farmer boy 2:45pm, 16 July 2012
Hi all, well I have made it to Spain. The Biscay crossing was my worst nightmare F6 / F7 all the way with an horrendous hour of incredible winds on Friday which ripped the foresail sheet block away from the deck - I have never been so frightened and just about everything on the boat broke. Waves as big as houses over the top of the boat, water everywhere,engine packed in, compass broke, genoa sheet block parted from its track on the deck, nav lights all failed, no way to charge batteries, Lay a'hull (drifting basically) for 24 hours through the shipping lanes (you talk to the nicest people in the middle of Biscay!), and I was shaken and battered for 4 days. I am black and blue (I look like I have been abused!) but I am still smiling and the boat was fine despite my inexperience!
I will never trust a forecaster again - I have an old RAF (met. man) mate in Manchester Airport who checked the weather for the crossing for me and he sad it would be fine - he got everything right except the wind strength - it was about 40% more than predicted! Such is life.

Anyway it is hot and sunny here so I am trying to dry out the boat and tidy up before a day or two of fixing stuff.

I will stick some pictures up when I find the camera.

Cabin boy John

Neil - you got the rig tension just right - thanks.
rothwell_neil Posted 6 years ago. Edited by rothwell_neil (member) 6 years ago
Nice I got something right, tell my wife.
pjbharrison 6 years ago
Congratulations, John
Was beginning to worry about you. Rest up for a few days and look after yourself.

Neil. I totally understand the wife comment!
farmer boy 6 years ago
Thanks guys... glad to be able to post on here ... it is a bit lonely! I have never been on my own for 5 days.... it was weird....
pjbharrison Posted 6 years ago. Edited by pjbharrison (member) 6 years ago
Did you forget the cuddly toy or teddy? I believe it was in the first list of essentials. Remember Wilson in "Castaway"?

How's the engine? Must admit I've been concerned about it's reliability since you first talked about its lack of power and oil leaks etc
Did the wind generator pack in too? Hope the electrical problems are easily solved, may be just a water ingress issue.

Despite all the problems YOU MADE IT! 500+nm
farmer boy 6 years ago
Hi PJ - the engine is now fixed - yippee!!!!! I had fitted an electrical fuel pump on the advice of another Vega owner but I began to suspect that the little inline filter on that was blocked. Anyway I took it off (mid Biscay - it was SO hard to do and frightening) - I had to lift the cockpit floor to do it and I was worried that another wave would land in the cockpit - plenty had already done so! Got it disconnected and changed the fuel filter and drained a bit of water out of the separator thing and she ran as sweet as a nut! I think the electric pump was over-fueling as well because I no longer have black smoke out of the exhaust and the puffs of "soot" have stopped. It is also doing a load more miles to the gallon and the oil leak has stopped! So it currently has no faults and I ran it for 20 hours on the last leg to get into La Coruna before dark - did not want a repeat of the Kinsale pantomime. It never missed a beat and did 6 kts all the way. God I hope it keeps going! The wind generator is connected to the engine battery - I am going to re-think that one because it was spinning incredibly fast - really like a jet turbine! I could have used an electric kettle!

The good news is that I have found out what needs to be changed and what works fine. I will soon have it ready for sea again but I think I will stay here for a few days and try to recover myself a bit.
RRatCalypso 6 years ago
Farmerboy John,
Your safe, thats the main thing. Damage sounds 'superficial, so not so bad. the best bit is you have some sunshine (I'm told that sunny weather is nice !!). Ever thought of croosing the Atlantic? just reading your Biscay account... I may not do so now. On your own... no problem. You can please yorself what you do. Have fun, R
rothwell_neil Posted 6 years ago. Edited by rothwell_neil (member) 6 years ago
John glad you survived the bay of biscay, we crossed some sea or other in croatia, 7 days we were out and at times had to peg down the towels as it threatened to get over a f2. Waves were immense at a full 18 inches. Sounds like we had the sort of sailing you planned on and you got the sort of weather that John Denney gets whenever he gets on a boat. You may actually be the cause of the jet stream and the awful summer. If you have made it to northern spain that should put paid to their season and maybe let us enjoy the sun again. Is this a recent phenomena or have you always attracted weather?
Skykomish E29 6 years ago
Funny you should say that Neil the BBC are promising more normal seasonal weather next week, you may have hit the nail on the head!
farmer boy 6 years ago
Hmmm... last night they were talking about a F9 just west of here (La Coruna) and today it is overcast and cool - maybe............... no, must must be coincidence!
rothwell_neil 6 years ago
At the centre of every area of cyclonic weather is a Denney.

