Sunday, July 12, 2015

Grey Power - the final at sea blog...

As our bottle of apple flavoured Tesco's washing up liquid nears its end, so is a voyage that commenced for one last year, for others mid May and for the remainder late June.

Grey Power crossed the finish line of the Trans-Atlantic Race due South of the Lizard at 10 hours, 11 minutes, 07 seconds GMT.  This is an elapsed time for the race of ten days, 15 hours, 41, minutes and 7 seconds  (We think!)

After a wee dram of Irish whisky (well why not?), we continued to sail flat out for the coastal race from the Lizard to Cowes. One of our crew remarked that despite all the various conditions which we had encountered, we had managed not to miss a single happy hour in ten days of racing - an achievement in itself and worthy of a prize in itself. (A bonus happy hour?)

Today we have continued to sail towards home - Cowes, the Royal Yacht Squadron and Grey Power's home in Gosport. The day was largely punctuated by drizzle and greyness (maybe in honour of Grey Power) but all in all we are in excellent spirits, looking back on the journey with fondness and looking forward to a stable loo (or throne to us Brits) and a hot shower.

Robin has now signed the application form for David (Commodore of the Royal Coastal Racing Club) such that he can become a full member of the Royal Ocean Racing Club having now completed hid first crossing of an ocean. We need someone else qualified to second the application - any suggestions?

During happy hour this evening, we have started to plan life ashore. The first order of the day was the watches for loading and unloading the washing machine and dryer as from Monday PM for the next 24 hours.

The second order of the day was deciding whether to shower before or after breakfast at the RYS although I think we all now the answer to that one!!!

The third one was to book a beard trim on Tuesday for all the crew, as too much grey will otherwise be visible to our adoring fans!

A final pot mess was consumed tonight - the trip started with one so we felt that it was only right that we finished with one. We will aim to publish one final shore based blog tomorrow with photos to sum up this epic journey but in the meantime, thanks to all of you for taking the time to read our stuff - we hope it provided some insight in how high calibre elite athletes live life on the high seas - looking after their bodies and souls when away from land! Also special thanks to the folks in New Zealand for being with us from down under and a very special thank you to Mandar for sending out our blogs to all those on the address list. Thanks!

GP Finishes

Grey Power crossed the finish line of the Trans-Atlantic Race due South of the Lizard at 10 hours, 11 minutes, 07 seconds GMT.  This is an elapsed time for the race of ten days, 15 hours, 41, minutes and 7 seconds  (We think!)

We finished 3rd in Class on handicap.

We are now going flat out for the coastal race from the Lizard to Cowes and hope to get there tomorrow morning.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Grey Power Blog - Saturday Evening

Well things are hotting up on Grey Power - well at least when contrasted with this morning's blog! And yes it is not the temperature but it is related. We have now entered a South West to South South West wind of force 5 to 6 propelling Grey Power at speeds of 15.6 knots average in the last 6 hours and peaks well in excess of 20 knots.Of course this has come a bit lateto materially effect our final position in the race, but the skipper likes to sprint at the finish.

Dilip in particular has been enjoying his time on the helm comparing it to the type of driving one would expect from a Bombay taxi driver - let me be clear here - this is not a compliment to the quality of Bombay's taxi drivers according to our skipper who when watching Dilip's skills said "He is driving like a Sikh" only to go on and say that Sikh taxi drivers in Bombay were the sole cause of his prematurely grey hair!

For the last 8 hours, life has been a mixture of living in a washing machine, a submarine and a Bombay taxi going from full steam ahead (at the start of the surf) to slamming on the breaks hard (as we plough into the next wave).

A serious crisis occurred this morning when we accidentally filled the cockpit up with water (not unusual in itself and nothing to worry about) but we also filled the pot of freeze dried coffee which was being used to prepare the next cuppa. Needless to say, it turned into a thick black salty goo! Luckily we have another pot of freeze dried coffee so we will survive our final day(s) at sea.  The fact that the Chief Steward was on the helm at the time could be put down to his over enthusiasm to re-stock everything.

In the meantime, our revered ex Commodore of the Royal Coastal Racing Club is like a coiled spring - horizontal on his bunk in deep meditation which we hope will culminated in him bringing his 60 years plus of coastal racing experience to good use when we start the short sprint back to Cowes which is a separate race.   Having seen first hand his preparation for tomorrow, the team is full of confidence that this will be a fast race ensuring their return ashore prior to closing time (well maybe in a night club!).

For those or you seeking chapter 2 of "Fifty Shades of Grey Power", we are going to disappoint you. Our resident novelist has...

