Wednesday, 25 July 2012

The last day

We woke to find the rice pudding that never appeared the previous night still in the oven. When removed we found a crispy (burnt) topping of what appeared to be cheese. Considering there was no cheese in the dish it was quite worrying. There were no objections when it was suggested that it be thrown overboard.

At around 10.30 we commenced our return journey, leaving through a channel dredged for submarines. There were no submarines spotted, but a large colony of seals made an appearance on Piel Island. The journey was fairly slow to begin with being totally powered by the motor. Around midday the sails were out and we were bobbing along at a leisurely speed. This however proved to be too fast as when we reached the entrance to the Lune river channel the water level was too low to be able to navigate our way to Glasson. We spent around an hour milling around the entrance until the water was at a suitable height. A short trip up the channel took us back to Glasson where we passed through the lock gate without incident (unless you count the rather irritated swans that got trapped in the lock gate). All that was left to do was to find our berth and clean the boat. This was done efficiently and effectively and we were away for the scheduled 18:00 pick up. I think it would be fair to say that we were all looking forward to a night in our own beds, despite a thoroughly enjoyed trip.

On behalf of the entire crew I would like to thank Ian (captain) and Matt (first mate) for their help, guidance and patience without which we would not have had such a fantastic expedition.

Bumpy old day and no wind

Piel Island was a must if we were to return to Glasson the next day. The prospect of a long day lay ahead with the most optimistic journey time being around 8 hours. This was of course assuming conditions were favourable. They were not. Once leaving the safety of the marina we found that there was residual swell from the bad weather over the two days prior. This made the first leg of the journey uncomfortable. Despite the lumpy seas the wind was almost non-existent barely registering at times and peaking at around force 2s.

This lack of wind meant that the entire day was under the power of motor spare a few minutes in which we tried to sail. In these few minutes our speed plummeted resting about the 1knot mark. This would mean reaching Piel Island after sunrise the next day. Soon after switching the engine back on we were prompted by another boat to tune into VHF channel 13. We were informed we would soon be passing through a military firing range. We were assured we “should be fine” passing through but we would be warned if anything was to change.

The sea became calmer later in the day and made for a fairly uneventful journey and arrival at Piel. The water was perfectly calm in the protected bay around the island which made the evening meal very comfortable in comparison to some of the others we have eaten at sea.

The BIG waves day

We awoke at a similar time to yesterday and the Bow team made pancakes for breakfast. Next, we had to ready the ship to sail as the winds from yesterday hadn’t fully died down; the seas would be rough and as a result the ship could be thrown about on the water. We had to make sure everything in the galley and all our personal belongings were stowed securely to prevent them from falling and crashing around.

When we got out of the lock gates however, we quickly realised the wind and swell was stronger than expected. Soon we were feeling nature’s wrath: force 8 winds, 4m waves and over 30 degrees of pitch. It was becoming obvious that we wouldn’t be able to sail all the way to Piel Island, especially as we would be sailing directly into the wind. We had to swallow our pride and call Whitehaven to let us back in. When we reached the harbour we found out that we had done 0.9 miles in total; we had gotten less than half a mile out!

After a lunch of sandwiches and beans on toast, we settled in for another day at the harbour. We played cards, visited Tesco’s and Sid edited more pictures. Tea tonight was shepherd’s pie with sponge cake and custard for dessert (another 9 from Matt). After dinner we went to bed, and hoped that the weather would improve tomorrow.

Monday, 23 July 2012

The lost Sunday

We woke late (or later than usual anyway), as the weather forecast had suggested strong winds for today. We all hit the showers, before returning to the boat for a delicious breakfast, comprised of pancakes (a great effort from the stern team). After eating, we had a discussion with the Skipper, and in combination with him looking out to sea, decided that it was a bad idea to head out of the marina today. The weather forecast was right – the winds were too strong for us to sail in safely.

