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Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Homeward Bound

Jangada Too is on her way home aboard Sevenstar's vessel the Statengracht.  ETA 12/13 September. Hopefully a smoother crossing for her than the outbound journey.

Friday, 29 June 2012

Drinking up the atmosphere

We're continuing to enjoy our time here in Newport - great weather, fantastic action in the America's Cup and wonderful attentions from our hosts at Newport Yacht Club. It will be hard to head home tomorrow...work on Monday - Ho hum.

Fine food

We're really enjoying the hospitality of Rhode Island - truly a serious Contender for the title of sailing Mecca of the world. We were delighted to have the opportunity to visit the America's Cup village and meet some of the sailors, including Loick Peyron - himself a past competitor in the TwoStar. Yesterday, we delivered Jangada Too to the north of the island where she will be dry stored until the ship arrives to bring her home. It was a bit sad leaving her there, but she is in fine company - we also spotted "Courageous", the yacht which defended the America's Cup in the 1980s was there, still looking beautiful. Last night we went to one of the many wonderful restaurants and indulged in fabulous Maine lobster. Richard is trying to source a boil-in-the-bag version for future races...
The sad news to report is that the "badger" beard is no more - it was driving me nuts and I didn't want to come home with a white chin!

Wednesday, 27 June 2012


Yesterday, we were given the tremendous honour of being awarded club pennants and medals by the City of Newport for our achievement. These medals were cast in 1963, originally for the Americas Cup Challenger-Defender Series and there are only 7 left.
Due to popular request, you will note I've retained my beard for the moment!

Newport welcome

Well, the last two days have been rather hectic! Our arrival in Newport was, in itself, quite a spectacle, as thunder rolled and forked lightning flashed around us. But we were on a mission to end our epic adventure in style, flying a full spinnaker and main in 17 knot gusts through the narrow entrance past the fort. An exiting tanker and overtaking gin palace didn't matter - we just went for it and, once over the line, doused the spinnaker and dropped the mainsail soon after, in perfect order. Twenty two days, two hours and 48 minutes. Job done!
We moseyed down the bay to the Newport Yacht Club, following a huge RIB, with James, the Race Director and Norm, the Commodore of NEwport Yacht Club on board, which had met us at the entrance, where we received a cannon salute and tied up. Due to Customs regulations, nobody was allowed contact with us until they arrived. However, we didn't have to wait too long and they kindly invited us to do all the paperwork in the clubhouse. It was so funny seeing Grace and Richard having to be given permission to hug by the Homeland Security ! Everything was in order so we were then immediately whisked to the bar and imbibed copious drinks -it was impossible to spend any money yourself. The welcome was so tremendous. After a suitable period of rehydration we went out for huge steaks, collapsed into real beds and slept for about 10 hours - fab!


Monday, 25 June 2012

The first drink ashore!

Trev & Rich have cleared Customs and Immigration and are now enjoying a large libation!

Nearly there!

For the last few hours I have been glued to the AIS Tracker on my phone, watching as Jangada Too sails ever closer to Newport. See you in the morning guys!!

Nantucket sleighride

Monday 25th June
It's just gone midnight local time and we're flying along the south coast of
Nantucket island, famed for its whaling history and for the "sleighride",
when a harpooned whale towed the small whaling boat and its crew for miles,
before finally succumbing to its fate. Happily, the current residents and
the right whales live more amicably today.
(also the name of a 70s album - was it Captain Beefheart? Put me out of my
misery, someoene!)
We're having our own sleighride, bombing along at over 7 knots in a brisk
sou'westerley breeze about 80° off the port bow, spurring us towards the
finish line about 50 miles away, in time for breakfast. Jangy seems to
sense the finish too - she's got a real spring in her step, nodding to her
task and nudging the wavelets aside with steady purpose, refusing to be
slowed in her course. Yippee!!!

Land Ahoy

Monday 25 June at 0057 UTC.

Land Ahoy - light flashing once every 7.5 seconds - Nantucket Island.


Sunday, 24 June 2012


Last night was one of those clear, calm nights with Jangada Too in the
groove sailing upwind. It is at times like this that taking over from George
on the helm is especially satisfying. One sits there in tune with wind, sea
and boat - feeling every breath of wind on the face, listening to every
surge of water as the boat forges aside her bow wave, sensitive to any tiny
creak in the hull and fittings that may seem out of place.

I started to get the feeling that I was not alone. The odd splash that was
out of tune with the boats wake......

....then the shock as I saw four streams of light out of the corner of my
eye - just below the waters surface, coming from astern and aiming straight
for the bow. It was like all those World War Two movies that you see where
the torpedoes are lined up for a broadside strike, leaving in their path a
trail of streaming bubbles.

But there was no strike, no explosion - just the usual wind and waves. Then
the light show appeared from the other side repeating its dance around the
bow. Again. And again. The light show was spectacular. As if spirits from
the ocean were dancing around the yacht.

And as quetly as they had arrived, the dolphins with their effervescent
trails, wandered of into the night leaving me in awe of the wonderful light
show I had just seen.



