Wednesday 26 December 2018


We are enjoying a relaxed time exploring St Lucia and Martinique, with Lizzie, James and Bridget who are with us for a few weeks before we set off on the next leg of our journey with the World Arc. We will be in the company of about 35 other yachts when we set sail in mid January bound for Columbia, then Panama. On board we will be joined by Nicki Murray and Richard Shaw.

Meanwhile, there's plenty of time for fun!
Swimming, snorkelling, messing about in the water, exploring ashore, hiking. It feels strange to be in the warm sun at Christmas 🎄 but we are coping!

Friday 14 December 2018

Sleep and Tidy-up Time

Yes, that sleep last night was so good!

Today we have been washing off seasalt, sail mending, finding a man to
fix the fridge, meeting Mr Sparkle, and doing St Lucia arrival

Jimmy has jumped ship, having found a crew berth on a boat heading
north - he is heading to the Virgin Islands to meet family.

We have also been welcoming other boats in and reliving the moment from
our arrival yesterday.

We won't be blogging daily for a little while whilst we stay put in
Rodney Bay. More news anon...

Welcome to St Lucia

And on to the final challenge: docking in Rodney Bay Marina.
Despite fishing line round our propeller and swirling winds, Rob
managed to reverse Tintin into our berth, with brilliant help from the
shorebased ARC team. Fenders, mooring lines - all done: then we stepped
ashore - we had finished. Elation and relief, both in equal measure.
Clapping and cheering from the welcoming party of ARC team, 
other sailors, and the marina staff who were there to hand
us all a glass of ice cold rum punch and a basket of fruit. We could
hear snatches of kettledrums carried on the wind. We had arrived.

I had enormous sense of thankfulness that we had managed this trip
safely, and that the crew had worked so well together.
Despite being such a long way from shore I had a sense that we were
never alone. The emails we received from many of you helped with
this so much. Thank you.

Crossing Completed

I will try to share what it felt like when we arrived at Rodney Bay

Approaching St Lucia in the morning, the island grew steadily larger and
brighter before us. It was a beautiful, sparkly day to make
landfall. Having seen no other ARC yachts for a few days, four others
appeared over the horizon, to port and starboard, all converging
together on the northern end of the island. The game was afoot!
Latent competitive streaks emerged in the crew as tactics were
discussed - take the corner wide or close? When, and exactly how, to
change from the downwind sting ray sail to the mainsail and genoa (as
the final stretch to reach Rodney Bay would be with the wind from our
side and then pretty much on the nose)? 

The sense of anticipation at landfall grew steadily, the reaslisation
dawning that we really really have sailed across the Atlantic ocean. But
with it I also felt a slight wistfulness for the finishing of this
incredible time.

After 3 weeks as a crew perfecting our sail change routine, it all went
like clockwork. Pigeon Island to port, we were in flat water
(what a welcome feeling!) The wind dropped alway to a whisper in the
lee of the bluff: and then we picked up the perfect breeze to carry us
over the finish line ahead of the competition. High fives and
enormous grins all round.

Wednesday 12 December 2018

Slow Day

We're bobbing around 150Nm short of St Lucia. The wind is about 10kn
-just enough to keep us moving albeit not very fast. Air temperature
32.5 deg C; Water 25 deg C. We're all feeling hot! I can feel your
sympathy from here.

We're all looking forward to dry land tomorrow; although it will be
slightly odd moving out of our own little world into life with more
than 4 others around!

Tuesday 11 December 2018

Things we are looking forward to on arrival

Apart from the famed rum punch of St Lucia hospitality

Rob: an unbroken night's sleep

Jimmy: meeting Mr Sparkle (who does laundry at Rodney Bay Marina, our
destination in St Lucia). Not wetting his bed. Error, I mean not having
a wet bed (James sleeps right next to the watermaker which apparently
sometimes leaks a little when the end product is being tested)

Ben: A bed without a food locker under it, so your bed doesn't need to
be dismantled when foraging for supplies. Rum Mojitos. A cricket match,
and a hair cut

Fred: sleeping in a bed that doesn't try to roll you out of it at
random intervals. A kitchen that doesn't move, with cupboards you can
open and find exactly what you are looking for right at the front. Rum
Mojitos, and a hair cut too , apparently

Jo: A big green salad. A flushing loo. A long and still sleep.
Things staying exactly where you out them, just for a bit. The
colour green to look at (the seascape is very blue and grey, beautiful,
but a change would be pleasant!). Seeing the family when they arrive.