Having decided this, the remaining crew members headed to the outer walls of the marina and surveyed the condition of the sea. We came to the conclusion that it would have been a ridiculous idea to sail in such strong winds (causing pretty big waves), as proven by the fact that it almost knocked us over when walking around!

Whilst the bow team prepared a lunch of soup and sausage butties, the stern team headed out with Matt on the powered rubber dingy; to practice manoeuvres and the man overboard drill. We learned upon their return, that the highlight was Lewis crashing into the marina wall when, supposedly, in control. After lunch, which went down extremely well, the bow team headed out with Matt to perform the same moves, before returning to the boat (having had relative success).

Skippers note:
having taken into account the weather forecasts and the sea state as viewed from the outer breakwater I decided that it was safer to stay in the marina to-day. We had winds gusting to gale force and very angry looking seas. More luck tomorrow I hope.

Saturdays sailing

With the high tide in Whitehaven being relatively early, we aimed to arrive for 14:00, meaning the crew hauled themselves out of bed at 06:30, and sluggishly consumed a bowl of cereal each, with no time for a cooked breakfast. After breakfast, we all suited up and headed out on deck. After raising the anchor successfully, we motored out of Kirkcudbright Bay (off the coast of Scotland).

Once we were clear of the Bay, we checked the wind speed and decided to unfurl all three sails, before turning off the motor. After an initial gust of wind, we slowed to a tedious speed, causing some of the crew to doubt whether we’d actually ever make it to Whitehaven. With the slow rate we were travelling at, a number of us decided to play cards on deck, and some even resorted to reading!

After an hour or so of almost no movement (or that’s what it felt like anyway), the wind picked up again and we started to move at a decent speed (sustaining 5 knots comfortably, sometimes making just over 6). At this point, we even pretended we were racing two other yachts – one on either side of us.

We eventually reached Whitehaven just before 14:00 and decided to run through the man overboard drill, throwing a bucket and fender overboard as our pretend crew member (we didn’t reach a decision on who offered the least in terms of usefulness and general skill whilst on the boat).

With the drill over, we headed through the lock and moored back in the spot we held two nights before, and waited for dinner, which turned out to be a great tasting chicken stroganoff, cooked by the bow team.

Saturday, 21 July 2012

Windless Friday

Sid returned to laundrette at 08:00 on Friday morning to resume the ordeal left uncompleted the night before. A more relaxed morning was enjoyed by all with the opportunity to replenish provisions, at a local Tesco, and take advantage of hot showers once more. Upon departure at approximately midday, after giving the boat a thorough clean, we left the marina finding as expected very little wind. Depending on who you ask this either made for a brilliant day of relaxing, or was very mundane and tedious as there was little prospect of sailing by power of the wind. We were fortunate enough to be blessed by short spells of sunshine in which Charles wasted no time jumping below deck to change into his shirt and shorts. The less brave, or more sensible, of us remained on deck in jumpers and coats more suited to the temperature. Just four hours after departure we arrived at our proposed destination and sent down the anchor. This made the preparation of the nights food much more civilised than it had previously been with the boat settled on calm waters. The prospect of preparing pastry for a treacle tart proved too daunting for the stern team who were quick to suggest alternatives. When the skipper, Ian, put forward the idea of rice krispie cakes (taking only 5 minutes to prepare) they readily approved. With this prepared a relatively blind leap was taken towards the Bacon Bake on the
night’s menu. With the guidance of Mary Berry, Chris and Lewis prepared the dish. When served one of the chefs appeared to have little confidence in his meal preparing himself a sandwich instead. With some hesitancy the crew ate. The end result appeared mostly good with a solid 9 awarded by the first mate and the captain proclaiming he wished there was more! The desert went down equally well with the impromptu addition of Angel Delight most welcome. The night was finished with several games of cards including one new to us all, suggested by Matt who “rang his mate with a PHD in maths” for clarification on the rules.

