Tuesday, December 22, 2009


After over 2 and a half years of working in the UK i'm retiring to head off sailing again in the DB. So my time building sub-stations in the South East of England has come to an end (for now at least), the irony obvious leaving a company called 'Freedom'!

It's been alot of fun and good learning curve, i really thoroughly enjoyed my job and certainly made alot of great friends over my time here.

On boxing day i'm heading back to the boat with sister Monique who is over visiting from NZ. We're well ready for a bit of a change of climate since the UK and Europe have just been hit with several snow storms! Don't get much of that in the tropic's luckily.
Adios amigos!

Big picture plan is to wind up in South America sometime after enjoying the Canaries, Cape Verdes and possibly a few other island group's along the way - Who knows will play by ear ;-) Probably take a few days to get her all ship shape but hopefully by New Year's we'll be ready to do some more sailing again. Richie and Dan will be joining the boat in Tenerife, as well as Sophie who will spend a couple of week's in the Canaries with us.

Right on hope everyone has a good christmas where-ever in the world that may be!

Jonboy ~~__/) ~~

Friday, November 6, 2009

Cabin Fever

Following the trip to the Canaries i returned to England and my job with Freedom. In an ideal world i wouldn't have needed to do this, however it wasn't a good time to leave work and since i quite enjoy my job I figured i could use the extra pounds.

It is certainly very different for me being back here with no boat to occupy my spare time. In a bid to try and save money i decided not to get a place to live (opting in favour of dossing at mates and staying on Oli's little boat when that wasn't possible) however, not really having a base meant alot more socialising, which called for more evening visits to the pub and, go figure, no actual saving of rent money...!

Oli's little boat that's become my second home

I've still been doing a lot of sailing and do get away overseas every couple of weekends. I've caught up with Dan and Paul in France a few times, and as well as Mick and Deb in Sardinia i also managed to be back down to the DB in La Gomera.

Sailing with Steve and Carol on there beautiful Oyster. The couple have probably unwillingly practically adopted me - Poor Carol cook's me meals every other night and in return i get Steve drunk

Paul took 2 weeks away from his superyacht to do some solo sailing round the Canaries and i arrived just after he left. Although i don't have any photo's, both Paul and i were blown away with the condition of the boat. Poor Jess must have spent so much spare time fixing, cleaning and painting every surface before heading back to the US. The DB looks imaculate and if the broker's in Cape Canaveral could see her now they wouldn't believe it was the same boat. Thank you thank you thank youOther than going back to DB i've had a time playing in France with Paul and Dan. The first trip we made a nice little rendevous just south of La Rochelle. The plan was to help Dan move his boat to the entrance of the canal Du Medi in Bordeaux.

Having been almost a year (ironically also in France) since the 3 of us had been together we had much to celebrate and wasted no time getting off to the pub after arriving in Royan and finding Dan and Ultima Noche. Not surprising after returning to the boat at 2am, we thought it was a great idea to go sailing and cast the lines off for Bordeaux. It was a great trip down and having timed it nicely with the tides we were able to get 9 knots out of little Noche for a while. We partied in Bordeaux and then went on a fun road trip out into the country in search of cheap local wine. It was a fantastic day and to top it off that night at our local waterfront pub, Anna the bartender gave us each a free blowjob (it's a type of shot in France)
About a month later the 3 of us were re-united again this time on the South coast. After meeting Dan in Montpellier we drove out to Paul and his superyacht Mondango, just out of Marseille. It was so much fun, out partying with his crew mates and the next day wining and dining with the luxary yacht's owners Mr and Mrs Gold.
Dan's new facebook photo 'Yeah that's MY boat!'
Although it was a good laugh Paul was very anxious about having the two of us around his £30M yacht and we made tracks to Nice. Following a good night out in Monte Carlo and after getting kicked out of every open night club we found ourselves in a gay bar at 4am, still laughing and talking sailing Not long left for me now in the UK. Little sis Mon's is coming to town just before christmas then i'm off on a one way ticket back to the boat :-)

Sunday, September 20, 2009

The trip that was...

