The Four Nations and the beginning of The Greenland Adventure

Many of you will associate the Four Nations with a Rugby League Tournament played every 2 years between England, Australia, New Zealand and someone else. This association is not unreasonable, but, I suspect in future when the words 'Four Nations' are said many people will now think Brimble and sailing rather than Rugby League. Here's why ...

The need to work has resulted in a postponement of this year's planned adventure to Greenland to next year. We can live with this because flexibility is one of our watchwords (along with indecision and confusion) and as work is a critical enabler to sailing we take the occasional imposition of work with a hop, skip and a jump. In any case, it's all turned out just fine because this year would have been a bit of a mad rush and so now we can enjoy the planning and also get a little further up north giving more time next year to enjoy our little arctic adventure.

So, the north was the target and we set our sights on Troon in Scotland. We've been there before at the end of the Scottish Isles Peak Race (the most exhausting, bonkers, endurance event I have ever taken part in ... click here for write-up) and both Rob and I have fond/painful memories of the marina and that amazing bit of Scotland.

Journey start was Southampton at Shamrock Quay Marina run by MDL  #computersaysnomarinas, #moneybeforeyachstman, #nocustomerservice.

So, on June 29 we set off bound North. Our continuing mission, to explore new worlds, to seek out new pubs and Indian Restaurants, to boldly go where Brimble has not gone before. Our plan, to visit the four great Nations of England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland. If you were minded to do so you could call this journey The Four Nations Tour or perhaps the Union Tour but whatever title you land on it is unarguably the beginning of our trip into the arctic and the beginning of the Greenland Adventure.

As usual, we decided on the location of crew changes and rendezvous points by agreeing to meet at the most awkward places to get to and then changing our minds at the last minute - this is now a well-proven process and once again worked well. Rob and I were aboard for the full two weeks along with Chirpy Chick, Eider Duck and Cockney Mallard. In addition, we were supported by welcome new starts, Jeremy Flynn and Robert Digings and old-timer Chris Perkins. Selma and Ella were shore-based but met us in Wales taking unique footage of the good ship as she passed through the infamous Menai Straits. A fine group to enjoy 650 miles of sailing, 11 ports, one large castle and 12 days and 5 nights at sea.

So, below is a map showing the journey:

But before we crack on with the details let me share some investments made over the past few months.  As you would expect all have been driven by crew and vessel safety. Each item was critically important to our mission and is a shrewd and carefully made investment with a strong business case; here they are:

Mast steps - folding Selden Mast Steps to allow members of the crew to climb up the mast and spot routes through the icebergs.

Not needed on this trip! But important as we get further north

Golf range finder - estimating distance in the arctic is difficult and with very inaccurate charts you have to estimate distance offshore by eye. This gadget gives you distances to the nearest meter and will save crew members many hours of rowing and the repeated question of 'are we nearly there yet?'.

DJI Mavic Pro Drone - vital bit of kit for aerial navigation and photography. I do not know how we have sailed all these years without a drone. We briefly discussed moving away from describing the good ship as a Yacht wondering whether 'Drone Carrier' might be a tighter description. This was particularly relevant when we were talking to HMS Argyle of the coast of Wales and found ourselves in the zone of her live firing exercise; we felt that Drone Carrier might have given us more gravitas. Anyway, in the end, we decided it was a little ostentatious and have stuck with Yacht, but it's always an option for the future.

The Drone in action at Lymington - vital

Bird book - historically we have avoided using the names of birds preferring to use a simple description such as 'look at that big, ugly, white bird over there'. With our new bird book, we are now able to say 'look at that big, ugly, white bird over there, quick get The Book out ... ahaaaa ... it's a yellow-legged seagull ... no, it's a Gannet ... of course, it's not a Gannet ... it's a Fulmar ... no, I really think it's a Shearwater ... well, I can tell you one thing, it's definitely not a Guillemot ... what colour was the inside of its mouth ... how on earth would I know the colour of it's mouth, it was half a mile away ... well, how could you see that it had yellow legs then ... I didn't say it had yellow legs '. So a much richer and more rewarding conversation.

The lads looking at their famous mates

So, armed with these new essentials and the Good Ship looking dazzlingly beautiful we set off.

Next: The Journey starts Southampton to Plymouth

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