On Saturday 25th October, the yacht, Challenger Two, left Falmouth in Cornwall at the beginning of its epic journey around the Atlantic Ocean. It will be visiting some of the world’s most beautiful countries including the Canary Islands, Caribbean, The Bahamas, The Azores and Ireland.
The Challenge of a Lifetime Circuit is broken down into 8 legs. Anyone 18+, with or without any sailing experience, can join in this adventure bobbing around the Atlantic Ocean, and complete as many legs as you feel capable for!
Check below for updates from the crew as they sail the seven seas!
Slow start today for most, possibly due to late night, but once up off for hearty breakfast and relaxation on beach. Weather lovely and sunny until mid afternoon when clouded over and started to drizzle, time to head for the bar ! Back to boat for delicious chicken fajitas, cooked by Rob, with some beer and tequila to help wash it down ! Few games of cards and plenty of music with our very own resident DJ Sam, before the hardy few headed off to pub/club, with Adam providing much entertainment, as usual.
Land spotted again in the early hours, this time Gran Canaria. Arrived in Las Palmas marina about 9am and after some negotiation managed to secure a mooring next to a very nice rather large sailing vessel, Win Win, The Creek? They seemed very nervous as the boat is brand new and gleaming, but Ricky glided perfectly into our mooring. We then set about packing up the sails etc and cleaning boat from top to bottom before heading to Sailors Bar for a well earned drink or two.
In the evening off to a Japenese restaurant, where much rum was consumed, before most of the crew headed off for further entertainment in bars/clubs, returning in the early hours.
Wind cutting across boat right to left so more zipping along on our way to Gran Canaria. Wind direction changed during afternoon and now eventually we are sailing with the wind behind us, with yankee out on pole to starboard side and main sail out wide on port side. So now total concentration required to ensure no accidental gybes, which run risk of serious damage to boat and crew. Watch Leaders feeling the pressure, but will no doubt sleep well !!
During the afternoon watch we crossed paths with a schooner, an American University sailing boat, almost close enough to touch relative to what we have been used to, but actually totally safe distance and good to have company at sea. Weather nice and sunny again with lovely sunrises and sunsets. Lunch was cheese and ham/salami sandwiches and dinner was one of Ricky’s specials of Chicken surprise, very tasty!
Well I promised the crew some downwind sailing, and a flat boat. We trained on polling out the headsail, and gybeing especially avoiding an accidental gybe, and in the use of the Preventer before we left the calm waters off of Cascais. What have we had so far – more hard (ish) on the wind, boat well heeled over, waves over the deck and life at an angle down below yet again.
The only positive is that we have had spectacular boat speeds. Even with a very conservative sail plan of Yankee 3, Staysail and two reefs in a down-tracked mainsail, we are hitting 11 knots on occasion (normally when off course mind you), and regularly recording 10 miles on the hour in the log book. All of this rapid pace is upsetting the planned schedule a little bit, with an earlier than expected arrival at Grand Canaria for a fuel stop, now expected on Thursday morning. Depending on whether we can stay there (it is busy with the Arc boats at the moment) will determine the rest of the plan, but it looks likely that we will finish in Tenerife on Sunday 10th a day earlier than the planned Monday the 11th.
Dolphins seem to be making a regular visit, maybe to check on how such a yacht is able to sustain such fast speeds – not that they have problems keeping up as they dart through the water and play in our bow wave. I guess we may look to them as a whale on occasion as we submerge ourselves as yet another wave crashes over the deck and the crew’s wet weather gear is tested yet again.
Warm and dry at the moment…
We arrived in Cascais on Friday afternoon around lunch which was a relief to finally get a warm shower and be on steady land after a few days at sea, even though the ground still felt like it was rocking. After giving the boat good old scrub we all heading in to the town for a bit to eat and a well-deserved pint or two…..
After a “Relaxing” 48 hours in warm Portugal we hit the sea shortly after lunch next stop Gran Canaria. The watch system started last night at 7pm which was hard to get back into the swing of things after 2 nights off. Amazing weather and stronger winds this morning even seen a few dolphins roll on the next few days.
Adam (The Hardest worker on the boat)
Happy Halloween! Yesterday afternoon we managed to get some sailing in and enjoyed another day of clear blue skies and sunshine. Yesterday’s t-shirts were followed by some of the crew venturing out on deck in shorts. Reggie didn’t make an appearance but dolphins did and there were several sightings of flying fish. Lunch was jacket potatoes with tuna and sweet corn and after an afternoon of sailing Adam turned chef and was assisted by Charlie in preparing a great pork chop dinner.
On the night watch around mid-night as Halloween rolled in Adam was at the helm when all of the sudden a rather large white, flappy object, travelling from the bow of the boat and out of the sky fell directly towards his head. The rest of us were seated around the helm and jumped out of our skin when all we saw was this strange object flashing by and Adam ducking behind the helm. It turns out it was a sea gull that must of accidentally flown into the sail. A rather spooky start to Halloween!
We hope to make landfall this afternoon and everyone is looking forward to Portugal and warm showers!
Another relatively horizontal day today helping us recover from our initial few days out of Falmouth. With our watch on the 7 to 1 watch we had an impressive sun rise, a brief sighting of what we reckon were pilot whales, the first ship sighted in days and eventually followed by the sad departure of Reggie (the swallow who stayed the night, cared for and named by Charlie), we wish him all the best and hope he made it home to Mrs Reggie wherever she might be waiting.
