Roy's Sailing Blog 2010

Saturday, 28 August 2010

This is Roy's (still unfinished...) SAILING BLOG for June-August 2010!!

PART ONE (Sailing North Atlantic!):  

Well, it's 16:00 on Tuesday 15 June 2010 - where are you?
I'm at sea - further away from land than I've ever been.
Actually sailing on my 11 metre Delphia 37 CREDEAU at
50 degrees 50 minutes North, 6 degrees 50 minutes West,
exactly half way across from Land's End to Cork in Ireland, 100 metres deep,
with 80 nautical miles each way to land - so I might as well continue!
It's a beautiful sunny day with a comfortable 10-15 knots of Northerly wind
- I've just been 'buzzed' twice by a small customs jet plane and realised
I am directly on the boundary between the Republic of Ireland and the UK!
Apart from one other far distant yacht I caught sight of for a while,
I haven't seen any other vessels since crossing the Land's End Traffic
Separation Zone twelve hours ago. I'm listening to Barbirolli conducting
Elgar Symphony 1, but maybe I'd better switch to Sinead O'Connor now!

It all began as a dream a year ago - I had various accesories fitted to
my boat in preparation (particularly a Hydrovane wind vane, which is a very
expensive piece of self-steering kit, and more recently an AIS Transponder)
which are both proving absolutely invaluable. I have an electric autohelm which
is useful when motoring, but the wind vane (my crew!) uses no power and is
ideal when the sails are set well and nicely balanced. I planned to take off
three months for sailing (all of June, July and August) and initially
considered two options - sailing to the Med to visit my Dad in Almeria,
or a practice run for a trans-Atlantic (ha-ha!) 1,200NM to the Azores!!
Sadly Dad died in April, and the 12 days in open sea also lost its appeal...

So here I am on just the second (although huge) leg of an anticipated
complete solo circumnavigation of the UK, starting from my berth D46 at
Sutton Harbour Marina in Plymouth, and taking in the West Coast of Ireland,
West Coast of Scotland, Outer Hebrides, Orkneys, Peterhead, Whitby,
Lowestoft and Dover. In fact, since commissioning my boat from new on
12 August 2006 I have sailed 5,000NM including clockwise from Lowestoft to
Harwich, Ramsgate, Boulogne, Southampton (CREDEAU was an exhibit at the
2006 Boat Show), Jersey & Guernsey, the Scilly Isles, Belfast and almost
up to Oban. Often I've had one or two crew, but these days I actually like
to sail alone. The hardest part is always entering or leaving harbour!

Anyway, after a week of preparation delays, I finally left Plymouth at
22:45 on Saturday 12 June - just six days after the two-handed round UK
Shetland Race crews set off! They take 2-3 weeks whereas I have 12 weeks -
anyway who wants to race? (that's the day-job!) On Friday I had ALL my lovely
hair cut off (for convenience!) but hadn't anticipated my bare scalp
being such a sunburn hazard! Tides were favourable and I managed to average
6.5 knots on the 12hr 78NM to Newlyn/Penzance! Unfortunately my powerful
electric anchor windlass packed up (I hope to get it sorted soon)
so I had to lower and set the anchor in Mousehole Bay by hand.
I felt much better after a fish pie in the Ship Inn!

Several other problems had emerged en route - the power supply to my fancy
handheld Geonav 3S GPS chartplotter had packed up and I searched in vain
to find a replacement; my dinghy is not retaining its air well enough, and
I broke the propeller sheer-pin by snagging some rope while entering
Mousehole harbour. A kind fisherman called Mark towed me in and was
very helpful; also I couldn't find either of my head-lamp torches
(essential for night travel) so, having got up at 05:00 with the intention
of sailing with the tide to Padstow, I finally got a day-return on the train
back to Plymouth (!) and sorted out several things, including a strong metal
hook so that I could attempt to winch the anchor up with a spare halyard.
I have two complete independant GPS chartplotter systems, so the handheld
is not a priority, but it does have a wizard built-in barometer...

