Welcome to RBE Blog!

Welcome to the July 2011 blog for the Round Britain Experience!

The RBE is more than the name of a boat – it is a 12 week experience, starting and ending in London and circumnavigating the British Isles

RBE 2011

 

My name is Jill, I am one of the crew on the current RBE trip.  I have been keeping my own blog of the trip and now delighted to be able to upload information into the official RBE blog.  Our trip started on 4th July.

Here is the blog archive so far -

Sunday, 3 July 2011

THE ROUND BRITAIN EXPERIENCE FINALLY BEGINS

 Finally here!  After months and months, people asking me if Im excited – well the honest answer was no as there has been so much going on in my life!  However – as soon as the taxi drew up at St Katherine Dock in London I felt the butterflies in my stomach and the excitement began.
The Round Britain Experience!  Thats the name of the boat and you can see Cal, Tash and Mick in the background.
A champagne lunch was provided and very well received.
The Round Britain Experience starts right in the heart of London near Tower Bridge which can just be seen peeking through from the marina!
he boat is a Bavaria 45 and is brand new (well, almost!) spacious and fully kitted out- it even has an iron and ironing board – honest to god!
I have been appointed as the caterer for the first leg of the trip – they obviously spotted the domestic goddess in me and handed over the money for the 1st fortnight!  Such responsibility to feed 5 people you have never met before!  Maybe they will live to regret their decision!  Fussy eaters WILL be the first to be thrown overboard!
I will introduce the others later….

RBE – FIRST NIGHT ON THE BOAT AND DAY 1 SUNDAY 4TH TO MONDAY 5TH JULY 2011

The first day of the Round Britain Experience is coming to a close!  The group met yesterday and enjoyed a lovely champagne luncheon and met one another for the first time.  Guests were invited and suddenly the boat felt most spacious as everyone left!
This gave us the opportunity to familiarise ourselves with the boat and “bond” with one another.The evening soon arrived and we retreated to The Dickens Inn to have our first (non-champagne) meal together!  Let me introduce everyone….

Firstly – we have Chris.  A lovely lady who lives in Bristol.  She teaches maths and promises to help me with the mathematical aspects of navigations (yes Chris, you did promise that!)  I promise to take a better photo of you very soon!
This is Peter – he is married to Chris.  They both live in Bristol.  He teaches at the University there with people with Aspergers Syndrome.  He looks like a proper sailor – wears all the stripey tops and all that!
Hmmm… Well, what can I say?  This photo says it all – this is our skipper for this leg – Duncan, just out of the Navy (he blagged his way in there!) looks like a skipper with his ruddy complexion and sarcastic expression n’all!)
Well – this is Greta – she isnt actually part of the RBE but was the only good looking thing around the table (apart from me of course – but no one took my photo!)  She was our gorgeous waitress at the Dickens Inn!
The crew and skipper of the July-Sept 2011 RBE
Departing St Katherine Lock
Francesca and Dot – my daughter and surrogate daughter respectively come to wave us off – posh send off for a posh boat and posh crew!
I love this picture – and apparently, Peter doesnt like his photo taken – but he looks so much like a sailor already, it would be a shame not to photograph him!
Meet Mike – hidden depths here!  Quiet waters running deep and all that!  Chris and I are jealous of his lip colour!  An interesting guy who has walked more miles than he has sailed it seems!
The shopping list!
There is a serious aspect to this trip – apparently, we are all learning to be yacht masters!  Here Duncan demonstrates the checks we need to make to our life jackets (he has photogenic hands……..which is more than I can say for the rest of him!)
I think Duncan shouldn’t have shown us the whistle!
THE RBE!  How lucky am I!
Apparently, Im the 1st person to tell John he is photogenic!  I point the camera at him and he looks entirely natural.  It must be all those weddings he has been to – you see, he is a retired vicar, wonderful sense of humour and a cracking laugh (even if it does take him a tad longer to get the rude jokes!)

 A very natural looking photo of a crew around a shopping trolley………

DAY 2 RBE – QUEENSBOROUGH TO BRIGHTON

What a long day!No photos of Queensborough to show – as it was totally unphotographical (think thats a word!)  We departed in haste at 8.30 and motored on.Skipper Duncan decided we might as well head straight to Brighton as stop in Dover and have our first taste of night time sailing (well – motoring!)Interesting to pass by the windfarm at Kentish flats – remember my friend Andy telling me about its construction.  30 turbines in a row – seemed an age until we passed by them!

I’ve discovered that buoy is a North Cardinal…..so much to learn!

The 1st watch started at 6, Ive just completed my watch which started at 9pm til 12.  Its actually just into Day 3 now as it is 00:22 so Im going to sign off now and edit this when we are in Brighton in the morning.  Im reliably informed there is a Wetherspoons near the marina – and Im rather tempted with an 8am pint with my cooked breakfast!

Hard to photograph in the dark with the reflective strips on our kit.  Heres Pete
Can you guess where this is?
Dawn – somewhere near Newhaven
The first watch begins
A fantastic experience navigating and steering the boat in complete darkness, a great learning experience.  I’ve not yet read the chapter on colours of navigation lights, how to recognise different vessels and buoys so night navigation was a tad of a challenge.  One example, which also highlights, as usual, that I should trust my instinct – I saw a light ahead, it was green and I became convinced it flashed to red, then it stayed green and didnt turn red – quick check of the manual……….so I convinced myself that there was no such warning light, so I must have got it wrong.  This continued – and I realised no buoy would have sails….it was in fact another yacht and it was the starboard then port side (red light!) I wont do that again!I also realised that trainers are not part of a useful kit when helming in driving rain!Managed an hour or so sleep before the next watch began at 3am – the graveyard shift indeed!  However, lovely to watch the sun rise as we passed Newhaven by.  The wind whipped up and the sea became a bit lumpy and we soon found ourselves being pulled towards the coast – had to keep pulling portside (god, Im getting so nautical!!)We neared Brighton and decided to let John, Chris and Mike sleep as we took RBE into the breakwater at Brighton – initial plan was for Pete and I to do this, but the weather conditions had deteriorated so much this would have been too much of a challenge and far too interesting – and probably the end of the trip…………. no problem for Duncan of course!

DAY 3 RBE – REST DAY AT BRIGHTON WED 6TH JULY 2011

I had to try very hard to get everyone to pose for this one – can you see Joey?
How many pints can you see?

Having spent the day and the night motoring from Queensborough to Brighton, we arrived at Brighton marine in the early hours and retreated to the local Wetherspoons.  I managed to convince everyone it opened at 7am, so at 7.30, finding I was wrong (me?  Wrong?) we retreated to McDonalds for coffee to wait until Wetherspoons opening at 8.

We enjoyed a lovely breakfast and were a little disappointed to find that they didnt serve beer until 9am (what is this wretched country coming to?!)

The beer at 9am was however enjoyable!

Does it look like Mike has been on night watch?
I think John must have had lots of sleep last night – how fresh faced is he!

We had a relaxing day with the crew cleaning the boat – I managed to get out of this job as I had to return once more to Wetherspoons to use the internet and create a blog for RBE!

A had a welcome visitor in the form of Sue Moorman who lives in South Heighton, not too far away – in fact as we motored along the coast into Brighton, I gave her a wave – it was only 5am so not sure she saw me!

The lovely Sue comes to visit

There is a 24 hr ASDA in the “Marina Village” so I couldnt resist stocking up on food.  The boat is now full – no storage room left, but far more satisfying than shopping at Waitrose!

Everyone tired and a bit tetchy (!) last night after our previous nights sail so we all headed to bed at a reasonable time.

DAY 4 RBE -STUCK IN BRIGHTON!

 Everyone tired and a bit tetchy (!) last night after our previous nights sail so we all headed to bed at a reasonable time.
Weather has deteriorated and we now have an occluded front (sorry if Im getting too technical for you here!) with a Force 7/8 gusting around.  So it seems we are staying in Brighton for a day to ride it out – we are surrounded by shops – a 24 hour ASDA, a Wetherspoons (I may have mentioned that earlier…….), restaurants etc etc so the world isn’t too bad a place after all!We are having a day of study – doing harbour skills and working on our Day skipper workbooks.  Its only 8am right now and Im enjoying a cuppa sat here in my dressing gown (I did make a concession and didnt bring my fluffy slippers – Im taking this seriously you see!)Now its lunchtime – and Duncan has spent a couple of hours with us studying – great lecture about the weather – for the 1st time John really understood about highs and lows (the weather that is!)We all promised to be good students and get our work done, but the best student so far is ……..

What a fabulous student busy reading Tom Cunliffe’s book!

The dinghy inflated and we all practiced rowing one another around…..

very disappointing as no one fell in – my camera was however at the ready!

DAY 5 RBE – YET ANOTHER DAY IN BRIGHTON BUT WE MADE BEST USE OF TIME WITH WHIPPING, SPLICING AND DOGGING!

10am –  Brighton marina is a lovely place, fantastic facilities so we arranged the weather to give us an excuse to stay here just another day!

We did plan to go, but the weather forecast which hedged its best with “slight” “moderate” and “severe” quicky turned to a gale warning!

So – we are starting our diesel engine management course shortly and this afternoon doing “splicing”  I asked if that was similar to Salsa and got the lovely sarcastic look from our skipper!

Anyway, its now 10am – we had our first lecture in diesel engine management.

Chris and John get stuck in checking the engine!
They spend so much time there – we all wonder if Chris is really in John’s confessional!
So I take a peek via the side doors – to find…they are really checking the engine after all!
We then had a lovely lunch with yet another round of tiger bread with various fillings.  Duncan will insist on lots of pickled onions – sure it cant be good for him!
Following lunch, and yet another visit to the Chandlers…..we had a demonstration on…..
Whipping, Splicing, and Dogging – yes!  I cant believe it – I’ve come here on a trip of a lifetime and find Im whipping and dogging!  You know, when you learn another language, you rely on your tutor to tell you the truth when they teach you new words……..
Anyway – here we are learning whipping, splicing and dogging….
Look at John with his Portugese Plait!
How studious are we!

DAY 6 RBE BRIGHTON TO PORTSMOUTH

Finally free of Brighton!
Weather held us here since early hours of Wednesday.  We really appreciated the local Wetherspoons (see more in yesterdays blog) and the fact there was an ASDA within a stones throw (great for me holding the budget for food for this leg!) However, we were keen to get going!
Called for fuel on the way out and it was my job to fill the tank – I figured it was just like filling my trusty old Ford Focus and, although the gauge reached full, I continued to fill until it clicked off – followed by a gush of smelly pink fluid – all over my lovely new sailing jacket – now I smell like a mechanic!

Bye bye at last to Brighton
We poked our nose from behind the breakwater to realise the protection it affords us as we were soon bouncing around! We pointed the bow into the sea and headed out for about 8 miles which seemed to take forever with each wave (about my height) knocking us back continually.  We never seemed to break clear of Brighton – it seemed to stay on the horizon forever!
The smell of diesel over my jacket eventually made me feel nauseous – so I retreated to my cabin to take it off and rest for half an hour (of course it wasnt sea sickness – for I would never admit to that!
I woke to find the boat continuing to bounce around – and started “extreme sandwich making”  A big pile of ham, cheese, pickle and mayo sandwiches brought up on deck and we piled into them, all of us apart from Chris.  She said she didnt like white bread – I had used entirely white bread as it needed using up having found 2 slices with mould on (please dont tell the others!)  so she decided to go and make her own – she was back on deck within 2 minutes and started shouting from the stern to her 2 friends “Hughy” and “Ralph” then disappeared to her cabin and we never saw her again for the remainder of the trip!
Now able to change direction and make use of the wind, we brought the genoa out for the 1st time during this trip.  How lovely that felt – I so enjoyed being on the helm as we sailed a close haul and tacked along (all the nautical terms coming now….!)
Again, it took an age and we continued to bounce along getting sprayed at frequent intervals.  We each took it in turn, and we always knew when John was at the helm.  We have now called him ”The Hooligan” you can just imagine why!  A lovely guy with a ready smile and a fab sense of humour and he laughs at my jokes – albeit 30 seconds after everyone else (particularly the dirty jokes!)
John The HooliganMike kindly went into the galley to make us a cuppa which then made him feel queasy and rendered him sick for the remainder of the trip!
Sea sickness must be terrible.  The advise is to try to eat when you can and if you feel sick, lye down, close your eyes and wait for it to pass apparently!
We have been studying our buoys, shapes, lights etc and I’ve tried to memorise them using my manual and study cards, however, it is when we are out at sea that the theory really starts to gel.  We journeyed through a channel where we could see from the chart there were boulders to a depth of only 2 metres – so seeing the lateral marks and cardinal buoys guiding our way illustrates the importance and certainly helps to set it in your head!
You are in a time warp when you sail and it is only your stomach which serves as a reminder of the passage of time.  As we neared Portsmouth I ventured down into the galley to prepare food.  Its great catering for people on a boat as its usually met with such enthusiasm and sounds of appreciation regardless of what you seem to present.  So far this week I have been cooking one pan creations – spag bol, thai green curry, sausage and bean casserole and tonights meal was a mixture of all the leftovers, with a tin of kidney beans and a flurry of mixed herbs and some worcestershire sauce heated up and poured over a pile of doritos and salsa with cheese sprinkled on the top – in the oven for 15 mins and topped with sour cream.  This was met with the usual enthusiasm and amazement of how a meal can be concocted so quickly as they did not recognise the ingredients they had been eating all week!
Portsmouth looked beautiful as we sailed in at dusk
Difficult to control long hair whilst sailing!

