Flying cutlery


Hello again. So, after I stopped writing to you I went to bed. I was still asleep when we weighed anchor at three o’clock and was only woken up five minutes after my watch started. For some reason John and David never remember to wake me up before ten o’clock. The deal usually is, you wake the next person up twenty minutes before you go off watch. During my watch we finally managed to get the genoa up. The genoa by the way is the smaller sail at the front of the boat, the mainsail is the one on the mast. We had a lot of wind, up to thirty knots, so we managed to reach nine knots over the ground. It started getting rougher so we put the sail down but we gained a lot of time on that stretch. We had dolphins today, but not for long and we didn’t manage to get any pictures. After I came off watch the sea state became really unpleasant, its calmed down a bit now but we’ve spent the last seven hours dodging flying pieces of kit and cutlery and then putting them back. I’m writing this in Dad’s bunk because if you sit on the normal benches you fall forward and knock yourself out on the table, you also lose the laptop. Dad showed me how to alter the sensitivity, the shutter speed and the amount of light that is let in to the sensor on the D5 camera. I’ve used it before but because I didn’t know how to change any of the aforementioned settings none of the pictures are very good. A couple of hours ago Dad managed to knock the on/off switch on the nav system and turned the autopilot off. So we spent a merry few minutes trying to get the boat back on track, which we did manage but it was irritating. Water is leaking into the bilges from an unknown source and since the aft bilge pump isn’t working, its been steadily filling up with water. Dad and Dave had a look earlier and decided that it would be a good idea to try and pump the aft bilge manually. We have a long tube attached to the shower sump pump in the toilet and we can reach that through onto the aft bilge. So I spent half an hour pumping that until we decided that we’d got enough water out. This means that for the first time in a week, when the boat tips we don’t hear water washing around in the bilges. Yaaaaaaaay. This time on the trip we have a bread maker. This is because bread is one of the things that it turns out is really very sought after on a boat and because it goes mouldy quickly you can’t take it. We’ve used it quite a few times so far and while it works well and produces good bread, I have found that I can’t stand the smell of it cooking. Which is odd because we have a bread maker at home and I love the smell of that baking. So, a mystery. According to various clever bits of kit on the nav table, we should reach Lerwick by seven in the evening tomorrow. At the moment we’ve just left the top of Scotland at Cape Wrath and the sea state is terrible. I’ll write again when we’re in Lerwick, bye.




A chance encounter


Photo by Bob Bradfield, near Loch Aline

Hello. Sorry about the wait, Dad didn’t get round to sending the last one until about half a hour ago. Anyway. Thankfully I didn’t throw up again yesterday and at the end of my night shift I was no longer feeling sick. I finished Animal Farm, scary book. After my night shift I went to bed, amazing I know. In the morning we went through a channel between some island and the mainland. As it happened, a friend of ours called Bob Bradfield was in the area on his yacht, so he came alongside and we had a shouted conversation between the two boats as we went along. It was decided, a little later, that because of the tides we would have to anchor somewhere for a few hours to wait for the tide to turn. So we’ve anchored and I’m writing this now. We’re collecting a worrying amount of water in the bilges and what’s more is that one of the bilge pumps isn’t working. Yay. We passed the islands of Eigg Muck and Rhum, which I still love the names of, but we seem to have run out of dolphins, we haven’t seen any for a couple of days. On the way there we saw an old castle on one of the islands and I decided that I need to spend more time in Scotland. Not much has really happened since then. We’ve anchored in a place that was recommended by Bob, it’s next to a hamlet but we decided that inflating the dingy and going ashore is pushing a bit far. Err, we had chicken korma for dinner, everything is calm, we should be in Shetland in about four days, um, bye.

A cold shower


Feeling a bit sleepy on night watch.

