Wed 23 Sep 2009 20:25
not in an aeroplane or a ferry and it feels like a real achievement.
Hamble Point Marina, which we left at 6pm on Friday 22 May 2009, is 2267
track miles behind us and we have lived aboard for three and a half
I won’t ever forget setting off that sunny evening last May, not quite
knowing where the adventure was going to take us. Running down Southampton
Water and the Western Solent past all the familiar sights for the last
time felt very strange. On every previous occasion I’d been that way,
either when I was learning to sail or out on a jolly with some pals, it
had been in the expectation of returning the same way, sooner or later.
But this time it was different and many thoughts crowded into my head.
Dear reader, I kept my sunglasses on till night fell...you never stop
being eight years old really.
Dartmouth was as gorgeous as ever when we arrived the next day about
9.45am. We spent five days there, making final preparations to VOLARE for
the Portugal Rally. The soft Devon rain fell on us almost continuously,
but that was okay. On the way to Plymouth, we called in at Newton Ferrers
for lunch, which was like wandering into a picture postcard. If you’re a
sailor, be sure to sail up the River Yealm and visit Newton Ferrers one
day, if you haven’t done so already. You won’t regret it.
Then it was time to get to Plymouth for the start of the rally. More work
to be done at the dock getting the boat ready and of course, more ways to
spend money! But the best thing about Plymouth was the fantastic send-off.
At the eve of departure party, we had quite a gathering of family members
who had made the journey down to see us off. It was absolutely brilliant
to see everybody. Next morning, everyone was at the dockside when we
slipped our lines and motored downriver for the start. To prepare for this
moment, a lot of planning and hard labour had been done and it felt
surreal to be actually setting off rather than just thinking about it.
To share the load on the 550 mile crossing of the Bay of Biscay, we took
two friends as crew members, Pete Richardson and Chris Smyth. Both are
good sailors and good company so we had an easy trip that lasted a shade
under four days, arriving in Bayona, Spain at 0300 on Thursday 4th June. I
was pleased to complete this leg without incident, because the Bay can be
wild when the wind gets up. This is because it’s exposed to the full fury
of the Atlantic Ocean and because there is a dramatic change in depth off
the Spanish coast. About 25 miles out, you cross the 1000 metre depth
contour and only five miles further on, you cross the 200 metre contour,
so there’s is a big underwater ledge that ramps up the sea when there’s a
swell running. Happily, the sea was calm when we approached the shore, so
for us it was all very smooth.
In Bayona, we had an excellent supper and prize-giving in the very smart
Bayona Yacht Club. This gave us the chance to get to know the other crews,
some of whom have remained friends to this day. Three weeks later in
Lagos, the rally was suddenly over and we were heading off by ourselves
along the Portuguese and Spanish coasts, into Gibraltar, then along the
Spanish coast to Marina Greenwich, so-called because it lies on the prime
meridian (733 miles due south of SE10). From there we struck out for the
Balearic Islands of Ibiza, Mallorca and Menorca, then did the 200 mile
crossing to Sardinia, where we are now.
There’s quite a bit of winter maintenance to do, including servicing the
engine and generator, fixing a few leaks, sorting out a small holding tank
problem (nice!), replacing the anodes and cleaning and polishing the hull
We’ll be home for about 4 weeks at Christmas and can’t wait to see everybody.