Monday 8th February
All hands muster. Leaving today. Each watch, with set tasks, preparing for the departure.
The captain has gone ashore to check us out with the authorities.
12-4 watch main task as to clean the green skirt from the side of the ship. Sea weed and sea grass take hold just under the waterline. We got into the row boat armed with stiff brushes and tried unsuccessfully to sweep the green off. After that John Boy and Micky got into the water wearing goggles and armed with putty knives and successfully removed the green. I got to be life guard and watch them swim around the ship. After half an hour they were replaced by Vicky and Hayley. I had a lot of male help, assisting me with the lifeguard duties, just in case the ladies, in bikinis, got into any trouble.
We later ran some emergency drills, all tasks finished and ready for the off.
Captain arrived back on board at 2pm. We raised the anchors and unfurled the sails.
The anchor is a huge job. Over 500feet of chain laid out on the sea bed to the two Anchors. This has to be hauled in using a metal see saw device. 4 people each side pushing and pulling, up and down. Each rotation taking in 6inches. This literally pulls the ship along the chain towards the anchors. Very hard work, people step in and out as there fitness dictates. Some of the lads treat it as a fitness trial and have to be ordered off to let others in to take a turn. No one leaves without being totally out of breath and sweating.
Next job unfurling the sails. Climbing the rigging again. Then before you know it we are all hauling on different ropes and the sails are set. The engine is turned off and a huge sigh goes up from all the crew. We’re sailing again.
The atmosphere is so full of positivity and excitement as we set off on the next part of the adventure.
Back to night watch. Nice to be back with our little crew again. By the end of night watch though I was feeling really ill. Not seasick, Pooping for England and switching between major sweating and the chills. Some sort of bug.
Spent the next day feeling pretty poorly but refusing to give in to illness and stood watch, I was given tasks and although I had very little energy managed to do what I could.
Some crew are sea sick including the new Engineer. Poor Mark, thought his life in the engine room was over, a two day hand over, and he would be done being temporary engineer, but Oh no, He has to continue, as engineer, until Mika can manage to go down in the engine room without vomiting.
Tuesday nightwatch and finally feeling better. 24hour bug only thank goodness.
Wednesday we had celestial navigation workshop and learnt how to use the sextant. Then in the afternoon we had a rope-work workshop. I can now splice a rope. Yippee.
Then the big news of the day, as from tomorrow I become a ‘dayman’ for a week. This means I no longer have to stand watch. I work from 8am to 5pm. My job Assistant sailmaker. A clean job for once. I was a bit sad though as I had to tell Hanna that we would no longer be together, she replied ‘yes we will, I’m coming too.’. They have actually kept us together. John requested us both after our previous sailmaking efforts.
Other ‘dayman’ positions, Aiden is now assistant carpenter, and Ty has become the first ever assistant cook. Never before has Donald the chef had a helper. Two charmers in the galley, one in his 60’s the other 19. Both from Caribbean islands.
The weather is sunny but very windy. The swell is massive, water splashing over the deck all the time, the ship rolling making it so difficult to walk around. I stagger around like a floundering fish out of water. One wave came over the side and splashed me down my legs and sent water right down the crack of my bum. My facial expression had everyone nearby laughing. That and the scream that seemed to come out of me at the time.
Sail making is great. John isn’t just getting us to sew the seams, we did do this today, but is also teaching us the individual parts that make up the sail. There is so much more to a sail than just a piece of cloth.
Everyday is so busy, made up of work and workshops. Sail making during the morning with John showing us new things all the time. The three of us laying on the deck long splicing a rope that John had been sewing round the edge of a sail. Patching holes in old sails ready for there next use. Seaming the new sails that we are helping to make. Lunch at 11:30 for 45mins. Then shooting the sun at noon with sextants, which has been between 12:20 and 12:50, noon differing depending on where you are in the world. True Noon being the highest point the sun reaches in the sky that day.
Back to sewing for a short time before a rope workshop. Policing and whipping. Sewing then Celestial navigation workshop. by this time it’s 3:30. We finish off whatever we have been making or repairing and at 4:30 start packing everything away before the end of the day at 5pm.