With my governor Adam kindly giving me a 3 week window off work I wasted no time leaving Brighton, sneaking out early afternoon on the Friday with Pete and William. On route to Falmouth in typical fashion we encounted headwinds whole way and must have added a third more miles to the trip with our long tacks up the channel. No complaints though, the sailing was fun and it was great to spend time taking the piss out of the cabin boy's Pete and William. However after two days it is fair to say the temptation of cold beer in a Plymouth pub proved too strong and we cut the trip short with a pit stop 48hours after leaving Brighton.

Jess arrived at the boat on the Tuesday and after many more rushed and last minute boat jobs we finally slipped the lines on Thurday 20th August. The conditions were far from ideal (20 – 25 knots SW and a very confused sea) however it did feel bloody good knowing that we were finally underway.

Neptune gave us a hard time leaving the Queen’s land – Poor old DB was getting well bashed about and progress was minimal. In the middle of the night (when all these things happen) Jess was on watch and the furling line snapped. Suddenly we went from a nicely reefed head sail to our full 140% genoa out in over 25knots, not ideal! Our only option was to get the monster down and we were forced to fly the storm jib for the rest of the night, resulting in a boat speed so depressing i struggle to document it. At this stage I was seriously thinking we’d have to stop in France, the boat was getting a right hiding and both Jess and I were knackered. As well as this I wasn’t sure if we could fix the furling in those seas and progress was rubbish without a proper head sail. The next day however a break in the weather lifted our spirits and I had a crack at the furler. With that job completed we were back doing our whopping 3knots over ground again, happy days (kind of!).
Fixing the furler with the strom jib on the new forestay
After a 3 day slog often against wind and tide we finally made it across the continental shelf and into the Bay of Biscay. The sea state was good, sun was out with dolphins on the bow, and although the wind was on the nose progress picked up without having tides to get in the way.
Second day into Biscay however I got word from Dad and Steve that we could expect a bit of weather. 30 - 40knots + gusts directly from where we're heading (of course!). It was the aftermath of hurricane Bill from the US and although had obviously diminished considerably was worth being prepared for. Below are the weather maps of old Billy with our Biscay position.
As the wind started to build progress stopped and we hove too with 3 reefs in the main and our little storm jib. After locking ourselves inside we actually found the boat surprisingly comfortable (despite being very healed over) and i was well rapt with this sail setup. And although the wind generator was howling away (sometimes producing 40amps for the batteries!), we were even able to enjoy a night a the cinema watching a bootleg copy of Slumdog Millionaire ;-)
The DB with sails set for bad weather

Over night we were blown 10miles north, resulting in DB's worst ever 24hr run of 55miles. We didn't care, given the conditions we felt lucky to feel as good as we did and i was very relieved to have not broken anything.

The next 2 days were fantastic sailing, with the wind backing to the north as we cleared Biscay. Dad had told me very casually to expect a blow of upto 30 - 35 knots, but its not on the nose son! Hmmm while we didn't exactly share his enthusiasm we were looking forward to a few decent runs and the sailing would be fun.

Swell was building and eventually our trusted autopilot Captain Dan decided to pack it in. Almost comical, 997 miles out of Brighton my plague of 1000mile autopilots was yet again in full force! The swearing and threatening Dan with keel hauling wasn't helping, and while Jess's calm approach of talking nice and lightly pressing his buttons worked once, it was short lived.

I must say i was beyond frustrated with the failure as i had spent ALOT of money and time trying to sort a reliable solution. Double Bruyn is a story of 'Do it 5 times, do it right'. Now about 5 times after trying to fix these techo autopilots i'm getting a windvane :-)We were sailing well as the wind and sea built as forecast. With 2 reefs in the main and no head sail, we were racing along continuously at 8 knots, surfing at 10. Hectic was the best way to descibe it, and below is a quote from the logbook detailing 30seconds on the helm: While trying to steer a course of 190deg, the boat catches a wave and rounds up to about 160. Then when trying to bring it back on course a wave hits the side and swings it round to 240deg, where the boat gybes..! If it doesn't gybe we go back to steering our 190 course and begin the next 30secs, all while sailing at 8-10knots.

