29 Cdo Regt RA

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29 Commando Regiment RA Crew list for Leg 5 - Exercise MEDITERRANEAN UBIQUE

Neil Wilson (Skipper), Jon Johnson (Mate), Luke Templeton, James Lambden, Peter Edwards, Joshua Roughton, Paul Burnett, Matthew Fisher.

Thursday, 14th DecemberSkipper’s Comments: An early start, refuelled and scrubbed through the yacht and all its equipment and stores. Nothing left untouched. The crew have worked hard and have earned their meal ashore this evening.  

Reflections on the Leg – although my wife would never believe me, this has been no holiday.  A combination of strong winds, long distances resulting in several night passages, and living in tight conditions with 7 or 8 other people, all makes for a challenging, and on occasions, arduous experience, but also hugely rewarding and enjoyable – exactly as Adventurous Training should be.  We had some great sailing between the islands and achieved a large amount of learning at all levels, from the Skipper down. The wildlife we saw was a real highlight for us all and never failed to excite. So too was the experience of visiting so many different islands and meeting lots of interesting people everywhere we went.  This was especially true of La Gomera where we unexpectedly arrived just prior to the start of the Trans-Atlantic rowing race and met many a competitor and race organiser. There was a real buzz about the place. The volcanoes of La Palma were another highlight which were well worth the extra miles sailed to get there.  The single experience none of us will ever forget though was the rescue of the crew of ‘Tyger of London’ after their yacht lost its keel and capsized in high winds and a rising sea. Despite being a largely novice crew, they all reacted superbly to the catastrophe and played their part in the testing but successful rescue mission.  They made their Skipper, Commodore and Honorary Regimental Colonel, very proud. St Barbara has again proven herself as a well suited adventurous training yacht and seaworthy vessel, holding up well to the conditions and providing relatively comfortable living conditions. We should all be thankful for her and take good care of her; this crew certainly have.  

Crew ThoughtsThis has been an absolutely amazing trip and we all thank everybody involved in facilitating it. All have learned a great deal. Some will undoubtedly continue to sail for the RAYC throughout their carriers.

Clear skies, good wind and great company have made this unforgettable. I would recommend all who hear of the trip to throw their name in for the next expedition, even if they have never sailed.

We have written a fairly comprehensive PXR and attached is the port information sheet which will aid in planning for the next legs. If anybody wants any information or advice from our leg then please contact me. Capt James Lambden watchleader (29 Cdo Regt RA)     

As Ex Mediterranean Ubique 17 Leg 5 draws to a close and we are scrubbing down ready to hand the boat over; I can safely say I have thoroughly enjoyed my time on-board. I cannot thank the Skipper, mate and watch leaders enough, I have not only felt safe but also learnt a great deal spending two weeks with such competent sailors. The trip has been arduous at times but coupled with visiting volcanoes and saving lives it has been an experience I will remember for the rest of my career. Sgt Paul Burnett (29 Cdo Regt RA)     

To be honest when I was asked to sail with 29 Commando Regt I was a little intimidated, but when once I got to know the crew any doubts soon faded away. I have thoroughly enjoyed my time with the crew from 29 and I hope I played a part in their expedition, and added value to their time sailing in the Canary Islands. The development of the crew was always professional and in good spirits, the end product was a well developed a very cohesive competent crew. Again thank you for the invite. Sgt Pete Edwards (1 RHA) watchleader

Leg 5 of Ex MU has been a experience I wont forget. I arrived on St Barbara with minimal sailing experience. I have a lot of experience out on sea just not with the sails. The crew and I were in for quite a shock with how much hard work and experience is needed to get the yacht sailing and picking up speed, with that we had no choice but to understand and dig out so we knew what we were doing when and where we were needed. I have personally found Ex MU a great experience and a really good opportunity to gain more and more knowledge about the sea which I was unaware of. Sailing is now a new hobbie which I am keen to take up in the future and hopefully I will be joining the crew on St Barbara in the upcoming year. LBdr Luke Templeton (29 Cdo Regt RA)     

