Alex arrived back in Cardiff Bay on the 10th September completing his round Britain trip in Memory of Francesca and Supporting the CLIC Sargent Cancer Charity.
Good Afternoon from Plymouth,
I arrived here in Plymouth yesterday following my weekend in Weymouth for the bank holiday and a stop in Dartmouth for the evening.
We had a fantastic time in Weymouth for the bank holiday and received a huge welcome from Weymouth marina and the staff there. I have to say a big thank you to Weymouth marina owned by Dean & Reddyhoff as they very kindly moored us up for the weekend and were the most fantastic hosts so a big thank you.
We had the most successful weekend with fellow boat owners stopping to talk to me and read my posters which were all over the boat and they were filling the donations tin which is always a good sign. On the Sunday we were joined by my partner Laura’s sister and her husband for the fireworks on the front that evening and as we were walking along with the tins the local radio stopped us and they interviewed me live which was then also put out to everyone on the front so this gave us some great publicity and people helping to fill the tins.
Tuesday morning came and it was time for me to slip my lines and head for the next destination which was Dartmouth, As I rounded Portland bill I made the decision to take the inside track as it was very calm and not a lot of wind and as I was told if you can’t throw a biscuit to land you’re not close enough! So I went right inshore and I tried the challenge with a tough hobnob and it only landed inches off the coast line probably because of my poor throwing (I was always told id never make the England cricket team!)
Well the tide took me round the bill and then I was on my route across Lyme bay and heading for Dartmouth which was a very uneventful day as we had very little wind but I managed to get into Dartmouth at 1900. The team at Darthaven Marina welcomed me in o their visitors pontoons for the night where I must say the shower facilities were first class. When I returned I had a knock on the coach roof and it was the couple in front of me and their two friends and son who welcomed me onto their boat for a drink as they themselves are on the homeward leg of their round Britain trip so we had lots of stories to swap and shared places we had been which was excellent.
Well the following morning came around and I waited for low water as the next leg was to Plymouth and specifically to the Swift Sail loft where I was to meet up with the owner Jamie. As I left the mouth of the dart the wind was building and I could see some rain coming so I climbed into my oil skins again and set the sails ready for a sail, the wind kept building and I slipped in a reef into the main sail and the boat just took off which I must say was so exhilarating as we powered into Plymouth and was the fisrt full days sailing on the south coast.
I arrived in here at 1930 and was greeted into the Torpoint Marina by the very helpful staff and was made to feel right at home.
So today I have been in the Swift Sail loft learning how to mend my asymmetric as there have been a few holes and a tear in it so Matt who is the sail maker there has been showing me what to do and how to do it so if I ever need to I can make a repair. A big thank you to Jamie and Matt of Swift Sails for welcoming me into the loft and helping me with the repairs.
So tomorrow the plan is to head for Falmouth which is about 40 miles away as the forecast for the next few days isn’t looking so good so I want to get down there as soon as possible so I’m not caught out in it around cape Cornwall.
So if you are in Falmouth over the weekend please do pop along and say hello and drop some funds into the bucket it would be great. Don’t forget to keep following us on Facebook, twitter and Instagram and please please visit the just giving page and pop on there as much as you can.
Until next time
Good Morning all,
I must start by apologising for not having posted a blog for some time we have been through some major issues but we have finally come out the other side fighting.
I have made it down onto the south coast now and I am heading for Brighton and wearing shorts for the first time – not toned up in my foul gear and boots.
I left you last time making the passage to Eyemouth which was quite a stretch but was very fortunate to have good weather for the trip there, I arrived an hour after low water so I had some waiting to do outside before I could enter the harbour. I was told that I could moor up outside the entrance but when I arrived there wasn’t much room at all out side as the entrance is surrounded by rocks and I didn’t fancy drifting into them. Well I didn’t have to wait to long and I slipped down the channel and onto the wall to finally get some shuteye.
The issues I started to have began here and they weren’t with the boat but with the charity that I have been doing this voyage for and as I moved south the issue grew and grew but we’ll come to them shortly.
From Eyemouth I made the trip down the coast and pulled into Blythe. This brought me back into England for the first time since Whitehaven and a lot of very challenging sailing.