Because of a cancelled train I didn't get back to the boat till 21:00 and,
having checked on the weather, realised there was a perfect opportunity to
sail directly across from Newlyn to Crosshaven (180NM) if I left at 00:30!
So, having already had a long day, I quickly made some soup and sandwiches
and made all necessary preparations for what could be an up to 36 hour trip.
I got underway in the pitch dark at 01:00 on what was now already today,
rounded Land's End, called in my passage plan and then signed off with
the friendly Falmouth Coastguard, and the rest is already history! 

It's time now for some home-made (mixed tins!) Irish stew - so I'll sign off!
You could try tracking me when my transponder is switched on: and just enter CREDEAU as vessel name!
Best wishes - especially to my granchildren Chloe and Matthew,
who are plotting this trip at home in Hook on the Admiralty British Isles chart
(kindly sent by Gill & Roger at Sea-Chest in Plymouth - mind you, I spent
well over £2,000 on plotter cartridges, charts and pilot books with them!!)
Roy xx 

PART TWO (Sunday 20 June, swinging mooring at Lawrence's Cove, Bear Island, Bantry Bay):

Really one of the most beautiful days of my life - now sitting on deck an hour
after sundown, quite alone, on a swinging mooring off Lawrence's Cove,
Bear Island in the NW corner of Bantry Bay County Cork. Sixteen hours of
sunshine today, and I've sailed 360 degrees right round the famous Fastnet
rock/lighthouse! This is so good I want to do it every year - and it's
Father's Day to boot!! After crossing the Celtic Sea I arrived in Salve Marine,
Crosshaven (Cork) at 08:00 on Wednesday 16 June - 181NM from Mousehole
in 31 hours (having not slept for 51 hours) averaging nearly 6 knots (when I
only expect to average 4 or 5!) I spent two days resting in Crosshaven,
but managed to get to Halfords in Mahon Point, Cork to buy a spare (4th!) 100ah
battery, charger voltmeter and jump leads to see if I can begin solving the electric
anchor motor problem. Still no joy, but I have rigged up a headsail winch solution
for pulling it up! Ronny (from SA) & Billy at Salve Marine were every helpful.

I enjoyed lots of Crosshaven Chish & Fips! Left on Friday at 14:45 for Kinsale
and was safely tied up there at the Yacht Club at 18:50 - very tasty Jon-Dory
at the White Lady hotel restaurant whilst watching the second half of the
England/Algeria World Cup 0-0 game - Algeria looked really good!!
Saw a couple off for an overnight Fastnet race (he is the Commodore at Schull)
and chatted with French sailors briefly over from Brittany via the Scillies.
Saturday 19 June 12:20 set sail with the tide from Kinsale to Baltimore
arriving The Platform, Sherkin Island at 19:25 and was helped onto a swinging
mooring by Tony & Melanie Murphy, their three kids and two friends (gorgeous lot!)
Had delicious chicken breast with mushrooms at The Islander's Rest with them all.
Went on their rib to Baltimore for coffee and had fun - also checked electrics
with Tony. Really nice people - - I would visit Baltimore again.

Set sail this lunchtime for Bantry Bay at 13:05 and arrived 20:10 - now sitting
in the half-moonlight! Have so far sailed 369NM in just over a week - this SW coast
of Ireland is stunning and I'll return. The weather has been blue skies pretty well
all of every day with light winds (nothing much over 15 knots) - but I don't expect
to get up to Scotland so often, so will push on to the Hebrides with some purpose.
No dolphins, whales or basking sharks yet...!!!
Roy xx 

PART THREE (Thursday 24 June, swinging mooring in Kilronan Harbour, Aran Islands):

Spent three nights (21/22/23) in Bantry Bay - one each at Lawrence's Cove (Bear Island),
Glengarriff and Castletownbere (there's lots of confusion over some place-name spellings!)
Saw lots of seals in Glengarriff - and I can confirm that the Rhododendrons are out!
I'll save climbing the Sugarloaf and doing the Ring of Kerry for another time...
Internet connection rather a variable feast - had some luck in MacCarthy's bar in
Castletownbere (very olde worldie!!), and then back to the fish 'n chips (really fresh!)

