On Board the Tenacious: Ryan’s first month at sea

Image of Ryan standing on a small ships bow, wearing a white outfit and dark blue vest.

Earlier this year, our Youth Support Officer (and brave explorer) Ryan Honschooten, who is totally blind set sail on his three-month adventure at sea. On board the Tenacious, Ryan was planning to sail an almost complete circular navigation of the world. The crew would sail around Cape Horn, tackling the treacherous weather and strong winds. We’re following his 89-day journey at sea, as he lives out one of his most desired dreams. We have gathered together Ryan’s diary entries from his first month abroad. We hope you enjoy reading his adventure.

Friday 26 January

Hi all, it’s Australia Day for us today, so to celebrate we played a game of deck cricket. The stumps were attached to the deck with BluTak, the ball had a string attached so we could reclaim it if it went overboard, and the bat was attached to your wrist with a lanyard. I was the opening batsman, and hit a 4 straight up (thanks to my cricket training Brad and Steff!) Unfortunately the Aussies were all out for 12 runs. It was lots of fun.

We are making our own fresh water 24 hours a day, using the sea water. Our ship has a state-of-the-art sewerage treatment plant so we can also pump out waste 24 hours a day. What we pump is internationally legal and environmentally safe. Our showers are fresh water, and the toilets salt water. I have given up coffee so far (instant is terrible!) and the food is extremely tasty. Starting to get cold, off to bed.

Saturday 27 January

We haven’t seen another boat since Tuesday morning, it’s been a quiet and lonely voyage. The swell is bigger than yesterday, it’s becoming the norm to hear things crashing to the decks. Getting around the ship is amusing and challenging, as it continually moves. It’s awesome hearing the waves break on the hull while below deck. During the man-overboard drill yesterday, it really hit home how important it is to stay on the ship. It would be exhausting to stay afloat while help arrived. I’m glad they’ve put netting around the ship above the rails.

Sunday 28 January

It’s cold! I’ve just finished my 12am watch, and wore 5 layers of clothing. The sea is tossing us around. At dinner, my cup fell over causing a flood of water to rapidly run down the table. This caused a Mexican wave of people quickly standing up and backing off – it was rather hilarious! Knives, forks, salt and pepper shakers all went flying. We have over 3,000 miles to Cape Horn.

Monday 29 January

Ship is still rocking and rolling. I’ve got a lee cloth (net) attached to my bunk to stop me rolling out. I’m currently lying on my bed wearing a thermal top, a long sleeve shirt, track pants, hiking pants, two pairs of socks, and will put on two jumpers and full wet weather gear plus gloves when I venture on deck for my watch tonight.

Tuesday 30 January

Currently sailing in no-man’s-land, the spot between the Pacific and the Southern Ocean. The engineers found the heaters yesterday and turned them on. It’s since been warmer than an average Perth summer below deck. We should pass the 3000 mark today, meaning we have 3000 miles to reach the Horn.

Thursday 1 February

Last night we reached the 2000 mile mark, we’re approximately 2800 miles to the Horn and 3200 to the Falkland’s. Breakfast was underway when the ship gave a sharp lurch and a comedy began. Stuff went flying in all directions, mostly to Portside where those people sitting began playing tennis, batting away food, bowls, eggs, cups and jam. The floor was awash with all sorts of food, and I slid along the seat pushing those people next to me into a corner. I dropped my egg and my tea went orbiting along with everyone else’s. A lonely sausage rolled back and forth on the table. What a mess! Everyone broke out into laughter and couldn’t stop. Slowly we cleaned it all up, I only wish we had caught it all on film. We laughed all day.

Saturday 3 February

Watch this morning was extra special, we were treated to a few dozen dolphins who stayed with us swimming from 5am to 9am. A fog has crept in, making the air on the boat wet with dew.

Monday 5 February

It’s so cold. The days are getting colder, triple socks now. The wind cuts deep, just glad it’s not raining.