Sunday 24th June
As we make our wa slowly to the finish line, some 130 miles away, I've been
reflecting on the last three weeks, spent at various angles, mostly greater
than 40°. Which brings me to gimbals. Where are they now? In case you're
not aware, the gimbal was a natty device, consisting of three concentric
circles with bearings between them, at right angles, such that whichever way
to tilted the outer ring, the inner ring stayed horizontal. They were used
extensively on old sailing ships, to keep chronometers, compasses and oil
lamps in an even state, even when nature was doing its best to instil chaos
in the innards of the boat. Today, you hardly ever see one, excelpt perhaps
in those boutiquey chandlers, where you might find one to hold the
"Skipper's cocoa" or a recipe book level.
The only device which might be considered gimbal-ish in a modern yacht is
the oven, which is usually longitudinally, to combat the greatest of the
three forces acting on the boat - roll. Pitch and yaw are a lesser threat
to one's dinner, so are ignored.
So why has the gimbal disappeared? Well, I;ve surmised that the main reason
is probably the pendelum effect. Odd motions ccan be coped with by the
gimbal, but a regular, even motion can turn the gimbal into a swingombeter,
which can ultimately create more violent motion than was originally
experienced. I seem to remember a contemporary of Brunel who designed and
built a ship whose entire innards consisted of a huge cylinder that pivoted
on the longitudinal axis of the ship. So confident was this hapless
indiviual that this would provide the ultimate solution to the tilting
world, that furniture was not fixed and they even had a billiard room. The
maiden voyage was poulated by eminent dignitaries and their spouses, with a
dinner-dance planned for the evening. The dance orchestra played and diners
ate as the ship set sail. All went well until the ship nosed its way out of
harbour. Then the pendelum effect took sway. Within minutes, the ship was
a complete shambles, with dignitaries, instruments and billiard balls
sloshing from side to side on the bucking floor. Thought also to provide a
solution to seasickness, the ship's motion had entirely the opposite effect,
with epidemic consequences. The ship gingerly turned around and was
promptly scrapped.
Some of you budding designers, in response to my earlier request for a novel
design of ship's toilet, might have strayed towards thoughts of the gimbal,
as a solution. Next time you are paying a visit, consider the pendelum
effect. Experiment a little, if you like - but do clean up afterwards.

Saturday, 23 June 2012

Current affairs

Saturday 23rd June
A warm front went through last night, again with a few big black clouds and
thunder, and we made the most of the brisk breeze that came with it.
But, as you may surmise from the tracker, we're having a few problems with
wind and currents at the moment - specifically, lack of the former and
rather too much of the latter. For a considerable part of yesterday, we
were becalmed on a glass sea and today, we're equally becalmed, but in a
sloppy, foggy one. The Gulf Stream, friend to many, has decided to try to
carry us back to England at about 1.8 knots, which isn't helping. The
consequence of all this is that we are able to make nice drawings with our
track - Richard thinks this one is Queen Victoria.
Anyway, hopefully it won't be too long before the wind returns - meanwhile,
the kettle's on and we're planning a cleaning session. How sad is that?

Friday, 22 June 2012

Westward bound

As we approach our final destination, westward bound, it looks like we might
be treated to a second beautiful sunset. Today has been wonderfull -
frustrating at times due to lack of wind, but enjoyable as the wind filled
in this afteroon, so we are now flying along at almost 8 knots.

As we sat becalmed, I had the chance the ponder what things I could do to
acclimatise to life ashore as I get my land legs back. A few ideas sprang
to mind:

1) saw the legs off one side of the bed to tilt the matress at 20 degrees
2) serve meals in a dog bowl, all stirred up into one homogenous pile
3) place two bricks in the cistern so you only get half the flush you need
4) leave a half inch tray of UHT milk in the bottom of the fridge to fester
for a week
5) tie a strop to the AGA to strap myself in when making the tea
6) fit bars around the walls so that I can swing from room to room like an
7) take at least two naps during the day.
8) buy a pair of grey sunglasses so everything looks "Atlantic Grey"
9) eat lots of flapjack
10) whilst having buckets of cold water thrown over me.

Alternatively we could just head for the bar and get drunk.



The nearest land is 180nm away. So there two explanations for the flies that
we have encountered today, one of which was quite large.

First - they travel huge distances in search of rank socks and festering

Second - the maggots are starting to hatch!

Either way, prepare to repel boarders and stowaways.


Riders on the storm

Well, we've had a pretty variable 48 hours! Two nights ago, we were
trucking along, albeit on a beat because the wind waas coming from the west
(as usual). I took over the watch from Richard and he remarked he'd seen
some sheet lighting, but heard no thunder, so didn't know which direction it
was in. I trucked on, along the allotted course, but with an increasing
sense of foreboding that we were actually sailing straight into a storm. It
was absolutely pitch black, without any clues as to cloud or rain on any
horizon. Towards the end of my watch, it seemed a good idea to tack, as the
lighting seemed to be much closer. It's not really a good idea to go into a
storm with an umbrella on a golf course, let alone a huge metal pole on an
otherwise featureless ocean - and a strike can disable a yacht's entire
electrical system. We duly tacked and high-tailed it out of there, in a
brisk 20 knot breeze.
We then managed to spot the storm on radar - we'd missed the main storm, but
another big cloud was out to ambush us on the other tack. It duly arrived,
with a torrential downpour, but luckily no lightning. I heard Richard's
wet-cat howl as he was absolutely drenched. There as nothing I could do
from my cozy, dry warm bunk, anyway.
Today we're totally becalmed in a glass sea and blue, blue skies, about 330
miles from the finish. The whole area around Newport is guarded by a large,
high pressure system. We've tried to run south to skirt around it, but to
no avail. At least we'll be in the best position when the new wind arrives,
however. Beer o'clock time, methinks!

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Caption Competition

Now for the audience participation - a caption competition. We have
provided a suitable photo. Let your imagination run riot and submit your
caption for the image.

Prizes will be suitable souvenirs from our voyage, and winners will be
decided after we've drunk vast quantities of alcohol in Newport. Our
decision will be final, assuming we can remember it in the morning and there
will be no rights to appeal.

Richard & Trev

Tropical Spirit

With the Gulf Stream under our keel and a coconut flowing past, our minds
have wandered off to warmer climates. Of Dark and Stormies, Bacardi
Breezers, Steel Bands and evening sunsets under the palms.

We await with anticipation the next itemws to drift past on the Stream - Bob
Marley records our bottles of Mount Gay perhaps.

