We are on our way! 32 degrees S, 16 degrees E. We left our cosy quay at the V & A Waterfront on Wednesday 11 April, aided by the pilot tug due to strong wind blowing us on to the quay.
After joining the ship on the 9th, we had a full day training on the 10th before a morning at Table Mountain, sight-seeing and last minute shopping for our epic trip ahead. A few of us decided that they would ascend Lion’s Head, and then dash back after a brief photo opportunity at the summit.
Round to the next dock to clear customs then out to sea at 7.30pm in the dark, keeping south of Robben Island and its grisly history as a prison – where Nelson Mandela spent an unbelievable 25 years.
We watched the lights of Africa recede in the distance as we stood the 8pm to midnight watch. Spectacular clear starry sky as we motored along in a heavy swell – no sails since the light wind was variable.
Now it’s Thursday, a glorious day, with black back albatrosses circling near us. Nine sails up, doing a nice 9 knots – we have a LONG way to go – c. 1,700nm to St Helena, which we hope to reach in 10 days. Then many more miles of sailing to follow!
The plan after quiet time is to set more sails and hopefully turn the engines off. Generally having an ACE time all round and thinking happily of you all at home, in the UK, USA and Australia. Pops says! Forward Port Harriet (watch leader) Clive, Colin, Ian, Maisie, Michael, Stuart, Morgan.
Greetings to the world from the SV Tenacious. We are the Aft Starboard watch. Leader Roly with Stuart, Geertje, Peter, Andy, Paul, Maggie and Bill. Our current position is 30° 08’Ss 13°36’E, 339 nm from our departure at Cape Town travelling on a heading of 320 deg at 7.2 kts, and it is a glorious, sunny blue sky day in the Atlantic.
At 1620hrs yesterday we set the fore course and main t’gallant sails, bringing us up to 11 sails set. Wind picked up and we were also able to turn off the engines. Peace at last!
The 1st mate, Ali, gave an interesting talk about points of sail on a square-rigger. Katy, the cook’s assistant, spotted a hawksbill turtle. We came on First watch at 2000 hrs with a stunning, clear, starry sky and an amazing light show of (bioluminescence) fairies in the water! Wind dropped to 4kts and we started engines again at 2218 hrs. We woke today to a cloudy start but that has now burned off.
The permanent crew had a Fire Drill – turned out to be dinner on Cookie’s oven, which was extinguished without too much trouble. Due to falling and changeable winds, we handed the mizzen staysail at 1350 hrs and squared the main yards. Stay tuned for new adventures in the coming days.
Hello to the family, friends and JST enthusiasts from Aft Port Watch. As this is our first blog entry we’ll introduce ourselves… Mike is our able Watch Leader, with Andy (the Ozzy one), Tim, Ruth, Carter, Chris, Nick, Karen and cadet Alasdair making up the team.
We’ve now travelled 493NM from Cape Town, with the last 24 hours being under sail only, and we’re settling into a routine, which seems to revolve around mealtimes!
Last night’s watch (8 – midnight) proved entertaining with flying fish landing on deck, and Mike rushing to throw the still living ones back over the rail (however, having seen the amount of slime and scales they shed he may not be in such a rush in the future!)
This morning First Mate Ali continued our education with a lesson on sail setting and the differences between types of tall ships e.g Fully rigged ship, Barque, Barquentine.
On today’s watch we’ve passed the time with knotting practice (Tug Man’s Hitch, Sheetbend, and Bowline) and dealing with manual steering (without hydraulics, i.e. no power steering), which will make up for not having a gym on board.
Carter is organising the first sweepstake of the voyage – best estimate of crossing the line of 5 degree west longitude. The winner gets a bar of Cadburys Dairy Milk!
I’ll end this blog with the award winning question of the day (the contributor can remain anonymous). “Do you see many submarines when on lookout?” …think about it ????
Sending hugs to our families from the Aft Port Watch x
Big day today – our watch leader, Harriet, turned 64! Naturally, we celebrated with cake and a fantastically garish crown. Elsewhere on the ship, work has begun on renovating the handrails for the bowsprit, a large project involving a LOT of sanding. Sadly, the winds started to die down, so we’ve handled all but the lower & upper topsails on either mast, and switched to the engine. On the bright side, manning the helm has gotten slightly easier!
Another big day on the ship. Not only did our Bosun, Dave, have his birthday, so also did Maisie! Alas, Harriet willingly handed over her giant ‘BIRTHDAY GIRL’ badge. Work continues on the bowsprit, and we even caught sight of another vessel on the horizon, briefly. What’s more, we have for the first time in a couple of days, bright dazzling sunshine! We’re still running on engine power, but are enjoying a (very) gentle breeze here on the bridge. A couple of us are currently practising our bends and hitches, and discussing celestial navigation – we have just caught sight of the ship again, as I compose this, but we will have to wait for it to get closer before we can begin to identify it.
Forward Port Harriet (watch leader) Clive, Colin, Ian, Maisie, Michael, Stuart, Morgan.
The clocks moved back last night, which meant that each night watch was extended by twenty minutes. However, all was not bad news as we had an extra hour in our bunks this morning!
