Tuesday, August 1, 2017 2:41 PM
Well you’ve probably heard by now that we’re on our way home by train. As Marine Traffic doesn’t work on trains, we’re currently passing Loch Lomond.
So what’s happened to make us stop? Simply we’ve run out of time. We had an exciting sail from Stornoway to Kyle of Lochalsh. The wind was once again on the nose and we had to tack all the way down between Skye and the mainland and it turned what should have been a 12 hour trip into an 18 hour overnight test of stamina. Wind was a nice F5 gusting just into the 6s which then swung into the SE and dropped to F4 and once in side the passage the sea was flat…ish! But it was total darkness and pouring with heavy rain. We had to do it purely on instruments. However we got into Lochalsh at 6 in the morning hooked onto a swinging mooring and went straight to bed. Tides to go through the Kyle Rhea narrows, you can only go with the tide here, wasn’t until 14.00 so we got a good sleep.
The weather for the next few days is/was flat calms again and I seriously couldn’t see us getting home until next week Also the engine has developed another fault. Then water in the “radiator” header tank keeps disappearing. I’ve no idea where it’s going, but when you top it up, it doesn’t disappear any more, which is even odder.
So as we were passing Arisaig and as I was intending basing Conspiracy up here next spring it seemed a sensible thing to do to call a halt to the proceedings and come home by train.
We’ve been away 6 and a half weeks, done 2,481.9 nautical miles and had the engine running for 294 hours. The engine consumes 3 litres per hour so I’ll leave you dear reader to work out how much diesel we’ve used.
So this is my last missive to you all. Thanks very much for following us, reading these jottings which have been written on the raw with no restraint on my feelings at the time of writing.
I’m now going to buy a rocking chair and sit in front of the tv……….but the Lofoten Islands look rather nice……
Monday 31st July
Conspiracy left Stornoway on Saturday to sail to Kyle of Lockalsh and Mike emailed me on Sunday afternoon saying “We were rolling around the Inner Sound trying to tack our way down. The wind was 10 degrees off what we wanted and that made the difference from a 12 hr journey into an 18 hour one. Got into K of Lochalsh at 06.00! Too windy at F5 gusting to 6s to use the engine and motor in a straight line. It was a good sail though in spite of total, complete black, darkness and heavy rain.”
He then went on to say that as time was running out and there seemed to be no end to the weather systems they had decided to head for Arisaig, leave Conspiracy there and then they will catch the train home.
Today Mike let me know that they are now all packed up, the boat cleaned down and stowed etc. they are going to the pub tonight for a last supper!. Tomorrow they are catching train at 10.30.
Wednesday, July 26, 2017 4:02 PM
Update Saturday Afternoon
(In a strong Newcastle accent)
Deeya Six in the Big Bruver Bow-at. Richard is asleep, Gordon is looking for Whales, Alan is drinking green tea wearing his Raybans, Joe is creating dinner and Mike is down in the bilges digging an escape tunnel!
This passage has been a real test. In a nut shell, lumpy seas, wind on the nose, universal featureless very dull grey days day after day after day, flat calms and the incessant drone of the engine. In the six days and one hour it took us to cross to Stornoway, where we are now, the engine was on for 96.2 hours! And no wild life to look at, although having just said that we saw a pod of about 12 “Long Fin Pilot Whales” – not interested in us at all, bigger than dolphins and a very blunt nose.