Injury to Wendy

You might think that we are a crew of 5, but actually we are 6. The
hardest-working member of the crew is Wendy, our Windpilot
self-steering mechanism. She needed a bit of training to start with,
but from about day 2 onwards she steered the boat for at least 80% of
the time, coping with big seas and strong winds with barely a
complaint in 2500Nm. Yesterday, however, she suffered an injury that
has put her off-duty until St Lucia.

For a few days nows, we've been passing lumps of seaweed. Yesterday,
the lumps became more and more common until we were regularly
ploughing through fields of the stuff. Poor Wendy, innocently waving
her rudder around at anything upto 10-11 knots must have hit one (or
more) of these clumps. A sacrificial shear pin broke as designed
saving major damage, but a push-rod has become bent requiring some
minor land-based surgery. So, it's hand-steering and autopilot for
the last couple of days of the trip.

An apology

While we are at sea we can post blog entries by email via our sat
phone, but we are unable to view the blog and see any comments or
questions that have been posted. So if you do post a comment, could
you also email it to

This has just been brought to our attention, thanks Alice.

The answer to the porridge club question is 1:3 (2 of water and one of
milk) and a 5 minute simmer for the best ever result.

When we arrive in St Lucia we hope we will get connected and will
be able to respond to any questions.

302 miles to go...

Monday 10 December 2018

Our luxury items

We were thinking about life on Tintin, and discussing the luxuries that
we have that we really appreciate. We're more easy-going that 'Desert
Islands Discs, so allowed ourselves 3 each

Jimmy (travelling light - so only one item):
I couldn't survive without my spiky ball. The rest of the crew don't
really know what its for, but the relief it gives me as I roll it
around my bottom is immense. Like all good things on the boat it
serves multiple uses and I enjoy cuddling up with it at night and using
it as a stress ball after those rigging changes which didn't go quite
as smoothly as they might.

Rob: My 3 luxury items are:
Jo's noise-canceling headphones. Lying in my bunk I constantly hear
the noises of the boat; the creak of the halyard, the whine of the
water pump, the low hum of the fridge -all above the whoosh of the
waves. Occasionally it's really nice to turn all that noise off.

Chocolate - some people may know I like chocolate.

Enough fresh water to shower every day. It's good that when your wife
tells you that you smell, you can do something about it.

My noise cancelling headphones, when Rob isn't using them. I can be
transported to a serene and peaceful place by Clair de Lune, welcome
respite at times when it is all getting a bit noisy.

Lizzie's guitar. Even though I haven't managed to practice every day, I
enjoy the romantic notion that I might, and I could, and I can...

Ferry Hill Marmalade. Thank you Mum.

Ben:Soreen Sticky bread
Shantaram (a really good book)

Fred: Coffee
The hook for catching big fish (known as the 'granny-snatcher' in
homage to my mother)

Sunday 9 December 2018

Sunday - 2nd Sunday of Advent

we've been at sea 2 weeks now, December is well underway. We've a
little set of Christmas lights and a tiny Christmas tree, but otherwise
it feels most un-Christmasy here. Clear blue skies, 30deg C, gentle
easterly - no drizzle, brexit votes or Christmas shopping.

With 1000Nm to go, the crew started to think that we were almost across
and thoughts moved to Rum Punches and watching West indies play
cricket. Now with 600Nm to go, the reality has dawned on us that it's
still a long way to go - albeit much less than before. However, we're
making serene progress and morale remains very high.

