Tuesday, 8 August 2017

A New Chapter

Betsy has now been sold to a new owner, we hope they have many great adventures together!

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Betsy Sails Home

02/05/2017

I arrived at Boston airport in the evening where Dianne picked me up and I was whisked away to Newport Rhode Island, we arrived home at 10pm to the usual Bailey household warm reception, Sadie the Cairn Terrier, who instantly recognised me from my previous visit, went positively nuts!

Norm, Dianne and I had a lovely meal together before I crashed in to bed ready for the next morning and my reunion with Betsy from her winter's storage.


03/05/2017

Norm drove me to the storage facility where Betsy had spent the winter but she was nowhere to be found, we headed down to Waites Wharf on the harbour front and there she was, un-wrapped and ready for launch. From the voyage to Newport I knew we had a small leak to attend to somewhere at the root of the rudder skeg. Using a scraping tool I dug in to the paint and soon found it falling away, there was a gap between the skeg and the hull filled with flexible mastic, not unlike silicone bathroom sealant?! I found this rather alarming, chased it out and gave the gap a rough sand with a coarse 40 grit sand paper.


A trip to West Marine later and we had a tube of West System thickened epoxy in the form of a mastic tube that mixed as you applied, a clever nozzle mixed the pre thickened epoxy resin and hardener as you squeezed the trigger. I injected the epoxy in to the gap and smoothed over with the rounded end of a mixing stick. We departed, leaving the epoxy to cure overnight, fortunately the weather those first two days was warm and dry, returning the following morning to inspect the repair, satisfied that the epoxy had cured hard I gave the new joint a sand until smooth.


05/05/2017

Launch day! Betsy was one of the first to be lifted in to the water that morning, by 8.30am we were tied up to the pontoon waiting for Rudy and Stefan from the Newport Yacht Club to collect us and take us to the club where we could continue preparing Betsy for the return voyage. First words from Rudy's mouth... "You're crazy!" we laughed, shook hands and went on our way.

I was pleased to find Betsy clean and dry from her winter storage, no mould anywhere, it had been worth the effort spent last year cleaning and drying Betsy before she was stored. The rest of the day was spent checking Betsy over, ordering replacement navigation lights, the old ones had been drowned during the capsize, and then I moved Betsy over to the dock under the club jib crane ready for rigging the mast the following day.


The days rolled by, the navigation lights arrived and were installed but not before every conceivable gap had been plugged with waterproof sealant! Dianne took me shopping, not once or twice but at least three times to various stores for all our provisions, I stowed, packed and re-stowed until everything was jammed in, leaving just enough room for a bucket, a new bucket, to replace the one I lost in the capsize. All that remained now was to wait for the weather...


16/05/2017

After a period of grey skies, wind, rain and cold, the weather finally broke in our mutual favour, for me a fair wind, for Newport the sunshine and an increase in temperature to signal the start of the sailing season. I was happy and so was Ralph, my neighbour at the Newport Yacht Club, finally the typical British weather had left New England!

There was of course the inevitable flurry of last minute checking, stowing and general preparations prior to departure, including a last shave and shower.

Suddenly the Newport Yacht Club pontoons were alive with well wishers who came to wish me a safe journey and wave their goodbyes. Dianne had baked Banana Bread, Blueberry Muffins and Cookies, there were chocolates from Irene and Steve Weaver and chocolate coated nuts from Shirley and Jack Ellis.

Rudy, the club steward, came around to the dock with the club launch, several of the club members climbed aboard, Norm stepped in to Betsy's cockpit along with me and a chorus of comments from fellow members asking if he was going all the way and did he have his own bucket?!


It was a wonderful send off as we were towed out of the harbour past the Fort Adams State Park where Norm stepped aboard the club launch, I hoisted the jib and took back our tow line. We waved our farewells and after two weeks of fine company Betsy and I were once again alone.




17/05/2017. 40 deg 39 min North 69 deg 26 min West. Log: 108 NM (Nautical Miles)

The first 24 hour run and we have made good progress on a broad reach for much of the time, just the number 1 jib pulling us along. We have clear blue sky and sunshine, the battery is down to 12.48 volts when I plug the solar panel in. The cookies and muffins are going down a treat, unlike the first porridge of the voyage which tasted of washing up liquid... must rinse the pressure cooker more thoroughly in future!

Betsy is dry in the cabin but there is a small amount of water in the port bunk stowage area, did I really fix that leak? I will have to monitor it daily.

There were lots of fishing boats about at night but thankfully it's all quiet now.


18/05/2017. 40 deg 26 min North 67 deg 03 min West. Log: 223 NM (115NM in 24 hrs)

We had a pleasant night heading out in to the Atlantic, some mist immediately after the Nantucket Shoals soon cleared and the fishing vessels along with it. We are still flying the No1 jib only and I have had almost no trimming to do. The daily log readings are encouraging and the sail plan easy to manage.

I have sent my first message via the tracker just to let people know that all is well. Having plugged in a GPS waypoint for 40 deg North and 45 deg West I should clear the southern limit for ice that is shown on the chart.

The breeze is building as we sail in to the night and with the following sea, Betsy begins to yaw.


19/05/2017. 39 deg 58 min North 64 deg 48 min West. Log:336 NM (113NM)

We yawed all night long with a stiff breeze and a large sea running.

Having spent the entire night in the cabin, this morning I ventured out on to the lazaretto to inspect the windvane. The windvane mast had rotated out of trim by as much as 30 degrees and resulted in an increased yaw that led to the headsail going aback a few times. The clamp that holds the mast in position does not have enough grip without excessive tightening?! I have also angled the vane downwind to reduce the speed of its reaction to the wind, what I believe contributed to the original vane snapping prior to the capsize.

On an altogether happier note... Dianne's banana bread is delicious!


20/05/2017. 38 deg 54 min North 62 deg 21 min West. Log: 473NM (137 NM)

Last night was rather difficult, I was very tired and every time I lay down to rest all I could hear was a rising wind that sounded threatening. Each time I ventured out of the hatch to assess the need for a sail change resulted in frustration as the reality was relative calm with a sail plan that seemed under control. I came to the conclusion that I was simply too tired and the excess of fatigue was playing tricks on my mind.

The wind has gradually backed and I find Betsy making rather too much South and not enough East, I am reluctant to gybe just yet as it points us straight at the Grand Banks and we had such a "Grand Time" there last visit, I would rather leave it for another day!

We did gybe and this evening we are close reaching due East with a double reefed mainsail and the Yankee jib. I am fully dressed in my foul weather gear and sit on the cabin sole dripping myself dry, for the first time I am reminded of the journey to Newport.


21/05/2017. 38 deg 55 min North 60 deg 02 min West. Log:576 NM (103 NM)

The night remained lively, at precisely what time of night I do not know but the point was reached that the straining of sails and rigging, combined with the pounding of a beam sea drove me back on deck, a third reef in the mainsail and a slight bear away from the wind brought a little calm to the madness, where upon I retreated once more to the cabin sole, remaining there until dawn.


Today the sail plan remains the same, we have a blue sky and fluffy white clouds and the solar panel is sitting out in the cockpit. The breeze continues to blow and we are regularly slapped by a cockpit filling wave, it makes for a nervous evening, continuing in to the night with little rest let alone sleep.


22/05/2017. 39 deg 02 min North 56 deg 34 min West. Log: 747 NM (171 NM)

The seas remained heavy all night and there is no let up today. On the one hand it makes for excellent progress but it is nevertheless draining, sleep deprivation is a constant feature of both day and night, making and eating food is also difficult. A message comes through on the tracker from Past Commodore Norm Bailey forecasting the weather to moderate, I'll wait until it arrives before getting too excited.

The first bit of blue sky arrives but we are still being slammed terribly hard, it's a wonder how it all stays together sometimes?! The GPS is struggling to get a fix, an alarm bell rings with an on screen message to relay the good news. It first started to hiccup yesterday but I do have a handheld GPS in reserve and failing that the InReach tracker paired to my phone tells me all I need to know.


23/05/2017. 39 deg 12 min North 53 deg 51 min West. Log:

The wind died away in the middle of the night.

This morning we have a full mainsail and the Yankee jib, I should really change to the No 1 jib but having just had an hour or more of sleep, the first in rather a while, I am in a post sleep fuddle that robs me of any desire to "press on".

The GPS shows no sign of improvement, no amount of turning it off and turning it back on again is having any positive effect. Consequently I have no accurate log reading and I continue to use the handheld.

It has been a lovely day of sunshine with a gentle breeze, it's useful for getting some rest and sorting the boat out now everything isn't bouncing up and down any more. Towards sunset the wind dies away altogether and the night descends in to a merry jig of dancing sails whilst going nowhere.


24/05/2017. 39 deg 04 min North 51 deg 28 min West. Log: 811 NM

In the wee hours a gentle breeze filled in from the South, it took a while to get Betsy moving on a reach with little wind but by dawn we were moving nicely on our new starboard gybe.

The GPS has revived itself, I believe the two days and nights of heavy seas breaking over the antenna on the pushpit had done for it but the sunshine appears to have dried it out and once again we are back on the main GPS though we have lost some miles from our log reading whilst it was switched off.

The breeze is now established and we are reaching at 6 to 7 knots due East. Later in the afternoon I pull two reefs in to the mainsail and still we are moving powerfully before a building sea. Just before darkness falls, I have taken the Yankee jib down and pulled in the third reef, time for a hot meal.


25/05/2017. 38 deg 18 min North 49 deg 03 min West. Log: 940 NM (129 NM)

Sometime during the night as we rode out the best part of a gale I believe the windvane must have been moved, possibly by a breaking sea, as I woke this morning to the vane trimmed more for a beam reach than a broad reach.

It made for an uncomfortable night on the cabin sole, sleeping in my waterproofs and boots. I will continue with the triple reefed mainsail until the sea and wind permit otherwise.


26/05/2017. 37 deg 44 min North 47 deg 23 min West. Log: 1040 NM (100 NM)

I fell asleep last night from the fatigue of bad weather and woke in the early hours to the sound of an under enthusiastic mainsail, we had also drifted off course. I shook a reef out and hoisted the Yankee jib, gybed and got us moving on a new course of 090 degrees.

Although the sky and sea are grey it is pleasantly warm and our gentle windward sailing is keeping Betsy dry.

We promptly sailed in to a wind hole and wallowed there for a few hours, finally getting Betsy moving again in the early evening. We now sail a little North of East, between 4 and 5 knots with a full mainsail and No 1 jib.

I am rather salt encrusted now and sport a healthy beard, hopefully the fine conditions will continue tomorrow and I can shave, wash and change my thermal base layers.


