A sailors diary of a trip from Plymouth to Tenerife, the highs, lows and funny moments.

Date posted: 5 October 2014

Before the event: Tomorrow I start off from Plymouth on Top Secret heading for Tenerife, I’ve never met the owner or his friends crewing for him.

I offered to vittle the boat, so I have been busy cooking and buying in supplies. I’m feeling anxious – how will I cope with off shore sailing for days at a time? how will I cope with the notorious Bay of Biscay? will I have packed enough food? have I got enough warm clothing? what are they all going to be like?

Stuart Austin who owns Top Secret is moving his boat to the Canary Islands to lease her for the winter. In the spring Stuart took the theory section of his Yacht Masters and is using the off shore miles to qualify for his Yacht Master in full. Although this might just seem like a bit of a jolly we are also trying to raise money for a bunch of young people hoping to build a club house to house their sailing club, they currently meet by the waters edge.

You can follow our progress live on http://www.marine-finance.org/tenerife-by-astro.php 

This is what happened!

Tuesday 7th October 2014 Sean and I noticed via the satellite tracking that the boat had arrived in Plymouth at 4am. So we headed off towards Plymouth to collect the remainder of the fresh produce and arrived at the boat about 12 noon. Simon, Mike, Jeff, Jeff and Stuart came to greet us in the car park. Jeff White left us at this point, he was meant to be carrying on to Northern Spain, but due to a late start he was concerned that he would miss his flight back, so got off at Plymouth as they say ‘thats sailing for you’.

We loaded two full trolleys of food, four large boxes of dried ingredients and numerous carrier bags of fresh food. Everyone helped get the food on board. My first impressions of Top Secret are that she is spacious and well appointed. I love the galley!

She has three cabins and a single berth, I’m pleased that I have been given single occupancy of one cabin, an honour I know!

Stuart needed to attach a stand for his outboard, so Sean ran them to the chandlers  whilst I unpacked and stowed the goodies.

We tried out the storm jib and all decided that it was going to be far too tricky in heavy weather to tie up the main jib, move a fore stay and fiddle with shackles and hitch on the storm jib in what will be in all probability, quite heavy weather, anyway we will have to wait and see.

Stuart gave us a through run through of where all the safety equipment lived and how to deploy the Dan Buoy. There was some discussion about removing the black ties from around the life raft – they look like packing tape. But the general sense of opinion is that they will burst open once the life raft is deployed. Lets hope we never find out.

Last minute attachments for our trip to Tenerife by Stuart Austin the boat owner

Last minute attachments for our trip to Tenerife by Stuart Austin the boat owner


Stuart, Simon, Mike, Jeff and Viv - as we leave Plymouth bound for Tenerife

Stuart, Simon, Mike, Jeff and Viv – as we leave Plymouth bound for Tenerife


Sean assisting Simon with some last minute alterations to Top Secret

Sean assisting Simon with some last minute alterations to Top Secret

All the guys are obviously confident in and about the boat with lots of sea hours amongst us, plus a whole range of RYA qualifications.

I feel confident enough by 3pm to give Sean a nod, which was the prearranged signal to say that I felt OK about him leaving.


Sean left and then we headed out, we left the pontoon at 4pm and went to the fueling berth, Stuart claimed 60/40 on the fuel tax, I explained that we were carrying out a commercial delivery and that he could have claimed zero tax.

I’m pleased to say that Stuart appears to be safety conscious, we have all been assigned life jackets, with jock straps and safety lines ( which are actually quite heavy to wear all the time).

Heading out of Plymouth - Stuart on the helm

Heading out of Plymouth – Stuart on the helm

There was no clear decision on where we were heading, we have been weather watching and are all aware that a storm is approaching from the Atlantic. We end up heading for Falmouth, as the sea conditions deteriorate.

The boat handles exceptionally well in heavy seas, I particularly like the electronic winches! You could easily move this boat about solo.

I’d cooked three meals for us before coming to the boat, at seven this evening the broccoli and beef stew was very welcome, as was the lemon tart, peanuts, and cheese and biscuits once we had arrived – sailing makes you hungry! We moored up at Pendennis Marina at 11.30pm, we are all still getting to know each other, so still very polite and I guess still slightly on edge.

Wednesday 8th October – Day ashore as we wait for the storm to pass over, I caught up with Shane Sullivan and Cath his girlfriend, I also cooked a lasagne for the journey.

