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  The Chatter Box : Welcome and Introductions
Travels with my chicken mug by pocket chef on 20 December 2010 7:09am
Trains, Boats, Planes, Taxis and Funicolare's

MAY 2005: UK

Wow what an eventful 6 months vie just had. MAY: Left Norwich on Brand New 72 Foot sailing yacht for its first trip to Belgium. Unfortunately we had an engine room fire and with no engine and no wind drifting around in dense fog in the North Sea, was an unfortunate first trip. My highlight was getting towed back by the rather hunky men on the coastguard boat. (easily pleased at sea)

So letís try again....Untie from marina once more. Skipper, Deckhand, Me and delivery crew, course for Belgium again..engine fine this time but weather a little bit rough...managed to arrive without 2 much trouble, but the boat had an argument with the lock wall...(some slight alterations to the new paint job) 2 say the least...

OK now the test has arrived, we are due in Scotland in a weeks time, as the boss wants to take part in a race near Oban. Leave Bruges in relatively calm weather, about half an hour later it is blowing 35 knots of wind on the nose as always. Steep short seas and very cold. This really was my first time sailing in the UK...(why do people do it, it is NOT PLEASANT). Well the autopilot didnít like it as he decided he wasnít going to work. So we took it in turns to helm throughout the night.

The delivery crew(who incidentally had passed his yachtmaster in December) was not happy, and seemed actually scared to do his watch. I donít blame him, but eventually I though it was quite fun, especially coming off watch and looking in the mirror at my white eyebrows(encrusted with dried on salt). It really was like having buckets of icy cold salty water thrown at you as you tried to see where you were going. Ellen Macarthur you do not have to go to the remotest and in hospitable places in the world, for tough sailing, its right here in the North Sea.

As morning arrived the wind calmed down abit, but of course everyone was very tired. I was on the helm just coming up to sand banks and oil/gas platforms near Norwich, Engine died again. Captain and Deckhand both in engine room trying to fix the problem, the smell of diesel was not pleasant to say the least. I try to keep the boat as even as possible, not easy with a big swell on the beam.

In the end the captain makes a few calls and decides that we should head into Lowestoft to try and get the problem sorted out properly. We end up surfing into Lowestoft harbour at about 10 knots(the captain said it was the scariest thing he's ever done). I personally thought he looked quite calm about it. We all felt a lot better tied up to the dock. Various fix it people arrived and ummed and aahed and decided that the engine problem was dirty fuel, so they polished the fuel, while we went ashore and ate monster cod and chips.

The next morning the delivery crew chap said he was leaving, as he didnít feel safe heading to Scotland with such an erratic engine. So one down, we decide that the boat did not like going North, and that we would port hop back South again to see if the problem had been fixed. Funnily enough the autopilot decided to work again and we had quite a pleasant sail back down the coast to the mouth of the river Orwell.

All good on board. We stopped at Ramsgate, which was wonderful as we found this great Jamaican guy who sold Rotis(reminded us all of trade wind sailing in the Caribbean) and we longed to be there again.

Quite an eventful week!


Boss now decides that he wants to sail the boat from Southampton to Devon. So we leave Ramsgate..all fairly well with engine and various other boat things. As we are approaching the Dover Channel(this look somewhat like a floating Piccadilly circus, i.e. lots of very big fast ferries everywhere...oh what a surprise, engine dies again. The boys get back down in the 'hole' to try and bleed the fuel filters, as this was the only thing that seemed to help. Of course there is so little variable wind, trying to keep the sails full and not go straight into the path of DoverCat was quite a feat., I think at one point I was actually sailing backwards, taking into effect the two knots of tide against us.

Thankfully the boys managed to patch her up again..so forwards to Southampton. By now we have figured out that it takes about 14 hours of running the engine before she conks out...so to save this happening we sail slowly on through the English Channel. I muse to myself that after having lived in London for 26 years, this is the most of the English Coast I have ever seen. Power stations at Dungeness so glamorous.!!!!.

So we arrive at Southampton on a very bright sunny morning(none of the crew have really slept much) It is so difficult to get into any kind of sleeping pattern when you are doing short hops and thinking that engine will die any minute. Two fix it men are there already. More umming and aahing, they decide now that the fuel tanks are dirty after looking at the state of the fuel filters, and that we must have all the tanks cleaned 2morrow. The fuel tanks are located under the galley floor, so this means that my cooking space will be ripped apart again and smell of diesel for the next few days!!!Yum, Yum.....

However boss is arriving at 5pm, so quickly give boat a seriously good clean, make up cabins and pretend that everything is okay. Boss arrives and wants to leave the dock to go sailing. We say the fuel lines are all disconnected and that he has to wait until 2morrow. I cook something fancy for dinner, this helps. In the morning we all go food shopping together(nightmare, never go shopping with men) I manage to buy food that cannot be consumed instantly and needs to be cooked. We call the boat to make sure that my galley will be empty of fix it men, so I can put stuff away. It is pouring down in rain and we are all feeling somewhat miserable.

We arrive back at the boat, and what a sight and mess(so glad we cleaned up the boat yesterday) Fix it men everywhere, and in my galley a team of what I can only describe as smurfs without hats. The shopping stays out in the rain for another two hours. By four o'clock fix it men gone for the day, boss wants to leave in a hour to catch the tide and clement??? weather. Mad rush to put everything back to normal(Down below reeks of diesel.)

