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    Sailing Single Handed, UK to Belgium, Part 1 | ⛵ Sailing Britaly ⛵
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    Sailing Single Handed, UK to Belgium, Part 1 | ⛵ Sailing Britaly ⛵

    February 9, 2020


    Hello and welcome aboard! This is the
    first in a little mini series of videos of my solo sail from the UK to Belgium
    and I just thought I’d start out with some boat handling, because some people
    have asked me to include more of that and I thought that this would be a good
    opportunity to do that. So what’s happening here is the boat has two piles
    at the front and a pontoon behind. The two bow lines have been removed from the
    piles and the leeward Stern line has also been removed so we’re just holding
    position there. I’ve got a little bit of ahead on the throttle and there’s only
    a light wind coming from the port side so that one Stern line is holding the
    boat in position and I’ve just got got it balanced with the throttle so that
    it’s sitting central to the two piles ahead of me. When I want to leave all
    I’ve got to do is take the throttle off and put the engine into neutral, that
    takes the tension off the stern line and then I’ve got a little window of time to
    get the stern line off before the bow is blown off (as I said these are just light
    winds here today which makes it quite easy for me) and then once I’ve done that
    I can retrieve the stern line, put the boat into gear and then start making my
    way out of the slip. I’ve got to be careful of the pile on the port quarter
    there because as I turn that’s quite close but I managed to make it through
    there without bumping into anything – and here we are into open water. I’d just like
    to point out at this time that I’m not trying to be a smart Alec here, I’m not
    pretending that I’m some kind of instructor on boat handling because I’m not, I’m just
    making things up as it go along but, I’m gonna be including my boat handling
    during this whole trip so you can see what works and what doesn’t, and you know
    I’m going to be sharing with you the things that go well and the things that
    go not so well so that we can all learn together. As I’m taking the boat out
    through the lock and on to the river, where I’m going to be tying up to the
    fuel pontoon initially, just let me tell you a little bit of the backstory of
    what’s going on here. Basically Rossella and I had a discussion and it was
    decided that it was far more efficient for me to go to the boat on my own and
    just crack on do the urgent essential things on the boat to
    get it ready to cross the channel, and Rossella and Emma would stay in Italy. This
    was definitely the right call to make and I was able to do lots of jobs on the
    boat before setting off on this journey. I did a huge list of things – I’m not
    going to go through them all but the most important ones were: cleaning out
    the fuel system. What tends to happen is in the fuel tank there is condensation
    often in a boats fuel tank, then in the interface between the fuel and the water
    there is a kind of algae which can grow – a black gunk – and what happens is people
    go out and the first time they’re in rough seas the water and fuel get
    sloshed around, that disturbs the algae that gets sucked up into the fuel intake
    and then the engine cuts out when you least want it to. So I didn’t want to
    happen to me and I spent some time to flush the fuel and replace the filters. I
    then had some play in our steering and it wasn’t too bad you know a lot of
    people probably would have ignored it but it was just annoying me and knowing
    that I was going to be going out into this channel I wanted it to be
    hunky-dory and we intend to keep this boat for a long time so, you know, things
    like this I’d rather just get them resolved straight away before they get
    any worse. So I was able to take the steering apart and basically replace
    three bearings. There was only one that had failed, but while I was in there I
    decided to replace three bearings on our rack and pinion steering system. It was a
    bit of a difficult job on my own: I didn’t have any bearing pullers or
    anything so I had to use hot and cold and other kind of techniques to to do it,
    but anyway I got there in the end and I’m very glad that I did that because
    our steering is now so smooth that I can literally turn our wheel just by holding
    the nut – the the steering wheel nut – I can hold that and operate the steering
    just with that kind of very small amount of leverage it’s beautiful! I replaced a
    lot of running rigging and inspected the standing rigging. That involved going
    up and down the mast a lot on my own and I made a video about how I do that and
    the running rigging – I extended it so that it’s all operable from the helm
    position so there’s nothing that I can’t reach while I’m sitting at the wheel of
    the boat now – which if I’m ever without an autopilot I’ll be very glad of. So
    there you have the back story. Now on this day in question I took the boat
    through the lock it’s about 8 o’clock in the morning and I intended to leave and
    be safely tucked up in an anchorage before it got dark, but unfortunately I
    was delayed for a few different reasons and it was quite a tough call – I almost
    didn’t leave this day I almost left it until the next day but the weather
    forecast wasn’t good and I was kind of just being chased down by weather and I
    thought ” Do you know what let’s just go. It’s my first ever solo sail, it’s gonna be
    dark, it’s gonna be a challenge but I’m just going to go for it.”
