Thursday, June 30, 2016

Exploring Roscoff - home of the Onion Johnnies

Roscoff is one of the first seaside holiday towns in Britanny and is absolutely beautiful little town with gorgeous views out to Ile de Batz. It is also where Breton farmers, known as Johnnies, first started taking onions on their bikes to England in striped jumpers and berets - there is a museum here to them and they have an Onion Festival in August. It is also said that the entrepreneurship of these farmers lead to Brittany Ferries (headquartered in Roscoff) being established.

Beautiful town of Roscoff
Walking around Roscoff
View of the channel

Vieux Port

Buying lobster at the Farmers Market
local produce on board - including the famous onions

Nous sommes arrivés en France

Yes I can speak French - okay I can't but this is my phrase of the day!

This morning we pulled into Roscoff just ahead of a front which is heading across the Atlantic.

We completed our work with Oyster last week in Southampton, whilst also having a fabulous lunch visit from Lilian and Alfie and Carolyn's parents came for a night in the rain. Then we were keen to get moving, the plan was to head west to meet up with Mike and Nicky on ZenAgain who are just about to sail in to Falmouth having left Fremantle a year ago but the wind said NO! So as much as we wanted to welcome them to the UK our desire for some heat and the westerly wind meant we decided to head South.

Girls that lunch
Lovely UK weather in the Hamble
We left the Solent early into a hideous wind against tide for about a mile in the needles passage, we got completely soaked as one wave came right over Askari. Then the sea calmed and we set the sails for a lovely sail out into the English channel. We sailed for most of the day until the wind calmed and we were struggling against the current as we approached the Channel Islands. We had the choice to go to Guernsey again or push on with a bit of help from the engine over night to make the northern Brittany Coast, so that's what we did. The sea and wind calmed right off and we had a lovely first night at sea, albeit not that dreamy ghosting along on a light breeze and rolling moonlight sea that we all hope for.....

Horrid sea at The Casquets off Alderney
One of the great things about the northern hemisphere at this time of year is the very short night watch - it got dark at 10pm and was light again by 4am. Askari rolled on though the night, Carolyn managed to get a couple of hours in bed but Andrew napped in the cockpit. Many fishing boats don't have AIS which is a bit of a pain but we could pick them all up on radar and had an uneventful night at sea.

Lovely sunset and calm sea
Raising our French courtesy flag (this flag was last seen in Bora Bora 10 years ago)
Shortly after dawn and well before the front was due to pass over we appraoched Roscoff Harbour. Carolyn had emailed the night before and they had promptly confirmed that they could accommodate us; we just had to radio on arrival. Carolyn called on the VHF and a girl harbour master whizzed out in a tender to guide us in - we had to go at high speed as a ferry was just behind us and the Port apparently gets closed while they manoeuvre.
Arrival Roscoff

We had a sleep then cleaned up the boat, which ended up being a larger task than we anticipated as the elusive leak at the bow had reappeared; however during the trip Andrew had determined the water was coming in from the light fittings; then through conversations with our warranty manager on arrival we learned that grommets that were supposed to be in the back of the lights were missing so we effectively had 4 holes directly into our forepeak lockers! We are relieved to learn this and the grommets are being shipped out to us immediately.

Then we were off to explore Roscoff in the rain....

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Solent Fun - champagne in the rain

The last week has been totally relaxed, wet but alot of fun. We spent a couple of nights in Yarmouth, explored a bit and ran from pub to pub in the rain. We then went to the Hamble for the rest of the week and based ourselves at the fabulous Swanwick Marina - great service and a top location in Bursledon. This was a perfect spot for a visit from our gorgeous friend Ellen, who hadn't been in a cockpit for 10 years since she sailed from the UK to New Zealand; so of course we had to go out for a sail even though it was a bit rainy. Sailing on a Saturday in the Solent was a bit of a shock for us who have not seen so many boats for a very long time.

Yarmouth, Isle of Wight
Loved this in one pub - should be standard in all restaurants
Gorgeous UK summer in the Solent
Bubbles on board -Andrew and Elster
Andrew testing our new Hook & Moor system!?!
Dingy Ride to the pub
Jolly Sailor - home of 'Howard's Way' 
Enjoying a pint in the Hamble
So much fun sailing with Ellen

First helm for 10 years!

Very serious Elster - great sailing skill!
We had a great sail out to the end of the Isle of Wight, stopped for lunch and then sailed straight back to Southampton water. It mostly stayed dry but wasn't a particularly nice day.