Meanwhile, I though I'd dress up for our Rastafarian party in


Dear Prudence

Well, our caution regarding the developing low has been vindicated - it did
indeed develop into a full-blown revolving tropical storm - officially named
"Chris" - and its coming your way for the weekend!
We managed to get above it and surf down its backside, if you get my drift.
We went further south to avoid the high pressure systems developing off Nova
Scotia - light winds - and am now beating our way at a fair lick towards the
finish line, some 580 miles away. Should be there by Monday latest, all
being well.

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

The Birds

Here in the North Atlantic, our on-board games of "I Spy" have become rathe
limited of late, particularly after the two new rules were introduced of
"Nothing on the boat" and "Nothing beginning with the letter S". Now, if I
were an ornithologist, the world would be my oystercatcher. The diversity
of birds we have seen during our voyage has been amazing. My constant
frustration is that I'm only able to identfy a few of them and then, only
tentatvely. This does not detract from the enjoyment of watching them. Im
reminded of that great little book "Jonathan Livingston Seagull" about the
joy of flying felt by these birds and the mastery they show as they swoop
and hover among the waves cannot be explained solely by their desire to
search for food. They're clearly enjoying it. And they're definitely
showing off - whether its to us, or each other, I'm not sure. But it is
quite amusing when they perform some stunt near the boat and hit the
turbulence of the venturi between the main and jib, then it all goes
pear-shaped and they have to perorm some lightning-quick error correction to
avoid a crash and burn.
The most common bird we've seen are Fulmars - brindle-brown back and wings,
grey underside, black head and white chinstrap. They swoop and wheel among
the waves, sometimes carressing the water with a single primary wing
feather, as if gauging height to precision as they turn. We sometimes
encounter them at night, when they're rafted up in litttle groups,
protesting our passage with disgruntled noises as we nod by. We've seen
many other seabirds whose names, I've no idea about, apart from gannets,
which I can just about identify.
But for me, the biggest surprise has been the presence of large numbers of
what seem to be insectivorous birds - certainly one type is of the swift
family, but I don't know if it is a swift, or a relative. Anther is a
little bigger, with wider wings and flies with the characteristics of a
bat - a bit overy "flappy", like a lapwing. We have seen both species since
mid-Atlantic and I assume they are feeding on insects by the flight patterns
they show, darting around above the waves as if in pursuit of unseen
insects. They clearly never land, and rarely approach the water itself,
though I have seen one gliding for some distance, not more than an inch or
so from the water, for some distance, matching its height with the
undulations of the water.
Is there really sufficient insect life in the air above the sea to povide a
sufficient food source for these birds? From their numbers, whatever they
are feeding on must be in plentiful supply. Or have I got it completely
wrong? Help!

One for the Rhode

Tuesday 19th June
All's well as we speed our way towards the finish, still about five days
away. Meanwhile, the North Atlantic seems determined to give us at least
one more spanking. There is a chance that the latest low pressure system,
to our south, may be developing into a revolving tropical storm. Our
original plan was to "seagull" into its centre, then slingshot out again in
two graceful arcs,, as we've done with the previous two low pressure
systems. However, the predicted intensity of the wind and 3 metre waves in
this low has made us modify our plan - we are now heading north-west,, so
that, as it tracks east, we will ride over its top and down its western
edge. This may be a slightly longer route, but, considering our jury-rigged
radar mast, is the more prudent option. And, with luck, we will get better
speed with less wave height - also going with us, rather than across our
path. This will allow us to go surfing - much more fun!!

JT - clarification

Apologies for any confusion, or heart attacks, arising from our last blog.

JT is the nickname we use for our sail, the Jib Top. And should not be
confused with Jangada Too, which is in fine shape and still racing at full
speed towards Newport.


Monday, 18 June 2012

JT retires from the race

After a night in sickbay JT, our trusty Jib Top sail, has had to retire from
the race.

The Job Top has been a great sail, and had plenty of use with the higher
winds and more importantly confused sea state. Being an inherently easier
sail to use than a spinnaker she was a popular choice, especially at night.

But last night after a long spell in fresh winds, we changed headsails and
noticed that JT was showing signs of wear along the leech of the sail - the
trailing edge. Whilst the main fibres were all still intact holding the
sail together, the clear laminated layer had started to disintigrate,
probably as a result of excessive flogging. Unlike dacron sails, laminated
sails don't take kindly to a good flogging - the pound notes just flutter
away with the wind and the film cracks and breaks down.

We have all the materials on board to effect our own repair along the 7m
length of sail that is affected. But given the forecast winds, it is likely
that JT will not be needed very often and we have other sails that can cover
for her. So we have taken the decision to leave it to the professional with
a nice dry sail loft to do a "proper job".

I should at this stage give a special mention to North Sails for all their
advice over the years on sail choice and especially for helping to equip us
for this race with a variety of spares, glues, tapes, patches, webbing

With "Big Bertha", our bullet proof heavweight No3 jib now set on the
forestay, we are ready for all weathers over the final week.


Spinnaker at sunset

Monday June 18th
We've had a great 24 hour run across the Grand Banks - the fishing grounds
south of Newfoundland - with calm seas and fresh winds allowing us to stay
exactly on our course to Newport. The temperature decrease has been
dramatic - the sea temperature dropped from 15° to 7° in about five miles,
along with the air temperature too - so it was on with two midlayer fleeces
and the drysuits, to keep warm during the long night watches. The fog
rolled in and we had to be alert to fishing vessels, but only one made an
appearance. We are now back in the deep water, with the Gulf stream warming
us again, under spinnaker and full main, as the wind has eased, driving hard
past Nova Scotia towards Nantucket.