Set sail from there yesterday morning (24) at 06:00 - mistook a red danger marker for a red
channel marker, and very nearly had a major accident (they are in the process of re-signing
part of the harbour, and blowing up another obstacle rock!) Weather turned a bit worse -
even the most beautiful parts of the world become slightly unpleasant in a colder wind
with cloud and onwards and upwards (up the coast that is) and 22hr 144NM
trip here to Inishmore (Aran Islands west of Galway Bay - not to be confused with several
other similarly named islands!) arriving this morning at 03:40 in pitch black darkness, a
fairly full moon totally obscured by thick black cloud coming in from the Atlantic = scary!!
(Dursey Sound and Blasket Sound were also both seriously difficult waters to navigate!)

The Aran Islands are SO beautiful - about 900 inhabitants (I've met most of them more
than once today) and surely one of the ignored wonders of the world. Some incredibly
old historic religious sites and an extraordinarily dramatic coastline. For sure I'll make
another trip and just explore from Cork up to here. Cycled round most of the island and
walked to Dun Aengus; met Howard Corry (a retired Lutheran pastor from Santa Fe) and
shared some excellent food and conversation with him; the local Garda policeman called up
Seamus on his mobile and arranged for me to get some diesel in cans - of course no garage
on the island, and there's a serious water shortage (had to move my boat so the water tanker
could discharge!) Had an all-day Irish breakfast at the Pier House B&B for lunch and wonderful
haddock and mash at Joe Watty's bar for supper (went back there for a live session at 10pm)

Best of all, I've arrived in time for Feile Patrun Inis Mor (got the tee-shirt!) a weekend festival
featuring currach racing, traditional sports, plenty of live music and open-air dancing
- so no excuse needed for a few days real holiday! This morning (Fri) caught the last post
(09:15!!) with some cards, met two Dutch girls who I'd seen at the Watty's session last night
(on their way back to the mainland to go rock-climbing), looked at some of the Aran sweaters
in the main shop (sadly made in China these days), cycled to the Gregory channel to take
some more great photos, met Peter Campbell (fisherman from Hebrides) and Kees van der Leij
(Dutchman in charge of tourist group) both now living in Ireland, for some more good chat!!
Hope to get a whole lobster in the Aran Islands Hotel around 7pm before the midnight Ceili !
Have finally got 'picked-up' on the AIS website! Try
click square 38, enter CREDEAU as vessel name and click vessel details!! 

PART FOUR (Wednesday 30 June, berthed at Port Ellen, Islay):

Just had 10 hours good sleep - nice! Well it's been quite a few exiting days - lobster in Aran
was small but tasty, and I caught up with the World Cup on TV! Went back to Watty's for more
live music, and chatted with local Ray, Swiss Harold & girlfriend, and two nice girls Shirley and
Sheila (!), but it was starting to rain, so I didn't wait for the Ceili and got pretty wet taking
my dinghy back to Credeau in the dark! There were just kiddies games on the beach on Saturday
morning, so I did a bit of shopping for fresh food, and after lunch set sail on an 8hr 60NM leg
to Inishbofin, chatting as I passed with Ian & Denise ( about sailing
in Morocco! Winds were quite strong (put in 2nd reef) and was sailing at 8 knots! Entry in the
small harbour was difficult (clear but narrow spaces between various rocks!) but I was happily
moored by 22:20. Then up bright and early, and set sail 08:35 for 14hr 102NM leg to Broadhaven
- the two guys in Goodbye Girl were definitely staying put in these strengthening winds!
Anyway I began with some sight-seeing to the unique Irish fjord of Killary Harbour (7NM long)
briefly mooring in Leenaun. Exceptional scenery and mountains! Then continued past dramatic
Clare island, but the wind started to freshen (put in 3rd reef and reefed the headsail) finally
mooring in very shallow water in Broadhaven at 22:30. Rather isolated place, but lots of activity
on the water, with ribs going past regularly...Michael Kelly (who simply heard mention of my trip
on RTE Lyric FM!!) emailed to tell me about an ongoing saga regarding Shell bringing gas ashore
in Broadhaven - a big contentious safety issue locally.

