Delivery Trip - Cowes to Lowestoft Day 1

Back in 2019 I had registered with Halcyon Yachts to work as delivery crew and widen my experience by sailing with RYA Ocean Skippers, in areas that I had not sailed and on different types of boat. In early March 2020 there was a request for crew at the end of the month and I volunteered thinking that some "winter sailing" would be a useful experience.

As Coronavirus 19 was loose on the planet the voyage was delayed as the night before we were due to meet up the British Prime Minister addressed the nation on television saying we should all stay at home and after a few phone calls the delivery was postponed. With the Lockdown in England opening up boat deliveries were being allowed following a few guidelines about the health of the crew prior to departure. This was the rescheduled voyage and the plan was to sail non-stop from Cowes to Hartlepool on the North East of England, but mother nature had different ideas.

We assembled in East Cowes said our hellos' and checked Velocity Girl, an ocean racing yacht with an impeccable list of race wins and long distance voyages.

Following a check of the boat and all of the systems, we found the autopilot had been reconnected incorrectly and took some time to trace the problem. After which we set off down the Medina river and into the east Solent heading towards Hartlepool in the north east of England a trip of some 375 nautical miles that would see me sailing in the North Sea for the first time.

A watched system of three on, six off was agreed and Will took the first watch once we were clear of the breakwater, I had a try out our the helm as it had been some time since I steered with tiller and had not sailed for some time; she was flighty but manageable.

With everybody happy I climbed into my bunk as I was on the 2000 - 2300 UTC watch and needed some rest as it would be dark by then and it had been some time since I had last stood a night watch by myself.

I came up on deck as we were passing Beachy Head, the lighthouse flashing its usual rhythm Fl (2) W 20s and took over for the passage towards Dover when Peter came up as we arrived, with two on deck this made passing the entrance to the port easier as there was an inbound ferry from France. With that out of the way I clambered back into my bunk and got some sleep.

The first six hours rest period passed extremely quickly and at 0500 UTC I had my warm kit and oilies on ready to take the next watch. The F5 had developed into a F6 with the wind instrument reading 25 knots true most of the time. Velocity Girl was flying and were were mid way across the Thames Estuary heading for the coast of East Anglia.

Crew: Peter Vandenberg (Skipper), Will Armitage, Sandy Garrity

Trip Stats: Distance: 200 nm, Avg speed: 7.00 knots, Max speed: 12.50 knots, Under way: 28 h 30 m

Weather: Inshore waters to 12 miles offshore 13:00 (UTC+1) on Thu 21 May 2020 to 13:00 (UTC+1) on Fri 22 May 2020

North Foreland to Selsey Bill - Strong wind warning

24 hour forecast: Variable 2 to 4, becoming southwesterly 5 or 6 later. Smooth or slight, becoming moderate later. Thundery showers for a time. Good occasionally moderate.

Gibraltar Point to North Foreland - Strong wind warning

24 hour forecast: Variable 2 to 4, becoming southerly 4 to 6, veering southwesterly later. Smooth becoming slight. Thundery showers for a time. Good occasionally moderate.

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