Exercise Transglobe 2015/2016 - BLOG

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  • Leg13
  • DISCOVERER
  • DISCOVERER 2
  • DISCOVERER 3
  • DISCOVERER EVENING PASSAGE
  • DISCOVERER 4
  • Discoverer Big Waves
  • Discoverer5
  • Discoverer6
  • Discoverer7
  • Discoverer8
  • Discoverer9
  • IMG_4671
  • Transglobe
  • Red watch
  • White watch
  • Blue watch
  • The mates
  • Transglobe Crew
  • Discoverer Along side
  • On arrival at Stanley
  • 2 Para memorial
  • At H Jones memorial
  • Transglobe
  • The Argentinian cemetery

HMSTV DISCOVERER

Almost exactly one year ago I was sat in Brize Norton's passenger terminal waiting to be shipped off to Afghanistan for another operational tour as I read the first of DISCOVERER's blog entries on my phone. Over the following six months I followed DISCOVERER half way around the globe as she faithfully transported her various crews from leg to leg. As I was fed through the sequence of R&R, post operational leave and posting to a new unit, the common thread was DISCOVERER's intrepid voyage around the planet. Now I find myself part of that adventure as we close in on the final destinations; Falmouth in a few hours and Gosport by the end of the week. It is a fitting moment to reflect on the scale of Ex TRANSGLOBE and to consider what has been delivered over the past twelve months.

In thirteen legs DISCOVERER has been the temporary home to almost 200 individuals as she has travelled over 30000 miles, making 5 ocean crossings and visiting 70 destinations, all the while sheltering her crews from the ravages of Southern Ocean storms to the sweltering heat of the tropics; 12 ship's log books, 5500 meals, 34 time-zone changes, 104 trolleys of groceries... however you measure it, Ex TRANSGLOBE has been an impressive undertaking.

Within the tight confines of this 72ft environment, everyone who has stepped aboard has had the opportunity for personal development in one form or another; leadership, teamwork, courage, sailing skills, friendships, dealing with tiredness, seasickness and disputes, and the list goes on and on. Anyone who has experienced challenging adventurous sail training will have learned how to cope and manage oneself better and they will realise the obvious benefits this delivers for military capability.

On behalf of the 200 Army personnel who have been fortunate enough to participate in Ex TRANSGLOBE, I'd like to sincerely thank all of those involved in making it happen. Planning started several years ago and herculean efforts have enabled the exercise to become such a success. Mike Barham, Jon Greatorex, Glyn Jones, Nick Trundle, Frank Cannon, the leg leads and many others who have pulled together this fabulous adventure. We and so many others have been incredibly lucky to have been a part  of it.

This is DISCOVERER finally blogging off...
Maj Austin Prendiville
Skipper

HMSTC Discoverer 12 Aug 16

The last leg of Ex Transglobe has just completed the Atlantic crossing. The Royal Armoured Corps are the predominant Corps on HMSTC DISCOVERER.

It has been a superb experience for all; morale has been consistently high,the team have gelled and the sailing has been varied with every type of weather from Storm Force 11 to calm seas.  What has struck me the most is the appropriateness of sailing for the Armoured Corps.

A small team living in a confined space for a long period, needing to be self reliant and technical masters of their equipment. REME are of course key players for the RAC and thus it proved on this trip.  A boat, like an armoured vehicle, needs constant repair. Technical knowledge made this an easy task for the RAC crew.  Bilge pumps, heads, impellers, sails, valves etc all required fixing and were approached from the first principles to repair.

A light touch of Command from the Skipper that cascaded downwards has ensured a happy vessel, and self discipline and pride ensured that all daily tasks were undertaken with skill. Indeed, all organisations are a reflection of the boss and this happy and efficient vessel could not have been better commanded (it is only a shame that the skipper is not RAC!).

In the face of a Force 11 storm with waves breaking over the helmsman the fact that the crew were a combat arm shone through as delighted whoops of glee rather than fear were the predominant emotions in the face of danger.

As you would expect from the RAC crewed vessel a touch of style has been in evidence with culinary masterpieces emerging from the galley no matter what the sea state.  The chef adding a glass of wine to his bolognaise during a Force 11 remains in my mind.

Agility to make the most of every situation was also on display with an improvised high diving board rigged to jump off the boat when swimming mid Atlantic, or the man aloft to pull down a spinnaker caught on the forestay.

Finally, on a personal level it is not often that a Brigadier has the chance to spend a month in the confines of the greatest of soldiers and young officers. Fun, intelligent, curious and questioning, a real refresher for me and an invaluable insight into the state of the RAC today.

Ex Transglobe has been a great experience and sailing strikes me as a superb medium to develop RAC soldiers.

Simon Levey
1st Mate

Brigadier 

LEG 13: 11 AUG 16

The rumble of the engine continues to drive us slowly forwards towards the English shores that we have all begun to yearn for so much. We now have both the symbol for Discoverer and Lands End on our navigational display in front of the wheel, a sure sign we are getting closer, but it's still days away!

The Competent Crew tuition has continued with the knowledge gained during the passage being cemented in the minds of those new to sailing. This 'ticket', along with the miles and night hours accrued, will allow them to progress up the RYA ladder if they should wish to do so; a journey that I have no doubt all regiments would support.

It was a quiet night on board Disco with the watches rotating through their now entrenched routine. The highlight was the intense questioning by Troopers Gaff, Gough and Priestly of our 1 star First Mate on all aspects of being a Brigadier, apparently no subject was out of bounds!

As we awake to the day before our expected arrival the admin has really begun. Under the direction of Austin and Simon the Skipper and Mate, the bilges have been flooded with the addition of washing up liquid to begin the deep clean before being hoovered out to leave a fairy fresh smell behind. The plans for the celebrations of our arrival and the grand clean are well underway.

Capt Jimmy Willcox
Royal Lancers
Death or Glory

10 AUG 16

Blue Watch:

Sadly the wind has not been kind over the last 24 hours and we are still motoring towards Falmouth. Speed 6.5 knots. Hopefully a South Westerly will drive us home at a slightly faster pace in the next day or so. As a result we have begun to focus on those attempting to gain their competent crew qualification. Knots, safety, sails and parts on the yacht to name a few are covered in the course. I am confident Josh and Dean from my watch will pass with flying colours.

We are likely to arrive in the UK on Friday evening in time to see the Falmouth Regatta fireworks. The only negative point is that we will probably be at anchor until a berth is free on Saturday. Then our feet will finally touch British soil once more. I conjure up images of Kevin Costner as Robin hood kissing the sand after returning home from a long voyage after the Crusades. Perhaps a little melodramatic but I know many of the crew are looking forward to Cornish cream teas, pasties, fish and chips and most importantly a well deserved beer!

One point I think pertinent to raise is the quality of the food which has been created whilst on board this trip. The combination of excellent victualling and care in preparation and delivery has resulted in some spectacular meals. Freshly made bread both from the packet and from scratch has complimented some delicious mains. I would go so far as to say there has been a veritable smorgasbord of fine foods which may leave the cookhouse produce wanting.

As we turn our minds to the passage up the English Channel I am not sure the scale of what we are about to achieve will really sink in until we hit dry land on a more permanent basis. It has been a varied passage with a mix of winds, seas and emotions but one thing is for certain the common bonds shared by the armoured corps soldiers on this yacht has made the expedition.

Graham Jeal
RTR
Fear Naught

LEG 13: 9 AUG 16

It is strange the ways one finds to measure the passage of time.  One might measure a journey in miles or traffic jams, a holiday in nights out or sunburns, a year as 525,600 minutes (don't ask how I know that).  Aboard there are some truly remarkable ways of accounting for the time remaining on this amazing voyage.  We are well over half way, and thus far we have encountered incredible ways to mark the voyage.  Stunning displays from all sorts of Dolphins (Bottlenose, Narrow-Beaked) and Whales (Pilot, Fin and Minke), many of which swimming alongside or under (but thankfully not into) our yacht.  Other than mammals, we have also marked our journey by the appearance of a large number of Portuguese men-of-war jellyfish, luckily not spotted before our collective swim and subsequent memorial service very near the final resting place of the TITANIC, as well as some mesmerising displays of bio-luminescent plankton; at times bright enough to illuminate our sails.  Stunning sunsets, sunrises, stars and meteorite showers have also made those long stints on night watch much more enjoyable and at times awe inspiring. 

These are all things the crew hope to see during the remainder of the voyage to help mark time, but will not be the main measure of time.  That falls to the every day routine that is required to run this spectacular vessel.  The quick pulse of the hourly log entries and associated pumping of the bilges.  The regular beat of watch changes, getting in and out of waterproofs (be they wet or dry) and life jackets and taking a 4 hour stint on deck keeping the boat sailing. The steady turnover of 2 days on watch and a day on "Mother Watch" an old and delightfully misogynistic term of the 24 hours a watch spends cooking the spectacular meals we've had, keeping the boat clean and enjoying their frugal showers.  It must be said that this is the first journey where I have been served a meal like chicken, chorizo and squash risotto in a force 11 with 6 meter waves. Every Mother Watch deserves some serious credit for all they've produced.

In the end it will prove to be the mundane things that allow us to mark our crossing.  Cups of tea, great meals, showers and stints on the helm (I have only 1 shower remaining!) can be crossed off the list as we near the UK, but these are short lived instances, forgotten the moment we hit dry land with bagpipes blazing.  What will be remembered are the one off experiences, wildlife and sights, but above all the excellent company aboard and sense of achievement from this passage.  These will serve as a firm marker in all our minds for the rest of our lives.

A huge thank you to the much missed family, friends and loved ones who are tolerating our separation.  It's only a matter of days before you'll have us back on dry land and this I hope serves as fair warning: no one aboard will shut up about this journey for a long time to come! 

Yours aye
Capt. Charlie Bradford
The Second Mate
The Royal Scots Dragoon Guards.

HMSTC Discoverer Mon 8 Aug 2016

The dawn brought with it little wind so motoring remained the order of the day. Fortunately Red Watch are accommodated at the front of the boat, so the noise of the engine didn't disturb our 8 hours of beauty sleep...

Luckily today we had a bread making course among the watch leaders, led by Rupert, leaving Simon and Jimmy covered in flour. That course gave the crew fresh bread for breakfast with their scrambled eggs and buns for the lunchtime picnic.

Simon is still going mad with his sextant navigation, he claims to always know where we are in the ocean but the remainder of the crew suspect some electronic assistance.

Red Watch once again produced a wonderful dinner which consisted of baked sweet and Irish potatoes, broccoli, sausage, tomato gravy and mash. This went down well with the crew and was the first meal since Halifax to be served on china plates, testament to the calmness of the sea.

Being the Royal Armoured Corps leg, and having spent more than a week away from the tank park, the lads felt the need to conduct CES checks, accounting for the items on board. Although not from MJDI, the lists were suitably confusing.

Keron, Archie and Simon put some of their sail repair skills to use on a storm sail, resewing the hanks that were damaged in the storm a few days ago. Keron rekindled his sewing skills that he learned at school in Grenada as a child. In fact it was a day to showcase many of Keron’s talents, as after the sewing he leant the ships engineer his muscle power to provide key maintenance to the toilet.

Lcpl Keron Polson
Scots Dragoon Guards

Discoverer Blog 07 Aug 16

Dean's thoughts:

Last night we hit the half way mark of our trip which was celebrated with a nice hot stew and a batch of well made brownies, well done Rupert!

Today has been a rather less eventful day, the wind died off and the waves decreased to almost nothing. It has brought a lull to the craziness that was the previous two days...

The calm after the storm has given the crew time to refresh and bring out all their wet gear for some much needed cleaning and drying. There were also numerous sail changes as the wind died off at an ever increasing rate. As the crew got down to work fully hoisting the main and spinnaker, the light helming caught White Watch off guard and resulted in a rather spectacular spinnaker wrap around the forestay. The next couple of hours were spent trying numerous methods to clear the wrap and though this included many failed attempts the spinnaker was finally released, albeit not too long before White Watch were back on helming rotation. Congratulations to Charlie's aerial acrobatics in the bosuns chair, without whose efforts Deane would need to check his kit insurance was still valid for 1xSpinnaker.

Martin's thoughts:

The half way point brought an excitement to the crew with the prospect of land growing ever closer. It also brought home the realisation of how impressive this undertaking is.

We now count down the days to the end of our amazing journey and, with the warmer weather, the crew are all now enjoying the sun, sea and the day-to-day routine. The occasional and unusually frequent marine visitors swimming by to say hello mean that it's safe to say this Leg has been really enjoyable. The term 'be careful what you wish for' has gained a whole new meaning, especially as many had been gagging for a bit of challenging weather. A force 11 certainly answered those calls! I can only describe it as something out of a film. I was unable to sleep whilst getting thrown in and out of my bed, found it impossible to stand on deck and to watch the cooking get done at 45 degrees whilst everyone else held on/clipped on while waves that dwarfed the yacht crashed over us! Today is a flat calm with the sea looking like fields of blue, you learn quickly what to appreciate....

Josh's thoughts:

The waves were out of this world; from being a city boy growing up on estates of thousands of houses, to being in the middle of the Atlantic with waves reaching heights of 6m+ was well out of my comfort zone. The experience will definitely stay with me for a lifetime. The change in weather has been dramatic, you would not think that over the course of 24 hours the sea would change from a scene out of 'Perfect Storm' to a steady calm state. The wind is now flowing smoothly towards us and stopping us from using our sails. We are back to the modern day and age of using engines to get from one place to another. The United Kingdom will be on the horizon within the next week and hopefully a peaceful sea will be bringing a boat full of happy servicemen ready to sample the delights of Falmouth! The morale on the boat has risen knowing we are even closer to achieving our aim! A few of the lads on the boat are waiting for that moment as they are ready to make that trip home to friends and family over their allocated leave. Hopefully it won't take too long to adapt to being back on land - the thought of rocking backwards and forwards sitting at the bar is not a great prospect. Another quiz between Adventurer and Discoverer is due tonight and the score is 1-1. Some people say that it doesn't matter if we win or lose, but everyone knows that RAC soldiers compete for first place and accept nothing less. We will see how it goes. My prediction is that Discoverer will win as the questions we are coming up with are getting very interesting. OUT...

Dean Priestley QDG
Martin Gough RTR
Josh Gaff QRH
Blue Watch

Discoverer Blog 06 Aug 16

6th Aug 2016 0001hrs... White watch prepare to go on watch for four hours, weather reports suggest a high likelihood of a complex deep low pressure system bearing down on the yacht, the watch are fully prepared for an exciting watch in big seas and crashing waves.

As we deployed onto deck the weather and sea state seemed to be as previous days; a slightly chilly breeze and a little spray but nothing more than the watch had already witnessed. The 4 hours that passed were uneventful so we all retired for some much needed sleep, looking forward to the following daytime watch before we took over motherwatch duties.

Hours later the yacht's movement and the voices coming from the deck suggested that all was far from the quiet, pleasant watch we had hoped for during our motherwatch duty. We arrived on deck when it obvious the low pressure area was well and truly upon us. The waves are like the ones I could only describe in movies; dark grey with white tufts at the peaks rolling off in a furious fashion. There was no time to marvel at the weather and take photos as the yacht needed prepping for the storm that was quickly building. The main priority was the main sail as it needed to be brought down before it became a hazard. Three men headed to the mast to start pulling down the sail while I released the main halyard. However the wind was so strong that the sail and wind were working together to hold the sail up. It finally took four men, some large sail ties, a boat hook and some huge muscle to pull in the sail. While this is all going on the weather was increasing more and more and the waves were  reaching the size of large houses and they kept crashing mercilessly on us as we tried to sort the mainsail. Wind speeds were reaching around 50knots and it became pretty hairy, but we finally got all the sail tied up and left just the storm staysail flying, which gave us a speed of more than 20 knots which was plenty considering the seas.

The wind and seas were now reaching 60knots which is only four knots off a hurricane force wind. The sea state increased to the point that as we reached the crest of a wave I was looking down on a huge deep pit in he sea, it was finally time for some photos and fun. Each person took their turn at the helm to get a sense of what it feels like to be at the mercy of a violent storm; huge movements on the wheel were needed to keep her on a  steady course, and after around 15mins it become agony on the arms.

As the waves passed under the yacht we got huge speed increases, often reaching over 20knots. The fall out of this however was the yacht was hit by the brunt of the wave and we were also pounded by the brunt of the wave soaking us through to the bone. The clothing we wear, called oil skins, are very good at what they do but they can only do so much - we were all drenched through and ready to retire for another well deserved sleep.

I finished the watch in my bunk and after a quick read, I peered at the next watch through a small port hole in my cabin as they too struggled to cope with the weather that we had left them with. As soon as I dozed off I felt an enormous crash on the boat as a huge wave made its way over the top of the cockpit, I turned my eyes to the port hole and saw a vast amount of water filling the cockpit area, making the port hole I looked through seem like a fish tank. As the water drained away I could see multiple lifejackets had gone off due to automatic inflation systems - I couldn't help but laugh but I was glad that everyone was ok.

Another event during the storm when I was sleeping, or at least trying to sleep, was our fearless salty seadog skipper who was enjoying preparing himself a light snack of some of Canada's finest super noodles. As he sat down to enjoy his steaming hot super noodles, his concentration lacked for just a few seconds, not normal for a skipper of such high calibre, and the noodles made their way in a blink of an eye to nestle themselves neatly in his crotch.

I would like to finish this blog hoping the that our sister yacht Adventure enjoyed their beans on toast dinner last night while I enjoyed some lovely freshly prepared bolognaise and pasta which was seasoned perfectly!

Cpl Callon
JSASTC Discoverer

HMSTC Discoverer 5 Aug 2016

The weather continues to test the crew, the strong winds really began to build last night, and we set our sails to match. We took down our foresails and replaced them with the storm foresail, which is an orange sail designed specifically to deal with the conditions that we were expecting to experience. The wind and the waves continued to build through the night leaving the crew tired and extremely wet from their nocturnal exertions.

Life for mother watch down below was a bit dryer (although not completely!), but still a challenge as they coped with motion of the ocean down below, bouncing around the interior of the boat as they valiantly tried to cook supper for sixteen.

The morning brought no respite with the wind still building. First light brought the skippers decision to reduce the sails even further, and although the main sail came down it was too windy even to put up the tiny trysail.

Still sailing under our single orange sail, with the wind around 50 knots, the waves were described by Sevren as "huge" and Josh was heard to exclaim "I've never seen anything like it". The helmsman is continuing to try his best to steer a course to the east, although it feels like the waves are really dictating the direction that we point.

Despite the conditions everyone is still smiling, especially when you can feel the boat take off as it surfs down a big wave. Everyone is looking forward to the promised high pressure moving up from the south which will bring some respite from our current situation.

SSgt Dudley Moore
REME (but becoming more Cav by the day)

LEG 13: 4 AUG 16

Discoverer Blog 04 Aug 16

The weather has finally picked up and we are likely to be hit by three low pressure systems back to back. The second of which may see wind speeds of up to 50 knots and sea heights of up to 5mtrs! This evening is when the second is expected and we await our perfect storm with a combination of excitement, anxiousness and for some of us with less solid constitutions, happiness at not being on mother watch during that time.

As the wind and sea state have picked up we have begun to really understand the adventure in adventurous training. With Kieron stating on his last watch that this was really "adventurous" and Severen going from feeling sea sick to fine after an hour stint on the fore deck during a sail change we all agree the sailing is challenging but fun.

Mother watch has been a challenge for the Blue team with Martin and Dean being hit by sea sickness working below deck. Both tried to soldier on but found no relief in this new weather front. Graham successfully created a red Thai curry for dinner and then bacon and egg wraps for breakfast before giving in to sea sickness just before the change over. Josh still continues to have one of the best constitutions on board and appears to be phased by nothing.

We have just crossed our next time line meaning we have two more  to go!  With current boat speeds of 11knots we are on course to be in Falmouth on schedule.

Graham Jeal
RTR
FEAR NAUGHT

LEG 13: 3 AUG 16

A calm period in the Atlantic made for some enjoyable times. After hands to bathe and the unexpected stowaways in the night, White Watch decided to calm things down. All of the watch except the helmsman began reading their individual books; the White Watch Reading Club had been formed, but Jase Callon, the man on the helm, unfortunately had to wait to finish his last chapter of Alien. Sightings of whales and dolphins are becoming more and more frequent, but with the Reading Club in full swing they had to take a back seat. That was, until one particular whale got a little too close for comfort and was avoided by Archie's pin-point manoeuvring, narrowly averting disaster.

On the evenings agenda was an inter-boat quiz night, which involved both teams answering 12 questions. As expected, Discoverer romped to victory with a convincing 8-4 win. Some of the crew would say that Adventurer's performance was dismal and out of character (Walsh). A hard earned victory meal was in order, and so chilli and a rare ice cold drink topped off another great day. Victory never tasted so good. The fun was to end there as we awoke from our much needed slumber, sideways and clinging on to the bunks - it was safe to say the weather had taken a turn for the worse!

A breakfast of lucky charms and freshly baked bread was eagerly anticipated by the crew, but for some a trip to the heads (due to sea sickness) was all they could muster. Red Watch and Blue Watch kept the Discoverer on course and conducted a few sail changes in order to match the sails to the conditions as the winds continued to rise. White Watch are now counting the hours until we get back on deck and back in the action: to say it has been emotional in the zero-gravity galley would be an understatement. Till next time, this is White Watch 'Signing Off'. PEACE!!

LCpl Walsh
Tpr Summerfield
A SQN
The Kings Royal Hussars

LEG 13: 2 AUG 16

The past 24 hours have been a noisy time on Disco, the wind dying off and the 'iron topsail' driving us ever Eastwards towards Falmouth. With the engine on and the sails down, the watch routine has been relatively uneventful; The biggest excitement was the arrival of two unexpected guests in the night... The on-watch crew hosted in the only way they knew with tea, biscuits and a presentation on the events of the voyage so far. Our guests were two birds that, having crashed into the sails, recovered with a nights sleep on deck. They took to the sky in the early morning to continue their journey and treated us to an aerial flypast to show their thanks.

Now we are 1/3 of the way across the pond it would seem like a good opportunity to introduce the members of Red Watch.

Watch Leader- Jimmy: Being our watch leader, he has aided and guided us. His confidence around the yacht allows him to be handy with the engine and other maintenance, although this confidence also results in him sleeping naked...  not a good sight. After 6 days of beard growth, Jimmy's embarrassing facial hair got the better of him. As a result, the beard has gone and his attempt at a moustache remains.

Yacht Engineer - Dudley: Dudley is literally the handyman on the boat, anything that needs repairing or replacing Dudley is the man with the knowledge. His care bear personality and chef skills keep us well fed and looked after. He is the watch rescue swimmer and a diver, but was quick to escape the icy depths of the Atlantic Ocean during our mid-ocean swim.

Keron: Keron is the muscle man of the crew with biceps bigger than my head, but his banter is just as big. Keron is known as the boats 'Hater' as he is always hating on his watch lol. He sleeps all the time and when he isn't he enjoys putting up sails and moaning. Full of smiles and laughter, he is the morale of mighty Red Watch.

The final personality description has been taken directly from Keron's diary which he records his thoughts in every evening before bed:

"Sevren: OH boy where should i start with this "sea pest" lol. When u really get to know him he is a good lad and got lots of good humour which is good for this type of expedition. Sev is keen on learning the sailing mechanism and how the boat operates. He loves his bad boy vibes, for he secretly thinks he is one (which I am still to confirm). He is a lovely guy on a night out and great at socializing but i got to show him how to pull the girls and to be calm. I will happily go out anywhere with him. My bro, found it difficult at the start to cope with the behaviour of the sea, which had him feeling sick lots of the time. That made me laugh my face off. It was so funny to see him running up the stairs to hang his mouth overboard the boat. He is coping better with things and settling quite nicely. He can be a hard worker  at times but you got to be on his back to get jobs done lol. Never met a guy who loves to sleep as Sev, and I'm still waiting for him to remove his stinky socks from  my bunk, its starting to drive me crazy. He is madly counting down the days to a good night out............."

Another day complete and another mother-watch passes without illness. England marches ever closer.

Tpr Sevren
Queens Royal Hussars

LEG 13: 1 AUG 16 

Day 5 on the Big Brother yacht:

Well the wind has dropped off so today has provided a day for respite, reflection and re-packing the spinnakers. Both spinnakers have been up and down over the last day with varying degrees of speed over ground achieved. With the crew full on Shepherds pie for dinner and a breakfast of bacon and egg wraps there was only one thing to do...hands to bathe. Fun had by all and although some were a little more reluctant than others the entire crew went in despite the arrival of whales next to the yacht.

Having been informed of the previous watch's introduction of its crew members I will use the medium of the Big Brother chart table chair style interview for my team.

BB: Who are you, where are you from and what are your hobbies?

Josh: I'm from Chelmsley Wood, Birmingham. I'm an avid reality TV man and I've requested to partake in several other shows like BB. His hobbies include motocross, parties and activities of the night.

BB: What is your motto?

Josh: My motto is to #livethedream and my wallet certainly felt it in Halifax. As a result of my lifestyle I believe I have settled in to the new surroundings of the yacht and I'm happy to muck in with anything. My upside down dive off a rope was a highlight today.

BB: Who are you, where are you from and what are your hobbies?

Dean P: I'm Dean and I'm from Rhyl, North Wales. I cannot stand reality TV but I enjoy watching this social experiment of cavalry officers navigating across the Atlantic. My hobbies include Rugby (despite Wales recent drop in form), time with my kids and listening/watching Disney medleys. My excuse that this was a result of my children was poor and has fooled no one in the crew.

BB: What is your motto?

Dean P: My motto is #theheadsaremyfriend and after a very emotional visit to them in the last 48 hours I'm thankful for the relief in the weather.

BB: Who are you, where are you from and what are your hobbies?

Martin: My name is Martin and I'm from Lichfield, West Midlands. I didn't realise I was signing up to this boat's social experiment until it was too late...I thought we were just sailing. My hobbies include Scuba Diving (though struggling to get back on the yacht today explains why I spend more time in the water than out) and cross country cycling. The latter often ends with a fosters or two to unwind.

BB: What is your motto?

Martin: My motto is #Iflostcheckmybedspace as my hibernation patterns between watches are religious.

BB: Who are you, where are you from and what are your hobbies?

Graham (watch leader): I'm from High Wycombe, Bucks. I'm so out of touch with popular culture...is this a reference to 1984 because if it is I am all for it. My hobbies include target rifle shooting and frantically reading the Reed's skippers pocket book at every available public opportunity to make it look like I have an idea of what is going on. Skill fade implies I was skilled at something at some point in the past, this has yet to be substantiated in my case.

BB: What is your motto?

Graham: My motto is #iamnotacavalryofficer however, having been the only officer to display my lunch on the first stint on mother watch I have been quiet since then. If I could just sign off by saying a lovely day today was rounded off by the worst high dive in NATO which was caught on camera for all to see :(

From the chart table chair Discoverer is off air until tomorrow.

Graham Jeal RTR
FEAR NAUGHT

LEG 13: 31 JUL 16

We are now three days into our voyage which means we've hit our first significant landmark;the first complete rotation of the watch system. The watch system allows three teams of four, each headed up by a watch leader, to rotate through a number of responsibilities. Each day two watches will rotate through the crewing of the vessel itself, up on deck and under the command of the Skipper or one of the mates. The third watch enjoys a day as 'mother watch', whose tasks include keeping the boat thoroughly clean and cooking meals for the crew throughout the day. If they are lucky, they may even get a shower and a full night's sleep!