We eventually made it into Gosport Marina and I was at the ready to tie on my fenders and managed to fail at my first test as I tied it to the guard rail which you remove to exit the boat.  Anyway – I was then ready with my stern line having secured it correctly on the cleat on the boat, but we were being blown away from the pontoon so Duncan took my line and in James Bond style jumped onto the pontoon relieving me of my duty!

All of us knackered and ready for sleep we settled down – apart from Chris who has slept the day and is now ready for breakfast!

DAY 7 RBE – SAILING FROM GOSPORT TO ANCHOR OUT

Beautiful day which started with a full English breakfast Al Fresco – the works – yum!

Easy Sunday morning, quick shower (only the 2nd on my trip so far – what a minga!) quick clean of the boat then time to practice my knots…..honestly!

Its 3 in the afternoon and we are about to head out!  Leaving Gosport – lovely views of Plymouth and heading out to find somewhere lovely to anchor for the night.

Well – things didnt go according to plan!  Started sailing, really getting a feel for it when one of the shackles broke!  I suggested we use one I seem to have tied to my ankles keeping me in the galley!Change of plan meant we now had to motor into Cowes to be able to visit the chandlers.
Time for some study however!
Served my liver, bacon and mushroom casserole – a risky move on my part but 5 out of 6 enjoyed…..sorry Duncan!Beautiful evening and retreat to the pub to sample the Tribute and watch the guys poncing around in their blazers!

RBE DAY 8 – SAILING FROM COWES TO ANCHOR AT CHAPMANS POOL

9am arrived and Duncan headed off to the chandlers for a replacement shackle whilst I took advantage of a Sainsburys just around the corner from the marina to stock up on goodies to feed us all with.  I luckily saw Mike there – he came in for a bottle of water and ended up carrying all the shopping back to the boat – perfect!

Beautiful morning, lovely sunshine but less than a knot of wind – seems we either have too much wind, broken equipment or no wind – we will make it around Britain somehow!

Cowes
Its now 11am and with out boat fixed we headed out of the marina and went looking for wind.
One of the many craft in the Solent – but FRENCH!
Motoring along the Solent, avoiding other traffic and eventually passing by The Needles
The Needles looked so beautiful in the sunshine
Cap’in John!
Chris steers us safely away from The Needles
Tiger bread seems to have been a big hit with the crew and there lurked a left over baguette which I made up into French Bread Pizzas for lunch – yum!
John said he didn’t realise there was tiger bread left over – as he would “have been at it all night – the tiger bread that is”!  He is funny!
A lovely lesson this morning on management of “heads” (thats toilet not mental health by the way), at each head there is a holding tank which normally empty into the sea.  However, Chris and Pete’s head became blocked and the head was 75%full.  This meant it needed forcing out by dismantling the pipe from the vent outlet, attaching it to the bellows (are you following me so far?) and increasing the air pressure in the tank to force it out to sea – what a shit job!
Its now 2.30 in the afternoon and we have been sailing for an hour – managed to pick up some wind now we are out of shelter of the land and we are tacking, achieving just over 4 knots – speed over ground. We should make it round the coast of Britain in time for 2020 at this rate!
Beautiful afternoon and we are all enjoying the sunshine which is more than compensating for the lack of wind – a couple of hours with the sails up before we reverted to motor power.  The beautiful Dorset coast came into view – Jurassic Coast and we planned to anchor for the night.

The beautiful Dorset coastline
Chapmans Pool

Duncan brought us to a superb spot when we dropped anchor at Chapmans Pool, just round the corner from St Albans Head.  What a beautiful spot to spend the night!  G&T fixed for us all

I teach the module on fixing a perfect G&T 100% pass rate only accepted
and Pete set the crab line into the water – I ordered a large Tuna, but think I might be asking a bit too much from him.
Pete Multitasking – fishing and enjoying a G&T
 For dinner tonight I cooked Chicken enchiladas – made a huge pile with only a small portion left over – so another successful dinner!  Lovely to cook for appreciative stomachs!
Teaching never stops….
But always enjoyable – even the skipper smiles on occasions!
Time for some private study too
 Managed to take a look at my photos for the day and we decided that Mike looked like something from a Kay’s catalogue
Mike AKA Kay’s Catalogue Man
 Settled down to sleep by 11 – its amazing how much the sea air makes you feel tired at the end of the day with or without a siesta along the way!
Speaking of which, John managed a pre-dinner snooze and I set up a photo opportunity for the baked bean hating man!  Did I mention he ate the sausage and bean casserole the other day?
Its now official – John loves baked beans!

John loves baked beans so much – he keeps them close whilst asleep!

RBE DAY 9 – SAILING FROM CHAPMANS POOL TO DARTMOUTH

Anchored overnight in a lovely little sheltered cove off the Dorset coast.
Anchoring Chapmans Pool at dusk
Anchorage secure but as the wind changed overnight, Duncan had to lay more chain to provide stability.  This was at 4am and I was blissfully unaware of this as I slept my way through the night having the best sleep so far.
Duncan had told us we only needed one crew member up to make an early start and as Pete was usually the first one to rise in the morning it was planned for him to join Duncan – we were all told we could have a lye in.  Why is it that when you know you can sleep late you are awake so early – it couldn’t be the fact that there was a 52 Hp engine right at the side of me roaring away.
A misty morning today and time seemed to pass by slowly.  Just before 10am I popped to my cabin to go to the loo, then sat on my bunk, then found myself lying down, then snuggling down under my duvet.  2 hours later I surfaced after a lovely deep sleep – I cant believe how much I’m sleeping!  The only reason I woke was because of the smell of cooking bacon reaching my olfactory bulb……John fixing bacon and egg sandwiches for all of us – what a little darling!
Interesting to learn about tidal races – important to know when passing headlands – particularly Bill of Portland

Bill of Portland
This really is a luxury trip – for I have my own hairdresser on board.  Chris, who has raised 3 girls asked if she could French plait my hair.  Look what a fab job she has done!
Duncan said I had to behave like a Princess now – Im not really sure what that entails – I’ve checked out the Sunday Times and see that Kate Middleton is having dinner in Los Angeles with Nicole Kidman and Tom Hanks – I really think I should be invited!
We are heading into Dartmouth tonight and Duncan has promised to take me into the Cherub- the oldest pub in Dartmouth dating from 1380 – it is the oldest building in Dartmouth too.  Im hoping we will meet more plonkers in blazers and cravats!

I’ve been spending time (when not sleeping) doing some serious study (honest!) and practicing my knots.  Apparently Im at “Competent Crew” level and will soon be issued with my first certificate, first of many in my collection!

Entering Dartmouth – beautiful!
Arrived in beautiful Dartmouth around 3.30 and we moored alongside a beautiful boat – so glad it wasnt me steering RBE into the little space with so many people watching and a very expensive boat to attach ourselves onto!  Soon will be though – tomorrow we are practising this very thing apparently.
I set straight to making dinner – a chilli this evening and everyone tells me they like it hot – so watch out!  Food prepared, it was then left to me to make G&T’s.  Unsure if John wanted one, he was on the telephone, I assumed it was his daughter so I shouted out “G&T darling?” he answered yes – turned out it was the Bishops PA he was on the phone to – good job thats all I shouted!
Darmouth seemed so busy during the afternoon, then everyone seemed to disappear as evening appeared.  We went to the Cherub
The Cherub
and enjoyed a couple of pints of real ale sitting on some interesting seats

They have the strangest seats in the Cherub – doesnt Duncan look comfy!
I was asked where I wanted to go next – I said somewhere thats not modern, with character and with characters in….it was a struggle and we ended up in the Castle Hotel.
Knackered once more, to bed at 11.30.  Got to have my wits about me tomorrow trying to park this boat…………

RBE DAY 10 – SAILING FROM DARTMOUTH TO BRIXHAM TO “JETTY BASH”!

Wow – Day 10 already – this trip is flying by.  Its 7.20 right now and Im sitting in my cabin with a cuppa.  Pete generally gets up around 6.45 and its difficult to sleep after you been disturbed – its hard to creep around on a boat and impossible to make a sneaky cuppa!
Sun is shining and it is difficult to believe the gale warning I heard yesterday on the VHF. We are planning to sail this morning to Brixham and practice “jetty bashing”! OMG!
One of the things I’ve been fearful of during this trip is parking this damn thing in marinas.  My old car is testimony to my poor skill in spatial awareness so mooring this 45 foot beast into a small space alongside other craft worth hundreds of thousands of pounds is indeed a challenge!  Wait and see – cameras will be at the ready!
Will update later!
Its now 9.30pm and it has been an interesting day indeed!  Went to Brixham as planned and was met by a gorgeous Nic Nak who took my stern line – bless!  Nice to see her and Stu again, (Nicky and Stuart White), I bought myself a lovely sailing book and it was then back to hard work.  However, Nic uttered the lovely words – “have you any washing you would like me to do – its no trouble”!!!  Much to the envy of the other crew, I stripped my bed and sorted her 2 loads to do (so grateful to you Nic)
Now back to “Pontoon Bashing” and Duncan put me on 1st turn.  Its amazing how a good skipper can make manoeuvring a boat look so easy, but really, it isnt, believe me!  However, with strict instructions from Duncan, our trusty skipper, I managed to berth RBE onto a pontoon (with only a little bump – sorry Neil and Keith!) and did it a 2nd time too!
It was Johns turn next

Just look at that concentration on his face!
Dunc says “Perfect” to John!
he managed it beautifully – Duncan actually uttered the words “perfect” – what a class swot!
How cool does she look!

Next on the helm was Chris and she was fab too!

RBE rafted along on the town jetty in Dartmouth
Brixham marina on a Wed morning is normally a quiet place but it soon seemed like a Saturday afternoon on a bank holiday weekend as every boat in the area seemed to arrive!  We soon lacked any space on the visitor pontoon to practice boat manoeuvres so we left and headed back to Dartmouth – without my washing!!!!
Practising berthing in Dartmouth was a trickier event altogether for this time there was tide to consider – AND crowds of tourists who enjoyed this free entertainment!  However, Mike did a fabulous job and brought the boat to the pontoon within inches without any lines (and just a touch of help from Duncan, or am I just being jealous?)
Alongside this, we were also learning how to lasso a line around a cleat on a pontoon – Duncan made this look so easy!
Mike tried it first, but it would be rude of me here to mention the fact that he let go of the whole rope turning the lasso into an unreachable pile of rope on the jetty!
My turn came and I managed to wrap it around a light at the end of the pontoon – something I couldnt possibly repeat even if requested!
Eventually finished at 4.15 and we brought the boat to our final mooring.  I then breathed a sigh of relief thinking I could rest – oh no!  We now had 90 mins of study as we needed to finish our “Diesel Engine Management Course”  I had to learn about cooling systems, alternators, fuel injection….so many more words to add to my vocabulary!  I am now learning how to check that a diesel engine is functioning well!  I might have to get this particular book out again.  However, if the engine fails – Im rather hoping I can do something about it rather than having to call a man to help out – fingers crossed girls!
During this lesson, I prepared food for dinner whilst studying diesel engines (multi-tasking at its best – thumbs up or down for feminism!)
Having finished that, I cadged a lift back to Brixham to pick my washing up from Nics.  All clean, dried and folded  - god bless you!
Back on the boat – finished dinner (Spaghetti Carbonara) and to a relaxing evening.
We now have 2 days off before starting our shore based courses – First Aid, RADAR, VHF, personal survival, day skipper theory which starts on Saturday.  I have so much studying to do – and somehow think these 2 days off will not be much of a rest!
The boat is moored right alongside the towns pontoon – just a step into the centre of Dartmouth.

View from our boat
Its a fabulous position as Dartmouth is a fascinating place to visit – but we are a bit of a tourist attraction here and a real attraction for the seagulls during meal times!
Time for my sleep now – I’ve missed out on my nap today……..goodnight x

DAY 11 RBE – REST DAY IN DARTMOUTH

Spent a lovely day moored up on the town jetty in the sunshine.  Had loads of exercise – walked to and from my cabin to use the loo and even managed the 100 yards to the local Coop to buy some bread!

I have, however, managed to do some studying and am on page 48 of the day skipper manual!  Wow – I have realised unfortunately, I have read the easy chapters (how to hold a fire extinguisher etc) and have now reached the part where it starts to become technical – gulp!
The sun has been shining all day and my tan is developing nicely.
The RBE is a bit Big Brotheresque – we have all been thrown together, having never met before and now in a very small living area and tensions easily rise but today has been a day of real bonding as some conflicts have been resolved – no further  comment!
I have grown a bit short of “one-pan recipes” in my head and resorted to the BBC Food website and made a chicken and vegetable casserole – made on the hob as the oven is too much of a challenge,.  I bought a lovely chicken which was on offer – and far too huge for the job and couldn’t work out how on earth it would fit in the pan.  I attacked it with a knife and managed to get it in – but no other ingredients would fit – so I had a brainwave and used 2 pans!  I didn’t go to University for nothing!
During the day a couple walked by and stood at the side of the boat smiling – they were delighted to find a boat “Round Britain Experience”  as they were crew 10 years ago!  I’ve taken their photo which I shall post here, and they came onboard and we talked for ages about their experience.  They invited us to meet up with them later.
Sonya and Jim who completed RBE 10 years ago
The town jetty really is in the heart of the town which has mixed blessings – view is fantastic but you do become the local tourist attraction!  Also – other craft are allowed to raft alongside (this is often the case) and we had loads of room around us until 3 this afternoon when 3 boats arrived in convoy – 2 mooring up ahead and one rafting alongside!  We now have about £2million worth of boat around us!   We passed lines onto our boat and secured the one alongside then asked them to put a shore line on – which they did with grace,  However – John was not satisfied with the way they had set their lines – and we rearranged it to our satisfaction!
Once the ferries stop running about 5pm boats are allowed to moor on the outside of the jetty, but have to leave by 8.30 next morning for the ferries to start up again.  This means we no longer have queues of day trippers alongside (bloody tourists!) but it does mean we meet some interesting characters and boats.  Alongside us was a lovely boat – an old trawler done up which served as a party boat for “Denise” (we joined in the chorus of “Happy Birthday” you see).  They consumed just a few bottles of Cava…..
Just some of the remaining empties as the party guests abandoned the boat!

