Sunday 28 December 2014

Happy Christmas from Juno

We finish the ARC at around 11pm on Tuesday the 9th December, 15 days after we left Las Palmas. Our final gybe as we round Pigeon Island is now well-practiced and for the first time for two weeks we are sailing up-wind into 20 knots with a reefed mainsail. Just as we approach the finish, a large motor yacht drops anchor ahead of us, completely obscuring the line so we duck behind it and come up hard into the wind, shooting the line and barely missing the committee boat – now that would have been a bad way to finish.

Wednesday 10 December 2014


We crossed the finish line at 11pm last night. All well on Juno.

Thanks to everyone for your emails and comments. We finished 4th in Cruising B and 17th overall in the cruising division.

More details to follow after we have had some sleep!

Tuesday 9 December 2014

ARC 2014 Day 15. Almost there

On the ARC in 2012 Kim brought with him a gift from Dr James Ashby, a close friend of his from Cornwall. If you have ever fished for crabs as a child you would recognise it immediately: a wooden frame wound with heavy monofilament fishing line, a large brass swivel impregnably attached to the end. When Mitchel, our grumpy fishing reel, gave up and cast all my best lures to the deep on our last Atlantic crossing, it was this hand line that came in to its own; we wound it onto Mitchel, despite his sulky protests, and hooked a big Dorado that we were able to winch in with no fear of the line breaking.

Monday 8 December 2014

ARC 2014 Day 14 written by Fatty

Well get this! I have been invited from below decks to sit in the authors’ chair of the eloquently written Juno blog. This is surprising, given that my vocabulary stretches to that of an average ten year old, but perhaps the intention is to attract a younger readership.

Saturday 6 December 2014

ARC 2014 Day Thirteen

We have been sailing on a broad reach all day, making reasonable progress and hitting our target of 200 miles in the past 24 hours, despite one hour of the day when we were almost stationary, all eyes focussed on the action at the stern of the boat.

Friday 5 December 2014

ARC 2014 Day Twelve

Today was an eventful day with disaster narrowly averted and I am pleased to report that everyone is safe and well but with Fatty nursing an injured hand. 

Thursday 4 December 2014

ARC 2014 Day Eleven

Yesterday started badly when I took over from Paul at 3am and he said ‘you might need your foulies’. This was an understatement. Rain was lashing the cockpit as he bade me goodnight and scuttled off to his dry cabin, leaving me sitting in puddles of water in the cockpit. Then things got worse: the wind dropped away leaving us rolling drunkenly in the swell, and still the rain fell. 

Wednesday 3 December 2014

ARC Day Ten guest written by Kez

With all this talk of the difference of having two girls as part of this crossing compared to two years ago (clean heads, delicacies for supper etc), I thought I might correct any impression that Fatty and I spend our time cleaning and cooking. In truth there is a very fair division of labour, with Paul a more than dab hand in the galley and Frewie was even caught yesterday baking bread. 

Tuesday 2 December 2014

ARC Day Eight and Half Way

We have now covered almost 1,500 miles since we left Las Palmas a week ago, around half way to St Lucia. We celebrated this milestone last night with Dark and Stormies at happy hour, followed by chicken curry served with accompaniments created by Thermo, our high tech galley slave. This tropical mood has been brought on by a marked rise in temperature as we work our way south towards to the equator.

Monday 1 December 2014

ARC 2014 Day Seven

It is 10pm Juno time and I am on watch until midnight. We are on a broad reach and I have rigged a new sheet on our big genoa that reeves around a block on the port quarter, allowing the clew of the sail to rise, opening up the slot between the mainsail and the genoa, improving our downwind speed by a precious fraction of a knot.  I have realised that ocean sailing is a long game, not won by short sprints, but by sustaining above average boat speeds over the length of a passage.

Saturday 29 November 2014

ARC day six guest written by Paulus Windsor

It is perhaps the wrong approach but I can’t help drawing comparisons with my previous Atlantic crossing on Juno in 2012. It all comes flooding back – the bruising of various part of the body, sprained wrists from grabbing a rail at the last moment as we twist off the top of a wave and the plates, food and other accompaniments that are one moment securely placed on a table or work surface, are launched into midair on a port or starboard trajectory the next.

ARC 2014 Day Five

We continue our fast passage across the Atlantic today, tracking just south of the greater circle route, with another 24 hour run of over 200 miles.  All is well on board with everyone settled into the watch system and the routines of offshore sailing; and then we had a minor drama.

Friday 28 November 2014

ARC 2014 Day Three

After a night of rolling downwind, the wind has backed to the North today, allowing us to stow the spinnaker pole and broad reach across the Atlantic in 20 knots of wind at 9 knots of boatspeed, reaching 11 knots in the gusts.   Our decision to head south yesterday was a good one as we avoided the wind hole that others endured.  Broad reaching is one of the great points of sail as we lean on the mainsail for stability while the genoa gives us drive, making for fast progress. 

Tuesday 25 November 2014

ARC 2014 Day One

We are underway at last. Our mainsail is set on our port side, our big genoa poled out on starboard and our smaller jib sheeted in to give us that extra half a knot, a new innovation suggested by Eddie at Oyster that we like a lot.  Half a knot over two weeks could get us to the rum punches in St Lucia almost a day earlier.