 Exercise MU17 is now coming to an end, myself and the crew agree that the experience has been arduous and testing at times but overall an enjoyable two weeks. We are all now competent and useful members of the crew and understand the main components of sailing even though most of us had never set foot on a sailing boat of any kind. Living in very close quarters with 7 other people for any amount of time can be challenging but for us everything came together and we have gelled well as a team. Personally I have visited parts of the Canary Island that I would have never travelled to and enjoyed discovering new islands and ports. There have been a lot of good moments and things that we will never forget on this trip, including heeling over to the point where it feels like the boat will tip while being slapped in the face with gallons of sea water, swimming with dolphins and spotting seat turtles, all the way to pulling five German sailors out of sea after they capsized their boat. Overall it will be an experience I will never forget. Bdr Matthew Fisher (29 Cdo Regt RA)     

Wednesday, 13th DecemberSkipper’s Comments: After being storm-bound for nearly 48 hours in Puerto Rubicon we were all beginning to suffer from a bit of cabin-fever. The forecast was for a weather window shortly after noon today so we prepared for sea and awaited for the wind to slacken. My hope was to beat directly into the strong NE’ly wind 26nm to Arrecife. However, after the short reach to Punta Papagayo and hardening up onto the wind it soon became apparent that this was an ambitious plan. Our COG tacking angle, even with the staysail up, was about 100 degrees due to a slight adverse current, and the wind had not read the forecast, remaining at F7 gusting 8 all afternoon. That made for an exciting final voyage with plenty of ‘greenies’ coming over the bow. Remarkably, even in such conditions, Paul spotted a turtle as it and us crested a large wave together. We soon realised that with the conditions against us, Arrecife was an unrealistic destination so we had to call it short and put into our home port of Colero. Even so we had all enjoyed a fabulous beat to windward in bright sunshine; even the waves down the back of the neck were warm. We are now tied up in our home port ready to clean and mend tomorrow.

Leg Stats:

  • Distance sailed: 550 nm
  • Islands Visited - 5
  • Night Hours: 38
  • Engine hours - 35
  • Sails used - 6
  • Turtles – 2
  • Fish caught – 3 (pitiful)
  • Germans Rescued – 5 (thankful)
  • Whales sighted – 1 pod
  • Dolphins seen – a plenty
  • Submarines spotted – 1 (yellow)
  • Active volcanoes climbed - 1

Intent: Refuel and comprehensively clean though St Barbara, checking all stores and equipment in the process. Collect hire car and go ashore for a crew meal.      

Crew BlogCapt Josh Roughton.  Since my last blog entry we have done plenty of sailing and visited loads of marinas. As we have clocked more miles we have improved individually as sailors and become slicker as a crew. The Skipper and Mate are no longer continuously barking commands at us as we now pre-empt many actions. A good example is rigging sails whilst at sea, a task that used to take three of us half an hour (hanging on for dear life), can now be done by one bloke with a reasonable degree of efficiency. We also became local sailing celebrities for our daring rescue of the Tyger of London’s crew.

I have visited the Canary Islands before during the summer months, but during December they have a different charm. Every port we have visited has either had stunning scenery or a beautiful sea side town.

As we near the end of the trip I can safely say this has been a unique experience. It has been a ‘zero-too-hero’ course for most of us, taking us from complete novices to (nearly) competent sailors as well as visiting some fantastic places.

Tuesday, 12th December.  Skippers Comments: ‘No-go’ day today. Wind gusting over 34 knots in the relatively sheltered harbour of Rubicon – it doesn’t look pretty out to sea.
Intent: To monitor the forecast closely and make a dash for it when the conditions allow. Both St B and the crew are more than up to it, but to depart in a F7 would not be the most prudent thing to do; I don’t wish to break the boat or the morale of the crew with only 2 days left. Yet at the same time, it seems a great shame to only sail 15 miles in our last 3 days; so be it.

Monday, 11th December.  Skippers Comments: We departed Puerto de Mogan at lunchtime yesterday in bright warm sunshine. As we left the harbour (which many have vowed to return to) a harbour dive boat was diverting us out of the main channel. Not especially keen to be manoeuvred away from the deep water we came in close to the dive boat but not too close, conscious that there may have been divers down. To our great surprise a bright yellow submarine surfaced close to our starboard bow! It was tourist boat running trips to enable people to see the local sea life and sea bed but it gave us all a surprise.

