A trip round England, Wales and
most of Scotland, including the Scillies and Eire!
Fiddler's Green's big adventure.
Click here or the logo above for part one, 2013.
Alternatively you can view the short video films of the first leg that I made here.
Click the map of the UK above to read the preparation diary. An epic in itself!
Click here for a link to the preparation pages
These preparation pages go back to before the 2013 trip and just carry on to date!
The second leg
painting by Phil.
Click on image above to enlarge.
I am now back from the second part of my 'Fiddling Around' trip this summer, 2018. Above is a link to the 2013, first part of the log.
Ship's Sailing Log 2018.
As we set off I will be trying to update this page on a daily basis again, but it does rely on a good mobile phone signal so I can connect the laptop to the web. There may well be days we cannot connect.
The phone number to call me, please only for urgent queries or maybe to arrange to meet us.
:- 07850 286607.
I also will have an e-mail address, for urgent mails re the trip etc. 'fiddlers.green at eventides.org.uk'
You know the score, remove the spaces and the word 'at' and replace with @.
We will only be looking at mail at the end of the day when we are writing up this page...
The on-line Log of Fiddler's Green's travels, 2018
The latest entry will be at the bottom of the page here, so you will have to scroll down to read the last entry.
(Grab the slider and whiz it to the bottom with the mouse!)
Sorry those of you with iPads will have to make that swiping finger work hard, good exercise though!
magic logo provided by my friend the late Mel of Names4Boats.com!
one for each side of the cabin.
I will update this picture, (done!) as the logo on the
boat has been updated! (The yellow stripe under the logo in the picture is our webbing
The date has been dropped and the rest of Scotland added! On our trip 5 years ago I got so many comments about the missing bit of Scotland, I had to draw it in by hand...
Since then we have repainted the cabin sides, first time they were painted in 27 or 28 years.... so it had to be replaced anyway.
Phil, crew 1st leg.
Brandon, crew on 2nd leg.
Harvey seen far left, joint crew on 2nd leg.
Keith, crew 3rd leg
John S. on right of pic, crew on 4th leg
Saturday 19th May.
The boat is afloat and being made ready.
The crew and their approx dates for joining and leaving the trip..
June 17th, until approx 9th July. From Bradwell. Crew Phil. Long time friend and work colleague and regular crew. Great in the galley and always cleaning and tidying the ship.
July 9th, until approx 19th July. Harvey (nephew, just finishing A levels!) New crew though has sailed on a couple of day sails. Keen cyclist and fit as a Butchers dog! Going to be an engineer, could be handy aboard!
Two crew on this leg!
Brandon, grandson, hopefully been accepted for the Navy and awaiting enlisting?. Has sailed many times with me on local jaunts. Ex dinghy sailor. Trainee chef!
19th July until August 2nd. Keith, brother in law and close friend, regular crew for past 40 years! Retired farmer and expert 'Fettler' always a good hand to have aboard! Also great in the galley. (As it happens I made so much good progress with Phil that Keith bowed out, leaving the last bit of the southwest to the lads. Keith was already crew on a large part of the first leg!)
August 2nd until finish late August. John, the Database Manager of the EOG, friend of 15 years. Sailed with me before on several occasions, has sailed in the Netherlands and UK in his own boat. Competent hand to have aboard but no idea what he is like in the galley, as yet!
Though I jest about the galley it is always good to have a competent cook aboard as I can, and have, burnt poached eggs! Aim is to try and test local eating establishments as we sail along, fish and chips and other local produce! We will have enough tinned and dry food to survive a week up a creek, but the lure of the local chippy may be too much, most days.
The aim is to sail when the wind is fair. No heroics. So if anything more than an occasional 5 and we do not move. Also the wind has to be in the right direction, going to windward for a day is hard work, even though we have a larger fuel tank for the second leg and at 72 litres and we could motor into a moderate head wind for 24 hours at full throttle! Not that I would do that, but you get the idea of the range. (plus another 30 litres of fuel carried in cans!)...
The log will start in earnest shortly, June 17th.
Thursday 14th June 2018
The first test of the laptop editing and updating system, using my mobile to connect! If you are reading this, it works! Really clever tech!
Sunday 17th June 2018.
We are off on our adventure, and its also Father's Day!
We set off this morning at 0715 and of course my Darian came down to see us off. I knew she would, bet 'Bumble' my cat woke her!.. As we were readying ourselves I looked out the cabin window to see her sitting quietly on the marina bar veranda! After wishing us more good luck, she waved us off and was last seen tidying my mooring lines!
We had dinner in the bar last night and after she left I found more cards secreted in my bag, opening one, sat in my bunk I filled the sleeping bag with tiny shiny green metal shamrocks! Months later I am still finding them!
I will write this page up properly tomorrow. Suffice to say we are in Ramsgate after a rather boisterous 11 hour, 55mile trip through the sandbanks of the Thames estuary. Now tired and sat aboard the boat in Ramsgate harbour marina as it is buffeted by gusts of wind and heels about, I am only fit for bed. No let up in the weather tomorrow either, so we will be here to write this page up tomorrow.
Thanks to all for the good wishes and cards, nice to have you thinking of us old buffers out here!
John and Phil
leaving the Blackwater, its raining!
Approaching the Spitway
The MV Melissa
Red Sands Fort
Monday 18th June 2018.
We were rocked not only by the pilot boats tooing an froing all night by by gusts of F7 too! Today F4/5 SW so as that is right on the nose for the 3 hour run to Dover we are staying put.
Great call from grandson Brandon, he has passed the first interview to get into the navy, he wants to serve as a chef, he is good at it! Now all he has to do is to get fit and lose those pounds and he will be made! Good luck with the fitness and diet Brandon!
I'll make you run round the decks every morning!
Yesterday we left the marina at 0715 as planned, motored out of the creek and into the Blackwater before stowing fenders, setting the main and unrolling the genoa.
By 0730 we were on our way, doing 5 knots over the ground with the tide. I was aiming at a 5 knot average to do the 55 miles in 11 hours!
Yesterday was one of the longest legs and one of the more challenging ones as we have not only to time our leaving and arriving for catching the tide and crossing sandbanks but we also have to thread our way through the sand banks of the Thames and cross a busy shipping channel.
We make the Bench Head buoy, noting that it had changed position on the latest chart updates. Charts had been amended!
We are now steering for the Spitway, that ancient gap in the sand banks that features in so many of Maurice's stories. The rain starts! As the tides are Springs there will not be much water and we speak to the yacht 'Victoria' who we over haul as he is slowly approaching the Spitway, the skipper enquiring of our draft. We tell him we have wheels! He is a deep drafted fin keeler, so he opts to anchor for a few hours.. not enough water for him
At 0900 we scrape through with half a metre under us! The tide is still ebbing so going north slowing us, but we have a beam wind and are sailing well.
Sadly the wind is not W but SW so as we start to go south, then SW the wind comes head on, so we drop the mainsail, roll up the genoa and motor on at 2k revs and 4kts, but the tide has turned and lifts our speed to 5.6 over the ground. One other boat visible ahead.
Seas lumpy enough to nearly throw me off the loo!
We creep down the edge of the Maplins. Feels like we are creeping as they go on for miles...
Wait till we have cleared the SW Barrow mark to start to head across the Tideway. The wind becomes freer. The Genoa is unrolled and we leap forward!
Watching ships in the Princes Channel, as we will be crossing there. Anchored ships about too. Joy of the AIS, we can interrogate them on the plotter and see what they are doing.
Tried to used the on board camera today, but it ran out of battery too early, as I type this it is recharging.
The 'MV Melissa' powers through at 15.5kts. We cross safely astern of her.
Despite having all the latest charts and updates, buoys shown on the charts are not there?? Who pinched the 'Spile' buoy??
Visibility is great, unusual for the estuary, we can see the London Array to seaward and in the far distance further south, the Thanet Array. We cross west of the Red Sand towers and it's associated Array. Remember seeing them go up a few years ago. The bases were in as we went up the Thames to St. Kats, on the way back several turbines were finished! 5 days!
We soon were in Kentish waters and off Whitstable started zigzagging to avoid lobster pots! Marked with grey 5 gallon containers in a grey sea, clever!
We are now motor sailing with the motor at 1.5k revs and the full genoa. We are corkscrewing with a heavy rolling swell. At times we have 7.5 or 8 knots over the ground and 6.5kts on the log! Sykie the autopilot cannot cope, so we hand steer, exciting at times!
The wind is now a good F5 and SW.
We race towards the North Foreland, negotiating the old Gore Channel and the Copperas Channels. The landmarks of Kent race by. Reculver Towers, Herne Bay and Margate, the venue for the 'Joly Boys Outing' in that favourite comedy, 'Only Fools and Horses' . Soon the Genoa is rolled and we are rounding the North Foreland, into the wind and trying to keep close inshore in 8m or less to avoid the last of the north going ebb. Our speed slowly drops to 3.8kts and we creep towards Ramsgate in heavy swells.
Call the harbour and the marina. We gill about outside in very uncomfortable seas as they have set the lights against us. Another boat ignores them so I call again. They forgot to reset the entry lights for us! Huh!
Berth in the marina and those following me on my iphone have already seen we are in! Clever. Thanks to sister Sue for showing me that last week! (I can see the boss is in Chelmsford having coffee!). Call the Coast Guard to book off to them. Dover CG have taken over the role of Thames CG, though I called 'Thames' this morning Dover answer for them.. shame all these lookout points have been lost. Many taken on by the 'Coast Watch' volunteers, thankfully. A job I would love when I swallow the anchor. wonder if any are attached to old folks homes??!
We avail ourselves of the excellent showers then trawl the streets of Ramsgate for a decent meal. end up in a noisy 'Sports Pub', but the food was good..
So today, Monday, still bouncing about even in our berth, with the wind, we set about fixing a few things and tidying up. Charts sorted and all the Thames estuary charts, tidal atlases and pilot books packed away in the new sturdy zip up poly, water proof folders. Stored out of the way.
Some charts are on the cabin table to be updated, the ones that I got last Friday.
The new rubber stopper fashioned to fit round the chain in the hawse pipe is fitted, the heads (toilet) light fixed, it kept coming on in the night. Dirty contacts.
Crew off for a walk to find milk, whilst I write this up. He has filled the water tanks, washed the salt off and cleaned ship generally, done the washing up and sorted lanyards for the hawse pipe bung. Real useful hand!
Now to see if I can add photos?
Sun is out but the flags are flying stiffly, pleased to be in here for today and if the forecasts are to be believed, maybe tomorrow too!
John and Phil
The plotter view of the inshore route. only 2m of water in here!
Looking back towards Ramsgate, whilst the see was still smooth.
We are just off the eastern entrance when we spot this ferry heading to enter, we follow it in.
The famous painting found on the end of a terrace of buildings when we walked into Dover. Very cleverly painted!
Tuesday 19th June
The forecasts are varied and and confusing, but 2 out of 3 say light winds, so we are aiming to set off when the west going stream is favourable, so 1100 start. Plenty of time to sort ourselves and the boat and Phil had time to walk to a rather spectacular tower to the east of town, that turned out to be an extension on a hotel!
I sort the kit and get all ready and plot a few courses on the chart. I am intending to take the inshore passage close to Pegwell bay and pass Deal pier.
I note with interest that the magnetic variation here is zero. All those years of applying 6 or so degrees magnetic Variation.! (The difference between the position of the true north pole, you know Santa's home, and the place compasses point to, the magnetic north pole, which at the moment is off an island in Alaska! For years been using 'CADET' to convert between the two. Compass to True Add East!! Still waiting for the day the North pole moves down south to Antarctica, going to happen one day in the future!... Won't that be fun!.
At 1100 we set off, getting permission to leave the marina and exit into a flat sea! What a difference to yesterday!
We are head into the wind and so motor at 1200 to 1500 revs gently to windward. The fridge batteries are soaking up 20 Amps charge and the main battery 4amps. The tide is assisting at 2kts.
Deal pier on the horizon. Speed over the ground 4.5kts.
By 1130 we have coats off! The sun is out.. However as we get closer to Deal the wind pipes up and the coats go back on. The seas increase.
By 1230 the seas are very lumpy and it makes putting the kettle on a chore. I clamp the fore hatch closed as water starts to come on deck. The pair of new raised bulwarks up forward work, deflecting seas that may otherwise have rolled onboard and down the side decks.
It is only 15 miles and the tide has given us a 7 mile push, so it should have been easy, but by the time we are off the Dover Patrol monument of the South Foreland we are on 2k revs plus just to make 2.5 knots! The tide does the rest! But very uncomfortable. We pass one boat racing the other way, no one going our way, a couple of lobster pot boats out, spreading joy in our path!
Call Dover harbour when we are 2 miles off, a very friendly chap tells us to approach the eastern entrance and call again a cable off, (200 yards) We wait while a large P & O ferry powers past into the entrance, we are told to follow, I quip that I don't think we can keep up, the radio operator comes back, quick as a flash, 'Do your best'!
Once in we hug the inside of the southern breakwater and creep westwards... then ask again to get permission to cross the western entrance. You cannot see if a ship might be coming in, but the AIS on the plotter, Lowrance, is constantly pinging and warning me of ships I could not see, they are all round us! All Clear and we get the go ahead.
We look for the marina entrance. cannot see it.... major works in here at the moment, they are building a new marina in the outer harbour and are going to lose the Granville and tidal harbours, a new lock will allow access to the old Wellington dock. Work well advanced.
Eventually a moving sail boat mast gives me the clue I need and I head to pass close by a workboat working on the new wall and yes there is the entrance. I call the marina and we are allocated B50, alongside a large commercial fishing charter boat, snug berth. 1430, half an hour longer than I thought it would take, because of the rough seas!
We stop for lunch, it is baking hot, sat in the cockpit cannot believe how uncomfortable it was out there an hour ago.
Up to the marina office, pay the dues, same as Ramsgate £24 a night. surprised to find no fuel! But there is a BP petrol station in sight, so will fill cans there.
Walked into Dover town. Traffic was all heavies with imported or maybe exported goods, nose to tail! What a sad place, more betting shops, mobile phone shops, nail bars and boarded up places than is good for a shopping area. The Banksie pic was the best Dover could do! We do find a new shopping area with a cinema a M&S, Next, etc. but not many customers. Heading for the front we look for a coffee shop, spy the Yacht Club that we are told we can use, it is shut and an officious lady says so firmly!
Wander back towards the marina and chance upon a small bar with beer garden overlooking the Wellington dock, Cullings Yard. A pint of Pig's Ear was enjoyed in the sunshine, but the wind got cold...
Wandered back to the boat via the building site temporary walkways and hastened aboard to warm up, cold now, good breeze, SW5 I think.
Phil tries to get his head round the new cockpit camera, it is so complicated and instructions are in pigeon English!!
Forecast for tomorrow is for the same, or at least the weather forecast that predicted the F5's today has the same for tomorrow, the others still talk about gentle F3's, not here they are not!!
We will look again later but really for the next leg to Eastbourne round Dungeness, we need favourable winds...
All for now then
John and Phil
Ian and Linda aboard Silver Rose in Dover
She is a Buchanan design, one that can feature on our Buchanan pages!
The climb up to Dover Castle we found, hundreds of steps, knackered when we got to the top!
Looking back down the slope from the place the photo above was taken, does not look steep, but it was!
This was as close as we got to the Castle, baulked at paying to see one of our own castles!
Thursday 21st June 2018. The longest day....
We have stayed put in Dover for another day. The winds were still gusting 5/6 this morning so, as I have nothing to prove, thought we would wait till the sea had calmed down and the winds were favourable. Today they have swung through north from the SW and now they are easterly. That has calmed the sea nicely so we plan to leave tomorrow morning at 1000. It will take at least half an hour to get out of the harbour, so plan for a 0900 departure.
So today we made use of the excellent warm shower facilities again, great to have decent showers in heated rooms, Bradwell take note! Then I phone our old workmates Linda and Ian, who keep their boat 'Silver Rose' here. We tell them we are still here and arrange to meet. Later they call to say they are aboard and to come round for coffee. Phil at this stage has gone off for a walk.... without his phone, so I shut up the boat and race off to find him, he is found sat in the sun, sketching, halfway along the harbour prom on his way to Deal! We get to 'Silver Rose' about 30 minutes later...
We spend a good couple of hours 'swinging the lamp' talking about our days on the Tideway, trying to remember all the names of our colleagues... Loads of stories recounted. Some say it should be written down, but it may get people into trouble, some of the tricks that we pulled! Eventually I have to drag myself off to the loo, so party over, great to catch up....
Phil and I try to get a sandwich at the swish eating place on the front, but it is far too posh for that, full blown meals only, so we wander along the front towards the castle. Seeing the viewing platform high on the cliff Phil wants to get up to it. We find the way up to the castle, hundreds of steps later and severely puffed we are confronted with a sign demanding £20 a head to go further! We opt out of that one. The snooty girl cashier in the kiosk refuses to even take the empty plastic bottle we have picked up on our climb and we suggest they invest some of those pennies they are charging in a waste bin! We walk down hill via a road and dispose of the plastic litter later.
Seeing a Costa coffee sign we make a detour only to find it opens in July, but by chance we spot another some way off, so the day is saved.
A slow wander back via the sea front and collapse on board!
I will have to rework all the tidal streams for tomorrow, but hoping I am just going to be one hour approx. later. The forecast is good, F3 all day and either a beam reach or a run, perfect!
So we have ticked off 70 nautical miles in 4 days so far, the target is 100 in 7 days, think we will beat that this week as the leg tomorrow is approx 45 miles and then the next day to Brighton, a shorter hop, but roughly 20 miles, taking us well over the target. Total distance to Troon approx 800 miles. Does not seem that far, but at our slow sailing speed, relatively slow, 5 knots maybe 6 if we get a decent breeze and by working the tides to get a favourable set, we hope to achieve it, but it does all take time. At least we have made better progress in the first week this time, than we did 5 years ago! It was cold and dire then, sun out today!
Phil and I are hoping to make Devon before he jumps ship, but on the way explore a couple of places I have never been, Newtown Creek on the Isle of Wight and have a sail around Poole Harbour, want to see the red squirrels on Brownsea Island!
But today we are still in Dover. At least the fog has gone!
John and Phil
Leaving the entrance to the marina channel, Dover
This pier is soon to become the rear wall of the new marina and this are is to be mainly filled in!
Dover is left astern.
The Plotter in the cockpit has today route on it so we can see if my navigation below it OK!
The Stowe log is so accurate we use it to check our speed and the other log.
A well marked pot buoy. A rarity!
A Golden Hind in Eastbourne!
And us on the next pontoon!
Friday 22nd June 2018.
Woken by 20 diggers, cranes and workboats starting up at 0700! Noisy here!
We get washed and breakfasted and by 0915 I have cleared our exit from the marina with Port Control, unlike the Frenchman ahead of us who got the sharp end of the operators tongue for failing to radio in. With all the work going on it is organised chaos here. Workboats everywhere.
We exit in flat seas and F3's I try to start the onboard video but at the critical moment drop the tiny controller into the cabin, lost! Another time....
Soon we are in shirtsleeves and lifejackets, clipped on, sails up but not really pulling, motoring, 1500 revs.
Within an hour the promised easterly wind had evaporated and we are motoring in a flat calm, but with a swell from the SW.
2k revs and we are doing 5kts, roll up genoa. Try the camera again now I have retrieved the dibber, but see the waterproof box round the camera has fogged up. I give up. Was a good idea, a cockpit eye view when entering or leaving harbours... not to be.
We are fighting a bit of tide here , but it soon turns in our favour and the speed steadily climbs to 5.6 and then 6 knots.
By 1000 we are 10 miles from Dungeness and dodging pot buoys.. A bleaker place would be hard to imagine! Low wind and sea swept shingle bank with two ruddy great power stations sat on it... Then out of no where the wind pipes up, from the south, not north or east as promised and with genoa out again we are creaming along at over 7 knots with the motor slowed down, However it does not take long for the Southerly to become a SW F4 and later 5 and we are punching into swells with spray on deck, and us! Hard on the wind....
We play with the Lowrance plotter as we plunge into the seas, and find many interesting things in the menu. The tides! A smart measuring tool and more.. Lunch is porkpies with Branston pickle inside and crisps...
By now we have oilies on again of course and are hard on the wind port tack. By 1430 the genoa has been rolled away and the main over sheeted hard in much to stop the motion as much as anything. Speed drops of course, 5.5 knots over the ground. Shame we have 45 miles to go and can only carry a favourable tide for 5 hours, so we know we are going to end up punching it....
The Fairlight light is abeam, ('Fairlee', in the song 'Spanish Ladies'). It is now getting rough, water on deck and along the side decks to the stern... I nearly fell off the loo at this stage!
I had allowed an extra hour when I called Dover Coastguard today and said my ETA would be 1800, looks as if I had been right.
We spot the odd looking 'Royal Sovereign' light out to seaward. Amazing it stands up still! Looks top heavy!
The Sovereign marina is now just 2 miles away and we are beginning to get a lee from Beachy Head, I call and arrange to come in. Several charter fishing boats race ahead to the lock. Talking to one skipper he said he had been out in the centre of the channel separation zone fishing in flat calm all day, only when he got to the coast was it rough, odd.
The system here is that a lock is kept open and when you arrive you just moor in it, they then operate the lock on the hour and half hour. There is another lock for those leaving... good system.
1730 and we are in, so hot and calm after being bounced about a bit... and it was cold out there.
Last time I was here, 18 years ago, it was a building site and the entrance was being dredged, nothing was started let alone finished... we had to pass the dredger very closely and got caught in his prop wash! This time all is smooth and easy, and the place is full of luxurious flats, eating places and shops, gone the desolate expanse of endless shingle, dotted with diggers and concrete mixers!
We are berthed about as far away from the entrance as they can put us.. H54. The whole place is a goldfish bowl, with people on balconies all round looking down and boat crews gazing up! Some real posers here! Both sexes!
After a well earned coffee we set off to find the Asda we recalled from last time. A few provisions bought and transported back to the boat to put in the fridge them off for a meal. We started off in the Harvester, but it was so noisy in there I opted out, paid for my beer and a short walk away we found a nice quiet grill a few yards away and had a great meal.
Planning to jump to Brighton tomorrow, amid stories of money grabbing marina masters. Hope not to stop there long, but press on to the Isle of Wight ASAP.
Mileage today, 45, total to date 115, in 6 days. If we can tick off another 25 tomorrow that will put us well ahead of target. 100 miles a week.
We will see what tomorrow brings, so far the forecasts have been rubbish, 180 degrees and two wind strengths out!
Tell you what though, even with the cold winds, we have gone brown. At least our hands and faces have! Rusty!!
John and Phil.
The Trinity House ship 'Galatea' anchored off Beach Head. Spotted here yesterday and thought it may have been something 'official', odd shape.
Beachy Head, note the lighthouse is at sea level, not on top!
The Seven Sisters.
Took this of a rainbow in the sky, but it has not come out, reds, greens and blues visible to the naked eye in swirls and patches in the clouds.
Passed close by this trawler, he was stopped! Wondered if he had snagged something as he was turning on the power but going nowhere.
Brighton ahead, through the spray!
Brighton Marina wall.
Saturday 23rd June 2018.
We are in Brighton. Yet again the promised easterlies failed to materialise and instead we bashed into a SW F5! Not good!
Another uncomfortable day.
Some boats that left with us tried to sail, ending up sailing well offshore, they were mostly 45ft plus, a couple turned back. Off Beachy Head I nearly did! But the motor purred on and we gritted the teeth and plugged into it. Tried unrolling a little genoa a couple of times, but we were so hard on the wind it was no good, so we watched the spray and water flowing down the side decks for 4 hours!
The coast swept past at a sedate 5 knots, we could only make 3 and a bit the tide assisting for the rest. The views were good though, Beachy Head, Belle Toute, the Severn Sisters and then Brighton came into view Roedean School on the top of the cliffs. We could see the new i360 viewing pod going up and down it's slender tower, just down the coast at Worthing, rather them than me, it has got stuck a few times!
Tried to call the C.G. today but did not get through, must check the radio plug on deck..... The hand held worked fine for calling the marina.
In Brighton we moor alongside a large German boat, turns out they are heading the same way as us, so will be leaving the same time, about 0800. Another boat recognises us from Eastbourne, (we are difficult to miss in green and cream!), they too are heading west.
We check out the facilities. The charge is the same as Dover and Eastbourne, the latter being the same company, £24.00.
Wander round the marina complex, shops etc. a large number of retail outlets and a larger number of eating houses, and at 1700 many full! It is Saturday and loads of families out. Work our way back to the boat after a good coffee at 'Bella Italia'.
Phil opts to go for another ramble whilst I work out tides and figure out what we might do tomorrow. I come to the conclusion that Bembridge may be an option, although when we arrive there will be no water. We could anchor and wait, or gently press on to Cowes. Mondays weather forecast is not good on any forecast, so it will be a two day stop..
Eating on board tonight.
Early night as 0800 start tomorrow.
140 miles ticked off in 7 days.
John and Phil.
Taloora from Walton
Motorsailing with sails setting well. note cone.
Note Cormorant o the buoy. This is boulder marking the way into the Solent!
Pot buoys! How on earth they expect us to avoid these I am not sure. Give us a chance lads, bright buoys and flags please!
Four ships doing a dance! Odd tides here!
No Pamela Anderson at the Baywatch Cafe, but good food and cracking view!