Sailmakers work on the quarter deck. it’s the driest and cleanest place to have the sails laid out. We are up by the ships wheel so get to see all the on watch crews coming and going all day. .it also means, I get to spend, the day in the sun. Tan factor getting close to a 9/10.
All of this whilst the world rolls and rolls about.
The water maker has been giving more trouble so the showers have been out of bounds again since we left Cape Verde. Everyone smells.
Saturday at 1pm a power shower was set up on the well deck. This is the main fire hose and pump, set up to spray seawater. Half of the crew in swimwear all washing and slashing about together, such a great laugh, followed by a bucket of freshwater to rinse off afterwards.
Finally clean again.
Later that afternoon the sign went up saying we could use the showers again but only short showers using minimal water. After the power shower fun, I think, I will be fine for a few days.
Saturday afternoon the captain did an all hands workshop on the subject of sail making.
He basically gave a lecture on, all John has been teaching me over the last three days.
After this we had ‘ditty’ bag workshop. A Ditty bag is a barrel shaped bag made out of sail cloth, with a wooden bottom and topped with a circle of rope called a grommet. This demonstrates all the skills required to be a sail maker. I hope to get mine finished and packed away to bring home. Hanna and I helped to teach the workshop as we had the skills already for part one of the workshop.
Sunday at sea. A day off. Dayman have to do the scullery duty, washing up, after each of the three meals. After breakfast I started my ditty bag and was soon joined by most of the people from the workshop. We all sat in the salon sewing and chatting in a relaxed atmosphere .
4:30 we had an all hands get together on the quarterdeck. Popcorn and hot chocolate. Rumour has it that we are sailing faster than expected and have completed half the Atlantic crossing already.
Dinner at 6 was served in the salon as the sea and wind are bit rough. I started clearing up and managed to slip from one side of the room to the other as the ship rolled, I was holding a large pan of mashed potatoes at the time so had no way of stopping myself. I stayed upright, did not dropped any mash, BUT did hit and break my toe on a sea chest. Ouch.
Monday woke up to a very bruised looking toe, blue sky’s, a rainbow and two magnificent whales.(I named them Walter and Wendy).
We think they are finback whales. They stayed with us from 7am until 2:30pm. They seemed to glow under the water, grey shinny backs coming up to the surface every so often. Totally incredible. Only a few feet from the side of the ship.
2nd part of the ditty workshop was at 3:30, this time the lesson was on making grommets, something that again Hanna and I had learnt earlier on the day and spent most of the day sewing them onto a new sail that we are completing.
4:30 the captain did a workshop on wind and weather. Very interesting stuff.
Showered this evening just in case your all worried about my lack of personal hygiene. Even put on clean clothes.
Tuesday, A full day of sailmaking with no workshop interruptions. We finished all the odds and ends on the new sail that we have been working on and Hanna is now sewing on the roping edge. This has to be done by one person as continuity is essential in this job.
I on the other hand got to make a ‘cringle’. A metal ring that is wired to the corners of the sails for the ropes to go through. First I sewed on a couple of leather chaffing strips, then the very tough job of wrapping the wire round began. I was exhausted at the end of this job, but totally pleased with myself for doing it.
Wednesday and my last day as a sailmaker. our day was interrupted 3 times by rain. A clear blue sky one minute is suddenly turned black by a squall coming in. These rain clouds don’t just bring rain, they also bring high winds with them, so it means sails get taken in, then reset 5 minutes later as the weather front goes away. Makes for some fun activity. We have to keep bundling up the sails that we are working on and putting tarpaulin over them to stop them getting wet.
Ditty workshop part C. how to make a large grommet and sew it to the top of the bag. Rope work is always good fun.
The watch bill has been put up and I have been moved to the 4-8 watch. it’s a nearly all women watch, we get to see all the sunsets and sunrises. But first I get a day on scullery.
When we left Cape Verde it was exciting gong back to sea and knowing that I wasn’t going to see land for 3 weeks, and that land was going to be the Caribbean. What I hadn’t realised was that we are sailing the trade winds that are brilliant for sailing ships and necessary during the days of sail. Now however, the transporters travel a direct route, looking for the shortest route. We therefore have only seen 2 other ships in the last 15 days and they were over 4 miles away. There are no flight paths that go across the sky. We are totally alone in the middle of the great expanse of water called the Atlantic. My world is currently the ship, my family the people on board. It may sound a bit claustrophobic but it’s not, it’s just life and home. We did see on the satellite screen one of the Atlantic rowing teams was in the area, but not close enough for us to actually see them.