Sailing in Emily, blew up to a lot more than they reckoned, battered on buoy and cold, delivery trip for Paladin wind on the nose and cold the whole time. Delivery trip for Cirrus, cold. All these trips in the summer. If you are aiming on showing off a sun tan better book the tanning suite.

Congratulations on making the trip.
Amrum 9171Y 6 years ago
Fantastic, John! Well done on getting to La Coruna - I failed to last year due to the weather, and a friend failed to last month for the same reason. It's a real rite of passage getting across the Bay of Biscay, and to do it on your own is a great achievement.
I feel somehow that there is a lot more to be told about the crossing, and I look forward to the photos in due course. Also now looking forward to some good weather!
farmer boy 6 years ago
Many thanks, I kept a diary and it makes interesting reading - I did a few videos as well but the connection here is so poor I cannot upload them. I have been fixing the boat next to me all morning (steering gear problem and he is too big to get in his locker!) - when I have fixed mine I shall sit down and write it all up. Some of the stuff I wrote seems a bit melodramatic now (safe in a marina) but it was how I was feeling at the time!
farmer boy 6 years ago
Hi all, I have somehow made it to Portosin, in the Ria de Muros in Spain and it is hot! I have anchored for 2 nights (what a pantomime that was!) and I have worked out how to pole out the jib and how to gybe but I still have a long way to go! (in every sense!)
The engine is still giving me grief and it is a cause for concern. I am begiining to think I should have fitted a new one but hindsight is a wonderful thing. The nightmare of Biscay is nearly forgotten but I am still so busy all the time just keeping ahead of all the things that need to be fixed and cooking and cleaning and getting water and charging batteries and washing sweaty clothes and a million other things as well. Jesus I wish I could cook!

When I get a chance I shall write up the stuff I have in my diary - you will die laughing - it is a miracle I have survived!

Anyway - hot and tired in Spain......

Cabin Boy John
busy home [deleted] 6 years ago
John. I know we are All thinking of you, All the very best to you .. keep
posting reports we look foreward to them,
Im sure you will cure the engine problems . Neil tells me you are good at mechanics.. I have a mate who is a genius. seriously. He has had his
volvo for many years ,, (in a Seamaster.) Ask please ,if you are stuck.
Nice weather here since you left....... ?
rothwell_neil Posted 6 years ago. Edited by rothwell_neil (member) 6 years ago

Many congratulations on continuing to make progress South. There is so much to learn on a boat and the good news is that you have plenty of time to learn. As you know I am always willing to be of help and have racked my brain as to the best way to help you with all the issues that you have coping with a 27ft boat in the Atlantic. In order to be of maximum help in this whilst located in Cheshire I have just ordered a book for you off Amazon There are many sailing books on how to fashion a replacement rudder by knitting one from salvaged fishing net or how to survive dehydration by drinking the blood of a fish. However I think that the easiest and most important thing to fix will be the cooking, so have ordered you a book on one pot cooking that I know my kids used when they first went to University. They are both excellent cooks now so the book should be a good start. Can you tell me where to mail it to? As to gybing, reefing, heavy weather sailing etc, good luck.

Ron is correct weather has bucked up nicely since you left, off to sail the Solway for a few days in the sun.

What is the blog address again?

busy home [deleted] 6 years ago
John. Bin thinking , I had a Volvo mdib in a Westerly tiger, B thing...
Would cut out for no reason, generally low revs
after a good run. I told my geneious mate who immediatly said
CARBON ON ExHAUST VALVE STEM.. Jams into guide holding valve open a bit. I took of the manifold off and he was right, Turned engine till valve open ,scrapped off with a screwdriver... no more trouble.
If your exhaust elbow is choked (likely) or prop too big not allowing full revs,,,Smokes, (my problem) This may be your problem,
When doing up my Yanmar I put Plus gas into the exhaust port to check leakage ...... over night the valve was shinning,, PlUS GAS eats carbon. Hope this helps,
farmer boy 6 years ago
Thanks Guys! Neil - I am not 100% sure where I am now so I have no idea of a postal address! I will probably get more organised soon and put together a plan.
Blog thing is -

I have not had a chance to update it much but I will as soon as I can.

