10th March

The day began approximately 40 miles North of Tenerife heading South West. The descelleration of the polar vortex has left us with rather a bouncy ocean, but still a majestic sight.

This is our second day out at sea but today with no land in sight. A new sensation for me. A highlight today was a very informative talk on Whales, what we should expect to see and some clues on identifying them. I am very keen to see a large baleen whale show off with some breaching. Possibly offering us a nice little splash and a wave.

We’ve enjoyed hearing some stories of exciting sightings on previous trips so I’m ever hopeful that we also will be party to view the treasures of the mighty ocean. Our watch started at 12.30pm today. The daytime watch was very enjoyable. About an hour or so in we saw a little turtle with a proportionately large head, likely a loggerhead turtle. These turtles, once hatched, appear to potter about the seas alone for 25 years before heading back to their place of birth to reproduce. It seems rather a large expanse for such a little creature to be exploring alone.

Next came some Portuguese Men of War. When you see them from above they look like a plastic bag with a flash of fuchsia on the top. Not actually a true jellyfish but a colony of organisms that work
together as one and cannot survive alone. I won’t be jumping in for a swim with them…

A few minutes later we are surprised by a medium sized fish that had been caught on one of the rods set up by our engineer, Marco. Once alerted he quickly set to work reeling in the fish, identified by Ruth (our marine life expert) as a Bluefin tuna. Unfortunately not large enough to feed us all so fingers crossed we catch some more. Fresh fish at sea really is the ideal!!

The afternoon passed in a luxuriously lazy manner. What will we see today? Keep tuned for more stores of the Lord Nelson at sea.

Over and out,

LB

11th March

As it’s Mothering Sunday, we all thought of our mothers and hoped that our children were thinking of us mums too. The Captain kindly gave us a lazy day, being a Sunday.

We had swells of 8 metres which provided the ship with a smooth ride, giving us time to enjoy the sun on deck. It was also a day to celebrate the birthday for Ash, 28 years young, with cake provided by the lovely cook Simon.

On the wildlife front, Atlantic Spotted Dolphins have been seen off the port side. Portuguese Men of War have been seen regularly throughout the day. After we’d all had enough of relaxing, a fire and evacuation drill was carried out exceptionally by a new crew.

The night watches were dazzled by a crystal clear sky and stars abright, accompanied by Venus and Mercury to begin with. Orion was gracing us in full glory, alongside many other constellations like the Big Dipper. What an amazing sky, no light pollution, cheers to the Atlantic Ocean.

The only thing that’s left to say is a very happy Mother’s Day to all of our mums back home.

12th March

Another glorious sunny morning on board. After a hearty breakfast we were all set for the days tasks. Once Permanent crew and Watch Leaders were briefed, we had happy hour but not as we know it back home; this one involves cleaning our beloved ship for all to enjoy.

Rachel and Mags climbed to the top of the main mast just for fun, whilst Captain Richard gave us an fascinating weather talk.

Wildlife update: a Cuvier’s Beaked Whale was spotted on the starboard side, which as we’ve learned from our crewmates from ORCA can hold its breath for more than 2 hours and 4o minutes! More Atlantic Spotted Dolphins have been checking us out on the starboard side. They’re incredibly playful, a ‘cameras out’ moment!

Due to the clocks on ship going back our watch gained an extra hour on the bridge. Laura held her first fitness class, Ash was the first member but hopefully more on her next class.

By Forward Starboard Watch

13th March

We’re still heading towards the Azores, 620 nm travelled so far. The weather has been great; good sunbathing opportunities and the wind is picking up.

The day started with Lauras fitness class on the back of the bridge, a good work out ahead of tomorrow’s yoga class. After the morning meeting, the Mate Trev gave us a very formative talk on how to set the sails, which we will be doing at 16:00.

After Smoko (where Simon’s flapjack disappeared very quickly) the JST shop was opened along with ORCAs offerings. Everyone looks the part now – like proper Lord Nelson crew! This afternoon we had a watch photo taken from the first platform of the main mast. The BMs have been up and down the Mizzen mast to prepare the Spanker and releasing the gaskets on the main and foremasts.

Last night during the ORCA adaptations and physiology talk given by Ruth, Ash spotted Pilot Whales – the first time she has seen the topic of her research project. Later the bar was buzzing with music and laughter with JDs Fiddling and Martins Concertina accompaniment.

Ash gave a talk on Cetacean species of the Northern Atlantic (for those who hadn’t been able to attend the first talk Ruth had given at the beginning of the trip). We have to finish now as the Captain has just called all hands to sail setting stations!

Aft Port Watch – Marion, Raili, Linda, Ruth, Julie, JD & John

16th March

It is a ‘Dark & Stormy’ night on the Rhumb line. Lord Nelson is braced and ready for action, with fore and aft sails set on a dark and moonless night by the two on watches.

