Update to our last post ‘The Last Post – Crazysails crew bid farewell to 2017, an amazing year of adventure’. Photos now added (lots of them!).
We’ve now been back from our Round Britain trip as long as we were away (three and a half months) and it has been a busy time since we returned home, not least with the birth of baby Max – who had accompanied us as a bump with Mum, Sophie and Dad, Neil, on the Caledonian Canal part of our journey. Although a whirlwind of activity since our return, we have still had time to reflect on the highlights of the whole experience and every time the weather comes on tv and we see places we visited mentioned – and that it’s still raining in the Western Isles – it brings back many happy memories of our trip.
So this post, begun as the last of 2017, is also a rather belated account of our final return to our sailing club on Hayling Island and our reflections of a fantastic experience.
THE FINAL LEG
We left Brighton on schedule at 6am and headed west towards Selsey Bill and The Looe Channel. The night before had brought torrential rain and a visit from nephew, Ben and fiancé, Blaize, We enjoyed a lovely, though wet, evening at the marina with B & B but hoped for better weather for the final leg back to Hayling. Sure enough we left to a beautiful dawn and enjoyed a brisk sail homeward bound.
We always knew that getting back to our club on the lunchtime tide would be tight but with good winds and favourable tides we made good progress. As we rounded Selsey Bill and saw the entrance to Chichester Harbour emerge on the horizon, we realised our journey was truly nearly over and we both became quite emotional – however as we entered the harbour, we were almost run down by a mass of dinghies, all out racing as part of the Bart’s Bash event (in memory of Olympic sailor, Andrew ‘Bart’ Simpson). This quickly brought us back to earth as we had to steer our way around them and also get into the channel down the creek to Mengeham, so we didn’t miss the tide. It wouldn’t have been too good to get so close to our home club and not be able to get back because we misjudged the tide! We did it with about 10 minutes to spare!
Anyway, we made it back to a wonderfully warm welcome from family members and cheers from club members on the sailing club balcony. We loved our welcome home banner made by Olivia, Abigail and Phoebe and really enjoyed our homecoming drinks from Joanna Lewis, the Vice Commodore (now Commodore). Thanks also to Julian Hickman, who not only arranged the video of us when we departed but was also there to film us on our return too. We are truly lucky to have a supportive and lovely family and also to be part of such a great sailing club. But we can’t forget to mention and to thank the many friends, other family members and supporters (particular thanks to C&J Marine) who sponsored us, messaged us, tracked our progress, encouraged us and even visited us during our trip around the UK. Without you, we would not have smashed our fundraising target for the National Autistic Society (target £2017, raised (with tax relief) over £3,600
SOME OF OUR HIGHLIGHTS
1. The people we met and who came to see us – so many friendly, supportive strangers who quickly became friends and supporters. From Jane Tulley, who we met on the towpath before we actually left Menghem, through to many marina and harbour staff at different venues around the UK, the very friendly members of the Royal St Georges Sailing Club in Dun Laighaire, the endlessly patient Andrew who worked on our troublesome log at Ardfern Marina, Sam and Robin King and all at Oban Marina, The Coquet Sailing Club and The transatlantic team of The Four Oarsmen in Amble, Margaret, landlady at the Harrow Inn in Berwork upon Tweed, and, of course, old friends at the Royal Temple in Ramsgate – to name but a few. Thank you for your hospitality, friendship and support.
2. Some of our favourite places – we are lucky to live in a beautiful part of the world and having the opportunity to visit by boat so many different places around the UK was magical. Our top favourite memories for scenery and views were the West of Scotland generally but in particular, the view from Crinan over the Western Isles, pretty Tobermory, the tranquillity of Salen on Loch Sunart and (inshore) the West Highland Railway crossing from Corpach to Mallaig (particularly around the Glenfinnon Viaduct). The old town of Carlingford on stunning Carlingford Loch on the Southern/ Northern Irish border, the colours over St Ives harbour in Cornwall, the sunsets over Warkworth Castle from Amble Marina in Northumberland and at Wells-next-the-Sea in Norfolk.
Top meals – we enjoyed so many lovely meals it was hard to choose but in the end we decided our top five meals were with Paul and Chris Dew at the King of Prussia in Fowey, Cornwall, at the Golden Lion in Padstow, Cornwall, the seafood tent on the harbour at Oban, Scotland, The Mish Nish in Tobermory, Isle of Mull and The Boat Shack (because of the fun with the family, dining in an upturned boat) in Amble, Northumberland. We also cooked up some delicious offerings on board and enjoyed lots of lovely seafood everywhere we went.