Friday, 20 July 2012

From little wind a good days sailing

Thursdays blog
The day started with a brief motor out of Douglas harbour. We were prepared for a long, bleak day of little wind. However, after leaving the shoreline of the Isle Of Man the wind picked up. Promptly we unfurled the sails and set off to Whitehaven. The wind continued to blow and we held 6/7 knots for an hour or two. However, it was still a long day and with 7 hours to go, a few of the crew resorted to sleeping (in various amusing positions). We also had a broccoli throwing competition as some had started to go off. With Charles and Matt setting a decent benchmark, Kristian stepped up to the challenge. Once he had taken his position he let loose a powerful throw..............straight into the boom of the mainsail. This showered the boat in slightly mouldy broccoli. After this, morale started to drop as a rain cloud loomed overhead. The captain came to the rescue with his homemade orange and chocolate chip cookies. At Whitehaven, there is a tidal harbour with a high tech lock system, and with us arriving at 20:00, we had a long wait anchored just off shore. This made eating Sid’s curry rather challenging as there was a large swell. Some of the crew had to sit on deck to avoid chundering! At about 21:30, we pulled into our spot at the marina, most of us rushing to the showers apart from Sid who rushed to the laundrette (where he stayed until 00:30, washing and drying his clothes). By the time he returned, the rest of the crew had gone to bed and were fast asleep.

Thursday, 19 July 2012

The first 3 days

Apologies for the delay in posting these blogs, but we are unable to get internet access on the Isle of Man.

Skipper Ian.

Monday 16th

We set off from Glasson early to a backdrop of bleak iron clouds. The rain didn’t help; soon we were soaked and cold. The seas were rough and unforgiving. Matt (the first mate) was the first victim and many a stomach soon followed. There was also very little wind which led to tedious sailing. The monotony and the long 60-mile journey to Douglas made a soporific combination so we slept a lot, even in the rain.

However all was not doom and gloom. Dinner comprised of a delicious pasta bolognaise, and a simple but tasty Angel Delight, which pushed Lewis’ culinary skills to the limit. At this point we had moored at the pontoon in Douglas and, after a bathroom trip into the town (costing 20p each!), we settled in for the night.

Tuesday 17th

Having awoken at a more savoury hour, we forayed into Douglas again in search of gas, oranges and chocolate. After restocking the pantry, we set sail for a shorter trip north to Ramsey. Unfortunately we had to motor for the first hour as the wind had died down. But afterwards the breeze picked up and we could get the sails out, with a top wind speed of 32 knots.

As we approached Ramsey the dinner team went down to prepare tonight’s meal: Lapskaus and Apple Strudel. Lapskaus is a Norwegian stew made from meat, onions and carrots. It was fantastic! We may have miscalculated the amount need though. Even after Kris had eaten 5 helpings we still had a LOT leftover and half an apple strudel went in the fridge.

We anchored at Ramsey for the night, and a very full crew went to bed.

Wednesday 18th

We didn’t have a destination in mind for today. Instead we concentrated on sailing and doing some more technical work. The wind was much better, and we also had the tide behind us so we had some excellent sailing. We got up to 8 knots boat speed which was pushed up to over 10 knots speed over ground by the tide! However we quickly realised the tide that was helping us sail north wouldn’t be helpful when we turned around to sail into the tide. True enough, our speed over ground was reduced dramatically, but the sailing was still a lot of fun. We managed to get in several tacks and by the end we were fairly confident to tack and trim the sails by ourselves.

At this point the weather forecast turned unusual and an unexpected north-easterly wind was forecast, so we had to moor at Douglas again to avoid a rough night. As we approached Douglas the swell of the sea also became unpredictable and it made steering the boat quite challenging.

Eventually we docked at the harbour and went below for dinner. Tonight was cottage pie and bread and butter pudding which was great. ‘Best so far’, said Matt (first mate). Stuffed once again, we hit the sack.