“When you sail for the first time, you have one of two experiences. It becomes a one-time, bucket-list thing you check off your list, or it becomes a part of your soul forever.”Michelle Segrest.
For me, sailing has been in my blood since my early days at school. When I first discovered I could go sailing Wednesday afternoons instead of having to play either rugby or hockey at school, I saw the appeal, but once I was on the water I was completely hooked!
Over the years I’ve progressed from small sailboats to larger yachts, and for years had wanted to sail and to explore (more than race). I have always been of a mind that the journey is almost more important than the destination, whether I was flying a plane, going on road trips across America, Europe or even the UK, or jumping on a yacht and sailing. Sadly, most of the people I would sail with were more of the mind that a quick spin out into the bay or a potter out for an hour (or two), then turn around and come home. There wasn’t much of a “journey” and certainly no real adventure – but it served to develop my skills and show me some of my many weaknesses.
For years, buoyed on by the experiences of SV Delos, La Vagabond, Hugo the Sailing Frenchman and more I wanted to go explore, to adventure, to live the dream on a sailboat!
Having worked hard for most of my life and taken very few holidays, eventually burning out, I finally found the time (and the money) to buy my first real yacht. She’s a 1977 Moody 39CC so not exactly anything “flashy” but she’s solid, and she will get me from A to B and hopefully all the way to Z!
But first comes the maintenance and repair work. Being almost as old as me (I was, after all, born in 1971, so the boat is just 6 years younger than me!) she needs some work. New rigging was a must and that ended up meaning a new boom too. Original estimates were that we’d be done by July 22nd, but due to delays in the supply chain, miscommunication with the company doing the rigging, additional works being required to strengthen/repair the mast and just the fact that everything “boat” takes twice as long and costs twice as much, it was October before the critical upgrades were completed. There are still essential jobs that need to be done tuning the new rigging, resolving issues with friction on the furling line for the headsail, we need to look at ways of bringing the reefing lines and sheets back into the cockpit so that I can sail the boat single-handed more easily.
There are also some ongoing issues with the hot water system which will only really be addressed by replacing the existing water heater with a calorifier and accumulator. All of this is an additional expenditure that I hadn’t originally accounted for this year. I’ve also ordered a water maker, which retails at about £7,500 – but means I will be able to make my own water whilst at sea, thus being more self-sufficient. I’m in the process of installing Lithium Iron Phosphate batteries and an inverter so I can still have 240v power whilst at sea, charged by solar panels, wind and/or even the engine depending on where we are in the world.
Some of these jobs were slated for next year, but as the boat wasn’t going anywhere and as I managed to find some deals at the boat show, I decided to start them now. All of this does mean however that I’ve spent considerably more money now than I had a) budgeted for and b) actually have, which means some creative financing. I’m also trying to sell off some possessions that I quite frankly don’t need and were an extravagance when I bought them 20+ years ago (thankfully it turns out they’ve become collectable, so could be worth somewhat more than I paid for them – we shall see)
So, what’s next? Well, I need to find a source of income that will enable me to continue to chase my dream. My current income sources are drying up and whilst I had hoped to have enough saved to last for 3-5 years, it is looking more than likely to be 6 months before I run out of money at this rate. That said, I’m not yet ready to give up on my dream of sailing to Lanzarote and on to the Bahamas just yet!
By now, I should already be in the Canary Islands, but thanks to the monumental delays and additional expenditure (some £10,000) of additional essential works and another £6,000 in mooring fees, that just hasn’t happened.
The start of the journey is not easy, we have to cross the Bay of Biscay, and doing that in the winter is a very bad idea. Rough seas and strong winds make the crossing risky, to say the least. The boat’s insurers specifically state no crossing Biscay after September. Doing so is like playing Russian Roulette with the weather. One day it is calm and the next day you’re running from a force 9 gale and 6-10m swells. (just 3m swells can capsize a yacht and can also be most uncomfortable!)
Today, for example, there are 35kt winds and 6m waves in/around Biscay. It would not be a pleasant place to be just at the moment.
Before setting off across Biscay, I wanted to log several hundred miles sailing around the UK first, dropping the hook and staying overnight in coves and anchorages along the way. To date, I think we have managed to log a total of just 30nm and the only time we tried dropping the hook the windlass failed and I ended up having to drop and retrieve the anchor myself by hand (which resulted in a bruised rib – not the most successful of shakedown cruises).
Some successes and upgrades though, the new diesel heater for example is amazing – I had the boat up to 24C inside while it was just 4C outside, so nice and toasty!
I am also tempted to replace the gas cooker with an electric oven and an induction hob. There were some cheap Black Friday deals on Amazon so I’ve ordered an induction hob and I’m looking at combination microwave ovens currently. They should run off the new bank of LiFePO4 (340Ah) batteries (another Black Friday deal) and the 3KW inverter which I bought from Renogy this month. Fingers crossed anyway!
So, the UK sailing season has ended and whilst I’ve already spent more than 145 days onboard, I’ve only actually managed to sail 30nm so far. We’ve dropped the hook and had a swim and a picnic (water temp was 8C so the swim was short, but we did see mermaids!)
The plan early next year is to circumnavigate the UK, stopping off in the Isle of Man to celebrate my mum’s birthday, and visiting a number of childhood holiday spots on the way including seaside resorts such as the following bucket list which amounts to more than 18,000nm travelled if I see them all!
Destination Bucket List
|Isle of Man (Laxey, Douglas, Peel)|
|Port Eynon in Swansea|
|Watermouth Cove (Ilfracombe)|
|Scotland and Scottish Isles|
|Antigua and Barbuda|
|Trinidad and Tobago|
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