So to details. After having to wait 3 days to wait for storms to pass (yet again – we had the same going up if you remember) and then for an Icelandic Customs Officer to come and clear us, I had to ring at 3.15am to remind him, we departed Reykjavik at 04.00. A good passage for 40 miles then met the tides around the Reykjanes Peninsula. This is Iceland’s Bardsey Sound. Having got round the peninsula at slack water we then met the tide coming the other way which reduced us from 6 knots (k) to 1 k, wind on the nose and a very lumpy sea. So lumpy there were cones of water rising up on either side of us. Talk about being inside a tumble dryer! Joe very thoughtfully made us Baked Potato with cheese and beans inside for dinner. This went on for a solid 12 hours ploughing through at 2 knots until the wind let up, we crossed the continental shelf and the seas started to flatten and out speed shot up to 4 k. The next morning (Friday) the wind swung round at 10am and we could sail. Ohhhh! The glorious silence and it was as nice as yesterday was as horrible. There wasn’t any fear at all it was just relentless unpleasantness because you couldn’t do anything but lie on your bunk and ride it out. About 4pm the mist descended and stayed with us all the night and next day too. About a mile visibility. However as there was nothing on the AIS, we were in really deep water 2000’ or more so no fishing boats about, and nothing on the radar sensor we were perfectly safe. Saturday drifted into view misty and damp and to really add to our misery the wind dies away completely and we motored, and we motored and we motored across a glassy sea. After zig sagging across the sea I didn’t know which way to turn. In desperation I rang Paul for a weather report on what was happening. In all the weather sites I’d visited before we departed they all showed east winds F4 coming in and swinging to the North which would have suited us ideally. Blowing us all the way into the North Channel (– between Ireland and Scotland). “Go East, young man, there’s a High there and it’s turning the winds easterly then swinging northerly” was Paul’s reply so off we went. Next morning, Monday, the sea wasn’t glassy any more it was oily. 11 o’clock doing engine checks PANIC! There was no water in the header tank of the coolant water reservoir (This is what keeps the engine cool) No engine, no wind, no motion. No motion and there’s 2 gales coming! Immediately stopped the engine and topped up. Conspiracy has 2 header tanks, one much higher which feeds the central heating system and then feeds into the engine and it transpired that an airlock had got into it stopping the engine header tank from being topped up. Whilst it was flat calm we took the opportunity to fill the diesel tank with 29 gallons.
“I have nought to say for your troubles save that the wind is getting wilder yet and the waves are getting higher”
Whilst all this was happening I get a second text from Paul saying the weather has gone all pear shaped and there are 2 weather systems racing up and will be with us on Wednesday! That’s it I thought. Sod the N.Channel 340 miles away. Head for Stornoway which was a paltry 240 miles away. On with the engine, give it a real test running at giving us 6k (SOG – speed over the ground) to see if it was something more serious than an airlock and we shot off with us all doing very regular engine checks at initially at 5 min intervals increasing to once an hour.
So now we come to Tuesday morning when I wrote all the above. Supposedly light N winds and you’ve guessed it. ESE on the nose because that’s where we’re heading! At the time of writing we were still doing 6k through very still water with 50 miles to go to the top of the Outer Hebrides and then Stornoway 20 miles round the corner when we hope to get into Stornoway just before the gales do. I’m in 2 minds about going to Arisaig, giving Graham the marine owner, the boat keys and saying we’ll be back next May!
To bring you up to date, it’s 3.30pm Saturday in Stornoway Harbour. The gales are just arriving and it’s chucking it down. We got in later last night than I planned as at 11pm I decided to check the fuel level of the diesel tank and found just 3 gallons left. Panic again! Switched off engine, up with sails, wind still on the nose but about F3 and we then tacked in to Stornoway in a gradually increasing wind just touching F6 when we got in. We’ve used 54 gallons getting us here from Reykjavik. (Thanks for the spare cans Tim. x)
So that’s it, Joe and Gordon have just left us on the 2 o’clock ferry to return to Leeds via friends in Ullapool and I’m looking at the next weeks weather wondering “Why me Lord?”
The low pressure you’ve just been having comes up to just west of the Isle of Lewis where we are and stops!!!!! Then gradually meanders down south to the North Channel and disappears into a massive area of flat calm covering the whole of Scotland on Thursday next. We are left with F5 winds coming up from the south, and where do we want to go?
Just seen a lovely 50ft American one design boat with a lady reading a book entitled “Taking up Needle Work in Warm Countries”……….Now there’s a thought.
Monday 24th July
Good Morning All
I had contact with Conspiracy on Friday night and at that stage they were going ‘very slow’. So they had decided to head for the North Channel and not Stornoway as time was tight for getting back for Saturday! Mike said that they were all well.
Last night I had a conversation with Mike. They had a F3 South Easterly wind on the nose and were at 63 08N 020 16.59W and making slow progress– 4 knots boat speed. Mike was deliberating on which direction to take and they are now heading towards the Faroes which should enable them to pick up a stronger NW wind to push them down to Scotland and beyond.