Three days at sea has allowed us to really get to know our fellow crew members; we will now take the opportunity to introduce White Watch and the other key personalities.

Austin - Skipper. Always calm and collected, he presides over his 72ft kingdom with a benevolent grip. He has assimilated excellently into the cavalry mind-set and we are confident that he will be fully converted by the end.

Simon - 1st Mate. A salty sea dog, he prefers to use celestial navigation and his trusty sextant to "this new-fangled GPS wizardry". When he is not busy calculating Vertical Sextant Angles he is instead learning the nuances of 'the Tinder' from the younger members of the crew, although we all suspect he could probably teach us a thing or two!

Charlie - 2nd Mate. Charlie is an out and proud Scot. He insists on salt in his porridge, has informed us all of his porridge drawer and practices his bagpipes in the forepeak during lulls in the wind. The practice of piping each sail change is unlikely to continue beyond day three.

Archie - White Watch Leader. Archie has yet to remove his JSASTC polo shirt, after it afforded him a small amount of good fortune in Halifax before our departure. Whilst to many it would appear that Archie is always last out of bed and late for watch changes, this is incorrect. At work he is accustomed to having his men smartly turned out "five minutes before" and ready to greet him and there is no reason that this should not continue at sea; hence the men of white watch are always found bang on time, honour guard formed and ready to receive him on deck.

Rupert - Ships Purser. An expert chef, he has been continuously employed filling the ship with food and supplies. He is also the chief cook of the watch and has already produced brownies, flapjacks and a delicious spag bol, amongst other things. Fastidious in his hygiene, Rupert prepared thoroughly before joining the ship and we now understand both plimsole and bikini lines.

Jase - Entertainments. Jase is particularly glad to finally be out of the reach of JAMES, whose long fingers even reached out to Halifax. An enthusiastic cook, Jase has been excellent in the galley in between running up the steps for 'fresh air'. Following an incident with a carrot he is no longer allowed near the chopping board, although he is a class act with a tin opener.

Walshy - Fishing. Deane has been soaking up the sun, with the aid of his army-issued factor 50, and is currently the most tanned Ginger in the West Atlantic. Despite a confident sales pitch, he has failed to deliver a single fish: apparently they are all too big. We are beginning to worry that the wasabi, soy sauce and pickled ginger cupboard may have been optimistic - the pressure is mounting. Walshy's iron constitution has been a credit to him and the envy of many of his shipmates.

Summers - Ships Medic. As the most seasick member of the crew, it made perfect sense to appoint Ads as the medic. He has already devoured 40 of his 80 sea sickness tablets and complains of feeling hungover, despite being three days into a dry voyage. To combat this, he has slept for 20 of the last 24 hours of mother watch. One of the best cures for sea sickness is to get up on deck and focus on the horizon, which is best achieved from the helm where Ads has proved a natural, and fortunately for the Discoverer it is arguably down to him that White Watch always hand over ahead of Adventurer.

The last 24 hours of sailing have been a pleasure; the scenery during the day was epic and Discoverer was fully powered up in a steady 20kts of wind as it charged homewards over the rolling waves. As day turned to dusk, the crew enjoyed their meal on the deck. The night sail was spent in a steady Force 5/6 with a following sea, although excitement was added by an emergency repair to both bilge pumps to keep the night watch on their toes.

On Sunday we had a defining moment of the passage. When I joined the military I never thought it would be a decision which led to me one day attending a memorial service above the wreck of the Titanic, commemorating the souls who perished with her. Ably delivered by the Padre aboard Adventurer, our two vessels came together to mark the first Sunday of our voyage and the huge ship's final resting place with a short service. This was followed by our own 2nd Mate Charlie's rendition of "My Heart Will Go On" on the bagpipes.  The bucket list grows ever shorter.

Lt Archie Nicholson - KRH
Capt Rupert Robinson - QDG

LEG 13: 30 JUL 16

Team Discoverer awoke on their first full day of the passage with the fog still thick around them and their sister ship hidden in it, albeit slightly behind. The fog finally lifted around 1000 after an excellent breakfast of bacon and eggs. The resulting view of the open ocean revealed a reasonably calm sea and Canada well and truly sunk behind us. 

The crew have been entertained during the day by sightings of whales blowing a cables length off the beam and dolphins swimming down the lee side, presumably to get a good view of the trim of the sail. Many a photo has been taken to supplement the memories.

A chicken, chorizo and butternut squash risotto was served on deck for an al fresco dining experience. Discoverer on the Royal Armoured Corps leg will never be known as the austerity vessel.

At the moment supper was served to the crew the generator took the opportunity to give up. After much discussion and a bit of fault finding an entire population of crustaceans were found to be blocking the generator seawater intake. With the blockage cleared the Disco now has all the electricity it could want.

As the wind rose in the dusk hours the skipper called for a reef to be pulled into the main sail. This reduced the power of the rig driving the boat to make it a bit more manageable over night.

The crew are quickly getting used to the system of 4 hour watches. Whilst all have noted the similarities with "stagging on", we have also agreed that it is a much more exciting task than that which is experienced in a Brecon woodblock or on the Prairie in Canada. The midnight till 4am watch is sure to become the least popular as it is the only watch conducted entirely in darkness.  It is not all bad though and the Atlantic has been doing its best to put on a show to break the monotony of black seas.  Last night's graveyard watch was treated to a spectacular display of bioluminescence as the plankton in the sea water came alive, causing tiny, spark like flashes of light which illuminated Discoverer's wake. As the crew collectively attempted to remember their GCSE chemistry and explain this phenomenon, a school of Dolphins joined in leaving glittering trails which would have put a Disney animator to shame. A truely incredible experience.

With 156NM run under the keel over the last 24 hours yacht Discoverer and her crew are homeward bound.

Capt Jimmy Willcox, Royal Lancers
Death or Glory

LEG 13: 29 JUL 16

A very successful first day of sailing. We slipped HALIFAX in beautiful weather to the glorious sounds of Charlie's (2nd Mate) bagpipes. A rousing start with the team in their rightful place...ahead of Adventure.

The cruise was excellent until 1700 when the fog rolled in. With visibility down to less than 100mtrs it was time to test our watch drills. The entire crew was briefed on what to be on the lookout for and the horn was at the ready. The main was reefed at Sundown.

With no respite in the poor visibility and with a tanker deciding to pass in between the two JSASTC yachts there was plenty to keep occupied with.

The first mother watch struggled with sea sickness whilst preparing the evening meal apart from Josh who appears to have a cast iron constitution. Despite this they managed to pull together a Red Thai curry which was enjoyed by all.

The crew were awoken to bacon and egg sandwiches and the day continued much in the same vein as yesterday...fog with less than 100mtrs visibility. The main was fully hoisted at sunrise.

We are just passing Sable Island and continue the journey home in high spirits.

LEG 13: 28 JUL 16

After months of preparation and anticipation, it is the turn of the intrepid Royal Armoured Corps warriors to take up the baton and bring HMSTC Discoverer home to Gosport. 

We met as a crew and conducted our admin/safety briefs/kit issue to the background of the darting Red Arrows and the graceful Americas Cup boats. Our QRH cohort started as they meant to go on with a cultural night excursion into Portsmouth, setting the standard for the other crew members. In no time at all we were on our flight to Halifax, followed by a short transfer to the glamorous Royal Nova Scotia Yacht Squadron (RNSYS). We met the outgoing crew and listened eagerly to accounts of their adventures, knowing that we would soon look far more weathered and wise after our ocean crossing than they did after their leisure cruise.

The essential job for our short shore time was victualling the boat; each of the three watches nominated a head chef and a menu plan, and off they went to the 'superstore'. 6 hours later they returned with three cars full of food, including (but not limited to) 300 packets of biscuits, 300 chocolate bars, 300 eggs, 75kg of potatoes, 20 bottles of concentrate juice and a lot of oranges to fight off scurvy! They also returned with 300 loo rolls, which is enough for one per man per day. We will make two loaves of bread a day in our ovens, and fresh brownies and biscuits, so we are prepared for a luxurious passage, hopefully with minimal requirement for rationing...

On our penultimate day and night before departure we had time to see the sights of Halifax, an opportunity enthusiastically grasped by all. Deane Walsh even had the good sense to put on his anti-sea sickness wristbands when he got back early in the morning. 

It was then time to test the skills of the nominated rescue swimmers, who were not unhappy to go for a dip to escape the scorching heat, practice hoisting the storm trysail and get the stretcher up and down the stairs with a casualty aboard. The skipper explained to the subalterns aboard the correct use of the distress flares; there have been no disagreements as yet and the RNSYS clubhouse remains intact.

With hours to go before the voyage of discovery begins, the mother watch prepared a 'last supper' of chilli and rice, with homemade guacamole and nachos, making the most of the last time that they are not being bounced around the galley. The bar has been set high by the White Watch, it is up to the others to follow. The crew are ready to go and everyone is raring to start the adventure of a lifetime. Bring it on!

Archie Nicholson
White Watch leader

LEG 12 SKIPPER'S REFLECTION AND BLOGGING OFF

Discoverer is peacefully moored, in bright evening sunshine, to the hammerhead of the pontoon directly in front of the clubhouse of the Royal Nova Scotia Yacht Squadron.  After a great cleaning and final maintenance day, she is now ready to welcome Skipper Austin Prendiville and his Leg 13 Atlantic Crossing crew on Sunday.

Leg 12 has turned out to be as different as I hoped it would be when I signed up (#Molynox for Halifax campaign, Frank Cannon and Mike Barham thank you both)... The Army crew comprises: Kris and Paul (Royal Navy), Alex, Mac and Ran (Coldstream Guards), Al (Royal Engineers), Tom (Army Air Corps) and Adjutant Generals Corps: Amanda, Fiona, Ginge, Pat, Mark, Robo and Tom (Staff Personnel Support) and Ash and Fiona (Royal Military Police) - with six of the crew seeking undergoing the Competent Crew syllabus.  We were so lucky to be moored at Liberty Landing in New Jersey on our arrival for the Fourth of July celebrations and early the following morning to begin the Leg with a Statue of Liberty/Adventure/Discoverer photobomb session.

Although Alex and Ran, our Navigators, had checked and re-checked the clearance of the eight bridges on our way north, it was an act of faith to drive a vessel with an airdraft of 110 feet under them.  The Hell's Gate confluence, despite pilot book warnings about current and obstacles offered us no fury. The many side-tow cargoes being motored towards us down the Long Island Sound were different from anything seen in Europe and determinedly stand-on.

Ash and Ran starred in our 30 seconds of fame on local television during our visit to Mystic Port (Youtube: Sailing Trip Around the World, WTNH News8). Although we stopped briefly at famed Martha's Vineyard, we were glad to be offered an alongside berth at Nantucket (Whaling Museum) instead. On our way further North we anchored in the hook of Cape Cod in the dark having seen up to forty of the famed white whales venting and cavorting from the yacht to the horizon from north to south on the way.

SW Harbour, Mount Desert Island was where we discovered on a tip-off from Glyn Jones that we not only had a propeller at the stern but also a spare (later found in the anchor locker, well done Pat for finding it).

My favourite stop was Lunenburg.  We asked two locals repairing a wooden yacht whether their yard owned the buoy to which we were moored. "We don't take on any work that might lead to a profit" was the reply.  The locals invited the crew to take part in evening racing aboard their historic yachts and afterwards to a barbeque at the Rum Shack floating (just, until we arrived) on a platform in the middle of the day. Dynamic risk assessment and non-AT disclaimer completed, we were off for the party of a lifetime!

Synopsis: Liberty Landing - Port Washington - Port Jefferson - Mystic Port - Martha's Vineyard - Nantucket - Cape Cod - Boston - Camden - SW Harbour (Mount Desert Island) - Lunenburg - Halifax, 871 Nm, 6 Comp Crew certificates.

Thank you, Phil Brown for a great handover from leg 11, the Joint Services team for advice and help during the leg and the Army Sports Lottery whose forwards and backwards campaign flags we have flown proudly at each mooring.

Paul Molyneaux
Skipper

DAY 18: 19 JUL 16

Tuesday began at 0400hrs for me for our first "on-watch" of the day with the rest of my watch of 4. Fiona Litchfield, "Ginge" Lyndsay and Amanda Bertham. For the previous 12 hours, I had gone "man-down" with a serious bout of sea-sickness so have to say that I was feeling a little fragile as I began our watch. As the sea calmed and the sun came up through the fog I started to feel a little more human. Around 0700hrs Blue watch had made us some much needed egg banjos and a hot brew.

I wasn't the only one that had gone "man-down (or woman-down)" if we are to be PC from sea-sickness, Alex, Mac and Amanda also fell foul of it; Although Amanda says hers was from the chicken curry and nothing to do with the rough weather conditions we were experiencing....

Someone, still unknown, had blocked the starboard heads with a few wet wipes; As the wind died, resident Engineer Al "The Moustache", Tom Clark and Paul the Skipper set about the stinky task of clearing the pipes. This did not help my still queasy stomach! Thankfully though, thanks to their poop-ication we now have two fully functioning working heads again.

The generator was also given some TLC as it was keeping us on our toes as to whether it was going to work because we could not charge our phones! #firstworldproblems We also successfully made a tank and half of water from the on board water-maker which should be re-assuring for the next crew that will be spending a large time onboard with no sight of land for quite a while!

During our off-watch in the afternoon, Amanda, Fiona and I turned the galley into a hair salon and took it in turns to braid one another's hair, much appreciated by Tom, Al and Skip as they walked passed us with buckets of poop!

Whilst the wind dying was appreciated for those carrying out  essential maintenance, it was frustrating for those of us at the helm as we had to drop the headsails and turn the motor on. Thankfully though for the last hour the wind picked up and it allowed for us to turn the engine off and put the headsails back up (by Fiona, Amanda and I #girlpower), and we sailed into Lununburg with our first Canadian sunset which was just simply beautiful. Tranquillity was broken though as "Princess" Fiona set off the crew alarm trying to take a picture of the sunset!

We arrived into Lununburg just before 2100hrs, knocking off quite a few hours of our original ETA! We put the boat to bed, realising we had lost one hour due to the time difference. We settled in for an early(ish) night, smug to the fact that we had arrived a few hours earlier than Adventure. Nothing like a bit of inter-service rivalry?! I think they have beaten us only once before on this whole leg - but who's counting?!- GO ARMY!

As this leg draws to an end I would like to thank those that have funded, organised, and had any involvement in making this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity possible. I personally believe we have had a brilliant crew and there has been so many laughs that they have sometimes turned into tears. Skipper Paul and his eccentric 'free spirit' personality, Tom Clark for stopping us from eating a weeks worth of rations in 24 hrs, Pat for his enthusiasm and passion for sailing, Al for his engineering skills and epic tash, Paul for his accent, Tom Harrison-Daly who single handily ran the kitchen for blue watch, Ran for his ever so perfect hair and not so perfect tash, Amanda for her hair braids, Princess Fiona who was pure morale and crazy in her own right, Ginge for his great sense of humour, Alex for holding my hair back whilst I was sick, Chris for being our resident matlo and being the first one to say RIP to their phone, Mark for being the 2nd person to say RIP to their phone, and Mac for hi  s one-liners, sense of style and epic hair! Leg 12, it's been a pleasure. Banging out....

Aishlen 'St-Ash' Taylor
AGC (RMP)

LEG 12 BLOG: DAY 18 - 19 JUL 16

18 - 19 July 2016 - (Southwest Harbour, Mt Desert Island towards Lunenburg Harbour, Canada)

So the last you heard of us, we were eagerly awaiting Adventure's essential repairs to be carried out on her propeller. It is now fixed and she is up and running, though not without a wild-goose-chase in finding the spare propeller stashed onboard our boat. After being told that the spare prop would be found in the stern lazarette we actually found it in the anchor locker hidden in some bin bags underneath the anchor chain tray at the most forward point of the yacht (thanks whoever hid it there for ensuring we did not have a lazy morning). After handing over the precious anchor we watched as they were hoisted out of the water by a 120 tonne crane.

After watching the speedy repair job we returned to Discoverer to slip our mooring at 1200hrs. This turned out to be a delicate operation of dodging the lobster pot minefield whilst a blinding fog set in. Alex Tennant-Bell had to task of blowing the manual fog-horn to warn incoming vessels until is started to run out and began to sound like a mournful apology. It was decided that it was time to employ the yacht's electronic fog horn in everyone's best interest and for Discoverer's sense of pride.  

As we departed the Sound of Mount Desert Island and entered the Gulf of Maine, the fog lifted and the winds picked up so we prepared for some easy sailing which we enjoyed for around 3 hours. Then, just as a delicious dinner of chicken curry and rice was served we hit a squall which sent our wind from 22 knots to 35 within minutes. The off-watches, dressed in little more than T-shirts and shorts, scrabbled into their lifejackets to assist with sail changes and reefing. I'm not exaggerating when I say I had to climb upwards to use a cleat as an overhead handhold (they are usually found on the floor! Tom Clark and I dashed forward to lower the foresail but as we reached the shrouds, keeping low on the bouncing yacht, a massive wave crashed over us. This set the tone for the next few hours as we drove through the storm. We made our way to the bow to drop the  foresail and as we started to tie it onto the deck to ensure it didn't get washed overboard another wave smashed over us. Thankfully we were wearing a safety strop connecting us to the yacht otherwise I would have been completely washed over the side. Fortunately my trusty watch leader Al "moustache" was there to rescue me: I felt a hand grab the back of my lifejacket and pull me back, preventing an overfriendly encounter with the portside hull. After finishing at the bow we returned to the sanctuary of the cockpit to realise that many of the crew were experiencing sea sickness. My watch was then off duty for some well deserved sleep.

GDSM Ran Turner
Blue Watch
Electrician, Rescue Swimmer, Boat Brew I/C, Dolphin Trainer, and Moustache Grower.

LEG 12 BLOG: DAY 17 JUL 16

Mount Desert Island

We awoke on day 12 of Leg 12 to some uncertainty about what lay ahead. Following our heroic rescue of the stricken HMSTC "Mis-Adventure" yesterday we had to hurry up and wait to see when the huge 60 tonne vessel could be lifted out of the water for repair to the damaged propeller from a lobster pot. The good news was that their new boat hoist could lift 320,000 pounds but the bad news was that, as it was a Sunday, the chance of getting the repairs completed today were slim.

Tom Clark, Tom Harrison-Daly, "Ginge" and I took the opportunity to during downtime to carry out some much needed victualling and to take in the local sights. We jumped aboard our little dinghy and headed off for the town marina. The town was a quintessentially affluent seaside American town with big wooden houses, white pickets fences and plenty of big smiling faces.  As ever, the locals were very keen to find out who these strangers were in their community and were very welcoming after hearing the story of the 2 yachts. After spending a fortune in their only family owned grocery store they insisted on giving our food (and us) a lift back to the dingy in their car.

Back on board Discoverer without dropping anything (or anybody) into the sea, Paul "Skipper" Molyneaux, Pat "Mate" Audas, Al "Engineer" Frew and Tom "Second Mate" Clark used the time before lunch to service a number of the winches on deck which resembled a game of very greasy Meccano. This long and tricky process demanded steady hands to ensure that the many small parts were not lost.

Soon it was confirmed that Adventure was not going to be lifted until tomorrow allowing the crew to head ashore to explore the local area, do phys and take some revenge on the lobstering process that had scuppered Adventure... by having Lunch at the local lobster and seafood joint called Beal's Restaurant.

After dinner, 3 locals from a nearby moored brand new Hallberg-Rassy 43 were invited aboard to be royally hosted with a can of Budweiser and given a tour of Discoverer. They were thrilled, having spent years reading about yachts capable of global trips but never having actually seen one. Seeing their interest and fascination in what we are doing helped us to recalibrate our appreciation of this amazing opportunity that most of us were starting to take for granted. 

We ended the evening with a great meal provided by Mother (Red) Watch followed by some games before retiring with the hope of an early departure and some wind tomorrow to carry us on our longest leg yet to Lunenburg on mainland Nova Scotia.

Mark O'Mara
White Watch
Shipwright and Rescue Swimmer

 

LEG 12 BLOG: DAY 12: WED 16 JUL 16

(Camden-SW Harbour, Mt Desert Island)

We woke to a beautiful day in Camden Harbour and having been well looked after by Bob Flight of Wayfarer Mariner we were all set for the next leg of our journey.

After having a quick breakfast we slipped our buoy noticing that Adventure had left early gaining them an hour's head start. We headed off toward South West Harbour, Mount Desert Island (hopefully not a desert island) threading our way through the vast number of beautiful islands which demanded careful navigation. This was made more difficult by the minefields of lobster pots which littered the way. With spotters deployed all round there was the constant cry of "To Port" or "To Starboard". During my watch at the bows, I was delighted to be able to give the cry of "Dolphins". They didn't hang around for long but shortly afterwards, a seal paid us a visit too which made a good day for wildlife spotting.

At around 1550hrs we learned that Adventure had hit a lobster pot and damaged her propeller so Discoverer was called upon to the rescue. Thanks to the AIS (a system used to identify the location of other vessels) we found her, rigged up a bridle and took her under tow.  There was some discussion as to whether we should carry on to Mt Desert Island or return to Camden as we knew they we capable to lifting a 60 ton yacht as there was a Challenge 72 (exactly the same as ours) in a cradle on the land and could potentially make a deal to "borrow" her propeller. With the daylight hours shortening it was decided to head to our next destination which was closer.

Dodging the lobster pots became much trickier while towing because we were less agile but thankfully (as it was my watch on shift) the Skipper and the Mate took the helm so we felt in good hands.

We arrived at South West Harbour at about 1900hrs and deployed Tom and Pat, the two mates, on the dingy to attach Adventure safely to a buoy. This turned into a bit of a strongman competition by pulling a 60 Ton yacht in by hand from a dingy, very impressive.

After a dinner of meatloaf with celeriac mash, a few of the crew headed ashore to find some nightlife while the remaining crew settled down for a games night. After winning 2 games of dominoes and a game of Monopoly I don't think they will let me play again.

Amanda Bertham
Red Watch Leader, Meteorologist.

LEG 12 BLOG: DAY 12: WED 15 JUL 16

The voyage continued from Boston to Camden, Maine. Blue watch and White watch manned the shifts from midnight with Blue watch on for the first 4 roughest hours while Al Tennent-Bell, Paul McMahon, Ran Hartman-Turner and Tom Harrison-Daly fighting the wind and waves and some sea sickness. White watch then took over at 0400hrs with Alex Tennant-Bell, Kris Esbensen, Mark O'Mara and "Mac" McQuillian taking over to welcome the new day in. Throughout the night we put in the second reef in the main sail, poled out the Yankee to goose wing the sails and even learned about conducting a jibe on the main sail.

Conditions for sailing were good and we did not need to turn the engine on until 0625hrs when the morning lull in wind came in. We averaged 8 knots throughout the night. We arrived in beautiful Camden at mid-day in time for a lovely salad lunch and enjoyed glorious sunshine on our arrival. We moored to a buoy and deployed our dinghy to explore Camden. It is a very picturesque location featuring a range of affluent sea front homes and a welcoming downtown and a suburban feel to the location. This is a lovely town that I would love to return to in the future.

Tom Harrison-Daly
Blue Watch

 

LEG 12 BLOG: DAY 12: WED 14 JUL 16

(Boston towards Camden Harbour)

Hands were called at 0700hrs, followed by a breakfast of cereal and a Happy Birthday for Pat Audas. Tom somehow managed to blag his way into the nearby local Marriot hotel in order to get onto the roof to sketch the Boston bridge and for some waffles.

Paul Molyneaux, Ran Hartman-Turner and Amanda Bertham assisted Tom with a victualling run to a local supermarket for vital supplies for our crew. Essential item: British Tea which was available for our purchase in the very city which held the famous "Tea party" at the British Empire's expense.

We prepared the yacht to go to sea and slipped at 1300hrs to go and refuel at a local refuelling dock with some expert helming from Pat for his birthday. We rigged slips once while we were refuelling. Unfortunately, I did not realise how wet it was underfoot and whilst holding onto the bow, slipped and landed with a ungraceful thump on my backside trying to brush off the fact that it happened and claiming to the fuel pump attendant that it was supposed to happen - but I don't think he bought it! Once we had filled up and paid the kind locals for their gallons of fuel and thanked them for their help, we slipped aft and set off in great anticipation of new lands, adventures and customs that have not yet been touched by the class and sophistication of this Quiet Northern Guardsman. Pat handed the helm over to me and went below just in time for the heavens to open and give White watch a drenching. Personally, I think his timing was because he seen the dark weather forming behind us that we  hadn't noticed.

A long night followed with a following sea and wind of a constant 25 knots. This made the concentration levels amongst the crew go up 5-fold because anything less than 100 per cent would result in things becoming hairy in the blink of a eye. The large waves and wind had a profound effect on the steering making controlling Discoverer a personal duel. We managed to get her on the correct course just in time for next watch by rigging the poled out yankee sail. We did this so we could "Goose Wing" (one sail out each side) with the Main on the starboard side and the yankee to the port side. This gave the boat more stability and made the ride a bit less topsy turvy.

The solid 25 knots of wind chasing us gave meant that we could  turn the engine off and sail in peace. The serenity was set against a backdrop of darkness, moonlight and the stars for company. The on-watch introduced me to the name game to help pass the time, it was the best passage of sailing that we have enjoyed so far. Long may it continue!

Steffan 'Mac' McQuillan
1Bn Coldstream Guards

LEG 12 BLOG: DAY 12: WED 13 JUL 16

After a restless night's sleep directly under the flight path of Logan International airport, reveille was called at 0700hrs and mother watch treated the crew to a great breakfast consisting of warmed bagels and cereal.  We raised the anchor at 0900hrs and headed the short distance to Boston Constitution Harbour where we moored alongside our sister vessel Adventure with the USS Constitution in our view.  Once all warps and springs (lines holding us to Adventure) were secure, the crew busied themselves re-filling the water tanks on board and conducting personal admin in the baking sunshine that was repelled by copious amounts of factor 50 sun cream deployed in all round defence!

After much needed showers and some delicious soup devoured for lunch, it was a scramble to connect to the Wi-Fi to discover what was going on in the world, contact loved ones and to learn that Theresa May had become our new PM.

The crew then went sightseeing and souvenir shopping in Boston and taking in the delights of John Denver's house and the 'Cheers' bar. Attending the Red Sox baseball game was discussed but unfortunately they were playing away in New York so it was back to the harbour for great BBQ around the pool where several crew also enjoyed a dip giving some much needed respite from the searing heat.  Chef Tom Clark lived up to his Aussie heritage by cooking great food on the 'Man Oven' (aka BBQ) but failed to throw any shrimps on the BBQ!

After dinner, several of the crew went to the local area for some liquid refreshments and enjoyed a song and dance whilst singing Happy Birthday at 0001hrs to Pat "First Mate" Audas which encouraged the band to strike up and join in.  We then exited stage left and headed back to the trusty 'Disco' for some much needed shut eye.

A great day and night was spent in a fabulous City of Boston that all the crew will look back on with fond memories.

"Ginge" Lindsay
Medic and Safety Swimmer

LEG 12 BLOG: DAY 11: TUE 12 JUL 16

I was woken by the Blue Watch leader, Al Frew, at 0450 for my stint on anchor watch from 05-0600hrs. After having been appraised of the tactical and weather situation, I was left to greet the dawn with yacht 'Disco' and took in the stunning view of Cape Cod and its residents beginning to start their day. Having watched the sun go down helming as we made our way under a moon and star filled sky to our location, it was a bonus to be awake to greet the rising sun too.

