Mediterranean Magic

After the guts of two weeks in Vilamoura, Portugal, it was time for us to set sail for Monaco. It’s such a joy to sail in these latitudes this time of year. After nearly two years in the tropics we welcome the stretch in the evenings and the stunning Mediterranean sunsets. In the tropics you get 12 hours of daylight between 6am and 6pm and there isn’t much in the line of dawn and dusk.

The weather for our passage was very mild; in fact, of the four and a half day passage, we had three days of absolute calm. Very rarely on our world adventure has the sea been this still, and on our final day there wasn’t even the slightest zephyr of wind. We honestly couldn’t distinguish between the sea and the sky. Incredible! The Mediterranean has great marine life and plenty of friendly dolphins playing on our bow wave. Thankfully our recent fishing drought ended with a couple of tuna on the last day of the Skipjack and Big Eye variety, the latter was exceptionally tasty! Along with the dolphins we had a couple of massive humpback whales, a load of funky sunfish and a scattering of turtles. Gosh, the sea really is a magic place, even a few hours on a boat brings you back in touch with what’s real in the world and you just marvel at the wonders of nature and her wildlife.

Approaching the coast of France and Monaco you soon loose focus on the sea and wildlife with your attention drawn towards this magnificent coastline and even more so towards the mega yachts and motorboats that inhabit it. We did feel a tad intimidated docking in Monaco’s famous Chicane Quay, where a 90-foot yacht resembles a laser dinghy next to these floating glittering hotels. Nonetheless, we had LUSH beautifully polished, hoisted our Monegasque courteously flag, donned our fancy pick ts and white shorts determined to rub fenders with the best of them!

Anyhow. not many of the 100 plus super yachts in there could boast they’ve just sailed around the world, could they? It costs a small fortune to move those yachts 10miles down the coast let alone 28,000 miles around the world, not that I expect that to be the reason they sit in the Med from one season to the next. In fairness, it’s a pretty special place to explore and after sailing around the world, returning here really does make you appreciate Europe all the more. It’s hard to beat the history, beauty and diversity the Med offers with so many exquisite countries, cultures and cuisine right next to each other.

Who knows what the next few months will bring us? It’s very exciting to be cruising the Med, that’s for sure. And what a place to start than in Monaco? Plan for the week.. I think a tour of the Cote d’Azur along with it’s chic ports is in order!!

One Life.. Live it!
Audrey
(10/06/14)

Final Ocean Crossing – Complete!!!

At 2300 a day ago (May 19th) we arrived in Gibaraltar after a five day crossing from the Azores, mid Atlantic.  There has been just four of us for this final bit, Paul, myself, Alvie and Ian.  Due to a weather delay in the Azores we ran out of time for Richie to complet the passage and so he finished his trans-Atlantic on a 747! Richie, we have missed you!!  Honest!!  Although I can’t say our sentinments are the same for that tin whistle of yours!!!

 

Our whale pursuit continued, and each time we came near we hoisted Alvie up the mast to try and get some decent pics of them.  We had more Blue Whales and finn whales on route but we were no where near as close as we got in the rib back in Horta (Azores).  Still though Alvie enjoyed his mast adventures and did manage to get some decent dolphin pics at least!  See below for yerselves.

 

It’s been a pretty grey passage in fairness, in fact since we left Antigua we’ve only had about four decent days of sunshine and blue skies otherwise it’s been grey and overcast.  Thankfully our final night at sea was cloudless and we had the most beautiful starry night before the moon rose and brightened the stunning sky.  On nights like that I just love being on watch and can’t help marveling at this wonderous universe!  The dolphins on this trip have been awesome and I can certainly say the North Atlantic dolphins are the friendliest in the world, staying with us for ages at a time jumping through LUSH’s bow waves!  Incredible!

 

On arrival we’re shocked and saddened to hear such drastic news of a yacht that got into trouble in the Atlantic a few days after leaving Antigua.  The four crew abandoned their yacht Cheeki Rafiki to a liferaft.  The search for them was initially cancelled after two days which is absolutely crazy!!!!!  These guys can survive for longer than two days in a liferaft and thankfully the search has resumed.  It is still possible these guys are still alive!

 

On hearing news like that it does make you realise the unfortunate potential and danger of the ocean.  For all its beauty and romance the sea can still be a tough and unforgiving place.  I am so grateful to have made it back to European shores safely thanks to captain, crew and a well built yacht.  Our thoughts and prayers go out to those sailors, hopefully still alive somewhere….

 

Lots of love,

 

Audrey xxx

Blue Whales – The largest animals ever on Earth!!!

