Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Racing ahead thanks to acceleration zone

Hi all

If you have ever played a game of snakes and ladder, you know that if you land on snake, you have to slide back down the board. That's what its like when you are heading into a storm.

But sometimes you land on a ladder and shot up the board. That's what its like when you encounter an acceleration zone. This is where the northerly winds are squeezed into the limited space between the high islands increasing the speed  of the wind.
We encountered such a zone between the Canary Island of La Palma and La Gomera. We rode a good strong wind in the acceleration zones around the islands, up to 38 knots and Ed the human said we reached our new top speed of 9.1 Knots.
Wow an amazing ride, but a bit scary too. I found a safe place to sit where I could hold on and made sure my life jacket was tied tight.

Monday, 30 November 2015

Where does the wind come from?

Hi all

One thing a sailing boat like Moondancer needs is wind. But have you ever wondered what wind is and where it comes from? The sun heats the ocean and the heat is released slowly. Heat from the ocean warms the air and warm air rises.

When the warm air rises from above the ocean, cold air rushes in to replace the warm air – that movement makes wind.
In weather prediction terms, cool air produces high pressure and warm air causes low air pressure. 

The wind pushes against the sails and the Moondancer travels through the water. But it’s more complicated than that. You need to put up just the right amount of sail depending on the strength of the wind. 

And there are lots of other complicated maneuvers to learn to be a proper sailor. 

It’s nice and calm today and the crew have let me control the tiller. This is connected to the rudder which is used to help make the vessel turn.

You have to turn the tiller the opposite way that you want to turn. The tiller will also help keep the Moondancer traveling straight, but you have to adjust it slightly as the vessel gets pushed sideways by the waves.

Thursday, 26 November 2015

Musical interlude

Hi all

I'm really getting into being part of the crew and that means taking part in the music too. 
 Unfortunately I am bit too small to play a musical instrument but I joined in with all the

'yar la lay’s'

Click the link  Becalmed Feat. The Commodore

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Atlantic Ocean from Spain to Portugal.

Wow, its been a wild ride so far, calm days and sun sets, rough stormy seas and eerie sea mists. There has also been fun, songs and music.

One of the many groups of dolphins we have encountered on our journey. These are bottlenose dolphins.
These are pilot whales lazing at the surface. They are toothed whales, mainly black with a large rounded head. This included the mellon which helps them to echo-locate. That is using sound to find your way around and to locate food. The males are largest, they can be over 6 metres long! They also have much bigger dorsal fins that dolphins.

Click link for a short video of the Atlantic, Spain and Portugal

Monday, 16 November 2015

From Portugal to the End of the World

Hi all

We have now reached Spain and a chance for me to give you a quick update.

A chance for me to share highlights of the leg of our journey from Portugal to Finnisterre in Spain.

The weather conditions have been quite varied so far. We have had some amazing sunsets and sunrises but in our recent stretch we were swallowed up by a huge bank of sea mist. It was very eerie. I have been in fog on land and even up in the mountains of the Canary Islands of Tenerife.
Somehow this eerie feeling is even worst when you are at sea. The feeling that almost anything could be just beyond out view in the swirling mist.

There are many dangers for a small vessel in the fog. A small ship could run aground on rocks or other half hidden objects. Which is why we are traveling safely away from land. There is  an even bigger danger of collision with another vessel. So every now and then one of the crew would sound the foghorn to alert any other sea users as to where we were.
The first two times Captain Casparo sounded the horn it made me jump as the only other sound we could hear was gentle splashing of the water as the Moondancer cut through the waves. 

Sea mist is like being in a cloud as the mist is also made up of tiny water droplets. Sea mist forms when mild air travels over the colder seawater. This causes the moisture in the air to condense into water droplets. Not so scary once you know the science. And as long as you have a great captain and crew to get you safely through.

Eventually out of the mist we see land

We have reached the safe haven of Finisterre, also enshrouded in the sea mist. 
In Ancient Roman times it was believed to be the end of the known world, which was easy to believe when we came up to Finisterre out of the fog.

As you know I have a great interest in maritime history and I was very interested to learn that  This was where the Phoenicians (an ancient trading civilization form the Mediterranean Sea) sailed from here to trade with Bronze Age Britain. Wow we must have traveled a similar route.