With the sun out it was soon time for t-shirts on deck and just after watch change we gave up with sailing in the dying wind and began motor sailing on course towards Portugal. A welcome opportunity arose to open as many hatches as possible and get some air down below and a good sleep was had by off watch during the afternoon.
All in all a good day topped off with an exceptionally good curry cooked by Ricky! Just the job, now time for watch for our final few miles of a mirror flat Biscay, time for some star gazing I suppose!
(supposed watch leader who forgot to do the cleaning this morning, whoops!)
All tippy over again. The light winds forecast by yesterdays GRIB file have turned out to be 15 knot Southerlies. Doubtless todays GRIB file will rectify this. They are amazingly accurate at telling you what the weather is now, not so much at telling you what the weather will be. Come on Marc and Nicky, get it together guys…
We have spotted other ships for the first time in days, as we close on Cap Finistere and the Traffic Separation Scheme converging all the big ships. With the prolonged wind, the plan of motoring straight down to Lisbon today and tomorrow has been delayed and we are now continuing our sailing and tacking.
We still hope to arrive on Halloween, hopefully that will be a treat for the crew. The trick is trusting the longer term GRIB files which currently show a nice 15 knots of North Easterly wind for us leaving Lisbon (Cascais) and making our way down to the Canary Islands. If correct then this will give the crew a whole different boat motion to get used to and the sea legs which they have found so far will seem very wobbly in the new rolly polly motion of downwind sailing on a Challenger yacht. If the wind is light enough then we can deploy the Spinnaker once everyone has their downwind sea legs, which should be a fun sleigh ride down to Tenerife.
Our visitor, a very tired Swallow, spent the night tucked up in the headlining in our galley, and seemed in better spirits and health when he headed off South for the winter again this morning. We have the occasional sea gull in sight now, and some larger mammals were spotted earlier today, white and far away – could have been pilot whales.
Musical harmony has been restored as I was able to copy more of my music, although Whitney Huston currently belting out “I will always love you” my not be to everyone’s taste. There is a wider range of music now, so at least I can now displease all of the people some of the time.
Hot dogs on the menu for lunch today ! Then Thai Chicken Curry for dinner – we are just that cosmopolitan on Challenger 2.
I am Zorro, I make my mark on the seas!
First update from voyage crew, which consists of Julie, Adam, Charlie, Brendan and Rob, with our 2 Watch Leaders Sam & Oliver. Now that the wind has died off we have the chance to enjoy the an almost horizontal boat, which is a welcome change for a few hours as life becomes so much easier getting around the boat and reaching the toilet now only takes a few minutes not 10 minutes, although I am sure we will get bored of this pretty soon and want to enjoy some more exciting sailing !!
24/7 sailing certainly takes a bit of getting used to and is a bit of a shock to the system, along with the angle of the boat, but think we have now all settled into it.
Watches continued throughout the night with the wind gradually dying away and requiring some adjustments to reefs in the sails to keep us moving as much as possible.
We are now we now well on our way through the dreaded Bay of Biscay and what an experience it has been, although think the winds have been kind to us, the view of the large rolling waves is pretty impressive.
Looking forward to a few hours kip before next shift and whatever the Bay has to throw at us before we reach the coast of Spain, where winds are expected to pick up again.
We had visitors today,
the dolphin came to play.
- Yay !
(A short poem by Ricky)
The Bay Of Biscay, long feared for its monstrous seas as the deep Atlantic Ocean comes crashing against the shallow continental shelf, gave us a small taste last night as we crossed off of the shelf to the deeper water. Thankfully just a taste though, and being upwind at the time, Challenger 2 took it all in her stride – that’s what she was built to do. The wind has turned from the South which was forecast but expected a bit later. The current Grib file shows that we should have a nice South Easterly. I will get an updated file at midday today, which will doubtless bring reality back in line.
Just heard a Spanish weather forecast pretty clearly on the VHF – 222Nm off the coast – must be strange atmospherics. Their forecast is for very light winds and smooth seas – sigh !
Wind aside, we are currently heading along pretty fast – just in not quite the right direction. We will continue to do so on the other tack, and will gradually claw our way south in a big Zig Zag pattern while the wind permits. If it does all die off, then the big 135 horses unleashed by the Perkins will be put to good use.
The majority of the crew have now found their sea legs. Some are still a little pale, but there has been no feeding of the fishes today – apart from the left over porridge. Lunch is soup and rolls and dinner, Pork Chops mash and peas. Hopefully we will have more of an appetite for tonight’s dinner than last night’s Chicken Fajitas.
The current projection from our MX400 GPS Navigator is that we will reach Cascais in time for Halloween, but then it knows nothing about the future winds, just basing our future progress on what has happened to us thus far.
Still making each day count…
Good morning from the good ship Challenger 2
We left Falmouth at 1600 GMT yesterday 25/10/14 in search of the warmer weather. We started our watches at 1900 GMT after a roast chicken dinner working a 6 on 6 off in the day and 4 on 4 off at night. The mood on board is good as a whole as people try to get used to life at 45° down below. We have a few people on green watch (sea sick) at the moment but with only one person being sick. At the time I right this blog (1100 GMT) we have covered 132 NM and are making a good speed of 9.5 knt over the ground with 20knt of breeze from the SW and the sun is out. Well time to get back on deck, we will keep you posted of all the goings on over the next few weeks so keep reading!!