We enjoyed the chicken casserole as the sun went down then decided to go and meet the couple mentioned earlier – Jim and Sonya were moored by Dartmouth Yacht club, so, armed with a couple bottles of wine and 5 glasses in our bag we went to view their boat.  We had a treat of an evening all squeezed into the cockpit of their boat – a  Trintella 29 (which meant nothing to me until I had seen it)  They kept us well entertained with their sailing tales and their experiences of doing the Round Britain Experience 10 years ago!  They are a lovely, interesting couple who clearly love one another and love being on their boat together and have a life time of adventure ahead of them!  They maintain a blog if you want to check it out - http://www.sailfettler.blogspot.com/

All good fettlers together!
 The’ve sailed from Edinburgh – having have given up their jobs and are sailing to Brazil where they are planning to live for a couple of years!  Thanks for the Glenfiddich Jim!
The spot where they were moored gave us fabulous view to the entrance of Dartmouth out to sea and it looked so beautiful as the moon was rising

Beautiful view of dusk on the River Dart
Back on the boat past midnight – there is a party going on nearby at a gorgeous yacht which moored earlier
A boat used to train teenagers how to sail, and apparently, how to party til 2am!
……….its now 1am,  RoBE is now happy in his new bed
RoBE is happy in his new place
 - goodnight!

DAY 12 – ANOTHER REST DAY IN DARTMOUTH!

 Good morning Britain!
Awoke at 8.30 and started updating blogWith the internet connection I have, it takes ages to upload photos (about 10-15 mins for each photo sometimes), so I was really pleased with myself to discover a new way of adding photos at much better speed!It initially worked really well, and the blog looked great so I was encouraged to continue.  I spent the whole morning (3 hours) continuing and have now discovered that  none of my newly added photos will load when the blog is opened!  What have I done!
However, I have now wasted so much time and my sailing studies have been ignored – I’m now re-prioritising!Weather not so good today, much colder and a chill breeze so Im on lockdown in my cabin and getting my books out!I will look for somewhere with better internet connection to upload photos later – but fear Dartmouth may be far too posh for a McDonald or Starbucks store!Be patient while I try to rectify this…….bloody computers!

Its now tomorrow…….couldnt face doing this blog again after what happened!  So upset – never mind – onwards and upwards – photos to be added later!

The boat was Round Britain Experience University today!  A hive of activity and study.  Chris lost her phone last night so went into Paignton today to get a replacement, so she avoided most of the “angst”  I locked myself into my cabin as I couldnt bear to hear about all their calculations of tidal curves, secondary ports from Pete and John.  You see, I havent reached that part of the manual, and still getting to grips with port and starboard tacks so it just added to my feeling of inadequacy   So, i-pod in ears and doors firmly closed I continued my own personal study – getting no where fast!

Excellent students at work
A good example for yacht master studies
Chris finds a nice quiet spot!
Of course – no photos of me studying so you will just have to take my word for it!At 4pm I really had enough, and thought it was about time I got dressed (honest!) so I took a shower – to find the pump is not emptying it – so the majority of my shower involved use of the sink – finishing with a mop and bucket to clear up afterwards – is it Fri 13th today?All redeemed at dinner as my new BBC One Pot Cooking Google search proved fruitful as the Sausage and Lentil One Pot I concocted was delicious – served with lashings of mashed potatoes.  Our rich neighbours were having steak and they sniggered a little when I told them we were having sausage and mash – but what they didnt know was our sausages were in a red wine sauce – ha!Dinner finished, study ignored, we made our way to the Dartmouth Arms to join our new friends Sonya and Jim as they had 2 new friends join them.

I sat next to a lovely family from Holland who were leaving for London and gave them tourist advise – with text consultation from my guide down there – Francesca!

Next I sat by Paul – friend of Sonya and Jim who had just arrived having sailed from Edinburgh via the West route.  His eyes were blood shot – I wasnt sure if it was the Doombar he was drinking or the fact he didnt sleep last night as his boat “was in pain in Loo”  Strange these sailors!  He explained what that meant, but Im not going to tell you here as I think you will have more fun without the facts thinking about that one!

I told him how I was trying to block out Pete and John’s chat about tidal curves as I’ve not got to that bit yet – and he said – “I’ll tell you what you need to learn” and as anticipated, he reached into his pocket for his i-phone as it has an ap which does instant calculations of this for you.  I said “I dont think that will cut the mustard with the examiner in my Yacht Master exam, he told me that I will have to be firrm and tell them “there is nothing wrong with using a f***kin i-phone……….I will remember that one!

A couple of pints of Doombar later we returned to the boat and I crashed out ready for study tomorrow…….First Aid!

RBE DAY 13 FIRST AID COURSE

Good morning! A dreary one today!  Not to worry, I was up today at 6.30 and started making a packed lunch for everyone – for we are off to school today!
We are being picked up at 8.30 the other side of the Dart to be taken to Brixham – to learn First Aid!  Mike seems a little excited by this and thinks he is going to receive the Kiss of Life – even more excited when I said it will involve Annie………a woman with a head and part of a torso!Its Pete’s birthday today – he has said he would much rather forget it altogether, so we have promised to only remind him of it hourly!We have a table booked tonight in the new Tapas just along from the boat so we are all looking forward to that – as well as the completion of another course.  First Aid will come in useful after the hazards of Diesel Engine Management!Catch you later!

Its now 5.45 and the first aid course is complete!  It was fabulous fun – and we all learned so much
Ready, steady, roll!
Our turn now
Our wonderful tutor Tracey
Pete saves another life!

We all had great experience of performing CPR.   Mike was particularly looking forward to the artificial respiration (mouth to mouth) and looked terribly disappointed when plastic heads and torsos came out (I did warn you Mike!)

Mike gets to grip with the torso
Then he makes his move
Not quite what he was expecting, but he performed the mouth to mouth beautifully!
We practiced bandages, and triangular supports and some of us got quite carried away indeed!
We all enjoyed tying one another up with bandages!
Look at my fine work – all he did was nick his little finger – overkill?
A fine job Chris!
Mike looks a little nervous as John bandages him!We throughly enjoyed the course and now feel better prepared if there should be a medical problem.  It was assumed that my midwifery training and experience would mean I wouldnt have to do the first aid course – but unless anyone on the boat is in labour or havin a postpartum haemorrhage, I really felt the need to do it.  Caring for someone with an electric shock out on the ocean really wasnt part of any module I completed!
Picked up by Neil after the course to be taken back out our boat – he took us to Churston Manor on the way back – fabulous place!
Chruston Manor
The RBE team!
 Pete’s birthday as I have mentioned and we have a meal booked at the new tapas in Dartmouth and we are all starving hungry after our day of studying (although I did make everyone a packed lunch for the day at 6.30 this morning!
Strangest thing, on the ferry from Kingswear to Dartmouth – some very strange blue men appeared……..
Strange blue men in Dartmouth – with Papa Smurf!
Typical dress in Dartmouth – honestly!
Lovely to get back to the boat – even more money moored around us now……..
Enjoyed the evening – treated to the meal by the birthday boy – thanks so much Pete!  Really generous.
Happy Birthday Pete
 Back to the cherub to find Jim, Sonya and friends there enjoying the beer there.  So embarrassing to find they then looked up my blog on their i-phones to read what I had written about them yesterday.  Paul their friend had no memory of talking with me yesterday – but asked how he could make comments on my blog.  He was told he could do that – but somehow I seem to be having problems with people uploading comments on here – I have a few, but some do not seem to be coming out – I rather hope this will be the case with him – sorry Paul!
We thought Dartmouth was a very affluent and refined place to be – however, on our way back to the boat we passed by a man who had just been attacked by another man, who was in turn being pined onto the floor by 2 other men with lots of drunk bystanders.  Having completed this first aid course – I was a little upset to find someone with a head injury, AND bleeding was standing up – that was one of the first moves to make with someone in this position – however, I did absolutely nothing as this extensive training taught me to evaluate the danger to myself first…..!
Mike and Pete now wandering back to the boat both speaking with strange accents like country bumpkins from Shropshire – thats their aim – but I think they have their counties wrong as they sound more like Somerset or Dorset!
Sleeping at night, can hear the locals bashing their way at the windows of the nearby cafe – we are far too posh for this place!  Goodnight!

RBE DAY 14 – SAILING FROM DARTMOUTH TO BRIXHAM

We now have a berth in Brixham for the rest of our study week before we commence leg 2 of RBE.
A gentle start following our night on the tiles in Dartmouth before a skipper arrived to bring us round.  His name is “Tank” and his girlfriend Emma joined him.
We prepared the boat to leave and set sail whilst still on the Dart.  The weather was the best so far on the trip for sailing and we all learned so much on this short trip.  Tank has a lovely way of explaining things to us, and we all instantly warmed to him.  We caught about 22knots of wind (this is a windforce 5-6) which was fab and we managed really good speeds, each taking our turns at helming.
John enjoying sailing
Chris looked cool as she steered the boat
Our skipper for the day – Tank!
Arrived into Brixham and I immediately started fixing lunch – a cooked breakfast – large quantities of sausage, bacon, mushrooms, beans and scrambled eggs and fresh crusty bread – just about managed to take a photo before the food was instantly eaten!
Sunday morning cooked breakfast at 1.30pm – perfect!
 I find I am so tired during this trip and let everyone wash up (the beauty of being the chef!) whilst I went to my cabin and passed out for a couple of hours.
Im now in the office of South West Marine Training using their internet connection which is great – and how I have managed to catch up with adding photos to all my other blogs!Update – Its now 11pm and Im tucked up cosy in my cabin.  I cooked 2 gammon joints in a large pan with loads of veg and lentils – then removed the gammon and finished them off in the oven with a honey and mustard sauce.  We filled our bellies, and there is lots left for lunch tomorrow – great winter warming food – its really windy and rainy outside and feels more like November than July.
We are grateful for the fact that this poor weather has coincided with our shorebased studies.  Tomorrow we learn RADAR, Tuesday VHF, Wed Personal Survival and finish the week with day skipper shore based studies before heading out on Saturday with our new skipper – Fred – and head to the Scilly Isles where Im certain the sun will be shining!Goodnight!

RBE DAY 15 – RADAR COURSE

Its now 5.30 and my brain is aching!  have just completed the RADAR course with Neil Penman at South West Marine Training, and my head hurts!  Back to school time, learning facts and figures, plotting positions on maps and doing MATHS (Mychelle, was thinking of you today!)
This is the 1st day that I haven’t taken any photographs as it has just been pure study.  However, it is something I am going to take back to the boat with me and work on further – Im told I could get asked about it during my yacht master exam – and something which may well prove useful to use with poor visibility.  Its nothing like the old movies I used to watch with the machine that goes “blip” …… “blip” …… “blip” and there is an obvious ship!  It is far more about mathematics and physics and is definitely something to work on and have to dig deep into my brain cells.  It does mean I get to play with another gadget which always pleases me!
I’ve spent the first 2 weeks of this trip as quartermaster – but now my time is over and I have handed the wooden spoon and ladle to Chris and Pete who are going to work on it together – slight cheat of course, but I did have John as my Sous-Chef, always around as soon as I started to cook, chopping, slicing, stirring and washing up – Im looking forward to being his assistant too.
Course has now finished and Chris and Pete are heading into town to buy provisions for the week and Im looking forward to eating someone else’s cooking!
Time to go and get a cuppa and rest my aching head!
Updated -
Well, clearly, it wasn’t just me feeling the ache of the head from all this studying……walking past the lounge area at the entrance of Brixham marina- I spotted Mike and John!!
John is worn out after studying RADAR
Back onto the boat, just in time for supper – shopped for and cooked by Chris and Pete – what a treat – all the foods I love, crusty bread, cheeses, salads, humous, coleslaw AND stilton, digestives, butter and red wine!  Heaven!
We enjoyed a lovely evening when suddenly, some of the lights went off on the boat, then we smelt smoke.  Straight into action, I lept up and grabbed a fire extinguisher and a wet tea towel (!!)  the smoke came from Johns cabin and one of his LED lights had burnt out.
Oh dear!
This will now make us much more safety conscious – we all made sure we thought of our escape plans should an emergency ensue and avoid cluttering cupboards which contained the fire extinguishers with a knowledge of where they all were.  So good of South West Marine Training to set up this mini-emergency at 10pm to get us all thinking about fire safety on a yacht!
Exhausted, and the smell of smoke still in my nostrils I went to bed and had the best night sleep so far – it must be all this study and excitement!