Heard the forecast and decided that I had quite a good chance to do a long sail before
some predicted worsening weather sets in - Scotland awaits, and I know Northern Ireland
quite well from previous visits. So, checking the tides, I set sail 28 June at 16:30 with light but
variable NNW winds (good for my NE trip) and began my giant 25hr 189NM sail to Port Ellen!
I checked the calibration of my log and speed paddle wheel - I think it's up to 10% fast and
I need to correct it. Of course my speed and course over the ground measurements are
fine - it's just that my distance (and speed throught the water) might be 5-10% exaggerated!
Experienced the most beautiful sunset (wait for pictures!!) and had a varied and interesting
trip. Saw a tug pulling a large gas raft just off Broadhaven (...) and otherwise briefly just two
trawlers the whole way. Very strong confused water coming in to Islay, adding nearly an hour
to my journey, and then I drifted slightly out of the incredibly narrow channel by the ferry
quay and touched the bottom and a bit of rock with my keel - not good, but I think all is OK.
Must remember the four miniature (but important) starboard markers there for next time!
Met up with two French sailors on an aluminium OVNI 36 who were enjoying a drop of Bowmore!
They've invited me for cassoulet tonight - so, just time to send some more postcards!
I've been here twice before - once with Andrea and once with Jan - and like it very much.
The gale is beginning to brew, but I'll be off North again in a day or two - Matt at MES has
posted a new power cable for me to collect at Ardfern Marina, so I may spend one night in
my favourite Tayvallich on Loch Sween (the furthest north I have ever sailed) before going there.
Roy xx

PART FIVE (Sunday 4 July, skipped Tayvallich, berthed in Ardfern Yacht Marina, south of Oban):

Weather very wet and windy - now up to force 10, but safely berthed since Friday eve (6hr 50NM).
Met up with Pepsand (Colvic Countess 28 Robin Traves: and
Pimuhohe (Ovni 36 Pierrick Dedieu & Jean-Marc Praud: my old
neighbours from Islay! Yesterday chatted with Eric & Jean (Nordic Gene: and they kindly invited me for a meal and concert in Oban Cathedral.
Met up with Levon Chilingirian, Marcia Crayford, Stephen Orton & Iain Burnside for the final concert
of Levon's Mendelssohn on Mull festival - fantastic, wonderful ambience & spirit! Received new
power supply for Geonav 3S (thank you Matt and Alasdair) and found probable reason for
windlass failure - simply bad corrosion in cable! Found new AIS internet site - you can now try: for Credeau's position!

