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.