Thursday 9th October – This morning everyone appeared busy with a variety of boat jobs, filling the water tanks, whipping various ends of rope, changing shackles etc. Simon cooked us a magnificent fry up which set everyone up for the day. I prepared sandwiches for the first day, which was just as well. We left at about 3pm straight into quite lumpy seas (moderate), these stayed with us as we headed south.

Skipper Stuart set up a night rota which involved us all overlapping, 2 hrs on 2 1/2 hrs off. None of us slept well or if at all on our time off. The night went without incident.

Friday 10th- 17.30hrs 147.04nm into the journey,  SOG 4 knots, 170′, 11 knots of wind, 48’53’636N 006’23’871W

The sea smoothed out to moderate as the day has progressed. Nice banter on the boat, Si is now to be referred to, as Techno, because he clearly isn’t ! Cloudy but dry. We put the engine on at 0500 and off again at 0950, other than that we have sailed close to the wind, putting in the occasional  tacks. Mike, Jeff, Si and Stuart helming during the day, I did 6-7am and a little after 10 for half an hour, as I felt a little green around the gills today, I even attempted a chunder! (Mike is also suffering)

Using his sexton, quite tricky when the blessed boat just won't stand still

Using his sexton, quite tricky when the blessed boat just won’t stand still

As the day wore on my sea sickness vanished, assisted by taking Quells. We ate porridge for breakfast, soup and croutons for lunch and a bean casserole for dinner. Plus of course afternoon tea and home made cake! ( I emailed everyone prior to arriving and asked them all to bring a home made cake)

Wet and wild for a couple of days!

Wet and wild for a couple of days!

Saturday 11th 11am – Mike feels much better (so do I). Stuart has just taken a bearing 240nm so far, 203′, SOG 5.4knots, 8.5 knots of wind, cruising with an asymmetrical sail out on our port side.

Mike with Simon on the helm

Mike with Simon on the helm

our position is 47’42.057N 007’19.150W

Shift’s continued through the night, I’m on 7 -9pm, 12am to 2am, 5-7am, Stuarts on before me and Simon and Jeff follow me. We overlap by an hour so there are always two on watch.

Dolphins spotted during the night alongside, Mike and I both saw a large black fin by the port side- shark? BLT rolls for breakfast, loved by one and all.

The sea state has changed mod/slight, wind variable during the night from 1-4.8 knots SOG, 7-23 knots of wind measured on the windex.

The suns out this afternoon, with light cloud cover.

relaxing as we leave Falmouth

relaxing as we leave Falmouth

Epic save on the bean pot by Stuart, it fell on the floor and landed the right way up – could have been messy.

The team in action sorting out the gib

The team in action sorting out the gib

I was woken by a shout on the deck. Stuart was hurling comments to Si on the foredeck, something about the red rope, he  sounding quite cross! (Stuart  thought that Si had wrapped the red halyard round a cleat in error).

Here we are heading towards the coast!! not quite right somehow!

Here we are heading towards the coast!! not quite right somehow!

The Lordship on his Nordship Stuart working on his astro navigation

The Lordship on his Nordship Stuart working on his astro navigation

Passed over continental shelf at 1305, the depth ranged from 200m to 4,000m in the space of 200m. We have three hundred miles to across the Bay of Biscay.

This Storm Petrol, followed us for several hours

This Storm Petrol, followed us for several hours

Mike has suggested that Stuart has Skippers tourettes spelt ‘fuck fuck fuck’. Simon felt that he hurled a random selection of words at him ‘cleat, deck, halyard, fuck’ so in future I’ll just say it as it is or in Stuarts words ‘it is what it is’. A word that has been seriously over used is ambiguity – its driven me to distraction, I’ve asked them to think of another word to use!

The engines been on for hours, unusually there is no wind in the Bay of Biscay, its been so calm, that we laid the table for dinner and all sat down and ate together, watching the sun set on our starboard side. This evenings meal comprised of Hunters Stew, honey glazed carrots and mash.  8pm the wind arrived.

Sunset over the Bay of Biscay

Sunset over the Bay of Biscay

Sunday 12th – our position is 46’25.140N 008’35.146W Engine back on about 3pm, wind on a broad reach, or as Simon has just said ‘fucking uncomfortable’. None of us had much sleep last night, the boat is cork screwing, you know that old adage about the calm before the storm, I think that’s what happened last night.