Mike’s last email last night was “nice to hear you. thanks for help. your fault if we hit oslo! had guessed that way & already on that course. Ta”
Here’s looking forward to seeing them
Tuesday 18th July
Well greetings all from a windy and miserable Reykjavik today.
Fortunately we got all the chores done yesterday, well I did whilst the other 2 were told to disappear and not return till the late afternoon!
The engine has done just over 200 hours so it was time for a good service. And that meant spreading myself all over the boat with no room for anyone else and having hatch covers, oily rags, tools, tool boxes, filters, oilcans, newspaper, old engine oil etc., etc all over the place…I need a bigger boat! Anyway it took most of the morning and was very glad I did it. I found a split in the engine drive belt which would have been very nasty if it happened at sea. So as a precaution I also changed the raw water cooling impellor as well. Then it was top up fuel time, get out the sewing kit and stitch up the zips on the conservatory which have pulled and torn, and something else I did which I’ve forgotten. But a very satisfying day and happy the engine which has had to do a lot of hard work is as good as I can prepare it. So when the weather decides to co-operate we can go. This is looking like Thursday morning and in order to catch the tide to clear the Reykjanes peninsular – Iceland’s equivalent to Bardsey Sound – wind over tide and here be dragon’s territory! Not a place to be. And we’ll be riding on the tale of a gale too. Talking of which we’re in one now with a peak gust of 45knots, lashing rain and a wobbly boat, but fortunately tied to a pontoon. Last night we hit the town (well as much as you can with beer at 13GBP a pint!) and went to a cafe type place who had real problems with their catering staff. Took us an hour to get fish and chips so we nicely complained and they gave us 2 shots each of some alcoholic aniseed stuff. When it came, the fish was cod and was good.
Today, this morning was a boat clean up morning and Alan has had to move into the hutch called the navigators berth and then we went out to the maritime museum in the “old harbour”. Very interesting, not unsurprisingly enough a lot about the cod war and a running documentary of HMS Leander battering a poor Icelandic patrol boat. To me it’s remarkably similar to Paul on an RC Sunday race!
Joe and Gordon are returning this early evening so we’ll fill up with food as they have a hire car till tomorrow morning then we are really ready for the off. If all goes to plan should get in the region of Stornoway area on Tuesday.
To hold your interest, here’s a few piccys from Pingeryi. They were taken about 1.00am in the morning when the mist lifted. The workshop is the one of the engineer who used to repair British trawlers between the wars. A fascinating place, still a working museum and all belt driven.
Spent the morning fretting doing checks and rechecks and things and Joe re-sited the solar panels for our southward journey. I’d finished the odd bits and pieces to do when I decided to wander round and check the split pins and fastening of the standing rigging. And yes, the forestay, the most vital bit that holds the mast up had lost it’s split pin and the anchoring pin was about to drop off! It just goes to show how much wear and tear there is on a long passage and how you’ve got to be continually checking things!
So we are off at 04.00 tomorrow (Thurs) morning to catch the tide and we head SE for Lewis at about 10.00 having cleared the last bit of Iceland.
Sunday, July 16, 2017 7:00 PM
Sunday 16th Update
Now we have arrived back in Reykjavik after 2 long day passages. 12 hours to get from the Western Fjords peninsula to the Snaesfellnes Peninsula and then 16hours the next day to get to Reykjavik. At times it felt like being inside a washing machine being churned back and forth. Unfortunately most of the time was under engine with what little wind there was being on the nose. And as for the tides… Yesterday we had 1.5k of tides againstus for 13 hours! I’ve given up trying to work out when’s the best time to leave harbour and ride the tide. Going round the Snaesfellnes peninsula we were making over the ground 0.91knots! We were motoring at 5! By steering very close to land, too close really as it was a volcanic shore we managed to get up to 3k and this lasted for 10 miles. It felt like we were never going to get round. Then the reflected waves once we got past it were really uncomfortable. However once we broke free oif that we had a nice F4 which let us sail straight into Reykjavic Harbour…..apart from a tug I didn’t see against the city lights coming out of the harbour.