Chille - Engine wise, I have a problem with black smoke and the odd puff of soot (Neil saw it puff out the soot). I am thinking that the engine is under too much load which is caused by the variable pitch prop being too coarse at a given throttle setting. Throttle and Prop pitch are both on one lever - it is a funny set up. Anyway I was thinking of adjusting the control lever so that I get less prop pitch (ie not as coarse) for any given throttle setting. Also if I put the throttle fully forward the engine is overloaded and the revs decrease a bit - like going uphill in top gear. Do you think I am on the right lines?

ps I have just walked up to little fishing town (Portosin), bought some bread, and some cheese for lunch - more sandwiches! The sun is shining and the wind is a light breeze. It is lovely here, but I have to go and find out how to wash my smelly clothes, get some more deisel, fill up with water, clean this filthy boat, check the weather and a million other little things that all need doing.... I have never been so busy. I think Neil said that going off cruising is just fixing the damn boat in the sun!! He was so right!

ps Tinker dinghy is great but a real pain in the arse to set up - takes ages. see video...
farmer boy 6 years ago
Neil, just remembered... how the hell do you input waypoints into the little green garmin GPS? I have lost my instructions and I cannot work out for the life of me how to "type" in the lat and long?

Sorry to be a pain!

pjbharrison 6 years ago
Garmin manuals

Garmin instructios for lat long

Blog page for La Coruna is blank!

Can't find video of tinker setup. Is it the inflation is a problem or the rig? I use a 12v pump to inflate in a couple of mins.

You look exhausted in Youtube video for Biscay
Perhaps you could had taken a couple of turns of the furling line around the winch to ease the strain on your hands. Be careful not to break the line though. It shouldn't have been that difficult to furl once the sheets were off. How is the drum or was the halyard twisting on the forestay?
busy home [deleted] Posted 6 years ago. Edited by busy home (member) 6 years ago
Exactly .. I had to put a much smaller prop on mine. That was the cause of the soot in the first place, same symptons .Black transome ,smoke under load . Violent accelleration at tick over ... I bet your exhaust elbow is chocked up as a result (common on lots) Be carefull when digging out , they are fragile when old.,,,,
Another problem i had was the exhaust hose delaminated internally ,,cutting dia by half or more .!?
rothwell_neil 6 years ago
John, Paul has sent manual but it is simple, go to mark waypoint on menu page and press. This creates one with current position, then edit the number to a name, edit the lat long to what you want and it appears in waypoints under the letter or number. Press and hold enter to jump straight to mark waypoint. Once you have a selection of waypoints you can then create a route by going from one to the next. Need logical naming!

All you need is Tenerife then turn right?

Sounds like Ron may be onto something with less pitch, may be the answer, less haste more speed? It won't rev at full throttle so maybe prop is over pitched.
busy home [deleted] 6 years ago
Angle grinder?
rothwell_neil 6 years ago
Variable pitch prop on a dual control that operates pitch and throttle at same time, retard the pitch and should then be less pitch at full chat. When stationary if you put full power on get less revs as pitch too great. may effect reverse but doesn't go in reverse anyway!
busy home [deleted] 6 years ago
so you can adjust throttle setting to less power at max opening. ??/
farmer boy 6 years ago
Thanks to all - I think I have fixed the engine problem... I adjusted the controls so that the prop does not go as course and it seems to have worked. The engine now sounds much sweeter and runs at full throttle without the engine slowing down. I go a bit sloer now but I think I am using less fuel and there is no black smoke out of the back. I did get a puff of soot when selecting full power (after being at idle for a while) but maybe that will reduce with time.
Thanks for the info on the Garmin - Sorry the blog is not up to date - I have still typing up the Biscay stuff.. www connections are slow here - it is difficult to upload stuff.

I still have the leak from the back of the gearbox but I am trying to fix that today - just a temporary fix with gasket goo - or similar. Hopefully it will slow the leak down a bit.

I am in a little bay (really nice) in the NE corner of the Ria de Arosa... It was foggy all day yesterday and I did not like it! Thank God for GPS! I have teamed up with a couple on a 24 ft Pacific Seacraft - they have lived on yachts for 20 years! He is teaching me a lot - it is good to have some company. I have managed to get some free wifi with my new wifi aerial and it is slow but ok - I shall have to do some repairs today but I will try and write up the blog asap.

Chile - do you think I should be too worried about the puff of soot out of the exhaust?

Thanks for the help guys - really appreciate it!

busy home [deleted] 6 years ago
Soot on acceleration is normal. Too much throttle opening and not enough revs,,,,My yanmar does it ... Black exhaust water till reaching speed.
I bet you feel better now! ..I hate unreliable engines...
rothwell_neil Posted 6 years ago. Edited by rothwell_neil (member) 6 years ago

Just hold down the enter button and it will mark where yo are, then edit to where you want to go to. Enjoy the cruise, next stop? Book has arrived.
Raydock 6 years ago
Congratulations on the gibing thing, as you said "how hard can it be"
Glad to hear your keeping the diary up to date.
Remember you could be sitting at home bored like most of humanity at the moment.