What! I hear you cry. Where's Chapter 2?
To be honest by the time we had written it we realised we all had probably been at sea for far too long and deleted it. No point in getting arrested when we get to Cowes for the sake of a cracking story when the party is getting closer by the hour. We see Rambler and Comanche have finally got their pedal to the metal and have at last woken up to the fact that there is only a limited amount of beer and late arrivals go thirsty!

So, to Chapter 3

Having discussed the ropes with you all and then spent the last few hours talking about other virile parts of boats for inclusion into chapter 2 we are now going safely on to the topic of appendages. Brad Dellenbaugh knows all about appendages and their latent ability to store huge amounts of power as he had a few quiet chats with one past Commodore of the RCRC before the race and as we all know RRS 52 shall NOT apply and we then refer to IRC rules 15.2 and 22.3. To those land lubbers and sailors alike who never read the rules hard luck. You missed a lively discussion!

Now question one. How many appendages does a potent machine like Grey Power have to get excited about?

Question two. How many of the said appendages, excluding those of the crew, can you move around?

Question three. How many go in and out?

Question four. How many swing?

Question five. How many just wiggle from side to side?

Before you all go of on one and forget we are talking about a highly potent racing yacht here can I ask you all to send in your answers by email by return and the first three winners pulled out of a winch handle pocket at 12.00 GMT tomorrow will receive a signedphoto of the GP team in crew kit (after having had a shower unless you state otherwise when we can pose in oilskins and other revolting clothes should you wish)

So having learnt that we have appendages. You will have noticed I resisted saying how many!. That they possibly move around a bit we will now go on to the important topic of what the many options there are for their use!

In and Out variety; well all pretty normal here. nothing to write up about that you probably don't already know. Not all craft have them. Little ones tend to use them a lot more than bigger ones as it happens. This is probably where most of us started out in our sailing life. A quick launch off from the beach, slip in the centreboard and off for a day's pure innocent enjoyment.

Swingers. A relatively modern invention but it works best when you are sailing off the wind and has an amazing ability to keep you upright when all those around you are falling by the wayside. A sort of sailing Viagra I suppose? While we are on the subject of that uplifting little blue pill it was rumoured that the RORC were in discussions with Pffer the manufacturers to sponsor the Fastnet race but due to the unwelcome intervention of an
inflated member of the main board, who said it put them between a rock and a hard place, the deal slipped through their fingers. Well at least the flag officers of RORC were trying to aim high. Who's next I wonder?

Wigglers. Hmm, not sure quite what to say about these appendages. Without them you are definitely out of control. No direction, no focus no nuffin! We all need them and some of us have one and some of us have more than one!
Utterly amazing!

Apart from those appendages that go down the way, every yacht needs at least one that goes up the way. Your mast. Now some of you who will have seen the pictures of GP will notice that she is not your conventional looking yacht with one, two or possibly even three masts. Normally they point heavenwards when a yacht is at rest. No, not Grey Power! she has the usual one that points up the way and two more each one sticking out at 45 deg to either side. I personally think it is just a clever ploy to unsettle the opposition and make them think there is more to the ship than meets the eye. Well when you're getting on in years you do need all the help you can get! Just ask old Sir Shaggy Beard next time you have the pleasure! He probably won't remember a thing but try catching him before the fifth rum and you might be lucky!

Well that's all we think can tell you about appendages. So until chapter 4 tomorrow! Suggestions on a postcard etc. etc.

Grey Power Blog Saturday AM

Good morning to you all. Normal service has now resumed on the blogging front!

We are now well within our at sea routine with watches and sleep being punctuated by sail changes, meals and happy hours. The good news is that we still have plenty of fresh lime on board so the risks to our health are low. We also have plenty of food (some of which is still fresh believe it or not despite the absence of any fridge) and hence morale and banter are high (in case you hadn't noticed from our previous two blogs!!)

For those of you wondering about our apparent errant course, this is due to the lack of spinnaker on board. We are unable to sail straight downwind as most racing yachts do and hence we are having to play the angles using either our light air or heavier air gennakers. The wind is not helping us in the remaining 366 miles to the finish but as ever with team Grey Power, we will persevere and use both our wit and charm with the gods of the wind to carry us to the finish line as soon as possible.

We had hoped to finish the Transatlantic part of race Sunday lunchtime but this is likely to change depending on your progress today. Whatever the outcome, we hope to be sampling a cold beer, a thick steak and a warm shower sometime Monday! That's the aim and there is already much talk about our menu options despite the agreed baseline menu!

Well that's it for now, time for another weather forecast and then some ZZZ. More this evening.

Have a great day and well done to Lucky for line honours. Great race!

