I volunteered to spend some time with the boat FOC before the main event.
I joined commissioning skipper and skipper for the delivery trip, Adrian, together with Duncan Bush (Oyster) and Jas, who would be sailing with us, for a night out on the boat. The fourth member of the crew for the delivery, Droid, would join the boat for the trip to Palma.
A problem with the furling system in the boom prevented us doing much and we anchored in the Stour for the night.
I arrived at 1300 to help prepare the boat for departure the following morning. Jas arrived at the same time. Droid a little later. I spent a couple of hours protecting the cabin sole with a sticky backed padded covering. The work surfaces were protected by sheets of 10mm MDF cut to size. We were going to be careful with a brand new ship ..
Adrian was aloft late in the afternoon padding the shrouds to protect the main sail.
We were in Tesco late …. that evening. Oyster stood us supper in the pub across from the marina.
Departure Ipswich for Palma
Just had a shower on a yacht underway for the first time. No shower on ‘Talisker 1’ or for that matter on any of the other boats I’ve owned. It’s always been baby wipes off shore.
We are a third of the way across Biscay in E 3-4’s.
Trip so far pretty uneventful.
Good crew. Skipper Adrian is a hugely experienced sailor. I’m watching. He smoked a couple of fags while going through options when the main did not furl on the approaches to Ushant. No quick decision but he came up with the right one. No over reaction. Others could have opted for Brest etc… without really thinking it through. We did not miss our weather window to cross Biscay. We hove-to for an hour and a half at daylight to check the problem and found no fault …
Mate, Droid, is a close friend of Adrian and has done quite a bit. Really good man and like Adrian … a Thames Barge skipper. Droid owns much of the Thames Barge ‘Edme’ www.edmebarge.com
Jas is a very grown up 17 year old. I thought she was perhaps 21 just on attitude. She’s really lovely and sails smacks. Not sure she has been off shore too much at all but she is much more than a very capable member of the crew. She quite amusingly gave me instructions when I first met her! I did not say anything.
They all know each other and so far they have had to put up with me!
The boat makes 200 miles a day. Adrian’s passage plans are based on 180 NM for a 24H run. Just about everything he does seems sensible and capable.
We got down channel pretty quickly after our departure Tuesday morning from Ipswich. Black Deep and through Fishermans Gat to round North Foreland. The visibility was not great off Dover. We motored much of the early part of the Channel in light airs.
It’s been a lovely day today. I managed to film Common Dolphins first thing this morning riding the ships bow wave.
We have clocked 490 NM over the ground and we are 100 NM SW of Ushant off the Continental Shelf. Dog Watches 1600 to 2000 and then the watches are four hourly. The mate, Droid, and me are doing midnight to 0400.
Well in to a windy Biscay
0745 BST Dolphins……
1050 BST Diary
I’m resting between watches. We are heading due south in mirror calms 15 NM from land. Just past Esposand (Braga). Yesterday evening we sighted land, the NW coast of Spain, having completed our crossing of Biscay. Yesterday afternoon the conditions had been lively with winds gusting 30+ from the east with confused seas caused by a swell from the WNW. The weather changed in the lea of the land and the winds dropped and the seas flattened. I’ve experienced Biscay for the first time. Jas too! This morning Droid and me were on the 0400 to 0800 watch. With daylight the boat got a visit from a large pod of common dolphins. It was an absolute privilege to watch them riding the bow wave and the ships wake. A truly memorable moment. Not the first time for Droid but nonetheless he appreciated the moment as much as I did … which was very nice. He’s a good man.
I was tired when I came off watch at midnight and in a deep sleep for the first time when Adrian gave me a call for the 0400 watch. It took some time to come round on deck! I’m feeling better for this mornings rest.
The boat is quite a beast with much I don’t like. Too much bling and too little thought for a seaway. There is nowhere to hang anything wet! Nowhere!! Not that we’ve got wet yet!
The weather looks much the same for this coast but it’s blowing hard out of the Mediterranean and along the south coast of Portugal so our skipper is thinking of stopping for a night around Lisbon followed by a 15 hour sail to Lagos, where we have to stop anyway, and then wait for favourable weather in to Gibraltar and the Mediterranean which IS forecast.
The trips going ok! Fast!
1640 BST Diary
All the gadgets of this yacht. I’ve just had a shower with water from the ships own water maker followed by a glass of water. The water tastes incredible!
The fog cleared just before 1600 and there is a very slight breeze from the west giving us enough of a lift to set genoa and main and motor sail.
In smooth seas in the middle of the day we washed down the decks … from the ships own water supply.
My next watch is 1800 to 2000 and then the midnight to 0400 watch …
1715 BST 9th April Diary
We arrived in Cascais this morning with just under 1,000 NM logged from Ipswich. We will rest up here and leave for Lagos tomorrow afternoon and then stay there until there is a favourable weather window for Gibraltar and the Mediterranean.
We passed the most westerly point of Europe this morning, Cabo de Roca, before rounding Cabo Raso for the short trip in to the marina.
The skipper took us to lunch after we had made the ship clean and tidy.
We are all in shorts and T shirts. It’s very warm during the day.
Last night’s midnight to 0400 watch was noticeably warmer for the first time.
It will be good to get some rest tonight although the ship had got in to a pretty good routine underway.
We stayed in Cascais for the day then setting sail for Lagos at 2030 BST for the overnight sail to Lagos
1130 BST Diary
Cape St Vicente was an exciting moment this morning. Jas kindly woke me so that I could enjoy the moment of rounding this famous promontory for the first time.
