Archive for July, 2008

Camaret to Lymington

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2008

Dinah is now sparkling in the sunshine on the “Dan Bran” pontoon at Lymington.

We left Camaret in west Brittany on Tuesday, 15 July and arrived in Lymington on Monday 21 July via L’Aberwrac’h, Treburden, Guernsey, Alderney and Weymouth. We had a great time cruising along at 7 or 8 knots. We had the wind on or aft the port beam the whole way, with only a single short tack onto starboard as we approached Lymington.


Here is the Bridge WCM at the entrance to the Needles Channel, bound for Lymington from Weymouth. Boatspeed with one reef and a small number 4 jib.


Weymouth was such a nice place we decided to have a duvet day instead of getting up at 6 am for another early start to catch the tide. Lots of boaty activity on the river and we had a great take-away cod, scampi and chips on board with a nice cab sauv.


Crossing the channel, we port-tacked a pair of east bound tankers, CPA was .3 nautical miles for each. Note the sunshine! We arrived the previous evening into a cold and misty Alderney and spent the night on a mooring. Left at 7 am in more cold gloom, but we sailed out of the front just before the east bound traffic lane and carried the sunshine for the rest of the journey to Lymington. Champagne sailing!


In Guernsey, two generations of French race boat design: Archambault 35 on the inside of Dinah. We spent the night in the crowded marina, and moved to the pontoon after breakfast to avoid being trapped inside the sill as the tide fell and went shopping and strolling around St Peter Port for a few hours before sailing to Alderney in the afternoon.


Guernsey marina

We arrived in Camaret late Sunday evening and provisioned the boat on Monday. The flood tide through the Chenal du Four called for a 7 pm Monday or 7.30 am Tuesday departure. We chose Tuesday morning to go north.

Camaret 2

Camaret 1

Back to “Normality”

Thursday, July 17th, 2008

Back in Dublin again, and just about recovered after the BluQube 1000m solo. The final results of 2nd in Open Class, 2nd in Overall Open Class, and 2nd in IRC, are an unprecedented success and obviously I’m hugely pleased with the way Dinah has performed so far. Not only is she seaworthy, she’s incredibly fast already and I’m still only learning what makes her tick.


Dinah is at sea again as I type. I flew back to Dublin, and Bob and Louise are cruising the boat to Lymington, in time for Dinah’s next race start in two weeks. More to come on that…

The last three weeks have been hectic, so thanks a million to Bob for keeping the site updated. The good people at BluQube have some great photos which I’ll put up here as soon as I can get them.

Santander – Camaret

Thursday, July 17th, 2008

Dinah won the start, and she was really quick. I was full of confidence and I enjoyed short tacking down the river that sunny morning. With my feel for the breeze in light conditions, and these sails with their perfect shapes, after 24hrs we were leading the race on the water. We were ahead of the much bigger and more powerful 40ft’ers, and pulling away from even the light displacement boats my own size. I always like light airs.

Start Santander

Some minor electronic issues, all caused by user error, cost me some time and a lot of personal energy in the middle portion of the race. Gerry Adams and Ian Paisley were too busy arguing down below to help put a reef in during the night. I started to recognise when I’m pushing myself too far. Nico Budel’s Open 40 and Katie Miller’s Figaro 2 got through me on the water. In reality they should have been miles ahead of me two days into the race, and I was clearly winning on handicap, but I didn’t like being passed, and I forced myself into a rest pattern before putting on another big push. In the last four hours of the race I caught up by 35 minutes on the Figaro 2, on an amazing high speed surfing spinnaker reach. The highest boatspeed to date (11.4knts) was seen on this leg. Under autohelm, with the sheets locked off, planing down a big roller, while I drank a cup of coffee!

Unfortunately the longer than planned light airs first section of the race meant I had charged my batteries once more than expected. With an airlock in the engine fuel feed, I had to sail on to the marina. For most people the thought of sailing a 35ft boat solo right up into a marina and onto her berth would give them nightmares, but by now I had a feel for the boat, and it seemed quite straightforward and almost normal. Dinah came to rest in her allocated berth and minutes later I was sitting outside a restaurant catching up with some of those that had pulled out of leg two.

Kinsale – Santander

Thursday, July 17th, 2008

Flying the new sails off the start line I had to quickly learn the new styles of sail trim necessary to make these sails work right on the boat. But after a little while I got back to target speeds and then started to grin as I realised these sails were much faster than the old ones. Well done Des!

A forecasted gale in Biscay meant getting South as quickly as possible was key to reducing exposure to the worst of conditions. Biscay is not a nice place and, apart from during a race, nobody would dream of deliberately crossing with the forecasts we had.

It was my first time sailing either the boat or the sails in a storm, and I was already almost three days at sea. This was already my longest time solo offshore, and I was still only learning how to sleep. Yoda joined me for a while, and after the boat was knocked flat in the water twice I decided to drop the sails and run under bare poles waiting for the worst to pass over. It was very eerie sitting down below, speaking to shipping to gather what information I could, resting, eating well, while outside an enormous sea was being cut up by the ferocious crosswind. Those seas in Biscay were amazing. Hypnotic almost. You start to feel really small and insignificant in those sort of seas. I was very conscious of the tracker, and how my actions might worry those watching at home. Yoda pointed out that to finish first, first you have to finish.

After a rather eventful re-hoist of the sails, which took far too much time and energy, I was on my way again. I had dissected the events of the day while down below, and worked out some new theories on making the boat work in heavy airs. A second, albeit much shorter gale, almost a day later proved these theories and I was able to continue powering upwind maintaining target speeds and angles. This did a huge amount for confidence, and I was able to build speeds the whole way into Santander.

Santander Marina

Arriving there I was very confused with how few boats were ahead of me. When you’re at sea sometimes you can only imagine where the other boats are. And it turned out that instead of not being able to raise anybody on the VHF for the last two days because I had fallen back so far, it was actually because two out of three boats or skippers had not made it through the conditions on the leg. Most boats ran off to English or French ports. A warm welcome on the dock led to the demise of several bottles of whiskey on ROC, Des Hampton’s wonderful boat.

Santander was a nice break. Not many jobs to do on the boat. Several days getting back to full strength. Lots of food and drink in great company. Amazing really, how sociable solo sailors are! The camaraderie of shared experiences makes for great friendships.