No Blog last night as we were onboard Talisker Bounty Boat trying to sleep for the first time and the SatCom system is not operational yet.
It started well, but ended in major surprises for two of the crew who discovered first hand, that this is going to be a serious and very real challenge.
Pete, Dave and Mike were responsible for total boat preparation for the dress rehearsal weekend. Pete had picked up a leadership roll for that task and was going like a trooper, but we still departed a little late. At the boat ramp as we were rigging TBB and all the food was loaded onboard, I declared (as I had warned the day before) that no one was to eat anymore food..we would be on Bligh Voyage rations…basically starvation diet!...Dave Quickly scoffed something back at the car and Mike and Pete swallowed something? Pete had not eaten breakfast that morning, so was off to a bad start.
With 240litres of water onboard to give us extra weight. (We normally only carry 110ltrs) simulating a full load of gear..we set off for the morning in light winds very low in the water…about 35cm of freeboard!!. we set the Parachute anchor, checked sail settings, visited some friends on Scotland Island and then sailed up onto a classic beach in Pittwater, not for lunch( no lunch today- but Mike got confused and scoffed an apple!!) but to rig our spray dodger. This will give us some cover from the sun, wind and waves. Bligh rigged his sails as lee cloths and covers.
As the sun was setting on our first night onboard, all were issued with one, 55gram ships life boat biscuit for dinner. There were a few complaints, but lots of laughs about how good a hamburger would be etc. etc. there was no limit to the water. Pete and I took the 8pm to midnight watch and Dave and Mike hit the boards…our bed is just a board across the seats in the centre of the boat…for the two on watch in the cockpit, one can sleep in the bilge and the other sits and steers…the captain’s orders were for one person on watch to be awake at all times.
At midnight Pete and I got the boards and Mike and Dave the cockpit. At 0200 in the morning I heard Dave snoring..no surprise, except he was supposed to be on watch!!...at 0400 Pete and I took over and just before dawn at 0600 I woke the other two..to their bitter disappointment. Breakfast was another 55 gram ships biscuit, followed by a shared 110 gram tin of Lambs tongues…as if we had just killed a bird, as that is what we will eat every time Bligh killed a bird. Mike and I were in our element, but Dave thought it was cat food, not happy!! and Pete after trying to eat some said “that was disgusting” and suggested he may not in the future!!...so off for the morning row heading up Pittwater. We had a Runabout and 30 HP outboard with us in support, so I took off in that to pick up a friend Alex, while the others rowed. Returning 20 minutes later, I picked up TBB in tow to pull them out into the ocean about 40 minutes away.
With little food or sleep and a bit of exertion, I knew the crew would be under pressure, which was what I was trying to achieve. Without me on the boat, they all had to think and do things for themselves and when outside in the swells it was going to be fun. I was giving instructions on things for them to do while Filming and taking photographs. It was not too much work for the crew of TBB, but I could see people fading fast…things were happening very slowly. Then Pete was gone and Dave was not well.
After 90 minutes sailing in the Ocean we had to call it a day. I climbed back onboard TBB. Pete had crashed out exhausted, nauseous and possibly hypoglycaemic, shaking and hyperventilating. Dave was very lethargic and feeling Quite sea sick (and not impressed with me) and Mike was just hungry but happy. At 1130, just 26 hours after officially going onto half TBB rations, we all started eating food again. We took a tow back to the boat ramp.
It then became clear to all the crew, that I had succeeded in the most important part of the training …to show them that each of us will be effected differently by the privations ahead and that lack of food and energy effects the way we think, make decisions and use our emotions. It took me just 26 hours to deprive them of food, and get a result. I think (hope?) that they can see it was the intention and I know they will be stronger for it.
At the boat ramp Dave went shopping with our full endorsement, returning with sweet drinks (only water on TBB) sandwiches and chocolates..We were all smiles. We pack TBB into the container in six days. There may be more days lacking in sleep as the “To Do list” is huge.
After this past weekend we are a stronger and wiser crew. I am very happy! and would sail with them anywhere.