Review of the Peterhead Trip

I walked away from the boat for several weeks. I needed time to digest the trip, to process what had happened and the impact it had on me.

I had set myself a challenge, actually quite a big challenge, and while not achieving the trip around this small island I had learnt a huge amount.

1. The Boat

The boat was more than capable of doing the passage, there are a few things that need to be improved over the winter. Apart from the wear and tare that a seasons sailing has on a boat all was very much where it should be at. The old Raython radar went 'pop' before the trip and I did not have time to install the replacement before departure - this was a high priority. The engine needed a good service and a bit of TLC.

2. Fitness

This was my biggest challenge in doing the trip. Physically, I was not prepared for the sheer hard work of sailing solo for such a length of time. On finishing a passage my body took longer to iron out the aches and pains! I had expected to make a passage of say 12 hours then sleep and then onward, but after a passage I needed to take 24 or 48 hours to recover.

3. Psychologically

My undoubtedly was my biggest surprise! I've always seen myself as extremely resuliliant and am comfortable with my own company, but I was left with questioning myself about this. The trip highlighted that I needed human company and importantly touch; I will naturally shake somebody's hand if I meet them or hug them if I know them well, but with COVID and social distancing this was denied as everybody was social distancing.

Fog is really, really challenging for the single hander. Hours of peering into a grey sea, horizon and sky was exhausting. Knowing that a wind farm was 0.5 nm to the starboard and then only glimpsing the bright yellow base of a windmill as happened off Blyth going north was taxing.

Lobster pots were my biggest worry as they were rarely marked clearly enough to be seen until very close, especially if you were cat napping at the time. Several fishermen think that a two litre plastic milk bottle is enough to mark their pot, It's just not good enough.

By the time I got to Peterhead I was at an all time low, sleep was very disturbed, I took time to process anything to do with how the voyage should continue. Several good friends chipped in with good advice and several options that helped me with my decision making. Morris arriving at such notice was truly amazing. With his company and the wind from the north the decision was very easy, turn the boat round and use the wind.

I learnt a great deal from the trip, I can't believe that you can do a voyage like that and not take something away from it. I have always had a great love of the natural environment and I had that in bucketfuls, everything from spectacular sunrises, chilly sunsets through to 50 metres visibility for hours and hours.

In the future I am planning long offshore passages, but without the self inflicted pressure of being somewhere, especially in the north so late in the season. I am comfortable in my own skill set, but need to work up to such a big passage next summer.


Plymouth to Treluggan

I had booked the boat to come ashore at Treluggan Boatyard on the river Lynher in Cornwall on the recommendation of a good friend. With a few days to spare until the next set of spring tides, I was advised I'd need a 5 metre tide, I dashed home by train, collected the car and drove it down to the yard. Very kindly Morris and Steph arranged to meet me there and drive me back to Plymouth. With all of the transport in place I was ready to get the boat ashore for the winter.

0600 hrs Slipped the lines at King Point and set off upto Treluggan. The directions from the yard were quite clear, but it being a small Cornish creek the journey did leave me a tad nervous as the drying height on the chart is 2.5 metres.

I chugged up the Tamar and then turned into the Lynher and watched the depth like a hawk. The Lynher is a gorgeous stretch of water and the trip needs to be repeated with crew.

Just past the Dandy Hole I almost missed the turning and headed onto St Germans, but saw the posts marking the channel just in time. Clearly, I missed the center of the channel as I gently ran aground, reversed and aimed a bit more to the east of the channel and edged my way up river almost touching trees as I did. Under the railway viaduct and Treluggan popped into view.

0730 hrs I tied up alongside the pontoon and popped the kettle on and waited for the yard team to haul me out then walked away from the boat and let them get her propped for the winter.

Lift out Cornish Style

Crew: Sandy Garrity

Sunrise: 0642 hrs Sunset: 1945 hrs

Trip Stats: Distance: 8.7 nm, Avg speed: 5.00 knots, Max speed: 6.00 knots, Under way: 1 h 30 m.

Weather: Inshore waters...


Brighton to Plymouth


Following the discussions over a superb meal last night and looking at lots of options we decided to push hard for Plymouth on the next passage so had a leisurely morning with a good long shower, a quick shop and getting the boat ready for the final leg.

Brighton was being dredged and I watched the two dredgers pass the boat ready to start their days work, quickly followed by a rather sporty racing yacht who got a sharp reminder over the radio not to move until the dredgers were in position. They rather sheepishly returned to the marina and dropped their sails and waited for permission to leave the marina.

1030 hrs
Departed Brighton Marina, clearly there was a race going on in the bay and a lot of fishing trips were enjoying the sunshine.

The wind was still with us as we set off for the final leg along le Manche back to Plymouth. Where I would deliver Morris back to Bora Bora at Saltash.

1800 hrs
Seven miles due south of Selsey Bill Morris came up for the last sunset watch of the trip. The evenings were beginning to get a lot cooler than they had a month before.

2100 hrs
I came up on watch for the start of the last night on the trip.

2230 hrs
Five nm south of St Catherine's Point and heading into home waters.


0000 hrs
Morris came up for the midnight watch as we were crossing Lyme Bay, distinctly colder.

0600 hrs
A cold misty morning greeted us on the final morning of the trip.

Just off Start Point, in the mist, with a race going on, a few fishing boats weaving their crazy courses across the ocean and a couple of big motor boats heading east the main fuel tank went to empty and the engine coughed and sputtered. I called Morris from below and we dumped the remaining spare fuel in the tank and bled the engine before restarting it again.

1400 hrs
Rafted up against Bora Bora delivering Morris back to Steph and Lammy, the dog, we spend a couple of hours talking over the voyage of over 600 nautical miles. Morris poured a beer and I had a cup of tea as I still needed to get Aphrodite back to her visitors berth at King Point Marina.

1800 hrs
Tied up Aphrodite on one of the visitors berths at King Point Marina and relaxed at the end of a month at sea.

Crew: Sandy Garrity, Morris Abbott

Trip Stats: Distance: 174 nm, Avg speed: 6.00 knots, Max speed: 9.00 knots, Under way: 34 h 10 m.

Weather: Inshore waters forecast to 12 miles offshore 01:00 (UTC+1) on Sat 4 Sep 2021 to 01:00 (UTC+1) on Sun 5 Sep 2021

North Foreland to Selsey Bill - Strong wind warning

24 hour forecast: Easterly or northeasterly 4 to 6. Slight. Fair. Good.

Outlook for the following 24 hours: Easterly or northeasterly 3 or 4, occasionally 5 at first, becoming variable 3 or less later. Slight, becoming smooth or slight. Mainly fair. Good.

Selsey Bill to Lyme Regis

24 hour forecast: Easterly or northeasterly 3 to 5, becoming variable 3 or less for a time in west. Smooth or slight. Fair. Good.

Outlook for the following 24 hours: Easterly or northeasterly 3 or 4 , becoming variable 3 or less. Smooth or slight, becoming smooth later. Fair, fog patches later in west. Moderate or good, occasionally very poor later in west.

Lyme Regis to Lands End including the Isles of Scilly

24 hour forecast: Easterly or northeasterly, veering easterly or southeasterly, 3 to 5, becoming variable 3 or less for a time in east. Slight, occasionally smooth in east. Showers. Moderate or good.

Outlook for the following 24 hours: Easterly or southeasterly 2 to 4, becoming variable 3 or less, increasing 4 at times. Smooth or slight. Fog patches later. Moderate or good, occasionally very poor later.

© Met Office Synoptic Chart 04/09/2021


Dover to Brighton

0400 hrs
The alarm call and the kettle is on. The boat is readied for sea, not that there was much to do.

0500 hrs
Called Port Control and asked for permission to leave by the western entrance. Just enough light as dawn was 0511 hrs and amazingly the wind from the east!

Today was a 'short' hop to Brighton as we were positioning the boat for a final push back to Plymouth. We are getting very relaxed about distances under 100 nm.

A cracking days sail and still pinching ourselves as the wind is still with us.

The on watch view

We had not telephoned ahead and called the marina up on the radio and allocated a hammerhead berth.

1830 hrs
All tied up alongside at Brighton and much excitement as just beside us was a Boreal 47, my dream boat.

Boreal 47 at Brighton

As Morris had been in Brighton before he knew where a decent pub was and we were able to have a really good pint at The Master Mariner followed by a superb meal at Bella Napoli. Although this was just an overnight stop I'll be back one day. Loved the buzz of the place.

Crew: Sandy Garrity, Morris Abbot

Trip Stats: Distance: 65 nm, Under way: 13 h 00 m, Avg speed: 5.00 knots, Max speed: 6.00 knots.

Weather: Inshore waters forecast to 12 miles offshore 01:00 (UTC+1) on Fri 3 Sep 2021 to 01:00 (UTC+1) on Sat 4 Sep 2021.

North Foreland to Selsey Bill - Strong wind warning

24 hour forecast: Easterly or northeasterly 4 to 6, decreasing 2 or 3 for a time in west. Slight. Fair. Good.