When I woke up at 5am Stuart was helming, we had full sails out and were travelling along at 7.5 – 8.5 knots. Stuart decided to reef in, I used the electric winch and took the fore sail in, then I took the wheel whilst Stuart reefed in the main. I can only say that whilst we were over powered it all became a little tense!

Jeff came on at 6am and gave me some really good advice about sailing to the ‘good and bad’ clouds, to create a steadier course. What Jeff meant is find a cloud on the correct course, and keep as close to it as you can, when you drift to another bad cloud, bring her back to the good cloud. Obviously clouds move, so you will need to constantly update the good cloud.

Sometimes things happen on boats that make everyone cringe and laugh equally. I feel that this log wouldn’t be complete without a mention of bodily functions, in particular Simon’s bodily functions. He made such a large deposited in the heads that Stuart asked him to man handle it overboard, because it had caused a blockage! Definitely one of those moments when you really needed to pay attention to the wind direction – hilarious moments!

Stuart is having difficulty taking a site as the sea’s too rough.

This astronavigation larks not easy, where are we?

This astro navigation lark’s not easy, where are we?


Stuarts calculations for his astronavigation

Stuarts calculations for his astronavigation

Great selection of music on Mikes phone piped through to the cockpit. Yesterday we had a chill out selection and today we have rock to carry us over the waves.

4pm the end came off the foresail traveller, Stuart and Jeff rigged the traveller so that it could only come so far port and starboard, not ideal but it still means we can use the foresail.

412.83nm into our journey. 214′  5.8 knts of wind, SOG 4.7knts. 45’11.917N 008’44.200W

Monday 13th – 5am in the twilight under motor 484.76 nm! SOG 6.4knts.

44’09.595N 009’28.782W Its dark…I mean really dark.

About half past seven Jeff and I watched an amazing sunrise over southern France. But you know what they say about red sky in the morning!

11am I have been thrown around too much to sleep, so I made everyone a bit of comfort food, pancakes, except I obviously bought the oil without wearing my glasses, its garlic oil, I ate the first one, a very savoury garlic panic! Managed to get it right for the others even tossed one in the storm! Winds up!

By 12 its drizzling and getting wilder

By 12 its drizzling and getting wilder

520nm its drizzling we are on a close haul port tack. Approaching the separation zone and boats are going either side of us and crossing all around us.

I fell into a deep sleep between 2 and 5 am, Mike had to shake me awake, its the first real sleep I’ve had- fabulous.

Mike catching up on a few zeds

Mike catching up on a few zeds

12.35pm  43’32.25N 009’32.30W. We have just put in a tack to cross the separation zone. We arrived into A Coruna in Northern Spain at 12.30am, I put out nibbles and a few drinks and we have now all crashed.

Getting everything dry at A Coruna, before we set off again

Getting everything dry at A Coruna, before we set off again

Tuesday 14th October _ Mike leaves the boat today, but before he did, he and Simon come shopping with me to restock the boat. We found a typical Spanish market, but no supermarket. But first things first coffee and croissant sitting outside a cafe by the market square in the sunshine which went down a treat.

We lugged our provisions back to the boat and left Mike. Then Simon and I headed back into town for a second round, thankfully we found a super market. On returning I found Stuart and Jeff in the bar. We called Si up and he and I ate Calamari, thankfully there was wifi, so we all sat about catching up with our mails.

I went back to the boat and had a cookathon, ready for the next stage of our journey, thankfully there is a freezer. After I laid down seven dishes in the freezer I went off to walk round the old part of the city, and whilst walking chatted to various family members on my phone, which for me was lovely, if you are sailing into Europe, remember to buy a phone package before you leave.

This evening we adjourned to the old city and enjoyed rather a random selection of dishes, none of us speak spanish and the waitress didn’t understand us, so the dishes arrived and we all shared. Washed down by rather a lot of alcohol and laughter. Mike would have enjoyed this evening.

Wednesday 15th – not much sleep as the storm passed over us. Stuart knocked us all up at 8.15am, I made them all boiled eggs, toast, cereal and fresh coffee, then I shot into town for more fresh bread and milk. We refuelled and headed out about mid day. I did the first three hour watch. 15.45pm 43’24.300N 008’52.095W 255′ SOG 5.6knots. The winds right on our nose, engine and auto helm are on….we are heading into bad weather.