Hi. Since I wrote to you yesterday lots of fun suff has happened, sort of. After breakfast there wasn’t much to do so I just sat a read while the guys from Sharpness sorted the bilge pumps. We needed entirely new ones as it turned out so it was a good thing we stopped in Holyhead. While we were there I restarted the tradition of buying a stuffed toy animal in every port we dock at and attaching it to the pulpit. In Bristol this year I got rat, and in Holyhead I got a sheepdog. It also turned out that there was a problem with the reverse osmotic water maker. We had turned it on to see how long it took to get drinking water out of it, and half an hour later John was woken up by a cold shower. Water had flooded into the holding tank for the water maker much faster than we had expected and it was being pushed out of the air vent at the top. We later learned that this was because the feed of seawater to the water maker was not connected and the holding tank was filling up with salt water. As such I then spent a cheerful hour emptying that tank and rinsing it. We left port at about eight that night. During my night watch we had another strange moon. We saw what looked like that rising sun screen from the lion king, it was a crimson moon slowly rising over the clouds. I expect to have a green one tonight. During my day watch today, about an hour in, the engine stopped. And we all had an, oh god whats broken this time, moment. Luckily it tuned out that this was just because the fuel tank that the engine was running on was empty. Phew. We saw some more dolphins but the main topic of my day watch was the tide. It had started to turn against us and our speed slowed to under two knots over the ground. Yay. It stayed like this until after my watch and now, at half seven, we have got our way up to six knots. Whoo. After my watch I started do do some of the schoolwork that I’ve been set. I started to read Animal Farm. My God is it a scary book. After that I started to feel seasick, I went to bed until about ten minutes ago when I threw up and then felt much better. I’ve started to feel sick again so I’ll stop writing. Bye.



Water in the bilges.


Northabout in Holyhead

Hi, sorry I haven’t written for a while, things were happening. Anyway, we left the Bristol Channel and everyone was fine. I was on watch first and it was all absolutely fine. Almost everyone was on deck for the first few hours. They all enjoyed the sunshine and the beautiful sea, until Milford Haven. At that point some of us started to feel ill. I was off duty so I went off to bed. Dad doesn’t have a watch, he’s our resident techie so he’s exempt. He went off to bed until midnight. Hazel got it worst. I was feeling fine by ten o’clock, which is when my shift starts, so I went up on deck and did my bit. At twelve, Dad came up feeling much restored and kept me and Annie company. At two o’clock Hazel came up looking completely terrible. Tired and on the verge of throwing up, she came on deck, and vomited into a bucket. Because of how she was feeling, it was decided that Dad would cover Hazel and if he got too tired he’d get me up and I’d do the rest. As it happened I was allowed to sleep, which was nice. I got up at half eight and had a bacon roll. John has turned out to be the boat’s excellent galley slave and none of us want to take his position. I went on watch at ten and not much happened. When I got off watch it was discovered that we had two or three inches of water in the bottom of the boat which shouldn’t be there. Dad and Dave tried to fix this but, as it turned out, our bilge pumps are broken, yay. It was decided that we would head to Wales and get some guys from Sharpness up to fix it for us. So we headed east and we’ve docked in the Holyhead marina. We called Sharpness and then we went to bed (they arrived at 23:20 and worked until about 01:30). This morning we got up, I went to the toilet, the people from Sharpness turned up again and I’m sitting in a cafe waiting for breakfast and writing this. While we were in the Bristol Channel we got a visit from those who thanked us for all the fish before leaving us to be demolished to make way for a new hyperspace bypass. Yep, dolphins. We got lots of visits from dolphins at this point but the only one that really excited us was the first. It was about a hour after my first shift ended, Dad was feeling ill in his bunk so it was up to me to take pictures. We had the dolphins for a good long while and I think I might have got some decent pictures of them. On my night shift we had a very strange light source. The moon rose right up behind us. It looked a lot bigger than normal and was a soft but very clear yellow. It was right behind us for my entire watch and combined with the dark water and stars it was really very beautiful. I tried to get some pictures of it but in order to actually get anything the shutter speed on the camera was about seven seconds. And by the time the photo had been taken the camera had moved around enough to make it nothing but a blur. Then dad came up, changed the sensitivity and got some really nice photos. This morning I woke up to discover that a truly momentous decision had been made that would affect all our lives. That’s right, we were going to have breakfast off the boat. This amazing revelation has lead to me writing this now and telling you that I’m writing this now. And so I leave you, safe in the knowledge that I have managed to say nothing whatsoever about politics. I’ll write again soon, bye.



