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Exercise ATLANTIS BARBARA
47 Regiment RA(08 Nov 12 - 22 Nov 12)blog below written by 2Lt James Futcher; the Mate.
08 Nov 12: With flights from Gatwick to Arrecife, Lanzarote, booked for 0740, we were faced with an early departure from Thorney Island. The UWO deemed 0430 would leave us sufficient time and probably would have, if not for the minor issue of a missing minibus. The prospect of getting to the airport in a Seat Leon was simply a non-starter. Thankfully, we were able to commandeer a combi-van recently returned from a detail. From there on it was a (relatively) smooth ride to the airport and on to the plane, albeit a little frantic given a slight lack of time. Some guys did manage to get a hot breakfast in though! The flight was trouble free, although Ed was a little concerned about the proximity of the runway to the sea and dubious about the existence of black sand! Following a short taxi ride from the airport to Puerto Calero and we were united with St Barabara V, our home for the next 14 days. A few briefs, some issuing of kit and it was then off for food at a local restaurant. After some beers and a bit of reflection on what was in front of us, we retired to the boat for our first night on board. Capt Dave Bishop REME
16 Regt Crew

47 Regiment RA on ATLANTIS BARBARA
09 Nov 12: Day two of the adventure saw an early start, routine briefs and initial orientation of the boat by the skipper Bdr Brook. The team were soon around the vessel and taught how to attach the sails and control their various actions via an amusement of pulleys and ropes. Interestingly, the knot picked up most quickly by the guys was a set of makeshift handcuffs! Sgt Dell kindly volunteered himself to climb the mast in order to replace the wind meter. Most of the crew were convinced that he was hauled up to the top and that he had failed dramatically to recreate a Captain Jack Sparrow moment. After some admin time, and a chance for LBdr Middleton to purchase a ∈16 fishing rod, the crew hoisted sails and set off on their first voyage together. The skipper rotated the crew through various jobs around the boat and we were quickly making headway towards Marina Rubicon, Playa Blanca. Even the new boy (3rd week into army life) Gnr Jonny "Silent but Deadly" Duffett managed to spin a few dits, as many of the crew experienced the high seas for the first time. Eventually St Barbara V was moored in the marina and the crew were treated to the culinary delights of LBdr Middleton's speciality dish "100 minute rice and meatballs". Unfortunately (for some) he conducted a poor estimate of how many meatballs there were! The evening culminated in a couple of beverages and an introduction to the local gay community. Sgt Booth
10 Nov 12: Today kicked off with prepping and fixing the boat in anticipation of our first long sail; 95 miles, this is approximately 19 hours on the water. We were heading from Marina Rubicon on Lanzarote to Las Palmas on Gran Canaria. It seemed to be a straight forward sail however; it very quickly turned into our first taste of sea sickness. LBdr Middleton was Poseidon's first victim. The irony was splendid given his earlier retort of "First to be sick gets the drinks in!" Sgt Dell had gone below to rest his weary head but upon return to deck was the second to go. A well aimed Klinsmen-esque dive saved some unpleasant cleaning. I was the third casualty having gone below to grab my warm kit. 2Lt Futcher made it well into the night before relocating his stomach contents (LBdr Gunn's tuna pasta avec raw onions) again and again over the side. As you can imagine, the constant sound of retching maintained a high level of morale all round. Inspired by the crew, our fishing rod displayed the breaking strain of a soggy KitKat and snapped in two. We can only assume this was due to a bite from the biggest tuna never hauled from the Atlantic. To the relief of all we arrived at Las Palmas ahead of schedule and moored at 0500 having completed the trip in an emotional 15 hours. We rested until 1000 when we were told to jog on as there was no room in the inn. We anchored just outside and continued our recovery prior to the next leg. Bdr Travers
16 Regt Crew

