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St Margaret's Yacht on it's way to Cork!

On Saturday 25th October, yacht, Challenger Two, left Falmouth in Cornwall at the beginning of its epic journey around the Atlantic Ocean.  It has visited  some of the world’s most beautiful countries including the Canary Islands, Caribbean, The Bahamas and the Azores. Next stop is 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! Blake is sponsoring the yacht to help raise money for this worthy cause.

Check below for updates from the crew as they sail the seven seas!

Wednesday 1st April 2015

Ahh the smell of Ireland…

After only six days at sea we sailed into Kinsale Harbour at 03:30 this morning and so finished our very quick Trans-Atlantic crossing, returning Challenger 2 from the Azores as part of the St Margaret’s Hospice “Atlantic Challenge” – making every day count.

The crew got all excited at the first sighting of land, the famed Fastnet Rock as we continued our downwind charge at 10+ knots of boat speed in Gale Force winds and a forecast “High” sea state 6-9m waves). Our original passage plan when we left Punta Delgarda had taken us North to avoid a developing High Pressure system which threatened to envelop us and give us little or no wind for our arrival in Ireland. As the forecast changed, we modified our plans and crossed our rhumb line to keep East and out of the clutches of the Force 10 and Very High sea state forecast for the Shannon sea area for last night.

The passage was fast all the way across and mostly on a broad reach or run with the wind behind us, so although it was perhaps a shock for those who had not sailed before – it was comparatively a very comfortable and easy crossing. Six days for the 1199 miles covered, at an average speed of 8+ knots. The crew were doing a 4 on 4 off during the day and 3 on 3 off at night watch system, so got out of their warm sleeping bags and onto a very cold deck 24 times, and helmed (steered) the big boat on average 200 Nautical Miles each in half hour shifts on the wheel. We had fresh food for most of the voyage, only some of which made a reappearance on deck.

With our very fast crossing we now have ample time to enjoy the delights of Ireland. We intend on slowly sailing via the Royal Cork Yacht Club to the Cork City pontoon with an expected arrival in Cork City on Tuesday next week. It will feel very relaxed and comfortable in comparison to our Trans-Atlantic Challenge.

Well done to the crew taking part, Mike, Chris, Tomasz and Patrick, I hope that you got everything from the voyage that you were expecting and hoping for. A special congratulation to those who were sailing for the very first time, quite an ambitious introduction to life on the water. I hope to see you all back sailing with Tall Ships very soon. Thanks to my Tall Ships volunteer watch leaders, James and Richard – always an important part of any Tall Ships voyage. Thanks for keeping the crew safe on deck and for some brilliant helming instruction. And finally a special thank you to my Mate, Sue for all her help, cooking and cheerfulness.

Time for some well-earned enjoyment of the famous Irish hospitality…

Ricky (Skipper)

Tuesday 31st April 2015

Well, second Blog for me. We are now day 6 into our Voyage and it has been very interesting the last 24 hours. Especially for me, had two huge waves come at the rear of the Yacht when I was helming, which I didn’t see coming but the other crewman did, and let’s just say it was nice to have a shower. We are currently about 150 miles away from our destination and looking to get into Ireland the early hours of tomorrow morning.

When you read things like this and it refers to it as a ‘Challenge’, they are right. For someone like me with no sailing experience it has been a challenge. Learning to do all new and different things has been a challenge, helming a 57 tonne Yacht (and with the weather challenges as well), learning some new knots, putting sails up, winching, all has been challenging and interesting, but fun at the same time.

I came into this voyage with no expectations and no idea what was going to happen while at sea. I spent the first few days ill, but after getting used to the rocking and taking tablets I was able to bounce back and thoroughly enjoy the remainder of the voyage to its fullest. I am very happy I decided to do this and would recommend this to anyone looking for a new and different experience. As the saying goes ‘You regret the decisions you don’t make’, well I am glad this is one decision I made and decided to undertake the voyage.

The crew has been great and supportive of each other, and it has been good meeting people from different places and different levels of sailing experience, and also learning from all of them.

Well now we are counting down the hours and looking forward to that first celebratory drink. As before ‘Cheers’

Michael

Monday 30th March 2015

Mornin! I hope this sunny Monday finds you well, rested and enjoying a peaceful morning at work/school/home/the gym (delete as appropriate).

It was with high spirits and eager anticipation that a small and very select crew (no riff-raff for Challenger 2, thank you

I’ve been embroidering kittens).

Right, off to turn the baked potatoes. Do spare a thought for us very much) departed Ponta Delgada a mere 4 days ago. In that 4 days we have experienced sunshine, moonlight – that reminds me of a song – twinkly stars and almost no rain. Our valiant crew have overcome seasickness, sleep deprivation and a fear of cooking as we progress on our 1200 mile journey to the Emerald Isle.

For the last 36 hours, conditions have been a little challenging as the increasing wind strength and , more significantly, sea state (officially rough) have made even the simplest tasks (drinking tea…having a wee etc) a major mission for our stalwart four – often requiring a Little Lie Down afterwards. People react to such challenges in different ways; Patrick and Mike can’t stop grinning and their stints on watch are punctuated with squeals of excitement as they encounter another, even bigger, wave, Chris cheerfully deposits partially digested fruit salad into the cockpit whilst all the while smiling cheerfully as though strolling through the park on a sunny day and Tomasz (Mr Grue from Despicable Me) has gone a funny colour but is manfully struggling on.

Having struggled with sleeping at all for the first 3 days, I am now beset by dreams about angry things. The other night (or possibly afternoon – it’s hard to tell) it was a big baboon (actually a person in a baboon suit) angrily stealing all the fruit on Baboon Feeding Rock and chasing people (me) who had purchased a bag of fruit to feed said baboons. It was quite scary and I woke up. I am now officially fed up of waves and apologise to any teacher friends reading this for possible spelling inaccuracies – the keyboard keeps moving.