Just passed the Illois Sisargas Island hugging the coast, and its stopped raining. I cooked a sea food risotto which was well received.

Simon has created a new shift pattern. he and I are on 9-12 and 4-7am, Stuart and Jeff fill in 2 hours each.

637nm at 18.40 17.8 knots of wind 144′ 43’22.061N 009’16.135W engine on and wind right on our nose.

19.45 646nm 199′ SOG 4.5 its going to be a long night.

Thursday 16th, it was a long night, but once I’d gone to bed at 7am, I didn’t need to get up until 11am. There is a large Atlantic swell, Start has decided not to hug the coast but to head straight down to the islands. Personally knowing the is a storm imminent, I would rather we stayed near the coast, in case we need to head to shelter. It worries me that there is no method of getting up to date weather information on the boat.

The wind was on our nose today all day 201′. We had the engine on with auto helm all day, thump, thump, thump monotonous and boring. The wind speed varied from 11 knots to 25 knots. We tried to alter our course, but we ended up motor sailing, so we are just as well to continue as we are. Our speed has varied from 3.5 -6.6 knots today.

Viv on the helm

Viv on the helm

It rained all day on and off, if you have seen the perfect storm, you’ll appreciate the size of the waves, they are gigantic, we ride up over them and then surf off to one side once we begin to fall, this stops the boat slamming, its quite tiring.

Jeff saw a large fin, but there have to be two of us to witness a sighting! I saw 2 massive dolphins and a number of porpoises today.

A pod of dolphins followed us and played along side us

A pod of dolphins followed us and played along side us


Dolphins playing on the bow are such a delight to watch

Dolphins playing on the bow are such a delight to watch

Today we ate porridge, BLT rolls and a chicken stir fry. Jeff and I chopped all the vegetables whilst on watch in the cockpit area, much to Stuarts amusement.

Tonight Si and I are on 11-2am and then 6-9am, I took myself off to my bunk at 6.30pm, I didn’t sleep but at least I was able to rest, when its rough weather, it takes it out of you just moving about the boat.

2.30am 3 hour shift done, sailed and tacked – generally in the southern direction! Winds were variable 15-23 knots speed 2.9 to 6 knots, 210′ or 150′ depending on our tack.

6am to 9am 28 – 36 knots heavy seas, to heavy for me to helm. Si strapped himself into position and managed very well. Stuart came up at about 8am to help reef in yet further, these are the biggest seas I’ve ever been in.

Friday 17th

Sun is out but wave height and sea strength still high. I haven’t taken a turn on the helm today, I’m to much of a liability. I’m just not strong enough to handle the boat in these conditions, when the boat goes over it takes me all my strength to keep the wheel in the right position on course, I have a tendency to turn the wheel as I try to keep my balance! Oops!

These last two days have clarified for me that I wont be taking Kantara, my boat, solo across the Atlantic.

15.50 150′ 5.7 knots wind speed 25 knots, 861 nm

Strangely I served been casserole for elevenses, our body systems are well messed up, so I didn’t see it made a great deal of difference, everyone ate it!

Cups of tea were endless

Cups of tea were endless

I’ve just taken a measurement of how far to the bottom of map 4103, (that is the English Channel to the Straits of Gibraltar map), sadly still 380 nm and then some! Jeff tells me that the sea state will settle down, but then he is the eternal optimist.

I took another couple of hours on the helm, quite tricky, keeping her as close to the wind as possible, but driving off the top of the waves bearing away so that I didn’t crash. Jeff sat out in the cockpit and gave me some instructions.

Stuart has designed a new night rota that doesn’t include me, I’m doing some PM hours and then staying up till midnight with who ever is on and then starting at 6am and doing a few hours then on my own so that the others can rest. I would like to think Stuart has done this because I’ve done all the cooking really – realistically its because I’m crap at night on the helm!! ( or maybe a combination of the two)

Saturday 18th – God what a night I slept between 9.30 and 10.30pm and that was it. About 4am the engine was turned off and we sailed – all be it slowly. I got up for 6am and did three hours on the helm, which gave the guys a chance to catch up. (we heaved too last night)

Thankfully the sea state has reduced, still moderate, but without the large swell, the wind is variable between 10-26 knots. I went back on the helm at 3 ish and came off at 6 pm to cook everybody dinner. Tonight’s delight is homemade chicken and mushroom pie with mixed fresh vegetables and instant mash.