Thursday 8 February

Yesterday we were close to point Nemo which is the most isolated point of Ocean in the world. It’s also where satellites are programmed to crash back to Earth. Sadly, it’s too cloudy to spot any.

Tenacious sailing at sea
An image of the Tenacious sailing at sea

Friday 9 February

Think about this. Imagine every door you interact with, every hour of the day and consider waiting for the right moment to open the door. If we get the roll of the ship wrong, we could find our arm pulled out of our socket, especially with the heavy watertight doors. Last night the fresh water tanks overflowed into the men’s cabins. The buckets and mops were put to work, as were the engineers.

Sunday 11 February

Yesterday after lunch listening to my audio book which I downloaded from the VisAbility Library, a rather violent roll to the side sent a basket of tin mugs (50 of them) flying across the kitchen. What a crescendo of noise! Tinkling mugs slid to portside, but before they landed on the floor, the ship decided to have some more fun and sent them back to starboard. The noise was awesome. I lost it laughing.

Monday 12 February

Sensational day out on deck, the sun is shining! I even took off three layers of clothing (but I still had three on).

On this ship two different worlds exist, one above deck and the other below. The contrast between them is extreme! Above deck it’s cold, windy and often wet with both spray, light rain and the fog condensing on the rigging which falls continuously on the deck. Damp, everything is damp to touch. The ropes are freezing cold and very wet. The noises are amazing, the wind roaring, or whistling through the rigging (wish I was musically trained to pick out the varying notes), the humming of the rigging, these three sounds all different to each other. Then you have the banging of the rigging, as yards and block crash, and the slapping of sails as they lose air or the booking of the sails as the wind fills them. The squeak of blocks as the sheets move back and forth through them. Then you have the ocean, as it hisses past the ship, breaks all around the ship both near and far. The slapping of waves against the ships side, the roar of the ocean, the rush of water over the decks that sounds like you are at the rapids. The shouting of commands, the air vents from the engine room and air-conditioning, and the vastness, the open space, there is nowhere to hide from the weather. You need to wear 6 or more layers of clothes to stay dry and warm, it’s very bulky and you do notice the heaviness of the layers as you move around the deck. Any physical work like pulling the ropes, you find yourself sweating and extremely warm. That is my reality of the outside world.

After a long first month at sea, our Youth Support Officer (and brave explorer) Ryan Honschooten is well on the way to reaching Cape Horn. Ryan set out on this 89-day voyage in January on board the Tenacious. A keen sailor, Ryan’s enjoying the 3-month journey living out one of his most desired dreams. We have gathered Ryan’s diary entries from his second month abroad. We hope you are enjoying following his adventure, stay tuned for more.

Tuesday 13 February

Got to bed at 1am after a lovely watch on deck. The stars were out, and we spotted a plane, two satellites and plenty of shooting stars. We were all glad we weren’t still at Point Nemo, where we would’ve been ducking the space garbage!

Wednesday 14 February

The skip has been rolling to alarming degrees. It’s incredibly taxing to move around the ship. I’m using muscles that I didn’t know existed. I took a tremendous fall (that was rather graceful) as I returned two empty cups to the mess kitchen. My feet hit a wet patch and I sailed down the deck on my behind, stopping when my foot hit the wall. I didn’t even drop the cups, and fortunately had a significant audience who were impressed with the effort, with a cheeky few asking me to do it again.

Friday 16 February

Today the Southern Ocean finally showed us who is boss out here. At 3:15am as the second teaspoon of instant coffee had hit my cup, I heard a cry of ‘all hands on deck!’ I had an idea that things weren’t right, the ship had been rolling savagely since I’d woken up an hour earlier. My crew raced around, scrambling to the top deck. And wow, the noise that reached our ears! The roar of the wind through the rigging was intense. We got the upper half of the sail furled, though the wind was far too strong to complete the job. Two mates were roused and sent up the rigging in semi-darkness, with rain and strong winds blowing a gale.

