Main Menu

Rendez-Vous 2017 Tall Ships Regatta, Race 5, Report 8: Life on the Atlantic

Posted on: 11.08.17

Alexander von Humboldt II has moved up in the positions overall, but the rest of the Rendez-Vous 2017 Tall Ships Regatta fleet have retained theirs, so there is little to report on race progress. However, the crews continue to enjoy their high sea adventures and we have lots of crew news to report.

PositionS overall and by class – on corrected time:

  1. Jolie Brise (UK) (1st Class B)
  2. Oosterschelde (Netherlands) (1st Class A)
  3. Blue Clipper (UK) (2nd Class B)
  4. Gulden Leeuw (Netherlands) (2nd Class A)
  5. Atyla (Vanuatu) (3rd Class B)
  6. Rona II (UK) (1st Class C/D)
  7. Alexander Von Humboldt II (Germany) (3rd Class A)
  8. Spaniel (Latvia) (2nd Class C/D)
  9. Regina Germania (Germany) (3rd Class C/D)
  10. Peter Von Danzig (Germany) (4th Class C/D)
  11. Vahine (Finland) (5th Class C/D)



10 August: Yesterday it was Jaden’s birthday and we had some chocolate cake. The day was foggy and rainy. We had a navigation class and we learned about courses, speeds, the compass and weather. In the evening we had a 8pm movie called “’Around Cape Horn”’. Yesterday we passed the 1000 mile mark. There was barely any wind.

Total distance travelled last 24 hours: 81 nautical miles Total distance travelled this voyage: 1088 nautical miles


11 August: We are coming to you live from the middle of the Atlantic. Traffic was pretty slow out there yesterday. We finally had a break in the weather and seen the sun for the first time in what felt like days. Although there was a slight brisk breeze out there, everyone got out and enjoyed the much needed sun. To commemorate the break in the weather Jessica lead a yoga class on the floor deck for any crew or warrior who wanted to take part while others chose to sun-bathe on the back deck.

Rose is still ‘killing’ everyone in the murder game. There was a pod of pilot whales, about 20-30 of them swimming along the boat on port side. Laundry is slowly getting done. Last night we lost an hour due to the time change. In five days we will move our clocks ahead again.

The warriors are starting to do tasks without the help of the crew. When asked to jibe or lower/set the sails, the warriors jump right to it and get the job done. Starting yesterday, during happy hour, each watch was asked to delegate a lead-cleaner and each lead-cleaner was only allowed to ask ten questions to the crew. Each day the amount of questions we can ask goes down by one (eg. Friday, nine questions, Saturday, eight questions, etc.).

sewing lessons: Rona II

10 August: It has been a day of excitement and learning aboard Rona II. A hair-raising experience, wherein damage to one of our spinnakers led to the Mate’s daily masterclass being a night school hands-on sewing lesson when we had to repair a small tear in the A5. He assembled an elite squad who knew very little about what they were doing to feed the huge sail through a sewing machine that must have been around since the Victorians. A subsequent spinnaker lift led to a heroic effort to recover a wineglassed sail by George, the valiant leader of the Mongol watch. In the pitch black he was hoisted up the mast in order to free the head of the spinnaker from the halyard whilst hugging the mast to make sure he didn’t orbit the forestay. It was a real insight into the challenges of ocean racing for the entire crew, and a good introduction to sewing for some.

The next morning the Viking watch provided an impeccable round of pancakes, and Alex’s boat-famous bread reached new heights of fluffiness. The Vikings also created an ‘are we there yet?’ graph, charting our progress across the North Atlantic, which has sparked much excitement amongst the crew, but is also a source of resentment to those who delighted in pestering the Skipper about our position. Meanwhile, in a far less hurried manner than the night before, Watch Leader Matt was sent up the mast to rescue the head of the spinnaker.Interestingly, having spent three days parading around with “climbing instructor” on the back of his shirt, it was decided his performance tying himself into the halyards meant he was either extremely nervous of climbing an 88ft mast or a rather shoddy climbing instructor. It was definitely the latter, you couldn’t wipe the grin off his face for the entire time!

