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Showing posts from August, 2017
A summary of the inland waterways of Normandy. Rona II engages full holiday mode. After 24 hours in Le Harve we set sail for the historic town of Caen on the morning tide. After a not-too-vigorous motor sail to Oustreham, we took a trip through a lock, under the famous Pegasus Bridge we arrived at our miniature pontoon (made for yachts about half our size) set right in the middle of beautiful Caen. Upon our arrival we were greeted by -- nobody. This level of service and general attendance at work has become a common observation of the French for the crew. We responded by posting lookouts in the cockpit to catch the marina office attendants when they arrived for their ten-minute shift and to direct them to the nearest Normanton to negotiate the terms of our stay. We spent the following day on a trip out soaking up the rich culture the area has to offer. We took a very fancy train to Bayeux and the whole crew visited the ancient Bayeux tapestry. Other activities involved v

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

Rona II blog 24th Aug 17

-------------------------------------------------- From: < > Sent: Friday, August 25, 2017 7:26 PM To: < > Subject: boat blog > I have a confession to make today I Theo Darlow have attempted to make > cakes without the approved Rona cake mix. Its really hard!!!!! It all > started when i was instructed to make a sponge. First of by creaming the > sugar, butter and eggs together. Now I'm not a baker, although I have > watched the great British bake off so was a self proclaimed expert. No > longer. I didn't realise that you don't need cream to cream something > together. We didn't have any cream so the next best thing was milk. I had > also been told equal amounts of everything I had used 500g of everything > else so I assumed 500 ml of milk was also to be added, to complete the > creaming process. This made some sort mixture that resembled scrambled > eggs. I

Rona on tour! 25th Aug 2017

Rona on tour For the people of France a mass of 22 Rona crew members must have been an intimidating experience, however this is the situation we found ourselves in when we went for a look around the local area. Breakfast was a fairly normal experience with the Vikings smashing it out so much to have nothing to do for 30 minutes except eating the first two courses before anyone else on the boat had woken up (which was all thanks to the incredible leadership of watch leader for a day Alex McFarlane) . On top of that they also got not one, not two, but three congratulations from none other than Nathan Meager (the mate)!!! The first step of our adventure took us to the town of Bayeux. For those who don't know the importance of this town it is the location of the Bayeux tapestry which depicts the run up of events and the battle where William the Conquer defeats King Harold in 1066 at Hastings. This was followed by a walk around town to take in the culture f

Rona arrives in France!

It's been a very busy 24 hours on Rona II. Docked in Gunwharf Keys and staying overnight, the past two days have been filled with shopping, showers, visits to the boat from family and numerous trips to Burger King and Subway before setting sail to France. Many of the crew took advantage of the big sale at the local Musto outlet, appearing back on deck with their trendy new Musto Crocs. Thanks to the Normanton Grandparents, the crew enjoyed a delicious sponge cake which of course did not hang around for long after dinner on the second day of the back to back Normanton watch. Rona II also had a visit from Milo's Grandma at Gunwharf who took the helm by storm, despite the terrified look on her face as a ferry passed by and caused the boat to sway...'I already feel sea sick!' she shouted. After leaving Gunwharf the crew took a trip down the Solent to pay a visit to Big Lizzie, the new aircraft carrier based in Portsmouth. We can confirm that Big L

Rona returns to Universal and familiar waters!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The 21st of August on Rona 2 saw the Mayans on mother watch again. Leaving the hard job of motoring from Swanage Bay to Portsmouth to the Vikings and Mongols. Luckily moods were high as last night around 10 pm Ed Clark's parents kayaked out, whilst we were at anchor in Swanage Bay in the heavy rain to see their precious child and drop off a care package of Ed's mums famous flapjacks. Something that the crew has been looking forward to eagerly all day. The day also consisted of a trip up the mast for crew member Theo Darlow to retrieve the burgee and fix some minor problems with the head of the mainsail. He later commented, "it's a lot higher than it looks", yet maintains he wishes he'd been able to go higher. Whilst Theo was up the mast, occasionally, dropping things on his unsuspecting crew who had winched him up the mast, Rona 2 was skillfully steered up the Hamble River to Universal Shipyard. On arrival at Universal the torn spi

Rona II rocking the waves again...............................

