30 Dec 2014

[Captains Blog] Bequia

We returned from Tobago Cays yesterday after a two-night stay tucked in tight under the lee of Petit Bateau while most of the other boats were exposed to the winds that were blowing strong out on the reef. We were ideally positioned to be able to see all the comings and goings of the fleet of small craft making their way through the channel to the main anchorage, but missed out on the breeze. The water got a little rolly overnight on the first night, which meant that Debra didn't sleep, so she spent the next day catching up snoozing out in the cockpit. We went for a tour around the anchorage in the dinghy, pulled it up on the strip of sand where the turtle sanctuary is, and I had a snorkel. No turtles, but some huge starfish at least 18 inches across.

The trip back was boisterous, and with the winds and tide against us we were being pushed away from Bequia, which, coupled with the current that was directly on the nose, the last couple of miles were achieved with the engine on. Strangely, a ship was aground in between two islands, and it looked to us as though the skipper had tried to run between them and failed. Any charts would have told him that he was stupid to try. It was a hard lesson for someone to learn, and an expensive one to boot.

Our power management is holding up surprisingly well at the moment, it might have something to do with the constant winds blowing the aerogen round, but since we had the fridge attended to in Le Marin we have been able to turn the control right down to its lowest and the keel cooler is doing the rest. Less power needed means more in the battery bank. When we get the solar panels fitted in January, we should have what energy we need from nature, less usage of the engine/generator and less diesel. The water maker is working well and we run the generator for an hour or two a day to run it in 230v mode to keep the water tanks topped up as well as the batteries.

There are fireworks here in the bay tomorrow night at midnight, should be good! Happy new year everyone!

28 Dec 2014

[Cruise News] Tobago Keys, The Grenadines

We headed down here yesterday and have anchored tucked behind the island of Baradel which offers some protection should a squall come through .... don't want a repeat performance of Christmas 2010!  The Keys are just as lovely as we remembered them with crystal-clear waters, sands so white they almost blind you, and fish and turtles ... a true paradise for snorkelling.  It's pretty busy but most people try to anchor behind the reef so we are afforded a bit of peace and quiet.

We'll be heading back to Bequia tomorrow to get a place to anchor in time for NY Eve - it's always a popular place to be!

26 Dec 2014

[Cruise News] Bequia

We've had a great couple of days since we've arrived back in Bequia with friends old and new.   When we were heading into town in the dinghy on Christmas Eve we spotted Pandora (the boat we rented 2010/11) at anchor with someone leaving in a dinghy and heading the same way.  We detoured to catch them up and lo and behold it was Mike and Nicola, owners of Pandora.  This was a big surprise as we thought she was out on charter so we had a quick chat and arranged for them to come over to Tumi that afternoon to see her and for a proper catch-up.  

Rum cocktails and rosé wine later, having put caught up on a lot of news, we headed over for drinks and dinner on the boat of some friends from this season, Tim and Paula.  We got to know them in Martinique spotting that they were flying a Devon flag and stopping by to say hello and being invited on board for a sundowner.  They live in Kingswear, just across the River Dart from Dartmouth, and are crossing the Pacific early next year, so we had a lot in common and to chat about.  Anyway we enjoyed a lovely Christmas Eve balmy evening with them with the backdrop of lots of twinkling mast lights and colourful lights ashore .... really pretty.

During the night the heavens opened and washed off all the salt encrusting Tumi from the rather boisterous sail down here on Tuesday but Christmas morning dawned still and calm with the sun shining.  We joined six other British sailors for a late lunch at a local restaurant, sitting out on a verandah with a Swedish chef's interpretation of a traditional Christmas meal.  Well we got the turkey, stuffing and sprouts as we expected, but the potatoes were somewhat on the spicy side (a big understatement), the sausage wrapped in bacon gave the good old chipolata a run for its money and we had a side order of corn bread.  What really made us smile was the extra gravy, plenty of it but served from a tea-pot!  Anyway lunch was a relaxed and tasty affair, if a little different.

Being our third season in the Leeward and Windward Islands, we're not going to be posting as many photos this year as we've probably photographed them all before ... and we probably looked better then than we do now!  So only a few highlights will appear until we're in new territories, the first photo of the season being the aforementioned Christmas lunch .... just to show we're not forgetting our British roots!!

We're pick up Paul's son and his girlfriend on 1st January to tour the Grenadines so have 6 days to reacquaint ourselves with our former favourite spots so we can give them a good holiday.  We think we'll head down to the Tobago Keys tomorrow to get the ball rolling but will be back in Bequia for New Year's Eve when there is a big firework display and party.  Should be fun.

[Captains Blog] Bequia

We have put Tumi through her paces on the way down from Martinique to Bequia, and she sailed beautifully between the islands, reaching nearly 10 knots at times, even triple reefed. We kept up with the larger catamarans and even outpaced some of the smaller ones that were racing down the leeward side of the islands trying to get here before us to pick the best anchorages. It was a very satisfying trip with winds of over 30 knots on the beam. We and the boat ended up here covered in crusted salt from all of the spray our bow wave created along the way, so an immediate shower was in order on arrival in Bequia to feel human again. The boat had to wait for a rain shower to achieve the same effect.

On the way, we noticed that the sea birds have adapted their hunting techniques to make the most of the boats like ours ploughing through the water and disturbing the many shoals of flying fish that scatter off to the side of our bow skittering over the waves to find a safe distance before splashing back in. The brown boobies (there are a lot of them around in the sunshine, and not all of them have wings) ride the winds, soaring just above the wave ahead of the boat waiting, and once the flying fish break surface, they swoop down, diving into the water, slicing through the surf and emerging a second later with a fish in their beak. Then it is onto the next one and the next one. I saw one bird chasing down a larger fish that glided for about 200 metres, but the fish was lucky on that occasion and got away, much to the booby's chagrin. For me, it was fascinating to see how creatures continue to develop their skills and evolve, Darwin eat your heart out!

 Once here we dug the anchor well into the seabed on the western side of Admiralty Bay and made sure that we weren't moving, then it was my job to get the dinghy down from the davits, put the outboard engine on, and go ashore to clear in. It was after 4pm when I got ashore and so we suffered the extra cost of overtime payment which I wasn't expecting, but the immigration lady was very pleasant, which softened the blow.

Bequia is just as we remembered it from 4 years ago. The familiar waterfront, the Rasta fruit and veg market, the restaurants, bars and various stores are all still there, and it is a real pleasure to be back. It seems that the island hasn't been spoilt in our absence. The technology available has moved on, and we now have a Bequia phone number, which we purchased along with a data plan so we can access emails and the internet over the phone network, and now we have a Tumi network all of our own to hook into. It makes life so much easier as we don't need to go ashore and have a drink in one of the bars just to access the web. I'll just have to stock more beer on the boat!

24 Dec 2014

[Cruise News] Admiralty Bay, Bequia, The Grenadines

We're back in Bequia and very glad to be so.  After the disappointment of visiting Grand Anse D'Arlet, which seemed rather down at heel this time - sad to see - it;s lovely to see Bequia thriving and just as we remembered it .... charming, friendly and beautiful.And a real surprise this morning was to bump into Mike & Nicola who very much started our Caribbean sailing experience when we rented Pandora from them in 2010/2011.

