Fri 29 Apr 2016 08:06

We left Amble at 0500, 80 miles to sail and the last lock-in (marina, not pub) would be 1945, so we had nearly 15 hours, a long day, no wind and a very cold start. The ropes were frozen stiff. I have never sailed in these conditions, I am a fair weather sailor! Or I was.
We are a bit conditioned to the cold now, and we've got the right kit to keep warm, I just wasn't expecting to have to wear it all, all the time.
At 4.45 Chris trotted down the jetty to check that the tide was high enough for us to go, it was and we did. The sea was still a bit rough after the recent gales but it was OK, we motored for a while, it got warmer and I sat out on the bow watching the sea-birds; who couldn't adore puffins? They are so comical, they seem a bit amateur, a bit surprised by everything, with their little splayed red feet, as if they're ready for a crash landing any second, Then, there are gannets, who, despite their awful name are the most slick and professional outfit., they fly in squadrons, flap flap flap, then glide, with grace and precision, at some point they divide and you see one dive. like a missile, wings tucked back, through the surface, emerging with a fish,... mesmerising.
The wind picked up, we shook out the sails, still conscious of our deadline we continued to motor-sail for a bit, but as the breeze freshened we cut the motor and enjoyed the most fantastic few hours! This is when Chris is happiest , his dinghy sailing experience shines through, and although I'm a bit terrified, to Chris it's just a boat, and it's about getting the boat to do what it's built to do, so, surfing down the waves, top speed of 10.8 knots, is what it's all about.
The wind continued to build, went round from a broad reach to a run, we ditched the genoa, and were still averaging about 8 knots, it began to rain/hail ; time to take down the mainsail, which involves getting up on the deck, me getting up on the deck, now 17- 20 knots of wind is one thing, and I'm hooked onto the mast for security, but once the boat is turned into the wind in order to drop the sail, we were facing 26/28 knots, rain/hail, gale force winds, I just wrapped my arms around the mast and decided that I wasn't going anywhere anytime soon! The thought of leaving my lovely strong safe mast, making my way across the deck seemed impossible.
Needless to say Chris managed to coax me back to the cockpit and we arrived in good time, it took 13/14 hours, which averages out at about 6knots/hour. we're now secure on a pontoon in the marina. The weather is foul outside but we'll think about that tomorrow.