Monday 5 July midnight arrived Tobermoray (Island of Mull) - weather looks poor for next several
days - would like to get to Staffa (Fingal's Cave) but no boats running there before Friday...quite
a dangerous island to anchor and land. Anyway, must see it before going further, so will have to
wait; spent Tuesday & Wednesday on board or on Main Street - wonderful scallops & chips from
the Fish & Chip Van and unbelievable squat lobsters wrapped in smoked haddock & cream sauce,
with new potatoes & green beans from Cafe Fish (just £12.50)!! Checked weather and tides and
decided to venture further on Thursday - up at 05:00 and set sail at 07:15 for Fingal's Cave!
Sea was rough (no pleasure boats out) but got some nice pictures at midday (180 years after
Mendelssohn's visit) - extraordinary to think the the polygonal basalt 'organ-pipes' are around
60 million years old!! Continued through Treshnish Isles and between Coll & Tiree to moor (with
sunshine!) in gorgeous Castlebay on the island of Barra at 20:30 (94NM). Friday cycled round
the whole island - so varied with wonderful beaches and tarns, a beach airport runway (!!) and
a few nice hotels and B&Bs. Poor mobile signal - but good by Isle of Barra Hotel on west coast.
Wrote more postcards, showered and did some washing. Extraordinary Italian/Indian (!) Cafe
Kisimul (name of castle) - had delicious all day breakfast there Friday afternoon and local Lamb
Rogan Josh on Saturday (best outside Bradford!!) Castlebay Hotel kindly let me plug into their wi-fi
in their residents lounge bar - there is also a separate bar building where I chatted with many
people, and had a brilliant time dancing to the Vatersay Boys (4 piece trad band) on Saturday
night! Unfortunately it was a very low tide and at 23:30 my dinghy had 'beached' so I had to wait
an hour or so before floating again (raining and very cold, with quite a storm overnight)
At almost every harbour I've visited there has been a wonderful Co-operative supermarket -
generally well stocked and helpful, and open till 8pm most days - good for fresh food too!
This has made provisioning much easier than I had imagined (so I've applied for a Coop card!)

Sunday 11 July (last day in beautiful Castlebay, Island of Barra, Western Isles)
Difficult part of my trip to plan the best route - in order to see Skye, I'll probably head back to
Loch Scavaig on Monday and work my way up Skye east coast (Kyle of Lochalsh etc) and then
cross back to Rodel on South Harris, up to Stornoway and then across to the Orkneys - so a lot
still in store!! Exactly 1,100 NM so far, in just four weeks!

Friday 16 July 18:00 (Stornoway - Isle of Lewis)
Loch Scavaig was amazing - wait for the pictures - and then sailed round to KyleAkin for another
gorgeous night! But had a very bad day on Wednesday - left KyleAkin at 01:00 heading for Rodel
South Harris. Poor weather and didn't risk landing, so sailed on via Scalpay (also bad) and finally
rafted off three other boats in Stornoway 21:30 cold, wet, tired and lonely...saving grace has
been wonderful Hebridean Celtic Music Festival this weekend, so recovering slowly! Weather still
poor but I've managed to fill up with diesel and water and hope to set sail towards Orkneys on
Monday and maybe take a week holiday there? Had slight boat damage on arrival here but still
optimistic (occasionally!) Internet access increasingly difficult...but got tickets for The Bad
Shepherds and Blazin' Fiddles last night and the Treacherous Orchestra (!) Imelda May & Julie Fowlis
tonight. Am now rafted with two boats - a group of Austrians, and also Paul Taylor, whose good
company and experience has been great during this miserable weather! (
Have had dozens of visiting basking sharks, dolphins, otters and seals right up to my boat this
past week!!

Wednesday 21 July (cold and now very windy in Stromness Orkneys)
Berthed in Stromness 02:30 on Tuesday morning - 130NM/17hr motor-sail from Stornoway, with
fair weather until last hour...ghastly final 10 minute entry on full flood into Mouth of Hoy, touched
12.2kts in dark cloud and dense mist!! At least I had a bit of musical support from a performance
of Bruckner Symphony 5 finale on Radio 3! I sailed over on same day as Jim & Sonja (FETTLER) who
have been excellent company & given useful advice - I cooked them a meal on Credeau last night!
Some dolphins on the crossing, but they were about as bored as I was, having to motor all the
way! None of the forecast breezes materialised, but at least I was glad to be in safe conditions.
I've paid dues for 7 nights which includes Stromness, Kirkwall and Westray.
Today is Neap tides, so when I leave to set off southwards (!!) towards Wick/Peterhead etc around 27 July it will be Springs, and the Pentland Firth (google: The Merry Men of Mey!!) is a place to take
VERY seriously, with streams running up to 16 knots!!!
Hopefully I'll depart out of Kirkwall and so should be OK.
Now looking forward to a week's holiday!