Other favourite memories: Marooned in Weymouth during the folk weekend – great fun, more folk music in Whitby – more fun, Dublin (all of it), Simon’s newfound bakery skills – scones and homemade bread, the wildlife -dolphins, dolphins, whales, puffins and more dolphins, visits from friends and family en-route, especially being joined for a week by Sophie and Neil and bump (then known as Puffling now as baby Max), dressing Simon in his highland dress in Oban, lots of laughter and awe inspiring scenery and the fact we spent over 3 1/2 months at sea with not one cross word and loved every minute of our trip (even when it was windy, wet and wild).
OTHER INTERESTING FACTS
Mileage on log at end of journey – 1669 miles
Charts packs used – 17 Pilot, almanacs & other books used : 19
Ports / harbours visited – 45
Longest passage (GPS reading) : Padstow to Milford Haven –79 miles
Shortest passage (GPS reading ): Whitby to Scarbourough – 16 miles
Fastest average passage: Whitby to Scarbourgh – 16 miles in 2 hours.
Fastest speed recorded: 10.7 on the log (with help from the tide, of course):
Highest wind captured on the wind indicator: 44 knots
June Sailing attire:
The rest of the trip sailing attire (July, August, September):
Off watch… a bit of relaxation:
Worst crossing / sails / entries: Padstow to Milford Haven – long, long, long, rocking and rolling, rough, rough, rough – saved by the beautiful dolphins who accompanied us. Peterhead to Stonehaven – big North Sea swell and tight port entry on a lee shore. Most other crossings were mainly fine but some areas such as the approach to the Mull of Kintyre, entry into Dun Laoghaire marina and some port entries such as Killmore Quay, Arklow, Whitby and Scarborough were tight with big swells.
Best sails: Weymouth – Dartmouth, Fowey to Helford River, Ardfern to Oban, Inverness to Lossiemouth
No of nights at sea: 110 nights in our cabin
No of Blogs: 23 (including this one) Plus numerous Facebook posts
Strangest things – Hair straighteners in the ladies in Arklow, Ireland, A bar made up of doors in Weymouth, gold sparkly toilets in the Indian restaurant in Berwick upon Tweed, eating in an upturned boat in Amble. working in strange places such as the laundrette at Dun Laoghaire and the toilets in Carlingford Loch (before one of the harbour staff took pity on me and loaned me a desk outside his office), and the Ukelele group who entertained passers-by in Padstow, Cornwall
Best showers: (Benchmark are showers in Chichester Marina) No 1 –Suffolk Yacht Harbour, Levington, Bangor, Northern Ireland, Amble Marina, Northumberland (Bangor and Amble even had private bathrooms – with a bath!), Campbeltown, Mull of Kintyre, Wells-next-the-Sea, Suffolk. For the boys, Simon said I had to show the impressive copper pipework which is a feature of the gents toilets at the Royal Norfolk and Suffolk Yacht Club at Lowestoft.
Worst places – even these had something good about them, whether it was the people we met, the wider environment or just something about the soul of the place: in no particular order – Peterhead (sadly run down but great place to eat at the Seaman’s Mission), the Tweed Dock in Berwick Upon Tweed (not the town itself), Arklow, Southern Ireland (the surroundings were grim and entry challenging but the harbour master very friendly and helpful)., Hartlepool (huge but rather run down and soul-less marina with the biggest lock and the biggest Mecca bingo hall ever), Scarborough (ok but a bit ‘kiss me quick’ seaside town and not very friendly harbour staff but nice views of castle and entry to harbour) + we have to mention the spaghetti junction of lobster pots which we had to navigate to get into Arbroath Harbour in SE Scotland, never seen so many lobster pots in one place!
We set out to sail around the UK via the Calendonian Canal and during our trip to raise awareness about autism and the challenges faced by those with an autism diagnosis and their families and carers. We wanted to raise money to support the excellent work of the National Autistic Society and would like to thank Joanna Ackroyd at the NAS for her support as we progressed. We are so very happy to confirm that not only did we complete our personal challenge to sail around Britain sail but we also managed to raise money and awareness for the NAS. THANK YOU to everyone who shared our story, contributed to our fund raising and helped us on our way.
2017 was a great year of adventure for us and ended with a new addition to our family so welcome Max (future sailor and rugby player, of course) and ‘farewell 2017. Very best wishes to everyone for 2018 – may the new year bring lots of good things, peace, health, happiness and, of course, great adventures and fantastic sailing to all. Please continue following our Crazysails 2018 adventures on our blog and keep supporting the NAS – thank you.
For the last post in 2017