For some reason the little position flags depicting each yacht’s nominal position have disappeared off the official website satellite-tracking map. I suspect that this is a technical hitch rather than than all three yachts having been swallowed up by a big black hole so am suggesting that no-one panics at this stage.

Challenger hasn’t departed Wellington. NZ,  to rejoin the other two boats on Leg 8 yet but it won’t be long now. Skipper Becky Walford has emailed me to say she’s fine and dandy, busy rushing around getting the last of the provisions and fuelling organised and then they’ll be off.  I’ll keep you posted as and when…meanwhile we’ve nothing in from the Navy right now but here’s the very latest from the merry RAF crew on ‘the good ship Disco’.

Latest from the RAF yacht Discoverer

16th February 2010

Good afternoon from ‘Discoverer’. As we go to print on the blog you will no doubt be getting ready to rise on another delightful February morning. Present position at 0410GMT on Tues 16 Feb has us at 480 07’40S 1490 53.55W. The rain has eased off and we are making steady progress to the SE at around 9knts. ‘Navy’ are some 60nm to the South and slightly behind as they make small repairs to their luff boxes on their mainsail. Life here has a unique routine of 4 hour shifts for 48 hours followed by 24 hours as ‘mother watch’ looking after the rest of the crew. The short bursts of sleep seem to be getting easier although we have all had some strange dreams, especially Jo A who this morning reported that overnight she had battled out the Wimbledon final with a teaspoon! Morale is high on the ‘Big Brother Disco’ although the recent persistent rain eroded a few smiley faces, albeit only temporarily, even Gaz who has done 2 weeks sailing in his life, NZ to current position, and remains smiling! Some likened life to interrogation. First we sweat, then we get rolled from bulkhead to bulkhead, now everything is damp, still we still smile. Never surrender!!

Wozza had a grumpy patch yesterday and started counting down the number of possible log entries to the Cape. He recovered when Skipper announced we shall be have a ‘Pilot and Hostie’ fancy dress party on Saturday. Special guest will be DJ Symes complete with his Ipod and on his 24hr sugar high following pear crumble (yes this man has had many lives!!).  Still we continue to utilise the skills of folk onboard. Bread now has to be baked daily, with chef Jim giving the lessons in the galley eagerly watched by all.  Chinky has side burns appearing and is planning to enter the South American ‘Elvis’ lookalike competition, that’s if he can find the hair wax in the ‘Chinky Admin Vortex’ that is his bunk.  Brian caught a bird today on his fishing line but successfully got the somewhat irate ‘birdy’ back in one piece, well done brain.  Instinctively Alex was standing by with the winch handle, rations are not that low Al!!

Our new friend ‘Albert Ross’ watched the events from his birds-eye view and was especially amused when Chinky was tasked with launching a pot of rotten red cabbage and apple chutney, removing the lid he prepared for a powerful over arm launch, and threw it all over his back, his watchmates and the deck … just as well it was sweet smelling then!!  Talking of sweet smelling and roses the crew had a romantic Valentines Day, waking up to Valentines Day cards with the inspired poem ‘Waypoints are red, Southern Ocean is blue, Leg 8 is awesome and so are you!!!’, signed the good ship Disco, she is looking after us very well!

The winds are staying fair, so fair in fact that it is sometimes tricky to work out which way is downwind, as discovered by doc Jo when her snowball became a Boomerang!  Taff took it one step further freaking out Mikey B by covering tissue in choc icing and aiming it straight for him!!  Duck!!  That is not all that has been flying around the cockpit, in the last couple of days there have been a couple of hours of good drying weather and so the laundry begins, base layers and pants hoisted all over the place, including Jasons socks!

After his valiant efforts in stopping the engine from catching fire and spending hours in the bilges without a hint of seasickness Engineer Gonzo has transformed the washing up by making a plug for the sink! Not only does this stop the dirty water coming back up but is great for water conservation.  Amazing what a bit of wood and gaffer tape can do! And so we continue, Jibing our way through the last of the roaring 40s towards the furious 50s, dodging the squalls, or not, chasing the wind, watching the fronts come through, trying to break top speed so far 15 kts, beef stew tonight!!  All the best to you all.


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