MY TALL SHIPS RACE JOURNAL DAY 3 – (06/07/2015) – Rocky the stowaway, the beautiful North Coast, let the race begin, and the Guinness supplies have been located!


I had a great night’s sleep last night, managed to sleep like a baby.  Then I always do on a tall ship!  I am so glad I have not lost that ability.  I was a little concerned that with the noise of the ship and being in constant pain anyway, that I would not be able to get to sleep.  I am so pleased that I could and maybe I will get some rest on this voyage after all. 

Did you know there is a tall ship called Maybe – a traditional Dutch ketch built in 1929.  One of our crew on Lord Nelson sailed on her to Belfast before the Tall Ships Race.

Tall Ship Maybe

Photo from Maybe Sailing website -

Although I slept well, there were a couple of times during the night when I was disturbed.  The first was around 11:30 pm when the anchor was dropped.  I woke completely startled by the noise wondering where on earth I was.  The sound of the engine was louder, a deep churning sound, followed by the “click-click-click-click-click-click” of the anchor being dropped.  I realised what it was when I began to think logically about where I was and what could be happening.  That was after I had disturbed my hubby though by asking him what was happening.

A very bizarre moment of “hubby, hubby, what’s that noise?”

A groggy “uh” from the bunk above!

Realisation from me “Don’t worry, it’s just the anchor.  We must be anchoring for the night.  Go back to sleep”

The funny thing was that I was awake enough to even post an update on my Facebook page

“2328 hrs – at Anchor somewhere on the north coast. Don’t quite know where as I am in bed. Was asleep until the Anchor was dropped and I am going right back to sleep. Goodnight peeps!”

The second time was around 1:50 am.  This time by a torch shone in my face and a voice from the dark beyond saying “It’s time for your watch.”  It took a few seconds for me to come to my senses and realise that it was still the middle of the night and it wasn’t time for my watch at all.  The person who should have been woken was in the next cabin along, she just happened to have the same name as me and that is why there was a bit of confusion.

I just remember saying “next one, next one, not me.”

It took a little longer to get back to sleep after being disturbed this time, but not too long.  Once I was asleep though I stayed asleep until hubby woke me at 6 am with a cup of tea.  Time to get up and ready for watch at 8 am.


Dawn in Ballycastle Bay

When the anchor was lifted this morning we found there was a stowaway clinging to the anchor, only one place for stowaways – throw them overboard into the sea!  After all we don’t need any more weight for the race!


On watch between 8 am and 12:30 pm and a nice morning it is too, it is really beautiful and here’s hoping it stays like this for the start of the race.  We arrived on the bridge soon after the anchor had been lifted so we were already underway.  We had been on the hook overnight in Ballycastle bay.  The sea was calm with the sunlight glistening on the ripples that ruffled the surface of the water, making it a real treat sailing up past the North coast, seeing the coastline that I love from an entirely different perspective to how I have come to know this beautiful stretch of coastline.  A dramatic rich tapestry of scenery and colour, an area of Northern Ireland that takes your breath away no matter the season or the weather.  Places I love when there is a raging storm of waves pounding at the land, or when the waves gently roll to the shore on a calm day. Either way this area of coast is magnificent and alluring, enticing you in to its beauty, and it certainly draws me back time and time again.  This was one part of the voyage I was positively looking forward to and I am so glad we anchored last night and did not motor on through to the start line.  If we had of done so then I would have missed this delight of sailing past the Glens of Antrim, my favourite harbour of Ballintoy, and then the geological causeway coastline which is a stunning volcanic area of outstanding natural beauty.

Torr Head

Torr Head

Ballintoy and Sheep Island

Ballintoy and Sheep Island

The Giants Causeway coastline

The Giants Causeway coastline

When on watch there are several tasks you have to do, one of the most important is being on look out as every vessel should at all times maintain a proper lookout by sight, sound and other available means to prevent the risk of collision. This was one of my tasks for this watch and I am sure it will be one of my main tasks over the coming days.  When doing lookout you are looking for other ships and vessels on the water along with looking out for land or rocks.  That is the easy part of lookout, the hard part is spotting marker buoys for fishing nets and lobster pots.  Along with these you are looking out for flotsam and jetsam, navigational markers, distress signals from other vessels, and even the likes of life rafts and people in the water.  It is a very important job on board a ship as it helps to avoid collisions and can also help to save a life.  Luckily in these waters we don’t need to look out for any ice!

I also had my first time on the helm, I was able to steer the ship from my wheelchair.  Being on the helm though is not quite as easy as it looked!  I must remember if I am wanting a compass point to the left of the orange line then turn the wheel left, and vice versa if it is to the right.  It is so easy to forget which way to turn the wheel to bring her back on course.  Just as I managed to get her on a course of 290° I was asked to change course to 275° – the funny thing was that I had only just got her off 275°!  It certainly takes a lot of concentration being on the helm and after 20 minutes I was just about ready to hand the helm over to another member of the watch.  Also being so low in the wheelchair and not being able to see over the top of the wheel and the instruments I had started to feel a little seasick.