We arrive in Dartmouth harbour after a horrendous night motor sailing into 30 knots of wind and headseas, I was being thrown out of my bunk, so tried to sleep in the salon, but unfortunately window was leaking so I now know what Japanese water torture is all about. The boss' brother got hit quite violently in the head when one of the sail track cars in the boom came away as they were trying to reef the mainsail. So another sleepless night. Forgotten how many now. We stay two hours awaiting tide then head off down to Salcombe Harbour, we manage to get in and tie up to large mooring buoy without further incident and thankfully have 3 days without moving before boss comes back with family and friends in tow.

Salcombe harbour and village is a lovely little place, with very nice people. The dockmaster was a great help to us...of course we were the biggest boat in the harbour that week so were the source of much gossip. However trying to provision for a full 'house' that weekend meant a trip to the next town. So off in the cab myself and deckhand go, company credit card not working(this to be the first of many times) luckily mine still is, so we sort out the shopping. Arriving back at dock the wind has picked up in the harbour, too rough for the tender to pick us up..so we go by Water Taxi, even then it's the buckets of icy cold water all over again. Food is soggy again. We pray for sunshine for the bank holiday weekend and the next day little rays of sun wake us up from our firsts proper nights sleep in ages. We don't mind.


Quick Update

Just have to do this as a quick update: Donít know when Iím going to find the time to actually write about June, July, and August up until the end of the year.

So After leaving Plymouth on Saturday 18th June: It was a beautiful sunny day.

We set sail for Gibraltar. Then Palma, Mallorca, where I caught up with lots of good old friends.

Two days later we stopped in the Aeolian islands of Sicily a stunning place called Volcano.

Next stop for fuel was Pescara on the west coast of Italy. Then we sailed into Venice..now thats the way to arrive , darling place but so crowded with tourists in the month of July.

My darling Friend Amanda came out and finally I had some time off. We jumped on a train to Milan then another one to Lake Como. this is probably one of the most breathtaking places Iíve ever been to in the world. My guru Kris(as my mother calls him) came out to visit for a few days and we had a cosmic time.

Amanda and Kris had to leave so I spent a few days on my own. Met some wonderful people, notably a cosmic sister Michaela. Had a mad speedboat ride with El Padrino and friends up Lake Como on my birthday., even stopped outside George Clooney's house to see if he wanted to join us, .and then went to see Carmen the opera live in the open air.

Back to the boat for me...

Joined the Boat back in split after a peaceful overnight moonlight ferry journey from Italy. Then spent the next three months cruising up and down the islands of Croatia. Beautiful place and beautiful people, and amazing food and wine. (see next note - for cruising guide and food and wine article)

Hard work but lots of fun as well. Last charter guests on board and we headed down to the Greek islands. Hydra was one of my favourites (a fantastic place with no cars, everything is transported by donkey just like in the good old days. Finally we drop the charter guests in Athens. I have decided not to stay with the yacht.

Check myself into a funky 5 star hotel. The St George's in Lycabettus..which had a rooftop view of the Acropolis. Even ended up DJing in the bar on Sunday night.

Back to London for some rest and time with my darling family and friends.

Quick jaunt to Paris to hang out with my cousin and his friends(hotel costtes, the marais, and chablis in the sunshine(perfect) ..met some very interesting people.

Back to London. Then two days later fly out to Boston for my next assignment. The captain and his wife pick me up at the airport and we head to Newport where the yacht is still up on chocks in the yard.

Back in the states again

Newport was great. Met some really cool people. The first day in the yard ran into my old sea faring girl Nardine. The last time I saw her was in Palma nearly two years ago. She introduces me to her friends and we have a six hour girly brunch at the Salvation Cafe.

also met rob...navy lieutenant and we hang out. and he showed us the sights of Newport. Also did some work on the boat. Spent two days hoovering the deck, after they had sanded. I must have looked a bit nuts. The boat up on chocks and me with my hoover. Finally the boat goes back in the water. Have to go up the mast to tape up the spreaders. It was freezing and very windy. We finally leave for Fort Lauderdale on Friday 18th November. It is very cold. I had so many layers on that it was difficult to move. Arrived in Annapolis on Sunday 20th where we stayed for a while. Friends of the captain and his wife invited us to Thanksgiving dinner at their house..It was a lovely family affair. What a spiritual place Annapolis is, such unbleievably friendly people.

Next stop Charleston, met Jared and Richard.(who were doing a delivery of a beneteau 510(funny first boat I ever worked on) ..Richard had just come back from a tour of duty as a soilder, and he played the guitar and sang like Elvis. Jared still calls me ma(how lovely) in that north carolina accent.

Finally arrived in Fort Lauderdale on Friday 2nd of December. Great to be somewhere warm again. SORRY Only a few pics of this trip, as my laptop got indavertantly dropped on the floor , and crashed the hard drive. Hapy to say though, my trusty IBM Thinkpad is still going strong after 5 years, love it!

That's all for now folks. Next chapter coming soon.
Re: Travels with my chicken mug by Ken Dunn on 26 December 2010 2:45pm
This should be in the Travel section.
Re: Travels with my chicken mug by suzulu on 2 January 2011 7:53pm
Welcome! Sounds like you had a great time.

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