Thursday, July 9, 2015

50 Shades of Grey Power!

Well since you ask, No, I have not read the book nor seen the film but one of the crew appears to have done and the first thing that came into his one track mind was ropes. Seeing we have rather a lot of the stuff on board of many varying colours, thickness's and uses the topic of our next (B)log (B-movie?)has begun to form in our minds. At this point in time, will all those readers under the age of 18 please now delete this email as we have no idea where this is going to go and we cannot be held responsible for any ideas we might put into your fertile little minds. This may not be a topic for the dinner table either. On the other hand for those of you over the age of eighteen and have read the book or seen the film, if we miss anything please send your comment or ideas on a postcard to: Sir Shaggy Beard, On the Left of the Harbour as you leave Pompey, Sowf Coast, Blighty.

It will surely find him and after sailing with us lot for a couple of weeks may restore his fine sense of humour (please note the letter "U" in the words Humour and Harbour!) DO NOT Reply to this emails as we all know what happens when comments go viral don't we!! Postcards on the other hand just make the Postman smile and give us a nice picture to pin up in the Little Room for our friends to chuckle at!

Chapter 1
So, where shall we start? One rope that immediately comes to mind is the little bit of string called a Sheet that is sometime hooked on to the Spanker. Please NO wandering from the topic here. We are talking about ropes not sails. So you know the Spanker is a very useful if not very often used sail that all sailors over a certain age will remember and works a treat when things get a little frisky out there. So now back to the Sheet. Without sheets Grey Power would just not work. First just imagine going to bed without any sheets! I think you are probably beginning to see where this is going but if not I suggest you turn off now and go back to the day job, whatever that might be.

The next bit of sting that comes to mind is the painter. Often found on lesser vessels than GP and usually used to secure your dinghy to the dock when you go ashore to the local Pub. Painters have been known to use all sorts of mediums to express their art. Chocolate, honey and strawberries amongst them. The canvas for the art is your own choice and will give you hours of endless fun. Get painting!

Whipping! Now as every sailor knows each bit of rope needs to be whipped at the end otherwise things come unravelled fast. So think rope, think whipping. You can practice this sitting at your desk in the office. It helps you concentrate and is a bit like running worry beads through your hand (a practice all Greeks will be well used to just now as their savings dry up). There are many kinds of whipping. Some soft and some hard dependent on the type of rope but each one must be firm and applied in the correct way. Splicing is a bit similar but can leave you tied in knots and wondering which hole to go down next. Not only that but you will probably need a Fid too if you are going to do any splicing! A topic for another day perhaps, when, or if life returns to normal.

Now there are Sheets and there are Guys. The difference is obvious to all of those who are married (past and present tense can be used but has a slightly different connotation dependent on the financial effect it has or had upon your bank balance)The Sheet is used to control the Guy. Was it not ever thus? So the Guy is but the reason for the sheet as well as being the piece of rope that moves the Pole. Up, down back and forth. Quite an influential piece of rope really! No boat should be without is Guys. The Kicker. Now there's an interesting bit of kit! It stops the boom from flying around and going rampant when the wind blows and really if you think about it is a prevention to kicking and should be used most if not all the time when things get lively.

On the topic of the Boom, every one of them needs a main sheet. To those non sailors out there reading this gibberish the boom is long, hard and moves around a lot when the wind blows. The reason for its name is simple. When it hits you on the back of the head it makes a BOOM noise that you never forget. Gorrit? So a Main Sheet along with the Kicker keeps the darn thing under control. Well sometimes!

Sails are the horsepower of Grey Power and all sailing ships. They all are triangular in shape unless your boat is very old when they used to give you four corners and not three with every sail. So for every sail you now only need three bits of string. One to haul the sail up. That'll be the Halyard or for square sails with a log along the top (yard) a Haul Yard. So a sheet attached to the Clew that tries desperately to keep the ruddything under control, of which we have spoken, and then a Tack Line to hold the bottom corner down to the deck.

Let me deal with the Halyard first. Imagine finding yourself on your first date with the man or woman of your dreams. Apart from the mundane task of working out who is going to pay for the delicious dinner that you have already forgotten about, the next thing on your mind is how to raise the sails. This is what the Halyard does. Pull it and the glorious potential of the vessel of your dreams is revealed. Okay sails generally get hoisted up and clothes have a habit of succumbing to gravity and fall down but I'm sure you get my drift?
The other piece of rope you must have to control the sail is the Tack Line. Without it all Hell breaks loose and before you know what is going on you have bought the ruddy boat. Look on it as a sort of Condom or insurance policy against things getting completely out of control. Sometimes know affectionately as the Down F***er.