With no wind we motored for 3 hours under the imposing and impressive cliffs of the west coast of Gran Canaria, many taking advantage of the hot sunny conditions. The wind picked up as we left the island behind and hoisted the Genoa 2 to enjoy a comfortable fetch north in the company of dolphins again. Watches changed and we tacked just shy of the Traffic Separation Zone onto an easterly heading, bidding farewell to the lights of northern Gran Canaria. Sadly the wind gave up on us and we reverted to engine power again for most of the night – very dull but press on we must as the forecast for tomorrow evening is not great. When the wind returned, it came as predicted from the NW, allowing us to free off and enjoy a romping good reach into the gap between Lanzarote and Fuertaventura. Sails down, Pete Edwards skilfully manoeuvred ST Barbara alongside the reception berth at Rubicon Marina before we found our permanent berth for the night deeper into the harbour. 

Intent: Unsure. With very strong northerly winds forecast (gusting at over 60 km/h) tomorrow and over 500nm already sailed on this leg, I am reluctant to put the crew through another windward thrashing. However, to sit in port for the next 2 days seems a waste of time and opportunity. I'll judge the conditions again tomorrow and decide, but whatever we do, we won't be going far.

Sgt Paul Burnett.  Crew Blog: Monday 11th December. My previous sailing experience prior to Ex Mediterranean Ubique 17 was very limited, so needless to say I was more than a little apprehensive at the thought of sailing around the Canary Islands for two weeks. The first days sailing was spent being taught the basics of sailing at sea. It was as I expected, but I was more than a little nervous about being in a healing boat 15 miles from the nearest coastline, but as most do; I tried not to show it and instead started hatching secret escape plans for every eventuality; from sitting on deck at the helm to being in the heads. Harbouring thoughts of jumping overboard at the slightest mention of wind; the journey continued. We Sailed from Lanzarote too La Palma and then La Gomera, seeing plenty of sea life on the way and not many other vessels! On Friday the 8th at 0830 we set sail for Tenerife, the weather started off a little windy; but bearable. It was only a matter of hours if not minutes prior to the rescue of the Tyger Of London that I was asking the skipper and Mate what the possibility of us capsizing were. Needless to say their reassurance was short lived! During the rescue of the crew of the Tyger there wasn't time to think of anything other than the task at hand. Thankfully the military did what we do best and worked efficiently, it took very little time to get the crew safely onboard and back to dry land. As the days events settled and we took stock of what had happened, some of our other crew members raised their concerns over capsizing, we were then given an in-depth rundown on keels and more importantly that we didn't have the same keel as a comet 45S; relief all around. Sitting here in Rubicon Marina Lanzarote after a 26 hour day and night crossing, I can report that this salty old dog didn't suffer any anxiety and is thoroughly enjoying the trip.

Saturday, 9th December.  Skippers Comments: A somewhat less eventful day today. We departed at first light only to discover we had a send-off from the pontoon by the local sailing community, including a piper who played us out of the harbour – we were honoured. We then motored for a couple of hours before the wind rose just enough to sail by. However, it didn’t last long and by midday we were under engine power again, bidding farewell to Tenerife and heading across the straight to Gran Canaria. As we approach Puerto de Mogan we were visited by dolphins (Atlantic Spotted and Fraser). Some of the crew dived in to swim with them but the dolphins thought better of it, only returning once they had got back on board. We put into a rather tight berth in P de Mogan and wandered into this delightful little town for the evening.

Intent: With the forecast for strong northerly winds on Tue and Wed my intent is to get north before that serious weather sets in. Sadly that means departing Gran Canaria tomorrow lunchtime and heading for the northern end of Fuerteventura in one leap – a voyage of about 130 nm. It will likely be light winds again tomorrow so inevitably a bit more motoring, but by Monday the wind is due to swing to the west a little, possibly allowing us to free off a touch and make good speed in order to beat the weather. 