This went on for about 40 hours, all the time Jess and i doing 2hr watches. There always needed to be someone concentrating on steering the boat, and in those conditions the boat would go off course in seconds if you weren't paying attention. To make matters worse, the constant waves filling the cockpit killed the outside speakers, and eventually after water breaking both the ipods we had no music to distract us. We did however, cover a record run of 165miles in 24hrs, with 85 of those done over night 1800 - 0600 :-)

The storm blew over after about 2 days and we were left with a nice breeze and blew skies, although i think we were both too tired to enjoy it. I woke up for my watch late and when i came on deck found Jess asleep at the wheel in the cockpit (hard to get the staff isn't it!). With better conditions and little enthusiasm to keep this watch routine going I set about trying to get Meggie (our old autopilot) back on the job.

A 'Jess' watch compared with the 'Jon' watch.

The captain maintaining a good lookout and the 1st Mate catching up on some sleep ;-)

After hours of tinkering and having little joy getting Meggie back on the job, we had a crack at combining the two units (I have to say this was Jess's idea, as while at the boat show with Smarty, Raymarine convinced us this wouldn't work). Although not quite on the first attempt, we did manage to get the two to talk and keep course, with Dan's drive unit being the brawn and Meggie's computer as the brains. Nervously we left them to it, expecting anytime for it all to go tit's up. We cleaned up the boat (which was now a terrible mess) and both caught up on sleep, eventually accepting that perhaps we had our AP back! We figure Dan just had the hump about being the 3rd wheel and wanted someone to play with ;-)

The New and Improved..... DAN AND MEGGIE AP!

The rest of the trip was great - Fantastic sailing, warmer weather and a few fish on the line as well. With the wind dead behind us we gybed our way down the remaining miles to the Canaries. I did have a little mishap with my cruising chute that left me wimpering like a lost puppy - When setting the sail i let go of two of the controlling lines, leaving them dangling well off the boat. We were sailing along at a great rate, and couldn't see any easy way to get the lines back on board! When we depowered the sail it ended up rapt around the mast and rigging, and it wasn't long before i shed tears at the sight of my beautiful red genaker being ripped on the spreaders. Jess did a great job of temporarily patching the damaged areas (while the captain exhausted the ships supply of tissues) and before long we were back on track sailing a great course under Jonny's favourite sail :-) Having not read or researched any marinas in Tenerife (I only picked it really because there were cheap flights from Gatwick) I got in touch with the oldman to try find us a place to stay. Turns out that there really weren't many, and what was available was far from cheap. Hmmm, so much for forward planning... I remembered William on his Atlantic circuit opting for La Gomera, a smaller quieter island on the west of Tenerife and figured we'd check it out.

After 14 days land came into view and we were racing along with a few knots of favourable current. Perhaps it was because we were so excited at the prospect of land and maybe weren't paying great attention to the sailing, but within 10 miles of ending the trip we came very close to broaching and putting the mast in the water. We were enjoying 8 - 9 knots of boat speed with obviously too much sail area, when a big gust came and put the boat right over on her side, filling the cockpit with water. It took about 10 minutes to get the headsail down and boat under control again, a good reminder that you really can't relax until your at the dock!

La Gomera turned out to be a great decision, the island is beautiful and undeveloped for the Canaries. What a great trip it was :-)

Aside from my autopilot issues i get more and more pleased with the boat every mile we do. When Paul and i sailed across the Atlantic to the Azores 2 years ago we hit a similar storm to what we had this time in Biscay. Although we learnt alot that trip we severally damaged the rigging and rudder by putting the boat under too much stress during heavy weather. Now with more experience, new sails and inner forestay the boat is much safer and more comfortable in similar conditions. The 2nd gale we had on this trip was tough, with the wind directly behind us it was difficult and tiring sailing. But even your best blue water cruiser would have the same complaints, and since we covered a new 24hr record and didn't break anything i guess the DB proved herself in these conditions too.

Trying to find the airport in Tenerife (It did take some time to get used to being back on land)

Big thanks to Nae and Smarty for such a top effort with the blog updates, Steve William and the old man for all the weather routing, and of course my 1st Mate Jess for staying awake on watch :-)

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Sailing Updates....

