In Challenger’s absence on the news front, here’s an amazing photo of skipper Mike Symes helming…or is that surfing?
Current Position 02/11/09
Speed: 7 Knts
Current Position 02/11/09
Current Position 02/11/09
Excerpts from latest blogs off Disco
Sunday 1 November 2009 – Dusty Miller writes…
Sunday dawned grey and cold but Disco was still making good progress across an increasingly flat sea. A slightly gusty wind caused us to reef the main but we were still making a good 9 knots over the ground. At the morning HF call we exchanged positions with Adventure and we seemed to have gained in the region of 30 miles over night, thanks to the precise helming of White and Blue Watches. It is all becoming a lot easier now that the land mass of Australia is appearing on the right side of the chart and the wind is allowing us to point Disco’s sharp end towards our destination. The Skipper has tasked each of the Watches to devise a pilotage plan for our entry into Fremantle and there has been some casual chart staring over the past few hours. I anticipate a growing frenzy of activity around the chart table in the coming days as there are very few left before we sight land (I just hope it is Australia when we see it).
During the day the Skipper and 1st Mate spent time in the bilges taking apart the freshwater pressure accumulator which took it into its mind to start leaking yesterday. Having extracted the offending item they discovered a hole in its base-plate which, short of any other option, the Skipper has fixed with the inscrutable application of araldite that only Skippers can do. He then spent many hours with what can only be described as resembling the starship Enterprise clutched in his hand while the araldite set. Tomorrow we will see how well the fix has worked.
It is now late Sunday evening and Disco is going quiet for the night for the crew to get some rest. Glancing at the gizmos above the chart table, we have just 1168 miles to go which, all things being equal, should have us safely alongside next weekend. If that is the case, this will be the second to last blog from Disco’s Leg 4 crew and I will endeavour to summarise our great adventure next time. Incredibly, we have not seen hide nor hair of other human existence since we saw a fishing boat off the coast of South Africa many weeks ago. We are looking forward to sighting something other than waves and sky and should do so in the next couple of days. Our attendant squadron of seabirds appear to have largely abandoned us today leaving just 2 of the dark no-name birds in our wake – at night they are bats and in daylight they are sooty pigeons. I hope we have not seen the last of the magnificent wandering albatross – they make aviation look so effortless and I am deeply envious.
Time to wrap up for tonight – take it from me, we are all looking forward to getting within mobile phone range to have at least a few minutes on the phone to our families and friends who we have spent the past 4 weeks thinking about and missing like crazy. If we cannot call because of the time difference, we will text or find some other way to get in contact. Until then, stay safe and lots of love from us all.
Saturday 31 October 2009 – Dusty
Hi Folks, its even-older bloke again
At 0001 this morning Red and White Watches sang Happy Birthday to me, and later we all enjoyed a very special breakfast of freshly baked bread rolls, crispy bacon and scrambled eggs, thanks to Blue who were just finishing their stint as Mother. I have been a very lucky lad because I will celebrate my birthday again alongside my daughter Katie’s in mid-November.
Eventually Blue Watch managed to scare up some wind and by late-afternoon Disco was running under a full main, No 1 Yankee and Staysail again and it was blissful not to have the engine hammering in the background. The crew treated me to a deep ocean Birthday/Halloween Party, complete with costumes and scary make up. The Skipper eventually relented from his starting position of ‘I’m coming as the Skipper’ and donned a very believable pirate rig. A splendid meal served in inimitable Red Watch style was finished with a cheese platter with port and a terrific Birthday cake. I have said it before but it deserves repeating, it does not get better than this.
Friday 30 October 2009 – Dusty
God bless ‘Sally of the Galley’ for writing a few lines yesterday. It is now early Friday morning and the cold light of dawn is beginning to steal across the outside world. Blue Watch have just taken over from Red and Disco continues her eastward progress towards Australia, now just 1600 nautical miles ahead. The wind remains fickle, set in the south west and cycling between 8 and 18 knots giving a boat speed of some 8-9 knots over the ground. The helm is light and the motion easy both of which are very conducive to sleep, especially at this time of the morning.
Sally closed by mentioning not having seen any dogs for a few weeks – equally, we have been blessed by the total absence of any form of insect life since leaving Cape Town. That is, until a tiny moth was seen yesterday evening fluttering around in the galley leading to the suspicion that the Skipper had inadvertently opened his wallet. A serious point for all would-be ocean travellers, we went to great pains in Cape Town to strip all cardboard packaging from the rations we brought aboard in order to avoid introducing unwelcome wildlife (especially cockroaches) into the boat’s stores. So far, our efforts appear to have been successful and I would not like to imagine having to deal with an infestation at this stage.
