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Jester Challenge 2017


I have wanted to do more off-shore single-handed sailing and the Jester Challenge seemed to be an ideal choice. It features many of my sailing philosophies ; minimalist, low cost, own efforts, average / ordinary boats and people. Having watched several Youtube videos and read some articles it seemed to be within my reach. I just needed time and Chantilly, my aging Macwester Rowan, needed some modifications.

Having changed careers I now have a lot more time, just less money, and Chantilly needed some attention after 10 years of being a test bed for some of my ideas. As an entry to the Jester Challenge I opted for the shortest event, Plymouth to Ireland. This is held every other year and slots in between the longer Azores and Newport RI events. Ireland sounded fairly close but then I found out that the destination is Baltimore which is about 10 miles from Fastnet Rock.

To reach the start line is the hardest part, this phrase cropped up a couple of times and looking back I can confirm that it is true. I spent the end of last season and the winter preparing Chantilly. I fitted additional grab rails inside and made port dead lights in case of damage. I accumulated stores and serviced everything. I fitted an AIS unit, a Matsutec HP-33A, and radar reflector. I checked out the storm jib and inflatable. I made a massive list of safety kit but only made or fitted the less expensive items. I made a sea anchor and found an 80m steel reinforced line in case of heavy weather. I spent quite a lot of time curing blemishes in the deck moulding and polishing the hull. I made lee clothes for every area so that I could increase the storage and stop kit from moving around too much. I re-wired the electrical panel and several of the circuits. All internal hatches had webbing added to prevent them opening. My latest version, number 4, wind vane steering was only tested the week before I departed but seemed to work OK, it just needed a bigger vane.

I made a rough plan, I needed the whole of June off as I reckoned on a week to Plymouth, a week to Ireland (this was stipulated by the event), a week back to England and then a week back to my new mooring on the Medway. I then added in a safety margin of a week to get to Plymouth in case of bad weather. So five weeks in total. The longest I had been on Chantilly for continuously before this was a week so that in itself would be a challenge. As luck would have it the club had a rally to Ramsgate at the end of May so I used this as the start.

Chantilly down on her marks

I set off and the run down to Ramsgate was excellent. The wind vane worked really well, albeit the vane was a piece of ply from the local DIY store with a couple of coats of quick drying floor varnish. When I set it on the new tack it looked after the steering while I handled the sheets. I found the gap in Sunk Sand just north of Foulger’s Gat which I haven’t managed to do in the past. This saves a great deal of time and I reached Ramsgate around midnight after 45nm. I don’t like marinas as Chantilly doesn’t go backwards and being on my own things can get out of control all too easily so I anchored in the small boat holding area. It was very lumpy and I didn’t get much rest, at first light I went into Ramsgate. It couldn’t have been easier. Royal Harbour Marina was flat calm and there were plenty of vacant berths and lots of space to turn in. Apologies to the club organiser Charles, I sent him an SMS at 5AM to let him know I was in Ramsgate. Doh, he took it in good spirit but still reminded me several times! The club bash was very good, there were several members I hadn’t met before and some interesting boats to look round. There were a couple of raised eyebrows when I mentioned that I was on my way to Ireland. We had a great lunch in the Temple Yacht Club and spent the afternoon chatting while some played boules in the town pitch. That night there was an amazing thunder storm that lasted about an hour and made everyone very worried about lightning strikes, no one was hit as far as I know.

