Today we took our first training run on Dodo’s Delight, our home (not to mention work and commute) for the next four months.
The reverend (capt Bob) patiently taught us the basics of sailing, and we co-operated by not grounding the boat (despite Ningo’s best efforts, which got us within 1/2 m of doing so!) We have learned how to raise each of the 3 sails, reef, tack and gybe, man the tiller and read the various instruments. We also learned how to execute an unintentional 36o (a manoeuvre, unprompted, bob referred to as “doing a ningo”. Quote of the day came from Andrew when he said, “we should turn before we hit the rocks” which was hilariously funny at the time because we were hurtling towards the rocky shore and Bob was working his way deeper and deeper into a great story about something or other, completely unconcerned by the oncoming shoreline.
Here we are modeling our test jackets from Gore and listening to another of Bob’s great stories
Bob in the pilot house
The sails are fairly large for a boat this size, so it is hard work using the winches to raise the sail, and work against the wind. Steve climbed up the mast to get this shot, which shows just how small the boat is.
The three of us (Andrew, Clinton and Steve) are now living full time on the boat, which is moored on a pontoon in the middle of nowhere on a beautiful salt water loch in the Scottish highlands. Dave (the smart one in the group) will join us in Greenland after the Atlantic crossing (which by the way, we just found out is into the wind the whole darn way.) The loch itself is really beautiful and is filled with some kind of rare coral reef and plenty of sea life including star fish, jelly fish, the loch ness monster and some sea birds. We were really excited to make a confirmed sighting (and possibly the first?) of the first ascent gecko (but alas, no camera on hand). It’s a little sad really that we insert our human waste directly into this idyllic scene!
Sunset over our Loch
Jelly’s play around our boat all day long…
Luckily there’s been no sea-sickness yet, although that will surely change. At the moment we’re just bobbing around in pretty calm water.
Clinton (aka Ningo) takes the helm on our test sail while modelling the uber-healthy diet he’s famous for. Actually this is probably the first carrot he’s had in 5 years!
Sleeping is proving more difficult than we thought. In Scotland, we are already far enough north that it only gets dark at about 11pm, and will be light outside again by 4am. Thoughtfully, the main cabin does not have any curtains so we can appreciate this fact wide awake.
But it’s not all fun and games. The boat needs to be prepared before we set off. First job was cleaning out the food from the last three expeditions (clearly this wasn’t the first job on those expeditions!) The labels boast proud origins, primarily Italy and Belgium, although the contents are not always so proud. We were also treated with dirty pots and pans and other accumulated junk throughout the boat. The pile of garbage outside the boat is almost as large as the pile of climbing gear coming in!
It is amazing to think about how much food 5 people will be able to eat in 120 days. We placed a bulk food order from a health food distributor that came to 100 kg! And that’s before we pick up Bob’s 5 crates of condense milk (we hear he drinks it 50/50 with his coffee.) Not a bad life!
Wall food. Thank you Cliff bar! You guys rock…
Well, that’s all for now. A few more days getting the boat ready and we should be underway (by the 8th hopefully).
Some of the local wildlife settled in on our mast
Thank You RAM Mountaineering and First Ascent !
We’re really happy to have a solid climbing gear partner like RAM backing us. RAM are the South African distributor of Beal, Black Diamond, Saltic and a host of other brands. They’ve supplied us with a ton of gear from pitons and bolts (although hopefully not necessary!) to ropes, helmets, harnesses, pots, shoes, slings, etriers, jumars and much more. They also provided us with the warmest gloves any of us have ever seen (the BD Absolute Mitts) which are pictured in our photo shoot below.
Clinton “the Human Tendon”
Steve “the Force”
“Carpel Tunnel” Dave
We are very excited to announce our partnership with First Ascent, South Africa’s leading outdoor clothing specialist. First Ascent has always been a strong supporter of South African expeditions, and almost any piece of gear you try on has been tested in some extreme conditions somewhere on the planet. We couldn’t be more pleased therefore, to have them involved as a primary clothing partner as we sail into the Arctic.
First Ascent has been particularly generous with us. Almost every piece of clothing we’ll take with us will bear the gecko logo, from our thermal undies and socks to our base layers, fleeces and downies. In return we’ll give the gear a good thrashing during the course of our 4 month expedition and report back on how it handled and what can be improved upon. We’ll make our reviews public by posting a series of video reports on key gear items.
So thank you First Ascent!
So Big Up from all of us!
*Besides backing the expedition, RAM sponsors Clinton and Steve on an ongoing basis with Black Diamond, Beal and Saltic. Clinton is also sponsored by 5.10
Check out the South African Arctic Expedition 2012 website to follow the team on their adventure.
A few interview clips to set the scene on our adventure. They were all onsights, so please excuse any bloopers. Just one more sleep before we set sail for Paamiut, Greenland!
Steve. Believe it or not, I’ve traveled in pretty much every country I’ve traveled to.
Clinton. If I don’t look at the camera it can’t steal my soul.
Andrew. A slip of the tongue, or sport climber at heart?
Dave. To come when I finally break free of my corporate bonds
Related: South African Arctic Expedition Team