If you click on the map it will enlarge and it easier to see their course!

03/ 09 / 09 : They are there!!!! Team DB has arrived at the marina at La Gomera. They had another very good run, Good winds still coming from the North. They love the island and it looks like it was a good move to go to to La Gomera, instead of Tenerife. So after the initial struggle to get to the coast of Spain & Portugal and the breakdown of Capt Dan, the second week has proved to be really good with light to moderate winds from the North. And of course a bit of Kiwi ingenuity to resurrect Capt Dan... which made a huge difference. We are all looking forward to hearing the stories and catching up with our intrepid sailors! Well done guys! Current coordinates are Lat: 28N 05'00", Long: 17W 06'00".
02/ 09 / 09 : Another good 24 hrs for Team DB. The winds have still been pretty light, about 10kn NE, but they are making good progress anyway. They are thinking that they might go to La Gomera, SW of Tenerife. The thinking is that it should be less commercialised, so hopefully easier to get a mooring. So all going to plan , they should be there in another 30 odd hours. Current coordinates are Lat: 30N 25'00", Long: 16W 04'00".
01/ 09 / 09 : They are getting close! They have managed to cover a lot of ground even though they have had very light winds. Sounds like they have been using the gennaker a lot to do this. All going to plan they hope to arrive at the Canaries either Thursday night or Friday morning. Current coordinates are Lat: 32N 25'00", Long: 15W 30'00".
31/ 08 / 09 : The DB is cruising with another good run in the last 24 hours. They are sounding very happy, and have a good sleep for about 11 hours - just as well Capt Dan is back on board! Jon has put out a request... If anyone knows of a cheap mooring in Tenerife, can you please email the details to his sat phone. You can do this by going to http://www.messaging.iridium.com/ and sending a message to the following number: 881631641780 . Current coordinates are Lat: 34N 19'00", Long: 14W 50'00".
30/ 08 / 09 : Good news! Jon has fixed Capt Dan so it looks like the crew might be able to get some sleep. It sounds like they are both pretty tired so the return of Capt Dan is very welcome. Current coordinates are Lat: 36N 12'00", Long: 13W 53'00".
29/ 08 / 09 : Well the crew on the DB are doing really well. They have had a record 24hrs covering about 150nm, which works out to almost 6kn ph. The winds are due to ease a little , but still coming from the North and up to 20kn, so that will be plenty to push them on to the Canaries. Current coordinates are Lat: 38N 04'00", Long: 13W 18'00".
28/ 08 / 09 : Another great day sailing with good progress made as the wind is coming from the north at 25+kn. Things sound like they have been pretty uncomfortable due to the high seas and an equipment malfunction... Capt Dan has packed up, as you will know Jon replaced his previous autopilot Meggie with the incredibly reliable Capt Dan - it has now been proved that Capt Dan is not so reliable so they are continuing on steering without him. Current coordinates are Lat: 40N 41'00", Long: 12W 40'00".
27/ 08 / 09 : Finally the long awaited northerlies have hit and they have made some more progress. Sounds like they are cruising at about 6 knots so they are definitely on their way again. Current coordinates are Lat: 42N 43'00", Long: 11W 38'00".
26/ 08 / 09 : Cant give you much of an update on today other than position. The big news is that Quinn Smart (First mate Shane Smart's new son) arrived safe and sound and will shortly be recruited to the Double Bruyn for many an off shore sailing adventure I think. Current coordinates are Lat: 44N 33'00", Long: 10W 34'00".
25/ 08 / 09 : Wind on the nose again and very strong. They are hove to now in preparation for the gale. It looks like it will only last about 12 hours and should be a bit calmer after that. The wind will shift to the west and later in the week to the North which is just what they need. Current coordinates are Lat: 45N 0'00", Long: 10W 0'00".
24/ 08 / 09 : The sailing has picked up and the team are getting closer to the Spanish coast. They have had a great run in the last 24 hours covering about 120 nautical miles. The wind is from the west at the moment at about 15kn... so just what they are after to start covering some ground (or sea as the case maybe). Current coordinates are Lat: 46N 23'00", Long: 09W 47'00".
23/ 08 / 09 : The sailors are still struggling on, they have almost cleared the shelf and will be expecting calmer seas soon. The wind still isnt ideal however it should change to the west soon and that will help get them moving. Current coordinates are Lat: 48N 6'00", Long: 08W 57'00". 22/ 08 / 09 : The wind is still presenting a bit of an issue for our sailors coming from the SW at the moment. However they have made some pretty good progress in the last 24 hours and when they last spoke to Hendrick they were in good spirits and enjoying the trip. Current coordinates are Lat: 48N 44'00", Long: 07W 13'00".
21/ 08 / 09 : Another slow day for the crew as they have dealt with little wind and what was about was directly on the nose. Sounds like there was an issue with the furling and they had to use their Storm Jib which has slowed them down. This appears to be all fixed now and they are waiting on some wind! Current coordinates are Lat: 49N 26'00", Long: 05W 16'00".
20/ 08 / 09 : They are off! Jon and Jess cast off at about lunchtime today and are on their way to the Canaries - another exciting voyage for the Double Bruyn and its crew. It sounds like the first leg was a little slow, the wind is on the nose at the moment so it is slow going. The wind is supposed to change in their favour overnight so hopefully they will get a bit further on. When they checked in this evening they had covered 27 nautical miles. Current coordinates are Lat: 49N 56'00", Long: 04W 11'00".