Sunset over the Thames Estuary

I set off the next day on the top of the tide and carried it all the way to Dungeness. The wind was on the head but I was making reasonable progress. All advice had been to stop over in Eastbourne and do Beachy Head the next day. I thought I knew better and this coupled with my aversion to marinas meant that I wanted to go on. I got stuck off Beachy Head, against the tide and wind I went North, South or backwards for several hours. When I did clear Beachy Head I was in heavy mist but the wind had died down a bit. I went past Newhaven and could hear fog horns and radio traffic so I called Newhaven Port to advise them that I was passing and they confirmed that they could see me on AIS and they went on to advise other shipping of my position. This was very reassuring. It was 24 hours out of Ramsgate and I was feeling OK. I went past Brighton as the mist cleared and then the wind veered and I was tacking against the tide towards Littlehampton. I have wanted to go into Littlehampton since owning Chantilly, she was built there. Just before high water I had reached the approach channel and was just crossing the bar when the engine stopped. I quickly unfurled the jib and headed out to sea. About a mile off I put the anchor down, it was quite lumpy in the SW swell. It is hard to check the fuel level, especially when the boat is rolling, so first option was to put 5 lts in the tank. The engine started then coughed and died. Next I checked that fuel was coming out of the easiest to reach bleed points, it wasn’t. I traced the problem back to the fuel tank. There was a considerable amount of crude (like mill scale) in the pipe. I managed to unblock the pipe but couldn’t unblock the valve on the outlet from the tank. In hindsight I could have been a bit cleverer about the next check. After squeezing in to the engine space I removed the fuel valve from the tank and still nothing came out. I stuck a cable tie up the vacant hole and it started to drip. I put my finger over the outlet but couldn’t wriggle out of the space with my finger over the hole. I gave up thinking of a way out of this predicament and removed my finger and then watched about 30 litres of diesel pour out in front of my face. I had managed to get stuck in the engine area where the fuel tank is, I couldn’t get the valve back on the tank and I didn’t have a receptacle ready to catch any diesel. To make matters worse I had a particularly full bilge because the fresh water tank had syphoned out through the sink pump, due to being heeled over the water missed the sink and ran across the galley into the bilge. Coupled with a deck seam leak that let water in on a port tack had contributed to add about 50 litres to the bilge. I was now lying in half an inch of diesel sloshing about on top of the water. I managed to extract the tank and clear out the crude but only some of it as I would find out later. I put the system back together and bled the engine. It started so I weighed anchor and set off for the Littlehampton channel again. I made it to within half a mile and the engine died again. Same routine, jib out, anchor, check engine. I had left the fuel valve shut, doh!!

I made it in before the falling tide causes the ebb to reach full bore, it can get up to 6 knots and at best I can manage 4. Once I had tied up I went to the harbour master. His first words to me were

“Do you have a problem, I can smell diesel”

I explained my situation and he very calmly called his lads out and they pumped out my bilge for a very reasonable figure. They got about 80 litres out! As soon as the boat was emptied I had a shower, some fish and chips and then took to my bunk for 12 hours. The problem was compounded by my exhaustion. I had been on the go for 36 hours.

The next day I checked out the tank and fuel line and various parts were beyond further use. I needed a pipe connector to jury rig a solution but no one in Littlehampton could help. Then I met a chap called Colin, he was working on his fire engine and his showman’s caravan. He suggested that I try an agricultural parts specialist which was only 5 minutes up the road, by car. As I was walking he called his partner, Emma, over and she agreed to drive me over. I found out that they were about to set off round Europe in their eccentric rig. Littlehampton is a special place; the harbour master’s assistant got me out of the mire and Colin / Emma put me back on track. I put the fuel system back together for the third time and discovered that the tank was leaking. I had removed about two kilos of crude. The fuel tank was on my long term job list but it hadn’t given me any bother for ten years. The passage from Ramsgate to Littlehampton had almost broken me and Chantilly.      

Not a drop of diesel had gone overboard, this was in part due to the failure of my main bilge pump. When I opened it up it had a six inch piece of plastic pipe in it. Every cloud has a silver lining, the pipe was an ideal fit to direct water from the sink pump into the sink at any angle of heel.

I set off for the Solent and during a night at anchor in Chichester Harbour I made a plan, I would go round to my sister’s and wash all of my diesel impregnated clothes, get a good night’s sleep and a decent meal. All I needed was for her to agree with my plan. She did and came down to Gosport with my mother to pick me up. They saw Chantilly for the first time and thought it looked nice but small.

Spirits restored and a found suitable boat parts on the internet and a new plan was hatched. By 10AM the next day I had a fuel tank and associated pipework which wasn’t as expensive as I feared, the marina berth holder discount helped. By lunchtime I had the tank in and was back in the game. A very nice German couple moored next to me in Gosport seemed dubious about my plans to sailing to Ireland and their friends actually told me they didn’t think I would make it. That’s a challenge in my book. I set off for Keyhaven.

Moan time, I don’t like sailing in the Solent, there are too many corporate shindigs with crews on the sherbet and acting like they are in the America’s Cup. Boats deliberately falling off the wind to create a close quarters situation are the epitome of ungentlemanly behaviour. Twice this happened to me whilst I was on port tack, the first time I lost about a quarter mile taking sensible avoiding action. The second time I played the game and dipped round their stern at the last minute. The look of shock on the helm’s face coupled with the professional skipper’s smug expression summed up how they sail those boats. If they really think a MacWester Rowan is fair game then shame on them. Tacking in Chantilly is a ponderous process and not really an option for collision avoidance. If I had tacked to starboard they would have been closer to the wind than me given my modest windward performance, even on their reaching point of sail. Moan over.