27/05/2017. 37 deg 36 min North 45 deg 19 min West. Log:1146 NM (106 NM)

I woke a little after midnight from a wonderfully deep sleep and lay on the cabin sole in a state of bliss. It took a while for me to realise who I was let alone where I was and the journey towards my self discovery was the most pleasurable ride.

Hurrah... I have had a shave! We ran all night under mainsail and No 1 jib, just before this noon entry in the logbook I have put the solar panel out, grey has been a feature of the past few days.

We've just crash gybed, the nut and bolt that connect the pushrod between the vane and the pendulum oar parted company and the world went West! Whilst I hung over the transom fitting a new and improved nyloc nut and bolt I realise that the pendulum oar is fitted the wrong way round and potentially worse... the eye bolt that holds the oar to its shaft had almost completely unscrewed itself!

We run on in to the night, rather too close to dead down wind as the jib is in the lee of the mainsail and shudders regularly but we remain on course for the Azores Islands some 630 NM away.


28/05/2017. 37 deg 40 min North 42 deg 56 min West. Log: 1280 NM (134 NM)

The pressure on the mainsail and No 1 jib were becoming too much so as the dawn came, 2 reefs were pulled in and the No 1 jib became the Yankee. After breakfast, a gybe to the North to regain some of our lost latitude.

The windvane is happy, I need to come up with an alternative for the mast clamp which has a plastic handle, the plastic has cracked around the base and any effort to tighten the handle only cracks the plastic further, in the meantime I rely on the course adjusting control line to hold the vane angle steady.

It has been a very stable day with almost no discernible variation in the breeze. We hold a course of 030 degrees, our only challenge is to keep the jib working whilst it hides from the wind behind the mainsail.


29/05/2017. 39 deg 22 min North 42 deg 10 min West. Log: 1395 NM (115 NM)

I slept a good deal last night, the conditions were stable all night long.

I am planning a gybe later today as the latitude reaches 40 degrees North and gybe we did, a very satisfying affair as we are now sailing straight down the rhumb line to the Azores. It is now a beautiful sunny day so the solar panel is doing its work.

As the evening drew in the blue sky turned grey and the wind freshened but for the time being does not require a sail change.

Norm tells me that fellow Jester Challenger, Basil Panakis and his boat Jaba are at Praia da Vittoria on the island of Terceira, he is planning to stay there for a week so you never know I might arrive there in time to say hello?


30/05/2017. 39 deg 30 min North 39 deg 47 min West. Log: 1531 NM (136NM)

It was a quiet enough night, only one ship at dawn, some distance away.

By 0800 we have gybed as we were slowly being headed on to a more Southerly course. The conditions have eased and a little sun has started to shine, we should start to see the Azores Islands in a little under 400 NM.

The sky has turned grey again, this afternoon I saw a fishing boat on the far horizon, a sure sign we must be closing the land. Other than this and the ship we sighted at dawn it has been a quiet and uneventful day.

During the night it began to spot with rain but the wind remained light.


31/05/2017. 39 deg 00 min North 37 deg 56 min West. Log: 1631 NM (100 NM)

The rain continued in to the morning, I shook the last remaining reef out of the mainsail and whilst at the mast realised that part of the brass clew on the Yankee jib had parted, exposing two sharp edges, fortunately the dyneema shrouds are unaffected.

I have had a bucket wash whilst sitting in the cockpit, the first wash in 16 days, not a record I am particularly proud off yet it seems significant enough to be worthy of reporting in a message to the tracking page for Betsy! It was cold but most definitely worth it.

After a change of thermal underwear and a slice of my sister's home baked fruitcake I spot a large piece of driftwood, it had just slid by within 10 feet of Betsy.

The sun comes out in the afternoon which more than makes up for the fact that we have been hard on the wind as well. As the evening draws in we cross in to a new time zone, 3 hours from Newport and 2 hours from home.


01.06.2017. 38 deg 26 min North 36 deg 34 min West. Log: 1719 NM (88 NM)

A somewhat frustrating day when all one wants to do is make good progress.

The wind blows light and straight out of the Azores islands it would appear. There is little cloud in the sky which suggests high pressure and a general lack of wind, not a great place to be in a small boat with no engine.

A new gas canister is required for the jetboil, so far this voyage we have barely used so much as one full canister after 17 days. Plenty of sunshine, so the battery has had a good days charge. The clew of the Yankee has been bound with gaffa and electrical tape and tacking Betsy has shown no issues between the clew and the shrouds.

I am looking forward to some time in the Azores, my diet is beginning to feel a little monotonous!


02/06/2017. 39 deg 11 min North 35 deg 39 min West. Log: 1794 NM (75 NM)

The night was very pleasant, having changed to the No 1 jib, something I ought to have done earlier. We sailed all night long on or near our intended track at a steady 3 to 4 knots, I got some sleep which is always appreciated.

At dawn the wind has faded and whilst I sit waiting for the porridge to cook I can hear the mainsail slatting. But it didn't slat for long... we now have an established breeze, NNE and we make good progress at 4 to 5 knots. Blue sky and sunshine for the solar panel and excellent visibility.

The breeze built all afternoon, at 1800 I pulled 2 reefs in the mainsail and changed down to the Yankee jib, we have been lifted also, so we make good progress direct to the Azores at 5 to 6 knots, the beam sea is certainly giving us some rock and roll.


03/06/2017. 39 deg 29 min North 33 deg 00 min West. Log:1922 NM (128 NM)

And so it remained all night long...

I have had very little sleep as we close the Azores Islands. I would expect to see more shipping and indeed we had one ship pass close by last night. It is misty grey this morning and I have switched the VHF on in case someone wishes to hail me.

Norm has sent a message via the tracker to say that Basil is going to wait for us to arrive in Praia, which at 0600 this morning is approximately 300 NM away.

The mist clears and the wind and waves have eased. As we head in to the evening the world turns as grey as ever, we haven't seen the sun all day but we haven't seen any ships either and at 2000 we are 64 NM from Flores, the Westernmost island in the Azores, maybe we will sight her lighthouse tonight?!


04/06/2017. 38 deg 46 min North 30 deg 43 min West. Log: 2042 NM (120 NM)

Another murky night without sight or sound of anything.

The morning has been misty grey but cleared slowly towards midday. I have put the cruising chute up as the waypoint for Terceira puts Betsy's course too low for the jib, it hides behind the mainsail and doesn't set properly. I am rather limited in ability to trim the cruising chute as the carbon windsurfing mast I use as a pole has no permanent fittings to mount it, it's a lash-up from beginning to end but the kite is flying and pulling us along.

The solar panel is out as we have blue sky at last, with the poor visibility last night I did not see Flores or it's lighthouse so now we look ahead for the islands of Faial and Sao Jorge, Terceira lies 174 NM ahead.

The sky turns grey again, what a pity not to be able to see a single Azores Island, 145 NM to go, I might have to gybe to clear Faial?!


05/06/2017. 38 deg 22 min North 28 deg 49 min West. Log: 2139 NM (97 NM)

We remained on the same gybe all night long with the aim of remaining to windward of all the islands, the wind is light enough without sailing in to the lee of a volcanic island!

Downwind sailing in light airs is all the more challenging, I have adjusted the carbon pole to put more tension in the luff, it's setting much better now.


The afternoon and evening have turned out beautiful, the cloud has lifted and I am rewarded with a wonderful view of Pico and it's volcano, a masterpiece!


The wind has filled in a little during the course of the day and the chute is pulling us along nicely, with approximately 20 NM until we reach the end of Pico we will need to turn left, or more likely gybe Northeast for Terceira.


06/06/2017. 38 deg 27 min North 27 deg 36 min West. Log: 2207 NM (68 NM)

It all sounded like a good outcome for the night but the wind had other ideas...

It died and was at best variable, and in spite of my best efforts to control the situation I was rewarded with a crack across the head by the boom for neglecting it's presence in the cockpit! I went below, fell asleep and woke to daylight and Betsy heading due South!

The spinnaker is now long gone, the No 1 jib is barely working but we manage to make some progress in the right direction, hopefully it will continue to build so we can arrive in Terceira at a reasonable hour.

The wind does fill in but not as much as I would like, nevertheless we continue close by the rhumb line at a steady 3 to 4 knots. As the afternoon progresses the wind is now more established, if it continues we could be in Praia da Vitoria between 2100 and 2200.

We arrived just as the sun was setting and unlike numerous nights before the wind did not die away with the sun...

As we entered the outer harbour the wind was building and I found myself rushing to get the sails down before we were blown downwind in to the marina with 30 knots of wind doing all the work. A figure appeared on the outer pontoon waving hand signals in our direction, I gratefully accepted the advice, drifted downwind to the leeward side of the pontoon where Joe and Aleko took our lines.

Safely tied up at 2100 I thanked my helpers for their kind assistance, Aleko returning later to Betsy with a bottle of wine, local cheese and a large piece of bread he had just finished baking, perfect!


Praia da Vitoria, Terceira, Azores

Our stay here was very pleasant, little had changed since my first visit with Red Admiral, the Contessa 26 in 2011. Basil and I exchanged stories of our adventures over coffee in the morning, lunch in the afternoon or an evening meal.


I also met Joe and Dani from Germany, Aleko from Greece on his return from The Falkland Islands and Jackie and Maurice from Amble on the Northeast coast of England. Our days were interspersed with one another's company which I find one of the most pleasant aspects of the cruising life.

One night the wind howled through the marina with gusts of 40+ knots, it was the tail end of a cold front blowing through that had caused so much havoc within the OSTAR and TWOSTAR fleet.


Betsy had a chance to dry out...


Whilst I kept my eye on the weather for a departure to the Western Approaches.

As our departure neared I had a tour of Terceira by invitation of Jackie and Maurice, an afternoon visiting some beautiful places all over the island...

The Quilt...


Angra do Heroismo...


The centre of an old volcano...


And the rocky volcanic shoreline of Biscoitos...


Not to mention a local bull run, yes all four of them!



13/06/2017. 38 deg 44 min North 27 deg 03 min West. Log: 2244 NM

It's the 13th day of the month and therefore a perfect day to leave Praia?!

The wind is blowing fresh from the Southwest which is perfect for heading North but not so good for sailing out of the marina, Paolo the marina manager kindly offers to tow me out in to the outer harbour where we hoist the Yankee jib, take back our towing line and reach out of the harbour entrance at 4 to 5 knots, straight down the rhumb line, 059 degrees to a waypoint South of the Scilly Isles 1110 NM distant.


We carried this simple sail plan all night long but with a following sea I had little sleep.


14/06/2017. 39 deg 40 min North 25 deg 41 min West. Log: 2339 NM (95 NM)

We were lifted during the night and by the early hours of the morning we're sailing due East. I set the mainsail with 2 reefs, approximately doubling our sail area except the mainsail now shadows the Yankee jib, I alter course to sail a little closer to the breeze which puts us a little nearer North but the Yankee fills with wind and we sail nicely.