Anyway, we'll post more very soon but just wanted to say Merry Christmas to everyone.

22 Dec 2014

[Captains Blog] Martinique

We are going to be leaving Martinique today or tomorrow to head down to Bequia, possibly dropping into St Lucia for a rest on the way, in transit with the yellow flag up. We have been in Martinique for long enough and now it feels time to make a move. We have corrected a few bits that needed correction, such as putting hooks on the backs of the doors to stop them slamming on passage as the ones supplied by Jeanneau were not up to the job, replaced the uphaul line that I robbed Peter to pay Paul when I had to cut the jib furling line that jammed. We put sail repair tape on the parts that had some wear from the passage, and I have been along the waterline to remove any critters that were trying to establish a hold on the line where the coppercoat ends and the gelcoat starts. 
We have sorted out some of the larger issues too - we found out that the solar panels were not performing as we had expected, and on investigation it appears that the ones fitted were way under powered from what we expected, so we have had to get some more powerful ones to do the job. This will require a steel arch to be fitted 22/12/2014 Martinique.

We are going to be leaving Martinique today or tomorrow to head down to Bequia, possibly dropping into St Lucia for a rest on the way, in transit with the yellow flag up. We have been in Martinique for long enough and now it feels time to make a move. We have corrected a few bits that needed correction, such as putting hooks on the backs of the doors to stop them slamming on passage as the ones supplied by Jeanneau were not up to the job, replaced the uphaul line that I robbed Peter to pay Paul when I had to cut the jib furling line that jammed. We put sail repair tape on the parts that had some wear from the passage, and I have been along the waterline to remove any critters that were trying to establish a hold on the line where the coppercoat ends and the gelcoat starts. 
We have sorted out some of the larger issues too - we found out that the solar panels were not performing as we had expected, and on investigation it appears that the ones fitted were way under powered from what we expected, so we have had to get some more powerful ones to do the job. This will require a steel arch to be fitted on the stern of the boat on which the new panels will sit, and this is being made in time for our return to Martinique on the 16th January so that it can be fitted. The whisker pole solution will involve new ends and/or new mast fittings. We are being sent a mixture of ends and mast fittings from which we need to achieve a proper working solution. It will be good to be able to use the pole again for downwind sailing. Fortunately, during the next few weeks, we shouldn't need it as the winds are more on the beam. 
We had a really good sailing day yesterday, moving from Grand Anse d'Arlet to St Anne. 35 knots of wind at times and we were buzzing along at speeds up to 9 knots with reefed sails. It was a really good feeling helming when Tumi performed like that. Hopefully we will have many more such days going forwards.on the stern of the boat on which the new panels will sit, and this is being made in time for our return to Martinique on the 16th January so that it can be fitted. The whisker pole solution will involve new ends and/or new mast fittings. We are being sent a mixture of ends and mast fittings from which we need to achieve a proper working solution. It will be good to be able to use the pole again for downwind sailing. Fortunately, during the next few weeks, we shouldn't need it as the winds are more on the beam. 
We had a really good sailing day yesterday, moving from Grand Anse d'Arlet to St Anne. 35 knots of wind at times and we were buzzing along at speeds up to 9 knots with reefed sails. It was a really good feeling helming when Tumi performed like that. Hopefully we will have many more such days going forwards.

Atlantic Odyssey

Day 4 - Sailing tonight has been just like riding on a rollercoaster blindfolded. Exhilarating to say the least. We were on a beam reach with a scrap of sail out in a force 8 skimming across the water at over 8.5 knots, not being able to see anything ahead of us, but hoping that the ride would never end.  The weather has been challenging to say the least, we were almost knocked down yesterday morning when were hit by a sudden squall and the blast of wind that took us broadside reached 52 knots in an instant.However Tumi pulled herself back  upright and  we reefed down the sails PDQ.

Day 5 - The SSB radio has proved to be invaluable. We have joined the AO cruisers net with enthusiasm and we appear to be able to hear most of the other users' transmissions so we end up relaying positions etc through the net. It is already establishing a bond between the sailors and we will build on this as the voyage unfolds. Most of the boats suffered some discomfort in last night's storm and the forecast tonight was for a weather front to pass through. We made a conscious decision to head west and meet this front head - on with a view to getting through it as quickly as possible. It didn't materialize so it looks like we have made a good call. We found that one of the ends of the whisker pole had twisted and was springing off the bracket on the mast. This is a fault in the product and we will be looking to get it replaced under guarantee when we are back near land and able to sendphotographs to the broker for him to sort out. In the meantime we will try to jury rig a solution to be able to use the pole during the rest of the crossing.

Day 6 - Today was a day of two halves. It started quietly with zero wind and we were running the engine to make some headway. It continued like this until dusk when we finally got a blow and could sail again properly. However, the day wasn't wasted. There were a few housekeeping chores to be done to make right the few things damaged by the storms we have been through. That said, we are really pleased with the way Tumi has performed throughout the trip to date. She sails fast when the conditions suit, and remains stable and solid on the water.

Day 7 - We were visited by a large pod of dolphins today, and they stayed with us for ages, showing off while skimming through the water just under the bow. They seem to glide effortlessly through the water at great speeds with the merest flick of their tails,  really are a joy to watch, and they seem to have a permanent grin on their faces. We are making reasonable progress and according to the daily position reports, we are not doing badly at all. I have developed a spreadsheet that takes the daily position email and plotsthe relative positions of all the boats in the fleet. It somehow makes it more tangible to know where the other boats are. The daily net is something we look forward to participating in too, and we are active contributors to the exchanges, although some of the calling stations are difficult to hear at times and relaying of details need to be done.

Day 8 - Today started well, with steady northeasterly winds and we bowled along at an average speed of over 7 knots. The cruiser net was a failure as no one could hear or talk successfully with the net controller. Then overnight, the winds died down nothing and we slowly crawled along with the sails flaccidly flapping overhead. We topped up the fuel tank from the jerry cans today too, so we are back up to 7/8 full with a further 66 litres in reserve just in case. We still have just under 2000 miles to go to Martinique so we can't be frivolous running the engine too much. We need to be able to recharge the batteries every day.

Day 11 - The jury rig snapped on the whisker pole today so we rigged  a different solution from a safety harness this seemed to work ok and we were back in business. Hopefully this one will last us the duration of the crossing. The internal door magnet catches are clearly not up to the job when the boat is heeling over, and as a result they have been slamming shut. This in turn has caused the frames to shift and the doors won't close at all. Trusty tool box and me to the rescue ... All sorted and working properly again.It's amazing what you can achieve with a Magnum ice cream stick!