Whilst at anchor at Keyhaven I heard the weather forecasts and the MCA forecast warned of an unseasonal storm in a couple of days time. They don’t normally mention anything beyond the current and following 24 hour periods so this was serious. I changed plans and decided to sail straight to Plymouth in one go. It took 40 hours and I covered 160 nm but it was worth it. The storm hit whilst I was moored to a buoy off Cargreen sailing club.

Lyme Bay dolphin

On the crossing of Lyme Bay I saw a couple of pods of common short beaked dolphins, some of which came very close. As usual I became tide bound at the key headlands; Portland Bill and Start Point but now I had worked out when to pump the bilges (every hour on a port tack) life became more manageable. Most of the trip so far had been on port tack and there is only one comfortable place to rest, in the curve of the cockpit coaming. So this is where I spent most of the trip. I use a clockwork egg timer to wake me up after a few minutes sleep and using this method I remained alert enough to sail comfortably for long periods.

The storm I was hiding from

Back to the storm, it lasted two days and caused boats to lose their sails and drag their moorings in the Tamar 5miles north of Plymouth. I was glad I was out of it but I did spare a thought for those sailing through it to get to the start. My friend form the Smallboatforum came down to wave at me but it was too rough to get ashore. On the third day I did make it ashore and met up with my friend. He and I had a look round each others’ boats and then he and his wife took me to the petrol station to fill up with diesel and then they treated me to an excellent meal. Geoff and Mary were great fun and it was amazing how much Geoff and I had in common. We both have MacWester Rowans and interests in engineering.

A lovely pair of Rowans

Next day I went for a mooch up the Tamar, I anchored just upstream from Morwellham. I should have checked the current in more detail because on the ebb it became a torrent and I dragged into the bank. This was the only time I touched the bottom on the whole trip, this will be a surprise to my East Coast friends. The upper Tamar is beautiful and very peaceful. I saw kingfishers, foxes, egrets and a whole range of other wildlife I didn’t recognise.

Top of the Tamar tidal section

Back to reality, I went down stream on the ebb to the Tamar River Sailing Club, hosts of the Jester Challenge. My wind vane steering had suffered a malfunction whilst crossing from the Solent and I need to find a new brake cable. I set off to Plymouth and had a good shopping session, I bought a brake cable and a top that didn’t smell of diesel. I also bought a length of tubing to finish off the new fuel tank installation.

Back at the boat and the Jester Challengers were starting to arrive. I bumped into a few and they seemed normal and social. I am not sure what I was expecting but I was anticipating a little bit of ‘odd’. Then I met George! The BBQ on the Friday was a great way to meet other Jesters, past, present and future and club members and it felt like I was in the right place. Comparing notes on boats it appeared that mine was on the small side, most were over 30 feet. A couple of characters stood out, I bought and thoroughly enjoyed reading Dennis Gorman’s book A Voyage to the Sea. The main man, Ewen, had been to the same  school as me, albeit at a different time. I had a good chat with some of the other newbies and got on well everyone.

The next day I was sorting out final stores when Dennis offered to drive me to the shops, he made some suggestions on suitable stuff and took me to the garage to get some diesel. Weird feeling, it isn’t often that I am in the presence of someone I want to emulate. Not quite star struck but not far off it!

The Jester’s Dinner was a good event, I had an excellent chat with Ewen’s son, he had done the Irish challenge in the past but couldn’t this time. The pre event briefing was brief; keep Wolf, Bishop and Fastnet to starboard, now sign the disclaimer. A sense of nervousness was descending on the gathering and most people opted for an early night.

Start day, an early check of the boat and a look round the moorings, everyone was doing the same thing. The weather forecast didn’t look too great, force 6 or 7 from the South West. Two reefs in and everything battened down. The start was a mixed affair. Ewen wasn’t there to fire his shot gun so we started from TRSC at noon and then had a racing start off the breakwater about an hour later. Several Jesters headed straight for Cawsand Bay to wait out the worst of the weather and others headed out to sea. It was clear that I couldn’t head up as well as the others and I headed out to Eddystone while they either hugged the coast or made for the Lizard more directly. On the radio I heard several boats heading for Fowey with a mixture of engine problems and seeking shelter. I was into my stride but still hit the tide off the Lizard. After bashing through this, things got easier and I was becalmed off Land’s End. Drifting into the traffic separation schemes around The Scilly Isles was not a pleasant experience so I checked with Falmouth Coastguard that my AIS transmission was active. I saw Aggie on my AIS so I called him up, he was considering timescales and when he needed to get back to work. I think he anchored up in the Scillies before returning to the Tamar. This made me the smallest boat in the challenge but it was a shame Aggie wasn’t going to be in Baltimore, her skipper is a really nice chap and we would have had a lot to discuss.