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Crossing the Bay of Biscay

Hi all

We left Falmouth in Cornwall bound for Spain heading off across the Channel  and the Bay of Biscay
Weather is very unpredictable in the Bay of Biscay and can be very stormy. I have heard that in the days when huge sailing boats sailed the seas, sailors feared the Bay of Biscay. They either struggled against the powerful westerly winds or heavy swells that drove them into the Bay.
Things are much easier today (I was pleased to hear) with modern sailing vessels, with modern technology to lend a helping hand. The crew had been monitoring the weather and its now cleared enough to head off into the blue again.

We are now moored at Lison Portugal and we are again waiting for a weather system to clear before we move on. So a good time to give you an update. The weather was indeed quite rough at times and we all got thrown about now and again. 
Luckily everything was tied down and we did not loose anything (or anyone) overboard.

Lots of dolphins and whales swim through the Bay of Biscay and we saw some pilot whale and a pod of common dolphins joined us for a while. We all welcomed their company.

There was also an amazing sunset as the sun seemed to just sink into the ocean! 
We hope soon to leave Lisbon for the Canary Islands.

Click the following link to see what fun we all got up to crossing the Bay of Bisay

Ed and the Crew of the Moondancer.

Sunday, 18 October 2015


Hi all

Well we had to stop over in Falmouth in Cornwall. This was mainly due to the need to wait out the passing of some very stormy weather. It was a chance for me to visit somewhere else in the UK that I had not been before. 
My travels over the years have taken me to many beautiful places, such as the Hawaiian Islands, the rugged Olympic Coast in the USA, Seal Island in South Africa and even Antarctica. But there are many beautiful and amazing places in the UK as well.
As soon as the weather clears we will head off across the Channel and into the Atlantic, so Famouth is our last stop before leaving the UK and heading off into the blue. Next stop Portugal.
Falmouth is a great place for surfing and I have had some great surfing experiences in the USA but the seas are too rough here for a tiny bear like me.

I am getting to know the rest of the crew a bit better now. They are lots of fun and I am enjoying the chance to be at sea and listen to their live music that is very much a part of the the Moondancer and the sea.
Click the link below for a glimpse at the rest of the crew and the reasons for this amazing journey that I have been invited to be a part of.

Stormbound in Falmouth

Bye for now

Ed the Bear and the crew of the Moondancer

Friday, 16 October 2015

Newhaven to Falmouth

Hi all

Well at last a chance to let you know how our journey has gone so far. We have stopped at Lisbon in Portugal and are waiting for the right wind conditions before making the long crossing to the Canary Islands.

After leaving Newhaven we had fair weather as we sailed past Brighton, my beach at Shoreham and onto Chichester.
The weather conditions have been quite varied and it definitely got increasingly windy the nearer we got to Falmouth in Cornwall.
Oh yes, we were joined by a pod of dolphins who came to check us out before heading off on their own journey. 
You can see a short video below of out trip from Newhaven to Falmouth. Just click the link below.


It has been a great journey so far. As you can see life on-board is very busy and I have tried as much as possible not to get in everyone's way.
More about our amazing journey soon.

Bye for now

Ed the Bear and the crew of Moondancer

Thursday, 3 September 2015

Ed the Bear explores Newhaven

Hi all

Well I am back on shore today while the crew make last minute preparations. I took a walk up the hill from the marina to get a view of the sea. 
I look back towards the marina and I can just make out the Moondancer at mooring.

From the hill top I can see the mouth of the river and the mouth of the harbour. 
We will be leaving soon and will head out towards the sea and then sail around the western arm and head off west along the Channel.
This is a view to the west from the same hill.

Back on board there is lots of excitement and the preparations will soon be complete.
The first leg of our journey will take us westwards along the South Coast, past my beach at Shoreham and eventually on to Falmouth. From there we will head south towards Spain and Portugal. How we travel from there will depend on the sea conditions, wind and weather.
I will report back as soon as I am able.

Bye for now

Ed the Bear

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Ed the Bear Embarks on the Moondancer

Hi all

Well the day is finally here and I have just arrived at Newhaven Harbour to embark on the 32 foot sailing yacht the Moondancer. I had previously met Ed Wade-Martins at the EYE Eco Summit but I have not meet any of the rest of the crew.

