Having returned to our home port the race is on to consume our food stocks before they expire. Every few days we have a ‘lucky dip’ under the sofas, in the forward cabin, in the sail locker, under the bunks and even in the galley lockers and galley bilges to see what treasures we can find (there’s probably more food elsewhere but we have forgotten where we put it). We have opened our 16kg bread flour and so far it has made 3 inedible wheat bricks in the breadmaker, we have found some items that have taken in lots of moisture so they end up being disposed of directly (typically dried powders, long life breads, snacks), and then there are things that you look at and wonder why on earth you carried it 9,000 miles in the first place?
So yesterday we managed to get through one small yoghurt pot, a medium sized box being a trifle, and one tin (pineapple) which hardly made a dent in our storage arrangements. But a couple of days ago we met with great success when we managed a seven tin day. So far this is our record by far and it did enable us to unearth the next layer of tinned foods as well as have a little reshuffle. Perhaps we have sufficient food stocks for another couple of months but often what tastes all right out there doesn’t appeal back here! Canaries mojo sauce? Not sure. Pidgeon peas? Mmm maybe not. 30 tins of tuna? What, more? Cock soup? Peanut oatcakes? Tinned sausages? Ah, yes, maybe we do in fact have 18 months of ‘do we really have to’ food stocks onboard afterall. And then there is the 200 plus litres of emergency water strapped to the stringers below the floor boards!!
In Guernsey we caught up with David and Ann Marie who kindly greeted us ashore and took us to the GYC for a drink. Next day they were kind enough to invite us to their home for a roast lamb dinner. We have carried a load of mint sauce for 9,000 miles in search of lamb (eventually we had the red current jelly on toast) but it was not to be found so this was terrific. It was also our first time in 14 months of sitting on a sofa, of the environment around us being quiet without having to keep an eye out, and of being completely still for an extended period. Oh and a ride in a car which was always a special treat (we have been in we think three cars over the last 14 months).
And in Cherbourg we caught up with fellow ARC’ists Phil and his wife Julie. We took them to our favourite French cafe in Cherbourg and of course they just happened to have a bad day on that occasion. The service was fun but the food was awful.
Our final run to Brighton was uneventful in a SW F5/6 although again the tidal effects were staggering. We were hammering along at all of 4.5kn SOG until the tide changed when we completed the last 20nm in just two hours. Landfall wasn’t so easy even on the clear night. The tide was so high that the usual harbour wall was difficult to make out. Then having routed our way into the marina we found that a new development had been taking place reducing our holding area to very little. On a windy and wet night it could have been a problem. The marina is no longer suited to large yachts, a draft of 2m is a problem and all the local chandleries seem to have gone bust.
On Sunday evening we watched one yacht get stuck in the marina grounded for over and hour. Then another jammed in the mud alongside. Eventually they moved off and a third got firmly wedged in place whilst a Sunseeker powerboat held station at the entrance for a further 45 minutes before proceeding down the fairway to his berth. With spring tides on the way we have vacated our berth and moved to the visitors pontoon which is the only place where we can sit out this week’s spring tide.
Phil pointed out that there were sound issues (ie no sound at all) on our recent music videos so we have reissued them below. And we have had to issue the movie of yacht Jambo approaching St Lucia (about 120 to 150nm out) unedited to retain the picture quality.
There is some bad weather due so we are moving off anchor and into the pool tonight. It’s been relatively cold and the swell has been a constant, however, Sacha turned up next to us and joined us for dinner and a movie. He is piloting his Westerly back to the UK having done a solo circuit and will be sad to part with the sea life and his boat. He has taken some great pictures which we hope to blog shortly.
The beginning of the end. The Ocean Sailor gives up his freedom, nights rolling at anchor, tinned food in bowls, stories of the ocean wave, of fishing, of customs houses, boat boys, lobsters, wahoo & mahi-mahi, dolphin, whales, live blues, rum, dangers in the night, the meeting of so many nomadic friends and sleepless nights at sea lashing things to the deck, reefing and watching in exchange for…..Corporate Man! I mean just who is that? It’s all wrong isn’t it? Mmmmm, go round again??? Which way is south? How satisfying will the future ‘long legs’ of 65nm across the Channel be?
Rounding Ushant we raised the cruising chute in the steady waters of La Manche, the English Channel, as we ran downwind toward Guernsey. Making up to 9.5 knots we decided not to fly the kite at night so as dusk fell we drew down the sock and packed it away all relatively easily.
Now what did we learn on the ocean? Ah, yes, to reef down at night. But this is just the simple little old Channel, right? Home waters, only 65m deep, just coastal stuff. So we went into the night with a slight sea and full sail. The forecast; Force 6 and moderate to rough seas. On the deck there seemed to be no sign of such conditions so we made no changes.
Of course the wind gradually strengthened, the tide turned, the seas ramped up and by midnight we were running in short sharp and aggressive seas, 25 knots and under full main. It was a completely dark night, and cold, very much colder than anything we have experienced for a long time. Reefing down wasn’t fun, then we ran under reduced genoa, then reduced again as a 30kn squall hit. All the fun of a typical Caribbean night without the warmth! The easy downwind leg turned into a long night.