Lunch anchorage by Osborne House - QueenVictoria & Prince Albert's summer house on the Isle of Wight
Sailing back into Southampton
Girls in the cockpit!
Neatly Castle from Southampton water
Itchen Bridge - we just fit!
We are now in Saxon Wharf - right by the Oyster Yard in Southampton, while they attend to our warranty items. It's all go and we have had about ten people through the boat today but good progress has been made and we hope to be all done by the end of the week.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016


We just got some pictures of us sailing Askari on handover - we love this one of Carolyn on the helm, off Felixstowe docks. That was a fantastic day at the start of our adventure.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Dartmouth to Yarmouth

We spent a further two lovely days in the beautiful and calm Dittisham (also known by locals at 'Dittsum' - think Devon accent....) We had a view of the very pink Ferry Inn on one side and the quay for Greenway, on the other. Greenway is the estate where Agatha Christie's mansion house sits. We had seals pop up next to the boat and tour boats including a paddle steamer passing and ferries from Dartmouth passing by. The weather was a bit rainy so a long lunch at the pub was called for and then it brightened up a bit the next day so we had a lovely walk over the hill, round a creek and across farmland to Dartmouth, followed by lunch and a ferry back to Dittisham.

After lunch!
Our home in Dittisham
Walk to Dartmouth
Exploring Dartmouth with a fuel can and a bit of rope!

We totally loved the River Dart; Carolyn went as far as to say it's her favourite place we have been (Andrew's fav so far is Mevagissey). We had a dilemma as we need to get back to the Solent and Wednesday had good wind, maybe a bit too much and rain or the following days were supposed to be light winds and of course rain... So we left about 8.30am in morning in the rain and wind - oh joy!

The trip from Dartmouth to Yarmouth was about 84 miles and took us 11 hours with very little tide assistance - amazing speed again Askari. It rained for the first hour and then we managed to get ourselves into a hole with dramatic rain clouds all around us and we sailed all the way in that hole. The rain came just after we arrived at Yarmouth, on the Isle of Wight. The wind was behind us at 20-25knots most of the way and the sea was about 2metres or more, so it gave us a chance to test our Atlantic Crossing set up, with the jib poled out and the preventer on the main sail. It was a really tiring day as we gybed the sails three times, each time we got a bit faster; there is a lot of bits of rope to get run correctly, but the set up is really secure. We also had to get our tide gates correct at Portland Bill and the Needles Passage - tick well done skipper, we had no overfalls to deal with today which pleased Carolyn alot - overfalls have fast begun the thing I get stressed about.....

View from bedroom window this morning
We often listen to the coast guard calls on the radio when we are sailing - today we heard an exchange between a war ship and solent coastguard - the war ship was sent to find a dinghy floating with a beer keg in it!!
Arrival at the Needles

Monday, June 13, 2016

Falmouth to Dartmouth inc Andrew's Birthday fun

We had two nights relaxing up the River Fal. One day we took the dinghy up to Truro the 'retail centre' of Cornwall - we got lucky as Andrew calculated the tide based on Falmouth but actually Truro has a different datum, so just as well the retail didn't keep us hooked any longer as we only just made it out! Truro was actually a bit sad, missing out on the tourist pound like most of the other places we have been in the South West. We did manage to find a climbing harness though which we have been trying to buy for the last month - much to Carolyn's amusement Andrew had to test it in the shop!
At Anchor on the River Fal

Dinghy into Truro
Hanging out in Truro

King Harry Ferry - QueensBirthday Celebrations 
We left the River Fal early on Saturday morning and interrupted the sail past that was being organised alongside the King Harry Ferry - brass band and lots of flags and dignitaries all up at 6.30am - very patriotic. We left the estuary in the fog and motored for a couple of hours before the wind picked up a bit and we managed a sail. We put the spinnaker up again for an hour or so before the wind died. We were met by a huge pod of dolphins near the Eddystone Lighthouse - so a few treats on an otherwise grey and boring trip towards Dartmouth.
Brightening up a grey day!
The sun had come out by the time we arrived in Dartmouth and it was just beautiful. We were pretty excited as we approached the entrance which has a castle on either side. Inside the harbour the Queen's birthday celebrations were in full swing - flags galore!
Castle at entrance to Dartmouth
Dartmouth entrance

Queen's Birthday celebrations on the River Dart
Next day we were invited for another Pacific Crossing reunion at Nick and Olga's in Stoke Gabriel (just up the river) to celebrate Andrew's birthday including surprise guests Matt & Togs, who live in New Zealand now but are in the UK for summer. The kids were crabbing on the wharf, so we had some fun with a crab race before heading to Nick & Olga's for a few drinks and lots of gorgeous home cooked food - including a birthday tiramisu for Andrew, serenaded by Nick on the ukulele

Arriving in Stoke Gabriel

Matt & Togs - last seen in the Galapagos 10 years ago

Crab racing
Birthday treats
Togs & Sasha

Happy Birthday to you!

Ukulele lessons with Nick