Skykomish E29 6 years ago
Yes enjoying the British summer being forced to watch the Olympics on T.V. because that is all that is on! enjoy the Sun!
farmer boy 6 years ago
I am sat in the marina at Bayona and I think I have fixed the oil leak and the water leak and the throttle friction p
busy home [deleted] 6 years ago
Its pouring down here,,
B olympics on scores of channels. bored stiff
rothwell_neil 6 years ago

Think you may be vindicated, you are now getting good weather and we are still getting bad weather so can't be all your fault. Glad to hear you are working through your list of problems and winning, well worth going down there to get sailing shots of the boat, never see another boat so I am unlikely to get any.

Beach volley ballers are wearing tracky bottoms and long sleeve tops, what is the point of that? Obviously should be compulsory for the men but not for the women!
farmer boy 6 years ago
Laughing! I have not seen a TV for a month and not even read a newspaper - did Greece leave the Euro?

I am just doing a few final jobs and then it is off to Portugal tomorrow. It is taking much longer than I thought but I am nearly beginning to enjoy it. I think if this oil leak is cured and the engine goes ok I shall be able to relax a bit.
ps everyone says what a fast boat this is! Eh..? I seem to be able to outrun just about anything my size and a bit bigger - I have no idea why. It is overloaded and I am not trying to go fast - it just does! In fact the guy who is helping me has just taken his boat out to be scraped because he was pissed off with me having to reef down to stay behind him.. just made me laugh. (I find it easier to follow than lead at this stage!!!)
Anyway I am feeling a bit more confident and I have not crashed into anything yet so I think I may be ok. Still get a bit seasick which is a pain and the sun is very hot but overall things are looking up.

farmer boy 6 years ago
.. meanwhile......
Long leg from Leixos to Fuengrillo de Fos (or similar) today. Wind died as I left the marina at 7.00 am and I ended up motoring the whole way - 12 hours! I am now deaf as a post but the good news is the "bodge" oil leak fix stood up to a harsh test and the water leak is cured (water was leaking from the exhaust thing) . However, at the 11th hour just as I was approaching the harbour entrance I could smell burning - oh bugger, what now thinks I...... thick black smoke was pouring from the stern - I thought it was a blown engine and dived down to expose the engine to see the fanbelt just about to destroy itself - it needed tightening but now was not the time to stop the engine. I left it and clambered back up to find that Ray (Raymarine ST 2000 - new last month) had decided to aim for the mole at the entrance to the marina - much to the amusement of the local anglers! I disengaged it (it is buggered - one days hard work - what a load of crap!) and watched as clouds of smoke poured from the engine compartment and the stern. Hmmm why from the stern... ? Now, I have learnt that if I let go of the tiller terrible things happen so I stuck it between the cheeks of my arse and peered into the engine compartment - hmmm... no flames just a badly frayed and soon to be dead fanbelt... Time for tiller pilot No 2 - a quick wave to the crowd of spectators/ fishermen on the mole (always need to show a stiff upper lip when visiting the colonies) and a mad dash below to search for the spare tillerpilot. I return triumphant with it clasped tightly to by bosom as I steer the boat away from the rocks..... I wonder why this damn boat insists on trying to scuttle itself every time I leave it alone for a second? Anyway I fit the spare (an old one of dubious origin) and set it up. That was easier said than done because when you turn the dial left it goes right and vice versa. The fishermen had now stopped fishing and were greatly amused by the crazy English man doing elegant zig zags along the harbour entrance whilst making enough smoke to hide the Graff Spey. No doubt tomorrows newspapers will be reporting a water born attack on the harbour by British Royal Marines disguised as yachties! After committing to memory that left is right and right is left I pointed the beast at the marina some 400m away and proceeded to open the rear locker to be greeted by a billow of smoke and a smell I was now familiar with - melting rope....... yes - most of my nylon mooring lines and a couple of fender for good measure had been melted to globs of nylon / plastic by the obviously very hot exhaust... oh bugger! Out it all came and the cockpit was full of partially melted ropes and fenders which I (of course) trampled on with my naked feet and did a passable Irish jig to an admiring crowd of Portuguese. Jesus was I pissed off at this stage......

Anyway, the marina was getting very close now and I had not called them on VHF and the 2 yachts that were behind me had overtaken so I followed on as I scampered about trying to attach 6 bloody fenders and 4 bits of mooring rope (all now too short and still warm). I was sweating and rather stressed but there... last bit of rope attached ...Jesus where the XXXX am I going! Tiller pilot number 2 had decided he had had enough and was also attempting to drive me into the harbour wall... a full 90 degrees off course.... Needless to say, I was now the centre of attraction and even the 2 yachts ahead had slowed down to observe the pantomime.