Fortunately I did see him and turned sharply to one of the ports, not sure whether it was a lefthand port I turned to or a righthand port, but I turned one of them and we managed to miss each other. I did give him an apologetic wave. So we arrived just on midnight in the pouring rain and moored onto a nice american yacht of about 50′ with a nice couple on it who’ve based themselves in Ardrossan for the past 8 years.
This morning, Joe and Gordon joined us fleetingly with essential supplies – Captain Morgan Spiced, and 2 oil filters. The engine has done 200 hours since we left so needs filters and an oil change which I’ll do tomorrow. Today has been a relaxing and laundry washing and washing ourselves day including putting the dehumidifyer on full blast to try and dry out the boat from the salty dampness which encroaches.
Joe and Gordon have gone off camping for 2 days as the weather to return home is awful until Wednesday so Thursday looks like our “off” day. The Faroes unfortunately has had to be dropped from the itinery with the weather again stopping our departure yet again but I’m hoping to make for St Kilda providing there’s no east in the wind. (St Kilda is an island abandoned by it’s occupants in the 1930s about 60 miles west of the Hebrides and is owned by the NT and some of the houses have been
So tonight we hit the town with beer at 13GBP a pint and eat out.
Enclosed is a very exciting photo we took as we crossed the Artic Circle. It’s of a submarine crossing it as well, close by us. Can you see it?
Best wishes to everyone. We’re still talking to each other
Wednesday, July 12, 2017 9:46 PM
Now I don’t want you going off to your barbeque parties and forgetting us now that we’ve got to the Arctic Circle. Just when thing were going well I saw next weeks weather forecast this morning. Iceland is surrounded by storm force winds!!! Why me? Take a look at windty.com for tuesday, wednesday and thursday!
At the moment we’re in a fascinating place called Pingerye. At the time of the uk fishing fleet here in Iceland, an engineer and his son ran a workshop here and could make any part that was wanted. They were so good that trawlers from the east coast Grimsby etc., used to prefer coming here than getting it fixed at home. Sadly the whole place is in a slow state of decay now. It was also one of the earliest basque trading ports in Iceland. At the moment it resembles Abersoch on a rainy misty day. Sat in the cockpit listenning to the rain drumming on the roof…..a slight exageration aswe’re sat in the local (only) cafe/restaunt/bar having had a meat pizza ( remember the two cooks on board are vegitarians) and a can of beer…only £8 a can! As I’ve said before booze is eye wateringly expensive.
The 2 harbour masters I’ve met have been a great help. There are 3 knot tides around here so asking them when is the best time to leave port have been told by both of them…”You can leave at any state of tide”. Not a lot of help to get round headlands.
Tomorrow we move a little further south to a place called Patriksfjorder. Not very remarkable except its the closest place we can stop before jumping the gap from here to the Snaefelljokle Peninsular, a distance of about 80 miles with no stopping point inbetween. From there it’s a further 110 miles back to Reykjavik.
Tuesday 11th July.
Arctic Circle Update
Well we made it at 14.20 about your time! Had a lovely very broad reach in sunshine and blue skies in a gentle F3 to F4. We stopped last night after sailing (?) continuously since 6 am on Sunsay morning. It was yet another glorious day on Sunday with clear skies. The first piccy is not Mount Fiji and we had you fooled all along thinking we were going to Iceland, it’s the Snaefelljokull which is one of Icelands many retreating ice caps. Most of them at an alarming rate. On the map of Iceland it’s the long finger sticking out westwards between Reykjavik and the northern fjords. The second piccy is of the GPS plotter giving time and position of the Arctic Circle. And if any smart alec says that the arctic circle is further on, we carried onwards for another 2 miles taking photo’s of each other at the helm! The position was confirmed by Google before hand. Piccy 3 is of me at the helm having crossed the Circle. In the background is the northern tip of Iceland viewed from the Arctic Circle.
Saturday was spent doing a complete touristy trip of the south coast with numerous waterfalls, lush valleys coz that’s where the volcanic emissions are dumped, and walking on a glacier above Kappla, ther next big volcano to errupt, using crampons and ice axes. Great fun.