F.G. alongside the new Duver marina pontoon at Bembridge.
Sunday 24th June 2018.
We are in Bembridge, Isle of Wight. Was here 18 years ago and it has improved immensely. I was in two minds but as I was feeling tired, after a reasonably early start, 0800 leaving time, and it had been a hot and tiring day, opted to stop here. We were moved at 0730, as the boat inside us needed to leave, we just pulled the boat along the pontoon. Breakfasted etc. then by 0800 we were off, leaving the very bright lights of Brighton behind. The marina area at Brighton has become what so many have evolved into, a great meeting and eating place. Bradwell take note! More different eating places that I could count and all busy.
The forecast was for gentle northerly or easterlies. Which to our surprise is just what we got! We left the marina and set all sail, hoping for at least a little sail. Flat calm too, magic!
Soon we were overhauled by Taloora from Walton, a Southerly 32 heading west like us. They crept ahead as the wind died. Motoring at 2k revs and doing 5 knots in flat calm water, that made a change.
An hour later a sea breeze sets in from the south and stays with us all day, the sails fill and pull a little and the speed increases to 6 knots.
This is good as it is over 40 miles today and will take maybe 8 hours, so with the little extra speed and the lift from the tide we are winning.
Passing Worthing I call my daughter Jenny and Oly, they lived here when first married and had the wedding pics taken on the beach at Goring....
It is a long haul from Brighton just steering for the Mixon and the Looe Channel to pass Selsey Bill. Takes us 4 hours to get there. This is the gateway to the Solent. Passing Littlehampton and Bognor, I call Darian's sister Alison, she lived here for many years.. Memories for her and David.
Into the Solent. We have just 2 hours motoring to make St. Helens Fort off Bembridge, where I plan to anchor, as it will be L.W. and the creek is not navigable till later. We stop at anchor for a late lunch, Pilchards on bread, yummy.
The wind has been a F2 or 3 southerly all day and the sky is clear blue so sunscreen and sun hats, but still get hot and sunburnt. Relax till the tide makes a metre. Then up anchor and away, you can see the bottom clearly! As it happens we creep in with the wheels down, only an hour or so after L.W. 0.2m under the keel!
We draw a metre and there is only 1.2 metres in places, see the crabs scuttling for cover. Slowly make it up to the new 'Duver marina' as it is called, a berth free right on the end, perfect. Round up and drop into it as the harbourmaster comes to greet us. All very laid back and pleasant.
We make for the beach and overlooking the creek entrance is the Baywatch Cafe. We have a very pleasant meal watching the ships, the Queen Elizabeth and the Queen Mary go past!
Staying here tomorrow, will take the water taxi over to Bembridge and do some shopping.. I have to spend some time tomorrow getting my head round these odd tides. Was totally fooled at one stage, till I looked more closely at the Tidal Atlas, 4 ships appeared to be doing a square dance, but in effect the tide had them 'stripping the willow' as it took them in circles, all at anchor! Watched the tide setting into the Solent as it also rose in the creek.
Lovely evening. lots of activity on the water to watch, Phil is off walking and watching! He does not have a camera with him but is busy sketching! Hope to see the results later..
Another 42 miles covered today making total to date, in 8 days, 182! Well ahead so far! Just over 600 to go!
John and Phil.
Cameron the young water taxi driver, happy in his work as are all the staff here!
A fleet of 'Redwings', The Bembridge one designs so popular her. Red sails of course!
The creek entrance at near L.W.
F.G. looks better for a wash and brush up!
Alongside at Bembridge.
Salty Ships cat, normally asleep on my bunk!
Monday 25th June 2018
We have stayed in Bembridge for a day. This place is now lovely... great improvement from 18 years back.
We have washed the salt off and fixed a weak floorboard in the cabin, I managed to scrounge a bit of old teak from Mr Whittall in the boat yard, he cut up a bit of scrap for me and then said, 'do you want a spare' and cut another! Solid Teak. Lovely chap! Screwed and glued it to the underside of the sole board in front of the cooker with the Araldite kept on board for this sort of repair. Cured the problem.
Lots of interest in the boat, especially when they see our 'Fiddling Around' map and realise we are on an adventure!. Meet the ex owners of the G.H. Veurlamium, (Roman name for St. Albans!). He used her as a sail training boat for a School in Harpenden, I remember her... They sail a Vindo now, very pretty boat.
I went up for a shower in the morning and forgot the shower gel, so off for another tonight! Found by chance that Victoria the Harbourmaster had bread, milk and butter, so we could have breakfast as normal, also spotted ice creams!
We washed all the salt off of the boat and all the gear, scrubbed up and cleaned generally.
After lunch on board we nipped up for an ice cream and organised the water taxi to Bembridge, Cameron expertly took us to the beach where the ramp was dropped and we stepped off onto a nice clean sand. Walked into Bembridge, several pubs and good shops, a Boots the chemist and a Coop as well as several good shops. We had coffee out the back of the Bakery and bought sausages and pasties at the butchers!
We made our way back to the beach and could have sat there an hour, nice fine sand, warm and sunny, with beautiful ladies sunbathing nearby.... I then thought 'wonder if we have to call them to get the taxi back'?? We had to and as well I did as the water taxi crew were about to pack up and go home!
Phil is off for an amble again, back in time for dinner he says....
I sat down and went through the tidal stream atlas for the Solent and worked out the best time to get the advantage of the west flowing tide. It sets at over 3 knots going past Cowes. I remember this from my Yacht master test 30 years or so back, they were trying to get you to fail by putting the boat on the Bramble bank, or navigating to do so...
So hot in the cabin I break out the little 12v fan and set it up, that's better! Trying to work out the tides was making my brain overheat as it was! It all seemed so easy years ago!
We eat in the cockpit, it is perfectly still and the tide almost full, the moon, also nearly full, hangs in the sky.
Tomorrow we leave at 1100 for Newtown Creek. Will spend the night there, if it is not full, and then make for Poole the day after.
Only draw back to mooring here is the lack of fuel. But with the tank now twice as large at 72 litres, (16 Gallons), we have more than enough, so will empty the two 5 litre cans kept in the locker into the main tank tomorrow and that will have it pretty much approaching full again, more than enough to motor to Poole, then we will fill the cans there.
Also hope to do some laundry in Poole, but if that fails I am not too worried as at the rate we are making progress, we could well be in Brixham in a week and I can get it to Jenny's!
It is 2200 now and the air is getting chilly but it is so calm out there have not closed the boat up yet. Crew of another boat walk past, with a black cat, taking him for a walk on a harness! Salty is jealous!
A relaxing day, for a change.
John and Phil
Victoria the very helpful face in the office at Bembridge.
The well protected special mark off Ryde?
Ferry Alert, he missed!
Very large ship turning close to us.
In Newtown Creek.
The Skipper caught napping... it was hot!
Curlew close to boat.
The back end of F.G. with all the whizzy kit!
Resident mullet, this one stayed alongside for 10 minutes.
Tuesday 26th June 2018.
We leave Bembridge and the Duver marina, highly recommended. Victoria the Harbourmaster sells us milk and bacon, with a cheery smile, they are all so friendly here! 1030 and we slip the mooring ropes and head off, in the creek we avoid a large crane barge, maybe the dredger for the expansion of the moorings at Duver?
Hope to sail today, taking advantage of the tidal stream and only having to go 15 miles, but the wind is very light, so after a bit we eventually drop the sails altogether and motor on. At least the batteries will get a charge. When the wind pipes up slightly off Wootton Creek we have the motor in neutral at 1000 revs putting over 25 amps into batteries!
Car ferries and hover craft, fleets of sail boats and oil tankers, all to avoid! See a Yellow special mark surrounded with yellow buoys? Seems they do not want anyone to bump into it!
The AIS is going crazy! Avoiding the obvious shallows, we are just about at the top of the tide so no real hazards under us, just all round us!
We are sailing at just 1.5kts and Speed over the Ground 5 plus!
We sail and motor on till Newtown Creek entrance hoves into view, or the buoy marking it does. We have heard so much about this place we have high expectations. Contrary to the reports we note that even at half ebb boats are managing to motor in OK. We line up the strange but effective leading marks and go in, the tide is emptying at 2 knots. A boat sweeps past telling us to give up, its full! Not a good start. What he meant was the visitor buoys were full, like so many, he probably did not use the anchor hanging at his bow. We putter in. Feels like any creek in Essex. Eventually we find a spot to drop the hook, just short of the oyster layings.
At first did not see what the fuss is all about. Then I realise, we are spoilt on the east coast, we have kept all those magic creeks that feature in MG's writings, on the south coast they are all but gone, built up or dredged out for monster marinas. Newtown Creek is special, it is the last survivor here.
We lunch and relax, the temperature soars. Cool inside the boat though. We touch bottom an hour before L.W. and as we begin to float an hour after low water we are blown up the bank so stay static. The large boat upstream of us is well aground, worried that we may swing and bumping into him, I break out the kedge, lay it out down stream simply by swinging it off the stern. Then lead its rope to the bow.
This works, when we do float we are hanging to the kedge and well away from the next boat. He eventually shifts to the deeper side of the creek and I can recover the kedge later and just hang to the bow anchor.
Dinner is sausages from Woodfords in Bembridge, great.
Rig the riding light and we retreat below. A quiet anchorage, away from the hustle and bustle of marinas, with Buzzards and Egret, Curlew and Mullet to keep us company. An owl hoots in the trees nearby!
Another 15 miles ticked off, total so far 197.
John and Phil.
As we leave the Isle of Wight, Phil spots his boat in the distance.
One of the Forts, Fort Albert, looks as if it has been converted to a hotel!
Hurst Castle on the coast near Lymington, marks the western approach to the Solent.
Does not look like it but this one was trying to get aboard, big waves!
Spot the nice little blue tender!
Brownsea Island, cannot see Tufty the squirrel, but he lives there!
Parkstone Yacht Club, who own their own marina!!!!
And very posh it is too! Have to say most were OK and seemed to tolerate us, but cannot say we had a warm reception, unlike Bembridge!
Wednesday 27th June 2018.
We are up and about at 0800, no walks to showers here, a 'cats lick' wash!
Breakfast and prepare boat. Radio test reveals the speaker is not working? Even the extension speaker does not work?? The telephone handset ear piece still works and I speak to Solent Coast Guard to report our passage to Poole OK. Have a hand held in the cockpit and use the speaker from that to listen. Shame is that I have a complete spare, identical VHF set at home, but opted not to bring it!
Will investigate further.
At 1000 we up anchor and putter out. There is a RYS motor vessel near the entrance, I tip my hat and get a very friendly wave. (RYS, Royal Yacht Squadron, members are invited to join, they cannot apply! Only club allowed to fly the White Ensign, the official flag of our navy).
The tide is flooding in well at the entrance. Motor hard to get out....
Sails up but we soon find the wind is too light and put the motor back on. An easterly wind and we try to goose wing, but give up as we are rolling uncomfortably. Motor sail with main out.
At Hurst Castle the tide will turn and be with us and maybe we can sail from there.
I keep hearing a strange humming sound and we put it down to a hovercraft. However I subsequently realise it is the auto bilge pump. Wondering if the float was jammed I lift a board, we are awash! Heck, this was the last thing I expected. A quick taste confirms it is salt, so a quick check of all seacocks for a leak, nothing, but I do found the auto bilge pump outlet is turned off, lot of good that is... turn it on and a jet of water shoots out the stern! My fault, I always move and lubricate all seacocks every winter, must have forgotten to reopen it.
I figure it can only be engine cooling water or the stern gland, turn off engine seacock. A quick check round the cooling system on the motor and all is dry, attention turns to the stern gland... Shifting the life raft and opening the hatch, it is apparent it is wet in there. OK, not leaking with motor off. Sponge out a couple of gallons from the bilge, no more comes in... Turn on the seacock and start motor, looking down the hatch though we can see the water spewing out of the sterntube seal... . motor off. The wind is favourable, sails set...
We have the best sail yet. Tea and biscuits as well. I even deploy the fish finder, by swinging down the s/s bar it is mounted on. From now on it is in constant use! It shows up the underwater jagged rocks off Hengistbury head... Little to no wildlife, no fish on the fish finder, but they must be there, as gannets are diving in, not far away!
We sail all afternoon, 4 hours to Poole, making 4 knots plus the tide, but as we approach the Easterly 2/3 slowly becomes a southerly and increases to 4, the tide flushing out of Poole is kicking up a big sea, 2m waves with breaking crests, several times I thought they were going to come over the transom, but F.G. just lifts to allow them to roll past... We wallow in the troughs. Speed down to 1 knot so the motor has to go on and hard, 3k revs, I go below to mop up the water! fortunately not leaking as much now..
After what seems an eternity we creep astern of the Sandbanks chain ferry and enter the narrows. The tide is flushing out at 2.5kts. We edge close to the eastern side of the entrance and slip into the small channel between the moorings, the tide slackens and we ease off the revs. Coming past the Sandbanks houses we see the ultimate tender moored on the front lawn, a helicopter! Bet the neighbours just love it when he drops in!
We make for Parkstone Yacht Club, as I know a chap who had his boat here and suggested we would be welcome.....they have their own marina and now a really posh new clubhouse, the place looks far to posh for us and we do find it very difficult to get in, the security on the doors works too well, a member eventually takes pity on us and lets us in.
The sterngland is adjusted, the jubilee clips holding the rotating part on the shaft seem to have worked loose and the pressure has relaxed on the seal. I adjust it up and the leak stops...
Will have to keep an eye on it....
Whilst in work mode I refill the greaser on the stern tube and empty the last 5 litre can of diesel into the tank, for some reason this can has a smaller diameter neck opening and my natty fuel transfer pump will not fit.. has to be carefully poured.. Later removed from the boat to live in the back of the car! We always filter the fuel in with a filter funnel, amazing the rubbish it collects from supposedly clean cans of fuel..
Then up the club to wash up! The showers are good but very busy and communal!
We get a decent pint at club prices, £3.50 and a good dinner £8.50 each, coffee just a £1.00!
There is a small chandlery here and I ask the lady if they have any VHF sets, am offered a handheld, but spot a 'main set' lurking on the back counter, the lady says she did not know she had it... I have a look, it is a good one but it is pricey and not sure I can easily fit it, so decide to either come back or look at Force Four tomorrow. They, as it turns out, sell the same one for £30 cheaper, but I work out it may cost that in taxi fees to get it, so after measuring and deciding it will fit, opt to go back.
After sorting the radio tomorrow I hope to set off and explore the harbour. There is only a 1m tide range and many places are very shallow, so although a large area, navigation seems to be limited to narrow channels, hope to find a spot to anchor near Brownsea Island tomorrow, though do not expect to actually see any Red Squirrels!
Mileage today 25, total 212. This means we have now covered over 1,000miles of the 1,600 or so I expect to do, to complete the circle!
John and Phil.
We thread our way through moored craft in the Wych channel.
'Tiger Lily' belonging to one of our members!
And another members boat!
Sunset on our anchorage, only us here! All the day boats have gone.
Pottery Pier, Brownsea.
Thursday 28th June 2018
We are still in Poole harbour, the forecast included some F6 and 7's so that's not for us. We tidied ship and yes, I bought and installed that new radio, far better signal, no longer weak and distorted, but now loud and clear! Even got a small discount! It is a Lowrance, same make as the plotter and fish finder and same group of companies as Sykie the auto pilot!
Also managed to get fuel, 36 litres in cans, as they had a delivery, and do my laundry, for just £2.50. All washed and dried.
We were on board, just back from a sandwich in the club when the owner of the berth came back, he was not pleased to see us, not such a friendly club this...
Without delay we set to to leave, but in a bit of a rush, I forgot to turn the new radio on, 50 yards down the exit channel I also realised my washing was still in the tumble drier, so about face and dropped back alongside the short stay pontoon, for me to go and get the washing! Opps.
Second try. We motor out and thread our way through various markers and confusing buoyage and eventually putter right round the back of Brownsea Island, just past 'Pottery Pier' and find a sheltered spot to anchor. Brownsea was owned by a chap years ago who believed the clay here was better than most for making quality pots, he had a big business here, but eventually it folded as the clay was not really that special! Island in the hands of the National Trust now and of course a Red squirrel haven, but though we are only 100 yards from the trees, not seen one.
The sun blazes, but the wind also howls, we made the right choice. At least we do not bounce around... not till 2330 when suddenly a swell gets up...
Sadly on the way here we find the fix I had done on the stuffing gland on the stern tube had not fully worked, bilge full of water again. I have a think about it.
I have had 4 deep sea seals on the boat over the 28 years she has been afloat, but this is the first one that has had water injection, previous ones had relied on the water leaking up the shaft and a little grease from the greaser to lubricate them. So when it got cooler I disconnected the water injection. Running the motor afterwards, no leak! Think we may have cracked it. Will see tomorrow.
After all the boat is put back where it should be, it took a major upheaval to sort out all the bits I might need for the job, all stowed away under the cushions in the quarter berth. In the end I made a simple fix and need not have sweated for 30 minutes emptying it at all, and another 30 putting it back!
I had to cool off for a bit before I made a pasta meal, a success it was too.
I have worked out the tides for tomorrow, so if the wind has abated we hope to leave the harbour at noon to catch the tide west for Weymouth. First we pass Old Harry Rock and Studland Bay, before heading several miles out to sea to avoid the St. Albans Head race... nasty seas there, but not as nasty as the ones in a day or two's time off Portland. Nice to look forward to!
As I type this, a very full moon swings into view through the open companionway, the water around us silver.. The wind has got up again....
Not really any mileage today, as we have remained inside Poole harbour.. but we motored about 4 miles.
John and Phil.
Brownsea Island main house. Now National Trust.
Old Harry rock and the remains of his poor wife!
Passing Handfast point and Old Harry..
The impressive mass of St Albans Head. What you cannot see is the mass of rock underwater that causes the waves. We only saw slight disturbances, but we were over 3 miles off.
Good to know we do have a 'Border Force' and they are armed!
Our first proper 'Fish and chips'!
Looking across Weymouth harbour. Fiddler's Green is by far the smallest boat here.
Friday 29th June 2018.
I am awakened by the phone, a text message from friend Richard, it is 0800. I was up late last night typing then just gazing at the moon and the water.... I was hoping for a bit of a lie in..
Breakfasted and a cats lick wash... No one about outside we have the anchorage to ourselves. The wind has died down, overnight it was brisk at times.. We rigged our light sensitive LED anchor light again last night, (used it in Newtown Creek), very effective.
Weather checked and contrary to earlier forecasts, looks good, so plan the departure time to make the most of the tide, leave Poole entrance at 1200, main up and we motorsail down the small boat channel to stbd of the deep channel. The sun is blazing, lots of sun cream and silly hat of course!
Speak to Coast guard, great to be loud and clear! Realise the fist mike also has a speaker in it, so you can put it to the ear if it were noisy! Also by hanging the mike out the rear cabin window the speaker on it is very loud and clear in the cockpit... Will try and reconnect the external speaker, but will wire in a 3.5mm phono socket to fit the plug on the speaker, rather than cut the plug off and connect the wires permanently. That can wait.
The overfalls off Old Harry rocks not too bad and we unroll genoa to sail. Leave the motor in neutral to charge batteries, can hardly hear it... We are sailing at 4.5 knots, no tide as yet, but there will be, later it is over 3 knots boosting our speed to 7kts over the ground..
We have to aim to pass offshore of St. Albans Head by 3 miles to avoid the heavy seas created by that 3 knot tide and the rocks below... And also to get outside the gunnery range, off Lulworth Cove. We pass it later but hear no ominous bangs!
The wind dies, puttering along at 1.5k revs and with the tide that gives 6kts. Not in any real hurry. Have hours of fair tide.
Lunch. Sausage rolls and tomatoes! Coffee and tea.
At 1600 we are sailing goose winged and the motor is off, batteries all topped up, solar panel can top them up from now. Cannot quite see the entrance, but assume the tower we can see must be the one they refer to in the almanac, a 55m viewing platform. We sail a steady compass course towards Weymouth.
Large ships manoeuvre ahead of us, off Weymouth, eventually dropping anchor to wait for the tide to enter Portland Harbour...
Call Weymouth Harbour to request a berth and a very cheery harbourmaster allocates us a space, rafted out 3 from the wall. This radio is so much clearer than the old one! We end up alongside 'Nomad' and 'Isis', boats we have been hearing on the radio all the way from Dover and Ramsgate. Chatting to the owners they say they have been keeping track of us. 'Isis' is from Horn in the Netherlands and bound for Dartmouth. 'Nomad' is going where the wind blows and is making for Brixham like us, so for the first time this trip will will be aware of other boats on the horizon going the same direction. Both over well 30ft though, so they will soon be ahead of us.!
We drop sails and motor the last mile in, following the Border Force vessel 'Vigilant'. Pleased to see it is armed! (later hear it may be a water cannon, better than nothing though!). Sad there are so few of them though..
By 1745 we are berthed, 15 minutes ahead of my estimate. I book off to the Solent Coastguard, again the radio call gets an instant response.
I walk round the harbour, over the bridge, to see the HM and pay dues. I have to wait, office closed, as he is raising the bridge for boats to get in and out of the marina. Paid just over £22. Cheaper than Poole!
OK the showers are a trek away, but they are new and clean and warm! Appreciated.
Only drawback to this place it the number of young people getting blotto and creating a racket. Never seen so much general drinking in the street, all the riverside bars spill onto the street. Not going to be a quiet night I suspect.
Walk up to Bennett's fish bar to get our dinner, a chap walks out the door with an open tray of food, in seconds 20 gulls have taken it from him and flown off with it. See a girl attacked by gulls too, and she did not have food! They are a real pest here. I insist on having ours in sealed boxes.... And still there are morons sat on the wall feeding the gulls chips... They live and breed amongst us!
Back on board I retreat below to eat mine, Phil braves it in the cockpit, with gulls looking down at him from the quay.. Very good dinner.
'Face time' Darian, she is manically trying to water our trees, it is bone dry and some are looking a little limp! I had not rigged the watering systems up again this year before I left, never expected a heat wave, does not normally happen when I am on the boat, ice on deck more common! Darian has managed to et all the hoses sorted though...
Checked the tidal atlas and the weather. Have to leave here at 1130 prompt to make the tip of Portland Bill by 1300, or risk being swept into the race! The wind looks as if it may be a F5, bit more than I would have wished for, but it is easterly, so after the Bill, it will be behind us, can live with that.
Tomorrow hope to be in Brixham by evening....
Today we added another 29 miles to the tally, bringing it up to 241.
John and Phil
Phil preparing to remove lines and fenders in the calm of the harbour.
Looking back into the 'Cove' where boats are rafted, often 5 deep.
One of our neighbours heading for the 'Bill'.
Portland Bill light and monument.
The Dutch boat 'ISIS' they were heading for Dartmouth then France, but later in the day we see them heading south.
Phil in the sunshine, Portland Bill just visible astern, we are off across Lyme Bay...
Still going across Lyme Bay, its big, the sun gets too much for Phil's nose!
The wind drops completely, the sea takes on a glassy calm look, we can see giant jelly fish far below...
Dusk and Brixham appears out of the haze, journeys end for today.
Two pics by daughter Jenny of us entering Brixham!
Great shots Eccles!
Saturday 30th June 2018
We made it to Brixham!
Overnight in Weymouth we rocked and the rigging on nearby boats rattled, it was probably F6 so I was surprised to hear the forecast was still F4/5. We were asked to move at 0800 and in my jim jams, obliged, the dive boat could not get out. Others were similarly attired! Having shifted, the dive boat did not move for at least an hour....
Showered and redid the calculations for my Cape Horn, Portland Bill. You do not want to get this one wrong!
At 1125 we moved off and jilled about in the harbour taking in lines and fenders so we did not have to bounce about on deck with our harnesses attached to the webbing 'jackstay' that is rigged to clip onto. Though safe, it is a pain to drag the line about with you on deck.
Call the coast guard and get an instant response, this radio is good and powerful, give them our safety information for the day and promise to book off later. ETA Brixham 2100.
We set off out of the harbour into a fresh easterly. I decided not to hoist main till we had rounded Cape Horn, sorry the Bill, and were sailing free away from the race....
About 6 boats set off with us, we were, of course, far the smallest and they all over took us, bar one. I was mindful that I had calculated the time to arrive at the tip of the Bill was 1300, and kept to that. The tide was in our favour here and we puttered close by the cliffs, no more than 50 to 60 yards off some of the time.
At the Bill I was amazed to see a stretch of flat calm water where the race should have been, later it would boil here. This is where the RNLI tests crews and lifeboats! Roughest race in the UK. But not today, today there were loads of divers, free diving with no tanks but with associated dive boats and 'A' flags. ( 'I have A diver down'.). In an hour or so's time the tide would be racing through here at 7 knots, literally boiling the sea.
See 'Isis' the Dutch boat, (unfortunate name they said, but I know it as the goddess of water), they apparently decided to head south to France from The Bill, rather than cross Lyme Bay and head from Dartmouth. The promised F4/5 turned out to be a F2 Variable....
Setting a course to get to Brixham 40 miles distant we settle down to the purring of the little diesel. It was to be on all day! Lyme bay is wide!
Lunch of cheese and lettuce sandwiches, mini pork pies and tomatoes and the free cucumber the lady who sold me the radio gave me!
We have main staysail and genoa set, but roll up genoa after a bit as it just hangs limp, the wind dies.