I decided to go into Blythe as there was a weather system coming in bringing high winds up to and beyond a force 8 and this was forecast for a couple of days so I made the decision to stay put and ride it out which was the right thing to do as it turned very nasty. I must say what a fantastic yacht club they have there and with a very special club house they have being an old ship at the Royal Northumberland Yacht Club and a big thank you to them for having me and some fantastic food.
From Blythe I made the trip down to Whitby, the weather was giving out 3-4 but when I was out there we had 5-6 but this wasn’t to bad as I was running with the wind and this made for a pleasant and fast trip. That was until I started the approach into Whitby and I knew that the entrance was very tight and with the sea running as it was it was going to be a fast entrance. Well I had a yacht in front of me that had come up from the south and they made the entrance only moments before I did and they made their approach and decided to go so slowly into the entrance even in neutral I was catching them up but the issue with that was that I had no steerage so I had to get back on the power and I surfed a wave in and the speedo shot up to 9 knots as I entered fortunately avoiding the other boat but some people do amaze you!
I had a very nice couple of days in the town having lots of visitors popping down to the boat and this is where we finally sorted the issue out. The charity that I was doing the trip for had gone back on what we had agreed and with sponsors and their funds and unfortunately the Chairman of the charity was very unpleasant about myself and what I was doing and why, so there were a lot of e-mails back and forth. The Chairman made the position very clear and he said he would not be supporting or endorsing the voyage so we had no choice and all connections were cut from that point on. As I am sure you can imagine how this has had a huge effect on me but I wasn’t going to let it beat me so with the help of my shore team calls were made to the charity Clic Sargent and we have agreed with them to carry the trip on for them and raise funds for their vital works which I am over the moon about and they have been fantastic.
So with all of this sorted I made plans for the next leg of the trip and I decided to go direct from Whitby to Lowestoft this was 161nm and I thought about 36 hours give or take. I left Whitby at about 11am the next morning with a good force 5 wind coming from the east and this made for some great sailing, the wind was with me until about 3 the following morning and then it dropped right down to a 2-3 so had to motor sail to keep the pace up and I arrived at Lowestoft around 8 that night so all in all it took me 30 hours which I was chuffed with. As I made my way along the coast the wind farms became more prominent and also the gas fields of the East Coast they really are something to see in the dark all light up like Christmas trees, and then the commercial traffic moving through them making their way into port.
I spent the following night in Lowestoft and was visited by brother’s mother in law and her partner which was fantastic as they were the first faces I know that I’d seen in quite some time so we had dinner and then wandered round to the Royal Norfolk and Suffolk Yacht Club, what a fantastic club they have there and a great little bar so it would have been rude of me not to have a cold one. As I was sat there a chap walked in and I thought I know you?? I walked up and apologised for interrupting him but are you Sam? Yes was the reply Sam Sam the micro lite man? That’s me and the penny dropped with him it was of my grandfathers great friends who use to fly with him and I haven’t seen him in must be 10 years and he and his wife were ther in the yacht which was just fantastic and great to catch up with him.
The following day I had a suprise visit from my mum as she was over from Ireland having the car MOTd so she thought I’ll come and see him which was so good as I hadn’t seen her since I departed Cardiff 3 months ago.
The following morning I slipped the moorings and made the passage to Ramsgate which was a great sail down it took around 15 hours but most of it was sailing so I was very happy. The one thing you have to watch for going down there is the wind farms they are enormous and stretch for miles. When I was en route to Ramsgate I knew that I had to make it then as we had very high winds forecast for the next 2 days so it totally wiped the weekend out for me. This time the forecast wasn’t wrong and the wind was colossal there was a solid 8 gusting 9 and looking out to sea you wouldn’t have wanted to be rounding the corner to Dover!
I made the decision to get an early start on Monday morning and head for Brighton. The wind was still at a 5-6 but was due to die down very shortly and then drop to next to nothing – hehe yeah ok! I had great sail down the coast until I reached the corner and turned to head along the south coast and was greeted by a 4m swell with huge winds the deck was awash and so was I soaked within 5 minutes. I made the decision to put into Dover and hide from the weather but it didn’t stop blowing all day and the seas didn’t calm.
I put out of Dover this morning and I’m currently on passage to Brighton where I’ll be for a night and then heading for Gosport to hopefully see Dave and the Boatshed head office.
So until next time happy sailing.