So now, I’m writing this as we head back to Sudereyri doing 5 knots on a beat at an angle of 15 to 20 degrees. It’s a lovely little harbour just short of the very top finger of the Northwest coast and is one of the very few expanding villages in Iceland. They’ve got fish processing to a fine art where there is no wastage, all the fish is sold, and there’s no
smell or mass of seagulls about. Talking of seagulls etc. Once again
we’ve seen very little sea life. Little Fulmars following us. Alan and I saw a large pod? of pilot whales and a few dolphins but that’s about it. No big whales or any sign of big whales. I thought I saw 2 female Orcas but can’t be certain and I was the only one on watch.
Now we start heading south again, stopping off at a couple of places on our way back to Reykjavik to pick up Joe and Gordon on Sunday.
Hopefully I’ll be able to find a wifi and send this to you before too long.
Friday, July 7, 2017 6:22 PM
Update Friday 7th
Greetings Fellow Conspirators
First a couple of piccys now I’ve worked out how to get from camera to computer to Paul! The first one is my first view of Iceland taken at 3 in the morning last saturday on a very rocky boat, and the second is the harbour in the Vesmannan Islands.
So what have we been up to since we arrived. Well Wednesday was cleaning up ourselves and clothes and boat day, generally relaxing and recovering to a certain extent. Yesterday Richard and I did a tour of the golden circuit seeing the split in the earth’s crust, the hot geysirs, and the Grundfos waterfall (don’t think that’s right somehow, Grundfos is a make of central heating pump!). Anyway it was very impressive. Alan did a longer tour of the same thing but included a hot springs bath. Both Richard and I found water in our whisky once and have been wary of the stuff since!
We’ve decided to make a dash for the Arctic Circle so we are leaving on Sunday to head up northwards and see if we can do it. If it all goes to plan we should be their on Wednesday. According to Google it’s 66deg 33.46mins North and about 270 miles from here. So this morning was spent preparing for the trip and getting ready. Tomorrow we’re off to the south coast on a tour to see the volcano that disrupted all the flights a while ago and to walk along a glacier for a bit. It’s a 10 hour tour so that’s why the preparations were done today.
So standby for another heart stopping, will they or won’t they adventure…it had bloody well better not be!
Still speaking to each other and the antibiotics are working too! By the way, was in the government liquor store today. A 1ltr bottle of Grouse Whisky is 79GBP! This is the ordinary 17GBP bottle from Asda not a special bottle! Captain Morgan is the same!
It’s enough to drive you to drink
Wednesday, July 5, 2017 3:01 PM
It’s 13.47 UK time on Wednesday, 12.47 Iceland time which is a bit odd as the overhead sun here is an hour later than it is at home. We’re 21 degrees west. I’m sat on Conspiracy in Reykjavik harbour, the wind is blowing 25 knots and I’m completely knackered. Slept 10 hours last night and I’m still dopey now. On top of everything my COPD is playing up. Caught a cold which went straight to my chest, so today I’ve started on antibiotics.
Enough of me, after all our problems we’ve got here. We’ve reached Reykjavik and have been able to stand on Iceland. I say this because on Monday night we moored onto a pontoon in Grindavik just before the Reykjanes peninsula and found that each finger pontoon is locked from both the inside and the outside so you’re stuck on the pontoon with nowhere to go. Chatting to a local sailor who came in behind us, this is very common and you have to launch your inflatable dinghy in order to get to dry land. Although the crime rate is very low in Iceland, it’s done to stop vandalism and theft. And landing on the Vestmannaen Islands doesn’t really count as landing on Iceland.
So, what of the journey? After we got John to sort out our VHF radio transmission problems which meant him going up and down the mast 3 times and running a new aerial lead inside the mast and loosing it almost at the bottom, he tested to whole cable run and showed me the result which I’m afraid it didn’t mean much, but he seemed very pleased with it. John left us at 15.45 and we cast off at 16.00 from Mallaig. Up until then it was touch and go as to whether we were going at all. The night before I just did not want to go. I’d lost confidence in the boat, things were going wrong I’d never even thought about and felt that the gods were against us going. However the Monday was a lovely sunny day in Mallaig and John really knew his stuff and as soon as he found the fault my confidence returned. We’d spent the morning filling tanks and preparing the boat for the journey so if we got it fixed we could go. A check on the tides round the east side of Skye revealed that luck was with us and that the best time to leave was from 3pm till 8pm after that we wouldn’t make the tidal gate and thus wouldn’t make it to Iceland in time for Joe and Gordon to get back to work.