Last but by no means least is the Reefing Line. This is used to bring the mainsail under control when the wind picks up and the boat is about to fall over sideways from too much pressure. The best analogy I can think of is getting a mortgage on the house with your partner. Serious stuff this! It ties you in, shows commitment to the cause and can only be released when things get better. Only to used when working together with the rest of the team. Anchor Warp. Serious stuff this one! A last resort when things get desperate and the rocks beckon. Marriage guidance springs to mind here. So having done some of the many ropes on the boat the first chapter of Shades of Grey Power is done. For those of you who know of all the other bits of string you need on a boat and their myriad of uses, as I said earlier, answers on a Postcards please. We won't publish them while you are alive. Well not with your name on the bottom perhaps.

In the meantime, the last 24 hours have been frustrating.   The obstacle in our path was a ribbon of light ad variable winds with enough rain to turn the Sahara into tropical forest. We could either divert north which lead us nowhere or just try and work through this zone.  We chose the latter and had a frustrating time.   However, as this goes to the send department, we are through the area and flying along very comfortably with a clear sunny sky and the finish line at the Lizard some 730 miles away.

Signed:- The rest of the crew

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

The Truth!!! about daily life aboard Grey Power

To all our avid followers of daily life aboard the rocket ship Grey Power we have to admit that we have for the last few days been leading you up the garden path somewhat! For those of you who are unfamiliar with what happens up the garden path please feel free to refer to the internet or even ask your grandmother about the delights of the invitation to "walk the garden path" with the boy from next door! Like most things in life nothing is ever quite as you would have been told!

Daily routine aboard Grey Power is definitely NOT all just about the next Happy Hour peppered with derogatory jokes about the French! Believe us when we tell you that we have to work very hard to get this potent symbol of mature masculinity to the finish line. Just look at the trouble we had getting to the start! "It's all in the finish my man!" As the Actress said to the Bishop.

So let us give you a taste of what really goes on here minute by minute!

My apologies but just getting the crew to focus there for a minute! Now where shall we begin? Once upon a time there was an Englishman an Irishman a Real Indian a Frenchman and one very mixed up individual who really had little idea of what his forebearers got up to. Now before you get too critical about an individual's lineage, do you know who walked out with whom more than possibly two generations back? Remember everyone came from Africa ultimately and if you have a different opinion on the matter you are more than welcome to write in with your views. Just leave us off the send list please. I digress. Back to the important bits. Life, minute by minute, aboard the fine tuned and immaculately turned out racing machine Grey Power. Day one and a blast reach from the start line down to the first turning mark, Buoy No.4 (Booee #4 to the Septics reading this) A shift by all the crew into racing mode and settle down to the first session of trim, trim and more trim as we work overtime to catch the rest of the fleet.

May I just enter an important note here to say we decided purely out of respect for the less mature competitors to start a little conservatively. We did not want to frighten the rest of the fleet by leaving them for dead after only ten minutes of racing and consequently only had the jib up with no mainsail. No! nothing to do with the skipper worried that he had not paid his insurance premium before leaving Blighty! Damn lies I tell you! A true upstanding Gentleman don't you know!

The crew were by now focused on the race and powered GP down to the South hunting down the other pretenders to the crown. Trim, trim and more trim as Frenchie drove us relentlessly through the back markers and on into the pack of yachts hoping in vain for glory!

The first night at sea was the usual freeze dried rations of prawn cocktail and limp lettuce followed by a Fillet steak (Americans and French please note there is a "T" on the end of the word!) with mashed potatoes washed down with a chocolate pudding with extra chocolate sauce. Well, that's what it said on the packet but God knows how they get all of it into one sachet that you boil in the bag! Bloody amazing if you ask me! I'm sure my New York Lawyer will get them on misrepresentation eventually! He charges
enough so he must be good! (sarcasm alert!)

Through the night and only one of us allowed below at a time with two crew manning the pumps (coffee grinder winch in the cockpit for those in the dark!) at all times working to the shouts of the trimmer up on the windward side. Rotation every half hour and down you went to snatch a quick moment of respite before coming back onto the relentless treadmill. We powered on into the night climbing steadily back up the ladder to regain our rightful place with the other yachts at the front of the pack. Day two and the inside of the yacht was beginning to resemble the garage at home. Stuff everywhere and most of it of little use!

You can now begin to imagine what real life is like aboard Grew Power and how we are working as a finely tuned team in order to finish the race in a podium position.