Good Evening from Stonehaven,
Hello all and what a busy week I have had going through the canal and getting down to here, for most of the time I have been heading here I haven’t had any power but I have found a nice quiet corner of the local pub to keep you all updated as I needed the power for the laptop.
Well last time I spoke with you I was heading up to the canal and as I arrived there I was just 10 minutes late to get into the inner basin that night so spent the night on the mooring outside where I was joined by three other yachts and we all got into the locks at 8am.
The first part of the canal when entering from the west is Neptune’s staircase a flight of 9 locks and this took me half the day to get up but the staff were fantastic in helping me. When we reached the top I had a couple of loads of washing I had to get done so the afternoon was spent doing this.
Later on that afternoon I was reunited with Alistar and Ingrid MacKenzie along with their son and partner, I first met them in Stornoway and was rafted up with them as I described in the earlier blog it was fantastic to see them again and catch up and we accompanied each other right through the canal.
The next morning was an early start as we wanted to be at the next lock by 8am and as we motored along the scenery was fantastic we made it through the locks and navigated Loch Lochy and made it into the top basin of Fort Augusta that night. This is the start of the second large flight of locks along the canal and we were first through in the morning at 8am. This lock drops you down into the famous Loch Ness and as we started the motor out there was very little wind.
I do have a confession to make as we crossed Loch Ness I did have the echo sounder on to see if I could catch a glimpse of the famous creature but no such luck this time.
As I was about quarter of the way across the loch the wind started to fill and I was able to hoist the asymmetric for the first time this trip and I carried this right the way across the loch which was fantastic fun. When we reached the end we were just in time for the lochs that dropped us down into Inverness and I spent the last night in the company of the MacKenzies and they very kindly treated me to what has to be the best curry I have had and I am so grateful for their friendship and support.
I spent the next day in Inverness stocking the boat and and making sure I had everything I needed ready to head back to sea, I departed the next morning at 8am out in the sea lock and headed for Whitehills. The wind again was very light but I managed to get the asymmetric flying and made the trip down to Whitehills in good time and sailing so I was very happy with this.
When I was in the loch I was accompanied by 2 other yachts who were heading to the same destination so we were all chatting and the smaller yacht with Sam and Roger on had seen the boat when I was up in Kinlochbervie and a couple of times since then as I made my way to the canal. The three yachts have all been in company until now as in the morning we are all going are separate ways as long as the weather plays ball.
I must say a huge thank you to Bertie the marina manager in Whitehills who was very helpful and arranged for my stay there to be free which I can only thank him for, we had planned to only be there that one night but when I woke at 5am the next morning to move off the wind was howling a 6-7 and there was no way we would have made the tight turns to exit the marina even if I had of managed what would it be like rounding Rattray Head which is a tough tidal race and the seas can be very fierce.
So the following morning we left Whitehills with a strong wind behind us and this took us around Rattray Head which was very calm and the three of us made it into Peterhead.
We arrived into Peterhead and I had enough time to go to what I thought was the local shop and it ended up in being an hour and a half round trip to Morrisons but I got all I need for fresh provisions.
It was another early start this morning to catch the tides down to Stonehaven and I arrived in here about 3pm.
On the way down I received a message from my sister in law Emily to inform me she had been e-mailing the local radio stations for them to give me a shout out and I was tuned into the only one I could get and this was original FM and low and behold they gave me a big shout out and wished me well on the voyage which I was jumping for joy over, so thank you Emily.
Well I am all shut up in the boat now as it has started to rain but I plan on slipping the moorings in the morning for Eyemouth so if you are nearby please come down and say hello or give me a wave as I pass by.
Until next time
Good Afternoon from Dunstaffnage,
I have made the passage over the last couple of days from Kinlochbervie down to Dunstaffnage which was a total of 206.1nm.
When I left Kinlochbervie following the very tough decision I had to make, I made for Ullapool so I could restock the boat as they have a good supermarket there and I spent the two nights on their visitors moorings and for the first time using the dingy on this trip. From there I made my way down to Skye and anchored off the beautiful coast for the night and then made the next long trip down to Tobermory where I managed to get onto a berth. (funny story coming about here). From there I have made the trip along the sound of Mull to where I am safely moored up now in Dunstaffnage.