The crew of St Barbara V having arrived in port at La Galletas, Tenerife, and just discharged the casualties, holding the life buoy of Tiyger of London.

Send Off Party from La Galletas

LBdr Luke Templeton, 8 Cdo Battery.  The next evening we received a call from one of the casualties saying how relieved they were to see us turning around and how much they appreciated our professionalism and quick action. This made us all feel very proud and also relived that everyone come out in one piece and safe.

Saturday, 8th December.  Skipper's Comments:  After the events of yesterday we had a slower start this morning, scrubbing through St Barbara from bow to stern, inside and out; she certainly needed it. Some of the crew then made the most of the day and  visited a local water-park whilst others effected repairs and prepared for this evening's passage. We also enjoyed a bit of 'marina-life', socialising with other yacht crews and marina staff and seeking local advice for our  passages back to Lanzarote.

Intent:  To slip first light tomorrow and make the 50nm passage either East to Puerto de Morgan on the west coast of Gran Canaria or north to Santa Cruz on the NE coast of Tenerife. Which, will depend entirely on the true wind direction when we get out of the harbour.

LBdr Luke Templeton, 8 Cdo Battery. Crew Blog:  From Thursday 7th December;
We set off at 0830 to our next destination on las galletas, Tenerife. Before we set sail we knew the condition were going to be hard and that we had a long, hard day ahead of us. The first watch we got battered by the winds and waves, as a novice sailor and not aware of the capabilities of St. Barbara I was a little concerned of the possibility of capsizing but the experienced crew members told me that it was virtually impossible for a yacht to capsize due to the keel keeping the boat upright (this settled my nerves a lot). After the 6 hour shift I was starting to feel the toll of the weather and was relieved when the next shift took over so I could take some rest. I managed to get in one of the bunks so I could refresh and try and to get some sleep ready for the next shift, but sleeping part was fairly impossible due to the crashing and rolling of the waves and holding on for dear life every time we tacked. After about a hour of getting bashed about I heard Neil shout “MAYDAY all hands on deck”, with this I jumped down, tried to find my bearing whilst getting my life jacket and deck shoes on. I made it up to the push pit, the first thing that my eyes zoomed in to was this massive black lump in the water, at first I couldn't quite make out what it was but it soon became apparent. I rushed to the front with Paul to take down the yankee 1 and staysail in rapid succession! As we managed to slow down then I could work out what was going on and to my amazement it was another yacht which had capsized. Now the manic preparations to get back to the over turned yacht took place. As we got closer we saw some bodies in the water, at first it only looked like 3 but by the time we got to them they had separated from each other a fair distance. We shouted over to them how many there was and the skipper with a German accent confirmed there were 5. After scouting the area it was apparent there were 5 people in the water which was quite a relief. We got the throwing line out and managed to catch 3 of them in the first drift, now we had the immense struggle of pulling them in by hand, between John and I we got them back in to the back of the boat pretty rapidly. Our arms were burning and our hands on the verge of bleeding from rope burns, then the next task of helping them on the boat began. Once they were on board 2 of the other crew got them downstairs and took good care of them giving them dry clothes and warm drinks. Meanwhile on deck we had to turn around for the other 2. As we approached them we threw the throwing rope but in all the havoc the line got caught, we knew we had one more attempt before they would have been too far and we would have had to turn around all over again and by now they had been in the water for about 15 minutes. The next throw fortunately landed right on top of them and we managed to drag them back in within minutes. The female who was clearly in a lot of shock couldn't compose  herself and climb up the ladder so between the 2 of us we had to haul her up on to the deck with brut force. There was a sigh of relief once we had all five down in the saloon, now it was time to power back to Las Galletas. Other Brits and Dutch sailors heard the Mayday call and were waiting for us at the marina to help offload the stressed and cold casualties. I led them up to a cafe on the marina and got some warm drinks and had the showers open ready for them to use with fresh dry clothes to get changed in to which the other Brits had surrendered. The ambulance and local services arrived and checked them over and once they warmed up and overcome the reality of what they had gone through they all seemed pretty relaxed. I lent them my phone and gave them some cash to get to a local  hotel and get all the appropriate documentation so they could book a flight and go back home.