6.30 pm – 40′.40.136N  011’40.080W, 5.3 knots 122′ – 946 nm done! we are close haul at the moment.

Today has been very over caste with showers, Stuart decided to put up the storm jib today, its bright orange, what performance, far less than safe. Even Si said he thought he going over board ( he was clipped on). The three of them were on the bow trying to attach it and I was steering, it took ages to get the blessed thing up!

Sunday 19 th . 1052 nm completed, the winds changed and is with us…yippee! The wind finally come in our favour at 6 am, I got up to take the helm, but Stuart felt the gusts were too strong. Jeff helmed and I sat next to him, I was just managing to hold on to my seat, never mind steering!

But by ten I was able to helm as Si balanced the sheets really well, so I helmed till 12.30.

It poured down with rain and I discovered my trousers aren’t waterproof any more!

The team moral is better today, we finally feel we are making progress instead of wallowing and drifting about in the peaks and troughs.

We have plenty of food on board, well enough for the next five days.

1930  39’13.583 N SOG 7.6 knots 204′ – 1085nm covered.

The wind was great today, broad reach, I did five hours on the helm, wind speed was 12-15 knots with occasional gusts of 19 knots, we travelled between 4.5 and 7.6 knots, great fun. There is a bit of a competition going to see who could get a top speed, Si and and  I, both got to 8.4 but Stuart pipped us with 8.6!

I did some washing for everyone and cooked a very random carbonara and apple crumble and custard. You have to remember there are 24 hours in a very long day on board, and I’m naturally a busy bee, so I like to find things to do.

It rained this morning, but the sun came out this afternoon, Si and I had a chat about fishing, so I chucked a line off the back which generated some conversation, about the trace and the optimum fishing speed. Sadly we didn’t catch anything. Everyone managed to dry off their waterproofs today, the sea state was calmer, all round a better day really.

Monday 20th – SOG 5.7,  209′ – 1185nm under our belts, 12 knots of wind speed. 37’52.487N 013’45.793W

I woke and joined Si on the helm at 6am, we enjoyed an hour or so of chat, then Jeff joined me and I was able to helm for a couple of hours. About 9 ish a pod of dolphins joined us, I called everyone up and we put the boat on auto helm so that we could all enjoy the spectacular display they put on for us, I took what I hope will be some good video footage.

Simon, taking an accurate record of the time whilst Stuart used his sex toy!

Simon, taking an accurate record of the time whilst Stuart used his sex toy!

Our passenger for a couple of days, this little bird stayed on and around the boat, but didn't eat anything, just rested.

Our passenger for a couple of days, this little bird stayed on and around the boat, but didn’t eat anything, just rested.

Helming with Jeff as the sun comes up

Helming with Jeff as the sun comes up


Stuart has to take a variety of measurements from sun rise, noon and at dusk as the sun is setting, plus of course night star locations. This has proved very difficult, because of cloud cover and boat movement. The sextant has now become Stuarts sex toy! Stuart is really trying his best because he would like the practical section of his Ocean masters certificate marked off. We are all quietly rooting for him, it won’t be for want of trying!

A great day today, the sea state was calm, the wind variable. We were able to sail in the main, but put the engine on from 5 till about 10.30pm, then the wind came back up again and we sailed through the night, I was off watch at midnight, the dolphins came back this evening just as the sun was setting spectacular.

Sunset clouds

Sunset clouds

Tuesday 21st October. The barometer reads 1030mb, log 1330nm, we are travelling at 5.4knots, 201′ 7.9 knots of wind, we are now heading towards the archipelago of Madeira for a quick refresh stop or as Stuart calls it a wash and drop.

The dolphins returned about 9 am, which made us all come back up on deck. Jeff called out to tell me they were about, he had the bow cabin and he could hear them through the hull before any of us spotted them from the deck. The boat was on auto helm which again enabled us all to enjoy them. There were a couple of dozen dolphins, jumping through the bow wave.

A different species of dolphin followed us this morning

A different species of dolphin followed us this morning


Dolphins always create a buzz of excitement on the boat

Dolphins always create a buzz of excitement on the boat

Jeff has worked out that we will arrive on Thursday at 11 am in Madeira, I’m holding him to that!