When I left Kinlochbervie it was with a heavy heart that I was turning to port but I knew it was for the right reasons. I made my way down the coast beating into a steady wind of 4-5 and the boat was handling like a dream as we made the passage, before I knew it, it was time to make the turn into Ullapool now this was a 15 mile stretch up the loch into the town where I picked up a mooring buoy. The following morning I rowed ashore to refuel the boat and then stock it up with fresh supplies, there aren’t any showers there and when I did find some in the public toilets there wasn’t a light so ended up showering in the disabled showers! I must admit when I got there I was fed up of my culinary delights on the boat so I popped into the local chippy and had some good food and a welcoming pint of beer.
I departed Ullapool in the morning with next to no wind at all and as I made my way out of the loch and into the open sea thankfully the wind started to build and I was again beating into a force 4 building to latter on in the day to a 5, I was having great fun as I pounded along making a good turn of speed with lots of water coming over the bow to give me a salt water shower. I had planned to go into Stein and pick up one of their mooring buoys of their foreshore for the night but after looking at the Scottish pilot I had it wasn’t clear where this was and on the charts and plotter there was a good and recommended anchorage on the opposite side to Uig on the isle of Skye so I made the decision to anchor there for the night. What a fantastic little anchorage it was and I had a seal appear right next to me when I was setting the anchor which was fantastic. The night under the anchor was rather pleasant and I did have the drag alarm sound a couple of times but I think this was due to me setting it to low and we seemed to be well dug in.
I arose early the next morning 4am with the plan to make a move then down to Tobermorry but the sun wasn’t up and I decided to head back inside and make a coffee and wait for the sun to fully come up. At 4am the sun was breaking with a very bright light over the Outer Hebrides and I’m sure as you know the sun doesn’t rise that side of the UK so was really something special. Well that coffee was fatal as I went back down and after a warm sip I sat down and proceeded to nod of for an hour but this was all ok as when I woke I had some Weetabix and pulled up the anchor which was set fast and took all my might to get it up but it was up and I was on my way.
I arrived in Tobermory at around 10pm that evening to find I could sneak onto the last available berth right at the gangway to get up into the town. Well what a fantastic location and I was admiring all of the buildings on the front as they were painted in very bright and vibrant colours. When I arose the following morning I wanted to pick the brains of the harbour staff as to the best way to proceed through the sound of Mull and I was aware of the tides and the rip and overfalls so I had a long chat with them which was very helpful. The marina was full and the extra boats were all out on the moorings, I received a lot of attention as I was at the bottom of the gang way and people stopping and asking me what I was doing and people popping money into the collection buckets as they walked by.
As I went for a walk around the village the next day I was on the phone to my little brother back in Bedfordshire and I was telling all about the brightly coloured buildings on the front and I found myself outside the museum and he said to me go in and ask them Whats the story? I didn’t know what he was on about so I popped my head around the door and asked them sorry but “what’s the story?” and the young lady started laughing and I could hear my brother laughing on the other end of the phone? When she had managed to pick herself off the floor through laughter she went on to tell me that someone was playing a joke on me as this is where they filmed the childrens programme Ballamory. Well I fell for that one hook line and sinker so all I could do was laugh and walk away!!
I departed Tobermory at half past nine this morning and made the small trip of 25nm to Dunstaffnage where I am writing this for you now.
The next move in the morning will take me with the tide up to the Caledonian Canal where I will start my journey to Inverness, hoping to spot Nessie on the way.
Until next time
Good Evening from Kinlochbervie.
Where to start?
I have been away from the boat for a week as I returned to Cardiff for the wedding of Mr & Mrs Wyatt who is my better half’s sister which was fantastic and a good weekend but I must say it is good to be back on the boat.
I have been sitting here studying the weather very closely and although there have been boats in and then heading north they have all had crew and are cruising around the north of Scotland. So the weather hasn’t been so much of an issue for them as they have plenty of time to hide from the weather and if they are caught they can take turns with the boat duties which I do not have the luxury of.
The extended outlook for the north of Scotland is not good and although there is a two day break in the weather I cannot go through the Pentland Firth as we are now heading for springs I do not feel comfortable for my safety and the boats safety so I have had to come to a very hard decision which has pulled me between pillar and post.
The plan for the next stage of the trip I have decided to head back south to the Caledonian Canal and then go through there and this will then pop me out at Inverness.