We're flying the double code-0 sail - now dubbed the stingray because
of its shape. We've found that by only using 1 pole, it sets much
better and provides better boat speed in moderate winds. Overnight
some boats reported frustrating progress in light winds, but the big
area of the stingray kept us moving nicely.

The Angling Society reconvened this morning after hiatus of 3 main
meals and 2 starters from the Wahoo. So far, no luck today. To be
honest that's fine with me (Rob) as too many consecutive meals of fish
would tax my diplomacy.

Saturday 8 December 2018

700 to go

It is beginning to feel a bit more tropical as we continue west towards
St Lucia. The last few days have brought squally clouds with drenching
rain in the darkness of the night, and today we have less wind and
temperatures in the low 30s. As tempting as the cobalt blue waters are
that surround us, a swim right now wouldn't be clever: it would be very
difficult to stop the boat and the ocean swell would make climbing on
board a tricky challenge (and I will admit that in my head there is
always the thought of what might be lurking in the thousands of metres
below us...)

We have been visited by a group of 3 white longtailed tropic birds.
Imagine a dove with a sleeker shape and one long feather in the
middle of the fan of tailfeathers and you will get the picture. They circled us a few times, giving the impression they might land on
the top of the mast but then thought the better of it. After some very
elegant coordinated flying they squawked and continued on their way,
wherever that might be.

We have not had any whale sightings yet, but on the radio net
today from another yacht reported that they were followed by a whale
15 m from their boat for over one hour yesterday.

Our "new normal" is to be out on the ocean with no land or boats in
sight, our days paced by the rhythm of daylight and darkness, watch
patterns, meals and looking after the boat and each other. All will
change again when we reach land sometime in the next several days, wind
permitting. We are eager to arrive but equally not wishing this
incredible time away.

All is well.

Friday 7 December 2018

Tintin - A Prospectus

Tintin is an "outstanding" yacht. Its core curriculum, to get to St
Lucia, is first rate and loved ones can have a high degree of
confidence that this will be achieved. Compared with the rest of the
fleet, Tintin has excellent facilities, first rate officers and a
strong sense of teamwork; some other boats have been deemed
"unsatisfactory" or "requires improvement" (at safety inspection) and a
few have retired due to equipment failure.

But what sets Tintin apart is our fine array of extra curricula
activities. Tintin offers many clubs and societies which crew members
can join. Crew members are encouraged to participate in as many as
possible in order to fulfill their potential (and to maximise their
chances of progressing their sailing careers at the highest level after
their arrival at St Lucia).

Bums & Tums
Get those abs working to some banging tunes - the best way to start
the day. We recommend harnesses are worn at all times as the gym floor
can be tippy at times.

Porridge Club
After much R&D, the Porridge Club prides itself on the perfect ratio of
oats, water, milk and salt. A good complement to Bums & Tums,
though most members prefer to restrict their efforts to just the one

Angling Society
The society is enjoying much success currently and is the envy of the
fleet. New crew members will benefit from the rapidly growing
experience of the society. Recent prizes include Mahi Mahi and Wahoo
Tuna. Due to its rich vein of wins, demand for joining "the dream team"
is high and new crew members may be disappointed.

Domestic Sciences
A good option for the less academically gifted, Tintin's officers
instruct crew members on cooking, sewing and scrubbing.

Radio Club (aka Pedants' Paradise)
If your thing is repeating long position coordinates over and over
again into a crackly line, then you'll find fellow travelers on the
spectrum. Tintin's operators have been awarding chocolate prizes for
broadcasting perversions of other boats' (admittedly rather silly)
names eg Rum Truffle -> Bum Shuffle, Chubby Bunny -> Runny Tummy etc.
We do not condone this form of passive aggressive bullying and are
reviewing the future viability of the club.

Celestial Navigation Society
The society is seeking new members as participation is sparse. The
skipper is keen to share his extensive knowledge of and enthusiasm for
the subject.

Gardening Club
Keen Tintin gardeners have had a few false starts due to flooding,
landslides and saline pollution, but we are currently showing some
green shoots of recovery and are optimistic of prize crops of basil and
coriander. Sadly members disembarking at St Lucia are unlikely to
benefit. Headed by our most charming first mate, she says this club is
"well good".