I’ve tried to wash and dry some clothing but the humidity is such that nothing dries, I’ve had wet hair for days! The washing I’ve done needs rewashing as its stinking. Its a lesson learnt for any future offshore sailing.

Stuart is creating an email to highlight some of the issues found on the boat. For example a weld on the pull pit cracked yesterday when the cruising chute was up. OK the chute was leant against it, but we were in very light wind conditions. (Although with the main out as well we achieved 8 knots. ) Jeff was having great fun sailing Top Secret until we noticed the pull pit was being pushed over, then it was all action stations go by the three guys to get the chute in as fast as possible to prevent further damage, I only had to hold her steady on the helm.

Stuart has had all sorts of  issues with the boat, two leaking hatches, a hole in the main sail, the shower falling off the wall, the ends of the jib traveller breaking, there are certainly a dozen or so little problems that will need addressing, thankfully  the boat has just been purchased, so these can be addressed. Not many new purchases get a shake down of 1800 nm!

This hole was caused by the incorrect batton being fitted that was broken and repaired by tape, before the boat was handed to Stuart, it got larger as the trip progressed.

This hole was caused by the incorrect baton being fitted that was broken and repaired by tape, before the boat was handed to Stuart, it got larger as the trip progressed.

Today has been rather relaxed, its lunchtime and we have only just turned the engine off, the winds are very light 3.9 knots. We are under full sail with only a slight swell and achieving 3.5 – 3.9 ourselves.

Jeff and Si relaxing in what has been our first warm day

I forgot to mention, I was permitted a shower today, goodness did it lift my spirits, my legs are no longer competing with the guys beards!

I stayed on the helm from 8-10 pm its a glorious evening, Jeff stayed in the cockpit with me, so I stayed in the cockpit with him till midnight, then he stayed on watch with Stuart till two AM. I have observed that one to one in the wee hours of darkness all three men are much more commutative, chatty, interesting and helpful towards me improving my technique on the helm.

Wednesday 22 nd. 33’42.295 N 016′ 04.708W 202′ 1462 nm completed, 6.7 knots.

38 nm away from Porto Santa, an island by Madeira, our new destination, I think tongue in cheek this is to prevent Si jumping ship. Si is mindful of the time he has spent away from his young family and his business, he’s getting a bit twitchy.

There has been a certain amount of male testosterone bouncing around the boat in the last few days, with raised voices and ‘he who shouts loudest is obviously heard’. None directed at me for which I am grateful.

The atmosphere is still jovial with no real issues, I think that abruptness can be attributed to tiredness, roll on a short shore break. I plan a walk. All three men are in shorts with their tops off – a first. The breeze is warm, not too much cloud. I have applied the anti wrinkle cream! (sunscreen).

Stuart asked me to slap some on him!! foolish request….slap some on him! If any of you have read ‘Fifty shades of grey’, you’ll understand! I chuckled, Stuart told me to behave, obviously my mind was elsewhere at that point!

We landed at Porto Santo at about 6pm, its a small marina based a couple of kilometers outside the town. Everyone expressed surprise at the 43 Euro per night fee, it was only 20 Euro in A Coruna. Stuart went off on arrival to enrol us with the port authority. I had a clean around of the fore ward heads, galley and my cabin. Jeff and Si mopped the deck and took everything out of the stern lazarette, because when Stuart had showered it drenched the aft cabin (another issue).

Porta Santa

Porta Santa

On emptying the lockers they discovered that the auto helm had come away from its fixings.

About half eight after we had all showered, and Jeff and Stuart had shaved in honour of meeting their wives in a couple of days; we headed into town by taxi. We walked up to the marina restaurant and the taxi driver staggered over to us. We all started laughing and making comments about drink driving. The lady behind the bar obviously understood some of our comments, or if not certainly the gist of what we were say, because she grabbed his keys and took us herself.

We ended up in the centre of the town in a modern cobbled square. Stuart got Wifi and read some of the comments from the blog. We ate outside, Stuart and Si both had steaks, Jeff and I shared a sea food flatter. Washed down by a couple of bottles of wine, we caught the same taxi back, it wasn’t a late night. On arrival back at the boat Jeff and Si stayed up and finished another bottle of wine.

