Everybody arrived at Challenger 2 in Portsmouth at around 1300 on Wednesday afternoon to begin our voyage. We were greeted with a friendly welcome and spent some time getting to know our other crew members, watch leaders, mate and skipper. We then headed off to Cowes and spent the evening there. It wasn’t too much of an early start the next day before setting off to Cascais – 0800. Before we left Cowes, we also witnessed a MOB drill demonstration by Challenger 1. For the first leg of our journey we’ve had quite light winds and calms seas. We split into our watches that afternoon with the port watch being on first, we managed to see a few dolphins on our first night watch!
No wind yet so still motor sailing. Long John Silver had a parrot, our skipper Neil has a couple of stow away starlings instead. Not sure the bird crap on his shoulder goes with the epaulets. Lots of dolphins overnight. No wind yet. Food has been good as expected with a couple of chefs on board. Still no wind. Big clean this morning. Still no wind. If this keeps up I would not like to pay the fuel bill. We have just crossed the continental shelf so are now sailing in over 4000 meters of water with nearest land over 120nm away! Looking forward to a shower when we are off watch later…….. Breaking news latest weather forecast just in via sat phone promises some wind Ealey Sunday morning right through until Monday afternoon, not sure if I will sleep with the boat quite. Lunch is now being prepared, a veritable feast in the form of a buffet with special boat salad (whatever that is).
Today has been a good day for Challenger 2 as the engine has finally been silenced. NOW Powered at last by wind with the Yankee poled out and the main in full swing we seem to be making good progress with a speed of nine knots. Starboard watch were glad of a shower today which proved an effort in itself with the boat rolling from side to side but on a plus side it’s not every day you get to say you have had a shower in the Atlantic Ocean. Port watch were also grateful for some sweeter smelling shipmates. Now been at sea for five days and the boat appears to be running really well with everybody now used to the daily routine aboard. Wind has now picked up to a force six which has increased the excitement levels amongst the crew as sailing has now become more exhilarating and challenging which is of course why we are here. Now lets see what the night brings ( Hopefully lots of tea).
We have had a couple of nice days off in Cascias , train rides to Lisboa kept many crew members busy, the Volvo Ocean race fleet was in harbour there so many photos were taken. We also bumped in to Alex Thompson from Hugo Boss he kindly allowed us to look round his boat that was moored up just in from of us.
The rest of the time was taken up on hire bikes or exploring the old town of Cascais with its many bars and restaurants. Nice to now be back at sea and a beat towards Lanzarotte for our next stopover.
Left Cascais about 10am heading out into a lumpy sea, sails were hoisted and spirits high and looking forward to the voyage ahead happy to be back at sea. We were expecting a few squalls but these turned up quicker than expected turning the lumpy sea into a maelstrom of high waves spray and driving rain. These new weather conditions brought new challenges to the crew like living at an angle of 45 degrees at learning to helm in crashing seas which had an annoying habit of trying to swamp the boat. This was certainly a new experience for many of the crew who were beginning to regret there comments of wanting more extreme conditions. Everybody pulled through giving the crew a new confidence in their own abilities and a sense of pride in being able to hold it together on such a difficult night. Although it was hard to prepare meals a healthy supply of biscuits and chocolates kept everybody happy on deck. Thankfully when daybreak came we were greeted with blue skies and sunshine and it looks like it’s going to be a great day.
This morning we had an opportunity to watch a beautiful sunrise as the moon set to our west, to be aboard at this point was a privilege. The sea has settled a bit to start with, as our watch ended the wind died and we started motoring which reminded us of the joys of our sleep deprived nights in the Bay of Biscay.
The crew have been complaining ceaselessly about the weather, the coast of morocco is too hot for our northern European souls (smelly feet are a hazard of this climate).
The wind has moved around to directly ‘up our chuff’ and currently gusting up to 24knots with heavier winds forecast for tonight. Cooking pork chops and mash is going to be a fun challenge!! But very exciting for the helm.
Mixed emotions on Challenger 2 today, it has been nearly 2 weeks since that moment when we all met for the first time in Portsmouth . Us, a mixed bunch of ages, backgrounds and sailing experience brought together in the pursuit of one common goal… adventure ! We met our skipper Neil, mate Chris, watch leaders Iona and Dave went though many safety briefs before setting sail for the Bay Of Biscay
Since then we have spent many hours on deck discussing weighty matters such as, what do dolphins do all day? Just how many stars can you fit into one sky? Is there ever a time of day when eating a jammy dogger is not appropriate? On odd occasions politics or religion have managed to sneak their way into the conversations only to be banished from our boat with a quick subject change, after all wind in its true form is much more interesting.
We have made new friends, laughed, joked, sunbathed, got wet, dried off. got wet again, had some amazing food and above all had loads of fun sometimes challenging sometimes a bit scary, sometimes a bit slow but defiantly fun. Sailing this 72 ft boat has been an amazing experience. We were due to make a last stopover in Lanzarotte last night but we, as a crew decided not to, when you are sailing with friends under a starry sky stopping is just not what you want to do, we are still sailing just 15nm from our final destination Las Palmas where we will have a couple of days to explore before returning home to the normal world, memory’s will live on along with friendships made on the amazing voyage.