Saturday 30 November 2019


Hand steering a yacht on the Atlantic at night, using the stars to hold the course, is quite magical. I see shooting stars every few minutes blazing across the cosmos in their final dying moments. I surmise that these harmless projectiles are a common occurrence, just one that we rarely witness with our heads down in our 21st century preoccupations. We have no wifi, no whatsapp, no news feeds, no urgent interruptions, just precious emails that we savour and it reminds me of a bygone era of hand-written letters and simple pleasures, the mind given time and space to think and rest; a form of meditation.

Friday 29 November 2019

Rosie's Laundry

Today is Rosie's turn on Mother Watch, only there isn't much to cook as we are still eating our way through the leftovers of Mervyns feast, so he turns his hand to the laundry. With five on board, showering every day, washing up in the galley and hosing down the cockpit after fishing, we use quite a lot of fresh water, maybe 300 litres per day, and since our tanks hold around 800 litres in total, this is less than four days' supply. For this reason we have a water maker, a desalination plant that turns seawater into fresh drinking water at the rate of 240 litres per hour; so once a day, for an hour or so, I run the water maker to top up our tanks.

Thursday 28 November 2019

Watch Keeping on the Atlantic

The cockpit glows in the light of fluorescent tails that snake out from behind each hull. Phosphorescence sparkles in our wake and occasionally a larger glow, like a depth charge, drifts to the surface, then floats away and fades. The sound is like waves breaking on a shore as we surge through the night, spoilt only by the rumble of our engine, propelling us in the absence of wind. In the distance, with some envy, I can make out the faint red glow of a spinnaker, its gossamer fabric floating in the light wind, illuminated by a navigation light, drawing its cargo quietly but purposefully downwind. Once I am awake, the 3 am watch is quite magical, and improves daily as night temperatures increase and skies become more dramatic.

Wednesday 27 November 2019

Mother with a sextant

Today has been an easy day, with glorious sunny weather and great food from the galley, but it has also been a frustrating day as the trade winds remain as illusive as ever and we continue to motor south. The watches on Hera change every three hours and as usual I am on watch from 3am to 6am when Andrew takes over. I do a short handover and then go back to my bunk for a few hours. Oults is on Mother Watch today, which means that he runs the galley, making all our meals, serving drinks and generally doing any housekeeping, and by the time that I surface from my cabin he is already preparing breakfast. It's remarkable how the smell of cooking draws everyone from their bunks and we congregate around the saloon table for cereal, scrambled egg on toast and freshly brewed coffee.

Tuesday 26 November 2019

The Start of ARC 2019

We time our run for the start. Ahead, a large grey Spanish warship is acting as committee boat, marking the inshore end of the start line and we cross under her bows as the gun booms out, announcing the start of ARC 2019. We are in the multi-hull division and the first group to start, and as we get clear air, away from the fleet and anchored oil tankers, our boat speed builds and we are off. The sun has broken through the clouds and it's an exhilarating  start to the largest ocean yacht race in the world.

Saturday 23 November 2019

We leave tomorrow

It’s the day before the start of the ARC. Unbelievably, every item on my list is ticked; a feat that has never before been achieved and this is largely down to our fantastic crew. Mervyn has worked through my list, applying his practical and methodical approach to everything and each day he takes a few more items from my list, allowing  me time to co-ordinate and plan. On this trip we have decided to give ourselves a clear 24 hour rest period prior to the start and by midday today we are largely done.

Monday 18 November 2019

Lanzarote to Las Palmas

It’s 3 a.m. when we cast off our lines and motor out of the marina under a full moon. Our friends Max, Heloise, Chris and Claire have woken up early to see us off and as we leave the shelter of the breakwater, the wind is already starting to build. We are finally leaving Lanzarote, heading south 100 miles to Las Palmas on the island of Gran Canaria for the start of the ARC.  The wind has been blowing hard for the past week and we are expecting a fast ride in a big following sea; and that’s exactly what we get.

Friday 8 November 2019

Introducing Hera

We sold Juno with the slightly vague and dreamy idea to buy a catamaran and sail back to the South Pacific where we spent such a wonderful time with our friends on the World ARC in 2015. Our plan was to spend the northern hemisphere winter cruising the islands of Polynesia, and summers back at our new home on the Isle of Wight. With the ink barely dry on Juno’s transfer documents, we complete on the purchase of a Catana 50 catamaran, now named Hera, with a view to an Atlantic crossing in autumn 2018 and the Pacific in 2020.  And then I have a blood test.