Once the preparations were made and the tidal conditions right, White Watch got us underway at 1000hrs and Blue Watch retreated to their bunks for some well deserved shut-eye until the dog watch at 1200hrs. A delicious lunch followed, put together by Red Watch and then we enjoyed a chance to relax under a very warm sun over a gentle sea as we made our way. Unfortunately the wind speed was insufficient to sail so we had to have some assistance from the Perkins (engine). 1600hrs came around very quickly and Blue watch moved effortlessly from relax mode to Watch mode.

Alex "Navigator" Tennant-Bell chose an anchorage approximately 3 nautical miles outside Boston where we dropped the anchor and ate the delicious dinner of devilled sausages prepared by White Watch. It is such a good spot that the other yacht "Adventure" decided to motor over and are approximately 300m from us. Whilst we waited for dinner, "Princess" Fiona was hoisted to the top of the mast in the Bosun's chair to check the Spinnaker Halyard and to take a photo of the rest of us gathered on the foredeck.

As it was Tom Clark "Second Mate's" birthday today, "Mac" McQuillan from White Watch prepared and presented a chocolate birthday cake (accompanied by the crew singing Happy Birthday) and all enjoyed a slice under the setting sun. As I write this, the crew are relaxing in various ways with the majority taking instruction on how to play a card game called "Euchre" from the Birthday Boy.

Paul "Robo" McMahon
Blue Watch
AGC SPS
152 (NI) Regt RLC

LEG 12 BLOG: DAY 10: MON 11 JUL 16

After a leisurely start to the day with call the hands at 0800 (I still can't bring myself to call it Reveille) the crew enjoyed a hearty breakfast of home-made pancakes with authentic Maple Syrup and lemons. We then set about fulfilling the various essential daily tasks prior to a planned noon departure. This proved to be a highly successful and productive morning: Tom Clark and his team of assistant pursers re-victualled the boat with culinary treats, taking advantage of the close proximity of the supermarkets - a welcome relief to previous ports where a comprehensive infrastructure has been required buy our grub! Paul Molyneaux, Pat Audas and Al Frew, our resident engineer, not only managed to fix the port heads but also got the Reverse Osmosis plant (which converts sea water into drinking water) working again. This will be a vital bit of kit for the next crew for their passage across the Atlantic and getting it going again at this stage means that their departure would not be delayed trying to mend it in a few weeks time.

During the morning we spoke to the owner of a 72ft Norwegian iceberg reinforced boat 'Sinbad' which was moored on the other side of the pontoon to us, the provenance of which proved to be very interesting: built originally for hunting Polar Bears (at a time when that sort of activity was acceptable) she then found herself in the hands of an owner who used her to smuggle cocaine from Central America to the USA. After being confiscated by the police she was then sold at auction to a larger than life fellow - her current owner. He very kindly provided a private tour of his beautifully varnished vessel to a number of our crew after having very kindly entertained Tom Clark, "Ginge" Lyndsay and Fiona Litchfield the previous evening.

We very cautiously slipped at 1200hrs, being very careful to avoid the vast number of extremely expensive Gin Palaces surrounding us. The sail to Cape Cod was under a backdrop of a stunning twilight sky filled with stars above us and a dense minefield of lobster pots below - resembling the asteroid scene in Star Wars! We were very fortunate to see a pod of 15 Right Whales surfacing - a real first for most of the crew, and a friendly seal who came for a look at us. After a delicious evening meal of Chilli Con Carne under the stars, we rounded the seemingly never ending Cape Cod to anchor at 0100. With the Anchor-watch posted the remaining crew went to their hammocks extremely content with yet another great day of our Transglobe adventure!

Kris P "Token Matelot" Esbensen

LEG 12 BLOG: DAY 9: SUN 10 JUL 16 

9th July 2016 - The crew are really excited with the prospect of our first overnight sail from Mystic Seaport to Marthas Vinyard to put all of our Comp Crew tuition into practice.  We slipped from Mystic at 1740 hrs in time to make the bridge opening only to be stymied by a second bridge that caused us a 20 minute delay whilst the trains rumbled across in front of us. Once cleared, it was time to put oilies and wellies on in preparation for the ever darkening clouds that only heightened the crews anticipation of the taste of adventure.  As the winds picked up and night fell, we watched Adventure disappear into the murk to our stern as we chased the night and the storm towards our destination. 

At approximately 2310 hrs while Ash Taylor was on the helm, the heavens opened and "Discoverer" was treated to biblical lashings of rain and lightning strikes that paled the War of the Worlds. The bow ploughed through the waves and our wet kit and safety equipment suddenly transformed from being a daily nuisance into a luxurious comfort. Novice members of the crew suddenly faced the reality that our 'cruise' was now definitely AT.

10th July 2016 - At 0015 hours, the weather abated slightly and the crew settled in to a more sedate routine, although navigation continued to be critical due to the busy shipping lanes, rocks and looming headlands. Fortunately, Fiona Litchfield only fell asleep once on stag, but the watch leader didn't notice so no harm done!  As dawn broke, everyone was exhausted from the the over-night passage and were initially thrilled to see the Martha's Vineyard Island at just before 6 am.  The entrance was hazardous and required skilful piloting from Amanda Bertham and a buoy that was skilfully picked up and secured by the whole crew.


Martha's Vinyard however, did not sell wine or offer any form of entertainment so the wise decision was made to go instead to Nantucket Island (adapt and overcome) after a superb breakfast of French toast which marked a very happy 20th birthday for Ran Hartman-Turner! Despite crew fatigue, Paul "Ginge" Lyndsay rallied the troops to deck for the surge to the infamous Nantucket Island which inspired Jaws. The sail to Nantucket was a smooth sail using the main sail (with two reefs) and the No 2 Yankee and Stay Sail raised which ensured a well balanced voyage. We arrived at 1200 hrs just in time for a well deserved lunch.  A formal rendition of Happy Birthday was sang to Ran, followed by 'two cheers' from Fiona and some delicious sugar muffins - #willneedtodophyssoon. 

"Princess" Fiona Litchfield

LEG 12 BLOG: DAY 8: SAT 9 JUL 16

As I sit here in the warm and dry, thinking back to last night, I smile to myself whilst hoping I don't get seasick. At around 0200 last night as a lot of wind and a slight rain was hitting me in the face, I could see flashes of lightening to my rear and all the while I was listening to my watch half-heartedly sing happy birthday while drinking a lukewarm tea. I can honestly say I've been doing less desirable things the last few years on my birthday and this definitely counts as one of the best.

We started yesterday by waking up at 0700 alongside Mystic Seaport harbour after a very successful approach the day before. What still surprises me and will most likely continue to do so is the local people and how they react to us with lots of waving, smiling and greetings, people welcoming us and questioning us on our journey so far. Like our adventure is inspiring them and that they want to feel part of it. It's something that makes everyone onboard smile and to remember how lucky we are to be on this trip. The people here are helpful and very happy to go out of their way in order to help us on ours. They gave us free passes to the historical boatyard and one of the harbour staff even leant us his car to do our victualling. We had to slip mystic harbour by 1100 due to a wedding being held on the quayside but fortunately we came across a man called George who offered us the use of his pontoon free of charge.

The rest of the day was ours and after showering and having breakfast (Ash Taylor whipped up some cracking poached eggs) we decided to have a wander into town. Ash and Amanda Bertham and I came across a candy shop and ended up with two very happy girls with ice creams. We met the larger group for lunch at the engine room restaurant where the burger, as ever, was a firm favourite. Next a news reporter from Channel Eight News arrived. Paul Molyneaux, Ash Taylor and I were interviewed to explain what we were doing, why we were doing it and how we have found it so far. After being rudely awakened by Tom Clark (our 2nd Mate) and Fiona Litchfield piling frozen food on me while they stored the next ton of victualling (putting away the food for our hungry crew of 15) into the freezers - I will get my revenge and it will be sweet. We let slip in the afternoon to get under the road and rail bridges and set off for our overnight sail to Marthas Vineyard as the weather built and became rough. 

During the day I have learned about all of the different buoys and their colours, lighthouses and how to tell if "that light in the distance" is a lighthouse, a buoy or another boat and in the night got to identify them. I now really understand the importance of being safe and aware of what's going on at all times and no matter how bad the weather gets. Also, the importance of having all members of the on-watch observing the sea around them at all times and I also understand just how important it is to ensure you are clipped on and aware of your surroundings.

After another cracking breakfast and a much more enthusiastic singing of happy birthday I am feeling very lucky to be part of this great crew (who in such a short period of time have bonded and gotten to know each other brilliantly in a way that only Adventurous Training can do) and I am very much looking forward to what adventures the days ahead will bring.

Ran Turner
COLDM GDS
Blue Watch

LEG 12 BLOG: DAY 7: FRI 8 JUL 16

Port Jefferson to Mystic Sea Port.

When the crew of DISCOVERER awoke this morning we were presented with calm seas, a fresh breeze and, perhaps most importantly, a hearty breakfast of eggs and bacon. All three turned out to be most conducive to a good days sailing.

We let slip from Port Jefferson on a route diligently planned by Stephan McQuillan, this being his first attempt at navigating. Perhaps more used to maps depicting the rolling hills of Brecon than the rolling seas of Long Island Sound, he quickly got a good handle on these bizarre "sea maps" and we were on our way. We were blessed with a crisp wind giving ample opportunity for the crew to settle into their watch routine. Sailing close to the wind for much of the day gave Mark O'Mara a challenging time on the wheel and provided us with chance to get to grips with the dark art of sail trimming, and if it is to be considered an art, then Pat Audas, our first mate, is surely the Van Gough of sail trimming!

All too soon we found ourselves in the eerily ideal town of Mystic. This picture perfect Connecticut town offers friendly locals and a warm sunset.  After rafting alongside our sister yacht "Adventure", we ate well and settled in for the evening, the warm sunset shortly replaced by the warm red glow of the onboard lights, giving the yacht a distinctly Red Octoberesque feel. Another day of tutoring is over and it is remarkable just how much we have developed both as individual sailors and as a crew already.  

Lt Alex "Crowbag" Tennant-Bell

LEG 12 BLOG: DAY 6: THU 7 JUL 16

07/07- Port Washington to Port Jefferson.

We are now moored in Port Jefferson (Long Island) with the boat now 'put to bed' and the crew en route in the dinghy to the shower block for a well earnt freshen up. We slipped this morning after a well 'grounded' evening in Port Washington, our first night away from New York and a welcome change, as for the first time we had a light breeze across the deck, allowing for a fairly unbroken nights rest.

This morning saw tuition from our skipper on points of sail, serving as an introduction for the novice crewmen and a welcome refresher for myself and others onboard. Once under sail and for the first time this trip we experienced suitable wind allowing us to raise all 3 sails on the yacht. We learnt to tack, gybe and reef the mainsail in anger as we were being swiftly hunted down by an approaching storm. This gave the crew an opportunity to better understand what both the boat and, importantly, themselves are capable of doing as a team.

I am watch leader for Blue Watch, currently mother watch and responsible for keeping the below decks in order; mopping, cleaning, de-gungeing the heads, etc. I work alongside Paul (AKA ROBO-Clerk), a Northern Irishman with associated levels of banter and a native taste in music; Rannoch, a Coldstream Guardsman who slipped through the 'you're-too-short-to-be-a-guardsman' filter at Catterick and Tom, a Southern Irishman from the Air Corps who is currently regretting his decision of informing me that he was a trained chef prior to being in the Army - a relief this was as I wasn't looking forward to the prospect of 15 people going down with Delhi Belly in the morning and worse, my watch having to clean up afterwards! We are working well as a team so far, the 4 of us having never met until Gosport on Saturday and now wedged into the cosy berths on board, living in close confines with each another. Morning routine has proved that 4 people getting changed on a 2 square metre floor space simply doesn't work.

We expect that in the coming days, the conditions will become more demanding and the sailing more testing, forcing us all to knit together and form a well drilled crew on board.

Al Frew
RE
Blue Watch

LEG 12 BLOG: DAY 5: WED 6 JUL 16

Waking up at 0500 hrs is not normally my choice of time of reveille but this morning we were all eager to slip lines, say a fond farewell to The Big Apple and head North to Port Washington (which is on the North coast of Long Island).  It was Red Watch's turn to be on "Mother Watch" (cooking and cleaning duty), so we got everyone started for the day with a continental breakfast.  Before we headed up the East River it would have been rude not to sail past Ellis Island and pay respects to The Statue of Liberty and take some obligatory selfies!  Finally, on our journey away from New York we sailed past Manhattan on our port side and sailed under a number of bridges including Brooklyn and Manhattan. Unfortunately, the wind was non-existent so we (frustratingly) had to motor most of the way but this afforded us plenty of opportunity to soak up the skylines, the sun and get to know each other.

We hadn't even left the sights of Manhattan without Fiona and I actually appreciating how amazing this trip is going to be.  We produced our first lunch at sea, a simple but delicious selection of wraps, meats, cheese, dips and tuna.  All fuelled up and a few miles out from Port Washington we practiced our Man Overboard (MOB) drills, putting up the headsail, the main sail and putting in and taking out reefs. 

Sods law the wind starting to pick up just as we came into Port Washington and we took up a buoy with no problems.  We "put the boat to bed" and sat and enjoyed the sunshine. Fiona, Ginge, Mac, Ran, Chris and Tom H-D were taken out in the dingy to train them on their way to achieve their Competent Crew qualification. It was fair to say that Fiona kicked the guys butts in rowing!  Whilst others enjoyed chilling out, I got my studying material out but it all became too much and I fell asleep in the snake pit (on deck where all of the ropes are) with my work on top of me!

We are only 3 days together as a crew and we are already beginning to find out so much about one another and we genuinely have a great crew!  I end this to go find the bowl of ice cream that I have been promised following a sumptuous dinner.  It's been a great humpday!

Cpl Aishlen Taylor
AGC (RMP)

LEG 12 BLOG: DAYS 1 - 4: 2-5 JUL 16

Hello and welcome to the first TRANSGLOBE Leg 12 blog from the Army team who will take you on our exciting and adventurous journey from New York to Halifax in Nova Scotia. The metaphorical baton (and the custody of the fantastic 72 foot yacht "DISCOVERER") has now been passed from the Leg 11 team to the Leg 12 team along with a locker full of unnamed cans of mystery food and the promise of an adventure. This leg is lead by the Adjutant's General Corps and is supported by some great Coldstream Guards that I will introduce shortly.

The Trip across: We arrived at JSASTC just after lunch on Sat 2 Jul to be met by Mike Barham, TRANSGLOBE projects officer before an afternoon of briefings including a comprehensive safety brief, introduction from Nick Trundle, OC JSASTC, and documents check. All being well we then met the coach from Gosport at 0700 hrs on Sun 3 for the epic trip via Heathrow and Montreal to New York. A fleet of New York cabbies devoid of any form of navigational knowledge eventually deposited us at the marina where we met our respective skipper and yacht/custodian and home for the next 3 weeks. A hot and humid New York summer night greeted us with the stunning New York skyline reflected across the water from our New Jersey marina. We quickly stowed our bags of kit and met our skipper Paul Molyneaux who gave us a midnight welcome brief accompanied by pizza and a very welcome cold beer.  

Mon 4 Jul - American Independence Day.  Hands were called at 0630 hrs for yacht introduction and training where the novices were confronted with a bewildering vocabulary of nautical terminology and where we began to gel as a team, learning skills and drills which will quickly become very familiar. We also packed "Discoverer" with industrial quantities of CILOR sponsored food enough for 15 hungry servicemen and woman for the following week. After the day of training we were released to attend the local New Jersey Independence Day celebrations of impressive fireworks, an overwhelming range of multicultural van dispensed food, and live music - headlining the Village People who joined us for a drink afterwards. We had arrived in America!

Let me introduce the Discoverer crew and your blog hosts for the next 3 weeks:

Paul Molyneaux

Skipper (Salty and articulate).

Pat Audas

1st Mate, (Captain Pugwash from 'ull)

Tom Clark

2nd Mate, Purser,food standards officer (and OCD tidy-er)

Alistair Frew

Blue Watch leader/Engineer (waxed moustache sporter)

Paul McMahon

Blue Crew

Tom Harrison-Daly

Blue Crew

Ran Hartman-Turner

Blue Crew-Electrician ("so ripped he needs sellotape")

Amanda Bertham

Red Watch leader/Meteorology (go-pro/gadgeteer)

Aishlen Taylor

Red Crew/Social (Welsh defeat apologist)

Fiona Litchfield

Red Crew/Asst Purser (badmin)

Paul "Ginge" Lyndsay

Red Crew/Safety Swimmer

Alex Tennant-Bell 

White Watch leader/Navigation

Mark O'Mara

White Crew/Shipwright (Winch-monkey)

Steffan "Mac" McQuillian 

White Crew (Al Frew moustache wannabe)

Kristoffer "Kris" Esbensen

White Crew/Bosun (token Matelot)

We look forward to sharing our adventure with you all.

Tom Clark

 DAYS 19 - 20: 30 JUN - 1 JUL 16

Discoverer with the Statue Of Liberty in the background

As I reflect back over the past three weeks it is difficult to quantify, in black and white, the achievements which we have made.  The planning for Leg 11 began nearly two years ago to ensure that there was a suitable mix of qualified and unqualified personnel, including a good spread of Officers and other ranks; the main emphasis on AAC personnel.  Over the two year period, and especially as the exercise was coming to fruition, these names changed many times causing frustration to both the organisers and the planners alike.

On Sunday, June 12th at 1235 local time the crew finally departed Heathrow to begin, for some,   an adventure of a lifetime. On arrival to Miami, they were immediately confronted by an unbearable heat which was to attack with a vengeance, every minute of the day and night. As if this wasn't enough, there was a new language to learn in order to survive on board a 72ft steel hulled yacht, which was destined to take us safely to our final destination of New York, some three weeks hence.

As a crew, we spent time learning knots, MOB drills, how to put the sails up and, just as important, how to cook in a small galley, with limited facilities, for a crew of 15. It would appear that the sailing side was going to be the easy part - living together in a small space for the next three weeks was the real challenge. The crew all worked hard together, forging new friendships and developing teamwork and leadership as a plethora of tasks were completed and before long the boat was underway, tacking and gybing up the eastern seaboard of the USA.  America has always given the rest of the world an image of how big everything is, and boy were we about to find out. Not just by the vast coastline and the strong Gulf Stream which pushed us north, not just by the size of Cape Canaveral, and the thoughts of space exploration. "Big" was about to reach new limits even for some of us who had spent some time on the water.

It didn't take long for the crews to begin to gel.  Working together, four hours on, four hours off for two days solid, before starting mother watch where the cooking and cleaning was carried out, you were literally living in each other's pockets. With strong encouragement from the after guard, including the qualified watch leaders, the novices aboard started to talk with confidence, as various tasks were completed. This "new language" began to make sense and everyone understood what was going on. It was a pleasure to see this development, not only in the sailing environment, but to see individuals confidence levels improve and watch them slowly appear from their comfort bubble to stretch their abilities and try new techniques. This development is the heart of true adventure training and our crew was about to be tested to the full.

At 0530hrs, on the morning of Thursday, 23 June, as we progressed towards Hampton, situated at the southern end of the Chesapeake Bay, we were about 50 miles SE of the entrance when we were hit by a storm. To say that it was a storm doesn't really do it justice, after all we were in America and everything here was big.  The storm that hit took the wind from around 8 kts to 66 kts in about 7 seconds. The watch on deck controlled the yacht as best it could until the crew all made their way onto deck to help with the carnage. Below decks, personal belongings were thrown from one side of the boat to another and in the dark, just to make it interesting. If this didn't test the metal of an individual, what would? To the novices, hell was breaking loose as the boat leaned on its side and alarm bells were ringing around the boat and some of the crew realised that sailing up the coast of America wasn't just going to be "plain sailing". The crew instantly began working together to take control of the yacht and lower the now badly damaged mainsail. Once under control, we slowly made our way to our next destination of Hampton where a sail maker was stood by to repair our rather badly damaged mainsail. It was at this point that we all understood another meaning of the "big" concept.  It was very humbling to be so well looked after by our hosts at Hampton Yacht Club.  The sincerity and friendliness was overwhelming which undoubtedly helped to relax the one or two crew members who were put just outside of their stretch zone.

With the sails repaired, Back on the sea once again, it was clear to see how the watches have now formed a stronger bond after all experiencing the "perfect storm" together. Conversations were taking place which would have been strained or unheard of during day one and it is clear to see how individuals now rely on each other, knowing that there is a consequence to each of their action. Teamwork has formed amongst this group of individuals who have little previous knowledge of each other, and now they all work together with an unspoken understanding that each persons survival, officer and junior rank, is dependent on the rest. Sails are adjusted more easily; tasks are completed as a team and the results can be seen by everyone as they begin to look for work before being told.

If you look in the right direction, it is very easy to see the benefits which are gained through adventure training.  The building of confidence, character and teamwork are amongst the more obvious. Leadership, reliability and dependability are also a product.  More laterally, however, is the dedication, the determination to succeed and the pride which each of us possess to ensure that we are prepared to face our challenges, fighting through to the bitter end, knowing that we have given our all and produced our best.

Crew beneath the Statue of LibertyThe last three weeks have tested each of us in different ways. For the novices, a new language in a new environment, for the qualified, an opportunity to perfect and hone our skills. As the skipper of this leg, it has been an honour to watch each individual improve and develop; to watch the team grow and, just as importantly, to look inward and realise that we too have learnt just as much as the novices about life and, more importantly, ourselves. We are now sitting alongside in Liberty Marina, New York, having completed over 1100 miles in 21 days including 56 night hours: and we all remain on friendly terms. For some, it will be an experience which they will never forget, for others, a gateway to greater things in life.  For this, I wish you all fair winds and calm seas....

Phil Brown
Skipper
ASA Chief Instructor (offshore)

 

DAYS 17 - 18: 28 - 29 JUN 16

The repairs to our sail were completed on Tuesday afternoon and it was delivered promptly to Hampton Yacht Club a day earlier than expected.  After a six man carry followed by a tricky winching operation our patched up sail was back onboard and fitted by 18:00.  We had fallen behind schedule so elected to depart immediately for New York. After a fond farewell to our wonderful hosts we slipped our moorings and set off on the 40 hour journey. 

The crew slipped effortlessly back into the watch routine. It was a pleasure to see that the training clearly had hit its target. We now have 3 close knit and effective watches working towards a common goal.

The winds have tormented us.  Often too weak for any sails but regularly increasing enough for the crew to leap into action... sails up, trim sails, reefs in, reefs out, wind drops and sails go down.  Our drills are slick but our schedule remains tight so we have made heavy use of the "iron sail" (the engine), which makes life below deck hot and noisy. 

We have occupied our time with an inter-yacht quiz and wildlife spotting (dolphins,turtles, 2 sharks and an exhausted sea bird which hitched a lift for an hour or so).

We have 82 nautical miles to go before we reach New York but there is much work to be done before the crew can relax.

Lt Col Nigel Banks
First Mate / AAC Leg Lead
Joint Forces Command

DAYS 16-17: 27- 28 JUN 16

An enjoyable and insightful trip to a beautiful city complete, we returned to Discoverer looking forward to concluding Leg 11 with a couple Of days sail and finishing in another marvellous city. New York awaits.  A fantastic few days was concluded by an evening with our hosts, the Hampton Yacht Club. Nigel, Mike, Shaunna and Phil all delivered talks on our Journey, Transglobe and their experiences along the leg to an audience of the club members. The club members have been fantastic to both us and the Adventure crew during our stay, and an insight into JSASTC and Exercise Transglobe was well received by the yacht club, with thanks and well wishes being exchanged between the crews and our friendly, welcoming and helpful hosts. The night was concluded by a presentation to the crew and club by the Hampton mayor elect before a joint crew meal.

Hampton has been a fantastic stop off. Their hospitality has been overwhelming, and all the locals have shown an interest in our voyage. Our stay here has definitely left a lasting impression on the crew., and left us with many fond memories. Finally a big thank you to Stephen and all at Ullman Sails for helping us by repairing the sails in such a speedy manner.   As I type, the sail is being hoisted, the batons fitted and the reefing lines put back in place.  We leave at 1900.   New York awaits!

Airtrooper Duane Hewitt
Blue Watch
Assistant sail repairer

DAY 15: SUN 26 JUN 16


some of the crew of Discoverer at the Washington MemorialOur second day off began bright and early again, to fit in as much as possible. We decided to walk to the War memorials of World War 2, Vietnam and Korea, along with the the Jefferson, Roosevelt and Martin Luther King memorials which offered another long but scenic walk around the city's central area, and concluded at the Capitol building. 

Once that was done, we had a choice of one of Washington's many free Smithsonian museums. We decided on the National Air and Space Museum, home to some of history's finest aircraft such as Concorde, SR-71 Blackbird, Space Shuttle Discovery and B-29 Enola Gay, famously the aircraft used to drop the atomic bomb on Hiroshima in 1945. 

the view from the top of the Washington MemorialOur second day was drawing to a close, but not before we paid a final visit to the US Marine Corps memorial, another iconic statue taken from a moment in history immortalised by the raising of the American flag on Mount Suribachi on the island of Iwo Jima in the Pacific theatre during World War 2. 

DAY 14 - SAT 25 JUN 16

Due to us having so many days to wait for the sail repairs, the crew had some time to kill. While some chose to stay local to Hampton and Norfolk, Virginia, the majority of  the 15 strong crew chose to hire a car and take the 3 hour drive up to the Nation's capital, Washington D.C. Barks and Myself chose the iconic American muscle car; a Camaro for our trip.  We planned our trip the night before we left, ensuring everything we wanted to see and do would fit in to our 2 day visit. We set off at 6am on the Saturday to ensure we maximised our time in the Capital, and arrived at around 10am after a little stop off on the way. The first recognisable landmark we saw was the Pentagon, sat right beside the highway. Soon after, we arrived at our first place we chose to visit. Arlington Cemetery.  The initial sight of row after row of neatly arranged, pure white gravestones is overwhelming. Home to some 400,000 gravestones from American conflicts from the civil war to present, the pristine and smart arrangement of the graves are a humbling sight. We moved on to see the final resting place of President John F Kennedy with the continually burning flame in remembrance of him. 

Finally we moved to visit the highlight of the cemetery visit. The Tomb of the Unknowns. The main tomb contains an unidentified soldier from WW1 that was selected at random from those killed during the war.  There are also three additional smaller tombs for soldiers killed in the Second World War, Korean War and one from the Vietnam War. Here the Tomb Honour Guard stands vigil 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Only twice in recent history have they been granted permission from the President to stand down their duty, once for a bad snow storm and once during Hurricane Sandy.  On Both occasions the Honour Guard chose to decline the President's offer and continue the guard. The guards conduct moving wreath laying ceremonies and a changing of the guard throughout the day which visitors can watch. We were treated to a talk by one of the serving guards, who offered an insight into their life and the testing process to be accepted into the guard. 

After Arlington and getting settled into our accommodation, Barks and I took a walk to the centre of Washington D.C., which is home to some of the city's most iconic landmarks. We began with the Washington Memorial; the huge 550ft cenotaph that climbs high above the city skyline. We walked from there down the reflecting pond to the Lincoln memorial which is symbolic for the location of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr's 'I Have A Dream' speech. Here we were treated to a spectacular sunset that transforms the white stone buildings of the capital into a fine golden yellow colour as the sun goes down.  We arranged to meet some of the other crew for some food and a well earned drink, but not before passing the White House on the way.  After covering some 16 miles on foot we decided to call it a night for day one, retiring to our accommodation to plan day 2. 

