Lagos2Brighton–Water everywhere..


So Bruce and Martin (Red Watch) and Joe and I (Blue Watch) continued the tradition of the rivalry between watches. Of course since Bruce slept in the bunk room and the top bunk was our larder, Red Watch always seemed to leave  lots of sweet wrappers , biscuit crumbs and cuppa soup packets after their night watch…

Blue Watch was reduced to hunting for scraps…and also trying to get the boat back on route after Red Watch – obviously distracted by their munching and sipping let the boat drift off course and back into the shipping lanes. This was ok, since we just gybed the boat on to starboard tack to make ground to the West. That meant Bruce would be sleeping at 45 degrees and trying to stay in his bunk by propping one leg against the opposite wall, meanwhile Martin would be catapulted from sleeping across the bed in the aft cabin to standing on his head at a 45 degree angle. This seemed fair.

But Blue Watch had podcasts. Joe had brought a number of podcasts with him on his iPhone. So it was that we wiled away the night watches. Imagine its 3am, its cold, the wind is blowing 25kts, the Bentley is romping along…and we are listening to David Cameron, followed by Rob Brydon on Desert Island Discs; What the Papers Say; From our Own Correspondent – ah, the BBC what would we do without it!

The biggest challenge was not when the forward heads blocked (I wont name names here), nor when I got so drenched, that my wet weather gear decided it would behave like I had entered a wet T-shirt competition, nor when the genoa twisted itself into a candy stick shape around the forestay. It was when we discovered that the water level meter was not lying after all – the water tanks really were Empty!

A quick audit of our fluid supplies uncovered 1 bottle of lemonade, 1 bottle of tonic, 2 litres of orange juice, 1 litre of actual water. A rule of thumb is that each adult will need 1.5 litres per day to maintain hydration, and probably more like 6 litres per day if they were washing. Well washing was “out” (it had been out for days already to be fair) and wet wipes were most definitely “in”. We watched the rain resentfully, then Bruce decided to collect some rain off the main sail. Balancing at the mast he managed to collect about 10 litres of water in various bottles, and we all felt better knowing we had delayed death by at least 3 days. Surely that was enough time to reach civilisation before we had to draw lots to see who would be eaten first. Another Bruce innovation was cooking rice and pasta in seawater – yes I know what fish and humans do in it – but it was at least 200nm to the French coast.

At last, the Traffic Separation Scheme (TSS) off Ushant loomed. I downloaded a new Grib file using the satellite phone and re-calculated the options for making landfall – Plymouth, Dartmouth, Braye, Cherbourg all were possible. We chose to make way for Dartmouth. Looking at the Grib file I could see the F9 gale had hit the southern half of Biscay. I thought of the few yachts that had passed us heading south like all the pilot books say and hoped that somehow they would be ok.

I promised everyone hot showers, a good nights sleep and a full English breakfast in the morning, morale was high. As we closed the UK coast the GSM phone signal grew stronger and messages were sent to wives and friends who had been interested in our progress. We were nearly home – and (nearly) dry!

Friday 13 July 0355 – we entered the picturesque estuary of the River Dart and moored up at Darthaven Marina. Sleep.

The morning was sunny, we had our hot showers and our very large English breakfast. Brilliant. I decided we should leave at around 11am – no need to rush. The trip to Brighton would be a breeze after the one we had just completed. Its funny how your distance horizon shifts – the time was when Dartmouth to Brighton would have had me planning for hours and stocking up as if it was an ocean voyage. Now it felt like a run to the local shops. It was still an overnighter but there was no pressure now.

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Martin relaxing.. Martin relaxing..
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Martin relaxing.. Joe relaxing..
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Bruce making chapattis!.. Joe enjoying the sun..
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Lagos2Brighton–Biscay …again!


Martin arrives safely and with the spare fitting for the outhaul. Bruce fits it and we get the boat ready for an early departure on Monday morning – the 9th.

Unfortunately it is Sunday, its Spain,  and we are trying to get supplies for the trip – but everything is shut. We end up finding the only shop that is open – a small bakery and deli and we buy as much as we can think of that will make “pasta surprise” – if not a gourmet delight – at least a “surprise”.

We have a full fuel tank – but in our hurry we assume that we have a full water tank too. Wrong. We have been using water for the past 3 days since we last filled up. This is one thing that comes back to bite us a few days into the Bay.

We cast off at 0400. The wind is from the north or the north west for the next 2 days – so we have to use the iron sail. But it is a balancing act between conserving fuel and making progress in the 4 day window that I calculate we have before a major gale hits the Bay. I don’t tell the crew this – deciding that since there is nothing we can do about it its best not to worry everyone. I also know that Enterprise can handle it, it is a Bentley after all.

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The weather on its way is F8/9… Westerly winds by the end of the crossing…
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Planning the route back… Alternative ports –Plymouth, Dartmouth, Braye, Cherbourg