I check the bilges, worried that our fix for the stern gland had not worked, but it has and they remain that way. Dry!
Lyme Bay is 40 miles across from the Bill to Brixham. At 1615, when 25 miles from Brixham and 15 from the Bill we are surrounded by dolphins! First spot them going past in the opposite direction about 200 yards away on the port side, but they alter course and come to check us out, swimming alongside and underneath us, one stays alongside for what seems like an age and this time I know I have them on the video camera as we could almost touch them. So intelligent. There were babies too, they leapt from the water, surfed down waves as there was a 2 metre swell coming in from the south east all day, you could see the dolphins inside the waves! Then just as suddenly as they had arrived, they left, Swimming back towards Dorset!
At 1700 just as I go to enter the position in the log, we pass a 'Sunfish' floating on it's side with it's side fin waving in the air! Not seen one of these afloat, except in the Scillies, this one was only 18 inches round, the Scilly one was nearer 4 ft! They get caught in the Gulf stream and come across from the 'West Indies!'. Real oddities..
A breeze springs up from the north, the main and staysail fill and so the genoa is unrolled. A gentle breeze, so the motor stays on, we are trying to make 5 knots so as to get to Brixham by 2100. A long day this.
When we are 4 miles away I call Brixham and arrange a berth, my Jenny has already been on to them and back to me, she will be there to see us in. We arrive at 2130. The sun is setting, and it is dark enough to turn on our lights. The steaming light flickers I wriggle the wire at the deck socket by the mast and it comes on... Will investigate that tomorrow.
As we enter the harbour Phil gets his jacket caught on my motor sailing cone, a simple device made of 2 triangular bits of ply, one bit of flimsy ply breaks, another little job for tomorrow, as it happens Jenny has a spare bit of ply, she thinks...
Jenny has met us on the end of the pontoon finger and sees us into the berth... even photographed us coming in!
So great to be in here with the boat again, especially now she and Oly live here. We arrange to meet up with her and Oly tomorrow, they will bring Rafferty down to see his Grampy's boat. Last time he was aboard he was only 6 weeks old, for his first sail! Bet he cannot remember that.
Jenny leaves and Phil rustles up a bacon butty, whilst I get on with the log, nearly finish it when the harbourmaster comes by and suggests we put a white plastic bag on our bowsprit. It is slightly over the walkway... We do so, but also opt to move the boat back.... Phil wonders what the flashing light in the sky is, it takes us a few moments to realise it is Fl 2 15s and it's the Berry Head lighthouse!
The harbour at Brixham is lit up as if it were Christmas, lights all round plus the commercial boys with the trawlers. Done for the tourists I suspect.
Mileage today 47. Added to the earlier 241 give me 288, not bad for 2 weeks!
Staying put tomorrow, relaxing, few jobs to sort, waiting to see if the threatened thunder storms arrive.
John and Phil
Welcome to sunny Devon, where it rains six days out of seven!
And boy can it rain!
Grandson Rafferty comes aboard, in his new lifejacket! It wobbles he says!
Sunday 1st July 2018
The rain woke me at 0500. Just a pitter patter on the cabin top.
Then the rumbles of thunder. We had to put waterproofs on to go for showers! It fell! At least the decks got washed!
Daughter Jenny with hubby Oly and little Rafferty came to see us and inspect the boat, then we all went up to Breakwater cafe for lunch. Then on to their house for a pleasant afternoon, got more washing done and repaired the motor sailing cone that came to grief, we will move the halyard block for it further inboard so we do not catch it on our clothing in the future, as we squeeze past.
We are staying here today and tomorrow, F6 in the forecast. Then moving on to Dartmouth and Salcombe, or maybe be straight to Salcombe as we have already visited Dartmouth.
Arrange to meet the family again tomorrow and take them out for a meal! Have a couple of small jobs to do aboard, the steaming light plug needs rewiring, as the lamp only came on when the cable was wriggled...
Have a little shopping to do as well, provisions.
But great to be back in Brixham, lovely town, especially as my family are here!
John and Phil.
Local sculptress and friend of my daughter Jenny, made this lovely bronze, depicting 'man and boy', Trawler men. I am told he is sculpted on her boyfriend, but I think it's Oly!
F.G. in Brixham sporting her new £3.00 sun brolly.. Colour is perfect!
The view from the restaurant balcony, waiting for the family.
The moment Rafferty spots us above on the balcony!
Jenny tickling Rafferty!
Monday 2nd July 2018.
0430, heavy rain shower, Phil never heard or felt a thing, odd because he had the hatch wide open!
The threatened F6 never materialised, and it was variable 2 most of the day, so we could have moved on, but I'm in Brixham with Oly and Jenny and little Raffi, so difficult to drag myself away!
We do repairs in the morning, set up the motor sailing cone again, moved a little inboard so we do not snag it again, and I strip and repair the 'Dri Plug' connection, the wires had broken inside. Cut back and refitted, only problem was it was so sunny I had no idea if the light was actually working. Problem cured when my Eccles (Jenny), turned up at lunch time, she was on the harbour wall, so I phoned her and told her to check the light as I flashed it on and off, all working. Rigged the battery charger as the fridge battery was low. The charger I have is a bulky old type car battery charger, I meant to swap it for the sealed more powerful digital one I had at home, must ask Darian to give it to Brandon to bring down for me..
At the same time we will remove the old bulky one and the duff VHF radio from the boat when Phil leaves! As it happens it was as well I had the old charger aboard, as we found out later.
Off to little cafe for lunch. After lunch we walked back to boat, Jenny and little Raffi were meeting Jenny's mum. Shopped on the way back for fresh provisions. Tried in vain to buy a couple of Parker biro refills.. All the shops could offer were packs of 12 or 15 no name biros... Jenny said later she would sort some out, she has plenty. I also asked her if she had any double sided foam sticky pads, she came back with self adhesive Velcro instead, perfect, I can re-secure one of the little speakers at the back of the chart table, I can connect them to the laptop to play CD's! (speakers on the old laptop naff!)
Did find a green sun brolly in the shops! Set up in cockpit! Right colour too!!
I sit and sort out the tides for tomorrow, just to Dartmouth. Phil goes off for a walk. We can leave 1300 to 1400 tomorrow and it is just 10 miles! Jenny itching to come with us, she is going to beg her mum to look after Raffi....
I fill up the two 10 litre cans with diesel, after I fill the main tank, we are fully topped up. Phil topped up the water tanks earlier...
1830, we meet Jenny and Oly with Raffi at the Market House for a great meal. (Jenny brings those pens and the Velcro.).
Gentle walk back to boat. Beautiful sunset, again! Take the 'Queen' in...
Amazed how many do not follow flag etiquette. The red ensign (The Queen), should be raised at 0800 in summer and 0900 in winter, (BST and GMT), always lowered at sunset, normally taking your cue from the most 'senior' boat in the anchorage, harbour or moorings. Never flown at night.
Often not flown when out of sight of land or other vessels either.
Some boats seem to have the Queen nailed to the backs of their boats! Bleached by the sun. A faded Red ensign is just not on!
Another little quirk, we are in Devon, so out of courtesy, we fly the green white and black Devonian flag above our house flag, soon we will replace it with the flag of St. Piran, for Cornwall, then the Irish tricolour, the Northern Irish flag and then the Saltire.
Nice traditions to keep.
Back aboard Jenny phones, she has arranged to come with us tomorrow! Knew she would try. Her mum will meet us in Dartmouth at the Dart Haven Marina in Kingswear. It is just a 10 mile hop, but great for her to be part of the trip!
No mileage today, so it still stands at 288, less than half the mileage left to complete the circle! Approx 800m.
John and Phil
Tuesday 3rd July 2018
Woke at 0300 to heavy rocking and wind in the rigging, did not bode well. F6. We cancelled all thoughts of moving today. My daughter is going to miss out.
As it got dusk the wind died, so hopeful for tomorrow, but a large swell is now entering the harbour and all the boats are on the move, we will see.
Planning on three hops to Plymouth, got to get the tidal streams and the heights right to get into Salcombe though! A shallow bar to negotiate.
It rained several times today, short sharp showers. Phil went off for a walk, took the bus to Paignton and walked back.
My Jenny brought Rafferty to see me this afternoon and he spent a happy hour exploring the boat.
See what tomorrow brings.
John and Phil.
Leaving Brixham marina, the floating wave break is just to starboard.
A Baltic Trading Ketch with square sail set drifts out ahead of us.
Berry Head with drizzle attached. A few guillemot here, not hundreds as last time 18 years back.
The unmistakable shape of a fellow MG design. A Tidewater I believe.
Phil on the helm as I grapple with the navigation and the cameras the trading ketch motors offshore bound west for Plymouth I suspect. Phil was hand steering to avoid pot buoys!
The Mew Stone off the Dart.
Entering the Dart.
And the Kingswear Castle Paddle steamer!
Wednesday 4th July 2018
Awake to the sound of rain, gentle rain, on the cabin top, check but Phil has the hatch closed today! Awake and make the crew tea!
Slow morning, then up to Brixham for 1100 to meet my Jenny and Raffi for a coffee and a goodbye hug! Also need provisions, so into the Coop!
Raffi insists on trying to carry my shopping basket..... Three next month!. He does, with a lot of help from mum. Stock up on a few essentials and buy a couple of hot pasties for later.
Wave goodbye to the family and make my way back.
Call Darian, she has left me a message.. Apparently our little Spinney is full of beautiful blue butterflies, 'Holly Blues', she promises to send me a pic..
Aim to leave at 1300, call the coastguard and log on, Solent answer and I ask when Falmouth takes over.... Today, I'm told, as we get to Dartmouth, but as it happens when I call to log off later, expecting to get Falmouth, Solent still reply....
As we leave, a Baltic Trading Ketch is slowly sailing out under square sail. We later see her offshore, motoring past us, bound west.... There is next to no wind and what there is, is SW. It has been raining but stopped now, but still need the jumpers on.
We motor slowly at 2000 revs and 4 knots round Berry head, a large swell rocks us badly... no point in hoisting any sail, it is right on the nose, but only a F3 maybe. so we putter on.
At 1330 we are just passing one of my Jenny's favourite beaches, St. Mary's bay, with 200 steps to get down to it, (or it feels like it!) when we spy dolphins, about half a dozen, but they are not in the mood for playing and ignore us.
A familiar shape passes to seaward of us, going east, under full sail and motor, fighting the tide, a Tidewater! A 30ft big sister... Griffiths design.
The Mewstone and Blackstone islands off the Dart appear from the drizzle ahead...
At 1430 we are motor sailing into the Dart, but as we close the entrance the wind dies and we roll up the genoa.
Always a joy to enter Dartmouth, the high steep sides, the deep channel with its leading light, on even in the day.... And the castles marking the entrance. The temperature rises several degrees and jumpers are shed!
We putter up against the last of the ebb and decide to explore. We ease back on the revs to allow the lower Ferry to cross and watch them expertly place the ferry raft onto the ramp. Done with a single tug boat strapped alongside! All the tugs are named 'Hauley'. I, II, III etc.!
A steam train puffs away from Kingswear Station with a loud toot on the steam whistle. We again wait whilst the upper chain ferry trundles across. Actually a wire rope ferry!
The Naval College looks magnificent high on the hill and there are small naval training boats everywhere, from whaler types to trot boats and patrol boats. A paddle steamer whacks its way past us, what a great sound! She too has a steam whistle! We pass the boat yard where the 'Atlantic Clipper' design was made, now looking very down in the mouth.
We lunch on Brixham Pasties!
We carry on up till the narrows at the Anchor Stone beacon above 'Noss on Dart', then gently head back down on the last of the ebb. I spotted some Dart Harbour visitor moorings as we came in, a basic pontoon in the river, and a Dart harbour patrol boat passes, so I reach for the handheld and call it on VHF Channel 11. A friendly voice directs me to his colleague further down river and when I call him later he is primed and puts us on a large pontoon just off the gardens on the Dartmouth side. Perfect. £13.00. If we wanted to go ashore the water taxi or trot boat fee was £0.50p! Each way!
Moor and put the kettle on, sit back to admire the view... so much movement. Loads of youngsters, in rowing gigs and fours, a sailing race underway down river, in the river!
Dinner is eggs on toast with cheese and ham! Yummie.
Listen as the Dartmouth bell ringers sound out their bells, for an hour or so, great sound, it carries well over the water.
Phil doubles mooring lines, just in case, but we hope to have a quiet night.
Mileage to date, adding the 10 today, but ignoring the trip up the Dart and back, 298..
Tomorrow, if the forecast is still good, we will make the long hop to Plymouth. Sadly getting into Salcombe would either entail a 0500 start or arriving after dark to get the tide over the bar. Neither are attractive especially as then when leaving Salcombe we would be then be arriving at Plymouth well after dark, so we are planning to leave this mooring at 1115 and be down at the entrance by 1145 to take the tide west. To arrive Plymouth 2100.
Amazed at out good fortune and progress..
John and Phil
P.S. just about to publish this when there is a huge explosion! Followed by several more. Huge Fireworks.... Americans, its Independence Day!
Early morning alarm whistle!
Passing Start Point.
Great Mewstone off Plymouth.
I wonder just how many islands there are called 'Mewstone'!
Thursday 5th July 2018.
We had a quiet night on the pontoon, but woken early as the ferry boats started up at 0730.
By 0830 they are on the move. No facilities at all here so just a 'cats lick' this morning.
I check and refill the stern tube auto greaser. It is a brass can with a spring loaded plunger, you have to pull the plunger back before you unscrew it, then refill from the can of grease and then refit. Only then can you rotate the Tee handle to allow the spring to apply pressure to the grease, if you get it right, great, if not, grease everywhere!
No water leaks from this now, have we cured it?
Breakfast an oven warmed brioche!
I sort out the charts and plot the courses, add a couple of waypoints to the GPS. Put the route on the plotter in the cockpit, for easy reference and we are about ready.
Going to fight the tide for a couple of hours as it slacks off, just to give us a head start....
1115 we let go and then have to wait for a procession of boats to pass before we can pull away.! Including the paddle steamer, that comes in really close...
Before we get fully out of the river we have the main up and all fenders and lines secured. A light breeze. We clear the entrance buoyage and set course for Start point. We are just able to get the main to set, but have to motor. Maybe later the genoa can be unrolled as we alter course.... Mmm.
I call the Coastguard, Falmouth this time and book our passage with them.
The wind is a light F2-3 and becomes variable, sails hang limp.
At least the sun is shining and the sea reasonably calm.... The forecast from Falmouth C.G. talks of variable F2 and Fog later.... Hope not.
Rounding Start point we try to get the genoa to fill, it does for a while and we ease off the motor, doing 4 knots only as the tide is against us still. Not till 1500 does it go slack and the speed over the ground on the GPS match the speed on our log.
Dolphins again, but not interested in us, only in what the Gannets are diving in for! Dinner!
We pass Salcombe and note the boats anchored outside, waiting for water over the bar. That's the problem with Salcombe. Big sand bar.
We tuck into pasties and tomatoes, tea and coffee.
Crossing Bigbury Bay the wind dies completely, so genoa rolled away. Main left up to try and lessen the rolling motion, as a southerly swell starts in earnest. Tops of swells close together, so we cork screw along!
Ahead the shape of the Great Mew Stone off the eastern side of Plymouth begins to loom out of the haze.
We are getting a good lift from the tide now and our speed over the ground increases to 5.5 to 6 knots, making up for the slow start. The coast of Devon still goes past at snails pace!
By 1845 we can see into Plymouth sound and can alter course, I was hoping the wind would have allowed us to sail in, but instead a fresh breeze springs up from the north, just where we are heading to, but with the tide with us, we soon are in past the breakwater. It is a huge harbour, takes us over and hour to enter and get to our destination, Queen Anne's Battery marina. They fool me when I call up for a berth by answering 'QAB'. When I query it he uses the full name.
'Come in and tuck your self the other side of the big cat', he says. Well we did, but only because the wind was able to make us drift sideways between the huge cat and a larger gin palace! We look very small! Smallest mast in the whole marina by the looks of it. The catamaran looks as if it is off round the world by the badges on it, 60ft by 40ft, if an inch! And three stories tall!
No sooner the lines are on and the coffee and tea brewed than the friendly harbourmaster is with us, giving us the codes for the gates etc. A couple from the boat 'Oishi', from Faversham, that we have kept seeing as we came west, come to find us. We were planning to walk to 'Rockfish' for a meal, but they tell us the footbridge is out of action, the one that leads there, but 'Chandlers' bar serves good food, so we hasten there, to arrive just in time for last orders. Fish and chips is consumed! (As it happens Rockfish is this side of that bridge, as we find out later! but we would not have made it in time!)
We check out the showers etc. Even posher than the ones at Brixham!
Phil has gone up whilst I type the log up, my turn next!
We will be here for a few days now, awaiting the arrival of Harvey and Brandon, Monday evening... Crew change.
Time for a clean up and to do a few little jobs and to explore.
Mileage today 37, add to the total so far 298 = 335.
Thanks Phil, together we have done very well! Phil has definitely done his bit to help me achieve this! So very grateful.
John and Phil
Part of the wall display in 'Chandler's Bar' display, Plymouth.
The silver prop is not a Seagull's, the others are with the lowest one being a rather special 'trolling prop' made as one offs by Seagull and I now have the jig to do that!
More of the wall display, I will take a pic of the Seagulls, my only criticism of the display is the choice of transfers and stickers, one even has 'Francis Barnett' on it!
The view from the park, can you spot us? Look for the green!
The G.H. 28.5ft Countess.
Built by Harwells, where Terry Erskine worked before taking the design on himself.
Work in progress, but they are getting there!
Get to be able to spot one of our designs at a distance, no mistaking them
Pleased to see them go out for a putter and sail today.
Friday 6th July 2018.
Happy Birthday sister Sue!
Put the sail covers on to protect the sails from the harsh sun...
We are relaxing, if one can, in the extreme heat the country is subjected to. Hearing from home Darian is fretting about watering the trees in our new Spinney. She is doing a grand job. Because of her efforts, the trees were saved.
Three berths away from us after we shifted from the gin palace area, is a Golden Hind, Nigel and Sandy are working on her in the berth, removing flaky varnish and applying stain. They have only had 'Countess' for a short while and getting to grips with it and it gear. They are fortunate to have a brand new inboard, but sounds as if they have the wrong prop as it only makes 4.5 knots not the 6.5, I suspect it should easily do. The engine is powerful and reaching top revs, so re-pitching or replacing the prop looks in order. They also have heavy weather helm so I suggest they pop along and look at our bowsprit... Helps cure the problem! I drop off one of the flyers that we carry and we publish on the site... Suitably amended to read 800 owners and over 700 friends!
It is difficult to escape the heat here, but we visit the marina bar lunch time for a cool pint and sandwich. We walk off lunch by walking out the main gates and down the road towards the Barbican, peel off to the aquarium and seek out the foot bridge that is closed, that prevents us walking to the Barbican and the Mayflower steps. It is not closed, they have removed it and fenced it off! Does not look as if there is any intention to replace it, shame. However we found the Rockfish fish and chip shop and restaurant, next to the aquarium.. Mmmm not sure if that is politically correct in these strange times, can imagine a protest group starting!....
We find a row of mature olive trees in a small park, with some fancy seats, shady and cool breeze. We linger for a while. We can look into the marina from here and just make out F.G.
Later we gravitate back to the bar for a meal, I had a salad for a change, very good.
The marina bar has an area he called the 'Outboard Deck' a gimmick, but he has an array of Seagull and other motor's props on the wall and a rack with an array of Seagulls, SeaBee and a couple of oddities, a tiny American Elto and a Chrysler outboard. I get chatting to the bar owner about them and he shows me another he has just bought, an old Model 102. Must send him some flyers and stickers!
As dusk fell the temperature plummets! Clear skies. At least we get a cool nights sleep with just the washboards in but both hatches wide open....
Saturday 7th July 2018
Writing this at 1430 we have not had lunch as yet, we have done lots of small jobs aboard though. Checked the motor, oil and water, sea water filter and belt tension. All good. When it is cooler I will check the greaser and transfer some fuel to the tank from the cans. We carry 4 cans of spare fuel, as well as the now, double in size, tank full. (16 gallons). The cans hold another 6. Hope to have all topped up before we leave..
Though we are a sailing boat, the wind never seems to be either in the 'right' direction or strong enough to allow us to sail without the assistance of the motor.
The motor is now 24 years old but in excellent condition. A three cylinder Kubota industrial motor marinised by Beta Marine. Called a Beta 17, it allegedly leaks out about 13bhp at the prop, just enough for us.. It has 1396 hours on it, barely run in! It is the same unit that is fitted to those mini diggers that work for hours and hours every day on small building sites or road works.
It is actually slightly lighter than the old Stuart Turner it replaced. Fitted in easily.
Many years ago, when I was wanting to replace the tiny Stuart Turner 10hp inboard, I was passing workmen working in Wapping High Street every day on my way to work. I got chatting to them, they were very proud of their little digger and gladly showed it to me, the same Kubota motor and it has 20,000 hours on it with no problem!
Decision made and I am pleased I did.
200 miles away in Essex we hear preparations are afoot to bring the next crew down to me, but one of them is away this week at the British Grand Prix. I will see them Monday evening....
All for now, off to make lunch and this afternoon off to buy provisions... Phil has found a real good shady spot with a view and a breeze... on a balcony near the harbour masters office..
Tomorrow will be much the same I suspect.. looking for shade!
Reminder that the mileage stands at 355. Almost half the mileage to get back to Troon....
John and Phil.
Monday 9th July 2018
Spent the morning searching locally for anyone who had the electrical connectors and or cables I needed to connect the other Solar panels Brandon was collecting from home, failed. Ended up buying a length of twin core cable and hope to make up my own connections.
Found 'Marine Bazaar', often heard about them, but never visited, till now. Large warehouse full of boat bits, new and old. Was not tempted to buy anything..
Bought a few provisions. Sorted milk with the marina office, to pick up later, rather that carry it in the heat from the corner shop.
Visited corner shop and bought a few essentials, bread, butter etc.. a Real Arkwrights store!
Got a call on the phone at 1700.. It was Brandon, 'turn round Grampy, we are here!' 5 hours, Essex to Plymouth. Welcomed them aboard, I was off carrying cans to fuel barge, so Phil had the kettle on! I filled cans 15 litres, and with the help of the lads stowed it, then sat for a while chatting....
Then we went to the car with a load of Phil's gear and swapped it for the lads kit.
Stowed all aboard.
I had booked a table at the Chandlers Bar and bistro and we all met up there for a good meal. It was hot though, the sun beating down on us even at 1900...
After dinner Phil and Steve motored off to Cornwall, to be there before us, Steve had got a B&B in Saltash safer than contemplating a long drive back to Essex the same day!
Back on board we sorted gear out and I unpacked the solar panels. Sadly a vital bit of the wiring was missing, the splitter wires, so I will have to make up something from the connectors and wiring I have on board. Then tried the battery charger, a fairly new, compact, digital, 5 amp output device. Made by CTek. Nothing! Lights flickered but it failed to respond to the 'mode' button and did not charge, rats!
See the chandlery here have a good range of chargers on their website so I will be knocking on their door in the morning!
With the warm weather the fridge battery is taking a thrashing....
Took no pics today, but Harvey has taken loads so will get him to mail some to me from his phone, for inclusion here!
Tomorrow I have promised the a tour of the harbour, a sail and a night moored somewhere, maybe Cawsand Bay, then off to Fowey the next day.
John, Harvey and Brandon
Plymouth Ho and the Smeaton light
Harvey on the helm up the Tamar.
Brandon before he lost them!!
You have to look very closely to see what the two tugs are shepherding, all done very, very gently!
Looking very smart!
Passing the 'Citadel' on our way back to Queen Anne's Battery marina.
QAB by night by Brandon.
Tuesday 10th July 2018
All slept well and we organised ourselves to leave before midday and have an explore of the River Tamar, Brandon especially wanted to see the Devonport Dockyard. We had seen what I thought was a Frigate in the outer harbour last night and hoped that would be alongside somewhere.
I was cross about the charger not working, so had a quick look on the web last night and the chandlers here were having a sale on them, so 0930 I was in there and bought a new CTek charger capable of putting 7 amps in..
Brought it back to try, plugged it into the Solar panel input to the splitter, and it too did not work.???? A little research and it appears the clever splitter I have attached to the charging circuits the problem, it accepts conventional old fashioned analogue chargers or the solar panels, but not whizzy digital ones.... Re think.
At 1130 we leave Queen Anne's Battery Marina and putter off up stream, very little breeze and what there is, is southerly. The lads take turns on the helm and study the laminated chart I bought for the day, much larger scale than the Imray version and more detail even than the pilot book.
Brandon identifies several naval places he may get to serve if he gets in, time will tell.
The Frigate we saw was HMS Kent and she is now alongside. A huge landing craft ship 'A140' is also alongside, but on closer inspection see it has the Brazilian Flag. Could this be ex HMS Bulwark? Name was something like 'Libertadio'.
A couple of MODPlod boats pass us and wave... (Ministry of Defence Police)..
We hear from Steve that they made good time, left at 0900 and just after midday are in Reading, in Sainsbury's for lunch I bet!
We putter up through the Tamar Bridge and a train passes over, very slowly.... and noisily...
Now all batteries are fully charged, does not take long with the 'intelligent' charger on the alternator! Fridge charging at 15 amps!
