Chasing the Albatross

My adventure in search of a bird by David Lawson



0 Update added 29th Nov

  • by David Lawson
  • 29-11-2017


Well I’m pleased to say that I’m back on dry land and it’s great to finally be able to have a shower after 23 days at sea! Trust me, it was needed!! And what a result. Following a great start we were 2nd out of Cape Town and as the race progressed we moved up the fleet and at one stage were even in 1st place. Then we got stuck without any wind for 2 days and watched in agony as the fleet behind caught up with us. So then suddenly we were 5th and it became a real race for the finish. A masterclass from our skipper, Matt, sailing right on the edge of the boats capacity for 2 hours saw us get our nose in front to a very respectable 3rd place. Wow, what an end to over 5,000 miles at sea and in the end it all came down to being a few minutes ahead of the Seattle boat who finished 4th. It’s amazing how tight the finish gets after all those miles and 23 days. And if our result was close, Sanya came in only 57 seconds ahead of Dare to Lead! Now that’s close.

So now that we’ve arrived in Fremantle I’m hoping to catch up with my blog. Due to email challenges on the boat I haven’t been able to do this as my journey has unfolded, but I see that Andie has been able to add some content from the sporadic bits of contact we have had.

Rather than adding more content to the end of my existing blog I’m going to start adding to the beginning so that you don’t have to scroll all the way through to find the latest content. Hopefully I’ll be able to give you an insight into what my journey has been like so far.

So where to start? Well how’s about here……….

Its 3.55am (8.55pm UK time) on Thursday 23rd Nov and I’ve just come on deck. It’s not too cold and I only have 5 layers on today. We’re caught in a high-pressure wind hole and the sea is flat and the surface shimmers like glass. The sea is a very dark blue and as it stretches to the horizon it reflects an orange glow. The sun hasn’t risen yet but is on its way. There is no pollution haze on the horizon out here in the middle of the ocean and so it’s clear to see the point where the sea meets the sky.

On the horizon is a slim band of deep orange which graduates to a lighter orange as it rises up to give way to a purplish haze and then a dark blue sky. The colours are incredible and I’ve never seen anything like this before.

On the port side of the boat, opposite the rising sun, the sky is a hazy pink and blue colour. Its very ethereal and the ping tinge to the sky is reflected in the sea below.


Just before 5am the sun peeks over the horizon and we are treated to the most spectacular bright orange display as the sun emerges from the sea. It’s such a privilege to witness this wonderful show that nature has put on for us and it’s a great start to our day.

Since we set out from Cape Town on 2nd November I’ve seen the ocean in most of its guises on this passage. There have been days when we’ve had hardly a breath to move the flapping sails and at the other end of the wind scale we’ve seen gusts of 60 knots.

The ocean has shown us its many different colours from a beautiful mid blue to the cold dark grey you see in wartime films and in between various shades of blue, green and mercurial silver.

I’ve seen the impact a high-pressure weather system has on flattening the swell to watching the wind as it ripples up the backs of the waves when a low-pressure system hits to create swells of 50 – 60 feet. It’s been a surprise to see how quickly these weather systems come and go and how a cloud on the horizon can create a squall which quickly whips up the wind to make helming the boat a real challenge.

Working a watch system to keep the boat going means that, within a 48hr time frame, I spend a full 24 hrs on deck and see the ocean at every stage of day and night.

I’ve come to realise how vast and empty the ocean is and from only a few days out of Cape Town we didn’t see another boat until a couple of days before our arrival at our destination point, Fremantle. The ocean has been devoid of human trace and the only reference point to humanity outside of the boat has been to see the space station and satellites flying through the night sky when the conditions have been clear.

Ultimately this is a desolate part of the planet and yet despite that it holds a unique beauty all of its own. Whilst the personal highs have been high and the lows have been low there have been lots of wonderful sights and experiences in between to make crossing my ‘Everest’ of the seas such a unique experience and I’ll have memories which will stay with me for the remainder of my life.