Day 13 - We are beginning to realize that we are not going to make it to Martinique in time for Andy to get his planned flight home. Without the whisker pole we are having to sail much of the time under mainsail alone as the winds are pushing us from behind, and the jib just keeps collapsing in on itself. However, we are still making reasonable progress. The issue for today was a reefing line jam in the furling mechanism. We couldn't shift the jam, no matter how hard we tried, so I had to cut the line to remove it. That meant having to find a replacement from somewhere. As the whisker pole is out of commission we don't need an uphaul line to stabilize it, and so I robbed Peter to pay Paul and fitted that instead.

Day 14 - Without the whisker pole we have not been able to sail Tumi as well as we would like with the wind behind us. The mainsail has been the main driver and the jib has been furled away. However, we rigged up a barber haul today, tying a line between the jib sheet and the mainsail preventer to keep the jib inflated. It seems to work and our progress has improved. We estimate that we have 1100 miles to go and that the remainder of the trip will take us between 6 and 7 days. This is cutting it fine for Andy to gethis flight home. Hopefully the winds will continue to blow for us. Some of the boats reported only 5 knots of wind today during the daily radio net, but we have been lucky by comparison.

Day 15 - Something of a depressing day today. The winds have been flaky at best and right from behind which has meant that we couldn't really use the barber haul properly. We have tried to maintain speed but it has been a struggle. Less than 1000 miles to go. We were so down this afternoon that we had a g&t each to perk ourselves up. No cruisers net today either.

Day 16 - A really slow day. Not much wind at all, and so thank goodness for the equatorial current that pushes us along at a steady 1.5 knots. At least the weather is warm and the tan is improving, even though we are not sitting in the sunshine. Papy Jovial, one of the AO boats passed within 20 feet of our stern, then tacked back away to the south. We were in sight of them for most of the day before they disappeared over the horizon with their spinnaker flying.

Day 17 - We finally managed to get the whisker pole jury rigged today by binding the end to the mast fitting. It is a very temporary solution but it appears to work with a reefed jib so that there is not too much pressure on the pole or the mast fitting. The webbing rig I fitted to the outboard end is still operating too, so hopefully it will last for the remaining 600 miles. At least we feel that we have done our best to sail there. I spliced the fender lines to the fenders as well today with some help from Andy who washaving a masterclass. He did pretty well for his first attempt.

Day 18 - The wind returned today, most unexpected but very welcome, and from the south which put us on a beam reach. We have been able to set the sails without the need for preventers or barber hauls and we have made good progress throughout the day. The miles to go are dropping away and at last it feels like we are getting there. Long may it continue.

Day 19 - Another bonus day with the winds. We came close to a two-masted sailing boat with a square rigged foresail that we left behind us. It looked as though it was heading farther north than us, maybe Antigua. We dodged a few showers today, including lightning off to our starboard this evening. Hopefully tomorrow will be kind to us weather wise too. One more good day's sailing will see us very close to Martinique.

Day 20 - There was a terrific lightning storm all last night, sheet and fork lightning bolts at very regular intervals off to starboard. This continued a short distance from us seemingly on a parallel track Tumi. However, the morning brought a change and the storm closed in on us from all around. We looked at the radar and realized we were hemmed in on all sides with no escape, so we chose the point of least resistance and went for it. One and a half hours later we came out the other side, unscathed. Sadly for Papy Jovial who were in the same storm they were hit by lightning and suffered a complete wipe-out of their electrical instruments.

17 Dec 2014

[Cruise News] Le Marin Marina, Martinique

We're still in the marina just over one week on, though not planned.  Over the weekend we came back down to earth after the euphoria of the arrival and subsequent celebrations and set about getting Tumi ready for departing ... a good clean, inside and out, and a few small maintenance jobs.  It also crossed our minds again that on the trip over we'd run the diesel generator more than we'd thought we'd need to.  So we checked the regulator for the solar panels, which should kick out up to 15Amps in full sunlight, only to find it recording one tenth of that at best!

A long story short, it turns out the panels fitted for us were not the right ones, so we've entered into a round of discussions with the Jeanneau dealer in Plymouth over this, with a practical solution yet to be finalised but in progress.  Add to this the discussions over the whisker pole (now resolved although still to be corrected once replacement pole ends arrive from the UK, with the installer finally admitting that they used a pole from one manufacturer with fittings from another) and the fact that the compressor for the fridge was "sweating" and this condensation puddling in the bilges (also now resolved ... the system was over-gassed)   And so we remain marina-bound, the sensible option given Le Marin is the biggest yachting centre in this part of the Caribbean.

On the upside, twenty of us went out for dinner last night to a local restaurant - great fun had by all - and we have been contacted by friends we met out here 4 years ago who have invited us to join them for Christmas dinner.  We've also enjoyed sharing our knowledge of the Caribbean with many of the other boats that completed the Atlantic Odyssey with us and look forward to meeting up with some of them again in the months to come.

So hopefully, after a steel fabricator comes tomorrow morning to discuss the practical solution to the whisker pole fittings and solar panels (we might have a stainless steel frame made to fit off the stern of the boat) we'll be able to leave ... not before time!

13 Dec 2014

[Cruise News] Le Marin Marina, Martinique

Well it's 5 days since we arrived and life is settling back down into what will become the normal routine for the next few months: Get any boat jobs done before 9am as any later than that and it gets far too hot.  Actually being in a marina means we don't benefit from the breeze we enjoy at anchor so we'll both be glad to get out once our free week is up.  In the meantime we're making the most of the post-rally social events, local marine facilities (chandlers, engineers etc) and well-stocked French supermarkets.  We won't be going hungry for Christmas this year but the traditional roast will definitely be off the menu!

Had our hair cut this morning by a lovely local lady who didn't speak any English but our pigeon French got us through.  And it's salsa dancing tonight but in this heat (over 100 every day since we've been here) I'm not sure how much dancing we'll be doing.

We're going to stay in Martinique another week to ten days, revisiting one of our favourite anchorages at Grand Anse D'Arlet and trying out a new one at St Anne so we can explore the southern tip of the island.

1 Dec 2014

[Cruise News] Second Atlantic crossing .... A summary

New and bigger boat, quicker crossing.  Well that was the plan: 18 or 19 days at a steady 7 knots.  The reality didn't quite work out that way with nature conspiring against us to deliver SW winds for the first week when we wanted to go south-west, and then not giving us the consistent trade winds when we finally got down to the Cape Verdes to blow us across to the Caribbean.  Plus an incorrect installation of a key piece of equipment needed for downwind sailing didn't help.  So between the natural and man-made shortfalls it actually took us 2.5 days longer this time.

On the plus side the three of us worked very well as a team, covering our watches and thinking creatively to work-around any mechanical hitches along the way.  I loved having the SSB radio this time which allowed us to speak to other boats in the rally (nice to know their actually are other boats out there) and to send/receive emails throughout.  Incredibly this works better after dark ... less active ions in the atmosphere apparently!  We ate well but our collective bread-making skills left a lot to be desired .... thank heaven for part-baked bread.