We bring up to anchor off the entrance of the River Tavy, Kingsmill Lake, and if you would like a nice pair of flash sunglasses, dive there, because that's where Brandon's went!
Very peaceful here. We have coffee and biscuits then eventually Brandon raids the fridge and we have a sort of mini pasty, with tomatoes and bread and butter.
After lunch and about 1500, an hour or so before high water we set off back, slowly motoring against the last of the flood, a neap tide...
As we get to Devonport navy dockyard there is much activity, the two MODPlod boats and two tugs are close by the wharf frontage, we thought the Brazilian ship may be coming away as it's motors are firing up, trails of smoke from the funnels, but no, another look and hidden behind the tugs, is a sub!
Do not see many of them!
Carry on gently going downstream, the tide is slack now and I narrowly miss the third Torpoint Ferry coming away! I saw the two and thought the third was laid up, but no, a few revs to avoid getting in her way..
At this point the wind starts to pipe up and before too long there is a F4/5 SSE blowing, no good for Cawsand bay! Instead I opt to return to Queen Anne's Battery and call them, we can have the same berth back. Organise the fenders as we get in the lee of Drakes Island, less waves.... Brandon is on the helm. Get the forward lines lines ready too. Harvey finding and passing lines and fenders for me.
We slip back into QAB with Brandon on the foredeck and Harvey with the step ashore line amidships.
I have already worked out a departure time for tomorrow, 0900.
I have been thinking all day about the fridge battery. I need to be able to give it a charge.. the other batteries are OK but the Solar panel cannot keep up with the demand on the fridge batteries. I come up with a solution.
I wire in a 2 pin plug socket direct to the fridge batteries. I can now plug the digital charger directly into them! Tested and it works! So anytime I can get shore power I can plug the charger into the fridge and keep it going. Perhaps I worry too much, as the fridge has stayed working in all this heat so far... but the battery monitor has shown it to be low on reserves....
I have also bought more special wiring for the solar panels on our EBay page, so I can add the two other panels Brandon brought down, that way I can have more amps going into all the batteries if needs be. Especially useful if anchored away from a plug socket! I get them sent to Clare and Steve. Steve will bring these down for me when he comes back to pick up the lads.
We end the day in the local curry house, walking back, the sea is flat calm, wind gone. Tomorrow we go westwards.
John Brandon and Harvey.
Crossing Plymouth Harbour.
Leaving Plymouth by Brandon, glassy calm.
Passing the end of the breakwater at Plymouth in glassy calm seas.
Haze, the horizon disappears. Though it looks bad we could see the Eddistone light many miles away...
Lines on paper!
Entering Fowey, pronounced FOY!
Alongside 'Gemma' in Mixtow.
The view from ashore.
Ship enters the river behind us and swings before backing up river to berth, only just room!
And from higher up!
On road part of the hike to Bodinnick and the Ferry Inn.
The view and the beer was worth it!
Crossing the field on a slope on the way back.
Wednesday 11th July 2018.
The phone alarm woke me at 0700 and we sorted ourselves out with breakfast and showers...
By 0900 we were leaving the marina, with the fridge battery fully charged overnight with the new plug and socket connection! Success.
Call Falmouth C.G. to give them our passage information, Harvey on the helm, all ropes and fenders stowed and all crew harnessed on. Not a breath of wind, sea like glass.
I go on deck and hoist the Cornish flag.
We left the harbour quickly on the ebb and by 0945 we were off Rame Head's eastern side by the red can buoy 'Drayton', I had laid in courses and the lads set the compass and followed them.
Shortly after at 1000 we safely rounded the headland and set a course of due west for a point off Fowey. A light SE breeze sets up, so genoa is unrolled, it pulls, just. I waited till the tea and coffee I had made was drunk to climb on deck, harnessed to the jackstay of course, and set the main, it sort of filled. We were able to cut the engine revs back to 1200 and still keep up a good 5 knots. However stopping the motor and letting the sails do the propulsion only gave 3 knots.... not enough...
Apart from a few Gannets and Guillemots and of course gulls, there was no other wildlife today.
We dip out ensign to a Frigate but were ignored, it was German... HMS Northumberland was broadcasting on the VHF that they were conducting live gun testing just south of us, hopefully firing the other way, as we saw no splashes. Today there were at least a dozen craft on the horizon all day.
A smart motor cruiser passed going the other way, the 'Jack Petchy' A Sea Cadet training boat. We got a very enthusiastic wave from the bridge... This the Sea Cadet training boat that belonged to friend Dave Lee's colleague, so we wondered, had word got out, it was a very enthusiastic reception!
It was hazy so I fired up the radar but as there were few targets (boats) near us all it did was 'paint' the coast 3 miles away and obliterate any info on the chart plotter. After a bit I turned it off, we could see miles without it!
Eventually the red and white stripy day mark on the top of Gribbin Head comes out of the haze, marking the other side of the Fowey entrance.
At 1300 we are just a couple of miles off and heading in, by 1400 we are moored. The place was full, there was a Classic boat rally. We got lots of friendly waves.. All the pontoons and moorings were filled opposite town.. However I have already picked my spot on the pontoon at Mixtow, and when we get there there is a place, but with a reserved sign on it. I contact the Harbour Master on VHF Ch 12 and he directs us to moor alongside the next boat, he comes to assist us move.
There is a little cafe at the top of the pontoon walkway and we lunch there. Another cafe customer comes over with a copy of Practical Boat Owner, from 2 years ago, 'Is this your boat', he says. It was. There was by chance, a 1/4 page article about F.G. in the copy he had just picked the copy up from a heap in the cafe. What's the chances.
I visit the harbourmaster and pay the dues, just £20.00 here with toilets and showers, though you need a £1.00 coin to make the shower work. Water and electricity on the pontoon, it is just a way away from the town. You can take a water taxi if you wanted to though.
The China clay industry is still strong here and a very large ship comes in, turns and berths. Only a couple of feet to spare! Very tight. Two train loads of trucks arrive and discharge into the conveyor system then into the ship. There is room alongside for 4 ships!
I check the motor, greaser still full, and fill the fuel tank, it only takes 5 litres! The water filter is clear too.
We walk across the fields to above the Bodinnick ferry, to the Ferry Inn for a light meal later. Sat on the terrace, as inside was full, we had a great view of the river entrance. Best seats in the place!
The walk back seemed easier, though not sure why, it was a mile or more and seemed all uphill. One field dropped dramatically from the path, maybe 100 feet straight to the river, through trees.... heavily wooded here, owls tonight?
Tomorrow we are off at 0900 again, so an early night.
The trip today was just 23miles and with the 355, that takes the total so far to 378miles.
John, Brandon and Harvey..
Leaving Fowey, Harvey on watch!
And Brandon, ready for another day at sea!
Crew ever alert. Had to keep prodding Brandon!
Entering Falmouth, St. Anthony Head light, and a fast tri-maran!
Found a G.H. in Mylor, could not see the name.
Harvey's pic of upper Mylor creek taken on our walk.
And this Medusa up Mylor Creek!
Another of Harvey's, the view from the church yard. Found the HMS Ganges memorial here..
Thursday 12th July 2018
Awake a minute before the alarm, looking at my phone all bleary eyed, and it's alarm goes off! 0700!. Nearly drop it!
We trundle up to the little wooden shed with the showers, pop in our £1.00 coins and get a good 6 minute shower each.
Breakfast and ready ourselves. 0900 we motor off, a lovely morning. hardly a breath of wind and bright sunshine.
Fenders and lines sorted before we get out, get waves from the Classic Boats moored in the harbour.
The wind is a light NNW F3, so mainsail up as soon as we leave the shelter of the harbour, Brandon brings us head to wind, I hoist and Harvey looks after the sail ties etc. Harnesses are on!
The sail fills and the motor is cut, we sail, full main and genoa 3knots plus the tide.
It is not to last, sadly by 1015 the wind has died and we are motoring. No wildlife except the odd gannet and cormorant.
First lobster pots seen, was expecting more. Further back there were hundreds...
By 1430 we are 2.5 mile off Mevagissy, remember Barry and all the holidays he and my sister had there...
By 1115 we are passing the Dodman, shortly after we realise we are halfway to Falmouth, so slices of Clare's cake all round!
The wind pipes up from the NNW a decent 3 so genoa unfurled and we reach 5.5 knots. a good sail, wind gets brisker as we approach St. Anthony's Head and Brandon has a broad grin as he helms her.
As we round the lighthouse though the wind is on the nose so sails are rolled and lowered. We motor into a stiff breeze, but with the tide.
Call Mylor for a berth and am offered one, when we get there is is taken so jill about whilst they move an inflatable... The berth however is broad side on to a stiff F4 and we and our neighbours and bounced about, all fenders on the moored side!
We find the nearest provisions are at the Mylor stores, a 1.5 mile walk away, it is hot and all paths in Cornwall are uphill, but we arrive in time to buy all needed and get an ice cream to eat on the way back.
Stores unloaded into fridge then up to the club for a cooling pint!
Eating aboard tonight, the lads had noticed I had sausages so our chef Brandon concocts a Sausage Pasta!
I am typing this as he is performing his magic in the galley!
Another 22 miles today to add to the 378, so 400 miles, half way!
Another good day.
Crew getting slicker and working well together!
John, Harvey and Brandon.
G.H. spotted on mooring in mylor
Approaching the Lizard, the most southerly point on the UK mainland.
Sailing yacht Pilgrim off the Lizard, just after the Killer Whales were spotted.
Two masted Barque?
Crew alert and watching for lobster pots!
St. Michaels Mount, Mount Bay.
Brixham Trawler under sail in mounts Bay.
Newlyn Harbour ahead!
The Scillonian, think we own a rivet in the funnel, we have shares in her!
Brandon our chef in the making, in the galley cooking up a curry!
Friday 13th July 2018
We are in Penzance! Well Newlyn really, full write up tomorrow, catching up on needed sleep now!
John Brandon and Harvey.
Saturday 14th July 2018
Happy Anniversary Darian, 29 years today!
Friday we left Falmouth and Mylor. Up at 0700 for showers and breakfast, check the motor over and put some lines on the chart.
0900 we ready to leave, the wind is still holding us on the pontoon but thankfully the boats ahead and astern have left and we have room to get out, especially as Brandon can 'bear away' with our long boat hook, we slip out without even touching the stern on the pontoon.
We exit the marina channel into the Fal and round up, Brandon on the helm as Harvey and I get the main up. We bear away and unroll the genoa, sailing well, so motor goes off.
It is not to last though and by the time we reach the 'Manacles' a row of jagged teeth emerging from the sea, we are motor sailing. Glassy calm.
There are a dozen or more boat visible, including a two masted Barque or maybe its a Barquentine??? No so hot on square riggers. She is motoring up astern.
I check the bilges and sponge out another cup full of water. the 'Deep Sea Seal' on the prop shaft will have to be changed, hopefully when I return or at the end of the season.
We are approaching the Lizard, have to pass nearly 3 miles off to avoid the 'overfalls' as the tide is pushing us at 2 knots and when it meets the rocks off the Lizard it kicks up a really rough sea. The Lizard is the most southerly headland on the UK mainland.
I sight a pair of Killer whales slowly surfacing and swimming towards us off the port bow. Magic!!! A parent and a Calf.
Heard later from my daughter Jenny that they had been seen off the south west several times. They dive under a boat about 100 yards off our port side, the guy is standing looking over the side, I think, lucky chap. When we speak to him half an our later he had no idea they were there. After diving under him they came towards us, the parents floppy dorsal fin emerging from the sea, though they were holding their breath and never resurfaced, swimming under us and away. What a treat for the Lads! (and me), never seen one in the wild before! Real rarity on the south coast.
Called a chap passing from the other direction in, 'Java Blue' told him to watch out for them, he had just come from the Scillies and passed 60 dolphins nearby. We looked out for dolphins but never saw them.
What we got next was a long rolling Atlantic swell. After rounding the Lizard we had nothing between us and America 3000 miles away, except the Scillies that is, and we could see where they were by the little clump of fluffy white clouds 28 miles west of Lands End.
Brandon was bounced off the loo at this stage.
As we made our way northwards into Mounts Bay the wind that had been a benevolent SE now turned 180 degrees to a F4 NW. Rolled up genoa, and tightened in the main, we were a few degrees of our course to keep the main full but it was worth doing as our speed, with the tide setting into the Bay, (it is a huge bay), was giving us 6 knots, but then we crossed a line of breakers, the sea turned a shade darker and we were in a tidal eddy, speed drops to 4 knots! 38 metres deep!
Spray hood up and hatch closed. Spray thrown sideways but little got to us.
I takes 2 hours of hard motoring, with the mainsail trimmed in hard, to get into calmer water inshore.
I have another look at the water in the bilge, just an egg cup full, that's OK.
2 miles from the harbour at Newlyn and when I look at Brandon see he has succumbed to the motion and the throb of the motor.
A Brixham Trawler, the sailing sort, comes past fast under full sail..
St. Michael's Mount and the Penzance area, all so familiar to me after all our holidays in the Scillies, are in plain sight. Call the harbour at Newlyn and ask for a berth. A young lady asks if we have any animals, I say I have the grandson on board, does that count! I can hear them all laughing in the harbour masters office!
We enter Newlyn, a tiny commercial fishing harbour, but with space for maybe a dozen visiting boats. We raft up next to a small German sail cruiser, all locked up. (No one seen on board till Saturday afternoon).
I book off to the CG, they are ready for me and we sign off quickly.
Break out the pasty's we bought in Mylor, Brandon's first real Cornish Pasty! Harvey had sampled them years ago on family holidays...
At this stage, it was 1630, the late duty harbour master turned up as the office was closed. Mr Happy as other boats crews dubbed him; he was dour! Arranged to stay till Monday, he was not happy, as he wanted to collect cash, and I had not enough. No showers, broke, and no loos, use public ones 1/2 mile away, right, so that is going to happen! Fortunately we have a holding tank so will not be polluting the harbour.
We have covered another 37 miles, round another tricky headland and nearly headed out into the Atlantic! That will come another day, Tuesday probably.. so total mileage to date 437.!
That afternoon a smart motorboat came in the chap on the helm was dressed up like an admiral of the fleet and on the foredeck was a rather buxom young lady, in a very scant bikini. That alone would have been enough for the dozen or so trawler men to whistle at, but the Admiral must have bounced off at least 4 boats to eventually get close enough to the jetty for us to catch him. No lines ready, no fenders! But a really decorative figurehead! They were Welsh, just come round Lands End and heading east... After a while the commotion died down and the bikini draped herself on the foredeck, leaving the trawler men goggle eyed!
I took the lads for a mile walk into Penzance, (the sun was very hot) and to a pub some may know, 'The Admiral Benbow'! If you ever get to Penzance look it up, it is easy to spot, it is the one with a life size pirate laying on the roof, levelling his pistol at passing gulls! Think they liked it, they enjoyed the celebration pint!
After a little wander down to the dock and the pier, I managed to get a table in the 'Dolphin Tavern' a place we have used for B&B before and after our trips to the Scillies, right opposite the quay.
The three waiters were ones I knew from before and the youngest lass chatted, with me, not the boys, and told me her boyfriend was coming down to Penzance work, from Burnham on Crouch.! She knew lots of places around Essex.
People on the table next to us heard and leaned over to say they were on holiday here. from Colchester!
We enjoyed a good meal and as I expected, Penzance's rush hour happened whilst we were on the Cornish ice cream stage. The Scillonian docked! But only saw three carrier bags full of Agapanthus!
After dinner I walked the lads down the quay to see 'our' Scillonian. Over 25 years ago, having found the islands on our first anniversary holiday, we bought shares in the ship, that got us half price fares, paid for itself many times over, some years we visited 3 times in a year!
We got back and fell into our bunks, thus the short line last night and promise to write up the log today!
Saturday 14th July 2018.
Our anniversary and young Harrison's 2nd birthday!
To save the boat smelling like a gymnasium after a hot fitness session, I got Harvey to Google for a local Gym nearby that I heard had showers we could use, then arranged to find and use them, at £2.50 a shower! A 5 minute walk to a run down gym with dribbly showers, but better than the alternative!
Back aboard our German neighbour is back, a young chap on his own. He is not moving, so we can stay alongside him or move to another berth when one becomes vacant alongside a pontoon.
The Welsh couple in their powerboat have left, I did not see them go but bet she was in her bikini again to the delight of the trawler men, and I bet he bounced off several boats on the way out, to the cheers from the trawler men as yesterday!
A French boat comes in at near low water and runs aground behind us, eventually they berth nearby, with Harvey and myself assisting.
Several small fishing boats putter in and out and there is lots of friendly banter.
We are going to eat aboard today so Brandon starts to check what is in our food locker, soon he has the lot out and has a menu drawn up. Finds the 'all day Breakfast' in a can, so what with 2 cans of that and some eggs, tomorrows breakfast is sorted. Will have to walk him to Penzance and back again.
Quiet here now, lunch soon, then I will walk into Newlyn to see if I can find a hardware shop. When 'Mr Happy' comes back today will get some electric on so the batteries can be charged, but need a two way plug so I can use both battery chargers. ('That's extra you know, £1.50 a day!!').
At the moment Harvey is sat reading in the cockpit under the green brolly and Brandon checking all his lady contacts out on his phone!
All for now, John Harvey and Brandon
Today we have moved berths to an alongside the pontoon berth, to make it easier to trans-ship luggage.
The leaving crew and the new crew with Steve and Keith the drivers! Lunch in the Tolcarne...
View down from the Red Lion above the harbour.
And looking out over Mount Bay.
And the view from our table at the Red Lion, over the harbour.
Sunday 15th July 2018.
As promised Brandon made a big breakfast, beans bacon and bangers, with fried slice as well.
We cleared up, or the lads did, and then by about midday we had showers at the local gym!
Heard that Steve and Keith were well on the way and at 1300 we walked up to find them just pulling into the car park, good timing, and a good run down!
New crew, John Stevens.
John's bag was transported to the boat and the lad's bags place in the car.
Having visited the boat and tried to see where the webcam was and failed, we all posed on the pontoon so Sue my sister could get a group photo... But the webcam was busy, so pics taken with our cameras and phones.
We then walked to the Tolcarne Inn for a good lunch, before waving them off. They left just after 1500. Heard at 2030 that they were at the M25 and by 2130 they had dropped Brandon in Chelmsford, where he had arranged a pick up with his other grandparents.
John and I had just got back to the boat, after a pleasant meal in the Red Lion, where we sat by the window over looking the harbour and the boat.
Found the webcam, it was on a guest house nearby.
John has settled into the forward cabin and is sorting all his kit out.. He will be tired after an early start so will be in bed shortly I suspect.
I shall not be long behind him.
Aiming to spend a day sorting the boat and doing chores, found a laundrette nearby, 1/2 a mile walk. Will be visiting harbour office and the local Coop too. Bedtime reading will be my shopping and job list.
The Two Johns.
Border Force Vigilant, our grey shadow....
Mandy and Keith on board Fiddler's..
Mandy, Keith and skipper John.
Keith and Mandy Pic by John S.
John Mandy and Keith.
John S. Pic of F.G.
The two Johns!!
Monday 16th July 2018.
Another lay in, or I had planned one, but at 0700 the heavens opened and it poured, drumming on the cabin top. Tried to hide under the covers as it slowed to a trickle, but at 0800 it fell again, so gave up.
Breakfasted and then off to showers, as it had stopped raining. A day for chores, a tidy up, fill fuel tank, then off to pay the harbourmaster and later fill cans with diesel. So we have a full 72 litre tank and at least 30 more litres in cans. Last fuel fill up before Ireland, as fuelling in the Scillies difficult.
I gather up my laundry after lunch and set off towards Penzance. I had heard there was a laundry behind the amusement arcade, in fact it was in the same building. Sort the operation of the machines out with the help of a cheery young lady who worked there and go for an amble for 45 minutes whilst it washes. Now roasting hot! I find the Indian restaurant we went to years ago with my mother, on one of our trips to the Scillies... it is tucked away down a side street.
During the afternoon I began to develop a complex. Ever since Ramsgate we have had a shadow, The Vigilant. The UK Border Patrol ship. She was in Dover, off Eastbourne, followed us off Weymouth and was waiting for us as we came in, and today she snuck into Newlyn and sat alongside the harbour wall.... glowering at me....
Back on board a minor problem, the holding tank overflowed. Opps poo stink! Washed the deck off and gently pumped out the tank as the tide ebbed out of the harbour. I had to take the charcoal air filter to bits and clean it out, expecting it to be horrible, but it was OK, easy to wash out and all sorted. Seems the idiot light on the tank, indicating it was full, did not work, not sure why, but now we know not to use it for too long.. now... 3 days max! I will have to look at the float switch and the wiring over winter, do not want to risk not being able to reseal the top of the poo tank!
Having cleaned up and also checked the greaser, we then organised ourselves up to the Red Lion for a meal early as John had also arranged to meet up with his late brother's wife Mandy and her new husband Keith. It had been a while since they had seen one another and John had not met her new husband.
We had a great meal and were just finishing when they arrived. What a nice couple. We instantly all got on, swapping family stories from years gone by. Mandy is also a real biker, with a Fireblade! Though sadly she has decided to sell it now... Difficult to get her golf clubs on the back! We chatted for hours and then they then came down to see F.G. and say cheerio..
They are so well suited, Mandy and Keith, wish them well!
Back on board time to make shopping lists for tomorrow!
One last job to do onboard tomorrow, connect all the three solar panels together to get a total of 70w output. Going to need the panels to help charge the fridge battery when we are off grid in the Scillies.
Wednesday picked for the run to Scilly, Tuesday for last minute provisioning.
The Two Johns
John S as we are leaving Newlyn.
tucking into the pasty!
The 'Gry Maritha' passes us.
Dolphins come to play..
The 'Scillonian' passes us on our way back to Penzance.
Rounding Hats buoy as we enter St. Mary's Sound.
Not a breath of wind and dappled sunlight. lovely evening..
The sea sparkles.
A grinning Skipper, the culmination of a 30 year dream!
Green Bay, lots of boats, all able to take the ground, we find a suitable spot to anchor and relax.
John W. booking off to Falmouth Coastguard. Time to put the kettle on and sit back and take in the beauty of this place!!
John S. on the foredeck, taking in the scenery!
Wednesday 18th July 2018.
Writing this anchored in paradise.
Green Bay, Bryher, Isles of Scilly!
It has taken me 28 years to get here! Ever since Darian and I discovered this place back in the 1990, the year after we married, I have been wanting to sail our own boat here. We have been back almost every year, one year three times! We have visited at all times of the year, it has captured our hearts and it will always be a special part of our lives.
So how did we get here?
The day started as normal with breakfast and a shower up the local gym. sorting boat, filling water tank and making all ready.
1200 noon, we slipped the mooring lines and went to leave Newlyn, instantly stopped in our tracks by a huge trawler emerging from behind a pier! We went round in a circle to get out of his way and give us time to get our fenders in!
There was no wind.
Even so the main sail went up, as it can damp any rolling motion we may get.
We motored along the familiar Cornish coast, familiar because I have passed it so many times onboard the Scillonian on our way to and from the Islands. I was giving John the running commentary, and he an honorary Cornish man!
Soon we are clearing Lands End and the Longships light, time to break out the Pasties! John managed to get a couple of Cornish pasties this morning from Warrens, 'The oldest Cornish Pasty maker in the world', Bit like the Seagull quote, 'Best outboard in the world'!!
I nipped below a couple of times to check the bilges, all dry... good news.
We are motoring at 2.5k revs and getting 4.5 to 5 knots and the tide is going to assist later. Trying to reduce the passage time to less than 7 hours.
Tried the genoa a couple of times but the wind went straight on the nose and though the main stayed up, it did not really fill. The motor did all the work.
At 1450 we were passed by the 'Gry Maritha' one of the Steamship company's supply ships.
10 minutes later we saw dolphins, they saw us too, and for the next 20 minutes they played around us, leaping and diving under us, swimming alongside and generally having fun.
We also saw two more sunfish.
We are now approaching the Lands End Traffic Separation scheme and have to ease up to allow a ship to pass, another two are watched, we take constant bearings on them to see if they are a danger, one is, so we again ease off the revs to allow it to pass ahead. (You never try to outrun them!). with the AIS working I can see their call signs, so if any doubt I can call them.
The Wolf lighthouse is passed, we are over halfway and with a grin I say gently to John, who had not noticed, 'I can see the Scillies'!! They have crept up over the horizon! A wonderful feeling to see them again. Best landfall ever.
By 1615 we are just 10 miles from the entrance to Crow sound, the entrance into the sound in the middle of the islands...
At 1645 I see the other sight I had been waiting for, the Scillonian, as she appeared from between St. Agnes and St. Mary's. She passes half a mile south of us. Wave to the passengers!
At 1745 I ease the revs off as we enter the sound. I was allowing the auto pilot to steer us and all was going well till we got a very strong north set that would have driven us into the Eastern Isles, so had to take Sykie the auto pilot off and hand steer out of it, the tide swirling round us. We gently entered the islands.
The tide was still strong against us past Hats and Crow Rock, but eased as we made our way along the oh so familiar shore of St. Mary's. Past the Neolithic village at Bants Carn with Telegraph behind it...
We had passed over the Crow Bar with 1.3 metre to spare, so I pressed on for the shallow bar between the Sound and Bryher, the Hulman. We had 0.9 metres under the keel as we tiptoed in, you could see every strand of weed and every sea shell on the bottom through 1.9 metres of crystal clear water. One Metre for the boat the rest spare!
