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Land of milk and honey

“But I forsee that if my wants should be much increased, the labor required to supply them would become a drudgery. If I should sell both my forenoons & afternoons to society, neglecting my peculiar calling, there would be nothing left worth living for. I trust that I shall never thus sell my birth-right for a mess of pottage.”  –  Henry David Thoreau
 

 

We successfully escaped pretty A Coruña following 3 weeks of partying while waiting for the hydraulics and autopilot to be fixed. Tobi departed around this time, so we were down to two crew. We had hugely ambitious plans of sailing around Fistera into one of the Rias, but soon realised that we were actually far too knackered from all the goodbyeing. We pulled into a tiny fishing village. The single pontoon marina indicated by my otherwise fabulous Reeds guide turned out to be mere fantasy so we anchored out in the harbour on a perfectly calm night, rowed ashore […]

By |2018-03-13T02:06:13+00:00June 26th, 2011|Categories: Uncategorized|0 Comments

Southbound

“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.”  –  Helen Keller

Having set off from Cherbourg sometime around the 18th of April (I should really be taking that logbook business more seriously!) we reached Guernsey after 8 hours of motoring through a dead-calm version of the feared Audierne race with numerous filter changes. We spent a few days on Guernsey, a weird tax oasis under direct control of the crown; here, we cleaned and emptied the much-troubled contaminated fuel tank and got some super cheap diesel.

This was followed by a big leg around the end of Brittany towards Brest. The strong high pressure at the time meant delightful weather and zero wind, so we were once again motoring along. The French customs decided to board around midnight. I love them, I really do. They arrived on an unlit cutter on my watch, and the first sign of them was a huge searchlight in my face and noise on the radio. Eventually […]

By |2018-03-13T02:18:34+00:00May 15th, 2011|Categories: Uncategorized|0 Comments

Year 0 Facts & Figures

“You start out with luck and no experience and hope to get the experience before the luck runs out”  –  popular sailing proverb

With first year drawing to a close, I felt its time for a little summary of the journey to date. And yes, since everybody from the Arabs to the Catholics have come to enjoy their own calendar, this year shall henceforth be known as year 0 of the age of the Republic.<br/ >

Journey facts:

Months lived aboard: 9
Distance covered: 265 nm
Countries: 3
Ports: 5
Crew members: 5
Uniforms on board: 4
Incidents of sea sickness: 2
Worst hangover: Blankenberge
Best party: Brighton
Belgian waffles consumed: Lots and lots!

Engine failures: 2
MOBs: 0
Max wind: 6 bf
Min wind: 0 bf (duh!)

 

This photo was taken from Cherbourg castle when MS Queen Elizabeth visited Cherbourg the other day – monster is just visible in the Port de Plaisance below.

We’ve had a rather soft landing in Cherbourg; the winter rates are comparatively affordable, and […]

By |2018-03-13T02:34:13+00:00December 13th, 2010|Categories: Uncategorized|0 Comments

Hibernating in Oysterville

“Ich glaube, jeder Mensch lebt sein eigenes Leben und stirbt seinen eigenen Tod, das glaub’ ich.”  –  Jens Peter Jacobsen

I was once again rewarded by an oddly satisfying sense of achievement for having made it to Cherbourg. I guess all that responsibility-bearing stress on what is after all a fairly insane mission culminates in this sense of “it may have been absurd, but at least we survived to tell the tale”.

Perhaps a bit like the people who partook in and survived that other famous amphibious invasion.. Ok, ok, we weren’t greeted by Nazi armies, but do note the Allies did their landing in mid-summer!

Having arrived in the morning, we slept all day Friday, went out for a few lagers at night, and decided to set off for Guernsey at 0300 Sunday, aiming for Brest or Saint-Malo as an end to my tour with Gebard.