RBE DAY 16 – VHF COURSE

Yet another course today!  We were really hoping this one would be easier on the brain than RADAR yesterday!
Oh yes it was indeed, no offence to Neil yesterday, but this one was much funnier.Lots of technical detail to get through, and lots of practice.

Duncan supervises Peter and Chris
John loves playing with gadgets!
Mike sounded really masterful on the VHF

I hadnt realised we needed to have a biology lesson – because apparently, people are in doubt where their mouths and ears are!   Duncan drew a technical diagram outlining anatomy for us -

Apparently, your mouth is south of your nose!

However, there was still some confusion!

“Are you receiving me? Over”  Hardly!
“Look behind you John”!!
A Script for a Mayday call -
“Mayday, Mayday, Mayday,
This is sailing yacht Round Britain Experience, Round Britain Experience, Round Britain Experience,
Mayday Round Britain Experience,
Our position is a little bit tricky,
So sorry to bother you, really dont want to disturb you but we are having a bit of a problem with our engine which is a little bit on fire,
Would you mind terribly giving us some help, when ever you can make it, immediate would be ever so kind of you, but we dont want to be a nusiance
Over, and thank you once again!”
FANTASTIC!
Well – we all passed, despite the confusion over bodily parts (John would like me to point out here that he was not the only one who did this!  In fairness to him, I do remember when I first used a mobile phone, couldnt hear anything and had one of my children turn it the right way round!  One comment I would just like to make here was the feedback Duncan gave to John when he finished, saying “that was the most polite Mayday I have ever heard”
We are all about to return to the boat and there is talk of fixing a G&T…….mmmmmmm.  Chris was up first thing to visit the fish market (she is taking this catering business far more seriously than me!) and there is fish pie for dinner – Im going to love being cooked for!

RBE DAY 17 – PERSONAL SURVIVAL COURSE

Still in school – this time – Personal Survival.  The morning was spent in the classroom learning about how to prepare ready for an emergency in the boat, what to take with us in the event of an emergency (I couldnt see “lipstick” on the list!), use of flares etc etc.
We are being taken to a pool later to practice getting into a liferaft.
Again on this course, we were joined by others doing the course for a variety of reasons – anti-pirate security on boats on the coast of Somalia, a guy working out on windfarms and another working on the passenger ferries on Scilly Isles – he has promised to wave to us when we sail by next week!
One of the main messages of the day was only abandon your boat when absolutely necessary – so you “step up, not down” into the life raft.  Its only when you practice using one that you fully understand this message.
Mike set up the liferaft
and first up was Chris who joined a group of exe-marines – they wore survival suits and Chris was given leisure wear and a lifejacket.  She did really well in the water with these fit, testosterone filled guys!
One tried to compete with Mikes role as “Littlewoods Catalogue Man” but it was hard to cut it in a bright red suit!
They practiced swimming in their gear,
then took it in turns to get into the raft before they entered it as a group.  We then became the weather – I was the rain – just to make it realistic!
I joined the next group and we only had one exe-marine in this one.  Mike and I wore the survival suits, as we will gain a different certificate which covers people working commercially (keeping our options open at this point).  They are one size only, and the crotch came down to my knees!
“Does My Bum Look Big In This”  Oh yes it did!
I struggled to get into the raft – it had partially deflated due to the fact it had already been used by the other group, and the “wind” was particularly excessive, and my lovely red suit, complete with hugely oversized integral gloves, meant I couldnt get hold of the lines to help bring myself up.  A little shove from Duncan did the trick.  We then had to enter as a group – and I was the last one to get into the raft, and soon regretted my enthusiasm with the rain which I had managed to squirt into the raft  with the previous group.  The “Marine” got a little carried away, and having seen my poor effort getting into the raft previously took hold of me and yanked me straight into the raft, headfirst into the pool of water – for a couple of seconds I thought I was going to drown – in a liferaft!
The other group then performed “the weather” for us with just a touch of retaliation!
Yep – I can now understand that you would only want to get into a life raft as a last resort when your boat is either on fire or at its last stages of sinking!
South West Marine Training really do well with their education and then put on a display of lifeboat rescue for us…..
Only joking, we are lucky to be in Brixham during Torbay Lifeboat Week with a programme of activities.  It started with a parachute display,
then a display showing different rescue situations with the RNLI – fabulous!

RBE DAY 18 – DAY OFF

Thank goodness its a day off today.  At 2 this morning I woke feeling very ill – a touch of food poisoning.  This is the first time that I wished I was back home.  Trying to vomit quietly on a boat isnt easy I can assure you – I was just grateful for the fact that we weren’t out at sea today.   I was ill until 6am, then fell fast asleep exhausted!
I really would have liked to have stayed in bed for the day – but we had a date with a fabulous boat at 9.30 and it was something I wasnt going to miss out on!
Kevin (the RNLI navigator) gave us a fabulous talk and tour of the lifeboat and the work of the RNLI.  It costs £400,000 to run the RNLI – I tried to guess how much it would be and guessed 30K – a little out don’t you think!!
We couldnt help but be impressed with the boat, and the work of these brave men as they work to save lives on our seas.  We were taken to the “Survivors area” and the engine room.
I then headed into town to get some ID photos – needed for my VHF licence and, eventually, my yacht master qualification!  Mike joined me and we ended up in Wetherspoons for lunch.  The perfect recovery from food poisoning – a Wetherspoons lunch!  We then went to the Prince William for a pint of Tribute
Lack of sleep and a lunch time beer meant there was only one place to be – in my cabin for a snooze.
I woke to hear Pete and John busy studying again and comparing answers, but that was clearly exhausting for John……..
Chris is busy cooking dinner – lovely chicken with rosemary nicked, sorry, picked locally – gorgeous Chris!
We meet up with Fred tomorrow – he is joining us on the boat and doing some tuition and preparation in readiness to start the next leg.  Im ready to get going and looking forward to the next part of the adventure.  The Scilly Isles are beckoning……
Nearing the time we start our 2nd leg of RBE which will culminate in 2 weeks time in Bangor, N. Ireland taking in Scilly Isles, maybe Padstow, certainly some of E coast of Ireland, maybe Isle of Man, and Im pushing for us to pop over to the Menai Straits – but I might be losing the Welsh vote there!Lovely day of theory with our new skipper for this leg – Fred Farmer – and we are making an “F Plan” to deal with this colourful character!

Day 20 – start of 2nd Leg

Wing Walkers Last Night

Wing Walkers

How lucky are we! Fabulous weather for the start of the 2nd leg of Round Britain Experience

A beautiful morning in Brixham Marina

A landing craft arrives in Brixham!

Finally departed at 1pm with a send off by Neil and Duncan.  Felt like we would never get away at one point, but at least all the heads are now fully functioning

Headed out of Brixham, around Berry Head (with the highest and shortest lighthouse) and made our way towards Plymouth – only 1-2 knots of wind, and right on our nose – no sailing for us just yet.

We motored along and eventually caught some wind about 15.15 so we set the sails, turned the engine off – what a beautiful sound that is!

Start point looked beautiful in the sunshine

 

Start Point

 

Not feeling particularly well today, got a sore throat and a headache – so I headed to bed.  As we were sailing we were heeled over (another new term!) and RoBE, on his little shelf in my cabin fell off and lept into my arms – maybe he really is alive and needed a cuddle!  I was more than happy to oblige!

 

RoBE jumps into my arms for a cuddle!

 

We neared Plymouth around 7 and we started motoring – this meant the boat was now level and Chris could get herself going in the galley and make her gorgeous lasagne – yum!

John made me his famous honey and lemon drink as I now feel a bit poorly – nice to have someone to pamper me!  Thanks John!

John's loving remedy for my poorly throat - thanks John!

Made it into Cawsand to anchor up around 9pm just in time for dinner!

We have enjoyed our first day with FFFFFFred who has been regaling us with his stories and increasing our vocabulary enormously with words I couldn’t possibly publish here

Off to dinner now – goodnight!

RBE Day 21 – Cawsand to Falmouth

RBE Day 21 – Cawsand to Falmouth

Beautiful part of the world to anchor up to – we all settled down to sleep when the fireworks from Cawsand Beach started.  I felt poorly, but my curiosity became too much so I emerged from my cabin to take a peek – whilst the other 5 (not poorly) were too lazy to emerge from their pits!  They were right too, as the firework display was a bit of a “garden display” with lots of noise and very little light.  Back to my cabin to feel sorry for myself.

 

Morning soon came and we emerged gently one by one to a dull morning.

 

Cawsand

(Photo to be inserted here when I get decent internet connection – watch this space…..)

 

We set off, passed by the Red Buoy and started to practice Man Overboard techniques.  Oh my – I need to ensure Im not going to go over the side with this one!  It seemed easy to do on a calm day with very little wind and flat seas and I can only imagine how it must be if someone goes into the water in a storm!  I think it is something we need to practice time and time over!  However, later today we were to experience our own MoB……..watch this space!

 

Once past the headland we set sails and headed towards Falmouth.  Fred continued to share with us his tales of his many sailing trips and we realised that out destination was just the right place for him “Foulmouth”  Sorry Fred!

 

Feeling unwell, I crept into my cabin and stayed there to nurse my poorly throat (for I have tonsillbloodyitis!) for 4 hours.  John administered me several mugs of honey and lemon drink which was so soothing – but I think it was the loving care he put into the drink which did the trick more than the ingredients to be honest!

 

Cawsand marks the boundary (apparently!) between Devon and Cornwall which looked beautiful regardless of the politics, and we neared Falmouth – unfortunately needing to motor most of the way due to lack of wind.

 

(Photo to be inserted here when I get decent internet connection – watch this space…..)

 

We motored into Falmouth Marina and were warned by the harbour master that a cruise liner was coming out so we made to stay well starboard to keep out of the way.

 

(Photo to be inserted here when I get decent internet connection – watch this space…..)

 

We were asked to raft alongside a boat called “Prodigy”  Chris and John waited with their lines ready to step across and secure RBE – but hesitated just a tad long – as they couldnt find any cleats – for Prodigy was a racing boat and had blocks and pulleys instead which totally threw us!

 

Anyway – a lovely muscular man returned to his boat and took our stern line and secured it and we managed to raft alongside.  We secured our springs and shore lines and started to relax……that was until we realised Mike had made his way off – and jumped onto the pontoon from Prodigy and lost his footing – and landed into the water MoB without any of us knowing!  Thank god he is fit and didnt hit his head on the way in – and managed to get his way out of the water safely – but his camera isnt so lucky!

 

Prodigy is full of guys from various countries who seem to be having a good time!

 

(Photo to be inserted here when I get decent internet connection – watch this space…..)

 

Time to go to the pub – “The Chain Locker” full of character and decent beer and I am almost forgetting that my throat is hurting as I try the local brew!

 

(Photo to be inserted here when I get decent internet connection – watch this space…..)

Another lovely evening spent with the crew of RBE and our new skipper FFFFFred!

RBE Day 22 – Falmouth to Scilly Isles

Had a lovely meal in the pub – “The Chain Locker” in Falmouth along with a couple of pints of Doom Bar – lovely stuff!!

Woke this morning to find my throat has eased a little and I feel a bit more myself which is great as one journeys I’ve been looking forward to is that to the Scilly Isles!  The forecast is Northerly 2/3 but we should pick up sufficient wind to get a good sail.  Its 8am now Mike is in the launderette trying to rinse out and dry his jacket after his little dip yesterday.  Meanwhile Pete is cooking up a big fry up which will set us up nicely for the journey!

Blog to be updated when we arrive in Scilly Isles late tonight or tomorrow……….

Its now nearly midnight and we are moored onto a buoy off the Scilly Isles – I can hear the splashing of the sea on the side of the boat, the regular sounds from the local lighthouse and a cacophony of snores from all quarters of the boat!

Its been a long journey from Falmouth, fueling at 9 this morning in terms of a lovely cooked breakfast made by Pete, then filling the boat with diesel finally arriving 10 hours later at the Scilly Isles.

Fred asked us to take it in turns to be “Skipper for the Day” and John took first turns – planning our passage and ensuring our journey was safe and enjoyable.  He was a fabulous skipper, ensured everyone was OK, and that we took turns at helming and that we were all comfortable and well.  A little disappointing though John, if you dont mind me saying, that with your close connections to the important guy up above, that you didnt organise a bit of sunshine and some wind in the right direction! Please pray a little harder!

Again we found ourselves having to motor the whole journey as the little wind we did have was right on our nose!  We did however, manage to put our RADAR training to some use as we navigated through part of the journey in fog.

Interesting to journey so far without land in sight and having to rely on the feel of the boat and the instruments to direct without having a landmark.  We reached Wolf Rock and looked like a bunch of Japanese tourists as we reached for our cameras to photograph the one exciting landmark!

Photo to be inserted here when receive better internet connection so watch this space…..

We were very pleased to finally see the Scilly Isles come into view and as we did we spotted Dolphins in the distance.  Eventually, a curious little one popped onto our starboard bow for a little nosey which made my day!

The light was very ethereal as we approached the Scillys and I cant wait to explore them further.

Photo to be inserted here when receive better internet connection so watch this space…..

Lovely to finally moor off and relax with a G&T all round

Photo to be inserted here when receive better internet connection so watch this space…..

