A day in Oviedo – 27th August 2012

We had the Monday free to explore Oviedo.  Why Oviedo you ask? Well, it is the capital of Asturias and where Carlotta comes from so it would be rude not to have a look.  We had a fantastic Spanish lunch cooked by Carlotta’s Mum and then a walk around the old city.  The atmosphere of this place is true Spanish and all were impressed:

    

  

  

 

 

Plymouth to Gijon – 20th August 2012

Tim arrived the Sunday night and Will arriving on the Monday afternoon.  There we were the 4 intrepid sailors ready to cross the notorious Bay of Biscay.  The weather window looked good.  My strategy would be to head west and gain enough clearance off the continental shelf where the sea state would be more manageable and I would also have enough sea room away from the French coast.  The passage would be around 475 miles and I expected to be at sea for around 6 to 8 days based on the wind.  We were aware of a low pressure building up on the Friday but hoped to be clear of this by the time is reached it’s peak; unfortunately this was not the case as I will explain later.

  

I sent Tim and Carlotta to stock up on food with Nita’s help in using her car, I spent the rest of the day with my Dad fixing reefing points in our main and fixing the deck light and running light which decided to falter due to a bad connection.  We were pretty much ready by 20:00 and were set to depart at 21:30.  I doubt anyone ever feels completely ready for a crossing such as this and I for one felt nervous about what lay ahead of us but together we made a strong team and would succeed.

   

At 21:15 we made our way out of the lock at Sutton Marina and into the cold night air.   The first night shift was left to me and Will and at around Midnight Carlotta and Tim went to bed.  We sailed for a few hours but the wind was light and Westerly so we hugged the coast as much as we felt safe to do so.  It seemed a life time to clear the Eddystone lighthouse.  Will and myself were treated to a great show of Phosphorescence coming from Troskala’s bow, it was a first for Will but still an amazing sight as little stars in the water deflected off the bow and behind the stern.  Before we know it we welcomed to an eerie dawn and a change of shift.

For the second day the winds were again light so we motored to try and gain as much as of a westerly position as possible, but I was also aware that motoring constantly was not an option due to the limited amount of fuel we carry so when I awoke we tried to sail again but the wind had shifted Southwest so the best tack we could achieve was a South Easterly position so westerly ground we had made began to slide away.

  

It is amazing that at sea the days move so fast, you basically see day and night as one entity and eating and sleeping as the key necessities to our passage.  The mood and moral on board at the start of the trip was healthy with everyone getting involved.  We managed to test out a new Sat phone and send positions to family and friends daily plus receive weather reports from my Dad.  On the Thursday I was made aware of our low, which had now deepened and a forecast of winds up to 48 knots would soon catch up with us in the next 12 hours.  It is never a nice thing to have to communicate this information when there is no way out of it.

Tim and Will took the news well although Carlotta was told that wind would only increase slightly to save any panic; this worked well.  We motored through the morning to again make as much sea room as possible as we would surely loose a lot of it during the storm.

  

The night started well, again Will and me were on watch and we again treated to an amazing show of shooting stars, Dolphins, and the most intense Phosphorescence I had ever seen.  The dolphins would also create their own Phosphorescence and they appeared to be torpedos of light underneath the boat.  We had seen Dolphins earlier on in the day but the sight at night was spectacular.  We had now set up our self steering gear (Henrick the Hydrovane) and he had safely steered us over 250 miles in challenging conditions.

Towards the end of Will’s and my night shift the wind steadily increased to force 7 and the seas started to pick up.  On the second day we were exposed to gusts reaching 38 knots and a swell of 4 meters.  Luckily the wind speed and been reduced but we still all found the conditions challenging and both Tim and Carlotta were sick.  I myself had several occasions of feeling sick but luckily nothing came of it.

The wind continued to blow at force 7 for 3 days and by the third we had all had enough.  We were all tired, wet and demotivated by the situation, in fact it was only Will who seemed to love having waves thrown at him.  We cursed the amount of fresh food we had brought and I would have given anything for Pot Noodle, but we did manage to prepare some great pasta dished but had to throw a lot of food that needed more preparation.

By the third day of the storm Troskala was on 3 reefs and a fraction of Genoa out, she held herself well and no damage was caused and rode over each wave quite comfortably.  If anything our confidence in this vessel has increased immeasurably. At no point did we worry if the boat could handle the abuse and slamming that we were putting her through.  On several occasion the slam of a wave was so great to wake us all up wondering if we still had the mast attached, but we needn’t have worried.

