Day 4 1000hrs Turning for home

JC Azores 2008 - Cornet
Ron Westcott
Thu 5 Jun 2008 13:53
I decided this morning to turn for home.  On the whole the boat has performed very well, indeed, in general terms coped with ocean conditions much better than expected.  There have been some problems with equipment, especially losing use of the self-steering.  I've also been unlucky with the weather with it been on nose most of the way which is not the best direcvtion for a boat my size in sizable waves if the wind turns strong.  Last night the wind strengthened and turned southwesterly meaning I could no longer weather Cape Finisterre.  The leaway and loss of ground from  self steering meant, in those conditions taking was not much better than 180 degrees!
The main problem, however,has been sleep deprivation.  I cannot sleep during the day no matter how tired.  I can sleep at night but all the action has seemed to come each night.  All the major shipping was met the first two nights and the two periods of rough weather came on nights three and four. As a result by day 4 I was almost unable to do anything more than what was absolutely necessary.  In that state been trapped in the Bay of Biscay was the final straw and I made the only sensible decision  open to me.  Had I weathered Finisteree and picked up a tail wind no doubt I would have made but it wsn't to be.
I have already sailed 400 miles singlehanded and will have done 600 by the time I'm back in Dartmouth. Ultimately, however, neither I nor the boat were up to the task probably through insufiicient preparation. Some areas of my preparation wwere first class and complimented on at Plymouth but other areas were proved lacking.
Is it better to have tried and failed than never to have tried at all?  Probably.  I certainly would not have missed the experience I 've had but failure eats away at the sole long after the event.  I have learnt a lot about myself, the boat and ocean sailing.
There have been magic moments on the trip that have lifted my spirits.  In particular around 20 porpoises swimming with the boat for around 45 mins on the way down.  Simiarly a pod of a dozen dolphins swimming with the boat at very close quarters on the way back for over an hour includng one who swam alongside the cockpit upside down waving his flippers - no I wasn't allucinating by that point!  They certainly lifted my spirits at a very low ebb.
Having turned for home I now have head winds again but should make it back to Dartmouth for Sunday.