We didn't experience the same dramatic sunsets, meteor showers or marine life, but we had one spectacular lightning storm which ran parallel to us through the night before moving south to engulf us at dawn  We saw more boats this time, and once again had one pass within a few feet of us out in the middle of nowhere.  One other storm so us experiencing wind speeds of more than 50 knots with 5m seas, but Tumi and her crew sailed through brilliantly.

I think because it was our second crossing it didn't feel such a big adventure but that's not to take anything away from the achievement of crossing the Atlantic for the second time (third for Paul of course!).  And now we've got a winter in the Caribbean to look forward to  .... lucky us!

15 Nov 2014

[Cruise News] Marina Lanzarote, the day before departure

We've had a busy week but are largely ready for departure, apart from a couple of little jobs that we've left to do today.  Andy, our crewman, arrived on Thursday afternoon as did friends from Northern Ireland who have come to wave us off.  We all enjoyed a cocktail party at a neighbouring marina that evening and chatted to a number of the other Atlantic Odyssey participants.

Yesterday we hired a car to tour the north end of the island, quite different scenically from the south .... more gentle somehow.  Anyway we got some lovely views of turquoise waters and neighbouring islands and had a lovely day.

Today is about final preparations before the farewell drinks and fireworks this evening at Arrecife Yacht Club.  And then tomorrow at 11am we'll be heading off.  I'm looking forward to the trip, if a little apprehensive, but Tumi is a solid boat and we should have a good crossing.  Caribbean here we come! 

11 Nov 2014

[Captains Blog] Lanzarote

Well we are back here on the island and have a few days to get the boat ready for the crossing. We re-fuelled today which was not an easy task in the crosswinds that are blowing and we would have preferred a calmer day to manoeuvre around the busy marina. But we paid a good price for the fuel at €1.04/litre - thank goodness for tax free spending!

When we got back to Tumi, there had obviously been a few sandstorms wafting over from the Sahara as the deck was covered in a mucky brown sand. I have had two attempts at washing it off, and will have to do it a third or possibly a fourth time to get it clean again. I still need to go up the mast to fit the anti-chafe strips to the spreaders so that the sails don't wear excessively when we are downwind sailing for such a long time, but this time it should be much easier for Debra to get me up there with the electric winches to do the work. Other than that, I think we are ready boatwise. We still have to provision, but Debra has that in hand. We are better prepared this time around having been through the exercise two years ago.

We had a good seminar on medical issues today, and I got to see some suturing up close as part of the demonstration. I even got to practice tying the knots properly, so I feel much better equipped to be able to do a neat job if I am called upon to do so. At least the knots shouldn't come undone!!!

The Atlantic Odyssey flag is now flying on our port side, we have a number for the crossing - 41 - and I will be fitting those tomorrow to the safety rails. The last ones we had for the ARC fell apart when the topsides touched the water. Hopefully these ones will survive intact.

10 Nov 2014

[Cruise News] Marina Lanzarote, Arrecife

Well we're back on board after nearly 7 weeks back in the UK and with only 6 days to prepare for the crossing.  The marina has now officially opened with quite a few of the retail units and restaurants operational but still half of them to come online.  It will superb when it is all finished.  At least from our point of view "thefacilities" are available so laundry will get done and wifi is good. Tumi was covered in Saharan sand when we arrived so Paul's first job this morning was hosing her off, but it's going to take another couple of attempts to get her looking shiny bright again.

The rally seminars started today and we went along to a couple - passage planning and what happens after the Caribbean, where we saw amongst other things photos of the various Pacific islands .... they look amazing.  The rest of the day was spent unpacking what we'd brought back with us, re-sorting storage and working out what provisions we need to buy before departure.  Exhausted by the end of the day so a bottle of wine and movie was a welcome chance to relax.

We hope to get all the boat preparations and provisioning done in the next couple of days leaving Friday and Saturday free to sight-see with friends.  Well, that's the plan!

1 Oct 2014

[Captains Blog] Lanzarote

We arrived here on the morning of the 28th September, having a slow trip down from Cascais (Lisbon) with no wind at all. Honestly, we just can't seem to hit the weather right on this trip - it is either blowing a gale with the wind from the wrong direction or there is no wind at all. This was the case on our last leg and we had to motorsail nearly all the way. However, it helps us to know that the engine is sound, we have measured our fuel consumption at different engine speeds and we have a much better idea of our fuel payloads range under engine. All positive stuff.

One thing that I really enjoy on night passage is watching the dyno-flaggellants sparkling and fluorescing in the water as we go. It really fascinates me and I can sit and watch them for hours. All those pulses of energy around the boat as we make waves are amazing to say the least, and occasionally I would see a jellyfish in among the sparkles, glowing bright as a recognizable semi-solid form in among the haze of individual specks.

On our last day before arriving in Lanzarote I heard a whale spout behind me. Turning around, I saw it had surfaced literally 10 metres behind us, very large, very serene, and completely unphased by the fact that we were there. It continued with its grazing along the continental shelf for several minutes before our continuing journey took it out of sight. I had only commented to Debra that there had been a complete lack of sea life only hours before this appearance, and then it was like London buses, we had dolphins galore come to see us too. Obviously there are rich food pickings where the sea bed rises steeply and the big mammals take full advantage.

We are returning to the UK today as my mother died yesterday morning. We might not be returning to the Canaries before we leave on the Atlantic Odyssey in time to explore the islands which will be a shame. The two times we have been in the Canaries, sadly, one of our parents have died and we have therefore not been able to make the most of the boat's time here. Once again we will have to wait until another time to visit the different anchorages that are on offer and explore the land. That's a shame. but family has to come first.  

28 Sept 2014

[Cruise News] Marina Lanzarote, Arrecife

We've made it!  After nearly 5 days at sea, we arrived this morning safe and sound.  It was a benign passage with little wind (and therefore the associated calm-ish seas) and so we motor-sailed much of the way which is exactly what we had to do two years ago but I'd much rather that then high winds and big seas.  What little wind and swell there was was at last coming from a favourable direction so it was a pretty comfortable trip.  That said, we're both tired.  Doing longer passages "two up" is tough: Three hours on watch, three hours off, 24/7, plays havoc with your sleep patterns and I'm someone who likes her sleep!  It's amazing what a difference just having one extra person on board makes.
Paul's foot and neck are improving and he found using a feather pillow to sleep on better supported his neck from the rock and roll motion of the boat.  I think he didn't always feel great on the trip but he gets on with things and doesn't complain.  
The marina is the one the Atlantic Odyssey departs from and so Tumi is in the right place.  It's a new marina that isn't quite finished .... the official opening is mid-October and it will be very impressive when it's finished.  At the moment the facilities aren't open .... showers, fuel dock, shops etc ... but it's is relatively cheap for a marina so I can live with that!

We're flying home on Wednesday to see Paul's Mum and don't know whether or not we will be able to return out here for a couple of weeks exploring the Canaries or will need to stay at home up until the rally departure, so we may be off-line for a few weeks.

Hoping to hire a car tomorrow and explore Lanzarote.  One thing I can say: It's hot!  The boat fans have been deployed for the first time!

