Leg 8 – Corsica to Villamoura – Royal Armoured Corps

Sunday 7th June

After an horrendously early start, a weary group of travellers arrived at Gatwick Airport for a 06.00 start, guided together by the fail safe combination of the infamous black grip, short back and sides and dubious regional accents. Met by the man, the myth, the legend-Lt Col Leigh ‘Jacko’ Jackson- we boarded the flight united in ‘tour stash’, a variety of Ex Gallipoli 2015 black polo shirts, ideal for the hot Meditteraenean sun.

Touched down in Ajaccio airport and after an encounter with a taxi driver who saw himself as a Corsican Felippe Massa, employed only the use of second gear and had no qualms whatsoever about taking city corners at a casual 65mph, we arrived in record timing to be met by the glorious sight of Kukri, our home for the next two weeks and our skipper, Major Steve Taylor aka Barnacle Steve. We then settled in for an afternoon of safety briefs, boat maintenance and the like.

Monday 8th June
The usual standard mix of skills and drills, Steve quickly realised he was dealing with a crew of unparalleled sailing ability, a well oiled machine at one with the high seas. Josh ‘the slayer, Crisp quickly established himself as master of the helm, premier tier of bowline knots-some knew him as myth, others heard it as gospel, last seen fighting the Loch Ness monster- we knew he would be invaluable on the treacherous sea passage to come.

Tuesday – Thursday 9th-11th June. Corsica to Mallorca
After 75 head sail changes, 17 spaghetti bologneses, we found ourselves just loosing sight of Corsica as we begun to realise the sheer impracticalities of sailing without any wind…at all. The poem below represents a concise and informative description of this passage at sea.

11 men came together as a team, for Gallipoli 2015
Red Rocket sailing far and wide, many dolphins swimming side by side
Sail changes, hard and fast, two reefs upon the mast
30 knots of wind upon the sea, not another spag bowl, let it be
The boys became a crew, friends forever through and through
Engineers, reme, ld, yorks and lancers, what a bunch of absolute prancers

Friday – Saturday  12th-13th June. Mallorca to Alicante.
With absolutely no sore heads in any way whatsoever, we embarked on a ’18’/31 hour journey to our next destination , Alicante. As we soared past the North coast of Ibiza, the younger crew members agonisingly came to terms with the fact that the Balearics were slowly disappearing into the night behind us-except Jordan ‘the cabin boy’ Bracken who had somehow already booked flights for summer leave, without consulting 0A.

‘Gorgeous’ George moulded himself into the bow until man and boat ceased to become separate entities. Our head sail guru and destroyer of waves relished the opportunity to style his ‘wet look’ in the salty water. By this point, the crew had become adept with changing sails with the flair and pastiche of an Americas cup winning team.

Alicante to ? 13th June to ?
We left Alicante with the hope of reaching Gibraltar in two and a half days, however fate naturally conspired against us with the weather reminiscent of the Perfect Storm- this was to test our firm crew cohesion to the limit.

Bashing against waves at the pace of a snail, came the foghorn-like voice of barnacle Steve – a voice honed by a diet consisting purely of sea water and Marlboro Reds. ‘Man Overboard’ Griffiths was thrown over the side of the boat and with casual disregard for his own safety ‘Horatia’ Hugo’ our resident naval officer, pulled back the colossal Griff, saving him from the depths of Davy Jones locker and an eternity on The Flying Dutchman.

Due to slow progress and dissipating morale, rations, water and fuel- the skipper made the decision to dock in Almeria for the night, a town internationally renowned for its mediocrity in second division Spanish football. After a textbook berthing by our skipper, our 55 ft yacht soothed herself effortlessly into a space no bigger than a smart car and the crew had a well earned and much welcome rest.

Almeria to Gibraltar 16th to 18th June
‘Dolphin’ Danny from Essex was in his element on this leg of the trip, completely fabricating numerous Dolphin sightings at every available opportunity. With it becoming an all to familiar ‘boy who cried wolf” situation, out of nowhere emerged a pod of 20 Dolphins sensensually caressing the bow of the boat, Pilot whales bimbled across the stern flipping the tails like an ocean greeting to fellow sea goers. This leg also saw perhaps the most saddening and unfortunate incident of the trip so far- the jack brew. In a miserable values and standards failure, Red watch (‘Horatio’ Hugo, Ash ‘the Pirate’ Patel, ‘ man overboard’ Griffiths and the recently entitled  ‘Jack brew’ Rob)  failed to make brews for Green watch leading to a potential mutiny only pacified by the ardent professionalism and maturity of Green watch in the face of such a horrid violation of the sea goers code.  After sailing across the flattest and calmest seas to date, out of the horizon rose the Rock of Gibraltar, the pillars of Hercules. Gorgeous’ George was to realise the dangers of fraternising with the local monkeys, after a vicious bite wound to the hand.  As Jacko and Horatio watched the sun descend into the horizon from the cockpit of the newly named ‘Red Rocket’,  the Spanish whaling fleet pulled up alongside and began to dismember a humongous tuna. Jacko ceased the opportunity to scrounge tuna, not out the tin, cut fresh from the beasts body.

With this morning arose and we bid our farewell to Gibraltar and its 80’s slick back ‘levanta’ and we  began the final leg of our Odyssian journey.

Gibraltar to Villamoura 18th to 19th June
With perfect Easterly winds driving us to Villamoura,  ‘Barnacle’ Steve took to the helm like a kid at Christmas, grinning from ear to ear, exclaiming ‘this is why I joined the army’- a statement at odds with a predominantly land based force. He sailed us thought the Straits of Gibraltar, with Africa in touching distance,  into the Atlantic abyss. ‘Horatio’ Hugo awoke the crew to a toast with Nelsons blood at midnight as we passed the Cape of Trafalgar, reminiscing on the Royal Navy’s finest battle, a battle which began the era of British supremacy at sea and heralded in the age of the Empire.

We berthed in Villamoura at 6 in the evening, our final destination and the epic finale to Leg 8 of Gallipoli 2015. Villamoura was everything and more than we expected it to be, the holiday destination of choice for Europes bold and beautiful, the glitterati jet set. It provided no obstacles in making the most of our final time on shore and we closed the trip with the same style and finesse exhibited in abundance over the last two weeks. The last thing remaining was to clean out and handover the Red Rocket to the next team, a bittersweet symphony and a tearful goodbye to a cruel mistress.

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