LEG 11 BLOG: DAY 11: WED 22 JUN 16 

Another day has passed at sea on the Good Ship Disco. We have made such good progress on our long broad reach that it looks as though we will arrive at our next destination a day early. Thanks to the combined efforts of our skipper, mates and crew we have at times achieved an over-ground speed of over 20 knots!

Yesterday's evening watch was greeted by the most sublime sight of a real moonrise and a deep orange moon at that. Behind thin strata of pale clouds in the night sky, the sight was so magical that numerous attempts were made to photograph it but light levels were just too low.

Straight after breakfast (including danish pastries) we had another 'first': in order to cross the foresail over and keep it in position, we put up a spinnaker pole - heavy heavy work and really challenging for the five guys up front in a big rolling ocean. The ropery was pretty impressive too, with the snake pit looking like something from an Indiana Jones film by the end.

The comp crew candidates had a theory lesson on weather, parts of the boat and rights of way in the most inspiring of classrooms - up in the cockpit with deep blue waves rushing past capped with white horses. The sea state is lighter than last week, so there has been no problem with seasickness today, and temperatures outside have dropped a little, but it seems to make no difference to the baking temperatures down below. Each mother watch steams in oppressive heat in the galley, although today for the first time we were allowed by the skipper to shower on board after the end of mother watch. It was certainly another interesting process in rolling seas. The fact that it was in cold water made it even more exhilarating!

Learning how to sail this mighty craft, how to live and work together in really close confines and with no personal space other than a single plastic box, in searing heat and a constantly rolling and bucking environment, is a real challenge to us all and one which all have risen to. Its hard to believe we are well over halfway through, and we are still all friends!

Allison Eke
Lt Col RAMC
Ship's Surgeon! 

LEG 11 BLOG: DAYS 9 & 10: 20 - 21 JUN 16

Discoverer alongside in CharlestonWe arrived into Charleston early afternoon on Monday, and tied up alongside a row of very expensive super yachts.  The crew was pleased to be back on dry land, and the first task was to complete maintenance work under the direction of the skipper.  It's amazing how much food and water a crew of 15 can consume in 48 hours.   The Purser took a team to the local shops, and we re-stocked the essentials ready for the next leg.  At the same time we cleared the ship from top to bottom, and then headed into town to explore Charleston. From alongside our mooring we have a ringside view of Pelicans diving into the Ashley river to catch fish.   They dive vertically to trap their prey, and as they wheel and turn in the sky above us, their huge beaks make a fascinating subject for keen photographers.  The rotation of Mother Watch once again saw Red Watch excused cooking on board.  The crew volunteered to find their own meal ashore, rather than sample Red Watch's culinary skills.  There is a rumour Red Watch can't cook, or perhaps their leader won't cook?

An important aspect of this TG leg is the historical connection to the places we are visiting.  This morning half the crew took time out to visit a local plantation.   At lunch, Tom provided a brief history of the American Civil War.  The first rounds in anger were fired in Charleston, and Tom pointed out Fort Sumter at the harbour's entrance where Confederate forces besieged the Union troops garrisoned in the fort.   South Carolina was the first state to break away from the Union.  It's a remarkable statistic that more Americans died in the civil war than the combined total of both world wars, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and all recent conflicts.

We departed Charleston after lunch and headed back out into the Atlantic.  We are looking to pick up the Gulf Stream, and with some friendly Southerlies behind us race North to Norfolk.   The crew all hope the wind and weather will be kinder than the conditions we encountered coming North to Charleston; but if not we now feel more than able to deal with whatever is thrown our way.   Adventure training is designed to test spirit as well as sinew, and we are ready.

Airtrooper Al Carmichael
1 Regt AAC
Red Watch

DISCOVERER EX TG LEG 11 BLOG: DAY 8 - SUN 19 JUN 16

Well here we are a week into the expedition.  I'm writing this at 0200 hrs, half way through the 4 hour watch.  We've just successfully endured another short-lived storm cell with winds up to 26 kts.  We're making good time towards our next destination of Charleston - due there around lunchtime tomorrow.  The sea is fairly choppy, but not nearly as big as we encountered last night.  Adventure lies about a mile off our starboard side and we have been keeping pace well together for the last couple of days.  We've had speeds in excess of 9 kts at times throughout the day, which is quite exhilarating.

So looking back over the last week, what have we learned and experienced?  We started as a bunch of 15 individuals thrown together on Leg 11 of the Transglobe Expedition.  The sailing experience of the group varied from significant (skipper - just as well) to nothing at all (4 people), with everything in between.  Only the skipper and the First Mate had ever seen a Challenge 72 before, and then only briefly.  So all in all, quite an interesting start point.  A week in, we have really come together as a crew.  Without exception we have all endured significant challenges - learning to sail the great ship Disco; enduring oppressive heat, humidity and the relentless burning sun; coping with sea sickness (half the crew have been down over the last 2 days); as Mother Watch cooking and cleaning whilst being tossed around below deck and slowly but surely boiled alive; trying to maintain your footing on the foredeck at night when manhandling huge sails while the sea crashes over the bow; and overall, simply dealing with the complexity of a large 72 ft yacht in testing conditions.  We have also had some great highs:  being escorted by a pod of dolphins on our way to Port Canaveral, seeing turtles passing beside the boat; watching flying fish jump our of the water at our approach and fly off over the waves; working closely with and getting to know a great bunch of people; but above all, having the real privilege of being out at sea on a yacht which is more than up to it, and experiencing all that we have so far.  Two more weeks to go - bring it on!

Jules Facer
Second Mate

the crew of Discoverer

LEG 11 BLOG: DAY 7 - SAT 18 JUN 16

The day began with teaching and instruction from the Skipper and his band of Mates. The novices in the crew were taken through elements of the Competent Crew syllabus, mainly learning about knots, whilst the more experienced crew members rehearsed navigation.  The Skipper then taught all the crew how to rig the tri-sail and the storm sail.  A maintenance period was also included; and most notably Barks was hoisted to the top of the Mast to check the free running of the halyards. Sgt Mark Barker at the top of the mast

The crew is starting to bond well as a team, and as we headed from Cape Canaveral into the Atlantic our new found skills were immediately put to the test.  The weather had changed considerably in 24 hours, and we were hit by 30 knot gusts of wind and big waves.  This required all the crew to help with the rigging and reefing of sails.  In strong winds and high seas this is a real test of endurance and character when working on the forepeak battling the elements.  We were however fortunate to see more amazing wildlife including turtles and dolphins.  The evening was capped off with an incredible meal from Blue Watch, cooking in very difficult and hot conditions below deck.  We are now heading North towards Charleston with Adventure keeping tight in behind us.

 double rainbow at the entrance to Cape Canaveral
Double rainbow at the entrance to Cape Canaveral

 For the crew the choice is either getting soaked on deck by torrential rain, or being equally soaked below deck in a very humid environment.  It will be a long night passage.

LCpl Shaunna 'Birdie' Birdis

Green Watch

Leg 11, Day 6 Fri 17th Jun 16 

We started the day with a hearty cooked breakfast to set us up for the day to come thanks to Green Watch, cooking scrambled eggs on toast before setting of for the Kennedy Space Centre. 

On arrival there was a bit of flurry about trying to get group tickets, who wanted to do the extra tour  and obtain a bit of discount to help out the lads. When we did get in we started off with a guided tour around the rocket park, the guide took us through the different rockets that has been launched into space by the U.S. This was very informative about how they had progressed and been developed over the years, included in the park was the original walkway used to board the rockets, enabling you to walk in the footsteps of the astronauts I think we all found this quite astounding, although it appeared to have had a lick of paint over time to keep up appearances. 

The space centre has a great selection of films in 3D IMAX, and even better air con which was definitely a relief in this heat, we decided to watch "A beautiful planet" telling the story of 3 astronauts first journey into space, and the 6 months spent on a space station overlooking Earth, as well as showing the beauty of the planet and how it has been affected over time from the devastation of an asteroid creating a 50ft crater, to the light shows over continents during thunderstorms. 

Our next stop was the Space shuttle Atlantis, which houses the actual shuttle comprising of over 2.5 million parts, the centre gave an insight into the shuttles history as Atlantis is one of six orbiters built reaching speeds of 17,500mph, others included the Discovery, Challenger and Endeavour, unfortunately the Challenger was destroyed on take off and was replaced by the endeavour. We did get a chance to experience to what it is like to be launched into space through a simulator which everyone enjoyed, there was also a slide that a few of us couldn't say no to.

Afterwards we took a visit to the memorial park, taking in the challenges and sacrifices made by the 24 American astronauts in the pursuit of discovering new frontiers, pushing the boundaries of space. This was rather an overwhelming place, reading about those who gave their lives. 

We had a rather busy morning and it was now time to stop for a bit of lunch, before heading of to the tour the majority of us had decided to opt for.  Just as we were going for the tour bus the heavens seemed to open up, the look on everyone's faces was priceless as we stood there all thinking how much fun it was going to be stuck on a bus for the next 3 hours not been able to see or get close to anything due to the rain, thankfully it was short lived and we could get out to the areas. 

During the tour we got to see the launch sites, including the mobile pads which was rather impressive, weighing 2,721 tonnes been able to move and launch the rockets. We stopped off at numerous areas, getting some great photos before finishing off at the Apollo Saturn centre, where we got to find out about how the Apollo mission progressed to get a man on the moon. The centre houses part of the moon brought back from the landing, which you can touch through a glass box however you would never believe it to have come from the moon as it is black and looks like plastic, rather than the typical grey rock I was expecting.

Inside the main part of the centre was a Saturn 5 rocket, comprising 5 F1 engines the most powerful engines ever made. We got to find out that NASA intend to sending astronauts back into space in 2 years and get a man on Mars by 2035.

To finish a great day out, we are all going out for a meal before we set sail tomorrow as we will be at sea for the next 3 days, and the less time spent in the galley sweating in our oilskins cooking the better for everyone. It has been a great privilege to spend a day at the Kennedy Space Centre, and to stop briefly at Cape Canaveral.  The skipper has told us we're back in his time in the morning, with maintenance and training starting early, before we head for Charleston.

Airtrooper Phil 'Freddie' Flintoft
Red Watch

dophins on the Florida coast

HMSTC DISCOVERER EX TG LEG 11 BLOG: DAY 5 - 16 JUN 16

Thursday began with the sailing watches keeping us heading north through the night surrounded by thunderstorms while the sky above Discoverer remained clear and star filled. Mother watch rose from their sweat sodden bed spaces and prepared breakfast for the crew before moving onto everybody's favourite duty - cleaning the heads! The entire crew then assembled on deck to conduct man-overboard drills for a couple of hours in the blazing sunshine. Mercifully the stiffer breeze today took the edge of the heat but more and more of the crew are succumbing to various degrees sunburn as the sun cream is sweated off as quickly as it can be applied! The man-overboard drills included sending in rescue swimmers to pick up the fender which was our simulated "MoB" so Duane, Mike and Alan were all sent into the Atlantic for a dip! The activity in the water must have captured the attention of some slightly more graceful swimmers as no sooner had we finished the MoB drills than a pod of about 20 dolphins joined the boat playing in the surf around the boat for a good 20 minutes. Barks was slightly too enthusiastic in his attempts to take a good picture of them and leaning through the guardrail he accidentally inflated his life jacket preventing him from recovering himself back onto the boat until somebody had come and deflated his life jacket for him!

Once the morning's activities were complete, we headed for Port Canaveral Marina just across the water from NASA's Cape Canaveral launch complex. We sailed past the towering launch platforms and their super-structures. Port Canaveral has been a hit with the crew as it is equipped with a well air conditioned shop selling ice-cold drinks and has a small swimming pool! Green watch are now on mother watch preparing the crew a chicken curry! Bon appetite!

Capt Jon Bowles
Blue watch

Leg 11, Day 4 - Wed 15 Jun 16

Farewell Miami, you have been both showy and sweaty in equal measure.

Following some frenetic activity and final preparations, Discoverer slipped Bayside Marina as planned (almost), to be shortly followed by sister vessel Adventure. The public looked on as commands were bellowed and the crew dashed around the boat, successfully ensuring that there was no contact with the mooring posts or, importantly, the multimillion dollar motor cruiser parked adjacent. With little to mark our departure other than the harbour bridges seemingly raised in salute, Discoverer led the way and proved the route for Adventure and nothing much went wrong during the pilotage out to sea, nothing much at all.

Light winds and calm seas greeted our duo and time was spent learning the ropes as each crew member took turns in each role as the boat was tacked and gybed, first under the main sail then with a foresail also, to add complexity. Shouts of "ready on port" rang out from the starboard side as our newest sailors got into the swing of things, but before long our crew appeared well oiled - and I'm not just referring to the sun cream running into everyone's eyes. It has to be said, the heat has been much more intense than most had imagined and members of the crew were seen scurrying across the decks to seek the shade of the ever moving sails like a camel spider in the desert. Just when we were cooling off from the earlier activity, the call came to change the foresail. The new, bigger sail, had to be picked up from the sauna that is the sail locker and lifted, by 3 people, through the hatch and onto the deck - an unenviable task in temperature plus of 30 degrees.

Now into the 'watch' routine, our Blue Watch took over 'mother watch' duties ahead of dinner. John, supported by Allison, Duane and Tom, produced our first successful 'cooked at sea' meal wearing the required protection of foul-weather trousers and long sleeves. A non-standard, Kosher bolognese, preceded by Allison's now signature canapés of digestives, cheese and tomato set the standard and precedent for the other two watches. Compliments were received which no doubt made John feel better about the heat induced weight loss programme he endured in the galley.

I leave you as we sail north to Cape Canaveral, watching a display of lightening from a line of thunderstorms along the coast of Florida. The wind is increasing as are the chances of being called from our beds to change a sail or reef the main.

Tom Anstey
Capt
AAC

Leg 11 Miami

LEG 11 BLOG: DAY 3 - 14 JUN 16

So here we are at the end of day 3 in Miami and this is the first blog of red watch having taken over our first shift on mother watch. Not that there was much to do this evening due to the crew getting together for a final meal at the Argentinean steakhouse before departing Miami and heading North in the morning.
As we continue to get to know one another and bond, each individual's personalities are contributing to working and coming together as a team. This will become apparent tomorrow when we are out on the water and hoisting the sails for the first time.

So, day 3 has seen us being released by the skipper in order to explore Miami and what it has to offer. What better way than a tour of the Everglades to discover the flora and fauna. Having arrived by bus to the park we were given our tour numbers and herded on to our waiting air boat where we were met my our skipper Mike. After a quick safety brief including keeping hands and arms inside the boat; for obvious reasons, we were off. There we were on our way out into the Everglades swamps, which aren't actually swamps but one of the slowest flowing rivers in the world! On the way round the river we stopped several times to try and find some of the inhabitants of this amazing landscape, we did manage to see an alligator with its head above the water but it paid no attention to a boat load of tourists snapping away with their cameras. Once back at the ranch (as they say) we were taken through the park trail to an enclosed area where we were introduced to some captive alligators as part of the show. We were also given the opportunity (which most of us took (for a small price of course)) to hold and have our photo taken with a baby alligator. From here it was a short walk around the rest of the park looking at several species of alligator before heading into the restaurant to sample a delicacy of fried alligator bites. Tasted just as good as chicken only a bit softer.

Once back in Miami our nominated tour guide (now since sacked) thought it would be of interest to the group to tour a little known area of Miami called 'little Havana'. As the name suggests an area heavily influenced by Cubans whom immigrated to Miami. It wasn't quite as expected and after a lot of walking around looking at more or less nothing it was decided to head back.

We ended our day by visiting one of the most popular beaches in Miami; South beach for a walk along the sand and a swim in the sea. The water being very warm to what we are used to in the UK, clean, clear, and for some way off the beach, fairly shallow. It was a welcome respite from the heat and the humidity to cool off in the waters.

The skipper Phil has been saying that he has been feeling rather chilly of late; however the crew thinks this is more related to the amount of Slushies that he has been consuming! In fact Miami has just declared a shortage of ice for the Bayside Marina area! Normal service will resume once the two UK military yachts have departed!

SSgt Mark Ling

Red Watch

2 Regt AAC

Day 1 & 2: 12 – 13 Jun 16

I have been looking forward to this trip for over a year, but the last few days have rushed past as I approached the time to depart the UK.  I drove to Gosport on Saturday night to meet up with the crew.  We conducted our RSOI, and were issued with sailing boots and a few spare parts for the yacht.  The crew is mainly Army Air Corps, but there are a few other regiments with us. Our ranks range from Lt Gen to Private, and we have an equal mix of sailing experiences and qualifications.  We drove to Heathrow on Sunday and caught a Virgin flight to Miami.  The plane was half full, so we spread ourselves out and enjoyed a few films and some sleep.

I was surprised how easy it was to get all 28 of us (including the RN/RAF crew) through customs.  The First Mate - Lt Col Nigel Banks - was reprimanded by the US Customs officer for not paying him enough attention, but otherwise it was an easy move.  The Marina was only 20 minutes from the airport, and when we arrived we were met by our Skipper - Phil who guided us to our home for the next 3 weeks.  Disco is tied up in the middle of a huge Marina, which is dwarfed by tower blocks and large expensive power boats. The outgoing crew had been alongside for 6 days, so we inherited a yacht in good condition, and certainly clean.

The first night was noisy and very hot.  A live band was playing less than 200 metres from our berth across the water from the yachts, and the Marina's bars stayed open till late.  Most of us were jet lagged and went to sleep early.  To say it was warm below deck is to underestimate the heat generated by a metal hulled yacht.  Most of us slept on deck, and tried to ignore the noise and music.  It is hard to imagine how different it must have been for the crew in the Southern Ocean on Leg 8.  Today has been spent getting instruction from our skipper on the Mainsail and how to put in reefs.  We also covered Man Over Board recovery drills; as well as many aspects of safety.  I had not expected the yacht to be so big, or to have so much to learn.  The new language is difficult to master.  Some of the crew have been to a local supermarket to stock up on food, and we will have our first meal on board tonight.

Tomorrow will be slightly different as Phil has given most of us the day off to have an opportunity to have a look around Miami.  I think most of the crew will be heading to South Beach.  This promises to be a great trip, with an interesting mix of sailing and good locations to visit on the East coast of America.

Air Trooper Connor Simm
Green Watch

12 JUN 16

Discoverer arrived in Miami on Mon 6 Jun 16, ahead of Tropical Storm Colin which potentially could have kept us at sea in storm force winds if it tracked across Florida.  The usual post leg activity of putting the yacht to bed, cleaning, crew meal and sightseeing, including Key West. 

As the last blog of leg 10 it is a time for reflection.  Sailing around the Caribbean may seem idyllic and we may not have experienced the seas of the southern ocean, but there were many other challenges, particularly the unrelenting heat.  The high sea water temperature, machinery running, cooking and the sun beating down on the steel can which is Disco, made for temperatures in excess of 35C down below, even at night.  Boil in the bag described the cooks in their oilskins and not the food. 

Not only miles and night hours added to the logbooks, the two mates completed their sights and passage for the Ocean Yachtmaster and the two novices passed their Competent Crew.  The crew of the AMS leg will disembark Disco with great memories and in the knowledge of a passaged well sailed.

Major Chris Taylor RAMC
2nd Mate

Sat 4 Jun 16

Day 12. Disco continues to move steadily towards Miami sadly with the wind tailing off there is talk abound of the engine being put on!White watch took over duties as mother and after a crash course in reading Spanish cooking instructions we managed to produce an apple cake for desert. This small amount of morale was little consolation for Blue watch that were on watch overnight during torrential rain - oilskins were deployed for the first time much to everyone's horror! We continue towards Miami with tropical storm Colin following us in the Gulf of Mexico.

Capt Amelia Charnley
ATC(P) 

Fri 3 Jun 16

315M 520nm 3 Days Av 6 kts. One other vessel since we departed the BVI,our colleagues on Adventurer excluded. Key figures that underlie great sailing and accurate helming in a goose wing configuration. Good winds of 15 kts kepts our speed at 6kts about a day longer than expected but today the foresail came down and on came the engine for the first time in light winds.  An impending low threatens our passage with Force 8-9 predicted in the next few days with 540 nm to run before the bad weather hits; the race is on to get to Miami.The boat is now well established in the 4hrs on/off. Mother shift pattern with intense competition on the culinary front; an excellent lasagne followed by Amelia's Mother's Home made apple cake recipe accompanied a great sun set to prepare Red/Blue watch for the night sail.

Col Sohrab Dalal
DPHCS

31 May 16

Having spent the afternoon looking at the species the ocean has to offer it was time to make our final voyage across the North Atlantic to Miami. Having taken over the responsibilities of Motherwatch, the ladies prepared and delivered a delicious Tomato Meatball, Pasta dish which would be fit for a king, it certainly put a smile on our faces before the shift patterns commenced. Routine settled and close to midnight before the shift change on deck, the mate decided to alter the sail to increase speed by poling out the head sail, the crews worked vigorously in complete darkness.The outcome was increased from 5-8knots. Next morning the crews were woken with egg sandwiches, elements of the crew looked rather fatigued as they adapt to the shift system, smiling faces still circulate and morale is as high as the best of the sailing is still to come.

SSgt D Kirkpatrick RLC

30 May 16

With crew training complete, Tortola was welcomed with high morale - laundry, showers and diet-cokes were all needed.  In readiness for the final voyage to Miami, Disco was re-stocked, the crew refreshed, and the Purser's birthday celebrated in style with home made Brownies and a small Caribbean-style refreshment. Prep-moves saw a night at anchor, a dry sleep under the stars and a swim on Gorda Sound reef with Turtles and a Ray. We were ready to set our sails for Miami. Adventure and Discovery crossed the start line at 1610hrs - 1000 miles to go to Miami, and a fresh Tuna catch by the Skipper has us in buoyant mood.

LCpl Michaela Halley AGC

Blue Watch

29 May 16

Disco's last 24 hrs have seen us 'Hands to Bath' in Spanish Town in Virgin Gourda followed by our first night at anchor. The day was highlighted by a poor attempt by Adventure to launch a sail-by water-bombing using balloons launched by their skipper's elasticated underwear. The crew are really cohesive now and ready for the passage to Miami and even our Novice sailors are raring to go after going through some of their Comp Crew training at anchor. Recent crew highlights have  been our AGC Clerk Michaela threatening to jump ship unless we bought more Nutella and Monty (our OCD Armoured Corps member)  being unable to take off his shirt without a risk assessment and Estimate. Tonight we are in Tortola for our last night ashore before heading to Miami so all efforts are towards maximising the Marina showers and stocking up for the passage.

Lt Col Anton Philpott QARANC

Sat 28 May 16

Bidding farewell to the comforts of Nelson's dockyard Antigua we set sail for the British Virgin Isles. On this 200-mile leg, Blue watch had the privilege of being Mother creating Spag bol and cake, supplemented by fresh Barracuda caught by the Skipper consequently morale was high. With our sails in 'Goosewing' formation and the boat pitching through 90 degrees from port to starboard, we overtook our sister boat Adventure during night watch. After a spectacular sunrise we waved to Richard Branson's Island Necker before dropping anchor in Virgin Gorda where all crew were keen to cool off in the Caribbean sea.

Laura(Dolly)Parton

Major RADC

Fri 27 May 16

As the sun dropped over the Caribbean Sea, and the unrelenting heat of the day subsided, the crew of Disco enjoyed the calm of the night watches. A steady 8 knots was maintained, the incredible vista of stars stretched to the horizon, and phosphorescence lit the waves as they broke on the hull. If this is all making you green with envy, I'll add that a few unexpected squalls made for soggy crew members, and, even worse, damp digestive biscuits. At 1030 we arrived into Nelson's Dockyard, Antigua, a very fitting location as we followed the footsteps of British Military vessels for nearly 400 years before us.

Wed 25 May 16

The art of Bikram Yoga (voluntary contortionism in a purposely heated room of around 35c) has been practiced on board today. A hot galley, 2 lit gas rings, oily trousers (for scald protection), no air vents, and combined with a series of lunges and squats as rice is saved from flying with any pitch or roll. Up on deck life is much more serene. Time spent training yesterday is paying off as sail hoists and reefing with winds over 25 Kts get ever smoother, the Watch routine settles and each crew member is competent at steering our course. Crimes against fashion have been spotted in all corners of Disco as attempts to cover the pink skin gained yesterday are made (Andy, 1st Mate, in particular for his nod to Eric Morecombe in shorts, sandals and socks). As the sun sets we are cruising at a steady 8 knots, settling for a Watch under the stars and anticipating our arrival into Antigua tomorrow morning.

Tue 24 May 16

Today saw Disco set sail for a first leg stretch around the local waters of St Lucia. The plan was for the Skipper and Mate to whip us into shape, each Watch getting a chance to gel together as we tackled various tasks. It was in fact a successful day of sail hauling, reefing, tacking and man over board drills. Mother Watch kitchen skills, mal de mare avoidance (only one succumbed) and sunscreen application drills (liberal, if you're wondering) were also honed. We returned to the Marina as the heat of the sun softened; rosy cheeked, rather warm, and thoroughly looking forward to setting sail for Antigua tomorrow.

Ex TG Leg 10 Blog: Mon 23 May 16

The Discoverer welcomed her new crew aboard in St Lucia as the sun set on a humid and hot Sunday afternoon. Having set the alarm for 0300, had the compulsory 'hurry up and wait' day of travelling (including a dawn no-show from the coaches, followed by taxi wacky races from Gosport to Gatwick), and landed into a climate not dissimilar to a greenhouse, the only realistic activities were showers and an early supper, with jet lag ensuring that heads hit the pillow soon after. Unadjusted body clocks instigated an early start and a productive day followed; squaring away personal kit, filling every conceivable cupboard and crevice with a supermarket sweep, crew lessons, and establishing the on-board 'watch routine'. Promise of setting sail tomorrow to stretch our legs in local waters, a good dose of sunshine, and some excellent kitchen creations means that crew morale is running high. Disco's adventures continue!

Sun 22 May 16 (Leg 9 Final Blog)

Another full moon signals the end of Transglobe leg 9 and a change of crew. During the last five weeks we have travelled over 4170 miles from Uruguay to St Lucia, bonding as a team under arduous training conditions and experiencing a journey of a lifetime. Our progress through the stages of team development - Forming, Storming, Norming, Performing and Adjourning (Tuckman) has been evident, well supported by an experienced Skipper. Each of us has improved our sailing skills but, more importantly, improved our abilities to operate  both individually and as a team within a confined space under stressful and uncomfortable conditions. Having now cleaned the boat to perfection (a standard almost acceptable to the Skipper) we are commencing our transition back to reality, enjoying long showers, toilets that do not move, air-conditioning and of course the occasional cold beverage. Our thanks go to all on the JSASTC project team and especially our Skipper for facilitating this opportunity and making it so rewarding.

Fri 13 May 16

Another day has passed on the incredibly hot boat Disco, 32 deg c with 75% humidity (courtesy of the Met Office gadget) below decks.  With our incredibly tired bodies & minds, the crews imagination has turned to what is to come from the Caribbean & its pleasures. Having  a varied crew, dreams range from fountains of rum to lobster BBQ's. Having never sailed before my dreams involve air conditioning & a toilet that you don't have to pump to flush! This experience has been a challenge but worth it with a lifetime of experiences & new friends made.