The Azores, islands in the mid north Atlantic, are world famous for their numerous populations and varieties of whales. Although we’ve sailed the world’s oceans we have rarely got close enough to have a right look at these giants of the sea. The whale we’ve seen most on the trip is the humpback whale, which I previously blogged about. Never in my wildest dreams did I think we’d see a Blue Whale!! I always thought they were either too far south or north and nowhere near our latitudes. Luckily, I was wrong and for two months every year the Blue whales leave the Arctic and come to the Azores.

The Azores has a history of whaling and in the past killed Sperm whales until it was thankfully banned in the 80s. We hopped on the rib of a local whale watching tour group (Horta Cetaceos) with Pedro, Ricardo and their team of volunteers, from world organizations such as Sea Sheppard’s, and went to sea in search of the Blue Whale. We blasted through the ocean for miles in between the Azorean islands following instructions from whale watchers ashore, on the VHF. These guys spend their days looking through binoculars from various vantage points around the island and relaying info on whale sightings to Pedro and his team. Pedro is passionate about his whales and it was an absolute joy to go sea with him on this mini exploration!

A voice came over the VHF. some whales had been spotted to the south of the island. The whale watcher could also see our rib and directed us towards the blue whale! Wow this was a surreal moment… to see a Blue Whale, the largest animal to ever live on earth!! It is bigger than the biggest dinosaur!!! Imagine that!! .. And there we were in a rib within meters of this creature, 30 meters in length and around 200 tons in weight, that’s longer and over twice the weight of LUSH!!!! I was in awe, motionless, speechless. His blow shot up 12 meters into the air and really did stink!! We had tried to stay a safe distance from him but he was curious about us and swam around our rib and then under us. His body went on and on, it looked like a submarine coming to the surface. Under the water it has a beautiful blue colour, hence the name, and when it comes to the surface the whale is actually grey in colour.

Blue Whale Facts
Largest animal ever on planet earth!
Their tongues are the same weight as an elephant
Their hearts are the size of a small car
Some of their blood vessels are so big you could swim down them They eat 4 tones of krill per day
They cruise at 20 knots
Their tails are the length of a small aircrafts wings

Words and pictures don’t do justice to the experience we had on the water that day and the enormity of this animal. How fortunate are we to have come that close to the greatest animal on earth? And we only saw about 5% of the whole whale!! The hairs stood on the back of our necks for some time after that. This was a moment in time, one that we will cherish forever. Pedro brought us to see some massive fin whales along with humpback, sei and sperm whales after that educating us on all sorts of weird and wonderful whale facts. Amazingly, so little is still know about whales even with all the technology available today. It certainly does make you stop and think! Without doubt we still have a lot to learn about our sea-life and much yet to do to protect them and secure their future.

One Life.. lets look after and preserve it!

Lots of love,

Audrey

PS We’re currently three days east of the Azores on LUSH and have two days left to go till we land on mainland Europe!!! It’s been a grey and windy passage thus far!!

We’ve gone global!!

So for those of you that haven’t been to Horta in the Azores….the place to go is the “Peter Cafe Sport”

This is the bar that all yachties go to and drink copious amounts of beer whilst waiting for the weather to turn favourable to sail back to Europe!!

Every yacht leaves their mark and Audrey signed Lush and sailing west in this evening!!

Wherever you are, whatever you are doing….

One Life…Live it!

Paul :0) x

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A day out from the Azores

Well, this has certainly been an interesting passage, it has taken us at least two days longer than we expected, thanks to a few days of calm weather! We kept routing north in search of the southwesterly’s forecast and finally came into decent breeze 4 days ago. LUSH has been blasting along in force 7-8 ever since and over the past 24 hours winds have been in excess of 30knots. With three reefs in the mainsail we’ve sailed along quite comfortably.

Fortunately the sun shone on the day of our midway party and team LUSH glammed-up as per usual. On this occasion the theme was ‘international dress’ and everyone rose to the occasion. Continuing our usual routine of Aft-deck dance-off has been trickier in these conditions and we’ve now resorted to exercising around the cockpit table in our oillies and lifejackets! Where there’s a will there’s a way!

And now for the fish score: Ocean 3 Vs LUSH 3

That’s all the news for now.

Lots of love,

Audrey xxx

Homeward bound!

After a cracking couple of months racing and cruising in the Caribbean LUSH is on her final journey back to the Med. Alan our mighty engineer has returned home to his family as planned and he’s back in good time to help both his daughters out in their upcoming leaving and junior cert exams. Lucy who joined us in Indonesia as our superb hostess has always harboured an ambition to sail across the Pacific so luckily she secured a job on a 40metre sailing yacht (nearly twice as big as LUSH!) and she joined them in Galapagos last week. Paul and I got three new crew to join us for the final leg, two of whom had completed the World Rally on other oysters, Ian and Alvie. A cousin of mine, Richie, has also joined us. In fairness to Richie he kept sending emails requesting to join so we figured why not! Ask and you receive! He’s loving the trip thus far!