What of the journey? About 3 on the Tuesday morning, the wind started to blow from the east at about 17knots so off with the engine and out with the foresail and we stayed like that past the Butt of Lewis and in to the Atlantic for 2 days. Then the wind dropped. After that it was hand steering with the engine on all the way to the Heimaey in the Vestmannan Islands. At times it was like being in a washing machine. Rocking and rolling all over the place and quite violently at times. What bit of wind we did get was on the nose as well. However we made good time and got into port at 05.30 local time. Joe and Gordon were able to get the 1st ferry out in the morning at 8.30, and then got the bus in to Reykjavik and flew out on Sunday morning.
After a sleep I then did engine checks and saw clean saltwater in the engine bilge. My heart sank again. It had to be either the prop shaft seal gone or the raw water cooling seacock or pipe work leaking. A bit later Alan told me that Joe said all his stuff stored below the bed in the aft cabin was soaking wet, and on removing the bed and locker covers there was pools of water all over the place. As the engine bilge is separate from the rest of the boat I thought I had 2 leaks. On top of this I was starting to cough quite badly. After a thorough search it seems that one of the Hydrovane steering fixing plates hadn’t bedded in properly and must have been leaking. Fortunately there was a large B&Q type store open – a lot of places are closed all day Saturday and Sunday – and a search of their sealing compounds revealed a sealing compound for tropical fish tanks and as this is saltwater resistant will make an ideal seal. Which it did. And I sealed round the plate both inside and outside the boat. It doesn’t look the neatest of seals but it does the job. After a lot of thought and ripping more of the boat apart I found that the seawater had travelled along the steering cable channel into the engine bilge so instead of having 2 faults it was just the one.
We planned on leaving for Reykjavik at 06.00 on Sunday, but by that time I was feeling really rough and it was raining hard so we went back to bed and I spent the day dozing and did little. So Monday at 06.00 we set off for Grindavik and Tuesday from there to here arriving about 5pm.
So what’s next? We’re a week late and we don’t have the time to go up to the north and round to Seydisfjorder on the east coast. Thinking about it, it was always going to be tight time wise and didn’t leave any slack for bad weather. It would be nice to take say 3 to 4 months and sit in port waiting for the wind to be right and then set off but we can’t do that. We are going to stay at least 3 days here in Reykjavik and do the touristy things and then perhaps day sail up the west coast coming back here to collect Joe and Gordon a week on Sunday. Then we’ll go back to the Vestmannan Islands and go on to the Faroes from there and then back home.
Thanks for all your messages and kind words. Very much appreciated and I’ll try to reply to them
Tuesday 4th July
Good morning Conspirators
I had a text last night from Mike who is now in Grindavík. Conspiracy left Vestmannaeyjar yesterday morning and headed for Grindavík, a fishing town on the southwest coast of Iceland, next to the Reykjanes Peninsular and Light House. The Blue Lagoon is located 3 miles (4.8 km) from the town. Mike says that the ‘three men in a boat’ are well and looking forward to getting ashore and that they are aiming to leave today and head for Reykjavik.
Saturday 1st July
Conspiracy arrived at Vestmannaeyjar (Westman Islands) at 6.30 am (our time) this morning and Mike texted me to say that they are all well and happy. They were going to catch up on some sleep, before clearing customs and then he would sort out an email. He texted me again this afternoon to say that they do not have wifi, so no email at the moment – bearing in mind that Vestmannaeyjar is an archipelago off Iceland’s south coast and Conspiracy is at Heimaey, the largest and only inhabited island. They hope to start towards Reykjavik tomorrow.
Friday 30th June
“11.00am, 110 nautical miles to go. Estimated time of arrival in Reykjavik 11.00am Saturday. Motored for 30 hours on Wednesday and Thursday and motor back on now, wind force 2 aft. Yesterday was hot and still. All happy and well.” Mike
Monday, June 26, 2017 7:14 PM
The 16.00 Mallaig 600 mile Icelandic Hurdles race for novices is off! To those of you who spoke to me last night must be wondering what on earth is happening!