Friday, August 14, 2009

Voyage to the Canaries

So here begins the next chapter..! Almost one year to the day on from our arrival in Brighton, the DB is off again, this time heading south to the Canary Islands. The Queens country certainly served her purpose as a great place to revamp and fix the boat, while also providing some fun sailing and plenty of mishaps as well ;-)
Sailing means different things for different people
Although i don't plan to set off cruising again until the end of the year, I was keen to get the boat out of the UK before the winter set in. Also, as the idea for next year is to explore Brazil and South America, i wanted to break up the 7000 odd mile passage a bit hence the run to the Canaries.
Now we're in Plymouth and hopefully will set off Wednesday night. I had a great sail here with Pete and William, although as the wind was on the nose the whole time we had to tack our way up the English channel.
It was cool though as we were able to try a few of the new systems on the boat and also iron out a few of the crinkles. I've replaced my auto-pilot 'Meggie' (sorry Mike and Kylie!) with a stronger more reliable version now named 'Capt Dan'. There's two reasons why the AP got called Dan - Firstly, I love sailing with Dan and he's a good man to have on the helm at any time, but more importantly if she ever goes off course i'll cherish mocking him for not paying attention ;-) Also big thanks to Steve for very kindly building me a new set of kitchen drawers (these have plagued us on the DB since Florida).

For crew to the Canaries i'm very lucky to have Eskimo Jess on board (With far more sailing tales than myself its a bit like the kids in Scooby Doo where she's really just making me look good all the time) Its a 1500mile passage and i'd like to think we'll do it in less than 14 days. If we're making good time it would be cool to stop in at Mederia along the way, even if only for a few pints and a good meal.

We even had time to try our hand in the Fastnet Race before we left

Following in the footsteps of great sailors Mick and Debbie Baker, and my mate Robin Knox Johnston, our first obstacle will be the Bay of Biscay. Hopefully we don't see to many sea monsters. Once clear of the coast of Northern Spain it should be plain sailing heading south, hopefully with the wind behind us.

Right on. I've got the sat phone working again so hopefully can get some weather updates from the oldman. Nae and Smarty have very kindly offered to update this blog with my progress on the map, a top effort as the poor girl is about to have her baby and i can imagine little Jonny will be occupying most of her time!

If anyones keen to send us a txt (unfortunately i can't reply) you can click on the below link to do so. My sat phone no. is +8816 31641780. http://messaging.iridium.com/

Take care, big thanks to all those who helped get me and DB outa here.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Long awaited update….

It’s been a long time is I’ve written anything with any substance and now I actually have a few stories its probably a good time.