In Bristol

Delivering Northabout to Bristol


Hi, I’ve finally got Dad off the phone for long enough to get the laptop off him, so here’s instalment two. You know how I said yesterday was a long tiring day? Yeah, well, its got nothing on today. After I finished writing to you, best beloved. I managed to get to bed at midnight, just in time for a full nights sleep before I got up again, at four thirty. We immediately got underway to just round the corner to a nice little town called Portishead at six. We commenced the daily sorting out of the boat and then stopped at nine, for breakfast. After that we continued work until four pm. We then lleft the harbour and motored down to Bristol by six. Details will follow. The early morning was fairly smooth. We had no real hiccups on the way to Portishead. When we arrived I realised that in order to carry out repairs we needed a knife that we could heat up to cut a cauterise plastic ropes. So, innocent young lad that I am. I wandered down to the nearby chandlery and asked whether they had any small cheap knives. The bloke behind the counter picked one up and then had a second thought. “how old are you?”, he asked. “Fourteen.” I said. “No. I can’t sell you one.” Oops. I’d completely forgotten about the whole, young people with knives, problem. What was more, was that this bloke had clearly assumed that I was trying my luck there because there was someone I really hated at school. This was a problem. So I went back to the boat and got Clive. Clive is a man who owns a hot air balloon company, which is how he met David. But far more importantly, he knew the guy at the chandlery. So he accompanied me back the shop. We walked in and immediately exclaimed, very loudly “Steve! How’s he supposed to stab people if he hasn’t got a knife!?” Steve, to his credit, replied, “Ah, he’s with you. OK then.” So we bought the knife, and it’s quite a pretty one, and lived happily ever after. Once we got to Bristol, we said goodbye to Clive and Colin, who aren’t on the trip. And to Annie, John and Dave, who live close enough not to need to stay on the boat. Dad and I are the only ones onboard at the moment until Sunday. Just before we went to have dinner Frances showed up. Now Frances, is a small energetic photographer, with a large energetic dog. She is also in charge of Northabout’s web site. She had just turned up to show us a tracking thing she’d put on the PolarOcean website. This means that any of you dear folks at home can see where we are whenever you feel like it. So, for the next four months you will know where I live and I would be grateful if you didn’t arrange to have a horses head placed in my bunk. She also asked If we could arrange as many disasters as possible and record them for posterity. You have much to look forward to Ladies and Gentlemen, much to look forward to. After that just as Dad and I were leaving a family turned up who had seen me on the news and had wanted to say hello. As it turned out the daughter is a crew member on a boat thats about to cross the atlantic as part of a charity that allows disabled people to go sailing. After I got back from dinner I ran into them and offered to show them round the boat. So that happened. After that a had a good wait for Dad to get back. Actually, could those who have twitter, facebook, or instagram please let us know whether in these I should refer to Dad as: Dad, Father Dearest, or Big Nose. Thanks. Anyway, while I was waiting a young man in his mid twenties came down to the boat. In my eyes he seemed quite a lot like a reporter. He asked me whether, “Steven Hempleman Adams.” was on board. So I told him that Dad/Father Dearest/Big Nose, was having dinner, and that David wasn’t here yet. He said He’d come back tomorrow. So ends another exiting instalment of the Hitchhikers Guide To Th. . . No. Sorry, wrong one. Ahem. Tune in tomorrow for the next episode of, Stupid Teenage Boy Goes To a Cold Place You’ve Never Heard of. Thank you and goodnight.