Last night’s watch was uneventful, even with the extra twenty minutes, but we had a magnificent night sky and enjoyed the Southern Cross, Betelgeuse, shooting stars and satellites. This morning, after smoko, we enjoyed a talk by Carter on the national parks of America which was illustrated by photographs of his travels.
Work is in progress to organise a quiz night which will be held in the next few days. The winds are light so we’ve been motoring for about 24 hours. We aim to reach St Helena by the weekend where we will anchor for a couple of nights. We expect the winds to increase over the next 24 hours so we may be able to put up some sails.
The crew enjoyed a delicious lunch today of either basil and tomato or leek and celery soup, accompanied with homemade bread, followed by an exotic fruit platter. We are now in the tropics and enjoying the shade of the bimini on the bridge. Still no ships but Andy spotted a green bucket which we think must have fallen off a wall somewhere!
Aft Starboard: Roly, Stu, Paul, Geertje, Bill, Andy, Maggie and Peter (on mess)
Schools of flying fish, small like marine butterflies, leaping out of the waves and gracefully interweaving, diving back down and others flying out to join them.
A quiet watch, more or less overcast with light seas. The younger crew are doing mast climbs, to touch the top of the mast, rolling back and forth, 40 odd meters above the seas. Relatively light winds, but we’re sailing and happy.
Also, reading St Helena guidebook in anticipation of a hoped-for landing there in the near future. We’re excited about seeing Napoleon’s final earthly home, meeting Jonathon the very old tortoise, and trying the local brew Tungi!
Otherwise another peaceful day on the tall ship Tenacious in the Southern Atlantic seas.
Aft Port watch
Forward Starboard watch reporting in: Mission day 11. We’ve travelled over 1350 nautical miles since we left Cape Town.
We’re now two days or so away from dry land, St Helena is our first stop. I joined a conversation this morning which imagined a bustling pub, selling cold beers, loud with song. Alas on a tiny island in the South Atlantic, somehow I fear we may be asking a bit much.
Life on board for me now has a rhythm; eat, sleep, on watch – repeat. It’s actually quite difficult to adjust as our watches rotate so the ship is manned 24 hours a day. After 11 days we are now starting to get to know each other; personal experiences and stories are now coming out and for me, memories are already being made.
It’s amazing how something as simple as sailing can challenge, bond and inspire. This is a journey, a challenge and an adventure; shared with strangers who are becoming friends and a crew who are supporting and teaching us with skill and deft leadership.
As I sit on the bridge, it is 27 degrees. The wind is behind us and we are cruising at 8 knots. All I can see is the mesmerising aqua blue of the Southern Ocean. What an experience…
By Ian Durrant. My other watch mates:
Barnaby, Lee, Matt, Bob, Joe, Hamish, Carol
Day 13 on SV Tenacious started with a bit of light drizzle but was soon replaced with blazing sun, heat and a humid, muggy feel.
A change to plans to delay our arrival at St Helena until Monday has meant that we can take it a bit easier. Engines have been turned off for more than a day now and, although winds are light, we are enjoying a lovely period of peaceful sail power.
Since our watch started at 1230hrs, we have been in the fortunate position of spotting the first of any larger species of sea beasties. Firstly, our illustrious stand-in watch leader, Andy, spotted a 2-3m long shark just off the starboard beam (species unknown). A short while later Paul announced fins in the water off the starboard bow. This turned out to be a huge (approx. 6-7m) Whale Shark passed in front of the bows and we passed it to port. Matt had the best view of it sitting on the fore cross-trees.
In other news, we passed the Greenwich Meridian the day before yesterday and will alter our clocks once again when at anchor in St Helena. Today we also passed 1,600nm since departing Cape Town. Last night we enjoyed Pete the engineer’s recanting of his experience delivering the tall ship, Prince William, from the UK to Karachi for the Pakistan Navy.
With an hour to go of our watch, the clouds have come in again and we may get another shower, although it is still humid. Signing off for now.
Aft Starboard Watch – Andrew, Stuart, Geertje, Peter, Bill, Paul, Maggie and Roly.
The last 48 hours have been full of fun and excitement. We first sighted St Helena Sunday morning around 10.30, through the haze and low cloud that surrounded the island. The word quickly spread and soon most of the ships company were on deck taking their first glimpse of land for 11 days.
St Helena is imposing with its steep arid cliffs plunging down to the sea. We did some nifty bracing of the yards and sailed up the east and then round the north side, bracing as we went. It was a busy time for all, under lovely sunshine and majestic clouds over the island. Jamestown gradually came into sight – nestled in the bottom of a steep valley. We managed to sail almost onto the anchor, only turning engines on for the last few minutes, and dropped anchor about 16.30.
After an excellent roast supper cooked by our super-star Chef Ian and Cook’s Assistant Katie, it was bed for most and anchor watch for the lucky few.
Next morning it was touch and go whether we could reach land, given the swell and breakers. Luckily a launch/ferry came to enable the process so all proceeded ashore in a mostly leisurely order with handy ropes hanging over the landing quay, which the wiser crew members made good use of.
Once on the Island, we were each filed into a resident’s car for a guided tour and shown St Helena’s hotspots. The most obvious of these was Napoleon’s house where he spent his last years in exile – a rather lovely place with spectacular views but clearly not where he wanted to be. We chatted to Jonathan, the world’s oldest tortoise who didn’t say much (anything) in response, living a life of luxury on the lawns of government house.