21 Sept 2014

[Cruise News] Cascais, near Lisbon

After days of relentless high winds from the south, we finally took the plunge and headed out from Fig Foz to motor-sail to Lisbon, into strong southerly winds of course but not as strong as they have been.  Whilst holed up in the marina over the last few days we've recorded wind speeds in excess of 45 knots ... heaven knows what it would have been like out at sea.
And now we're in Cascais and typically the wind has completely died and is forecast to stay like this for several days!  It does feel as though this trip has been an uphill struggle to date so things can (hopefully) only get better.
We were in Cascais two years ago and it's a lovely place.  It sits at the entrance of the Tagus, about 20 mins by train from Lisbon and is very popular with people from around the world and has a great feel to it.  We wandered through the old town last night soaking up the atmosphere. Whilst waiting for the wind to return we'll certainly visit Lisbon and it will also give Paul's neck a chance to recover - he tweaked it removing the rope from around the propeller when we left La Coruna and has been suffering from headaches on and off ever since.  As I say, things can only get better, including Paul's neck!
Sadly Paul's Mum is in hospital and the prognosis isn't good.  We need to continue to the Canaries but will probably head for Lanzarote, leave Tumi in the marina there and head back to the UK to say goodbye and support his Dad.  It's a shame we won't be able to explore the Canaries as had been the plan - maybe another time.

17 Sept 2014

[Cruise News] Figueira Da Foz, west coast of Portugal

Well the trip so far has proved to be somewhat frustrating, what with delays waiting for spare parts and now delays because of poor weather for sailing.  So we're currently holed up in a small marina in "Fig Foz" waiting for the strong southerly winds and large swell to die down and hopefully veer around to the north-west which is what they should be doing at this time of year! We're not the only yacht facing the same predicament weather-wise: There are five others in the same marina with us all feeling just as frustrated as us.  Not that Fig Foz isn't a pleasant place but we've done it now and are ready to move on.

The sail from La Coruna to here wasn't particularly enjoyable as we were beating into the wind and swell all the way, needing the engine on to make sufficient headway.  I'll be glad to be in better conditions on many levels, not least to remember why I enjoy the sailing life!

Yesterday we caught the local train to Coimbra, the Portugese equivalent of Oxford or Cambridge, being an old university town dating from hundreds of years ago.  The university sits on top of the hill that the old walled town was built on and climbing up the narrow cobbled streets on a daily basis must make for some of the fittest students in Europe.  We were both amazed that a return train journey of one and a quarter hours each way cost only Euro 5.30 ... why can't the UK manage similar?

Not sure what the plan is for today ... Fatima and Aveiro have been suggested but Paul's currently got his nose in a book so could be a day relaxing!

15 Sept 2014

[Captains Blog] Figuera da Foz

&*^%#@$ Fishermen!!! As we were leaving Coruna on Friday 12th (sailing superstition says you should never set out on a voyage on a Friday) we had just taken a photo of the Torre de Hercules (below). This lighthouse has been in operation since Roman times and we still use it today. Who said the Romans didn't do anything for us??? 

Anyway, we had just left Coruna when there was a thud from under the boat. We had been looking out for lobster pot buoys (not always easy to see at the best of times) and there weren't any ahead of us, but we had definitely picked something up. I stopped the propellor, put it into reverse, then back into forward, and there was definitely a judder. We had something around it. Then we saw the rope, trailing out behind us. We were less than a mile from the shore, it was going dark, and we couldn't use the engine. There was only one thing for it, I had to go under the boat to see what the issue was. I cut the line close to Tumi, put on my wetsuit, snorkel, facemask and flippers, and went off the stern. The propellor was completely fouled with a rope. It took me several dives under the boat armed with a Captain Curry knife to cut away and remove the tangle of (floating) rope. 

Once that was done, we were able to continue on our way. Thankfully it was still light enough for me to see what I was doing underwater, but I guess the adrenaline was flowing sufficiently not to notice the cold water too much. However, the episode did leave me feeling somewhat queasy afterwards, and it took me 24 hours to shake it off. The journey from there was a pig. We headed into strong southerly winds all the way, passed through a nasty thunderstorm during which a fork of lightening came down quite close to us into the sea, and just to make life even more uncomfortable, the swell was right on the nose as well. That is why we are now in Figuera da Foz, continuing on down to Lisbon was just going to be more of the same with stormy weather forecast for tonight and tomorrow. We are better holed up here for a few days to let the worst of the weather pass us by. It has been raining on and off all day, and the winds pick up significantly later. We are snugly tied up in a nice marina in a very pleasant town.

12 Sept 2014

[Cruise News] Readying for the off

I'm pleased to say that the spare part (and engineer) has arrived and so we don't need to wait the weekend in La Coruna.  We have a 3-day weather window so will head off this evening with a view to getting to Lisbon before the weather deteriorates - if it changes, we have lots of places we can call into on the coast of Portugal.  Unfortunately the winds are from the south but look set to stay that way for the foreseeable future so we've just got to accept that and continue.  Paul's foot is improving so he says he's good to go. 

11 Sept 2014

[Captains Blog] Still in la Coruna

I had an ouch moment a couple of days ago -- I was stepping over the coaming on my way to use the marina facilities and freshen up when my ankle turned over. There is a tendon that runs across the top of the foot that holds the foot flat on the floor and this tried to correct the situation by straightening the ankle up again. I felt a sharp pain in the bone on the outside of the foot (the one that the tendon had pulled against) and I knew I had a recurrence of an injury I sustained several years ago on the squash court. The tendon had snapped a bit of bone off the metatarsal. Not a lot can be done about it, but support the foot in an elastic bandage, apply liberal quantities of Lasonil to the area, and rest it for a few days.

It has enabled me to sort a few little jobs out including the bolts incident from the other day, but besides that, when we switched the engine on to leave on the 9th the extractor unit that removes the hot air from inside the engine compartment decided to whirr and rattle at an alarming pitch so we shut it down and called the broker. We had noticed that there had been a seepage of oil from the unit, which probably meant that the seal had gone, the unit had been running dry and the bearings had worn. Either way, a replacement is needed, has been approved by Jeanneau, and dispatched yesterday. We are waiting for the replacement to arrive and be fitted, hopefully tomorrow and not Monday. We want to get moving southwards quickly now. I will have had enough enforced rest by then and I am ready to continue down to Lisbon (Cascais).

10 Sept 2014

[Cruise News] La Coruna

Yes we're still here!  We've been watching the weather forecasts for the last day or two in readiness for heading south and guess where the winds are coming from?  Yes, the south, meaning we would have to tack our way down the coast of Portugal which is always frustrating.  We'd decided to coast-hop along a way yesterday but when we fired up the engine it soon became apparent we wouldn't be going anywhere.  The fan that extracts hot air from the engine compartment had started making noises was we neared La Coruna last week and it's few days of rest haven't resolved the problem.  Quite the reverse in fact and a replacement part is needed.  As this is a warranty issue we're now waiting for Jeanneau to send the unit to their local dealer here in Coruna and so hopefully it will be fitted in the next day or two and we can head south.
On Monday we got out our bikes and cycled the Paseo Maritimo (5km long promenade) which was very enjoyable in the sunshine.  We had planned on heading out again today but Paul turned his ankle yesterday afternoon and thinks he might have chipped a small bone in his foot.  A day of rest might be the more sensible option.

