20 Days to go and it’s a Boat spa

 

a perfect bottom with Performance Extra           flag logo for old times sake

While I am running around chasing my tail and putting together all the makings of a mini campaign you might be glad to hear my boat is taking it easy and being pampered properly at the boat spa.

 

Since I first started Single Handed Ocean Racing in 2009 I have always given as much attention to preparations below the waterline as above. Indeed those that have followed my blogs since that first OSTAR will remember pictures every year of me sanding the bottom of a Shed, big or small; covered in blue anti-fouling and grimacing against the physical effort of sanding over my head for hours on end.

 

This is the equivalent of the boat spa, a full sand off to remove old paint and anti-fouling, repairs and faring of the bottom to make it smooth before the application of a high quality racing anti-fouling which can then be sanded back to 400 or 600 grit for a race winning finish.

 

This year is no exception, my boat is at the spa however as I am still in work full time I have given up the job of this beauty treatment to the very safe hands of James from Yachting Sports Ltd in Hamble.

 

Since 2009 my anti-fouling has been supplied by Flag Finishes and I have used Performance Extra Antifouling which has never let me down; in fact after the 2011 mini my boat was one of the few that did not have a weedy beard by the time we got to Brazil and Flag Antifouling is made in England, so thank you Flag for supporting me again on this race across the Atlantic!

21 Days to Go – That is three weeks….only three weeks!

 

 

£1500 still to raise, I am so close to target it’s amazing; thank you to everyone who has got involved, sponsored or donated via my website.

 

My last blog was at 33 days to go and since then my feet have not touched the ground.

 

My work at the RNLI has been full on for the last couple of weeks; as the HQ team and the delivery teams for Coastal Safety have been brought together to work on our strategy to save lives at sea through preventative measures. I have been leaving work head buzzing, making it hard to focus on my mini campaign at all.

 

However my boat has not needed my attention for the last week as I strapped it to it’s road trailer and delivered it to the amazing Yachting Sports in Hamble where James, who is one of only two people I would trust to work on my boat, is giving the bottom it’s pre race make over, and making sure the rest of the boat is in top condition to race.

 

Meanwhile my job is purely organisation, I am making appointments for my Safety Checks and medical kit checks, organising on-going travel plans with Brittany Ferries, finalising shipping the boat back to the UK, it is all going on.

 

There are only 7 days left till GBR 743 ‘The Potting Shed’ gets onto a ferry and heads for France and so this week I need to pack and label tool kits, repair kit and spares, first leg food, with second leg food packed and sent to my Mum to fly out to Lanzarote with. I have got methanol for my fuel cell, I have all of my charts except a detailed one of Guadeloupe (which I must order today) in short things are getting ready.

 

This weekend I checked and serviced the mast and standing rigging and replaced my VHF ariel.

 

My One Sails are being finished off at the loft in Levington in Suffolk and will be on their way to me shortly; my electronics are being serviced at Raymarine, I picked up my newly serviced EPIRB and PLB from McMurdo at the boat show. What have I forgotten?

 

I can feel a hectic week coming on and in amongst all of that still £1500 to find. If any readers to my blog have ideas to shave this total down please let me know.

33 days to go – The next time my boat gets wet it’s show time

pip boat

I spent the whole weekend sailing. I needed to; this was my last chance to push the boat before she gets lifted out and gets the final preparations.

 

The next time my boat gets wet it is show time!

 

I was not alone this weekend, I was accompanied by Poppy, a young sailor who came along to experience sailing mini style. We definitely had that experience, and I can confirm when she is helming the boat at 14 knots under spinnaker she has the mini grin of a natural!  I will post some photos and videos when I have a bit more time.

 

The weekend gave us a bit of everything, the most important thing for me was to push the boat as hard as I could and try out some of the new ropes that English Braids had supplied me last week.

 

I don’t know if anyone else noticed but it was weird weekend weather wise, lots of clouds, wind ranging from dead calm to gusts of 30 knots and the visibility was spectacular.

 

When we left from Poole, St Catherine’s point as clear as if it was a couple of miles away, we started with the code zero and then popped the small kite in increasing breeze and St Cat’s got closer very rapidly.

 

As we rounded the back of theIslandwe met a race coming the other way and in the lumpy seas caused by wind over tide conditions we rocketed past them, top speed of 15.9 knots interspersed with the odd wipe out.

 

The pace round the back of the island soon slowed down as we entered the Solent on a falling breeze and foul tide, until having spent half an hour trying to creep past the entrance to Cowes we gave up and dodged a rain shower hanging off a buoy eating lentils and drinking tea.

 

Over night we went backwards and forwards on the tide for hours, the incredible visibility allowed us to see the lights from the Bestival festival on theIsle of Wightand another festival in the new forest, at times when there really was no wind you could even hear the music.

 

After a night of squalls, rain, calms and every sail coming out of it’s bag we arrived in Poole on Sunday morning and proceeded to take the boat apart ready to come out of the water.

 

My instruments are off and ready to go to Raymarine for a service, the boat is being lifted out of the water today, the mast will come down and now it is not about sailing but back to all of those lists and things I have to remember.

 

The job that has been made very easy though is sorting out my travel arrangements thanks to the wonderful support by Brittany Ferries who are sponsoring my ferry travel to the race start. I am really delighted that a company I have used often over the last few years while campaigning my boat, with a ferry I sail past most days inPooleharbour are supporting me in the Mini Transat. Thank you, Brittany Ferries and does that mean you are happy for me to beat some French?

 

 

 

An evening with English Braids

rigging the boat with English Braids

It’s gone 9pm and I am just back from an evening working on the boat changing my running rigging.