We dropped our lines in Nelsons Dockyard, Antigua on Sunday and are now 550nm (nautical miles) into our North Atlantic crossing with 1600nm left till we reach the Azores. The Azores lie in the mid Atlantic, 900 miles off the coast of Portugal, and has always been a great stopover for yachties on route from the Caribbean to the Med. Paul and I have both been to the Azores on previous transatlantic crossing and are certainly looking forward to our return.

It’s been an eventful couple of days since we left Antigua, especially as this really is the final battle on the fish front!! Paul’s not taking any chances this time round and threw his best lures on the line yesterday landing two stunning Mahi Mahi (Dorado) at the same time!!! Wow!! Pure magic! These have been our favourite fish on the circumnavigation so we weren’t long filleting them and cooking them up. We treated ourselves to some cevichie too! Delicious! Yesterday we had very little wind and with such a calm sea it could only mean one thing!!!!……. a swim mid ocean!! It’s been so rare on this trip to have flat calm seas, in fact the only other time we had conditions like that was between Panama and Galapagos. Unreal. It truly is an awesome feeling jumping into the big blue ocean! The sea temperature was perfect and the water the clearest I’ve ever seen it! Paradise!

Today the wind is up at 18knots and we’re sailing along at 10knots on a close reach. Happy days!!

That’s all for now folks! Lots of love from all aboard the good ship LUSH!

Remember One Life…. Live it!!!

Audrey

(PS please do sign up for our emails if you want all the extra gos once we finish this trip)

LUSH Lying 2nd Overall in Oyster Regatta!

Sunshine and Smiles

Day Two, 2014 Oyster Regatta Antigua

The second race day at the Oyster Regatta Antigua, sponsored by Lewmar was blessed with sunshine and breeze. The magnificent Oyster fleet enjoyed superb racing conditions along Cades Reef on the south coast of Antigua. The downwind start had pulses racing and spinnakers flying and a windward leeward course provided plenty of close quarters action for the Oyster fleet, although gentlemanly conduct prevailed.

In Class One, British Oyster 100, Penelope continued its winning streak by taking line honours and the win on corrected time for the second day in succession. Tactician, Jeremy Robinson was quick to praise the crew.“On a yacht of this size, manoeuvres need to be perfect and the crew-work over the last two days has been impressive. Penelope has been right up on target speed and her owners Paul and Penny Brewer have been delighted with the performance.”

Oyster 885, Lush with Eddie Jordan at the helm, took second place by just over a minute and Dario Galvao’s Brazilian Oyster 655, Rocas sailed well to take third. Starry Night of the Caribbean was fourth and top Oyster 82, for the second day in a row.

Wolfram Birkel, owner of German Oyster 625 Red Cat, was a very happy man having won his first race in his new boat. “We were so close to winning yesterday but we made a few mistakes. Red Cat is a new boat for us and we are still getting used to her but today we put our experience into practice and sailed Red Cat in a much better fashion. I am so delighted to win my first race in an Oyster Regatta and keen to celebrate with my crew.”

Red Cat was the victor in Class Two, Maxim Kudryashov’s Russian Oyster 625, Guardian Angel was second and a great performance by Chris Glossop’s British Oyster 575, Dreamer of Hamble was third.

David and Joanne Furby’s Oyster 625, Vamos of Portsmouth had a problem at the start but recovered well to get right back in the mix, especially downwind with their resplendent red spinnaker expertly trimmed. The crew from the south of England enjoyed some close quarter racing with other yachts. “You learn so much about driving the boat at an Oyster Regatta.” commented David Furby. “Sailing on the wind really tests your ability to steer the boat correctly and downwind under spinnaker requires a different approach, I have a lot to learn but I am improving all the time.”

Class Three provided an epic duel between two British Oysters, Tony Keal’s Oyster 54, Wolfhound and Harvey and Sue Death’s Oyster 56,Sarabi. The two yachts were evenly matched for speed around the course and after over three hours of racing Wolfhound crossed the line just a boat length ahead of Sarabi to take the gun and the win after time correction. Joachim and Rolf Riel’s German Oyster 56, Mariela had another consistent day placing third.

After racing the Oyster fleet enjoyed a private party at one of Antigua’s most famous locations. Shirley Heights is visited by thousands of party-goers every year. The view from Shirley Heights Lookout is without question the most famous on the beautiful island of Antigua and the 300 strong Oyster family was treated to a glorious sunset accompanied by a traditional steel band.