8 Sept 2014

[Captains Blog] La Coruna

It's nice to be back here in this lovely old city. The journey down was not without incident ... Phil noticed that there was a bolt on the foredeck and on further investigation we found that two bolts had removed themselves from their housing and the roller furling mechanism was only being held in place by a steel bracket that the furler was sitting in (just!). We managed to jiggle the unit sufficiently to line up the hole to be able to insert the bolt and at least hold it till we could get some replacements fitted. That was done today, and we are able to continue our journey. However, the winds have moved and we will be sailing southwards in southerly winds which is not ideal. We will check the Grib files in the morning and decided whether to stay a day or two more here before we set out again. Not being on a timetable is much better and we can feel a bit more relaxed about our departure date. 

7 Sept 2014

[Cruise News] La Coruna Marina, NW Spain

We finally arrived in Spain late on Friday night after a 3.5 day passage from Falmouth.  It was a very benign crossing with us having to motor-sail much of the way as winds were so light.  However, it did mean that it made for a very calm sea which knowing Biscay's reputation was quite a relief!  Saturday we explored the town and enjoyed a lovely (if somewhat late .... restaurants don't actually open until 9pm at night here) dinner in the square sitting under the stars .... very romantic, Paul, Phil and me!
This morning we walked along to the Torre De Hercules, the world's oldest working lighthouse which dates from Roman times and then saw Phil onto the bus for the airport at lunchtime just before the heavens opened.  Seems to be passing over now, fingers crossed.
We're hoping to head south in the next day or two and will head down to Lisbon, maybe stopping at Baiona but we'll see.  After that the route to the Canaries will depend on the wind direction .... hopefully via Madeira, if not via the Algarve, but getting warmer and sunnier as we head south.  Can't wait! 

4 Sept 2014

[Captains Blog] Biscay Bay

Most of the way across Biscay now with no wind. Last night I was on watch as we crossed the continental shelf. The depth gauge read 165 metres for a while, then gradually increased to 170, 175, 195, 225, 275, then nothing, we had glided calmly over an abyss where the sea floor dropped away 4000 metres in seconds. awesome.

2 Sept 2014

[Cruise News] Falmouth Marina, waiting to depart

We've had a frustrating start to our trip. We departed Plymouth on Sunday afternoon with Phil on board and decent winds (if slightly from the wrong direction for us) only to discover the wind instruments weren't giving us any direction indication, although we had got wind speed.  Paul tried to do a re-set and it did correct the problem for a short while but then we lost the data again.  Very annoying but it did explain something that had me wondering on Tuesday night when we returned to Plymouth.  On that occasion the wind direction was fixed in what I thought was the wrong direction and, given this hi-tech instrumentation also displays a direction of travel vector which indicated we would run aground on Plymouth Sound breakwater when patently we weren't going to do so, it proves the calculations going on were incorrect.  Shame I didn't flag it to Paul then as we could have had it fixed in Plymouth along with the other bits, all now completed I'm pleased to say.
On Sunday we sailed along to Fowey and took a mooring buoy overnight.  After a lovely cooked breakfast ashore yesterday morning we continued around to Falmouth to supposedly connect up with the RayMarine engineer but there was a breakdown in communication and he couldn't make it until this morning.  So we anchored in St Mawes, enjoyed a bottle of wine or two, and this morning motored to Falmouth marina and the waiting engineer.  He's now replacing the wind vane and running a new cable down the mast with the help of a rigger so hopefully we'll be away early afternoon.  It turns out the problem was water ingress at the top of the mast into the unit, apparently quite a common problem but very annoying all the same.  Boats !!!!!!!
The weather forecast for Biscay looks pretty calm and settled (hope these are not famous last words) so we are hoping for a relatively benign crossing but with enough wind to not necessitate us motoring for too long.  Hopefully the next update with be from Spain at the weekend! 

[Captains Blog] Fowey

A frustrating start to the day, having to stop off again to get some repairs done. The wind speed and direction indicator had decided to pack up. It turns out that there had been some water ingress at the masthead unit and something had gone Kaput. A new unit and lots of silicone grease later, we were back up and running, able to tell the wind speed and direction and we were finally off.

1 Sept 2014

[Captains Blog] Fowey

Before we left Fowey, I wanted to make sure that the paddle log would work after a bit of cleaning. I pulled out the unit, shoved the blank stopper in its place and cleaned up the wheel. If it doesn't turn with the water flowing over it, we don't get a log reading. However, when I tried to put it back, it wouldn't go. Water was coming into the boat a quite a rate, and I wasn't happy. I couldn't seat the unit properly, and so the water ingress wouldn't stop. I decided that we wouyld replace the blank, and set off to Falmouth and let the engineer have a look at it. We started out from Fowey heading westwards, hoping to find an engineer to look at the anenometer, but we got almost to Falmouth where we were expecting a Raymaribe engineer to be waiting for us, only to discover that there had been a cock-up on the communications front and he had gone off on another job. So we went into St Mawes and dropped the hook. While we were there, we sorted out the depth gauge and paddle log, finally getting it back into its docking station and water tight. Panic over. 

27 Aug 2014

[Cruise News] Back in Plymouth

Well I'm finally back online after a manic couple of months readying the boat, business and myself for departure ... I wouldn't want to go through all that again I can tell you.  Anyway, Wednesday 20th August was D-Day : we had to be ready for the off as a professional skipper had been booked to deliver Tumi to Guernsey as the final step of the export process.  And we were hitching a ride as crew.  So Phil & Judi collected us at 7pm and after dinner in the marina bistro and a couple of hours sleep we were off ... 2am on 21st August.  At last.  Sadly the weather didn't really merit setting off at that time, the upshot being we had to motor-sail all the way to Guernsey.  I'll leave the skipper to fill you in on happenings along the way.
So we arrived in Guernsey and moored up alongside another new Jeanneau being exported and delivered by professional crew and we all did the only sociable thing - go out for a drink and a curry.  It reminded us of just how friendly the sailing community is.  And after a marathon sleep we finally surfaced about 11am the next morning.
I love Guernsey - the right blend of island life and sophistication which make me feel it's somewhere I could happily live one day.  We pottered along on a coastal walk in the afternoon and had a lazy night on board. Saturday dawned bright and Sunday so we caught the ferry across to Sark, taking our new folding bikes with us.  We put the bikes to good use cycling the length and breadth of this small but beautiful island before returning to Guernsey somewhat saddle sore.  We had planned on eating out that evening but felt too bushed to make the effort!  Sunday was another lovely day and we walked a more strenuous length of the coast on the south side of the island, passing old German WW2 gun emplacemenrts and lookout towers that look like something from War of the Worlds.  Very sinister.
Monday dawned wet & windy and stayed wet & windy but we put the time to good use sorting things out on board.  The last few days pre-departure had seen us putting a lot of things on board which rather got stuffed anywhere ... a bit of order has now been brought to bear.  The rain stopped late afternoon and after checking the weather forecasts we decided to head off home.  Mistake: an hour and a half out of Guernsey we turned around and headed back to port to escape the pounding of beating into high winds and rough seas.  We didn't have a deadline so decided to abort what would have been an uncomfortable passage.
Anyway, conditions were slightly better yesterday so we set sail and had an exhilerating first few hours in 35+ knots and big-is seas but made great progress averaging over 8 knots.  And then the wind died.  Talk about extremes!  And we ended up motoring the rest of the way, arriving in Plymouth 10.30pm last night.
Today we have had a series of technicians on board sorting out little niggles.  Mum is collecting us mid-afternoon (we are now without a car of course, having left it with a local garage to sell) but I think Paul will need to stay on board tonight to do a few jobs.