We skirted round the rocks of Merrick and Plumb, I could name most rocks after all the years here, most of them with a laminated chart in my hand! I eased into Green Bay and John dropped the hook in 3 metres of crystal clear water, we watched the anchor descend to the bottom..
It is 1915hrs
We will dry out here, but will stay afloat for most of the tide, easier to flush the loo! But we do not discharge it here, it goes into the holding tank!
I text all the friends and family announcing our arrival! Then call the coastguard to book off!
We sit and marvel at the views, the water, the boats, we made it!!
I hoist the Scilly flag that my Jenny presented me with before I left... The Cornish one is put away... I also hoist the older unofficial Scilly flag, bet no one knows what it is up there!
A dinghy approaches. It is Bob Smith, he has a Steel 'Spray' well up the beach, he knew we were a Maurice Griffiths design and came over to admire us!
His Spray was built by Terry Erskine, the Golden Hind builder and he said Terry joined him on his trip back to the UK in it from Gozo. That rang a bell, I have just typed up friend Doug's log of his trip to the Med and back, when he met them! We chatted for a while and John put on of our flyers in Bob's hand. He was to speak to Terry and hopefully Terry would be in touch.
Later as we looked at the other boats, as they swung on the flood I could read the name on the side of one in the distance..... It was 'Fidelio' the Tidewater 30 that I had spoken to the owner of, 2 years back! I put his pics on the site!
As it gets dark we set a second anchor, to limit our swing... Anchor light comes on, time to go below.
We opt for a cold meal, sat in the cockpit, followed by Clare's chocolate cake and custard.
Mileage, 437 plus today's 37, equals a total of 474
Two grinning John's!
F.G. anchored in Green Bay, Bryher.
Skipper rowing ashore.
Buying a new Aeonium from Sue Pender!
Looking out towards the north, we will exit the islands this way.
smallest museum you have ever seen!
View from Rushey Bay. The island on the right is Samson.
F.G. has dried out.
The salt encrusted on our topsides, we were to get loads more!
Alongside in the dinghy, still 2ft of water here, so wash off waterline from the dinghy.
Thursday 19th July 2018.
Today spent on Bryher, walking round showing John the sights. We have morning coffee in Fraggle Rock cafe and meet Anna who knew we were here from my Jenny.. Jenny, (Eccles), has booked a table for us to a meal in the Fraggle Rock tonight, what a lovely thought!
See Sue Pender to chat to her and will pick up a new succulent plant from her, my last one died in the cold this year.... That beast from the East.... I forgot it was sat out in the garden, normally bring them in over winter... I will carry it carefully home...
A visit to Zoe in the shop and a few provisions.. I arrange to come back for milk later. Zoe tells me she has found a buyer, pleased about that, Bryher needs her shop, she will be able to concentrate on her baking!
Eccles and Oly even contemplated buying it, but it only has a single bedroom house... With young Rafferty that would not work.
John buys two of Zoe's hot pasties and we walk to Rushy Bay to eat them. The sun is blazing down. Later drop into the Hell Bay Hotel for afternoon coffee, before returning via the shop, to the boat. Boat is aground but not dry, 2ft of water round us. paddle the dinghy back to the boat. John gets on board and uses the water container that was stored in the aft locker to fill the water tanks, I go back to the beach and refill it from the tap.
On my return I take the opportunity to wash the dirty oily marks off the hull. Then motor checked and diesel tank filled, ready for tomorrow.
We are due up at Fraggle Rock at 1940 so a bit of a rush to type these pages up and clean up before we leave....
Was further delighted when I came to pay the bill to find out from Chris the owner, that my Jenny, (Eccles) had covered the meal! Lovely touch Eccles.
I will add pics for today later.
Tomorrow, if the weather is right we will leave here at 1000 and head north.
Two suntanned John's!
Friday and Saturday, 20th and 21st July
Sorry to have caused apprehension, we are safe after a rough passage, but no internet connection on my phone to be able to upload the update!!!!!
This is doubly annoying as it barely works for text, not even calls. 2 years ago when in Ireland it worked fully everywhere, a Virgin Mobile problem.
I have just managed to get free WiFi in the next harbour so will try to send just this short message!
Well that did not work!
So as John S. with his ancient android can get data he has temporarily 'tethered' this machine to the laptop, as I normally do with do with my phone.... and it worked!
I am now typing up the log of the trip from Scilly to Ireland and will publish that later.
So be aware there may well be gaps in the publication of the log, I will be writing it up daily and publishing when I can get WiFi!
John W. and John S.
looking down through 2 metres of crystal clear water to our anchor!
It was a wrench to leave Scilly behind....
Manavaur, I have been between two of those outcrops with John Hicks in the 'Swordfish' alas the Swordfish is no more...the bow of it is now a beach shelter.
Lunch is served!
John S. enjoying his pasty.
Hard on the wind and making splashes!
Note the depth, that is metres!
Off watch with 'Salty', ships cat.
Evening sky, cloud thickening.
Still sailing with genoa and main, but soon the wind will head us.
I took dozens of pics during the night, hoping to catch a dolphin, got loads of splashes!
At last we are in sight of land again!
John after a hard night.
The angle we were at for nearly 30 hours!
Just hanging on!
As it begins to calm we are much relieved!
Calm enough to go on deck, strapped on of course, and hoist the Irish courtesy flag..
In need of shower and a good rest!
Friday 20th July 2018.
Up at 0700 and have a wet wipe wash, Ugh. Has to be done as there is little water available certainly no showers! What water there is to be had, has to be carried in cans.
Raise the second anchor, then disentangle the rope from the anchor chain. It was probably not really needed but with the second anchor down the circle we swung through was reduced...
Boat is all prepared. Ring Darian and chat before we sail, as a short time after leaving we will be out of phone contact until we arrive in Ireland. She tells me Bumble, the cat, is having her up all night with mice and rabbits, and then demanding feeding... I check the Cat Cam, there is a notice visible. 'Cats For Sale'... You dare!
I call the coast guard to inform them of our passage and query if they would be passing our passage plan on the Ireland. 'No', they said....I said I thought that odd because if we did not tell them we had arrived and went missing, they would never know? First time I have had to query the way our CG work.
It is a lovely sunny day in paradise, but we have to leave, so at 0955 we raise anchor and all harnessed on, we motor out of Green Bay, Bryher, between Hangman's Island and Cromwell's Castle on Tresco and then out past Shipman head, Bryher. A long swell comes rolling in. There are overfalls for the first couple of miles north of the islands, then the main and genoa are set and pull well. We are close hauled on the port tack and can make the course I have set. 345 degrees, a few degrees off 360 or 000, due north. We have 134 miles to go to Dunmore East, a small harbour on the southern Irish coast I have chosen to aim for, simply because it is the one with no rocks, islands or sand banks to negotiate to get in....
The overfalls caused by the tide passing the rocks off the islands also have a heavy westerly swell coming in from the Atlantic, something I was expecting... but on top of the swells there are waves coming from the north west. When the top of a wave and a swell combine..... Same with the troughs, a rough ride even though the wind is only F3 to F4!
As the first couple of hours pass we slowly see the islands disappearing behind us, but it is not till 4 hours have elapsed that they finally disappear below the horizon. Even then we can still see the high land of Cornwall 30 miles away to the east.... It is a lovely clear, sunny day.
The sun is out and we do not need oilskins, at first.... later the wind increases slightly and they are needed to keep the cold out.
The motor is still running slowly to keep up the speed, if we maintain 5 knots over the ground this trip will take 26 hours, (it takes longer!). After 4 hours we have covered 21 miles, a good average speed of 5.2 knots. If only we could keep it up. Going up wind is not the best point of sailing for most boats and certainly for our Eventide, even though her keel is deeper than most older Eventides and she sails reasonably well.
We steer 345 degrees. I have not offset the compass course for the tide, little point, as over 24 hours the tides across our course will largely cancel one another out, however there are also times the tide is setting against us, there is slack water a couple of times and other times it is with us. As we near the other side of the Celtic Sea I will check again..
I am now off even the smallest scale paper charts, so every hour I record our latitude and longitude from the GPS below, and the distance to go to a 'Waypoint' I have created electronically on the GPS, for just outside the harbour at Dunmore East. The miles tick off slowly and we creep north at 5 miles per hour.
I decide to double reef the main for the night, so all harnessed on crawl up the side deck to the mast clinging on with everything I could.. Reefed and sorted and back to safety.
At approaching 1800 I heat up pots of hot noodles to eat, OK warm, but not appetising.
We start watches.
John S. has the first watch I attempt to get some rest, not that easy as the boat is heeling me off my bunk, I wedge Salty the cat between me and the table!
We have 91 miles to go! At 2035 I am getting ready to come out when dolphins arrive, loads of them. These are different, they are grey and white and are smaller 'white beaked dolphins'. They jump and dive, swim under the boat from all directions and appear to having a great time, temped to say 'whale of a time'!!.
I am on watch to see the sun go down, but cannot see it as it has now clouded over.
I take a bearing on an odd looking light coloured shape on the horizon. If the bearing on it did not change there was a risk of a collision. I took me some minutes to realise I had taken a bearing on the last rays of the setting sun!
The wind is now F4, not too much but with the speed of the boat at just over 5knots we are leaping off waves and crashing into holes in the water. A couple of ships were seen astern and we watched them on the plotter as 'AIS' targets, with all the information about their course speed and destinations on the screen.
I had switched the radar on today, so we might be alerted to ships or boats we may not see.... It 'painted' an orange blob on the triangles the 'AIS' put on the screen. These were to be the only ships seen and both went to anchor, in 100metres of sea. The main echo sounder read up to 99 metres of depth, then went off! The fish-finder was showing 105m on occasions! It also showed the bottom, interesting near the islands, and thousands of fish!
The dolphins are here for a reason, fish, and they continue to fish and use us as a distraction all night!
As night fell I turned off the fish-finder as its screen was too bright and I could not see how to reduce the light. I toned down the screen on the plotter easily. Down below the night lights were lit, a pair of red cabin lights. This way it was possible to see in the cabin without destroying your night vision.
At 2300 we had been going for 13 hours and were exactly halfway across this vast expanse of open water...
John came back on watch at midnight, now it was cold, so oilskins and jumper, hats and I even had a scarf on... And still the dolphins play..
Salty, ship's cat was meowing continuously, I think I squashed his meow when I used him as a cushion, or it could just be he hated the violent motion and banging as much as we did!
By now we had the genoa rolled up as the wind had increased to a F5 and was near to directly ahead of us, the mainsail had to be sheeted in as hard as possible and then was not really driving the boat but just acting as a roll damper. The engine revs had to be increased from 1500 to 2000 revs but the speed was still dropping at low as 3 knots. This would greatly increase the time we had to spend out here.
The dolphins were having fun, keeping me amused for hours. I had strapped myself to the winch with my harness as I was otherwise being thrown about too much. We raced though shining patches of green and silver phosphorescence, the dolphins creating bright streaks and tubes of light as they dived beneath the cockpit. I tried to get photos by just firing the camera off intermittently, but all I got were splashes, the odd fin and in one a dolphin's face... they seemed to enjoy the flashes so I shone a torch, they leapt into the beam, magic creatures!
By 0630 it was very rough, and in the cold light of early morning the seas looked angry. During the night you could not see them coming, only felt the effect!
As I went off watch I checked the bilges, a mistake, not because the bilges were full of water, but because the dry biscuit I had eaten decided it wanted out! I just made the rail in time! I am normally never ill, but the motion was so violent, peering into the bilge was not a good idea!
At 0830 I wake after a couple of hours off watch it appears slightly smoother and the genoa was put out again and worked for 5 minutes... roll it away.
I had been trying for some time to raise the Irish coastguard, to no avail, but at 1140 I got through, just to let them know we were out there! Think we must have been the only fools who were, because we never saw or heard another boat... We had 32 miles to go and we had increased the revs again to 2500 to try and keep the speed up, even though the motion was so violent. Crashing off the waves and the boat slamming into the next before corkscrewing up another.
We are still head to the wind, a northerly... but making 4.8 knots..
We plug on, for hours....
Out of the grey horizon at midday, we had been going for 26 hours by then and feeling rather jaded...land is seen...
The wind has died away now but left a really confused sea. Checking the fuel I see we have used well over half a tank full so we ease off the revs to ease the motion and I empty a couple of cans, 15 litres of fuel, into the tank.
We are 18 miles off so about 4 hours motoring yet.
I rustle up 'cup a soups' to warm us. Feel better for that...
I crawl up the forepeak and find the Irish flag. Spend a lot of time weightless as we fall down waves! I hook onto the webbing jackstay on deck and slide forward to the flag hoist. Down comes the two Scilly flags and up goes the Irish one. Though the seas seem smaller we still have to ease off on the revs to make it smoother and safer to work on deck...
At 1515 suddenly the phones make noises, they are working again, or at least I thought mine was....
It was about this time that John discovered that his berth was wet. Water had somehow got into the forward locker, and then spilled out onto the foot of his berth, soaking not only his sleeping bag but also the berth cushion. Damn did not need this. We had work to do when we got in and we just wanted to crash...
We are 8 miles off the Dunmore East harbour now so call the harbourmaster on the handheld... Nothing, too far away? No, even trying the main radio does not raise anyone. Turns out they do not listen that much! Watching the fuel gauge now but I have worked out we should be OK. We are.
The revs are increased as the wind dies and the tidal set drops our speed. We want to be in now so motor at full 3000 revs.
I had said it may take 30 hour, it did, we eventually pulled into the harbour at 1700.
Used the phones to contact family.... some had been worried...
It is a commercial fishing harbour with limited mooring for yachts, made even more tight because a fishing boat had written of the other jetty and the attached lifeboat some time back and the replacement lifeboat was now moored where the private boats used to moor. We came alongside one of a raft of three boats, so we were the forth, and a short time later another moored beside us! Had to rig a long line from the stern to the shore to prevent us swinging forward...
Met Johnny the happy harbourmaster, arranged water to wash us off (we were white with salt!) and drag the wet stuff out from below and rinse it in fresh. I arrange to see the harbourmaster and pay the dues and organise long awaited showers, last ones had been in Newlyn... Back to boat collect towels etc, then we scurried up to the showers and soaked! I washed out the only bit of clothing from the forward locker that got really wet (everything else had been packed in waterproof bags..) . I did not rinse them aboard, a new pair of over trousers... I showered them!
Back aboard we tucked into sandwiches. Chicken and cheese, with tomato ketchup, delicious!
I tried to write a few words in the log, but found that though my phone worked here in Ireland 2 years back and I could pick up the internet on it, this time it did not, so rather disappointed, we turned in.
Sadly we could not have a lay in as the boats inside us were wanting to leave at 0900.....
We were in bed out cold, by 2200!
Today, or rather in the last 30 hours, we have travelled 134 miles.
Add this to the 474 to date gives an impressive 608 miles!
Two knackered John's
The 'Fiddling Around' sign when we arrived in Ireland.
Updated with the Scillies and the Celtic sea!
Rafting fun, the inside boat wants out!
Breakfast is served sir!
Irish fishing vessel!
Hook Head light.
A good days sail!
Can you spot the safe water mark?
Sunday 22nd July 2018.
Up at 0800 and breakfasted. The lads on the boat next to the pontoon move off at 0900 and though I start the motor and use it to gently back the raft up to allow them out they slip out easily enough and the inside boat re-secures with a line he had fed all round the inside boat before they left, copybook manoeuvre!
Hear a strange call, ' Kitt-i-Wake'! Yes, a colony of Kittiwakes nest on a rocky outcrop inside the harbour, pairs fly past! Pretty birds.
We learn the other boats are not moving till 1400, so I break out the part baked bread and cook some, we feast on cereals, then toasted or rather hot baked, bread rolls and marmalade!
I refill the stern tube greaser and check the bilge, dry... I drain the last 5 litre can of fuel into the tank and though the local diesel delivery tanker driver was willing to sell us fuel in our cans, we had no cash to pay him, so I looked at the chart and the weather and decided to make a run for the next little harbour, hidden inshore of the 'Saltee' Islands, amid shoals and rocks, as they had a 24 hour auto fuel dispenser.
We made ready and just as well, as the other boats decided to move early. John went back to the harbourmasters office to return the shower key tag and I readied the ship.
I thought we would not be able to relax at Dunmore East, though it did serve as an easy to enter harbour after a long passage. Figured that Kilmore Quay would be good for a two day stop over, as the weather was turning and we were going to get wind and rain tomorrow. With diesel available, shops and pubs it would be just right.
We slipped ropes and puttered out the harbour at midday. I set up a couple of waypoints to get there and plotted all on the chart.
The sun was shining and there was a gentle SW wind. We slowly motored out of the entrance to Waterford, to the point at Hook Head.
Later found out why there were so many people there at Hook Head, it was the oldest lighthouse in the world, still to be in use. It was set up by monks back in the 4th Century! Though it was not Fl 3 46m 18M then! Seems it is now a major tourist destination!
After zig zagging past moored fishermen and lobster pots, we hoisted all sail and sat back to enjoy several hours of really pleasant sailing, sailing at 4 knots in a beam wind, F3 and bolt upright, no bouncing!
Ahead are the Saltee islands, the largest bird sanctuary in Ireland, with the large populations of guillemot, Cormorant, Puffin and other birds, plus grey seals. We cannot see the land ahead, inshore of the islands, it is too low.
I remember going to Kilmore Quay with Darian 2 years back, recall it had a famous Fish and Chip shop too! Streets with quaint thatches cottages as I recalled.
We spot the safe water mark off the harbour, or rather John does and wins the ice cream. ( He never got it though, not today!).
At 1630 we are moored on the hammer head and I am off to the harbourmasters office. Dave is so laid back he is horizontal. Eventually we get all the info we need, plus a couple of tokens for washing machine and dryer and a few good tips.
First off where the local ATM was as I had no Euros to buy John his ice cream! We race up the road to the Mace store, as it is close to 1700 and the shop may shut. It did not, but I should not have rushed, as the ATM had run out of cash and they could not offer 'cash back'.... they had run out!
Tip two was to order the fish and chips in advance, did that and very pleased we did as later when we went back there were people willing to wait an hour as they had not pre-ordered! Sadly they could not give 'cash back' either. Found out later that a UK credit or debit card is barred from the 'cash back' scheme, daft!
A helpful lady in the queue suggested the pub could, John's eyes lit up but before we could set off for the pub we had to shift the boat to the nice cosy berth the Harbour master had given us. Took but a moment then we walked to the pub. I could pay on plastic, so John got his first pint of the 'Black stuff' in Ireland, but again no cash back.. (Found out why later).
So we have to hit Mace's supermarket early in the morning... before they run out again! make a shopping list!
Out of the pub just in time to walk back to the 'Saltee Chipper' to pick up our Haddock and chips.
On board when we opened it they were the largest portions I had ever seen, two large bits of fish each and a bucket full of chips, neither of us could eat it all and put half of it aside. John has thought of leaving me to sort the boat and take a wander into Wexford tomorrow, where his family came from in 1916, having been on the rebel side! He is threatening to take the leftovers with him for lunch!
After dinner I manage to get the short notice up on this page re my lack of WiFi and data coverage and then set too to write up the log.
Will publish this tomorrow using the data link on John's phone as mine is playing up. (correction, non existent!)
May not get the photos on till we get better WiFi, the harbour one here does not work well enough...
Today we have added another 18 miles to that total, taking it to 626 miles!
Two happy and smiling John's
Re-thatching in progress
A clever bit of work.
And a few novelties too.
Does anyone know what this is, I do and I bet my daughter does too!
The bar where John had his first real pint in Ireland!
Little green and cream boat in a mass of big plastic ones!
Monday 23rd July 2018.
We have a lay in today and then go up for showers only to discover we needed 1 Euro coins for the shower.... I high tail it up to the Mace supermarket hoping they refilled their ATM, they had, bought a few provisions and cards, plus stamps and back for the shower. Then a leisurely breakfast.
John was planning to get the bus to Wexford to see the town his family escaped from after the 1916 uprising, seems they were on the 'wrong' side, which ever that was! Turns out he was rebel!
I opt to fill diesel tank and cans, carrying them over to the fuel pontoon. I top up the main tank and fill the cans as spares, 65 litres used getting from Newlyn in Cornwall to the Scillies then to Ireland, and on to Kilmore Quay. Diesel is 1.09 Euros a litre and is green! There is a clever 24 hour credit card payment pump.
I write my cards and give John a few to post, he walks up to the bus stop. I clean up after fuelling and walk up to the post office, John is still waiting for a bus and its nearly 1400. He never made it to the ATM so I give him half the money I got out today, already spent most of the rest, so another visit to ATM tomorrow before we leave and do the shopping at the same time.
Walking back towards the harbour there is a house being re-thatched, looks great!
I spot a small boat in a front garden, bet my Eccles knows what sort it is! (It's an Uffa Fox designed 'Foxcub').
I pop into the little beach cafe and get an enormous egg mayo sandwich for lunch. (John took a packed lunch from ships stores!). Coffee was good too.
I gather up all the washing, off to the Harbourmasters Office and laundry. It is the standard, token in the slot job. With John's there is to much for one load so set his off and get more tokens from the HM.
Go back to boat and pick up the laptop. Now I can sit in the HM's canteen and connect to his WiFi. I upload all the last few days pics etc and we are nearly up to date.
Sadly as I cannot get my phone to link to the service provider properly here I will not be able to publish the log every day, but it will get written up and I will publish whenever I get internet access good enough to do it.
I need to go to the shop before we leave, but we have enough on board for today and the morning, we will wander up to the pub later for John to have another Guinness.
Plan to sail east then north tomorrow, to Arklow. There is a bit of a blow coming after that so will hole up there till it passes.
All for now, will someone stop the floor from moving!
John and John S.
Leaving Kilmore Quay.
Motoring at best speed.
Passing Tuskar Rock light.
Powering along at 6 knots.
Ticking the buoyage off off Rosslare.
Blue sky and good progress.
John off Wexford.
As the sun filters through the clouds.
Niall's little fib!
Tuesday 24th July 2018.
The alarm on my phone wakes me at 0700, I snooze on, very tired...
Eventually up and off to shower, only to find, contrary to what we were told, it is closed till 0900. Supposed to be 0700 to 1900!
So back to boat for breakfast.
Try again for showers at 0900 and happy till John finds a tape worm in his shower, the guys come in armed with bleach and sticks to dispose of it when we leave.. Not good.
I hightail it up to the supermarket for the ATM and provisions, John S has the job of filling water tanks and undoing the electrical hook up. I put a load of new way points into the GPS and lay out the courses on the charts, then put a route into the Lowrance plotter, so we can see it in the cockpit.
I want to be ready to slip the mooring by 1200 and we do.
The wind is light and from the south so we are not going to be getting assistance from that, I aim instead to motor at nearly top speed, fighting a weak adverse tide for 2 hours, so that we can then use the full weight of the tide up the Irish Sea to get us to our destination before it gets dark.
John S is on deck as we leave and removes all lines and fenders, we hook on as we come out of the shelter of the harbour, even though it is flat calm.
We motor out keeping the leading lights and marker boards aligned astern to ensure we are not swept onto the shoals just east of the harbour. the tide is actually taking us west, away from the danger though...
Once at the entrance marker a mile or so out we alter course by 90 degrees and head east.
Call Rosslare coastguard and get an instant response, book on to them with my passage plan.
We are now motoring at 3k revs to get the best of the tide, fighting against a half knot tide.. Well that's what the tidal atlas says it should be but it is more like a knot. Something we have seen a lot and a local fisherman tell me he has noticed the same. Also he says what I have been saying for 20 years, the average wind speed has increased by one strength Beaufort as well, pleased to hear a professional fisherman has noticed this too.
I check the bilge and thankfully it is dry. Wondered if if would remain dry running the motor flat out all day.... ( it does!).
Our speed over the ground is 4.8 knots, as we punch the tide
The VHF crackles with a small craft warning, I tune in, F6 warning for tonight, hope we are in before that gets here!
By 1320 we are at the Barrells buoy and the tide is cutting our speed over the ground down to 5.5 knots, got to make at least 6 to be able to get to Arklow, or I have to change the destination to Wexford, a tricky and shallow estuary full of shifting sand banks..
Watching our speed like a hawk. We thread our way between the Tuskar Rock light and Rosslare Ferry port. Darian and I landed here in October 2016.... Notice the speed rising to 6knots.
1500 it is slack water, know this because we come across a lobster pot with about a 100 ft of floating rope all around it, a major obstacle, imagine if we had not seen it....
We negotiate the buoyed channel to Rosslare keeping an eye on the one ferry we could see in the harbour, fortunately she does not move.
By now there is a slight breeze from the south, enough for me to unroll the genoa and for it to actually fill slightly, speed increases to 6.2 knots, hoped for more....We are now heading almost due north up the Irish coast, through channels in the sand banks that run parallel to the coast. We are now ticking off navigation buoys as we pass them. The speed increases, 6.5, 7.7, 8.2 and on one crazy surf down the ever increasing wave heights, 9.3 knots! As the boat's maximum speed under sail is 6.75 knots all the rest was tide! Far more that was detailed in the Tidal Atlas from the Admiralty.