The last six days have followed the same punishing routine of trim, steer, eat and rest but the pressure is beginning to show as the crew tire of the endless commands from RK-J for yet more speed. Dilip, our Real Indian crew member, momentarily lost the plot and threw a rather hot chilli pepper at Bernard when he was politely asked how long before dinner. Faster than you could say "zoot alors" back came a clove of garlic and for a moment we all thought that he was going to produce a snail or two as well but sense prevailed and the skipper promised us all a double helping of his infamous Pot Mess to calm the situation.

Damage to the boot and crew, I hear you ask? Well, so far both have survived remarkably well apart from the Coastal Club Commodore who let go momentarily and tried to knock a chunk of carbon off the cockpit edge. The boat won and he now is nursing a couple of bruised ribs. Obviously not used to being at sea for more than a couple of days at a time! The remainder of the crew are taking it all in their stride of course and smile knowingly! Boat damage amounts to general wear and tear and a few bits of frayed cordage. So a brief but accurate snapshot of life aboard the good ship Grey Power.

So,how goes it back in the office boys and girls? Booked your cheap beach holiday in Greece yet?  Remember, life is short and you're a long time dead!
Enjoy it while you can!

Any resemblance to fact in the above is down to pure chance, and the remainder of the crew, 3 experienced solo circumnavigators and the IT specialist wish to disassociate themselves to protect their reputations as Ocean, rather than Coastal sailors.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Tuesday Blog

The skipper awoke in buoyantly positive mood this morning!  As he appeared at 0400 to take his turn on the helm Bernard helpfully commented that it had been light at 0300 and that we should possibly advance the clocks two instead of just one hour.

The skipper then disappeared below to write in the log book.  On re-emerging he casually announced that it was now 0600 instead of 0400. One way of shortening your watch I suppose! This now puts us 2 hours behind good old Blighty. This positive mood evaporated however when he examined the latest weather Grib files announcing that he thought he would prefer to be further north.   He then re-ran the programme 3 more times and still remained indecisive. Should we gybe to get north?  The unfortunate Bernard was awakened from his well deserved rest and was asked to double check.  Together they decided to remain on our current course and gybe, if necessary, in 12 to 24 hours.  Bernard was then allowed back to his pit.   That decision made,and conscious of his image, the skipper went aft with a bucket to clean his teeth.  Back on the helm he became thoughtful. Speed was down, his ETA at the Lizard was moving away, his plans for next Monday could well have to be cancelled.   Like most sailors he falls victim to the Hiscock Rule, named after Eric Hiscock, who did more than anyone to promote ocean cruising, and calculated his ETA on his best current speed. It never works. Either you get there too early or more often you arrive late!

A feeling of guilt came over him at disturbing Bernard and so he decided he would cook the crew scrambled eggs for breakfast based on some Victorian recipe he thought he remembered from his youth.   Totally unaided by the introduction of any baked beans in the morning mix of food the wind obligingly increased and went left, the course we could steer was now more to the north. A smile now appeared on the skippers face framing newly cleaned teeth and he went back to pondering whether he would have to introduce some form of paper towel rationing in view of the very heavy current consumption levels seen on Grey Power.  He said that he had never seen as much used by 14 crew on the Whitbread race 40 years before but was also reflecting that perhaps fashions had changed and, as usual, he had not even noticed or even remembered that 40 years ago they did not have paper towels.

Meanwhile the Bar Steward decided to restock the larder and ensure all tins were logically stored in alphabetical order ignoring the fact that when it's dark looking for Foiegras to the left of tins of Tiptree marmalade really was not as easy as you would think! The next job was a clear out of the Icebox now resembling a Warmbox in reality. Work had only just started when a minor accident occurred. Whilst cleaning and polishing the remaining 12 tins of lager in expectation of the next headland moment, one of them accidentally sprang open leaving the skipper and Bar Steward no choice other than to consume it forthwith in lieu of the 8 am cupper!!

It's a hard life out here on the ocean!

We are very glad to report some great feedback on the blog. Now going out to he Grey Power Association of New Zealand who remain focused on our progress across the Pond. Our faithful Indian followers have been reflecting whether we are "gaining ground" or perhaps "gaining water" to which one fan summed us up appropriately as more likely to be "passing water"...!!! :)We have no idea what they are on about but will take it as a compliment and get back to passing as much water as we can and as fast as possible!

In light of the feedback from our American readers and the comment made yesterday about Fags can you all rest assured that we have not all spent too long at sea yet but it was a reference to Butts. To our British readers please don't go there for now! The Frenchie's first as ever! The Immortal Memory and all that! 21st Oct!


p.s. I've just remembered I have some old Drachmas from a trip to Greece some years ago so they are possibly still useful after all? Does anyone know? I bet the printing presses have been running for months!