[Captains Blog] Final Snagging

We had to sail Tumi over to Guernsey for the export process, officially with a delivery skipper aboard. I am not against skippers per se, but not on my boat. The one we had wasn't as familiar with the boat as we were, and as a result we ended up with some issues. Firstly he wound the genoa car line on the electric winch and kept his finger on the button when the line had come to its limit and the line snapped. Not content with that, he then tried to cut through the eye splice that attached the line to the car block, and gouged a lump out of the gelcoat. Needless to say, we were far from happy, and have had these issues redressed today. I would not hire such a 'skipper' under any circumstances. We take far more care of our boat, simply because we have had to pay out for it, and not treating it as just a piece of work.

So, after officially receiving Tumi outside Europe (in Guernsey) we are now back in Plymouth having the few final fixes done including the above repairs. We had to have the engine checked after some juddering experienced at 2000 rpm a few days ago nearing St Peter Port. An engine check has been done today with a clean bill of health, so to celebrate I did the 50 hour service and changed the oil and oil filter too.

We commissioned the watermaker for the first time yesterday only to find that the sea water feed was not flowing, and the watermaker kept turning itself off. I checked the pipes, made sure that they were flowing, but still no feed through the system. This evening, I sussed it out. There is a 3 stage valve that feeds water from different sources into the primary filter. It didn't seem right that the recommended setting of the valve handle to the right to feed fresh water into the system to flush it only worked in the downward position, so logic got the better of me and I had to remove the handle, set it back 90 degrees to the left, and bingo! We have a watermaker that works. 

The other thing that hasn't been operational is the Pactor modem for the SSB radio to convert radio signals into emails. A few exchanges with the services providers and we now have communications! Still some fine tuning to get it fully operational, but we are nearly there.

In terms of the sea trials, we are extremely pleased with the way Tumi sails. We achieve much faster sailing speeds and greater stability than Jay Jay in the same conditions, and so journey times should be much shorter and more comfortable. More time for enjoying the ports of call with a beer or few.... 
The Biscay crossing starts on Sunday, weather window permitting. Can't wait!

18 Jul 2014

[Captains Blog] Sea Trial Progress

We have been out in all conditions testing the seaworthiness of our lovely new boat. On one occasion we were drifting along in 7 knots of wind one moment, only to have 45 knots over the bows a minute later. Tumi took all of this in her stride, and didn't even heel over in the sudden blast that took us by surprise. It wasn't forecast, but then they rarely get it right these days do they?

Performance-wise, Tumi is a fast boat. For some reason we keep overtaking other boats that are ahead of us, much to the chagrin of their skippers and crew. The other day we were returning to Plymouth from a trip to Fowey when a navy warship was also returning to port and was crossing our bow. We altered course to go through the East entrance, but the warship did the same and we were still on a converging course. I assumed they would be going faster than us, but we picked up speed to 9.2 knots and the gap closed. Fortunately they were far enough ahead to avoid any mishap, but the sail into the Plymouth Sound was exhilarating to say the least.

We have had a couple of glitches that need to be ironed out -- the in-mast furling system has been an issue and we have been struggling to make it work properly. There is a sliding mechanism on the boom that is used to pull the mainsail out from within the mast and this should run freely along the track on top of the boom allowing the sail to be pulled out by hand using the outhaul rope. The slider design has been pulling the sail downwards instead of outwards which has damaged the block itself and made setting the sail difficult. This has been brought to the manufacturers attention and we are getting a replacement unit which works on roller bearings instead of a slide system. Watch this space to see how we find the replacement performs.

Time is moving on and we are getting very close to our departure date of August so we are getting the last few bits and pieces that we will need for our trip. In the wake of the Cheeky Rafiki we have bolstered our safety equipment - we have just acquired a second EPIRB (Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon) and have ordered a second liferaft, an Ocean specification in a canister which will be deck mounted with an automatic hydrostatic release mechanism. We are not compromising on safety. This second EPIRB combined with the original will give us the capability of sending a distress signal for a period of 8 days should we ever need it (hopefully never).

I will need to wrap the spreaders with some insulating foam to prevent chafe on the sails before we go, so a trip up the mast for me will be the order of the day soon, (thankfully, we have the electric winch to do the work of getting me up there) and a few internal attachment point fixings will make it a safer place in the galley when the galley strap is attached. I wouldn't want anyone to get thrown about when we are at sea and cooking our supper.

30 Jun 2014

[Captains Blog] Tuning the rigging

The other day when we went out for another test sail in 25-30 knots we had a little difficulty rolling out the mainsail from inside the mast. This was never an issue on Jay Jay where I could roll out the sail by hand. On Tumi I needed to use the winch which wasn't right. The furling system needs to run smoothly. I had noticed that there was quite a rake in the mast (it bends towards the stern at the top of the mast) which I suspected was causing the problem. You can't have a straight pole rotating smoothly in a bent casing, and I reckoned this was causing the problem.

The riggers were out yesterday to look at it, and after some discussion with them they re-tuned and re-tensioned the rigging so that we have a straighter mast now and it seems to allow the furling mechanism to run freely. We will test it out for ourselves in the next couple of days. It seems to me that Jeanneau don't expect too many in-mast furling systems to be sold, and their rig was primarily designed for slab reefing where the sail is dropped onto the boom and secured to reduce the sail area. They need to have this information fed back to them as they might want to take it into consideration for the future. We will be talking to Richard, our Jeanneau dealer about it so he can let them know.

20 Jun 2014

[Captains Blog] Shakedown Sailing

We took Tumi over to Fowey this week to stretch her wings a bit. The weather was OK for the outward journey and we headed off westwards in 15 knots of wind, making a good passage. Tumi sails really well, and she is a very balanced boat that requires little or no steering. We are getting familiar with the sheets (not the ones you put on the bed, but the nautical term for the ropes) as they are all a designer grey colour with different colour flecks to identify them apart from their neighbours. Whoever thought that sailing needs to be designer focused needs their heads testing - at night time, grey looks like grey and the different colour flecks won't show up in the cockpit too well, so we have to know which is which instinctively.