A heads up to all inventors

The advances in technology have made their mark in sailing, as much as in
other sports. Sophisticated materials and electronics enable us to sail
faster, longer, with more accuracy and efficiency. But standing alone in
its own time warp resides the marine toilet, steadfastly refusing any
attempts to modernise or improve it. And, lets be frank - it could not be
any more Thomas Crapper. To avoid indelicacy, I will not detail its many
flaws, save that it is a resplendent piece of (probably) British utilitarian
design guaranteed to put off most sensitive souls from ever spending more
than 3 hours or a penny on a boat. Its combersome system of valves and
levers, ever prone to blocking, along with a seat designed as an
under-engineered afterthought, so renowned for breaking or - worse -
disfigurement of male crew members in residence - that many now do without
one. Installed, they only ever work on one tack, leaving the crew in
extremis until its time to tack, when there is a dash for the loo.
So, I appeal to all those great British inventors out there - instead of
appearing on Dragon's Den with with bycicle hand warmers and dog grooming
combs, why not take on a real challenge and do the sailing fraternity a real
service by applying yourselves to this inconvenient truth?

Sunday, 17 June 2012

It's grand in the banks!

Sunday June 17th
We're now making our way across the southern end of the Grand Banks at a
decent pace in a 18-20kt breeze. The moderated sea made us decide to take
the short cut and we're glad we did - relatively calm seas - and our first
reading on the depth guage since leaving Irish waters.
Have been escorted by lots of bottlenose dolphins and I just had a close
encounter with a whale - it crossed our path just behind us. I didnt see it
until it "blew" about 20 feet from the port side of the boat. We are also
now aware that the fishermen here dont use AIS, so we are keeping a sharp
lookout by radar and eyeball. Looks like a long niight ahead.

Grouse or duck

Friends are ensuring we maintain a healthy diet - last week it was biltong
from South Africa (thanks Emma!) and this Friday's treat was Confit de
Canard with truffles and lentils de Puy - thanks Sandrine! Yum yum! "Just
because you're on a boat doesn't mean you have to eat like pigs".
Pot noodles tomorrow!

You promised us icebergs!

"I see no icebergs!" - Sir Admiral & Skipper are not happy. Once again they
have been let down. Months of pouring over charts during the winter
assessing where the ice limit is and how far south the bergs might be. And
when the penguins get within swimming distance, the boat turns south and
heads for the gulf stream.

Still, now that we have crossed the Gulf Stream temparatures have dropped
again and they can at last spend some time outside. Here seen with George,
our faithfull driver (apart from that sulk he had a week ago when he refused
to drive for 20 hours)

So, no ice. But maybe a couple of growlers!

ps - The penguins making a special appearance on account of it being Fathers
Day and that we are all young at heart.

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Wild West Rodeo Show

Roll Up...Roll Up....Take y'er chance on this bucking bronko. See if you
can hang on while she pitches, rolls and yaws all over the place.One minute
she's calm and galloping along, then next she'll stop short and try to throw
you off.

No, this is not some Wild West Show where the ride is over in munutes. But
another day mid-Atlantic on a J109, where the waves never end 24/7. It's at
times like this that I'm envious of those long keeled heavy boats that you
can set sail directly downwind and just keep on trucking. But no, this
lively bird, cavorts all over the ocean. I am struck by the way the wave
patterns change - at times long surfing swells with boat speeds up to 14kts,
at others a confused pattern of waves crossing each other, stopping the boat
short in her tracks before she can build up any momentum. For a weather
system that has been established for several days with constant wind
direction, it is surprising to have such a confused sea, more akin to a
rough Channel or North Sea crossing. My only theory is that the mixture of
ocean currents and the edge of the continental shelf nearby is churning
everything up.

We know that we have entered the gulf stream - there have been a couple of
clues. Not only has the sea temperature jumped from 14C to 18C but I watched
in amazement as a coconut floated by. Makes a change from Dolphins, I


It's a dog

Saturday 16th June
We're trucking along, making our way along our route to the finish, driven
by a strong easterly wind, through lively seas, towards the bottom of
Newfoundland - a big island named after the huge dogs that live there. We
expect to feel the effects of the cold Labrador current soon (the Canadians
do seem to have a bit of a dog thing going on here) as we make our way
westwards, towards Nova Scotia (possibly named after someone's new Scottie?)
but are also making some progress to the south for two reasons: we cannot
sail directly downwind, due to the sea state, which could force a gybe) and
we also want to stay well clear of the Grand Banks, which have high pressure
systems and low winds, also fog, along with a steep change in depth, which
can create huge waves.
We understand the tracker may not be updating regularly - don't worry, we're

A Bosch Job

Dear Warwick,
Many thanks for your helpful words regarding the radar mast. We immeditely
went and ordered a drill and rivet gun online - they duly arrived the
following morning, via Ocado, along with this week's beer delivery. As you
see, we're hard at work putting them all to good use.
All the best
Trev and Richie

Tail of the Bank

I sit here at the navigation station pondering over synoptic charts and GRIB
files showing forecasts for wind and currents. The fastest route takes us
across the Tail of The Bank, a stretch of relatively shallow water where the
Grand Banks extend south to 43N 50W. At this point the sea bed falls away
dramatically to the depths of the Atlantic some 5,000m below the surface.

As we run toward this edge with tail winds and a following sea, waves often
2m-3m tall, that I ponder the physics of such waves as they cross the
boundary layer. I know how hazardous it can be when seas break over
Portland Bill or Needles Fairway. But the forces involved here are much
greater and give rise to the reputation that the Grand Banks have for very
steep seas.

Given the gap that has opened up between our rivals, there is little
pressure to cut corners - other than the lure of a cold beer at Newport. So
we are taking a cautious approach and sailing around the Tail. Another
reason is to avoid the High Pressure systems that seem to be developing off
the Newfoundland coast and the lack of wind that entails.

We expect to round the Tail in 24-36 hours. However, we will be on the
lookout for some additional hazards to our navigation - the fleet of Clipper
Round the World yachts left Halifax yesterday and seem to be on a reciprocal
course to us. Just a shame we won't want to stop and exchange tales.


Friday, 15 June 2012

Grace - where are you when I need you?

Just as we were about to preapare to reef the mainsail, we noticed that the
headboard at the top of the sail was not close and snug against the mast as
it should have been. The headboard had finally sawn its way though the
webbing that attaches the sail to the slugs that run up the mast.

