Off season superyacht life

Well, it’s been almost a month now aboard my new job and home. Slowly things are starting to click, the feeling of being hopelessly lost that comes with the first few weeks on a new boat and job are now fading. There is still a hell of a lot to learn, which is probably the best part of being aboard. Being on board a superyacht for the first time I am finding it very different to being on the smaller sail boats that I have worked and lived on, especially as this is an MY or ‘Motor Yacht’. There is an element of grace that seems lacking on a MY, although many, this one in particular are beautiful pieces of marine architecture. There is so much to be said about the power of the wind, billowing clouds of canvas above you and the heel of a graceful sail vessel. But like I say, I am here to learn, trying to soak up as much as I can from the already expert crew whether it be painting, tender driving, safety checks, fairing, getting our sailing dinghy or hobie cat ready or splicing etc. Every skill is valued and on an 80m vessel there is a lot to learn or perfect.

From the sky-deck. Another timeless sunset, dipping into the Meditteranean with out sat and comms domes silhouetted.

From the sky-deck. Another timeless sunset, dipping into the Mediterranean with out sat and comms domes silhouetted.

The boat is being prepared for the Mediterranean season at present, the season running from May until September more or less. During that time we anywhere in the Med is on the cards, places such as South of France, Sicily, Greece, Turkey or Croatia. We run a Monday to Friday schedule right now, during weekends there are always people on watch but as we live aboard there are usually several of us around. An average work day for me now goes something like this:

-06.00h: wake up, strong coffee and 30 mins of cardio in the onboard gym.

-07:30: Breakfast

-07:50h: Morning briefing with officers and deck crew. From then on we knuckle down to our assigned tasks which are varied. Some are a weekly occurence such as rescue boat checks, battery checks etc, others monthly and then there are the day to day tasks as dictated such as repairs, cleaning, maintenance etc. Work is pretty physical and messy at times, nothing like a 3 day wash down to burn some calories!! Yes, it takes 3 days to fully clean our hull and 4 decks…..

-10:00h: Coffee break

-12:00h: Lunch. We are lucky to have two very good chefs cooking for us, providing plenty of healthy food. Tonnes of fruit and snacks on hand too.

-15:00h: Coffee break

-17:00h: Finish

After work I usually either run around to the SUP school at the Mar Balear Dive Centre opposite us in the El Toro (Mallorca) marina for a paddle or hit the gym again for some circuit training. SUP here feels a bit strange as the water is still really cold, although this week I braved it in boardies and a 0.5mm rashie…. I think it was a bit foolhardy as I can’t feel my toes still! There was a tiny wave breaking of the end of a little breakwater and it felt sooooo good to feel the board take of and accelerate on the small waves! It made me miss home quite a bit, warm water and waves!! 😉

SUP carnage....Nigel (left)hanging around while I (far right) drink a beer on the SUP jeje

SUP carnage….Nigel (left)hanging around while I (far right) drink a beer on the SUP jeje

The crew are getting into paddle boarding which has been fun, lots of laughs and splashes, and always great to spread the ocean passion. Paddling back to the beach as a cold sun set behind us reminded me of sunset surfs at home.

Evenings are for getting some food, watching a film and resting because tomorrow…. back to the bilges! jejeje
Sanding down the engine on our wakeboard boat in the tender garage, ready for painting.

Sanding down the engine on our wakeboard boat in the tender garage, ready for painting.

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Sadness…..

I know I have been away for a couple of weeks….still finding my feet at my new job aboard the 80m superyacht. Lots to learn and take in, every day is a learning curve which is great. On a good note we went on a SUP session this saturday, no waves but a calm sea with crystal clear water was on hand for some fun….just happy to be in the ocean…well, actually this is the Med so maybe ‘sea’ is the correct term.

Sadly, our seas and oceans are not well. In fact, the Mediterranean is very polluted due to the large populations that border her and the limited tides due to the narrow straits of Gibraltar mean that pollution stagnates and grows. All our Oceans are sick, even on beaches hundreds of miles from major land masses are suffering…. as the video below will show…..

The Basil Plant Incident….