Mountaineering Club
As you probably know, there aren't many mountains in the Atlantic, but
Tintin has its very own climbing wall as well as the skipper's notorious
Bosun's Chair (see earlier blog entry. If you want thrills, this is
the club for you.

Astronomy Club
One of our more popular clubs, we provide nightly "watches" under the
stars. Crystal clear skies can be enjoyed from the luxury of the
cockpit with a fine arary of cushions provided for support. The entire
winter sky is lit up for crew members to enjoy every evening.

With apologies to Wycombe Abbey, Marlborough, Uppingham, St Edwards etc


Thursday 6 December 2018


The last 24 hours have been reasonably eventful I think it's fair to
say with a milestone being passed and a new record for our books too.

The story starts at 0600 TTT (Tintin Time) when I rose from my cabin to
take over from Mr Captain Doug and commence my watch. When we handed
over the general message was: everything is going fine, the wind is
blowing us in the right direction, and as always just follow the arrow.
Given we were over halfway and I had done enough night watches the know
what's what I thought I had another dreamy, star gazing two hours ahead
of me. Oh how wrong I was.

The first half an hour went by without cause for anyone's eyebrows to be
raised. After a while I started to get bored of just looking at the
same constellations over and over again so I started to let my eyes
wander further afield. Nothing to worry about on the port side, or the
starboard side for that matter. So I cast my eyes behind me beyond the
stern to see a wall of black clouds looming over the boat. My immediate
reaction to seeing this was to try and get out of the way of the
clouds. After a few moments of thinking how to shift the course of the
boat it dawned on me that there was no option but to tough it out. As
the children's book goes "We can't go around it. We can't go under it.
We can't go over it. So we'll have to go through it."

As I looked more intently I saw that the wall was slightly more broken
up than I had first thought. And the clouds were falling into three
chunks of black scariness. As the first wave hit, I was expecting
strong winds and lots of rain. But the cloud passed without a drop of
rain or the wind reaching more than 18 knots. "How pleasant." I thought
to myself. I was sure the next cloud had to be hiding an infamous
squall that I'd heard all about. But just like the first cloud, the
second passed overhead with me waiting for nothing.

At this point I had the voice of Chris Tibbs, an ARC official, going
round in my head saying "A squall will always hit when the youngest,
most inexperienced member of the crew is on watch." At the helm when the
first raindrops hit the deck, I left Wendy to steer the boat and went
down below to wake Rob up. With an extra pair of hands on deck we
managed reef the sail and slow the boat down to bring a little bit more
control back to the wheel. Luckily we just managed to reduce the sail
area before the wind picked up. As Rob went downstairs the heavens
really opened and the wind picked up. After five minutes of tennis ball
size rain droplets and winds gusting up to 28 knots, the squall passed
just as suddenly as it had begun and I could tick off another sailing

***Later that day***

As we were sitting down for lunch, enjoying the freshly baked bread and
newly cut ham, we heard a cry of "FISH!" from the deck and after
donning our lifejackets and tethers we rushed to see what we had
caught. As I picked up the rod from the holder, I immediately felt a
huge tug from the other end of the line. It was a big fish.

After a twenty minute battle between the joint efforts of Jimmy Heath
and myself, and the monster at the other end of the line, we had heaved
the fish into striking distance from the gaffer and, after dazing the
fish with a blow the the head, Dad managed to gaff the fish and flip the
fish onto the deck. After a significant amount of rum had been poured
down its gills the fish stopped twitching, and we could set back and
actually marvel at our work. The Angling Society had hauled in a 25kg 5
foot Wahoo fish (some cross between a barracuda and a tuna). After
filleting it and putting it in the fridge we found ourselves all really
quite tired. But my was it worth it.

Now its time for dinner and to enjoy our catch of the day.
This is Ben signing off.