Only one option - drop the mainsail completely and replace the webbing..

So with needle, thread and palm I set off to complete the task. Each stitch
carefully timed to coincide with the roll of the boat - rather like trying
to play darts on a roller coaster ride.

Mission accomplished, mainsail back up and boat at full speed again.
Stitching won't win any prizes at the local village shows, but it should get
us to Newport.


Thursday, 14 June 2012

Trevor stands in as Navigator

The sun has made a rare appearance today. So much of this race has been
under the clouds of approaching or passing weather fronts. So it is lovely
to be able to enjoy a bright and breezy day broad reaching down the waves.

In celebration of the sunshine, Trevor's took to his sextant ready to take
over as Navigator.

Given the sea state, constantly pitching and rolling, I'm amazed that he can
hold the thing still enough to take a sight. You might see some interesting
routings soon on our tracker!


Dry as a bone

After the soaking on the last trip to the foredeck, I decided to leave
nothing to chance this time. So with Musto dry suit, a bright canary
yellow, I set off once again to take on everything that the ocean would thow
at me.

I returned dry as a bone. Mainly because the waves had reeled in shock at
such a bright outfit and hadn't dared to leap over the bow.


Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Black and white

From thea ge of four years, I have sported a full head of dark brown hair.
Whilst it has become less wavey over the years it has remained the same
colour, only latterly going a little gray at the sides. This I don't mind,
since it gives me a little academic cred and silently rebutts those who
accuse me of dyeing it. In my youth, my beard was the same colour, but this
voyage has given me the opportunity to grow one again for the first time in
over thirty years.
I was horrified to see my image in the miror just now and may as well
confess - I have a severe case of badger-chin. Two white stripes from the
corners of my mouth, down eathier side. It is not a good look.
Though my father's hair is now white, he did not succumb until well into his
60s, but I have no data on beard colour among my antecedents. I do have
photos of past relatives, some with beards and there is no trace of this
two-tone affliction. I wet-shave - perhaps the use of a badger hair shaving
brush has, in some LaMarquian way, induced this change (I watch CSI and know
all about DNA in hair follicles).
Whatever the cause, it is certain that I will be clean-shaven when I step
ashore in America. I do not want to create the wrong impression - they have
skunks there.

The perfect wave

I would not regard the sea as malevolent, but I have seen plenty of evidence
on this trip of its michieviousness. Take this morning for example. We'd
had a brilliant night, surfing a huge swell, hunkered down with two reefs
and the jib top and, by morning, things had settled down and the wind had
backed, necessitating a sail change. Richard had just completed his watch
but went to the bow to sort it out. All was completed without mishap.
Richard was just about to return, get off his kit and snuggle ito his
sleeping bag but thought he'd just re-site that spinnaker line that was
threatening to foul the furler. He turned to the bow and bent down, the
wind blowing his hood back. At that precice moment, the sea lined up two
waves, one from the ffront and one from the starboard quarter, to come
together just at the side of the bow, where Richard was crouching. There
was a satisfying schlup and an arc of water rose up described a perfect
parabola and went straight down the back of Richard's neck. There was a
stangled howl and he came crawling back with an expression on his face like
a dog that's been told it's time for a bath.
I honeslty did my best to look concerned and sympathetic, but failed
miserably. It was simply too, too funny.

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Surfin' USA

I'm pleased to report that the troubles with the radar mast and George, our
autohelm, now seem to be behind us and we've made excellent progress along
our route towards the Newfoundland coast. We flew the reaching spinnaker for
a while in the early evening yesterday, but the heavy, confused seas and
building wind made the jib top - a reaching headsail - a better choice for
the overnight run. The wind built quite a bit overnight, but we hunkered
down under two reefs and emerged into a grey morning none the worse for
wear - fairly chipper, in fact!
By morning the seas were a little more ordered, with a swell in the right
direction, giving us some surfing practice. I say George didn't misbehave,
but he did seek a little more attention by setting off his "shallow" warning
alarm in the middle of a spectacular surf down a huge wave - not really a
problem out here!
The good wind has continued, allowing a fast reach more or less along our
track - we couldn't sail as much downwind as we would have liked, because of
a combination of fierce windshifts - up to 30° - and the heavy seas always
threatened an accidental gybe - not something you want to do anywhere, let
alone1200 miles from home...
Love to all family and friends and many thanks for all the comments and good

Atlantic High Court is convened

I, Sir Admiral Waddle Flapjack, had to call to Order a special session of
the Atlantic High Court today.

Trevor was standing trial, accused of gross negligence and dereliction of
duty. His alleged crime was that the Flapjack bucket was left on the
cockpit floor, entangled in mainsheet. Where, during Trevor's watch, the
lid of said bucket was lost along with four pieces of flapjack on the floor,
swimming in seawater. Upon discovery of the crime Trevor took matters into
his own hands and threw the flapjack overboard.

However, the evidence lies before us, crumbs aplenty.

Whilst pleading guilty as charged, in his defence Trevor did say "T'was only
four pieces m'Lud and it being a Force 8. The flapjack will also be eaten
by fishes which is good for the wider community and to the benefit of

The normal punishment is keel hauling. However we hear talk of icebergs and
a quest to tow one to America. In this instance there will be a fine - one
large tot of your best rum, to be administered to all crew.

Sir Admiral.

Monday, 11 June 2012

Leather or rubber?