© Met Office Synoptic Chart 03/09/2021


Lowestoft to Dover

0115 hrs
Awake and the kettle is on for mugs of coffee before heading across the Thames Estuary.

0130 hrs
I called up Lowestoft Control, they were awake and answered in about 10 seconds! Requested permission to put to sea, duly granted as nobody else was a wake. Slipped out lines and departed Lowestoft after a pleasant stay.

We left the pier heads into a two metre swell and the next half an hour was a 'bumpy' ride out to deeper water as there is a sand bank that we should have had enough water to safely pass over, but on several occasions I read depth under the keel as 0.00 metres! Fingers crossed a trough would not dump us on the seabed!

Thankfully, after taking our 'shortcut' we were in the buoyed channel and unfurled the genoa as the wind was still with us. I looked out for the comforting flash of Southwold light and let Morris take the watch 0300 to 0600 watch.

0730 hrs
On a rather grey morning I looked behind us to see a huge container ship about two miles behind us on the port side. I activated the ship on the chart plotter AIS screen to find it was the One Manhattan, a 153453 tonne container ship making her way towards one of the London Ports. As we were in quite a narrow channel and I was the stand on vessel I kept my course and speed. On AIS I could see that she had made a 2° turn to port and quietly passed us before resuming her old course.

The rest of the day was quite uneventful. A few changes of course as we weaved our way across the Thames Estuary. It felt a lot less daunting that the trip north.

Entering Dover was something that I had dreaded, there are significant numbers of ferry movements and other craft that buzz about the port so had studied the pilotage information carefully.

1730 hrs
On arriving 2nm off Dover Harbour I called Port Control as instructed in the pilot books. After a cheery hello I informed them that I'd not been into Dover before. The response from them was fantastic. Clear instructions and a smooth entry into the east entrance, behind one of the cross channel ferries, then follow the breakwater round to the western entrance where I should see another vessel coming in and follow that into the marina.

We called the marina and asked for a berth for the night and were directed to a pontoon through a maze of large concrete basins. After tying up I popped up to the very new and modern marina office. Asked where there was a decent pub for a quick meal and a beer.

Walking back to the boat if became apparent that all modernisation had stopped as European Funding had been withdrawn, the irony of the reality of leaving the European Union.

Finding the boat, Morris and I headed off to the pub and were less than impressed with the beer, the meal and the service, but it refueled us and we had an early night before the next short hop to Brighton.

Crew: Sandy Garrity, Morris Abbot

Trip Stats: Distance: 91 nm, Under way: 16 h 20 m, Avg speed: 6.00 knots, Max speed: 8.00 knots.

Weather: Inshore waters forecast to 12 miles offshore 01:00 (UTC+1) on Thu 2 Sep 2021 to 01:00 (UTC+1) on Fri 3 Sep 2021

Gibraltar Point to North Foreland

24 hour forecast: Northerly or northeasterly 4 or 5, becoming variable 2 to 4 in north. Slight or moderate, becoming slight. Mainly fair. Good.

North Foreland to Selsey Bill - Strong wind warning

24 hour forecast: Easterly or northeasterly 4 to 6. Slight. Mainly fair. Good.



As we had decided that a rest day had been well earnt a lazy day in port fill up with fuel, grab some essentials at a supermarket and trip to a local chandeliers for an end for our electrical cable was all we needed to do.

The morning started well as we had looked up a chandelier on the internet the night before and had called them to see if they had the part, yes they had and thought no more about it. I looked them up on Google Maps and as it was only a couple of miles we decided to walk. Arriving at a house in the middle of an estate realised that this was not the place and after a few phone calls finally worked out where we should have been. A few more miles and we finally got to the right place and discovered a fantastic wee cafe that served devine sausage sandwiches.

The part in hand we jumped onto a bus and headed back to the marina.

A quiet afternoon was had followed by dinner in the sailing club and an early night as we needed to depart very, very early in the morning.


Scarborough to Lowestoft


0730 hrs
After a quiet night tied up against the tug the alarm went off and we got the boat ready for the long trip across the Wash to Lowestoft. Having done this passage on the way up I knew it would be a long haul with lots of interesting pots, windfarms and ships to look out for!

We called up Lowestoft Control and requested permission to depart, cast off and headed out of the shelter of the harbour into a dank misty morning.

1030 hrs
About 3 nm east of Flamborough Head showers and bright spells, with lots of pots, but thankfully not the rate of tide that I had on the northward journey.

Off Flamborough Head

This was more the life! Both Morris and I settled down to a long passage and the watch system. Our usual three on three off.

2300 hrs
I was on watch in a choppy sea and a gusty wind when a banging started at port side of the transom! The fuel tank was loose and with the chop was banging in its mounts. With the boat sloshing about in the dark there was little I could do on my own until Morris came up to relieve me at 0000 hrs. As soon as he did I looked to make repairs but it was not easy. I stuffed a few towels down between the tank and its mounting to try and quieten things down a bit. Not sure if it made any difference! After half an hour I retreated to my bunk as I had the 0300 - 0600 hours watch which is never easy.


0300 hrs
Coming up on deck we did our usual handover and as Morris headed down below I checked the chartplotter as usual. That's odd its telling me the tide is against us when clearly it is with us. I checked the screen that shows the GPS information only do discover that the chartplotter thought it was 01/01/2002! At least it knew where we were in space if not time.

0500 hrs
While in the channel just off Great Yarmouth doing about six knots I spotted a vessel in the channel about a mile ahead of us going south at about one and a half knots and was postiting the boat to the starboard side of the channel in order to over take the vessel she turned and started coming towards us! Not what I was expecting and confusing my pilotage down the channel even more! I came to the conclusion that she was waiting for enough water to get into Great Yarmouth.

With the light slowly dawning Morris came up on deck to get ready for going into Lowestoft.

0630 hrs
We called up Lowestoft Control and asked permission to enter the port, slipped quietly between the pier heads and found a berth at the Royal Norfolk and Suffolk Yacht Club visitor pontoon, at least it was light when we made our entrance then got our head down for a few hours.

At about 0930 hrs the berth master came round and said hello, and that he was surprised to see me back and with crew.

1200 hrs
The clubhouse was open and we popped in to pay for our stay, the bar was open and they had some very tempting sandwiches so we treated ourselves and mulled over the options.

Given the mileage we had done since Peterhead it was decided that a rest day was needed and that would would depart in another 36 hours.

Crew: Sandy Garrity, Morris Abbot

Trip Stats: Distance: 148 nm, Under way: 23 h 00 m, Ave speed: 6.46 knots, Max speed: 8.50 knots.

Weather: Inshore waters forecast to 12 miles offshore 01:00 (UTC+1) on Mon 30 Aug 2021 to 01:00 (UTC+1) on Tue 31 Aug 2021

Whitby to Gibraltar Point

24 hour forecast: North or northeast 4 or 5. Moderate, occasionally slight at first. Occasional drizzle or showers. Good, occasionally moderate.

Outlook for the following 24 hours: North or northeast 4 or 5. Moderate. Occasional drizzle or showers. Good, occasionally moderate.


Blyth to Scarborough

0615 hrs
Cast off the lines and set off southward again. The wind was still from the north and sails were set.

A cracking day sail followed, in ideal running conditions. A lovely F4 over the transom, the sun shining, but cool. Even on a day sail we ran a watch system to keep fresh.

1700 hrs
Called up Scarborough Harbour control to arrange a berth for the night and informed that once the regatta fleet was back in we could come into the harbour and tie up against a tug, they will always find somewhere to fit you in. It was only then it dawned it was a Bank Holiday Weekend.

1800 hrs
Tied up beside the tug Falmouth. In both visits here the harbour team have been extremely helpful, but this is the first time I've tied up alongside a tug.

While sorting out the boat Morris discovered that he had left the forehatch open a crack and the bedding was wet! We got the wet stuff together and headed off to the laundrette and then to find a decent fish and chip shop for a quick meal. Followed by a swift half in the nearest pub while the tumble drier did its work.

We returned to the laundrette to find all bedding was now dry and headed back to the boat.

Crew: Sandy Garrity, Morris Abbott

Trip Stats: Distance: 66 nm, Under way: 11 h 45 m, Avg speed: 5.60 knots, Max speed: 8.00 knots.

Weather: Inshore waters forecast to 12 miles offshore 01:00 (UTC+1) on Sun 29 Aug 2021 to 01:00 (UTC+1) on Mon 30 Aug 2021

Berwick upon Tweed to Whitby

24 hour forecast: North or northeast 2, increasing 3 or 4. Slight. Fair then drizzle at times. Good occasionally poor.

Whitby to Gibraltar Point

24 hour forecast: North or northeast 2 or 3, increasing 4 or 5. Slight, occasionally moderate later. Fair. Good, occasionally moderate later.


Peterhead to Blyth

Friday 27th August 2021

With an early start and a gray cool morning Morris and I set off on our voyage back to Plymouth.