As midnight passes we finally turn for the elusive Azores – still some 260 nm to the North. Winds blow, Whales blow and Dolphins play, but Moby Dick remains elusive, seemingly following our progress from afar.

As a new day beckons, Happy Hour fills a vacuum as the sea settles and the sun returns as Captain Richard guides us on calm seas through complex weather systems. Fortified by Cooks ‘Double Whoppers’ the voyage crews energy is restored following an exciting night of sail setting, as we plunge through the mid atlantic swell.

The Mid Voyage review by our two enthusiastic ORCA reps includes sightings of Dolphins, Whales, Turtles and Sharks and we haven’t even reached the Azores yet. Captain Richard also helped unravel the mysteries of Astro-Navigation and as the sun sets on another day, the sound of Fiddle draws me to the bar for a well earned night cap.

What adventures will tomorrow bring?

Jon the Boat Swain
Forward Port Watch

17th March

On the voyage before ours, from Cape Verde to the Azores, Nelly was diverted to Las Palmas, in the Canaries, so LN943 became a one way trip to Ponta Delgada, the capital of the Azores, to catch up with the schedule. With about an hour to spare before the airport shut, and flying into Ponto Delgada to see Nelly already neatly berthed inside the massive new cruise liner quay. By boarding time, Nelly was dwarfed by the huge cruise liner that had moored on the other side of the quay. We were told she carried 4000 passengers and 500 crew, she made Nelly look very small and homely by comparison. Everyone was on board soon after the appointed time of 4pm, so we could crack on with finding our bunks, getting fitted for wet-weather suits, safety belts and climbing harnesses all in time for dinner at 18:30 and the first chance to get to know each other. Some then chose a night on the town while others turned in for an early night before the adventure ahead.

“Bing Bong!” Mate, Lesley, with our alarm call for breakfast at 8am. Then climbing practice for those who wanted to go aloft.

The cruise ship departed at 12:00, which opened up a huge vista that had previously been hidden by its bulk, and then, hot on its heels we sailed out for the overnight trip to Terceira.

At first the ”Azores High” meant the winds were not favourable for hoisting the sails so we motored westwards with just the staysails set, but as we got further west of San Miguel we were able to turn north and head for Terceira, brace the yards and hoist the square sails. We made steady progress through the night and got into the routine of watch changes. By afternoon “smoko” the next day we were sailing eastwards along the south coast of Terceira  heading for the Unesco heritage town of Angra de Heriosma, a very sheltered harbour protected by the peninsula of Monte Brasil.

Coming into harbour we made a complete U-turn to port before edging astern to come alongside the modern quay.

Angra is a beautiful little town with many narrow cobbled streets radiating uphill from the harbour. There was a range of churches, the most prominent of which was a delicate shade of pastel blue. Once free to go ashore we went and explored the streets, cafes and bars.

Harbour watch from 2am to 4am was accompanied by heavy rain…..unnoticed by the sound sleepers below decks. With the air cleared the day dawned brightly and we had the chance of more shore leave until 5pm departure time. In bright sunshine some took a tour of the island and its volcanic landscape and others explored the town and the huge fortifications all around the peninsula.

1200 miles to Lisbon and 2000 more to North and South America, Angra de Heroisma had been a busy trading port and Terceira was the one-time capital of the Azores. One shore party returned with a pot-plant presented to Lord Nelson by the towns head gardener, now to be found in pride of place on the bridge. We bade a fond farewell to Angra, and sadly, to one of our voyage crew who was unable to continue through illness. We all hope she has a safe journey back to England and recovers her health.

Once again we had to motor. This time eastwards towards Sao Roque on the island of Pico. We did set the outer jib and two staysails to reduce the rolling motion. As the sun set, the island of Sao Jorge came into sight, and out of the hazy golden glow the astonishing conical shape of the volcano on Pico, which last erupted in 1718, gradually appeared. It was, apparently a very rare and unreliable sight to see the tip of Pico clear of cloud cover, so we all snapped away furiously.

We spent a peaceful night motoring into the wind between Sao Jorge and Pico and awoke the next morning to find the cone of Pico still visible, but by breakfast it had disappeared into the mist, never to be seen again. The sheltered waters between Sao Jorge and Pico were a renowned gathering spot for whales and a huge industry grew up around them. The competition was fierce between the whaling crews in their very sleek (and small) boats. The last whale was caught off Pico in 1987 when whaling ended. Now the islanders can concentrate on making delicious red wine in their Unesco heritage vineyards, which have lava rock walls surrounding almost every individual vine, and entertaining visitors like us.

En-route back to Ponta Delgado, and the end of the voyage, we had a very gentle sail in a light breeze and warm sunshine with almost every sail set. A fine end to the voyage.