Thursday, 30 May 2013

Ramsgate to Brighton......

Ferry dodging
Yesterday was another long day, but I wanted to get as far as possible whilst the weather was fair, as heavy rain was forecast for later on. 
All sails up

I am sitting in Brighton Marina now writing this and already Ramsgate seems like a distant memory - that’s caused by either my age or the cleansing affect of a long day at sea and the fresh air.
In the morning, conditions were good enough to sail and I had all three sails up and the engine off for the first time - which is a great feeling and is what sailing is all about.  

As I passed Dover, all of a sudden the sea became very busy and I had to do a bit of ferry dodging, even though I had right of way (sail over power), but because of the RORO’s lack of manoeuvrability it was down to me to prevent a collision......especially important as I know Brown Eyes would not stand a chance against something that wouldn’t even notice us if we collided!

Not the best view of a ferry coming out of Dover
The afternoon was not so good, the sky darkened, the wind dropped and we had to revert to the horsepower of Volvo to push on......which we did.  
The day's route
Some great views along the route... 

and several other boats.....
A junk-rig yacht

Arriving at Brighton Marina about 2030hrs I found all the visitor berths full, so pushed a little further into the marina to find a space.  My depth indicator soon dropped to zero and I felt Brown Eye’s bottom scrape the mud!  Quickly going into reverse I managed to pull clear and changed direction......eventually finding a berth on an old pontoon that had seen better days, but it was a welcome, secure resting place after covering more than 70 miles that day.
A visitor at Brighton

I later found out that although normally dredged to 2m, the marina is only 0.8m at the moment, hence the grounding - evidently they are waiting for the summer to arrive before dredging!

A day off today, a chance to do some jobs on Brown Eyes and to check my running legs are still working.....they are!
Lighthouse of the day at Dungeness
Further West tomorrow.......possibly Chichester Harbour and an overnight anchorage.

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

A Year On.....

Brown Eyes on the Orwell last night
It's almost a year to the day when we brought Brown Eyes around from Southampton to Ipswich and one of the places we stopped along the way was Ramsgate.

Back then, Brown Eyes was in poor condition and the engine packed up as we entered the marina there, so it was with some trepidation that I pulled into Ramsgate this evening, having just sailed single-handed across the Thames Estuary.....but all was fine and that is where I am now sat typing up this blog entry.

I had left Ipswich yesterday afternoon and picked-up a buoy (no comments please) down near Levington, ready to get an early start and catch the tide this morning.

You can see the waypoints of the route I took on my 'plotter' (Harwich to Ramsgate)
Crossing the Thames Estuary can be fraught with hazards such as moving sandbanks, heavy shipping and wind-farms.  So I chose my route carefully and headed out around everything; a slightly longer route, but I think it paid off.
As far as the eye can see....

The last couple of hours of todays trip was in the rain and I had to motor-sail much of the way, but when I did have the opportunity  to switch the engine off, Brown Eyes handled well.  Today has been a good 'shake out' for both me and Brown Eyes and there are a few jobs to do on her that need my attention tonight.

Anyway, that's the start of this circumnavigation of the UK; stay tuned for the next instalment.......   
There are thousands of wind turbines in the Thames Estuary!!

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Challenge Three........the big one!

My third challenge is a big one.  

I have enter The Spine Race 11-18 January 2014.

 The Spine Race is Britain’s most brutal race. The longest, coldest and most demanding mountain marathon in Britain. 268 miles of ice, snow, cold and savage winds and 15 hours of darkness at night making the navigation even more challenging. Competitors have 7 days to complete the race which runs the entire length of the Pennine Way, South to North, from Edale to Kirk Yetholm, passing through the Peak District, the Cheviots, the Yorkshire Dales, the Northumberland National Park and finishing on the Scottish Boarders. 
You can find out more here:

Less than 20% of those that start this race actually finish it - so it's hard!

 I am really going to have to step up my training for this challenge and I plan to spend much of November and December out on the hills preparing.  I am trying not to think about the enormity of what I am taking on with this event, I just want to ensure I am ready both mentally and physically and deal with it, mile by mile.

