Phil: Engineer – old school

Rocks to avoidEngineers make things. Engineers fix things. And engineers make things to fix other things. Not for them the bolting on of new parts in the hope of a miracle cure.

If an engineer needs a tool to do a proper job, and the right tool doesn’t exist yet, your old school engineer will make one. And it will be fine piece of work in its own right.

Grace of Longstone, and by association, Helen and I were lucky enough to know such an engineer. When we arrived in Goole with a beautiful boat and great plans but next to no idea of the engineering required, this man took us under his wing. Not only were problems fixed, but the causes of said problems removed and systems re-worked and improved. Working alongside this engineer was an education and a pleasure.

We heard today that this engineer laid down his tools for the last time on Saturday and so today is a immensely sad day for us.

That Grace is such a seaworthy vessel owes much to this man’s skill, love of fixing things and patience with engineering novices. Am I a better engineer from working alongside this man? I believe I am and this is something I will always be thankful for.

Phil, I hope that you understood how much we were grateful for your friendship and help and how much of a difference your time and support over the last four years made to us.

Caroline, thanks also to you for your support and friendship over this last few years.  We are glad that you found a beautiful place in Ireland for you both to spend your time and continue doing the many things you enjoyed together.

We promise you that Helen and I will come and visit when we have returned from the adventure that Phil helped us so much to prepare for.

Escaping Jersey

We escaped Jersey after 6 or 7 or 8 days, not sure exactly which but it didn’t really matter. We had a truely fab time. Our last purchases for the boat were a bottle of malt whiskey for Dave and a bottle of Bombay Gin for me. Anyone like to wager which bottle will get finished first? Bet Fret probably won’t offer terrific odds on this one. But we do have late night beverages available if and when we have visitors.

Today we’ve made it to L’Aberwrac’h and will head round the corner into what is the start of the Atlantic Brittany coast tomorrow. The sun still shines, the tides run strong and fast and the rocks can loom big and large. Cracking days sailing today after a day’s motoring yesterday. Camaret tomorrow assuming it all goes to plan and time to stop and enjoy the area for a day or two.



Hot summer days

It’s been a lovely lovely few days. A few highlights….

Helping Ben provide safety cover for the Sark to Jersey rowing race. Our rower was first female home over the 26km. Impressive. We did this in on a 43 foot princess power boat. Bit quicker than Grace as we hit 28.3 knots.

Time spent with Ben, Julie, Flynn and Fleur. Lots of time at the beach, BBQ one evening, pizza from the beach shack another and sailing Ben’s dinghy from St Brelades yesterday till late.

Drinking champagne with our new neighbours on their boat in St Helier until it really was time to go home. Thank you for your amazing hospitality.

Chores today but they don’t really feel like chores in this environment.

Hello Jersey

We crossed the channel overnight from Lymington to Sark. It was bouncy, windy and the wind was in sailing parlance ‘on the nose’ the whole way. Grace behaved beautifully. We were both pretty knackered however, especially dodging ships mid channel at 1.30 in the morning.

We decided to anchor in Dixcart Bay on Sark for a few hours to wait for the tide to turn, to have a couple of hours kip and some hot food.

It was then a quick 3 hour sail to Beauport Bay on Jersey where we dropped the hook again around 8pm. Here’s some photos of the view the following morning as Dave gets stuck into his first coffee of the day. Nigel Mansell used to live in the house on the headland here. Rumour is he sold it for £11 million. We got pretty much the same view for nothing!

We’re now in the marina in St Helier and have caught up with our Jersey friends Ben, Julie and family. Ben did BBQ last night, we did the school run on bikes this morning with Flynn 5 (almost 6, I am reliably informed) and Fleur his younger sister who is just 2 and cycles her bike with stabilisers like a young Bradley Wiggins. Amazing!

Having walked back from their house along the cycle track and beach and got the step count well up today, were IT’ed up and doing bits of work. Dave is wiring in a Navtex unit, all while the sun shines and the stress levels barely register. Nice.

Lazy Sunday afternoon


Isn’t technology great. We’re waiting for the strong SW winds to abate before we head cross channel to Jersey. The wifi booster on the boat is doing its stuff and Dave is streaming the British Grand Prix and I’ll be able to watch a bit of Muzza playing in the Wimbledon final later. Just like being at home on a Sunday without the gardening.

We’re in Lymington having had a night at anchor in Studland Bay. We spent several hours yesterday stowing more tools and emptying the remaining boxes. Everything now has a home and the boat looks great. The generator is all plumbed in and working A-okay, the batteries are doing their stuff and the fridge after a couple of temperamental outburst is behaving.

Having been ‘liveaboards’ for two weeks now, we’ve both relaxed into our new lives and getting used to balancing work stuff, maintaining the boat, journeying and just having a bloody great time!

I’ve lost count of the number of friends we’ve seen over the last few weeks, both in Cromford before we moved out of the cottage, in Hull and now on the south coast. Most recently, Linnit, Sarah and family, Mark, Nathalie and Francis, and Fi and co. yesterday. Thanks folks for all the good wishes, cards and gifts.

We’re off to buy some diesel to top up the tank before heading south. I’m looking forward to chasing the sun.

Escaping Hull….and going!

Every journey starts somewhere. Ours started in Hull. Actually it very nearly didn’t start at all. We arranged to lock out at 7.15am. Got into the lock fine and the water levels were adjusted by the lock keeper. One exit gate opened, the second refused to budge and appeared to be jammed shut. Looking through the gate we could see rampant brown water heading down the Humber to Spurn Point and out into the North Sea.

Lesley, the lock keeper frantically ran round the gates after some jiggery poker and lock keeper magic, the gate slowly lumbered into life with a couple of lurches. Phew, we were able to escape Hull, which was reassuring as the water level was dropping fast and grounding in the lock would have been an inauspicious start to our trip.

The trip to the river Hamble on the south coast took us 56 hours non stop. We were both pretty bushed but happy by the time we moored up as the trip was eventful with battery problems, strong winds but thankfully, no rain as we managed to dodge the thunder and lightening storms that appeared to be dancing across the Lincolnshire and Norfolk coasts.

So we’re current sat in Hamble Point Marina. The battery problem has been addressed and the generator is working now as a couple of guys from Fischer Panda have been on board today installing it and testing it. The fridge is stocked and the water tanks are full to brimming.

Our friend, Lovely Lisa happened to be in Hamble yesterday so she became our first overnight guest. We escorted her to a taxi at 6.45 this morning to get a train back into Maidenhead for work. Shame. She has been known in the past to stow aboard… She came unexpectedly to the Isles of Scilly with us a couple of years ago. We like a bit of spontaneity.

Our next move is to Studland Bay to hook up with more friends then cross channel to jersey this weekend sometime. It’s sunny, shorts and t shirts weather so life is very tolerable.