At last, land was sighted. At 5:30 in the morning, the other watch was woken up, just in time to help fluff the mainsail and moor up. It was a tight squeeze to get into the lock, and tighter still to get onto our mooring, but by about 6:30 we were moored up and good to go. It really was fan dabi dozi to be back on shore again, and a general sigh of relief was heard from the members of our crew who had been feeding fish from Dover all the way up to North Shields. With our new shore skipper elected, we ran ashore to the local chippy where we stocked up on saturated fat and beer pretending to be Snow white and the seven+ Dwarfs, the staple diet of these ere parts. With a yo ho ho we staggered from pub to pub, singing, dancing and generally having a great time meeting the locals.
Returning to the boat, the sound of rolling thunder rang throughout the vessel as tired heads imbibed with ale dreamed of far off shores where mermaids caressed their weary brows. We’re sorry to see Jeff go, but we’ll sleep more easily without his sonorous snores. This morning we’ve been seeing people off and getting ready for the next leg. We’ve planned a menu for the next 10 days and are ready to go shopping for it, with some of us planning on doing some personal shopping. The American on board wants to stock up on familiar staples such as peanut butter and fluff (a sticky, white, marshmallow based substance) for sandwiches. Those of us staying on are getting some washing done to keep the stench to a minimum. We also need to replace a couple of life jackets as they had been set off while being used as pillows during halibut dreams.
By Ken and Asher
1st night watch took over at 10pm after being woken with hot drinks & the good news it had stopped raining. A 3rd member had joined the seasickness club whilst we’d been asleep. We were now under sail with a pleasant south westerly wind on a broad reach with the main & the Yankee. We settled in for our 4 hour stint, adjusting to the dark with a session of the name game. We were off watch again at 2am handing over to the next watch & more hot drinks just as it started raining.
5.35am wake up call with more good news – porridge had been made & it had stopped raining. They’d also had their 1st watch where no one was ill! The stay sail was hoisted whilst we were asleep & with a freshening northerly wind. 1 of the 1st jobs as we took over at 6am was to change the number 1 Yankee to a number 2. Once we’d done our 1st sail change at sea it was time to do a tack. We soon realised we’d have to tack back again which was good practice. The wind had also dropped so we needed to change the Yankee back to the number 1. After we’d made the boat ship shape it was then time to prepare lunch, soup, rolls & sausage rolls before handing over to the next watch as it had started raining again. Visibility was diminishing so we switched the radar on as we went for our afternoon nap.
The next watch made steady progress north with a couple of tacks & as the guard rails were in the water the number 1 Yankee was changed back to a number 2. Another vomit free watch & a warming pasta dish had been prepared. We were now just over 50 miles as the crow flies from our destination but unfortunately we still had to beat to windward. We settled into our routine of tacking & looking out for lobster pots & it had pretty much stopped raining (we were sailing through Yorkshire.)
By Helen & Les
It’s now 19:00, 13 and a half hours into our big push. We were up at 5 this morning, well before it was light, and moving pretty quickly. By 5:27 we were off our mooring and out of the marina; we were out of Dover Harbour shortly thereafter.
The watch system started at 6, by half six we had the main sail up, and by 7:15, the Yankee and Foresail were up and most of Ollie’s watch down below. We’re running 6 and 4 hour watches, with two 6 hour watches between 6 AM and PM, and three four hour watches until the next morning. As a part of Lindsay’s watch (having just come back on and having spent my time off asleep), I can only speak about what happened between 5 and noon and after about 17:30 when I woke up. In that time, 3 from our watch have joined the seasickness club (myself twice), though having gotten that out of the way, we are all feeling better.
Our morning watch was fairly uneventful. Once we had all 3 sails up, we made good time, reaching 8 or 9 knots fairly consistently. By noon, however, the wind was faltering, though we were beginning to get more sun. As the next watch was coming on, we had lunch, a delicious, hardy meal of baked jacket potatoes and fixings (N.B. this is American for toppings). Sometime during my slumber, the Yankee and Foresail came down and the motor went on, and we’ve been motor sailing since, averaging about 7.3 knots. Dinner tonight, also served at the change of watch, was equally comforting: Chicken Tikka with rice and peppers.
As it approaches darkness, we’ve turned on the boat’s lights. We’re going to keep going during the night and through the morning; we still have about 150 nautical miles before we reach our final destination of North Shields, downriver of Newcastle, and we need to be there by Saturday.
Good start to the day with a breakfast of bacon sarnies to aid recovery from another evening sampling Dover’s nightlife. Unfortunately the day started to go downhill as 1 member of our band had to leave the boat. We organised the deck for our long sail & finished drying off our Foulies. We then played cards & chatted as we waited for the tide to come in. We prepared to set sail with the afternoon tide and as the winds were still quite strong, we set the reefing lines. Later that day a paramedic visit & a trip to the hospital meant we unfortunately lost our 2nd member of the day but the crew member is fine and their next of kin are happy to have them back.