I stood erect at the tiller, adjusted my cap and sunglasses and serenely continued as if everything was absolutely normal (damn near was actually) and entered the marina with my red ensign fluttering bravely. My heart sank.... there was a nasty big wall (arrivals) with 2 yachts tied to it and 2 waiting ...... err...... so.... I need to hover? To cut a long story short I somehow managed to keep Cirrus from damaging anything by a combination of prayer and waggling both the tiller and the throttle. (I think the prayer was by far the most effective) until it was my turn to be invited to the "wall".... I have to say my approach was good (if slow) and the landing was pretty good to, so I proudly strode to the pointy end to pass up my rope - yes.. it was too bloody short so I got the one from the other side (I always assume I will need at least 6 mooring ropes everywhere I go) and tied it to it... the man looked at the badly melted ends and smiled. A quick sprint to the blunt end and voila - the rope just reaches the top of the wall and I immediately shut down the smoking engine and try my best to look cool. I can just about get onto the quayside and proceed to the harbour masters office to complete the paperwork, which for some reason has the 2 officials in pleats of laughter..... how many engines do I have and what is the horsepower, when was the boat built etc....(I later found out that my face was black with oily smudges). "Ok, now you go first pontoon - last one next big ketch" - no problem says I and proceed to the wrong door - eventually found the right one (I pretended I was reading the notice on the door - but I don't think they fell for my ruse as they gathered I spoke no Portuguese). Back out into the bright sunshine and it hit me that I need to move the damn thing again..... it was so busy and so crowded I toyed with the idea of feigning a heart attach there and then. Needless to say, the bulldog spirit kicked in and I thought I would have a gentle stroll over to the pontoons to check out the "last one next big ketch" before firing up the beast again... the man came out of the office and passed me my sunglasses, shower code, gate entry fob and cap - all of which I had left on his desk. No wonder I thought it was bright.... "you go now.... many more boats...." Oh well - what the xxxx, I was passed caring. Deftly dropped into the cockpit and disappeared below to remove the step, remove the front, find the starting handle, insert same, grope for the de-compression lever, turn the mother over and she fires up 1st time. I put all the woodwork back, go upstairs and signal the chap to let go the pointy end - he bursts out laughing and releases the front as I untie the stern realising that I am covered in black rubber dust from the worn out fanbelt - right up both arms and all over my face and t - shirt. Right - enough is enough..... I gunned the engine and rounded the corner towards my alloted space - hmmm.... bit tricky but I can do this.... ok now remember the stern will kick in so you can give it some beans in reverse and it should be perfect...... looking good maybe a bit too fast.. ok loads of reverse and she will kick...... oh shit - wrong way! Damn thing kicked out did't it.... what a flamin' nightmare... I was at a jaunty 45 degree angle jammed between the pontoon and a Beneteau something or other.... I won't bore you with the rest.... I am here and only my pride was hurt - just need to get it all cleaned up and sorted tomorrow...... how hard can it be........

Cabin Boy John
pjbharrison 6 years ago

You got there safe anyway.

You should have a film crew following
Raydock 6 years ago
John, I only wish you the best,, but ,,,, I look forward soooo much to the next installment .
farmer boy 6 years ago
pics at....

