Circumnavigation – last legs

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Where did the summer go?  It’s September and I’ve already heard the ‘C’ word mentioned at least twice now and yet its more than 100 days to go.  I have been unbelievably busy this summer and that is my excuse for not putting any posts up for ages.  Anyway, I’m here now and I thought this post ought to be an update on the Circumnavigation of the British Isles, which started back in May.

Well, despite a couple of weeks of being stuck in harbour due to bad weather, the Botnia Targa arrived in Neyland Yacht Haven at the end of June – that is a pretty quick circumnavigation if you ask me!

I took the picture above as we left Neyland Yacht Haven on the leg to Padstow.  It would have been possible to get from Milford Haven to Falmouth in one hit but we both wanted to take a peek at PadStein and both the timings and weather were perfect to go for this option.  The harbour at Padstow has a lock and the Doom Bar in the estuary of the Camel River can get pretty treacherous in strong westerlies, so the light northerly which pushed us along and a latest arrival time of 4pm, meant we were definitely heading for a Rick Stein supper!

This next shot is us departing Milford Haven with St Ann’s Head in the distance and Thorn Island to left of centre:

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We had a lovely run down, with a slight to moderate sea and a light following wind. Wall to wall sunshine simply added to the enjoyment – I even enjoyed my supermarket sandwiches, which on a grey day would surely have tasted of cardboard!

You know, I can’t remember how long it took us to get down there but we arrived so early that we had to wait for the tide to come up before we could get into the harbour. With this in mind, we slowed right down as we approached the river mouth and pootled along enjoying the scenery – it really is very pretty.

Approaching the Camel River:

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In the estuary:

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… I wonder which came first, the Bar or the Beer?

and here’s Padstow Harbour in all it’s prettiness, with us tied up on the left of centre.

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A trawler which came in shortly after we had finished tying up:

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and here’s the restaurant we ate at – couldn’t get into a Rick Stein restaurant after all 😦

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The next day, we were up with the gulls and headed off on the penultimate leg of the circumnavigation – Falmouth.

We were so lucky with the weather; even lighter winds and more sunshine.  It was going to be a long day but with such good conditions how could we possibly complain?

Running south along the North Cornish coastline, we could see Lundy in the distance. Sadly, too far in the distance for my iThingy to get a decent picture but I did manage to get some footage of dolphins chasing the boat! I’m sorry it’s not brilliant footage but I was so excited I could barely hold the phone steady.

I guess the ensuing chatter about the dolphins helped us forget the miles but whatever it was, Land’s End soon came into view.  After a peek at the chart and a quick discussion we took the decision to go ‘inside’ rather than ‘outside’.  This meant going between Kettle’s Bottom and Dr Johnson’s Head, the promontory upon which the visitor centre is perched.

Here’s the approach:

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and here’s what it looks like from the other side:

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So, Land’s End rounded,  just the Lizard to go round and then a straight run into Falmouth:

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Approaching Falmouth, we had a great view down the south coast to the East:

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What a lovely couple of days we’d had.  Superb boating conditions, great scenery, dolphins, fabulous food and of course, great company!  Before we knew it we were motoring gently through the harbour and up the river towards Falmouth Marina:

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Sadly, I wasn’t able to do the last leg across to Jersey but within the week the Circumnavigation of the British Isles was complete!

This has been another Captain Corbett’s Adventure.  If I’m not on Jersey teaching a private tuition Day Skipper theory or Yachtmaster theory course, then I’m either spending time with someone on their boat, giving them the confidence to take their boat out with their family and friends on board or I’m off somewhere exotic delivering a boat. Either way, I’ll write it up and put it on the Blog for you all to see, so keep popping back to see my most recent adventures.

 

 

 

Breaking news: Sea captain turns hunter gatherer!

Saturday evening, I was round at a friends’ house enjoying a lovely Fabada which I’d made and adapted à la Captain Corbett and suddenly David said, “How do you fancy coming with me tomorrow and emptying the crab pots?”. How could I say no?

So this is us leaving Gorey Harbour on a sunny but slightly fresh Sunday morning at the end of May – I love living on this island!