Oyster CEO, David Tydeman and Race Officer for the regatta welcomed the Oyster family to Shirley Heights and gave prizes for Race Two. “The course today was another testing one with a downwind start and boats sailing closer to one another and I would applaud the yachts who were very careful today and that attention to safety helped provide for another good day on the water. Racing was very close today, which shows the competitive spirit but it was also good to see that everybody is here to enjoy great company as well as superb racing and Shirley Heights is the perfect venue to celebrate with one another.”

After a delicious Caribbean-style BBQ, the Shirley Heights Reggae Band played into the night and the dance floor was soon swinging to the rhythm. After a lay day, racing at the Oyster Regatta Antigua continues, Friday 11th April.

Written by: Louay Habib
Images by: Kevin Johnson Photography

 

Press: End of Rally Party!

To Last Forever

06 April 2014

Oyster World Rally Finale Party, Casa Lidia, Antigua

Saturday 5 April 2014 marked the official end of the inaugural Oyster World Rally, organised to celebrate the 40th birthday of Oyster Yachts. Owners, sailors and friends of the 30,000 mile odyssey gathered in Nelson’s Dockyard for a day and a night never to be forgotten.

The Marching Band of the Antigua and Barbuda Police Service fired up proceeding with an early morning revelry in Nelson’s Dockyard, Antigua, followed by the Oyster World Rally Awards Ceremony at the Admirals Inn. The Bucks Fizz was flowing and delicious brunch canapés were eagerly snapped up before Oyster CEO, David Tydeman welcomed the Oyster World Rally sailors to the awards ceremony.

“You have been an incredible inspiration to an enormous number of people around the world.” commented David Tydeman. “Your fabulous achievement has been followed by hundreds of thousands on the internet and Oyster has received expressions of interest from 200 families wanting to take part in the next event. Before the first Oyster World Rally started, 43 Oyster yachts had received their Oyster Circumnavigation Award and it gives me great pleasure to give out 23 more today and I am lost for words to describe how amazing that is.”

Debbie Johnson, Eddie Scougall and David Tydeman

Ian Davis owner of Oyster 56, Yantina operated a radio-net during the Oyster World Rally and was welcomed by David Tydeman to the stage to act as Master of Ceremonies. Much to the amusement of the guests, Ian used radio etiquette to call each yacht crew to the stage, the applause and laughter was long, loud and very genuine, as each yacht received their silver salver commemorating their circumnavigation.

The biggest cheer of the Awards Ceremony was the last, Eddie Scougall and Debbie Johnson have been the rock on which the Oyster World Rally was built. Two years of meticulous preparation was followed by 24-hour support throughout the 16-month voyage, assisting in all manner of logistical and technical solutions.

“That was a blast!” smiled Eddie, addressing the sailors. “ You should be very proud of what you have done, 99% of yachtsmen dream of sailing around the world and you have actually done it. This rally has seen higher highs and a few lows and you have taken everything in your stride and overcome so many adversities. Everybody has looked out for each other, providing all sorts of help, advice, moral support and occasionally a shoulder to cry on. If there was a spirit of the rally award, it would have to go to everyone, you have proved this by the way you have all bonded and every crew has stuck it out, right from the start to the finish and that is something fairly unique in this type of event. Debbie and I would like to thank everyone for their kindness, consideration and putting up with us, even when things weren’t going quite as they should. Words cannot express how proud…”

It was all too much for both Debbie and Eddie, who broke down in tears, spilling out the emotions of 30,000 miles and nearly four years work, it all came welling-up to the surface, as they left the stage to a standing ovation and a warm embrace from the Oyster family.

A private party was held at Casa Lidia, one of Antigua’s most exclusive villas with un-paralleled views of Nelson’s Dockyard. After a champagne reception, guests were treated to an evening of unusual entertainment of their own making. Each yacht in the Oyster World Rally performed an amusing sketch depicting their take on the experience. Raucous laughter and tumultuous applause accompanied each performance but Bob Morgan’s video rendition of Billy Joel ‘We didn’t start the fire!’ was so good an encore was demanded. The sketch included a six minute video depicting the Oyster World Rally, a cameo of moments from the event; whales breaching, dolphins playing, scuba diving, tribal dancing, trek walking and ocean sailing.

The party went on long into the night, with sailors reminiscing with each other about the incredible experience they had shared together, the Oyster World Rally had reached its conclusion but the memories and friendships made between a special group of people would last forever.

Written by Louay Habib

Pictures courtesy of Kevin Johnson Photography