0730 hrs

After calling Peterhead Control we slipped the berth at the marina, headed out into the main harbour and past the two breakwaters. While it was a flat calm in the harbour there was a four meter swell running just outside the breakwater and I could see the colour drain from Morris's face! Clearly he was not very comfortable, but we had to make our way east for about 1 nm in order to clear 'The Skerries' to the south of the harbour it was going to be a bit of a roller coaster for next 20 minutes as we rode up the face of the waves and over the crest.

As soon as we could we turned south the swell was now behind us and a lot more comfortable, set the genoa, turned off the engine and enjoyed being on the water again even though it was a cold grey morning. Ahead of us lay 150 nm run down to Blyth.

To the south of Peterhead there is Buchan Ness Lighthouse which quickly disappeared from view and Peterhead Power Station which did not! It felt a bit like Dodman Point in Cornwall, all ways there.

With two people onboard again the routine of the boat changed, three hours on watch and three off meaning we could drive the boat very efficiently. With the passage it became apparent that the tide travels from north to south down the North Sea and we had eight hours of tide with us and four against, this really helped keep our average speed up.


0915 hrs
Tied up at Royal Northumberland Yacht Club stretched our legs on the pontoon and chatted to the other crews who were about then made our way up to their amazing clubhouse, well not a clubhouse but an old lightship, House Yacht H Y Tyne III was previously Light Vessel No. 50. It is the oldest floating timber light vessel remaining in Great Britain and only one of three still identifiable as a light vessel, but we were to early and returned back to Aphrodite to catch up on some sleep.

image host

Royal Northumberland Yacht Club Clubhouse

1200 hrs
With the clubhouse open we went in and said hello, paid for a berth for the night and as the bar was open and lunch being served tucked into a superb gammon steak and a couple of pints. Pub grub at its best. Then toddled back to the boat to catch up on some sleep.

1900 hrs
Considering the great lunch we enjoyed we headed back to the clubhouse for dinner. Perhaps one of the finest steaks that I've eaten in the last few years and couple more beers before heading back to the boat to sleep. To be honest it would have been extremely easy to sit and talk most of the night as the members were incredibly warm in their welcome.

Crew: Sandy Garrity, Morris Abbott

Trip Stats: Distance: 135 nm, Avg speed: 6.00 knots, Max speed: 9.00 knots, Under way: 23 h 30 m

Weather: Inshore waters forecast to 12 miles offshore 01:00 (UTC+1) on Fri 27 Aug 2021 to 01:00 (UTC+1) on Sat 28 Aug 2021

Rattray Head to Berwick upon Tweed

24 hour forecast: North or northeast 3 or 4, becoming variable 3 or less later. Slight or moderate, becoming slight later. Fair. Good.

Outlook for the following 24 hours: Variable 3 or less. Slight. Fair. Good.

Berwick upon Tweed to Whitby

24 hour forecast: North 4 or 5, becoming variable 3 or less later. Moderate. Fair. Good.

Outlook for the following 24 hours: Variable 3 or less. Moderate becoming slight. Fair. Good.



The day after my arrival the sun shone, people were swimming, canoeing and paddle boarding. The local sailing club and Sea Cadets were all out on the water in dinghies and small ribs. I was even able to get a bit of sunbathing done on deck. Hard to believe I was at 57° 30'N at it felt more like the south coast of England.

I spent several days in Peterhead to rest, reflect and consider my options for the next part of the trip as it was clear to me that going up to Orkney and back down the west coast was not feasible as I was taking much longer to recover from a passage, I was not sleeping well as things were racing through my head, the fog had been hard work, even with AIS, and I was deeply saddened by the outcome of the rescue south of Stonehaven. With the news that the Caledonian Canal was 'closed' for single handed sailors due to COVID leaving me with two options: a) find a crew member and go through the canal or b) turn the boat round and head back to Plymouth.

Reluctantly, I formulated a plan to call for help to get through the Caledonian Canal, then to resume the trip either single handed or with crew and posted a message on social media and waited. If there was no response I'd turn the boat round and head back.

Aphrodite's previous owners now live in Scotland and we discussed laying up the boat near them and resuming the trip in 2022, but I was concerned that COVID might increase again and with Scotland having stricter travel regulations than England I would be unable to visit the boat over the winter. They also had friends who might be able to crew for a while, but the more I thought about it the more I was convinced that heading back to Plymouth was the right call.

The morning following posting my plea for help Morris from SV Bora Bora back in Plymouth called me. He was coming up to help! In the time the call took I went from being extremely downhearted to delighted.

Several phone calls later discussing travel plans Morris then announced that he would be in Peterhead at 2300!

With about 10 minutes to pack he got from Saltash to Bristol Airport, caught a flight to Aberdeen then a bus to Peterhead. The travel gods were clearly on our side.

Morris sent a WhatsApp message from Bristol Airport saying there was some whisky on offer and should he buy some. About ten minutes later, 'oops it is for international travellers only'. The very least I could do was to get a bottle to welcome him.

Peterhead at 2300 in late August the bus station was like a ghost town it just lacked the brushwood rolling down the street, right on time a big yellow bus arrived at the station and Morris and a few people got off the bus. Was I glad to see him!

I had found the one remaining chippy open in town and we sat on a wall and ate a very late supper, headed back to the boat and cracked open a bottle and had a dram. Several quite large ones actually. We both slept soundly that night.

The following morning after a hearty breakfast we sat and went over the options. How much time was Morris able to give, what was the weather doing and what was the best way to utilize both. With northerlies set for the next few days and looking at timings of getting round to the Caledonian Canal and transit times the decision was agreed to to turn the boat round and head back to Plymouth and run the trip as a delivery, where you crack on and put miles under the keel. With the 'council of war' over we headed into town for supplies and lunch. Then back to the boat to do some route planning and to pay the marina fees.

We turned in for a early night as the plan was to do a long passage from Peterhead to Blyth in Northumberland.


Stonehaven to Peterhead

I woke early, hoping that the fenders had survived the night! They had indeed done their job. Climbed the vertical ladder to the pier and found the showers, spoke with the harbour master and paid for my night against the wall.

Against the wall at Stonehaven

As I got back to the boat the Stonehaven Sea Safari RIB was being prepped for a trip out and I got talking with the crew. How had the summer been with COVID. The skipper asked me what my plans were. I responded with round the UK, but was thinking about cutting through the Caledonian Canal as I was taking longer to recover from a day's sailing than expected. He replied that the Caledonian Canal was not allowing single handed yachts through because of COVID. That was not good news!

A second piece of news was that one of the guys picked up on the rescue yesterday had not survived the night. I was greatly saddened by that news as I was delighted when everybody had been picked up.

The RIB crew helped me with the lines and I returned to the boat, rather thoughtful.

0945 hrs
Departed Stonehaven into a thick fog, a flat sea and no wind. The engine was on again. The Met Office had the forecast right, I was in a F2, but these were very, very big fog patches. I was beginning to wonder if I just moved up the coast with my own personal fog patch.

1200 hrs
The fog had lifted, but still no wind but enjoying the ride up to Peterhead. Quite a few ships either entering or leaving Aberdeen on-route to the oil and gas platforms. More practice with collision avoidance, both with a hand bearing compass and using AIS on the chartplotter.

1700 hrs
Called Peterhead Harbour Control to get permission to enter the harbour, duly granted and watch out for another yacht approaching from the north.

1730 hrs
Tied up at the pontoon on a bright sunny evening. Several swimmers in the water, people on Standup Paddleboards and a few canoeists. Could this really be 57 30' North? It looked and felt more like the south of England.

Crew: Sandy Garrity

Trip Stats: Distance: 37.50 nm, Under way: 7 h 40 m, Avg speed: 4.84 knots, Max speed: 5.50 knots.

Sunrise: 0447 hrs Sunset: 1931 hrs

Weather: Inshore waters forecast to 12 miles offshore 01:00 (UTC+1) on Sun 22 Aug 2021 to 01:00 (UTC+1) on Mon 23 Aug 2021

Rattray Head to Berwick upon Tweed

24 hour forecast: East or southeast, backing northeast then becoming variable later, 2 to 4. Slight, occasionally moderate at first in north. Occasional rain then drizzle, fog patches. Moderate or good, occasionally very poor.


Arbroath to Stonehaven

1145 hrs
For once a start at reasonable hour. On prepping the boat for departure and checking that the cooling water was coming out of the engine I noticed a single red rose in the water by the transom. Quietly commented to myself, 'that's odd' and departed the harbour.

1400 hrs
More thick fog, the Met Office got that right. The VHF sparked into life as a RIB had spotted a small overturned fishing cuddy with a guy on the hull and reports of two other guys in the water about 10 NM from my position. Little I could do as I was slow, but look out for swimmers in the water.

The chartplotter AIS showed that the RNLI were heading towards the scene at speed and I saw an All Weather boat pass me at about 30 knots.

1700 hrs
Arrived at Stonehaven having heard that three guys from the fishing cuddy had been located. My next problem was to get the boat alongside a vertical wall, never done this before!