The Engine Part 1

As I wrote a bit earlier I bought a new engine in February. After a few days of Smarty and Rich putting it in things were looking good for finally getting the DB sailing again. All we needed was to get it aligned (I wanted the suppliers to align it as this can be a bit fiddly and is worth getting right). Unfortunately my engine bay left it about 5mm out with no adjustment left… This meant taking it all out again and re-cutting the engine bed. All I can say is it was a horrible horrible job, it took me all weekend and me and the boat were covered in fibreglass. I burnt out a jigsaw and skill saw, as well as broke about a dozen blades. As well as this I had my lovely new engine in my galley for a week!

Nevermind, all’s well that ends well and before long the engine was back where it belongs, lined up and tested by the suppliers and now finally (apparently) ready to go sailing!

We did find time between fixing engine to decorate Mick and Deb's boat during their retirement party

The Engine Part II

For easter Smarty and I had planned a sailing trip to Guernsey in the Channel Islands (about 140 miles from Brighton). We talked about 10 other’s into coming along and with the wind and weather in our favour things were looking up. Mick and Deb planned to take their boat across too, so with the number’s fairly even on both boats we figured we’d have a good race on our hands.

Leaving the dock at our prescribed time (necessary to get the tidal streams right) we were off. About 50m from the marina while we were putting up the sails Linda yell’s out that the engine’s struggling. I role my eye’s thinking to myself silly girl it’s brand new! She’s dead right, 5 seconds later it cuts out and we’re getting blown straight towards the sea wall. We quickly dropped the anchor and managed to avoid any similarities with the Titanic on our re-launch maiden voyage.

After about an hour trying to fix the problem we just couldn’t get the engine going reliably, and after sailing clear of the sea wall decided it was best to get towed / sail back into the marina by Mick and Deb. Upon arriving back at my berth Smarty, Rich and I were able to have a good look at what the problem was. The engine was piping hot and had no water. A valve on the side of the engine was open when we bought it and basically all the water had evaporated. You can imagine by now I’m really well p*!sed off with this bloody engine and am thinking my recent short marina tour may have just turned it into an expensive paper weight! I was also really unimpressed that the supplier (who had prior spent 8 hours doing engine checks for the warrantee) hadn’t picked it up.

Anyways, as before all’s well that ends well and a week later after a pressure test and lots of engine hours in the marina we found she was good as gold. I finally got that monkey off my back ;-)


With the sailing part of our ‘Sailing trip’ now out of the question and a load of commitments we’d made for an Easter weekend in Guernsey, the crew drove to Weymouth to catch the 4am ferry. Once in St Peter’s Port we met up with those who’d opted to fly.

The highlight of the trip would have to be visiting Guernsey’s little island neighbour, Sark. The island has no cars and only a few 100 permanent residents. The ambulance is a caravan pulled by a tractor and there is no tax on the island! (After a day cycling around the island we were particularly impressed to find a pub selling pint’s for only £1.50)

Back in Guernsey we caught up with Cat Fish Keith, a good sailing friend I met in the Azores with Smarty and Jas. It was great to bounce idea’s off each other with future sailing plans while getting messy in the local sailors pub. All in all a great way to spend easter and definately worth checking out if you ever get the chance.

Captain Jon

After 2 years of calling myself Captain I figured I should follow in William and Paul’s footstep’s and get my RYA Yachtmasters. They both said I’d learn a lot and although the idea of one day working in boats is very appealing, I wanted to become a better seaman.

Being tight and not having much time I decided to teach myself the theory with borrowed notes from Mick (4 big folders of several hundred pages!). However I found it hard to teach myself as whenever I’d sit down to do some study I’d end up deviating to boat jobs… I also had to get my VHF radio licence (yes in the UK you need a licence for this) which was a one day course in Brighton. When I got back to the boat with a few new found friends from the course, Mick and Deb were waiting with champagne and had covered my boat in ‘Congratulations radio Jon’ posters! You would have thought I’d just finished a degree not a one day course a 5 year old would pass ;-)

The Yachtmaster course consisted of a 5 day’s prep and a 2 day exam in the Solent, and Mick and Deb very kindly offered to sail me down to Portsmouth. We had a great sail and good night out once we tied up in Gosport. The next day we sailed over to Cowes and I left the boat in the Isle of Wight for the course.