    So that’s what I did. It’s time to go sailing! But first I need
    to weigh anchor, on my own, without a windlass and yesterday I made a little
    invention which I hope will make that a whole lot easier! This little bad boy. I had a lot of
    stainless steel left over from our DIY solar arch and I made this up in an hour
    from start to finish and I’ve tested it in the marina it seems to work extremely
    well but let’s use it in the real world and see if it lives up to my
    expectations. I’m sure you can guess how this works just by looking at it but
    just let me show you anyway: you pull up on the chain and then when you let go it
    locks and you can release. So we’re currently on the River Medway there’s a
    little bit of current running you can see from the eddies coming off the back
    of the boat there and the rudder and the wind is a little bit variable – a big
    front just went through there and it was blowing up to 28 knots but it’s
    currently 11 or 12 knots. Okay we’re on roughly the right heading
    there 12 knots at the moment, 13 so I’m gonna engage forward, put the autopilot
    in Auto and then I’m going to watch these boats here and I’m going to use
    them to show me when I’m creeping forwards. So I am moving slowly forwards
    there let’s go and lift the chain. So that I can go back to the helm and head into clear water. Yes autopilot I know you need a little bit more throttle I know I understand! I don’t know if you’ll be able to see this, but there is a weather front there, so that might hit us shortly, time will tell… I’ve never actually used jackstays before, on any boat, but today I’m going to because I’m a father, and a husband, I’m on my own, these waters aren’t particularly friendly if I was to go in it would not be a good situation. So I’m going to set them up now. This is a webbing that I bought from an industrial supplier, so it was nice and cheap but it’s really strong, it has around a 3,000 kg
    (6600 lbs) breaking load And then this reel is a cable reel that I bought on amazon for about £10, £9 It keeps it nice and tidy and it’s easy to stow it away. Bye bye Gillingham Marina! We made some
    lovely memories there and it’s quite sad to be leaving but pastures new… I think
    I’m gonna have to put this big camera away. That’s always such a beautiful moment
    isn’t it when you knock off the engine? Aaahhhh, lovely. Ok, I’m about to get some mainsail out for the first time ever in real life. You know, we’ve had it out in the marina but this will be the first time to have it out for sailing. But I’m not gonna get much out, because that front is imminent, and I don’t want to get blown about too much. Just take things easy… That little boat there has just remindied me to put
    my nav lights on as well. That is, we’re no longer in stealth mode. Well guys, after a lot of hard work, this is very nice. Darkness is a primeval thing isn’t it? It
    tends to ‘darken the mood’ Did you see what I did there(!)
    So yeah, it’s gonna be very different arriving at this
    anchorage at night but you’ve got push yourself haven’t you, to extend you capabilities you’ve got to push yourself, and that’s what I’m doing. 16 knots, I don’t know if you can see that. (Apparent) I’m being conservative with the sails,
    because this is all quite new really and there’s no need to push everything to
    the limit you know I’m already doing something which for me is a challenge so
    I don’t mind only doing four and a half knots or whatever rather than trying to
    scream along at seven. There’s an old military fort there looking quite spooky
    in the dark Well do you know what: I’m really happy that I’m doing this. it’s easy to
    just duck out the things and think “Oh you know, I’ll do it tomorrow”. I was tempted to do
    this tomorrow, but you learn by pushing yourself so I’m really happy to be doing this this. This is actually really quite relaxing: there is a stretch of river called Long Reach, and it really is a long reach! There’s not really anything for me to do, I can just sit here and enjoy the atmosphere. It’s quite special really.