The solution was to attach a midship line to the steps then climb the steps with two lines and attach them to just about anything!

All of the fenders were on the starboard side, a fender board is really needed on these type of harbours.

Alongside at Stonehaven

I retired back to the boat and watched the wall move backwards and forwards in relation to me and reflected on the day. I am not superstitious in any way and am a 'devout atheist', but found it really odd that I should spot that rose in the water and had watch the rescue unfold in front of me.

Crew: Sandy Garrity

Trip Stats: Distance: 30.7 nm, Under way: 6 h 42 m, Avg speed: 4.50 knots, Max speed: 6.00 knots.

Weather: Inshore waters forecast to 12 miles offshore 01:00 (UTC+1) on Sat 21 Aug 2021 to 01:00 (UTC+1) on Sun 22 Aug 2021

Rattray Head to Berwick upon Tweed

24 hour forecast: South or southeast 3 or 4, occasionally 5 at first, becoming variable 3 or less later. Slight or moderate. Rain at times, fog patches later. Moderate or good, becoming poor at times then occasionally very poor later.



I awoke to the sound of steady rain on the deck and the dredgers working away clearing the harbour. Headed to the marina 'crew room' that consists of a room with a cooker, a dining table, a small book swap library and showers. Why don't more marinas have a communal area for people to sit and chat?

Dredger at Arbroath

Once the morning ablutions were done it was off into town and explore. I had been recommended a 'Smokie Pie' by another boat the hunt for lunch, but did not need to go far as they were on sale just beyond the marina.

The Smokie Pie Shop

Lets just say I think Smokie Pies are an acquired taste and I can think of better ways of eating fish.

Just after lunch the phone rung and one of the Ocean Youth Trust South volunteers who was in the area asked if he could drop in and say hello. An hour later Mark arrived at the marina and I popped the kettle on.

I am quite sure that Mark did not expect to go up my mast when he called, but with two of is onboard and my fear of going up masts he was 'coerced' to going up and treading my lazyjack through its block.

Mark and Sandy at Arbroath

After more tea we headed off for a walk along the coast to look at the geomorphology of the area and I was introduced to 'geos', something that I'd not heard of before.


Eyemouth to Arbroath

0330 hrs.
As they say time and tide wait for no man and I needed to be in Arbroath by 1400 as their gate the inner harbour would be closing. I departed from a quiet Eyemouth one other visiting yacht was in the harbour, the Dutch guy, who had arrived the evening before. It's always a challenge going out of an unknown harbour at night. Through 'the casam' and out into a very, very dark night. Note to self: even though it is warm in the harbour put all your foulies on as it is colder out at sea.

One other boat could be seen in the distance and St Abb's Head Lighthouse flashed once in ten seconds. As the sky got lighter as dawn approached I could see it was going to be a damp grey morning. The wind, as ever was on the nose and and the instruments were reading 5 knots of true wind most of that would have been generated by me motoring along.

A few ships were spotted on AIS moving extremely slowly and then I was called up by a guard ship for a large survey vessel it all made sense. He politely requested that I give the survey ship a wide berth and I adjusted course to port by 10° for an hour and then returned to my original heading.

0900 hrs.
A zepher of wind and I rolled out the genoa to take advantage of it. Sadly, it was not to last and within the hour I had rolled it back and was back on the engine.

1200 hrs.
Approaching Arbroath and the sun poked its head out from the grey sky and it simultaneously got warm and busy! Lines and lines of pots, fishing boats checking the pots and two dredgers hard at work. I called the Harbourmaster up and was allocated a berth, set the boat up for port too, then called the dreger up to check that it was OK to pass by him and in I went.

Just as I was lining up to enter harbour the second dredger needed to exit to empty a load out at sea. With him safely behind me I entered beside the second, its huge bucket taking chunks out of the sea bed on his starboard side and me on the port.

Turned into the inner harbour and a chap was indicating that I should go to a pontoon that was starboard side to. Typical, I am now going to set everything up for both sides. After a quick reversal to give me time to get some fenders out I came alongside and the chap took my lines. He was the Harbourmaster and apologised as there was a last minute change of plans.

Exhausted, I had a quick wander round town and headed back to my bunk.

1900 hrs.
There was clearly something going on on the quay side and I popped my head up to see about 400 motorcyclists all showing off their bikes.

I decided to say a second night, I am beginning to see a pattern here. It gives me time to recuperate and see a little of the places I am visiting, especially as I use 'white diesel' and need to visit the local supermarket to top up my jerry cans. Arbroath has a reputation for smoked fish and one of the Instagrammers I follow suggested that I try a 'Smokie Pie'. An odd mix of the dry pastry crust of a traditional Scotch Pie with a fish filling.

The lazy jack has been mended, now the job of finding somebody to either go up the mast or haul me up the mast. Something that I hate doing.

Crew: Sandy Garrity

Trip Stats: Distance: XX nm, Under way: X h XX m, Average speed: X.XX knots, Maximum speed: X.XX knots.

Weather: Inshore waters forecast to 12 miles offshore 01:00 (UTC+1) on Thu 19 Aug 2021 to 01:00 (UTC+1) on Fri 20 Aug 2021

Rattray Head to Berwick upon Tweed

24 hour forecast: Variable 3 or less, occasionally 4 at first. Slight, occasionally moderate at first near Rattray Head, becoming smooth at times in central and southern areas. Occasional drizzle in south, showers in north. Good, occasionally poor in south.




It is always a thill to be back in Scotland and this was a first as I had never arrived by sea.

On arrival in Eyemouth it was quite busy, I am sure a few boats chose to remain in harbour while the dredger was about its work in the entrance, but there was space on the visitors pontoon and the three men in the next boat took my lines.

I met the assistant harbour master and asked about shore power and where to get the tokens. He kindly suggested that I 'just plug in' and see how much was on the electric point and followed his suggestion and there was a lot of unused electricity.

I chatted on the pontoon with the three men in the next boat and as we discussed where we had been and where we had been. They were going south to Holy Island and I north. They advised my that my next port of call Arbroath had not one, but two dredgers working the harbour!

The entrance to Eyemouth Harbour

Sat having something to eat in the cockpit I was surprised to see a seal pop its head up by the boat; gosh that is tame! I learnt why as over the next few hours a number of boats would bang fish against their hulls and the seals would come and eat from the hand. I'm not that brave.

A quiet night followed and I had a relaxing breakfast the following morning.

After popping into the harbour office and advising them that I'd be there for two nights I had a wander into the town and south along the headlands to stretch my legs in the August sunshine.

Aphrodite on the pontoon at Eyemouth

With working the boat I was beginning to find a few niggles and one is the length of the spinnaker halyard, a couple of meters too short for my liking and I replaced it with the spair, but that was the same length! It felt like a wasted hour, but it's now on my list of winter jobs to do.

The first thing that struck about Scotland was the very different attitude to wearing masks and COVID regulations. Mask wearing was the norm and you were expected to wear one.

I decided that I best had a 'fish supper' as I was back in Scotland and was really,really disappointed in the meal.

As I was just about to turn in for the night a Dutch boat arrived, the first foreign boat of the whole trip. I helped him with his lines and bade good night at I was planning a 0330 departure.


Amble to Eyemouth


0645 hrs.

Another early start so that I would have the tide with me most of the way. I slipped the mooring in a deserted marina. Then motored out passed the fishing boats still tied up at the pier. A lone angler was fishing at the pierhead, a wave and we were off out to sea for the final hop to Scotland.

1200 hrs.

Light winds all morning and another motor, but what stunning scenery, I took the passage between the coast and The Farne Islands with lots of boats taking visitors out for the day.

After passing The Farne Islands, Lindisfarne off the port side. The scenery was changing, getting more rugged and more to my liking.

Farne Islands

1430 hrs.

Off the entrance to Eyemouth lots of RIBs and fishing boats milling around waiting to get permission from the dredger to enter harbour. The dredger skipper sounded a bit frustrated as clearly he could not get on with the task in hand.

1600 hrs.

Tied up on the pontoon. Not many boats in and had a chat with the guys on the next boat who were heading down to Holy Isle for a few days.

Eyemouth Harbour



A rest day and a walk round the marina and into the delightful town.

The afternoon spent chatting with the guy, a retired GP in the next boat. He had spent a few weeks in the Orkney's and we discussed plans and how he tackled the Pentland Firth.


Hartlepool to Amble

Hartlepool's marina sits behind a lock so there is much radio traffic arranging boats to be locked in/out and I managed to get out on the first lock of the day at 0700.

Motoring into the Tees Bay I was confronted with a flat calm, a hint of wind, a minefield of pots and dense fog. Clearly today was going to be a motor rather than a sail. And I thought it was the 'Fog on the Tyne' that was famous!

1000 hrs
The fog was beginning to lift, but still a flat calm.

The concentration in fog is intense. The big ships you can see on AIS or as dark shadows in the mirk, but the small wind farm off Blyth took some spotting!

As I was motoring along I spotted a comment in the pilot book, you had to book the marina at Amble! A hasty call about noon asking for a berth for the night was greeted with a cheery of course we have space and I relaxed.