.... the saga continues:
> My engineering trip, sorry I mean sailing trip, is keeping me very busy. I am
permanently covered in oil, grease ans soot from my delightful engine. I have
spent yet another day with my arse pointing at the sun and my head in the bottom
of the boat.
> Firstly, the 2 tiller pilots were taken apart and the brand new ST2000+ had
just about destroyed itself - I have only used it these last 2 weeks whilst
sailing / motoring in the Spanish Rias and it has stripped its belt and
destroyed its rubber damper thing. I found loads of bits of solder inside and
it looks like it was built as a kiddies toy. Really pissed me off that I was
relying on it to steer the boat. They should be taken to court and sent to
prison for endangering peoples lives - it is a disgrace that it only lasted 2
weeks of work!
> The other one is better built but relies on a bit of string to drive the
mechanism - yes a bit of string! It had come loose so I have wound it back into
place and it seems to work now - to its credit I guess it is about 30 years old!
Hence my steering problems yesterday!
> Anyway after buggering about with them all morning I arranged a ride to the
nearest "Halfords" type place and bought some exhaust repair bandage and some
epoxy and some degreaser - it came to £80!!!!! Got a taxi back to the boat and
set about taking out the exhaust - not easy! I was as black as the ace of
spades (covered in soot and oil..) and discovered that the exhaust had failed at
the weld to the flange due to the rubber supports at the rear also
sense of humour is struggling to keep up with all of these disasters!
> Anyway - everything is now in bits and I have arranged for a Portuguese chap
to weld it back together tomorrow - at least I think that is what we agreed -
maybe I will get a vasectomy instead... I really should have bought a
Portuguese phrase book!
> so far..
> compass peed out all its oil
> fuel pump died mid Biscay
> sheet block broke mid Biscay
> various lights and the AIS failed mid Biscay
> depth sounder drinks its extra virgin olive oil and gives 2M readings which
give me heart failure (slow leak - now fixed)
> oil leaked from combi
> water leaked from exhaust
> dynastart seized
> fan belt broke
> both tiller pilots failed within 5 mins of each other just as entering harbour
> rubber exhaust supports failed
> exhaust flange weld failed
> exhaust pipe burnt through ropes and fenders
> exhaust pipe burnt part way through stern - you can see daylight!
> ... everything is fixed except the exhaust which I will do tomorrow. I must
be the first person in history to visit foreign lands and not have time to see
> I shall try to keep smiling but this is getting to be a test of wills. Me
versus the Volvo... I think it is winning at the moment!
> Many thanks to all for the kind words and encouragement - it gets a bit lonely
out here and my enthusiasm starts to wane a bit but tomorrow is another day!
> Time to climb into my sleeping bag and dream of a new engine, light winds and
dusky maidens....aaahhhh....
I will try to keep going as long as I can - glad you
had a good laugh - it really is hilarious - so many things have happened it is
unbelievable. I have it all noted down in my diary and I shall type it all up
asap - only typed up as far as La Coruna so far.. 3 weeks behind!
> Greasy John....
Slycat777 6 years ago
You may find this useful (or at the very least interesting reading)

The parts on setting up self steering without any electronics is very good.
farmer boy 6 years ago
Great stuff - many thanks Slycat!
jendave1 6 years ago
Been away for a few weeks, just catching up. Great stuff John, keep the British end up!
farmer boy 6 years ago
Well it is decision time! Oh gloom, what to do now......

I have managed to get just about everything fixed. The exhaust has been welded and I made a new rubber bush for the rear mount, the dynastart has been repaired by a nice Portuguese engineer, the oil leak seems to be fixed, the fuel pump is now fine, the raw water leak is cured, the St 2000 tiller pilot has its new belts in it (fiddly job) and the engine (bless it) is running as sweet as a nut!

I have had a bad few days in Fuengerila da Foz feeling sorry for myself and wondering what to do but I think the boat is as ready as it ever was (maybe better) to go back to sea.

Do I play it safe and just hop along the coast, fit a new engine, and settle for the Med or do I strike out for the Canary Islands? I have provisioned for the 8 day sail to the Canaries but my arse it twitching a bit at the prospect! (excuse the French). I cannot find a reason not to go to the Canaries other than "if" I have more breakdowns.... but who knows. I am good with "spanners" and I would swear that this little engine is running very well with loads of power, good compression, nice clean exhaust etc... but I suppose it could blow up tomorrow.

I guess I will have to sleep on it and decide in the morning.... a few marinas are "on the way", as it were, because I have to head south along the Portuguese coast for a bit so I guess if I "bottle out" I can hang a left and run for a port.

Appreciate any words of wisdom.....

John the undecided......
farmer boy 6 years ago
Oh and how do I balance the boat? To make the steering more "neutral"... I guess less mainsail and maybe the trave
busy home [deleted] 6 years ago
Hi John..
force 3 upwind ,, hoist big genny.. (or roll out all foresail')
Helm will go light... or lee..
Hoist reefed main to increase weather helm.. as required. you may lose half a knot..
A bike inner tube can be used to control tiller well, whilst going foreward
or a leek. I have a guy rope type adjuster as well (I sail alone mostly)
Its gone lousy weather again here!!!
pjbharrison 6 years ago
Hi John
Sent you an email. Have you considered that a Radio permit and ICC are essential for travel by boat on French waterways and I think in some US states?
rothwell_neil 6 years ago

Martinho do Porto is a lovely bay, leading lights to get you in through a narrow entrance then a great enclosed bay. If you want advise on restaurants then can provide as know it well. Nazarre is also a nice harbour as are Peniche and Ericeira. Sea food is excellent.