What pleased me about this trip is that the power management system appears to be working well. With the wind generator and the solar panels active, we suffered no real degradation in power levels even with the fridge, freezer, navigation instruments, lights, and TV being used. No need to fire up the generator to boost the batteries. So far so good.

We did have a slight glitch as we were approaching Fowey harbour, the chart plotter went blank and we had to switch everything off and back on again to sort it out, the GPS taking a little while longer than we thought healthy to rediscover the satellite signals and register our position. We will be keeping a close eye on this in case of a recurrence. We had just been using the port-side electric winch when it went off, but that might just have been coincidence.

The other thing we have to be aware of in the UK is that we are a long boat - with the davits and dinghy on the back, we measure over 50 feet and not many moorings are available to accommodate our length. We had to ask our neighbours to swap moorings with us to allow enough swinging room (we didn't realise we were swingers, isn't sailing fun!). They kindly obliged, and we were able to rest easy from that point. 

The trip home was mostly windless, but we did manage a small amount of sailing, much to my delight. Flat seas and a nice breeze, and it was a real pleasure to be out on the water again!

15 Jun 2014

[Captains Blog] The Odyssey continues

After a lengthy year with next to no sailing (why do we live in this country with the weather being so bad???), we are back at the helm again and planning the next episode of our sailing careers. This time we are embarking on a long, long journey which will eventually take us all the way to Australia, and then we will see what happens after that.

We will be joining the Atlantic Odyssey this year, a rally for cruising sailors that is departing from Lanzarote on the 16th November, destination Le Marin, Martinique  where we should arrive in fine fettle several days later. This sailing lark has really got under our skins, and we can't wait to get started again. We have been preparing for this since the beginning of the year, and getting Tumi kitted out for us to live aboard has been an interesting challenge to say the least.

Having just successfully obtained my Long Range (Radio Operators) Certificate, I am now legally able to use the SSB radio we have had fitted to Tumi, which will allow us to keep in contact with the world at large, from just about anywhere on the planet. 

10 Jun 2014

[Cruise News] Sea Trials commence!

After the disappointment of not sailing on Monday, we were determined to head out Tuesday morning to put Tumi (and us) through our paces.  Paul & I haven't really sailed since we arrived back in the UK last June so it was with a degree of trepidation we headed out.

Manouevring in the marina made us realise the scale of Tumi but Paul handled her beautifully and I scurried around with fenders and lines.  We knew it was forecast to be a gusty day but the full force of the wind didn't hit us until we were out in the Sound: 34 knots (over 40mph) and quite big, choppy seas, but we're experienced sailors and so limited the amount of sail accordingly and headed off across towards Cawsand.The conditions really weren't that pleasant and so we decided to test out the anchor when we got there and stopped for lunch in the lee of the land.  The sun came out and it was lovely.  As soon as we departed however we were back in the high winds and lumpy seas and so didn't hang around for long.  That said, Tumi handled beautifully and felt very solid and well balanced.  All good.

Wednesday morning dawned a much nicer day: Sunshine and light breezes.  We headed off again and the contrast to the day before was amazing.  Full sails out, only two layers of clothing and away we went putting Tumi through her paces.  Despite only 15 knots of wind on average, we were making pushing 7 knots speed over ground so were very pleased with her performance. We made another lunch stop at Cawsand, somewhat rolly with the swell today, but very enjoyable to be out on our boat. 

Another successful return to the marina and we had to head home for a few days, but we'll be back out on the water very soon.

[Captains Blog] The Maiden Voyage

We inflated the dinghy to mount it on the new stern davits only to find that the span between the davit arms was a bit too wide for the support points on the dinghy. This is due to the bathing platform being so wide, and the davits had to be fitted on either side of the platform. This was unexpected, and we needed to find a solution. Richard (the Broker we bought Tumi from) and I put our heads together and came up with the answer which involves webbing straps, and a couple of eye bolts. It meant having to deflate the tubes, remove the aluminium floor, drill holes in the base for the new bolts, and re-inflate again. The result is almost perfect, and with some padding on the retaining arms on the outboard end of the davits, we should be done. It has meant that we can now raise the dinghy high enough out of the water to sail properly.

Taking control of a brand new boat in the confined space of a marina is a daunting task and not for the faint hearted. Thankfully, my cojones were big enough to take on the task and even though the adrenaline was pumping somewhat we made our way out very serenely. It's like taking a Bugatti Veyron for a drive for the first time - you never really know how it will handle or how well it will perform, and on the water in windy conditions, it becomes very interesting indeed! We prepared our dock lines and made slips (lines that are wrapped once around the cleat on the pontoon that can be quickly slipped loose when ready) used the bow thruster to move the bow across the wind, and we were away.  All I had to do then, was get her back safely into the marina and into her docking space. This was complicated by the big gin palace that was moored right behind where we needed to go, but we took it nice and steady, pointing into the dock and turning at the right point to nestle gently alongside the pontoon. Phew!

It has been a real challenge getting all the equipment we need to make our lives afloat comfortable loaded onto Tumi. The list of goodies was very long, and we are just about there. We have had to compromise in a couple of places, but overall, we have managed to fit things where we needed them to go, so that they were tucked away tidily but were easily accessible when needed. I have done the radio licensing for Tumi, thankfully keeping the call sign and MMSI numbers that I was already used to, and extending the scope of the licence to include MF/HF radio as well. It's nice to be legal!

8 Jun 2014

[Cruise News] Tumi Boat Warming

We opened the hatches to friends and family on Sunday to toast Tumi and all who sail in her.  A great afternoon with everyone seemingly very impressed with her.  The reaction of my Mum in particular was marvelous: I don't think she had had any idea about how big Tumi actually, nor how fabulous she looks, from the photos we had shown her and to see her in the flesh, so to speak, completely floored her.  It did also give Mum a lot more confidence about our adventure.

Eight hours later Paul & I waved away our final guests and started the big clean up before retiring to our cabin for a good night's sleep before Monday's planned inaugural sail.

6 Jun 2014

[Cruise News] Gear on board

We've worked very hard the last couple of days emptying out the storage unit in Plymouth and loading all of our belongings on board.  And we're pleased to report that Tumi has swallowed it all up with plenty of space to spare. I had been a little bit concerned that storage might have been a bit of an issue because the under-floor area was so much shallower than on Jay Jay, but the extra length and width and third cabin has more than made up for that.

Paul has been confined to all the external lockers, including the enormous sail locker at the bow of the boat which is so deep that it comes with a ladder to get in and out. But I have allowed him back inside after dark .... still a bit too cold to be sleeping outdoors!

4 Jun 2014

[Cruise News] Tumi handover

The day finally arrived for us to take Tumi, over 7 weeks after she was delivered to Plymouth.  But boy is she worth the wait!  Such a stunning boat that is attracting a lot of comment in the marina: How lucky are we?!

The Jeanneau team have worked very hard readying her for the handover so she was polished and spruce for our arrival with everything tidied away after weeks of chaos.  We had hoped to start loading our own gear on board but after the dealer handover and marine electrician briefing it was too late in the day.  Always tomorrow!