1500 hrs
I rounded Coquet Island with its small lighthouse and lots of seabirds.

As ever I was early for the tide and had an hour ahull in the bay eating a late lunch and listening to the radio and the events in the wider world, Afghanistan in particular.

1730 hrs
I had enough water to enter the harbour and set off with instructions that the 'Welcome Pack' would be on B pontoon and after edging my way up the river, it was shallower that charted I found the entrance to the marina, B Pontoon and a lady enjoying the evening sunshine and a glass of wine as her husband cooked supper.

Finding my berth I squeezed in as there was not a lot of room and no gelcoat was damaged. Looks like my berthing is improving.

I am beginning to take the weather forecasts with a large pinch of salt. More wind than forecast one day not as much the next!

Crew: Sandy Garrity

Trip Stats: Distance: 50 nm, Average speed: 4.50 knots, Maximum speed: 5.00 knots, Under way: 11 h 10 m

Weather: Inshore waters forecast to 12 miles offshore 01:00 (UTC+1) on Sun 15 Aug 2021 to 01:00 (UTC+1) on Mon 16 Aug 2021

Berwick upon Tweed to Whitby - Strong wind warning

24 hour forecast: West or southwest, becoming variable 2 to 4, then northwest 4 to 6 later. Smooth or slight, becoming slight or moderate later. Rain at first in south then showers later. Good, occasionally moderate at first in south.



To say I slept well was an understatement! It was beginning to be clear to me I needed more time to rest between passages.

I popped over to the marina office and paid for two nights and decided to take it easy. While I was getting a lot of miles under the keel I was pretty tired and still had a long way to go!

I spent a lazy day checking the boat after the 'excitement' of yesterday's passage. A few issues were found, there was a tare in the leech that was pretty cosmetic, but would need to be checked daily and a slide needed its stitching re-enforced. I removed the starboard lazy jack and stitched it back together, just the matter of going up the mast. Something I hate doing.

A visit to Asda for provisions then again for fuel and the chores were done. The afternoon was spent looking at the charts and planning the next few passages, the east coast was proving a challenge as there are few places to hide if the weather turns.


Scarborough to Hartlepool

0600 hrs
Departure from Scarborough to get the best of the tide and with a good forecast I was looking to an enjoyable sail. Everybody was saying a F5 from the SW, even the Met Office was giving a F4 - F6, but the sea was slight.

Heading out of the harbour, no groundings this time, I headed round to the next bay and raised the sails and settled down for more coffee and an brisk sail up to Amble.

Well, the wind built and built and I reefed down to the second reef as by noon I had 35 knots over the deck and this was no fun at all. With waves crashing over the boat and me pretty exhausted I felt the better course of action was to head for Hartlepool Marina where I knew I would be 'locked in' and I could recover at a smooth berth.

As I had arrived 'early' as it was low water, I and the other boats wanting to go in needed to wait in the bay. By now the wind had subsided to 20/25 knots and I lay ahull in the bay for a couple of hours - very comfortable and quite relaxing.

On entering the lock I drew alongside a boat called Gem with a Royal Western Yacht Club marking on the transom and Plymouth as port of registration. I commented that it was quite far to come to meet a boat from your home port. They kindly transferred one to their crew to act as guide to my allocated berth. It did feel some distance from the entrance and I successfully backed into the berth - not a manoeuvre I do that often. Exhausted I had a light meal and got my head down.

On inspecting the boat the following morning I found that the starboard lazyjack was damaged! The lead rope that goes thought the block on the mast had managed to destroy the stitching that held it to the rest of the setup and had become free. I removed the whole thing and when I can find some time will set about a repair.

Crew: Sandy Garrity

Trip Stats: Distance: 50 nm, Avg speed: 4.40 knots, Max speed: 9.00 knots, Under way: 11h 20m,

Weather:Inshore waters forecast to 12 miles offshore 01:00 (UTC+1) on Fri 13 Aug 2021 to 01:00 (UTC+1) on Sat 14 Aug 2021

Berwick upon Tweed to Whitby - Strong wind warning

24 hour forecast: Southwest 4 to 6. Smooth or slight, becoming slight later. Showers for a time. Good.

Outlook for the following 24 hours: Southwest, veering west, 4 or 5, occasionally 6 at first. Smooth or slight, becoming moderate for a time near berwick-upon-tweed. Showers then fair. Good.



The sun rose early and after a long sleep I had a wander round the bay to the Scarborough Spa. It was good to stretch the legs after the passage up from Lowestoft. Halfway round the bay I was accosted by a chap who had just broken up with his partner the night before and clearly needed to talk to somebody, so we ambled up to the Spa and passed the time of day in the morning sunshine before the town woke up. He thanked me for listening and wandered off into the distance trying to work things out.

The town had not fundamentally changed since I was a child. The English Seaside Town is alive and kicking. Seaside amusements, fish and chip shops and 'kiss me quick hats'. Perhaps the only difference was the number of tattoos on display.

After cleaning up from breakfast I found the nearest filling station, Sainsburys, and took the jerry cans up the hill to replenish the diesel. In the past Sainsburys have insisted that you can only buy 30 lts at a time. I popped into the kiosk and checked, yip it was the same here. I filled with exactly 30 lts and payed before rolling the trolly down the hill.

On getting back to the boat the couple in the next boat, WAKONDA, said hello and as we were doing the same thing we chatted over our plans. They were taking a few years to do what I am planning to do in the few months.

Mike, an old climbing pal, arrived in the afternoon and we caught up on about 30 years of life over a few pints and some fish and chips.

After a busy day of chat, I retired to my bunk and got ready for an early departure.


Lowestoft to Scarborough

My first single handed leg was an ambitious one of almost 150 nautical miles and a passage time of about 30 hours.

Waiting for the tide I had a stretched my legs along the South Beach and visited the RNLI shop. A bit surprised to see 2022 diaries on the shelf. After a wonder round the pontoon I prepped the boat for a 0930 UTC start, called up Lowestoft Control and headed out into a bright sunny day.

Having got the sails up I settled down to an enjoyable afternoon passage north following the coast towards the Wash. There was a real feeling of 'the start of an adventure' onboard as I settled down to my usual position on the port quarter and watched the world go by, looking forward to my first overnight single handed passage.

In the late afternoon the EENDRACHT a Dutch Sail Training vessel passed about 2 miles off my starboard.

By 1645 hrs I had lost all wind and turned the engine on, it remained on all night as the wind did not return until morning.

Supper prepared I enjoyed seeing the night sky emerge as the sun set and settled down for a night of dozing as I weaved my way passed the wind farms of the Wash and there are a lot of them

The sunrise at 0600 over an oily sea was stunning and rather a lot of ships were parked waiting for orders.

Sunrise Over an Oily Sea

However, I did not look as bright!

After a night at sea and in need of breakfast

A major milestone had been passed I was comfortable after 24 hours at sea and had navigated the boat safely through the maze of wind farms and parked ships. They did look mysterious in the cold dawn light. Breakfast was a few handfuls of dried fruit and nuts and, for me, rather strong coffee.

Finally, the wind returned and I hoisted the sails again. Onwards to the next major waypoint. Flamborough Head, with hopes of seeing the Yorkshire Albatross.

A beautiful day followed, with some good sailing winds.

Flamborough Head was a challenge due to the number of pots just below the surface in the tide which meant I needed about six pairs of eyes and had to hand steer.

I arrived in Scarborough Bay only to be called up by another sailing vessel asking for a tow as they were having engine troubles. Sadly, I was unable to assist due to insurance issues, but the harbour master got him sorted out.

The tide was not yet high enough to get into the harbour so a late lunch was had as I enjoyed the afternoon sunshine and the day trippers in the very fast motor boats from the harbour.

The Harbour Master advised that by 1500 there should be enough water to get alongside, I was to prove him wrong and touched the bottom, spun on my keel and grabbed another berth.

I was in Yorkshire.

Crew: Sandy Garrity

Trip Stats: Distance: 142 nm, Avg speed: 5.00 knots, Max speed: 5.00 knots, Under way: 27 h 50 m.

Weather: Inshore waters forecast to 12 miles offshore 01:00 (UTC+1) on Wed 11 Aug 2021 to 01:00 (UTC+1) on Thu 12 Aug 2021

Gibraltar Point to North Foreland

24 hour forecast: Variable 3 or less until later in north, otherwise southerly or southwesterly 3 to 5. Smooth or slight. Mainly fair. Good.

Outlook for the following 24 hours: Southerly or southwesterly 3 to 5. Smooth or slight. Mainly fair. Good.

Whitby to Gibraltar Point

24 hour forecast: Variable becoming mainly southeast 2 to 4, then veering south or southwest 3 to 5. Smooth, occasionally slight. Showers later. Good, occasionally moderate later.

Outlook for the following 24 hours: South or southwest, backing southeast for a time, 3 to 5, occasionally 2 at first. Smooth or slight. Showers then fair. Good, occasionally moderate at first.