Paddy Ambrose

Thu 12 May 16

Day 6 since 'turning the corner of Brazil' & making a beeline for Grenada. The pressure of another groundhog day is starting to impact the crew. This is good training in team work, personal standards & coping with 95% monotony & 5% sail changes as another squall passes. The temperature & humidity are relentless and great control is required by all to maintain a clear focus on our destination to which we approach at a steady 9 knots. Talk has turned to what sort of ice cream & drink we will buy when we land as long as the venue is air conditioned! We are now less than 500M to go!

B Snelling

11 May 16

The skipper has taught us well and Red Watch have honed their skills so much that night watches are no longer perceived to be an issue.  A typical watch is`as follows; 0345 woke up by the previous watch, walk to wet locker with eyes closed, don life jacket and assemble on deck. Changeover at 4 am - trim sails as shown by the skipper, set compass heading and sail tie the wheel. Crew set alarm on watch for 6.30 and go to sleep. Alarm goes off, retreat to crew quarters and gather up doby, wash while all asleep and hang on guard rail before everybody else.  Shift over in 4 hours - no problems. If only - we can all dream but not on our watch.  Meanwhile, an early morning conversation with a tug on VHF learned what HMSTC stood for and that we were probably the only vessel in the vicinity of the equator with no aircon.  We are now sub 1000 miles away from our next destination, Grenada, and we hope to be there by Sunday evening. Pina Colados (non-alcoholic) and Sunday Mass.

GLC

Tues 10 May 16

And so; Neptune came to demand tributes from the motley crew of 'green backs'. Broken biscuits,rotting fruit and vegetables were offered from the gathered court assembled in the cockpit in an attempt to persuade Neptune to forgive on board sins committed since leaving Punta del Este but to no avail.  Neptune, replete with Trident, crown and sporting a fetching white bin liner ably supported by the 'bear' sporting a contrasting (snug) bin liner deluged the assembled crew with vomit like buckets of flour and other previous dinner slops! Now officially titled "shell backs" the crew spent the morning washing the decks and personal clothing removing all of the sticky deluge of Neptune.

Mon 9 May 16

Anticipation was high on board Disco as we knew we were going to cross the Equator today, but also tempered with the knowledge of no working generator ad hence the ability to make fresh water and keep the freezer cold. As the temperature increased some had a salt water shower on deck (sea temp 29.8 deg c) Soon after 1900 Adventure called to say they were in the Northern Hemisphere and at 2012 Disco was too. A short count down, lots of photos, a can of beer to toast Neptune heralded the event with stars as company. After a long hot day the Skipper and Kiwi got the generator operational and we were able to make fresh water again. Thank you Neptune.

DG

Sat 7 May   16

Disco - 15 peas in a steel pod - we have just, literally, turned the corner. Equator and the Doldrums next.  After weeks of crazy thunderstorms and wet, damp weather, we are now a bit more ship-shape.  The extreme heat and humidity inside the boat is truly debilitating and brings into focus all our strengths and weaknesses within the team.  Food continues to be the focal point every day - 3 times a day.  Such a small boat in a vast ocean, life is a daily battle to rmeact to the phenominal power of nature.  Challenge = Survival. MC

Thu 5 May 16

Today began with dolphins playing on the bow waves. Jan attempted to catch fish for dinner but they appear not to be hungry. An increase in wind meant a busy day. The No 1 Yankee has been up & down many times along with the poles, that the crew are becoming slicker in their drills, but also tired, some are still confused and ask why? Non-sailing skills are being honed in the galley and also on the card table after white watch established a bridge club. Quiz's continue and Adventure has a slight improvement in their overall score.  A return match is poised for this evening. As I write we reach the Northern East coast of Brazil where we will dutifully turn to port & start transiting west for the first time on this trip. DG

Wed 4 May 16

Since leaving Salvador it is now even hotter!  We've quickly re-established the watches as we sail further north towards the equator. This will bring on the inevitable rise in temperature & a drop in wind.  To counter this we have deployed the Number 1 Yankee in order to catch as much breeze as possible as well as save on fuel. This gave us a night evening under sail as we avoided fishing boats with stars for company. As we approach the equator thoughts are turning towards how we are going to celebrate our crossing...  Bread making and the goatee-off continues. As I write it appears that the phantom toilet blocker has struck again, as our star in house engineer Kiwi is yet again seeking to clear it, an unenviable task in these conditions and one that merits an award. What would we do without this man onboard?

Tues 3 May 16

The last few days have been a surprise for many with a 2 night pitstop in the ex capital of Brazil, Salvador. The first job was boat admin, discarding rubbish, sail repairs, general engine, generator servicing/checks. The second & most important task was to locate a Brazilian steak & cold beer. This great success was at both lunch and dinner. Two of the crew are currently engaged in a goatee-off, one looks like Johnny Depp & the other very much like David Brent! The good boat Disco is now back at sea & making the best passage towards the Caribbean. It is hoped that favourable winds and currents will get us there ahead of our 14 day prediction.

Paddy Ambrose

Sat 30 Apr 16

Todays highlight involved meeting up with Adventure, for "hands to bathe". As the sun set in the background, a fender was thrown over into the South Atlantic and nothing else could be seen apart from Adventure. We were 37m from the shore with 1700m of clear blue ocean below with a water temperature of a pleasant 29'c. We thoroughly enjoyed 40 mins of swimming and water based antics. In other news we caught another fish, this time a barracuda, cooked by blue watch and was served with white watches freshly baked delicious bread.

C MILLER

Fri 29 Apr 16

Aboard Disco all is well if a little salty, for the sake of brevity we had scrambled eggs, flap jacks, (separately),calm seas & a bird nesting on the mates head. A huge wave through an open hatch, {in some lively weather} & some blue language. We have seen dolphins, whales a shark and a temper tantrum, the coast, funny side of a flooded bunk (complete with floating water bottle). We have lost 2 x left crocs, 1 x salami, 1 x sense of humour. we have made 193 miles towards our destination in a day, a quiz for our sister ship, and a marine reserve from my bedding! AP

Thu 28 Apr 16

Today has witnessed a number of firsts!  Blue watch leader lost his "croc" overboard and whilst feeling miserable for the remaining part of the day he succumbed to donating the other to Neptune when the time arises. Jan caught our first fish, a 5 - 7 kg tuna which was surgically sliced,by Charlotte, our resident environmental health specialist.  Inter-watch banter continues,some needing to find solace in our 72ft vessel. Dolphins swam with Disco last night for the first time and the inter service quiz night took place, currently Adventure leads 1-0 (by half a point). As we now move towards a short stop for fuel in Salvador with an ETA on Sunday morning,we wonder whether we will have any repetition of the above? Something is a certainty!! GC

Wed 27 Apr 16

Another day dawns on the good ship 'Disco" after a turbulent night of high winds, heavy seas and entertaining electric light shows. As we approach RIO the weather has changed to provide the crew the opportunity to adorn their bodies with sunblock, hang their "smalls" on the guard rails whilst they listen to the steady beat of "Disco's" engine due to minimal winds. It is forecasted that we will witness another night of "Disco Dancing" as an anticipated F7 builds around us. Round 1 of an Inter-services quiz over the VHF radio, was held with Adventure which tested their educational prowess with an expected return match tomorrow night. Crew morale remains high and competition between mother watch productions gains in intensity! GLC Red Watch Leader

Tuesday 26 APR

A son et lumiere performance started the midnight shift. Fleetwood Mac on the juke box and an awe inspiring light show provided by sheet lightning gave an amazing 90 minute spectacular. After numerous sail changes, whilst enjoying sunrise... a crew member slipped and injured their arm.  Everyone rallied around and the 2kg bag of frozen veg, (that few seemed interested in eating) came in handy as a make shift ice pack; CILOR well spent. Another cigar shaped cloud rolled over during the afternoon which heralded an evening of dire weather of biblical proportion (force 10 gusts and serious rain). White watch felt truly humbled fighting the elements in the Atlantic Ocean. Drenched to the skin, we signed off our watch and fell blissfully asleep, ready for the next day. The frozen veg did a good job and the crew member has returned to normal duties and it tasted great in the cottage pie. DG

Mon 25 Apr 16

Our Sunday was one of surprises, firstly a long low cigar type cloud rolled in from astern, odd as the wind was coming from the other direction at the time. It was followed by an eerie silence. 2ndly an appearance of 30 knots of wind bringing helpful 10kts of spd, meaning a very busy couple of hours for the on watch taking sails down and reefing. Lastly blue watch provided a gastronomic surprise with a creation born of defrosting chicken and sausage packs. Chicken chasseur avec sausage was delivered. A good day with 163m in the right direction.

Sun 24 Apr 16

The armchair experts following Disco for the last 24 hours will be wondering about the course and track shown via the Yellowbrick Tracker. But the torrential squalls, 40 knots of wind, thunder, lightening and rain like you have never seen before, aren't shown. At times you couldn't see the front of the boat 35 ft away from the snake pit making interesting sailing. Also to consider the inshore route, meant dicing with cargo vessels (which don't give way) and the need to stay within the continental shelf. However the team are in fine form having worked hard in last 24 hours & r looking forward 2 being able to dry out! BW

Sat 23 Apr 16

DISCOVERER'S DAY WAS PUNCTUATED WITH FINE SIGHTS,AN ORCA WHALE WAS A GREAT EXCITEMENT TO ALL. SUNSET OF HOLLYWOOD STYLE HAD MOST ON DECK FOLLOWED BY A PERFECT MOONRISE, THAT HAD THE COUPLE GOING 'GOEY', HOWEVER NOT ALL ENJOYED 2 DAY WITH MAL DE MERE ON THE INCREASE. DETTOL CHUCKLED ABOUT OTHER PLIGHT ONLY TO RUSH TO THE DEC, AS MUCH CHUCKING FOLLOWED. SAIL CHANGE AT SUPPER TO SET US UP FOR THE NITE, OVER ALL A GOOD DAYS SAILING. YOURS BLUE WATCH.

Fri 22 Apr 16

Greetings from brazil. The broken gangplank owner was placated, but was not as happy as the crew that finally start sailing, however the apprentice aka #2 was cheered when his lunch headed back 2 Monte at speed. Adv left early bedecked in flags HM QE2 90 b'day. Our stb heads required advanced plumbing technique 6 hrs of attn. All compliments to kiwi, but now last call, email to loved ones r behind us the watches are settling into the routine. The sea has started rolling past, sails r full and Disco's next adventure has begun. Bruce Spencer blue watch leader

LEG 9 BLOG - 20 APR 16

This is the first entry of the log of the good ship “Disco McBoatie” on its five week mission to explore strange waters, make new friends and eschew civilisation.   This entry would have been written earlier were it not for trying to configure a new laptop fitted with modern software, totally incompatible with MoD retro-programming, followed by Giggles (all names in this log have been changed on the advice of our lawyers) practicing “Man overboard” drill with the semaphore flags.   Due chastisement has been apportioned with the Cat-o-nine tails to set an appropriate example to the rest of the crew.

We must begin this log with an introduction for those gentle readers (for we anticipate there will be some) who are as yet unfamiliar with this new crew press-ganged in the main from the really large crowd.   Our tale does not begin with the traditional shilling in the bottom of a tankard, although we all looked long and hard for same in the Gosport taverns.   Our move commenced with a 20hr trek across the waters to the mystical resort of Punta del Este; described as “mystical” due to the fact that nobody has seen it yet due to the low cloud cover and torrential rain.   The local admiralty office informs us that the weather currently being experienced is the equivalent of one year’s rainfall in five days.   All ships remain in harbour and the local fishermen are relaxing by feeding the portly sea lions.

Captain Calamity is keen to set sail, having done her best to escape from port twice.   She informs us that cleats just aren’t made the way they used to be.   The Tinkerer and his Apprentice have been exploring everything that moves or sparks.   Meanwhile Pedro and the Grocer have supervised a raid on the local supermarkets, spending almost £2,500 on enough food to feed a squaddie for 15 months.   In doing so, they have won our first race, trumping the First Sea Lord’s fleet of shopping trolleys with a home delivery van.   Now where do we stow it all?   Dettol is much happier now that we have stocked up on cleaning materiel.  

We understand that this yacht has recently been refitted at great expense to remove all mod-cons, such as furling sails, washing machine and multiplex cinema.   In consequence we have practiced how to raise and lower all sails by hand.   The Prince has redeemed his knowledge of nauticalia with a good demonstration of how to rescue a man overboard, however Tats, the cabin lad, is now a little apprehensive as to what tomorrow will bring, having only previously experienced Disco legs on the Hull to Rotterdam ferry.

As laptops and yellow bricks are still suspect, we are consigning this log to a bottle in the hope that someday somebody will find it and understand the true(ish) tale of the good ship Disco.

White Watch log, sea date 20 April.

DAY 37 - MON 11 APR 16

We’ve arrived!  6733 miles later (although only 6104 planned), including a 48 hour pit-stop in the Falkland Islands at the 5578 nm mark, we finally pulled into the beautiful marina at Punta Del Este at 1800Z.  As skipper, I have the distinct pleasure and honour of signing off Disco’s final blog of Leg 8.  Some of my fellow crewmen have written terrific accounts of their time at sea, capturing every essence of our great adventure, but in recognition that my own style is perhaps more ‘Enid Blyton’ and in order to spare my own blushes, I thought I’d stick to some basic stats, JWDs (Jolly Well Dones) and TYs (Thank-yous) that mark our journey. 

So stats first:

- Total distance planned: 6104 nm.

- Total distance sailed: 6733 nm.

- Average speed: 7.94 knots.

- Total distance from NZ to FIs (i.e. non-stop): 5578 nm.

- Total distance from FIs to Montevideo: 1155 nm.

- Best 24 hr run: 233 nm at an average speed of 9.71 knots.

- Days at sea since departing NZ: 37 (41 if you include island hopping around NZ).

- Litres of diesel consumed for engine & generator: 1019 l.

- Fresh water made: 17.5 tonnes.

- Food consumed: 922.5kg.

- Miles spun on Spinney by the skipper: 320m.

For each and every one of us, Leg 8 has meant many different things.  I can put my hand on my heart and say that this crew has been the most professional, tough and laid back that I have ever had the pleasure of sailing with.  Despite the 41 days cooped up together, time has flown by; conversation and humour has never dried up; there hasn’t been a single cross word (save the occasional ‘hurumph!’ from the skipper) and the effort and motivation has never once waned.  Every crewman has risen to the challenge and they can all proudly call themselves Ocean going sailors.  And at times the going has been tough – extremely tough and if I was single out one common theme, it would be the wet and the cold and not the 60-knot wind and mountainous seas which we took in our stride.  Sure, we’ve all stood atop a mountain in the snow and admired the view and some of us have been wet and cold on ops, but nothing quite prepared us for the relentless and grim conditions in the Southern Ocean, where hands on the wheel (in the most expensive and luxurious of Gore-Tex mitts) don’t last more than 30 minutes.  But there were no complaints, but bags of quiet, understated, never-in-your-face teamwork.  Here there are no weaknesses on board, but instead people just have individual strengths that mark them out in that particular area.  If I am permitted to single out one crewman, it would be Phil Caswell, my first mate and fellow Challenge 72 skipper and Sydney-Hobart race veteran.  Phil’s humour, patience and advice has been second to none.  And despite his rather diminutive size (I have no idea of his crew nickname – honest!), he is the toughest and most fearless on board. 

And finally TYs (in no particular order lest I offend).  First the crew – thanks for being such brilliant company; Nick Trundle and the staff (Jon, Mike, Glyn, Geoff et al) at the Joint Services’ Adventurous Sail Training Centre for enabling these fantastic yachts to sail around the World; my Boss (Brig Colin) for allowing me time off; Adventure Training Group (Army), the UK Armed Forces Sports Control Board and Army Sailing Association for providing the financial wherewithal; our countless number of fans (!) who have emailed with words of encouragement and congratulations and last, but not least, our families and loved ones for allowing us to indulge in these particular pleasures.

So now that we’re safely alongside after completing this adventure of lifetime, we have the next 5 days to prepare the yacht for handover to the next crew.  Stand fast some minor wear and tear and gear failure (most noticeably our heater’s water pump), we haven’t damaged anything or anyone.  And if we’re quick and efficient, we might get a day or two to explore Montevideo and the local surrounds.

T A S Hill
Lt Col
Skipper

P.S.  Message to the Admiral of the ASA: ‘General – yacht safely delivered!’

DAY 36 - SUN 10 APR 16

So as we near the end of our epic voyage I get the privilege of writing the blog on this occasion...

Blue Watch’s on and off watch this morning was in reality a pleasant one after the weather we’ve faced previously on the trip.  At around six o’clock this morning the skipper appeared from the companion way with news that we were about to hoist the spinnaker, all due to the wind which had swung aft enough to enable us to make good time towards our finish in Punta del Este.

Although our hoist of the spinnaker went well and we celebrated with our cups of tea afterwards, my worst fears were realised: there were no milk chocolate digestives to have with the winning cuppa before we headed down for breakfast – an example of the grim realities of life at sea, I cannot have everything!

After our watch finished at 0800 hrs, we headed down for bacon butties cooked by the marvellous White Watch top chefs; even though the bread was once again like something you buy from the artisan craft bakers, it had to pass the skippers quality control measures (which it did with flying colours).  As change is as good as a break, and in addition to the cooked breakfast, some had surreptitiously hung some birthday bunting as well as written pepper pig invitations distributed for Tor’s Birthday Party in the afternoon. The day was looking good.

Soon afterwards word was shouted down below from red watch that any spare hands were needed to help as despite the perfect conditions, the spinnaker had wrapped around the forestay and needed urgent attention. I headed back up and assisted in any and every way I could (which was sit on my fat ass and have a smoke), but in the meantime Donall was getting into the harness to be winched to the top of the mast to unravel it from there.  He managed to unravel it with no dramas and especially no damage to the sail or boat, so it was immediately re-hoisted to maintain our speedy progress given the conditions were relatively calm.

When our last watch before mother watch finished at 4 o’clock we had quietly kept a secret from Tor all day.... which consisted of a birthday cake cooked by Nick Sharpe the second mate, complete with pyrotechnic toppers, two birthday presents and a card.  Much to his delight and embarrassment he looked happy, with cheesy grin on his little face like a child at Christmas. I did sign his card in good humour having forgiven him for waking me up at ungodly hours just a mere few weeks ago - that seems like a lifetime ago.  Tor’s Birthday Party – sun downers on deck with beer and cake as the sun set whilst surfing along with the ‘kite’ at 12 knots of boat speed will be remembered by us all for a long time.

We successfully sailed the rest of the day with no other issues whilst completing a number of handover takeover chores, like servicing the boat winches and mustering various boxes of spares and repairs which have to be done before we handover to the next crew on the 17th of this month.  Then, as Blue Watch went into our last mother watch we were hit by another snag.  It turns out Tor Peebles cannot make pancakes, but it was the taking part that counted; bless his little cotton socks.... I am some what bemused as to how pancakes can turn out wet and burnt at the same time but he managed it successfully, although I sense no master chef award is coming his way.

Now I am sitting down writing this blog after we have prepared a hearty meal which was much appreciated by the most, not so Red Watch, we are now thinking of re-naming them goldilocks watch as they complained about the temperature of the main course being too hot!  As civilisation looms it seems we might be getting fussier!

So as we head home in just over a weeks time we will surely have a tale to tell of our trip across the Southern Ocean, round Cape Horn then North into the Atlantic to our finish. We met many challenging times including my most uncomfortable aspect of the trip – the lack of heating; but it has been an experience none the less which I will tell everyone about like Uncle Albert from Only Fools and Horses -  I just wish I had the beard to match.

J
LCPL J TONER
156 REGIMENT RLC
BLUE WATCH MORALE OFFICER / SHIPWRIGHT

DAY 35 - SAT 9 APR 16

Hello Disco fans, I can’t believe this will be my final blog of leg 8.  After such a long trip it has come around remarkably quickly.  Things are changing quickly at the moment and the most noticeable change is the longed for warmth.  This morning I could smell suntan lotion and the chicken legs were out with vengeance.  Everyone has cracked out their ‘summer wardrobe’ and there was no sign of any of the oilskin clobber or anyone contorting themselves into dry-suits.  Even Jake managed to venture out with only the three layers on!   Conversation has turned to talk of our final destination and what it has to offer this crew of hardened ocean sailors.  We are all looking forward to (some might say in need of) a hot bath and a brave barber with a hedge trimmer to cut the facial hair that most of us now sport.  For some it is nearly in need of being combed and not rubbed and scratched with irritability. Some have taken matters into their own hands however and we have some very dodgy moustaches emerging.

Casting my mind back, the foul weather, the snow and the hailstones seem like a long time ago; our week in Auckland preparing the boat and ourselves for this 6000 mile adventure.  At the time no one knew what was going to happen and few of us had any real understanding of the mental and physical hardships that we would face sailing an ocean passage of this size.  Having completed all but the last few hundred miles, and experienced the many highlights and pleasures involved, I can start to understand why explorers and sailors put themselves through the risks and and hardships that they do in order to achieve their goals and explore this remarkable planet that is our Earth.  There are few places as remote as the expanse of the Southern Ocean and to think Sir Francis Drake navigated these waters as an explorer is amazing.

After five weeks at sea our sturdy life-support machine that is the good yacht Discoverer needs some TLC so we can hand her over to the leg 9 crew ship shape.  Deep cleaning, rinsing down, replenishing, a few minor repairs, stock taking, and some routine maintenance all await us when we arrive in Punta del Este.  Some of this has started already, so our off watches are no longer spent reading but checking box contents, writing reports, collating photos etc.  Whenever you think you’ve finished a task, the 1st mate seems to find another one.  To keep us all on our toes we’ve also been flying the spinnaker for the first time on this passage in a bid for an extra knot or two of boat speed to help us eat up the final miles.  For those that don’t know, the spinnaker is the largest sail we carry, brightly coloured and billowing out at the front of the boat for use when the wind is behind us.  It’s a powerful sail that helps propel the 57 tonne Disco at surfing speed and is quite an exciting sail to fly.  It certainly involves a lot of work to get it ready to hoist, at least two watches on deck to get the thing up and down and only the most experienced can really helm the yacht when it is flying.  For this reason, and the fact the wind is up, she was dropped at last light and now awaits a team of ‘woolers’ to get her ready to hoist again in the morning.

I know Ben has previously mentioned how grateful we all are to our loved ones who support us, both when signing up for these challenges and whilst we are away and I wholeheartedly echo his sentiments.  I also would like to thank those at my unit and in my chain of command who have enabled me to partake in this amazing adventurous training opportunity.

Cpl Paul Saunders
Army Training Regt
Prince William of Gloucester Bks

DAY 35 - FRI 8 APR 16


Back in Sunshine

Today marked another step closer to home; as well as feeling the temperature continue to rise, we’ve enjoyed the first blue skies and sunshine since the Southern Ocean. During the lunchtime watch a couple of us dared to don shorts and subject the world to bare legs again. It’s a great feeling to not need to wear tight base layer clothing anymore! The wind has now “backed” – just as Nick, our meteorological expert, forecast – which means we can sail in a straight line North towards our destination.

It was inevitable that after departing the Falklands all focus would shift to Uruguay and the end of our journey. There was some concern that the crew may become complacent towards the end, but there has been no evidence so far. Everyone has slipped back into routine (after a few suffering sea-sickness relapses) and we could all go on indefinitely. However I think everyone will be very glad to tie up alongside in a few days’ time!

Even as we approach the finish, personally it still hasn’t quite sunk in what we have achieved on this voyage. I realise that rounding Cape Horn is a tremendous achievement but I think the greatest challenges for me have been living on a 72’ yacht with 14 other men for 5 weeks. There have been lulls in the bad weather but there is never a break from our confinement. It’s a very worthwhile lesson: from living with others’ food tastes... “must we really have garlic in tonight’s dinner again?!” to recognising that we all do the washing-up differently(!), I’ve learned to let the trivial things go. I’m amazed and proud that in 5 weeks of living on top of each other there haven’t been any arguments on board; in fact I haven’t heard a single strong word directed at crew-mate. There have been a few curses down below as food is thrown around (and hastily washed and put back in the pot), but in general everyone has heeded Tim’s advice on leaving the Falklands: “Keep a sense of humour in the galley.”  I believe we have been quite lucky with the weather and sea-state and even when the wind-speed and waves did get a little high, I never felt that the sailing was difficult.  Perhaps that is a measure of the seamanship of the entire crew that I stayed unaware of any ‘tough’ conditions.  Down below however, it’s been more of a struggle.

As this will be my final blog entry, I would like to thank my watch leader, Donall, and skipper Tim as well as everybody else on board Disco for getting me across the Southern Ocean and around Cape Horn in one piece. I’ve been helped and guided all the way and I feel I’ve evolved from ‘quasi-passenger’ to sailor in my own right. I’m looking forward to doing a Day Skipper course this summer and continuing on the path to Yachtmaster. The next time I round the Horn, I’ll be the Skipper!

Aled
Cpl A Edwards ACG (SPS)

DAY 34 - THU 7 APR 16

47 Deg 32 Mins South,  055 Deg 48 Mins West.  Somewhere North of the Falklands heading for Montevideo.

Well since leaving Port Stanley after a welcome 48-hour break, the crew of Disco have endured somewhat testing sailing conditions.  The pesky wind still blows from the North which is just the direction we need to sail in, making us have to tack regularly with each slight wind shift in order to gain some precious upwind height.  I’m sure the on watch don’t mind this as it gives them something to do, however for the Mothers, of which it’s the infamous jovial Blue Watch’s turn tonight, have been left feeling like a pin ball in the galley.  As we reach the end of the voyage, Donall the Pusser has allowed extra rations so the watch has been concocting a rather nice chicken stew without too many galley disasters.  Anyway all is now done and stowed away for the next tack to throw everything to the other side, and now it’s time to settle down for the evening’s entertainment, ‘Team America World Police,’ much to the skipper’s apparent delight, or lack of.  Not sure he’s a fan but then all of Series 1 and 2 of the “Inbetweeners” have been watched!  The Inbetweeners has been the source of much hilarity on watch, as between the watch we have been deciding which of the characters the crew are most likely to be. 

So what kind of entertaining things have been happening on Blue watch and the other watches over the past few hours?  The littlest things seem to have us roaring with laughter such as yesterday morning on the 0800 to 1200 watch.  After a particularly rough night getting tossed about and the dreaded side affects of Stugeron (sea sickness pills), Blue Watch’s resident ‘sleeping beauty pretty boy’ was caught dozing at the helm by the watch leader who was coming out of the companion way.  Tor spent a couple of moments monitoring the helmsman’s eye movement believing he was looking down at the binnacle (the compass mounted by the wheel from which we get our heading from), but when the tell tale head rolling like a Churchill dog, followed by an alarming swaying from side to side action, Tom’s game was up and full bore sleeping at the wheel whilst standing up, was perhaps not the best way to operate!  Sleeping beauty was dispatched to the side rail, and Tor took over for the next 2 hours, much to Andy’s and J’s disgust.

One of the domestic arrangements requires the Mothers to clean the boat and this includes passing the food waste to the on watch for disposal overboard; you can imagine this is not the pleasantest of tasks.  Anyway for the less observant ‘on watchers,’ this simple process can be over complicated by not taking into account the wind direction and boat heel.  Need I say any more to save you the grim details, but guess which sleeping beauty can now provide some sound advice?!