 

We saw the coast of Northern Spain on the 6th day and were left with perfect conditions on entering the harbor of Gijon.  We had a couple more Dolphins welcome into Spanish Waters before we arrived.

 

The whole trip has been a great learning curve for all and I believe I had the best crew and mix of personalities that enabled us to survive and still talk to each other after we arrived.  I have decided to list some lessons / anecdotes which may be of use to others wishing to undertake something similar:

 

  1. Limit the amount of fresh food or food that takes a lot of preparation
  2. Do not put baby wipes down a toilet (The Skipper blocked it)
  3. Install lee-cloths
  4. Don’t leave fishing rods out with hooks still attached
  5. Device a better watch system, two on and two off did not work well and thinking about there should have been one on watch during the day and two at night, we were all sleep deprived towards the end of the trip
  6. Do not girlfriend talk about the weather
  7. Food to be moved lower in the boat – we could not open some of our food cupboards without having a tin of beans flying at our heads.
  8. A good three point harness is essential
  9. Don’t underestimate how much time a passage like that can take, I did think that 4 days were possible and luckily with victualed for eight days; this was essential
  10. Our Hydrovane was the best piece of kit on the boat.  If we had had to helm for the duration it was have made our journey a lot harder
  11. Reef early and use the topping lift to assist.  I would keep the Hydrovane running on a close-hauled point of sail and then try to reef.  We should have disengaged the Hydrovane turned to wind and then reefed.

 

I am sure the crew will offer more comments on the website and I look forward to hearing them.

 

We are now in Gijon and will spend a week here whilst Carlotta catched up with her parents who are located in the next city.  We will depart and continue West on the 3rd September.

 

Total Miles:    953.7

Latitude:         43’32’.78N

Longitude:      05’40’.26W

 

 

 

 

 

Salcombe to Plymouth – 19th August 2012

Yes, finally leaving Salcombe! What turned out to be a lovely place for 2 days turned out to be a suppressive prison with boredom high on the agenda.

We left just as mist and fog started to lift but there was still a swell from the previous days storms.  All went well on leaving the entrance but as soon as we cleared the entrance and I attempted to raise the main I managed to loose the main halyard. My Dad came to assist and then began to untie the main once we had attached the Halyard.  I had recently brought some elastic sail ties with the toggles at the end. When they are wrapped around the sail they are under a lot of pressure and Dad experienced this pressure whilst untying one and having it fly under pressure at his head and a second later we were faced with blood pouring from the wound.  It was not a good start to our trip and I would strongly recommend not purchasing these ties for anything boat related.

The rest of the trip was uneventful and we motored into Plymouth at around 13:00.  We had changed the plans slightly and would now depart for Spain the following day, so we had no time to rest and as soon as we arrived we were in the chandlery gathering all the spares and repairs we needed.

 

Total Miles:    375.4

Latitude:         50’20’.04N

Longitude:      04’08’.07W

A Few Days in Salcombe

Ben and Emma had to depart on the Monday as they both had work on the Tuesday even though I had tried to convince them to stay another day.  I had to wait in Salcombe anyway due to having no crew although my Dad would be over later on in the week to assist in the passage to Plymouth or Falmouth weather depending.

The Monday was spent resting up and then popping over to the beach.  I decided to anchor in the main river to save a bit of cash but it is still £9.00 a day and £18:50 on a swinging mooring.  We anchored, Ben and Emma prepared lunch and we headed to the beach.

Ben and Emma left in the afternoon and I was left to experience the delights of Salcombe on my own.  Salcombe is beautiful but it has one street, one good fish and chip shop, lots of arrogant yachties, 6 pubs and one Internet café.  It was certainly not my choice to stay in Salcombe long but this was not meant to be the case and as bad weather moved in it looked like I would be spending the week there, as with no crew I could not head to Plymouth.