I can assure you that this decision hasn’t come lightly but due to the bad weather we have up here and the timing for the tides through the Firth, then the extended outlook being so poor and then the most important factor – mine and the boats safety… I am sure Francesca would give me a stern telling of if I jeopardised either. It has been a really tough and heart breaking decision I have had to come to as my goal was to reach the Shetlands and then head south but mother nature doesn’t want me to get up there just yet, but there will be a next time and I will get there but on this trip it is just not meant to be.
I set out to sail around Britain and even though I haven’t got round the whole of Scotland I will have got around Britain and I hope you can all understand why I have come to this decision and I want to thank you all for your support and to my sponsors especially Dave at Wifionboard and Keith with the BoatShed group for their continued support and we will get this challenge done and in the bag.
Please do keep supporting me and don’t forget you can donate on the My Donate page and also the txt donation, text btos31 with amount £2-5-10 to 70070.
Thank you all for your continued support.
Until Next Time
Ahoy from Stornoway,
I have reached the north of the Outer Hebrides and Stornoway before I make the passage back over to the mainland of Scotland.
When I left Lochboisdale the weather was fantastic and it looked set and forecast to last so I thought great I will get to see the amazing scenery of these Western Isles. Well again I was wrong and although the forecast was for the wind from the south which it was they got the force totally wrong, they had said it would be a 3-4 with occasional 5 but it kept building and building and I had a force 6+ pushing me along at a very fast pace.
With the wind came rather large waves as we were wind over tide and this made for a rather lumpy ride and I was having to have full control of the tiller to stop us broaching as this would have had disastrous effects with the strong winds. I was on the helm all the way, the unfortunate thing was that we had rain all day and very low cloud cover so all I saw of the coast was the first few feet of the cliffs as I rounded headlands and it was such a shame as I was so looking forward to seeing the coast line.
As I was about twenty miles into the journey far in front of me I saw this object appear and then disappear I wondered what on earth it could be?? I grabbed the binoculars and fortunately enough I could see what it was and it was a whale broaching the surface like you see on the TV programs but I am unsure of what breed it was weather it was a sperm or minkie whale?
As I was close to the shoreline for most of the trip I had the usual bird life floating around me and them diving for the fish and then there it was what I would call a proper puffin the ones with the coloured bills and this was fantastic and something I really wanted to see.
Then out of nowhere I heard the familiar sound of a dolphin but this was unlike any other dolphin I have seen before it was 4 or 5 times the size of the common dolphin a real Scottish beast, and before you ask I can assure you it wasn’t Nessie as it didn’t have the tartan hat on!! As it was surfacing next to me on the bow the stern diving under the boat and playing with us it came up on the stern and as it did it blew through its blow pipe and what a noise it made but then it hit me the awful smell from its inside of rotting fish!! I have never smelt anything as bad as it before and even in the wind it seemed to linger… wow it was putrid and I have smelt some bad things in my time but I don’t think I will have to endure that again it was worse than the dog farting in the car!
I made it into Stornoway at about 7 o’clock and the marina was full even though I had rung ahead but there were a lot of people who had arrived before me and it was first come first in, so I had to raft up next to a very nice couple Alistair and his wife on the fisherman’s wharf. I had a lovely chat with them and they have been great neighbours and they gave me a donation and also a lovely slice of fruit cake to have as a celebration when I round Cape Wrath.
After a good nights sleep I have done all the essentials on the boat and they have a fantastic chandlery here so I have been able to sort everything out. I must admit that the very rough and at times very scary trip up from Lochboisdale has left me feeling rather deflated and down but I know what I have to do and I need to pick myself up dust off and get on with the next passage, but as everything in life it is easier said than done but I will have to bite the bullet and go for it.
If there is only one thing that I haven’t been ready for this trip which I thought I was ready but it is the mental state I am in. I knew it was going to be the hardest thing I have ever done in my life and I knew this from the time I made the promise to Francesca. I have read a lot about how to cope with what the mind throws at you and how to think and act to deal with this, even with today’s technologies allowing you to speak to loved ones daily and see them also meeting new people on a daily basis it is still so tough on your mind. I really have a true admiration for the pioneers of the solo voyages in the early years going for nearly a whole year without seeing anyone just like Sir R K Johnson when made his record breaking solo circumnavigation doing this has really given me a much greater respect for the solo sailor of past and present. Please don’t get me wrong when I say I am having an off day and finding it hard it is a huge challenge but I am loving every minute of it even though I might not feel that at the time but as they say this show must go on and I am planning to make the passage over to the mainland tomorrow before we have more bad weather due.
