Home Sweet Home

Paul Huntley
Wed 1 Jul 2009 18:29

It has been a couple of days since our return to Sovereign Harbour, Eastbourne. We arrived in Brighton Marina by lunchtime on Saturday. With an hour of foul tide we motored to Looe Channel and picked up the first of the flood. The spring tide, on this windless day zipped along the Sussex coast at more than seven knots, passing Bognor Regis and the famous Butlins tent, on  to Worthing and  Lancing with the landmark of Lacing College and the chapel standing beneath the Southern escarpment of the South Downs.

The new city of Brighton slips by as the ground rises to the east, revealing the first of the white cliffs under which we sighted the entrance to the marina. With the tide running at full flood and over two knots, the narrow entrance has to be negotiated with care.

Safely inside these rotund walls, we motor to the far end of the harbour to refill our tanks with fuel. Bunkering takes more than an hour, having to wait our turn to go alongside.Now more than half a ton heavier in the tanks but lighter in the wallet we make our way to the visitors pontoon for the night.

The crew and I adjourn to a terrace bar overlooking the harbour to down a glass or two of wine. We were soon joined by my son, Tim and his partner Kirsty.'Sarah and Corrie arrive in time for dinner at the Bella Napoli, a favourite restaurant of ours when in Brighton.

Still feeling the strain of the past weeks and months we find it hard to keep going on these late nights, at 21:00 hrs we all return to Libertad for a coffee and a night cap before our guests drive home leaving us to our last night aboard.

I woke on Sunday morning with less than a clear head thinking I could hear a fog horn going! It can't be? it is! Looking out of the port I can see very little, thank goodness I repaired that Radar in Carriacou all those months ago, visibility is down to less than three cables, come on ,if you have been following my blogs you would know how far that is.

With the engine started, the radar on, an fog horn in hand, we let slip our lines for the last time and grope our way out of the harbour, Guy gives a call to Eastbourne RNLI boathouse to see if conditions are better there. Clearing the harbour the sun breaks through and the fog receedes to the horizon, we rev up the engine, again not a breath of air, and set course to the east and leave Brighton astern on slack water.

By 10:30 we are abeam Peacehaven and cross the Greenwich meridian from west to east, the first time we have been east for almost a year and more than 11,000 nm travelled.

Half an hour later we are abeam the Newhaven harbour arm and with the increasing flood tide under the keel we cross Seaford Bay and on the Seven Sisters and Beachy Head,The old Belle Toute lighthouse on the cliff shrouded in scaffold. I assume it is having a face lift after its traverse back from the ever eroding cliff edge, yes they moved the entire structure down the hill on concrete rails in one piece. The rumour is that the new owners are proposing to use this listed building as a B&B.

The new lighthouse at the foot of the cliff was built in 1890 I think.Tt was built stands with its foot in the sea but, recent cliff falls are slowly building a land bridge.

With the over falls in a quiet mood we round Beachy Head and open our first glimpse of Eastbourne, We motor on setting course for Sovereign Harbour to the east of the town.

On Sunday morning most Lifeboats excersise, and Eastbourne's' "Royal Thames" is no exception This Mersey class boat has been on station for many years now under the command of her Coxswain, Mark Sawyer. They complete their exercise and come over to us in the company of the inshore lifeboat, the crews waving a welcome. The ILB comes alongside Libertad and the mechanic, Dan Guy and another crew member come aboard, the boat returns to the A.L.B to collect the Coxswain, Senior Helm and others who join us in Libertads cockpit, what an emotional greeting, The ILB returns the crew to their respective boats and we enter the outer harbour, the lifeboat saluting Libertad with a blast of her horn.

We lock through to the berth vacated for us, to be greeted by friends and relatives, Chris and Pat, Tim and Kirsty, Marianne, and others from the harbour. We  cracked a bottle of champers and all sat in the sunshine to toast Libertad.

11651:3 nm since leaving her berth on the 20th July 2008 .What an experience it has been, for me it has been the fulfilment of a lifelong dream to sail at least one big ocean in a small boat, to have done it in such a fine boat as Libertad has made the dream a reality. Without the crews this would not have been possible and I thank you all. I hope you gained as much from your time aboard Libertad as you hoped. I am pleased and relieved that we didn’t need to use the life raft, nobody fell overboard, and the first aid kit remained in the box. My thanks to Dr Stephen Lytton and Guy for the most comprehensive first aid kit you could imagine, we could have coped with a major disaster had the need arose.

My final thank you must go to my wife ,Corrie and my son ,Tim who held the fort whilst I was wandering across the Atlantic and of course you the ever loyal blog readers,appologies for my ramblings,bad spelling and atrocious grammer but, I hope that in some small way you were able to enjoy the up's and downs of this adventure with me. 

My mission statement was to return a little wiser than when I left,

Have I?

I will leave you to be the judge of that.

Best wishes and love to you all, Paul.




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