The Island’s lush greenery and friendly locals were a very welcome sight after 11 days at sea. It was in the Jamestown bars and pubs where most of the crew shared various encounters throughout the day, under the pretence of ‘sampling the local spirits’. It was Jacob’s ladder; a 699 step climb up the town’s Cliffside that separated the boys from the men, which was tackled by many in the afternoon. Re-boarding the ship in the evening was once again an interesting task and once back on board many of the crew rewarded themselves with after dinner drinks.
Today we were up bright but not too early, to wait for Customs to arrive to clear us for departure. We then efficiently and elegantly hoisted our foremast lower topsail, braced to starboard, backing the sail so that we swung round to face the wide ocean and sailed off the anchor with five sails soon up. Brazil here we come!
Forward Starboard Clive, Colin, Harriet, Ian, Maisie, Michael, Morgan, Stuart
It’s another sunny lazy day on board the lovely Tenacious. We’re currently a good days sail away from Saint Helena and the vast blue ocean welcomed us back with swells and good winds.
We’re finally making great speed of 8 knots with 9 out of the 10 sails set, heading towards Ascension Island. Speed record so far is held by the Aft Forward Watch of just above 10 knots earlier this morning.
The day started off with an informative talk and demonstration by Captain Barbara about celestial navigation using sextants. Cookie created another lovely lunch and we’re enjoying the fresh bananas and mangos we picked up at Saint Helena. New stocks of Marmite keep the British fraction (basically everyone) on board from rioting.
The winds are promising for the next couple of days so stay tuned for more speed records to come.
Greetings from Aft Starboard Maggie, Peter, Paul, Andy, Roly, Geertje, Bill and Stuart on watch with Maz and Jess. (Special greetings and big hugs to Peters three lovely grandchildren Elenor, Eva and Gabriel.)
We have left St Helena behind and sail on the trade winds towards Ascension. We hope to sail by on Saturday and give them a wave.
We have been busy with sextant training by our supremely knowledgeable Captain Barbara. Today the GPS was only off by about 200 metres. Calculations were done by Andy, Nick, Chris, Mike, Alasdair and Jess. Well done to the experts.
The previous evening we passed the 2000 nautical miles mark. The contest to guess how many nautical miles we will have travelled when we cross the equator is on. Lucky winner gets 2 chocolate bars.
The morning meeting was interrupted by the appearance of 2 pilot whales – a welcome addition to our flying fish sightings.
We are a happy voyage crew and our aft port watch is great fun.
Forward Starboard watch reporting in (we’re way more fun btw). Day 19 of the mission.
We’re under full sail, speeding along on a 20 knot tail wind, making an average of 7 knots toward our next mission ‘milestone’, Ascension Island.
The weather is hotting up, air temp near 30degrees, water temp over 26degrees… it’s a hard life! Half way through our afternoon watch, keeping each other amused with thought provoking riddles, the odd joke and mild verbal abuse, aimed at Hamish as usual.
Just another Friday afternoon in the sun, in the middle of the South Atlantic with just the ocean dancing around us, each other’s company and dinner at six. Bring on Saturday and the excitement of land once again.
Love to all. Hamish, Ian, Carol, Lee, Matt, Bob, Barnaby.
A Saturday in April. Dates are beginning to seem irrelevant. Day 20 is all that matters here, since our days are driven by watch hours and mess days. This day however was special, Andy hit the big five oh.
We woke to a refrain of dubious quality of ‘happy birthday’ sung from his watch, and celebrated with cake at smoko. Engines went on at 5am and later we set more sails, 13 in all, to hurry us towards Ascension so we could see it in daylight. The island came into sight early afternoon, through the cloud. Ascension Frigate birds and boobies came out to greet us, and we turned the engines off so as to sail at 4 to 5 knots.
Captain Barbara took us close in to get a good view of the land, then, with a bit of bracing and sail handling we went north round the island, under sail. The geology of Ascension is amazing; volcanic and bleak, but beautiful. The highest peak was covered in cloud. Dolphins came out to play in our bow wave and all round the ship, leaping out of the sea. A spectacular acrobatic show, with many photos taken.
We passed 0.3 mile off Boatswain Bird Island, ( a large rock really), the breeding islet for 6000 Ascension Frigate birds. Cookie kindly served our evening meal on deck so as not to miss a moment, after which the dolphins returned, or maybe it was a different pod, for another half hour.
A really lovely, memorable day.
Forward Port: Clive, Colin, Harriet, Ian, Maisie, Michael, Morgan, Stuart.
We awoke to another beautiful day with a glorious sunrise. The air temperature at 08:00 was 27 degrees and the sea temperature 28 degrees. We are making steady progress at around 5 knots under sail, heading for Ferdinand de Noronha, arriving on Friday.
Carter has set the watches another competition to judge how many miles we will have covered from Cape Town to the Equator so there is much activity in the chartroom as voyage crew calculate the distance, made a little harder as two charts are involved.
This afternoon/evening Captain Barbara is the Cook’s Asst as she has given Katy a half day, so we are all hoping for a delicious roast to end our hard working week.