Until Next Time
Good Afternoon from Lochbiosdale,
I have made it to the Outer Hebrides which I am very pleased about.
I have made this passage in two stages from Port Ellen to Coll and then onto Lochbiosdale and their brand new marina.
I departed Port Ellen at 10 am on Thursday and made the passage to Coll. I’d had been watching the weather and new that this was the best option as we had a good wind from the south but it was due to die latter on in the day. As I departed the lovely Port Ellen where I had spent nearly a week due to the weather further north being rather nasty and on the previous passage my 6 month old Musto sallopetts had leaked so I had to have a new pair very kindly supplied by Hudson Wright couriered up to me in a huge rush, which I must say have been fantastic with the torrential rain we had thrown at us and they were very warm.
As I rounded the western side of the island the wind picked up and the rolling seas from the Atlantic came along and with the wind from the south this made for a very quick trip to Coll. At points I was looking at the speed and the boat was doing 9.5knt, turning my 33ft yacht into my surf board which I must say was great fun.
I arrived at Coll just before midnight which was fantastic and I covered the 84 miles in great time, when I arrived I had to find the mooring buoys which have been placed there by the ferry company, and there was only a couple free which I was grateful for as it meant I didn’t have to anchor which I always worry about dragging. The sea was still a little lumpy and this was making the boat rather noisey but I managed to get some sleep.
When I woke in the early hours of the morning I went up on deck and all I can say is wow how beautiful this island was and looking at the mainland in the early morning light was spectacular and I was very excited about the next passage on and what I would see. I sat up on deck and had a coffee and breakfast in the sun as there was no wind at all.
I set off around 9am and there wasn’t a breath of wind so I set the auto pilot up and I was able to enjoy the surroundings, but then out of the corner of my eye I spotted something surfacing and the it disappeared again so I grabbed the binoculars to see if it came again which it did and it just looked to big to be a dolphin? The next time it surfaced it popped its head just above the water and there it was the big white cheeks of an Orca whale and I was jumping for joy at what I had seen, the dorsal fin wasn’t as big as I had seen in the books and I knew the females’ fins were smaller than the males so could it have been a female? Well my question was soon answered as it rose again as next to it was a small calf!!!! I couldn’t believe how lucky I had been to see this beautiful creature and we had both glided past each other so I was thankful for the sea being like a mirror.
As I headed out from the island I had some seals watching me in the distance which was great to see and all this activity had put me on such a high. We made the trip across to Lochboisdale in about 6 and half hours and the scenery was just stunning with the isle of Skye to the north of me and I could see through the binoculars some yachts up there, as I made my approach to Lochboisdale the coast line became clearer and clearer and it was stunning with the large hills either side as you come in, the harbour here is only a year old so some old plotters won’t have it on there but trust me it is here.
The harbour is a man-made marina between two islands and they have dammed one side with a road leading to the small village, the harbour master here is a very friendly chap and he came down to meet me and help me moor up in the correct place. After two days I was desperate for a shower and some good food not the mediocre stuff I cook on the boat, so I headed for the showers where there are also laundry facilities and they are all nice and modern without a doubt the second best I have found on the trip so far. (The award for the best facilities will be announced at the end of the trip). I wandered along to the local hotel to have a feed and a nice cold beer which was well looked after the food wasn’t the best but I didn’t have to cook it so I was grateful for that.
Today I have been sorting the boat out and doing the washing and preparing for the next part of the trip up to Stornoway tomorrow, I had to get some basics and the nearest shop is the Co-op and it’s a short taxi ride, I was advised that Len’s Taxis were the best so he came and collected me and waited while I did the shop and then brought me back to the marina and he was so kind in not charging me for the trip as he thought what I was doing was so good he wanted to help and this was the way he could so a huge thank you to Len for this. The marina has been a hive of activity today with the fishing boats and there is now a large trawler in making some repairs.
I must say a very big thank you to all here at Lochboisdale Marina for being so welcoming and not charging me for the moorings as this helps in such a big way so thank you.
Until next time
Good Morning from Port Ellen.
I have made the passage from Bangor to Port Ellen on the Argyll coast of Scotland.
