TRANSGLOBE – The RAF reports in from Disco heading into Bass Straits

The RAF: Blog from Discoverer

She is D.I.S.C.O. Sat 05 Dec 2009 10:15 AM GMT

Greetings from the nightshift of Disco.  At this moment in time I’m sat at the chart table mid way through a 4 hour watch between 0001 and 0400 and my thoughts go back home.  As I sit here with 3 layers of clothing and having just had a mug of tomato soup the majority of you reading this will be settling in front of the TV having just had a Sunday roast. Oh how our minds wander – anything to stay awake on the graveyard shift!!!

Anyway as I’ve sat for the last 2 hours upon deck the Southern Ocean sprang to mind.  Here we all are on an adventure that is taking us through the infamous ocean of the world.  I doubt many of the crew or skipper will ever have the opportunity to sail this area ever again however it will no doubt be etched in everyones heads and log books for many years to come.  I think I speak on behalf of the crew, family at home, friends and work colleagues that everyone envisaged that this would be the so called ‘easy leg’ of the exercise.  It wasn’t until arriving in Fremantle that not only the crew but Phil our skipper realised the enormity of the task.  Many thought that maybe this would be the board-shorts, beach and ‘throw a shrimp on the barbie mate’ cruise, however, how this could be further from the truth.  Most of us are resembling Michelin men rather than the desired beach bum look on a daily basis and the shouts of does my bum look big in this are a dim and distant squeak.  The wind whips us constantly from the south which for those unfamiliar with the region is directly from the Antartic. Isn’t it supposed to be summer here?

The Southern Ocean could be described as the longest North Sea crossing ever but without seeing anything except its inky eerie blackness and grey sullen skies. The thought crosses our minds that the only reason the original visitors from UK to Australia never made it back home was that they couldn’t face the journey back through the Southern Ocean again. Our only sights since losing sight of our fellow yachts are 2 dolphins one morning on the port side.  Our elation nearly got the better of all 4 crew members who were hoping and praying that they would join us at our bow and ride the surf man, however this was not to be and they disappeared as quickly as they were spotted.  For the last day or so our newest member Albie joined the Disco crew– the magnificent albatross circling our position and pointing out our course like a pathfinder from WW2.  A very welcomed sight as each day he visits without fail.

Sunday morning saw the first crew decision being made but only after a few rounds of fresh bread and bacon butties.  As you can imagine smiles all round.  Since we left Fremantle we have been under a low pressure system whisking us along with winds up to 35 knots, however behind us a high pressure system eventually caught up with us and the wind has disappeared. Al asked the crew and the decision to put the engine on to get us to Sydney on time. This will give us a penalty but we have no alternative.  Later the evening whilst eating lasagne we have found out that the other 2 yachts have come to same decision.  A welcome relief that we were not the only ones to see sense.

Due to the sea conditions and the welcome thunder of the engine we have the relief of not being heeled over on a 45 degree starboard tack in our water bungalow since leaving Fremantle.  The crew are feeling more comfortable and while nursing their sporting injuries from the last couple of days Phil put the crew to work.  Jamie, Paul and Phil entered the twilight zone of the forepeak – a place where no man or woman wants to go.  They managed to tidy it out from the bottom and re-stacked all the sails. On the foredeck were the team of Andy, Rich, Nick, Bob, Bomber. The intrepid team set about 3 rounds with the sail bag and No 1 Yankee.  This entailed taking it out of the forepeak, undoing and then flaking the sail back into the bag.  Sounds easy – it could be liked to retrieving your washing from that spin cycle again. What a team, it was touch and go at some points and a few blows felt by both the sail and some knees, but they didn’t let the sail get the better of them and after the bell rang the sail was safely stowed below.