There is an old Navy saying that opines that the two most useless things on
a ship are a lawnmower and an Admiral. I have a third suggestion - leather
sailing boots. My Dubarry leather boots, so comfy and warm during weekend
RORC races are absolutely useless on trips like this. They simply never dry
out. They get soaked in salt water and, when dried out in the sun, the
water evaporates, leaving the salt still in the leather. Now we all know
that salt is hydrophilic, so in high humidity, it will draw water out of the
air. So my poor Dooberrys (as Nick likes to call them) are in a constant
state of salt-impregnation and rehydration, leaving them fluxing between two
states - slimey, wet and cold or looking like a pair of salt-baked sea bass.
If it were environmentally sound to do so, I would have tossed them into the
Atlantic by now.
luckily, I also brought along a pair of neoprene boots. These keep my feet
warm and toasty dry all night. They may not create such a good impression
on Cowes High St, but I know where my priorities lie. I'm now a confirmed
rubber man.
Now there's an idea! I could take my Dubarrys along to Cowes Week and sell
them - in their state, they would have immense sailing street cred....

Highland games and trouble with George

The last 48 hours have certainly been eventful!
i was asleep off watch when I heard a plaintive call of "Trev!" in my
dreams. I dashed up on deck to find Richard grappling with the radar pole,
like a drunken Scotsman trying to toss the caber. We had been tromping
along in a fresh breeze when the base of the pole - holing our radar, GPS
and other systems had detached itself from the boat and was threatening to
topple into the pond. We managed to wrestle it back in place, always aware
of the threat of damage to the many wires that emerge from its base, to find
the seating had completely stripped its thread. We jury-rigged a nice set
of shrouds from Dyneema, along with some whipping up the pole itself, so it
is now trussed up like a best end of Silverside and relocated into position.
During all this furore, our autopilot, George, decided he wasn't getting
enough attention, so decided to switch off during the process. It was only
a little while later that we realised that George having a serious sulk and
wouldn't hold course, but instead cavorted all over the ocean. By this
time, night had fallen and there was little option but to hand steer through
the night. And what a night! A cold front was forecast, but nothing too
bad. But one thing we've learnt on this trip is to expect the worst and
multiply it by a third, and we were very glad we did. With winds
consistently of 32 knots and very heavy, confused seas, we were please to
have already set the No 4 genoa and three reefs in the main. We took turnds
at the helm and flew along at over 7 knots throughout the night, emerging
into the daylight absolutely shattered, but undamaged.
The weather brightened and we scratched our heads about George. The idea of
another 1800 miles of hand steering was not a plasant one. Clearly, the
fault had occurred during the radar pole-tossing event, so our first
thoughts were damage to the electrics feeding data to the system, from the
antennae on the pole. Further deliberations and reading of manuals, a light
bulb went on in Richard's head and he checked some of the autohelm
settings - Tarrrah! - the ruddder gain had mysteriously changed to its
highest setting, making George swing the rudder violently at every course
correction. We must have lent on the autohelm buttons during the pole
episode and, by fate, pressed an exact combination that made the change. We
were right about linking the pole episode to Georges demise, the two were
not directly linked. It goes to show - correlation is not necessarily

Forestay Luff holds together

Pleased to say that the repairs to the forestay were minor. I thought I had
covered all the spares - except the little grub screws in the forestay foil
that had shaken loose. Nothing that a longer bolt, a hacksaw, some emery
paper and silkaflex couldn't fix.

Survived the night to watch a wonderful sunrise accompanied by pilot whales
cruising by in convoy.


Shortening Sail?

Faced with yet another night of fronts and fresh winds, Richard said he was
going forward to shorten sail.

I was surprised to see him take a hacksaw up with him!


Saturday, 9 June 2012

Light in the darkness

Saturday 9th June

we had an amazing show last night, courtesy of Mother Nature. The scene was
set as darkness fell. The heavy cloud cover ensured no light from the moon
could penetrate the inky blackness, as we sped along in a brisk 20-25 knot
breeze from stage left. As the darkness deepened, with no sense of where
the sea ended and sky began, the show began. The spray from the hull began
to glow with an intense white-green phosporescence and the wavetops all
around us, as far as we could see, were etched with pearlescent foam, as if
topped in guache from an artist's pencil. Millions of zooplankton
stimulated into light by our passage were in the water flying from the hull,
giving an impression of sailing through an underlit sea. Jangada seemed to
relish the experience too, flicking shining spume high into the air with her
bow where it hung for a moment before being whisked aross the deck by the
Our normal watch system forgotten, we spent the whole night up on deck,
taking turns at helming while the other crouched in the cuddy, our grinning
faces illuminated by the amazing light show. Jangada's rudder plowed a deep
fluorescent furrow, streching behind us like a vapour trail, into the inky
Atlantic, inches from our feet. A truly memorable night which neither of us
will forget.


Trev, sheet in the radar please.....

We hear of other boats retiring and heading to shore for repairs and the
fleet somewhat depleted now. So we feel lucky that Jangada Too seems to be
looking after us, despite the hammering that she is getting with each of the
low pressure systems and the wind and waves that the Atlantic seems to throw
at us.

But we are not without our own problems. The first we became aware of an
issue was tacking towards the Scilly Isles when we noticed that the radar
atop its pole was also tacking through 30 degrees. More worrying was that
the clamp around the strut had slipped up by several inches. Dynema in hand
we set up a jury rig to secure the pole. If we were to lose it then many of
our main systems would also suffer leaving us without GPS, Radar reflector

Thinking we had solved the problem, the next "bump & vibration" testing
phase proved that whilst the pole would remain upright, the lines didn't not
prevent the pole twisting - it sits on a ball and socket joint at the base
so is free to swivel. And excessive twist not only gives the wrong radar
picture, but was in danger of sheering the bolts on the bracket.

We think we have now found a solution using rope tied around the base, glued
in place with Silkaflex and then tensioned up with a block & tackle system.
We have now reduced the rotation to about 5 degrees - not perfect, but it
should get us to Newport.

So now we don't have to tack the radar at the same time as the sails - one
less job to go wrong.


Friday, 8 June 2012


Trevor has been wondering for some time why I seem to be exceeding our
targets by 10%. Well, he finally confronted me today saying that the %
performance that is being diplayed on our instruments was not consistent
with the table of targets that I have pinned on the wall.