Today were are heading back to The Hamble, home of the Rona Sailing Project. The morning started with a breakfast cooked by the Mongols which consisted of cereals and scrambled eggs with all day breakfast; which is to a much higher standard than previous years. Before we set sail, the boat was refueled at the berth that was a mere boat length away (that's roughly 68 foot) whilst the motherwatch crew stayed below decks emptying and sorting all of the food lockers so that it is possible to cook a meal without waking every possible member of crew. We left Sutton Lock Marina at 0930 and have been traveling east along a course which the crew still seems to think as optional, much to the disappointment of the Skipper. However, our average speed is about 10 knots, and our most recent YellowBrick shows us at 12.3. We would all like to thank Sutton Marina and Plymouth for their kind reception and hospitality, and would kindly request that any videos featuring the


We finished the race at around 2am on Friday morning and immediately celebrated with six bottles of champagne. Most of it was sprayed over the crew by the skipper, who retaliated admirably to the general delight of the crew. We spent the next morning cleaning and tidying the boat and making it presentable to friends, family and the public. As you can imagine, this took some time, and we were all very ready for our first showers in 17 days that afternoon, allowing us to get rid of that lingering smell of champagne among other less desirable scents! We spent the rest of the day exploring Plymouth, where Sam made his costume as piratical as possible, with a hoop earring, a black and white striped shirt, and a sail tie as a belt. The entire crew went out for bacon cheeseburgers, but we can't tell you whether or not they were good because we were so hungry that we practically inhaled them. Dessert was proper cheesecake, which the skipper told us was how our own packet

Rona II in Plymouth

Rona II will cross the finish line late today, and head for Plymouth for a well-deserved rest. She will be moored at Sutton Lock on Friday and Saturday; anyone who’d like to come down and say hi would be very welcome!  

Come Sail with the RSP - and get wet...

You know that feeling where you're trying to go to sleep but a trickle of water is falling on your head? That feeling where your bed leans back and forth at angles of up to thirty degrees, and every tilt brings a fresh gush of water onto your sleeping bag with the volume and intensity of a small power shower? When you are on your bunk one moment and one metre above it the next? That simultaneously funny and sickening moment when a crack team of soggy sailors rushes into your bedroom to pump out the ever-increasing tide of seawater under your bunk? No? Come sail with the Rona Sailing Project, and all this could be yours. Yes, we have finally reached that long-awaited stage of the voyage where the helmsman and lookouts must wear ski goggles to see through the spray, the widely agreed marker for the apogee of excitement in any sailing trip. Last night we encountered winds of up to gale force nine, building until midnight. Luminescence made this moment all the

Rona II vs The Beast

If I'd written "Rona vs. The Beast" at the beginning of the trip you would probably have thought I would be referring to the Atlantic as "The Beast". But, this really isn't the case. For some unknown reason Viking Watch Leader Matt Woodcock has decided to give me, Olly Jones, this nickname. Claiming he overheard me making some outlandish claims on the foredeck such as "I'm the strongest man on the boat" and "I'll beat you all in a strength contest" this nickname has stuck. I'm regularly welcomed onto night watch with screams of "UNLEASH THE BEAST" and when we need a a sail hoisted they will shout "WE SUMMON THE BEAST". Fully embracing this title I've shown the little whippersnappers of Viking watch how to properly do a racing headsail change and sheet in the spinnaker. Today happens to be my boat birthday and also Chinese New Year according to the boat calendar. At this point I&

A few words from the guy really in charge aboard Rona II...

I thought it was time for me, the mate, to say a few words. I've been doing my mate duties day by day, which to be honest has been made easy by the crew and afterguard. My job is to ensure the safe running of Rona II above and below decks. This task has been made easy by the strong afterguard and very capable and hard working crew. I have the general overview of what's going on, and make decisions on when to change sails or charge batteries. My role is often not visible, but all the same happening. I've just been called to the deck by the on watch as they have noticed an upward trend in the average wind speed. I've not called for a sail change but warned them that they may need to hoist a number two Yankee (a smaller high cut sail, which goes on the front of the boat) and put reef two in (making the main sail smaller), if the trend continues. It's not all decision making, I've just been asked if I'd like a coffee and afternoon

You can't escape the dentist, even mid-Atlantic...

An interesting start to New Year's day aboard Rona II. The dawn light enabled a field dental practice to open for a short time on the aft deck. Watch Officer George Hopkins, after walking head first into a spinnaker pole last night came off with a chipped tooth. After a night of discomfort his Watch Leader and newly qualified dentist Sam Wareing took to the tooth with an emery file to curb the sharp edge. At the other end of the hierarchy the Mongol deputy Director of Renewable Resources has been suddenly fired from his post on allowing a tin can to fall into the bilge, the height of incompetence in his line of work and the last straw adding to a string of minor offences. The effects of a post Christmas comedown hasn't affected the standing of Rona II in the race, holding first in class and sixth in the fleet overall. With the Mayans back on mother watch; breakfast was churned out and squared away within the hour leaving time for Mate, Andy Wright, to present a s

Christmas aboard Rona II !

