Blues and Blue Water

John & Susan Simpson
Sat 24 Jun 2017 14:47

50:54.19N 1:23.08W

A year into ownership of Casamara, we were itching for a longer passage to try her out, and one that was as adventurous as possible!  John had long dreamed of visiting the international Blues Festival in Notodden, Norway.  Could we sail there?  Many hours later we had a plan to get us to the Festival, including a ‘boys’ delivery trip, a summer holiday for our son, and a leisurely return voyage for us to practice handling Casamara as a couple.  Perfect!

‘The boys’ crew had impressive medical credentials: an anaesthetist, a dentist and a bio-medical scientist. Luckily their skills weren’t put to the test! Experienced ocean sailors, Geoff and Graham, joined John with rookie sailors Josh (our son-in-law) and his best man Alex in a three part watch system: Geoff and Josh; Graham and Alex; and John solo.   

Supplies were loaded at Ocean Quay, Southampton, and Casamara was ready.  Her 23.5 metre mast doesn’t fit under the Itchen Bridge’s 23 metre clearance at MHWS, and that morning the tidal window was early.  Geoff and Graham live on the Isle of Wight so it made sense to collect them later rather than them retracing their steps after an early start

So, with John helming, Josh and Alex nervously slipped Casamara’s lines and the voyage began.

After the crew collection from Cowes, the plan to anchor overnight in Priory Bay was soon abandoned with a steady wind whisking Casamara towards Dover.  The strong SW airflow continued as the crew found their sea legs, a challenge for the younger members in a lumpy sea!  Crossing the Channel at Dover, Casamara picked up the 10 metre contour line off the French coast and sped past Belgium and Holland, 5-10 miles offshore.  After rounding Terschelling, Casamara headed East into the entrance of the Elbe.  Careful navigation kept her at least one mile south of the Eastbound shipping lane - references to heavy fines in the almanac ensured we followed this instruction absolutely!

Wind and tide had been kind, but in the Elbe Casamara punched the tide and Brunsbuttel remained frustratingly distant until around 11.00 pm.  After 3 days and 500 miles from Southampton, we slipped through the lock into the Kiel canal and moored up for a good night’s sleep.