HMSTV Discoverer (aka Disco), the RAF-crewed yacht, was 225nm SE of Agulhas Point beating into 35-40 knot headwinds as the latest blogs came through from the boat.
A 21-year old RAF Officer Cadet student and novice sailor, Gemma Lamont (aka Wee Gemz), is on board and she’s been sharing the blogging duties alongside the more experienced yachtsman, retired Air Marshal Sir Graham Anthony ‘Dusty’ Miller KBE who is now a member of the Volunteer Reserves. Below Wee Gemz and Dusty Miller cover off the first four days out of Cape Town en route to Perth between them!
Wee Gemz on board Disco writes:
Howdy Folks. Blog has changed hands and now you can enjoy an epic re-telling of the last twenty four hours in distinct contrast by the youngest member of the crew!
As we left the Royal Yacht Club yesterday all our adoring fans lined up to bid each crew farewell. As we motored out of Cape Town harbour in unison with our two sister vessels (however less superior they might be) it began to dawn on us what actually lay ahead along the 5000nm passage.
Sail training came and went; the crew covered everything from tacking to man overboard drills with “Bob” being the most suitable candidate to go over the side. “Gybe Ho” cried the helm as each watch made magnificent attempts to control the steel vessel as she crashed through the waves.
With a backdrop of the Cape Top cliffs, all three vessels crossed the start line of this once in a lifetime ocean adventure. I think the crew felt a little emotional as the last sight of Africa disappeared away. No turning back……
Hours in, we had already stacked up quite a counting of marine wildlife; whales, dolphins, seals, sea penguins and albatross. These outstanding spottings even managed to turn the heads of our poor wee sickies onboard.
Well guys, that’s all from me for now…. love to all of Disco’s families – NEXT STOP PERTH! Oh happy days….
The Blog-writing duty returns to Dusty Miller
Hi Folks, it’s the old guy again,
Our departure from Cape Town was indeed emotional but most of us were just very pleased to be under way at last. Gemma mentioned we had a couple of crewmembers suffer from a few hours of sea sickness – in fact, a good half the crew were affected in one way or another but most have now bounced back and are looking a lot better going about their duties in a very determined manner.
Yesterday (Friday) was a fantastic day with a long slow swell in the ocean giving Disco an easy, almost lazy, motion. The wind was, if anything, too gentle and we ended up motor-sailing for much of the day. Nevertheless, it was a first class opportunity for the watches to settle to their routines and for those on deck to enjoy some warm and dry weather for a while. We enjoyed the spectacle of individual whales coming close alongside as well as seeing pods of them passing by in the distance. Albatross and a few other unidentified sea birds followed us throughout the hours of daylight with one particular dark coloured bird riding our wake no more than 20ft astern for over an hour.
For the geography buffs, our intent was to head south until reaching the 37th parallel before turning onto a south-easterly heading. This way we would avoid the Agulhas Bank extending from the southern-most tip of Africa where the shallow seas tend to promote a very rough passage even in benign weather.
I took my travelling companion, Cedric, on deck for an afternoon photo-shoot before stowing him safely below decks. Later in the afternoon we had the opportunity to sample the Typhoon Force new aftershave – Hint of Diesel – when over-enthusiastic replenishment of the day tank forced fuel up the overflow breather and onto the deck, covering Paul.
Following a terrific beef curry dinner we settled down for the hours of darkness and were treated to a stunning night sail. Occasional bursts of phosphorescence in the wake were eclipsed in magnificence only be the myriad of stars that were visible literally from horizon to horizon. Being over 100 miles away from land there is no cultural lighting to pollute the sky and you can see every star, and there are a lot of them. Many of the more familiar northern hemisphere constellations are clearly visible but are hard to pick out from the bright clusters above us – Orion with his signature sword belt stands out loud and clear – but so far none of us has yet identified the Southern Cross. Still, we have time on side for a while. The stars faded significantly when the moon rose just after midnight and bathed the scene in bright silvery light.
Saturday passed quietly with the wind remaining south-easterly and generally below 15 knots. Again the iron donkey helped to keep us moving in the right direction but we were aware that there was a storm brewing and we were about to take a hammering.
Day Four on the RAF yacht Disco.
“Good day mates,” Its Gemma here signing on for another update on our recent adventures. Today has been our first real exposure to the true power of the Southern Ocean and the elements it maintains. As the wind has increased around our floating home, Disco has been lifted up, shaken and rattled by the white horses racing beneath her. Two reefs, a number three Yankee and a huge amount of effort later, Disco’s crew has began to take control and battle the fierce fronts that will be bombarding them for the next 24 hours. Batten down the hatches, hold on tight as the force eight is closing in fast. The Southern Ocean is preparing to flex its powerful muscles and its looks like we will endure a ride of a lifetime…….
Hi Folks, its grey beard again (and the beard is definitely grey)
Sunday was a day to prepare ourselves for the beating that lay ahead and 24 hrs later we have survived the worst. As the day wore on the wind started to freshen from the south-east and some of the crew took the opportunity to get some of their smalls through a hand-wash and onto the rail in an effort to dry them – those who started early were successful, those who started later, less so. We were putting reefs into the mainsail by early afternoon and by the time it got dark (1830-ish) we had 3 slabs in the main, No 3 Yankee and the Staysail and were ready for a wild night.
In short, we were hammered. The Staysail was removed in the late evening and the wind rose to a peak of around 45 knots with a consistent mean just below 40 knots. Disco took on the appearance of being a submarine with huge amounts of water crashing across the deck and occasionally pouring down the hatch to the chart table. Gemma got caught twice under an open hatch (once in the forepeak during a sail change and once in the saloon beneath the happy hatch) and both times came away completely drenched. Disco is now ‘running wet’ as everything is somewhere between damp and soaked and most of us realise that it will be Perth before we embrace ‘dry’ again. Mr Nick Gill did say that his clothes would keep us warm whether we are wet or dry, and so far he has been proved right. The crew have been utterly magnificent – last night on deck was scary but strength of character shone through and they now laugh in the face of a mere Force 8. Paul’s demented cackle every time a wave broke over his head could be heard throughout the boat, so maybe a little madness also helps. During the 0400 watch change the No 3 Yankee was replaced with the tiny orange Storm Staysail.
As daylight draws to a close on Monday, we have been buffeted throughout today but less violently than last night. Skipper says that it is a good job we are not trying to do this the wrong way round (east to west) and he is right – well, he must be, he is the Skipper.
Love to all our families and friends, you are never far from our thoughts especially in the dead of night when we realise that you are tucked up warm in your beds. I will try to gather some personal ‘shout outs’ from crew members over the next couple of days but even if you are missed I am certain your loved one is thinking of you.
From Neil – painting life in brilliant colours, love to Chris, Mike, Becca and Laura.
From Dusty – hell of a way to escape the pears, love and e-hugs to Lesley, Katie, Andrew, Danny & Ali.