We are currently crossing the Porcupine Abyssal Plain – which sounds rather fascinating. Still, all is looking very good in terms of progress towards our destination – we are only 366 miles from a pint of the brown stuff and a leisurely cruise – delightful words – along the south coast of Ireland. In the meantime, I have been amusing myself (in calmer hours) by whipping lines in the snakepit and putting in riggers eyes (not sailing friends to whom that makes no sense – in your flat, calm world…..

Lots of love

Sue (mate) xx

Sunday 29th March 2015

The most exciting news today is that we have just passed the half way mark to Cork, giving us only ~550 nautical miles left to go, though that still seems a rather long way!

Last night was overcast, giving only sporadic sighting of the moon and stars, so it was pretty dark on deck and we had very poor visibility. This meant we had to keep ourselves on course only using the compass, which is always a bit more challenging than by using stars or clouds in the distance as a fixed reference point.

Overnight the wind picked up quite a bit giving us more speed but much more rolling about, and what felt like some fairly extreme tilts, at least to an inexperienced sailor. The current forecast predicts that the father north we get the more the wind is going to pick up which is good for us continuing to make progress but not so good for sleep or anything else! By this morning is was getting quite challenging to keep the yacht on course, so in order to give us a bit more control on the helm as the wind continues to speed up we’ve put two reefs in the main sail (making it significantly smaller) and hence slowing us down. As the forecast predicts that the faster wind is also moving north over time, slowing us down has the added benefit that the wind won’t be quite as strong by the time we get to it.

Despite all this we’re still rocking about quite a bit, which is making this blog quite hard to type up!

Patrick

Saturday 28th March 2015

We have just ticked over into the start of our 3rd day. Last night we had extremely clear skies and when the half-moon drifted over the horizon at about 2am the sky became full of stars and constellations. We spent the next 30 minutes playing around with my phone trying to get the star app too work! When we finally did we found many interesting things such as the International Space Station was flying by. Later on that watch me (James W/L) and Chris saw a meteor. Not the typically small ones but one which had flames and air trails behind it!

With the wind still behind us we are having a very pleasant trip. This morning we gybe and have a new course of 015 so we can keep this wind as long as we can. Yet again we have covered 191NM (which is odd), now with under 759 too our destination of Cork. Everybody on board seems to be getting used to boat life, and some people are starting to enjoy it! No more dolphins to mention I am afraid, but just like the last trip. So far a bird has been seen every day.  I hope everyone reading is having a great weekend and is having a drink for us. Until next time……

James

Friday 27th March 2015

The first night at the open sea has just finished. First time for me to see a sunset and sunrise on Atlantic. Three hours night watches work great, the best time to kill time is at the helm. The high pressure area is just at the edge of our course so we need to balance between our desired bearing and the wind.

With a steady wind from behind we are doing 8 knots and now have only 999 miles to go. Everyone is getting used to the system, sleep when you can, help when you are awake.

Today, Richard and I (Tomasz) are on the mother watch and I am getting familiar with British cuisine. I made a bacon for the first time and so far no complains. We also made bread using Portuguese instructions, haven’t tried it yet but it smells nice.

Regs,

Tomasz

Wednesday 25th March 2015

Chris here I was the last member of the crew to arrive last night ,the taxi driver assured me I needed the older marina but It turned out I needed to be in the new  marina , but it was only a ten minute walk this time! I found the boat in the end without too much hassle and only a 10 minute walk!

We had a leisurely start to the day, not getting going until 9am, the first couple of hours spent getting to know all the systems down below deck followed by fitting all the sails and heading out to sea.

The winds were very light but sufficient to carry out all the procedures we needed to know ,from tacking, gybing , man over board drill, the principles of sailing, goose winging the gib with the biggest spinner pole i’ve ever used! And finishing off with a trip to the fuel dock loading 711 litres of fuel.

We are now all off out to a local sea food restaurant for dinner and tomorrow we all start our sea watches and guess what , Patrick and I are doing all the cooking for the day, that should be event full, although Patrick tells me that his preparation skills are second to none, it’s at the end that things fall apart! As for my cooking skills, well I did cook a meal, once!

Chris

Tuesday 25th March 2015

Hello, and welcome to my very first blog. Personally this is the first time I’ve ever done a sailing trip/adventure like this. I’m from Gosport but the only time I spent time on the water was when I was a scout, and that was a good 15 years ago now. I started at Heathrow by catching a plane at 19.50 and flying to Lisbon, and then on to the Azores and Ponta Delgada. Now this wouldn’t have been a problem expect I had a 9 hour layover at Lisbon airport, yay, fun.

After arriving at the airport at Ponta Delgada I got a Taxi to the local supermarket as I had made the error in not packing a sleeping bag, which I have blamed my mate for not telling me. The Taxi driver was very polite and almost didn’t charge as he didn’t have the correct change, very nice but glad he found the change in the end.

After arriving at Challenger 2 we spent a few days getting used to the yacht, where things are and getting a good nights sleep, with the second night being interrupted by a fellow crewman snoring, move to the other bunks it was.

Well now we are up to today, Tuesday, and spent the day driving around the Azores. The sites were wonderful. Going up the mountains and seeing the lovely views this place has to offer is amazing. The lakes, the hot springs, what they refer to as ‘Natural Pools’, where it gets up to 18degreesC, nice and warm. It is a wonderful place to see, and even though we went round in circles a few times it was a great adventure.

I am now looking forward to what the rest of this trip has to offer and continuing the adventure I have already had. Here’s to a wonderful time sailing the Atlantic Ocean and getting into Cork for a few well deserved drinks. Cheers!!

Michael