We are scorching along, the wind is now a F5. I have to relieve 'Sykie' at the helm, she cannot cope, as we yaw violently side to side, with the waves rolling under us. I sit with my eye fixed on distant points on the horizon trying to pre-empt the yawing, for the most part I do OK, but any lapse in concentration results in a violent swing and a big effort to counter it. The motor is eased back slightly to 2.75k and our speed stays the same as we rocket along...
We fast approach Arklow and it did look as if my ETA of 2000 to the coastguard would be spot on, but as it happened we were losing the sleigh ride of tide and slowing now, so it was 2015 that we motor in. Once in to calm water inside the pier heads, we un-harness and John goes up with the fenders, 3 at first and a pair of lines as we do not know how we are going to be able to moor.
The long visitor pontoon outside the harbour is full, rats, hoped to lay alongside that, easier that getting in and out of the tiny Marina. I look and decide to raft alongside the first boat, as beyond that there is little room because of moorings in the river. John turns and says, 'Could you find a less expensive one to go alongside.'... It turns out to be 'Maybird' a 47ft Classic built in 1937 here in Arklow and as we glide alongside we are welcomed by the crew just back from a 9 day race round Ireland! Though the tide is flooding there is a flow out, so we gently come in starboard side to, which seems all wrong, but works.
No sooner we are secure than we are met by Niall the Harbour Master who invites us in, saying he has a snug berth for us.... Alongside a pontoon with a large warning sign saying there was a hidden obstruction! When I query it Nialls says it is a fib to keep the channel clear! I like it here! So we put the extra fenders and lines out and say cheerio to the 'Maybird' and crew, (we will see more of them later!). finally moored in Arklow marina at 2050.
We have added another 55 miles to the total, making it 681.
The next day I topped up the fuel tank and found we had actually only used 15 litres of fuel, despite caning the motor for eight hours, she got a pat from me!
A pair of grinning John's
Fiddler's Green neatly tucked into Arklow marina.
The marina was built on the site of an explosives factory!
Crossing the bridge and looking upstream, the bridge is also a dam, or weir, limiting the flow.
Looking down stream, the marina is tucked away on the left behind the last buildings.
The windows have pictures of a phoney interior!
Latest enrolled member, Paul.
The 'Maybird' presentation.
The F.G. IT hub in action!
The little people are here!
Wednesday 25th July 2018.
Awoken by my mobile and a text from Virgin telling me my allowances had been updated for the month. That's a joke, despite speaking to their help desk the thing only works part time and no data at all!
Then get a call from an unknown number, why do they only let it ring twice before ringing off? Ignore it. All my customers and Eventiders should know where I am....
I eventually crawl out of my pit and get coffee, then decant the fuel and find out how little we used. Off to showers. I leave the now empty cans of diesel with Niall who refills them for me. He takes them off by car to do it, that is service!
Meet another crew, from the Westerly 'Zephyrus' (think I got that right??) Mike and Cathy are from Watchet on the Bristol Channel. Mike turns out to have been in the Met police as well. We get some useful info on harbours further north and were able to pass our findings on to them. Cathy is also an expert on fish and chips and directs us to a local pub, Christy's, who do a mean fish supper. Note that for later.
We have a very late breakfast/lunch. Then off to Arklow to hit the cash machine, as the harbourmaster only takes cash.... Walk the main streets after crossing the river, like so many places it has 4 or 5 tattoos parlours, many charity shops and betting shops, but in amongst it there are good butchers and bakers, one in particular I note and later a magnetic attraction drags me through the door for a cream bun and coffee, young lady teaches me how to say thank you, (in Gallic) the guy in the tourist office also tried but they say it so quickly.. sounds like 'Gramadagus'...
Back via a bank and Aldi to the boat where we are invited to the Arklow Sailing Club for a special night, a presentation to the crew of 'Maybird'.
We ate aboard then made our way along to the sailing club.
During the day John S. had picked up a new enrolment to the Eventide Owners Group from a Paul in Arklow! What's the chances, we thought so left him a message on the mail address he gave. We heard nothing, but at the presentation Paul came over to see us, he had watched F.G. come in as he was one of the crew of 'Maybird'. He liked the 'cut of our jib' and looked us up on the net. We invited him to come aboard. He told us he had recognised a boat on our website and looking up a book in his library realised it was Colin Faggetters... He had his book. (Paul comes to see us aboard a day later!)
We spent a pleasant evening in the club, and as the weather is looking foul for a few days, will probably be back in there Saturday evening when it is open again.
We have managed to get some weather info today, Virgin has given the town free WiFi in an attempt to woo them to Virgin.. (Don't', I will be leaving them as soon as I return!! I didn't as it happens because I was not able to get the same deal from anyone else, unlimited data calls and text £25.00)..
Turns out we have rain and wind for days, gales, so opt to stay here till Monday. Then push on north, and with fresh information about the ports further north it will be easier, thanks Mike and Cathy.
Would really like to push on, and get home, but not in a gale in the Irish Sea thanks!
All for today, I will be back tomorrow to add some pictures, but for now we are staying here.
Two John's, doing the Irish tourist thing.. Heck where did that little person come from?? And begorra, it sings!!
The pier and the Irish Sea from Arklow beach.
A Fid and a belaying pin together, note the difference!
Paul stops by!
Thursday 26th July 2018.
The wind is howling in the rigging, there is no way I want to go out in this... At the moment the forecast is not good for a week!! We had done so well up till now, had to be a snag sooner or later but at least we are in a safe place and as a bonus one of the cheapest, just 30 Euros first night and 20 every night after, with showers and electricity. Good place to be till it gets better again. Lots to see and do, even a multiplex cinema if we really get bored.
Set off for walk to the sea wall and can see the Arklow Hotel that Darian and I stayed in two years back. The waves are crashing against the granite stones on the sea wall, not wanting to be out there today.
Return to boat for lunch, then up to town to try and send messages, no WiFi and the text messages will not even go with pics attached. A fail. In the library cannot log on without a library ticket!
Take a tour round the maritime museum, Peter the curator looks after us with a guided tour. Was interested to see models and photos of the Arklow ships I remember from my days on the London River, they were always well turned out, all were painted green!
Took a couple of pics of Fids and a belaying pin so I can show Mike in the bar the difference, I presented the Bradwell marina bar with a huge fid that I acquired many years ago.... It now hangs behind the bar, could be a useful cudgel!
Wander back to the boat, diverting only for a slice of Rocky Road and a Latte! John goes off to find a money machine.
Back on board I start to type up the log when I have a visitor, it is Paul, come to look us over. We chat for a while, turns out he is another ex police officer! Get him to sign the visitors book. Keep forgetting to get that out..
Then when he has left set to to type the log up and add the pics. Will be walking up to town for a meal later, Christy's pub and fish and chips!
The Two Johns.
Doors of Arklow..
Great drain/inspection covers. Worked out they must be water.
Sadly a closed down shop..
Ornate vintage door surround, with modern addition!
cast iron covers by the score in the roads!
Odd sign for a butcher?
What's the difference between founded and established, or is it just Irish?
I find a gem of an LP, sung along with both these ladies!
Alan's Star Tern alongside the pontoon.
F.G. snug in her berth in the corner of Arklow marina.
Tucking into John's pasta dinner!
The 'A board' John saw.
The M.C. at the club.
Signing the guest boron.
The clubs mascot boron.
Friday 27th July 2018.
Today we have to move the boat to another berth as we are staying for a little longer! First showers and breakfast.
Move just a few yards. Shame about Arklow is the pure untreated sewage in the river and of course in this marina, makes a joke of using the holding tank, so we don't!
Apparently they have been trying to sort the sewage problem out for 25 years or more and various people have blocked it, a nearby caravan park took them to court over the proposed site and cost the town dearly in legal fees. The latest idea is to re-develop much of the industrial area that is derelict and site it there, nearer the town. But in the meantime The Avoca River is an open sewer and I am amazed the place has not been closed down!
Apparently the Sea Scouts here would be the premier troop in the country were it not for the river!
Off into Arklow with my torn trousers to get them repaired. 3 Euros she says!! She does a great repair. However the next day I realise I have torn the pocket the other side too, so will have to pop them back into her if I get a chance...
Walk to the left over the bridge and explore a little that way, not much there but a few interesting old shop fronts and doors. more tattoo shops and another two laundrettes, though one looks closed. There is another Fish and Chip place, a normal take away. Gets good reviews says John who has data on his phone and Googles it!...
He promises to buy me a meal there. Might be stone cold by the time it gets back to the boat, but we have a spare insulated bag, so maybe.
We walked round the back streets and I find a used record shop, I spend a time browsing and buy some nice old LP's. He has a great collection of music here, but pricy, but each LP is cleaned in an ultrasonic bath, and they look like new...
Continue on round the back doubles, sadly Arklow has seen better days.
There are so many closed down shops, and bars, almost every 5th shop was a bar! Wonder if the new fancy shopping arcade with its high end stores was responsible, the Adli and maybe the new Tesco's and Lidls at the other end of town....
Thought the sign over the butchers was a little odd!?? Can you imagine a butchers at home selling corned beef and advertising it? Turns out later that is what they call 'silverside'!
Likewise the racing pigeon club building, a huge hall, with odd dates on the sign. We eventually come back to the main drag, I am then dragged sideways into that cake shop again! There is an strange force that does this... John buys me a cake and coffee!! A Viennese and a hazelnut Latte.
Coming out John is wanting to go to Tesco's, I opt to go the other way...
I spoke to the Harbour Master today and asked him if his day job was the huge 'Arklow' mobile crane parked nearby, it was. The give away was the calendars and model crane in his office! He told me he had, overnight, set a huge top light on a roundabout as you come into Arklow, it was the light from a Trinity House lightship!
I set off to see if I can find it.
I walk for ages and cannot see any sign of a roundabout in the distance, let alone the light he showed me but I do find the garage he bought the diesel from and it is 1.40 a litre (Euros). (We find that roundabout later!)
As I give up my mission and I phone home, Darian answers and seems confused. In conversation she lets slip she was expecting a call from the garage?? Why?? Seems she had an argument with the electricity pole in the garden and did not want to tell me, He He!
I walk back to the boat and on the way spot a familiar face, Alan of 'Star Tern', he had just sailed up from Kilmore Quay. He had a bashing on the way... He was talking, in Newlyn, of sailing up the Welsh coast to Ardrossan in Scotland. Then like me, he looked at the chart and changed his mind!
Instead he crossed to Ireland from Milford Haven.
Expect we will be seeing him in other ports on the way north...
Writing this at 1845 have to pause for John's meatballs in pasta!
Later we are off to an Irish story telling evening.
Back from the evening, it turned out to be a 'Rambling night' or an open mic. night as I would have known it at UK Folk club. Last time I was at one of those was 31 years ago! As we both had 'Fiddler's Green' jumpers on it was inevitable that I would be asked to sing! We sat through a hour or so of Irish folk, including Dolly Parton, The Beatles, Elvis and many shades of country and Western! In among it there were some classics I knew, a few rebel songs and a great rendition of a story about the Shankhill and Crumlin roads! I started the second half and with a lot of assistance from a couple of musicians and all joining the chorus, (known by all!), created a bit of a stir. I got recorded for their 'Facebook' page! It was a great evening, though I totally fluffed a second song I tried to do, no one cared!
During the evening the heavens opened, it fell, only as it can in Ireland. All were mightily relieved as they have severe water restrictions here. First rain in over two months!!!
Back at home I hear Darian had 2" of rain in the storm overnight and was relieved 'tree watering duties'. Hope the village Flower show tent survived!
Two Johns, one a little hoarse!
A Soft Day in Ireland, it was chucking it down!
John chatting to Ray live on BBC Essex.
The all day full Irish!
Mike Cathy and John S. in the Arklow Sailing Club.
Alan, myself and Mike and Cathy.
Alan a Scottish Giant with a smile to match!
We will be sailing together till Troon, he is heading for the next port, Androssan.
The light ship lamp Nialls used his crane for on the roundabout as you come off the motorway!
Paddy and John S at the Pyramid
The Pyramid, a monument built by the English Earl of Wicklow back 200 years back before the town existed, full of his own importance!
Not sure you will be able to read it, but remember the letters 's' and 'f' get mixed up!
Paddy's house with bike planter!
Paddy with one of his planters on the road out to Wexford.
A proud Paddy!
A photo taken of Paddy's picture. I will post his original back.
He is so well known locally! No wonder!
Looking across the river to the marina where we are.
The old dock and its wrecks.
Had Paddy been here too!
F6 waves breaking on pier.
The view inland.
Ragwort and Burnetts.
Sad remains of Tyrells.
The memorial gardens.
Irish Give way sign.
The Customs Cutter.
Smart looking vessel.
With a rib on the back!
Sunset over the Avoca river.
Saturday 28th July18.
Another day Arklow! Find out this morning that I am live on Face Book!! Eek.
Apparently the club posted my attempt at singing 'Fiddler's Green' and Niece Clare searched and found it. Before very long the jungle drums have been beating and family and friends from far and wide have seen it, oh dear... I made quite a hash of it, missing two verses and amalgamating another. Told the best bit is where my crew tries to poke his phone under my nose as he has found the words, unaware that interrupting a singer in mid flow is sacrilege and anyway I would not have been able to see it, wrong glasses!
I have not yet seen the clip as I am not a Facebook person, (those with it may want to read the news about the boss of it, and what he does with all that info he steals!!). However I have learnt that John gave my little camera to a club member and he recorded a video of my 'performance' on it. I should be able to load that onto the log here when I return, with the assistance of the webmaster, Peter!
Sure most of the family have had a laugh by now though.
At about 1000 I call BBC Essex. I had promised Ray Clarke I would call to keep him informed of my progress. I last called when I was in Newlyn and about to sail to Scilly. (Ray used to do a Scilly news item every week!). I chatted for 5 minutes and promised to call when I reach Troon.! Apparently a few at home heard me a fortnight ago, maybe some will have heard this weeks...
Walked round Arklow town again today and ended up going for a late lunch in Joanna's and I opt for the 'Full Irish' breakfast. Did not eat anything later on!
Bought a few provisions at Aldi later, milk and a quiche for tomorrows lunch.
At 2000 we wander down to the Arklow Sailing Club where we meet up with fellow sailors also stuck here. (not the worst place to be stuck I will say!) We have a very convivial evening, the blinds are drawn and the drinks flow till late... (I was on orange juice!). We have all looked at the weather and said we would all meet here again next Wednesday evening, as there is no chance of leaving before then. Earliest looks like Thursday, but that is to change.
John and Crew John S.
Sunday 29th July 2018.
Another lazy morning, wet wet wet! And cold with it. Eventually the rain subsides and after lunch we opt to go on another of the Arklow walks, this one up to the only pyramid north of the Alps! We had only been on the main road to Dublin for 20 yards when a car pulls up and hails us, it's Paddy the MC from the folk club! He straight way guesses where we are bound and bundles us into his car for a hour or so of tourist drive around the area, we pull up at the graveyard with the pyramid and a lady in another car with a visitor from Spain says 'Hello Paddy', he is waved at by many as we drive along, a real local hero this one, he tidies the litter, plants plants in planters he has placed all over the town, nice chap! He gives me a picture of the band, a 52 strong marching and dancing troupe! The Arklow Youth Band. I manage to photograph it so I can send his original back. He gave me his address. We actually visited his house on our travels! (I did write to Paddy later thanking him for making our stay in Arklow so memorable and sent his precious booklet back..)
We get him to drop us off at the top of town and thank him for his hospitality! Wander back to boat, it is gone 1800 and all the cafes closed, however most of the bars heaving! Raucous laughter and music from them all. Strange to see here... On a Sunday....
Walking past Aldi see that is open to 2100 tonight....
Back aboard and supper is Pilchards on toast for John and Mackerel on toast for me. Relax with my little iTouch playing 'my' music through the radio... rain gently falling....
Two relaxed John's
Monday 30th July 2018.
Woken by my phone, but as ever it does not ring for long enough for me to get to it.
Raining gently, another 'Soft Day' as they say here! At the showers Niall has posted the new forecast. Now Thursday has got 30 knot winds instead of 25, but at least it still shows the weather abating from Thursday afternoon for the next 4 or 5 days, so with any luck we will be away Friday and then if all goes well in Scotland in 10 days. There is about 200 miles to do now.. counting down the miles and days!
If the sun comes out after lunch hope to walk to the beach and the quarry, should get a good view out to sea from there. Meet Mike at the showers and he is champing at the bit too, may see him on the way to and from south beach.
All for now, back later,
Monday 30th continued..
After lunch we did walk to the 'beach'
As we pass the old fishing dock, which has a few pontoons for private boats, but no facilities at all, we saw the sad remains of several old trawlers, at least two sunk, one burnt out as well. Sad to see. This dock is big enough to have a large area for the trawlers and separate big marina, with all facilities.. Just needs the money to set it up....
The large sign board describing the dock made interesting reading, then I noticed the typo! And whoever wrote it got paid to do it! Do not feel so bad about the ones in here.. 'Aslo' not also!
We reached the river entrance piers and the 'beach', though I could not really recommend it as a beach! Mostly granite chips from the nearby quarry... We thought a mad young couple were swimming, in the surf, but it would appear they were lifeguards, 'training'?? They seemed to be having fun in rough sea and in their cabin as they towelled each other off afterwards!! Oh to be young again!
There was no one on the 'beach' to save...
A car park had a half dozen cars, occupants watching the white tops, it was a good F6. I tried to follow the footpath to the quarry gates as per the walk leaflet, but the path had long since been washed away, so only got 200 yards.
Walking back along the top of the dunes there was Sea Holly, lots of it... and as always, Ragwort, (that nasty yellow flowered plant that land owners are supposed to weed out and and destroy..) but when you looked closely at this weed it was covered in Burnett Moths, so it has a purpose! (Other than poisoning livestock..)
Walking past the old Tyrell's boatyard I noticed a 'Syncrolift' Having used the one at Wapping so many times to lift duty boats out of the river I knew what it was straight away, but this one was massive, it had a railway running onto it and must have been over 100ft long, in two parts, sadly now collapsed in part.
This whole area needs a huge amount of investment. There is a pet food factory here, on the site of the old Arklow pottery, a company that employed hundreds of local people and a sad loss when it closed, like the boat yards and the fishing industry.
Maybe when the water people sort the sewage in the river out, this place will be more enticing to investors.
The walk back passed a Seaman's remembrance garden, it was full of great plants, Agapanthus and other lilies, as well as many flowering shrubs, wondered if our Paddy had a hand in this place too.... sadly the local vandals had got in here too, as they had also destroyed most of the head stones in that cemetery with the pyramid in it... Walked back though the side streets to the centre of town, all was closed by now as it was gone 1800, just, but several of the tiny dingy pubs were very lively.
Thought afterwards about all our pills and potions, have enough to start a pharmacy, wondered what they would have made of all them!
We had a walk to leave the washing and on the way back I popped into the Centra supermarket and bought bread and a large and heavy pack of peat! I thought it was a good idea until I had carried it 200 yards, then realised I had another half mile to go and it was darned heavy! Back on board there was not a space in any locker so I wrapped it in heavy poly bags and gaffer tape. It now sits in the centre of the cabin floor as ballast!
We later walked back to town to Christy's for dinner, a red sky to the west as we returned to the boat. As the forecast was for F6 again thought maybe it would be sunny but windy, wrong, it rained again...
Writing this Tuesday afternoon I keep missing the keys as the boat lurches and rolls in increasing gusts of wind... It is very gusty. Hope the Irish training boat that left here for Greystones at 0930 gets there OK. I would not have gone, even in a 36ft modern boat....
We have just had a bit of quiche with fresh baked rolls and tomatoes etc. now sorting myself out to go for a walk up the side of the river for a couple of hours...
I set off on my walk, only to realise I had to collect the washing by 1730... So walk shortened. Met Alan, Mike and Cathy and we arranged to meet up at Christy's for a drink.
So I walked a little way up the river path, it is lush and green and I spotted a Salmon leaping! The water upstream is free of pollution, except from the mindless youths throwing cans and bottles in, sad cases.
Back to reality and the laundrette. 18 Euros for all our joint washing and they even washed my yellow zip up bag! All neatly folded too.
Up to Christies for a pint or two.
We had beans on toast when we got back. A good evening.
John W. and John S.
This is the terrible state of the water in the marina and in the river, hoping the horrible scum line will mostly wash off as we sail north Friday, the rest will get scrubbed off later!
The River Avoca. Where Salmon leap and kingfishers fly.
Fish and Chips in Arklow, courtesy of John S.
Not as nice as Christy's and they were not as good as Newlyn.
See what we get when we get the boat back to Troon and the 'Wee, Hurrie'.
Wednesday and Thursday, 1st and 2nd of
The forecast has not radically changed so I am opting to leave Friday morning at low water, approx 0800. So we have just a couple more days here.
Say cheerio to Niall and thank him for his hospitality and pay my dues. I get a discount, mates rate!
Walking into town we again bump into Paddy, twice! The second time he is in his car and presents us with the 1997 magazine of the Arklow youth band. He is rightly proud of the achievements of the band he organised. They have done well, just hope more come along to keep it going!
Drop into Joanne's cafe for coffee and cake again and back into Aldi for provisions.
As they say here 'It's a soft day', gentle drizzle!
On board later I cook up herby sausages and Colcannon, with fried eggs. Went down well.
We are supposed to be meeting up at the sailing club tonight, after dinner, with all of us Brits temporarily moored here and then Paul the local guy who enrolled with us, pops in to say, 'see you later'. However the wind is so gusty, F7, that racing is cancelled and at 2000hrs we are standing outside the closed club in the wet and give up, up to Christy's again.
This time another chap joins us, Jonty, of the Nicholson 31 'Trompette', he has just sailed back from the West Indies, on his own, he is talking of heading north to Largs in one go, calculate that at 200 miles and over 35 hours non stop.. rather him than me, bit busier than mid Atlantic here..... With no one on watch!
We end up having another great evening, making use of the free WiFi again to check weather maps and my home CCTV.
We are still planning on leaving Friday and Mike and Cathy alter their plans to leave Friday afternoon when it is calmer, heading south to Rosslare to anchor, then over to the Bristol channel the next day, should be calm. Alan leaves the pub a little early as he is leaving first thing to take the tide up to Greystones, he should be there in 4 hours, then Friday will come out and possibly meet us as we go up that way to Howth. (Missing Greystones.) Jonty is to leave in the morning too and set to get as far as he can. Bet he is in Scotland in a day or so....
We say our goodbyes and wandered back aboard, damp.
Thursday morning eventually up and about, showers and tidy up.
Today the sun comes out and it is warm for the first time in ages, the towel dries outside!
Last jobs aboard, refill the stern tube greaser and then draw courses on the charts and make way points that I put on chart and on the GPS down below.
Then make a route on the plotter with the same waypoints so crew can see if we are on course! It is about 38 miles to Howth.
Tonight before we turn in I will remove the main sail cover and disconnect the electrics and chargers, so tomorrow we just have to shower and have breakfast and go.
Tonight John is going to walk to the fish and chip shop he found, to buy me the promised fish supper. 1745 and he is just out the cabin to go and get it....
I will have all ready for his return.
10 days we have spent here, and a great little community it is, when the water treatment works is built and cleans up the river, it will be a thriving town again.
Time to get going. Can almost smell the finishing line!!
Two John's, both with itchy feet.
Leaving Arklow. Very calm.
The low cloud and drizzle covered the hill tops as well as drizzled on us!
John in the galley making coffee.
We were passed by a tug, looking all the word like a London one?? It was British.
Fighting the tide to go south.
As was this impressive Dutch ketch, Big boat and I bet a huge motor.
Impressive cloud formations.
Bet there was a lot of rain under this one!
The M.V. Helga, you do not argue with ships like this!
Or fast ferries like this one! The wash was not as large as I was expecting, we managed to ride it without getting water on deck!
Look hard, there is a seal in this one!
Berthed in the marina at Howth, before we move to a permanent berth for the night.
John W. filling the tank, topped up again for tomorrow.
John W on the orange juice again!
Friday 3rd August 2018.
We are in Howth.
Sadly have to report the sad demise of Sykie.... After over 1500 miles round the UK and Ireland and 30 years of service otherwise, today as we approached Howth, as I whipped her off the tiller to put the tiller hard over, to avoid a lobsterpot, she emitted a foul smelling acrid smoke and sulked. So off to the menders with her on our return, the least I can do for such a dependable auto helm! (A Navico 5500). (postscript, she could not be repaired, fried inside, so she now hangs in my study as a trophy!)
The day started early as the alarms woke us at 0630, showered and breakfasted and out of the marina at 0800, but not before Mike popped by to wish us well. Says he will mail me... hope he does.. (Sadly, he never did...)
At 0800 we left, and tidied up as we puttered out between the pier heads, once outside the mainsail went up, more in hope than anything else as there was little to no wind...
Call the Wicklow Coast guard and a nice gent chats, we have to book off to Dublin C.G. when we get there.
I had prepared myself for a day or three of motoring, but as it happened we managed to set both sails at various times and get them to pull, though the motor stayed on, at reduced revs at times.
Amazingly after a trip lasting 7 hours we only used 11 litres of fuel?
And no more water in the bilge either, but a lot of grease has oozed out of the fitting on the shaft to make a great mess to clear up later. New seal this winter...
The coast of Ireland crept past at first, the impressive Wicklow mountains, when we could see them for the drizzle.. At times it rained hard enough to warrant full oilskins, other times the sun came out to roast us...
