Saturday 25 August Statistics and observations

I left the Hamble on April 15th (the day after my 72nd birthday) and returned on August 15th, having sailed up the east coast of Ireland to Orkney and down the east coast of Britain to Dover before heading home. During this time I spend 20 days sailing in France with friends, leaving 102 for the trip. Of this, I sailed on 60 days. The total distance according to the log was 2,422 miles, giving a average of 40 miles a day. The longest leg was Newlyn to Kilmore Quay (200 miles) and the shortest Kyle of Lochalsh to Plockton (11 miles). I was alone for 60 days, and had a crew for 18 days (including the 200 mile trip), and had non-sailing guests for 24 days, so I was effectively single handed for 48 days or 80% of the time at sea. My average day at sea was six and three quarter hours.

There was a disappointing lack of wind for much of the trip, so of the 405 hours at sea, 64% of the time I was using the engine. I consumed 533 litres of diesel, so the Volvo 2030 used 2.1 litres/hour, mainly at 2000 rpm. On the other hand, my average speed was 6 knots (and it was sunny). I had allowed a number of days in my planning as contingency for bad weather, but I was only prevented from sailing by forecasts of force seven winds on three days.

My biggest problem was retrieving the anchor. The boat has an electric windlass but the chain jams unless constantly supervised. The problem occurs when the anchor is off the bottom but there is still ten metres or more of chain to recover. During the time it takes to bring this up, the boat is at the mercy of any wind or current, so after a couple of near misses I gave up anchoring. This meant I spent much more time in marinas than I would have liked.

The east coast of Britain is far, far less interesting than Ireland and the west (unless you want to explore the rivers). The winds were favourable or adverse to much the same extent on each coast, so the direction of travel (clockwise or anti-clockwise) depends on whether you want to get the east coast over with first. I skipped most of the south coast as I am familiar with it, but you could spend another two weeks or more there. I could have spent even more time in the Inner and Outer Hebrides (although I had a great two weeks around Skye) and I regret not going up the Firth of Forth to Leith.

There is something special in going "round", but I think it might have had been better to sail clockwise to Orkney via Ireland, and then return south on the same side of the country, exploring the Hebrides, Isle of Man, Wales and possibly the Scilly Isles on the way.

Finally, the boat was new to me when I started the trip, and it behaved beautifully. I got a crew from Crewseekers to Dublin, partly because of the distances involved, but mainly because I didn't know the boat. That would not have been necessary if I had gone the other way round, but they were great guys and I enjoyed their company. I'm now selling the boat - the trip of a lifetime is over.

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