Sgt Pete Edwards (Watchleader and Ship's Medic) Crew Blog: It was about 1700 and an hour before watch change. I was still happily kipping in my pit without a care in the world when the Mate came down and shouted, "ALL HANDS ON DECK!" "Get your lifejackets on and get up on deck ASAP". The next thing I heard was him on the radio giving a MAYDAY call. What was I to think, was St B going going? The rest of my watch, as half a asleep as I, were wondering whether to put shoes on or just to move now! Once i had established it was another vessel in trouble i stayed below
deck and prepared to receive casualties from the stricken vessel and relay further information to the coast guard from the deck via our radio. On the first pass the deck crew managed to pull the first 3 of 5 people from the sea, and pass them off to the waiting crew below who quickly carried out a triage and assisted them to remove their lifejackets and wet kit replacing it with dry warm kit from the St Barbara V crew. Once all five rescued crew were on-board and below deck we continued to monitor them and keeping them warm offering hot drinks and reassurance, we could see they were obviously shaken and in shock especially the female who was not doing so well. on reaching Port Las Galletas St Barbara V was met by several British holiday makers and fellow yachtsmen who heard what was happening on the radio and observed our actions through binoculars from the coast. on arrival they had cleared a berth for us and had prepared hot drinks and blankets for all crews involved. The crews disembarked and gathered at the marina office where the rescued crew were ushered into warm showers and due to there being no medical staff available, I, as Medical Care Aboard Ship (MCAS) trained, was asked to provide medical assistance as one crew member was suffering from shock. What I found truly amazing was the quick response from all boats in the marina, providing food,drinks,warm clothing and even money to the rescued crew.  I have personally witnessed something amazing today in the true spirit of yachting and it will stay with me for the rest of my life.

Thursday, 7th December.  Skippers Comments: Quite a day! Setting out from La Gomera at 0830 as planned, we beat all day into the teeth of an Easterly Force 5, rising to a  continuous 6 gusting 7. We set sail with 1 reef in the main, the No1 Yankee  and staysail, and made heavy going of the crossing to the southern end  Tenerife, fighting an adverse current all day resulting in a tacking angle  of 120-130 degrees. There were times when we felt as if we were going  backwards, but with sightings of a turtle, a pod of pilot whales, and bright  sunny conditions moral was maintained. It rose as the town of Les Galletas  came into sight as we rounded Punta Rasca, 5 miles out. We did so in the company of another yacht also being beaten by the wind, Tyger of London a Comet 45S.

Thursday, 7th December. Tyger Report.  We were sailing in close proximity around Punta Rasca for about 30 mins when  the wind began to rise to F6+ and we put the second reef in the Main. Tyger
followed suit 10 minutes later and as she came back onto the wind she  broached and lost her keel. Her mast hit the water and she capsized, turning  turtle within 30 seconds. We sent an immediate MAYDAY call, dropped our  headsails, started the engine and turned around to assist. The off-watch
were rapidly brought on deck as we approached the 5 crew members (4 male, one female, German-Swiss) of the stricken yacht, one of whom had who had been trapped beneath it by her harness. Her partner dived beneath to release  her as the remainder drifted clear. They had floated about 200m downwind of  their yacht which allowed us to pick up the first 3 in our first pass using  St Barbara's throwing line and a fender on a warp as recovery lines. Having  got them alongside we took them on board via the stern ladder and then went  back for the other 2. All 5 were wearing inflated life-jackets which made  them easy to see despite the high winds and rising sea. We got the same  recovery lines to the last 2 casualties and brought them on board in a  similar fashion. Less then 30 minutes from sending the MAYDAY message we had  recovered all 5 casualties and had taken them down below to assess them and  provide first aid/warmth. We then motored directly into the F7 for the last
4 nm to the nearest harbour of Les Galletas and transferred the casualties  ashore. They were all very shaken and the female, in particular, was  suffering from shock, but the harbour authorities took good care of them and  we bade them farewell. They were most grateful.