At 4:30am as I headed downstairs for my coffee, I was stopped by a sound, a terrible, screeching and roaring sound. The water tight door was flung open again as a desperate cry of “get the forcourse in NOW!!” followed. I dropped my cup to the floor, and raced upstairs with my 3 crewmates. Walking across the deck, a wave washed across and left me standing in water up to my waist. The wave continued down the deck and blew open a hole in the rail on the lower deck embarkation areas (it’s beyond repair). We now had an opening in the rail that anyone could fall through.

Large swell and rain kept us moist and cold, and the rest of the day stayed much the same. At 4pm however things started to get more aggressive again, both water tight doors had been closed and put out of limits. The rolling of the boat had increased even more.

By 7pm all hands were on deck, and a massive wave swamped the deck where we were all standing and knocked out the embarkation rail on the other side, now both rails were gone. We were concerned for one of the mates, as they were close to the opening – thankfully they did not go overboard.

Sitting in the bar reflecting on the day, it is certainly a step up from the voyage we have experienced so far. Tonight we are rolling around more than ever. I personally am loving it, this is what I came for. I worked hard to experience this, I am not afraid but inspired to embrace this, and enjoy and live in the moment.

Saturday 17 February

After the awesomely rough 48 hours yesterday, today we have experienced blissful calm. Strong winds and sun in the sky, everyone enjoyed a good night’s sleep and the jokes and laughter have returned.

Sunday 18 February

We are now approximately 300 miles from Cape Horn. It was exciting to pick up radar contact with another ship today, the first since leaving Auckland. A short radio chat took place.

Monday 19 February

Day 30 of sailing! The anticipation is building, we are approximately 70 miles off Chile and the closest we have been to land since the 27th Jan. We are sad however to be out of red wine, all fresh vegetables, frozen beans, pasta, yoghurt, crackers, and yeast and we have another 4 or 5 days sail. We are expected to round the horn tomorrow.

Tuesday 20 February

The elusive horn can be seen from the ship, but with calculations a bit off we are approximately 20 miles away. Waking this morning we were greeted by the sight of land – snow-capped mountains. The sea is a deep green compared to the blue we’ve previously had. We had a variety of sea birds buzzing around the ship, and dolphins have been gliding around us all morning, playing and frolicking around the ship.

Image of Ryan standing on a small ships bow, wearing a white outfit and dark blue vest.

Tuesday 20 February (2pm)

Cape Horn: a place of beauty, ruggedness, isolation, danger, strong winds, mixed currents, massive swell and a sailor’s grave yard (but not today!) As we sailed around the magnificent Cape Horn the swell was small and the sun was bright and warm. You couldn’t have ordered a more magical, memorable day. All of us were on deck with cameras, snapping and filming. Much fun and laughter all around, it’s somewhat hard to believe the stories you read but easy to imagine the powerful conditions that have haunted sailors for hundreds of years at the Horn.

Monday 26 February

A lot has happened since arriving in Port Stanley, in the Falklands on Friday. After we docked and cleared customs, we headed to a dinner at the Governor’s House. The crew has since disbanded, heading to accommodation dotted around the island. We have taken on so much fruit and veggies. We loaded this into the ship, including 220 packs of frozen peas (though we only ordered 40 – someone made a mistake!) We worked hard storing everything away. The new crew should join us today, I’m looking forward to it. I also plan to go and do a large pile of washing today, not looking so forward to that. We should be in port until Friday.

Wednesday 27 February

Currently very much missing the warm summer of Perth – it’s currently 13 degrees outside and raining! Not much happening at the moment, still docked at Port Stanley. It’s a strange place the Falklands, I’m reminded of Exmouth in WA. The environment is very bare with no trees. Low bushy scrub, lots of gravel and stones and it’s always windy. I went for a long walk around Stanley yesterday, dodging rain storms by hiding in shops and the seaman’s mission. I also had my first real coffee since leaving Auckland and wow it was fantastic!

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