We do get joined by the occasional whale, just being nosy, looking to see what we are doing bobbing about on top of his world. Then there are the Dolphins, but not so many out here as we have seen before. today we saw a bird.
It a fun day today. At two o’clock we have inter watch competitions starting. Our watch has dressed in black sports bra’s and sarongs, painted back markings on out arms, chests and faces and called ourselves the black warriors.
12-4 are dressed in chafe gear(odd bits of old sail cloth) and 8-12 are dressed as characters from Star Wars.
The completions included a :-
pintail race, one person from each watch at a time running to a place or rope called out by the first mate.
Speed rope tying buy all the crew. The watch that had all completed tying the specified knot first one the point. We won the first two rounds, and came second in each of the others.
Helmsman ship and boxing the compass. We gave this to Sam to do. She had to steer a designated course for a set time whilst naming all the points on the compass in order.
Coffee making. I got to do that and came second. All the coffee was disgusting according to the captain and his wife Tammy, but Kevin’s from 12-4 as less so.
I tried to bride to judges with mini chocolate bars, however Kevin trumped me by producing a cake he had made the night before. Cheating is allowed.
Egg and spoon race, twice round the deck, 8 different posts to hand your egg to the next person. I was second in line, got my egg first from Vicky, however could not run to the next person as Tofa the medical officer had pinned me to the rail and wouldn’t let me go. The screaming and laughter was reaching decibels. My arch lost handsomely, egg was very smashed by the end.
Finally the talent competitions. 4-8 performed a hucker. Vi is from Tonga and this is traditional from her home land so she has spent time on our night watch teaching us the moves. All painted up, doing our dance, grunting and looking scary.
All had a good time and so much laughter ringing round the ship. Great morale booster.
Sunday 21st Feb.
New sails were put up today. S’tun’cils. Fixed to the yards on the port side of the ship an the fore mast. They are really pretty and need new instruction on how the take them in and set them.
The captain gave a lecture about them, then in watches we had to take in and reset all three sails. An exercise that we practised again in our watch at 5am with only 5 crew and Gabe our mate. It’s brilliant learning and doing this sort of thing. Mentally trying to remember which rope to let go of, or pull, for each sail, as well as the physical workout involved.
Everyone seems to get a real buzz from it. This journey has been with winds pushing us along in the right direction and other than bracing up(twisting the direction of the sails) we have not had any real sail handling to do. So it’s good for everyone to do some sailing again.
My new watch suits me better than the previous one. My sleep pattern is better and the duties are fun.
The first hour of watch in the afternoon is for finishing projects that the previous watch has started. We also clear up and sweep the deck of sawdust created by the carpentry crew, Tim plus 3 helpers this week trying to get more done on Carl, the small boat that they hope to finish restoring in time for us to sail and row in the Caribbean.
Dinner happens at 6 right in the middle of our watch. I have been on helm twice at this time, so someone gets my food and I eat when one of the others have finished eating and someone takes the helm from me. We also eat up on the quarterdeck rather than with the others. It feels like a tighter group. After dinner we clean and tidy the galley, we only have one lookout from 7-8 after the sun goes down.
Morning watch, one person on helm, changed over hourly. one person on lookout hourly again, until about 7am when the sun come up.
This morning, the full moon, was just dropping off the horizon, as the sun was just pocking it’s head above the opposite horizon. Just fascinating and unique to see.
We always do a deck wash about 6:30. Seawater pumped up and squirted on deck whilst a couple of us scrub the deck with brooms. The weather is so warm even at that time of the morning about 24degs, so it’s really nice splashing around and getting wet.
The worst part about ship life is that the ship keeps moving forward. Hot and sweaty on the ship and all you want to do is go for a swim in the beautiful blue sea. The next best thing is a powershower, rigged up again on Sunday afternoon for fun.
After only 2 1/2 weeks of being at sea, we have made it across the Atlantic Ocean. Now sitting in a small bar with half the crew drinking a cold beer in Martinique. Amazing.