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!

Monday, July 6, 2015

Monday' Log Grey Power

Monday dawned bright and sunny. However today, as opposed to yesterday, we had a bit more wind. Cracking along at a steady 12-18 knots under the main with one reef and the gennaker clouded over later on and had to reduce sail to the jib as the bow buried itself a couple of times and we filled the cockpit with water. The Skipper thought it was the closest thing he'd seen to a Hot Tub in ages and suggested as we were all humming nicely that we stripped off and had a decent wash. Malhereusement we did not find the plug in time and before you could yell "pass the soap!" the bath was empty once more! So we all continued humming loudly in unison to the strains of "Rule Britannia!" That is except for Bernard who was humming some other rather catchy French number that went on for absolute ages and reminded us Brits of a film we'd seen where they kept cutting people's heads off.

Grey Power was in her element doing just what she was designed to do. Power reaching with waves on the quarter that she could ride down. We passed the 1500 miles to go mark at 16:38 mid Atlantic time. Five days, one hour and 38 mins after starting. Someone (Josh so you know!) had the bright idea that it was another "Headland Moment" which necessitated the ritual slicing of the little green orbs! Half way across and half way through the little blighters. The Bar Steward had worked out the provisions perfectly. I
suppose it was down to either a misspent youth or a canny knack of being able to read the weather runes!

Today, over the magic of the internet, we learnt that the Greeks had finally decided the Grexit the euro. No S**t Sherlock! how many financial defaults have they had in the last 35 years? No one saw that coming did they? (sarcasm alert!) How on earth did the Euro Technocrats ever think that the Greek economy ever fulfilled the criteria of Euro membership in the first place?

Out here in mid Atlantic it all seems rather unreal and banal and does not appear to have effected the waves or the wind in the slightest. Perhaps it was that little splash over the aft deck which nearly put out the skipper's biddy (Fag to the nicotine addicts out there reading this) at 06:00 this morning but I wouldn't bet on it!

Almost time for the next round of "Guess what's coming for dinner" beats an evening in front of the telly any day!

A life on the ocean wave and all that!


p.s. the winch the former Commodore of the RCRC (Royal Coastal Racing Club) played with yesterday was used in earnest today and actually worked! Another misspent youth playing with his Mecano set!

p.p.s. He's nearly earned his wellies and only the equivalent of another two Fastnets to go and he can join the Ocean version of the RCRC!!

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Sunday Blog - Grey Power - Midnight UTC

Yesterday afternoon after sending you our latest blog, we hit an object presumed to be a whale as we saw a black fin astern immediately afterwards. Good news is that following an inspection of all forward compartments Grey Power is sound and intact and we suffered no rudder damage but the bang which the collision made was impressive.  We have seen two more whales this afternoon and the skipper was heard to mutter something about the fact they should be required to carry shapes and navigation lights!

In addition to this, David decided to pirouette around the cockpit sliding from one side to another and significantly bruising his ribs. Although he was in some discomfort yesterday, today he is in much better form. He has resumed steering Grey Power which we take as a very positive sign. He does have a nice bruise to show to all interested mind you!

Last night before getting into our now traditional rolling watches, we decided that we would gybe at first light this morning as we needed to move north and away from our easterly course to where the wind direction would be more favourable to a direct course for the finish line at the Lizard.. So the day started early for the entire GreyPower team as the latest weather forecast was checked at 4 am ship's time and then the gybe followed as nothing new had emerged from the morning's weather report. Of course a debrief over a cup of coffee ensued before people returning to their watches or bunks so a good hour and a half was spent at sunrise by all of us.

After a hearty mid morning breakfast, we decided today would be a day of miscellaneous chores. The water maker was put to good use and all water containers were topped up. Sikaflex sealant was applied to the forward sail locker hatch and skylights above the chart table. Hopefully this will reduce water ingress. The netting was modified on the aft starboard bunk (one of the three which we have on board) so that rather than have a narrow 2 foot wide bunk, we now have something much larger which is to us luxury. It feels we have a double bed all of a sudden on board. All in all it makes what was a rather uncomfortable bunk into a very nice one. Finally, David put his engineering skills to good use and spent a fair few hours stripping and rebuilding the reefing winch which is now operational.

Grey Power was also give a bow to stern bail out and the hull in the living section was given a good clean!