The original plan was that Alex and I would sail up to Edinburgh as a double handed crew in order to position the boat in Scotland as quickly as possible, but in these strange COVID times Alex had an issue at work that meant that he had to return home and arranged to leave the boat at Lowestoft. This left me single handing a tat earlier than expected. I decided to stay an extra day in Lowestoft and take a good look at the options as the east coast is rather sparse when it comes to marinas, thus I needed manageable passages in good weather.

After several hours pondering my passage planning I decided to make several shorter passages and the first was from Lowestoft to Scarborough, somewhere that I had visited as a child on a family holiday.

Lowestoft Statue to Lifeboat Crew

With the need to re-victual and refuel the boat I set off in search of the nearest supermarket, Asda, about a mile away and spent an 'entertaining' afternoon wandering about the shop like a lost sheep. It is always a challenge finding what you want in a different supermarket and food shopping is not my idea of fun. Followed by a return trip with the jerry cans for fuel.

An evening stroll along the South Beach and a look at the sea before heading into the yacht club for dinner. Apparently, they were expecting me at 1800 (UTC) and I had it down for 1900 (UTC), anyway it was sorted and I had an enjoyable meal before settling down for the night.

Crew: Sandy Garrity


Ramsgate to Lowestoft


The crossing of the Thames Estuary was one of the passages in the trip that I was treating with care and for me this had to be a day crossing.

With a forecast that I considered marginal as it was definitely a F5 not a F4, but the sea was slight and the wind would be behind us. We set off at 0730 (UTC). This was planned as the long passage north to Edinburgh.

On the sail hoist we got hit by a gust and the mainsail car 'burst' out of the track, with parts of the car flying in all directions! Once we steaded the boat and gathered both our thoughts, and bits of the car, were not as bad as we first thought. We re-assembled the car minus less one bearing and set off toward North Foreland and out across the Thames Estuary.

At around lunch time we were hit by a huge rain cloud and got drenched. It did flatten the s making the ride a little more comfortable.

1500 hrs Passing Long Stand Head Buoy.

The forecast was spot on and we had a fantastic sail zig-zagging through the sandbanks and wind farms.

At the wheel

Crossing the Thames Estuary. Credit Alex Bowling

1800 hrs Orford Ness off our port beam.

2230 hrs Southwold Lighthouse off out port beam and it was getting colder. The final leg and finding the channel into Lowestoft.


We called Lowestoft Control to seek permission to enter harbour. Their reply was instant, somebody apart from us was awake!

With the tide running at 2.5 knots we passed the pier heads ferry gliding in at about 45°. Entering the calm waters of the harbour, dropped the main and headed into the Royal Norfolk and Suffolk Yacht Club.

0110 hrs Finding the visitors pontoon full and nobody about we parked up near the fuel pontoon and got some sleep; the end of a long and exciting sail.

All times are UTC.

Crew: Sandy Garrity and Alex Bowling

Trip Stats: Distance: 83 nm, Avg speed: 4.75 knots, Max speed: 11.00 knots, Underway: 17 h 30 m.

Sunrise: 0542 hrs Sunset: 1931 hrs

Weather: Inshore waters forecast to 12 miles offshore 01:00 (UTC+1) on Sat 7 Aug 2021 to 01:00 (UTC+1) on Sun 8 Aug 2021

Gibraltar Point to North Foreland - Strong wind warning

24 hour forecast: Southerly or southwesterly 4 to 6, occasionally 7 near North Foreland and later in south. Slight or moderate. Showers, thundery at times. Good, occasionally moderate.



After our dash along 'La Manche' we had a planned rest day. One to recharge the batteries and take a look round the town and to to be honest the Inshore Forecast was pretty poor.

I had spotted an oil leak, clean oil, in the bilge and it had clearly came from the gearbox and after much poking about I concluded that the O ring had become distorted over the years. Now, Ramsgate has a proper old fashioned chandlery with a wall covered in wee boxes of stuff and after more poking about I found the ideal O ring, paid the man the huge sum of £2 and crossed my fingers that this would sort the problem out.

One of the delightful things about the trip was that friends who were in all part of the UK had said let us know when you are in the area and we will meet up. One such friend I'd not seen for over 40 years made contact and had arranged to go out for dinner.

Just before they arrived the heavens opened! I met them at the marina office we all sprinted or rather walked at pace down to the boat where I introduced them to Alex and conducted a whistle stop tour of the boat. Following a quick trip to the local fuel station for some diesel we all went out and had dinner in a lovely little Italian Restaurant on the seafront.

When we were were dropped back to the boat we all promised not to leave it so long before meeting up again.

Crew: Sandy Garrity and Alex Bowling

Weather: Inshore waters forecast to 12 miles offshore 13:00 (UTC+1) on Fri 6 Aug 2021 to 13:00 (UTC+1) on Sat 7 Aug 2021

North Foreland to Selsey Bill - Strong wind warning

24 hour forecast: Southwesterly 5 to 7, occasionally gale 8 at first in east. Moderate, occasionally rough at first. Showers, thundery at times. Good, occasionally moderate.

Outlook for the following 24 hours: Southwesterly 5 to 7. Moderate or rough. Showers, thundery at first. Good, occasionally moderate.


Plymouth to Ramsgate


Having spent the night at home, I met Alex, who was accompanying me Edinburgh at the railway station and we headed off to the marina. Spent the morning doing last minute jobs on the boat while we waited for the tide.

1200 hrs. Cast off from King Point.

1300 hrs. Passing the eastern entrance to Plymouth Sound.

After leaving Plymouth and heading east the boat settled into a gentle cruise in light winds. Clearly, we were not going to get far at three knots and the decision was taken to turn on the engine, it remained for the next 24 hours. In my stewardship of Aphrodite I think the maximum that I've had it on was about five hours. The days were spent leisurely enjoying watching the coast pass by from quite far offshore as once we left Start Point the next waymark was Beachy Head. It's always good to pass headlands especially ones you hear on the Met Office Shipping Forecast.

2000 hrs. Off Start Point


During the first night we were visited by dolphins, shadows moving beside the hull. When they broached to breath their bodies could be seen in the glow of the navigation lights. Red on port green on starboard.

Sailing by Night. Credit Alex Bowling

0500 hrs. Portland Light on the port beam. 5 NM offshore.

1410 hrs. St Catherine's Point on the port beam. 3.3 NM offshore.


0100 hrs. Beach Head

Passing the Straits of Dover we kept well out to sea to avoid the ferries. What struck me was the number of immigrants entering the UK in small craft. Dover Coastguard were busy with the number of pickups as boats were spotted in the straight and reported by merchant vessels. As we headed up to Ramsgate Border Force could be seen in JetSkis patrolling the beaches.

The Skipper and the White Cliffs of Dover. Credit Alex Bowling

Remembering that the 'Reeds' had given strict instructions that Ramsgate Port Control should be contacted prior to entry we called them up on the radio, am I pleased that I fitted the remote radio in the cockpit as it takes all the stress out of using the radio, from the helm either I or a crew member can use the radio and hear the maritime safety broadcasts every four hours.

The entrance to Ramsgate was simple and we quickly found a berth and tied up. The first leg of the adventure was complete.

Entering Ramsgate. Credit Alex Bowling

This was a passage with a lot of firsts. First passage over 200 nautical miles passage over 48 hours.

Crew: Sandy Garrity and Alex Bowling

Trip Stats: Distance: 248 nm, Average speed: 5.00 knots, Maximum speed: 8.00 knots, Under way: 50h 52m

Sunrise: 0452 hrs Sunset: 1951 hrs

Weather: Inshore waters forecast to 12 miles offshore 01:00 (UTC+1) on Thu 5 Aug 2021 to 01:00 (UTC+1) on Fri 6 Aug 2021

North Foreland to Selsey Bill

24 hour forecast: Variable 3 or less, becoming southerly 3 to 5, then veering southwesterly later. Smooth, becoming slight or moderate. Showers later. Mainly good.

Outlook for the following 24 hours: Southwesterly 4 or 5, increasing 6 or 7 for a time. Moderate, occasionally slight at first in east, then occasionally rough for a time. Showers, perhaps thundery until later. Good, occasionally moderate.


Sailing Round a Small Island

I always find that you are never quite ready to leave for departure and it was the same with this trip.

Alex and I met up at the railway station and took the train to Plymouth, hoped in a taxi and get down to the boat. With a few simple jobs to complete we were off. To be honest there was a lot of stuff shoved in the Skippers cabin that would be sorted out 'later'; I hope it will be sorted before I get back to Plymouth in about six weeks!

With all the permanent lines on the boat and lines set to slip I totally messed up the exit and we did a beautifully timed 360° turn and exited the marina looking like it was planned that way.

As soon as we were out of the marina we hoisted the sails and enjoyed the last views of Plymouth for a while.

Heading out of the Sound we cracked open a beer to celebrate the start of the voyage.

Crew: Sandy Garrity and Alex Bowling.