Intent: Recovery day ahead. St Barbara and her crew are all in need of a  recovery day. The yacht is in need of a complete 'dig-out' and dry out; the crew just need to have some time away from her and get their pulses back to  normal.

Despite all the excitement of the day we still need to make our way back to home port by Thursday next week but with strong winds on the nose forecast. We will therefore need to make the most of the weather windows that might  become available to us, the first of which we hope will present itself
around 2100 tomorrow. Thus we plan to sail to Gran Canaria at that time so  long as the forecast holds..

Crew Blog: All ashore being bought drinks and slapped on the back by the local maritime community. I am sure the rescue story is getting better by  the minute so I'll try and get it to you in their own words tomorrow.  I should add that they all acted in an exemplary manner; reacting swiftly
and effectively to the emergency situation that appeared before them. The fact that the 5 casualties spent so short a time in the water and were all  safely recovered with no physical injuries is testament to the cool-headed,professional actions and speedy responses of the entire crew. They all
played their part in either helping to get St Barbara back alongside the casualties, recovering them from the water, or caring for them once on  board. Our MCAS/MFAS medic oversaw their reception back on land and some of  the crew even gave the casualties money and dry clothing to satisfy their
immediate needs. A truly magnificent effort by all involved.

Wednesday, 6th December.  Skipper's Comments. Our night passage from La Palma to La Gomera was quite eventful. Fearing a lack of wind, we set off in near perfect conditions, a ENE F3 allowing us to fetch the rhumb line course for the first half of the leg. The full moon rose shortly after our departure and was so bright that torches were not needed on deck. As we approached the half way point the crew glimpsed a green mini-flare seemingly fired close to our position.

After a brief radio conversation with Tenerife  Radio we were stood down from the Pan Pan situation that appeared to have been the source of the flare, although we will never know. We then lost wind completely and motored for 2 hours before it picked up again from the SE with interest.

Unfortunately our course was also SE around the northern end of La Gomera and thus we took first 1 reef and then a second as it rose to a steady F5 gusting 6. Coupled with a very confused sea as we rounded Punta de San Cristobal on the far eastern edge of the island, this made for an exciting finish to our night passage. With the sun rising and a stunning view of Pico de Teide on Tenerife to the east, we eventually rounded the breakwater into the lovely town of San Sebastian. Upon arrival we discovered the town is hosting the start of the Trans-Atlantic Rowing Challenge that sets off in under a week's time. We have now met up with several of the crews, 3 or 4 of whom are either serving or retired British military; how exciting! 

Intent: The plan tomorrow is to depart early and make the short crossing to Puerto Colon or San Miguel, Tenerife but with a strong wind forecast to blow from the exact direction we wish to sail in, it could be slightly longer than we had hoped for.

Bdr Matthew Fisher.  Crew Blog: Today being the 3rd leg, 3rd island and over 300 miles covered so far, we are all starting to pick up the basics of sailing. Including sail changes, reefing the main sail both on the move and in the dark. We are starting to remember all the terminology and names of most of components aboard ship, becoming useful members of the crew. Last night we departed La Palma, though this was one of our shorter passages it was roughest night yet. However, this was far more enjoyable for myself as I started to see and feel the speed and angles this boat can withstand. We are expecting more challenging weather on the next leg and look forward to it. 

Tuesday, 5th December.  Skipper's Comments. Several of us were feeling the combined effects of seas-sickness and 'the lurgy' on the long passage here. One or the other would not have been a problem but the 2 together meant a good rest and recovery day was in order. La Palma is the most volcanically active of the Canary Islands with the last eruption in 1971. We took a winding bus journey across the mountainous terrain to the southern end of the island to inspect the impressive crater left by this eruption and that of the near-by volcano San Antonio 4 hundred years earlier. Re-provisioning and a dip for the crew on the near-by black-sand beach along with a clean up on board, completed the day.

Intent: After a day's R&R, the intent is to sail this evening for La Gomera, however, the forecast is not great so we may end up motoring a fair bit of the passage. Having come so far west we need to start heading back east so waiting for wind is sadly not an option. From La Gomera we plan to sail to Tenerife and then Gran Canaria.