The sun came out this afternoon to greet us and the heat it generated was welcomed. Up to now we have manage to "steam bake" (rather than dry) wet oilskins etc by laying them on top of the engine box (which is in the middle of the cabin before the wide central navigator's bench) and use the heat given off by the engine when charging the batteries to get rid of some of the moisture content. This afternoon remaining garments and shoes where exposed to the sun to make them toasty!

Our two most experienced Atlantic sailors (namely Robin and Bernard) decided that today was the day for their traditional Atlantic shower which they duly had on the aft deck using a bucket to bring up water and tippin it over themselves. Despite their assurances that the water was not really that cold none of the other crews have followed. I wonder why?

All in all a rather good day where jobs have been done and the sun has warmed us up and enabled to vent Grey Power. As at the time of written, we are approaching the ice zone frontier which we must stay clear of, so we are keeping a close eye on our navigation equipment to ensure a further timely gybe which we hope will eventually put us on the rhumb line to home.

Grey Power Blog - Saturday 6pm UTC

As we complete our third 24 hour period at sea, we are now fully settled into life on board. Unfortunately, unlike our delivery from Grenada to Newport, we are no longer experiencing either heat or sun. Quite the contrary. We have now been living for over 48 hours in our oilskins and other wet garments. The inside of the boat remains wet with either water dripping from the deckhead (ceiling) in certain areas or little puddles appearing on the hull on which we walk.

In these climates, Grey Power is interesting - we either come below to sweat in the humid sauna which she has now become due to the lack of any ventilation or we go on deck to play with the spray of water coming our way. Either way, we are wet!  But at least it is warm wet

We continue to navigate in an easterly direction regularly surfing down waves. One knows when Grey Power is going into such a sprint as the yacht leans suddenly forward (you noticeably feel the bow going down) and then all of a sudden her turbos kick in and of she goes. No different than a fine athlete leaning forward to cross the line first. This is most pronounced sitting at the chart table (the chart table bench is the only sitting position inside Grey Power).

The sound inside the yacht is quite remarkable. Most of the time, we hear bubbles fizzing along the hull. However, when in a surfing sprint, its more like two freight trains going past either side of us. Either way, it is noisy.

We not only have to hold on due to the sudden forward motion (or deceleration as we come of a surf) but we also get thrown from side to side as either a little bit of rudder jerks us sideways or more often than not a wave gives Grey Power a little lateral punch.

Today, we had to tighten the starboard tiler arm as it was slipping on its stock. Hardly surprising as we have in the last three days operated it more than in Robin's entire ownership of Grey Power. Whilst tightening the bolts, Dilip, heaving on the spanner when it slipped and managed to hit Robin with the spanner above the right eye. Accident or not - needless to say Dilip has left his impression on our skipper. Well it will give us something to talk about at happy hour. The skipper's hopes of a scar to add character to his face are unlikely to be realised.

Our computer screen is also suffering a bit from water drips. The bottom left has become one big black spot with a rainbow effect around it due to water ingress. Good job we know where the start button is and that the other icons we need are located on the desktop. We have mitigated this problem with a entire roll of kitchen paper being jammed between the screen and the bulkhead - we hope this will stop it getting any more damage.

Last night our Michelin starred Indian chef prepared us one of his delicacies and this morning we were greeted with our cowboy's breakfast of fried peperoni and beans - needless to say there are no leftovers. We also finished our five last "official" beers - don't tell the skipper but the purser managed to hide a few more in the bottom of our freezer box for another occasion! Please keep the secret!

We continue to sail more to the south than the rest of the fleet in the opinion that this will pay off in due course and only time will tell. In the meantime, we are enjoying ourselves judging by the smiles on all!

Friday, July 3, 2015

Friday Blog 17h00 UTC - Greypower

Having been at sea now for just under 48 hours, we have started to settled into our at sea routine despite the at times challenging conditions.

For the last 24 hours, we have been experienced strong SW Force 6 wind. Having started with a full main and gennaker, we have since leaving reduced the mainsail onbe reef at the time until now our third reef. Gennaker to jib to trysail. Grey Power is loving it with top speed in excess of 27 knots and we are most often sailing at 15 to 20 knots eating up the miles.

We are now the most south yacht of the fleet - intentional as it gives us sea room to come off the wind if required and still clear the ice gate.