I was almost at the Western TSS when I heard Freelancer waiting for the sun to come up so she could find her way into the Scillies to anchor.  I made the mistake of calling her up but the signal wasn’t good enough so it ended in confusion. The jelly fish off the Scillies were amazing. I spent a couple of hours drifting along and watching them in the clear blue sea.  I heard later that Juliet had been caught up in a fishermen’s net and had retired to the Scillies. Juliet’s skipper was also someone I was hoping to catch up with in Baltimore, hopefully he will be involved in future events.

The Stags

The wind gradually built up and I had a great sail across the Celtic Sea, I got enough rest and food and really enjoyed the off-shore element. Whilst I was mainly on port tack water was coming at about a gallon an hour. I wasn’t too bothered so long as it didn’t get any worse. Despite the forecast, I was gradually headed and lost about 10nm by the time I had reached the Irish Coast at the Stags, a fearsome group of rocks. This made the Fastnet Rock a 30 nm round trip. It took 8 hours to make it to the Baltimore entrance, Fastnet would have taken a further 10 hours so I gave it a miss. I sailed into Baltimore Harbour as the light was fading in a very lumpy sea. I dodged around the boats in the bay in the dark and found a buoy in Church Strand Bay. 310 nm and 5 days later it felt good to be tied up. After a relatively short night I moved to where the other boats in the fleet were anchored. The party started!

 

Baltimore Bay

Jester Pirates

We went to the pub and made a start then joined the Baltimore Sailing Club Pirates Dinner before going back to the pub and then to the good ship Spooky for an all-nighter. The sailing club dinner was excellent and I met up with some of the Jesters who had set off from Pwllheli. Quite a different group but a good bunch. The pubs in Baltimore were packed with pirates and tolerant locals which was all good fun. Back at Spooky the owners, one of whom had sailed across singlehanded, and a relative made everyone feel very welcome. Some special bottles were broken out and although I don’t remember the details too well, there was a buzz. Radio and cell phone support was offered to Freelancer who was a couple of hours from Baltimore. This got a bit out of hand and the party ended. I was towed back to my boat in my tender, good old Seagull wouldn’t start, and got a few more hours sleep. Next morning, well the same morning, a group met up to walk to Lot’s Wife, a local landmark. It was a very pleasant walk and cleared the cobwebs out. Saturday was a more subdued affair but we had drinks on several peoples’ boats. On Sunday morning I had itchy feet and set off home.

Leaving Baltimore

Fastnet rock was on the itinerary as I had missed it on the way in and I had probably the best boating experience of the trip. Just before Fastnet there were several large seals, also I saw some whales in the distance and a sun fish.

Fastnet

Once I had rounded Fastnet I became surrounded by whales and saw several of them swim under the boat. They were so close I could almost touch them and they swam with a gentle purpose as a group towards the South West. I could see their white pectoral fin markings clearly as moved beneath Chantilly. They were humped back whales and considerably larger than Chantilly, at least twice as long and considerably heavier. I tried to take some pictures but these didn’t do the situation any justice. The first indication I had of an approaching whale was the noise it made breathing. They seemed to take two breaths so I usually managed to see them on the second time they surfaced. I was left with a strange ethereal feeling of my small size and puny presence compared to their immense and latent power. Shortly after this when the whales had passed I put then engine on to charge the batteries and it died. I could not get it to start so after a couple of goes I decided to leave it until the next day and consider my options. I wasn’t particularly worried at the time as I was in open water with sufficient wind to keep me sailing. The next morning I did all of the standard checks; fuel was reaching the injector, the engine had compression and the batteries still had a reasonable charge in them. I gave the engine another go and it coughed but refused to fire. I still wasn’t too bothered but decided that conserving the batteries was necessary. I turned off all of the non-essential equipment and turned the brightness down on essential equipment. I set up the solar panels and made some voltage checks, the batteries were taking charge so I was happy enough.