I had planned the trip down to the last detail as I had had an extra day in Bangor due to the bad weather, the weather had been given for a 4-5 from the north east with slight seas so this should make for some great sailing… well I thought so!
As I left the harbour I could see that the wind was blowing well but the sea state was becoming a little lively. I had taken the decision that I would need a reef in the main but as I made way I decided that a second reef was in order to keep the boat well balanced but still powered up.
As I rounded the headland and made the turn towards Scotland the wind increased and the sea state was building making for a very uncomfortable ride as I was beating into the wind. We had taken a knock on the speed as I had had to reef and now having to tack my way up to the coast and making the crossing to Scotland.
My destination of Port Ellen came into view at about half past 10 and then as I got closer I could make the lights out on the shore but I knew it was still a way off. As the weather had been rough on the trip over I hadn’t managed to leave the deck all day, but as we got into the lee of the land I was able to dive below and make sure I had the right passage into the harbour and any navigational hazards I was to be aware of.
I made my way along the passage that is well marked and light and thankful it is as there are a lot of rocks that surround the approach to the harbour. As I was coming in I could see a very large structure that was lit up like a Christmas tree and I couldn’t make out what it was until I had moved in further, it turned out to be a super-yacht anchored up in the depths. I arrived into the berth a little after 1am and had to stretch my legs with a short stroll.
My next planned trip is to the island of cool about 84 miles north from where I am now, they have a small anchorage and visitor bouys but they are exposed to the south.
I have been watching the weather very closely and for the next 3 days they are giving the wind veering to the south and building to gales coming in from the Atlantic so I am hoping that the forecast changes because I need a clear window of three to four days so that I can get up to Stornoway in safety.
I will keep you all informed of the plans and when we get the weather window.
When I arrived here the following morning the Facebook page was going crazy and I had no idea why? The guys at Whitehaven had managed to get the results from the racing into the local paper and a very nice piece on what the trip is for and the donation information. I have to say a huge thank you to the guys there for doing this for me.
Please do get behind me and donate as much as you can to this very good cause and the trip, you can donate on the My Donate page or you can text btos31 to 70070 with the amount £2,5,10.
Until next time
Good Afternoon from Bangor Northern Ireland,
I have made the passage from Whitehaven to Bangor in Northern Ireland overnight.
There was a great send off from Whitehaven as I was waved off the pontoon by fellow yacht owners wishing me well. I was accompanied by another yacht as I hoisted my sails and made the turn towards Northern Ireland, it was fantastic the friendship I had from everyone in Whitehaven and I wanted to say thank you to them all and happy sailing I look forward to returning there in the future.
I had a steady wind and I was making a good speed as I moved along the south west coast of Scotland and the weather reports were for the wind to keep coming.
Well yet again the wind had other ideas and by night fall the wind decided that it was going to vanish and leave me with glass like seas. As I rounded the Mull of Galloway and made my way north north west towards Bangor I happened to look over the side of the boat as a very large dead squid floated by me, and in the wake from the bow of the boat I saw phosphorescence glowing away in the water. This was a first that I had only read about in books and it was huge privilege to see this first hand and something I won’t be forgetting.
As I settled in for the night I had a couple of ships pass me but nothing very close. As the dawn broke and the light came this then brought in the thick fog again something I am really growing to hate. I was looking at the charts and the chart plotter and I was now making my approach into Belfast Lough and I knew I was no more than 2 miles off shore and couldn’t see land, as I closed in and making the approach to the harbour the first sights I saw was a yacht anchored up. The first sight of the harbour was the wall just on my left only 500 yards on my port bow.
Thankfully I got into the harbour and found the correct mooring and finally got my head down after a very stressful few hours in the fog.
When I woke from my nap around 11 am the fog was still in and very slowly lifting but it was murky for most of the day but it finally dissipated and I had a wander along the front to see what I hadn’t when I entered the harbour.
The plan for the next leg of the journey has taken some planning and consideration as the weather has not been able to make its mind up and is now giving out strong wind in the north blowing a 7nts. I was looking at making the long passage straight up to the Outer Hebrides but with the weather it is now giving I have decided to play it safe and head for the island of Islay and Port Ellen and then I can review the weather again but looking to head up to Coll.
I will keep you all updated as to how I get on and how the weather is treating me.
Until next time