Grey Power is a very flat bottomed boat without bilge or sole boards and hence it does not take much for a little water to go everywhere. Spray down the hatch or crews coming below in full wet weather gears does the magic. We are using our trusted bucket and sponge to collect this water and return it were it belongs!! Additionnaly we have also discovered a few minor leaks (as you would expect on a boat who is spending a lot of time under spray and / or water) and the engineering department will sort these out as soon as the weather permits. We also have an issue on our reefing winch but we have overcome this by putting an additional block near the boom's gooseneck and now use a halyard winch - some say to better effect!

This water everywhere is making life in Grey Power humid and sweaty. There is little to no ventilation below and when we close the main hatch, the sauna effect soon takes over. It a matter of weighting up taking the odd shower through the hatch or boiling those resting!

The first night we operated our trusted rolling watch system with someone coming on deck every two hours to relieve one going below. Last night we opted for a 2 on, 2 off system - one team being Anglo-Indian and the other being predominantly French (well so we think!)! The skipper helped in regularly with sail reefing and other duties so all in all we had a busy night but still we all managed to get some pillow time (not that there are any pillows on this vessel...).

That's it for now, apparently we have done nearly 600 miles since leaving so we are pleased with out progress. Cooking in these conditions also presents its challenges. Our main burner modified with spare bits of mast track is doing fine but frying eggs requires as much team work as operating the boat. One hand for the boat, one hand for the frying pan, one hand for the box of eggs and one for the boat. Given the conditions, we are not into big meals but our trusted pot mess did us well last night and porridge and coffee this morning was easy to do in the bouncy conditions which we are expericing.

The forecast is for the wind to ease in the next six hours which will be welcomed by all on board but in the meantime we are enjoying our fast sailing towards Cowes.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Greypower Blog Wednesday 1st of July

Our day started very much like most days since our arrival in Newport RI. A hearty breakfast at the local diner made sure the crew were of to a good start of the day. By this time, we had enjoyed our last warm shower but were worried as it was raining cats and dogs. For sure we were not looking forward starting the race in those conditions.

However by the time we had the house packed up, the sun had returned and we managed to stow both luggage, fresh provisions and the quite essential rum on board in dry conditions. In fact we were so efficient that Robin had the time to do another interview while the team double checked everything.

We eventually completed our preparations by disconnecting the autopilots from the rudders to reduce friction and then proceeded to test our personal AIS beacons. All good on that front and we now how to operate these.

As we were ready to head out to the start, we received the two Italian coffee makers which one of the NYYC members kindly offered us. So we decided to put them immediately to the try with a cup of Italian roast -
departing for the start area could wait.

We headed our to the start area under staysail (no mainsail) as this enabled us to manoeuvre in comfort prior to the race start. As Grey Power (and us) do not like going to windward, this was always going to be our strategy to start under foresail alone until such time as we had room for Grey Power to pick up her skirts and go. We eventually hoisted the main as we left number 4 buoy to port and we were of with speeds of 12 to 15 knots. Not bad for 1 reef and a staysail.

Having hoisted the main, we decided to celebrate the first headland of the trip with a small rum. The red helicopter filmed us preparing the drink and we returned them the favour with a toast to them, the NYYC members who have been delightful hosts and our fellow competitors.

Since then, we are continue to head out on a South Easterly course doing 12 knots plus and starting to reel in boats of lower rating ahead of us, as we should of course. The sea is settling down a bit but you still have to

As I type, our first pot mess is under way and we look forward to resuming our at sea routine.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Tuesday Blog 30/06

We are good to go! Today was a simple affair - some last minute shopping for fresh stuff, a quick visit to the race office to talk about RRS 52 and then plenty of rest in prior to our departure tomorrow. Laundry was also done so as to ensure we had some clean clean clothes for our arrival at the RYS bar 

The team is ready to go - our skipper is talking about an emerging toothache but we think this is a means to be allowed a larger whisky ration over the coming days more than a medical emergency! Only time will tell but Dilip has the clove oil ready for action should the need arise. 

The rum rations are ready to go on board - some Bermuda rum and some Barbados rum with plenty of lime to cure any nasties that may come our way as it is an anti-scorbutic precaution. The pot mess is already being talked about as our first at sea meal tomorrow night and we are looking forward to Robin’s fusion of ingredients into the pressure cooker. 

We had a final dinner in Newport with the crew assembled together with Robin’s daughter Sara and Myron. A simple affair enabling us to get an early night for our departure. Sara dusted down her very own Monaco to New York regatta T-shirt which she earnt in the 1985 race. Nice one Sara. 