The electronics man that Graham at Arisaig Marine suggested I contact really came up trumps. Had all the right equipment and put a db meter on the aerial system and found 2 faults with a big one at the top of the mast. This restricted our listenning and transmitting by 2/3rds he said. So after a lot of kerfuffle and 4 hours work we put in a new aerial lead, lost it partway down the mast, recovered it, put in new connectors at the bottom retested it and all sorted. The poor chap went up and down the mast 3 times! We were knackered winching him up! In the meantime I worked out new routes and the tide will let us go through Kyle of Loch Alsh so we’re going up past Stornoway and then NW to Vestmannan Island. It’s near enough 600 miles and will get us in on Saturday using the average of 125 miles a day. The winds are looking ok with easterly and northerlys with a strong wind on Saturday night so hopefully we’ll just be in by that time. However if anything else goes wrong, that’s it!!! So eta Iceland Saturday about 16.00!
We shot off straight away so this is being written on the move and hope to catch the internet as we pass Kyle of LA. From then on I’ll be contacting Paul briefly by sat phone.
A much more relaxed and comfortable Mike.
Saturday, June 24, 2017 3:57 PM
How things really are
As I write this on Saturday lunchtime in Canna Harbour, the successes have been the solar panels, giving us more than enough electricity and the anchor which dived through the kelp here in Canna and has anchored us solidly through our 3rd F8 gale – At one stage we had 50 metres of chain out in 8 metres of water and according to the chart plotter we exceeded our 40 metre circle alarm setting. For a moment I thought the anchor had dragged. The chain must have been stretched out in a straight line – And the actual sailing which has been great and we’ve “done” just over 400 miles.
On Wednesday morning in Ballycastle I thought we had sorted out all our problems. The lovely chap in the Electrical shop gave us all the right bits and good advice which we followed. Soldered up good connections and got it all working again. We then spent the rest of the morning – we were held back from leaving because of the tides through Rathlin Sound – getting the boat ready for going into the Atlantic and our passage northwards. Lashing cans and gas bottles onto the deck so they didn’t move, filling up fuel and water, etc., etc. We stopped for lunch and then got the computer out to look at the weather in the Atlantic and were shocked! From Thursday evening through till Sunday at around 10.00 gale force winds centred around 2 systems, one stuck over the Faroes and one sweeping in from Greenland. If we’d got straight off on Saturday we might have missed the northerly winds we had to tack up the north Channel which slowed us down and might have just missed the worst of it or would have been right in the middle of it. Showed the computer to the crew and we all agreed to changed plans without any second thoughts. I also explained that it was putting the crossing into doubt because of the timescale. So no Rockall and try to get as far north as possible before the gales came. Then came thunderstorms in Ballycastle in the afternoon which soaked through our waterproofing of the radio aerial joint, but we didn’t know about this then. We left at 18.30 and motored into the wind through the night along the outside of Islay, Jura, Mull, took piccys of Fingal’s Cave, and headed on. I wanted to go into Tobermoray but the others wanted to go further north so it was decided to go to Mallaig. Opposite Arisaig I phoned the marina and they were full to the brim and turning people away. The only option then was to head North to Canna even though there are no communications there – wifi (but now found that there is, just available in the cafe) or mobile phone, but a very sheltered and safe anchorage. Opposite the Isle of Iona, the Autohelm – the original electrical one not the new Hydrovane, stopped working, on my watch fortunately. The rev counter stopped working early on the trip – a 16 pin plug with one of the contacts dicky – haven’t a clue which one, too many wires close together to isolate it, but if you push the plug it all works then slowly stops working and there’s no getting to the other side of the plug. Also we lost the steaming light just after leaving Ballycastle. Was new before we left. And putting on the anchor light on Thursday evening, it didn’t work. Tested in Pwllheli and tested again at Ballycastle!