The skipper and crew are really keen to get to Montevideo in good order and in a timely manner.  This has led all the crew to get back in to the swing of the watches and we now have the opportunity to sail the boat hard and fast to our final destination.  Unfortunately the extra hours spent in the Falklands and the unfavourable wind have potentially put our arrival time back from Sunday PM / evening and now it looks more like our arrival will be on Monday, or Tuesday at worst case.  As I look at the chart, we have 750 miles to run and with a favourable change in wind direction which the GRIBs (Gridded Binary files) keep promising, will see us nicely on our way.  However, most of the crew are not counting down the miles, but working out how many Mother watches they have left, or the on watches with the double night watches. 

In some respects it will be a sad day when the expedition is over after all the challenges that the crew have endured over the last 5 or so weeks.  The friendships formed and memories shared and experienced will stay with us for a very long time, with plenty of dits to be spun of daring do in the Southern Ocean.  It is difficult to believe that 6 weeks ago when we all met at Gosport we were mostly strangers, but after this voyage we have become one crew working hard with and for each other.  For me personally it has been an absolute privilege to have been part of Ex TRANSGLOBE Leg 8.

Andy Pritchard
Ships Sparkie
Sgt

105 Bn REME

DAY 33 - WED 6 APR 16

Position 49 Degrees 54’.9 South

                056 Degrees 55’.9 West

Well… We’re 24hrs out from the Falklands Islands and White Watch have the privilege of being mother once again in less than ideal sea conditions, beating to wind in about 35kts of wind and wave sets that have us airborne every few minutes before returning us to our 45 degree life; it is for this reason that tonight’s dinner will be a one pot “range lobby,” familiar to all crew and a lot of the readership, based on a Beef Bourguignon.  We did consider including the dessert of rice pudding in the single pot concoction as an efficiency measure, an idea endorsed by the Purser and that was evidence enough of a fault in the plan…White Watch discovered long ago that Donall, Purser and man responsible for victualling knows nothing about food except it’s for eating and he’ll eat anything!!!

Those in the know may have spotted that our position is now above 50 Degrees South once more and that this means that we have completed the qualifying passage for membership of the International Association of Cape Horner’s, an aim of all the crew and an extremely satisfying achievement that has many of us remembering individual moments of hardship and personal victory experienced over the last 5500 miles as well as looking forward to the end and seeing much missed loved ones.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the families and friends of all crew members that have supported both the crew and individuals alike in this mammoth undertaking and recognise the sacrifice you have made during our absence.  It is greatly appreciated by all and we look forward to seeing you all soon.

CSgt Ben Coyne
The Mercian Regiment  

DAY 32 - TUE 5 APR 16

Onwards to Uruguay!

Today was spent preparing both practically and psychologically for setting sail on the remainder of our journey to Montevideo.  After a brief and informative stay in the Falkland Islands, we have now donned our sailing gear once again, hoisted the sails and resumed our on board duties for the last 1000 mile ‘dash’ to Uruguay.

We slipped from the dock in Stanley and proceeded to sea, passing by the Royal Navy patrol vessel HMS Clyde which had anchored at the mouth of the harbour.  The weather was a fresh 35kts of breeze and upwind but soon moderated to 25kts.  It looks like we will be spending some time sailing upwind, the boat is now heeled over and the waves are making the boat pitch up and down.  The temperature is noticeably more pleasant than it has been and many of the crew do not feel the need to wear the same amounts of warm layers and in particular, gloves.  That said, there is still a lot of water crashing over the deck, soaking the on watch crew!

It is clear that in the last month at sea the crew has learned to sail the boat very well together.  In leaving harbour, setting sails and getting the boat going, few words of direction were required.  The crew set about doing what they knew had to be done and seamlessly made the transition from battlefield tourists in Stanley to sailors on Discoverer.  Red watch have knocked up a sweet and sour pork stew, Blue watch have safely sailed us out to sea and White watch are currently preparing to relieve them and take us through the ‘8 til midnight’ watch.  There was great speculation and discussion over the amount of kit required to be worn, now that it is ‘warm’!  I suppose it’s all relative, hopefully the days of painfully cold hands are behind us!

Before stopping in the Falkland Islands there was plenty of chat about whether a stop would be disruptive, demotivate the crew or even make some of us reluctant to get back on the boat when the time came to leave.  Thankfully our worries were unfounded and after an enjoyable pause and an educational battlefield study we were all keen to press on towards Montevideo.

Capt Donall Ryan,
1st Battalion, The Royal Irish Regiment.

DAY 31 - MON 4 APR 16

A busy day in the Falklands today.  After a standard breakfast of porridge and toast from Dan, Ben, Paul and Jake – they thought they had got away with no duties as we were along side, we ploughed headlong into a day of fascinating activity.

Squadron Leader Tim Frogley – based here in the Falklands, had pulled out all the stops; we were met by a fleet of Landrovers which whisked us to our first stop on our battlefield tour.  The Argentinian War Cemetery, atop a bleak, exposed and windswept hill allowed us to begin to appreciate the scale of the loss of life on both sides of the conflict.  Richard (from Adventurer) gave a short background talk on the Falklands war before Ken, a retired Royal Military Policeman now living on the Falklands arrived.

Ken proceeded to talk us through the conflict with depth and obvious knowledge and we spent the rest of the day immersed in the Battles for Goose Green and other pivotal moments and before we knew it we finished at San Carlos Water and the British War Cemetery before returning to our floating homes.  As Tim mentioned yesterday, Capt Jim Barry was a fine sailor and before he fell at Goose Green was destined for great things within the sailing community.  We visited the 2 PARA Goose Green Memorial to their fallen soldiers and ensured we paid our respects.

During the night our sister yacht arrived (around 0100 but most of us were fast asleep and didn’t even hear them arrive).  We spent the day, in between our tour, catching up with the crew and swapping tales of daring do.  To see them all after so long and have the chance to hear about how they had faired was great.  They have rafted along side us, essentially mooring themselves to our ‘free’ side.  This makes for quite a sight in Stanley Harbour and we have had a steady stream of curious visitors.  BFBS are down to visit us tomorrow before we depart and there will no doubt be opportunity for some to embarrass themselves in front of the camera whilst sporting very fetching whiskers!

The Falklands are comparable in scenery to the Western Isles of Scotland or indeed Dartmoor.  With fewer people, there is a real sense of rugged outdoor living when farmsteads and crofts are seen.  The Islanders are incredibly hospitable and welcoming and we felt genuinely included in their small community for our brief stay.

Whilst the chance to stop in the Falklands and immerse ourselves in a key moment in both military and political history has been a real privilege; we are looking forward to setting our sails for the final push North towards Uruguay and sunnier climes.  We are due to depart just after lunch and are aching for the chance to break out or warm weather clothes as we progress up the latitudes.

Rory
Disco’s Engineer
Bate RE
Capt
OC LAD 75 Engr Regt

DAY 30 - SUN 3 APR 16

Land Ahoy!

Today at 1530 HMSTV Discoverer moored along side in Port Stanley having sailed through Port William Sound and into Port Stanley via its narrow inlet.  The sailing for the last 24 hours has been that of dreams.  The weather over night pushed us along at a steady 10 knots in an almost direct line to the waypoint off Port Stanley.  Dawn saw Discoverer running and broad reaching with dolphins acting as outriders escorting the yacht to her first sight of UK for 9 months. 

We were given a warm reception by a host of local well wishers, who took our lines and guided our sea legs onto the land – well a large floating ageing and rusting pontoon.  These included Sqn Ldr Tim and Becks Frogley and their 2 year old  triplets (Tim F was Tim H’s SO2 in Army HQ, Andover); Neil from BFBS and his wife who filmed, interviewed and took a host of photos which we look forward to seeing in due course; Gary and June Holden who work in Mare Harbour and Ali and Emma Price (and family).  Ali is the Met Office’s Principal Met Officer and is a good friend of our crewman Andy, who, when he’s not with 105 Bn REME is...an engineer in the Met Office!  And whilst he won’t thank me for saying it, Andy met his wife Kirsty here (when they were both working in the Met Office) 22 years ago – a longer time than Tom has been on the planet!  And last, but not least, Liam the Port Stanley Harbour Master, an ex-RCT/ RLC chap whose able assistance brought us to a comfortable if primitive mooring. 

This brief stop over will enable the crew of Discoverer and Adventure to conduct a battlefield tour of Goose Green.  In particular, we intend to commemorate the the memory of Capt Jim Barry.  Jim was a member of the Army Sailing Association who was killed in action at Goose Green.  Jim’s father kindly donated a silver salver, called 'The Jim Barry Trophy' in remembrance of Jim, which is awarded annually to a young ASA member who shows the most outstanding act of seamanship during the year.  It was a most generous act and is a fine tribute to the memory of Jim and in its first year (1983) it was awarded to the Skipper of the Royal Signals entry in the Three Peaks Race.

Tor
ATpr T Peebles
679 Sqn 6 Regt AAC
Blue Watch Leader

DAY 29 - SAT 2 APR 16

Over halfway now to The Falkland Islands after rounding Cape Horn with 150 nautical miles to go. ETA with this average speed is by noon tomorrow. Tim the Skipper has organised a battle field tour of Goose Green for both yachts which I am very much looking forward to.

Sea conditions have changed considerably as we crossed between the two oceans (Southern Ocean and South Atlantic), with depths changing from 5000 metres down to 50 metres as we passed the most southern point of South America. This made the swells and waves pretty choppy. We are currently moving at 8-10 knots speed over ground sailing with the 3rd reef in the main, storm jib and a Yankee 3 with average wind speed of around 25 knots. The Trisail is now set up and lashed down on deck as the wind is due to pick up to around 35 knots this evening from a southerly direction which will give us a pleasant push towards Port Stanley.

Back on mother watch today as our three day rotation has come around fast as anticipated. Donall is running around prepping tonight’s chicken Carbonara while Aled is water making. Rory is digging out the charts as he has now taken over the duties of navigator which will see us through until our arrival at Montevideo.

This will be my last blog on yacht Disco as our distance closes towards Uruguay. Being a reserved kind of person who enjoys having his own space, my challenge was having to learn and adapt to living with others in a very confined space. One where everyone gets in your way all the time! The other big challenge for me (being a regular from a boy soldier) was working amongst different people coming from all sorts of backgrounds: high ranking officers, reservists and an officer cadet. Turns out everyone on boards has the same mind set and teamwork came naturally for us from the start which made everyone get on so well with one another. There were moments when life got a little hard, for example being woken up at 4 am this morning to go on watch, having to put on wet and damp inner and mid layers while three others are trying to do the same thing in our tiny bunk area, which to be honest, wasn’t the highlight of my day! But it is times like these where everyone just gets on with it and helps each other out that makes up this whole experience and I wouldn’t have it any other way!

Jack
J Cox, Corporal
13 Air Assault Support Regiment. RLC

DAY 28 - FRI 1 APR 16

Cabo de Hornos

If one is to use the long lost (Victorian?) art of “reading a book” to find out about rounding Cape Horn, one might look at “Admiralty Ocean Passages for the World” from the UK Hydrographic office. This bestselling tome is a little dry at best, but in the finest British traditions of understatement to the point of lunacy, gives us two salient pieces of advice:

1.       “Rounding Cabo de Hornos from W to E is a comparatively easy matter”

2.       “A vessel in difficulty should run boldly through the straight and round up under land if necessary”

In layman’s terms then, the instructions are clear: it’s pretty easy anyway, but if things get sticky, bags of smoke and straight up the middle (and if you must wimp out, hang a left).

In our haste to leave Auckland (and the exorbitant data roaming charges) we didn’t get round to “asking Siri”, Googling, or querying on online forums as to the accuracy of the above directions, and were therefore unable to fuel our skittish imaginations. So Admiralty Ocean Passages had to do, and we prepared ourselves thoroughly based on its advice: procuring a few decent bottles of champagne, suitable tobacco supplies (only a bubble pipe for me, mum!), and rehearsing our fail-safe fall back plan: enthusiastically preparing to remain cheerful in the face of adversity.

Some time then passed…. and as today dawned we found ourselves approaching it: the mighty Cape Horn itself. With a healthy gale blowing and the seas building to sea state “frisky” on the steeply shelving sea bed, we trundled closer, with excitement and trepidation mounting. A gust of 60 knots true was recorded on the approach, and we surfed in at up to 20 knots. We eagerly peered into the drizzling murk to catch a glimpse … and finally there it was. At exactly 1837 UTC we passed Cape Horn two miles to port. The grey shape was a strangely majestic sight; the harsh weather adding to the atmosphere of this feared and legendary place.

Appropriate celebrations followed – photos, champagne (first toast to good old Neptune), cigars, hearty back slapping. But at some point all of us took a quiet moment to ourselves to let it all sink in. We have been thoroughly tested by a taste of the hardship, fatigue, treacherous and freezing weather from which legends have been made - Shackleton’s open boat journey, and the pioneering round the world racers for example. This remarkable experience is also only possible by the goodwill and sacrifice of our nearest and dearest. And it’s not over yet – we have a long 1400nm to Montevideo – I suppose my irksome nickname of “Captain Cautious” lives up to its reputation as I and the skipper prepare to get the morale hoover out and revert back to business as usual.

I’ll sign off now before tonight’s activities: official DIY tattoos, and ear piercings for the Cape Horner’s gold earings.

On a tragic note, the shocking news of a fatality, Sarah Young, on board Ichor Coal (part of the Clipper fleet) has reached us this afternoon. Our thoughts are with her family and friends, and her teammates on Ichor Coal.

Phil Caswell - 1st Mate
Capt
3 Bn REME

HMSTV DISCOVERER - CAPE HORN ROUNDING - 011837ZAPR16

We’ve rounded the Horn!  Discoverer and her crew rounded Cape Horn (55.58’.74S, 067.15’.25W) at 1337 Local (1937 hrs BST) at a distance of 2.5 miles offshore.  It was epic – 60 knots of breeze, driving rain, spray and 20 knots of boat speed as we surfed down the front of humungous waves.  With the whole crew on deck celebrating with champagne, toasting and thanking Neptune for our safe passage, it has lived up to all our expectations.  And now we’re bound for the Falkland Islands in smoother water as we enter the South Atlantic.  Just got to get past Tierra Del Fuego and the Argentine coastguard first...

Tim
T A S Hill
Lt Col
Skipper

Day 27 Thu 31 Mar 15

It feels a little like Christmas Eve on the good ship Disco today, such is the anticipation of our rounding of Cabo de Hornos tomorrow.  Despite still being 1,440 nautical miles from our final destination, tomorrow’s milestone represents the first ‘proper milestone’ after many weeks of ‘halfway to point x’ morale boosters from 2nd mate Nick’s daily nav updates.

The excitement started 24 hours ago when during dinner we had a sweepstake on what the distance to run would read at 0800 hrs local today.  At the time we had about 300 miles to go and were steaming along at 10 knots under the yankee 3 and two reefs in the main.  Guesses were written on our whiteboard and ranged from 201 miles to 238 miles.  As it happened the wind reduced considerably overnight and we didn’t increase canvass on account of having to keep contact with our sister yacht Adventure.  The actual figure at 0800hrs was 246 miles to go.  Imagine our surprise this morning when Nick the Nav turned out to be widest of the mark leaving the Extra Rasher of Bacon at Breakfast star prize to Paul with his guess of 238 miles.  Reports of skulduggery and tampering of the whiteboard during the night watches are strongly denied by the crew…

The excitement and energy of the crew has been well harnessed today.  Up on deck Red Watch worked tirelessly this afternoon to lower the main sail (it weighs about half a metric tonne) and raise our bright orange tri-sail in its place, plus rig the storm staysail and lash it to the deck just in case it is required.  This means we are well set up should the winds or seas pick up more than forecast as we round the Horn.  The GRIB files that we rely on for our weather forecasting indicate that we might see some lively winds but nothing we haven’t seen before.  Nonetheless, the boat is well prepared for whatever Neptune has in store for us.  Below decks we have a special menu for tomorrow.  Donall has authorised the release of eggs, bacon, sausages and beans all for the same meal tomorrow morning which should keep White Watch on their toes in the galley, and homemade pizzas are on the cards at lunchtime. The fridge (not that we really need one) houses a couple of bottles of something fizzy and we eagerly await cry of “Land Ahoy!” probably at breakfast time and then finally Cape Horn lighthouse bearing 359 degrees true, probably at about lunchtime.

As individuals we all have our reasons for being aboard HMSTV Discoverer.  We have all had our own ups and downs, our own challenges both physical and mental to deal with thus far and our own high points and own memories to take away.  However, to sit here on the eve of achieving something great tomorrow, something of which we will all be rightly proud of for the rest of our days is a testament to the team that we have become.  We are one crew.  We are prepared.  We are excited.  We are 139 miles to go…

Dan Willdridge
Lt Col
RAMC

White Watch leader

Day  26: Wed 30 Mar 2016

Less than 350 miles to the fabled Cape Horn!  There is tangible excitement aboard Disco as we get so close to the pinnacle of the voyage.  Now measured in hours to run we have begun to plan not only how we round the Horn but also (and to some more importantly) what we will eat and how the pictures will be taken for social media profiles...  A Full English Breakfast and some horrific beard poses for most!

A period of fine weather allowed the crew to carry out vital admin over the last couple of days and once again; a rag-tag display of gentlemen’s undergarments has festooned Disco’s guard-rails and boom.  Morale is up as hands and feet are wrapped in warm dry gloves and boots now.

The last 24 hrs have seen fine progress as the wind has shifted to a North-Westerly and picked up to around 25 knots.  Our heading of 088 degrees (no more or less as instructed by the Skipper as he pokes his head from the companion-way like a vigilant meerkat) is taking us on an excellent course to Waypoint 38 (Cape Horn).  The wind shift has meant that we are now sailing on a Port tack, the wind coming in over our left.  This means that the boat is heeled over on the opposite side to that we have been used to for the last few weeks – back come the Ministry of Silly Walk routines.

As Red Watch once again find themselves creating culinary respite for the other two watches and Afterguard I felt it appropriate to include a recipe we use on most days:

How to cook a meal on a 57 tonne Bucking Broncho.

The following recipe can be used in all kitchens but is ideal for the more adventurous chef willing to take culinary risks in the pursuit of the finest cuisine.

Your Galley (Kitchen) should be set up as follows;:

Preparation

  •  Put on your oil skins and rubber boots.  This has two effects; protection from scalding when boiling liquids get spilt by the rolling motion of the boat and to deplete all bodily fluids of the chef wearing them – effectively slow cooking the chef.

  • Light your double gas oven.  The unequal heat distribution in these ovens will give your food a lovely uneven cooking effect with the back of the oven burning all food and the front remaining steadfastly cool.  The fact that your ovens are not mounted on gimbals will mean that any food you try to cook in rolling seas will be immediately thrown out of the dish and straight into the flames where it will be cremated.

  • Light your 5 burner gas hob.  This is gimballed so does follow the roll of the boat but you must be careful to ensure all food is spilt onto the burners or down the back of the hob where it will stick to all cooking surfaces.

  • As you are preparing your meal ensure that the on watch demand brews at the most inconvenient time – and return them in disgust if they are not precisely what they would get from Costa Coffee.  This will not only overload the hob but also make sure that the Galley is filled with steam and that all work surfaces are filled with cups of boiling hot tea and coffee which will instantly spill all over the place.

  • Make sure that all condiments and other items in cupboards have been well tossed so that when you open the cupboard you are covered in cups, plates, knives and jam.

    Method

1. Take 15 salty sea dogs and gently stew in Southern Ocean saltwater spray for 24 hours.  It is imperative that you dry them sufficiently and also make sure that you fill them with liberal portions of salty snack products every few hours to ensure that they are both parched and starving hungry.

2. Roll regularly by sailing through 5 metre swells.  For best results ensure that your salty sea dogs are rolled while they are being soaked.  An added bonus to this process is that your salty sea dogs will be bruised all over as they hammer their shins, elbows, toes and heads into all manner of ‘sticky out bits’.

3. Whilst they are soaking make sure that you work them hard every 4 hours.  The best method of doing this is to carry out the following; don life-jackets, don either oil skins or dry suits, go up on deck, clip on, examine the sea state and wind conditions, suck air through teeth and look concerned; carry out multiple sail changes.  Allow 4 hours rest and then repeat.

4. To tenderise it is recommended that as your salty sea dogs go onto their rest period you start the generator and water maker.  The effect of this is most pronounced if done during daylight hours.  Your salty sea dogs will have their auditory senses assaulted to such an extent that they almost have blurred vision.

5. When the sun goes down ensure that your salty sea dogs are given plenty of sugar based snack products and caffeine drinks.  When sleep deprivation is added you will have jittery salty sea dogs who alternate between periods of frantic activity in the dark and star gazing at the awe-inspiring spectacle of truly dark skies with no light pollution.  This will induce extremely thought provoking conversations that would keep psychologists happy for ages.

6.Serve your salty sea dogs with plenty of carbohydrate bases (rice or cous cous are ideal).

Rory
Disco’s Engineer
Capt RE Bate
OC LAD
75 Engr Regt

Day 25 Mar 29 2016

So the time has now come, twenty five days at sea now clocked, for my second blog of the epic voyage. The infamous Horn is now in our sights.  Nick has identified a fair weather window that should bring us fresh, brisk winds around the cape for the turn of the month and a subsequent fast reach to the Falklands.  We should get round before the next low pressure system descends on the Drake Passage, but if not - Hey, it will bring nothing the mighty Discoverer will not have encountered before.

With the end now in sight, an estimated time of arrival being the 9th of April, I’m sure I am not alone amongst the crew in feeling the odd twinge of regret that this chapter in our lives is drawing to a close, and our “fellowship of the ring” will soon part ways, for now at least.

From this trip I will take with me unquantifiable experiences and memories that will always be treasured, such as the increasingly cutting banter exchange between J and I. The often wise, sometimes not, yet always comic ‘TORisms’ and life advice from our aged watch leader that helps burn the hours, making a double night watch a little warmer.  Sharing a cabin with my Blue Watch granddad has brought levity to the moment of dull depression that washes over you when you are awoken by Doctor Dan for a nights watch!  Anaesthetics is a perfect specialty for him.  It’s a good job his patients are all asleep if his bedside manner is anything like the one he displays in waking us up! My favourite Andy moment was last night. Rudely awoken by the moronic guffawing of the 2nd mate and Donall from the Saloon, a naked from the waist down, irate ‘’Captain Birdseye’’ sack-raced out of the cabin in his sleeping bag to express his disapproval.

Yes I’ll look back fondly on my time aboard Discoverer, and hope to continue in the noble pursuit of ocean sailing.  But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.  We still haven’t rounded the Horn yet, and beyond that there is still a long passage to Montevideo.  The words of R. Kipling will continue to motivate me for the remainder of the voyage as they have done throughout:

If you can pump the heads, when all about you men are blocking theirs’s and blaming it on you. 
If you can go off night watch, to a sleeping bag, still damp from morning dew,
And sleep the next four hours through too!

If you can wait for wind and not be tired of waiting,
If you can sleep through Andy’s snores and sighs.
If in the galley Paul can serve great catering,
Nick mate don’t look too good, or talk too wise!

If of land you dream, don’t make dreams your master,
J at least make some nice thoughts your aim!
When Yacht Discoverer meets with navigational disaster,
Nick treats North and South, tack or gybe just the same!

If Blue watch from their slumber are awoken,
Roused early by pesky white watch ghouls.
If Rory can see the boiler broken,
And stoop to build it up with warn out tools.

If on the guard rail Paul hangs out his laundry,
And risks it all on the boats pitch and toss.
And lose, the man has more socks surely!
As he hardly breathed a word about his loss!

If Tor can force his cracked and rotting fillings
To serve him long after they are gone.
Doc Dan is swatting up on dental drilling,
Now there’s motivation to man up and carry on!

If you can spin with Tim yet keep your virtue.
And talk wine with Nick, nor lose the common touch.
If mother can keep up with thirst for hot brews.
If Aled for his knee can find a crutch.

If we can fill our remaining degrees and minuets
With 60 seconds worth of distance run,
The ocean is ours and everything in it,
And what is more, we are yacht Discoverer sons!

Tom
T Simons
OCdt
Sheffield UOTC

Day 24: Mon 28 Mar 2016

Well good afternoon fellow bloggers and welcome.

It’s me, Cpl Saunders to take through another insight of what’s been happing on board the good ship Discoverer, which at moment looks like a high street laundry shop.  “Why?” I hear you ask.  Well for the first time in a good few days it’s dry, in view of airing dirty (now clean) laundry, it’s a case of making hay whilst the sun shines.

So then for my blog; today is all about Reflection and on watch this morning (at 0515 hrs) the sun beautifully came up and broke the ocean horizon.  I can’t think of more glorious and poignant moment for me as I gazed into its warmth, gently rocked by the calm of the southern ocean reflecting on its generosity to us for the first time since entering the southern latitudes.

My thoughts at that single defining moment, was that as this passage was getting closer to our journeys end, well……….going around the Horn at least, our band of merry men, us few will do it as a team.  What staggers me is that this monumental journey, with a crew of 15 completely different people from all walks of life, have bonded so closely and performed through the best and the worst of what has been thrown at us.  Our military ethos, training and spirit have enabled the best individually, moreover, even more as a team of soldiers, or should I say for this time alone, sailors.

I don’t think that there will be ever a dull moment in the weeks or even months to come after this trip.  The memories of laughter, the cold, hail and snow, the stupid things we all do and the achievements gained; the budding Paul Hollywoods and Heston Bloomingthals, amateur pastry chefs and bakers all will keep with me.  As an aside, some of bread has been epic, as good as bakers shop, and oh yes not forgetting Dr Dan’s and Andy’s scones which were lush - all that was missing the Cornish cream.  Gentlemen of HMSTV DISCOVERER, I salute you all in the epic task of maintaining our daily life, to succeed were others have not before, and it is a daily remainder when I see the skipper’s eyes light up when he talks about the outcome of transiting the southern ocean unscathed.

I ask myself now, do I want all of this sailing to end? I think not; walking my springer spaniel in my local park before going to work at 4.30 am does not come close to matching any time here, which has opened my eyes to life at sea in a 72 ft yacht.   It has been awesome thus far and immensely rewarding for a number of reasons, working along-side fantastic people, listening to what they all do, some clever people, some inspiring individuals but most importantly, people I now get to call my friends.  This is a once in a life time opportunity, so I continue live in the moment as it will probably never come around again for me.  I count myself very lucky and to be able share my thoughts with you at the time of a beautiful sunset, one that I will remember for the rest of my days.

Paul
Cpl Saunders
Army Training Regiment (G)
Prince William of Wales Barracks
Grantham

Day 23: Sun 27 Mar 2016

Getting Used to Things...

As the most-novice sailor aboard Disco, I thought I would share some thoughts on things I’ve learned and to which I’ve become accustomed that I hadn’t even considered before spending an extended period at sea on a sailing yacht.

Terminology.  As with any specialist activity, there’s a whole new vocabulary to learn.  Even the most committed landlubber will know (possibly unconsciously) many nautical terms.  The RYA’s Competent Crew course added to my knowledge considerably, but there’s been no slow down in new terms for me to try to remember. The lexicon is far too large to reel off here, but I thought I’d mention one particular group – animals: I’ve learned that although we do not have a crow’s nest, we have a cockpit (but this isn’t where the driver stands) as well as a snake-pit.  The snake-pit is so named for the ropes that are kept there.  It might be my favourite place on deck; I can sit there quite happily recoiling ropes to satiate my OCD!  It’s particularly satisfying working out the rope Chinese-puzzles that the other watches leave for us there after a sail change!  Another animal term I’ve come across is Dog Watch.  No, not a Countryfile-Pet Rescue combination, but a short watch period incorporated into the rota so that one watch does not do the same watch time every day.