Monday arrived and unfortunately disaster struck the good yacht Disco.  The day had been spent catching up on maintenance and the stantions of Disco resembled the Boxing Days sales in M&S with everyone doing dobey (washing to all you land lubbers) We had all been treated to a curry night including homemade naan bread and red watch were just being given a rendition of the skippers joke about Henry and Christian – the prawns from prawn town!!!(the Southern Ocean has affected everyone in more ways than one) when out of nowhere the engine just stop and died.  Phil, leapt to his feet and sprinted back to the cabin.  Here both Bob and the skipper wrangled with the engine and after a few looks of fear on every crew members face tried to figure out what had happened. Meanwhile up on deck red watch (myself, Ian and Kev) like a coiled spring, reset the main to try and power us along, both Al and Paul now on deck assisted and within 5 minutes the watch had not only put up the forsail and staysail but managed to get a round of teas and stickies in. Air traffic and ABMs working in harmony!! This gave us a measly 3-4 knots but this could be Discos only speed for the next couple of hours. While the workers worked on the engine the talk upstairs was – well we may now get to see Melbourne after all. Our trusted SEF Chf Tech Bob from Odiham and Phil showed no signs of stress (but lots of sweat) and within an hour the engine was back purring with its fuel problem now resolved and the rest of the crew safely asleep. However when finishing red watches’ night shift Bob was heard mumbling in his sleep that maybe he could get a GEMS award or even a good show. I don’t know what some people do eh?

Today is the 1st Dec, we had a we wish you a merry Christmas with skipper cooking us all bacon omelette for breakfast and the opening of day1 of Discos’ advent calendar.(thanks Scotty some well earned morale down here).  We decided that day 1 should be Neptunes chocolate much to the angry eyes of 2 females as the Cadburys’ chocolate was thrown overboard.  We were also treated to some of the elusive wildlife.  Off the starboard side at about 0600 a pod of about 15 Dolphins suddenly appeared, only briefly and then no sooner had they sunk below the inky sea than on the port side a whale popped up blew some air then descended.  At 0600 this brought some of the crew to watch and smiles all round were seen.

In good old fashion Rich is at the moment in the galley making us all Christmas cake which smells delicious, hope we get to eat it before we get to Sydney and as I write this last paragraph our own Fireman Bomber is getting himself strapped into the bosuns’ chair to ascend the mast to grease the mast track. He is still looking for his pants and however hard we tell him i think he is looking in the wrong place.  If they had been up there maybe we would be in the lead as it he has mentioned that they were baggy enough to catch wind! For all his pals at work we have some good video evidence  of his ascent – it puts a whole new slant on the role of a  RAF Firefighter.

Well that’s all I guess.  We will keep you posted and by the time you get our next blog we’ll be in the Bass Straits and days closer to sailing under the harbour bridge.

Ta Ta For Now


Shout Outs

Terry – Hello Jane, Mum, Dad and everyone.  Still crashing from port to stbd and accumulating lots of bruises.  Haven’t managed a trip from bow to stern without unintentionally blundering into someone else’s cabin with a crash.  Hope you are all ok, looking forward to speaking with you all soon.  Hope the Christmas prep is going well, looking forward to doing mine when I get back, not!  will be thinking of you Jane when I get to Sydney.  All my love to you all T.

Jamie – Hi Caroline, Amy and Emily. Many happy returns Caroline, I did sing happy

birthday to you out on deck yesterday morning just as the clock would have ticked over 12

with you.  Hope you liked the prezzies? Girls I hope you are looking after Mum for me and

you took her for a nice meal? Bit quieter seas at the moment, waiting to hit the Bass straights.

Dodgey weather again is expected. Still this has really been an adventure so far and a real test

of lots of things, but I am coping pretty well.  Just done some washing and its out on the side,

Amy, I have just had my first shower in a week, Emily, guess what I smell like? To all the

Family who are looking on, we are doing alright. Think the Army will take the leg, but we

are giving it a real go. To my girls, love you lots and can’t wait to talk.  All my love. Xx