Thankfully we can all phone home at the moment, so it was lovely saying goodnight to Sean.

Thursday 23rd October.

I was up and away by 7 am, I walked along the beach in the dark, splashing through the shallows, until I hit a patch of mud for about a hundred yards….sinking me at every footstep!

There were lots of people about by the time I got to the town. Mostly male, sitting about outside cafes, drinking coffee and eating cake! Naturally I joined them, but not before I had walked around the old quarter of the town which was charming , then at 8 am I found a supermarket and stocked up, I lugged the bags to the taxi rank and managed to get back to the boat by 9 am.

The chaps had re rigged the furling head gear and appeared pleased with the alterations.

It was going to be tricky getting off the pontoon as the breeze was blowing us off the pontoon. But as we were on the inside of a finger pontoon with a boat beside us, this may have been dangerous to either boat.

Si went off to collar the man with the fuel van, he was refuelling another boat and we were worried that he would vanish before we’d sorted ourselves safely off the pontoon.

As Stuart reversed off the pontoon, he discovered the side thrusters weren’t working. Thankfully without too much apparent verbal stress he got us into the centre between the rows of boats and reversed out beautifully. (They weren’t working because our batteries were low)

Coming alongside the concrete harbour wall caused Stuart a few flustered moments. Both Jeff and I advised him to come parallel to the harbour wall and let the breeze blow him gently on, which is what he did.

So a number of hours later as we head off out towards Tenerife which is now only 33 nm away the suns out and all three lads are trying to raise the gibe on the fore deck, its up and down, untwisted, re furled, re rigged, this is all after they had to take the lot down when we had the problems with the pull pit. Sometimes sailing can be quite frustrating, but after two hours she was in flight!

We celebrated by messing about on the foredeck!

We celebrated by messing about on the foredeck!

Si is on the helm again now, I’ve just come off, Jeff is in the Lazerette trying to work out how he can repair the auto helm, otherwise its going to be a couple of quite hard nights sail. The mist has come down, and with it the winds dropped, so there won’t be any stars to follow, so the auto helm would be an advantage tonight.

Stuart is trying to work out how we have used half a tank of water, he has got us checking all the toilets to make sure that none of the flushes have been left open ( Top Secret has a fresh water flush system). I suggested that he check the bilges in case a pipe had come lose, but it wasn’t that…all I can say is I’m glad it wasn’t me that only half filled the tanks this morning…Stuart!!!

Si used a charming expression today, when Stuart opened the grey water tank and emptied it once we were well offshore. Poor Si was fishing, when he jumped up and shout ‘Oh god, a shit slick’, what a charming expression!! My goodness what a stink!

The afternoon wore on Jeff and Si went for a snooze and I was on the helm. Stuart was obviously unable to settle, so he calculated the fuel consumption, SOG and the distance on engine. I did point out that he needed to have written down the revs for the fuel consumption, otherwise it wont be very accurate. But it is important if you are travelling over a longer distance, to have an accurate record.

Stuart also had the time today to give me a bit more tuition, I was struggling to remain within 10′ on the helm, he couldn’t understand this, until I got a strop on and said ‘ok you show me’. Which to be fair he did, I stood on his shoulder and couldn’t work out a point of reference, there was no wind on my face, no clouds on the horizon or sky. Naturally he did it, and just said ‘look at the waves Viv’ Another previously unconsidered point of reference. Sometimes the obvious is not so obvious. But that’s why I came on this trip to learn more and to decide if off shore sailing would be an area I would Like to explore further.

(risotto for dinner – very tasty, saying so myself:) )

Friday 24 th October

0930 30’56.40N 016’23.487W …1627nm under our belts

I stayed up with Si till just after midnight and got up with Stuart at six, the boats on auto helm still no wind.

Yesterday evening Jeff and Si worked hard to secure the auto helm in the lazarette, using, in the first instance a screw driver and pliers secured with cable ties. This method didn’t work to support the auto helm in action, there was too much movement. A later addition saw the implementation of ropes and this held fast until the morning, great team work guys.

how to secure your autohelm

Securing your autohelm!

Jeff re roped it all this morning.