The second time zone change (of four) is rapidly approaching, meaning that we will soon be losing an hour (potentially making the boat’s Christmas Day a mere 23 hours, thanks to the Mate who is now known as ‘the Grinch who stole Christmas’). A ‘death by chocolate’ cake is currently being prepared by the Vikings, consisting of layers of chocolate sponge with chocolate chunks sandwiching lashings of chocolate and nutella butter icing reaching a thickness of up to an inch. The Skipper is consequently waving a blood pressure cuff around and threatening blood pressure checks for the entire crew.

A glimpse at the galley of Rona II: one watch is responsible for keeping below-decks tidy each day, primarily responsible for the galley and meals. Today, the Viking watch are dancing to Shakira in the 6 x 1.5 metre galley corridor, bedecked in their coordinated aprons. Watch Leader Matt generously describes the space as ‘an ice rink where you must contort your body into unnatural positions in order to stay upright’. Keeping food in one place is a taxing activity which involves securing both the food and yourself in order to counteract the movements of the boat, which pitches back and forth at angles of beyond 25 degrees. The Vikings boast the most efficient system of washing up in the northern hemisphere (self-professed), using the simple technique of telling the Watch Leader and Watch Officer to get a long way away from the galley. A human conveyor belt of dirty, rinsed, clean and dry
crockery speeds from the saloon into the galley at a rate which rivals that of Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. All ‘eating tools’ are cleaned in salt water only to preserve our reserves of drinking water. The lack of a fridge means that the fresh fruit and veg is kept in the lockers next to bunks, leaving two members of crew with the pleasant aroma of onions and melons in their nostrils as they fall asleep. It’s no easy task cooking three full meals for 23 people on an oven with just two shelves and four hobs, and cake tends to be rather lopsided due to the lean of the boat. A solution to this is provided by the gimbal on which the oven slides with the movements of the boat, making the galley that little bit more hazardous. Sadly though, even this ingenious contraption is not guaranteed to produce flat food products.

It has come to the Vikings’ attention that previous blog entries have been decidedly partisan, and we would like to point out that our blog has been completely unbiased due to our strong leadership, self-confidence and lack of need to compensate for our unmanly fondness for lemon and honey tea when on watch.


An interesting night. One of those where all those years of experience come into play, and where you need to singularly focus, make key decisions quickly, and get through with no distractions, dealing only with the important stuff.

Just before dusk we decided to bring down our big spinnaker and switch to the number one genoa. Within seconds of that decision the spinnaker wrapped itself around the forestay and the genoa halyard, and jammed tight, thrashing around and threatening to damage itself irreparably. We were left with rapidly disappearing daylight, a fairly lively sea, a problem needing a rapid resolution, but no immediately obvious way of bringing the sail down.

As a skipper you really don’t like putting people into a potentially dangerous situation, but there are of course times when the overall safety of the vessel requires it. Even though by the time watch officer George Hopkins was harnessed up and ready to go aloft and release the sail, it was properly dark. Nonetheless, up he went, to the top of Rona II’s 88 foot high mast. After a worrying amount of swinging around, he managed to get the head of the sail freed from its halyard. He returned to the deck with a few bruises but overall, partly due to his tenacity in hanging on, and partly due to the safety lines we used, in one piece.

This morning, in daylight and a calmer sea, we sent watch leader Matt Woodcock up to the top to retrieve the halyard, a task he positively enjoyed and an experience he’ll dine out on more than once no doubt, especially as we had the opportunity to take a few photos.

Takeaways? One obvious one – always use the string vest. (Ask a sailor). Other than that, not many. We did what was required to resolve a problem, as quickly as was practical, whilst minimising risk as best we could.

Positives? After a week of pleasant, relatively easy sailing, it’s much more obvious now to Rona II’s crew that sailing the Atlantic is a serious undertaking. They’re a little more focused this morning, and a little more excited.

Now, having lost a few hours, back to the race, and a redoubled chase of Peter von Danzig!

Follow the Fleet

Watch the action as it happens and follow the fleet’s progress using YB Satellite Tracking.

Banner and Feature image: Life on Board – Valery Vasilevskiy.