Exercise Atlantic Ubique By: Maj Andy Wood

 

 

 

 

 

Exercise Atlantic Ubique was an adventurous sail training expedition as part of the UK Royal Artillery’s tercentenary celebrations that took place in June/ July.  The Royal Artillery Yacht Clubs flagship, St Barbara V, departed the UK mid-September 15 and transited across the Atlantic via the Cape Verde Islands to the Caribbean. This was followed by 2 months of cruising around the Caribbean before sailing up the Eastern Seaboard of the USA and Canada.  This exercise presented an excellent opportunity to re-affirm links with Allied and Commonwealth artillery nations, notably in this, case with the RCA.  We were able to secure an RCA leg sailing from Halifax to St Johns as a Joint British/ Canadian venture, the final leg before the yacht returned eastward across the Atlantic back to the UK.

Following a period of maintenance and the opportunity of linking into the Master Gunner St James’ Park visit to Halifax, the crew consisting of members of 104th Regiment Royal Artillery, 1st Field Regiment RCA and 4th (General Support) Regiment RCA assembled and carried out ashore familiarization and safety training as well as conducting a test sail, before setting off on the adventure.  The trip was split into two legs to maximize the number of RCA personnel participating, with Leg 1 being a coastal hop from Halifax to Sydney and Leg 2 being a more arduous offshore trip from Sydney to St Johns.

Highlights of each of the legs included the entire crew wrestling with sea sickness whilst enduring thick fog and high winds, a battlefield tour of Fortress Louisbourg, where we were hosted by Parks Canada and given a guided tour of the fortress and village.  We were honoured to fire the mid-day canon salute (UK and Cdn crew members were selected and trained for the task which was carried out in front of huge Canada Day crowds), after which we were hosted with a “period” lunch.  We were given an archeological talk by the site historian and a technical battlements tour to highlight the military aspects of the tour. This was extremely well received by the soldiers who were able to relate directly to the events at the time. This was concluded with the laying of wreaths by both Cdn and UK participants on behalf of the RA and RCA.

The second legs highlights were the extreme weather conditions, responding to a relayed “Mayday” message in the Ingonish area where we were the only vessel within 60 miles able to respond and the long (and arduous) passages from St Lawrence to St Pierre via Francois, and from St Pierre to Fermeuse, with the uniqueness of sailing in French waters around St Pierre and Miquelon.  Sailing onwards to St Johns we experienced sailing in company with a Pod of Whales which was simply breathtaking.  A blog of the entire expedition was uploaded onto the RAYC Website and is available at www.rayc.org.uk (noting that ours was leg 16) and gives a particularly good perspective of those taking part.

Ex ATLANTIC UBIQUE has maximized the number of opportunities for those with little or no previous sailing experience and given many a once in a lifetime opportunity to make a challenging offshore passage, explore the beautiful Canadian coastline, make life-long friends and acquaintances and watch whales off Newfoundland. It has been the catalyst for participants to have professionally developed, but most importantly, we hope it has enthused and inspired a generation of Gunner sailors for the future. This leg covered 650 nautical miles and included approximately 20 night hours of sailing in challenging and technical conditions, all participants can be extremely proud of their combined achievements.

Following the successful re-affirmed linkage between the RCA and RA, The Club has initiated the mechanism for RCA personnel to join the Royal Artillery Yacht Club.  This will allow past and present Canadian gunners to become members of the club, have access to the club’s yachts, facilities, mentorship and events (i.e. regattas).  However, more importantly to be able to participate in club sponsored unit level expeditions such as Atlantic Ubique in the furture; which is easily achievable for reasonable TD costs and would make challenging Adventure Sail Training accessible to RCA Units.  Should anyone be interested in these opportunities they should contact Major Andy Wood at [email protected]

Fair Winds