The Captain has issued us all with a challenge to take place over the next week or so. It’s called the Great Egg challenge; the object is to get a raw egg from the foremast top to the furthest we can aft, on deck and without breaking the egg, so thinking caps are on.
Today sees the publication of our first Sunday paper, the Tenacious Times. This brings the ships company up to date with all the news and gossip including an agony aunt section and horoscopes. Thanks to Andy and Karen for their great work.
Following the celebration of Andy’s 50 birthday party he wishes to thank all those who helped the day go so well and also all his friends and family who sent him good wishes. What a way and a place to have your 50th!
Roly, Maggie, Andy, Peter, Paul, Stuart, Bill and Geertje
The crew on Tenacious have been writing a weekly newspaper – as tradition on many of our longer voyages.
Here’s the last blog from our cadet, Matt, on board Tenacious.
My last trip at sea before my final exams is on Tenacious, sailing from the Falkland Islands to South Africa, via South Georgia.
We initially spent some time in the Falklands whilst carrying out some maintenance on the ship. We were alongside on the outskirts of Port Stanley which was only a twenty minute walk into town and to some of the local bays for seal and penguin spotting. For our first night at sea we went to anchor in Berkley Sound, to avoid a passing storm. At this anchorage we were circled for most of the evening by fur seals and fin whales. It was a great way to start the voyage.
On route we encountered some icebergs which we calculated to be around half a kilometre long. They were incredible to see, as they are likely to have come from the continental ice of Antarctica and drifted north to South Georgia. Shortly after we had a great couple of sightings of a group of three killer whales around 100m off the ship.
It took us roughly five days to sail to King Edward Point in South Georgia. Upon our arrival we were greeted by the local government officer to clear the ship in, as well as many of the people working and researching on the island. I was given a half day to explore the island. I walked to a bay just over the headland called Maiviken to see some of the fur and elephant seals.
As amazing as the trip has been so far for wildlife, it has also been invaluable for my final training. As I am so close to my final exams, I have been closely shadowing the ships Navigation Officers with shipboard operations and on the watch system. The voyage started off with some strong winds and fairly big seas which was great for sailing experience. However, later on the winds became lighter, which has given me the opportunity to run operations such as sail handling, anchoring and mooring. This had been really helpful as final preparation because I have been hands on, doing the jobs, and
performing duties of a qualified officer.
As I am writing this, I have about two weeks left on board, which gives good time to get involved in every operation I can and pick the brains of the officers on board, before returning to Warsash for my final college phase.
Forward starboard is reporting on the halfway day of our Trans-Atlantic adventure. As we sail closer to the equator, the temperature is rising, along with the spirit of friendly competition.
It was another day of celebration yesterday, starting with singing Happy Birthday to Barnaby as a wakeup call and then a sweet potato joke cake at smoko. The big chocolate cake, made by Cookie Ian, soon followed . Also a Happy Birthday to Graham’s wife Pauline.
Today individuals are calculating their guesstimates for the exact distance travelled from Cape Town to the moment Tenacious crosses the equator, the winner to receive a bounty of two chocolate bars. Additionally, the watches are coming together to design and construct advanced egg preservation technologies.
Tomorrow, these safety devices will be put to the test as innocent eggs are ruthlessly hurled from the fore mast. The victorious watch will bask in the glory of their egg-cellence as the other watches will be shells of their former selves. (Please egg-scusethe ova-load of puns).
Fair winds and gentle seas continue to carry us ever onward into the sunset. The journey continues…
Forward Starboard (Joe, Barnaby, Matt, Ian, Lee, Hamish, Carol, and Bob)
Day 23. The 3,000nm mark was passed at 3am this morning. Today was the eggcitingday. There were big eggspectations from all the crew.
Oh yes – the puns are back and in full flow!
The brief was to take an uncooked egg and to enclose it in a protective, non-plastic device (in case an eggscrutiating throw sent it into the sea), and hurl it from the foremast top as far aft as possible, without it breaking. Each watch had to present their eggsellent egg carrying device and then give one person the eggciting task of climbing with the egg, and then hurling it, avoiding, sea, sails and ropes (no problems about the crew being hit).
Forward Port created a marvel in the form of Eggwina, with ropey flowing golden ringlets of hair, strangely reminiscent of Cooks Assistant Katie. (To ensure we are fed for the rest of the voyage, we should point out that Katie’s hair is not ropey, not at all, just the curls and golden colour made them seem twin-like).
Eggwina escaped her trajectory unscathed with her pet egg. Likewise the eggs of the other watches were undamaged, Forward Starboard’s sputnik-like contraption the winner. The bosun and his mates failed dismally, despite an energetic dance to present the fatal design, cracking spectacularly on impact. The four uncracked eggs somehow found themselves cracking on Hamish, Al, and Jess’s heads.
The other notable matter of interest is the establishment of the Swedish Hair Dressing Salon, with the result that Morgan, Tim and Pops Ian have been transformed into new versions, virtually unrecognisable, of themselves. And we are still sailing gently onwards, at about 5.5kts, with t’gallant staysails set, which second mate Maz has not seen set since 2010.
The sea is 28.3 degrees and the sun is HOTTTT. The person on starboard watch is in danger of frying, but an ACE time is being had by all.
