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!

Sunday, 5 June 2016

T Minus 24

My apologies for the lack of updates but time was marching on!

Betsy is ready for the sea...


And you can follow our journey here...

https://share.delorme.com/GuyWaites

Friday, 27 May 2016

School Boy Error

With the carbon mast base and organiser all prepped up ready to add the final layers of carbon cloth I set about laminating. The cloth wetted out, positioned and placed in to the vacuum bag, the whole lot cured under vacuum overnight...

...yesterday I cut open the vac bag to find softish resin?! Thinking it all through, replaying the process through my mind I had only added half the required amount of hardener to the epoxy resin! The result was a whole day spent scraping carbon and almost hard epoxy off the mast base with an old chisel and sanding away the remaining uncured resin before...

...doing it all again, only this time getting the mix right!

It has drizzled and rained for two and a half days solid but the forecast promises better weather for the weekend, I'd like to get the mast stepped and the rigging prepped so launch day runs smoothly.

Sunday, 22 May 2016

Roll On

Another round with the paint roller and the stowage compartments beneath the quarter berths are done...


Those two little blocks stuck to the inside of the hull are a pair of supports for the plywood bunk tops, there are two pairs either side.

The cabin sole has been tabbed in place with an infill at the forward edge, the infill needs a quick sand and then the whole lot can be painted, I'm looking for a grippy paint but would prefer not to have grit as it wrecks your waterproofs!


At the aft end you can see the black strum box on the end of the bilge pump hose and above that the battery box. I need to cut a lid for the inspection hatch...


The cockpit drains have been enlarged to 38mm internal diameter hose, as you can see they cross over one another...


...then feed down to the Forespar marelon seacock which runs straight out through the old prop shaft tube...


Now... before anyone complains about the use of only one Jubilee clip per hose tail, it took an excessive amount of force to fit each and every one of those hose tails, including immersion in boiled water and Fairy liquid!

Above all this sits the bilge pump, freed from it's plastic bag wrapper now the painting is done with...

And finally, having had just about enough of the smell of oil based paint within a confined space, the Lewmar deck hatch has been sealed and screwed in place...



As soon as the ArboMast sealant has rubberised I can trim off the excess and finally remove the tarpaulin that has been covering Betsy all these months.

Friday, 20 May 2016

Get Organised

Yesterday the cabin sole fillets had a thorough sand and then tabbed down with glass cloth and epoxy.

The rain stayed away all day today so the companionway had it's final coat of pale grey paint, I'll leave it a day or two before I fit the hatch.

The small wooden blocks shaped to support the bunk tops have been epoxied in place with fibre added for a good mechanical bond, and a small infill of plywood has been shaped, epoxy coated and epoxied in place at the forward edge of the cabin sole.

The carbon fibre has been released from it's vacuum bag and enamelled pie dish, trimmed and sanded to fit the mast base collar laminated months ago...


The two pieces were then suck together with thickened epoxy to include a fillet...


Once cured the fillet will get a sand until smooth and the whole lot laminated together with more carbon fibre.

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Fiddle

It has rained all day so what else to do but some fiddly bits and pieces.

The new navigation lights have been mounted on small rectangles of plywood coated in epoxy, each with a hole for the wires to pass through and potted in sealant.

A series of small hardwood blocks have been shaped to support the bunk tops where they meet the hull.

And, following a search around a local supermarket, the mould for the mast base and organiser has been found...


Eleven pieces of carbon cloth, alternating between biaxial and uni-directional, have been stacked on top of an old school enamel pie tin and then vacuumed to hold it all in place whilst the epoxy cured. A cardboard box and an electric fan heater were used to create a warm oven, now it's sitting on top of the hot water heater in the airing cupboard until the morning.