Wednesday 5 December 2018

1/2 way

We've now past 1/2 way having about 1260nm to St Lucia and logged about
1590 nm since Gran Canaria. Last night we celebrated with a bottle of
English Champagne (if that isn't an oxymoron) courtesy of Katherine
Gurney. She had suggested that we drink it on our departure from
Lisbon - which seems an ago now - but we were rather preoccupied with
the sea and wind at the time, so it was appreciated much more last

We opened a box of assorted goodies from Ferry Hill this morning. A
fantastic assortment of treats. Fred was particularly keen on the
anti-shine skin cream, and the individual portion of demerara sugar
will surely be useful.

Last night we took down the big double-headed sail - now christened
'stingray' because of its shape - and just used a pole-out genoa. We
went a fair bit slower but it was a more gentle ride in the bows.
Putting up the stingray this morning was not a slick operation with so
many lines to get in the right place. It's there now, with only 1 line
going the wrong way, and we're moving well towards St Lucia.

As we were changing sails, Fred noticed a white rope streaming from the
rudder. The operation was halted while we investigated. As ever,
James was our danagerman and he strapped himself on and stuck his
head in the water over the stern. Jo pointed out that this could make
his lifejacket inflate about 1/2sec before his lifejacket did
actually inflate. He came up quickly and reported that the 'line' was,
in fact a small vortex of water coming off the rudder but could he have
some assistance to get back up because the inflated lifejacket impaired

The mood of the Angling Soc has abated a bit. No fish yesterday and
none today so far, they're starting to question equipment, speed of
boat, time of day - anything to explain their lack of further success.

Tuesday 4 December 2018

The Daily Routine

We're now entering the 9th day at sea and have settled into a steady
rhythm. We decided in Las Palmas to have a fixed watch pattern, so
that we don't need to change waking and sleeping times each day. We've
also decided to stick with UTC as we cross westwards, meaning that each
day sunrise and sunset move about 10 minutes later. The day's shape is
determined by the sun and sea and our changing position across the

My day starts at 3:50 when I drag myself out of bed for the 4:00 to
6:00am watch. For the first few days, this watch was lit by a
bright moon - now however the moon is thin and doesn't get up until
nearly the end of my watch. In another couple of days it'll be black
all night. We try to set the sails so that there's little or no
active sail management required at night - and thus far this watch has
been event-free, which is just how I like it. By this time of night,
the great bear is visible to the north, pointing the way to Polaris -
much lower in the sky than when viewed from the UK. Last night the moon
rose at about 5:15am closely followed by Venus and then the sun a
couple of hours later. With regular checks on boat speed, direction,
wind and other traffic I content myself listening to audiobooks - and
writing blog entries such as this.

Ben is normally early for his watch at 6:00am. A better person than I
might use the early start to get ahead of the day; but I go straight
back to bed hoping for another few hours of sleep. Whether this is
succesful depends on the weather, sea state and the speed of the
boat. Jo and I sleep in the double cabin towards the front of the boat,
and so get the full sound and movement of the boat.2 nights ago we
were careering along at 8-9kn in up to 30kn of wind. Very exciting but
very hard to sleep being tossed around with the roaring of the waves
streaming off the bows. Last night with winds barely 15knots, Tintin
glided (glid?) gently on - the motion ws a gentle rocking and the noise
a mild whoosh every few seconds. Much more conducive to sleep.

Jo slips from the cabin for the 8:00am watch to get the sunrise but I
just turn over until 9ish. Jimmy is normally up before then sometimes
doing his bums and tums exercises above me on the foredeck. Fred is
next up and if I'm very lucky I get tea in bed (not a skipper's
perogative - he's just very kind). The next couple of hours various
chores get done. The engine is run to charge the batteries, the
watermaker fills the tanks, bread baked, the blog uploaded and weather
downloaded. In the midst of this, the Porridge club turns out another
bucket of the stuff.