Starboard Watch: Clive, Colin, Harriet, Ian, Maisie, Michael, Morgan, Stuart
We ended day 23 on the night watch 20.00 to 12 midnight. During the night recently we have been visited by 4 or 5 birds who seemed to have made the ship there floating home, 500 miles from the nearest land. They have become regular visitors.
The stars were very clear and bright, the Southern Cross and the Plough were both seen, and when the almost full Moon rose behind us, it bathed the ship in a strange orange light.
Today, day 24, is another very hot day, recording 30 degrees at 1500 this afternoon – in the shade! Stuart would like to wish a very happy 50th birthday to his brother Steven on the 4th of this month.
Cookie continues to spoil us each day with delicious treats. Last night we feasted on yummy king prawns with rice and broccoli.
Aft Starboard: Paul, Roly, Maggie, Stuart, Andy, Pete, Geertje, Bill
Birds are very important to our journey. We had many birdless days, long days of beautiful rolling seas but no sign of animal life apart from the odd group of flying fish. But then, suddenly, a blackbird appeared at night, flapping around.
Not just a black bird but seemingly a land bird, looking like a blackbird, a raven or a crow. So we fed her. And she appeared again the next night. Where did she come from, in the middle of the South Atlantic? Did she find us, did we save her? Did she stowaway all the way from Ascension Island? Where had this bird been hiding during the day? Not on deck, we would have seen her.
Then, it became slightly ominous. Last night the bird was not alone! A group (a parliament?) of them circled the ship in the blackness of the night. We couldn’t see them, but these birds communicated ominously between themselves, calling across the ship high above us. The Birds… it reminded us of the that scary cult film, The Birds.
Are they planning something? Where do they come from? Where do they go during the day? We waited each day for sightings of birds, but now there is a curious unease. What are these birds planning for us? What will this evening bring?
Aft Port – Andy, Carter, Chris, Karen, Mike, Nick, Ruth and Tim
The afternoon’s watch is cloudy and a welcome relief from the hot sun of the last few days. The crew spent an exciting day ashore on Fernando de Noronha yesterday, dispersing to various activities including hiring buggies, motorbikes, diving, snorkelling, swimming, eating and drinking.
There was some disappointment amongst the experienced divers as the “try divers” had the best diving, seeing 3 turtles, a lobster, a sea snake and a ray, in the backdrop of a shipwreck. They also had the best looking Brazilian instructor, we’re told.
The buggies we hired were of varying standard but they got us around this beautiful world heritage site and marine conservation area. The day ashore ended in a café at the beach with many of us sampling the local cocktail, Caipirinha. This is a mixture of local rum, crushed limes and ice. Very good for scurvy and instant relief for the cold which is doing the rounds.
Many thanks to the volunteer and permanent crew for giving us a splendid day ashore. More Caipirinhas were enjoyed on board followed by a delicious Sunday roast pork, mustard mash and red cabbage with apple. Everyone got up a little bit earlier this morning to enjoy a swim off the ship, many of showing off our diving prowess. Some dolphins joined us for a short while. After breakfast we braced the yards and set the square sails to sail off the anchor.
Unfortunately, lack of favourable winds meant the sails were handed 3 miles to the west, but we provided a good looking display for the residents of Fernando de Noronha as we left. We are now motoring towards the equator and preparations are afoot for the line crossing ceremony. Aft Starboard Maggie, Paul, Peter, Andy, Stuart, Roly, Bill and Geertje (watch leader).
The Tenacious Tattler, the ship’s Sunday newspaper, is here!
At last, after a month of sailing with the wind coming from behind us, today we’ve got a fine breeze on the port beam. That’s meant we’ve been able to set the Main Course!
The main course is the bottom, and largest, square sail on the main mast. When the wind comes from astern, the main course tends to stop the wind getting to the fore course, so in those circumstances the main course isn’t normally set.
We’re an aft watch, so our sail handling duties are mainly concerned with sails on the main mast. It’s been a frustrating month watching the forward watches repeatedly set and hand their fore course, whilst our main course stayed in the immaculate harbour stow that the previous crew had done in Cape Town.
But this morning that all changed! We went aloft, cast off the gaskets, pushed the sail off the yard, then returned to deck to haul on tack and sheet to set “our” course! Since then we’ve spent several hours sailing along at a good speed in this fine beam wind – just what we came for.
Aft Port – Andy, Carter, Chris, Karen, Mike, Nick, Ruth and Tim
Forward Starboard Reporting
Strong winds have risen allowing for more active sailing on Tenacious. The past four weeks of training have helped make the sail handling far smoother than when we first came aboard. We hit our top speed thus far on the voyage: 12.8 knots. Our speed has also been aided by a strong current targeted by Captain Barbara which she explained to the crew yesterday afternoon.
An additional effect of our strong beam wind is the heeling of the ship to starboard. The crew is becoming more adept to walking and performing other tasks at an angle.
We have now travelled over 4000 nautical miles since leaving Cape Town almost one month ago. Soon, Tenacious will be crossing the equator, with all the pomp and circumstance that entails for the polywogs: those sailing across the line for the first time. The extra speed is helping bring this celebratory event to fruition all the sooner.
Blue-grey skies and seas surround us as we sail on towards the horizon, the next adventure awaiting us.