If you would like to support me or find out more, please have a look at my fundraising page:

As always I am doing this event to raise money for EACH

Thank you for your support.

Friday, 17 May 2013

Challenge Two .....

In the past, the furthest I have covered on foot in one go is about 52 miles.  That was during the Swiss Mountains Overnight Marches competition way back in 1990 if I remember correctly and I came in 13th out of about 2000 competitors.

Well it's time to go further, which is where the second challenge I have set myself comes in.  I have entered the Stour Valley Path 100km Ultra Run (14th September 2013), which is exactly as it sounds. For those of you who still work in old money, that's 62 miles and it has to be completed within 13.5 hours.  The race takes place on 14th September.

You can find out more about this event here: SVP100

It is over 20 years since I have covered anywhere near this kind of distance and I am not even sure my body will still cope with the stresses of such an event......
Once again, I would really appreciate your support, encouragement and sponsorship for this challenge - please click on the link below and add a few more pounds to the total amount going to help the East Anglian's Children's Hospices.

Thank you for your generosity.

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Challenge One...........

For the regular visitors to this blog you will be aware that I am the proud owner of an 1982 Oyster Marina 35ft sailing yacht.  I bought her about a year ago and have spent the last 12 months cleaning, repairing, replacing, servicing, updating, painting, varnishing and working-on turning a 31 year old, mould covered, leaky boat into a seaworthy yacht - and I'm pleased to say I'm nearly there!  There are plenty of photos on this blog of "Brown Eyes" so you should be able to see some of the work that's gone on.

So, Challenge One is to sail "Brown Eyes" around the UK - in maritime speak that's "Circumnavigate". 
I have been sailing for about 7 years now, but have never sailed single-handed and it looks like much of this journey will be a good chance to practice. I have friends and family who will hopefully meet me along the way, but much of this challenge will be done on my own.
I am hoping to set off in the next week or so and be back in Ipswich by the end or October - weather and tides permitting!
I will have some EACH banners on the sides of "Brown Eyes" as I enter and leave the ports and marinas along the way, hopefully raising awareness of this important charity.

Please do support me in this challenge by donating here:

Challenge Two to follow shortly......

Sunday, 12 May 2013

My Adventure Challenges in Support of East Anglian's Children's Hospices (EACH)

After more than 32 years of a nomad life in the Royal Air Force Regiment,  I retired from military life early last year and I put down roots here in Ipswich, Suffolk.
It took me a while to realise that less than a mile from where I now live is a very special place, filled with exceptional people.  That place is called "The Treehouse" and it is one of 3 hospices run by the charity East Anglia's Children's Hospices.  
EACH supports families and cares for children and young people with life-threatening conditions across Cambridgeshire, Essex, Norfolk and Suffolk. They provide care and support wherever the family wishes – in families’ own homes, in the community or at one of the hospices in Ipswich, Milton and Quidenham.
The care teams help children and their families with the emotional and physical challenges they face, helping them to make the most of life.
Anita's gym has supported EACH with a number of events and challenges in the past and we both recently visited The Treehouse to see for ourselves the work that they do there and the facilities available.  A very humbling experience.
Witnessing firsthand the services that EACH is able to offer to children and their families was enough to convince me that this is a cause worth supporting.
In the past I have run marathons, canoed down rivers and entered chariot races to raise money and awareness for a variety of charities.  But this time it is different.
Whilst running a marathon is not easy, whenever I started one in the past I always knew that I was probably going to finish it - even if it was on my hands and knees.  So this time I am setting myself challenges that I do not know whether or not I can complete them and I'm asking you for your support.
I have set up a Virgin Money Giving web page where you can donate direct to the EACH charity and you can also get a first glimpse of the 3 challenges that I have set for myself over the next 8 months.  I will also put more details of my challenges in this blog over the next week and you will be able to follow my training and progress here - so why not sign up on the right of this page for email notifications.
Thank you for reading this far.  In the meantime, please do use the links to visit the EACH and Treehouse websites to find out more about this worthy charity or click below to donate:
Please click here to donate.