Tuesday 27 July (still in Stromness!)
Had a really fabulous sunny day on Hoy last Thursday - cycled from Moaness to Rackwick and then
walked to The Old Man and St John's Head. Met local taxi driver Terry Thomson, who seems to know
all the Scottish musical world - Sir Peter Maxwell Davis, Sally Beamish, Robert Saxton, the SCO etc!
Then went to the Tomb of Eagles on Friday, and enjoyed more bagpipes and fireworks on Saturday.
Shared some happy experiences with Simon and Alison on HARMONY (also nice burgundy canvas!)
and by an extraordinary coincidence, the photographer Graham Snook (who did the photo shoot
of CREDEAU for the December 2006 edition of Yachting Monthly) is also moored up here with
fiance Kirsty Mearns on PIXIE ( I've been to visit most of the historic sites -
Brough of Birsay, Broch of Gurness, Maes Howe and Skara Brae - and hope to sail up to Westray
tomorrow and then down to Kirkwall for a day or two each, before setting off to return south
probably at the weekend!

Friday 30 July (Peterhead)
Left Stromness at 05:45 on Wednesday and sailed out of Hoy mouth and up to Westray, but then
decided to change plan and start my return trip a bit sooner! Ended up sailing down to Peterhead
through the night on Wednesday and moored up safely at 11:30 yesterday - have now had a long
and well-earned sleep!! Had some nice conversation with Thorleif (CETUS) from Denmark - he's
setting sail for Lerwick this afternoon! I have decided to skip Edinburgh, but hope to see my Mum in
Hull in a week or so (?!) via Stonehaven, Arbroath, Eyemouth and Hartlepool.

1 August Peterhead-Stonehaven
2 August Stonehaven-Arbroath
3 August Arbroath-Eyemouth
5 August Eyemouth-Hartlepool (Tall Ships 2010 Race Finale weekend!)
8 August Hartlepool-Grimsby
9 August wonderful lunch with my Mum in Swanland, North Humberside (cycled across the bridge!)
10 August Grimsby-Lowestoft
12 August HAPPY 4th BIRTHDAY to CREDEAU - I commissioned her in Lowestoft 12 August 2006
and have sailed 7,055 NM on her since then!! Lowestoft Air Show to celebrate today as well!
13 August Lowestoft-Harwich (Shotley Marina - cycled to Pin Mill & Woolverstone Marina)
15 August Harwich-Queenborough (Isle of Sheppey, near Sheerness, River Medway - cycled+train
to our old house at 19 Wynn Road, Tankerton nr Whitstable and had fish & chips on the sea-front!)
17 August St Katharine's Haven London (next to Tower Bridge) 50 St Katharine's Way E1W 1LA
Safely berthed on East 37 19:00 - met by James and had a wonderful evening together!
18 fantastic day with Katie, Chloe & Matthew, and Robert Roscoe (Albert Hall Proms)
19 August 07:50/14:00 London St Katharine's Haven/Tower Bridge-Queenborough/Sheerness
20 August 10:00/17:15 Queenborough-Dover
21 August 14:00 / 22 August 02:00 Dover-Brighton (exhausted!)
23 August 22:45 / 24 August 16:15 Brighton- Poole (also exhausted!!)
26/27 August Poole-Brixham-Plymouth (Breakfast in Brixham with Gill & Paul, Rebecca & Duncan)

FINALLY BACK IN PLYMOUTH Sutton Harbour Marina D46 - HOME at last!!!
Tied up safe & sound...
2,800 miles clockwise in 77 days ALL ALONE - except for all these wonderful friends above!!