Should have gone to Porto as the Port is excellent and free on the port house trips!

farmer boy 6 years ago
Hi all, got to a rock in the Atlantic called Porto Santo - did not mean to come here but..... it is a long story! .The boat has been fabulous - I cannot praise it enough - its me - I am not cut out for long distance sailing - it's too lonely!............. I arrived in the dark..... (which I swore I would never do again), F6 maybe F7 headwinds (the wind always blows from the North in this area - my arse!) nearly ran out of fuel - (maybe 1 pint left in the tank), got bashed by the boom and nearly fell over, not eaten or slept properly for 6 days, parked up at 3.00 am against a concrete harbour wall which got taller in the night and woke me up as I was dangling from the mooring lines, got hooted at by the Ferry to Madeira for hogging his parking space......oh and rescued a Spanish family from being blown out to sea in a tiny rowing boat. So, as you can see everything is as normal on the sailing asylum "Cirrus".

I have had enough - I am finding this so hard. The weather seems to be conspiring against me - it actually rained here last night due to a frontal system, hence the westerlies - VERY unusual....... I think I will make it to the Canary Islands but then I am coming home.... If anyone wants to buy (VERY cheap) a fully kitted out Vega let me know. No reasonable offer will be refused. (seriously). I shall post a brief list of what is fitted on the boat and if anyone wants her just email me and make me a derisory offer - I will not be offended! Only problem is she will be in the Canary Islands!

I need some food......

Vasco de John

ps still smiling! :)
busy home [deleted] 6 years ago
John... Very sensible.. Good to know you are safe,,
We are as a group I m sure relieved to hear this,,
Good luck ,,
pjbharrison 6 years ago
Very glad to hear you are safe. I'm sure I'm correct in saying that we've all been clobbered by the boom at least once! Sorry to hear this leg was so tough on you. Could your plans be modified to include some crew instead of abandoning Cirrus?

You've had a great adventure and I, for one, am a bit jealous.
Look forward to reading the blog and seeing the photos.
Skykomish E29 6 years ago
I agree, I know you probably feel a bit low at the moment, but you have been very ambitious and not many of us would even attempt what you have done. If you had some crew to help you would find that the stress levels are reduced and you would have time to enjoy the sail plus get time to sleep.
Even hardened sailors find long sea passages single handed a trial, you only have to read some of their stories, they all experience the same emotions that you are feeling at the moment.
Before making any rash decisions think about what you have invested, and how much enjoyment you could have with such a well prepared boat. I am sure that you will have no problem finding a volunteer or two to help crew her back
Slycat777 6 years ago
I sail a lot both for fun and commercially and even on my short trips its common to feel like I've had enough sailing for a while.
Then a few days later I get the urge again..

Dont do anything too rash!

Glad you made it.
Raydock 6 years ago
John you have accomplished so much.
Most find reasons why they don't ever try,, while you just did it and we all admire you greatly. I hope you don't make any rash decisions and keep the boat even if it means flying home at present.
farmer boy 6 years ago
Hi all, Thanks for the sensible advice and support - it really is a tonic to know you are all interested in what is happening to me. I am still in Porto Santo near Madeira - the chap at the marina (Nelson!) has been so kind - I think he realised I was at the end of my tether and he spoke to his boss and has got me a 50% discount on storage including the lift out and back in, so Cirrus is now on the hard in a nice cradle with water and electric and showers nearby so we are both feeling better. The bottom was as clean as the day I antifouled it ( which amazed me) maybe I have not sat still long enough for anything to grow! I have cleaned and polished her and she is looking fine and non the worse for her travels (unlike me!)

I have a ferry ride tomorrow to Funchal and then a flight home on Monday to Manchester. Flight was only £100 so I have got lucky! I am leaving everything on her so I can come back in the Spring and sail her to the Med. Neil said he will come with me - I do not want to do it alone. The prevailing winds in the Spring are NW so it should be an easy sail of about 5 or 6 days to Gib and then I shall work my way up the Spanish/French coast for a week or two and then park her up somewhere. I have been so busy cleaning everything and making sure she is ready for 9 months on the cradle that I have not had time to write up any of the stuff... I think some of you know that I had an accident on the way here that really made me think....

I was woken up by something and looked out to see that the main was backwinded on it's preventer.. I toddled into the cockpit and reached for the quick release knot I had tied and pulled it to release the preventer line - stupid thing to do I know - but I was still half asleep, no lifejacket and no lifeline and guess what? Crack.... right on the back of the head and I was out cold. No idea for how long but I awoke, got her sailing again, went below and decided enough was enough and changed heading for Madiera .....

...hence my arrival in Porto Santo. All is well that ends well - the next time I ask "How hard can it be?" I shall get out my diary and read it carefully! "efin hard" is the answer...

Hopefully Neil and I will have a ball and have many more tales to tell of of misdeeds in the sailing asylum Cirrus. I just hope he will organise the provisioning/cooking.
Looking forward to being back on home ground.