I also completed the ship’s log, which is done every hour; it includes things like course steered, wind direction, wind speed, visibility, sea state, pressure, temperature, distance covered, sea state, and general observations.  Whilst doing this I felt a bit queasy and nauseous so I had to use one of my special little tablets that you put up under your lip to dissolve over time.  I do hope these little tablets work, I hate feeling or being sick.

Starting to get to know the other watch members, they are all very nice and helpful.  One member of our watch certainly has ants in their pants – can’t stay still for toffee unless they are on the helm and even then they struggle with focusing their attention.  It makes for an interesting watch though as you never know what they will come off with next.


Crew aloft taking the gaskets off the sails – I so yearn to be up there doing this!

Lunch was a bit of a rush job today because of the race start which also signaled a start to the rain!  Most of the sail setting and trimming was done in the pouring rain which was a bit of a challenge.  It was a shame it was raining at the start of the race as I was unable to get many photos through fear of getting the camera wet.  Luckily others managed to get a few photos.  Setting and trimming the sails is a very busy time on board and takes most of the crew.  Sometimes the decks can look like a plate of spaghetti at the end of it all, which all has to be put tidy.


My contribution to sail setting was releasing the fore and main buntlines and also a clewline, this is all done from the deck.  A buntline is a rope that lifts the bottom of a sail, and a clewline lifts the clew (bottom corners).  The buntline I released on the main mast was for the Course.  The buntlines released on the fore mast were for the Royal and T’Gallant.  I can’t remember which clew I released.

One of the training aids on board

One of the training aids on board

Lord Nelson sail plan

Lord Nelson sail plan

I have been taking a lot of photographs when I can, and I feel like the watch’s photographer, or camera supplier!  I don’t mind though because it is nice to have lots of photographs to remember the voyage and share with others.  We have been told there is a computer on board to which we can download all our photos.  At the end of the voyage they are all put on a memory pen which we can purchase.  This is a good idea.  On other tall ship voyages before the age of internet really came into its own, in fact for one of my voyages the digital camera was not in existence or if it was it was way out of my price range, people took photos of me doing various things and I never got to see them, likewise I have a lot of photos of others. At least this way everyone who wants a copy gets a copy, I think it will be a great record of the voyage.


Still managing to smile even though I am cold and wet!

After the sails were set I went down below to rest as I was soaking wet and beginning to get cold.  Also I needed to get my boots and brace off my foot because the pain was increasing and it felt like my foot was beginning to swell.  It has been impossible to rest it elevated when setting sails, it has been a very busy couple of hours.  Down below I began to feel a bit queasy again and I could not take another one of my little tablets so soon after the last, so I hit the crystalised ginger.  I do hope we have enough for the trip as this helps with the seasickness too.  I decided the best thing would be to lie down and have a nap, this would help ease the seasickness plus I would be getting warm under the duvet, and I would get a bit of rest before my watch this evening between 8 pm and midnight.

Woke up to a rougher sea state.  We are rocking about a lot more than we were when I came below.  I am having to learn how to move on a rocking ship whilst using crutches, this could be fun!  I have now made the decision it may well be wise to use the wheelchair more, even to get across the three steps the loo.  I feel it will be too dangerous to move around on crutches as I feel very unstable on my feet plus I don’t have a hand for the ship as both are needed to walk on the crutches.  We shall see how we go, it is all a little scary for me at the minute.  Not so much the rocking of the ship that is scaring me, it is the getting about on a rolling ship that is scary.  I shall just have to see how I go, if all else fails and I feel I cannot cope I shall just confine myself to my bed.  I don’t want to do this and it will only be used as a last resort if I feel too unsafe to get about.  I am glad now that our cabin is dead opposite the bathroom!

Pain wise I have been managing quite well.  My sailing boots have been worth every penny.  I was outside from about 8 am to 2 pm in temperatures of 14°C and less, mostly in the rain, and my foot only began to go cold about half an hour before I went to my bed for a kip.  It soon warmed again as I had caught it early by being wise enough to not push through.  I definitely have to pace myself as I have potentially another 8 days at sea.  My foot has not been too swollen either as I have been keeping it elevated and perched on various parts of the ship as much as possible.  It only began to swell during the sail setting because I was doing a lot and did not have the space or chance to elevate.

Before the start of our watch at 8 pm we went and chilled in the bar which was library quiet with several people reading.  This all changed after the ship heeled violently and shot everyone sliding across the bar – everyone started talking then.  Oh by the way did I tell you I have found the Guinness supplies!


Note: Find out about what happened in tonight’s watch in Day 4’s journal entry – I was unable to write anything when I returned to my cabin after watch this evening.

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