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Showing posts from May, 2017

Getting to Bermuda Looking Bermutiful...

What a difference 48 hours makes. Very early morning of the 27th saw Rona roaring along in gusty breeze with not one but two reefs in. Dodging the waves that came crashing over the bow became a sport for the night watches in the cockpit. Someone was having too much fun and 'accidently' left the hatch open and ended up involving the sleeping watches. A red card was definitely in order! The boat was jumping over the waves and heeled over at about 25 degrees consistently all morning. When Mother Watch grasped the opportunity to pop their heads up on deck they were forgiven for asking if we were in the Solent. There wasn't a speck of blue sky in sight, the clouds were low and grey and Red Watch were in full oillies yet still soaked to the bone. That's what happens when you do a sail change with ocean waves that a desperate to join you on deck. Chris and Len positioned themselves strategically in the cockpit behind two wave breakers. Poor Libby and

Spring Cleaning

As the distance to Bermuda decreases we begin to spring clean the boat. Bermuda is still not in sight but the miles are closing in, and fast. Time to make Rona II pretty again. The on watch spent the morning on deck giving a major hose down and buff while Mother watch were below deck on the deep clean from bow to stern. Of course this may normally be met with some grumbles but thoughts of paradise are keeping us going! Alexa climbed up the mast do do some polishing of the spreaders to remove a present left behind from leg 1, If we didn't already know we were sailing on Rona 2 we certainly did now. Amongst all the madness, the usual routine is still in flow and we have officially run out of fresh food. Breakfast this morning was interesting as we experimented with powdered egg....questionable! It looked like egg, but most certainly did not taste like it, duly noted and has now been scratched off the menu. As we motor on, the white sails were hoisted with

Bermuda Here We Come!

EPIC RACE ENDING - Bermuda here we come! After a stressful day of racing with very little wind, we felt that a Rona II aft deck spa date was essential. Face and foot masks, a homemade hair salon and massage circle, and a stunning sunset finished our final full day of racing. Mother watch were rudely awoken at 4am by a mizzen staysail dropped down the hatch, and "A spinnaker in 5". A busy morning for blue watch on deck continued as we tried to keep moving in the wind hole - 4 spinnakers wooled by midday! A low point was reached when a Portuguese man o'war jellyfish overtook us, so we took all sails down and managed to overtake it again. An uneventful finish to a fantastic race as we counted down to midday ships time and the race ended. The roar of the engine accompanied our cheers as we took our finishing position and started heading for Bermuda! We're all sad not to reach the finish line under sail, but are looking forward to spending time i

Our Ship In Flight

A frustrating day on a too calm sea brought with it bitter sweet news. Whilst most of the crew were hanging over the scuppers Len made an announcement at our 4pm happy hour, "tomorrow at 14:00 UTC the race will be brought to an early finish". Naturally we were all upset that we won't be racing all the way to Bermuda but in some ways this is welcome news. The thought of bobbing through this wind hole until the 30th only to motor the rest of the way in time for our flight was not a prospect anyone was excited for. At least this way the crew get to descend on Bermuda and show the locals the Rona II spirit (with a few extra spirits if you catch my drift). Now we have 16 hours (at time of writing) to race to the best place. So how did the second to last day racing go on Rona II? Most of the crew were woken up by the sound of the main sail flogging as hour by hour the breeze dwindled into nothing. At 7am white watch where hoisting a spinnaker over a gl

Captain Jack Aubrey on deck...

After the morning's squall died down, the boat was still being shaken by huge waves. Sleeping in the forepeak was challenging; people secured their lee cloths in the hope that they wouldn't be flung from one bunk to the next. Libby and Louisa took great pleasure in ensuring everything was battened down on deck, and rode the waves at the pulpit in a true titanic pose. Throughout the day it got calmer, and the off watch managed to catch a couple of rays on the aft-deck. It was an important day for Mark, the Watch Officer for Red Watch, who turned the grand old age of 31 - Happy Birthday! We celebrated in style with carrot cup cakes at happy hour, a handmade card and some carefully wrapped presents. What a way to spend your birthday, in the middle of the ocean, with good company and cake. Birthday or not, Red Watch still had work to do on our watch between 6pm - 8pm. Lorna headed up the team of Libby, Harriott, Kirsty, Abby and Louisa up to the now extremely wave

What did you do before lunch?