For the first couple of hours we saw boats punching the tide heading south, the tide was flowing at over a knot, nearer 2 in places. They were all motoring hard. We even saw a tug!
It took us 3 and 3/4 hours to pass Greystones. The bolt hole if things went wrong, but the tide was flushing us north at nearly 2 knots so we motored, and sailed on. We see a few boats motoring hard against the tide before we get here, they are all going south and fighting a 2 knot tide, but most are twice our length. Seems the bigger the boat the less they work the tides. We do not have that luxury.
The most interesting bit was crossing Dublin Bay, there is a buoy in the middle and it is a roundabout for ships. Two traffic separation schemes combine here. First I stopped for the M.V. Helga, then raced across the 'motorway' to avoid another seen on the AIS display. Checking her speed I throttled up and crossed a mile clear of her... But the next one was coming in from seaward at speed, the Dublin Swift and at 26 knots she was going to go first! We politely waited.
Next we headed for the lighthouse on Howth island to get well out of the shipping, before turning to run half a mile off the peninsular and round to Howth harbour. We rounded up a mile off the harbour and stemmed the wind and tide for 10 minutes whilst I got the fenders and lines sorted on deck, there would be no time later.
Tried in vain calling Howth, so gently motored in, avoiding the children in racing dinghies and ignoring the bullying tactics of the locals in fast motor boats, one of whom at one point passed with just 6 inches clearance of my stern.. Daft blighters.... No patience and no manners. Had he clipped me it would have ended this trip, he was big and all steel!
Pulled up on the first empty berth and went up to the HM to get a berth for the night. F16 he said. After parting with many pennies I returned and we shifted berths. First job was already done, John had boiled the kettle and a coffee was waiting me!
We had a bite to eat then I set to and filled the fuel tank, it only took 11 litres... amazing. Armed with the empty can we walked up to check out the facilities. Organised fuel and left the can by the fuelling pontoon whilst we check the showers. They were foul! the floor awash in the changing rooms and the toilets stinking! For a posh club marina this was very bad.. OK they have had lots of kids in here today, but even so.. May try a shower later if it has dried out... But our loo with our holding tank is far more wholesome!
The pint in the bar was OK, but John thought his was off, maybe a bit of cleaning fluid in the glass or something, hope he is not ill as he insisted on drinking it.
I return to the boat and search out Sykie's replacement, it is buried up forward under John's bunk. I am calling it 'Simba', as it growls like a lion! It hopefully will do for the next week anyway.
I scrub the filth, from our stay in Arklow, off the starboard side, I had hoped it may have washed off today as we raced along, but when we arrived it was stuck solid... A scrub with the broom which I have attached a sponge to the back of the head, and a lot of washing up liquid, eventually clears it off one side. I will have to attack the other side, the underside of the bow and the transom elsewhere. Filthy....
We will be up the clubhouse for a meal later, but back in time for me to do the navigation for tomorrow. Tomorrow we have a long passage and for most of it, no tide to assist.
To date mileage 721. Counting down the miles to Troon soon!
A pair of hot John's baking here! (I know, nothing like it is back in the UK....)
Leaving Howth we immediately had to avoid pot buoys!
The island of Lamby.
Trying to find out why the replacement auto pilot did not bleep? It should have done, later it did??
Smooth seas off Lamby
Guillemot and chick.
Sea and Sky merge.
Thousands of birds all day.
large boat passes going the other way, against what tide there was..
There she blows! A Minke, first of three.
Another passes us, the tiny fin on the rear end visible! Identifies it as a Minke, about as long as us!
Bumble Bee hitches a ride, fed marmalade to recover!
Carlingford and Northern Ireland, the courtesy flags changed.
Low white cloud all day revealing where the Isle of Man was!
The mountains of Mourne.
Just make out land, The Isle of Man.
St. John's Point lighthouse, the locals are trying to buy it to preserve it!
Saturday 4th August 2018.
Up and about at 0730. I risk the showers but John S. will not. They were disgraceful. Mould everywhere, blocked toilets, horrible stench, no where dry for our clothes and abandoned clothes, sandwiches and kit everywhere.
Needed ripping out and redoing, no privacy either. For a so called 'posh club' they were the worst facilities I have had the privilege of paying for! I went into the H.M. office and complained, again. They said they knew, but nothing was being done! To my mind that made it worse!
Glad to leave Howth at 0800 that morning... As the forecast there was not a breath of wind so the motor went on at 2.5k revs and we set off. I did hoist the main, more in vain hope than anything else and it set in the 5knot breeze we created....
I had plotted courses the night before and was resigned to maybe a 10 hour day, just motoring. I was hoping for a 5 knot average speed or better. And for the tide to give me a lift, maybe 5 miles worth.
I call Dublin Coastguard and instantly get a cheery reply, they advise me to call Belfast on our arrival.
We used 'Simba' the alternative auto pilot for the first time, she was not as quick in the response nor and powerful as Sykie, but she could cope with motoring OK. At first the beeps were not audible, and that made it difficult to figure if it was working, as the lights were difficult to see in the sunshine, but later in the day it must have warmed up, as the beeper started working.. Will do till Sykie is repaired... (or as happened, replaced with a similar model, unused but 25yrs old!)
The sea was as flat as a pancake, hardly a ripple anywhere, the reflections on it merged into the sky at the horizon, you could think you were in a bubble!
I eased the revs up to 2.75k to achieve 6 knots and we ploughed on, passing first the 'Eye of Ireland', then 'Lamby Island' and 'Rockbilly' off the Skerries, I gave the last two a 2 mile clearance.... There were seabirds by the thousand, Guillemots and Razorbills, many with a chick in attendance, that dived as we approached. Gannets and Petrels circled and even a daft pigeon, who, after trying to land on the water, flew round us at mast top height before disappearing off to the east and I suspect oblivion.
There were also the odd Grey Atlantic seals, those with the big 'Roman' noses. They watched us curiously as we passed. We could see many fish on the fish finder, which is why they were all here I suspect!
We did not see another boat until 1300 when two approached us from the opposite direction, fighting what tide there was. Both large boats.. Big motors!
We had lunch of sandwich and cup a soup. Whilst eating his sandwich John S. nearly chokes, looking behind me he can see a Minke whale that is slowly swimming past! We get photos and film.
Shortly after, two more pass us, going the other way too. More pics. Hope I have them on video too.
We plod on, looking for more, to no avail, had one been within 2 miles it would have been obvious. The see was that calm. Barely a ripple.
As the motor had been running hard for a long time I slowed her down then stopped her and let her cool for a bit.... I then tried to remove the filler cap, with a rag over it, but all I got was steam, so allowed the pressure to drop gently, during which time it spilled a lot of coolant, not what I wanted at all. A mistake.
Eventually, when I could safely remove the cap, I had to top her up with three cup fulls of water, bet had I left the motor alone I would have only topped up with half a cup full, as I did the next day.
We are now off the border with Northern Ireland at Carlingford, so I lower the Irish tricolour and hoist the Ulster Flag. (The Red Hand!).
At this stage I check the bilges to find the two cup fulls of water that escaped from the water system, and no extra from the previously leaking stern gland.
Our phones ping as we close land, only to be told we are welcome to Ireland. But we are in UK waters?? Odd.
There had been a cloud formation visible much of the day, far to the east but now, beneath those clouds, we could just make out the mountain tops of the Isle of Man!. And further away high ground could be seen, maybe the Lake district?
The coast passes slowly, the 'Mountains of Morne', do come down to the sea, and magnificent they looked too.
The sun had been playing with us all day, at first reluctant to show itself, so we had fleecies on, but we had bit by bit gone to shorts and shirts, suddenly it got cold.. Time for jumpers and oilies...
As we near the lighthouse on St. Johns point, a breeze starts, right on the nose! And very chilly... I go up on deck and lower and secure the main, then rig all the mooring lines and fenders ready to enter Ardglass. I had anticipated 2000, as it happened it was 1915 when we docked.
Ardglass is a interesting place to enter, with a small rock strewn channel, but it is well buoyed. The extra buoyage seen as we crept in turned out to be more seals.
As we docked a dog was going crackers with a seal popping up first one side of him then the other, a good game for both...
I book off to Belfast Coastguard and have a
chat with the operator I am thinking by the conversation, that our passage
plan had been passed on by Dublin, great service they offer..
I am opting to stay here 2 days then the early start will not be as early, 0800. Next stop Carrickfergus I hope, approx 45m, then across the North channel to Scotland., approx 30 miles, to Loch Ryan and an anchorage, or further on to Girvan if the weather and time permits, .. then Troon!!
Really in the home straight now. Today 55 miles, total 776 miles.
Now only 117 miles to go! (Approx!!). This second leg has proven to be over 100 miles longer than I planned..... detours!
Staying here for two nights and then off Tuesday...
Two Johns, with the finish post almost in sight!
the skipper working on that filthy waterline!
See the green one in the mass of white ones.
Proper Irish Caravan!
Yes for real!!
John S. said I would have a surprise when I saw the ship model in the H.M.'s office. It was of old Bluenose, the boat I named my first Eventide after!
Seems Adglass used to have a railway, Beaching chopped it!
The island we are going to go inside tomorrow.
The Vikings have arrived.
Sunday and Monday, 5th and 6th August.
We spent Sunday and Monday exploring and clearing up the boat. I manage to scrub the filth from the port side of the hull, she looks smart again!
We walked up to the golf course to look over the sea, it was sparkling. Speaking to a local he showed us the dents in cars from the balls! Several times we heard shouts and wondered if a stray one was on the way...
In one garden I see the best caravan I have seen in Ireland....
Surprised to find many shops open on a Sunday, as well as a cafe. Bought John that ice cream I promised him a week back, and later lunch.
I tried to find some cards to send home, but the only ones were faded and tatty and £1.00 each.
Talking of £'s I emptied my man bag of 50 Euros in change, no wonder it was heavy! I bought provisions and got £50 in Irish notes as cash back!
Back on the boat, I fill the on board tank it takes 24 litres. Speak to Millers Oils in the harbour who will be open Monday and will refill my cans, a result. Diesel was not supposed to be available here.
The facilities are great, showers and loos all good. Pontoons and moorings good. Recommended. Very friendly, also meet Arthur and Emma the two marina cats!
We go back to the Fish and Chip shop for another try, Haddock this time, took it back to the boat and ate it in the cockpit, better than yesterdays! Very good!
Still no reliable phone service, it pings as I walk up into town and I get the odd text, but cannot reply!?!? Virgin phone service not working. John has his working and Darian calls him, much to both of our confusions as he thinks I am calling him and after asking me, turns it off, wondering how I can call if I have no service.. When it rings again and he can see I am not calling, he answers and it is Darian was concerned as we could not get a clear line when I tried to call her, then it went off.
All sorted, will be changing provider on my return! (Well threatened to but so far still with Virgin! I got so good a deal years ago, they want me off it, but I'm not budging!)
Monday we have another wander round, the local garage has an ATM for John and a Spar grocers for me to buy all the provisions we need, also find a chemist, useful, got an itchy foot... Those rough showers! prevention better than cure!
I spend some time working out tides and passages, we can take a good shortcut inshore of some islands, and what with going to Bangor instead of Carrickfergus, can save over 5 miles, and an hour. For Wednesday that will save another hour on the passage across the North Channel separating Northern Ireland from Scotland and could allow us to get further than Girvan, Troon and the finish maybe.. We will see..
The north channel has amazing tides and deep deep water. 315 metres!! Over a 1000 foot deep! Good thing is it is only 20 odd miles wide, so over inside 4 hours...
John S wanders up and sees a lifeboat that came in, an old one, off to a 150th celebration at Milford Haven. He asks the Harbour master where is the best place to get a hat, as he lost his over the side the other day, the HM bundles him into a car and rushes him to a chandlery the other side of town to buy one. Turns out Ricky the H.M. is a wooden boat enthusiast, Ricky Le Bloas restorations, that's the day job!
So motor checked out, water tanks full, fuel tanks and cans full and all courses laid in for tomorrow, we will be up early and away from here at 0730, hope to be in Bangor early afternoon, only down side is it is now raining, and it is going to be raining for a couple of days at least... Still everyone needs it.
There is a lot of Viking history here, as there is in Scotland and there is a festival soon, they are launching Viking long ships into the harbour!
Two John's poised for the finish!
Leaving the mountains of Mourne behind us.
The safe water mark off Strangford Lough.
Sails set and motor throttled back making 6 knots.
Skipper concentrating on the approaching sound.
The boat who decided against the short cut!
Donaghadee town and tiny harbour.
As we enter the sound.
Crew John steering us out of the sound..
Bangor marina, spot the green and cream one!
Excess sterntube grease being cleaned!
Tuesday 7th August 2018.
Up and organised and out of Ardglass early 0715. To catch the tide north..
Last night it was drizzle and just as dinner was ready, local herby sausages with new potatoes and beans, the Harbour Master turned up and wanted to show me his collection of old Seagulls etc.
Had to go, they were interesting outboards, only one Seagull, a couple of American ones and an old British one I could not recognise, maybe a Mallard?? When I could, I escaped back to the boat had dinner and then got to sleep.
Listening to the rain drops...
Pleasantly surprised this morning to find it dry.
We slipped the mooring and motored out, not a breath of wind. So much so that I did not bother to hoist the main, at first... Later I hoisted it as there was just enough to fill it. Another boat ahead of us had his up, but stopped and stowed it.
There was a bit of swell and it may have damped the rolling, but we plugged on. 35 miles today, 7 hours, I thought. I logged onto the coast guard and gave our passage plan. Arrival time 1400.
The sun tried to come out but it was cold.. I had set waypoints and we ticked them off as we passed, Strangford Lough entrance buoy, South Rock Buoy, Skullmartin buoy and into Donaghadee Sound to take a short cut in between some offshore islands and the main land. Another boat that had been with us all day, peeled off and did not enter the sound, it was tricky, narrow and relatively shallow, but it saved us over an hour.
As we left the sound the wind got stronger, maybe F4 but became hard on the nose. First the genoa was rolled, then eventually I got up on deck and lowered the main. The tide had now turned and was also against us, so we plugged on for another two hours to get to Bangor, making only 4 knots over the ground as opposed to the 7 earlier in the day, when we had wind and tide.
It took an hour to make Bangor having entered Belfast Lough, but at 1600 we docked and booked of to Belfast Coastguard. I then looked out the window and saw the Coast guard office was overlooking us!
A huge well appointed marina with maybe 750 berths! We walked up to pay dues, amazed to find just £20 for the night!
A short walk into town and I managed to find an Irish parrot for the Bradwell marina bar! ( 4 legs and a trunk, no not really!). I had been looking for a souvenir for them for ages...
We will walk back in and get something to eat then back aboard for an reasonably early night as I want to be away by 0900, bound for Scotland and Girvan.
I refill the main tank, takes 15 litres of fuel. I refill the sterntube greaser and then clean out the spilt grease from the rear of the engine bay, a real mess. Will be replacing the seal on my return!
Mileage today 35, add to the 776, makes 811!
I make it we have approx 67 miles to go to get back to Troon, barring diversions. Two days...
Two John's off to the pub for dinner!
Leaving Bangor, Northern Ireland.
See what we were sailing over!?!?
Leaving Ireland behind.
We slowed down to let this one pass safely!
The dolphins arrive!
White beaked ones!
The depth of this bit of the sea, deepest I have ever been over!
Keeping out of his way!
The Saltire is hoisted!
John S. in front of Ballantrae Bay, of R. L. Stevenson fame!
A fast approaching rain cloud.
Passing Paddy's Milestone!
Starboard pier Girvan.
In Girvan, according to Lowrance.
The 'Fish Tea'.
Wednesday 8th August 2018.
Fiddler's Green is back in Scotland!
Today we left Bangor at 0900 and in overcast skies hoisted the mainsail more in vain hope, as the wind was non existent. However enough eventually arrived, from the north, to allow them to set, but not really pull, so the motor was on all day, again.
Belfast Lough is a busy place for ships, cargo and ferries, so a constant lookout was needed and we had to reduce speed a couple of times to ensure ships passed far ahead.
I was interested to see the North Channel has the deepest depths I have encountered on this trip, a deep bit 315m deep! Over a thousand feet! The part we crossed exceeded 200 metres, deeper even than Loch Ness on the first leg!
We dodged a couple of rain showers, but at midday one heavy one got us, however we cared not a jot as we were over halfway over and were to be escorted for the next 30 minutes by up to a hundred dolphins, the same acrobatic white beaked ones we had all the night whilst crossing the Celtic Sea.
We had them approach us from all directions, every time we looked more were arriving to join the fun, to be fair we were the only small boat out here for them to play with though! They leapt, they slapped the water with their tails, they dived under us, swam upside down alongside us and generally had so much fun giving us a real great show, we forgot the rain!
After they left I went on deck and changed the courtesy flag from Northern Ireland, or Ulster, to the Saltire of Scotland. by 1245 we were off the tip of the Stranraer peninsular and passing Loch Ryan, Ferries were to-ing and fro-ing, but missing us as I had allowed the tide in the north Channel to carry us north a few miles, out of their track.
All day we had been watching the conical shape of Ailsa Craig. This Island was once a special quarry for those stones they slide on ice, few are hewn from it today and the island is given over to Gannets, they were passing us all day in squadrons of 12 or 20, doubtless all flying back with fish for the new brood. Magnificent flying machines... They are amazing when they dive in from a height, but superb fliers at low level, skimming between the waves with their wing tips almost touching the water!
As we motor sail in, I set a course to a point off of Girvan. If we arrived before 1500 I would have pressed on to the finish post at Troon, but I knew this was not going to happen, it was too late in the day.
Instead I was making for Girvan. Supposedly, according to the pilot books, the most difficult harbour to enter in Ayrshire. The only difficulty I could see, apart from the narrow entrance, was the shallow sands, but Fiddler's with the wheels down can go almost anywhere! I checked and double checked and planned to arrive 2 hours after low water when it would have made enough to give me a good 2 metres of water.
So at 1715 we entered in 1.8 metres, using 1 metre for us and having the 0.8 metres under us! We had already slowed outside and I had got up on deck, harnessed on, and lowered the sail and rigged lines and fenders, but pulled the fenders up so they were not dangling at sea, (bad form!). As we entered John went on deck tossing the fenders over as he did so, looking very casual.
I saw an empty berth and made for it, just as per the directions in the pilot book, however a local suggested I move to another a little further in as the one I had chosen belonged to one of the Ailsa Craig tripper boats. Not a problem.
Meet the Harbour Master, Tom, he is a cheery young chap and delights in showing me the new facilities, they are impressive. This place should be in all the pilot books, it is not in many and what they have is out of date.
We go to the local fish and chip shop for dinner, early as they all close early up here... I asked about a dish they advertised, Blaggis and ordered it, John asked about a Fish Tea, not the normal Fish Supper you get in Scotland. It was served with peas or beans, bread and butter and a pot of tea!
I loved mine, it was Haggis and Black pudding made into a fat sausage, 50/50 along the 9 inch length, and then battered! Delicious! Finished off with an Italian ice cream.
We then crossed the road to the pub for a pint of Tennents. The lounge bar was closed but we went into the public bar with all the locals, a hush fell, as is normal, but after a few moments they were chatting again and by the time we left were chatting to us!
The accent reminded me so much of my late brother in law Barry.
There was going to be a good sunset, probably, over Ailsa Craig, but by now it was chilly with a big black cloud rapidly approaching, so we hurried back aboard.
Not much to do tomorrow morning, check the motor, fill the tank and that's about it, may try to get a pint of milk... Then....
We leave here to go the last 17 miles to Troon, when I left off 5 years ago on the first leg!
Today we have covered 49 miles, making the total to date, on this second leg, 860. Add to that the approx 800 of the first leg, 1660 totalled so far!
Two Johns, looking toward the finish post!
The Red Princess with bow lodged on harbour wall! Straining ropes closing the harbour.
An exasperated Tom the H.M.
The view south along the coast.
Straight out to Ailsa Craig.
The view north towards Troon.
The war memorial.
A memorial to all the men of Girvan who died in two world wars.
Looking up into the top of the harbour.
John refuelling using his nifty self contained battery operated fuel transfer pump.
John rewiring the solar panel plug that parted company. Tools everywhere!
Thursday 9th August 2018.
You really could not make this up!
Here we are about 17 miles away from the finish post, boat all ready, crew geared up and weather perfect and some clown totally blocks Girvan harbour with a darn great ship!
The tripper boats and fishing charters blocked, the lifeboat blocked and we are too.
I capture loads of the fiasco on video and later hand it all over to the Harbourmaster Tom, who gives us a free night for my troubles. John S and I both send pics from our phones too.
We were all ready to go all I had to do was top up the tank, but even that was not critical, with just 17 miles and for a change a decent breeze forecast, in the right direction... A large timber carrying ship, the 'Red Princess' attempts a change of berth, trying to turn herself round in the harbour. Trouble is she is as long as the harbour is wide!
The skipper has her secured by the stern, dropping the bow rope and then trying to motor her against the lines. Not a chance. What was he thinking? The wind takes her bow and that is the end of it. Had he left a bow line on and cast off the stern he could have allowed her to swing then used the motor to turn her. Not quite sure what he had in mind.
They tried in vain to heave a line up wind to the jetty. Tom the harbourmaster only had a short heaving line, would not have reached, even with the wind behind him.. They had two lines on the stern and I could not work out why they did not walk one to the bow, but they kept trying with the heaving line. I told Tom I had a longer heaving line on board and nipped back to get it, but by the time I returned they had thought it through a little and transferred one of the stern lines forward.
I left the line with Tom as a present!
Then came the fun of pulling the ship in, no way was it going to be done by hand, but as it happened they had on the deck, a tractor used for grabbing and moving the tree trunks, so they attached the rope to it at the bow and drove the tractor back the length of the deck, the ship swung in, but to add to their problems, after securing the now shorter line, they drove the tractor back to the bow, re attached the line and had a second heave.. They got carried away and the ship struck the concrete harbour wall with a sickening crunch, taking out one of the dock ladders, a bit of concrete and a lot of paint off the ship! Though it had fenders, none of them were in the right place or at the right height!
I happened to have the little video camera in my hand and caught the lot on film.
After the excitement was over and there was still the stern line to get in, another fiasco, I gave the footage to Tom for his records. We got a free night here as a thank you.
So now we plan to leave tomorrow!
As Robbie Burns might say, 'The best laid plans o' mice an' men / Gang aft a-gley'
So today walked round Girvan, like so many towns, full of closed down shops and charity shops, tattoo parlours, barbers and betting shops, sad to see.
A walk along the front to take in the view was better!
I also filled the fuel tank from the cans, took just 14 litres, filled the greaser, but have yet to check the motor for oil and water, belt tension etc.
In the shops I found a butchers, there were several, and bought a pair of Scotch pies for tonight, and some garlic mushrooms, they will go well with the new pots I have.
Also a pair of Scotch eggs for lunch tomorrow!
Back on board I noticed the solar panels were not giving a charge and the sun was blazing, I found a pair of wires had pulled out, the wiring had got caught in the spray hood when it was lowered, so I re-secured them.
I had spoken to Galt Transport this morning and they rang back this afternoon, they are willing to do the same trip as they did 5 years ago for the same money! Astounded, I had allowed for a huge hike in fuel prices.. I will contact them again Monday and they will have a better idea when they can do it, but it may be Tuesday or Wednesday. A lot sooner than I had been expecting.
In between I will have to organise it with both Troon and Bradwell to load me onto the lorry and unload me! Simon of Galt transport even suggested that Brian the guy who did the job last time, may well do it again! Real result!
We will see what can go wrong with these plans!
Two John's, kicking heels in Girvan!
Leaving the small harbour at Girvan, at last!
Bashing into steep seas outside.
Calling The Coastguard, Belfast, with a passage plan, for the last time.
Leaving Girvan behind.
We are now in the outer Clyde Estuary with all its islands, Ailsa Craig in the background.
John S. looking forward to those promised fish and chips.
I recognise Troon on the horizon!
The low island off Troon, 'Lady Island'.
The sheds of the timber yards.
I can almost smell that we are back!
Welcome to Troon!
Just arrived at the marina office, HM takes the pic, with F.G. in the background.
Now we thought we had left Ireland???
Fiddler's still looking smart after many miles!
The Lowrance plotter says we are in Troon, so we must be..
Filling in the last bit of the route on the 'Fiddling Around' signs.
Wonder how long the red pen will last!
The 'Wee Hurrie'.
Friday 10th August 2018
WE MADE IT!
We are in Troon and the trip is done! Today another 20 miles so 880, making the total 1680 miles. It has taken me 5 years to complete this trip, with the years in between taken up with 2 years of the fight to rid ourselves of the unwanted visitors on the land next to us, when I dare not leave the place unattended, and then me getting kidney barnacles, that took two years to finally sort... So this day has been a long time coming....
Celebrated here on our arrival, with a rum in the posh bar! (Courtesy of John S.)
The day started slowly with us up to the showers and clearing up the boat, then the harbourmaster needed to chat to me about the 'incident' in the harbour that stopped us yesterday.. left my details in case I am needed. (Professional witness!)
Today the wind is stronger and there is a threat of rain, may well have been nicer yesterday....
We left Girvan at 1100 and motored into a stiff F4/5 and waves to match, straight out to clear the shallows and all the lobsterpots, then turned to the north and headed for Turnberry point, yes Trump's golf club! The coast of Scotland bathed in bright sunshine as we pass. No mountains here, but good scenery none the less.