Rich – Talk of Australia invokes such images as long sunny bonza beaches, beautiful Sheila’s,roos, a tinny in hand while a shrimp sizzles on the Barbie, Shane, koilee, and Rolf Harris! However, our little “cruise” couldn’t be further from this perception. We are 14 deep aboard a vessel considerably smaller than your average two-bedroomed bungalow, except that the bungalow is not loaded to the gunnels with sails, fenders, safety equipment etc. Nor does the average bungalow lean to the side by 45 degrees. And where on earth is the sun! My legs still resemble porcelain, save for the impressive collection of bruises I have accumulated thus far from various cleats and shackles aboard! Message to mummy, send more thermal long-johns please, shorts aren’t really

appropriate as we continue southwards. Is this exercise Transglobe, or exercise Antarctic Explorer?!  Thankfully, I am very much in the minority of those who have avoided sea-sickness, which has blighted much of the crew – all of which have now recovered. To put into context the scale of our voyage, our total route is just over 2000 miles and we are averaging between 150-200 miles per day. We have just past the half-way mark so our relentless drive towards Sydney should conclude sometime next weekend. With over 1500 miles on the same heading it is nice to have a port-side bunk with the boat heeled-over as it is! The nautical wildlife remains elusive, save for the odd albatross, and the occasional mermaid – but the latter may be down to sea-madness. Furthermore, I continue my baking odyssey across the southern ocean, producing breads and cakes to keep the crew going. I have also added seamstry to my talents having had to carry out emergency repairs to my foulies! In the meantime, the “plotting” continues afoot. With the sockies throwing their support behind my cause, and keeping dutiful watch over me while I sleep, it won’t be long before we have command of the boat. Next stop Tahiti! So a big Henlow to all the clans of Cambridge Square, Poppy Hill, and Westell Close. Caz – miss you so much and can’t wait to see you soon – I so wish you were here with me – but no long to go now. Love you loads. Sam – I hope you are being a good boy for mummy – miss you too and I am looking forward to seeing you soon – and I’m going to bring you back something nice. To everyone else (including all Exochatters!) – a big hello from the far side of the globe – we’re still bound for the horizon and onward until dawn! Yo ho me hearties, hoist the colours high!

Bomber -As you’ve probably gathered I’ve been a little bit under the weather! I seem to have now found what little sea legs I have left and unbelievably started to enjoy myself. The weather has picked up the last couple of days and things are starting to run smoothly, although as I write this our engine packed in for about 40 mins which was worrying times as I need land desperately! Thankfully skipper, Big Bob and Terry have fixed it and we are chugging along nicely now. We are hoping to make Sydney by Monday but anything could happen. The weather is on the turn for Thursday which could mean more time looking for my pants over the side or in my pit! Leanne, Nico and all the family love and miss you loads and I’ll ring when I can. Take care and I’ll see you all soon xxx

P.S Andy wants a mention because he reckoned he helped fix the engine

Andrew – Actually I fixed the engine single handed while making a curry for tea and washing up. Well I did make the curry and washed up, but cannot take the glory for fixing the engine.

The sun came out today and I had to unpack the sun tan lotion. Might even get the winter tan after all. Deb, Oliver, Jack and Chloe, love you all see you in a few weeks. We will hopefully get into Sydney in about a week. Take a couple of days R and R and then the 24hr flight home.

Bob – Hi to everyone back home and as the guys have previously said it has not been a T-shirt and shorts sail round the Oz coast…numerous layers of clothing in large waves with little sun!! Not to worry though as Phil the skipper keeps us entertained with his jokes and more importantly guides us through the passage and hopefully on to Sydney next weekend for a well earned rest! Anyway, hope everybody is well and I will keep you informed as we progress past Tasmania and then on to the famous harbour bridge. Take care now xx

Vee – Hey Adam, how’s it going.  Hope you opened your Christmas card. Unfortunatley no Sex is on fire out here…. they just don’t seem to get it- yeah man.  Hi mum and dad hope the new car is fine.  Miss you all hopefully get to speak soon.  Big sis, miss you and hope you and Russ are still smiling.  See you soon big hugs Me xxxxxxxx

Kim, Hannah and Matthew, Still bobbing along, we have a real GNER albatross following us! Looking forward to seeing you soon. Love Ian


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