EXERCISE TRANSGLOBE NEWS UPDATE # 3
Issued: 10th August 2009‘FLYING’ DOWN TO RIO
THE ARMY YACHT – HMSTV CHALLENGER – CURRENTLY LEADS THE TRANSGLOBE FLEET OFF MAURITANIAN COAST
Leg 2: Lanzarote to Rio de Janeiro 3,600nm
HMSTV Challenger (Army), skippered by Tony Houghton, TA, currently leads the TRANSGLOBE fleet on Leg 2, followed by HMSTV Discoverer (RAF), skippered by Jules Yeardley, a JSATSC staff skipper and HMSTV Adventure (Navy), skippered by Phil Brown, also a JSATSC staff skipper. All yachts are sailing well off the coast of Nouadhibou in the Islamic Republic of Mauritania.
These three 67ft-steel hulled yachts, with their new skippers and crews on board, departed from Lanzarote in the Canary Islands on 5th August to start the second stage of the 13-leg Exercise TRANSGLOBE, a major Tri-Service Adventurous Sail Training Exercise open to all UK service personnel, Regular and Reserve. The aim of this year-long exercise, the largest ever to take place, is to develop the personal qualities essential to Regular and Reserve members of HM Forces through adventurous sail training in a Service environment. Over 500 service personnel will experience the extremes of ocean crossings from the heat of the Tropics to the extreme cold of the Southern Ocean. TRANSGLOBE will test their physical and mental stamina whilst building confidence in themselves and their fellow crew members.
Prior to setting off on this 3,600nm stretch to Rio de Janeiro, a crew member on board Adventure blogged as follows:
Having only been on a yacht two days previously, I was fairly excited when I first stepped aboard our ride for the next three weeks, HMSTV Adventure. Our skipper Phil Brown greeted the team with his broad Welsh accent and any fears the crew had soon left as we all realised we were in safe hands.
Since our arrival apart from going over the necessary health and safety we mostly have been getting to know one another. The majority of us have not met before but we are gelling well so far and we are starting to find our roles within the team. Ian Gill being a Royal Marine has his personal admin locked down; some of this will hopefully rub off onto some of the Dartmouth officer cadets and myself. Dan Peskett has also been put through his logistical paces by being given the mammoth task of sorting the ships stores for the trip. He is still not back from the supermarket, I just hope he remembers the marmite or there will be mutiny.
As the start of the tour approaches the realisation of what we are about to do is starting to hit home. I personally have never been out at sea where I cannot see land! Some of the crew and I are complete beginners so will have to learn fast from some of the more skilled members of the team. One thing is for sure though, we can’t wait to get started and see if we all have what it takes to sail across the Atlantic.
The crew enjoyed a couple of teaching sessions in harbour, including a timed rowing race across the marina. This was part of the Competent Crew qualification which seven of the crew are attempting to gain during the expedition.
Having been too well fed and cared for by Barbara and the team at Café Catilanza we departed after our last English breakfast to a diet of long life milk and rice crispies. All the Yachts departed at the same time amid some friendly banter between the crews and thereafter conducted lots of sailing evolutions that will become our daily routine over the next three weeks including tacking, gybing and man overboard drills before coming alongside in Rubicon, Lanzarote.
Today we depart for the long trip down to Brazil and are both excited and a little nervous at the prospect. We are expecting the full spectrum of wind and weather and to test ourselves to the limit!
Meanwhile on board Discoverer or ‘Disco’ as she has become known, organisers received the following blogs covering days four and five at sea:
We set sail from Playa Blanca in Lanzrote and headed down the coast of Fueruventura heading towards Gran Canaria and the sailing was good, we had good winds and no surprises for the first 12 hours. The crew are all starting to get the sea legs and the routine is setting in. Couldn’t ask for better conditions and most people were spending half their time putting sun cream on and keeping their hats on. After a few hours the watch system kicked in and Red watch took control whilst Green watch headed for their bunks in need of a little kip, got to keep the beauty sleep us as much as possible or else things could get extremely grumpy. Conditions were still good until the wind died in the middle of the night so Green watch hand to get their towels out the help the boat along (not really) we used the engine to keep the speed up. Green watch went off shift and all was still fairly calm and the head sail was still down, about an hour in 35-40 knots of wind (which is pretty windy) suddenly picked up behind the boat and the conditions got a little rough to say the least, most of Red watch were soaked through and even the skipper was out of his bed, at one point he was at the helm and holding the bimini (canopy to shade from the sun) down with his free hand, unfortunately to no avail and the bimini collapsed.