Forward Starboard (Ian, Joe, Bob, Hamish, Barnaby, Matt, Carol, and Lee)
A forward from King Neptune:
My Court and I made final preparations after swimming up from our lair, 4001 metres beneath the good ship ‘Tenacious’. It was a long way to fin, as trident in hand, fins on our feet we boarded the ship. My vivid fish-scales matched my sea-green arms and face. My Queen, Neptunia, was looking her very best too – all beautifully made up and with the brand new shell bikini top I bought for her birthday. We both sported matching fish-net stockings. Long John Silver, the Pirate King, had handily locked all the Permanent Crew up so that we had free reign of the ship. All the Pollywogs had so many crimes; every single one was guilty. Give them their due, once they had admitted their guilt, they all paid due obeisance, knelt in the paddling pool, took the ‘medicine’ administered by my nurse trio (except some spat it out!), kissed the fish that I proffered and let my barber attack their unruly locks and beards. We were kind and gave them a walrus wash-down, before allowing them to pass as ‘Shellbacks’ and continue their voyage across my Oceans with a fair wind.
Since yesterday we have moved from late Autumn to late Spring in a flash of King Neptune’s trident. Yesterday evening at 20:59:53 we crossed the line under the careful steering of Aft Starboard and with much fanfare and cheering from the voyage crew.
This morning we awoke to a beautiful sunrise and much anticipation amongst us all as to what the day might bring. For days, rumours have been rife, and the instructions in the wake up call to wear only our oldest clothes added to the anticipation.
The ceremony commenced mid-morning, announced by Pete the Pirate (in heavy disguise) and King Neptune’s attendants – the Barber Surgeon, the Policemen, Nurses and Sea Creatures – gathered at the main mast to welcome the King and Queen on board. After the King and Queen had secured the successful takeover of the ship, they took up their places to pass sentence over their captives.
Starting with the permanent crew, each hapless pollywog was taken to face their charges and punishments amidst cries of “guilty” from all present. Having been found guilty (there was no option to plead innocent, despite one or two attempts) they were administered a red medicine from a syringe and an interesting gluten free and vegan concoction which looked like it had already been eaten.
The Barber Surgeon performed haircuts to suit all styles regardless of instruction. Close shaves were also provided with a cutlass of fearsome proportions. The final ordeal was to kiss the fish which had travelled with us all the way from Cape Town having spent the voyage nice and chilled in a deep freeze. Little did it know when it was born that it would be abused in such an inglorious manner! Deck showers were enjoyed by all administered by the Walrus and directed by the Dolphin.
So now all crew are Shellbacks – what a shame we don’t have a tattooist on board!
In other news we now have two paddling pools in which we will gratefully wallow on the hot afternoons between here and Antigua. The wind has dropped and we have handed all the square sails and we have dolphins on the port side.
And, finally, Peter would like to congratulate Eleanor, Eva and Gabrielle for becoming a Sargent and Lance Corporal and Cadet in St John Ambulance.
Aft Starboard: Maggie, Bill, Roly, Gee, Peter, Andy, Stuart and Paul
The line crossing cast:
Neptune: Captain Barbara
Queen Neputunia (resplendent in her shell bikini and sarong): Lee
Barber Surgeon: Cookie
Pete the Pirate: Pete
Policemen: Niall, Roly and Phil
Nurses: Colostomy Carol, Vasectomy Maggie and Menicectomy Maz
Sea Creatures: Gweneth the Dolphin and Bill the Walrus
A memorable night for Forward Port watch last night – we are happy to report another stunning victory in the Quiz to retain our crown, not least due to Maisie’s encyclopaedic knowledge of brand logos (who says advertising doesn’t work!), after which the night watch proved to be one of the best yet.
All was calm with a few stars trying to pierce the darkness of a cloudy and moon free night, punctuated by flashes of distant lightning, when at just before 11pm the heavens opened with a downpour of biblical proportions. The rain blew horizontally across the open bridge, cascading off the charthouse roof, saturating the whole watch before we even had time to get into waterproofs. Thankfully the rain was tropically warm, as it persisted for the rest of the night.
As we write this we are a mere 30 miles south of the equator, which we should cross before the day is out. We all wait with trepidation for the celebrations Captain Barbara has in store for us for the crossing the line ceremony.
So, after more than 2 years in the southern hemisphere the good ship Tenacious will finally return to the northern hemisphere.
A last farewell from the Southern Hemisphere from FP (Harriet, Clive, Colin, Ian, Maisie, Michael, Morgan and Stuart)
Yesterday’s celebrations continued with the presentation of magnificent certificates ably drawn by Scottish Stuart. The awards were helped by a personal delivery from Captain Morgan to Captain Barbara and as the sun was well over the yard arm, the main brace was duly spliced without us even being aware of it being broken.
The onboard competitions then took on a more classical hue as in the supreme art work were the quizzical letters DV after the name of our good ship. As usual Aft Port were the ones who worked this out as Chris T’s classical education allowed him to decipher this as our voyage number, 505. He graciously declined the proffered drink or being released from mess duty.
Last night was reported as damp by some with torrential rain for 4hrs and today the wind has not co-operated but our gallant leader is promising more favourable conditions when we get 4 degrees north. However, False Killer Whales joined us in the currently weedy sea. Tendricles of seaweed that may have come from the Sargasso sea?
