Thursday, 20 September 2012

Canal boat trip

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In September Diane and I took a Canal boat trip. It was one of our ideas to buy a canal boat when we give up sailing, although that may be 30 years away we thought some research was in order. That was our excuse for another holiday that involved visiting lots of pubs.

We hired a private narrow boat called Mr Blue Sky ( that's him in the middle ) and set off from Leeds travelling on the Leeds Bradford canal.


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May-Sept2012 052A few pleasant days were spend chugging slowly along tree lined canals, through small villages, with the occasional lock or bridge to open. Luckily this 5 rise lock came with a lock keeper to help with the hard work, but many of them were un manned and kept you busy.




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All in all a pleasant way to spend a week. Although the size and shape of the boat game limited room for ideas on layout and felt at times less spacious than our own beloved SeaGal, although nearly twice the length.

Maybe it was the weather that made it smaller as we did go to Yorkshire in September and the summer was over. But not for us as it was back to Palma.

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

August around Europe

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We took a trip back to England. Sadly the primary reason was for the funeral of Mike Pratt my uncle, a lovely man, sadly missed by all. After spending time with Kate and Megans new family whilst staying with Iris we headed south to Bristol and Bath to visit my family.

Just time for a little tourism, Di here at the Clifton suspension bridge. Then off to Bath to see Fiona, Bill, Josie and Rory.


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Here Bill was about to take a trip in a hot air balloon that launch from a park just being their house. So they watch the balloons every evening, and now Daddy if off in the sky.




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It was then back to Palma to help deliver her to Split in Croatia for her next charter. A leisurely trip with just the 4 of us. Ruth and Gindi, Diane and Myself.

After arriving in Split we again worked a few days to tidy up the boat, then on to Dubrovnik to stay with my Dad in his little Island cottage.



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The cottage was much as we remembered from the last time we visited, with more veggies in the garden, more finished landscaping and the luxuries of electricity, internet and water ( hot and cold).

Time on Sipan seemed to fly by. Helping Dad with fitting out the new workshop in order to move the tools out of the house, paining the lounge, eating the vegies from the garden and helping on the occasional charter for dads small business he keeps ticking over.

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Occasionally we ventured to the mainland for a spot of culture. A concert and a nice meal out in the old town of Dubrovnik is enough to fill ones culture cup for a few months.

Eventually we had to give up pretending we were in the med looking for work and go back to the UK for a holiday.

Saturday, 30 June 2012

Crossing the Atlantic on Runaway Bunny


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Crossing the Atlantic ocean for the first time was a big step on our sailing career. Luckily we had a large sound boat, lots of good food and plenty of chefs.

With our experienced Captain Gindi checking the weather every day we managed a very smooth ride never too much wind, sometime too little.



Carribean 123We soon got into our daily routine of 2 person 4 hour watches, with then 8 hours off to sleep or relax. If you came off watch at 12 or 6 you cooked a meal, which kept the duties rotating and the diet varied. We ate very well from the well stocked galley supplemented with the occasional fish.

Gindi was joined by a Spanish sailing chef Niko who was enthusiastic about all things, including hand steering for hours on end in any weather.

Carribean 113The second watch was an American and Bulgarian couple Bridget and Yanni who added east and west flavours to our diet.

Finally of course there was myself and Di enjoying drifting in luxury over the ocean.



Carribean 111The first stop on the way was Horta in the Azores, difficult to see from a distance as the islands seem to be permanently covered by cloud, but this gives the fertile islands the climate to be beautiful and green in the middle of the naked blue ocean.




May-Sept2012 031We didnt stay long, but luckily the stop fell on my Birthday, so just time to drink too many beers and have a day of rest to recover. Bidget managed to quickly paint our names and yacht logo on a paving slab in the harbour as is the tradition for passing sailors.




July 2012 048We were quickly off, back to sea with full fuel tanks and a renewed vow to never drink again. Through the busy straights of Gibraltar and on to Palma.

Runaway Bunny was then to be on charter, so after a few days work getting her looking respectable again, we were off on the next adventure, taking us around Europe for the summer.

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Working on Runaway Bunny a long stay in St Martin


July 2012 044We left our beloved yacht but luckily had no time to worry about what we had forgotten to put away or pack our back in our bags as we were on to our next adventure, working as crew on a 74ft Sailing yacht crossing the Atlantic.

We joined Runaway Bunny in English Harbour Antigua for a warm up trip to St Martin.

On board, the Captain Gindi, Mate/Chef Ruth, Christine Gerard and her Grandson Jose, Diane and Myself.

PICT0100A quick over night trip, and very useful to learn the rope of our new vessel. Gindi had invited a friend Christine who bought along her Grandson Jose, a very keen fisherman, 12 going on 20.

A few fish were caught, which prevented Jose getting any sleep, he eventually went to his bunk at breakfast time to ‘examine the pillows’.

The plan was to spend a few days in St Martin, fill up PICT0089with provisions, a few last minute jobs, pick up the crew for the crossing the head off in to the wide blue yonder. But you know what they say about plans, especially on boats. Either have none or many.

After a few days of fixing stuff and filling every corner with food for the trip, we left for a final system test around the bay. A few rattles from the engine and sharp intakes of breath from a local Yanmar engineer and it seems we were to spend a few more weeks in St Martin.


The engine had managed to cook the preheater coil, then weld to to a piston. The only sensible thing to do was remove the engine, have it rebuilt, then drop it back in.

This took the promised three weeks and gave us plenty of time to get to know the ins and out of the new boat. Lots of jobs got done that were waiting for a bit of spare time and extra crew.