With the high pressure over the Azores forecast to extend Northwards it will do us no harm to head more North than East if we wish to escape it's clutches?!

For now life is good, the sky and ocean are a matching pair of blue, the solar panel is sunbathing and I try to catch some sleep in between scanning an empty horizon. I begin reading a book left for me by Jackie and Maurice, The Last Man Across the Atlantic by Paul Heiney. Along with the book came two foil parcels, each one contained a generous slice of fruitcake... delicious!

Later I shake the reefs out and we run North in the hope of eluding the Azores high pressure.


15.06.2017. 41 deg 07 min North 25 deg 22 min West. Log: 2432 NM (93 NM)

The sea is slight and the horizon very visible for miles around, we discover a large poly form fender drifting, once aboard I scrape the shellfish from the fender and return them to the ocean, partially deflate the fender and stow it below.

Perhaps the Azores high has not given up it's quest to ensnare us?! The sky is clear blue, the sea state and wind slight as we run a little East of North at 3.5 to 4 knots in the hope of finding more pressure. We sail on in to the evening with increasing cloud cover but no sign of any change in the breeze.

A message from Norm Bailey, Andrea Mura is about to finish the OSTAR, the fleet has seen some shocking weather and as things turn out only 7 boats finish the race.


16/06/2017. 42 deg 22 min North 25 deg 13 min West. Log: 2512 NM (80 NM)

There were no stars to see last night and when the dawn came it was grey everywhere.

After breakfast I set the cruising chute, it has not been an easy day, dancing sails in a fickle breeze make for hard work. The sky all about holds no promise of any change in the conditions.

In the evening a small amount of breeze has filled in and Betsy is making 4 knots but will it hold?


17/06/2017. 43 deg 12 min North 24 deg 35 min West. Log: 2583 NM (71 NM)

0300, kite down and gybe, now we're making 3 to 3.5 knots on 085 degrees, we'll sort a headsail out at dawn as the spinnaker halyard might have a wrap around the forestay and jib halyard?!

At 0600 the No 1 jib goes up, no sign of any wraps in the halyards, we are barely moving beyond 2 knots, the sea state and sky are much the same shade of grey as yesterday. By late morning we are making 4 to 4.5 knots at 060 degrees yet the sea remains slight and the sky a similar shade of grey.

We manage to keep moving all day, the sea is remarkably flat with the exception of the very slightest of swell, you can see for miles and miles, hopefully the breeze will continue through the night and we can make steady progress in a Northeasterly direction.


18/06/2017. 44 deg 00 min North 23 deg 11 min West. Log: 2663 NM (80 NM)

At dawn the breeze died away once more and I spent much of my time carefully adjusting the chain from the windvane to the tiller for the ever fluctuating wind speed and direction, one link in either direction was all it took to keep us moving and in the right direction.

During the morning the sky began to clear from it's dull grey to signs of the blue sky that was to come, sure enough the sun shone and out came the solar panel, with Betsy trickling along at 3 knots I dosed off to sleep, waking just before midday to 5+ knot romp in the right direction!

Later in the afternoon I spotted another fender adrift, bright orange in colour, at a distance it could have been a life raft, we altered course slightly to meet it, enormous and covered in shellfish I could barely lift it aboard, we let it go.


19/06/2017. 45 deg 13 min North 22 deg 42 min West. Log: 2753 NM (90 NM)

It has been a frustrating day in spite of the miles made good since yesterday, from the noon position we have been slowly headed and the wind has faded to a zephyr. That said, as I send the evening position report we are pointing in almost the right direction and doing it at a whopping 1.5 knots!

Spotted a third floating fender, this time so heavily encrusted in shellfish, it was more shellfish than fender.

The light airs continue in to the evening and in the early hours both sails were dropped on the deck and the boom secured to prevent any unnecessary chafe and noise.


20/06/2017. 45 deg 16 min North 22 deg 34 min West. Log: 2785 NM (32 NM)

At least the lack of sailing meant that I got some rest and as the dawn rose I could see the first expressions of a little breeze across the water.

We got a lift eventually and Betsy was on the wind, arguably the best point of sail when the wind is so light. Pointing due East we were then lifted and could ease the sheets, sailing freer of the breeze.

A ship appeared on our Port side and as it crossed just ahead of us they called us on the VHF radio. M/V Viona asked "If everything was okay aboard such a small boat on such a great lake?" Very kind indeed, I assured them that all was well aboard Betsy and then requested the location of any major pressure systems in the North Atlantic that might affect our weather? Only two low pressure systems of note, one over Canada and the other over Greenland, our weather for the next few days would be South or Southwest 10 knots maximum.

In spite of our slow progress we crossed the boundary of another time zone, now only 1 hour away from BST.


21/06/2017. 45 deg 49 min North 20 deg 18 min West. Log: 2891 NM (106 NM)

We close reached all night long making 5 knots with ease. It was a starless night and no ships were seen, I believe I had several sleeps so I should feel relatively rested and awake.

If I am frugal I should have enough of Jackie's fruitcake left to last 3 days, otherwise we have plenty of food resources, including water.

The sky remains grey, of course it's always nice to see blue sky when your only source of battery charging is a solar panel. I receive a message from Norm, Basil and Jaba have departed Terceira, as I reply to Norm... "I hope he has plenty of diesel?"

It is now midday and I have already seen 4 fishing boats and a cargo ship, that's more vessels than the rest of the week put together! I call the cargo ship for a weather report which is very different to that of M/V Viona... Low 55N 16W heading Northeast and Low Portugal heading Biscay.


22/06/2017. 46 deg 35 min North 17 deg 47 min West. Log: 3012 NM (121 NM)

It was a good night of smooth sailing and no traffic seen.

The grey peeled slowly away during the course of the morning revealing a clear blue sky and it's familiar partner the sun, sadly most of the wind went with the grey.

In the afternoon we were lifted on to a broad reach, I had a shave with the luxury of warm fresh water and then braved the Atlantic shower facilities with a bucket wash in the cockpit, rinsed off with more fresh water, nice to get in to some clean thermal underwear for the remainder of our journey to the UK.

I am starting to see more cargo ships as we head for the Western Approaches to the English Channel, how much longer before we can hear the BBC Shipping Forecast I wonder?

In the middle of the night, jib down and a reef in the mainsail.


23/06/2017. 47 deg 45 min North 15 deg 46 min West. Log: 3134 NM (122 NM)

We were running quite hard through the night, the handheld VHF bleeped to say the battery was dead but thankfully I saw no further shipping until dawn.

We gybed, or rather Betsy did whilst I was asleep, so gear on and out in to the cockpit to make it official by gybing the windvane and trimming the mainsheet car. We are almost right on track for our Scilly waypoint.

It is still very grey which doesn't help to safely navigate shipping when the horizon is obscured. I am trying to conserve my energy but it is difficult to sleep in reduced visibility.

I try the long wave radio for the shipping forecast... Sea area Sole: Southwest veering Northwest, Force 4 to 5, 6 at times, moderate or poor visibility.


24/06/2017. 47 deg 46 min North 12 deg 57 min West. Log: 3253 NM (119 NM)

I had a very pleasant night, the wind had eased a little and not one ship sighted all night long. I slept well which was good news for the depleted sleep bank.

In the morning the wind had gone to the North and we reached on a course of 080 degrees. I have plumbed in a new waypoint for the entry to Plymouth Sound, it puts us 360 NM away, that's 3 days sail at our current average.

The reef in the mainsail has been shaken out and the No 1 jib is back in action. We have plenty of water left but the last of Jackie's fruitcake is now gone, there is enough coffee for one last pot but lots of tea bags.

West 4 or 5, decreasing 3 at times, rain at times, moderate or good visibility.



25/06/2017. 48 deg 39 min North 10 deg 48 min West. Log: 3363 NM (110 NM)

The highlight of the night watch... no ships and lots of sleep!

Jib down for the night, it was dancing all over the place and then this morning it went back up again. The shipping forecast says Southwest 5 later, so we will see what arrives later, for now the wind is in the North and variable much like the mood that goes along with it!

I find myself sitting in a windless zone, jib down on the foredeck and mainsail sheeted and prevented but still it flogs, a very tiring situation when you are surrounded in mist.

It continued for most of the night until the early hours of the morning when the forecast Southwesterly arrived, a long way short of it's predicted force 5, more like a 1 or a 2.


26/06/2017. 49 deg 02 min North 09 deg 34 min West. Log: 3427 NM (64 NM)

We've had a steady breeze all morning, giving us a beam reach and a gentle sea to sail. The mist is making a regular appearance and as it does my thoughts turn to an AIS class B transponder!

The last pot of fresh coffee has been consumed, 11 tea bags left, 1 carton of fruit juice but no more cereal bars. We have 35 litres of water and enough food for at least a week so no issues.

I can receive lots of radio stations on FM now, Portuguese, Spanish, French, Irish but no sound of England yet. A permanently rigged long wire antenna up the mast would be useful, must add that to the list.

I am relieved to see little in the way of shipping during the night and take my chances getting some sleep.

Variable 3 or 4 becoming Southwesterly 5, rain or showers, moderate or poor visibility.


27/06/2017. 49 deg 11 min North 06 deg 54 min West. Log: 3535 NM (108 NM)

Fortunately the wind held through the night and the visibility was not restricted.

We continue to make good progress with the wind a little aft of the beam, our Scilly waypoint is 46 NM away and from there Plymouth is a further 85 NM, if the wind holds we should be arriving tomorrow afternoon.

The early morning shipping forecast is for the wind to become variable, which does not bode well, time will tell?! This morning we cross our last time zone in to BST.

All change in the afternoon, at 1300 we have a weather front, gybe, wind, no wind and finally good breeze by 1630.

As the night drew in we arrived at our Scilly waypoint and took the stern of a ship at anchor to the South of Lands End.


28/06/2017. 50 deg 22 min North 04 deg 08 min West. Log: 3675 NM

Daylight at last, it had felt like a long night having spent much of it watching for ships. Albeit rather grey, we are clear of Lands End and it's shipping.

Now of course we will be subject to tides but for the time being we are cracking along to Plymouth at the top end of our full mainsail and No 1 jib.

At 0520, Sea area Plymouth, West or Northwest 4 or 5 increasing 6, occasional rain, good or occasionally poor visibility.

It rained all day and all the way in to Plymouth Sound, in fact, right the way in to QAB marina! But at least we had the wind to do it, though not without a little fun with the shifting breeze trying to make the marina entrance...


I tied Betsy up alongside a boat called Zest and walked up to the marina office to check in. I was immediately requested to move for a larger boat booked to arrive that evening, which I duly did, then showered and headed off to the Royal Western Yacht Club for a well earned meal and a pint!


01/07/2017.