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David was telling me a while back how he makes his own pots and how he’s been catching crabs and lobsters for years.  I was absolutely fascinated, especially as I’m normally cursing the pesky things when I’m out on a motor cruiser, with eyes peeled, trying to avoid the floats – the fishermen around here call them ‘buffs’; excuse the spelling if I’ve got it wrong! For all I know, they may call them ‘buffs’ everywhere, I ought to find out…

Anyway, David’s pots are less than a mile out of the harbour so we were soon upon them and lifting the first pot.

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I could scarcely believe it, the pot was full of Spider Crabs!  David and I suspect all the other local guys, who put pots out for personal use rather than for commercial reasons, adopt a conservational tactic of only taking the males and then, only the ones over 12cm long.

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Once the pot is cleared, it is re-baited and tossed back into the sea.

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When all the pots had been lifted, emptied and re-baited we headed in. Our total catch was five Spider Crabs, which were going to make a lovely supper with some garlic mayonnaise, some crusty bread, a little salad and some nice red wine.

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Back on the berth in Gorey Harbour – isn’t it pretty?

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What a splendid way to spend a Sunday and free dinner too!

This has been another Captain Corbett’s Adventure.  If I’m not on Jersey teaching a private tuition Day Skipper theory or Yachtmaster theory course, then I’m either spending time with someone on their boat, giving them the confidence to take their boat out with their family and friends on board or I’m off somewhere exotic delivering a boat. Either way, I’ll write it up and put it on the Blog for you all to see, so keep popping back to see my most recent adventures.

Circumnavigating the British Isles

This is going to be an epic trip, without any shadow of doubt.  Sadly, I’m only going to be able to make some of the legs but nevertheless, I’m going to chronicle the passages I do make and probably comment on notable happenings from the ones that I’m not on.  The last time I made a journey of similar magnitude was down the east coast of America, some of you may remember the Grand East Coast Tour. I think this is going to be just as exciting, if not more!  In order to protect the privacy of the owner of the boat, I’m not going to mention any names, including the name of the boat but I can tell you that the boat is a Botnia Targa. Whenever I’ve spoken with people in the industry about these boats I always get the impression they are the marine equivalent to the Camel Trophy Land Rovers – it appears that people who own these boats seem to wait until it gets rough and then go out!! Fortunately, not everyone who owns a Botnia Targa is loopy-loo and I suspect the ride around England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales will be a very pleasant and calm affair – at least I hope it will be when I’m on board.

So, the first thing to do is get the boat from Jersey to Southampton and that’s just what we did yesterday.  A suitable day appeared out of nowhere and after making some quick plans on Saturday, we were off at 08:45 Sunday morning.

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Flat enough it may have been but it was also wet and pretty miserable as we left Jersey and headed north for the Alderney Race.  Tripping along at 22 knots, we were soon at the race and swept through at 28 knot SOG with a handy bit of tide under us.  The Channel was absolutely empty.  We didn’t have to change course once to avoid ships and we only saw four in the shipping lanes anyway – the breaks in the conversation were getting longer at this stage.  I reckon there’s only so much you can talk about before it starts to become prying.  Maybe it was time for a game of I-spy…

“Hang on a moment, that’s not a freighter and it’s not going the same way as the other ship in the south bound lane either…I know what that looks like, it’s a forces vessel and it’s headed our way!”

Sure enough, they tucked into our wake as we sailed past and kept pace with us for a short while.  Nothing came over the VHF, so we carried on, assuming they would have seen our name and the AIS signature and done all the checks they wanted without having to stop us…

WRONG!

The next thing we see, they slowed the cutter right down and launched a RIB, which hammered through the sea after us.  Still no call on the VHF and I was beginning to wonder if it was working and at the same time dreading the, “Why didn’t you stop?” conversation that was bound to happen once they boarded us.  So, we thought it might be prudent, at this point, to slow down and let them come alongside.