 

I had one good day sitting at anchor watching the sailing regatta in the sunshine and still putting the jobs that I needed to do off until tomorrow.  The wind was forecast to reach force 10 on the Wednesday and I was kindly recommended to move to the ‘bag’ for shelter and pick up a swinging mooring, which I did.  On Wednesday the weather hit and I was completely stuck with no chance of making Salcombe town in our small dinghy.  My problems were increased when one large gust managed to take the dinghy in the air and turn it upside down with the motor still connected.  I managed to radio Salcombe harbor that managed to salvage my oars but I lost my pump, fuel and anchor in the process but thank God the engine was still attached.  The rest of the night was spent fending Troskala off the missiles that were approaching us from all directions and managed to record a gust of wind reaching 50 Knots and although amazing to see I wish it had been a calmer night although I did cook a fantastic curry.

 

My Dad and Nita arrived on the Thursday to help out with the damage that had been caused by the small outboard motor going into salt water.  It was nice to again have some company so we ate out at the best Fish & Chip shop and spent the next couple of days repairing damage.

Carlotta arrived on the Saturday afternoon into Salcombe and we cooked dinner after moving back to the anchorage for a night rolling on the swell and thick fog; I cannot wait to find better weather out of England

Dartmouth to Salcombe – 12th August 2012

After spending a morning in Dartmouth wondering around, drinking tea and purchasing some more fishing gear (thanks Ben), we decided to set off in the evening.  It seemed to make more sense to arrive in Studland at dusk so that navigation lights would aid our arrival into Salcombe.  We set off at 17:00 and took a short motor up the river before turning around and heading out to sea.  We had been told that there was a lot of mackerel at the entrance; so, eager to use the rod and actually catch something we motored out at 2 knots to see if we could at least catch one fish.  Around 30 minutes later Ben managed to haul in 5 mackerel.   It is one thing landing fish but the next to actually kill it so there we all were with 5 mackerel at the end of the line, no bucket and no idea on how to kill them.  I tried the alcohol trick and found some old Vodka in the cupboard but this seemed to excite our fishy friends instead of subduing them.  Emma took control of the situation by laying them on deck and hitting them over the head with a winch handle but on doing this we managed to spray fish brains over the deck and spray cover not to mention the eye balls that found there way into the scuppers.  So, the best way as Emma and Ben found out that to kill our tasty friends was to hold them in the bucket and squeeze their heads – lovely.

 

After their hard work I kindly offered to gut the fish of which we now had 6 and after speaking to my Dad I felt confident if not wary to do it when we arrived to Salcome.

The remainder of the trip went well.  The entrance to Salcombe is always a bit unnerving due to the sand-bar at the entrance but the lights came on as we expected and Emma & Ben were a great help in identifying the correct light sequences and safely navigating us into the river.  We arrived at 20:00 and even managed to have a quick pint before gutting some mackerel and cooking them with oil and garlic.  I have my ex-colleagues, Ben and Emma to thank for that meal as if it were not for the rod, Emma’s killing skills and Ben’s fishing skills we would never have had such and amazing meal even if we were all too tired to talk through it.

 

Total Miles:    354.0

Latitude:         50’13’.17N

Longitude:      03’46’.67W

Studland Bay to Dartmouth – 11th August 2012

Studland Bay to Dartmouth – 11th August 2012

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Emma taking the helm

After maybe only 3 hours sleep we were set to depart from Studland.  The anchor had managed to keep me up most of the night as the windlass had not been tightened enough so with every wave a little chain managed to escape; lesson learnt.

We finally managed to set off at 05:30 into a cold and hostile morning.  As we turned out of Studland Bay and left Swanage to our Starboard Ben began to feel unwell but in true Ben spirit he put a brave face on it and even managed to eat half a bacon sandwich; the other half ended up on the cockpit floor later on.

The wind was blowing a good force 5 from the East giving as good run but all I could manage was setting the main as the Genoa would constantly back and conditions were too rough to pole out the headsail, the meant that controlling Troskala on a run in an increasing swell became more difficult but all crew had a go and with only two accidental gybes (the preventer saved the day on both occasions) we managed to sail the whole 73.4 miles into Dartmouth.

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We arrived in Dartmouth at 18:30 and picked up a visitors pontoon just off the town.  After each having a shower and a lovely dinner cooked by Ben and Emma we settled in to catch up on some sleep.

Another successful passage.

Total Miles:    335.5

Latitude:         50’20’.66N

Longitude:      03’33’.96W

Lymington to Studland Bay – 10th August 2012

Lymington to Studland Bay – 10th August

New Crew – Ben & Emma – Leaving
Lymington

I was awoken early to requests from the yachts either side that they were departing, and that I would need to move Troskala, so at 08:00 in the morning I found myself circling the harbor whilst everyone else shuffled along.  Luckily one of the crew from the other boats was there to lend as hand with ropes, which made my life much easier.   After re-establishing Troskala I had a deep clean of the boat before the next set of crew arrived to help me sail Troskala to Devon.