I unrolled the genoa, which set nicely and throttled back on the motor and we sped off at 5 knots, heading for Troon.
It was too rough to see fins in the water, which was a shame, as I had been told Basking sharks had been seen in the area. All you see is the tip of a dorsal fin and the top fin of the tail.
The sea was on the beam and lumpy and at one point, one wave even had the cheek to leap aboard and soak me!
The threatened rain did not materialise, the nearest we saw was over Arran and Holy Island, but dissipated on it's way to us. So the sun shone.
The only down side was I had a couple of cup fulls of water in the bilge again. Sponged it out.. That duff stern tube seal again, will be changed, I could even put the old one back on! Winter job
There were plenty of guillemots about today, parents and chicks and loads of gannets, diving from a great height, fishing. Spectacular.
Soon I could see the wood yards of Troon up ahead. Off Troon, the low and hard to spot Lady Island with its little lighthouse became clearer and I had set a course to pass west of it between it and Troon.
The wind was supposed to ease off, but it did not. Increasingly bumpy as we approached, then suddenly it eased right off, the wind dropped and the seas flattened. I was looking for and found a small green conical buoy that was just to the south of the harbour entrance and marked the Crab rocks. Easing past it with the sail rolled up, the entrance to Troon opened up and John prepared the fenders and ropes in the cockpit, ready to rig when we entered.
At 1530 we entered Troon. The smell of freshly cut pine wood fills the air!
The huge outer harbour gave us loads of time to sort fenders and lines. The lady from Troon Yacht Haven gave us a berth and welcomed us to Troon.
After we had berthed I called Belfast Coastguard. I changed channels to their working channel and they cheerily came back to me congratulating us on the round trip. Seems they had been tracking us all round the UK! We had an interesting chat and I thanked him and all his colleagues for their watch, closing down for the last time.
Visiting the Harbour office the lady welcomed us back and remembers me, I explained I was trying to do the same as last time and organise the lorry and a lift at either end, she looked at the bookings for the workshop and confirmed that all was well, from Wednesday on, so Monday I have to organise Galt Transport and Bradwell marina at the Essex end.
Back on board I ceremoniously filled in the last section of the 'Fiddling Around' trip map in the cabin sides as John S. took pics!
Tonight aim to walk to the 'Wee Hurrie' to get fish and chips for supper..
John is looking at the long distance buses, that leave Glasgow for Milton Keynes, door to door.
I will be sorting the boat ready for transporting, but not till John has left.
I will clean her inside from bow to stern too! Now the wind has piped up again, and for the next few days it is going to be wild and maybe wet too.
So electric cables attached, chargers on as I will be sat here for a few days before transporting back to Bradwell. Go to keep the fridge going!
We walk to Wee Hurrie and back with two fish suppers, very good!
Mileage covered 880 Making total mileage on the whole trip 1680.
Incidentally, just noticed, this last page of the trip is in my green, my colour, just the way it worked!
A very happy John W. with John S., his crew, looking rather pleased with himself too!
Walked into Troon and re-visited a cafe that I had used 5 years ago, this amused me!
Saw this in Troon too, thought I had really found Fiddler's Green!
(you have to know the song to see why!)
My only Birthday card, but a cracker! The rest are waiting for me at home of course!
Sunday August 12th 2018.
I am on the boat in Troon, on my own, John S. caught the night bus to Milton Keynes last night.
I have started to clean the boat from end to end inside and have removed all the green protective tape from the rigging screws in readiness for mast removal.
Heavy rain has stopped more outside work....
I had a very pleasant surprise today when Andrew and Fiona, our friends from our village, who just happen to keep their boat up in Scotland, contacted me to tell me they had booked a table at Scotts restaurant for brunch today. They wanted to congratulate me on the completion of the trip.
What a lovely thought.
Little did they know today was also my birthday and I had always wanted to complete my 'Fiddling Around' in my 70th year, today I'm 71!
A very pleasant meal on great company, thank you.
John, another year older, more experienced, but any wiser?
roller reefing lines all gathered up and secured.
Life raft under the table with my bale of peat for the fire, the poles on their way up into the fore cabin.
Staysail boom, and Dan buoy stow neatly on starboard bunk, genny pole and boat hook to join them.
Had a pleasant surprise when this young lady and her colleague approached me. Ayr Tourist information.
Could they take a few shots with Fiddler's in it please. She tottered onto the deck and hugged the mast, petrified!
Monday 13th August 2018.
Awoke to light rain this morning, but very slowly it improved.. So today I have worked on deck, all rigging slacked off, boom removed with sail still on it, covered and stowed on deck, all poles, staysail boom etc stowed in fore cabin out of the way.
The life raft that has lived in the cockpit under a canvas cover was heaved into the cabin for the trip too.
Means I can still live aboard whilst en route to Bradwell.
Arranged to have the boat lifted at 0900 Wednesday and the mast removed. The Galt Transport lorry will be here at 1000 to be loaded and with any luck we will be on the way by 1100.
The guys here even found an bit of new carpet, an off cut, for me to cut up as mast padding... I will be laying the mast on fenders on the flat bed of the lorry so it is well cushioned. Chafe on a long trip could cause major damage. As it happens, eventually Brian was happy with the mast being stowed on the top of the boat. That made it easier.
As last time, I will be sleeping on board the boat on the back of the artic when we stop for the night... Hoping I can still manage to climb the stern ladder and the back of the artic! May need a step!
We will arrive at Bradwell Thursday morning, some time after 1000 I suspect and the lads there have been primed to unload me and lift the mast back on.
I am hoping that by Thursday afternoon I shall be back in my berth and in home waters and ready to go sailing again!
Darian will come to collect me when she finishes work.
Better go and get some more wash powder later, so I can wash the remaining bits of clothing and the bedding that needs freshening up... dare not take dirty washing home!
I was organising the washing, when I was approached by a very glamorous young lady and her colleague, doing a photo shoot in the marina. The had just come down from Scotts restaurant and wanted shots on a boat, told about me and my trip so asked if she could pose on F.G.. Well I could not say no, she was far too pretty!
High heels and the marina pontoons do not go well together, at one stage thought I may be lifesaving as she hobbled along the walkways! Could have practiced my 'Kiss of Life'!!
She told me planes were her thing though, not boats.....
John, ready to roll!
'Duke' hoists F.G. out of Troon marina
They asked what I used as they do not get clean hulls like F.G.
EU 45 of course!
Andy and Ian drop the mast for me.
Trundled round to the lorry with mast and boom secured on deck
Lowered onto Brian's artic trailer.
Brian, on the right, checking the chocks!
Not enough load to put the extra axle on the ground!
Galt Transport brings her safely back to Bradwell!
Ian and Lee lift her off straight away, to allow Brian to get on his way..
Gently lowered down prior to refitting the mast. At this stage I managed to scrub off the offending scum line!
Ian getting ready to gently raising the mast.
Back in her berth.
Home is the Sailor, home from the sea!
Wednesday 15th August 2018.
Up early and by 0830 waiting to see Troon yard foreman 'Duke' and his lads, Ian and Alan arrive. Alan came with me on the boat to cast off and take a line as we backed into the travel lift.
It was blowing quite hard by the time we were loading onto the lift, which in a way was helpful, as the boat turned obligingly down wind away from the hoist allowing me to back in, in one go. 'Done that before' they said!
I was then ushered off the boat so they could secure it and trundle it out of the water. They gave it a quick hose down but they were surprised there was nothing attached to it, 'When did you launch ' they asked, 'May??' ..... 'What antifoul is that...?' 'Is it legal stuff?'. They had not heard of EU45 or 'Marclear'. 'It works', I said... They could see that!
I was about to get on board to help with the mast, but firmly told I had to leave it to them.... Health and safety!!
It was just a few minutes past 0900 and there was Brian the Galt transport driver. He said we could leave the mast on the boat if it was lashed down, so they lowered the mast into the purpose made crutch at the back, the tabernacle, suitably padded, and rested the heel on the pulpit at the bow. As I do every year when bringing her home to the barn.
A few minutes later Fiddler's was trundled round the yard and gently placed on the back of Brian's artic. She was so light, just over 4 tons, that the extra weight bearing axle of the towing unit stayed firmly up!
We lashed down just as we had 5 years ago, Brian securing all the wooden chocks to the trailer's wooden deck with nails and me securing all the mast and rigging on deck. The boom, with the sail and cover on, stowed neatly on the starboard side deck. The genoa was left on the spar, padded in a few places with the carpet 'Duke' had supplied me with.
All secure, checked and double checked and at 1100 on the dot we set off. Me travelling with Brian in the very comfy cab of his 1 year old Volvo!
This one had two bunks in the cab, but I was sleeping tonight in the boat. 'The top bunk is a parcel shelf', Brian explained, full of kit, TV and the like! There are times when he has to have a co driver and that's when the second bunk is used.
In the cab there was even a microwave, a 24v one! A Fridge freezer, all mod cons!
We set off east across Scotland, using the recently opened motorway round Glasgow to link up with faster routes south to Gretna Green, this was to be our first stop!
Darian was following me on her phone! She knew where we were!
At the stop, Brian 'kicked the tyres' and checked the straps and I looked at my lines up on deck, nothing had moved.
We set off after the allotted rest time, the digital tacho-graph telling us exactly how many minutes we had to wait before it was legal to move!
With clear roads and a steady 53mph the miles soon ticked away. (Brian likes to drive a few mph slower than the permitted 56mph max....).
By evening we were near Alconbury on the A1M and looking for an overnight stop. Brian had already found out via his onboard computer that Cambridge truck stop was full, so we made for a local one he knew, only to find it had been bought out for a transport company's exclusive use and was now closed...
Plan 'B'. We ended up parked in an industrial estate, outside a VW dealership with security cameras and lights, an good overnight stopping place Brian noted for the future!
I climbed up aboard, with difficulty, and pulled the drawbridge up after me! Soon in my pit and sound asleep. Alarm set.
0530 up and washed, sort of, and breakfasted.. by 0610 we were on the road again and by 0830 arriving at Bradwell. A very smooth and uneventful trip, as it should be!
The Bradwell marina lads, Lee and Ian were there waiting for us!
Soon had F.G. off the lorry and chocked up on the ground, still in the slings.
I was so busy I never noticed brother in law Keith turn up, he had come to assist! What a gent!
Then a familiar car pulled up, it was Darian, on her way to work... she had tracked my phone and knew we were here, she bravely climbed the long ladder to reach me up on top of the boat on the back of the lorry, just to give me a kiss! Then she was off to work.
Said my farewells to Brian, who was able to use the marina facilities and also have a belated breakfast, before ringing in for his next job! I never saw him go so don't know where he was bound this time... He will be on he road till Saturday night. Understanding wife!
All the time we unloaded the weather was great, but as soon as the boat was lifted back into the water, the drizzle started, you know the soaking stuff... So I opted out of tensioning the rigging and we headed for the marina bar for coffee.
As it showed no sign of letting up we eventually got back on board and raided the fridge, pork pies, Scotch eggs and a sandwich. We were just discussing whether to risk putting the mainsail and its boom and staysail and its boom on, when it stopped raining.
Half an hour later the masts rigging was tensioned, the pre-bend in and all stowed neatly. A few minutes later Darian arrived from work!
Emptied all the bags of clothing and the contents of the fridge etc and was about to leave when I remembered one last job.
I hoisted all the flags of the countries and counties we had 'Fiddled Around'!
We did come back later to take more kit off and to have a homecoming meal in the bar.. Felt I was really back now!
John, grinning from ear to ear!
Salty the ships cat!
Proudly wearing the lifejacket I designed many years ago for Maddy my cat.
I donated the idea to ML Lifeguard without a patent and they agreed to make it public property, so companies could all make these for cats and dogs!
Quite proud of that.!
This trip could never have been undertaken without the help and support of many people, foremost on that list is my Darian.
She has put up with my single minded planning and preparation for years, and in addition has had to run the home and look after the new Spinney as well, in what turned out to be one of the hottest driest summers ever! Something she has done so well. Despite my cat waking her at the crack of dawn most days and presenting her with mice!
I have to thank my two regular crew, who assist me when launching or recovering every year, brother in law Keith and work colleague Phil, without them I could not manage. We work so well as a team. Add to that they have both been crews on different parts of this trip. Phil clocked up 545 miles of the 1680!
Then there are the other crew members, friend Brian and daughter Jenny from part one, Nephew Harvey and grandson Brandon and of course friend John S. who had the longest offshore bit!
Add to that list the people we have met or who have assisted us on the way, especially friends Andrew and Fiona in Largs and Steve, Harvey's dad, for his epic drives to the West country and back, twice, as crew transporter! And all the 'other halves' who have signed the crew's chitties to allow them to participate...
Without all of them, I would not be here, sat on the boat, in Troon, having achieved a long held ambition... Thank you all.
There is one member of the crew who has supported me the whole way round and been ever present, given a laugh to most crew and visitors. I am of course referring to 'Salty' the ships cat! When he gets home he is going to have some tails to tell!
I intend to have a crew party at some stage later this year.... I will be in touch!
As ever with a trip like this there are some lessons to be learnt.
Some things worked well, others failed. Even with all my planning and preparation!
The Holding tank has been one of the best items I have fitted. Been in 6 or 7 years now. Can be used in harbours that dry and is used in every marina to save the walk to facilities in the night, sometimes a long walk away.. Recommend every boat fits one, if possible!
Likewise the Beta 17 motor... fitted 24 years ago, maintained by me and a real gem! Three cylinder Kubota based motor leaking out about 13hp at the prop...
And the larger replacement fuel tank! Doubled in size to 16 gallons it's capacity was OK for every passage, even the 135 mile one! Fitted low under the cockpit floor and when the old tank was removed from under the deck it freed up useful locker space.
The new Plastimo roller reefing drum I fitted and the sail controls, lazy jacks etc., all were great. As were the replacement tan sails. (I still have the faded originals as spares!)
The battery charging and solar panels all worked fine. Re-wiring the fridge battery with a socket to take a direct charge from a shore powered charger worked too. I am on shore power now, charging the fridge batteries and the main services batteries. (Solar panels do not work in Scottish rain!).
Fridge was on non stop, all the trip. Great asset.
The Lowrance Fish finder, bought to show me the contours of the bottom, was great, it did that and more, working at over 200 metre depths too.
The Lowrance Plotter in the cockpit was liked by all and was great to enable the crew to keep a check on my navigation!
The old Auto helm 'Sykie' a Navico 5500 will go to be repaired, as she performed so well on this trip and only failed at the very end. The replacement I was convinced to buy by the crew for the first leg was a handy stand in, but not as good. Less powerful.
Update, Sykie has been in the menders, Mansbrite at Maldon. They found she was beyond repair, as not only the motor had gone but the circuit board and wiring burnt out!! I have acquired a later working Navico 5000 unit, it is as new and a perfect replacement! Sykie II!
Do not think anyone would have thought the VHF would fall over half way round, that was just unfortunate and easily, if expensively, remedied. However the new VHF, a Lowrance Link-6 refuses to allow access to Channel M or 37. Many marinas use these channels in the UK so I have mailed Lowrance to find out why.
Update, seems I missed a page in the menu when I first programmed the new radio, but told my local dealer can reset it. Spoke to Mansbrite in Maldon, they can do that and they can enter my new MMSI number at the same time! Done.
I have also to connect the external speaker in the cockpit to the radio, a simple job, I just need to buy a phono socket and wire it to the output cables from the radio, so I can plug in the speaker plug. Do not want to cut the plug off the end of that speaker cable. Bought!
Update, using our EBay page bought a phono socket with 2 wires attached that I can hard wire to the wires from the radio. Sorted!
The failure or leak in the Deep Sea Seal was unfortunate and I could not have foreseen this either.. I have used these for years, ever since launching 28 years ago, never ever had a problem. When fitted I did not take as much care as I normally do to centralise it.
Update, its not leaking now but I have found I can adjust the rubber sleeve on the sterntube to square it up, will check to see if the face is badly scored, if so I will have a go and re-facing the bronze bit over winter! Shaft out for that.
Alongside the seal there is a stainless spring strap that connects the anode on the hull electrically with the stainless shaft, to protect shaft and prop from corrosion. Where it touches the shaft, the strap wore through, so I have to replace that too, not a real problem. See now I can buy a special anode connector with a pair of carbon brushes that sit on the prop shaft... may last longer... Will look into that...
One other item failed, that was my gas detector. Like the old VHF radio it was 30 years old, bought whilst I was building Fiddler's Green. One day it just refused to set and kept activating, think it has had it, so that will be replaced. Think I had my moneys worth. I even have a new one at home, that I acquired a little while back and was thinking of using in another boat, but I never got the boat.
Update, sorted the 'spare' and will fit it!
Associated with the last one, the gas igniter I use for the cooker packed up!
Update, bought a can of gas for it and it now works fine!
I had a problem with the 'Idiot Light' for the holding tank. It was supposed to come on to warn me the tank was nearly full.... used to work, but on the trip, it didn't. So I have to remove the switch from the top of the poo tank, when the tank has been washed out and emptied, and we are ashore. Sure it just needs cleaning... Messy job.
Leaking ventilator on the foredeck. I will be looking into either replacing it or finding a way to seal it effectively, if I ever decide to cross a rough sea again!
Update, found the simplest of ideas best, tried the mini sink plunger I bought in Wells next the Sea again, if pushed harder, right up into the vent hole it neatly pops out into the Dorade box and seals it totally! Job done!
Bet I will be adding a few more to the list, but for the most part I have been very pleased with the way the boat and all its kit performed. Kept us all safe, warm and for the most part, dry!
Counting the cost!
I thought I should try to asses what this has all cost. I have kept all the receipts for fuel, overnight moorings and for shopping. I could be a real nerd and add it all up... However I think I can make a few close estimates.
The total trip took 100 days and nights, that is including 2013 as well as this year 2018.
100 nights mooring fees at an average of say £24.00 a night, which allows for the few that only charged £20 and the odd nights we anchored, as most marinas charged in excess of £28.00, so there is £2,400!
Add to this fuel, we kept track of this as you can read in the log and after most days sailing/motoring I was buying 10 to 20 litres. We use approx 2 litres an hour at 5knots cruising speed and 3 litres and hour at full throttle... 6 knots or head seas... I worked it out at approx £800.00 worth, we did a whole of motoring!
So fuel another £800!
Then food, for myself and crew. This proved to be more expensive than I first thought, as I did buy meals out. Even a 'Fish Supper' comes to £20 for two these days! General provisioning of the boat cost approx £50 to £70 a week without any extras, and we all like the little extras! Be it fresh fruit, the right cornflakes or decent coffee... When you tot these up you are looking at £75 to £100 a week, for two. For 16 weeks, another £1600! Add the meals out and drinks £2,000 easily. And I do not count the £250 I spent on food stuffs to store on board. (To be fair a little of this is still there... and will be used on board or brought home as emergency winter supplies here!)
Then there were Scottish Canal transit fees, (on the first leg), £210.00.
Finally there was the lorry trips. Most would never do this but for me it was the best and only reasonable way to transport the boat home from Troon after I stopped the first leg there and the obvious way to terminate the second part of the round trip when I got back to Troon. Cost of both journeys, £2250.
So to just do the 100 days and 1680 miles cost would be:-
Mooring fees £2,400
Canal transit fees £210
Total of £5,410! Approx....
This is my estimate of the full cost of a 100 day round UK sailing/motoring trip!
For me add the two artic rides £2250 bringing the grand total to a few shillings short of £7,600!!
And as Darian has pointed out, I have as well, a paid for mooring in Bradwell that for 2 months both years, I never used!
You can now see why very few people get to do this trip, apart from the cost of fitting out the boat and the charts etc., the daily costs soon mount up!
I could only do it because I did it in two legs, 5 years apart and my Seagull business allowed me buy the extra safety kit and to save enough to do it. As it was I came back happy but skint!
So to do this again I would recommend really needing a 40ft sea kindly boat with a thumping great ultra reliable engine and also you need very, very deep pockets!
I feel privileged to have been able to do it in my own home built little boat.
The enormity of the trip has only hit home some weeks after my return!
Now I can worry about the expense too!
Time to start EBaying all the charts and pilot books I will never use again, to put a few bob back in the kitty!
The crew assembling.
I hand out little parcels.
The boxes opened.
And contents revealed.
Smiles all round.
They went down well.
Admired by all.
Skipper caught with beer in hand.
Burning the lunch.
Explaining the flags..
The Red hand of Ulster.
John S displays trophy.
Pic by K.S.
Darian with her yummy deserts!
Sunday 30th September 2018.
The Crew Party!
At just before noon we had our first guests arrive. John and Katrina. Followed by sister Sue and crewman Keith, crewman Phil and Val, supporters Andrew and Fiona, driver Steve and niece Clare, Harvey's mum, with family Emily and Sidney and of course Darian and myself. Fourteen of us assembled to chat about the trip, the adventures and the friendships.
Pics by J.S.
I had bedecked several garden gazebos with enough nautical kit from my sheds to emulate a Boat Jumble! Old fenders and oars, ropes and lifejackets, even the old dead VHF radio and my old faithful but now defunct auto pilot, 'Sykie' was out there.
There was also a rather lovely watercolour of the boat on display, one my daughter commissioned for me by a local artist for a big birthday a while back, as well as the big UK map my Darian used to keep track of us during the trip...
Pic by J.S.
The red and green bit was 2013 the red was the 'proposed' routed for 2018. We never actually crossed Scotland to Edinburgh, the canal was closed!
It was only when I got home and saw that map on the fridge door that it really sunk in, the enormity of the trip. When you are out there busy with the day to day planning and 'sailing' it does not figure highly, but seeing it on that map... especially the offshore bit from the Scillies to Eire.....
pic by J.S.
In the Kitchen there was a vase full of rather special flowers for Darian, 'Belladonna Lilies' from the Scillies, for her support for all of this, could not have done it without her. And she kept the 'Bluebell Spinney' alive throughout the high temperatures and drought the south east suffered whilst I was away this year. All commented on how good the trees looked out there! Great job Darian!
Outside I had flags everywhere, an old set of code flags, plus the Fiddler's Green house flag and the flags of the countries and counties I had visited! (Also the flags of France, Belgium and the Netherlands that we has previously visited!).
The beer and wine flowed and the BBQ was lit, the sun shone for us. When most were here I presented them each with a small parcel, suitably gift wrapped in a section of the Admiralty chart for the Dover approaches, (an old one 1993!).
I captured a few opening them. Inside there were small boat shaped trophies, on a green Perspex sandwich, with hard wood timber outside panels, laser engraved on the 'sail' with the 'Fiddling Around' logo and dates and a personal message of thanks to each and all of the individual crew. Also ones for the helpers in Scotland, Andrew and Fiona for their efforts ferrying crew and to Steve for his mammoth driving job going all the way to Devon and back, delivering Harvey and Brandon and collecting Phil, then to Cornwall and back a week or so later delivering John Stevens and collecting the lads.!
My sister Sue and Keith presented me with a 'Certificate of Achievement', on behalf of all, it will be treasured!
My daughter Jenny from Devon, who could not be with us sadly, sent me a larger version of the trophy that arrived a few days after I had returned. It was my birthday present but she had to wait till the circumnavigation was completed to have it made! It has a rather lovely personal message engraved on it. (no prizes for guessing then where I got the idea for the crew trophies!).
We enjoyed the local butchers spicy bangers, Chicken and his really meaty burgers that were served. I was on BBQ duties, but with my track record I was very closely supervised by my sister and Darian, after all not everyone can burn a poached egg.. the burnt offerings were served along with Darian's famous pasta salad, jacket potatoes and loads of other nice delicacies, olives, stuffed peppers (Oh hot, hot hot...), with buns and all the trimmings. there was even food for the vegetarian, Clare...
A veritable feast. Pleased to say at the end of the day there was a little of everything left over! Just as well, because Brandon turned up on his motorcycle later, to polish off some of it! He could not get here for midday, he was pulling pints in the 'Black Bull' Great Totham, just like in the Royal Navy's recruiting advert!!!! 'Made in the Navy!!.'
Was pleased to tell all that Brandon has now passed all the tests and is awaiting a call up to join the Royal Navy. Brandon was presented with his little trophy and also a copy of the local laminated chart I bought in Plymouth, so we could spend that day puttering up the Taymar looking at all the Navy establishments around Plymouth, will look good on his cabin wall! I refrained from marking the chart with the spot where he lost his designer sunglasses over the side though!
Harvey's mum Clare has been entrusted with Harvey's Trophy as Harvey has just started university in Sheffield and could not attend. The only other crew man who could not attend was Brian, with Mo of course, as they were recovering from their return from Alaska and a cruise. His trophy posted on to him.
Pics by J.S.
As the afternoon wore on, the yummy desert Darian appeared with was consumed, and as it got chillier the fire pit was lit, strangely we all ignored the warmth from it, (except Emily and Sidney..) and sat out in a circle chatting till eventually all had coats or blankets. Coffee and tea was served and at just after 1700 the get together wound up!
I have in the past organised 10 pin bowling and a meal out a few times before and I am guessing we will do that again in the not too distant future.. Will be warmer! Great to see everyone get on so well!
The question on everyone's lips was, 'Where to next John?'. For my part I am not thinking ahead too much, but I hear the Azores are nice to visit!
proud builder and skipper of Fiddler's Green, saying a big thankyou to his crew!
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