We had to be past the Needles and into the Solent by midday before the tide changed so it was another 0330 rise to leave at 0400. With a Westerly wind and spring tide we made great progress and were soon past the first tidal gate of St Alban’s Head.
The wind freshened, as forecast, and our speed increased as we sailed past the landmark Needles lighthouse at over 10 knots (very exhilarating in a 28 foot boat).
The finish line felt very close as we entered Cowes Yacht Haven. I have many fond memories of learning to sail in the Solent on Victoria 34’s from the Joint Services Adventurous Sail Training Centre (JSASTC) and now we have circumnavigated this wonderful country in our own boat. I struggled to contain the many mixed emotions running through my head today.
We arranged to arrive at the Hornet Services Yacht club in Gosport at 1400. We had the tide with us until midday so with the wind behind us and F8 gusting F9 it was to be a quick passage. With just the headsail with 2 reefs we flew past Southampton and down to Portsmouth entrance at 8 knots.
Arriving in Gosport at 1100 we were much too early so took up the kind offer from the Army Sailing Centre to raft up alongside Gladeye at their base just around the corner from Hornet.
We slipped our mooring for the last time at 1355 and were welcomed alongside Fieldhouse jetty by friends and family. Exactly 11 weeks and 2302 miles later.
It was great to see family and friends again and to meet up with Martin once more too.
On 4th June 2016 Martin and I set off from Gosport to circumnavigate the UK hoping to raise money and awareness for Action for Children and help the many disadvantaged children and families in our country. Martin left on his 26 year old bike, Diana and me onboard mine, Kaz and Harry’s 28 foot family yacht, Tikka with a target of £10,000
I arrived back full of so many emotions, was tired, exhausted even, but full of pride and admiration for the team that helped us make this dream come true. I am blessed to be married to a wonderful wife and have such a very brave son. The friends and family that have joined us along the way have been brilliant. I hope you have enjoyed it as much as I have. Thank you too to eveyone that has listened to our story, donated to the cause and wished us well along the way. Together we smashed that target and the total has exceeded £18,000 and continues to climb.
So what’s next? There are still children in our country suffering every day, Action for Children will continue their work to try to change this. Tikka’sTravels could continue to support them. We could sail, cycle, run, fundraise and continue to spread the word. Is there the appetite to continue? Do my friends and family want to keep fighting to help some of the most disadvantaged children in our country have a better chance?
For now I need a Little Lie Down and some quality time with Kaz and Harry but I wonder…. Hmmm, yes, I wonder……
It was to be an 0500 start from Plymouth. 89 miles across Lyme bay, the Portland Race and on into Dorset home waters. The day began with light winds so we had to use the assistance of the newly fixed engine as well as full sails.
We made good progress but 89 miles in a 28ft boat still takes time. 18 hours to be exact. We arrived at Weymouth town quay just in time for a quick pint before getting a few hours sleep. To catch the tide and keep clear of the impending storm that is brewing, we had to be up at 0330 and off for 0400.
As we left Fowey and were just about to hoist the sails our poor engine failed again. We tried in vain to get her started but with no success. I contacted Plymouth yacht haven and All Boat Services to arrange a berth and tow in.
It was a great sail into the historic Naval port of Plymouth. It was a shame that it was marred by this engine failure.
Once alongside we had the engineers making a start whilst we got Tikka ready for visitors.
We had our 2 new crew members, Kerrie Shenton Bamblett and solo round the world record holder, Jeanne Socrates join us and later Alastair (Action for Children ) with local Action for Children services staff and a reporter from the Plymouth Herald.
Wednesday came around and our fuel snag was still there. We replaced the bleed screw but still no joy. We eventually traced it to dirty fuel again and so drained, cleaned and refuelled Tikka. With clean fuel a good bleed and help from marine engineer Lloyd, we were ready to go again.
With an Easterly wind we fought our way to Fowey past Dodman point.As the crow flies the distance is only 22 miles but beating into wind this would be over 30 miles and being slowed by the waves took us over 8 hours.
Fowey is a beautiful entrance, accessible for 24 hours with no significant difficulties.
We picked up a mooring just in time to witness the Fowey regatta fireworks display.
Meg has good friends near Falmouth that are also sailors so she called them to ask for assistance. John and Holly joined us in the afternoon and John brought his tools and a welcome bucket of enthusiasm. On investigation I noticed that the fuel filter bowl bleed screw was loose. On further inspection the thread had gone on the housing allowing air to be drawn in. We replaced the bleed screw with a bolt and all was well again.
With the engine back running we heading in to Pendennis marina. It was Falmouth regatta week so the marina was full with racing boats and super yachts.
However, we had friends berthed in the marina, two Armed Forces yachts, Discoverer and Adventure and Spirit of Falmouth ran by the charity Turn to Starboard.
Spirit kindly allowed us to tie up alongside them. This week they had crew from the Prince’s Trust and Help for Heroes. Dan from Spirit explained how well it worked having both children and adults together with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder working together and sharing their experiences.
As night fell we headed into town for a few pints where sea dits galore were spun.
South Westerly winds made for a comfortable sail around the Lizard peninsula and into Falmouth bay. We were now well into familiar territory. I used to live in St Keverne on the Lizard back in the early 90’s so it was great to sail past the Mannacles, Helford river and past Black Rock. With a Force 5 wind and clear blue skies we were escorted into Falmouth by about a dozen dolphins. I never tire of seeing them play around the bow of the boat, cutting gracefully from side to side and circling us with ease. It is one of natures great exhibitions.
As we approached Pendennis marina disaster struck. We lowered the sails and were motoring in and the engine failed! So it was back up with the sails and we picked up a visitor bouy just off the marina. At least we were safely in but this was not what we needed in the last week of the challenge.