Fred takes over at 11:00 and it's time for coffee and Angling Society.
They're making good progress. After the one that got away, yesterday
produced a fine dorado (or Mahe Mahe). Jimmy hauled it in like a
later-day Hemingway before Fred gaffed it onboard. The fantastic
green/yellow sheen faded within minutes of being dispatched in an
alcoholic stupor courtesy of a squirt of 'fish-killing rum' in the

The radio net is on air at midday. About 10-15 boats share our
positions over the SSB and check on the fleet's wellbeing. It's fun to
get to know the various voices from 'Rum Truffle', 'Chubby Bunny' et al
Conversation can be a bit stilted as boats with better reception relay
information to those further away of with poorer reception.

At 2:00pm Jimmy takes over for the afternoon shift. Lunch has tended
to drift later with the longitude changes, but generally about 3:00.
In Las Palmas we bought a fine Serrano ham (know as Babe II).
Sandwiches of fresh bread with slices of Babe is our stable - although
Ben has been experimenting with lasagne sandwich and other culinary

Ben is on at 5:00pm. The afternoon is a time for private study -
in whatever way seems best. For me, this often takes the form of quiet
meditation on my bed. I shower and get myself clean just before my
watch starts at 7:00pm.

At the start, 7:00pm was pitch black. Now I get 40 minutes before
sunset, which is a fantastic time for a beer on deck watching the
colours change ahead of us. This is also a time for looking at the
weather and the sails and the course to try to set a sailplan that
would need little maintenance during the night hours.

Dinner - always a fantastic spread - is about 8:00pm. This is a big
subject to be covered in later post.

I finish at 10:00pm to handover to Jo till midnight, Fred until
2:00am and James until I'm back on at 4:00am. Hopefully all these
watches are quiet and event-free.

And then another days starts when I drag myself out of bed for the 4:00
to 6:00am watch.

Monday 3 December 2018

Status update - Angling Society

After our initial kit check and foray into the boats tackle box (there
are lots of nasty looking hooks and lures), we convened the first
meeting of the angling society today to prepare our assault on the
mid-Atlantic fishing stocks. Having lost one lure the previous night, we
replaced the line on one reel and selected 2 of the ugliest lure and
hook combos, and deployed the lines - one on a rod, one on a hand reel.

With expectations high, we sat back, watched and waited, with visions
of endless battles with a fish - a test of cunning and nerve, skill and
technique, etc....

What actually happened depends on how you like to digest your news. In
this post-modern world, we have the new concept of alternative facts to
help us to make sense of the confusion around us, and so, here is my
take on what happened next.

To say that we were not successful, is a gross over-simplification of
the reality. We never stated explicitly that we wanted to land a fish
on the boat....instead, we had a very successful day testing our lines
(both lines survived the tests 100%), and refining our strategy. We
also went to great lengths to preserve our relationship with Neptune,
in offering back to him the biggest of our catches, to recognise the
very important role that he plays in providing safe passage for us.

The alternative narrative is that we catch one fish (a big dorado -
honestly it was huge) that jumped off the line as we hauled it in, and
a ball of rope!

But my friends, our is a long game, and we are back for another day,
and I have a better feeling about our prospects today.

Fred (aka David, aka Gurns).

Here's a picture of a happy crew post morning exercises and

Sunday 2 December 2018


Dear reader, I am happy to tell you that Tintin is now looking suitably
seasonal. 2 advent gifts were produced yesterday by Fred - from
Kathryn, thank you! We now have a mini Christmas tree which is in pride
of place on the saloon table and a garland of LED Christmas lights
hanging up above, which lend the boat a festive ambience. Together with
Ben's Xmas songs playlist the spirit of Christmas on board Tintin is

Yesterday was a day when we solved quite a few problems - all very
satisfying - and we then had quite a bouncy night with winds gusting 30
knots for a while. We agreed that it would be Ok to have a more
relaxing Sunday and so far we are.

We are making wonderful progress with a very steady 18-20 knots of ENE
behind us and the blue water runner hoisted and poled out both sides in
the bow. The sun is shining, and the sky is blue with a few fluffy
cumulus scattered about. An hour ago we had a visit from our first pod
of dolphins for days and they were so welcome. Their arrival was
heralded by flying fish skimming across the water in front of them - I
guess to avoid being eaten up.