The sail across to the Scillies was relatively quiet and I only encountered some fishing boats just before the first TSS. They were French and one of them actually gave way to me when it was clear I was sailing and at the mercy of the wind. The batteries were holding up well and I tried to work out a plan of where I could get to under sail. At sun rise off the Scillies it was quite misty, this was the hottest day in the UK since 1976 and I was cold and damp. Bishop’s rocks were acting like a boat magnet and I kept getting glimpses of them, they are scary. I tried to keep close to the Southerly TSS but there was shipping with fog horns in action which was almost as scary. I turned the AIS brightness up and was relieved to see that while three ships within three miles were actually heading for me they altered in good time but there were quite a few in the TSS and the area in general. The sun came through the mist just as I cleared the Scillies and started crossing South of the Eastern TSS. The tide kept pushing me North into the TSS and shipping kept me wanting to be somewhere else. I turned around and hove to while I waited for the tides to turn. As soon as it had the shipping thinned out and I could clear the TSS without too many worries. I had a good sail past Land’s End and Mounts bay before getting stuck off the Lizard. The wind died and the tide was against me. In addition there was a selection of fishing boats and some shipping not under command drifting around. I made it past the lizard when the tide turned and turned into the approaches to Falmouth looking for an anchorage I could make under sail. Coverack was too lumpy and Gillan Creek was too full of moored and anchored boats. Helford River was to windward and it seemed that protection measures were in place to allow seagrass to become established so anchoring was prohibited. Next I tried the Fal Estuary and I found an ideal spot in the North West corner at Weir Point.

After anchoring under sail and dragging back for about 100m I settled in quite nicely. I was beginning to think that sailing back to the Medway might be possible. The batteries were slowly draining but a stock take of food and water indicated that if I was careful I might be OK. I turned everything off and set the solar panel up even though it was overcast. I then tried calling friends with mechanical knowledge. Suggestions such as check the engine stop cable and the injector were all gratefully received and tested but to no avail so I resigned myself to having one battery with half capacity left and a long sail home. Whilst I was at anchor a very unusual boat arrived, Rose of Argyll, a French registered Lugger with no engine and a bunch of French hippies crewing. After she weaved around between the anchored and moored craft she anchored next to me and the whole crew went ashore in short order, presumably to the pub. Interesting to see how they set their anchor by pulling in slack on the anchor chain then letter her fall back by releasing the chain and backing the jib and main.

Based on making progress under sail I remembered the wise words of Raven’s skipper. There are anchorages all round the coast at roughly a day’s sail spacing; Start Bay, Swanage, Keyhaven, Chichester, Eastbourne etc. So the plan was to sail to Start Bay and then Swanage and then Keyhaven. Once back in the Solent there would be options to either get a tow, fix the engine or leave the boat for a while. The sail to Start Bay was a mixture of a broad reach and down wind sailing, very pleasant but although I was only using it for comfort breaks the auto helm gave up. The vane steering wouldn’t hold a course down wind that was stable enough to prevent either the main or the jib from inadvertent gybes. Then a vane steering cable broke so I was faced with hand steering all the way home. Chantilly, like other long keeled boats has excellent directional stability so hand steering isn’t a massive problem but not ideal. I made it to Start Bay about an hour before sunset and there were dolphins frolicking in the bay and numerous pot buoys in a line along the coast roughly where I wanted to anchor. I ended up tacking in and anchoring in a stiff breeze that was rapidly veering and backing as the geography affected the South Westerly. The depth was 10m so I let out 30m of chain, got a good set and I made sure the anchor watch alarm was working and sat down with a meal to watch the dolphins. They were out of camera range but close enough and it was a lovely end to a solid day’s sail.

Mist verging on fog shrouded us the next morning but I set off at first light to cross Lyme Bay, I could hear ships in the shipping lanes and saw fishing boats on the AIS but kept clear of everything and by lunchtime the mist had mostly lifted and I made it past Portland against the tide but with the wind. I managed to get internet working again so sent some ‘I am OK’ messages and downloaded the weather. I had a roaring sail to St Albans Head with tide and wind in combination driving Chantilly at over 6 knots. My plan was to get to the overfalls and then tack out and back in along the edge of the rough area before turning into Swanage. It was rough but worked well and I made Swanage Bay in time to anchor at dusk. It was too lumpy to do more than have a quick sleep and catch the morning tide up the Needles Channel. At first light I left with a tail wind and by lunchtime I was anchoring off Keyhaven in a very peaceful slot. The wind and tide always make the water interesting up the Needles Channel and just off Hurst Point there was some great whirl pools. Keyhaven was flat enough and the batteries had recovered slightly so I decided to have a serious go at the engine. There was a good spray pattern from the injector and plenty of fuel was reaching it so that all seemed OK. I bled the engine thoroughly and put it all back together. Whilst checking over the fuel system I found the bleed screw on top of the engine mounted filter weeping slightly. When I tried turning the engine over it sucked the split fuel back in. A couple of turns of PTFE thread tape and another go and the engine started. The threads were mostly stripped on this bleed screw but I had found the problem. The engine started again and 2 seconds of starter motor and idle revs set was all it took. It hadn’t started this well since I installed it. I ran the engine for a while but fuel was leaking from the bleed screw so I used more tape and a cable tie which seemed to improve matters.

