Southampton to Plymouth

Our intended departure from Southampton was planned for Monday 1 June but was delayed by gales. While we waited we got on with various tasks on the boat, one of which was to pressure wash and disinfect the 640 litre aluminium water tank to ensure we had good potable water for the journey. We carried an extra 150 litres of water in separate containers so as not to rely on a single source. We had a plentiful supply of food on board – enough to provide 1600 calories per person per day over 45 days (I had counted the calories provided on each can!). There was also a generous supply of pre-prepared frozen meals – bolognese sauce, beef casserole, vegetable curry, chicken tikka masala, Thai green chicken curry, lamb tagine, and cottage, fish and apple pies. Besides of fresh food, there were also loads of canned food. Len donated 30 rusty old cans of baked beans from a stash of 150 from a boat he recently purchased from an owner who had abandoned plans for an Atlantic crossing. The former boat owner did care for at least a degree of variety for he/she had both Tesco and Asda brands!

The gales abated and we decided to leave Shamrock Quay at 0730 hours Wednesday 3 June for the non-stop journey to Plymouth. As with any disciplined and well-trained crew we were up in readiness and departed within a minute of the scheduled departure time. We left at the mid-rising-tide stand working initially against a weak tide that would prepare us for an exit through The Needles during a strong ebb. Unfortunately, we hadn’t bargained for Force 4 wind against tide which made conditions a little choppy in the Needles channel with breakers clearly audible and visible on the Shingles to starboard. Sailing had to be assisted with the engine through the narrow channel.

We comfortably cleared the Needles Channel and headed out to the open sea for a near mid-English Channel route to gain a maximum advantage of the ebbing tide and wind conditions. While out from Lyme Bay the wind and tide abated and so we thought it wise to motor on to Bolt Head in order to catch the tidal gate there for the final leg to Plymouth where we arrived at Queen Anne’s Battery Marina (QAB) at 1700 hours Thursday 4 June. The journey in fine weather had taken 33.5 hours, 12.9 hours of which were under motor.

The journey gave us the final opportunity to check the integrity of the boat systems including our three-hour watch-keeping schedule- all seemed to work well. A few maintenance issues were addressed while at QAB in our final preparations for the Azores trip. Although not yet due for another 30 engine hours, the engine oil and filter were changed and the alternator belt checked and adjusted. It was time now to wait for the next weather window for the long journey to the Azores!