I got a bit of a wake up call for what I was in for when I arrived on the boat. The other guys were really onto it having spent the last 6 weeks together training on the boat. Also at the dock my lack of knowledge of weather, collision regs and lights / sounds was very obvious. Suddenly doing the theory course seemed a good idea…

The week was fun but really intensive. Everyday we’d set sail at 8am and usually tie up again between 1 – 3am. Basically we all took turns at being the skipper and would be given tasks along the way to complete (Man overboard, sailing onto buoy’s / marina’s, blind navigation, tidal calc etc). Reliably every task would have to be done without the engine or GPS!

I got off to a very bad start to the exam. I cocked up the tides and basically put the boat broadside onto 4 others! Convinced my exam was over before it began I more or less decided I may as well just enjoy myself and basically sailed just like I normally would (not necessarily the RYA way). Was funny as over the prep week my instructor said several times ‘I have no problem with the way you did that but its not really the RYA way to go about it’. Like many of us I’ve never had any formal sailing training and just tend to work out a way that works.

Anyways, long story short late on Sunday afternoon the examiner completely surprised me with a PASS. Although maybe not completely deserved you wouldn’t have thought so by the amount I drank and size of my smile ;-)

To be honest I think I completely winged the theory with a little knowledge about most aspects. Practically I’m probably ok at sailing but they’re really more interested in how you deal with situations etc. Like the examiner said when we’d finished referring to my unfortunate crash ….. ‘Yep you f*!ked up - Sure it wasn’t the first time and won’t be the last, just like the rest of us’

DB's Offshore Race Debut.... The Royal Escape

Since sailing to the UK Smarty and I have been interested in a yacht race across the English Channel called ‘The Royal Escape’. Basically it’s a 70mile race from Brighton to Fe’ Camp (France) held on the May bank holiday weekend, and is as much about drinking as it is about sailing.

Following an evening race briefing at the Sussex Yacht Club with the crew (Rich, Smarty and Linda) we got to work lightening the boat and stowing all the essentials. It was a fantastic site the next morning to see the 70 odd boats flooding out of the marina for the 8am start. Everyone was in good spirits, hooting and excited as the weather was gorgeous and we didn’t have to spend it working.

We actually had ourselves very well placed for the start, only instead of sticking to our guns we cocked it up by being a bit conservative and ended up near the back. Over the next 8hrs we slowly reeled back up the fleet, eventually overtaking about 10 boats. Then we hit the doldrums, 15miles from the finish (All that needs to be said about those last remaining miles is that we didn’t break any rules!). Finishing in good time we tied up at the dock about 9pm and were soon enjoying cold Stella’s to a beautiful sunset.

That night we went out and explored Fe’ Camp to find it was a very quaint and friendly little French town. Enjoying more drinks and watching the remaining boats come in we retired back to the DB in the early hours.

Saturday was always going to be a big day with free beers, wine and cheese for breakfast at 10 in the yacht club. The day moved on to prize giving, and one can imagine loads of laughs partying and telling stories of the race.

We had a fantastic and spontaneous sail home with all of us wearing the biggest smiles. It was a nice reminder of just how the simple things truly make us happiest - The sea, sun, a boat, beer and good friends ;-)

Wa Wa….

Just to set the scene… Smarty, a very key element to a lot of the fun I’ve had over the past 5 odd years, is leaving the UK at the end of June to return to NZ with his beautiful and pregnant wife Renae. Renae very kindly gives me and Richie a weekend pass to shout Smarty on a trip somewhere for his birthday…

So bring on a weekend in Ibiza with nothing more than the clothes we’re wearing, passports and credit card ;-) Basically the place is all its cracked up to be and I don’t think much needs to be said. The highlights for me were a massive party in an abandoned zoo with everyone dressed up as animals, and Smarty’s ‘altitude’ sickness on the way home (ask him about it). We call it wa wa.