Perhaps I should explain. We are using a fantastic routing and race
navigation software called Expedition. At its heart is a database of "polar
targets" i.e. the speed it thinks we should be doing for any given wind
speed and angle. And last season I discovered the motivating effect it had
on my crew when I displayed a % versus target on one of the instruments -
they were so focussed.

Determined to find out why, I reverted to the manual. What a "Numpty"!
Expedition defines "Target %" as performance directly upwind or downwind.
But we were sailing across the wind. It also has another definition "Polar
Boat Speed %" which we should have been using.

So now performance against target turns out to be 85%! Need to work harder
on triming those sails.

Which all goes to prove my theory that performance against target has more
to do with ones ability to negotiate a target than on delivering
performance - beware of KPIs!


So long and thanks for all the ...

Dolphins and I have a strange relationship. Don't get me wrong - I've loved
them since I was a child - we just seem to have got off on the wrong foot.
Apart from the occasional sighting from a distance, my first real encounter
was on the Round Britain & Ireland race with Richard in 2010. We were lucky
enough to be visited by a pod of rare white-tipped dolphins in Lyme Bay -
there's even a video of it on YouTube somewhere. I filmed them for a while
and then had this inspirational thought to put on Pink Floyd's "Wish you
were here". After putting the selected track on the boat's lo-fi, I dashed
back upstairs just in time to see their flukes as they scattered into the
A couple of days ago, somewhere way off Ireland, we were similarly becalmed
and I was attending to personal matters below, when Richard cried
"dolphins!". I went above deck to see a pod of common dolphins off our
stern, gambolling up to play. Just as they reached the point where the boat
had been when I flushed the toilet, they immediately stopped and there was
this commotion in the water. We never saw them again.
I think I need to start this relationship all over.

Here is the BBC...

Friday 8th June
Almost everything that happens on the boat is dictated by the weather, which
has given us everything over the past 48 hours. After a short respite of
sunshine and dolphins, we were battered by another gale that lasted most of
the previous night and day, followed by a night of "big black clouds" or BBC
in sailors parlance. These are almost caracatures of those graphics used by
weathermen - a flat base, big head and rain angling downwards from them.
What the weatherman's graphic doesnt show is the massive increase in wind
strength and violent windshift that can catch you unawares, especially at
night. We battled through these all last night - some signalling their
presence by the suddden disappearance of the moon or horizon, but others
lying in ambush in the darkness. The trick is to be constantly alert, with
shortened sail and using the shift and increase to your advantage.
So, we emerge into daylight in fine fettle, basking in the sun, listening to
Dylan and drying ourselves out. Time for some more meusli and coffee
Many thanks for all the blog comments - it really lifts us to know that
people are rooting for us. We are not able to acccess the blog directly,
but they are all being relayed to us by Grace - so keep 'em coming!

Keep on Commenting

Grace is kindly sending us your commetns on the blog. They really are a
great morale booster for us. So please, get you keyboards tapping and post
your comments....

Rich & Trev.

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

My ears are hallucinating

A yacht is never silent, with many different sounds from the boat itself
and its passage through the water - we subconciously listen to them and can
quickly tell if anytthing has changed, almost without thinking about it.
Its a atrange phenomenon, but, after you've been at sea for a few days, your
imagination starts to kick in big time.The result is that your brain starts
to misinterpret these sounds. Ive heard what sounds like Radio 4 and a
mobile phone several times, as yet from unidentified sources, the chatter of
the water past the hull sounds just like a crowded bar, with the occasional
roar of an appreciative crowd at Twickenham and the rocking of the gimball
mounted radar like a village church bell. In one's sleep-deprived state, it
can be very disconcerting. Happily, I've not had any visual hallucinations
yet, like that of Joshua Slocum, who was visited by a conquistador who
helmed his boat for two nights while he suffered from plum poisoning.
Richard is very relieved.

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Dream Sleep

As the third night draws in I lie in my bunk drifting off to sleep. The
senses now tuned into the movements and sounds of the boat - the water
kissing the hull as Jangada cuts her wake, the waves dancing off the bow,
even the monotonous creaking of the mainsheet blocks with each roll of the

And so the sub-concious is allowed to take time off and catch up with filing
those memories. The dream sleep has arrived at last. Vivid because there is
a part of the brain still tuned into the boat.

But wait, pressure has moved from my left buttock to right shoulder, the
waves now slapping at the hull. All hands on deck - the wind has picked up
to 20 knots and time to reef the mainsail. We go straight for the second
reef - this is a marathon and not a sprint so we are cautious.......

.......ten minutes later and I'm ready for my bunk again. Job done. Where
was I with that dream. Ah, yes - Golf Club Membership!!!! Rather late to be
wishing I'd taken up golf?


The first two days

After 48 hours, it seems as though we are only just settling into the
routine of this game. Our plan was to take it easy for the first three
days, recognising that neither of us is very fit. Nor have we had much sea
time together on Jangada since the Round Britain & Ireland Race. But Mother
Nature had other ideas and through a fresh wind and beat for the first leg
to the Lizard.

We have focussed on our own routing, taking very little notice of where our
competitors are heading. Mainly due to a reluctance to spend any time at
the Nav table when it is bouncing all over the place.

After a cautious start to avoid any swingeing pentalties for early starters,
we managed to pull away at good speed toward the Eddystone. Tacking soon
after rounding the lighthouse we headed north and inshore to avoid the foul
tide in the shelter of Falmouth Bay.

As we approached the Lizard, the wind shift to the north as expected. We
had intended to pass to the north of the Scillies, but instead just followed
the wind making best speed along the course and hence south of Bishops Rock.