Today is Mikaela’s birthday, celebrated with the traditional cake decorated in amazing sugar paste art and a marvellous hat depicting the hard travail of a BM. Magnanimously she spent her all too short lunch break undoing the ravages King Neptune had caused to my Swedish Coffee shop hair style. What a team player! Many thanks.
Aft Port signing off.
Sunday and day 35 of the mission. Forward starboard have the blog keyboard. We’ve now covered over 4860 nautical miles since Cape Town.
We were awoken this morning to the pleasure of a heeling ship (10 to 15 degrees no less), making daily chores slightly more challenging. Morning and afternoon smoko’s saw milk jugs hit the deck in the swell, spills quickly dealt with.
However we are sailing, clicking along at pace: 9 knots, sometimes more, although Hamish thinks there’s room for improvement. A steady North Easterly shifts us North West, toward the Caribbean, with most of our sails set, we’re ready to make our grand entrance.
Before that: on the bridge this afternoon it’s pleasant, helming duties are shared, the cooling breeze disguises the afternoon sun, the chatter peppered with fantasies of food, women and wine (Carol politely declined the offer to add in men), what many weeks at sea does to the mind… not a bad Sunday afternoon at all.
Forward Starboard out. (Ian, Hamish, Matt, Carol, Barnaby, Bob, Joe)
The next edition of the Tenacious Tattler, the ship’s weekly newspaper, is online and ready to read!
The doldrums and rain clouds are now well behind us, though on starboard watch, Pops reports that there’s still a lot of Sargasso weed floating past. It’s a lovely, sunny day and a steady north easterly breeze on the starboard beam makes it perfect sailing weather. We have 11 sails up and are now just passing the Suriname coast, having spent the last 24 hours passing French Guiana, which must have included Devil’s Island of Papillon fame.
We’re about 100nm out to sea, so no land in sight of course. The log records 209 miles sailed in the past 24 hours and reaching 11 knots in the early hours of the morning, we also passed the 5000 miles mark since leaving Cape Town.
But all is not entirely well… The last of the peanut butter was eaten two days ago. We ate the last egg for breakfast this morning. We have run out of fresh fruit and vegetables. Cookie has been coping magnificently. His corned beef hash and baked beans for lunch yesterday was a triumph. But tensions among the crew are clearly rising, coming to a head at noon today with a spate of murderous plots! Will the first mate soon be despatched with an eye splice at the foremast? Or the captain laid low by an attack with a teabag at the bumpkins? It seems that only one person can emerge unscathed from this turmoil. Forward Port: Clive, Colin, Harriet, Ian, Michael, Stuart
N.B.:At the time of writing, Morgan and Maisie have already been viciously misled and dispatched with a tea-towel and a stopper respectively…who will be next…?
Another glorious morning welcomed us out of our bunks today and the sun has shone ever since. Cookie was allowed an extra long lie-in today (so, naturally, he emerged at 0615) but, instead of our usual cooked breakfast options, Katy kept us well fed with home-made granola, bircher oats and fabulous cinnamon and raisin pastries. Stuart, our resident vegan, said he definitely did NOT try the buttery pastry but said they were delicious.
24 hours have passed since the first assassinations and bodies continue to fall around the ship. Crew members can be spotted hovering around the lifeboats with an electric toothbrush, under the ratlines with an HB pencil or asking to be reminded how to tie a bowline. During our watch, our illustrious captain, Barbara, was despatched next to the capstan with a flip flop.
We have also been graced, once again, by a pod of False Killer Whales. Today’s visitors were more numerous (we think 9 or more) and came closer to the ship than yesterday’s sighting.
The wind has died slightly to 13 knots. Although we are making good ground, we are all quite glad that the ship has righted itself slightly from the 15 degrees we’ve been suffering from over the past few days and we are able to navigate the alleyways without climbing ropes and are able to get into our upper bunks without spiderman powers!
Andy wishes his grand-daughter, Mayson, a very happy 4th birthday and sends a loving message to her great mother, grandmother and great grandmother! 4 generations of great women and they are dearly loved.
Aft Starboard – Stuart, Roly, Paul, Bill, Peter, Paul, Maggie and Gee
Greetings me hearties! We are sailin to the isles of the Carib! There’s golden shores, music to dance to, rum to be drunk, and booty to be had. Arrg!
Get your sabres out, load your pistols, and prepare to board all vessels. We have set sails including the spanker, handed sails, and braced the yards. We be ready for some island action.
We be first headed to Bequia to rob the beaches of their sun and their bars of their rum. Then we pass many isles looking for treasure before we raid the isle of Antigua. There has been murder on board, the crew is dwindling, but we will catch the brigands and lock em in chains in the lower decks, to be sure. Captain Barbara and First Mate Ali have promised a bounty for all.
So lock up your belongins and be ready for some fun to be had. Dread Pirate Tim, Peg Leg Andy, Savage Nick, Dead Eye Chris, Denim Short Mike, our two fair maidens Ruth and Karen, and Smee Carter. Special mention to Assassin Alasdair, taken cruelly from our watch! Arrg.
Day 39 of the mission – Forward Starboard again at the helm and blog controls. 5,500 nautical miles now covered…phew!
