Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Memories of offshore sailing

If I can't go offshore sailing then at least I've a lot of great memories including:
  • learning to sail in the Solent during the America's Cup 150th anniversary, Cowes packed with legendary yachts
  • sailing the Atlantic on the ARC
  • the first night of the ARC, with phosphorescence in the water, the stars above and a ring of yacht lights around the horizon
  • the night's sky offshore, particularly on the ARC, with Orion leading the way and the flash of shooting stars
  • swimming around the yacht mid-Atlantic, with a thousand miles to any land and 4 km of water beneath me.
  • flying the spinnaker by moonlight across the Atlantic
  • arriving at St Lucia and that all important first beer
  • competing in the RORC series of races, dashing around the Channel at night
  • rounding the Fastnet Rock (above) during that race
  • sailing from Lisbon to Gibraltar, stopping at Cadiz and seeing Tall Ships and fine sunsets
  • sailing around the Greek Islands, finding Nemo and some lovely tavernas
  • sailing double handed from Scotland to Iceland via the Arctic Circle
  • spotting the Faeroe Islands appear out of the clouds
  • navigating through the Faero Islands in the early hours of the morning (below)
  • seeing the sun above the horizon at midnight, sign we were truly in the Arctic Circle
  • that good watch as we sailed south out of the Arctic Circle round the north-west of Iceland
  • sailing into uncharted waters in the north-west fjords of Iceland
  • entering Reykjavik harbour, successfully completing our Scotland to Iceland voyage
  • leaving Ísafjörður, heading for Greenland
  • seeing icebergs appear out of the mist as we crossed the Denmark strait
  • watching a polar bear tear chunks from a narwhal
  • visit the hot springs of Greenland
  • kayaking amongst the icebergs of Greenland's amazing Kangerdlugssuaq Fjord
  • departing out of Kangerdlugssuaq Fjord under sail, dodging icebergs on the way
  • sailing down the coast of East Greenland
  • entering Tasiilaq in the early hours after seeing both noctilucent clouds and the northern lights
  • sailing round Scorsby Sound in a tall ship seeing a polar bear and northern lights most nights
  • sailing round Spitzsbergen, seeing many polar bears and the remains of many expeditions
  • ....

Many of these I've posted about, but I've included no links because these are memories.

Saturday, March 09, 2019

Goodbye to offshore sailing?

I had to cut short my sailing trip along the coast of Morocco due to illness and it wasn't the first time this had happened. Two trips I'd cancelled before leaving, another I flew to the start and then got sick so flew straight back, while another I'd managed to get round by staying in my bunk for a few days.

Maybe these problems are a message, that offshore sailing isn't for me. It would be a tough to accept, as I love offshore yacht sailing.

Wednesday, March 06, 2019

Rabat: arriving and leaving

The next day we arrived at Rabat. I'd been very much looking forward to arriving at Rabat as I'd been there before (as blogged here) and really liked it. I'd planned to setup the GoPro to do a timelapse of entering the passage, passing the Kasbah of the Udayas (above) and entering the marina.

But alas was feeling really rotten so only just about made it up on deck in time to take the photo above.

From the Rabat the sailing would get harder, longer legs, more night watches and I alas decided with my lurgy it was time to be sensible.

So I collected my things and left Oriole:

It was to be an eventful stay in Rabat as one of the other crew broke her wrist but with great fortitude decided to continue onwards.

But for me it was to be the last port of call:

Sunday, March 03, 2019

Sailing from Tangier to Rabat

After Tangier we headed south. There was enough wind to leave under sail, though it was rather weak and from the wrong direction. So in the end the engine was started and we motor-sailed down the coast of Morocco.

I was beginning to feel not great but was determined to do at least one night watch. There was a lovely sunset which brought pretty much everyone on deck:

There is a magic to being on a yacht offshore at night.

The night's sky is amazing - full of bright stars, the Milky Way clearly visible. Old friends like Orion, Ursa Major, Cassiopeia ... (and all the other ones I should really know), the North Star on its own, pointing home, a crescent moon and even a shooting star. I tried to remember the equation of the star clock, but failed.

We had to dodge a couple of fishing boats but the ones we saw had lights so that was pretty easy.

I wasn't sure how much of this offshore night-time sailing I'd be doing in the future so tried to capture the moment in my memories before heading down to my bunk...