Atlantic crossing from Bermuda 23. continued

Sun 8 Jul 2007 20:30
The first bit of this final one sent in error so continued here.  After spending the night prancing at anchor we were up early, made our way into St Mary's harbour  and picked up a buoy after a bit of a struggle.  Some thinking person has finally put lanyards on the chain on the buoys. Previously it was almost impossible to attach from a high bow as the big piece of chain on the buoy is far too heavy to lift with a boathook. Saturday was spent ashore having a look around and savouring the life of plenty, felt a bit wobbly though. The French cheered up after a couple of hours ashore,  they were all for heading back to Falmouth and missing out the Scillies altogether. Too wet and miserable for people from Provence where the temperature never drops much below 30 degrees. A pleasant surprise was the arrival of son Alex who was mad keen to be in on the last part of the trip. He had driven down from London on Saturday and hopped on the chopper to Scilly.
The forecast for Sunday was gale eight, dropping to 7. By Saturday evening the prediction was for a five. It didn't make any difference to us, the southwest blow  was exactly what we were hoping for. We had already experienced many gales from astern and were leaving early Sunday morning whatever.
Cleared the harbour by 8am into a strong south westerly, probably about a seven, and a big sea on the nose as we made our way around into St Mary's sound. The only worry was weather the engine would cut out again, we were prepared to hoist the sails if it so much as coughed.  We had changed the fuel filter and drained water from the sight glass and all seemed to be well.  The trip across to the Lizard was very exciting, surfing down waves at up to10 knots. We had decided to pass close to the headland and it was quite a sight with massive waves crashing over the rocks which extend for over half a mile from the shore.
The final few miles into Falmouth were enjoyed in flattish sea in the lee of Lizard, and bright sunshine. We were touched to see family and friends waving to us from Pendennis point as we surged by with all sail up in about 25 knots of breeze, showing off of course.  Everyone was waiting for us at Port Pendennis and gave us a heart-warming reception. Doing the Atlantic in both directions has been a great learning curve after listening to other people and reading about it for many years.
Its definitely more difficult coming north, mainly because the trade winds are affected by pressure changes so are not as reliable. We had a very experienced skipper aboard who had done the trip many times before and that made all the difference. He was very proactive rather than reactive so we were prepared for weather changes before they hit us so were always in control. Obtaining good forecasts was the biggest problem. We downloaded gribfiles every couple of days which were not very accurate but did give us the general drift. Tuned into radio forecasts whenever possible, we also called up any passing ships who were happy to pass on any information they had. We are fortunate to have  good friends ashore, Paul and Chris, who went out of their way to send us weather information via email which was invaluable. This is an excellent source of information if one has the contacts.   Any future trips will have to be in June. Boat preparation would leave nothing to chance. Catering would be thought out very carefully, good hot food in any weather proved to be vitally important.  Lack of sleep can be cumulative and debilitating so needs to be given a lot of attention.
A great trip all in all, I wouldn't have missed it for the world.  Thisbe, our Nicholson 32,  is still in St Lucia, the plan is to bring her home next year ?
This is a very condensed version of events for the sake of brevity, not sure if the detail would make interesting reading, who knows?