We postponed our sail & set about making the chicken stir fry when our 3rd misfortune happened with a chopped finger but we’re grateful he managed to stay on the boat otherwise we’d be down to 13! We’re going to have an early night & try & set sail early tomorrow with the hope of being able to leave Dover & our bad luck behind & start heading north.
By Helen, Les, Ken & Geoff
After an interesting evening the night before in a local pub we spent the day taking in the sights and entertaining ourselves as we waited for the storm to pass.
At least half the crew went out to the local tourist attractions such as the Dover Castle, the White Cliffs of Dover and some even went swimming. Everyone else stayed on board and entertained themselves with card games and Youtube clips of cooking programs…
Being moored up meant the food was easily prepared and our breakfast, lunch and dinner were culinary master pieces.
We can’t leave until tomorrow so we have one more evening here and several hours of entertainment ahead. Most of the crew are looking forward to watching the England game and hopefully all the crew will make it back before we cast off tomorrow.
By Tim, Steve, Jim, and Robert (in spirit)
We weren’t able to leave the harbour before 10 this morning, so a breakfast of porridge was ready at exactly 8:30 and we didn’t prep the sails last night. Right at 10 we were in the lock, ready to head out. Lindsay steered us out of Eastbourne and not long after we were able to shut off the motor and travel entirely by sail power. At one point we reached 11.3 knots, and we were making good time. After a morning tea break, we sailed further, past Hastings, before a lunch on the go. White watch cooked up quiches and salad, and the rest of us ate on deck. We had wonderful weather, pushing us further along, right until we were about two hours out of Dover.
Before we left this morning, we had cancelled our plans to sail to the Netherlands because of an incoming storm that was forecasted to peak at Force 10 when we would be right in the middle of the North Sea. This afternoon, the beginning of that weather began to manifest itself. What began as a drizzle around 2PM became torrential by 3:30 as we motored into Dover; at this point, we noticed that the skipper was doing an awful lot of navigation down below. We had to be in by 4:30 in order to avoid a sandbank, and we pulled into our mooring right before 4. 45 minutes later, we had all the sails neatly away and were working on drying ourselves out, with the help of cups of tea and hot chocolate.
After some time relaxing and doing our best to wrap our heads around cribbage, dinner was served, full of pork and cauliflower and rice goodness. We’re now ready for a relaxing evening and blue watch has set about cleaning up. Just in time for us to not be on deck, the rain has subsided.
By Emma, Asher, and Trevor
Day 2 Portsmouth to Eastbourne
Early start up at 6am, prepped the deck & set off 5 minutes early at 6.55am to catch the tide. Learnt how to hoist the sails – number 1 Yankee, Staysail, full main – & set the sheets. Poor forecast of rain & light winds but had a sunny start & a nice breeze we headed east with bacon sarnies on the go.
Manage to stay ahead of most of the rain as we passed Brighton & Beachy Head & we all had a turn on the helm & we saw a Gannet as we were reaching on a southerly wind…
As we reached Eastbourne about 3 hours ahead of schedule (worth leaving that 5 minutes early) we practised man over board in much fresher winds. A few attempts later we managed to retrieve Bob & headed into Eastbourne Marina slightly less than 3 hours ahead of schedule. Through the locks & a tricky turn we arrived on our pontoon & had our 1st attempt at flaking the sails & cleaning the deck. Had a very healthy salad & pineapple & then headed to the pub.
By Helen, Les, Geoff, Ken & Phil
By the sounds of it everyone has had a rather easy time making their way down to Portsmouth. Arriving at Gunwhalf Quays was easy to find and walking through the shopping parade to emerge on the quay and find the boats moored up with their masts towering above everyone was an inspiring sight.
We were met by Jim at the gate to the marina and he welcomed us with a kind smile before directing us down to the boat. Down at the boat we were shone to our berths, which for those of us taller than 6 feet quickly became a daunting sight. Everyone settled in and gathered in the saloon for the welcome speech.
After the welcome speech we were split into two groups and shown around the boat, one group went topside and the other stayed below. Up on deck Lindsey took us though the ropes and sails and how to stay safe while on deck. Meanwhile, Oli showed the others the sail room, heads, galley and wet room.
Having finished our safety briefing we were set to work getting the boat ready for our early departure the next morning. There are several skilled watch leaders on board who guided us through and made it easy, causing us to finish the task with time to spare.
Dinner was next on the list and if the first meal is any sign of what’s to come then we’re in for a good weeks sailing. Our esteemed skipper then took the chance to tell us where we would be sailing. Tomorrow we are set to sail out of the safety of the Solent and East to Eastbourne. Along the way we will be shone Man Over Board and how to abandon ship. With everyone fed and our briefing complete we’re now free to do what we want including writing this blog
By Tim, Steve and Robert