22/05/2017 What did you do before lunch today? This is how the girls of Rona II spent their morning. Blue Watch: Today has been awesome. The adrenaline rush that we were all expecting from sailing across the Atlantic. Wind in our faces, white sails flying, scuppers in the water. Some fascinating clouds last night - columns of grey cloud illuminated by a glowing orange sunset, had us all wondering what weather was in store, but nothing blew up during the night. This mornings hard edged grey cloud was slightly more ominous, giving us the heads up on our first Atlantic squall. We called Len on deck and he took one look at the cloud before ducking down again, calling up that we'd need waterproofs. We felt slightly undressed in our light rainproof jackets when Len reappeared in his bright yellow foul weather gear. We headed beneath the cloud. At first all was fine, the wind only slightly increasing, maybe it won't be so bad?! Then like a champion boxer

Hail!

Rain, rain, go away come back another day. Today we encountered our first heavy rain and hail squall whilst crossing the Atlantic; which many of red watch and some mother watch enjoyed a unexpected fresh rain shower. With new scenery, came stronger winds after having several days of blue skies, little winds and hard concentration from all of the watches to keep the boat moving! The light winds were not all bad as the crew learnt how to trim a spinnaker perfectly! Hickory Dickory Dock, blue went up on watch, the clock struck 6pm, and did 3,600 ticks before going back to 6pm. [ We are now GMT -2 ] The sails on the ship went flick, flickery, flick; as we jibed the Starboard tack died. Whoop whoop! less than 900nm left, as we come to the end of flying the spinnaker for over nine consecutive days. The first wager amongst the crew for arrival time is less than four days away; lets hope we get there soon as the fresh food is getting low. Oh no! Pat a cake, pat a

Life onboard Rona II - A Snapshot

Temperamental winds mean that helming on night watch is tricky. Keeping the spinnaker full at all times is a struggle, with the sail collapsing intermittently when the wind deserts us. We discover that the fleet has edged ahead of us during the course of the evening so the Mate decides to give the on watch a spinnaker trim master class to pull back the miles. The air is humid with rain showers interspersed with scorching sun; dark, thick clouds loom on the horizon, marking what we believe to be the effects of the high pressure system. We have the deck watch on rotation every thirty minutes. Katie is on the helm steering with fully extended arms like Captain Pugwash. Alice is at the winch holding the classic 'yachtie' pose, with one hand on the winch whilst scanning the horizon. Across the cockpit, Minna is shielding her eyes from the sun while she watches the head of the sail and calls the trim on the spinnaker. Roz and Sophia are discussing tactics

Rain!

Legs dangling over the ocean, Water whizzing by in quick motion, With the sun beating down, This tan is going brown, Thank you factor 30 sun lotion. Following our happy hour half way party yesterday, we were suddenly reminded of home when it started raining - the first time we've had rain at sea! There wasn't a huge rush to the hatch as the skipper expected, as we were all quite glad to be cool and covered in fresh water for once. The refreshing weather didn't last long, as today has been very hot and sunny with the off and mother watches tanning on the aft deck. The wind that the clouds brought has also disappeared, and we spent much of today sitting in light winds with the on watch banished to the scuppers. We've now been flying spinnakers solidly for 8 days, only taking them down twice daily to check the halyards. The light winds have allowed Mark to start fishing - although attempts have so far been unsuccessful so we had to skip fresh fis

Halfway!

A massive milestone was conquered today! We have passed our halfway point between the Canaries and Bermuda; as of 1700 GMT today we have sailed 1438 miles since the start line off the canaries, and have 1342 still to go! A calm and muggy day today. Red watch made themselves useful by scrubbing the decks of salt, crumbs, marshmallows and hot chocolate left over from many night watches, onwhich much sugar is consumed. We are continuing to drop, check and hoist spinnakers every 12 hours as chafe of ropes has become our nemesis. Mother watch now have spinnaker wooling added in amongst their preparation of breakfast and dinner, today some excellent pancakes were made by Minna, despite having a wet sail to deal with being passed through the galley. The main has been up for 8 days solid and strong! No more climbing the rigging for now. Happy hour today was a double whammy of halfway celebrations, us being half way across the Atlantic, and Roz reaching half way to 50

Textbook sail handling and the last of the fresh food!