Chris has been busy preparing another gorgeous meal – this one was so lovely I even photographed it

Photo to be inserted here when receive better internet connection so watch this space…..

A meal I would have been happy to receive in a restaurant – fresh cod caught in the early hours off Falmouth this morning cooked with loads of lemons, bacon, green beans, pine nuts and served with boiled new potatoes – absolutely scrummy!

Finished eating this and Fred taught us more on passage planning and suggested to Mike and I that we might like to do our Day Skipper exam tomorrow – we both shook our heads……….

Goodnight!

RBE Day 23 – Rest Day In Scilly Isles and late departure to Milford Haven

RBE Day 23 – Rest Day In Scilly Isles and late departure to Milford Haven

 

Woken this morning to a fabulous view of the Scilly Isles – absolutely beautiful.  We were all a little split between wanting to spend more time in the Scilly’s balanced with the desire to move forward with our namesake – and get around Britain – so a compromise was reached by Fred who suggested we spend the day on the Scilly’s then make a night passage.  The wind is against us heading straight towards Ireland as it would be right on our nose with little chance of getting the sails up – so, much against Fred’s desire to visit the place – we are heading to Wales!

 

Pootled into New Grimsby Quay on the tender

Photo to be inserted here when receive better internet connection so watch this space…..(tender)

and set about exploring Tresco.

Photo to be inserted here when receive better internet connection so watch this space….. (map Tresco)

A beautiful place, quiet and quaint, it felt like we were abroad – like a tropical paradise in British waters – we headed to Abbey Gardens.  The flowers were absolutely beautiful – everywhere to be seen

Photo to be inserted here when receive better internet connection so watch this space….. (flowers)

As we neared the gardens we were warned about our behaviour

Photo to be inserted here when receive better internet connection so watch this space….. (sign)

It actually reads part way through “to abstain from picking flowers of scribbling nonsense and committing such like small nuisances”  Early ASBO’s!

Havin reached the gardens, we found it was a £10 admission charge and after some consideration, realised that was 3 pints and we really ought to be sensible and go for a for lunch instead at the same cost.  We took a beautiful walk along the coastline – the sun came out and we really did feel like we were in a tropical paradise

Photo to be inserted here when receive better internet connection so watch this space…..(beach/water etc)

We finished walking and found the pub and enjoyed a well earned shandy and lunch.  The mist rolled in from the sea and we decided to return to RBE

Photo to be inserted here when receive better internet connection so watch this space…..(RBE)

Back to the boat at 3.30 and time for a cuppa.  I headed to my cabin now as we have had such an exhausting day (!) and we are sailing through the night, leaving after dinner – however, at 5.20, I was awaken from my snooze to hear the engine being started and the sails being set – the sun had come out and Fred had decided it was time to leave.

He was absolutely right and we had a beautiful sail from the Scillys

Photo to be inserted here when receive better internet connection so watch this space…..(Scillys in the sun)

which was made even more special by being joined by dolphins – who were a little camera shy – but I did manage to snap one quickly just to prove they were there – look hard!

Photo to be inserted here when receive better internet connection so watch this space…..(dolphins)

Chris was busy cooking and delighted us with yet another cracking meal – chicken a’la greque (I made that name up but it was chicken in breadcrumby thingie served with mashed potatoes and brocolli)  I really did think I might lose weight on this trip – but I fear it might be the opposite!

The sunset was stunning

Photo to be inserted here when receive better internet connection so watch this space…..(sunset)

and we began the night watches at 10 – starting with Mike and John, next up at midnight is Chris and Pete followed by Fred and I at 2 – I know the 2 hours will fly when Im with Fred as he still has a number of stories in his repertoire that he has left to share!

Its now 22.40 – Im snuggled in bed with the waves lapping against the boat – we are making a lovely passage towards Wales at 4.5 to 5 knots on a constant port tack – time to sleep………


RBE Day 24 – Night sail from Scilly Isles and to Milford Haven

Its 4.30am and I have just finished my watch which started at 2am – I feel as high as a kite as I have just had a beautiful sail!

I woke naturally at 1.50 and was ready to take over my watch at 2 – Chris had a brew waiting for me.  I emerged into the cockpit and asked who had switched the stars on – magnificent!  Could just make out a smattering of lights on the land in the far distance – the North Cornwall coast, there was no moon and the stars were brilliant!  Orion’s Belt was clearly seen – only of only a few instances in my life where I have been in a position with such little light pollution to be able to see it clearly – then the moon started to rise.  Fred took over the helm for a few minutes while I tried to photograph it

Photo to be inserted here when receive better internet connection so watch this space…..(moon rising)

Not a fantastic photo – but it is a reminder for me at least!  I took back the helm and gave Fred a few lessons in sailing.  He made us another brew and I kept him entertained with my stories for a change…..he is an attentive listener and laughs in all the right places!

Shortly before our watch finished I thought I could hear Dolphin breaking the surface, thought I’d imagined it – but no – suddenly had several dolphin swimming along with me – I had a big beaming smile on my face – it was 3.45am, Im out at sea with a new moon shining over the water, the sails full of wind and dolphin to keep me company – the world is a very lovely place sometimes!  Time for sleep before my next watch at 8am – bye!

9pm – Croseo y Gymru!

Arrived in Milford Haven – 24 hours after leaving Scilly Isles – we are all in fine fettle and have really enjoyed the sail. Moored up near Milford Haven in a place called Dale – took the tender to the shore and enjoyed the facilities at the local yacht club.

Photo to be inserted here when receive better internet connection so watch this space…..(Milford haven)

We all enjoyed the nights sailing, but there were a few interesting moments during handover of the helm and the dolphins were fooled when we managed a 360 degree turn!  We are each working as “skipper for the day” and for this mega journey it is Mike who did a fab job indeed!

Our friends – the dolphins joined us on many occasions during the journey – and I tried my best to photograph them along the way – didnt manage “the one” but at least the fact that we saw them!

As we entered Dale – I played an album called “Voices of the Valleys” – Mvanwy, Sospan Fach, Men of Harlech and the National Anthem.  Fred has asked for me not to mention this fact as his friends (if he indeed has any) would not speak to him!

Photo to be inserted here when receive better internet connection so watch this space…..(dale)

Now enjoying a pint in the yacht club and losing the debate about sailing up the Welsh instead of the Irish coast!

We are heading to Ireland tomorrow so my posts might be sporadic as Vodaphone will charge me loads on my dongle to connect – so see you very soon……..

Day 25 – Milford Haven to Kilmore Quay, Ireland

Spent a lovely evening at the yacht club. Fabulous value in Wales – we moored for free, and could use the facilities of the club as long as we put some money across the bar!  I made full use of this by taking my camera battery and laptop charger with me and using their electricity too.  We enjoyed the local brew – Rhymney, which Fred insisting on ordering calling it Rimmer!

Lovely nights sleep – fresh bedding and a shower – one of the wonders of the world indeed!

Received a lovely text in the middle of the night from a fabulous midwife called Sue – Hiya Sue!  Not sure if you know this, but I used to manage a birth centre in Birmingham called “Serenity” which delivered excellent care to the women in the Midlands.  Sue caught the thousandth baby there last night!  Congratulations Serenity.

Anyway – a dull day today and we need to set sail shortly to Ireland and Im the skipper!  Now where is Ireland??????

Its now 11am and we are on our way to Ireland!  I have planned a passage, ensured all the crew are well and we are now awaiting an improvement in the wind factor!

I have made my first VHF broadcast!  I was a little nervous as I I radioed Milford Haven Coast Guard with routine traffic information – letting them know we are en route to Kilmore and the time of our ETA. The crew, realising of course, my skill for talking, thought I would have no problem at all!

I had it all scripted, read it aloud carefully

“Milford Haven Coastguard, this is yacht Round Britain Experience, we have just departed Milford Haven on a route to Kilmore Quay, Ireland, we have 6 people on board and our ETA is approximately 19.00 this evening, Over”

I was all ready for them to ask me to spell “Round Britain Experience” by ensuring I knew all the letters for it in the Phonetic Alphabet, but he then threw me by asking me something as basic as “please describe your boat”!  It was on my lips to say “its bloody beautiful, with these gorgeous sail thingies on the top, lovely cabins and a fabulous galley, and we’ve even got a TV with a DVD player……but all he wanted to know was it was a white sailing yacht 45ft…… Phew – my 1st VHF out of the way!

Its quite moist outside – that wet rain, everyone moaning about Welsh weather – ahead for some Irish rain!

Its now 7pm and we are approaching our destination in Ireland and looking back – its sunny over Wales!  Its been an interesting passage – the weather forecast said it would be a force 3 rising to a force 4 so imagine my surprise whilst I was on the helm around 1pm when, with the boat heeled over, I called to Fred a feeble “help” the wind had risen to a 5/6 and I was having a little fight with our little yacht!

Fabulous experience for us all as we each took in turn to helm,

 

 

Us girls look gorgeous when its wet and windy!

 

John holds on tightly!

 

Then he prays!

 

Can you see how white Mike’s knuckles are!

 

Fred loves to sail


Gorgeous!

 

A dolphin sighting!

adjusting the sails when needed, reefing in when necessary and learning how to move around the boat at such an obtuse angle!  I am mastering the use of the head – pumping it out at the same time as filling it…..no further details needed I think.

Mike and I made use of time to continue our studies……..

We are studying very hard towards our sailing qualifications!

Well, as we are nearing Ireland, got some lovely Irish music playing and Im quietly proud of my first effort as skipper!  Complete with fabulous passage planning, great care taken to ensure all the crew are well and bringing us across St Georges Channel safely.  However……. just a tiny teeny weeny incy bitsy little mistake made in my planning – as I looked at the chart for Milford Haven tides instead of Dover when considering my tidal curves (please tell me if this is getting too technical for you!) This is a classic and very silly error which made quite a difference in our approach to Ireland when the boat was being pushed from completely the opposite direction from where I had planned.  Ahem, ahem, sorry guys!  Fred has given me a good beating and told me not to be a naughty girl again!

Anyway – Pete is busy in the galley – the first time a man has prepared a meal onboard so far – he is doing his signature dish – cottage pie.  It smells good and certainly seems to have got the smoke alarms going!

Time to go now – got to finish off my skippering duties as we bring the boat into Kilmore Quay!

Kids feeding seals at Kilmore Quay

Its now 10pm – the meal Pete made was fabulous – catering on this boat is better than a cruise liner! AND we all get to sit at the captains table each night!

We are sitting in the pub, (well, hotel, for the 2 pubs in the village have closed down) enjoying a pint of Guinness.  First time in Ireland for Chris and John, and it is has been said that it feels like we are abroad.  The main thing we notice is that everyone you pass says hello to you – not a bit like London.

As John sipped his first pint of Guinness he said as his lips a quivered, the words not quite coming out…..”tis like an angel, pissing on your tonsils!”  A FFFFredism ! Thanks for all the instruction Fred, you really have broadened our horizons!

Its been a long day, time for sleep – tomorrow we sail to Arklow – Im keeping internet usage to a minimum so keep watching for updates – goodnight!

Day 26 – Kilmore to Arklow

We have had a fabulous few days of sailing, but unlucky today, as there is very little breeze and it is “right on our nose”.  This means we had to motor most of the day to Arklow.  This part of Ireland is very flat, marshland, with very few hills.  There are however, lots of wind farms – wish they could export a little to us today.

Pete’s turn to skipper – he took this role very seriously, spent time meticulously planning his passage and ensuring everyone took their turns at the helm avoiding exhausting anyone at any point in time – even if it meant telling me to go straight to the helm as I emerged, bleary eyed from my cabin following a lovely little afternoon siesta as it was my turn!!

When we were taught about tidal streams, Fred said that it was very important that we looked at the tide times for the correct port for the tidal streams chart – if you are a sailor, you will know exactly what I am talking about, if not, just trust me, it is very important and very simple – mostly, it means looking at the times for Dover – even in Ireland (strange I know, but just something us mariners have to accept!).   He also said, that although this is important, yet simple, it is a classic mistake people make!

You may remember I mentioned in yesterdays blog my teeny weeny little mistake – well it was this!  I looked at the times for Milford Haven rather than Dover.  I felt a bit of a twit as I promised myself I wouldn’t do this classic mistake……yet I did – but will never do it again (well, not until next time!)  Guess who did exactly the same today – Fred however, alerted by me yesterday became immediately suspicious about Pete’s tidal stream timings and discovered he was using times for Cork………ahem ahem!  NEXT!

I felt quite relieved not skippering today, and as we were motoring rather than sailing, it was more comfortable on the boat as we weren’t heeled over – so I set about a bit of domestics and washed the tea towels………South West Marine Training did say that this trip was an experience of a lifetime…….

Washing all done!


Arrived in Arklow at 6.30pm


and looked for somewhere to moor up, it was a little tight and we had to moor along the quay on the wall – we discovered what the fender board we had been carrying was for.  Chris brought the boat in (with just a little help from Fred!) and when the call came, I bravely lept onto the quayside to secure the bow line.  We had a welcoming committee however -  a true Irish greeting.

Having secured the boat, I spotted an Aldi – this delighted Chris who wanted some chorizo to accompany our meal.  I volunteered to go, but soon found I had 3 of the guys who joined me – Chris also wanted potatoes – so it took 4 of us to head to a supermarket to purchase this.  However, with 4 of us to purchase only 2 items, this task grew a little and we came back to the boat with……chorizo, yes of course, yes, and of course potatoes….but also – tonic water, limes, 2 packets stilton, one packet brie, packet water biscuits, packet digestive biscuits, milk, brown sauce, bread, 6 bottles of wine, a case of beer and a bottle of port! Phew!