As the wind eased and cycled around to the East we made the most of a
spinnaker run. Then as the wind started to build and veer towards the South
East we made the decision to miss out on an evolution by not peeling to the
reaching kite, and going instead straight to the Jib Top. This turned out
to be a great move and allowed us to relax for the first time and enjoy our
venison with a reasonable flat surface to sit on. The Jib Top is similar to
our normal headsail except that it is cut for reaching conditions and looks
like it might be a powerfull member of our wardrobe.

The sign that we are at last getting our sea legs, is that I can spend an
hour at the chart table. And that cramp that I feel in my belly is no
longer a desire to retch over the side, but to fill my stomach with M&S all
butter flapjack. Sorry Trev, but I've just eaten half the bucket!


Monday, 4 June 2012

Bishops Rock on the beam

Now enjoying the dawn breaking as we pass Bishops Rock to the South of the Scilly Isles. The wind has eased and the sea state is far more comfortable. In other words the first 15 hours were a fairly hard intro to the race.

Still reefed, though as both Trevor & I are quite tired. We promised ourselves a gentle few days to break ourselves in. Delighted to find that we have come out of the starting blocks at full pace and surprised to find ourselves at the top of the leader board - exciting though it is, puts extra pressure on us to keep up the pace.

I'd like to thank all the team at the RWYC for their hard work and commitment to running this race.


Sunday, 3 June 2012

Loving the view

on the Tracker! After just 3 hours Jangada Too is in 1st place in class and third overall, still another 2750nm and around 21 days to go....

A stitch in time....

Grace loving sewed on our new tell tales on the mainsail. We look forward to observing her handiwork for the next three weeks. Thanks Grace.


Pre race checks and inspections all completed. So with certificates in hand we are now approved and ready to race.

A hearty breakfast was enjoyed by all competitors and officials, with thanks to the RWYC.

The Italians have already moved out of the marina. With a low spring tide, the Plymouth Sound is a very different shape for a yacht thats draws over 3m.

We will be slipping our lines in the next hour. Next stop....Newport RI.

Saturday, 2 June 2012

blogging via Iridium

Hi all.

This is a message from onboard testing the Iridium uplink with photo
attached. It's less than 4kb so please comment if you think the quality is
too low res.


ps - it's a view of Trev taken by me at the Nav station.

Friday, 1 June 2012

Spying on the competition

Gulp...this is the main competition -Vento di Sardegna - a SERIOUS contender for line honours.. A team of 10 have been working on their boat for the last 4 days and they"re certainly worth a flutter!
We suspect they are not too worried about us, however...
Off to the Governors cocktail party now, for a few gin and tonics.

Crew change

Trevor has now arrived, ready to take on the challenge of a lifetime.

We also say a fond farewell to Grace, who deserves a very special mention for supporting us throughout this campaign. She will even be there to meet us as we arrive in Newport - although we are under strict instruction not to arrive too early and spoil her stitching plans.


Thursday, 31 May 2012

Vento Di Sardegna

A sight we don't expect to see much of during the race - the bow of the Italian 50' entry. From where we sit everything about the boat seems huge - the mast is 50% taller than Jangada's and the sails hoisted with 2:1 purchase.


Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Under pressure

Pressure washing Jangada's bottom before moving across the estuary for race registration. It's surprising how much algae accumulates after only two weeks in the water. But a good opportunity for a final inspection before the hull disappears underwater again.

Grace & I have been busy with a few last minutes jobs, such as replacing the tell tales on the mainsail. Dad and Margaret joined us for lunch and wished us a safe crossing.

Crew change tomorrow as Trevor arrives and Grace heads off.


Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Plymouth Ho!

At least the list of “things still to do” seems to be getting smaller, thank goodness. And, of course, top of these was to get the boat to Plymouth. So Richie and I arrived by train on Friday morning and, by stint of resisting the Cappucino breaks that seemed to punctuate our earlier boat-readying sessions, we managed to get through most of the list.

There were a few hiccups, such as the numbers on the hull that had to be changed (too small), but we finally got away from Port Hamble by 4pm. It was a bit of a slog against the tide out of the Solent, not helped by the drizzly weather, which occasionally relented and rained properly. But the wind was fair, albeit a beat and we made good progress, taking turns at three-hourly watches through the night and, although still foggy, the clouds cleared above us, to reveal a star-spangled sky.

Dawn found us most of the way across Lyme Bay, though the wind, which had been fairly brisk through the night, left us so we hitched up the donkey and motored for the final stretch. I even took a couple of sun sights – but the new books and rust on the brain cells prevented me from doing the actual clever bit of calculating where we were. Actually, it wasn’t difficult, with Bolt Head just behind my left shoulder…but that’s not the point.

So, the boat is now safely tucked up in the marina at Plymouth, straining at her lines to be off and we’re back in our respective homes, looking up long-range weather forecasts and trying to think of anything we’ve forgotten… Trev

p.s. Also working behind the scenes, Grace is busy gathering together the ingredients for several cakes, whilst the rest of the food is sorted into day bags. Rich.

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Twostar preparations drawing to a close

The hull numbers are on. The keel and rudder sporting a bright orange paint job. These are just some of the more visible aspects that show the culmination of 12 months of preparation for the two-handed transatlantic race.

Safety Checklists have been poured over time and again. A vast medical kit delivered to cater for every eventuality, including child-birth! US visas issued. Extra water tank installed. A new radar standing proud at the stern, watching over us.

But its not just the big items - the attention to detail is just as important. Spares, bulbs, nuts, bolts, screws, ropes, tapes, glues, tools....the list goes on. When you are over 1,000nm from the nearest store, you have to take the chandlery with you.

Jangada Too will be on her way to Plymouth this weekend, ready for the race start on 3 June. I'm certainly looking forward to the start now - no more worrying about getting the preparations right. Just single minded focus on our objectives:
1) to reach Newport safely without injury or major incident
2) to ensure Trevor & I are still on speaking terms, as this has to be fun
3) and to finish with a credible result against competitors that have extensive ocean racing experience.

Newport, here we come. The North Atlantic, bring it on!


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