White Watch - Mother Watch After enjoying a more peaceful day yesterday with spinnakers only coming down when desired by the crew, we were in high spirits and spent Monday curry and quiz night on deck making the most of the evening sun with puzzles and crosswords. the skipper then bounced up on deck with exciting news; he had received an email from a competitor Wylde Swan asking if the girl in the blue dress from the party wanted a date with their second mate in Bermuda. The plot thickened today as we found four possible blue dress wearers and that the girl's name was probably Sarah - Sarah was wearing a green dress, but close enough. Hilarity ensued and we decided that the best option would be to send a clean shaven Watch Officer Mark in a blue dress instead. Also today there was a big blowout on the last of our fresh food- breakfast was home made granola and fruit, for lunch we had tapas with olives, home made hummus, patatas bravas, home baked pittas,

It Was All Going So Easily...

It was all going so easy, The wind was light and breezy, The sails were set and flying, until the halyard started dying. One spinnaker in the water, back on deck the girls fought her. And when that spinnaker was a wrap, The Rona girls didn't flap. Life on the water can be hard work, Especially when sailing is berserk. Because we're the girls of Rona II, There's nothing that we cannot do! In the last 24 hours the boat and the crew have been tested. You could say it has been a rollercoaster, but a log flume would probably be a more appropriate. What started as a calm day with a neopolitan sunrise rapidly turned into a never ending exercise. Sails were up and down, wet and dry, flying and twisted, but with Len and Chris at the helm (quite literally when things got tricky) the crew have come out wiser, stronger and even more determined to get to Bermuda first. When the spinnaker came down at 7 am yesterday morning (14th May) in true Rona spirit she w

Three Days In... And Still In The Lead!

Nearly 3 days into the race, and we're still clinging onto the lead! Spirits are high, and it looks like our plan to sail straight to Bermuda is paying off so far. We're hoping to keep the great wind we've been enjoying! A wholesome dinner of Fray Bentos pies from blue watch set us up for the night, we particularly enjoyed playing raw cabbage/onion roulette. Conditions were challenging, and mother watch more than made up for it with an excellent cheesecake. White watch enjoyed our daily Gately family quote - always believe in yourself! This was particularly relevant as we came onto dog watch with some exciting sailing under the asymmetric spinnaker, the wind hotting up and nervous laughter all round. We were flying along (11.5 knots!) in the right direction, but as sunset approached the decision was made to bring the spinnaker down overnight. Fortunately the spinnaker agreed, and as red watch took up drop stations (and as soon as Sarah handed the he

Update from Campaign HQ: Tactical decisions have been made and now will play out!

At the moment Rona II holds the lead overall, ahead of Jolie Brise and Spaniel, and isheading almost directly west, slightly south of the direct route towards Bermuda. The fleet has split into two; Rona II and Jolie Brise are in a group to the north heading west with the apparent intention of sailing a shorter route, but in what are forecast to be slightly lighter winds in a couple of days' time. The southern group, of Vahine, Spaniel and Peter von Danzig, initially headed almost perpendicular to the direct route until they were around 200 miles south, and turned west only a day ago. They are looking to sail a longer course in order to benefit from forecast stronger tradewinds to the south. The tactical situation is intriguing. Rona II looks likely to lose her lead overall at some time today, but should benefit from her shorter route and from better wind direction in around a week. Ultimately,  being in a significantly different situation to all her direct competitors means a g

A Poem: Life Aboard Rona II

The sky, the sea, The waves, the ship, The girls they sail, They race for it. The Skip, he yells, He cracks the whip, The girls, they do, They race the ship. The Mate, he tracks, The course of it, They girls they steer, They drive the ship. The food, the heat, The time to cook, The girls they do, They live for it. The wind, the sail, The sheets, the winch, The spinnaker flies, And pulls the ship. The sky, the sea, The waves, the ship, The girls they sail, They race the ship! 9th May After partying on Wylde Swan, the night before, a breakfast of spaghetti hoops (which weirdly all got eaten) and eggs (which weirdly did not) and hot dogs set us up for the start of another big adventure. With no wind forecast, we motored out towards the start line, sweeping around Gran Canaria. Fish pie, and banana bread for dinner and a jaw dropping sunset over the volcanoes to end the day, after an intense and busy couple of days ashore. Blue watch got an inter

