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Alun Morgan's Final Blog Post

Our Ship's Writer and Social Impact Researcher, Alun Morgan, has written his final blog post from his time on Pelican of London. These blogs are from Leg 3 of the 2021 Darwin 200 UK voyage. Enjoy!

"As per my last post, there has been a gap of several days since I have been able to blog due to weather and reception being against us. Picking up where I left off, after leaving Leith on Wednesday 4th August we had a pleasant short sail to Bass Rock in the outer part of the Firth of Forth. This was a spectacular site as it's a prominent rock made white by the colony of Gannets that the island is famous for - often being referred to as "one of the wildlife wonders of the world". We circumnavigated to get some drone footage before heading on further south past New Berwick, finally anchoring off Dunbar in the early evening for some relaxation in the 'calm before the storm'.

The next day we weighed anchor at 9:30 (I had the unenviable task of being in the chain lock to control the anchor chain as it came up with some fancy footwork so it didn't overtop the store). We then headed out into the North Sea with a very unfavourable forecast for the next several days. This meant that the planned visit to the Farne Islands had to be cancelled. Instead, what followed were an incessant period of extremely rough conditions as we headed against the strengthening wind. The crew busily set the 2 jibs and gaff fore, and the Trisail aft to help with stability. The next 48 hours or so involved Pelican listing significantly, and intermittent soakings as waves overtopped the decks whilst we adjusted or stowed the sails as required.

This was exhilarating for some of us, but sickening (literally) for others. The vessel was behaving like a 'nodding donkey' - pretty much not making any headway but seesawing up and down.
Given the conditions, we transitioned to permanent Watch periods to give everyone a consistent 4 hours on, 8 hours off. Happily, my watch was '8-12' meaning 8 am to 12:30, and 8 pm- midnight. We were rewarded in the latter two nights running with clear skies revealing amazing sunsets, then the Milky Way in all its glory, and some specks of bioluminescence. Even oil rigs had their charm at night, illuminated like Christmas trees.

   On 8th August I was a 'Gallerina' for the day (ie on Galley duty) which was 'fun' again given the conditions. We continued to experience very rough weather with very little progress as we tacked through the night to avoid the many obstacles in the North Sea in this area (wind farms, cargo vessels, oil rigs etc).

Finally, this morning - 9th August - we woke to improving conditions and we were able to make better progress towards the Thames Estuary. We passed the Maunsell Forts built in the Second World War, but looking like leftovers from H. G. Wells' 'War of the Worlds' (albeit it with 1 extra leg each).

We arrived at anchor off Leigh-on-Sea around 10.30 with actual blue skies and sunshine breaking through, marking the end to the substantive part of the Voyage. Later today we will rehearse our planned passage under Tower Bridge which we will accomplish tomorrow at around 3:45 pm to mark the end of an incredible voyage in suitable style - keep your eyes open for pictures of that spectacle"


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