TRANSGLOBE: Some reflections at the end of Leg 3

Apologies for going quiet but I have been ‘resting’ in Portugal for a week, hence the down time on my blog.

Tomorrow I will be posting a brief preview prior to the start of Leg 4 which sees the three TRANSGLOBE yachts take a fresh contingent of crew members from Cape Town to Perth on Leg 4 of the Exercise. Meanwhile, while I was away, the yachts all berthed safely in Cape Town and here are some brief reflections from each in order of their arrival:

Adventure 18th September – Finished Arrival Day 18th September 2009 – 1920 Local (1820 BST) across the line!!

This was a day of double celebrations not only was Adam’s birthday celebrated in style with a cake baked very kindly by Red watch, but we crossed the line ahead of the other two craft and the relief was apparent on everyone’s faces as we gazed lovingly at the shoreline and everyone’s thoughts were one of relief and a fantastic sense of achievement. We motored into the berthing areas and were met by the launch from the yacht club and Andy Scott, being a fellow matelot proudly handed us the victory bubbly, and what a taste it was, after virtually two weeks without alcohol it was like an angel kissing our tongues. Celebrations went on into the night, some indulging more than others, and as we danced and sang to Tina Turner’s ‘Simply the Best’ we realised yes we are.

Rio to Cape Town will be etched in all our minds forever and we were certainly on the right boat because yes it was definitely an ADVENTURE!

Discoverer 19th September – Sunrise

The sprawling city lights spread across the horizon lifting the spirits of the crew. Cape Town Port Control welcomed us to South Africa and informed us the Royal Navy had limped in under cover of darkness some 8 hours ahead.  Discoverer crossed the finish line at 0421 GMT.  As the sun rose over Table Mountain, the crew cleared the decks and prepared to come alongside in awe of the breathtaking backdrop offered by Cape Town.  The boat came to rest in the Royal Cape Yacht Club, whose generosity and friendliness is second to none.  After the boat had been squared away and a relaxed breakfast enjoyed by all, the crew set about discovering all that Cape Town  had to offer.  A short taxi ride from RCYC to the Victoria and Alfred waterfront allowed the crew to enjoy the hospitality of a number of public houses and indulge their desire to shop after 2 weeks of abstinence.  As night fall approached the crew regrouped at the RCYC to await the arrival of the Army; who, in good military tradition, chose to arrive under the cover of darkness.  Finally with all boats safely in South Africa, the crew of Disco looked forward to a comfortable night’s sleep.

Challenger 20th September – A few thoughts…………..

Now that this leg is complete we can reflect on the achievement of all of the crew – 6 were complete novices in Rio; who now all know a tack from a clew and a bowline from a sheet bend, something they would not have dreamed of 3 weeks ago. For those slightly more experienced these past weeks have also been extremely challenging both mentally and physically but also rewarding in being able to pass on a little of our knowledge to others and also learn much ourselves. Those who were expecting or hoping for a 3 week ‘cruise’ had a surprise as we fought canvass and changed sails in a F7 at night with 6 metre waves trying to wash you off the foredeck, spent 50 + hours each on night watch in the South Atlantic on an open deck, helmed a 41 tonne yacht in heavy seas day and night keeping the best course possible and had to contend with 3 hours sleep at best, 4 hours on watch then 4 hours off watch, in a madly heaving and pitching 67 foot yacht. Sometimes cold, wet and tired, but also always exhilarating.

Some will be surprised that everyone managed to produce some excellent food given the difficult conditions with a number of crew learning to bake a cake or make bread from scratch for the first time. Cooking for 14 hungry crew using 4 small gas burners and then doing all the washing up in a small sink when the boat is heeling at 30 degrees and crashing through the Atlantic swell requires team work and perseverance. What certainly impressed was that 14 people managed to keep themselves and the boat clean and live and get on together for 3 weeks unsupported in a living space not much larger than an average family caravan. This was probably the most challenging aspect of the exercise and would have exposed any ‘shirkers’ or loafers’ – quite the opposite came to the fore and all learned much about themselves and about working in a team. Even if some do not take adventurous training sailing any further they will have gained useful skills that will benefit them at work and also more widely.

All of us are extremely grateful for this unique opportunity to partake in an ocean passage on an ex-BT Global Challenge racing yacht with the personal achievement this represents and recognise the hard work put in by the Transglobe team and others to make it happen.

Finally all our thanks go to the skipper Jon and the mate Jerry who didn’t shout too much and got us to Cape Town in one piece.

Leg 3 Challenger Crew

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