Nearly all our watch are dead, except Joe who has eluded his killer so far. Today we are motor sailing at 10 knots plus with most of our sails set – looking good for our Caribbean entrance.
All are eager to set afoot on dry land, if you read the previous watch blog, be afraid – IT IS the mood on board. Or if you own a bar in downtown Bequia – double your prices, stock up and hurry as we anchor tonight!
Before that it’s another warm sunny afternoon, air & sea temps still high, over 80F, a mild aqua blue sea gently pushing us along, a few crew on the Bow Sprit, eager for any early land sightings. We’re all looking forward to the next few days of Caribbean sun & rum. Your motley watch – Forward Starboard (Matt, Joe, Hamish, Ian, Bob, Carol, Lee, Barnaby)
Sargassum. Floating garlands of golden sea flora welcoming us to the Caribbean. Intriguingly, the seas have been full of this yellow, brown seaweed for many days. Where does it come from? How can there be so much of it?
We arrived in Bequia, a welcomingly small island, part of St Vincent & The Grenadines – and part of the Lesser Antilles and Windward Isles. It’s exciting (and a geography lesson) after a month sailing the breadth of the Atlantic Ocean, we’re now in the Caribbean Sea.
We anchored in Admiralty Bay, then moored the next morning and stepped out into the tropical world. Fresh fruit, lilting accents, golden beaches with crystal seas and beguiling rum punches. Some snorkelled, some scuba’d, some walked the isle (and some simply drank rum punch). Two nights dining and dancing with their regular Friday street party to really set the mood.
Those that intrepidly moved out of Port Elizabeth, crossed the island found the answer to the mystery golden flora. Sargassum has washed up along the island’s eastern shores, piled high on the beaches, making life unpleasant for those living there. It only appeared these last 5-10 years, a consequence it’s suggested of uncontrolled growth due to raised sea temperatures (global warming) and fertilizer run off. A problem for Bequia and the Caribbean islands but a pretty distraction for those of us on bridge lookout after weeks and weeks of otherwise deep blue ocean
But now, for a few more days at least, the turquoise waters of the Caribbean! Aft Port signing off (the last blog for our watch… this voyage).
May 21st and Forward Starboard is reporting in for the final time. We are fast approaching our final destination and our time aboard Tenacious will too soon be coming to a close.
We have kept busy at sea as we’ve travelled past some of the eastern Caribbean islands. After motoring out of Bequia and past St. Vincent, we set sails at 1540 to enjoy an afternoon under sail.
We then had to hand the sails at 1830 as we sailed into the lee of St. Lucia with its impressive Pitons rising above the sea. Once we got north of St. Lucia, we set sails again at 2230, sailing towards Martinique. Again, as we passed on the western leeside of Martinique, the sails needed to be handed overnight at 0330.
The sails were set again at 0730 for a morning of sailing between Martinique and Dominica. We have just handed the sails again at 1330 and are now motoring past the green, hill-covered island of Dominica. In addition to the sailing, we had a “rescue” at sea today, as the crew worked together to save Penelope, the dummy, during a man-overboard drill this morning. After almost 6 weeks at sea, operations on the ship have become much smoother, working together with the crewmates we have come to know over the past month and a half.
The reality of our diminishing time together is beginning to set in. The plans for disembarking Tenacious, once such a distant thought, are now being discussed and organized. Each of us are asking ourselves where the time went.
However celebrations still await us. Watches are making their final preparations for the SODS, Ship’s Operatic and Dramatic Society, opera tomorrow night, where the crew members will display their talent (or lack thereof) after we anchor outside of Antigua. Additionally, crew members are eyeing and discussing various items from the voyage that may be auctioned upon arrival in Antigua. Tangible items that some may bring home as mementos along with the treasured memories and new friendships that all of us will be bringing home.
Forward Starboard signing off…
Hamish, Lee, Ian, Matt, Bob, Joe, Barnaby, and Carol
And so all good things come to an end. In the distance we can see our final destination approaching, Antigua and more specifically Falmouth Harbour where we will anchor in a couple of hours, and then go alongside in the morning.
24 hours ago we were sailing past Dominica where hurricane damage of the forest was very evident. We turned into the bay at the north end of the island, just past Portsmouth, to drop anchor for a swim.
After some interesting manoeuvres away from buoys and keeping clear of the bottom, we anchored, donned our swimming gear and entered the sea in various ways: Forward Starboard Ian much the most impressive hanging from the platform and dropping into the crystal clear waters; Cookie just about matched him, diving in in his apron. Dave the Bosun did a backflip but most did a variety of awful belly flops.
Supper at anchor followed, rather miraculously given the cook was in the sea, then we weighed anchor at 7 30pm and continued our way north under the excellent care of our watch. We set some sails only to hand them a few minutes later, and crept rather too fast past the bright lights of Guadeloupe and then on the next morning towards Antigua.
A great last day sailing after a truly memorable voyage. We have now been on board 5 weeks and a day and are looking forward to seeing our families and friends in the not too distant future. An ACE time has been had by one and all, thanks to the brilliant, long-suffering, permanent crew who have tolerated us for so long. Many thanks. We will be back!
Forward Port: Clive, Colin, Harriet, Ian, Maisie, Michael, Morgan, Stuart.