AZ(AB) 91 by Stewart Burness

Article reproduced with the kind permission fo the author , Stewart Burness. Originally published at

"American warship off my starboard bow, this is Yacht Excalibur"-

There was a pause while we imagined that someone was scanning the white capped ocean for a vessel larger than a 27 foot yacht. The radio burst into life "Excalibur, this is Warship 42, is that you one mile off with reefed white sails?"-"Warship 42, affirmative, that's us, could I trouble you for a weather forecast?"-"Standby sir" - we could see the Warship diving through the waves and taking a lot of green water over her bows, what must we have looked like to her?

The American voice came back,  "What the hell are you guys doing out here in that little boat, are you sure you want to hear the forecast - we are expecting the waves to increase to 35 feet or do you guys use metres, and the wind to increase to over 45 knots, rather you than me"

Trying to preserve our cool, I replied with traditional British stiff upper lip-" We are racing to the Azores and back, have you seen any other yachts?"

A faint signal broke through on the radio, it was another competitor, Trevor Leek on "Corkscrew", he was asking for a confirmatory fix from the warship as he was using Astro navigation and the sun was likely to be hidden for some days. The American had GPS and was able to confirm Trevor's position to within feet.

In just a few minutes the three Grey warships blended into the barely discernable horizon leaving John and I alone preparing for the storm.