We had planned to head into town to sample Friday night in Arklow – it looked a bit dodgy so we decided we would need to lock the boat up if we left it.  However, during dinner, having consumed a fair portion of the items just purchased (hic!) we decided to all stay on board

 

Its a tough life on the RBE!

 

The RBE – “it may even change your life!”


John giggling!
Our skipper has taught us many things!

Fantastic meal – thanks once again Chris, its 11pm and we are leaving at 7am to head to Howth, Dublin – so its an early night for us at 23.00!

Day 27 – Arklow to Howth

This is the 2nd leg of the current RBE and these are our destinations so far!

Good morning everyone! Its 9am and we are well on our way to Dublin. Howth to be exact and we have had lots of discussion about its pronunciation!

There is a very strange entry in the log from last night Photo to be inserted here when I get better internet connection so watch this space (log photo)

This reads -

Log entry – “0400 Boarded by pirates but bravely repelled by skip”

Well, our decision to lock the boat if we headed into town last night was correct – for at 4am this morning, a guy decided to board our boat and take a little nosey into the open hatch. Fred shouted out in his most manly sounding voice to “go make jerky movements elsewhere matey” and he scarpered! Thanks Fred – you are a treasure!

Photo to be inserted here when I get better internet connection so watch this space (Fred on boat)

We were very lucky today, we caught a nice gentle South Easterly as well as beautiful sunshine – with no rush – we had a gorgeous sail to Howth – a lovely place just North of Dublin.

The coastline as we left Arklow just improved along the way and became quite stunning


Really enjoyed the sail. I’ve been taking lots of photos of everyone else,

so handed my camera to Fred and asked him to take some photos of me sailing – this is what he took -

So I asked him to take another!

Thats better Fred!

Great to be sailing in lovely weather We reached Howth, spotting some gorgeous properties along the way

Reached our destination in really good time so we made best use of time by practicing our Man Overboard skills – this time with a fender attached to a bucket which acts as a drogue (another new word I’ve recently learned!) It all makes complete sense, and Fred has made it look very easy. We were all quite relaxed about it, yet it is hard to imagine this piece of plastic in the water could be a person and we are responsible for saving its life! Important to get it right and ensure you get the boat back to the person in the water without running them over with a boat or scrambling their limbs with the props!

Howth’s a pretty place and a lively marina. It is a good tourist trap too and the local restaurants and bars are full of locals and tourists. We found a lovely place called “The Bleeding Stream” and enjoyed Guinness once more – even RoBE enjoyed it!

Going, going….
Gone – you were thirsty RoBE!


The bar was showing Gaelic football – I’ve never seen anything like it before, it looked like a combination of rugby, football and basketball. The locals were passionate in their support, and we joined in of course!

 

The locals getting very worked up about their rugby

 

Oh no – the local team lost – but Fred just gets on with sampling the guinness!


Another late, but very enjoyable night. The Round Britain Experience is more than learning to sail – it is an experience in itself! Goodnight!

Day 28 – Howth, Dublin – Day off!

Lovely place to spend a day off!  A day off it may be, but I have loads planned today.  Chris, Pete and John have never been to Dublin so they planned to take the DART (Dublin Area Rapid Transport) in the morning and spend the day there.  They didnt get off until noon as Chris decided to give her bathroom a spring clean and do a touch of shoppin – she is so domesticated!

I offered to do John’s washing whilst he was in Dublin, and Mike and I planned to do our Day Skipper exam – gulp!  Mike also starts to cater tomorrow, and he is taking this very seriously and has asked for professional advise….so I obliged and helped with the meal planning and shopping.

Back to the studying – the Round Britain Experience is a continuing training, teaching us how to be good crew, and build up to become yacht masters.  We are learning all the time.

I feel like Im learning a new language – with completely new words for things.  For example, a rope isnt a rope, its a sheet, a toilet isn’t a toilet, its a head, a map isn’t a map, its a chart, a floor isnt a floor, its a deck or a sole, a kitchen isn’t a kitchen, its a galley, the pointy end of a boat is called a bow, the blunt end is a stern, and those flappy things are called sails!  My vocabulary is extended completely – I almost feel ready to write my own book “sailing for idiots”!

Its not a holiday you know!

We had a break during our exam and took a walk into Howth

Howth Marina beyond the Abbey ruins

We visited the Sunday market there – we almost felt we were in Borough Market in London as we sampled tastes from around the world!  A quick walk to the quay and we saw wildlife meeting civilisation


My new friend!

 

Local WIldlife
Come onto my patch and lets see how hard you are mate!

However, today, Mike and I are pleased to say that we are now official RYA Day Skipper’s!  Fred has worked really hard with us and taught us all he knows…..it only took a few minutes

 

The standard of instructors on the RBE is very high!


So, the exam passed, the shopping done, rest of the crew away in Dublin, it remained for us to contribute to the local economy once more at the Yacht Club bar and continue bloggin…….

Happy bloggers!

Day 29 RBE – Howth to Carlingford

Wow! Already 4 weeks since we set off from London to start this journey – its incredible.  Off we go to head for the border between Eire and N Ireland – catch you later!

Wow! Already 4 weeks since we set off from London to start this journey – its incredible.  Off we go to head for the border between Eire and N Ireland – catch you later!

Well on our way to Carlingford Lough now, its 4pm and it has been a very relaxing day.  As we left Howth the sea was the calmest I think I have ever seen, the sea like glass with barely a breath of air – fabulous – if we werent learning to sail!  Ah well!

Ireland’s Eye


As we continued, the ripples crept into the water as the wind increased to a stupendous 2-4knots – all we needed to get the sails up.  Chris and I managed to distract the men whilst we set the sails as they tend to flex their muscles and get stuck in whilst we are left to stand around and look pretty (or at least try!).  I ran towards the mast to “sweat” the main up as Chris pulled the halyard.  Another strange nautical term – “sweating”!  I asked if it was more “perspiring” as I am a girlie, but having completed it I think sweating is definitely the correct term!

We managed a speedy 3-4 knots at our best pace, then to a calm 2knots – no problem as we had loads of time to continue to Carlingford to arrive in time for low water.

A gentle passage lulled most off to sleep

 

John sleeps

 

Fred takes the opportunity to rest too!

 

See how difficult it is to steer the boat!

 

Pete tries to deplete the fish stocks!

 

I just take sneaky photos…..


Interesting to look our as we go to spot the local wildlife as you never know when a dolphin or porpoise pop up – the dolphin usually more lively and less shy than the porpoise

 

Can you see the shy porpoise?


We listened to discussions on the VHF re a pan pan about a missing vessel – should have been in N Ireland from Liverpool this afternoon – a guy in a 26ft yacht that no one had heard from or seen for a couple of days.  Interesting to get a lesson from the Irish sailors on their interpretation of “Brevity, Clarity and Discipline” – consider many of them need to attend a VHF course at SWMT taught by Duncs!  Lovely listening to their dulcet tones as they wish everyone “good day” and have a little bit of banter on Channel 16!

We were practicising our “pilotage” today – and Carlingford Lough is a good place to practice this as it is a long channel piloted by a series of buoys with a south cardinal at the entrance – with its own impressive lighthouse!

 

Lighthouse at Carlingford Lough entrance

 

The first buoy marking the pilotage into Carlingford

 

Navigators at work


One sailor decided he was going to overtake at the entrance – Fred waved to him then gave us a lecture on etiquette which went like this

“3 questions 1. Whats the name of the stuff all around us you breath in?  2. Whats the name of the stuff which grows on your head?  3. Whats the name of the home of a fox?  Put those three words together when you greet fellow sailors on the water…….have you worked it out???  We are going to miss you Fred!

Carlingford Lough forms part of the boundary of Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland and is really very pretty.  We have anchored for the night right at the top in a lovely cove and it is extremely peaceful.  Everyone is asleep now (chorus of snoring in surround sound!) and I’ve taken a walk up on deck to look at the lights around us and tried to work out how I would steer the boat out if I needed to in the dark.  There are so many lights around with the whole succession of buoys – its like Christmas with the red and green lights!  I saw a white light I couldnt identify – then realised it was a car – what is that not on the chart?

We are heading to the Isle of Man tomorrow and the boys are getting up  between 4 and 5 to raise the anchor and steer us out – Chris and I are going to continue our beauty sleep and let the testosterone vent itself without us for once – our time will come so watch out boys!

Goodnight!

Day 30 RBE – Carlingford Lough to Peel, IoM.

The boys, true to their word, got up at 4.50 to weigh anchor and ensure we get off nice and early to head to the Isle of Man.  What, us girls ask, took them so long as we didnt actually leave until 5.40?  Can it be the need to clean and preen? Time to apply vast quantities of face cream? Ensure all the milk gets used up on large portions of breakfast cereal? Search for the piece of paper where the passage plan was written last night?  Methinks its a combination of all four!

No reason to complain of course as us girls emerged from our slumber to find some very “moist” boys on deck sailing. We took our time to breakfast (sans milk – thanks boys!) and get ourselves ready and by 10.30 we timed it beautifully as the rain had stopped!

We, as always, sailed when we could, and this time was no different and with just a few knots of wind we continued our way to the IoM.

The timing of our arrive at Peel is important, as the entrance is time dependent with a flapgate and swinging pedestrian bridge which allows boats to enter and exit 2 hours either side of high water.

In the nick of time we arrived at Peel, with a gorgeous approach guarded by a fabulous castle

Its a very pretty place to stay, made so much better by the fact the sun has come out.  Time to sample the local beer

Popped to the toilet and placed my camera on the shelf above the toilet – it was beautifully designed, for as soon as I turned my back, the shelf slipped to a lovely 45degree angle and let my camera slide effortlessly into the toilet!  Its now ruined – fantastic!  No worries blog followers – for I have another, but not one I can easily pop into my pocket to capture some of the special little moments!

Back to the boat now to “assist” Mike as he prepares tonights gastronomic delights – thai curry – beautiful! He is learning to sail AND to cook!

Time for a little stroll up the hill, I got fed up of waiting for the guys to get ready, so set out by myself – I went up the hill along the coast – and they went straight to the pub.  I had a lovely walk and towards the end, a gorgeous spaniel bounded up to me excitedly and had a little lick of my leg, not far behind him was his owner (Brian) who bounded up to me exactly the same, and just stopped short of giving me a lick too!  He walked along with me for 10 minutes, a local guy, and in that short time I could write his life history and have since pointed out to everyone where he was born, raised and where he now lives – I love meeting local characters as we travel around!

I finally escaped Brian and caught up with the boys at the pub.  We were all so tired that we were virtually falling asleep around our drinks so it wasnt long before we headed back to the boat to rest our weary heads once more.  Day off tomorrow and Mike has promised kippers for breakfast! Goodnight!

Day 31 – Day off in Peel, Isle of Man

True to his word, by the time I emerged from my cabin, Mike had the kippers cooking in the oven – imagine the glorious smell which emanated!

Fresh Manx Kippers for Breakfast!

We all enjoyed kippers for breakfast, in fact, we enjoyed them all day long as they repeated on us.

The kipper factory is right by the marina and smokes along all day.  I think it provides the smoked kippers for the UK, and mysteriously, seems far more expensive bought locally than buying it elsewhere – say Brixham!

The Kipper Factory!

Having recovered from breakfast, Fred, Mike and I went for a lovely walk taking us from the marina

 

along the cliffs along the coast.  There was a very strange smell as we walked along, and then realised it was the fact the path was lined with the shells of the local “Manx Queenies”

Queenie Scallop shells line the pathway – smells lovely!

and just a little way up, we saw the cliff edge where they were obviously dumped down.

A lovely walk, really worth the effort to see the view across Peel, out to sea and across the peaks of the IoM.


We looked down and could see “Round Britain Experience” looking resplendent in Peel Marina!

We enjoyed the walk to the top, and whilst Fred slumbered, we photographed!

 

Looking out to sea, we could see another yacht making the same journey we made yesterday

A little stroll back down the hill…….

Back in Peel now, and the boys needed icecream.  We found John who was sitting on a bench looking out across the beach with just the same idea!

 

I love sitting in places, watching the world and its people go by.  Some call it “people watching” it can be most interesting and amusing, this time was no different.  During the half hour we sat on this bench, a couple walked along, I had my legs crossed and their dog was far too tempted by my foot in the air!  He was dragged away by the owner in the nick of time as he mistook me for a lamp post! Lovely!  A few minutes later,  an elderly woman in a electric wheelchair came by, stopped right by us and informed us she had a hair on her face which was tickling her and had possibly got stuck in her nose piercing……I had a little chuckle inside, and, knowing Fred is a little squeamish, realised I could have a little fun here!  Some 10 minutes later, and Fred standing some distance away by now looking a little green, we discovered how she had gained that piercing and where her others were and many more intricate details about this local character called Norma. Knowing I couldn’t push my luck any further, I made noises about us needing to leave to take lunch, and she took my hand and told the guys that I was a special lady as I had “brought so many babies into this world”  (in case you don’t know, I am a midwife!)

 

Time for some lunch now, then find somewhere to go that offers wifi where I can! post this blog!  I think I need to find a little more of the local culture and will visit the museum later,

and might even book onto the ghost tour which start 9pm DEAD!

