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!

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