Heads.  Others have mentioned how the motion of the boat makes all tasks more difficult, but I thought I’d give you a measure of how much the yacht heels over: there is an instrument on board similar to a curved spirit level that measures the angle of the boat from the vertical.  This measures up to a maximum of 35 degrees – which we regularly hit.  In comparison, the steep roads at home that are sign-posted as 1:5 are at an angle of less than 12 degrees! This means that when it comes to the heads, special tactics need to be adopted.  Using the heads now involves either the ‘leaning sideways-lunge’ or the ‘7 points-of-contact sit.’  Showering may remove the dirt from skin, but it’s replaced with bruises to elbows, hips, knees and every other part of your body thrown into the walls and hand rails.  Teeth-brushing can also feel a little odd when keeping your head ‘above’ the sink looks like you’re standing nowhere near it. 

Diet.  Not something I expected to have to get used to, but the diet has been a little different from my usual feeding at home.  The purser has taken a fair bit of stick for small vegetable portions on board, in particular from the ever health-conscious Doc.  I’m not normally one to hanker after salads or veg but I’ve come to cherish them in our meals.  While my first meal ashore in Uruguay won’t be a big bowl of pasta with bread on the side, I have eaten very well so far.  I’m aware my appetite can be larger than others’, and I was a bit concerned I might get a little hungry on this trip.  I really shouldn’t have worried – there has been more than enough (carbs!) at every meal and I’ve over-indulged a few times, normally on the nights when our top chef, Paul, has been on duty in the galley.

With the distance to the Horn now below the 900nm mark and rounding it only days away, morale remains high.  There may be piles of snow on deck, but it’s a Sunday today and that means a beer with dinner! Happy Easter to you all!

Aled

Cpl A Edwards AGC(SPS)

 

Day 22: Sat 26 Mar 2016

Sinners and Leaders

Forgive me Blue Watch for I have sinned.  I woke you up unnecessarily early for our on watch.... twice.  I have no excuse save for a conscience laced with guilt about being late for pretty much everything, driving me to jump up and shout prior to checking the time.  As you, dear reader, tuck yourself up in bed at night with you hot water bottle and cocoa the crew of HMSTV Disco have been burgled, the sleep thief is on the loose. 

My exuberance to get the watch up a full hour and a quarter before the start of their on watch was in response to a wake up call witnessed by other members of the watch, as we piled through into the saloon from our salubrious cabins (en-suite - don’t you know) to be met by the bemused Red Watch who sent us back to bed.  On asking about the boat in the cool light of day, we have concluded that Disco is host to a phantom sleep thief with 6 crew having been woken up at a similar juncture before their watch starts.  I count my aiding an abetting as the blind enthusiasm of youth.  I will, however, learn to put a halter collar on this energy in the interest of Blue Watch morale.

As Disco thrusts along the course towards the Horn the watches have shaken out into a routine to stave of the effects of the cooler weather, this involves:

  • looking forward to sail changes like a dog to walkies as a chance to warm up,

  • glove drill and sock drills – including the curious practice of sleeping with your clothes but not in them

  • rotating below – full bore hiding from the cold.

  • turning into a maggot in ones sleeping bag before bursting into oilskin clad life for the on watch.

My role as a watch leader in this cycle is to keep the likely lads of Blue Watch moving and ensure that they are always in a position to react to the boat’s demands.  This can be noticing that someone is getting cold and need to be sent below to warm up, working out how long one can manage on the wheel at night before they eyes glaze over from checking the heading, or sourcing gloves and other kit to maintain the teams capacity to function over a 3 day cycle. 

There are few environments that test the human body, mind and character in as thorough manner as sailing whilst testing the individuals in the group environment; the Southern Ocean in simply an amplifier of this test.  As a reservist, I work in an office where illness or injury, discomfort or lack of sleep are regarded as “HR Issues” allowing managers (myself included) to loftily rise above the problems of looking after their people.  For me, this expedition is a thorough immersion in the art of managing humans under pressure.  I have never been tested as thoroughly, as a business manager, as a junior officer (in a previous Short Service Limited Commissioned life) or as a watch leader/skipper.  I wish I had had this experience earlier as it has forced me, through necessity, to confront some of my demons and overcome them.  This is great training.  For me there is nothing to match it with regards leadership training. 

Tor Peebles - Blue Watch Leader

Air Trooper and 2Lt (Ret’d)

679 Sqn, 6 Regt AAC

 

Day 21:   Fri 25 Mar 2016

Lonely Planet Guide - The Southern Ocean (2nd Edition)

About the author: Bee Lizzard has resided in these parts since time immemorial.  She is advised by a number of fellow authors, namely Hugh Waves, Halle Stones, Snowy Sideways and we regret to inform the fans of the first edition that Ray O’Sunshine has sadly passed away.

Getting There

Currency

The local currency is the Peanutbutterjar (PBJ).  There are 100 sugars (SGR) per PBJ.  The exchange rate is 1 PBJ = 27 USD, or can be traded for a Donnal coupon, which are very rare indeed.  In certain suburbs they accept the Flyswat (FSW) as payment.  20,000 FSW is roughly equal to 1 PBJ.

Local customs

This is a funny little place. Bizarrely, standing still is rarely tolerated and if stationary, in a queue for example, it is customary to rock from side to side.  It is also extremely rude to refuse the offer of bread from a local.  One is advised to smile politely, eat it and worry about the consequences later.

Telephone & internet

It’s all a bit backwards here but this only adds to the charm.  There is limited phone reception and the one internet café is always busy.  Postcards are hard to find and the postal service (BottleMail) is unreliable and slow.

Accommodation:

There are only two hotels in town:

Almost 55 Deg South Hilton ****  Price $$-$$$

The discerning traveller will appreciate this oasis of comfort and warmth even if it does cost you an arm or a leg.  The pace of life is slow and leisurely and the amenities are first class.  Recent reports of extensive damage to the patio area are unfounded.

The Ice Hotel ** Price $

Just like its Scandinavian cousin, but without the ice bar.  The warmth and hospitality of the staff more than make up for the ambient temperature.  Generally well-kept and with an excellent gym.  This would suit the more adventurous traveller.

Places to eat:

Pussers and Flyboys – Fruitarian Restaurant from the Swat Valley, Pakistan - Price $

This place has seen better days but the owner is a jovial fellow and the portions are huge.  If you do visit this place do so at the start of the month when supplies are fresh.  I had the fruit salad and it wasn’t up to much.  I have heard it said that the seats by the door can be little drafty, but I think this is exaggerated.

Pongo’s Palace – Fine dining – Price $$$$

Lovers of the finer things in life will be in their element here.  The sushi is to die for and this place serves the best ceviche I’ve ever tasted.  Afternoon tea is fabulous with a fine selection of artisan teas.  The in-house bakery is a 24/7 operation and always welcoming to visitors.  The hungry should opt for the ‘bread basket challenge’ and try and win the coveted ‘Donnal’s Diet’ t-shirt.

Nightlife:

As every local knows there is only one ‘Disco’ in town. 

Things to do:

Whale watching

Nuffin2C whale watching tours leave daily from various locations.  Disappointment guaranteed.

Deep sea fishing

This is a popular activity in this town although choose your boat carefully.  Some bogus operators have set up recently and it is claimed they have never caught a single fish.  We recommend Diane Scoverer who has a good track record of finding the finest tuna.

Comedy

The local stand-up comedian Andy Ventura performs every Monday in the basement of the Hilton Hotel.  Don’t waste your money.

Lt Col
RAMC
White watch leader

Day 20:  Thurs 24 Mar 2016

Growing comfortable with life at sea.

For almost all of the crew on board Discoverer, twenty days is the longest we have ever spent at sea in one passage.  Our bodies have become accustomed to the routine that one slips into and we find that less of our off-watches are spent asleep.  Most of the crew have now begun to spend some of their free time pursuing various other activities.

It is now common to walk into the saloon and see people sitting around the table reading or chatting about the last book they read.  A lot of crewmembers brought a few books with them to supplement the growing library on board and these are being passed around; with the more popular ones already having a waiting list to read them.  I have recently finished ‘HMS Ulysses,’ by Alistair Maclean.  It tells the story of a WW2 cruiser escorting a decimated shipping convoy to Murmansk and is one of the best books I have ever read.

An evening film gathering has begun and attracts a good crowd!  After dinner entertainment has included ‘The Inbetweeners, ’Enigma,’ ‘Captain Philips’ and more.  It has become so popular that an afternoon showing has become quite regular.  Tim appeared not too see the funny side of ‘South Park’ when that made a brief appearance, although we’re working on him...

A number of us have taken the opportunity to tap into the knowledge of Nick, our navigator (Navi-guessor more like!) and his interest in celestial navigation to learn some astro-nav (the use of a sextant etc.).  While the theory classes are progressing well, Southern Ocean weather and substantial cloud cover make the practical application rather difficult.  On one clear night, we managed to get a position fix using the moon and several stars: Canopus, Alpha Centaurus and Rigel included.

Of course, Tim continues to use his exercise bike, affectionately known as Spinny to the crew who regularly trip over it, bang their shins on it and stack sails around it as we attempt to sail the boat.

All the while we continue to head East towards Cape Horn under storm sails in 20-30kts of breeze; we endeavour to keep within 100 miles of our sister ship, HMSTV Adventure, upon whom we rely for mutual support in the isolated regions of the Southern Ocean.  As the wind has moderated, the seas have continued to die down to a more pleasant 4-6 metre wave height allowing some much needed rest.

Capt Donall Ryan,
1st Battalion, The Royal Irish Regiment

Day 19: Wed 23 Mar 2016

This may come as a shock to some of you but before this trip, believe it or not, I was not a domesticated man.  But here I have learnt the simple things in life like making bread and porridge for the first time ever.  The porridge was called fit for the ‘Highlands’ by Tor Peebles and with the skipper’s stringent quality control on bread making, whereby he frequently calls for substandard loaves to be committed to Davy Jones’ locker, his approval of my fine loaf was praise indeed.  I have, however, threatened Tom Simons for putting pumpkin seeds in the bread dough and chilli in the food.  If he persists, there will be one less man on board and extra rations all round!

At the risk of blowing my own trumpet, I cannot help but point out that you are reading the words of HMSTV Discoverer’s water speed record holder.  At 27.6 knots I obliterated Doctor Dan’s conservative speed record of 22 knots.  Needless to say I have been crowned master helmsman of Blue Watch, only because the others cannot be trusted to navigate safely in the giant empty ocean as they would still find something to hit - like a country!

On a final spooky note, we have been visited in Blue Watch by the demon sleep thief of yacht Discoverer.  This pesky ghoul has woken us up an hour early before a night watch on two separate occasions, only for us to get dressed and proceed to the wet locker to get ready, just to be asked “what are you doing out of bed so early?” If anyone has the phone number to Ghostbusters inc you know what our email address is...

J TONER

156 REGIMENT RLC

Day 18: Tues 22 May

Vessel Position 53 degrees 59’.5 South, 120 degrees 16’.6 West

Teamwork

Earlier today, whilst on watch (and recently smashed in the grinner by a wave), Dan looked to me and asked “Do you remember wearing shorts and t-shirts?”  I had to think for a moment, for those memories seem so distant and not a few short weeks ago.  Discoverer has now been experiencing proper Southern Ocean conditions for about the past 72 hrs and everything got just that little bit more difficult.

Teamwork is a concept we understand, we are 15 adult men that have varying degrees of Army experience and it would be easy to disregard AT’s ability to teach us more on the subject; I know that has often been the case on lesser adventures (e.g. hillwalking between pubs).  Leg 8 of Exercise TRANSGLOBE can certainly claim to have fostered teamwork, you are helped by your watch mates in everything you do from the moment you wake. In fact you must wait your turn just to get out of the bunks in our cramped berths, rely on your mate to clear a space in a timely fashion before you all go through to eat. You can no longer eat successfully with just the two hands god gave (a design fault), you need more, your bowl and spoon take the two you’ve got….you want bread, someone else cuts and puts in your bowl. You want a drink, wait until you’ve finished eating or someone else holds your bowl. We then go through to dress and we are blessed on this leg to have been provided with HPX Drysuits, the majority have now been deployed, but these are not easy to don, guess what……two man effort, you get the picture and I won’t harp on. One more thing I must say, some of the most important aspects of teamwork are not the physical but the mental and emotional; a well-timed word of encouragement, advice freely given at an inconvenient time or a sharing of the cerebral load. The perfect example of this is the current working on watch requires one man on helm that is supported by a spotter that will inform him of the wave state behind and approaching, he will say one of three things: Wave, Trough or Breaker and this allows him to respond in time as troughs and waves push the stern in opposite directions and if you have a breaker….hold on!  If it’s “wave” you are just about to try and beat Jay’s current record of 27.6 knots surfing down a wave!

After nearly 72 hrs of conditions often at Beaufort 10 and rarely below 8 the Southern Ocean has definitely challenged us.  We’re tired but the team works and we’re looking forward to the wind easing over the next couple of hours.

 

Ben Coyne

CSgt

MERCIAN Regt

DAY 16: 20 Mar 2016

I have been following these curious creatures in their boat for a few days now, and continue to be fascinated – their migration journey is worthy of a CBBC (Crow Bird Broadcasting Corporation) natural history television documentary for sure.  By my feathered maths, they are now 2105 nm from Cape Horn and if I have caught brief snippets of conversation through the wind correctly, they are claiming this will be 12 days of their floating!

I have enjoyed wheeling and swooping around their little boat, occasionally with some of my friends joining me.  Tagging along has its benefits – some company in this (at best) fairly lonely ocean, some amusement from their antics, and of course some titbits.  For example, I can confirm for dinner today they have had a delicious meaty stroganoff (a foreign delicacy ... penguin?), followed by fruit cocktail with custard.  Not quite my usual freshly caught squid, but one musn’t grumble!

They seem mildly interested in my company and I occasionally see them clutching their bird book but somehow confusing me with my cousins, to my intense irritation....  However, throw them a few dolphins and snozzlebeak Albatrosses and good grief – they go nuts!  A stampede to the foredeck, bristling with go pros and cameras, clucking, clapping and hooting like mad.   All for those “rats of the sea” attention seekers!  It’s beyond me - as you don’t see classy birds like us up north where they come from – apparently we all “look like seagulls” to them.

Today has been windy - great for flying, and it would also appear good for their floating. They have progressively swapped their white flappy wings for smaller ones, but have kept going faster!  How does that work?!  Their leader has occasionally appeared out of the nest with a furrowed brow, taken hold of the spinning wheel at the back of the boat and squawked at them to scurry about, whilst they are tugging pathetically on their large flapping wings.  I can tell you who has the good job there! This afternoon they swapped their “main” sail with a smaller orange one which looks rather jazzy.  I presume this must be some sort of mating plumage – I hear rumours there is another of their kind a few hours flying from here, perhaps they are trying to attract them.  Wonders of the natural world eh!

As I watch them now, they seem in fine spirits – most are nesting cosily below, with a lucky few huddled on deck like those daft penguins, dodging spray and waves.  I’ll keep an eye for a few more days and let you know how they get on!  I sense this wind will stay a bit breezy - but they’ve got the right idea – small wings, head east, and ride the wind man!

Albert Ross
Local Resident

Translated by

Philip “bird whisperer” Reginald Caswell, 1st Mate

Capt
3 Bn REME

Day 15: 19th Mar 2016

Today has shown us little in the way of wind but the promised wind that we have travelled south to pick up is expected tonight… just in time for White Watch’s mother duties, obviously.  Dan, Paul, Ben and I are looking forward to the acrobatics and juggling required to open the galley cupboards containing the bowls, plates and utensils in order to serve meals in a blow.  Paul and Dan are having a ‘mother off’ again with Paul creating a lovely smelling curried sausage number and Dan churning out fruit scones and plaited loaves.  My strength is catching the lovely fish we have been enjoying but we haven’t had a bite in a few days now.  We wondering what fish live at 53 degrees south?  If someone could find out that would be great.

Time is starting to fly by now (we are almost half way between NZ and Cape Horn) but it is getting extremely cold down here.  I have been wearing nearly all my warm kit, day and night.  On my top half I start with a base layer, then a ‘Norwegian’, then a WindStopper™ fleece, followed by a ‘Buffalo’ shirt, Musto mid-layer jacket then finally our Musto HPX jacket and I would wear more if only I had the room!  We are hoping for a little more warmth from the dry suits when we start wearing them soon.

I had never sailed before I joined the Army, but within six weeks of arriving at my Regiment I found myself volunteering for the Army Offshore Regatta on-board a yacht owned by a retired KRH officer.  I ‘got the bug’ so to speak and have carried on volunteering on this and various military and JSASTC yachts.  So far I have competed in the Caribbean 600, Sea View Regatta, Services Offshore Regatta and a Fastnet.  I was also lucky enough to get a place on leg 5 of this TRANSGLOBE exercise so was able to add a Sydney-Hobart race to my logbook where we enjoyed racing against the Clipper fleet.  After a last minute drop-out I was called up as a reserve for this leg with only a few days notice.  This caused a bit of flapping on my part but my unit, once again, released me to go sailing and here I am.  I am still yet to complete any formal RYA qualifications so am looking forward to pitching up on my Competent Crew course wearing my Cape Horner’s Society tie!

Jake Sloan
Tpr
KRH C Sqn

Day 14: 18th Mar 2016

Friday night aboard DISCOVERER – drinking and carousing... more like lots of admin.

We have been privileged with fine weather in the Furious Fifties for the last day or so.  This means that the guard rails of our illustrious home are festooned with fluttering socks, pants, gloves and other clothing as it dries out.  For all the wives, girlfriends and mothers reading this; the prospect of a small damp boat filled with fifteen sweaty smelly men must be truly daunting.  Either I have got used to the stench or we have got very canny at finding every opportunity to clean ourselves and our kit.  The dreaded feeling of plunging your hands and feet into wet gloves and boots at 4am are enough to cajole even the most slovenly student types (Tom) into caring for every piece of clothing.

Passing albatrosses will have seen a hive of activity today.  Donall has been deep cleaning the heads’ (toilets) plumbing to prevent blockages.  An unenviable task, the hand pumped heads are notoriously fickle and prone to blockage at the slightest hint of hard work.  Nick (2nd Mate) has been inspecting the engine and generator, key pieces of equipment that power everything on board; I have been busy greasing and inspecting various other machinery as the Engineer and above decks all the rigging, sails and ropes have been given a thorough once over under Phil’s (1st Mate) all seeing eye.

DISCOVERER has been given the chance to really prove herself to us and we have grown very fond of her as we plough through the Southern Ocean in our oasis of life.  Caring for her has become second nature and the way that we have bonded as a crew is testament to the hard work we have put in and the reward and reliance that she returns.

There is plenty of wildlife to observe; we now know our albatrosses and yesterday we were extremely privileged to have been visited by Hourglass Dolphins; truly beautiful creatures that have a striking resemblance (in colour and markings) to an Orca whale.  Our book tells us that they are native to the Southern Ocean and at the last count numbered 144,000, although quite how that census was ever achieved is beyond the wit of this crew.  Further, we were watched by inquisitive seals as we passed them by – probably a surprise to both parties as we are close to point ‘Nemo,’ the further point from land of any ocean.  Whilst on watch in the early hours of this morning we saw a passing satellite and were convinced that it was the International Space Station; we waved at it anyway in the hope that Tim Peake was looking out the window and saw our speck of light twinkle in the midst of the ocean.  Still no reply to our email though...

As the Engineer I have been busy tinkering during the trip.  As we pulled out of Auckland Harbour with everyone watching, local dignitaries applauding and crowds cheering, the engine spluttered, coughed and died...  summon the engineer!  I got it going and crossed my fingers and toes for no more hiccups, not even 1 nautical mile from the pontoon and it had started!  Other than minor glitches and quick fixes, I have been relatively free to remain with my watch and sail.  The dreaded call of ‘’Where’s the Engineer’’ was never far away though and with a suspicious whiff of diesel smoke and frazzled electrics, I was confronted with a poorly heater unit.  Just as it was getting cold it packed up.  As the only means of heating below decks, we rely on this small but vital piece of kit to provide us with not only dry warm air, but morale inducing comfort from the blasting winds and spray top decks.  After stripping the whole heating system, which runs above all the ceilings and gluing the shattered water pump back together I held my breath and pressed start.  Like an ancient asthmatic Labrador it wheezed into life and glorious heat followed.  Not for long as another fizz and wisp of smoke followed.  Currently Andy and I are poring over wiring diagrams and relying on my Uncle in the UK to search the internet for possible causes.

The bread is proving nestled up against the warmth of the generator and we find ourselves on Mother Watch.  I thoroughly enjoy the chance to cook and care for my crew mates.  Tonight we have Diced Chicken Breast in a Red Pepper Sauce with Roast Potatoes and Fresh (frozen) Veg.  The last of our fresh pears have been stewed in a raisin and cinnamon sauce and will be served on a bed of crushed cookies with the stewing juices and melted chocolate drizzled over the top.  Mother Watch also means that we get to have a shower and the fact that it is nice and calm means that washing myself will for once not be like being in a washing machine on full spin!

Rory
Ship’s Engineer
OC LAD 75 Engr Regt
Captain

Day 13:  17th March 2016

Hello fellow shipmates and bloggers!  Welcome to another exciting instalment from on-board the good ship Discoverer on this epic, and I mean epic, journey across the Southern Ocean.  As you all known it is the largest ocean in the world and I can safely say we have not seen another single soul, except our sister yacht Adventure at a distance of 3 miles, since we set sail just over 10 days or more from New Zealand; not even a fishing boat.

Our clothing has changed substantially the further south we headed, from shorts and T-shirts in Auckland to layers of clothing and ocean dry suits as we crossed into the ‘Furious Fifties,’ where we are literally at the mercy of the elements of facing stinging biting rain and waves that crash over the bow and sweep down the length of the boat.   

I have been sailing since 2009; firstly on the Tall Ships’ race on board a Nicholson 55 and then weekend sailing in the Solent with the Joint Services, where I’ve been honing my sailing skills and drills, although nothing has quite prepared me for a boat of this scale and magnitude.  Take for example the water maker, which is our most important bit of kit on board as it provides our water for drinking, cooking an cleaning.  Aled is our watermaker and it’s his job to manage the levels, make the water and cycle the tanks so that we have an endless supply of fresh (albeit reasonably bland) water.

Everything on this yacht is so much bigger, heavier, more powerful and needs twice the people and effort to get the sails up and down, reefs in and out.  One thing I’ve begun to master is the art of helming.  We’ve had some really difficult helming conditions, from light variable winds which means you have to chase the apparent to keep the sails driving; to heavy, downwind rolling stuff in the pitch dark with no reference points where you doing your best to avoid the accidental gybe.  But all that said, we’ve got some fantastic experience on-board and we’re all on a massive learning curve, but I can say that this stunning yacht is capable of a journey of this size and can contend with what ever weather is going to be thrown at her.

In the grand scheme of things, everyone has a role on board in addition to being crewman within their watch.  Tim, the skipper and his mates Phil and Nick, set out the jobs that need to be done that day.  Tim beats the drum on leg 8 and makes sure we all toe the line, but he sets a good balance between work and fun.

Well folks that’s all from me as clocks have gone forward another hour as we’ve crossed 150 degrees longitude and I’m late for cooking tea!  I hope this blog has brought you all up to speed with the daily life aboard HMSTV DISCOVERER which has become our home and life cell out here in the Southern Ocean; please do keep emailing with your blog comments as all are welcome.

Paul
Cpl Saunders REME
ATR (Grantham)

Day 12:  16th March 2016

The last couple of days spent in the aptly named roaring 40s have been surprisingly, but, (for some of us more susceptible to the dreaded mal de la mare at least), not unwelcomely benign. This has provided me with some time for personal reflection on the trip.

First I offer a comparison. Where else does one dine on porridge every morning at the pleasure of her Majesty? What other place provides cold showers, a confined environment, overcrowded with men who might be growing worryingly comfortable with each other and with no prospect of release in the near future? The difference between Wormwood Scrubs and HMSTV Disco can be identified in our lack of live TV capability, meaning I would be very grateful indeed for any detailed match reports for the upcoming grand slam decider in Paris! (Cough cough). I hear inmates also get pool tables but I feel that a game of billiards would be difficult for us at a constant 45 degree angle!

The ever increasingly philanthropic Warden of Shawshank Discoverer, Tim, has very kindly dropped gym membership fees, allowing all inmates to have a go on the prison bicycle for free!!

Donnle Von Fridgentropp has in the meantime continued his masterfully conniving “Frank Underwoodesque” campaign to establish Red Watch dominance as the most powerful prison gang! He who controls the food controls the population! Today I traded favours (compacting his rubbish) in order to earn the use of some salami in my up and coming mother watch pasta!

Joking aside, life on the Shawshank Disco is pretty darn good. Whilst there is hard graft to be done, cold and wet conditions to be grizzed out, and Mal de la Mare to be disguised- Nick its ok… no one is judging you(!), I don’t think a single man would have it another way, we all signed up for leg 8 after all. I feel very privileged to have the chance to sail with this crew. A trip like this simply would not work if we had not gelled, and worked together. Long may this good natured status quo continue.

Having just graduated today from the roaring 40s to the fearsome, ferocious, frightening 50s, I feel confident that the crew will be faced with yet greater challenges building on that foundation of teamwork and humour.  I’m sure if things get really bad Donnle Von Fridgentropp will break out his secret stash of sugar and peanut butter we all know he's hiding under his bunk!

Right… I'm off for a quickie on Spinney in the forepeak!

Peace out
OCdt Tom Simons
Sheffield UOTC

Day 11: 15th March 2016

Disco position – 49°02’ South, 153°15’ West.  1700 nm sailed, 3050 nm to Cape Horn and 4635 nm to finish.

The sun beats down as we start to slip
Humidity ensures our brows start to drip
Not for the heat which we find ourselves in
But the voyage to the Cape, our nerves running thin

Mother watch strains to keep it together
Seasickness, I’m sure, can’t last forever
But as the boat wallows, and heels in the swell
Down below deck, the crew don’t feel well

Out of the hatch, Tom comes up for air,
The helm can do nothing but spare a care
For the next breaker, which swamps the pit
Lifejackets exploding hit after hit

Luff up, luff up, we need the next reef
The first mate cries at the disbelief
Of fifty knots, now on the scale
The only thing missing in this storm is hail

Our resident forecaster, casts a weathered eye
Over the grey and imposing sky
But only for, a split second until
The waves come crashing again at our sill

The boat drives upwards, up onto the crest
And crashes back down, before coming to rest
The foredeck crew are left up in the air
saved by the lifeline which secures them there

As the sea dies, and starts to abate
The albatross joins us again as our mate
Glides gracefully against the dark backdrop below
And follows us on our course as we go

Out from the clouds, comes the sun into view,
And the winds no longer blew as they blew,
The swell dies down, to a moderate canter,
the crew start to laugh and back comes the banter

Out come the chefs, to use all the flour,
And the purser’s the one who holds all the power
The release of butter, to complete the next cook
Great British bake off – but there isn’t a book

The crew now rested, in fine fettle born,
Continue our sail onto the Horn
Nothing prepared us for the journey undertaken
And the wind and the waves tells us Neptune has woken

Nick

Maj ND Sharpe AAC
Second Mate.,L

Day 10: 14 March 2016

Well this blog sees Blue watch back on mother watch again; can it really be 48 hours since we handed over to Donall of Red watch?  As I sit and write this on the good yacht Disco, we continue to endure somewhat benign conditions in the Southern Ocean.  For the third successive day who would have thought that we would still be beating with a course best to windward?  For non nautical readers this basically means that the winds are coming over the front of the yacht, but as we can only sail at an angle of 45 degrees off the wind, it has often meant that it appears that we are sailing in completely the wrong direction with either too much north or south.  However, it is generally agreed amongst the crew that this is far more peaceful than using the ‘donk’ and motor sailing which tends to interfere with one’s sleep pattern.  It is supposed to be an adventure sailing exercise.  We have just passed 1700 nm from Auckland on the log leaving around 4500 nm to run to Montevideo.  Overnight we came within 6 nm of Adventure, the RAF/Navy yacht undertaking the same circumnavigation and they are currently running down on a parallel course about 10 nm to the west.  This morning the crew were rudely awakened at 0530 hrs by the all crew muster alarm.  For some inexplicable reason the man over board alarm went off on the chart plotter and in Blue watch’s efforts to silence the alarm, they inadvertently set off the alarm to much derision and good natured abuse from the skipper!