PS. Found a local coffee house just for Duncs…..

 

Day 32 – Peel to Ardglass,Ireland

Its nearly noon and I’ve found yet more free internet access, well, its nearly free as I’ve purchased a coffee! Yesterday I was in a really old fashioned library – it was fabulous, with the librarian really spending time with the kids, helping them with their research and telling them local stories and not minding a bit if anyone talked!

We are leaving soon to head back to Ireland and moor at a place called Ardglass….see you there!

Its nearly noon and I’ve found yet more free internet access, well, its nearly free as I had to purchase a coffee to be here! Yesterday I was in a really old fashioned library – it was fabulous, with the librarian really spending time with the kids, helping them with their research and telling them local stories and not minding a bit if anyone talked!

We are leaving soon to head back to Ireland and moor at a place called Ardglass….see you there!

Kids walk on water in the Isle of Man
Peel as we exited the marina
Peel, Isle of Man

Its now 2.30pm and we are having a gorgeous sail away from the Isle of Man.  The weather is gorgeous, with a lovely 12 knot wind driving us forward, making good progress in the sunshine.  Mike is the skipper for the day and he has everything in hand.  Here he is making his first VHF broadcast!

 

Mike makes his first VHF broadcast


Living on a boat for so long does change the way you view things in life.  For starters, just thinking about possessions.  I have my own cabin, and whilst its luxurious in terms of living on a boat, its a very small personal space by most standards, and has just a little cupboard and a shelf for storage.

I’ve nicely filled my cupboard, yet have very few things with me really, however, if I were to re-pack, I could easily halve the items I’ve brought.  It makes you think about what you really need to exist in life.  We surround ourselves with so many possessions, we are so very lucky, but what do we really need?

The other thing is washing!  I always used to change my clothes everyday, now I make things last a few wears; I used to shower twice a day, now its more like twice a week – and I’m absolutely fine – well, at least no one has made any comments, and people still seem happy to sit next to me at dinner!

When you are busy at work, you just get your head down and carry on with the hum drum of life.  Sailing however, gives you lots of time to think about things and work out what is really important in life.  Many of us on this trip on RBE have said it has changed us in some ways – maybe it is because of the time we have to think?

We are all strangers brought together by a desire to learn to sail and to take a life changing experience, as such, we have to learn to get along with one another and live harmoniously in a confined space.  Like learning to sail, this can also be more of a challenge for some than others, however, I think I have made some lifelong friends on this journey.

Its now midnight – and Im updating the blog – have just read through what I typed earlier today and realise I must have been in a philosophical mood earlier – sailing does give you time to think indeed!

Our sail was lovely and we only had to motor for the final part of the journey.  Reaching Northern Ireland, we can look back and still see the Isle of Man – much better visibility then when we sailed there the other day.  Bringing a 45 ft yacht into a marina is always an interesting business and very challenging (there goes that “C” word again!), however, this time we had been given the choice of 2 berths, both side by side.  Remember when you learned to drive a car and went shopping – were you like me and tried to park miles away from the supermarket as you looked for 2-3 spaces together just to make it easier – its no different with a boat really – so we were in luck today.  However, as we approached the berth, the harbour master raced towards us and indicated to another berth which was a tight squeeze – right next to his boat. With just a “little” help from Fred, and the harbour masters boat narrowly missed, we safely tied up.

We have since discovered this “gentleman” whom we thought was the harbour master was no such thing at all, and we have yet to understand his motivation – we do meet some strange people!

Completing our passage safely, Chris radioed Belfast coastguard to inform them we had safely arrived

 

Chris makes her first VHF broadcast!


We took a little walk into the town whilst Mike cooked up another gastronomic delight – with only 2 days of cooking under his belt, he is under minimal supervision.

I forgot to mention last night that our skipper, Fred cooked for us – a fabulous rissotto with queenie scallops – here he is cooking

 

I didnt actually believe Fred could cook!

 

I think you should go onto “Come Dine With Me” Fred


One of the loveliest meals I’ve ever had – sorry for forgetting to mention that Fred!  Anyway, back to this evening.  Ardglass is a pretty little place, and looked very photogenic in the fading light of day

 

Ardglass Marina


Ardglass Marina Office
The Ardglass Vikings
I want one of these boats!

I found a lovely castle named after my very dear friend Jordan!

 

Jordan – you have your own castle – you are a princess indeed!


And eventually found a pub

We found a pub!

which had its own well

Well oh well!

As well as a friendly landlord who chatted away to us, and we almost understood what he said!

The meal was fabulous, thanks Mike!  Whilst the guys went off to the pub, Chris and I settled down to a DVD together.

Time to sail tomorrow to the last destination of this leg of the RBE – Bangor!  I got very excited when I saw this itinerary for this trip as I really wanted to sail through the Menai Straits, but had no idea there was a place called Bangor in Northern Ireland………better look at the map, sorry, chart!  Goodnight!

Day 33 – Ardglass to Bangor, Belfast.

A lovely start to the day with glorious blue skies and sunshine to start the day, I had been awake since 4 with my brain whirring, and eventually got up about 7am and put the kettle on.  Then Fred and I went in search of a greasy spoon for breakfast. We found a cafe, not yet opened, but the owner was being dropped off by her husband – who just happened to be the landlord of the pub we met last night – Ardglass is indeed a small community!

We eventually found a cafe which was open and serving and sat enjoying a latte looking across the sea and enjoyed the sunshine

 

Early morning Latte! The sign on the window warned us not to lean on it as it was broken………

The marina is very shallow indeed and we could see the bottom.  RBE has a draught of 2.1metres so this was a little worrying, considering we actually wanted to motor out.  We therefore had a leisurely morning whilst we waited for low water to pass and for the water level to rise a little.

Chris beautifully steered us out of the marina – she is skipper for the day!

Chris as skipper under the watchful eye of Fred!

As soon as we were clear of the marina, the sails once more went up and we made best use of the little wind which came our way.

A little into the journey, I became weary having woken in the early hours, and went to my cabin to take a nap – as I lay there I wondered who on earth was on the helm as the boat took a sudden and distinct turn – we narrowly hit a basking shark!  Typical, I’ve been waiting to see one of these and I miss it.  Glad the boat missed it too as it might have taken our keel off – and I imagine given the basking shark a bit of a headache too!

As we steer along the Northern Ireland coast, you can still see the Isle of Man in the distance, but you can also see Scotland too – I’ve never before appreciated the close proximity of these three places before.

We were soon tormented by a plague of flies which suddenly descended upon us covering the boat.  They soon stopped, then died and I swept them all away, an hour later, we entered yet another cloud of them – I think I might go mad and have a shower this evening – and I only had one yesterday, I really hope you dont think I’m getting too fussy!

Its now 4.30, (Im just flicking yet another fly off my screen as I type this) and we are nearing Bangor.

This is our last destination with Fred – he is flying back home to the bosom of his family in the early hours and we will then await the arrival of another victim, sorry, skipper, on Sunday – welcome Rick – do you realise what you have in store?!

Belfast Lough
Bangor, Belfast

A lovely trip into Bangor, and Chris steered the boat to the fuel pontoon, she filled us up and I then steered the boat into our berth – for the first time – it only took me 2 goes!  Chris and I then connected us to the main then cleaned the boat – its girl power day today!

I know this might seem a little over the top – but I went for another shower, a little excessive as it was only yesterday I had one, but there you go!  Imagine my delight when I found there was actually a bath!  Wonderful how simple pleasures can make you very excited!  Unfortunately, there was very little hot water, but I still insisted in lying in the lukewarm soapy water for as long as I could before I hurried into the shower to warm up!

Back to the boat just in time to find Mike concocting another gastronomic delight!  He is very nearly trained, and will get his certificate of competence from me once he has improved on his lumpy mashed potato stage!

Dinner finished, Fred hassled like mad for signatures on all our logs before he leaves us, then head out to the pub.  We found a bar with loads of atmosphere and some guys doing an acoustic set

Some talented locals

and interesting characters and women drinking cocktails from tea pots.  I met a woman who had a fabulous wolf whistle, and we must have looked very attractive as she tried to teach me how to do this complete with tongue sticking out and fingers pressed into awkward places – I failed but will try to do my homework!

More Guinness!

I made a new best friend, in fact, he became the new best friend for the whole of the crowd in the bar.

Irish Characters – we meet so many of them!
he grabbed my camera and insisted on having his photo taken with me!

Back to the boat at 1am – just in time for Fred’s early night as he is getting up at 4.30 ready to catch his plane home! I bet he is going to love his three and a half hour slumber!

Goodnight!

Day 34 – Bangor, Belfast.

We now have 2 days off and are taking the opportunity to make best use of the time to explore the area.  We have hired a car and are just about to head off to the Giants Causeway…….catch you later!

Its now half past midnight – again snuggled up in my cabin and writing the blog for the day.

Fabulous day and we really feel we have taken the time to get to know Northern Ireland a little.  Mike, John, Chris and I picked up the hire car and found the internet price quickly inflated by the time we had paid the extra fees, but, undeterred we headed for the “Causeway Coastal Route” which is apparently one of the top coastal driving routes in the world.  We werent quite sure we would say it was that great, but were still very impressed all the same!

The Northern Ireland Coast with Dunluce Castle in the foreground and Giants Causeway in the Distance

Traveling “Round Britain” takes us to some beautiful spots, and you get a very different perspective of a place when you arrive there by boat.  However, you dont particularly investigate a place fully, and mainly scout around the edge of places so it was lovely to be able to explore Northern Ireland much more thoroughly.

The whole coastline is beautiful, we stopped off at Carnlough for a spot of lunch then continued until we reached Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge.

 

Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge

This bridge was originally built by fishermen as this area is part of the route the salmon take during the breeding season as they migrate across the Atlantic.  The rope bridge spans the 20metres wide chasm over the 30metre high drop – I realised how far that was when I heard how long it took for my camera lens cover to reach the ground as it fell out of my hand……… Yep – another casualty.  To date there has been 2 cameras, one mobile phone, pair prescription sunglasses and now this.  At least we are all intact!

Mike and Chris on Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge – just as I dropped my lens cap over the side!
Can you see my lens cap 30 metres down under Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge
Irish Beauty

Next stop is the Giants Causeway – a fabulous area of geological interest.  It is designated as a “World Heritage Site” and has 40,000 basalt hexaganol columns formed during a volcanic eruption 60 million years ago.  The rapidly cooling lava contracted and variations in the cooling rate resulted in the striking columnar structure. Usually lava cools from the top down, but in the area around the Giant’s Causeway, the lava cooled from the bottom up, resulting in a cracking pattern that looks like it was man-made.

Giants Causeway
Hexaganol Columns
People dodging on Devils Causeway
Fabulous columns at Giants Causeway

The geology is interesting, but what I found of greater interest was the folklore which surrounds it.  Its the story, yes, you guessed it, of a giant!  His name was Finn McCool – a great name for a giant I thought! Anyway, as often happens with the Irish, he wanted to get into battle with a Scottish giant called Benandonner, so he built the causeway to connect him to Scotland – Staffa to be exact.  Benandonner accepted the challenge of battle and made his way over the causeway towards Finn McCool.  However, when he appeared on the horizon, Benandonner was much bigger than Finn expected, he got scared and ran home.

His wife was a quick thinker and dressed Finn McCool as a baby and put him into an oversized cradle.  When Benandonner arrived, she showed the giant her “baby” – he was aghast, “oh my, if thats the baby, how big must the daddy be”  and scarpered!  They always say behind every good man is a good woman!  A lovely story isnt it!

As Benandonner ran, tearing up the causeway as he went – today you can only see the start and the finish.  We have seen the start now, and we will in a few days see the finish when we visit Fingles Cave on Staffa – something to look forward to!

The Giants Causeway is absolutely beautuful, and I tried not to feel frustrated by the hundreds of people walking all over it like ants!  I really wanted the place to myself, a bit mean I know.  I would have been happy to share it with my companions!

From the Giants Causeway we visited Dunluce Castle,

Dunluce Castle
The coffee shop at Dunluce Castle in the distance you can see it looks like someones living room!
Dunluce Castle

by now the light was getting low and it looked beautiful in the early evening.  From there we wound our way towards home once more but got very excited when we passed by a huge ASDA.  Knowing that our trip after Monday will take us to the Scottish Isles and Outer Hebrides and little chance of any ASDA price, we darted into there.  Tins of peas at 14p cant be left on the shelf!  £230 later we left with our car packed to the gunnels!

Back to the boat and we did a great job at storing all the tins, packets of pasta and rice under Mike and John’s bunks – fabulous – we wont go hungry!

By the time this had finished, it was 11pm, just time for a bit of supper then crash out!  Goodnight!

Day 35 – Day out in Belfast

Another day off – Rick arrives later so fancied getting to know Belfast a little.  When anyone has said “Belfast” to me before, I always thought of IRA, bombs etc etc,so I John, Mike and I decided to go and find out for ourselves!

Wow!  What an interesting city.  It is far more vibrant and no where near as run down as we thought it would be!

Having dropped the car off at Non-Budget Rentals, we spoke with the woman at the tourist information desk who gave us details we needed.  She told us it costs about £10 for the open top tourist bus trip, but suggested we try to get a good price by haggling, so when we arrived in Belfast and were almost immediately accosted by the rep from one of the three companies trying to get our business we were ready for him.

