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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 reached new heights of fluffiness. The Vikings
also created an 'are we there yet?' graph, charting our progress across the
North Atlantic, which has sparked much excitement amongst the crew, but is
also a source of resentment to those who delighted in pestering the Skipper
about our position. Meanwhile, in a far less hurried manner than the night
before, Watch Leader Matt was sent up the mast to rescue the head of the
spinnaker. Interestingly, having spent 3 days parading around with "climbing
instructor" on the back of his shirt, it was decided his performance tying
himself into the halyards meant he was either extremely nervous of climbing
an 88ft mast or a rather shoddy climbing instructor. It was definitely the
latter, you couldn't wipe the grin off his face for the entire time!

The second time zone change (of four) is rapidly approaching, meaning that
we will soon be losing an hour (potentially making the boat's Christmas Day
a mere 23 hours, thanks to the Mate who is now known as 'the Grinch who
stole Christmas'). A 'death by chocolate' cake is currently being prepared
by the Vikings, consisting of layers of chocolate sponge with chocolate
chunks sandwiching lashings of chocolate and nutella butter icing reaching a
thickness of up to an inch. The Skipper is consequently waving a blood
pressure cuff around and threatening blood pressure checks for the entire
crew.

A glimpse at the galley of Rona II: one watch is responsible for keeping
below-decks tidy each day, primarily responsible for the galley and meals.
Today, the Viking watch are dancing to Shakira in the 6 x 1.5 metre galley
corridor, bedecked in their coordinated aprons. Watch Leader Matt generously
describes the space as 'an ice rink where you must contort your body into
unnatural positions in order to stay upright'. Keeping food in one place is
a taxing activity which involves securing both the food and yourself in
order to counteract the movements of the boat, which pitches back and forth
at angles of beyond 25 degrees. The Vikings boast the most efficient system
of washing up in the northern hemisphere (self-professed), using the simple
technique of telling the Watch Leader and Watch Officer to get a long way
away from the galley. A human conveyor belt of dirty, rinsed, clean and dry
crockery speeds from the saloon into the galley at a rate which rivals that
of Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. All 'eating tools' are cleaned
in salt water only to preserve our reserves of drinking water. The lack of a
fridge means that the fresh fruit and veg is kept in the lockers next to
bunks, leaving two members of crew with the pleasant aroma of onions and
melons in their nostrils as they fall asleep. It's no easy task cooking
three full meals for 23 people on an oven with just two shelves and 4 hobs,
and cake tends to be rather lopsided due to the lean of the boat. A solution
to this is provided by the gimbal on which the oven slides with the
movements of the boat, making the galley that little bit more hazardous.
Sadly though, even this ingenious contraption is not guaranteed to produce
flat food products.

It has come to the Vikings' attention that previous blog entries have been
decidedly partisan, and we would like to point out that our blog has been
completely unbiased due to our strong leadership, self-confidence and lack
of need to compensate for our unmanly fondness for lemon and honey tea when
on watch.

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Rona II blog 23rd Aug 2017

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> 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
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> the boat in.
>
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> …

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
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