There is light hearted feeling on the boat this morning, an atmosphere of joviality. Tomorrow we hope to have arrived in Tenerife by 2 pm. Its obvious that Stuart and and Jeff are really looking forward to seeing their partners, I overheard them discussing stopping the boat tomorrow morning so that they could both have a shower , these guys are just lovely. Simon and I had a laugh and I apologised to Si and said if he didn’t I wouldn’t bother (our partners are in the UK).

We also took a larger amount of video footage than usual today. Si has been desperate to catch a tuna, sadly last night we lost the line, trace and weight. So Jeff has rigged him up a new line made from rope.

Yesterday I spoke to Jeff and asked him to consider how we might make a net, so that I could wrap a tin of tuna up and we could attach it to the line whilst Si was asleep.

Well whilst the boys were sorting out the auto helm yesterday evening. I spied some thin rope, similar to mouse line. I then quickly crocheted a net around a tin of tuna using my fingers, securing the tuna within the net. So this morning whilst Stuart was filming Jeff and Si sorting the new trace etc, I called Stuart down to my cabin and mysteriously lifted my pillow, revealing, the wrapped can of tuna. Stuart thought this was hilarious. Jeff also saw this, so as soon as Si is asleep, we will attach it. Because one way or another today is the day that Si will catch that tuna!

1.10pm -wind speed is 9.8 knots on the port stern and the cruising chutes going up, 1651.13 nm 184′ 3.3 knots, now I wonder how long its going to take today, yesterday was two hours!


Lunch was rather a relaxed affair today, cheese and biscuits with grapes in the cockpit.

Simon Collinson on the helm sailing into Tenerife

Simon looking happy and relaxed arriving at tenerife

Our first meal in the cockpit

Our first meal in the cockpit

The cruising chute and main are out, we are travelling faster than the wind!

cruising along slowly towards Tenerife

gliding along at 3 knots

We then put all the sails away, Jeff put out two long lines with fenders attached and over one hundred miles from the shore, in deep blue water, we all went for a swim. The sun is streaming through the water, priceless moments of sheer joy. You can’t put a value on this kind of experience, made all the more pleasurable by the company of Stuart, Jeff and Simon. Twenty minutes of frolicking and the skip says it’s time to go again.

ways put a long line out

Jeff put out a long line, before we were allowed to jump in!


pulling yourself up from the back of the boat can be difficult

Go on Stuart use those muscles

A little while later the fishing opportunity arrived. Simon finally went down below deck, it was like action stations, Jeff grabbed the line and hauled it in, I went off for the tin of tuna in the net, and Stuart got the video going. Just as Jeff drops the line back in, Si reappears and Jeff cool as a cucumber says, ‘I thought I saw some thing on the line, and it appears to be heavier than a few minutes ago’. Simon watched the line and then saw the Tuna flip!  Simon said ‘we’ve caught something’. Everyone responded brilliantly, I filmed the moment and the other two assisted pulling in the ‘the fish’, the conversation flowed excitedly from Simon, wondering on its weight, if they had a landing net….then it appears and we collapse about laughing as he lands his John West tuna, absolutely hilarious.

Simon caught this tuna off the back of the boat

Simon dreaming happy thoughts of giant tuna

As the evening wears on we all eat our last meal together and had a jolly good laugh about our trip.

Simon always finished everything off

Simon really enjoyed his last meal aboard, he scraped out the pan!

Our last day dawned bright, as I came up onto the deck I caught my first glance of Tenerife, we have sailed 1800 nm, we cleaned the boat, the two married men, Stuart and Jeff, spruced themselves up, and then end of our journey came near. But not before I heard Stuart saying to Jeff ‘shall we just carry on sailing, just sail straight past’, I understood exactly where they were coming from, I was also sad to come to the end of the journey.

Now if anyone reads this….I want to go across the Atlantic…..I was given the MVCM badge! that’s Most Valued Crew Member, so I couldn’t have been too bad!

sailing into a sunrise approaching Tenerife

The sun rose as we caught our first glimpse of Tenerife


our safe arrival in Tenerife

Four arrive in Tenerife, what an adventure we all had.

As we sailing into Tenerife we were greeted by family and friends on the pontoon

Emotional moments on the pontoon as family arrive to welcome us

As we sailed to Tenerife Staurt confirmed it was Tenerife

Stuart studying Tenerife as we approach


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I do hope you enjoyed reading my sailors diary of our journey from Plymouth to Tenerife, please feel free to leave a comment.


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