It was still internationally freezing, and I had heard that England was enjoying it’s annual stint […]

By |2018-03-13T02:31:22+00:00December 1st, 2010|Categories: Uncategorized|0 Comments

Third mall from the sun

 

I spent two long weeks on the guest pontoon at Brighton marina, which is famously known to be a bit of an overpriced dump. Around it, there are “a large Asda supermarket and two groups of boutique shops, restaurants and bars, plus a hotel, a bowling alley, a health club, a casino, and a multiplex cinema with a multi-storey car-park built over and around it”, plus “several gated communities consisting of townhouses and apartments” (thanks wikipedia!). The long and short of it being, I was suddenly living in the middle of some type of mall environment, a constant reminder of the late capitalist quagmire Bill Hicks referred to as the “Third Mall from the Sun”.

In spite of the lack of organic community, I set out using my tried and tested participative anthropology method, joined the local “david lloyd” gym on a trial, ate asda chickens every day, and sampled all the real ales that were on offer at […]

By |2018-03-13T02:41:04+00:00December 1st, 2010|Categories: Uncategorized|0 Comments

Land of a thousand toothless smiles

After arrival in Dover, I started troubleshooting the engine. It turns out the water separator filter was totally stuffed with algae from the tank. I’m inclined to blame the Belgian uniforms again – having had the red diesel pumped out there, I only took a 100 litres of expensive white diesel in, as I was planning to once again fill my tank with red diesel in the UK.

Sounds like a big ironic joke, only it turned out to be one with a nasty side effect: What little fuel there was had been sloshing around in the near-empty tank, and together with the full steam ahead motoring around the traffic separation scheme, I had sucked most of the dirt out of my tank and into my diesel filter. So I started my search around town for alternator belts (can never have enough of those) and “Baldwin” diesel filters; sadly neither was readily available in the chandlery or car parts shops.

I […]

By |2018-03-13T02:48:59+00:00November 10th, 2010|Categories: Uncategorized|0 Comments

Escape from paradise

In Blankenberge, I first made an express money transfer to the ACAB account in Belgium to pay my red diesel fine, which they then couldn’t verify, so I had to sign more declarations and forms saying I swear I had definitely paid it up, bla bla. They say BOAT is an abbreviation for Bring on Another Thousand, and bring on another thousand I did. I was thoroughly entertained when the chief customs uniform gave me their official IBAN, which actually starts on BE666.. Coincidence? In any case, clearly a challenge to my superstition-rejecting atheism.

I then had my forestay done by a Wittevrongel guy called Steve, who reminded me of an old friend and seemed extremely competent. He also changed my anchor light and put a radar reflector on the mizzen mast whilst he was up there. Thanks, Steve!

Later, I had my diesel pumped off by a local boaty company. They were clearly going to use it for heating and […]

By |2018-03-13T02:52:48+00:00November 9th, 2010|Categories: Uncategorized|0 Comments

Nightmares in uniform

 

“It was all a dream”, as my local friend and occasional flatmate on monster Thibeaut pointed out (quoting the title of a Tupac song). And he was right of course. Only sometimes dreams turn into a bit of a nightmare. Especially when pirate vessels with half a ton of illegal diesel collide with the ACAB authorities.

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But first things first. Following a rather positive test drive with monster outside the Nieuwpoort harbour (my friend Ernst at the wheel in this pic) and some more fiddling on the interior, we finally set out for Blankenberge at the end of October.

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We had a lovely sail down without the Genoa making 6-7 kn in some favourable current, as the forestay was to be fixed in Blankenberge, and I was in a triumphant mood having finally started my hopefully epic journey following 5 […]

By |2018-03-13T02:59:16+00:00November 9th, 2010|Categories: Uncategorized|1 Comment

Reviving Monster

I spent the summer of 2010 refitting a steel ketch, working title monster, at VVW Nieuwpoort. Poor thing was in quite a desolate state following years of neglect. This did however allow me to purchase the boat for a very reasonable price.

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Luckily I quickly made some friends locally to help me with the paintwork – and most importantly party and keep me entertained! In July in particular the BBQ never got cold really.

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Of course this also involved encountering the local steel boat owning brethren, who were on the parking maintaining their boats for half the summer as well.. That’s steel for you!

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That’s my neighbour Jean welding up some windows we had cut into the long keel to assess the strength of the steel plates and paint the […]

By |2018-03-13T03:06:34+00:00November 5th, 2010|Categories: Uncategorized|0 Comments