In no time at all they were upon us and three large and slightly intimidating ‘blokes in black’ got on the boat.  They were Border Force and simply wanted to know who we were, where we’d come from and where we were going.  Actually, they were really nice guys, very polite and we had an interesting chat.  Right up until the point when they spotted the table.  It’s not a particularly remarkable table really, save for the fact that it is suspended by a stainless steel shaft which is attached both at the floor and on the ceiling of the cabin. When ‘underway’, the table is slid all the way to the top of the post in order that it is out of the way and nobody can hurt themselves by striking it when the boat rocks about in a sea. Clearly, this leaves a tall stainless steel post as the centre of attention in the saloon area of the pilot house – yes, it does look as though it is there for ‘pole-dancing’ purposes!  When the Border Force guys spotted it and asked what it was for, they and I found out, at the same time, that it was for me to practice my ‘pole-dancing’ skills on!  Now this came as a shock to me, as you might imagine.  After all, anyone who knows me will instantly testify to the fact that my sheer bulk alone would prevent me from completing any sort of manoeuvre on a pole upside down or otherwise, not that I wouldn’t have given it a go; I’m always up for learning new skills!

Apparently, as the Border Force guys left the boat, they were giggling and I had gone a shocking shade of scarlet – I will get my own back at some stage, of that I’m certain.  Drat and double drat!

Once the ‘giggling’ Border Force had disappeared and we were on our way again, I put all scary thoughts of ‘pole-dancing’ to one side (I could always pick them up again later) and we concentrated on the last leg of the journey.  It wasn’t long before the south coast of the UK appeared in the form of the white cliffs by the Needles on the Isle of Wight. The weather was improving all the time and the sun even put in an appearance.

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We were soon through the Needles and as we went through, we made the call to get clearance on the HM Customs National Yachtline.  N.B. you must let HMRC know when you leave and enter the EU on your boat. It’s a short call, nothing onerous, so no reason not to.  It would pay to have your SSR or other registration numbers to hand.

A short while later and we were threading our way through boats off Calshot Spit, heading for the Hamble.  At this point we called up Solent Coastguard on the Small Ships Safety Channel VHF67 and asked them to let Jersey Coastguard know that we had arrived safely.

As soon as we’d tied alongside and tidied up, I bade farewell to my crew-mate and toddled off to start my journey back to Jersey.  Over the next few months there will be more instalments from the trip. If you enjoyed reading this post and don’t want to miss any of the new posts I will make in the future, simply click on the link to Follow the Blog and you will get notified whenever I post a new entry.

This has been another Captain Corbett’s Adventure.  If I’m not on Jersey teaching a private tuition Day Skipper theory or Yachtmaster theory course, then I’m either spending time with someone on their boat, giving them the confidence to take their boat out with their family and friends on board or I’m off somewhere exotic delivering a boat. Either way, I’ll write it up and put it on the Blog for you all to see, so keep popping back to see my most recent adventures.

New Beginnings

On a sunny Tuesday in May, I was back to Italy one last time, to complete the handover of the boat I’d been skippering for the previous year.  It was absolute chaos, as the refurbishment had started and there were people, equipment, tools, food, shoes and plans scattered everywhere.  In the middle of all this madness I was trying to remember what needed work doing to it, what needed replacing and all the time I was showing the new owner how his new toy worked.

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Here’s Gary doing his bit with some of the water pipes that had perished.

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And here’s the remnants of the food shopping to be put away and also the impromptu office where we were going through the work details and the handover – the only bit of free space on the boat it seems.

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As most of you will know, I’m a tad anal about keeping things tidy but at the same time as I was stressing about the carnage, it was wonderful to see the boat getting a new lease of life.  When the work is complete she will be back to her former magnificence and ready for the coming season.

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What I certainly wasn’t expecting, was the new owner’s two friends who came along for a spot of sun and to spend some time practising their musical skills.  I had no idea what a treat we were in for when Kim and Billy walked out of arrivals at Naples airport with a guitar each.

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Here they are, giving it plenty on the flybridge!

Time to say goodbye…

It wasn’t long before my visit was over and I was heading back. I just had to get a couple of snaps of the Alps as we flew over and if you ask Dan I’m sure he’ll confirm that you have to get one or more Obligatory Wing Shots whenever you fly somewhere!

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It’ll be sad not being on the boat in Italy this summer but I’ve already got some exciting adventures lined up for the coming season, not least, assisting one of my customers to circumnavigate the UK in his Botnia Targa, now that will be worth reading about, surely?

Alexio Buchanino’s crazy adventures in Italy!

This is a special post in my Blog to demonstrate how, in the course of my every day job, I am forced to rub shoulders with those elusive people not normally in the public eye.