The general mood aboard is now one of jaded anticipation – we are all tired and most of us are carrying niggling aches and pains from the perpetual need to brace against the motion of the boat. For me, the cold and damp keep reminding me that my teenage enthusiasm is not matched by creak-free joints and I look forward to being genuinely warm and dry once more. Looking ahead and counting the days/miles/meals still to come we appear to be reasonably well-placed for rations and I salute Neil’s excruciatingly detailed planning which preceded the Cape Town shopping trip. ‘Substitute’ food (in the Black Adder sense) has been in vogue for a while – fresh vegetables are fresh from the tin, but we are not yet into substitute sugar – but we are still a long way from breaking into the emergency rations which hopefully will remain intact for the next leg. Our frugal use of the engine and generator mean that we still have a fair amount of diesel aboard, although not yet enough to light up the iron donkey and power our way to Fremantle regardless of the wind – that point is still several days ahead of us. The water maker continues to play silly buggers from time to time so we remain conservative in our use of fresh water.
I will keep this short as there are 3 full days ahead before I send this to Gosport for the web.
Thursday 29th October – Sally gives us the goss!
I thought I’d update you on some of the less technical aspects of the sail and more of the gossip! Obviously boredom does set in as each day rolls into the next and conversations with your fellow watch members are the only thing that keep the minutes and hours on watch ticking by. The next thing that happens is someone will mention a Sweep stake.
Our first Sweep stake had to be our arrival date and time in Perth. The date and time had to be guessed within a deadline of the 13th October so no unnecessary cheating could take place. The earliest (optimistic) date chosen was the 6th November by Owen and the latest the 10th November by Dusty with various crew members picking dates and times in between. Unfortunately no member of the crew (except the skipper) can really influence our earliest arrival date but I’m sure the pesky 2nd mate could definitely slow us down if he felt it necessary to win the huge money at stake.
The second Sweep stake was based on part of a Peter Kay sketch – ‘Guess who’s dead’? – You know what it’s like – you pack your bags go on holiday for a couple of weeks and a celebrity always dies whilst you are away……so having the normal ‘Forces’ sense of humour our second sweep stake involves us all having to guess which celebrity will die whilst we have no contact with the outside world…….names range from Amy Winehouse to Gordon Brown – some are wishful thinking, some are educated guesses and others more in a sick sense of fun! – Let’s hope everyone is really OK when we finally hear some news!!
Living on Board:
We have on our notice board crew nicknames earned whilst on the boat – or admitted to in a drunken state before boarding so far we have…..
Paul – Mufty, Diesel, Ninja (Yoshi) – Blue watch are the Ninja watch
Neil – Moley, Tubbs
Tim – Big Gay Bear
Owen – Billy Goat, Pterodactyl Toothpick,
Haley – Hughey
Adam – Mong, Ninja (Hirohito)
Paddy – Perverted Uncle
Gemma – Sameface
Sally – Xana warrior princess
Mike – The green mile
The Mates – Statler & Waldorf
It also contains the ‘Bread Roll of Honour’. Since the end of week-one bought bread has ceased to exist and so the ‘Mother’ watch each day have to prepare and make their own bread. Although we bought standard bread mix and have this for lunch on a daily basis a competition has arisen between the watches to produce extra bread each day to fill us all up at dinner time. All the breads have been fantastic and different in their own way – I have listed below the Bread Roll of Honour so far…….
Paul – ‘One egg’ bread, Chocolate Bread,
Buzz – Cheese bread, Chilli bread, Garlic Bread
Tim – Chilli Bread
Adam – Olive Bread
Paddy – Pizza, Pitta bread, Bagels, Fruit and Nut loaf,
Sally – Turkish Flatbread
Everyone else has made the ‘daily bread’ and has put in maximum effort to make it a success.
Sally – Hi and love to all. Si, Sal and Neil hope you had a great time in Spain and didn’t miss me too much. It’s not too bad although Groundhog Day is now very apparent. Things we are all looking forward to are………..Massage (aching shoulders and arms), Fresh fruit and Veg and obviously a large glass of wine (any colour!!) We had a small tot of Port for the 1st mate’s birthday so I still have my half way treat to look forward to! Hope everyone is OK at home love and miss you all – should be able to land line around the 8th November x x x x
Paul – Iestyn and Rhys, I hope you are well; I am missing you both very much. Best wishes to all my friends especially MY. I am looking forward so much to catching up with you as soon as I reach Australia – hopefully in just a few days now…
Skipper – Infamy, Infamy, they’ve all got it in for me………..
Happy Birthday Dusty for the 31st. All the best from crew of Disco Vera.
Owen – Hi all, I would just like to say how well I am doing and have learnt tonnes on the trip so far, from most aspects of sailing and also quite a lot of cooking, everyone is really keen to teach me new skills which I am always happy to take in. Hope you are all ok, especially Stacey who I am missing like crazy but not long left now so I’ve still got to make the most of it, caio for now…………….
Gemma – Mum, I would just like to wish you a massive happy birthday. I hope that dad, Claire and Ross are spoiling you rotten and that I’m not missing out on too much going on at home. Everything is great here, plain sailing in fact. All my love xxx