The Dolphin Whisperer

Just before arriving in Las Palmas, white watch, led by Mark aka the dolphin whisperer, got more than their fair share of sightings, including seeing them swimming in bio-luminescence and jumping across the moonlight. They wrote a poem inspired by experience of the beautiful animals. {Editor: they didn't send the poem though!] After the jobs on board were complete on Sunday the crew got some well deserved shore leave. White watch explored the beach and went snorkeling, seeing lots of different fish including a parrot fish. Red and Blue watch blagged their way into the wrong yacht club for some beers and sunbathing. Everyone ate lots of ice cream; in the evening we all went for a drink in the sailors bar, and we retired back to the boat at a wild 10pm! Monday was a day full of repairs. The electrician and riggers came to sort out our sinks, the lights at the top of the mast and to rig a new main halyard, and a myriad of other jobs were completed. A big s

R2 Leg 2 'Spinnaker time' blog installment 2

06/05/2017 We were finally able to put our spinnaker training into practice as today was the first day flying a spinnaker. We hoisted the asymmetric spinnaker on Friday morning to make the most of the very light winds. When the positions came in, it was a nice surprise to see that we were not all that far behind the rest of the fleet, despite all the palaver with Mark's ascensions to the lofty heights above to fix the main halyard. Jonny has been continuing his battle with misbehaving salt water taps today. After six days of wrestling and grappling with various pipes and wires underneath the floorboards, assisted by the delightful Miss Matthews, he is now convinced he has found the source of the problem - a eureka moment for all concerned! We are therefore eagerly awaiting the arrival of mysterious "parts" on Monday when we get to Gran Canaria to hopefully resolve all aforementioned problems. The standard of food had been set very high by pr

The 'We've Got the Communications Fixed!' blog

"There once was a boat called Rona, A little bit faster than Shona, She entered a race, But lost her pace, When the main sail fell upon her" - Blue Watch, Leg 2 After months of anticipation and preparation the girls of Leg 2 finally got their feet on Rona II's deck in Sines. The challenge really started with stowing the food and making things absolutely ready to cross an ocean in a very short space of time. Some delicious Portugese custard tarts from Charlie Clarke of leg 1 were greatly appreciated! The following evening the parade of sail was an appropriately obnoxious affair with the crew lined up on the deck, armed with whistles and their high decibel voices, cheering on the other ships with our notorious Rona Spirit. The race start was pushed back until 7:30pm and even then we were yelling at the guys on the start vessel letting them know "Whooo we aaare!" and "Wheere we come from!". It was all going to plan (mass seasi

Thursday update!

Campaign HQ, lunchtime Thursday 4th May. Rona II has had a much quieter couple of days and in addition to re-running their main halyard, have made good progress debugging a couple of other minor problems onboard. When she arrives in Las Palmas she will find various spares, new gear and human support awaiting her! At the time of writing they are again the fastest vessel in the fleet, have moved two places up the leaderboard and are about to cross in front of Whyte Swan, their close companion and competitor across Biscay during leg 1. The wind has come ahead of the yachts closest to Gran Canaria (including Rona II) and there is a tactical game being played out of whether to continue south and follow the wind around as it moves into the northwest, or to tack now and gain westing before turning south, possibly in stronger wind. Rona II is hard on the wind, no doubt under her brand new genoa, staysail and mainsail, and appears to have decided to run south, so we are likely to see her sl

Leg 2 Update

Wednesday 3rd AM A quick update from campaign HQ... The leg 2 crew got Rona II off to a fast start from Sines on Monday afternoon and were leading the fleet through the first afternoon and evening at sea. Unfortunately her main halyard snapped that night, leaving her without her mainsail for a period, and therefore slowed and dropping through the fleet. After a heroic effort they re-ran the halyard and were back up to full speed at first light on Tuesday morning, and at the time of writing are the fastest boat in the fleet. Rona II has been having trouble sending and receiving data via her satellite phone, hence the lack of blogs direct from the boat. She has full voice communications and we're arranging for some local assistance with the electronics when they arrive in Las Palmas, so they aren't delayed beyond the mandatory 48 hours stop on the island. At the moment routing suggests they'll arrive on Sunday morning.