The angling society formally convened today with Fred, Ben and
Jimmy preparing their lines and now we have 2 out hoping for a catch.

I am absolutely loving this experience so far. It is amazing how far
away we look on a chart but it doesn't feel strange. Even though we
can't see any boats around, we are in touch daily at noon with others
on the SSB radio net and we feel far less alone.

Saturday 1 December 2018

Climbing the Mast Head

From Jimmy....

Yesterday evening a spinnaker halyard broke, which I'll let those more
qualified than me explain elsewhere, except to say that it felt as if
the potential consequences were going to make reaching St Lucia a whole
lot more challenging. Until then I'd been wholly confident of a more
or less incident free cruise across the Atlantic in the capable hands of
Rob and Jo. But equipment failure like this really brings it home how
far from land we are and how vulnerable we could be.

We had some good advice at one of the excellent seminars laid on
pre-start that when something goes wrong, it's probably not as bad as
it seems - have a cup of tea, discuss the problem and come up with a
plan to sort it out.

Our plan required climbing the mast to feed a new halyard through a
block fixed at the very top. Last time I climbed Tintin's mast was a
year ago on a windless day in the safe surroundings of the Bag at
Salcombe. That was in Rob's "bosun's chair" which frankly feels very
like and as old as the garden swing we let our children play on some 25
years ago. Terrifying. And I'm sorry to report that it's still on
board. There was no way I was going to volunteer this time while
under sail in the middle of the Atlantic. No-one else put their hand
up either, so the skipper said he'd climb in the morning.

Overnight I read the chapter in Moby Dick on climbing the mast head.
He describes being:

...lulled into such opium-like listlessness of vacant, unconscious
reverie ... blending cadence of waves with thoughts, that at last he
loses his identity; takes the mystic ocean at his feet for the visible
image of that deep, blue, bottomless soul, pervading mankind and
nature; and every strange, half-seen gliding, beautiful thing that
eludes him ...

This sounded like just the job for me. Surely fate brought me to this
very chapter at this very moment. And more, Rob also has on board a
very smart new climbing harness. So at breakfast I found myself
volunteering and kitted up with full length shirt and trousers, bike
helmet, sunnies and said harness.

And what an adrenalin rush it was. About a third of the way up as the
boat rocked from side to side I swung around the mast and realised that
this was no trivial matter. From then on I felt like a panda bear
clinging to an ever diminishing and very inadequate bamboo shoot for
support. By the second set of cross trees my legs were shaking with
fear. I told myself to MTFU and get to the top. Once there, job done,
I took not one moment to get my opium rush, and climbed down as fast as
I could.

There, welcomed back by the crew, Jo kindly observed that being
the first day of Advent, how nice it was to have a fairy at the top of
Tintin's Christmas tree.

Now from Rob (minus the literary opium-rush)....

In other news:

Those with sailing knowledge (especially Alistair Gurney) will realise
what difficult and terrifying it is to climb to the top of the mast
while under sail in big swell. I would like to think that I needed a
lot of persuading to let Jimmy take on the task...but I didn't.

The spinnaker halyard breaking with a huge sail up while going at
8-9knots could have been REALLY bad. If the sail had dropped in the
water and gone under the boat it would probably be 50:50 if we could
save the sail. Fortunately we had spotted the potential for disaster
and hoisted it on 2 halyards thereby allowing a quiet cup of tea
before deciding on a course of action and sorting it all out.

The second thing to go wrong was a stripped impeller, meaning a
sweaty 1/2 hour before breakfast changing it.

The 3rd thing to go wrong was the plunger on the cafetiere came
apart. Some of the crew wanted to divert to the Cape Verdes for a
replacement but the tea-drinking skipper made the hard decision to
press on under stovetop coffee only.

The angling society had its first meeting this evening. All fish safe
and well.

The sun is starting to go down now as we glide west under the
newly-secured double-poled-out blue water runner. Wind about 18knots
from behind and all good.