Here is but one example: the infamous and as yet, still not quite a Double ‘O’ operative but nearly there, secretive agent, looking suave and sophisticated as usual…

In the picture below, in order to maintain his anonymity, he has been cunningly disguised to look like an angelic young lad, who couldn’t melt butter in his mouth, even if he tried…

aka Buchanino, Alexio Buchanino (MI5)
aka Buchanino, Alexio Buchanino (MI5)

Perhaps we should have a look at some his exploits now, starting with, ‘How to drive a RIB in circles’

Then, when you’ve finished going around in circles, you need to learn how to go in a straight line and maybe get some ‘air’ too.

…and now a little practice before the wake-boarding competition, the one that actually never happened as it was top secret and nobody knew about it and those that did had to be shot!

Then some practice eluding the ‘bad guys’; all secret agents need to know how to do this!

and finally, learning how to avoid capture using any available means of transport!

A word to the wise, if you are an aspiring secret agent, you must be able, like Alexio can, to do all of the above, otherwise HM Government is never going to accept you.

Live long and prosper, as someone from Star Trek once said.

This has been another Captain Corbett’s Adventure.  If I’m not on Jersey teaching a private tuition Day Skipper theory or Yachtmaster theory course, then I’m either spending time with someone on their boat, giving them the confidence to take their boat out with their family and friends on board or I’m off somewhere exotic delivering a boat. Either way, I’ll write it up and put it on the Blog for you all to see, so keep popping back to see my most recent adventures.

Big Boy’s Cruise

Marina d'Arechi

As many of you will know by now, I am Captain of an Elegance 76 which is currently resident in Italy.  The first cruise of the year is always a male only affair, close chums of the owner get to do the ‘warm-up’ cruise or in this case, move the boat from her current base to the new one for the forthcoming season.

So it was, at the end of May we set off on the first leg of our journey to relocate from Cala de Medici in Tuscany to Marina d’Arechi, near Salerno, just south of the Bay of Naples and the Amalfi coast.

The weather was perfect, a light breeze and sunny skies with a smattering of fluffy white clouds.  After a winter of fixing bits and bobs, cleaning, servicing and general touching up, which a boat of this vintage requires in spades, this cruise was as much about proving that we’d found all the issues as it was about having a ball sailing down the western side of the boot.

It wasn’t long before we passed our first group of islands and our first notable landmark.  Elba was the place where Napoleon spent 300 days, it’s the 3rd largest island in Italy and today is a tourist hotspot famous for it’s wine production.

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As we motored south and Elba came onto our starboard beam, I noticed the sun made the water sparkle and I simply couldn’t resist this picture, shame about the ferry!

36 nautical miles to go to our first stop for the night, which meant 3.6 hours of trundling along at our leisurely pace.  She’s a big old bird and thirsty too if you push her.  We tend to run at about 10 knots which returns a fuel consumption of 65 litres/hour total – comfy and frugal all at the same time.  The other idiosyncrasy of our cruising style is to avoid marinas like the plague.  Every night, if possible, we’ll anchor off in the best bay we can find.  In fact, if there are other boats around, we’ll pass by and find an empty bay all of our own – this is the one we found for our night off Giglio… https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isola_del_Giglio

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Cala delle Caldane, off the east coast.  Fancy waking up to this view?  Not bad is it?

Day 2 was only a short hop due east to Porto Ercole. Again, the protocol was to anchor off, so with the wind in the south but due to change overnight to a north-easterly we headed into a beach immediately west of Porto Ercole.

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I was up with the birds on the 3rd day.  With a few minutes to myself I had a quiet time watching the world come to life and snapped a couple of shots of the distant mainland hills folded upon each other – this is my favourite and works really well for me in black & white.

Eventually, we were all up and ready to roll, so off we set on our last leg of the first BB cruise to Rome.  This was going to be a long old day but thankfully the sun, as always it seems, was out and the wind was on the port quarter.  This approach to cruising is very relaxing.  I’m so used to whizzing along at 900 mph, that it took me a little while to get my head around going so slowly but once you slow down yourself you soon get into the rhythm of the waves and the slight rolling of the boat.  What was so nice, was the ability to fix a drink or some food and not having to run the risk of throwing it all over yourself every time you hit a wave.  Mind you, by the time Rome came into view the wind had picked up and we entered Porto di Roma with a 6 on our beam.  Thankfully, the berth they’d given us was shielded from the wind by the shipyard and at least 8 very large boats lined up on the hard. making mooring up simplicity itself.