Hurst Point Castle at Keyhaven

With a working engine I charged the batteries and had a decent meal and several treats; chocolate bars, packets of crisps and a decent wash, if the engine failed I would be in for a spot of dieting! The engine held up and I made it to Gosport where I refuelled and shopped. Things were back on track now. Whilst I was walking back to the boat I bumped into the nice German couple from my visit three weeks previous. I made a point of letting them know I had made it to Ireland. Next stop Littlehampton.

Various steering systems; vane, tiller pilot, bungee and trim tab

The trip has been marked by the generous and helpful people I have met along the way. I made a point of thanking Colin for helping find the part that fixed the fuel system for just long enough to be able to replace the tank and pipework on the outward passage. While I was going to find Colin I bumped into someone I hadn’t seen since I fixed his satellite system in Pyongyang. Funny how small the world is. In Littlehampton I met a German chap on his way to the round the Island Race. He was sailing a very nicely set up Contessa 26. We were interested in each others self steering systems. His was a Bovent from Holland that he had welded up himself and he described how he sailed with twin headsails and the steering easily managed to hold a course. We discussed the various advantages of this sail set up and I determined to find my old hank on genoa in the loft and test this as soon as feasible. In the morning he bumped into my boat as he was leaving, the ebb tide at Littlehampton is ferocious. No damage done to either boat but a bit of a dent in his pride I suspect.

By comparison with the outward leg from Ramsgate to Littlehampton, the return was much more straight forward. It took 30 hours instead of 36 and was largely downwind. I hit the headlands of Beachy Head and Dungeness with the tide and the only issue was that I had too much sail up when the wind strengthened off Dungeness resulting in one of the worst main sail reefs seen in home waters. I slipped into Ramsgate’s Royal Harbour Marina and was greeted by Peter in his Westerly 25. Whilst trying to tie up and dash to the fish and chip shop he regaled me with his voyage thus far from Wick. I excused myself and went ashore for some food. My legs were all over the place and I was sure some thought I was drunk. After a good meal and a walk round the harbour I went back and to the marina and Peter was keen that I join him for a night cap. He is sailing round Britain in aid of Cancer charities. He described his rescue by the RNLI and his approach to sailing. I wonder if people view me in a similar light. A lone sailor in an aging boat trying to go somewhere that others might consider fool hardy. Anyway, Peter is doing it in a good cause and he is on the interweb as Bumble Ahoy.

Royal Harbour Marina, Ramsgate

The magic carpet is the term I have heard that is given to the flood tide from North Foreland up the Thames and associated tributaries. If there is a fair wind it should be possible to make it right up the Medway. Unfortunately there wasn’t any wind and I wasn’t prepared to thrash the engine just to make my new mooring. We rode the tide to Garrison Point and then slogged it out to Stangate Creek where I spent the final night afloat. It was a very restful night and the next morning I didn’t wait for the tide but plugged away to Hoo. A few months ago I joined the Hoo Ness Club and this was the first time I have moored there at Chantilly’s new home. Several club members were returning to their moorings and all gave me a warm welcome. This is very different to the social scene at my previous moorings. Martin gave me a lift to the station and I was on my way home after five weeks away. I left Chantilly in a deplorable state but I am sure she won‘t mind.

When I set out I had three questions;

Do I want to do more off-shore singlehanded sailing? This is a definite yes.

Is Chantilly the right boat for off-shore singlehanded sailing? Yes and no, she was brilliant on this trip and would easily, albeit slowly, cope with heavier weather and longer passages. Being a slow boat that doesn’t get close to the wind means that longer voyages require additional provisions and this will be the limiting factor assuming I can take enough time off work.

Is the Jester set up the right organisation for my future off-shore activities? Absolutely, it matched my needs and the people were brilliant.  

Date Published 13th Jul 2017