Beryl really enjoyed the trip ashore and the warm fire.

Shortly afterwards, the ship’s crew brought over supplies including marshmallows to be roasted over the fire.  It was a wonderful supper for all ashore surrounded by the sounds of lapping waves and waterfalls in the background.

Meanwhile Marco and William provided a great barbeque on the stern platform for those who decided to stay on board.  Fabulous fish, streak, chicken and burgers accompanied by different salads and sauces with rock music.  Different venues but equally good fun!

When the beach party returned there was a small party in the bar – to celebrate William’s (second engineer) birthday – as if we needed an excuse to party.  Myles produced some super cookies  (Thanks to Myles’ Mum) and the party continued into the wee hours.

Surprisingly, despite the late night, there were no sore heads (among those who drank) this morning and we woke to a beautiful sunny morning with fantastic views of the fjords all around. I think we were all surprised what beauty the cloud hanging clouds had been hiding yesterday. We were all a little sad to leave but Pingeyri (Dyrefjordur) awaits and we spend the watch making sure that the brasses on the bridge were sparkling while watching out for whales and dolphins.

Best wishes to all our loved ones. Aft Port: Barbara, Doris, Beryl, Jane, Myles, Euan, Roly, Tadhg and Robin.

28th June

Apologies to our blog followers, we were having too much fun in Pingeyri, Western Iceland to write!

We arrived on the evening of 25 June to Pingeyri, a small town of some 200 people. We had to reverse into the small harbour and Captain Richard called for the lead line to ensure that there was sufficient water below even at low tide. Thankfully there was and we tied up successfully.

Once tied up we were free to explore the town. We quickly met the locals and invited them to a barbeque the following evening. Most of the crew ended up in a local café (it had free wifi) but at a cost of $15 for a can of beer, little alcohol was consumed! Nevertheless, the weather was fine and many of the crew sat outside and enjoyed the banter.

Monday morning, Captain Richard had obtained the services of a local man called Jon, who organized a trip to a “nearby waterfall”. An hour and a half later, after passing over some steep tracks with hairpin bends, we were finally graced with some magnificent scenery and then arrived at a wonderful series of waterfalls filled with fresh pure water that our guide Elisabeth gave us to drink. It was icy cold and tasted great. The Captain, BMs, Marco, Tadhg, Euan and Jane (with a lot of assistance from Euan) walked behind a waterfall and were thoroughly soaked. Needless to say a coffee stop was required on the way home to warm up the sodden!

We stopped at a traditional Icelandic house with a tiny church beside it. We had flapjacks and coffee and sat in the sunshine. There was a flat field (very unusual in the little of Iceland we have seen) and soon Sally, Sarah, Portia, Anna and others were doing gymnastics. We had to run off some of our energy as we hadn’t pulled “string” in 24 hours!

Once back at Pingeyri, some of the crew went to the local hotel to have a traditional Icelandic fish dinner. Those that ate it seemed very pleased with the meal however they might have regretted it later when they saw the enormous barbeque that Simon had prepared for the crew and the village.

At 5 p.m. our little event commenced with locals and some visitors to the area arriving on the pier. People were brought around the ship and we explained the JST ethos. Afterwards, everyone partook in the free barbeque organized by the ship’s crew – Marco, with the assistance of Simon and Anna at the barbeque, Joclyn manning the salads and Roly and Steph operating the bar (which charged at cost (don’t worry JST Trustees!).

Eating together really broke down the barriers and we learned a lot about the local people and the challenges they face. They learned about us and our diversity. It was a remarkable cultural exchange. Even the local hotel who lost their dinner business for the evening where delighted with the event and enjoyed a drink with us later in the evening. It was a fantastic day.

The following morning, we cleared customs and emigration formalities and officially left Iceland, however we did slip into a fjord further down the coast where our tour guide Jon grew up. We anchored near his childhood home and took the dotty boat ashore for a quick dip in a local hot spring. It was almost too hot but luckily there were 2 other pools nearby where someone had put some cold water, these were much more bearable. However there are always the mad ones and this crew is no different, so Jane led the charge to the sea. Those that followed and swam in the cold Icelandic waters shall remain nameless but we know who you are!

With that, we said our good byes to Jon and were back in the dotty boat to sail away from Iceland.
Goodbye Iceland – we loved you. Aft Starboard: Bryan, Rejeanne, Kathleen, Hywel, Andrew, James, Henry and Tom (with some assistance from Jane) and new watch member Joclyn.

30th June

Over half way through the trip and we are making good progress! We have passed the 2000 mile mark and are well on our way to Canada from Iceland.

Though making good progress, we have been motoring for this leg of the voyage due to light and fowl winds. Outdoor maintenance has been made easier by the fair weather, filling the Upper Deck with the persistent buzz of hammering and sanding. This was much to the delight of those in the galley who are unable to escape the sound of heavy metal work.

Luckily, almost every watch has been graced with whale sightings, giving each group a source of excitement and an incentive to keep a keen eye on the horizon.

In more serious news there is danger on board that has already caused a few casualties. Today saw the beginning of the ‘Murder Game’ – think Cluedo and Hunger Games and you’re part of the way there. The aim of the game is to “murder” one person with a specific object in a specific place. The last one standing is the winner. So far two have fallen, and paranoia has somewhat consumed the ship!

Forward Starboard