It is 1315 and we have departed a sunny Plymouth, the grey wet weather is for now at least behind us, the wind has moderated but still blows from a favourable direction, Southwest.

The marina manager towed us out of QAB, they don't allow people to sail in and out I was informed after I arrived. Just outside the marina I set the mainsail and the Yankee jib. We are now broad reaching along the South coast of England, the rhumb line is a little too far downwind for the sails to set nicely so I am sailing a little more South and will have to gybe sometime later in the day.

In Plymouth we met Kass Schmitt and Rupert Holmes aboard Zest, Kass had recently retired from the OSTAR having endured an Atlantic storm that saw four boats lost, Kass not only endured the storm but made her landfall at Kinsale with relatively minor damage to her boat.


02/07/2017. 50 deg 46 min North 01 deg 18 min West. Log: 3816 NM

We did gybe a few times and not just to maintain our rhumb line but on one occasion to avoid a cargo ship steaming up the Channel behind us.

During the night I managed to snatch some sleep in between the ship spotting. In the early hours of the morning we approached the Northern edge of the mid channel shipping lane, we gybed Northeast towards our waypoint abeam but well offshore of Anvil Point. As we did so the fog that was starting to fill the air as we approached the shipping lane gradually lifted.

At some point of the passage I opened my bag of clothes to discover a birthday gift and a large chunk of fruitcake from Kass and Rupert... it's my birthday tomorrow and if I don't make Eastbourne on this particular passage I am invited to join them in Cowes.

The wind was getting lighter and for a while we drifted within sight of The Needles for a few hours. With the No 1 jib flying I changed course for the inshore channel to The Solent. As Betsy and I approached Cowes a text message from Kass enquired as to our position, soon a rib belonging to a fellow Cowes Corinthian Yacht Club member was alongside and we were carefully guided in to their marina by 1730.


03/07/2017.

Happy Birthday me! It was a lazy self indulgent day, breakfast in Cowes, a little assistance to Kass and Rupert unloading unnecessary kit from Zest in to their storage container and then off to meet their good friends Roma and Martin. It was all very impromptu, Roma pulled fresh vegetables from her garden and eggs from the hen coop, we supplied the wine and beer and had a lovely evening together, eating outside until bed... yes, a real bed zzz...


04/07/2017.

Kass had asked if she could join Betsy and I for the sail to Eastbourne, from there she could take the train straight up to London and begin to resume her life on land.

It was a warm and sunny day but the tide would not be favourable until midday, we sailed out of the CCYC marina on the Medina river and gybed our way out of the Solent, heading for Selsey Bill via the Looe Channel. The wind was light during the night and we gybed our way along the South coast past Shoreham and the new wind farm under construction until the breeze filled in from the North.


05/07/2017. 50 deg 47 min North 00 deg 20 min West. Log: 3890 NM (74 NM)

The breeze was either very little or not at all and when it was it was from the Northeast!

As we approached Beachy Head the tide turned against us, tacking in and out of the white cliffs right under the lighthouse until my friend Paul Wells came out to meet us in his motor cruiser, towing us the final 5 miles to Eastbourne.


As we arrived outside the marina entrance the marina office informed us that they had just had a power cut and could not open the lock gates to the marina, he hung around as a small fleet of boats built until an hour and a half later we were ushered in to the lock.

Paul very kindly drove us to the train station where Kass caught her train to London. We returned to his home, drank wine, ate Chinese takeaway and chatted until my chin bounced off my chest a couple of times and I was ordered to bed!


07/07/2017. 51 deg 20 min North 01 deg 25 min East. Log: 3955 NM (65 NM)

I had a lovely stay with Sue and Paul in Eastbourne, very relaxing and a short stroll from the marina.

Making a last minute provision run to the local supermarket and a homemade breakfast, I headed over to Betsy via the marina office just to remind them of my lack of an engine, most marina managers get a little twitchy when you ask if you can sail in and out! They kindly offered to tow Betsy and I in to the lock and out to sea, we hoist sail a little after 0700 and sailed away for Dungeness on 080 degrees.

Using the cruising chute most of the way to Dover in an effort to maximise the tide, it turned foul just as we sailed past the port! From here we gybed North, in and out of the beach to avoid the worst of the tide. We continued North past Deal and in to Pegwell Bay where we were asked to keep clear of a platform with divers underwater.

Sailing in to the harbour at 2100, we sailed straight on to a pontoon just inside the entrance, the slightest wash from passing vessels sent Betsy bouncing up and down, so out came the paddle and under cover of darkness we went in search of a more sheltered berth for the night.


09/07/2017. 52 deg 28 min North 01 deg 45 min East. Log: 4030 NM (75 NM)

After a lay day in Ramsgate waiting for a more favourable wind direction we paddled back round to the pontoon nearest the harbour entrance, with sails up I waited for the wind to flick around the inner harbour to our best advantage and then with a good push off the pontoon, jumped in to Betsy's cockpit and tacked our way out of the harbour.

For the first few hours we punched fouled tide and the wind was lighter than had been forecast, making progress slow to begin with. Slowly through the morning the breeze filled in but it was not until later in the afternoon that the forecast came good and we were broad reaching North across the outer reaches of the Thames Estuary.

By 1830 the tide was turning against us and we still had 30 NM to go, oh dear... a long night lay ahead of us as I have experienced the channel off Lowestoft with it's strong tides on more than one occasion.

We stood the worst of the tide off Sizewell B and with a fair tide made our final approach to Lowestoft under No 1 jib only, sailing a broad reach. We sailed in to the outer harbour across a North going tide and oh so nearly made the marina... the jib went aback and with no mainsail to sail to windward we were pushed back out of the marina, performing a couple of comedy pirouettes, and finally settled on a stranded pontoon within the old Trawl Dock.


Having arrived at 0230 I snatched a few hours sleep and then paddled across to the marina for 0700.


13/07/2017.

It was getting a little frustrating sitting in Lowestoft waiting for the wind to blow from a favourable direction and knowing that the wind would not be fair all the way to Scarborough we bit the bullet...

...and after all, it is the 13th of the month, so what better day to begin the final leg of our journey home?!

I had hoped to catch the early morning tide, waking around 0100 there was no wind whatsoever and that was the end of that idea, back to bed and the next tide around midday. So it was that we departed Lowestoft at 1300 with the last of the foul tide to punch before it turned North where it pushed us past Great Yarmouth and on to Caistor.

The wind is not especially strong and we have gybed all afternoon to keep both sails filling, sailing North in to the North Sea off Winterton Ness until we have a favourable gybe angle to lay the East Sherringham buoy but when we do finally make that last gybe we are reaching straight down the line at 7 to 7.5 knots!

Unfortunately there was not enough wind earlier or the tide later to carry us all the way to the North Race near The Wash, where the tide splits and carries you up the East coast towards The Humber. The tide ended long before that and long night lay ahead punching tide, avoiding ships and wind farms!


14/07/2017. 53 deg 47 min North 00 deg 44 min East. Log: 4133 NM (103 NM)

In the wee hours a reef went in the mainsail and within an hour or so the No 1 jib was replaced by the Yankee, quickly followed by a second reef, rain was in the air and a short sea kicking up.

I haven't slept all night with the constant watch keeping and I am nodding regularly as a consequence.

After a grey start to the day the sun starts to burn through by mid morning and both reefs have been shaken out. The Yankee is once again in the forepeak and the No 1 jib flying as we beat to windward, North against a foul tide from the Humber to Flamborough Head.

In the afternoon the wind dies away, on our stern we have a gas rig and to the South a wind farm, not a comfortable place to be in a boat with no engine and no wind to go anywhere!

As the evening draws in the shipping forecast predicts a new breeze from the Southwest, it fills in from the West and as the night falls we are beating to windward to round Flamborough.


15/07/2017. 54 deg 17 min North 00 deg 23 min West. Log 4200 NM (67 NM)

We clear Flamborough Head in the early hours of the morning and I watch the GPS screen for our time to tack for Filey Brigg and Scarborough. As I do so we are lifted, over the course of the next two hours Betsy and I continue to be lifted until we are sailing almost directly to Scarborough, no tack necessary.

As we approach Scarborough I hatch my plan to sail in to the harbour, we'll tack over to the shore so we can drop the mainsail, having got the fenders out and the mooring lines on the port side for the visitors pontoon. Then we'll reach down with just the jib for the harbour entrance and sail on to the pontoon... perfect!

The wind started to blow until we were at the point of needing a reef and a smaller headsail, the fenders blew over the guardrail all over the coachroof and the mainsail came down in a flap. Betsy and I flew in to the harbour at the best part of 6 knots, dropping the No 1 jib on the deck as we did, I hooked a mooring cleat with the aft mooring line and hand braked us to a stop!





Betsy is at home now, my sister and brother in law brought the trailer to Scarborough to collect us.


All in all we've sailed the best part of 10 000 Nautical Miles together in a little over a year... not bad for a Corribee!

Thursday, 8 September 2016

The YouTube Archive

For those of you with an age of time to spare, you can watch the story unfold on YouTube here...

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=b1RxT0NsTnc

As yet the 70+ videos are unedited, one day I hope to turn them in to some kind of reasonably short film. Enjoy!

Thursday, 1 September 2016

Betsy Takes The High Road

01/07/2016

We have had a lovely stay in Lerwick, made more so by the company of fellow sailors, most of whom are from Norway. My immediate neighbours, Bernard and his three friends, have decided it is time for them to head home and I will be leaving with them as we take the tide south out of Lerwick and then go our separate ways.

The tide did it's work having sailed out of the harbour to a farewell from many and wishes of good luck, word has got around of my plans for the Atlantic, so now I have some new followers for the blog and my tracker.

We had a gentle breeze for the first part of our departure but as the evening drew in the wind became light and we were once again at the mercy of the tide, the southern tip of Shetland will remain a close neighbour for some time?!

02/07/2016

The departure from Shetland was beginning to look a lot like the departure from Scarborough, a fair wind to begin with followed by a period of calms, interspersed with light breezes.

We wriggled our way south about Sumburgh Head with it's over falls to avoid and then wriggled north of Fairisle. It took most of the day to do this and the west coast of Fairisle was as much of a "feature of the day" as the south of Shetland had been!

But the sun was shining and the sky was blue, Betsy was dry and easy to sail and I was becoming accustomed to sailing without an engine every time the wind didn't oblige.

03/07/2016

It is my birthday and I opened the storage container with the two fruit cakes inside, which were baked by my sister, the cakes were unwrapped, bathed in whiskey and wrapped back up whilst it all soaked in. I am amazed at my own resolve... to resist the temptation to tuck straight in!

Much of the day is spent sailing gently or otherwise drifting about. We are north of the Orkneys but they are some miles distant and I am otherwise surrounded in nothing.