Green watch were getting ready and Mother watch were making breakfast whilst in pretty rocky conditions but all was well and the conditions calmed enough so Red watch could dry off a little bit and get their heads down in their bunks. Today has been pretty good, 20-25 knots most of the time, did some storm sail and main sail training which is quite hard work at times, but it was worth it because we have just had a lovely curry for tea made by mother watch even there was lots of crashing and banging around they still managed to make a really good tea. Time for a bit of admin and hopefully a little bit less of a rocky night (but you never know)!!
Below is an insight into the Watch system being adopted during Exercise TRANSGLOBE:
· What is a “Watch” and why so many?
A ‘Watch’ in this context means the team of people that must be on duty to sail the yacht effectively. The Challenge 67 yachts was designed to be manually sailed at all times so one person is always on the ‘helm’ steering the yacht with a number of other people ready to trim or change the sails as the weather changes. As this is a 24/7 requirement, the crew is divided into a number of watches that rotate through a cycle of being ‘on watch’, ‘off watch’ and “Mother watch”. Some Skippers prefer the three-watch system with watches alternating ‘on/off’ every 4 hours and every third day being the ’Mother’ watch for 24 hrs. Other Skippers like a 2 watch system with a member of each watch being assigned to the mother watch duties for a day.
· What happens ‘On Watch’?
The on watch crew is responsible to the Skipper for keeping the yacht sailing efficiently on course for the duration of that watch period. They will usually all be ‘on deck’ (unless the weather is so severe that a minimum crew of two (the helmsman and safety lookout) are deployed. Under normal conditions the Watch Leader and his team are all dressed and wearing their lifejackets, to suit the weather conditions, and are stationed in the open cockpit. One will be on the helm with the others keeping an all round look out. If the wind changes in force or direction they will need to respond by altering the sail plan. If extra personnel are required on deck they are supplemented by the Skipper, Mate and ‘Mother Watch’ as necessary. For a three-watch system their time on deck is 4 hours and they may need 15 to 20 minutes to prepare to go on watch and a similar amount of time to get out of foul weather gear as they come off watch.
· What happens ‘Off Watch’?
Going off watch means that the crew is formally relieved of duty by the oncoming watch and as soon as they leave the upper deck, they get out of their foul weather gear that gets stowed in the ‘wet locker’. They will then either eat (if it is one of the set meal times) or make the most of their time off relaxing/sleeping/attending to personal admin/writing blogs and media reports etc. This means that most people get a maximum of only three hours sleep when off watch as they must be up, dressed and ready for the next watch changeover.
· What duties does the Mother Watch perform?
The Mother Watch is responsible for providing the entire crew with three meals during its 24 hours as ‘Mother’. The Watch members also replenish the water stocks using the on-board water maker, clean the boat communal areas (paying particular attention to the cleanliness of the Galley and the Heads) and complete any routine maintenance tasks as directed by the Skipper. However, they are also the pool of standby personnel who are on call to augment the ‘on watch’ personnel with major sail changes and such like. Being on the Mother Watch also provides the opportunity to attend to personal ‘make and mend’ tasks and, most importantly, a period of longer than three hours sleep.
Tracking and position reports as well as full details about Exercise TRANSGLOBE are on the official website at
– ends –
Notes to Editors:
- The crew blogs are being uploaded to the official website but the crews are very restricted in the bandwidth and air time they can use, limited to two data bursts per week. That means that you will see 4 blogs appear, followed three days later by another 3 and so on during the passage. It also means that crews cannot send photographs via the Iridium system, but they will be captured and posted on the website as soon as they reach their next stopover.
- The aim of TRANSGLOBE is to provide members of all three British Armed Forces with the opportunity to develop their personal qualities and team skills in a challenging environment that will test their physical and mental stamina, their courage and help them develop self confidence and powers of leadership. Every other leg is being used as an adventurous training exercise whilst the emphasis on the other legs will be to encourage a spirit of Corinthian competition between the Services.
- It is 11 years since the last tri-services Transglobe sailing event took place and the boats used then were Nicholson 55s. Offshore sailing is arguably the most demanding environment in which anyone can test their mental and physical toughness by getting the best out of their boat to arrive safely at their destination.
- Each yacht has a crew of 14 comprising; Skipper, Mate and with the remaining crew divided into either two or three “watches”, each of which has an experienced ‘Watch Leader’. Each Skipper must hold a Yacht Master Ocean qualification, be fully trained in dealing with medical emergencies (MFAS/MCAS) and formally authorised by OIC JSASTC. The Mate must be at least a Yacht Master Offshore and also hold the MFAS/MCAS qualification. Watch Leaders must be a minimum of RYA Day Skipper qualified. Of the remaining nine crew (using a 3 Watch system) there is a wide range of capability on board ranging from complete novices to RYA Competent Crew and higher.
- Leg 2 from Lanzarote to Rio de Janeiro is 3600nm. The yachts set off from Lanzarote on 5th August and are expected to arrive in Rio on or around 24th August.
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