Regards to all and thanks again.

Landlubber John
pjbharrison 6 years ago
Shout if you want any crew for any of the legs!
farmer boy 6 years ago
Will do PJ - it would be my pleasure. I do not know how long Neil will be able to spare - he may come all the way to France but if not I shall certainly let you know.
sailing bye1 6 years ago
Glad to hear that you have a plan other than selling. I think getting back to the mainland next year with crew and cruising along the south coast of Spain and France is a good idea, making me very enviouse.
You even have an oportunity this autumn/ winter to go back and stay on the boat ashore if you wish for a holiday.
You may need to notify your insurance company of her new storage arrangements.
farmer boy 6 years ago
Safely at home now. I had to sleep on a park bench the night before the flight home but other than that the trip home was uneventful... I have wolfed a lovely steak and had a wonderful nights sleep in my own bed... The sun was shining when I arrived back - England is a lovely place to be!

I seem to have lost all the videos I took which is very annoying but I am trying out some file recovery software which may get them back. I will write up the rest of the trip from La Coruna to Porto Santo as soon as I can - thanks for the tip ref insurance - I shall call them and see what the score is.

Glad to be home - believe it or not I am still feeling the "motion" of the boat as I sit here and type! Weird feeling ....

Regards to all.
pjbharrison 6 years ago
Glad to hear you're home safe and sound, if a little wobbly!

Try Pandora recovery software. It's free and its easy to use.
rothwell_neil 6 years ago

Now you are back, fancy going sailing?

Or we could do mountain biking?
farmer boy 6 years ago
Hmmmm sailing? - maybe not just now thanks! I am enjoying doing absolutely nothing! If you are over this way pop in... tales to tell!
Red Marlin 6 years ago
So enjoy reading anything you write. Hope you continue and experience the good side to sailing and spending time aboard. I do know what you mean about the solitude, I have done many miles singlehanded and have enjoyed them - but I have had enough. We are still in Turkey and cancelled our trip west this year for another year here. But plans forming to travel west next year. It would be great if we could meet up
Tony & Jan
farmer boy 6 years ago
Hi all, Cirrus is sold! I have been very lucky and it sold straight away on ebay of all places. I thought I would give it a try and I was amazed at the amount of interest - even had a guy ring from South Africa! In the end a chap from near here came along with the cash and paid my reserve price so I was bloody delighted.....

I never thought anyone would buy a yacht unseen, 2000 miles away on a rock in the Atlantic but he did!

Life is strange - a guy I met in Spain (another daft solo sailor) rang me yesterday morning - I knew he had set off for the Canary Islands 12 days ago - and believe it or not he was at sea, 5 miles off Porto Santo (where Cirrus is stored)! His steering systems (all 3) had broken and he sailed close to the island so he could get a signal and ask for advice on how to fix them. Turned out that I have the same tiller pilot on Cirrus so he made for the harbour and he has borrowed mine (with the new owners permission!). He has also taken all my personal stuff off and I will be meeting him in the Canary Islands to sail across the Atlantic to Barbados at Christmas! So a result all round!!!! Poor guy was exhausted - he had hand steered for 5 days! Ouch!!! Windvane steering had come apart and both his tiller pilots had broken! It has taken him nearly 12 days to do 700 nm - apparently he just let it drift at night so he could get some sleep....

He has a vancouver yacht which is very nice and a bit bigger than Cirrus so I think I will enjoy the trip this time! It will be good to have some company. I shall try and keep my log up to date (although I have been very remiss so far!)

ps tried all sorts to recover my deleted sailing videos but no luck... really annoying!
farmer boy 6 years ago
just a thought...... my wife will be flying out to Barbados to meet me in January 2013 and we shall need some accommodation for a few weeks. I seem to remember that someone on here used to live on Barbados.... just wondering if they have any advice on somewhere cheap to stay?
craig48uk 6 years ago
That may have been me, but it was the British Virgin Islands. Barbados is expensive, see if he can deviate to St Lucia and Rodney Bay, better landing point all round!
My wife stopped in Barbados when getting her UK Visa to move here, but the place she got was expensive and therfore not worth recommending.
Good luck and get back on the horse before winter sets in! Finally got Chiron's keel back on and launched a few weeks back, felt so good to have her out and feel her come alive again.
farmer boy 6 years ago
Thanks Craig, Do the ARC crowd go to St Lucia as well? I have been told that anywhere they go is naturally very busy and can be tricky to find a berth? Not sure how true that is but I shall suggest we change our plans and go to St Lucia. Thanks for the advice.
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