Hats off to Chay Blyth!

John & Susan Simpson
Sun 8 Aug 2021 12:10
In 1971 Chay Blyth became the first person to sail non-stop westwards around the world.  The significance of this is that it’s much more comfortable to have the winds behind you and most people sail eastwards around the world because for most of the time the wind will be from behind.  Winds and tide also interact so that the sea is rougher when the wind is blowing towards the oncoming tide.  So Chay Blyth chose to sail 40,000 miles the ‘wrong’ way round.

We woke to Day one of our own circumnavigation to hear the rain lashing on the roof of our cabin and the wind getting up.  The forecast wasn’t great either - strong SW winds building during the day and into the next.  We had been hoping to head SW for Falmouth but decided to make for Portland Marina, Weymouth instead.  That way we could make some progress towards to Falmouth but get a good night’s sleep after what was likely to be an uncomfortable sail.

We cast off from our mooring in Southampton at 0810, undeterred by the rain.  Ian Lillington had joined us the night before and we were pleased to have him on board to help with the trip - and to take these photos!  

Initial conditions weren’t too bad as we were protected from the worst of the winds and waves whilst still in the Solent and Poole Bay.

Once we emerged from Swanage Bay and beyond St Alban’s Head the sea and wind built steadily and we thrashed our way across Weymouth Bay in a heavy sea until we could tuck behind Portland Bill into calmer waters.  The forecast 20-25 knots of breeze was more than that in reality and the wind indicator was consistently 25-30 knots, occasionally more.  Casamara did us proud and sliced her way effortlessly through the conditions, averaging 7-8 knots all the way.  We remembered that it was exactly 50 years since Chay Blyth had completed his 292 days sailing like this and we saluted him.  Our 12 hours and 70 miles sailing into the prevailing wind felt like more than enough!

All ended well with a beer and a burger in the Marina bar, reminicising with Ian over our University days.