Crew Blog: Capt Josh Roughton RM.  As a complete novice I have experienced a steep learning curve in the past few 4 days.  Saturday was my first time under sail and two days later I conducted a 36 hour, 210 mile voyage from one end of the Canary Islands to the next!  This is the same for most of the crew.  This trial by fire has worked in our favour and we now feel a lot more confident on board and are (hopefully) better sailors as a result.

La Palma is a beautiful island and well worth the effort to get here.  The crew have visited an active volcano and swam in the surprisingly warm Atlantic Ocean.  We now prepare for another over night voyage to visit La Gomera, our third island. 

Monday, 4th December.  Skippers Comments: Our passage from Puerto Ribicon, on the southern tip of Lanzarote, to Santa Cruz de la Palma, La Palma, was as simple and pleasant as it could have been. We sailed for all but the last 5 miles of the 210 nm rhumb line, pushed along by a fairly consistent NE F 2-3, occasionally gusting 4. The passage took us just shy of 36 hours, departing at first light on 2 Dec and arriving just before last light today. We passed to the north of Gran Canaria, only seeing 2 ships as we crossed the entrance to the TSS, and then continued north of Tenerife overnight. Its lights stayed with us for most of the night and the morning watch had a spectacular view of its volcanic peak though the cloud as the sun rose. We flew the spinnaker for 3 hours yesterday evening, taking it down at last light and replacing it at first light with a poled-out no. 2 Genoa. We ran the generator for a couple of hours and successfully used the towed generator yesterday. Our entry to Santa Cruz de la Palma was delayed by 5 minutes as a large cruise ship departed, but a friendly wave from the accompanying pilot vessel soon sent us into the harbour and to a hospitable greeting by the marina staff.

Intent: To explore La Palma before setting sail for La Gomera and gradually island-hoping our way back against the wind.

Capt James Lambden.  Crew BlogThe past two days have been both the steepest learning curve and the most challenging sailing to date. Varying winds allowed us to fly a lightweight kite and collapse it which was good training for all. The crew are bonding well in their respective watches. People are starting to anticipate the skippers calls and had their first exposure to a full night sail. Morale is high as people enjoyed yet another fantastic meal and more of LBdr Luke Tempeltons' fishing expertise. All are keen for a few hours on Santa Cruz de la Palma, La Palma exploring followed by a night sail to La Gomera tomorrow evening. 

Saturday, 2nd December.  Intent: Having looked at the forecast the decision has been made to take on a long leg and head for Santa Cruz de la Palma. The plan is to head west, having Tenerife as a refuge port, but try to fly the spinnaker by day continuing the crew training from today and sail for approx. 36 hours, 200 nm approx.

Crew Blog: John Johnston (mate)

The first afternoon of sailing has been a great learning experience for the 29 Cdo crew, having had a full nights sleep after the crew had arrived on a late flight. Setting out from Puerto Calero at about 1400 after victualing the boat and dropping off the hire car, we were ready to begin. The Watch Leaders  started to mould with their watches by showing and explaining the boat's rigging and how the different parts worked. Particular attention was paid to the sails, MOB drills and the most crucial pieces of safety equipment. Whilst we had a perfect training wind with us heading south it has been a bit of a rolling sea, taking its toll on at least 1 of the crew. Despite his illness, Luke Templeton made up for feeling green by catching our first parrot fish, that the crew are enjoying as an excellent starter as I type. Arriving in Puerto Rubicon an hour before sunset gave us all time to walk around, enjoying the sunset on one side of the marina and a great full moon on the other.

Friday 1st December.  Skippers comments: Skipper and mate arrived yesterday and took over this morning, saying farewell to Rich Grimwood and Graham Stephenson this morning. We spent the day doing some maintenance tasks, including diving under to inspect the prop, replacing a ripped cot, re-attaching a saloon cushion, mending a stern cabin locker door, unblocking the heads, and flushing the water-making through with fresh water. We collected the crew from 29 Cdo Regt, fed them a lasagne and settled on board.

Intent: Victualling, familiarisation and sail training.

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