I have seen the odd seal here and there and some porpoise, a cargo ship to and from the islands once in a while but little else.

04/07/2016

The days and nights are much the same, there is little wind and the tide makes progress no better. We are heading west along the north Scottish coastline but at too greater distance to see any of it.

05/07/2016

We are approaching the longitude of Cape Wrath, I can see a small island a few miles away, uninhabited I believe.

The wind is again light and we regularly fall in to holes before a new breeze from the north fills in. Sailing with it for a while a loud "spout" is heard and there is a small whale alongside, it hangs around for a while, circling Betsy before disappearing.

During the night, only three hours long at this high latitude, a small pod of dolphin prance along beside us.

Next stop, the Butt of Lewis, most likely our last look at land before the Atlantic, we have no intentions of stopping just looking!

06/07/2016

After a good night's sail and some distance covered we are closing on the Butt of Lewis. The wind is heading us and as the light starts to loom we are closer than intended.

It makes for a busy night and early morning with the added complication of radio masts providing a mobile phone signal, for the first time since leaving Shetland I have a phone signal and now messages.

Around 6 in the morning I tack away from the lighthouse, put a reef in the main and go bare headed for a while whilst changing down to the yankee jib. With the jib hoist and sheeted Betsy dips her hip and marches on at 4 knots, leaving the Butt of Lewis to fade away along with the signal.

07/07/2016

We are heading out in to the Atlantic, in sea area Hebrides when we receive our first gale warning, southerly 5 or 6 increasing gale 8 later.

The wind built steadily throughout the day, one by one the reefs were pulled in and the yankee jib was back at work. Two reefs and the yankee make a great combination, well balanced Betsy will practically sail herself to windward without the windvane to guide her.

Eventually the third reef arrives and as the evening draws in I am resigned to sailing bare headed, just the triple reefed mainsail and the windvane steering whilst I squat below decks tired and a little damp.

It's cold sleeping on the cabin sole but right now it seems the only place practical and I have earned my first slice of fruit cake!

Together we've made excellent progress, crossing two degrees of longitude in one day. With reduced sail we make 1.5 to 2 knots at 50 degrees to the wind, stable and undeterred Betsy will sail like this forever.

Now, we sit and wait for the wind and waves to release us from captivity.

08/07/2016

It was around midnight that we made our move to the south, the wind and sea had reduced enough for us to hoist the yankee jib, tack through the wind and regain our destination.

The day had progressed well, after breakfast the reefs were shaken out and the wind began to lift us on to a beam reach. With the yankee still flying I tried the cruising chute for the first time. Flying it from the end of the carbon pole was not entirely successful but that was no fault of the chute or the pole, I will have to work on setting the pole efficiently.

We have had sunshine all afternoon and I had my first shave in a week. The solar panel has been out for several hours so we are nicely recharged after the grim day or so of foul weather.

The wind has now lifted us a little and the chute is not so happy, it doesn't help that the sea is still rolling slightly and shaking what little pressure there is out of the sails.

09/07/2016

With the chute packed away in the evening Betsy continues to make good progress under mainsail only. I allow myself a night off, still making 5 knots all night long.

During the night the wind and sea begin to build and I reef the mainsail, we still achieve hull speed and record three degrees of longitude midday to midday, we are now west of 15 degrees west longitude, north of sea area Rockall.

I will continue west whilst ever the wind permits, a headwind will soon make sailing south an option.

It's 18:40 now and there is no change in the weather for 24 hours, grey, wet and an easterly wind force 5 to 6.

Today I began to read "A Very Willing Griffin" loaned to me by Euan Crawford, we met in Lerwick where he lives with his wife and two young children. A few years ago he and his wife sailed their Hunter 19 to Norway and back, I recalled watching a YouTube video of their journey.

10/07/2016

During the night the wind began to move north of east and by the morning there were signs of blue sky and some cloud definition.

We have covered three degrees of longitude once again as the wind remains fresh, I have trimmed the wind vane slightly and we are making 225 degrees with the wind 135 degrees from our bow.

The gps has updated as we have passed our Rockall waypoint to the north. Our bearing to the south west of the Grand Banks is 257 degrees and a mere 1613 miles to go!

The solar panel is charging the battery once again after a day and two nights, the handheld vhf is charging also.

Since Scarborough we have sailed a total of 1217 miles.

The wind is still in the north and reasonably fresh, a sizeable sea is running but if it subsides we'll hoist a jib and come up on the breeze a little to gain some westing.

11/07/2016

The wind did subside, the yankee is pulling us along with a first reef in the mainsail. This morning we came up on the breeze, sailing at 75 degrees to the wind and we are making 230 degrees, having sailed to 56 degrees I would like to hold on to some of our hard earned North latitude.

The conditions are pleasant and the horizon clear as it has been since we last left the land at the Butt of Lewis, not a single other ship, fishing vessel or sailing boat sighted in five days.

The wind has again freshened and we are romping along on a close reach which makes life bouncy to say the least. I am sticking with the yankee and single reefed mainsail, progress is swift but life below decks is loud and rather unnerving, only when you go out on deck does it seem like any other sailing day, the hollow hull makes things sound much worse than they really are.

12/07/2016

The night became more difficult, more wind and a large sea, so another reef in the mainsail and again in the early hours of the morning leaves us triple reefed, a yankee jib and still we crash along at 6 knots. Now I am tired, due as much to sleep deprivation as any effort made.

I am wet and the interior of Betsy also, condensation makes matters more uncomfortable and the lack of space to move around in the cabin frustrates every activity, cooking, dressing or undressing, going to the toilet etc. All of them difficult and all of them pointing my 6'2" frame towards a bigger boat... Well, it couldn't get much smaller?!

Later, the day has become steadily calmer but I have only shaken out one reef this evening, the wind has headed us all day and we are now on the wind making 195 degrees and 3 knots. Today we have again made more south than west but then again warmer weather would make a pleasant change, a good wash and a change of thermal underwear would be welcome too!

13/07/2016

I woke last night to a backed jib and a course of 160 degrees, all the reefs came out, we tacked, changed to the large jib and slowly crept away on a new course of 300 degrees. Soon the wind lifted us to 260 degrees and we are now heading directly to the waypoint at the southern tip of the Grand Banks. Another lift before midday and we have eased sheets, making a course of 260 degrees at 5 knots.

Whilst the wind has not changed direction it has built all day and by the early evening we are under three reefs and no jib, our second full gale and raining, visibility is poor... the single handed sailor's Russian Roulette!

At least we are heading in the right direction, currently at 3 knots whilst we ride out the gale. I am soaked, cold and really not looking forward to a night on the cabin sole with no jacket to keep me warm, they too are both sodden. Let's hope for a sunny day tomorrow?!

14/07/2016

It was a miserable night, interspersed with hot drinks to fend off the cold. The morning didn't improve much, I was out on deck resetting the yankee, tacking and shaking out a reef... soaked once again. I have now added a diesel heater to the list of requirements for my next boat but then I want the option to truly live aboard when desired.

We are still on the wind, heading west, some south would be good for warmer climes but from 53 degrees north that's a way off yet. I am therefore somewhat resigned to another uncomfortable night, I nearly didn't write my log today having been in something of a slump as it were... cheer up mate you're a third of the way to Newport!

15/07/2016

Betsy went through the wind twice last night, most out of character, certainly the first time was due to a wave spinning us around, very entertaining?! We tacked again and began our move south, then I sat and watched her sail herself without the wind vane for an hour, she didn't put a foot wrong.

Another good days run noon to noon, hopefully the move south will bring some sun, warmth and drier weather?!

We've had a much calmer and drier day of it, all the reefs are out and we are making 3 knots a little west of south. I've managed to dry out, the same can be said for Betsy.

It's the beginning of our third week at sea and I have opened a new food storage container. I am enjoying reading A Very Willing Griffin, he certainly had it worse than me!

16/07/2016

We've tacked north again, sadly the course south was getting more and more easterly than westerly. The night was quiet enough, no dramas, although the yankee is a little on the small size for the wind strength and doesn't pair so well with a full mainsail. Our distance to waypoint hasn't changed much and can easily lead to a dip in mood.

Our tack north came good after an hour or so, slowly we were lifted on to a new course of 260 degrees which matches the bearing to waypoint perfectly. We have stayed on this tack all day, as the evening is drawing in there are darker clouds on the horizon but that is so often the case so come what may?

Water supplies are good, we've used a little more than our 2 litres per day allowance but that's very restrained compared to our last transatlantic.

17/07/2016

The night was a little windier but no change of sail plan was needed, I got some sleep but remain tired and ready for some more.

During the morning the wind has increased further and the sea is certainly bigger, I wonder if it is left over from an old pressure system as the waves are bigger than the wind, making cups of tea and sleeping could be interesting?!

Our course is still good, making steady progress west. Noon, we are slowly being headed and everywhere is very grey, the waves still feel heavier than the wind and our course steadies at 280 degrees.

It is evening now and we are headed to 300 degrees, do we tack or hold our course? The visibility has improved from poor to moderate, the sea has also moderated so hopefully we will have a pleasant night's sail?

18/07/2016

It was a nice thought but it didn't work out that way, in the early hours I put two reefs in, the sea grew with the wind and it lasted right through the day. It is grey everywhere and waves come through taking us off course, twice last night I had to get Betsy back on course following a wave washing us.

The new breeze has boosted our speed and we can see this reflected in the log readings of our noon to noon runs, the gps however cannot be entirely trusted to give accurate boat speed readings. The wind and waves are well established, no sign of them relenting at 19:00, Betsy is ploughing on!

Our distance to the Castle Hill Light is now under 2000 miles and soon the Grand Banks waypoint will be less than 1000 miles away.

I could do with a little sleep.

19/07/2016

And I got it thanks to the wind and waves easing, though I didn't know much about it until the early hours of this morning.

I heated some water and had a shave, hurrah! Sea water and shaving foam, mixed with ten days of beard, makes a fine paste which is perfect for clogging up your razor.

We have been slowly headed all morning but we can just about hang on to 185 degrees, I may tack to the west if the horizon looks more inviting?

The Castle Hill Light is 1947 miles away. We passed a ship on the horizon and called her on the hand held vhf radio for a weather forecast, it was our first sighting in 12 days.

A difficult night, after my shave the rain came down, I washed my hair in the cockpit and the salt from my salopettes. Retreating to the cabin I stripped and wiped myself with a rain soaked towel, very refreshing, having dried myself I changed in to fresh thermal underwear, socks and a thermal midlayer top. No sooner had I done so the wind began to build, I pulled on my waterproofs and spent 45 minutes on deck, reefing, dropping the yankee and trimming the wind vane. Back in the cabin I removed my MPX top, my fresh midlayer was soaked, checking my back and longjohns I was wet all the way down!