Today, the most festive of holidays was celebrated on the vessel Rona II, along with the birthday of watch officer Nathan Meager. Funnily enough, this is the first time that Nathan's birthday has been celebrated in unison with Yuletide. To get everyone in the Christmas spirit, a cardboard Christmas tree was created and duct taped to the mast. Mistletoe was also devised out of slightly inflated white balloons and paper leaves, after the genius idea from Will Davies, who quickly realised his tactical error. The Mongols on Mother watch have been slaving away since 0500 local time to bring the crew a delicious five course roast dinner - yes, really! Crew member Harry Normanton managed to smuggle the most delicious birthday cake onboard to share with everyone on Christmas day; which was baked by his loving granddad. The cake was carefully converted into a birthday cake, now reading "Happy 40th Birthday Nathan." Thirty-nine year old Nathan had very mi

Sewing lessons for Rona II's crew

It has been a day of excitement and learning aboard Rona II. A hair-raising experience, wherein damage to one of our spinnakers led to the Mate's daily masterclass being a night school hands-on sewing lesson when we had to repair a small tear in the A5. He assembled an elite squad who knew very little about what they were doing to feed the huge sail through a sewing machine that must have been around since the Victorians. A subsequent spinnaker lift led to a heroic effort to recover a wineglassed sail by George, the valiant leader of the Mongol watch. In the pitch black he was hoisted up the mast in order to free the head of the spinnaker from the halyard whilst hugging the mast to make sure he didn't orbit the forestay. It was a real insight into the challenges of ocean racing for the entire crew, and a good introduction to sewing for some. The next morning the Viking watch provided an impeccable round of pancakes, and Alex's boat-famous bread r

Firework Night aboard Rona II.

The 9th of August on board Rona II has been a generally wet and windless day, that has seemed to drag on longer than waiting for your cup of tea when the Mongols are on mother watch. However the ever Omni-benevolent Mayans watch realising this have been busy all day devising meal time entertainment, to rejuvenate a damp and depressed crew. It is bonfire night in our own personal year in three weeks boat calendar. First off a cardboard firework display mixed with dance routine awed spectators into stitches of laughter after a damp and slow morning. Reviews have been nothing but positive as there's little else been going on. Rumours have been heard that the Mayan director of performing arts, Harry Normanton, has composed a Mayan watch song to repost the Vikings' propaganda performance. The Mongols have yet to put forward an entry in this particular musical inter watch skirmish. The Mayans were once again tested during washing up when the pump to drain

Tension between the three great empires

A little like Groundhog Day, it is once again the Mongols' turn on mother watch following another cracking 48 hours sailing where we've been seeing speeds over 10 knots as we plough further north trying to get ahead of the fleet and the weather. As seems to be the theme for this leg we have had a wide range of weather from 23 knots of wind and a crystal clear view of the way ahead down to only a light breeze and heavy fog. As we continue our passage north the temperature continues to drop and the crew have been becoming quietly concerned that the skipper has actually gone rogue. With clever use of Photoshop to create convenient weather systems so as to fool the crew, there is a theory that he is in fact leading us on a quest to full fill his life long goal to swim with polar bears in the wild; one of the few things the three great empires agree on is an ill fated ambition. Thankfully today has seen a course change to the east and although the temperat

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

200 miles :)

On our calculations Rona II covered 203 nautical miles in the 24 hours to 12:00 UTC. We're currently running at 9.5 knots so should increase that number over the next few hours. Everyone very happy onboard!

Rona II - Current Tactics

Greetings from Rona II. It's early morning on Monday, still dark, and has been a busy night as we've changed steadily down from genoa, staysail, full main and mizzen, to no 2 yankee, staysail, second reef and mizzen. The wind has come aft a little and we are trucking along. Tactically over the next couple of days we're trying to play to Rona II's strengths. She's an absolute weapon with the wind a little aft of the beam and around 18 knots of breeze, so with more wind (and a higher sea state) to the north west, and less of both to the south east, we're adjusting our (generally north east) course to try and keep ourselves in exactly that much wind. Ultimately it looks like we'll go quite a long way north before turning east, covering a longer distance in order to stay in Rona II's sweet spot for as long as possible. It's too early to properly know what the rest of the fleet is doing but we suspect we're the most north