Are you ready for a touch of Irish haggling?  Ours went something like this-

Rep “would you like to come on a bus tour?  Its only £10

Me “oh thats far too expensive for us” (I was ready to say, how about 3 for the price of 2, but Mike interjected quickly with

Mike “how about £8 each”

Rep “How about 3 for £15” ………….what?  Absolutely brilliant!

The funny thing was – he was American!  He has obviously lived in Ireland for too long.

So we took the open top bus trip for a fiver each and it was worth every penny.  I took a number of photos – of the fabulous architecture, the dividing wall, the murals and Stormont.

 

Each of these structures depicts a famous ship which was built in Belfast – including of course, the Titanic!

Stormont and the grounds in the estate looked fabulous!  The commentary on the bus informed us that Belfast was one of the safest places to live, with one of the lowest crime rates in Europe – mainly because most of the criminals are busy running the country!The “Titanic Quarter” under construction.  So much investment in Belfast – this is set to be Belfast’s equivalent of Canary Wharf!You sit on a bus in Belfast and the strangest people get on – can you see Superwoman and Supermario and all their friends?

Hurricane Higgins – a local lad!

 

 One of the largest dry docks in EuropeI try to imagine how life was for the families in these streets during “The Troubles”

I grew up hearing stories of the troubles in N Ireland and people like

Bobby Sands

One of only 5 ways through the dividing wallPeace Street – people are encouraged to write their messages on this wall – look down the street.  See the dividing wall

It sometimes felt obtrusive to take some of the photos at times as many of the murals were on the side of peoples houses and the walls of their gardens, often with the residents sitting out in the afternoon sunshine enjoying a cup of tea, it must feel obtrusive for them to have regular tourist buses drive round their streets full of people with cameras in their hands!

A good tour – well worth taking if you ever visit Belfast – but don’t pay £8!

I had an appointment at the Apple Store for another one to one lesson on my new MacBook.  So far I have been to Solihull store where it was purchased, then to the Bullring in Birmingham for my 1st lesson, followed by London’s Covent Garden for my 2nd lesson (incidentally the largest apple store in the world!) then to Brighton for my 3rd one!  The guy in Brighton said he saw my “file” and wondered why I was visiting so many stores.  He said at the end of our 50 mins together that he really enjoyed my lesson as I wasn’t boring like the normal clients!  He must have enjoyed it so much, that when I appeared in the Belfast store the young man – Aaron (they all look about 18 and were weaned from breastmilk straight onto computers I think!) told me he was looking forward to teaching me as it said on my file from Brighton that I was a lovely woman!

Back to the boat on the train – we’ve “done” Belfast and ready to move on and ready to meet our new skipper.

Rick eventually arrived about 9pm when we were just on our way to have our last pint in Ireland – it didnt take him long to store his luggage on the boat and join us to begin the bonding process………..Goodnight!

Day 36 – Bangor to Larne

A tad breezy today – so we are popping our noses out to see how things are……might be back in Bangor very soon – watch this space!

Its now 4.30 and it has been an interesting day indeed!  Our first day with a new skipper Rick.  This is, in itself, a big change for us and I’m sure a bit of a challenge for Rick as he discovers the level of skill and knowledge of his crew.  The forecast was for force 5/6 north westerly, and we were aiming north.

We enjoyed the sail, and thought it was great with a 17knot wind, but this steadily built until we were in a constant 20-25knots.  The sail reefed in we were heeled over and powering along.

“The Hooligan” takes the helm again!
Rick keeps a close eye on John’s Hooligan behaviour!

After his exertions, John took his normal afternoon siesta and really appreciated each time we changed tack – but he can normally sleep through anything!

John well heeled!

I popped down to the galley to prepare “Welsh Rarebit” for everyone each time we were on a starboard tack which helped me drop less food on the floor (sorry, the sole!) The wind increased in intensity and Chris whispered to me “when you are on a flight which feels a bit scary, you look at the air flight attendants face to see if they are still smiling, so look at Rick.” I looked over to Rick, he wasn’t smiling……the wind was now gusting to 40 knots so I could see why not! The aromas from the Welsh Rarebit wafted up from the galley, but we were in no position to eat just yet!

We proceeded with our escape plan and headed towards Larne to seek shelter, radioing to port control to ask for access.  We could feel the wind ease as we made our way down the lough and we searched for somewhere to moor.  I telephoned the local boat club and asked if they could kindly let us use one of their moorings, to which they answered they had seen us and were sending someone out on their rescue boat to show us where to moor.  A typical Irish welcome!

The rescue boat arrived

Larne Boating Club’s rescue boat – do you think they will pick us up later to put a bit of money across the bar?
A very nice young man!

And he indicated to the RNLI lifeboat buoy………Pete and John caught the mooring line

 

What will we do when the lifeboat want it back?


and we secured ourselves.  I guess its easier for the RNLI to let us moor rather than have to rescue us later!

Just in time to eat the Welsh Rarebit before it became ruined in the oven whilst we hide in Larne!

Thinking about further passage planning, we now listen out for further weather forecasts, we wonder which bit of today’s Force 5 to 6 were the 40 knot gusts!

Time to have a nap after the exertions of todays sailing and look forward to John’s debut tonight as chef!   Its his Cottage Pie tonight!

Day 37 – Larne to Glenarm

Decided to leave the hide hole that is the RNLI buoy at Larne, very relieved that the lifeboat didnt ask for it back overnight.  We were in the middle of the Lough and the boat rocked us all (well, not quite all as our skipper Rick was a disturbed bye the rattles and rolls of the boat apparently!) to sleep.

Leaving the haven that is Larne and looking at the weather ahead

A free mooring nonetheless – a donation to the RNLI coming up!  Lovely hearing the roll on roll off ferries with the lorries clanging their way on and off!

 

Larne - a lovely quiet haven - apart from the roll on roll offs!

Anyway, today, we wanted to see how we go -our destination is Raithlin Island, but we will have to see what nature has in store for us!

Looks alot more inviting out there today than yesterday - no white horses....yet!

Its now 10pm, here we are in Glenarm Marina – not very far from Larne.  We poked our nose out and headed north, trying to make it to Rathlin Island, and found a lovely wind – but it was a north westerly which meant we had to tack to make any distance.  The wind again blew strong

Here comes the rain again!

which meant we had to reef in again, and although we are having a lovely time, our progress was very slow.  We knew we had to make it to the top of Ireland by midday or else we would have 6 knots of tide against us and we would struggle!

So – we went for “Plan B” and headed for shelter in a lovely little place called Glenarm.

Our safe haven - Glenarm!

When we hired a car the other day and drove the Causeway Coastal we passed through Glenarm and discounted it as a place to stop for lunch and stopped at nearby Carnlough instead, so it is a bit ironic that we are now spending the night here.

We had another lovely Irish welcome as the harbour master took our line for us – he was busy nearby repairing the electric box at the end of a pontoon which a boat had recently knocked over, this gave me some reassurance that Im not the only one who is scared of bringing boats in!

What a lovely little marina, it only costs £22 a night, and the shower block is brand new, and – the washing mating and dryer are free!  Wow – my bedding is currently in the washer having a nice free spring clean.

The harbour master not only offers free laundry facilities, but he also took Chris and John to Carnlough in his car to shop, and on the way back he decided to take a detour to show them the view from the hill – except John didn’t hear him say he was doing that and he wondered why he was bypassing the turn to the marina and continued up the hill – a vicar napping in the offing!

Safely back in time for John to cook, with a little help from Chris – risotto!  It was scrummy – thanks John (and Chris!)

Once more we find ourselves supporting the local economy – another pint of Guinness!

Another safe haven

An early night as we are going to try once more to reach the top of Ireland  Goodnight!

Day 38 – Waiting in Glenarm for some good weather!

Its now 8pm and here we are …. still in Glenarm!

We made the decision this morning not to move forward as there was a strong wind warning this morning which was supposedly easing later (it didnt!)- and again, this would mean if we set off when the wind dropped, having to beat as we went, that we would miss our “window” and strong tide would be against us!

This place we had discounted as a lunch stop on our car journey on Saturday has turned out to be our home for 2 nights!  However, it is a lovely spot with a great marina (Rick has given the showers an 8 out of 10) and we are all very impressed!

Just another mention about the harbour master – his name is Billy and he is ace!

Billy the harbour master!

Why is he ace?  Well, he took Chris and John shopping yesterday, everytime he sees a boat approaching, he is there to take a line, he chased after me when he saw me emerging with wet hair from the showers to let me know there was a hair dryer, but his sense of humour, well Billy, you told me you don’t write your own jokes……

We are getting a little confused on this trip since Rick arrived as everyone seems to have a bit of trouble remembering everyones names, Rick is either Rick, Nick or Rich, I’ve become Sue, Chris is Kath, Mike is Bill and John is Rev!

Glenarm Marina is lovely, made all the more special by Billy and his wonderful zest for life and people!

We didnt waste the day waiting for fairer weather, we continued our studies,

Students at work!

and Rick, once exhausted by the endless questions from his students, commenced installing the autohelm.

Rick installing the auto helm

Tired of studying, John and I went to catch up on some shopping, then found a nice little coffee shop for a tea and scones (the first time I have had afternoon tea with a vicar!), told Chris about the place, she headed there, got caught a rainstorm on the way to find it had closed early on a Wednesday!  In fact, Chris and Pete seemed to have a real skill for catching the rainstorms today.  Each time they headed out, as the sun seemed to be keen to peek through, they got soaked.  At one point, they went out for a stroll, and as we only have one key fob between 6 of us – we told them to shout from the quayside to us to let them in.

They headed out, meanwhile, I was busy in the engine room with three men…… Rick talked Mike, John and I through engine checks – we were busy with the engine hatch open and our heads well immersed among impellers, alternators and water filters, we didnt hear the shouts from our missing pair from the quaside.  It was only 3 hours later that I listened to the voicemail “Jill, can you please let us in, we are standing outside in the pouring rain…..”  Oh dear!

I knew exactly how they felt.  Last night we were in the pub (as I have mentioned….time and time again…) and stayed there once the others left to finish off posting yesterdays blog.  The others went straight back to the boat, but promised to latch the gate as they had the only key fob.  There I was at 11.15, in the pouring rain, dark and alone and was locked out.  I walked along the quayside, stood opposite RBE and tried to work out how loud to shout for someone to let me in.  Being Welsh, and spending many years in choirs, I know how to project my voice, but I didn’t want to wake everyone up, neither did I want to spend any more time than I needed in the dark and the rain, so I stood there working out how to shout for help.  I let out one shout of “Rick” (as I knew John would never wake!) and discovered my gentle shout projected far too well and resonated right across the marina.  Expecting every head to pop out of the cockpits, I mightily relieved that Rick’s did, and he was the only one – thanks Rick!

John cooked a fabulous Chicken hot pot which kept everyone quiet for a while – a double accomplishment!

Chef extrodinarire!

Loving your pinny John!

Here we are after dinner listening to the weather forecast on the VHF – there is an area of low pressure with rain and high winds right across the UK…..oh fantastic, so glad everyone is suffereing!  As we sit here we can hear it whistling through the mast and blowing a hoolie!  Not sure I like the sound of the word “cyclonic”!!  However, the wind will be behind us so it might be possible!  We hope to go to Port Ellen on Islay tomorrow – wish us luck!.  We got the pub at 9pm, got absolutely soaked on the way, it really knows how to rain in Ireland.  We were greeted by a most peculiar sight outside the pub of a couple who are getting married in 2 weeks time.

Tradition in this area, as this particular couple are experiencing tonight, is to be placed on the back of a trailer, secured to a bench with cable ties, painted with sheep marking, covered in rotting manure, bad eggs, flour, 2 week old cut hay whilst holding a lamb which was stillborn in April……..this is the groom AND the bride!  Why didnt I have my camera with me! Im sure I couldn’t have captured the true essence!

Yet again we are supporting the local economy.  We are in a pub owned by Stevie – I met his brother yesterday, he is a local diver who does his work in the marina, he has a long beard which he wears in two plaits…….anyway, he recommended we came in here, and, true to his word, it serves good beer, free wifi and has an open fire in the grate which is reputed to be welcomed by the visiting “yachtees” (sic) I never thought of myself as a yachtee!

Guinness consumed, local economy bolstered once more by the crew and skipper of the RBE, we tried (unsuccessfully), to dodge the rain storms, and make haste to the boat.  On the way back, I saw Richard.  Billy had told me about him – was was the local lobster farmer.  Typical – I’ve come out without my camera, and I see lots of interesting things!

I hurried to RBE to grab it and photograph Richard and his catch!

 

Richard sorts his catch!
This one is a biggie!

and learnt something about catching lobster, thanks Richard!  Did you know that the females are called “hens” and you can tell the difference between them and their male counterparts as their tails are wider, and you can also see eggs on their underside!  Richard keeps the hens apart from the…the….the…(I assume the males are called cocks but I never asked), and they get sent to another guy whose job it is to cut a V Notch into the tail – from this he gets a fee from the government, and Richard gets to put her back into the water to ensure the future catch!  Every day is a school day!\

I walk back to the boat and Chris and Pete are heading out to the toilet facilities….just in time for another downpour!

Its amazing, even on the days when we don’t travel anywhere on the boat, there is still loads to talk about on this Round Britain Experience – I’ve managed to write 1300 words about today!

Now back on the boat, its 11.45 and I’m ready to stop blogging and go to sleep ready to face the elements once more tomorrow!  Goodnight!