Well, I have been aboard my new home for five days now. It has been a huge change, from sleeping on sofa beds and even floors over the last few months I am now aboard an 80m supeyacht where I hope to remain working for the foreseeable future. As usual with the yachting fraternity it seems to be a work hard – play hard atmosphere but the vibe is good and hopefully this summer travels will take us far far afield throughout the mediterranean.
As I lay in my bunk last night, the gentle roll of the ship rocking me into slumber I remembered another an incident that started in my bunk a few years ago……NO!! it’s not what you are thinking!!
We were pretty much slap bang in the middle of the Atlantic, en-route from Las Palmas in Gran Canaria to Rodney Bay on the Caribbean island of St. lucia. So far the journey had been fine, pretty un-eventful in fact apart from the general wear and tear of gear and watch-keeping duties. I was sailing as mate aboard the Lagoon 440 ‘Tucanon’ which eventually crossed in just over 17 days.
The trade winds were blowing at a steady 15 knots but in the frequent squalls that sped by, cartwheeling off past us, brought gusty conditions up to 30-35 knots. During the day they lined the horizon from time to time, a dark smear on an otherwise impossibly blue palette. At night however they were harder to spot, showing as green smudges on our radar screen. It was one such squall that occurred on the night in question. Our watch system was on a rotational basis and at that particular moment the Skipper’s wife was on watch, the rest of the four crew, including myself, rested in our bunks. I don’t remember the time exactly but it was well after midnight when we where awakened by cries from Irene and the horn sounding. The motion of the boat was awkward and lurching, Tucanon was not a happy ship. I stumbled in the darkness, fumbling with my life jacket and harness whilst running up toward the deck with Chris on my heels. Lightening fell around us, its brilliant flashes illuminating a wild sea, the white wave crests reflecting the flashes as they tumbled toward their troughs. The sound was deafening as the wind howled through the rigging, the waves crashed on our stern and the sail flapped in anguish. We were flying a ‘Parasailor’ a downwind sail similar to a spinnaker but with a wing inserted 2/3 of the way to the sail head. I glanced at the instrument repeater in the navigation station as I rushed forward, it was reading a steady 43 knots, far too much wind for a Parasailor.

 

Dick, the owner and skipper, took Irene below for safety whilst Chris and I fought with the guys and sheets of the sail, finally managing to snuff it, thus easing the motion of the boat. We unfurled a small, tiny even, piece of genoa on the bow to keep the boat headed down wind. Even with this scrap of cloth we raced along at 8 knots.
Rain lashed down from the heavens, the wind continued to scream like a banshee through the rigging and the lightening lit the chaotic scene in a eerie spark of light. It also lit something else, something that made me start to laugh….. Chris and I were both huddled behind the wheel in nothing but harness and boxer shorts, neither of us having bothered to put anything else on in our hurry. It was probably more nerves than anything but we both laughed out loud.
The tension eased but not for long. The squall peaked at 52 knots, making it hard to stand let alone do anything else. It was then that we noticed the main sail…. It had been dropped into a stackpack on the boom but this stackpack had no closure system…… The wind, now dead aft, was filling the sail and starting to lift it up the mast track. It was already a metre up. If the sail raised and filled more we would be in serious danger of losing the mast, if not worse. There was nothing else for it, we had to lash the sail down. I grabbed a spare line from the locker, clipped into the jackstay (safety tether) on the saloon roof and inched out to the mast. Lightening continued to fall, making the job even more dangerous… As you can imagine our mast was the highest thing for hundreds of miles….and made of aluminum alloy. Chris pointed this out to me but what choice did we have? The sail was continuing to lift, the danger was real. Dropping the mast steps I inched up to the boom, one arm clinging to the mast as the ship swayed. Bit by bit I managed to lash the sail down along the boom from end to end. Putting on a downhaul attached to the head of the sail for good measure.
We both collapsed onto the helm station seat, taking in the apocalyptic scene around us. It really is breathtaking of the sea can change from one moment to the next, and eve with this show of force it was incredible. Slowly the wind eased over the next two hours or so as we told jokes and stories to ease our nerves. By morning the sea was a gentle rolling swell from the North East, pushed along by the ever-present trade winds.
We all talked about the incident over breakfast, making light of the incident whilst learning from our mistakes. Irene thought we should commemorate the moment with a photo. Initially it was supposed to be just boxer shorts but somehow, over much laughter, we ended up naked apart from our harness and covering our modesty with our ships Basil Plants…. You know what they say…What happens at sea…..goes on the blog!!

The basil plant incident in full swing... L-R: Dick, Chris and me.