We left Cascais last night at 1730 for the overnight sail round the cape to Lagos where we will deliver sail battens to another Oyster, stay the night and then sail for Gibraltar and the Med departing tomorrow afternoon. Adrian is hoping to make Palma on Saturday night.
I’m still not liking the main sail furling system. I would be very surprised if I ever had one on a boat of my own. The sail is such a terrible shape with vertical battens.
We are currently sailing in to a light easterly. Lagos has a bar and this ship draws 2.9 metres. HW is about 1530!
I filmed a couple of bays just round the corner from the Cape. I am sure Doc sheltered in one of them before setting off for the Canaries in 2003. I will show him the footage when I get back.
We arrived in Lagos waiting pontoon 1300 BST
We left Lagos at 1315 BST next stop Palma, Mallorca
1610 BST Diary
We left Lagos at 1300. It’s quite hot here. We are motoring over a smooth sea heading for Gibraltar and the straits.
Yesterday we delivered sail battens to a Polish owned 70’ Oyster ‘Thunder’. They paid for ‘Nikitoo’s’ berth and stood us a handsome supper for our trouble. The battens have been strapped to our guard rails since Ipswich. The new sails for her are from Dolphin. The very long sail battens were going to be difficult and costly to send by courier. Hence us!
‘Thunder’ is on the hard and frankly looks months away from a relaunch! Chaos!
The two stop overs have suited the weather we are expecting. Tomorrow, westerly winds are forecast in to the straits and very nearly all the way to Mallorca. From Sunday the winds are forecast to go north easterly.
1525 BST Diary
Brother William should be home today.
I am resting in my bunk with a dog watch starting at 1600. We are now in the Med. This morning we passed Gibraltar and sadly due to poor visibility could hardly see Africa though the gloom. Almost immediately the westerly winds kicked in. We are forecast 3 to 5’s from the west with slight seas until 0800 tomorrow.
Sadly this boat needs 20 knots to sail without the engine.
Last night we motored towards the Straits. I’m in the foscle and the boat slammed. This afternoon my sleep was uninterrupted and much needed.
The main is on a preventer with the genoa poled out.
There are no flights home until Wednesday. As much as I love Palma and don’t mind the extra few days pay I would sooner be home.
1820 BST Diary
I’ve just filmed a Mediterranean dolphin display. We are 30 NM due south of Velez Malaga and our home in Frigiliana.
0900 BST Diary
Just had a shower on the posh boat and now back in my ‘state room’! I had a good watch with the Mate, Droid, from 0400 to 0800. We had a great view of the coast of Sierra de Gata as we passed Cabo de Gata with the sun coming up.
As I write this we are 255 NM from Palma and the ship seems to eat 200 NM a day. So tomorrow afternoon should see us in port with the job done. All going ok at the moment but it’s not over til the fat lady sings ….
Some thoughts on Oyster 70 ‘Thunder’
‘Thunder’ was on the hard in Lagos and could only be described as being totally chaotic so close to a relaunch in just a few days after a refit. She actually looked months away.
Nothing was finished.
An Englishman was laying a false teak deck so there are no deck fittings.
There are no chain plates and the engine is missing.
There is no mast.
The new standing rigging had not arrived and there was talk of using the old standing rigging. The rigging was not only old but had been lying in the dust and dirt, been driven over and trodden on throughout the refit.
Adrian, Droid and me were quite shaken by what we saw.
Down below everything was incomplete with wires, plumbing and systems incomplete.
As we were leaving I was talking to the project manager, the very nice Stan Wichley. ‘I’m worried about the tow rail’ he told me. Quite alarmed I muttered something along the lines of it being the very least of your problems / worries and hurried away before, perhaps, being handed some tools.
There is apparently a lot of Polish money being thrown at the boat with a ‘we want it now’ attitude.
That’s not quite how it works. With a team of the best it just ain’t going to happen quickly.
0920 BST Diary
We are just past Ibiza and on the final run in to Palma ETA mid afternoon.
Droid and me relieved the skipper and Jas at 0800. On what should be our last night at sea they have suffered the last double night watches. 2000 to midnight and then 0400 to 0800.
Without speaking too soon I expected the voyage to be much tougher. We have been unbelievably blessed with kind weather. It has ended up a milk run.
The skipper SHOULD be able to relax ‘mission accomplished’.
Had I been told Jas was 20 to 21, as indeed I thought she was, I would have been impressed. That she is not yet 18 makes her a remarkable young lady. She is so much more than a very competent crew member. I’m certain that she will have gained much from her first off shore passage. She will go far!
Droid is a good man. I have enjoyed our piss taking watches together. He does not take himself too seriously at all.
Next stop Palma and hopefully a catch up with May, Juanjo, Theresa and Pepe.
12 Days and just under 1,900 NM …
2220 BST Diary
We have arrived. Mid afternoon.
The engine played up nearing Palma and Adrian went over the side to see if there was a prop wrap. Nothing untoward was found anywhere although there is certainly a fault of some sort that will show on an engineer’s computer.
Jas was very excited to arrive. Many, her age, would hide their feelings in these situations but not her. Quite a grown up!
For the second time on the trip I am a light weight. The others have gone out to dinner. I’m in my berth minus lee cloth, in total comfort, writing this!
The next few days were spent doing some work on the boat every day and seeing a bit of Palma. The others went further.
We flew home on the 19th