First Day 50.34.25N 02.27.13W

Wed 10 Jun 2015 17:15
50.34.25N02.27.13W Weds 10th June 2015
A rising gale up our tail brought us around to Portland in brisk style and we tippy toed carefully through a fine fleet of International racing dinghies including Lasers, 470s  (they’re fast), skiffs (they’re even faster) and cats (blimey). We have moored facing into the wind so the cockpit is protected and sunny and we are right at the entrance to the marina, so we’ve been watching them return after the race, screaming down the waves or in tow with broken rigging, but judging by the upbeat commentary and interviews on the radio, they are not broken spirited.
Today is only the first day and the wind tomorrow will be even stronger, so they should be fun to watch as we take a day out to let the weather change mood as we walk around the Bill, 8 miles of fabulous scenery and Channel Island like hamlets.
The last few weeks have been full of the expected final preps, bureaucratic, boaty, family etc. We have walked twice with Toby, Tracey, Darren and their 5 other dogs and he has settled well and is happy to see us and then go home. If anyone said to me it was cruel to part with him I would just refer them to the fact he now SLEEPS ON THEIR BED! We are so happy we can walk with him on our returns to the UK.
The diesel Tektank replacements are a relief especially now the leaks from the connections have finally been cured, no more blocked fuel pipes. The watermaker produces 800ml a minute or 48ltrs an hour of sweet water and uses 6 amps an hour. We have been able to keep the original water tanks so we plan to run the water maker for 1 1/2 hrs each day to replace our estimated usage and we have found we can do this without draining the batteries. We have no generator and use engine, Rutland Windcharger and two solar panels, a small one infront of the sprayhood and a much bigger one that reaches right across the bimini to which it can be attached and removed easily for stowage.
The new mainsail is a leap ahead in technology, the battens are shorter and there are only three and with fewer seams it is much easier to unfurl from inside the mast. In fact today we only wanted a small proportion of it but as it is so slippery it all raced out ready and willing and Rob had to wind a fair bit back in. The genoa has a new UV strip and the spare genoa has been overhauled as a replacement. We looked into having a second Furlex fitted so we could fly both downwind but the cost was prohibitive. Similarly, we thought a spare  alternator and starter motor might be a good idea but at £1000 I don’t think so, after all the engine is only two years old, and we will use it as little as possible, promise.
We went to the Oyster Owners Annual Dinner at the OXO Tower and a lady there who has completed Oyster first Rally in the smallest Oyster said she and hubby literally sailed most of the way around, unlike other participants who wanted less time at sea and more socialising. She also gave me two bits of essential advice, one take Nippon for the red ants in Panama as they come marching up the mooring lines and bay leaves because cockroaches hate the smell. “Oh and don’t worry about the weevils that float to the surface when you are boiling the rice you buy in Panama, just scoop them off, you’ll be fine!”
We stayed at the Cruising Association Headquarters in Limehouse while we were in London; an area steeped in the history of the worlds trade being shipped in and transferred to barges to pass through the lock gates and pulled by horses throughout our canal system for distribution all over the country. Underneath the windows of the 16th Century pub, The Grapes, Cooks ships set off on their expeditions to the Americas. Today the tiny pub is owned in part by Sir Ian McKellen and on the first of our three visits there we collapsed exhausted at one of the seven tables in the little upstairs restaurant. Rob had gone to get some drinks and I felt as if I had been pulled backwards through a gooseberry bush, as ‘pa’ used to say. I hope Sir Ian doesn’t come in now, I thought. Well, guess what. He came round the corner, doffed his cap and said “Good evening”. He then sat in a corner with his friends until they all toddled off together for supper with Dame Judy. Charming man.
We played Where’s Wally at the Albert Hall for Jonty’s graduation and went to see “Women on the Edge a Nervous Breakdown” with Tamsin Grieg, a lovely new musical I recommend it.
So that was London ‘done’ for a while. Farewells to family and friends took place at the weekend and last night as it was grandson Henry’s 6th Birthday, well couldn’t leave without a slice of his homemade chocolate cake could we!
Our man in the marina told us that the championships we have been watching today are a smaller version of the 2012 Olympics held here. Today people from as far as Russia, China, Australia and Canada have been competing as well as from many European countries. Well I couldn’t believe 3 years has gone so quickly since we watched them in 2012. In another 3 years we will be well on our way home!