Ed greets me at the gate and we make our way along a series of gang planks and floating walk ways and eventually reach the Moondancer. She is a beautiful vessel.
Most of the vessels I have traveled on have been hi-tech vessels built for research and I have only been on board a day at a time. Including the R/V Fulmar, a research vessel you might have seen on the BBC TV programme Big Blue Live. http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p02v036z

This is me on the R/V Fulmar back in March 2010

This trip is going to be a very different experience, but I hope this will also be a chance to experience (and feel) the amazing power and beauty of the ocean.
Being a small bear the vessel looks really big to me and one of the crew help me on board. Things are very manic as you would expect with the final preparations underway. One of the crew have just returned with food for the journey and it is being checked and packed away.

Someone gives me a hot cup of tea and honey and I find a space to keep out of everybody's way. Across the water behind Moondance is a huge ferry which to me looks as big as one of the icebergs I saw in Antarctica.
There are many other vessels of different sizes moored up in the marina.
I leave Ed (the human) to help sort out solar panels which are to be fitted to the roof of the cabin.

Everyone is very busy but there is also a feeling of excitement in the air.

Bye for now

Ed the Bear

Thursday, 30 July 2015

An invite from Ed Wade-Martins and Moving Sounds

Hi all

After meeting Ed Wade-Martins from Moving Sounds, who was also running workshops at the EYE Summit, Ed has invited me to come along as a member of the crew of the sailing vessel Moondancer.

Ed (the human) will be sailing along the English Channel and then off into the Atlantic Ocean early in September. I have visited sites on the East Coast of the USA but many of my travels so far have been in the \Pacific Ocean. The Atlantic is much nearer to where I live.

I have meet a lot of people called Ed on my travels include Ed Williams who designed and built my diving bell. But I will be travelling without my diving bell this time.

This will be a great opportunity for me to experience more of the ocean and the natural processes that create wind, waves currents and more. I hope to encounter some amazing wildlife and meet interesting people. I will also be documenting any evidence of human damage to the ocean that I see on our journey.

I am very excited, but a little nervous too as the Atlantic Ocean is a big place for a small bear. The Pacific Ocean might be the deepest ocean but the Atlantic Ocean is known for being the wildest in regard to weather and sea conditions.

This will be my longest trip at sea as I usually only take short trips, apart from my visit to Antarctica but that was on a big ship.

Come back and visit by blog to see how my journey unfolds as I share my adventure and the rest of the crew.

You can find out more about Moving Sounds at http://movingsounds.org/

Bye for now.

Ed the Bear

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Ed the Bear at the EYE Eco Summit

We participated again this year in the E.Y.E Project (Eco Young and Engaged) Eco Summit which this year was hosted by Shoreham Academy.  

The E.Y.E. Project brings local schools together to focus on the importance of caring for our planet and to provide an additional opportunity for the young people within those schools to learn about environmental matters through fun and educational activities available at Eco-Summit events. 

The EYE project is made up of local schools from Shoreham, Lancing and Worthing.

I have enjoyed participating in the eco-summit on numerous occasions and this year I was asked to be the Key Note speaker

I started the keynote by talking about Shoreham Beach Local Nature Reserve, why it’s important and the role of the management group and the Friends of Shoreham Beach in caring for the reserve and engaging the public. 

I also discussed the education opportunities that we offer from rare vegetated shingle, to tide pooling, coastal geography, global dimension and much more.

I then spoke about the adventures of Ed the Bear and how Ed the Bear’s travels have created links with scientists around the world and to share their knowledge about the oceans.

This includes the possible impact of climate change on Shoreham Beach as well as other issues.

I also ran three workshops during the day based around Ed the Bears travels to scientists around the world to learn about ocean science and conservation. 

The first two focused on topics touched on in the keynote such as how oceans moderate our climate and weather; provide 50% of our oxygen, freshwater, food, new medicines and more. This included a fun quiz to explore the many thinks that oceans and rainforest provide and how we rely on both of these biomes every day.. 

This was followed by an activity where the children took on the role of albatross to explore the dangers of plastic pollution to marine life. 

The third workshop was for secondary school pupils and explored the same issues but in a more scientific context.

We also took a display stand which I manned during lunch and breaks and gave out the LNR leaflets and educational flyer. The day was a great success.