Carribean 091Luckily for us the extra time in St Martin meant that we managed to meet up with Kieran and Lilly Bolero. Great to finally catch up and show each crew a little of a very different boat.

Eventually the time passed, the engine was returned and we were ready for our trip across the pond.


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Sunday, 15 April 2012

Anguilla to Antigua with some job hunting

After the long journey east, from Florida to Anguilla it was a relief to arrive at the end of the ‘Thorny Path’ This is the difficult journey against the prevailing wind to find the beautiful islands and easier sailing of the eastern Caribbean. Along the way we had passed through the beauty of the Bahamas, the more out of the way islands of Turks and Caicos, the mountains and differing culture of Dom. Rep. then the friendly island of Puerto Rico. On to the popular Virgin islands and now a new adventure of a different island every day.

Anguilla and Road Bay was a pleasant laid back island, not not much chance to explore on a yacht. Most bays were off limits for overnight anchoring and not much shelter to be found. After a couple of days we headed for the shelter of the St Martin Lagoon.

St Martin being a centre for yachting large and small has big cruising and super yacht communities. An ideal place to stock up on chandlery, and then realise how much it all costs.

The summer was approaching and it was time to make a plan for hurricane season and beyond. After much deliberation we decided to seek work for the summer and store the boat locally. We found a delivery job on SY Runaway Bunny, a 74ft sloop heading for Palma. Originally a 3 week job for us both, which turned into  a longer term opportunity.

After a couple of weeks in St Martin it was time to move on. We sailed to Antigua and started our search for a yard to keep Sea Gal safe for the summer.

We met up with old friends Ash and Summer on Cherokee and managed to get a couple of days work helping to deliver to St Thomas.

Then with our start date on Runaway Bunny fast approaching we quickly came to the decision the storing the boat further south in Grenada or Trinidad was too expensive with the flights back included and it was much easier to leave her in Antigua.



Sea Gal ended up in a small yard in the north of Antigua. The benefits was she the biggest boat there. No-one to fall on to of her in the event of a storm. The yard dropped her in a hole so she didn’t have so far to fall. We packed her up, kissed her goodbye, shed a tear or two and headed on to our next adventure, crossing the Atlantic on a luxury yacht.

Friday, 23 March 2012

Anchoring between the lines. The BVI’s

SeaGalMarch2012 014Having come from the peace and quiet of cruising in relatively quiet places where it is easy to find an empty anchorage and it is not uncommon to spend a day or two without seeing another boat it was rather a culture shock to arrive in the BVI’s. The relatively sheltered sailing area around Tortola  makes this the busiest charter area in the Caribbean, almost as crazy as the Ionion in Greece. Adding to this the fact that the cruising guide book we have is likely to be the same book as every other boat. This means reading between the lines to find the quiet spots.

So translated :-

Difficult entry, local knowledge required – Charter boats not allowed as you may need to pay attention to what you are doing, turn off the auto pilot and tear your eyes from the chart plotter. Quiet anchorage, but still has crewed boats.

No moorings available – Keeps away the crowds too, people love to pay $25 not to pull up an anchor, even if they have an electric windlass.

Popular with cruisers – Free dinghy dock, book swap, free water tap and a laundry near by. Local bar has very long happy hour.

Hurricane hole – very sheltered bay full of derelict, hurricane damaged boats.

A bay not even in the guide book due to the lack of restaurants to pay for advertising – Empty, perfect.

SeaGalMarch2012 010The BVI’s does have reason to be popular, there are many beautiful anchorages within a very small area, many fine bars with great names, the Soggy Dollar, Fat Virgin, Foxys and the Bitter End yacht club, all had to be sampled and cocktails tested.

We had a lovely time with Iris, Dianes mother, exploring the quiet and busy spots. Even managed a beach BBQ in a one boat bay, we checked out the amazing boulders and caves of the Virgin Gourda baths, saw sailing boats SeaGalMarch2012 040of all shapes and sizes.

After a few 3 weeks it was time to leave. We headed to East End to fill up with propane, we heard of a place that would do it in a couple of hours. That took 2 days. In the meantime a large ferry at anchor bumped into us at night and damaged a back stay. That meant a visit to Road Town to buy a new one and fit it.

We needed to go to Road Town to check out too, so not much of a detour. After lunch and a haircut the strangest thing happened. The wind decided to blow from the North for a day instead of the constant East of the past few months and we used this to our best advantage and set sail for Anguilla, the end of the Thorny Path and the turn south.

Saturday, 10 March 2012

St Croix and the US VI’s

After hanging out in Viaques and resting after our visitors had left, we eventually decided it was time to leave the country. Bored with the the constant battle to get east against the prevailing wind we headed South for St Croix and were mostly delighted. We landed in Frederiksted on the western end of the island to a surprisingly calm anchorage. Were invited to a bar by the owner on a paddle board. We watched the sunset over painkiller and nachos while admiring the praying-mantis the bar kept as a pet. All the calm before the storm.

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We also caught up on some email and discovered Iris was planning to visit soon, so the rush was back on the get all the laundry done, fill the boat back up with food and head to the BVI’s where there was more than one anchorage. St Croix had been nice, but the northern anchorages were very exposed. We battled through strong wind to St John then onto Tortola to check into the BVI’s and with hours to spare we arrived on Beef Island and anchored under the flight path for our airport pickup.

Kieran my brother tells of a journey in Madagascar to pick up his mother involving a 4 day trip with dugout canoes 4*4’s and many other jungle adventures. This was the opposite, with the terminal building a leisurely 2 minute walk from the beach and dingy dock.

With Iris safely on board we were on our way to explore the rest of the BVIs battling the charter fleets and mooring fields of a rather busy corner of paradise.