Alun Morgan's next blog is HERE!!
Alun Morgan, our Ships Writer and Social Impact Researcher, has written his next blog post! We hope you enjoy...
"There has been a slight hiatus in my blogging activity due to having been far offshore for several days with no contact with land or internet. Picking up where I last left off, our final evening in Lerwick was a really enjoyable occasion, with a fiddler-led Ceilidh on the Well Deck courtesy of local musician Maurice Henderson...ably supported by the 'Pelican Band' (largely consisting of the Captain Chris on bodhrán, Elie the Bosun on Violin and John the Engineer on Guitar with the rest of the crew as Chorus). Many of the ships crew mastered the intricacies of the Shetland Step (a candidate origin of the Moon Walk it seems).
With most of the ships company feeling (relatively) fresh-faced the next morning (the 29th of July at 11) despite late night and lubrication, we set sail to the North East away from British waters. Conditions didn't allow us to get within visual distance of the mainland of Norway but we had a good go (you can see how on the voyage trek-map: https://my.yb.tl/tspelican)
We were now in open sea for several days, orienting around the now familiar regime of alternating Watches: four hours on, eight hours off with 2 shorter ones to allow progression of the rota meaning that each of the 10 person watches - Fore, Main and Mizzen (named for the 3 masts on board Pelican) - had the joys of a watch in the very very wee hours (12-4 being a particularly challenging one). This part of the voyage allowed us to set sail - the wind speed picked up considerably meaning it was safer to hoist a smaller sail at the stern - the Trisail.
At various points we achieved over 8 knots under sail, a proud achievement for whoever was on the helm at the time. This was not without its consequences for the boat which heeled considerably over to its side (first port and subsequently shifting to starboard) necessitating the placement of safety lines both below and above decks. It certainly made Galley duty more logistically challenging, especially when it became necessary to close the port holes to prevent the sea getting in (we were that low down in the water). It also made climbing the rigging quite the adventure (but I can't speak from personal experience on that one). And people had to think hard about the best sleeping orientation (which had to shift).
Unfortunately, these conditions did bring on the dreaded seasickness for some crew, but generally people were thrilled to be truly sailing. It was also a thrill to be out of sight of land, with only multitudes of seabirds for company (mostly fulmars, but gannets - much prettier than the name suggests - and the occasional puffin and auk etc), and the occasional sightings of minki whale and pods of dolphins which were a real thrill (the major bonus of being on watch). A rainbow even seemed to lie very close to the Pelican at one point. It was fascinating to think of ourselves as a self-sufficient microcosm - Planet Pelican - as speck in the vastness of the Ocean.
The scientists also continued their surveys - cetacean and bird - with support from some of us non-experts after a really informative and on-board presentation from Roots and Shoots scientist Vikram. I am proud to say that I am certainly getting my 'twitching' eye in AND I am owed a pint for spotting a pod of dolphins!
Our route took in first Fair Isle which was spectacularly shrouded in mist, reminiscent of Skull Island (I half expected to hear the roar of King Kong and pterodactyls swooping past). We then made our approach to the Isle of May at the mouth of the Firth of Forth. This was a real highlight - a beautiful island backdrop to a wildlife bonanza, featuring multitudes of puffins, gannets and guillemots and the occasional inquisitive seal (one swam right up to, and then under, Pelican). Most of the crew took the opportunity for another swim over the side (this time I didn't hesitate). The scientists also treated us to a workshop on plankton sampling, using a variety of different types of equipment. A simple plankton sweep along the starboard side of the boat netted a multitude of crustacean larvae (crabs and lobsters) - and it was interesting to think that we had just been swimming in a nippy (both senses of the word) plankton soup!
That evening - 2nd August - we anchored in the Firth of Forth in sight of the bright lights of Edinburgh, and the following morning we sailed into harbour in Leith. After the necessary logistics of coming into harbour having been achieved (mooring and removal of refuse accumulated over the previous few days - we are not wholly self sufficient, requiring supplies and disposal of our waste when on land), we have had a lovely couple of days being tourists in Leith and Edinburgh. Wednesday (3rd August) morning, many of us had the opportunity to visit the Royal Yacht Britannia, including a special trip to see the engine room ... and a 'throne room' (the Royal Head).
We set sail from Leith this morning (4th August) for the next part of our adventure."
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