 

English Braids have supported my racing campaigns since I first met them with a new mini at the Southampton Boatshow in 2010. During that show they came down to my boat and entirely re-rigged it with English Braids racing rope which has seen me through qualification and a transat in 2011.

 

I have received the same attention from then on as I pushed their products to the max and they have listened to feedback and helped me to find the right ropes for a tough little boat.

 

In preparation for the transat Justin Jones visited me in Poole a few weeks ago and we went through the boat looking at each of the ropes and deciding which ones needed replacing or upgrading.

 

Tonight Justin was back bearing goodies and we have worked through the evening, replacing runner systems, halyards, sheets, and my hard, hard working guys. It has been great to work with a company which really are concerned with giving me the best tools for the job and who listen to my feedback and respond with new solutions.

 

When we looked at the boat a couple of weeks ago I highlighted that one of the issues I had was halyards slipping and now I will be trialling a new performance dyneema rope on both my main and jib halyards which is designed to minimise slippage between the jacket and the core.

 

It feels like it has been a long day. I will be having my last said this weekend to bed in some of the splices we have done tonight, especially on the high load areas like the backstays and guys.

 

I received another £500 contribution to the race fund today which means I am down to £21650,  Thank you all for your support.   Only 37 days to go!

Boats, planes and problems

Complicated travel arrangements were the name of the game last night. Who would have thought that getting a boat, a van and a person over to France would be such a challenge but due to nothing in life being simple….. it has been.

My boat has to be in Douarnenez my the evening of the 3rd October. I do not leave work until the 4th October and would not physically be able to get to France until the 5th October. The prologue race is in the 6th October and my boat must me washed and brushed up for this, on the water and good to go by lunchtime on the 6th.

 

Just to add to the mix, my other half Ash is coming out for the start on the 13th but will then needs to get to Paris on the evening of the 13th and fly out to Malta for the Middle Sea Race, with Deep Blue Racing on the mighty Quokka.

 

Complicated yet?

 

Throw into that friends arriving by plane and car to watch the start of the race and my trusty van that needs to make it’s way back to theUKwithout me after the start.

 

I think I have cracked it but I ended up with a headache.

 

So here is the plan, let me know if you see any floors.

 

Paul Peggs, mini transporter extraordinaire and supporter of me through many mini related adventures will pick up my boat on the 1st October and head over toFrance with it ahead of me, and get it in the water.

 

I will follow on the overnight ferry on the 4th with Ash and flap around panicking generally about being ready for the prologue.

 

An amazing amount of friends will arrive and depart via various modes of transport throughout the week leading up to the transat, boats, planes and cars will all being used to their full potential.

 

The end of a hectic week of preparation will finish off with me heading for the canaries, some folk heading forBrestairport, others heading for the ferry port and one unlucky friend legging it toPariswith Flash who will fly toMaltawhile they double back and drive to a ferry somewhere.

 

And the pièce de résistance… someone drives my van home.

 

Got that? I hope so because I haven’t even got into action plan family Hare which involves my Mum and Dad flying out to Lanzarote with food and spares.

 

Doing well on the fund raising but I need to crack that last little bit. 39 days to go and £3150 to raise.  Thank you again for all of your help messages and donations. I am so looking forward to sharing this race with you all.

 

 

The Story of charts

Hello September. There are 41 days to go to the start of the mini transat and I cannot believe that this month is going to hang around long.

 

I spent the weekend sailing the mini; it is not long now until she goes for her little refit and so I need to get the job list up to date. I need to do a bit of work to the pole and I have ongoing problems with my wind instruments but happily nothing else came up this weekend and I was able to take in theBournemouthairshow with friends as well.

 

Another job on my list for the weekend was to get my charts in order for the transat. The race committee give us a list of charts, pilots and books that we must have onboard to compete in the transat; and pretty sure I had most of these and do not need to buy I headed up to the loft to dig out and dust off my charts.

 

This turned out to be a rather lengthy and pleasant trip down memory lane. I have a large chart collection and they are rather like a photo album or postcards from the past. Each chart still carries the pencil marks of position fixes plotted on adventures or during races, back through a history of boats.

 

Leafing through looking for charts for this race I was reminded of found charts stretching from Muckle Flugga, the tip of Shetland, over to the Grand banks and then all the way down to Patagonia, with some Mediterranean sun thrown in for good measure.

 

I found marks of my slow progress with broken sails that I hand stitched back together every morning coming back single handed from Uruguay; the mark I had to make on a chart to record the position where my lowers broke and I was forced to abandon leading my class in the OSTAR and I picked up with a quiet giggle the pristine chart of Lerwick Harbour in the Shetlands, which I could not find anywhere on the boat as Phil and I arrived there on our winning Two Handed Britain and Ireland Race. We were forced to follow the track of a boat in the class ahead of us into the harbour, slightly stressed in the building gale and losing time, only for me to find the chart half a year later pristine and under a mattress for safe keeping.

 

I tracked down most of the charts I need for this race, being a hoarder does have it’s benefits. The only ones I am missing are of theCaribbeanand this is not because it is a new place to me. I worked there on charter boats for two seasons when I was not long out of school, but then I was travelling the world with a back pack. My love of charts came with boat ownership and forging my own adventures.

 

Perhaps that job took a little longer than it should have done but it was enjoyable and a great reminder of why I love sailing, boats and the freedom it gives me.

 

I need to say a massive thank you for the donations that have come into my website. Thank you for believing in me and what I am doing, I promise you all I will put everything I have into this race.

 

I now only have £3450 to raise which is amazing news.