I sat in the cabin as darkness fell both outside and within, I fell in to a pit of my own misery as every effort to remain on top of the issues felt damned to hell. Betsy was crashing off every wave, shaking my nerves, we were reduced once more to a third reef in the mainsail only and another night shivering on the cabin sole.

20/07/2016

The weather from last night is blowing itself away, I had my porridge and re-hoist the yankee. Later that morning both remaining reefs were shaken out, the breeze continued to reduce and lift us on to a beam reach. I hoist the cruising chute and we sailed along at 270 degrees until slowly headed when I changed to the large jib.

The day has continued gently, what a relief, I have had a bit of a tidy up and dried myself out.

Both gas cylinders are nearly empty so I have recovered two replacements from the storage container in the lazarette.

I am tired again and hope to catch up with some sleep tonight, the horizon ahead looks a little threatening but an hour later everything just looks grey. The swell has all but gone, leaving an almost perfectly uninterrupted horizon and not a ship in sight, earlier in the day I sighted a container ship and a yacht.

21/07/2016

The night remained calm but for two occasions when the jib went aback and I had to go on deck and sort things out. In the early morning some breeze filled in and I put a reef in the mainsail, it has been grey and misty all morning and after a little rain during the night I once again have a damp bottom.

Having just returned to the cabin from reefing and a change of jib I believe my damp bottom is due to water soaking down my mid layer top... maybe my salopettes are ok?! I had another call to go on deck and now I am well and truly soaked all the way down.

The weather is contrary, I was headed 60 degrees so tacked only to find myself equally headed on the new tack, I tacked again out of sheer frustration and have settled on to a heading of 290 degrees.

22/07/2016

It has been a difficult night and morning, I woke to find us headed once again, steering 340 degrees so tacked but could barely make 180 degrees, I convince myself to head south in search of different weather.

We have sailed south all day now, I have enjoyed the easy pace and slept an hour and a half in the middle of the afternoon.

The camping stove for meals has used two gas cylinders as of today and the jetboil used for tea and soup etc. has almost used one cylinder, we have eight spares so no issues expected. I plan to continue south until tomorrow unless of course something changes during the night.

My diet is starting to feel a little monotonous, I wish I had brought more snack food and some coffee rather than just tea.

It is day 22, 27 bottles of water consumed, 38 to go!

23/07/2016

I slept and slept and slept some more! It was a gentle night, dolphins came with phosphorescent trails in their wake.

We have been lifted slightly, now heading 220 degrees, all this south has done nothing for our distance to waypoint but hopefully we will benefit as the day moves on.

Clear blue sky since sunrise so the solar panel is sun bathing, after all the grey weather it is good to get some charge in the battery.

It remained sunny with light airs all day, I have dried everything out as much as possible, we are still heading predominantly south with as much west as the wind will allow, currently 240 degrees which is as good as it has been all day. The main and large jib are pulling us along at a steady 2.7 knots.

Later and we are becalmed with a lovely sunset, waiting for the wind...

24/07/2016

And becalmed we remained all night long, in the early hours I woke to a Betsy drifting in the wrong direction at 1.7 knots, we tacked and the compass read 320 degrees which was really quite depressing, however we hung on to our course and very slowly as the breeze built the course came round to 270 degrees, perfect!

We are now close to the top end of the large jib and full mainsail, a slight sea has begun to build, our days of dry decks and clothing may be coming to an end soon?! There is a little mist in the air but still some sun shines through.

Foggy now, as the afternoon runs on, making 285 degrees and good speed to windward, with these head winds and the Gulf Stream to negotiate I will have to keep an eye on my water and food consumption.

With the wind vane checked over for the night, nothing too loose, it is still misty, the course is now 295 degrees so we continue to make good westing at 34 degrees west longitude with our waypoint at 50 degrees west.

Nothing on the horizon but then again, in this mist, who knows?!

25/07/2016

Happy Birthday to my brother!

After a foggy night and morning the day has brightened up but still some mist at sea level. We've changed down to the yankee jib and continue west at 4.3 knots. The sea has kicked up a little but I hope it goes no further as Betsy has made some excellent progress towards the Grand Banks since our spell in the doldrums yesterday morning.

1665 miles to go to the Castle Hill Light, having crossed 35 degrees west longitude we are a little over half way now, let's hope the Gulf Stream is kind to us and we can arrive in a reasonable time?!

I have some small white spots on the tip of my tongue, I believe it is due to the lack of fresh food and or lack of sleep, otherwise I am OK if a little jaded, again lack of sleep. The skin on my hands hasn't fallen apart like it did last time, but this northern route is not so good for washing and shaving!

26/07/2016

Between last night and this morning two reefs have gone in to the mainsail. It's bright and breezy at the moment and Betsy is bouncing up and down like a trampoline!

I've had chana masala and rice for lunch, not easy to cook or eat in these conditions, half way through cooking I noticed the bolt on the wind vane counterbalance arm was seriously loose so pulled my waterproofs on and dashed out in to the cockpit to sort it out before we lost anything.

The solar panel is doing it's work, with all the fog and mist I need to keep on top of the battery charging, whilst my battery demands are low it would be unwise to become lazy, so every time the sun shines the panel comes out.

The Castle Hill Light is 1566 miles away.

We'll keep heading west as long as possible, hopefully the Labrador Current will help take us south of the Grand Banks at 50 degrees west longitude, at present we are well and truly in Titanic country!

27/07/2016

We made good progress west all night without disturbance, the wind was kind to us and the waves played along too.

This morning has a clear blue sky, out with the solar panel, and the wind has lifted us a little so we can ease sheets to increase our speed.

At 12:45 UTC we crossed the 40 degrees west longitude meridian, the lift in the breeze is timely, long may it continue as we need to dip south under the Tail of the Grand Banks.

The sea feels a little livelier this afternoon, I wonder if it has anything to do with the Labrador Current meeting the Gulf Stream? I haven't seen anything in the way of shipping for a while now, perhaps we will start to see fishing boats in the vicinity of the Grand Banks?

I spoke too soon as a cargo ship passes close by at 20:36 local time, the sea is lumpy as I write by torch light.

There is cloud in the night sky... a weather change?!

28/07/2016

We saw another cargo ship in the early hours, the night was bumpy, I got little rest and when the daylight came everywhere was grey. We have been headed on to a new course of 295 degrees which takes us away from our waypoint south and clear of the Grand Banks.

I am feeling tired and grubby now after a long period since I last washed, shaved and changed clothes. The cramped confines of Betsy's interior and my lack of sleep don't help matters.

As the afternoon begins we have a little sunshine and the sea has calmed somewhat, we are still headed but at 42 degrees west we have sea room to improve that heading or tack later if the need arises. The fair weather continues as we approach 43 degrees west, how nice it would be if it remains that way through tonight.

This evening we've had a lift in the breeze and we can now sail 265 degrees, almost enough to reach our waypoint, let's hope it remains so, in the meantime all distances to waypoints are decreasing and the Castle Hill Light is 1368 miles away.

29/07/2016

There was a lot of rain in the early hours of this morning, I managed to collect half a bucket of rain water from the underside of the boom, I rinsed my salty hair and threw all my dirty thermals in to the cockpit to get a rinse.

Since it bounced down with rain we have had little to report, the sky is a pale grey washout, the visible horizon is close by, which makes keeping an adequate lookout impossible for the solo sailor.

We haven't made much ground to the south and we are currently steering 320 degrees, a tack may be in order?!

We've just clocked up 3000 miles on Betsy's log!

After a tack south it is all we can do to make 170 degrees and the fog is as thick as ever, the wind has gone light so both reefs have been shaken out of the mainsail but the Yankee jib remains as I like the uninterrupted view forward with it's high cut clew.

I managed a shave, bathe and changed my clothes today, so feeling somewhat better even if the salopettes still have a wet bum feeling.

30/07/2016

A foggy old night with a steady breeze, full mainsail, flashes of lightening but no obvious thunder, just some brief spells of rain. I on the other hand slept like a log and feel much more rested as we continue south to the east of the Grand Banks, looking for 42 degrees north latitude before we turn west once more.

We might be tacking back sooner than we thought? The wind has eased, the yankee has been replaced by the large jib and we are making 155 degrees, at least we have sailed out of the fog and found some sunshine.

We did indeed tack and are now making 250 degrees but only 1.6 knots... have we found the Gulf Stream?

Evening, the yankee is set and two reefs in the mainsail, we are sailing over the Newfoundland Seamounts and the sea is kicking up. My dry clothes are once again wet, I had a good breakfast and lunch so supper was a cup of soup to avoid the washing up, I'll get the porridge prepared for the morning instead.

We are still making 250 degrees but at 2.5 knots.

31/07/2016

It was a shocker! Gale force winds and seas, torrential downpours and lightening. We rode it out all night long with just a third reef in the mainsail and with the Gulf Stream running that left us sailing at 2 knots due east and completely the opposite direction to Newport!

When it cleared through this morning, it left behind a perfect clear blue sky but not for long. It is now grey once again and the wind is blowing straight out of Newport, I can do little better than point Betsy north or south.

I really need to get some sleep as I keep falling asleep whilst doing anything but. Instead I put a tack in as we are headed to 30 degrees. I can honestly say the the Newfoundland Seamounts are playing havoc with my plans to round the Grand Banks, they are truly awful as they shake and bounce us around, achieving any decent boat speed is constantly confounded!

Later we are lifted and have eased sheets, only one reef in the mainsail and the sea has calmed.

The Castle Hill Light is 1263 miles away.

01/08/2016

I woke in the early hours, the jib aback and drifting east ably assisted by the Gulf Stream. Back on the wind, which has eased and headed us, we are making 200 degrees and 3.3 knots. The sea at least is relatively calm and we are away from the Seamounts, thank goodness.

A little sunshine so the solar panel is out, a lift in the wind and we are making 255 degrees at 3.7 knots which leaves us sliding slightly south as we head west and slowly lowering our latitude just in time for the Tail of the Grand Banks.

No shipping sighted for quite a few days now.

02/08/2016

The wind died away during the early hours, after a short period of flogging sails the breeze filled in on the starboard beam. It slowly moved around the stern until we were goose winged. The wind continued to move and we gybed on to port and rig a preventer to steady the boom as it danced about in the light breeze.

We are now comfortably beam reaching on port, the windvane is coping and the horizon flat and grey, a ship appears to the south, the first we have seen in a long while.

The breeze has now freshened and a small sea is running, the windvane is not so happy and requires regular attention. A few spots of rain are coming through, the sky reminds me of what I experienced returning Red Admiral in 2011, long low rows of grey cumulus on the horizon with darker rain clouds coming through in bands.

Progress, despite a favourable wind angle and pressure, is somewhat depressing, I feel quite low from time to time as I want to make good progress, still feeling confounded by the Gulf Stream.