The next one of these blogs will be drafted from the chart table of Grey Power en route to the Lizzard! 

Monday, June 29, 2015

Monday Blog 29/06

Last night, we had an excellent meal in the company of Sia, Michelle and Stella - they came down to visit Grey Power and we wanted to thank them for the wonderful evening we had in their company last week. In the meantime, David (Commodore of the Royal Coastal Racing Club - knows from here on until our return to England at the RCRC) went our with his friends from Rambler 100. 

Overnight, our internal discussions continued on the use of the autopilot during the race. Brad Dellenbauch unlocked the mystery for us. This can be summed up as ISAF RRS 52 overruled by IRC 15.2(c) with the definition of running rigging including the means of adjusting the underwater appendages. Hence unless the autopilot is specifically mentioned on one’s IRC certificate, it means we will have to steer. Guess what - we will have to steer our way home. We also discussed last night taking the start in Imperial Poona Yacht Club style with a Gennaker flying from the back stay while going astern but I am pleased to report this morning that this was abandoned in the cold light of day.

We are pleased to report that Bernard has settled into the team since his arrival on Saturday but we are a bit worried about his behaviour since joining us. Most of us would go out and purchase new shoes when the existing pair had holes in them but not our Bernard, he had perfectly good shoes but then went out and purchased a pair with plenty of holes in the soles!!! No wonder the Brits get confused by the French!

On the other hand, maybe our very own skipper is turning French, not happy with the amount of onions and garlic on board, our skipper decided to send us out to get some more. Has he finally turned french gallic we wonder? Let’s hope he does not start wearing them round his neck during the crossing!!

Today was our final day of formal preparations so as to ensure we left plenty of time to do last minute overlooked jobstomorrow.  Our solo circumnavigators put their skills to the test with a sowing repair to one of the mainsail batten pockets. This was while David was trying to get his back sorted by laying on the flat’s floor and while the Purser was getting the final ship stores. 

So we are now basically race ready other than for the visit to the local liquor store to buy a couple of bottles of Black Seal rum!

As a side note and in order to facilitate the RYA's  Equality Monitoring Survey and other statistical department, we are pleased to confirm to any interested pen pushers, the athletes various statistics...

Are we: male, female or unsure?  Males = 5
Age - Well the average age on board is 58!
How would describe your Race / Ethnicity?  Mixed Celt / Gaule = 1
Celt = 2
Real Indian = 1
Gaule = 1
Religion or beliefs? - Our belief is that our skipper should allows us to a daily tot of rum.
Please select the option that best describes how you think about yourself? A bunch of dirty sailors as no shower on board!
Do you consider yourself to have a disability? Yes we are missing an autopilot!

While on board, we thought we would also check the baseball caps which the Newport Shipyard kindly included in our welcome bag…that the first airing of our bird kit!

On a more serious note, we are also pleased to acknowledge the support of the New Zealand voluntary organisation which has contacted us offering the support of their 70,000 member. Thanks folks, we greatly appreciate. Terry King, we will included you from hereon in our regular blog broadcasts. We now think we have the biggest following of the entire race fleet! Not bad for a bunch of reprobates!! 

Tonight, we attended the NYYC at 6pm tonight for the Wednesday start party. We had a wonderful time enjoying both the tapas and booze as one would expect! A wonderful evening was had...

Okay now that the final paragraph of this blog is drafted; we need to re-write it as we have been surprised by Sara (Robin’s daughter) and Myran who greeted us as we turned up to Zelda’s. Robin’s daughter caught us all by surprise! What a wonderful and total surprise for all of us. Dilip had kept us in the dark and we were delighted to see both of them great Robin In Zelda's! 

Okay before we sign of for the evening, having retired to our base camp, we are pleased to report that the Commodore of the Royal Coastal Racing Club (known as the Arsy Arsy in phonetics terms) could not cope with the last little drinks and decided to sleep in his crew uniform…

While the rest of us enjoyed the company of Sara and Myran!

Finally, for those of you looking at the various ways to track our fun and games, here are the various links…

YellowBrick Tracking

Tracking Link:

Race Media
Website: (See the media section in particular for pictures, videos and boat blogs!)
Facebook Page: Twitter Handle: @TransatlantRace
Instagram: @nyyc_regattas (Whatever that is…)

Grey Power Blog