Weather: Inshore waters forecast to 12 miles offshore 01:00 (UTC+1) on Tue 3 Aug 2021 to 01:00 (UTC+1) on Wed 4 Aug 2021 Lyme Regis to Lands End including the Isles of Scilly

24 hour forecast: Northerly or northwesterly 2 to 4 becoming variable 3 or less, then becoming southwesterly 3 or 4 for a time later in east. Smooth or slight in east, slight throughout in west. Showers, becoming fair later. Good.


Jammy Dodger

A WhatsApp message from Alex inviting me out for an afternoons sail on his lovely wee Hunter Medina 20, Jammy Dodger, saw me at the Cobb in Lyme Regis at noon the next day. Due to heavy traffic Alex turned up 15 minutes later.

The Cobb is famous for "The French Lieutenant's Woman", by John Fowles and I had not visited for years so it was great to be back.

It is normal practice when getting to a boat on a mooring to use a small tender, not in Lyme. I had seen a couple of people in chest waders walking boats from their moorings to a pontoon, Alex being Alex swam over to Jammy Dodger and towed her back the the small pontoon.

We all jumped aboard, rigged the boat for sea, started the outboard and left the harbour into a very pleasant day. Once out of the traffic, hoisted the sails and set off towards West Bay about 7 nm to the east.

Alex and Sandy on Jammy Dodger at Lyme Regis Credit: Alex Bowling

A lazy relaxed sail to West Bay, where we came into their lovely wee harbour, tide the boat up and headed off for some liquid refreshment in a Covid safe way at the George Pub before heading back to Lyme.

Crew: Alex Bowling (Skipper), Sandy Garrity


Spinnaker off Rame Head!

Alex has kindly offered to crew from Plymouth to Edinburgh on my round Britain trip this summer and as we had not sailed together since our trip on Jammy Dodger last year we thought it might be a good idea if we got together and do some sailing before we set off on a 700 NM voyage.

Alex and Sandy Plymouth Sound. Credit Alex Bowling

With light winds forecast and a spinnaker that has not been flown since I bought Aphrodite, and I don't believe the previous owners ever used it, and a crew that had never flown one! What could possibly go wrong? It looked an ideal ideal day to try it out. But first we wanted a few miles under the keel and headed out towards the Eastern Entrance of Plymouth Sound. With a plan of heading east towards the mouth of the Yealm before tacking and crossing Plymouth Sound to Rame Head where we would try out the kite.

While still north of the breakwater and as we were hoisting the main and genoa a MOD Police RIB came over and requested that we keep well clear as a warship (HMS Enterprise) heading out from Devonport. Slight change of plan, we kept to the north of the breakwater while the gray ship passed and slipped out of the western entrance behind her before turning east for the Yealm.

Just off Rame Head I called up the National Coastwatch Institute Lookout Station for a radio check as it had been some time since I'd used the VHF and they promptly came back saying they could hear me loud and clear, and I was visible on AIS and Radar. All systems working. I'll need to do a check much further out to sea to find out the range that I have from the boat.

First Ever Spinnaker Hoist. Credit Alex Bowling

Crew: Sandy Garrity, Alex Bowling

Trip Stats: Distance: 21 nm, Avg speed: 2.90 knots, Max speed: 7.00 knots, Under way: 5 h 45 m.

Weather: Inshore waters forecast to 12 miles offshore 01:00 (UTC+1) on Wed 16 Jun 2021 to 01:00 (UTC+1) on Thu 17 Jun 2021

Lyme Regis to Lands End including the Isles of Scilly

24 hour forecast: Variable 2 or 3, becoming northwest 4 or 5 later. Smooth or slight east of the Lizard peninsula, otherwise slight or moderate becoming moderate or rough. Drizzle and fog patches for a time in far west, thundery rain later in east. Moderate or good, occasionally very poor in far west.


Off Round the Sound Again

With the weather being settled I took the boat out for more single handed 'familiarisation' and to enjoy being out on the water on a glorious day.

One small issue, most unusually the wind is from the north and my pontoon finger is nicely situated that in the prevailing southwesterlies I get blown on. Today I am being blown off. Never fear, 'Stress Free Sailing' has the answer and I rig the boat for departure and wait for a lul in the wind and we are off.

Crew: Sandy Garrity

Trip Stats: Distance: 9 nm, Avg speed: 4.20 knots, Max speed: 7.00 knots, Under way: 2 h 50m.

Weather: Inshore waters forecast to 12 miles offshore 13:00 (UTC+1) on Sat 12 Jun 2021 to 13:00 (UTC+1) on Sun 13 Jun 2021

Lyme Regis to Lands End including the Isles of Scilly

24 hour forecast: Southwest veering north, 3 or 4, veering east 2 to 4 later. Smooth or slight, occasionally moderate west of the Lizard. Fair. Good.


A Quiet Sail - Plymouth Sound

As the weather was quiet and I wanted some 'reacquainting' myself with the boat, giving me time to listen to what sounds she made and pull sails up and down with no or little pressure of wind I took Aphrodite out for a sail on the seaward side of the breakwater. Nothing dramatic, just the feel of a gentle breeze in the sails, the sun on my face was just what was needed and perhaps a workout of sailing muscles. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ Crew: Sandy Garrity ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ Weather: Inshore waters forecast to 12 miles offshore 01:00 (UTC+1) on Tue 8 Jun 2021 to 01:00 (UTC+1) on Wed 9 Jun 2021 Lyme Regis to Lands End including the Isles of Scilly 24 hour forecast: Southerly or southwesterly, becoming variable at times mainly in east, 2 to 4. Smooth or slight, but slight or moderate west of the Lizard peninsula. Fair. Good. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ Trip Stats: Distance: 8 nm, Average speed: 3.60 knots, Maximum speed: 6.00 knots, Under way: 2 h 15 m, Sailing hours: 1 h 45 m, Engine hours: 0 h 30 m.


Instrument Calibration - Plymouth Sound

My reports of speed over ground (SOG) and speed through the water (STW) surprised a couple of my friends in the marina. In other words they were highly skeptical and we arranged to do some 'calibration' with Steve on Red Snapper.

As I had a bit more work to do on Aphrodite to do, there seems to be a lot of that at the moment. Steve headed out for a few hours sailing before meeting up at the Eastern Entrance of Plymouth Sound around high water when there would be little movement in tide and we could check speeds with each other.

As I had a bit more work to do on Aphrodite to do, there seems to be a lot of that at the moment. Steve headed out for a few hours sailing before meeting up at the Eastern Entrance of Plymouth Sound around high water when there would be little movement in tide and we could check speeds with each other.

I motored out about 1230 UTC and watched HMS Scott, one of the Royal Navy's survey ships depart the sound, and just before 1330 Steve came over and tests commenced.

Waiting for Steve to conduct trials. Credit Steve Roffe

Lining the two boats up we headed off under engine, giving us more control over speed, on the same heading.

Above the sound of two engines we failed to hear each other and resorted to calling each other on the mobile phone, calling out the speeds we were displaying. Much to everybody else's surprise they were almost identical. One more check in the box on boat preparation before heading to Kirkwall.

Tests completed Steve headed west to Cawsands and I turned back to King Point.

Steve on Red Snapper

Crew: Sandy Garrity

Trip Stats: Distance: 7.8 nm, Average speed: 4.00 knots, Maximum speed: 6.00 knots, Under way: 2 h 00 m, Sailing hours: 0 h 00 m, Engine hours: 2 h 00 m.

Weather: Issued by the Met Office at 01:01 (UTC+1) on Fri 4 Jun 2021

Lyme Regis to Lands End including the Isles of Scilly

24 hour forecast: Variable 2 to 4, becoming southwest 3 to 5 for a time later. Mainly moderate in far west, otherwise smooth or slight. Fair. Good.


Single Handed - Plymouth Sound

The time had come to sort out some rusty skills and handle the boat on my own. I headed down to the boat and took ages getting her ready to take out. There is always some nervous anticipation the first time in a season when you let go or the pontoon or mooring on your own.

You know that you need to deal with anything and that is why I find single handing so rewarding. Got a problem, up to you to fix it.

Having 'faffed' about checking and rechecking things I finally set Aphrodite for sea, everything stowed below, sails ready to be hoisted and unfurled, engine on, spring line set and mooring lines let go. I was off.

Left the mooring without damaging any gelcoat, set off towards the marina entrance through Millbay, passed Drakes Island and into Plymouth Sound. Thankfully not too many boats about. Made my way over towards Jennycliffe to seek some shelter from the wind to haul the main sail and away from sets of eyes as I knew this was not going to be pretty.

Hoisted the main, a slight tangle in the lazy jacks that was easy to sort out. Settled down with the main up and the engine in neutral while I got used to the boat under sail again - it had been some time since I had last sailed. Finally pulled the genoa out to its first reefing point, turned off the engine and off she flew!

7 knots SOG and over 8 STW

With visibility beginning to close in, the Met Office had it right I dropped the sails and motored back to the berth.

