Onboard Challenger 2 this week, we have a group of boys from the London Academy of Excellence, Tottenham
Check out their blog to see how life on board is treating them.
We met with the crew at around 14:00. We had a friendly introduction to the methods of operating the magnificent Challenger 2.
We learnt about the internal workings of the vessel, in addition to how to sail it across open bodies of water. From the picturesque bay of Portsmouth, where we had been held back, for there had been a faulty fuel pump on our sister vessel, the open waters that separated us from the Isle of Wight welcomed Challenger 2 with less rain with than expected!
The lack of precipitation was compensated for with wild ocean spray, I got soaked!
Regardless of this, our crew of brave, but l inexperienced sailors pioneered on, grasping the helm and steering us onwards towards Cowes and victory.
Once safely tied up in Cowes, we had a lovely dinner of Chilli Con Carne, and then it was time for showers and bed.
The beginning of the end
“MIND THE SAIIIIIIL” – the voice of the Skipper for the fourth time today. I wanted to scream, jump, go somewhere, anywhere! Anywhere, but the abyss that was rain and waves and sails and screaming – and the vomiting, oh! The vomiting.
I looked to my left, my travel companion, Luca, red as a summer-bloomed rose, attempting to hold the inevitable tsunami which would ensue, to my right, his counterpart – Hashmi, had evidently already fallen victim to the forces, which Luca had thus far held back.
Our boat – if, by this point, you still wish to call it that, had been reduced to what can only be described as a mere mimicry of Odysseus’s raft the waves, and thunder and sea foam had engulfed us. All was lost. But no, Huzzah! Land at last, a small speck on the horizon, yet a big patch of hopes in our hearts – our very own Ithaki, our break from the relentless hell, which we had suffered for the past six hours, only the hardest part now – how to get past what, in all honesty, was our very own Harybde…
But the crew pressed on relentlessly, not for a moment did we allow the cold and bitterness of the sea to extinguish the burning flame of crewmanship and camaraderie we each knew we held, and yes, we did make it.
And it was fun really!
With an early morning start in Weymouth, we again set off, with our sights set on Lymington. Before eating breakfast, we departed shortly after our sister vessel and main rival, Challenger 4.
With favourable conditions, and with the wind and tide on our side, we used our superior technical skill to overtake our competitors once again, beating them to Lymington by a considerable margin, despite Challenger 4 receiving yet another head start.
Our crew fared much better with regards to seasickness, however one sailor did come down with it. After our arrival in Lymington, we packed the boat away and then went for some free time ashore.
We then had sausages and mash for dinner, and then it was time for showers and bed.
The morning breeze sang softly through the many masts of Lymington, the two swans still asleep, but the crew were up and readying the vessel.
After the vessel was prepared, frivolities ensued in the dinghies, as the crews of Challenger 2 and Challenger 4, inflated and then rowed.
Departure was smooth, the motor less obnoxious than usual and when out in open water; we raced to raise the Main sheet against our companion vessel. Once sailing with the Main, Yankee and Stay sails, the sailors were bombarded with knowing their Luff, Leech and Foot (some did not have a Clue and it went entirely over their Head).
But, amidst the chaos of Figures of Eight, Bowlines and A Round Turn with Two Half Hitches (leave those types of names to the Physicists please), poor Kenny (a tall and rather thin orange buoy) fell overboard -the mate kicked him.
With much rush and no further incidents, Kenny was rescued and stowed safely aboard. Although, they had hurried and hassled to pack away the sails, the sailors did not arrive in Poole in time to roam and fool.
Dinner was prepared with great difficulty, the knives laughably dull and the cook’s tearfully cutting onions, but all were left satisfied.
With that, the crew has finished another day on Challenger 2, and attended to hygienic business.
“20 MINUTES LATEEEEEE”, a mighty roar erupted, breaking the standstill silence upholden in Challenger 2’s Starboard dormitory – the skippers voice, the boys, for the first time, were late to get up.
As expected, the voyage began smoothly, winds favourable, and, after a thorough engine check, a smooth motoring out of the marina sealed our inevitable, yet dreaded departure from Poole – heaven on Earth…our own slice of paradise. Such was the case for the encounter of 09:47, or as it came to be called, GROUND 0. Ground 0 consisted of an encounter between two of our bravest sailors and, what at first seemed to be a simple, yet beautifully elegant woman, too beautiful, too elegant, almost…serene.
Our sailors were instantly mesmerised, entranced by the bittersweet wave that was her the voice… or was it song? The pearl blue eyes, an abyss of dangerous bliss, and, in our hopelessly brave sailors minds, all logic was stolen by her enchantment, all reason victim to her beauty…almost all.
If it had not been for the advice of our brave Watch Leader, Neil, the usefully nagging voice which he had imprinted our minds over the passing days, who knows what the sailors fate would have been… who knows whether we would have indeed finished our voyage to the Isle of Wight, who, indeed, knew the events which would have ensued…and the siren. Oh, the siren!
P.S. the crew made it to the Isle of Wight fine-we had chicken curry and then we did a night motor back to Gunwharf Quays.