    It’s nice to be sharing this with you guys as well. 16 knots apparent.We’re just about to pass a buoy, and there is another one beyong in a similar direction so again, there isn’t a lot for me to do. Boat speed is varying between 4 knots
    and about 4.8 knots, depending on the gusts, that’s the GPS speed – and we’ve got about 0.6 of a knot of currrent against us. There is a halyard which is annoying me, so I’m going to go forward and sort that out. And as I did before I’m going to remember to clip in. So I’ve got the clip on the jackline there. Well, this is quite tough work actually, in the in the
    sense that there’s a lot going on. Seeing is not particularly easy – you guys
    probably can’t see anything either But, for example the buoy there that I passed according to the chart, I couldn’t see it in real life. So by the time you know… Because I’m on a river there’s not a lot of room and
    every few minutes I’ve got to jibe, so it’s a bit of a pain it could be a lot worse but it’s it’s not
    easy for me. We’re doing, well you can see the GPS speed there varying quite a
    lot, but we’re doing 4.5 knots ish and we’ve got a one knot
    current against us so this would be five and a half knots was it not for that
    foul current. So yeah, I am I’m enjoying this but it’s
    a challenge I tell you… I’m not relaxing, put it that way! It’s er, confession time! I just scared the bejebus out of myself there. The wind was
    picking up and I left it too late to reef and then yeah things just got a bit
    hairy. I saw 28 knots on the wind, on the wind indicator, and I still had the sails up at that point.
    I was getting them down
    but I was back and forward to the helm and the autopilot and I was wrestling with
    the sails, and its wind over tide… So yeah I’ve learned a lesson – learnt a lesson:
    I’ve pushed it too far this time. You know, it’s true that you have to push
    yourself to extend your boundaries you know, but yeah I went too far. Anyway, things have calmed down now thank goodness. I’ve started up the old iron genny [Engine]
    The sails are away, and I’m I’m about to turn the corner into the anchorage in a little while and I hope that things will calm down there and the dust will settle. I can get the anchor down and I can unwind. I’ll be
    looking forward to some kind of beverage it may even just be a just be a cup of tea, but I’m really looking forward to it whatever it is. Okay, the wind as dropped a little bit, it’s about 15 or 16 knots, and with it my pulse has dropped! Because I can’t actually see where I’m anchored.
    It’s pitch black. I can see this moon light I can see there’s land over there, I can just make out land over there behind me so that’s my lee shore, but I can’t
    really see it and that’s disconcerting because I can’t see how far away it is and
    I’ve got instrumentation and stuff, but from a human point of view
    it’s just a bit disconcerting to not be able to see the land that you’r anchored next to. I’m finished out here now. I’ve got the anchor ball up.