03/08/2016

The breeze built throughout the night resulting in the jib being removed, we were barrelling along at 6 knots in a heavy running sea. Later that morning the boom gybed over which was fortuitous as we needed a gybe, so dashing out on deck to trim the windvane to the new course, 270 degrees. The breeze rose again so two reefs went in to the mainsail and I retreated to the cabin.

The wind and waves are still quite heavy but our course remains good and we are making good progress over the Gulf Stream. After 33 days at sea we are 10 days from Red Admiral's passage duration and approximately 1100 miles to go!

Still plenty of breeze about and now a steady period of rain, then a torrential downpour with thunder, I hope it doesn't change the wind, we are enjoying a good run west.

The rain has stopped at least but the run west continues, which we seem to be making the most of, regularly surfing at 6 to 8 knots, it won't last forever so we may as well milk it for most of what it's worth!

Another and final reef in the mainsail, hopefully that's it for the night?!

04/08/2016

Well, that wasn't it... I had a sleepless night with no moon to really see what was happening beyond the cockpit, illuminated by the stern light. Betsy's boom gybed over a couple of times as the windvane struggled to control the tiller. By dawn I could see the full extent of the sea state, the largest breaking seas I had seen yet, I sat in the cabin looking out of the companionway hatch as I considered my options, now rather too few having not considered them earlier.

I watched a breaking wave roll up behind us in spite of the gybe angle we were trimmed for, as the wave broke under our transom I watched the gps as we accelerated to 10.1 knots, immediately followed by a second wave and we hit 13.5 knots, now a third wave, bigger than the previous two, and off we raced at 15 knots! That was it, I had to get out there and do something.

Pulling on my waterproofs Betsy's boom gybed over once more "hold on Betsy, I'm coming" I called. Out in to the cockpit and I gybed us back on to starboard, unhitched the windvane control line from the fitting on the tiller and began steering.

Within half an hour I heard a soft cracking noise, I looked back at the laminated wooden tiller in my hand but there was no damage to be seen, looking up to the windvane, the plywood vane itself had cracked immediately above the mounting bracket of the counterbalance arm... Shuffling back along the cockpit seat and reaching over the lazarette, I grabbed hold of the windvane before it disappeared and snapped it off. Opening the cabin hatch, I threw it down on the cabin sole and shut the hatch tight.

Now look at your options... Oh dear?!

I considered lying hove-to but didn't fancy turning Betsy in to that breaking sea, I had to steer now so could not consider leaving Betsy unattended whilst I set a drogue, that left us with the option of lying ahull, no sails, just floating like a cork at the mercy of the ocean?!

I continued to steer Betsy, the breaking waves were knocking us over and twice filled the cockpit with water, it took an age to drain away in spite of the oversize hoses I had fitted during the four years of preparation.

A large wave roared up behind us and broke within 20 feet of Betsy, all things being equal the next wave had our name on it, looking around to check, there it was... The wave broke against the starboard quarter, spun Betsy around until she was beam on to the sea and over we rolled.

Betsy's mast was now horizontal and I stood in the cockpit with my boots on the backrest of the seat opposite. We paused there in limbo as I asked out loud "well, is that it or are we going all the way over?" Slowly Betsy began to invert, I unhooked my arm from the sheet winch next to me and stepped over the guardrail in to the ocean.

The world went blue as I went in right over my head and wonderfully warm it was too, thanks to the Gulf Stream all the way from Mexico. My automatic life jacket inflated and soon I found myself looking up at Betsy's keel. Holding on to the guardrail I sat there waiting for Betsy to right herself, slowly the keel began to turn away from me, I pulled myself in as close to the guardrail as I could, as Betsy came upright she pulled me up with her and I sat there, back in the cockpit up to my boots in water.

Mainsail down Guy, lie ahull for the night, we'll sort this out tomorrow!

The triple reefed mainsail was lashed down to the boom, the boom laid down on the cabin top and lashed to the guardrail and having satisfied myself that Betsy was not obviously threatened by the conditions, retreated below shutting the hatch behind me.

The cabin was a pig sty, everything that could move had done and it had all gone west! Fortunately with anything of any value stowed in a watertight container there was no real damage done. The deck vents either side of the mast base had been immersed for perhaps as much as a minute and as a result there is 6 inches or so of water in two stowage compartments and 4 inches in the bilge under the cabin sole. The stowage compartments were mopped out with a sponge and the bilge pumped dry.

With everything back in it's place I removed my boots, emptied them in to the bilge, stripped off all my clothing, wringing it out as I went, sponged the cabin dry, climbed in to my sleeping bag for the first time since Lerwick and laid down on the cabin sole to sleep.

05/08/2016

To be perfectly honest I am feeling pretty #### right now.

We have struggled with light winds for the first hour or so since hoisting the mainsail again following our capsize. All the while we are going backwards with the Gulf Stream and that, after everything we've been through, is the root of my dark mood.

It won't last forever, nothing ever does, but right now that certain knowledge brings no comfort whatsoever.

We have less than 1000 miles to go to Newport and approximately 15 days of water remaining. I will have to monitor my water reserves carefully, we have on many occasions made 100 miles per day but now there is a higher risk of light winds combined with the adverse current.

06/08/2016

We've had a grand day for drying out, the cockpit is full of once soggy whatever... logbook, pens, iPod, boots, waterproofs that are not, you name it.

The day started as poorly as yesterday ended, drifting backwards on the Gulf Stream, slowly the breeze has filled in from the south and we have beam reached for Newport all afternoon.

I've managed to get a full days charge in to the battery thanks to a clear blue sky and sunshine bathing the solar panel. The windvane is working happily again and having dried out a pair of shorts I have something to wear other than the Guy Cotten TPS survival suit which is heavy, uncomfortable and sweaty to wear.

The gps has returned to life and I have had a count up of the remaining water bottles, 15, 2 litre bottles.

07/08/2016

We had a pretty good night of it, glad I had dried out all my waterproofs as I needed them up on the foredeck. The wind piped up in the night, the large jib came down and two reefs went in to the mainsail.

That's how we are now and we've just had a partial knockdown, the preamble to a capsize. The gps tells me we need to head up 30 degrees but that would leave our beam exposed to the sea and we would be upside down again?!

It looks like another solar panel day which is just as well, the battery charge indicator doesn't look very healthy in spite of two full days charging? Then I think better of it and decide not to leave the solar panel on deck whether it is tethered or not, the conditions are far too rough.

Distance to Castle Hill Light is 912 miles.

The wind is still strong, a good force 6 and the waves are pounding us, I sincerely hope it doesn't deteriorate any further as I have had my fill of bad weather, I am also suffering from cabin fever having spent the whole day couped up in here!

I think there is another storm coming, there are three reefs in the mainsail, the windvane is trimmed at 75 degrees to the wind and clamped tight and the wooden vane angled backwards to reduce the windage upon it. Let's see how we ride it out...

08/08/2026

It was OK, a little rough here and there but that's to be expected. Then at approximately 04:00 we were knocked down!

I was asleep on the cabin sole, right under the companionway hatch, a loud bang as the wave hit us beam on and as I wake my body is airborne, heading for the cabin roof with a dousing of salt water through the gap in the hatch left open for ventilation. Everything went starboard and my once dry clothes were soaked again.

We are still ambling along in a roughly north westerly direction, it's raining heavily and the sky is grey everywhere. I am leaving my wet thermals on in the hope my body heat will dry them out. Meanwhile the mattress I was sleeping on is soggy too, catching up on lost sleep doesn't look very likely?

12 bottles of water left.

I have bailed the water from the stowage compartment under the starboard bunk, no sign of the weather improving, there are still some large breaking rollers coming through.

During the late afternoon a new breeze fills in, we are on the wind with mainsail and large jib, sailing 290 degrees, perfect!

Later, the breeze becomes lighter for the evening, the sea has calmed considerably and will hopefully remain so and I can catch up on some sleep?

09/08/2016

It was a quiet night and I sleep more than on any other night so far.

We gradually moved away from our rhumb line until we lost the wind and bounced around on the left over swell. Soon a new breeze arrives and we are on our way, slowly but progressively building and for a time at a good angle.

A rain cloud appeared ahead and I filled the cockpit with all the wet clothing from the knockdown, including myself as I was rather salt encrusted by now.

The rain poured down and I had a wash along with all the clothes, the rain went away and the wind along with it, I sat there wringing out the laundry and hanging it up to dry in Betsy's cockpit.

We spent much of the afternoon wriggling around the breeze trying to find a satisfactory angle.

Now, after sunset we are almost heading straight for Newport, with the laundry dry and stowed, porridge prepared for the morning and hopefully another dry night?!

The Castle Hill Light is 815 miles away.

During the night Betsy sailed through the wind with the jib aback, I woke up to adjust it when a flying fish leapt in to the cockpit, picking him up and tossing him back in to the ocean before tacking back on to our proper course.

10/08/2016

Only a rain squall disturbed the night and just a I had got all my waterproofs on to reduce sail... it blew away.

In the early hours a new breeze from the opposite direction, we tacked and we're still pointing at Newport. Now, after sunrise, we are sailing with eased sheets, slightly above our rhumb line and we could ease some more, hopefully we can get some profitable reaching in and make some inroads to our distance to go.

My back is aching again, 2 days on ibuprofen now, it's a recurring problem that held me up from leaving Scarborough too.

Having had such a good run of things all day, the wind has gone light now and intermittent, occasional bursts of speed with calms in between.

9 bottles of water left and the Castle Hill Light is 748 miles away.

11/08/2016

From sunset to sunrise and not a breath of air. We drifted all night long, I called up a cargo ship on the vhf who was getting rather too close for comfort and informed him that I had no engine and no wind... He motored on by.

By mid morning the breeze finally filled in from astern, for a few seconds we were goose winged, then settled on to a beam reach heading straight for Newport.

As I sat in the cockpit cleaning the rust off a chisel, so I could open a can of salmon with no ring pull, the breeze began to build and we were now close reaching in a slight sea at 5.5 knots.

Later in the day we were headed, the wind increased and we shortened sail, I am now sitting in the cabin in my waterproofs with two reefs in the mainsail and the yankee jib. The horizon is dark grey from sea to sky and I am expecting another gale, if it arrives I will sail once again with three reefs and no jib.

The Castle Hill Light is 700 miles away.

12/08/2016

We did reduce sail further and it was quite a testing night, rain squalls of torrential proportions, wind and waves to gale force.

Now we are making way with the yankee set but our course is not ideal due to the new wind direction, which only adds to a confused sea, still breaking quite heavily.

I have 700 miles to go and 14 litres of water with which to do it, I simply must ration myself, not that I have been frivolous but my idea to use two litres per day has not gone to plan, if it had I would have 44 litres left! The meals in pouches I can eat as they are, even cold, which wouldn't be a bad idea in this warm climate. I will have to cut down on rice, pasta and cups of tea, sipping water is the name of the game from now on.

