Apprehensively I set of on my maiden solo long offshore voyage, I would be lying if I said I was without doubt. I wasn’t worried, but it was the moment the talk became reality and it brought with it a sence of worry as I was truely on my own and miles away from the security of land. As the wind blowing at a steady 25knts filled my sails it too swept away any seeds of doubt and filled me with euphoria as the bow carved through the swell, doing a steady 6knots the cliffs of Portugal soon became a distant memory. Soon the secure solid surroundings were replaced by the unrelenting undulating swell intermittently topped by the whisk of white as the swell built in size and crashed under itself. The first 7 hours were sublime and as I settled in for the night I went around with some WD40 to silence the pulleys that voiced a concern I could do without.
I realised I couldn’t sleep on the tack that left me sailing at an exciting 6knots with the swell hitting from the aft, I headed closer to the wind deviating from the planned course and reefed in some sail. The result was profound, the drop in speed and swell hitting the boat at an angle made life below decks much more bearable and at 21:00 after crossing the shipping lanes I hit the hay. I woke up perhaps twice as the AIS warned me of a vessel in my vicinity, I soon learnt that I could comfortably reduce the the sensitivity of the alarm to warn me of a vessel within 2 miles.
On waking at 6am I decided to fix the windvane which kept locking up everytime the servo rudder went at an extreme angle, the solution after much deliberation was a piece of wire around the jointed connector to prevent it from sliding off the trim tab, the action of the swell which had built to such a hight that during the night two waves had crashed over the boat had broken the flimsy connection. On the second day and night I continued to have great wind, much of it thanks to the curry my mum sent me packing with, and decided to head directly south instead of the planned course to get out of the area that was producing the dasderly easterly swell.
Sadly that was it for the wind and for the next three days I covered the equivalent distance as I had in my first 12 hours. That said I had company, I saw a few turtles just floating about …. I wonder whose idea that was… “You sure this is the right way, Trev, not doubting you but we don’t seem to be going anywhere” .. “It takes time, we are turles after all” – Yes I have inner dialogues, no I didn’t have a football with a face painted on it.
There were lots of dolphins and a whale which circled me three times, will upload the video when I get time.
I used the motor twice, only to see what my fuel consumption was like, ardent sailor is me, me no motor use, just an experiment you must understand. As it turns out 32 miles costs me 20 euros … so I stopped that pretty quickly.
I slept without any sails up for two nights and was chomping on the bit for some progress, I hailed a cargo vessel and asked them if I looked pretty on their radar, they replied in surprise, flat seas “Who is that, where are you!!” – nice to know they would have run me over without even knowing I was there. They told me winds would arrive in 6 hours and sure enough they did around 19:00.
I spent all night awake milking this precious wind for all it was worth and was rewarded with the Canaries being a mere 100 miles away, clearly my Dutch friends were worried, they had left a week earlier, for I was woken up from my doze by a tapping on my window.
Sadly I was unable to decode the Morse message it was sent to deliver, once it had tired of it’s reflection in my window and repaid me for the free taxi ride by means of liberal quantities of fertiliser it took off for it’s flight to land. Reminds me of a marathon runner cheating by catching a bus.
I also had another rude awakening by means of a loud crack promptly followed by another crack as my head hit the hatch in my haste to see what the source of the noise was. A pallet, the type used to carry goods in a warehouse, had met the bow of my boat – I checked for damage which was a nick in the paint work, considered the odds of that happening and satisfied that it wasn’t a higher power mocking me for my frivolous flouting of maintaining a lookout, promptly fell asleep again.
The last 24hours I had a nice 15knts and made haste towards the Canaries, I had timed it to be there at sunrise 0600, however some smartass decided to move the clocks forward an hour unknown to me so I arrived confused as to why the sun rose at 0700. Fearful of the age old adage of drivers ending up in rivers as a result of blindly following the sat nav, I decided to wait until the sun rose before I navigated around the islands.
I arrived having slept perhaps 3 hours, berthed on my todd in 20 knots of wind .. almost, was immensely proud of myself (thanks Mike for your hours of pontoon bashing – I am pro!!). Went to celebrate by going to a local bar, island is so small everything was shut.
Was a great journey, with it’s ups and downs, the downs being the breaking of my steering in the wind and swell on the second day, the ups has to be the copious amounts of Jaffa cakes and digestive biscuits I consumed without feeling guilty… ok and the dolphins, the whale, the wind, the … well loved every minute of it… except for the lack of wind.
I must point out that although I have no offshore experience till this voyage I had done a lot of sailing in the months leading up to this, the practical lessons I learnt from sailing with Mike and Dave, were used on a daily basis. I was naive and stupid to think I could do this knowing nothing. I could have done it without their experience but I wouldn’t have had the confidence.
- Covered 570 miles
- Average Speed 3.9 knots
- 6 Engine hours
- 5 Litres of water a day
- 1 Whale
- 5 Turles
- 1 Pigeon
- 0 Fish
- Lots of Dolphins
- Top speed 7 Knots
- Slept a good 5+ hours a night
- Broke the tiller pilot and wind vane.
- 3 Books