logo Luna Quest
Date: 06 Jul 2013 21:43:00
Title: From Eastbourne to Plymouth

> Dear Family and Friends,
>
> Just as I was beginning to worry, after five days of searching for some electronic Autopilot knowledge, that Eastbourne is after all a place for retirees, a bulky near retiree came on board with his multi-meter and solved the problem. A local yacht engineering firm had in the mean time replaced the mechanical part of the Autopilot. We cruised around in the marina to test the new equipment and the electronic rectification, and having decided it all seemed to work satisfactorily, I settled the bill and made for ASDA on my little Brompton bike to do some last minute shopping. The following morning I would leave at 0600hrs.
>
> Wednesday morning appeared bright and early through my companion way hatch. I had set the alarm for 0515hrs, but I had not really needed it for the excitement of an early start had me awake off and on for the better part of the night. We (i.e. Luna Quest and me) were in the harbour lock with the fishermen at 0600hrs and out at 0620hrs. A F4 easterly breeze had our sails up by seven o'clock and the Hydrovane set by 0715hrs. I was overjoyed that at last we were actually sailing. I had planned to go to Haslar Marina near Portsmouth and then to other places along the South coast meandering towards Falmouth, my last port of call before starting the cross the Bay of Biscay, but the wind was blowing a rare easterly and who knows when the next area of low pressure would bring new westerlies and rain. I therefore changed my mind and decided to sail overnight towards Dartmouth. At 10.30hrs I adjusted my course to pass south of the Isle of Wight. I poled out to starboard and attached the port preventer to the end of the boom over to port, but I could not quite clear the Isle of Wight and gibed at 1300hrs. The wind died soon thereafter. By 14.45hrs I took the pole in, furled the genoa, disabled the Hydrovane and put the engine on. The Autopilot worked a treat. At 1700hrs we were off St Catherine's Point and by 2200hrs 10 miles South of Anvil Point.
>
> I was tired and would need to catch some sleep. I activated the Furuno radar equipment and my AIS receiver (Automatic Identification System) and would try and have a lie-down. I wound up my kitchen hour alarm to get me up to check things. I set it for 45 minutes. Try as I might, but sleep was difficult to find, it was all too exciting. I had eaten well with the last of the hamburgers from Waitrose in Saffron Walden, potatoes, carrots, beans and fresh salad, so I could not complain about hunger keeping me awake. Eventually, intermittent sleep came. At two o'clock in the morning of Thursday, some 10 miles SE off Portland Bill, Luna Quest changed her behaviour and had me up to find 17 knots of wind on the quarter. No time was lost to unfurl the big genoa, enable the Hydrovane and disable the engine and Autopilot. I decided not to carry any mainsail as we were making over 7 knots on the genoa alone. What a joy it was to see Luna Quest surging towards the West under sail. At 0900hrs we were SE off Start Point. It would be tricky going up the Dart with the wind blowing from dead behind and trickier still getting out of there if the wind stayed easterly. I decided against the Dart and go for Plymouth. It was overcast and cold, but the wind was up to 20 knots and pushing us along very nicely. I would make Plymouth in the afternoon. At 17.15hrs I arrived and would have a good long rest.
>
> My next email report is likely to be sent next week from somewhere in the Bay of Biscay.
>
> Eric

Diary Entries