Another gale of wind and eventually I am lying to a triple reefed mainsail once again, drifting backwards faster than we've sailed forward all day long, it's miserable!

And in the early hours, another knockdown!

13/08/2016

During the night and following the knockdown I reasoned to abandon my attempt to reach Newport and instead head for Bermuda. We are lying ahull and heading away from Newport, the distance to Bermuda is less at 660 miles and I only have 7 days of water to get there.

I feel very low after all our effort to come this far, but three gales in one week and our lack of progress towards Newport whilst consuming food and water makes my decision necessary, we are after all approaching an SOS situation.

Once my decision was made I spent a lot of time thinking about my situation, the effort made thus far and the meaning of it all, if any?!

Then, a series of torrential rain squalls, after the first had washed the salt from the mainsail, I pulled a reef in leaving the reef hanging loose under the boom. In the following hours I collected 13 litres of rain water fit for drinking. A good meal followed by two cups of tea and I lay on the cabin sole with the sails trimmed once more for Newport!

14/08/2016

I woke this morning refreshed from a good few hours sleep. I felt content with my decision to continue, the breeze still fair, we have already recouped a considerable distance to Newport.

I discovered my rucksack and all the mouldy shore clothes within it! They have had a salt water bath and are now lying exposed to the sun to kill the mould, I am not so certain about my iPad which will require rather more careful treatment before I even think of turning it on.

I have searched but cannot find the handheld vhf as a result of the latest knockdown, who knows where it is... Ha! Under the flare container in the port stowage compartment.

We had a cargo ship from the Laurizen Line pass by and they provided me with a weather forecast, a low pressure centered just north of New York moving east, a high pressure system at 30 degrees north that was stationary and another low pressure system in the Gulf of Mexico also stationary, no hurricanes predicted.

Well, well, the breeze filled in during the night and resulted in our 7th gale, riding it out at least we haven't been knocked down but with almost zero sleep.

15/08/2016

We can do no more than ride it out, once again we are drifting south and east which of course is frustrating.

The yankee is now set along with the third reef in the mainsail and we are heading 210 degrees with a large sea running. We tack back and are now making 335 degrees with one less reef in the main and all for a net gain towards Newport of 3 miles! It is so tiring, I am drained and for the past two weeks I have just wanted it to end.

It is so difficult at present, there appears to be a series of low pressure systems within me. After yesterday's quite buoyant mood, having reset my sights on Newport and sailed some very pleasant miles in the right direction, once again, exhausted from lack of sleep, I am feeling very low.

The Castle Hill Light is 646 miles away, that's a mere 54 miles in 5 days!

I am permanently wet with humidity, sweat and salt water.

16/08/2016

It was an uncomfortable night with a rough sea throwing us around, I have had very little sleep again, let's hope we get some calmer weather soon, it would also make a bowel motion more achievable having lost the bucket I foolishly left in the cockpit before the capsize!

This morning we have been lifted on to a much better course, 250 degrees, though the waves are knocking us around. We still have 640 miles to go which is somewhat depressing, I try to stay focus send and record every meridian of longitude we cross until the 71 degrees west of Newport.

As the morning progresses the wind and waves are abating but I am in no hurry to shake out the reefs as I sit and enjoy a little peace, drinking rain water tea, rehydrating some soya mince and dried mushrooms to make a meal.

I have found about 6 litres of bilge water slopping around under the port quarterberth, bailed it out and hopefully now drying, it's not a problem just run off from all the wet waterproofs I have piled up on top of the bunk.

The Castle Hill Light is now 603 miles away, I have 9 litres of drinking water and 6 litres of rain water remaining.

17/08/2016

We sailed through the night with one less reef in the mainsail as I caught a little sleep. This morning the sea was slight and the wind gentle, the reefs are all out now and the yankee has been replaced by the large jib. As the wind died away we have been headed making 220 degrees at 2.3 knots. The stack has been moved to the leeward bunk so I'll check for water on the starboard side.

Drifting through wind holes from zephyr to zephyr, an endless horizon broken only by a single cargo ship and the slightest of ocean swells.

In the afternoon a building breeze, we are at the top end of the large jib and full mainsail, will we be reeling soon? We did, jib down, two reefs in the mainsail and then the smallest of storm jibs in an effort to give a better balance sail plan. We are sailing nicely towards Newport at 4 knots.

We are in the 60'shaving crossed the 60 degree meridian of longitude, only 11 more to go!

The breeze is still strong and the sky ahead looks as though the weather might deteriorate?!

18/08/2016

It did indeed deteriorate...we sailed through the night with 3 reefs in the mainsail and the storm jib but could only make 50 degrees with the strength of the wind and the breaking waves. I spent the night on the leeward bunk, as far under the cockpit seat as I could squeeze myself as protection in the event of a knockdown. Fortunately it never happened, though the wind and waves remain strong to gale force throughout the morning.

The distance to Newport is still 510 miles which I can bear in reasonable weather but the frequency of bad weather and all the setbacks it brings I find incredibly draining, it is hard to remain positive even when so much ground has been covered towards our destination... I just want it to end.

I have set the yankee and tacked Betsy through the wind on to a new course of 275 degrees, almost perfect but as bouncy as hell down here in the cabin as I move the stack to windward in an effort to keep Betsy from healing too much now we are lighter.

The wind is easing, there might be a reef shaken out tonight? The Castle Hill Light is 500 miles away and I have used my last teabag!

19/08/2016

All the reefs came out and the yankee made way for the large jib, we sailed all day on a course of 270 degrees but have tracked 240 degrees due to the Gulf Stream.

The day has been mostly light airs until the afternoon when it all turned to zephyrs, by then the gps had our track as 185 degrees, depressing is the effect of the Gulf Stream.

We have had the solar panel charging all day and removed the jumper cable from the solar regulator to give an extra 0.5 volts to the battery, upon inspection the battery has vented itself at some point, most likely the capsize, and it is this I believe that has caused the battery to become weak, so much so that the led navigation lights have failed, fortunately I have a battery powered emergency unit that I can attach to the pulpit on the bow.

The boat looks a lot drier down below, including both bunk mattresses which have been left out in the sun, perhaps I will sleep better, my back is still sore now after two weeks but I have not taken ibuprofen for most of that time.

As for the Castle Hill Light... don't ask?!

20/08/2016

No joy with the navigation lights so I have gaffs taped the emergency unit to the pulpit. The wind eventually filled in in the early hours and for a few hours we made good progress straight towards Newport.

At dawn it is once again fickle then suddenly a breeze... we will see?!

I opened the port side bunk top to find two litres of water sloshing around inside, I emptied it yesterday so that's two litres in approximately 12 hours, there is no obvious damage but following a good hunt round with my head torch l find a line of water running aft towards the bulkhead. The lazarette had about a litre of water inside it so I bailed that out too.

We've had the best day yet, beam reaching at 5+ knots straight towards Newport with clear blue skies and sunshine.

21/08/2016

The dream run didn't last all night, the wind grew light and the sails danced a merry jig to entertain me all night long. Just before sunrise the breeze swung round to the south east and Betsy settled down to sailing again.

The weather looks set to remain southerly for the next day or two, hopefully we can make good progress towards Newport?

The breeze has freshened and a heavier sea with it, it's not too much for the windvane to cope with but it does get a little stressed every once in a while. I am tired after the noise and activity of last night otherwise I would steer Betsy more often.

I am now down to my last 3 litres of drinking water, the last of the porridge was eaten this morning. I will work on having one litre of water and one meal per day for the next three days, I have managed nil by mouth for 48 hours but do not wish to repeat it!

22/08/2016

We had a very good night, with a kind sea and a good breeze, so we made good progress all night long and I got some sleep also.

In the early morning the breeze has gone to the south and west, we are on the wind with a smooth sea so life is not difficult, although we cannot quite lay the waypoint at the southern tip of the Nantucket Shoals.

We fall in to a wind hole for perhaps as much as an hour but then the wind fills in again and at a slightly more favourable angle. Wind holes we don't really need when we're running out of food and water!

Today I gaffs taped the go-pro camera to the paddle and shot some underwater footage, it doesn't reveal any damage to the underside of Betsy.

A squall of rain comes through, I pull a reef in to catch some water, 1.5 litres caught and now we are bouncing across the south eastern corner of the Georges Bank, note to self... don't do it again!

23/08/2016

The night was lively with a sea running on a close hauled course, we were bounced around and had some shipping to keep our eye on. That said I also managed a little sleep, curled up on the cabin sole in wet waterproofs, inside and out!

The dawn is here and we have a clear blue sky and only 86.4 miles to go to the Nantucket Shoals.

Having tacked on to starboard during the night, I moved the stack over and once again bailed water from under the port bunk, with all the bouncing around we have taken on more water than usual.

The wind has died away, all reefs are shaken out and the large jib is back at work, we are making 2.7 knots straight for the Nantucket Shoals waypoint. Later the breeze fills in and we are making 4 knots but our best course is 260 degrees and not the 290 we need.

As the sunset draws near the day is ending as it had begun with almost no wind and a mainsail that is starting to dance from side to side.

24/08/2016

In the early hours, in between regular horizon checks for ships and fishing boats, the breeze filled in slowly and we tacked north to get back towards our Nantucket Shoals rhumb line. Slowly the breeze lifted us and by dawn we were able to lay the waypoint on a port tack.

I made a mushroom risotto this morning, ate half and saved half for later. It is unlikely I will be doing any more cooking as I now have two thirds of a litre of water left and will save that for drinking rather than cooking.

It is yet another beautiful blue sky day, perfect for the solar panel, I have charged the vhf radio along with my phone.

We are heading now for the south western corner of Martha's Vineyard, 72 miles to go. The breeze is very light as I keep my eye on the gps and our position relative to the rhumb line.

As the evening draws in the breeze has freshened and lifted us, we are now close reaching at 4 to 5 knots. This is possibly our last night at sea before Newport and all is well!

25/08/2016

We had a good breeze all night long and free enough to head up to Newport via the Castle Hill Light.

We had a cloudy start to the day but the the sky is clear blue now and lovely sunshine.

The text messages have started coming in and Norm Bailey has been in touch to say that he and Dianne will be waiting for me at the Castle Hill Light.

The curtesy flags are all flying from the starboard yard arm and the red ensign has been unfurled regardless of it's effect on the windvane. I am looking forward to sighting Newport, Norm and Dianne.

We cross the finish line from the Castle Hill Light at 12:25 local time and within an hour Rudy, the Newport Yacht Club Dockmaster, has me tied up at the club, a canon is fired as I arrive and I feast on wraps freshly made by Dianne, all washed down with the traditional Sam Adams beer!