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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 seasickness included) until a sleepy and
sicky Blue Watch were snapped awake by the whoosh and crack of main sail
cars falling down the mast. "I honestly don't think I've ever moved so fast
in my life" said Katie Simmons, a professional speedy mover. The huge sail
hung like a broken wing over the port side but it was hauled over and neatly
bagged on to the boom within 5 minutes. It's amazing what adrenaline can do.
Sadly, Rona II's pace dropped dramatically and we all stood scratching our
heads about the mystery halyard eater at the top of the mast.

As dawn broke on day two (May 2nd) Mark Williams (WO White Watch) prepared
for his mission: to recover the halyard in the mast and investigate what had
caused it to chafe away. Ripping off his shirt and grabbing some sick bags
he was safely hoisted to the top of the mast. 85ft above the water line Mark
was alone with 5 bags of his own sick, a fishing line and the unrivalled
bravery of a man prepared to stay up there until the task was complete.
After 98 minutes Mark returned to the deck greeted with a hero's welcome.
"That was heroic" said Len the Skipper. 85ft for mankind, one giant leap for
Scousers. At last Rona II was able to sail again and recover the distance
lost... or so we thought. Disaster struck again at 1 am when the main
halyard once again failed. By now the challenges were building up as
problems with the sat phone, MF radio and fresh water system quickly came to
light but, the spirit of Rona II was never broken!

The seasickness was finally waning on day three and good news from Len &
Chris raised the crews spirits: there would be a rigger at Gran Canaria to
fix the mast! The good news didn't stop there, Mark was once again hoisted
to fix an externally run halyard on the mast. By the end of the day Rona was
flying again on some beautiful unforecast close-hauled sail.

Since then the main is still up! The night watches have had no nasty
surprises, and singing and cakes kept the watches buzzing as we overtook
Wylde Swan (somewhere out there). Although Rona II may seem pretty alone out
here, few ships have been spotted closer than the hazy horizon, we've had
dolphins, turtles and even a collared dove top to say "Hi!".

Now on Day 5 it's safe to say that the food has been on an upward trajectory
since the start (although we haven't managed to beat the custard tarts yet)
A highlight has been the lunch made by White Watch, pulled pork buns and
Morrocan cous cous (very appropriate as that's the nearest land!). Top tip
from Alexa on how to make that perfect, crusty, well risen ciabatta bread:
use the right amount of yeast, twice proof, bake, enjoy. No more About A Boy
duck bread here!

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Rona II blog 23rd Aug 2017

> Disaster strikes! After arriving in the visitor marina of Le Havre at
> 0430,
> Rona II drove over a stray rope which had been left in the water.
> This tangled around the propeller, causing the Skipper to call for the
> anchor to be dropped a mere 10 metres from our intended mooring position.
> The crew then had to inflate the rubber dinghy and set world class rower
> Theo Darlow to take a line to shore where himself and Dr Sam Wareing
> pulled
> the boat in.
>
> In the morning, the afterguard set off to find a commercial diver to cut
> the
> rope free from the propeller. They located a man named Patrick, who
> arrived
> to the scene of the incident at about 1500 donning full scuba gear; he
> quickly got into the water and began working away at the stern of Rona II.
> After roughly 45 minutes of fishing bits of rope from the marina water,
> the
> crew saw Patrick emerge victorious. Angus Elliman used his bilingual
> …

No sailing, but a busy day aboard Rona II

This was a very French start to a very French day: at 0900 the Tricolor was
hoisted to signify the start of Bastille Day onboard Rona II. Our culinary
stars for the day, mother watch the Mayans, started well, with them
presenting the crew with great pancakes and only a small galley incident
that the mother watch insisted was "flambéing."

Matt (Woodcock - we've got three Matts...) was woken up for his watch to the
merry sound of mother watch singing Bonne Anniversaire and providing "le
porridge" to start his birthday. His card, beautifully drawn by Watch
Officer Nathan's sons Tay and Cai before we left, was also presented. Mother
watch in fact kept themselves very busy today by baking various cakes, three
excellent meals, and three varieties of bread, including a plaited loaf
"they quickly whipped up" between meals!

The skipper's quiz started today with a political history round featuring
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Spa day aboard the resolutely masculine Rona II...

As the sun crests the horizon, the crew of the Rona II are rousing and
the Mongols, on deck, begin thawing. Unknown to the majority of the crew,
bread that had been prepared the night before under the cover of darkness
slipped back into the oven for a 2nd bake. Unfortunately, due to
unprecedented size of the mammoth loaves the centre had not baked properly
and even Lewis turned his head when offered the gooey core. Ed unexpectedly
perked up, suddenly very interested in the doomed loaf, his watch confusedly
looking on as their watch leader began mumbling strange vaguely scientific
words as he tried to nurse the clearly undercooked bread. Was he dreaming he
was a real physicist? I think not, instead in a sleepy haze he had mistook
the bread for a volcano.

A little later, sweeping fast moving fog engulfed the boat, reducing
visibility to under 50 meters whilst phantom fishing boats flickered on the
AIS. The radar was fired up but it dawned on the crew that we're in the
middle of the…