Press Day

Hi, with the EU referendum just days away and the US election looming, I would like to borrow a moment of your time to talk about something that has absolutely no relevance to current events. For those of you who didn’t see my blog last lear, hello, my name is Benji and over the next four months, I will be embarking on a voyage to become the youngest person to have sailed around the North Pole. Joining me in the saloon today is my father, who is busy, and will not be saying anything. For those of you who have read my first blog – Welcome back! To an entrancing tale of omelettes being thrown at doors, and buying comedically dressed rubber ducks(you know the drill).

It is half ten at night on Thursday the 16th, and with three days until we leave everyone except me is running around checking things. After last years trip we gave up Northabout into the competent hands of the Sharpness dockyard engineers, and the logistical genius that is Mr Colin Walker. As it turned out, there has not been a single bit of vital engineering on Northabout that hasn’t been replaced. Colin and Sharpness have altered the interior almost beyond recognition. We have a new fuel tank, a new generator, a new bulkhead in the bow and all the electronics have been replaced.

For those of you who are thinking that I’m getting to miss school, you’re right, my last day was yesterday and I don’t get back until October. For those of who think I’m missing school WORK, you are very much mistaken. Next year is the first of my GCSE’s and thanks to my wonderful caring parents and beloved teachers, I have no shortage of long divisions to do. This is actually very lucky I think. I’ll have 16 hours of downtime a day and I’ll be asleep for eight of them. in the other eight one of the biggest problems will be boredom, endless sea is only exciting for a brief period, and as such, having work to do will occupy me for a decent amount of time.

On my last day at school, my head of year gave me a small silver keychain with an engraving of saint Christopher on it. I’ve attached it to my trawler suit. However, according to the well of knowledge that is QI, Saint Christopher was removed of his saintleyship in the late 1900s.

Today has been quite an experience. This year I’m raising money for Addenbrooks hospital in Cambridge, the money will go into research into Inflammatory Bowel Disease in children, I suffer from a mild form of IBD and I see this trip partly as proving that so long as you’re pig-headed enough, there’s very little that can stop you. I’m also a youth ambassador, whatever that means, for a charity called Wicked Weather Watch. I know, it sounds like a CBBC program. Wicked Weather Watch is an educational charity, it teaches children about climate change and why we should care about it. At the moment they’re putting together key stage 3 and 4 syllabuses’ for schools. I await with great interest. As such, I am doing more publicity and today, it was organised, would be the day all the reporters came and posted my and David’s ugly mugs all over the media. We had someone from ITV come over, I had an interview with the BBC that’ll be aired tomorrow and so did David, a couple of local newspaper journalists and the publicity teams from Addenbrooks and Wicked Weather Watch. I now have T-shirts from both charity’s and I was changing between them every time I had to talk to anyone. While after that I can’t see why people go into television, it was really tiring. I don’t know how they do It.

Actually, thinking about it. The name of the Addenbrooks Charity is the Addenbrooks Charitable Trust, or ACT. For some reason people forget this really easily, so I’m going to repeat it a few times Ok? ACT. ACT, ACT ACT ACT ACT ACT ACT. ACT. Got it? Good.

For first leg of the trip (Bristol to Murmansk (Russia (y’know. The big country that’s always in spy films))) David isn’t here and Magnus isn’t on the trip at all. Instead, our skipper is a man named Dave Cushing, my dad’s on board until Tromsø too. The rest of the crew for that leg are: me, Annie, John, Clive, Colin and Hazel. All the usual suspects join us later, Nikolai, Barbara, David and so on. We leave on Sunday and it’s half 11, we’ve a four thirty start tomorrow so I should probably go to bed, I’ll write again tomorrow, and whoever is posting this, last year, mum cut off the last paragraph before posting them, please don’t do that. Anyway, bye