Planetary encounter

The first full day of the newly-started race proved to be an eventful one. In the early hours, the on-watch Mongols had an alarming encounter with a bright light appearing on the horizon with a bearing apparently drawing straight towards the boat. After a nail-biting period spent failing to get the binoculars to focus on the strange object drawing nearer, the Skipper finally informed the watch that in fact Jupiter had risen, and they'd been having kittens over the appearance of a planet in the sky. As the sun rose, with low winds, the crew put up as much canvas as they could to harness everything the wind could give us. Today we were celebrating the birthday of the loud on deck, louder in his bunk, ever snoring Angus Elliman. None of us have birthdays during the trip, but the Afterguard have cleverly compressed the year by 9 times from our date of departure in order that everybody gets to have theirs celebrated. Today was Angus'. His watch all clubbed

Off we go again...

Day 5 in the vast expanse of the Atlantic ocean felt slightly like Groundhog day as we prepared for the race restart. Everyone had slept well, as Rona II spent the night hove to in front of the start line. The Mongols watch leader, Sam Wareing, had his boat birthday alongside the celebration on board of Labour Day. To celebrate the Mongols invited the on board gentry (the Skipper and Mate) to compete against Sam Wareing and Matt Robinson in a game of 6 pin bowling in the saloon gangway. Dressed in their casual attire of blazers and ties the gentry won narrowly, demonstrating little respect for Sam's birthday as well as keeping the working class in their place. Over lunch the Mongols created some decorative numbers in the shape of ties as our representation of Labour Day, as we didn't know exactly what Labour Day was supposed to represent. After some memory jogging spinnaker training and some speed wooling from mother watch, we crossed the line at 17:

The Rona Rambler - 4th August 2017

Crewmember M. Clark Leads 'Renewables Revolution' After a fiercely contested interview process, Matt Clark has been named Rona II's 'deputy director of renewable resources'. Mr Clark, 17, claimed the coveted position after a stellar performance under intense scrutiny from interviewers Nathan Meager and Callum Buchanan. Mr Meager and Mr Buchanan said they were particularly impressed by Clark's enthusiasm for the role. When asked, 'if you could change one thing about the lazarette, what would it be?', he replied, 'nothing, it's perfect as it is'. Not all applicants displayed such passion. Cameron Fall-Everett, when asked why he wanted the job, responded, 'I don't', explaining that he had only really applied out of a sense of obligation. As deputy director, a role also known, less poetically, as 'laz rat', Mr Clark will spend much of his time sorting recycling in the lazarette. While many mig

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 questions such as " A No

Stop press: The Sable Island Argus

2nd August 2017 Last night, just hours into her Atlantic adventure, Rona II was struck by a natural disaster. The phenomenon has yet to be precisely identified, with baffled experts variously referring to it as a 'vomcano' or 'vomit comet'. At 1855 crew member Louis Janota leapt from his bunk and dashed to the heads whereupon he unleashed a vicious torrent of luminous orange, semidigested chilli con carni. The liquid's unusual colour has been attributed to the 'Tang' consumed in considerable quantity by the crew just an hour earlier. Mr Janota, 18, has been praised for his presence of mind in securing himself in the heads, preventing much greater damage being done. Nevertheless the disaster took its toll. A visibly shaken George Hopkins, among the first to see the port heads after the event, declared a natural disaster, and stated solemnly that 'in over 20 years with the Rona Sailing Project I've never seen anything like it', not

And now from our roving Halifax Herald reporter...

Yesterday morning, Halifax residents became increasingly concerned by reports of a pizza-fuelled crowd of boisterous adolescents clad in blue sports tops emblazoned with Weaver birds racing trolley-loads of luggage downhill towards the port. "That level of noise hasn't been heard in Halifax since the famous explosion of the Mont Blanc in 1917", exclaimed one excited resident. This statement was confirmed by the Canadian Bureau of Seismology, which confirmed that the tremors from their blood-curdling war cry of "Na na na na, na na na na, Rona, Rona II", (sung to the tune of "Give It Up" by KC and the Sunshine Band) could be felt in Vancouver. Terrified observers have claimed that their war paint takes the form of scary lobster tattoos, with the forearms of one crew member (one Matthew Clark, apparently) covered in no fewer than 20 of the symbols.. In summary: leg five's crew has arrived, the weather is glorious, Bruce the inf


Many thanks to the Captain and crew of USGC Eagle for letting us share the best viewing platform in Halifax!