Ben and Emma arrived at 13:00 and after a quick tour of the boat they were sent to the supermarket to stock up on provisions for the next four days.

We departed Lymington at 16:30 to make use of the tide heading west.  We had a great sail through the Needles Channel reaching 9 knots at some points but as soon as we reached open water the wind ebbed and we were left trying to get some movement with the Gennaker up but again this failed so we motored into the sunset until we reached Studland Bay.

Leaving the Solent – The
famous Needles just before our wind died

We anchored and were joined by another yacht that we had met in Cowes.  After blowing up the dinghy we picked them up and headed to the pub in Studland bay where a beer festival was taking place.  We had a great night over a few pints although in an attempt to pull the dinghy to the beach I misjudged the depth of the water so had to spent the evening sitting in wet shorts; I will learn one day. After finishing our pints we headed back in the depth of night. For the first time in many months we saw stars as bright as the moon and could clearly identity the Milky Way.  On top of that and as Ben rowed we experienced beautiful phosphorous in the water and were followed by twinkling stars in the water that illuminated Troskala’s hull – it was a magical night.

Things went down hill from there and as we tucked ourselves in bed a strong Easterly Wind gained force and we were left with a sleepless night through the swell and the grinding of the anchor which did not go down well as we needed to depart Studland at 05:30 in the morning.

Total Miles: 262.1

Latitude:       50’38’.80N

Longitude: 01’55’.50W

Cowes to Lymington – 09th August 2012

Cowes to Lymington – 09th August

Troskala in Cowes

We had to depart Shepherd’s Wharf Marina at 11:00 due to the preparations for Cowes Week.  Even though the tide would be against us it was decided that we anchor of Newtown Creek to have lunch and await the tide to become more favorable on our last leg into Lymington.After a quick breakfast we filled up with water and made our way into the busy Solent.  It was a glorious day with the sun shining but much to Olly’s disappointment there was again not enough wind to have a good sail.

 

 

Goodbye Crew – My Dad and Olly after the fish and chips.
Thank you both for your help.

We motored west and reached the entrance to Newtown Creek at 13:00.  We dropped anchor and had a lunch before all turning in to have an early siesta and top the tan up. We departed Newtown at 15:30 and completed the short hop over to Lymington.

At Lymington I chose to raft up at the Town Quay as I was reluctant to stay in Berthton marina when one night would set me bacj £40; Lyminton is completely over rated and for that price I would rather buy fish and chips and sit on the quay watching the world go by – and that is exactly what we did.

It was time to say goodbye to my Dad and Olly as my Dad’s girlfriend had offered to collect them and take them back to Chichester to collect the cars.  I spent the rest of the evening socializing with other boats rafted up next to us before turning in early.

Total Miles: 241.1

Latitude:       50’45’.13N

Longitude: 01’31’.40W

 

Chichester Marina to Cowes – 08th August 2012

Chichester Marina to Cowes – 08th August 201

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Troskala Leaving Chichester

So, it is time to finally set sail.  It now feels like the real thing and I am eager to get underway.  Unfortunately the weather was bleak.  I spent the morning loading the sails on the new mast and Holman Rigging kindly offered me a bit of time to familiarize myself with the new reefing system.

We were joined at 11:00 AM by the third crew member; Olly Rice, who would join us for the sail down to Lymington although looking at the weather this would be more like a motor than a sail as the wind would struggle to reach anything above a force 2.

We set off from Chichester at 14:30, hoping to arrive in Shepherd’s Wharf Marina (Cowes) around 17:30.  Once we had rounded West Pole we headed into the Solent but as we thought there was no wind so it was a motor all the way.

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It was great being back in the Solent and seeing familiar sights such as the Forts, Portsmouth and plenty of shipping.  Olly took the helm for most of the journey although I feel he was disappointed not to be able to sail.

We arrived in Cowes around 17:30 and went for dinner at the Anchor; after that we walked the promenade to take in the still night over the Solent.

Total Miles: 229.6

Latitude:       50’46’.08N

Longitude: 01’17’.95W