Fortunately it seems that everybody has at last overcome the dreaded mal de mer and has had time to sort out their admin.  Generally the morale on board is high as people have been able to sort their lives out and now there is great banter between the watches and after guard as people get to know each other as time goes on.

Over the last 24 hours, highlights have been another sumptuous blue fin tuna being caught by J Toner of Blue watch, ably landed with Jake’s help and a bottle of beer (our weekly ration) for sun downers last night. Today we have had the tuna for lunch ably cooked by Paul of White watch.  If we were having Delia awards on board, Paul would certainly have won the prize twice as he has mustered up 2 evening meals and lunches that have been really well received by the hungry crew.

The bread making stakes have also been raised to the next level and are going to be a hard act to follow, although a Watch’s success depends on whether the purser, Donall Ryan, lets them have the secret ingredient or maybe it was access to the generator area in which to prove it?  Nearer to New Zealand this wasn’t a problem with high day time temperatures, but as we have sailed south the temperatures have taken a tumble and there is a decidedly chilly feel on deck.

I started sailing a number of years ago whilst working in Gibraltar and have been lucky enough to given the opportunity to sail on several Joint Services’ expeditions including a Transatlantic, legs on Arctic Expresses on the old Challenge 67s and more recently I have crewed for our skipper Tim, on his Challenge 67 checkout in October 14 and then on his Committee yacht on last year’s Services’ Offshore Regatta.  I must be doing something right as he keeps asking me back.  

Sgt Andy Pritchard
REME
105 Bn
130 Fd Coy

Day 9:  13th March 2016

Fairer winds... but in the wrong direction

Greetings Discoverer fans.  We really aren’t sure what mood Neptune is in.  Perhaps the daily offerings of the contents of the loo paper bin aren’t pleasing him which is why the wind seems to be coming from the exact direction we want to go.  On the other hand, we have just landed our second beautiful 10kg (22lb) tuna in as many days so we are being rewarded in other ways.  Tonight’s menu has suddenly been enhanced with another sashimi and ceviche starter and our tinned tuna will be staying in its tin tomorrow lunch time as we have a much fresher alternative.  Even those of you who are convinced we are all mad might be getting a little jealous at this point.  When I mention the perfect meringue we baked to accompany our lemon pie last night, I’m sure you’ll all be badgering JSASTC to give you a place on the next ocean leg of this epic adventure called Exercise TRANSGLOBE.

The wind on the nose is hardly surprising, this is sailing after all.  You may have seen on the tracker a rather jagged route for the last 24 hours or so as we ‘beat to windward’, chasing the wind, tacking on the headers (wind shifts) and generally trying to make good progress to Cape Horn, even if that means heading to Seattle at times.  It is fun, challenging sailing with all of our canvas up and we are all honing our light airs helming skills with every watch that passes.  Making a 57-tonne yacht do 7 knots to windward in 10 knots of breeze, which is constantly changing direction, is far more impressive than making her do 18 knots, surfing down a massive wave with 45 knots of breeze from astern (but not as fun, obviously).

The lighter airs have bought a more pleasant sea state and as I type this from below it feels more like we are sailing the Solent than the Southern Ocean.  A gentle heel and gentle motion mean that the crew are getting a chance to wash some clothes, themselves, catch up with ‘admin’ and the good ship Discoverer is getting some TLC.  Anyone who has spent any time on boats know that they are needy mistresses and constant TLC, love, affection and attention to detail is an absolute necessity.  As an all male crew we might, without any (local) opposition or suggestion that we are being at all sexist, suggest that we have figured out why boats are referred to as female.  In the interest of balance we are open to your opinions on this one.

We are all finding out new things about ourselves and our resourcefulness as a crew is something I am enjoying immensely.  We are fixing things we didn’t know we knew how to fix, cooking things we didn’t know we knew how to cook, having conversations about subjects we didn’t know we could talk about, although without Google to put us in check, we have all seemingly become experts in everything.  My favourite example of resourcefulness so far was being rescued from having to whisk an arm-achingly large bowl of egg whites and sugar for last night’s meringues by the rapid appearance of the power drill and a roll of black tape.  Hey presto! Discoverer suddenly has it’s very own KitchenAid Mixer.

Personally, this adventure has been something I have been looking forward to for a very long time.  I have sailed since my childhood; in dinghies and with the Ocean Youth Trust as a teenager, with JSASTC and with friends on charter yachts more recently.  This passage is an a whole new league, the longest I have previously spent at sea continuously being about two days.  I have grown up fascinated by stories of ocean sailors and their adventures and the books of Pete Goss, Ellen MacArthur, Tony Bullimore and others line my bookshelves at home.  As I gawp at the vastness of the Pacific ocean I think back to the early pioneers, Chichester & Knox-Johnston and what it must have been like for them in much smaller craft with none of the gadgets and communication we enjoy today (we managed to get an email to Tim Peake a few days ago – we will let you know if we get a reply).  The fact we are getting a chance to experience similar excitement and challenges to these great sailors, primarily that of getting our tiny life support machine across one of the wildest places on the planet is a privilege for all of us and a testament those that support and believe in adventurous training as a vital component of military life.  It is certainly one of the reasons I joined and I hope expeditions like this will inspire future generations and show them what it is possible to do when you choose a life in uniform.

Before I sign off, I’m pleased to report that I thankfully have not had to do anything more taxing than apply a few plasters in my role as medical officer and the crew are in fine health.

Fair winds,

Daniel Willdridge
Lt Col
RAMC
White watch leader

Day 8:  12th March 2016

Isolation

Leg 8 of Ex TRANSGLOBE involves the longest ocean crossing of the entire Exercise. From New Zealand to Chile, we won’t see land for four and a half thousand miles – just over 3 weeks of sailing. For someone whose prior sailing experience amounts to the Fishguard-Rosslare ferry and 5 days of becoming a ‘competent’ crew-member on the Solent, I’m struck by quite how big the sea and sky (and waves!) are, and how small and relatively insignificant we are in Discoverer.

The majority of my civilian friends and family balk at the quantity and quality of Adventure Training opportunities I’m afforded with the Army. I seem to spend a lot of my time justifying myself to them that I don’t “spend my life on holiday”. It’s difficult because any and all who know me are fully aware that given the choice, I absolutely would be doing the same activities during my actual leave.

However, AT is a vitally important component of training in the Armed Forces. Everything we do is in preparation for Operations and I think I have found, in ocean sailing, the perfect form of AT for such preparation. The teamwork, determination, dedication and other attributes being developed on board that are required for ops have been mentioned in previous blog editions; the one aspect that strikes me is that out here, in the middle of the Southern Ocean, you get the same feeling of isolation from the real-world that you get on tour. We don’t hear the news, we can’t speak to our loved ones everyday; we are about as ‘off-grid’ as anyone gets these days. Of course, we have access to a communal e-mail account and many of the crew are able to send and receive short text messages on their phones – both unexpected bonuses for me – but there’s no getting away from the fact that we are literally thousands of miles from ANYWHERE and we will miss out on events at home. Happy, not-so-happy, major and minor; there will always be things that we miss while we are away and that’s the strong link between this adventurous training and an operational tour.

I’m a little sorry to be missing events at home (like the last 10 mins of an exciting match today) but overwhelmingly happy to be in the middle of an experience of a lifetime!

Cpl Aled Edwards
CRHQ AGC

Day 7: 11 March 2016

HMSTV Discoverer – Position: somewhere between New Zealand and Cape Horn.

As the sea state is yet to abate and we continue to roll and pitch in the swell, the wind has started to rest and is dropping to a very reasonable 20 Kts, propelling the boat along at a steady 10.  It is utterly humbling to witness the power of the ocean against our hull, and the relentless power which is only really found in this the part of the world, that of course and the sea birds who accompany us through every mile.  What is also testament to the designers at Devonport Yachts, is the outstanding build quality of these boats which we have come to call home; even when we were bounced off the top of a wave, the boat bounced back, still on course and still we all had smiles on our faces.

The previous blogs have been written by members of individual watches, bringing to light some first-hand experiences which have moulded the crew into this slick machine. Supporting the watches and overseeing the route, sail plan and running of the yacht is the job of the after guard, which aside from the skipper, includes the first and second mate. Whilst the first mate acts as the skippers right hand man, the job of the second mate is primarily that of navigation, weather reporting and the person who is awarded with the most luxurious tasks – most recently removing the outbound pipe of the toilet to clear a substantial blockage.  I assure you has nothing to do with the anti-Atkins diet of progressive carbo loading, organised by Capt Donal Ryan (R Irish).  Supported by this diet of porridge, spuds and pasta, the crew have performed outstandingly over the last 24 hours.  We have managed our personal best daily run of 232 miles, achieved a top speed of 19.2 kts and still fended off the seasickness which was the headline a couple of days ago. 

As we start to really get to know each other, we are finding out more about the people behind this team who continue to support us.  Your emails mean a great deal so please keep them coming.  There is nothing more comforting than sitting down below, after taking of your cold and wet kit, with a cuppa, reading about how England have done in the rugby.

Maj Nick Sharpe AAC
Second Mate.

PS.  You will be pleased to know that Spinny McSweat has taken a more active role within this eclectic crew, whilst still adhering to gender segregation on-board ship, she has taken to residing in the extremely salubrious forepeak palace, which has been upholstered in new canvass from Sanders Sails.  After we agreed that she was not to roam the companion way, she has been seen on occasions loitering outside the heads ensuring all crew wash their hands before dinner, clean the shower tray after use and conduct a full pumping cycle for the toilet.

Vessel Position 44 15’ .400 S, 167 19’ .545 W
Course Over Ground 150 Degrees
Speed 9 Knots
Weather....Real weather!

The previous blogs have described to you both the conditions below decks and the sickness that this can cause for the crew, especially the mother watch that must spend 24 hours below decks caring for the needs of those you wish to take the place of. This blog finds White Watch just beginning it’s stint as mother with sun streaming through the companion way and a lull in our Southern Ocean battle as we await the arrival of our second low pressure system of the day and the resumption of madness both above and  below decks.

The crew that were suffering from sickness shook off the worst of it as we received the first real southern ocean weather of the trip so far and the most exciting any of us have sailed to date. Wind and waves built steadily through the night to storm force 9 gusting 10 with a sea state of High; for the none nautical readership that means a wind that was logged at 50kts with 6-9 metre waves! I can testify to the severity of such conditions as at the time the skipper logged the 50kts of wind White Watch were on deck taking down the spinnaker pole, Jake and I were on the bow and to describe a feeling of exposure is an understatement, to quote the Second Mate Nick who was on the helm at the time “I’ve never seen a boat this big get air like that”. Comedy moment of the watch was delivered by Nick our Second Mate who tempted the Southern Ocean’s reputation as a jealous mistress by asking whether white watch would rather be mountain climbing! We were promptly swamped by one of the aforementioned giant waves, Nick especially who took the lot to his unprotected face.

I personally picked this leg of Transglobe having only recently returned to an interest in sailing having, like so many others, pushed AT aside for many years due to operational commitments. My thought process was, ‘’if I can sail that I can sail anything’’ and “If I still want to sail after this, it’s a lifelong passion”. I must admit so far the trip doesn’t disappoint and I am having the time of my life; I’ve had line caught Tuna 3 ways (Sashimi was particularly good),  discovered I do like oysters, freshly dived for by the crew and I am thoroughly enjoying sailing on an amazing Yacht in conditions previously only read about.

Ben Coyne
CSgt
Mercian Regiment
White Watch

Day 5: 9 March 2016

Life below deck.

As the boat sails along at about 9 knots, it rises up and down on the waves, heels over to about 30 degrees left and right as the wind gusts and pitches around as the helmsman fights the swell to maintain his course.  This is all very pleasant on deck but down below it makes life quite difficult.

Imagine your house for example.  Now tilt it back and forth, side to side and shake it around a bit; that is what living down below is like.  Nothing stays where you put it, drinks spill and cupboards empty themselves on top of you if you open them at the wrong moment.  Walking around can be uphill one minute and downhill the next.  But life must go on, food needs to be prepared and cooked, the boat must be kept clean and tidy and personal admin must be conducted in order to keep trucking on towards Cape Horn in good order.  If these basic requirements are not met, life and routine could fall apart and crew members could start to suffer.

Worst of all for some, the onset of the boat’s uncomfortable motion can mean seasickness.  This debilitating condition can take its toll on the effectiveness and morale of a crew.  Those afflicted struggle with basic tasks, spend their time asleep waiting for it to pass or praying to God for relief or death!  Dangerously, when suffering from seasickness, victims rarely eat or drink, and if the do, struggle to keep it down.  This leads to dehydration and lack of energy, drowsiness and apparent clumsiness.  However, being on deck helps cure it and the knowledge that is usually passes in a few days gives some hope to those worst affected.  Only 30 odd days to go....

I have been lucky, my watch has largely escaped unscathed but as I write this, we assume responsibility for ‘Mother Watch’, meaning 24 hours below deck cooking, cleaning and resting after two days sailing the boat.  I don’t believe that anyone simply doesn’t get seasick, but that as a sailor gains experience, they learn how to avoid it and manage the symptoms and tell tale signs of its onset.  Keeping busy, not allowing myself to get to hot and getting a breath of fresh air on deck at just the right time keeps me from getting seasick.  We are all busy getting on with our jobs at the moment:  Aled is dividing out the day’s ration of treats and snacks between the watches; Rory is prepping tonight’s dinner: chilli con carne followed by pear and apple crumble, and Jack is doing some laundry and cleaning the heads (Toilets).  We hope to take advantage of a calm spell before the wind pipes up to get ahead of the list of jobs to do.

So far we have sailed 800 miles, eaten 10Kg of potatoes, baked 25Kg of bread, drank around 250 cups of tea or coffee, seen hammerhead sharks and more dolphins than you could shake a stick at.

Capt Donall Ryan,

1st Battalion, The Royal Irish Regiment.

Day 4: 8th March

Good evening from Disco.  Today’s blog is sent after 630 Nm of sailing and the theme of today’s blog is team work.  The conditions found on board Disco over the last 24 hours have been the ideal demonstration ground for an effective team and also ideal for exposing the not so effective teams. Disco is firmly on the former side of that coin.

Conditions have gone from sailing downwind with full main and No. 1 Yankee (the biggest triangle sail on the front of the boat) to reefing (making smaller) the main sail and changing down to the No. 2 Yankee.  As the wind went forward of the beam, we were able to hoist the staysail, an additional sail in front of the mast which defines these boats as ‘cutter’ rigs. This was all completed at night which is no mean feat as each sail is a minimum of a 2 man lift (we have no ladies in board), and each action has to be split down into a series of smaller tasks, with communication between the front of the boat and the helm made more complicated by the wind.

Each change of sail or taking in of a reef is like a mini team challenge, made more fun by the skipper’s stop watch.  The arduous nature of the on watch/off system and the sea and weather conditions are an ideal arena for the watches to develop their collective character. 

During the day today, with no sail changes, these team have formed a wrestling-like tag-team approach to all activities on board.  The hilarity of tag-team cooking as each successive watch member goes up top to vent their sea sickness will never wear thin.  Semi-conscious bread makers calling instructions through a delirium of hic-coughs and dry vomits to ham-fisted dough-fighters whose sole purpose seems to be to chuck flour about the saloon.  We are having a lot of fun, and smiles never leave the faces of those on board.

The point is this:  not one function on this boat is a solo job, and the success of the boat is dependent of the team who run it.  The team is working, those stronger today are taking up the slack of those who may be stronger tomorrow, with not a moan or grumble or change of pace.  There can be no better environment for training the core values of the Army or to test individuals, teams and leaders where the conditions, moderate as they are today, are unforgiving.   However, there is one member of the team who has set about making herself a nuisance in all aspects of her life.  This individual initially proved her value but, since yesterday has set about being in the way and constant hindrance to anyone trying to access the heads, whether for normal function or the emergency heaving (your dinner up) dash for the bowl, or the forepeak for a sail change.  This is made more frustrating as she is clearly the skipper’s favourite, Private Spinny McSweat, the exercise bike.  Spinny is not a team player, the crew have started to ask if it is possible to patent an off road spinning class as the waves get bigger on this trip to be marketed to gyms across the land. Food for thought PT Corps?  That said, we would not be without her and her whirring charm.

We will sign off with the generator on, brews being made, cottage pie on the table, and chocolate brownie (which came out runny) being served to the on-going watch. 

Tor Peebles

Air Trooper
679 Sqn, 6 AAC

Day 2: 7th March 2016

Into routine.

After lifting anchor following our epic mountain trekking on Great Barrier Island, we set into our first shift routine as we sailed Eastward towards Hicks Bay (one of the last bit of inhabitable land Eastward of North Island). With 15 people on board; the After-Guard (Skipper, 1st & 2nd Mate) and three watches (see previous blog) we set to our routine of On watch, Off watch and Mother watch. On and Off watch rotate on a four hour shift, swapping between deck sailing duties as the other takes a four hour rest with Mother watch being the administrative party for 24 hours looking after the crew’s welfare including all the cooking, cleaning of the heads (toilets), checking and emptying the bilges, and general tidiness. They of course make the brews as well!

Anyway, as we started our watch on deck slowing leaving the silhouette of the mountainous island as the sun set; the swells started to become bigger and as the south-west wind picked up we took down the Staysail. With wind speed picking up to 13-20 Knots we were able to boost our speed over the ground up to 9-11 knots. We rotated at taking the helm for an hour each which was exciting and passed the time well. During light hours we navigate by picking whatever reference points we can find, these could be part of the mainland, islands and even clouds for a certain amount time. In darkness we navigate by using a digital screen in front of the helm which includes a heading course, way points, compass course and radars etc. Our sister ship, Yacht Adventurer was in front of us as she set sail a couple of hours before. With her in our sights we made it a challenge to overtake her and just after nightfall we did! We achieved this by replacing the Yankee 2 sail (middle size foresail – right at the front of the yacht) to the Yankee 1 instead which is the biggest foresail on board. Before we knew it, our relief was on deck taking over the role of On watch. Being woken up the next day for our third watch we found ourselves surrounded by a pod of around 100 dolphins. Being curious about us as we were about them they would take it in turns to surf the waves next to the boat and leap out of the water to have an eyeful to see what was on board – look forward to some amazing photo when we get home.

We stopped at Hicks Bay for some last minute essentials from the local store. Because the anchor was already stowed away for the big ocean crossing the shore party had to lower the dinghy off the deck as the boat was still manoeuvring slowly in the bay. Sails were down and the motor running so it made the task more manageable. Within an hour they were back on board and we were on our way again. We are now on Mother Watch, stand by for pork schnitzels and potato wedges.

I am the ship’s Bosun, this means that I run the upper deck security, maintaining all the cordage and ropes and generally keeping us ship shape and tidy above decks.

Corporal Jack Cox
13 Air Assault Support Regiment RLC
Crew.

Day 1: 6th March 2016

We’re off!  After a week of victualing, boat preparation and then some sail training/cruising in the Haruaki Gulf, we hauled our anchor for the final time to depart on our epic 6100 nm adventure across the remotest and wildest oceans on the planet.  As Rory reported in his previous blog, the local scenery has been stunning and for our final day at anchor, we took up General Sir Michael and Lady Roses’ suggestion over dinner to climb Mount Hobson (Hirakimata), the highest point on Great Barrier Island at just over 2,200 ft.  The walk was stunning; an easy track through luscious woodland, deep gorges, rope bridges and waterfalls was a followed by an equally spectacular view from the top.  Our departure from the island was beautiful and we were pleased we took up OIC JSASTC’s recommendation to sail through the narrow inlet called Governor’s Passage.  Departing at 3pm, our first few hours were spent motor sailing in a light breeze, although by late afternoon the breeze filled in from the SW where it has remained at a reasonably constant 15k.  Sailing conditions are perfect; we’re carrying a No 1 Yankee (our biggest foresail), the staysail (the inner foresail) and a full main, which generates a steady 8.5 k of boat speed which is not bad for these 57 tonne beasts.  The sea state is reasonably benign, with small 1m waves and a rolling swell.  So far no-one has suffered from the dreaded mal de mare and I suspect we have found our sea legs over the last few days, which has been useful.  Time will tell.

The crew are in fine fettle and all have been on a steep learning curve since we arrived a week ago.  We’ve mastered the basics and now we need to become masters as we venture into the deep ocean.  Donall, our chief purser, and his assistants have done a great job victualing the boat for 42 days at sea (includes 20% reserve rations); Ben has done a sterling job mustering all the ‘QM’s’’' stores (cleaning materials etc.); Rory has squared away the engine and generator; Andy has fixed all the minor niggling electrical issues and ‘J’ has been exceptionally busy as shipwright fixing all manner of items, including the pump in the shower tray.  But not withstanding all the hard graft and effort under the watchful eye of the 1st Mate, the crew have bonded really well and that bodes well for 5 weeks of fun, great banter and camaraderie.  For me, this is going to be a sail of a lifetime and I often reflect how privileged we are to be serving in an organisation that let’s us do these things.  But soon things will get very tough; we’re prepared for some monster seas, strong winds and survival conditions and that’s what adventure training is all about, stretching individuals and the team to their absolute limits – I can’t wait (!), although I’m not a big fan of the cold...

Tim

Skipper

5th March 2016

Great Barrier Island – the final anchorage before setting a South Easterly course to Cape Horn.  What an amazing place to do it as well!

I write this instalment sitting beneath a fluttering Blue Ensign whilst gazing across to an idyllic shoreline.  Unspoilt and pristine Lord of the Rings rugged countryside with only our sister ship ADVENTURER and a couple of other intrepid locals to share it with.  Since departing Auckland we have gone through a series of training serials that have tested and ensured that the crew and our craft are ready to set off on our epic adventure.  Beginning with man overboard drills allowed us to all be absolutely sure what to do if this happens; rest assured we have an excellent procedure and can recover any unfortunate soul who should fall over the side.  Our constant vigilance and team work should make this almost impossible and the fact that we all watch each other and cajole anyone who does not wear their life jacket make for a safe atmosphere.  Running the sails up in their various configurations has also allowed us to appreciate how enormous the rigging is.  Solid and reliable; our confidence in the equipment has grown as the training has evolved.

For the last two nights we have anchored in Oneroa Bay on Waiheke Island; a short sail from Auckland and a place that the crew have all decided to move to immediately with its stunning scenery, wide sandy beaches and laid back locals.  This was also our final opportunity to stock up on last minute supplies and, using the inflatable dinghy, we mounted an expedition ashore which included running up the beach in crashing waves!

We ate like kings today at lunch after an epic fight on our trawling line.  A gigantic Yellow Fin Tuna (around 12 lbs) provided us with the most succulent steaks along with Sashimi and Ceviche and an appetite to catch bigger and more ‘fighty’ fish.  Before we anchored; Dan, our Doctor trained us on various scenarios and how we could deal with them so we feel confident that should the worst happen, we are able to react and treat any casualty.  We even successfully managed to move a casualty (me!) in the stretcher down the companionway, which involved halyards, sail ties and lifting arms.  It was tricky and no doubt will be tougher on a rolling deck, but at least now we don’t have to think it through when the chips are down.

Our Skipper and Mates have really put us through our paces over the last few days and we have all gelled; we know our watches and have worked well together.  The boat is ready and tomorrow we weigh anchor and then the next time we set foot on dry land (time permitting) is on the Falkland Islands where we hope to visit the Goose Green battlefield in San Carlos water.  Then it’s off to Uruguay.

Please keep the emails coming; they have been most welcome for those that receive them.  We have no idea what is happening ‘back home’ so any news is most appreciated.  Finally, once we’re at sea we’ll get into daily blog mode and the skipper has promised that it won’t just be me writing them!

Capt Rory Bate REME

OC LAD 75 Engr Regt

March 1 2016

Around the world in 53 days – flight to Auckland – first chapter.

Two Crews, 30 people, 24 hours travelling and crazy jetlag.  Flying on two 11 hour legs with a short transfer in Hong Kong brought us to the other side of the planet to meet our boats and skippers.  Arriving in Gosport the day before allowed for huge armfuls of kit and equipment to be issued.  Squeezing it into already brimming luggage was the first challenge and once completed there were multiple briefings to take care of.  The chance to get to know each other and swap sailing stories, or in some cases stare wide-eyed in horror at tales of heavy seas and monster waves, were balanced by the fact that the boats we are sailing on are some of the strongest and most able vessels around.

Upon arrival in Bayswater Marina, Auckland we made quick work of unpacking and getting a tour of our cosy new home; HMS (Training Vessel) Discoverer.  We quickly split into our watches and took on our secondary roles.  The crew is made up of the following people:

After Guard:

1.   Skipper – Lt Col Tim Hill SCOTS

2.   1st Mate – Capt Phil Caswell REME

3.   2nd Mate/Nav – Maj Nick Sharpe AAC

Blue Watch

4.   Watch Leader – ATpr Tor Peebles AAC

5.   OCdt Tom Simons Yorkshire OTR (Assistant Medic)

6.   Pte James Toner RLC (Shipwright)

7.   Sgt Andy Pritchard REME (Electrician & Assistant Purser)

Red Watch

8.   Watch Leader – Capt Donall Ryan R IRISH (Purser)

9.   Capt Rory Bate REME (Engineer)

10. Cpl Aled Edwards AGC (Sailmaker & Water)

11. Cpl Jack Cox RLC (Bosun @ Assistant Sailmaker)

White Watch

12.  Watch Leader – Lt Col Dan Willdridge RAMC (Ship’s Doctor)

13.  CSgt Ben Coyne MERCIAN (Quartermaster)

14.  Cpl Paul Saunders REME (Assistant Purser & Assistant Sailmaker)

15.  Tpr Jake Sloan KRH (Assistant Engineer)

We now have several days ahead of us to prepare the boat and each other before we set a course for Cape Horn and depart from Auckland.

I am part of Red Watch and have the role of Engineer, maintaining and repairing the various systems that support life on-board.

Capt Rory Bate REME

Engineer

Email the crew at britishsoldier@mailasail.com

Follow us at http://yb.tl/extransglobe15-16 or download the YB Races app on your smartphone.

 

Maj Dobson

Lt Col MK Cannon (Frank) MBE RWELSH
Army Ex TG Project Officer

Mil: 94393 6983
Civ: 01264 886983

email:malcolm.cannon244@mod.uk

Project Team Leader

Mike Barham
JSASTC Pgramming and Project Officer
Exercise TRANSGLOBE JSASTC
Haslar Road
GOSPORT
Hampshire PO12 2AQ

Mil: 9380 65416 Civ: 023927 65416
Fax: 9380 65211 Civ: 023927 65211
E-mail: jsastc_projectofficer@a.dii.mod.uk

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