It all started on the 13th October. Seven intrepid explorers set off in search of adventure. Some of us knew vaguely what to expect, the others had no idea! Later that night we arrived in Lanzarote and finally met our Skipper Russ and First Mate Esh, who was to become our hero in the days to come.
The next morning brought safety briefs, knot tying lessons and familiarisation with the boat. Then it was off to get the shopping for the epic 24 hr sail that awaited us the next day. How little we knew of what was about to befall us.
Day three and it was up early for the big one, a 24 hr sail to Gran Canaria. It started reasonably well, the sun was shining and the sea was calm. However, the increasing swell of the sea and wind were soon to have their vengeance, before long the whole crew was engulfed, sometimes quite literally by sea sickness. Esh and Russ were amazing and ensured our safe passage. Without a doubt, it was a baptism of fire but we all learned a lot about sailing, life and ourselves.
Although the strong wind had its down points, it had meant we made good time and we arrived in Las Palmas early the next morning. The night before seeming like a bad dream now we were finally able to laugh about it and look back at some of the amazing things we had seen, for example the Dinoflagellates that surrounded the boat all night.
Thursday morning Rob, my fellow novice left us, it was sad for the team to start to break up but we were also looking forward to new crew members arriving. Then we set sail for Puerto Rico. The wind was good and we seemed to have found our sea legs. After about an 8 hr sail we arrived and met the CO who was waiting for us there.
Our next major passage saw us leave Gran Canaria and head out to Tenerife. This morning was pretty unbeatable and we all had the chance to hone our newly learned skills. As the sun rose behind us with a stunning view of Mount Teide in front, dolphins began to swim alongside us and we spotted a whale a little further out. Carlsberg don’t do mornings, but if they did, this is what they would be like.
In Tenerife we attempted a couple of times to go out to the top of the mountain but both times we were unfortunately defeated by the weather as they shut the cable car. Nevertheless, this did give us the opportunity to have an explore of the Island. The next day’s sailing was another corker as Jerone spotted a sea turtle and we dropped anchor for a swim and some fender surfing. Nonetheless, the following day the storm came in and we spent 8 hrs sailing through sheet rain like drowned rats. Nevertheless, waterproofs on and morale remained high.
It was beginning to draw nearer to our 24hr journey back to Lanzarote, I was not looking forward to it. However, we had learnt our lesson and our skills and drills were, by now, slick. This sail was a whole different ball game. The sea was calm, the watches were alert and everything that needed to be done had been. After a calm night at sea alternating between motoring but sailing when it was possible, we were blessed when a pod of about 30 dolphins decided to join us for breakfast.
We arrived in Rubicon, a beautiful harbour and enjoyed a first hot shower since we had left Puerto Calero nearly two weeks ago. Our last sail was back round to where we started from, Puerto Calero. Carl got out the big guns and had a go at being skipper! Once we were back in port it was time to clean the boat, check the inventory and catalogue all the food and resources we were passing on to the next crew.
The adventure was coming to an end. It was a sad day saying goodbye to St Babs and the crew, I think we had all learned a lot, setting ourselves new challenges and taking on board new info. We saw new parts of the world, sailed with an array of sea creatures and experienced once in a life time moments. Our adventure at sea would not be forgotten easily.
The whole crew would like to thank the Royal Artillery Centre for Personal Development and the Ulysses Trust who kindly donated money to allow us to take part in the fantastic training. Without them some members would simply not have been able to attend so their hard work and support is very much appreciated.
By OCdt Charlotte Malan 103 Regt RA