Well, that was it, part 1 of the Big Boy’s Cruise complete.  Let’s move on to Part 2 immediately…

On the 9th of June we set sail for Marina d’Arechi but not before we’d had an evening in Rome – how can you be 45 minutes from the centre of such a famous city without spending some time wandering the streets?  This city is truly amazing, it reeks history.  Everywhere you turn there are historic buildings or what’s left of them and right in the middle is, of course, the Colosseum.  Built nearly 2000 years ago, between 70-80 AD, you just have to admire how smart these guys were.  Apparently, the dust, found under the city and mined to provide the building materials for ancient Rome is a waterproof version of concrete that allowed the Romans to build underwater structures long before anyone else in the world – little wonder the Roman Empire became so vast, so fast.

Historic ruins - Rome

But smart Romans still exist… we found a particularly intelligent girl when we were having dinner.  We’d found a suitable spot to eat in one of the ‘al fresco’ back street eateries and were immediately enthralled with our waitress who spoke excellent English (always a plus in my book) and spouted energy too.  She proffered a few words of wisdom, music to the ears of any mature male, such as myself, with a penchant for good food – apparently, “A man without a stomach is like a sky without stars; so keep your stomach!”

Enough frivolity – back to the cruise!

Anzio was chosen as our first stop on this 2nd leg.  It was a handy couple of hours away – the previous night ensured a late start was inevitable but also because of it’s historical significance (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Anzio).  As it happens, there was nothing to write home about when we arrived at Anzio.  We anchored just off the main beach and spent a calm night on the hook.  On the plus side, the food that evening was glorious and we did have a couple of shots of Limoncello to finish the evening off!

Anzio

Ponza was much prettier!  The next morning we set off for our half way point.  Ponza is part of a group of islands that are the last remains of a caldera rim of an extinct volcano.  Whatever it is, the bay we ended up in was lovely and the water so inviting that we simply had to get the diving gear out!

Going down!

So inviting...

And finally to our last day and it turned out to be another long one.  We left Ponza at 8am, took a last look behind us…

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… pointed the boat at Capri and settled in for a 10 hour trip to Marina d’Arechi.  This wasn’t exactly what we’d intended to do.  The intention was to spend a night in Capri but on arriving at the chaos and madness that was taking place just outside the harbour we decided discretion was the way forward, turned east and sailed on.

Capri ahead

Ischia, Capri and the Amalfi coast should definitely be on your ‘bucket list’ but be warned, they are overcrowded and over-priced.  I have since been told that a boat was recently charged €1500 for a one night stay in Capri harbour.  This news made me wonder two things – how long was this ‘boat’ and how did they manage to find a place?

Despite what I’ve just written, the Amalfi coast, like all coastlines worldwide, looks amazing from the sea.  The sheer cliffs, speckled with houses and villages was a sight to behold.  As we cruised past, silence fell amongst us and all that could be heard was the clicking of shutters as we took picture after picture.  I’ve put a few of my favourites below:

Positano Perched Church on the edge Precarious Bridge Lookout towers Hidden houses Amalfi

An hour later and we entered the marina and were shown to our new berth.  What a trip!  Cruising around here is going to be brilliant.  Even better than you might imagine though, as we have subsequently found out that south of Salerno is an area unspoilt by tourism, supremely pretty and dubbed by the locals as the Italian Caribbean – can’t wait to see if it lives up to the claims…

One last shot I reckon – the following morning and the view as I had my early breakfast before everyone else got up!

Breakfast in Marina d'Arechi

This has been another Captain Corbett’s Adventure.  If I’m not on Jersey teaching a private tuition Day Skipper theory or Yachtmaster theory course, then I’m either spending time with someone on their boat, giving them the confidence to take their boat out with their family and friends on board or I’m off somewhere exotic delivering a boat. Either way, I’ll write it up and put it on the Blog for you all to see, so keep popping back to see my most recent adventures.