47 Regiment RA on ATLANTIS BARBARA
13 Nov 12: The 11th was taken as a well earned rest day, during which the crew had a chance to recover from the previous night. At 1100, having moved to our anchorage, we gathered at the cockpit to hear readings from Lbdr Middleton & Gnr Duffett prior to a two minute silence. Our Act of Remembrance was basic but appreciated by us all. The rest of the day was spent searching in vain for an open supermarket and exploring Las Palmas. In spite of a distinctive lack of supplies Capt Bishop (REME) served a splendid pasta bake that evening. Our master plan for the 12th had been to book a berth in the marina for the evening and to spend the day practising skills with those hoping to earn their Competent Crew certificates. However, there was still no room at the inn. A Chinese Parliament decided our best option was to put on a brave face & undertake another overnight voyage. The crew, still bearing the scars of the previous trip set sail for Gomera that afternoon. The journey was very enjoyable - a surprise to many! Those who had been panic-buying seasickness pills in particular. The purchase of these is reported to have involved Oscar-worthy performances due to a lack of linguistic talent from Sgt Dell & Bdr Travers. After enjoying superb chicken tikka masalla prepared by Sgt Dell and Lbdr Middleton and a pleasant night at sea we arrived in the early hours. Gomera is an attractive little island with black sand beaches (due to the volcanic rock) where Christopher Columbus met a girl and traded some sheep, of this the island is very proud. 2Lt Futcher
15 Nov 12: The 14th saw the crew leave Gomera after a pleasant stay there. Our next port of call would be the marina of Los Gigantes, Tenerife. As the crow flies the route would be relatively short, however the wind was on the nose and the breeze was not blowing. Engine power was required to get in before the marina closed. Prior to the aforementioned abomination the sail was very enjoyable. While we were bobbing along at low speed the crew jumped (literally) at the chance to go for a swim. Lbdr Gunn was the first over the side and 2Lt Futcher was the first to have a crack at a halyard swing from the bow. This was mostly successful with only one member of the crew (myself) bouncing along the side of the boat. Altough, Lbdr Middleton showed all the grace and poise of a brick as he climbed onto the pulpit in preparation for his swing! As Tenerife drew closer (and Gomera finally grew smaller) Sgt Dell claimed to have spotted dolphins in the distance. Perhaps they stayed away due to the noise of our engine. When we arrived in Los Gigantes the harbourmaster could not have been less helpful. Eventually he got us into a suitable berth and we set about looking for food. Gnr Duffett
16 Nov 12: I will not begin at the start of the day; I shall carry on from when the last entry was written. Gnr Duffett wrote his entry from La Gomera to Tenerife whilst leaving the harbour. We were all sat in the cockpit enjoying the sun and calm seas when he rushed upstairs, Having placed his final full stop on paper made a run for the side of the boat in order to empty his guts over the side. This was not seasickness, he explained, it was caused by writing down below. Not seasickness, merely sickness induced by the motion of the sea. This leg of the journey was of epic proportions. It was approximately 170 miles and took us 32 hours. We settled into the routine well but after struggling with little wind the starboard watch caved and turned on the engine. Their justification was that we couldn't spend the rest of our lives bobbing around the South coast of Gran Canaria. The next day was spent eagerly anticipating our arrival in Puerto Castillo, Fuerteventura. Sightings of large groups of dolphins caused a stir as the escorted us on our merry way, riding our bow wave and chattering away in their own tongue. Later that day a pod of around 40 porpoise enthralled us and even caused a few members of the all male crew to emit rather feminine cooing sounds as a baby porpoise jumped out of the water. Towards the end of the journey crew members frantically prepped themselves to go out and as soon as mooring lines were tied a parade of fragrant sailors were drawn like moths towards the neon lights. Sgt Dell
17 Nov 12: Ahh, dry land finally. With the prospect of two days off we headed into town last night. There were a few rather unpleasant encounters with the locals along the short walk to the bars: 1. A young gentleman holding his jaw and knowing upon his top lip in a threatening manner. 2. A group of hooded youngsters offering us illicit substances. 3. A very butch transvestite entertainer took a shine Sgt Booth and proceeded to chase him up a flight of stairs exclaiming "Oooh! He's a big one isn't he!" into the microphone. In blind panic all six of us ran away like a herd of startled deer. After scoping out the other bars we came to the conclusion that the bar we fled from was the place to be, so after a cooling off period we sheepishly returned. All in all it was a thoroughly enjoyable night. After a rude awakening due to the heat we headed out for traditional Canarian cuisine at the Irish Bar where we indulged in a full English to reduce the hangovers. A day turning into lobsters on the beach ensued. LBdr Gunn
19 Nov 12: After a long weekend in Fuerteventura we set sail for Marina Rubicon on the island of Lanzarote. We spent the best part of five hours beating up wind and not covering a great deal of distance so switched to the motor. These past 10 days we have generally been trailing a fishing line off the back of the boat, hoping that a passing whale might fancy taking us on. Until today we have had no good fortune. Yesterday we had two bites but Capt Bishop failed to conclude the catches as Bdr Brook shouted "You'll pull its lips off at him". No lips were found. Our REME attaché more than made up for his previous failings this afternoon. As we were coming into view of our destination our rod suddenly sprang to life. Amid shouts of "Fish on!" the crew gathered around the stern to watch Capt Bishop and LBdr Middleton haul in a fish (still fighting hard) hand over hand as our budget reel had given up. As the barracuda was brought into the boat the crowd dispersed having spotted the "massive teeth". A few swings of a winch handle concluded the battle in our favour. Only minutes later another bite led to a second corpse on the deck. Lunch is sorted for tomorrow! 2Lt Futcher offered up his services to gut and prepare our catch when we arrived. No one was eager to fight for the honour to do it instead. That evening a celebratory beer was in order. LBdr Middleton
20 Nov 12: After the celebrations of last night it was a slow start to the morning! We left Rubicon at 1100 for a short sail around the corner to a bay, where we anchored for our lunch of fresh barracuda. It was delicious. After lunch Sgt Dell and LBdr Gunn went for a swim. Unfortunately it was cut short when a particularly angry looking barracuda was spotted in the vicinity of the boat. Perhaps it could sense we had just devoured it's mates. We set sail, well, set motor for the final time as a crew and made our way back to Puerto Callero. En route an unavoidable current swept us straight past a naturist beach which made us chuckle. Having re-adjusted our course we arrived and mentally prepared ourselves for a day of cleaning tomorrow. The plan is to get all the jobs done in the morning and free up the afternoon for a bit of souvenir shopping, before flying home the next morning. LBdr Middleton

16 Regt Crew

47 Regiment RA on ATLANTIS BARBARA


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