So here we are. Yesterday I spent trying to find out what’s gone wrong and trying to fix it. Joe pulled me up the mast to the steaming light and I found a loose connection so that’s working ok now. By testing found that the anchor lamp bulb has broken. Stripped down the Autohelm and shocked to find ½” ground up bronze dust and the thing completely wrecked. There’s no chance of repairing it here and I don’t think it can be repaired anywhere but it’s been wrapped up and stowed away safely.
Took all the panels off to get to the bottom of the VHF radio problem yesterday afternoon, the handheld VHFs are receiving more than the main ship one. The only think I can think of is that the new aerial + wind arrow hasn’t been put on properly and the connections aren’t made. So tomorrow (Sunday) when the wind drops Joe’s going haul me up the mast to the top and then I’ll replace the anchor bulb and have a good look at the windvane/aerial joint. However by that time, time is getting very tight to go on to Iceland and to be quite frank and open I am distinctly un-nerved and unsettled by it all. The VHF and Autohelm problems especially. If we do get to Iceland, with just 3 of us on board we’ll probably just stay in Reyjavik. If I can’t get the VHF to work properly then we’re going into Mallaig and getting a radio man to look at it. I’ll ring Graham at Arisaig to find out whose best to approach.
Now on our way to Mallaig, and in fact in Mallaig because this has been sent. We all realise that Iceland is not an option anymore so a discussion soon on where we’ll go and what we do now
Hope all’s well with you all and the weather is a lot better with you than here – still blowing, cool and heavy rain showers.
Thanks Paul for your satellite texts. Got them all thanks.
Friday 23rd June
Now sat in “Cafe Canna” and it’s Friday early evenning. Horrendous storms changed our plans as we were all set to go west young man when I looked at Windy and got a shock. Had a very quich group chat and we’ve decided to get as far north as we could so set off from Ballycastle at 18.00 on Wednesday and after 2 changes of mind, Tobermoray – was persuaded to go further north to Mallaig however Mallaig full to the brim so then went to Canna. Got to Canna at 5.30 and just got anchored safely when the first gale hit. The next gale is tonight with another one tomorrow F9s! Arrived in Canna with no steaming light, and the autohelm not working either. And the VHF radio not transmitting – still got aerial faults. Switched on anchor light and found that not working either! All was checked and working before we left!!! Wind quietened this morning and Joe hauled me up to the crosstrees to find a duff connection for the steaming light. Anchor light bulb has blown so I’ll have to go up there when the wind quietens. Took autohelm to bits this afternoon and found half an inch of bronze filings and washer dust inside of it. What’s been going on in there heavan only knows! Spent the rest of the afternoon trying to find out why the radio and ais aren’,t working properly. To top it all this “pad” has decided to recharge itself when still 75% full!
Not sure what we do next. A discussion tonight I think. The only bright thing is we’re getting on well as a crew.
To be continued…sometime, somewhere
Wednesday 21st June
Arrived here safe and happy at 23.00 last night. Went through Rathlin Sound overfalls and standing waves quite nicely. Got very lumpy and uncomfortable just below IoM and had to heave-too to make and eat dinner! Took us 193 miles to get here and gave up taking across the North Channel when the tide set us southwards, back the way we came. On with engine and headed directly for Fair Head. Cliffs there very impressive, and a purple sunset behind Rathlin Islands.
Now waiting for post to collect ordered spare parts, but it looks like Force4 didn’t post them till yesterday.
However radio seems to be working and the AIS tracker seems to live in its own world and works when it wants to and stops for a rest.
All well and still talking to each other, and hope to depart here later today.
Next stop Iceland
All going pear shaped – Weather
Found a very nice man in Ballycastle who owns an electrical shop and fell over backwards to sort us out and got us fixed. We spent the morning re-arranging stuff for the long trip and getting ship shape and prepared. Now in heavy thunder showers and rain!
This afternoon looked at Windy.com and all hell is breaking loose in the Atlantic with long gales from Thursday evenning till Sunday just in the area we want to be! So have just had a group discussion and we are leaving with the tide this evenning to head up towards Stornoway till the weather breaks about 7pm tomorrow night – which means we should get to Tobermoray by then. Have a look at XC Weather for Tiree to see what I mean. From there we’ll have another group discussion and decide what we do next. (Joe & Gordon are supposed to be flying back from Reykjavik on Saturday next week so time is now beginning to get tight!)