Sunday 5 April 2015

We're off.....

At long last after a long if fairly mild winter of jobs on the boat, we started our cruise to the Azores via Lisbon and Madeira on Monday. Mind you we've started during one of the coldest springs I can remember.

It was also something of a scramble to get the boat even partly ship shape. This is what she looked like on Sunday lunch time..

Unfortunately I didn't get round to taking any "after" photos but things had improved a little.

Maybe it was the cold or more likely my native ineptitude but we suffered a number of minor incidents.

First I could not start the engine. We appeared to have a flat battery but I knew it was fully charged on Sunday. After 20 mins of angst I suddenly realised I had forgotten to turn the battery on. We just managed to get to the Marina lock on time.

I'd overlooked bending on the Genoa but given the strong winds was happy to use the smaller jib instead. It was that sort of sailing.....

However during the course of Monday the winds lessened and therefore I decided to bend on the Genoa under way. All appeared be well until the winds got up again and it was time to furl the Genoa. Of course it was stuck and would not move. The only choice in increasingly strengthening winds was to get the Genoa down completely. Murray and I got a good soaking on the Foredeck but managed the task without further incident.

We got Ramsgate on Monday evening just before the really strong winds arrived and discovered that I had attached the Genoa halyard directly to the sail rather than to the swivel, which of course accounted for why the sail would no furl.

We then discovered that because we had arrived out of hours we could not get out of the Marina on the land side - or more accurately we could get out but would not be able to get back in again because there was no one around to tell us what the code for the gate was. Fortunately we were well provisioned and so Tony proceeded to cook a splendid Roast Chicken dinner that was enjoyed by all.

My friend Chris who left Chatham at the same time at the start of his long sail back to New Zealand, had decided to only go as far as Stangate Creek on the Medway that night and reported he'd had  a night from hell at anchor there!  Marinas have there benefits even when stuck on the boat.

Next morning we got ashore for a light breakfast  snack.....

It continued to blow hard all day so we stayed put, had a look round the town and did a few odd jobs around the boat. That evening we found an Italian restaurant on the front and had an excellent meal despite being the only customers for the  majority of the evening.

On Wednesday we stocked up with another hearty (and late) breakfast and left for Dover at about 1330. We had a cracking sailing in a strong westerly breeze under a double reefed main and the No 2 Genoa. 

On our approach to Dover we were hailed by name by Dover Harbour control over the VHF thanks to the new AIS transponder I had fitted. It was comforting to know they could both see us and identify us easily and  ensure we stayed out of the way of the big boys entering and leaving the harbour.

We  went out for a Curry that night and I made the mistake of ordering the"Staff Curry"  and then chewed on a hot chilli pepper. I thought I was going to die much to the amusement of the rest of the crew!

The following lunch time with more moderate winds we departed for  Chichester. Indeed the winds were a little too light and we motor sailed most of the way. Even when the wind got up when I was off watch Tony was keen to make good progress and continued with motor sailing. I didn't sleep and noticed we were heeling a fair bit but left him to it. However, when I got back on watch at 0400 to find us making 9 knots over the ground, I decided enough was enough and turned the engine off (we still made 7 k). It was true we only had another couple of hours of tide to get us to the Looe Channel some 15 miles off but if we got to Chichester too early we wouldn't have enough water to get in, so there seemed little point in rushing. 

We were through the channel before day break and then had to slow the boat down so as not to get to Chichester bar too early. Even then we did and had to kill time for another hour before we had enough water to get in. We moored up at Sparks Marina at 0800. Murray and I headed home for the Easter weekend and Tony stayed on the boat.

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