    I’ve got a decent amount of chain out. I’ve pulled back with the engine to about 2,200 RPM,
    in combination with the wind and that wasn’t moving, so the anchor is well set. And I can go down below. Well, on a positive note I have had a
    pizza and a cup of tea which was very nice. My aim is to get over the channel and
    I’m in a real rush to do that because I really I’m missing Emma & Rossella like
    crazy and I need to go and see them ASAP I am currently here Sharfleet Creek and the question is I’ve been looking at
    the weather forecast and to be honest it’s just not good. These are the actual
    weather charts from the period when I made this crossing I couldn’t get them
    in knots, they are in miles per hour unfortunately but you get the picture anyway. Now I
    just want you to bear in mind that this is my first ever solo sailing trip. This
    is brand new to me I’m sailing in unfamiliar waters I’ve never crossed the
    channel on a sailing boat before you know this isn’t like something that I’ve
    done ten times before with other people and now I’m doing it on my own for the
    first time. This is the first time I’m ever doing it and I’m learning
    everything as I go I really am quite inexperienced that
    this whole thing, so bearing all that in mind what I really wanted was kind of
    you know 15 knots that would have been ideal, but as you can see from these
    charts it was a lot stronger than that and the windows of opportunity were very
    very small in between quite dangerously strong winds. So it kind of put me in a
    very awkward position it was difficult for me to deal with but you’ll see in
    the upcoming videos how I got around this and how things panned out for me. I
    have just seen what I was like tonight in the river being out here somewhere
    you know realistically, to reduce the stress and you know the chances of
    things going wrong I want there to be less wind. That’s what I’ve realized
    tonight. So there we are so now I’m kind of a bit
    stuck, because if I want to I can push push and make make it to Ramsgate and
    then my plan would have been to anchor off Ramsgate, which is just here. I spoke to the harbourmaster that’s all fine, and it’s free which is nice, but the problem is that
    there’s no weather window, so I could be hanging around there for a week in not
    very good weather and is that really, is there any point in that?
    So options are I could go around the Isle of Sheppey there’s another Anchorage in
    this area so that’s kind of towards my destination it gets me a little bit
    closer and it’s still sheltered so that is one option. Or do I stay here in
    these creeks which are quite protected well this weather blows over or do I go
    for example to Rochester there are some boys just here in Rochester and
    basically that puts me in it in a town. It’s tough: I honestly don’t
    know what to do. So the the point is I’ve just spent until one o’clock looking at
    options I still don’t have an answer. So I am about to go to bed
    and tomorrow’s a new day and I’ll see… I’ll look at this again tomorrow and see
    what’s coming next. I hope you enjoyed seeing this. It turned
    out a little bit different from how I expected but you know what, I’m glad that it did because it’s all experience istn’t it? It’s all experience.
    So there we are. Bedtime I’ve got to make the bed and then get in it. Just before I left today I was listening
    to the VHF and a boat went aground and then there were various communications
    initially they were asking for a tow and yeah there was quite a lot of
    urgency about the situation and then a little bit later there were lots of
    communications of people taking the mickey and saying, you know, “At least you’re
    gonna miss the traffic on the way home after your six hours of waiting!” and stuff like that, so yeah… This area it’s a challenging place to sail. Where I am now, it’s muddy
    a little bit further out from where I am now there are lots of sand banks around here and this, the Goodwin Sands for example
    sand banks, the currents here are very strong and these sand banks shift around and some of them dry so at low water there is you can actually see
    them. So yeah, like I say, they do move around so when you’re sailing in these
    areas that are relatively shallow and you’ve got sand banks that can move
    around you’ve got to be careful, and with six meter tides, you know, you’ve got to
    try and be sure about the right timings and stuff like that… Anyway, it’s time for
    me to go a now so, see you soon! you

    Articles

    How to Fit a Hammock (or two) on a Small Sailboat | ⛵ Sailing Britaly ⛵

    September 11, 2019


    Hello! In today’s sailing tips video we’re going to show you how you can fit a hammock onto a small sailboat. To stop the hammock from sliding down the shroud we’ve got this small diameter line attached to it which acts as a stop. Then you tie a knot with your hammock line. At the other end of your hammock attach the line like this… and now this can be put around the forestay, and the job’s done! Now it’s time to get on: Rossella is going to do that for us! First of all, put a leg on each side of the hammock, now from behind you stretch it out as wide as you can, while you gently sit down. Once it’s got your weight, you can lie back and enjoy some hammock time! This is a 30-foot boat and we can get two hammocks side by side so that Rossella and I can lie down and just chill out next to each other – it’s fantastic. Nothing beats lying in a hammock and looking at a view like this… [sunset viewed from bow of boat] Thanks for watching, subscribe for more sailing tips, and our other videos, and we’ll see you next time. Ciao [Ciao] you