Brian, who occupies the next berth, came over to help with the lines or perhaps to check I was careful with his gelcoat and I glided into my slot. Tidied up the sails and went below for a cup of tea. On emerging Drakes Island was shrouded in fog.

Crew: Sandy Garrity

Trip Stats: Distance: XX nm, Average speed: X.XX knots, Maximum speed: X.XX knots, Under way: X h XX m, Sailing hours: X h XX m, Engine hours: x h XX m.

Weather: Inshore waters forecast to 12 miles offshore 01:00 (UTC+1) on Wed 2 Jun 2021 to 01:00 (UTC+1) on Thu 3 Jun 2021

24 hour forecast: Easterly or northeasterly, veering southeasterly, 3 to 5, then veering southerly or southwesterly 2 to 4 later. Slight or moderate, becoming smooth or slight later in lyme bay. Thundery showers, fog patches later. Moderate or good, occasionally very poor later


Relaunch and a Visit to SV Bora Bora

I got down to Mayflower marina for 0700 UTC well in time for relaunch. The lifting crew arrived and had a cup of tea, what better way to start the day, before starting up the lift and relaunching me.

Being invited to go onboard with the boat still in the strops, half in and half out the water so I could check the through hull was watertight was a bit odd, but I had witnessed a boat sinking at Topsham a few years earlier because the owner had not fitted a through hull, and thought it was a excellent way of avoiding a flooding. The team walked the boat round to the fuel pontoon and it was then my turn to put the kettle on for a cuppa.

With the new depth sounder uncalibrated I was surprised at how close it read to the original, about 0.20 meter difference.

As I turned on the engine ready for departure one of the predicted showers arrived, a French friend calls them "waso pepe", roughly translated bird pee as they are so short. Set the lines for my usual single handed departure and one of the lift team assisted me, perhaps they were keen for me to get a move on as the next launch was being lined up.

Chugging out passed the pontoons it was good to finally see water speed, depth and water temperature (still too cold for swimming in my book). Passing a big red vessel on one of the pontoons I noticed that it was flying an A flag and a couple of chaps were holding pipes over the side, so took a wide slow course round them and headed up the Tamar towards Saltash where I had arranged to raft up with Bora Bora and her owners Morris, Steph and the dog Lammy.

I had not been up the Tamar since doing my RYA Day Skipper some years before. Passing the naval dockyard at Devonport is always interesting with lots of activity then you need to pass the fearsome jaws of the Torpoint Ferry. Three chain ferries that cross the Tamar and have right of way over any other vessel. With the ferries to contend with and being followed by a Landing Craft it made for an interesting half hour.

Just as I passed the entrance to the River Lynher I called Bora Bora and arranged lines and fenders. Lined up with appropriate line of trot moorings and slowly worked my way up the line until I spotted the boat. Rafting up is always a controlled crash, at least I was doing about 0.5 knots when we came alongside.

All tied up, I stepped aboard and was warmly greeted with a bottle of whisky! 1000 hours is usually too early for a dram, but as this was a special occasion we took exception and poured a small "taster."

Steph and Morris on Bora Bora, Saltash

News and talk of our summer's sailing plans were exchanged and I departed for the return trip down river. This time with the ebb tide and the trip was done in half the time as I had made it up river.

After an hour in Plymouth Sound where I had some space to do some maneuvers under engine to get the hang of the boats handling characteristics as it had been some time since we had been out in her. As ever she was faultless under engine and I am convinced that there were a few odd looks as I performed figures of eight going forward and backwards.

Time to head in and have some lunch, I don't think I'll ever be comfortable entering marinas, but arrived safely back on the berth with no damage to the gelcoat - result.

Crew: Sandy Garrity

Trip Stats: Distance: 11 nm, Avg speed: 4.40 knots, Max speed: 9.00 knots, Under way: 2 h 30 m.

Weather: Inshore waters forecast to 12 miles offshore 01:00 (UTC+1) on Fri 28 May 2021 to 01:00 (UTC+1) on Sat 29 May 2021

Lyme Regis to Lands End including the Isles of Scilly

24 hour forecast: Variable, becoming mainly east or northeast, 2 to 4. Mainly moderate west of The Lizard, otherwise smooth or slight. Occasional rain. Mainly good.


A Clean Hull

Finally, the 2021 season is starting. After months of not getting out of the marina, UK COVID lockdowns and May having some truly unseasonal weather

I booked Aphrodite into Mayflower Marina for a lift, powerwash and overnight hold. The overnight hold was so we had time to sort out a through hull that had been fitted when the hull was coppercoated back in 2019. The fitting was so tight we could not remove the blanking plated to fit the speed, depth and temperature sensor and with the trip round the UK about two months away I wanted all the instruments working.

As this was my first trip out of the marina Steve from Red Snapper kindly offered to be a responsible adult onboard and we met up at about 1300 (UTC) for the lift out at 1500.

After leaving King Point we had some time to spare and really wanted a bit more tide as we were on large springs and headed over to Queen Ann's Battery before turning west and motoring round to Mayflower. Where on arrival be parked Aphrodite on the fuel berth, handed her over to the lifting team and watched her being lifted out.

Lift out

Having watched the boat being lifted out by crane on the Exe the travel lift was a lot less stressful and once she was safely parked on a block the guys preceded to jet wash her bottom.

Considering how little the boat has been used during the last 18 months I was delighted to see just a film of slime that came off easily. At this point we headed off for a cup of tea before checking anodes, they will last until October when I am coming out for the winter, and the main reason for the lift out - sorting the log's through hull that had been fitted at Mylor and no matter how much I tried I could not remove the blanking plate.

With the jet wash finished we popped a ladder against the boat and I climbed onboard, unscrewed the retaining collar and wiggled the blanking bung and got the usual 10 mm of travel. Returned to ground level and Steve and I found the "stage one" through hull removal kit, a medium sized hammer and an old broom handle. The moment of truth, and one that we hoped would happen, one sharp tap and the blanking plate and out it popped. Cheers all round.

An inspection if the blanking plate and through hull showed that either no or not enough silicone grease had been used in the fitting! Stage two of the through hull kit was deployed, a new blanking plate that had been well greased, that went in and out several times without any problem and then the water sensor was tested and that worked as designed.

Thankfully, the job went well and stages three and four were not needed, an angle grinder and new through hull. We tided up and headed off to find something to eat, and have a celebratory beer. I would return to the boat in the morning for the relaunch.

All times are UTC.

Crew: Sandy Garrity, Steve Roffe

Trip Stats: Distance: 3.20 nm, Avg speed: 4.00 knots, Max speed: 6.00 knots, Under way: 1 h 30 m.

Sunrise: 0542 hrs Sunset: 1931 hrs

Weather: Inshore waters forecast to 12 miles offshore 07:00 (UTC+1) on Thu 27 May 2021 to 07:00 (UTC+1) on Fri 28 May 2021.

Lyme Regis to Lands End including the Isles of Scilly

24 hour forecast: Variable 4 or less becoming east or southeast 2 to 4. Slight or moderate in west, otherwise smooth or slight. Occasional rain later. Mainly good.


Plans for 2021

Like the rest of the world 2020 was a year dominated with Coronavirus and in the United Kingdom the exit from the European Union. Little sailing was done, but a lot of work on upgrading the systems on the boat.

Due to the uncertain travel situation I am planning to circumnavigate the United Kingdom during August, September and early October 2021, I have split the voyage into several legs and am inviting sailing friends to hop on and off the boat if they want to do one or more legs.

Leg One Plymouth to Ramsgate 250 nm (Two days sailing)

A run along the "La manche" in one hop with lots of diversion ports so that I can check that we are all set up for the trip.

48 hour stop over with possible crew change.

Leg Two Ramsgate to Edinburgh 400 nm. (Four days sailing)

Basically, getting to Scotland in one hop.

I am considering a five day stop over as my daughter might be in Edinburgh and I have family to visit this also allows for a crew change.

Leg Three Edinburgh to Stromness 215 nm. (Two days sailing)

This is where things start getting interesting and very weather dependent. I am aiming for Stromness on the Orkney mainland and a visit to Lyness where I spent a couple of years as a toddler.

Leg Four Stromness to Mallaig 250 nm. (No defined time)

This is where things slow down a bit and we can enjoy the west Highlands. Once round Cape Wrath I plan potter down to Mallaig over a few days. Places I want to stop include Loch A' Chadh -Fi where John Ridgway set up his outdoor center, Aultbea where we lived for about six months, Glenelg and Sandaig the home of Gavin Maxwell and Loch Nevis.

Leg Five Mallaig to Fort William 75 nm. (One day sailing)

A trip down past Mull then "home" to Fort William; there should be a new 40 berth marina there. I'm planning to stay for five days as I've lots of school pals to catch up with possible crew change. Aim to be here mid September at the latest.

Leg Six Fort William to Largs 150 nm. (Two days sailing)

Possible crew change at Largs.

Leg Seven Largs to Isles of Scillies 360 nm. (Four days sailing)

The run back south.

Leg Eight Isles of Scillies to Plymouth 90 nm. (One day sailing)

The run back to home port.