Sunday 23 November 2014


This is my third ARC and the second time that the race has been postponed on my watch.  Last night the wind howled through the marina, shrieking in our rigging.  Yachts in the bay outside the marina dragged their anchors and one boat was on the rocks by the morning. In the nearby Santa Catalina hotel a car was crushed by a falling tree. Angry black squalls charge down off the hills and as they hit, they unleash wind and rain that bounces off the sea, whipping up the surface.  Despite our initial disappointment it’s a great decision to postpone until tomorrow.

Saturday 22 November 2014

We leave tomorrow!

Its the night before the start of the ARC and a gale is blowing through the marina making every one feel slightly jumpy. In fact the forecast for the start is very good with 20 - 25 knots from the NW, slowly veering and decreasing over the next few days.  The elusive Azores high is becoming well established over the mid Atlantic which should bring us those perfect trade winds for the crossing.

Wednesday 19 November 2014

Las Palmas preparation for ARC 2014

We have finally made it to the start line of ARC 2014. Phew.

The ride down to Las Palmas from Lanzarote was fast. We left at 4am and covered 100 miles in 12 hours arriving at the reception pontoon in Las Palmas, Gran Canaria at 4pm. We filled up with fuel, spilling smelly diesel all over the decks as usual, trying to squeeze an extra few litres into the tank: this despite the absorbent pad fashioned ingeniously by Fatty from a personal hygiene product. We head for our berth and in the falling light we tie up next to our friends Mervyn and Amanda on El Mundo.

Sunday 9 November 2014

Lanzarote at last

At 0100 local time we round the breakwater in the pouring rain, into the calm and sheltered setting of Puerto Calero marina.  My prediction that we might outrun the weather front was premature and we have spent the last 8 hours dodging squalls in a wild ride down to Lanzarote.

Tuesday 4 November 2014

100 Miles to Lanzarote

One hundred miles to run to Lanzarote and we are sailing fast, consistently over 9 knots in 11 knots of wind. It is impressive that a fat cruising boat (sorry Juno) weighing 32 tons can convert wind into boat speed so efficiently.

Monday 3 November 2014

En route to the Canary Islands

We are sitting in the Waterfront CafĂ© in Queensway Quay marina, Gibraltar. Three meals a day, it has replaced the galley on Juno while we prepare for our trip down to the Canaries.  There is a large cloud that hangs perpetually over the Rock, casting its shadow over the marina while all around bright sunshine blazes down on the Spanish mainland.  The European summer is definitely on the wane and we are looking forward to sailing south to warmer climes.

Tuesday 14 October 2014

Westward Ho

The List is almost done, the engine has been serviced, the sails are back on, crew covers have been fitted over the gleaming white leather upholstery: finally its time to leave Palma. Looking back at the magnificent cathedral dominating the skyline I wonder when we will next return. All romantic thoughts are quickly dispelled by the large swell that hits us the moment we leave the shelter of the breakwater. Despite there being only 10 knots of wind, a short chop has developed in the bay of Palma. 

Wednesday 1 October 2014

World ARC Preparation

Another directorship resigned, another tie severed. It is now the start of October and only days until we leave the shores of Europe. However, I don’t feel excitement or relief, but instead butterflies in my stomach, reminiscent of the feeling of going back to boarding school on a Sunday evening. Despite my best efforts, there are still a thousand things to do before we leave Palma de Mallorca. But when I consult my list, I reassure myself that the important items will be completed and the rest aren’t essential to crossing oceans.

Monday 22 September 2014

Mistral brings the fish

The saying goes that sailing in the Mediterranean largely involves motoring from storm to storm, but as we motor across the mirrored surface it’s hard to believe that a big Mistral is on its way.  We slide through the shallows of the Fornelli Passage in the flat calm of dawn, saving us a 30-mile journey around the northern tip of Sardinia, and enter the harbour at Alghero to wait out the Mistral in the marina at Ser Mar, owned by the charismatic and charming Federico.

Monday 8 September 2014

Living the Dream

Sailing around the Mediterranean on our beautiful boat, not a care in the world; a number of people have commented that we are ‘living the dream’. And so we are, but this phrase has developed a new meaning on Juno. I don’t expect any sympathy from those who are reading this standing on a commuter train, but life on a boat isn’t always as you might imagine.

Saturday 30 August 2014


Rome looks like any other European city as the taxi turns off the motorway and trundles through the outskirts.  The usual mix of apartment blocks rubbing cheeks with suburban low-rise cubes is like so many others.  Everywhere there are signs of under-investment: another victim of La Crisis, now six years old and with no signs of improvement – worse if anything.  Then out of the corner of my eye, high above, something catches the suns rays.

Tuesday 26 August 2014


We leave Ischia behind as we sail north towards Rome, a large swell running from the south, pushing us on our way. We stop briefly for lunch on the remote island of Ventotene, and swim in the deep clear water before motoring the last twenty miles to Ponsa. From our last visit I know that a long southerly swell creeps into all the anchorages so I head straight for the port and anchor in the protected main harbour with twenty other yachts who have also been here before and experienced the Ponsa roll.  Once the ferries stop for the night the water is thankfully calm and the wind dies away; a blanket of hot and humid air settles over the boat.

Sunday 17 August 2014


The urban sprawl of Naples, and its one million inhabitants, spreads across the horizon, from the green slopes of Vesuvius down to the bay of Naples. We are in the middle of the city where our friend and hotelier, Paolo, has secured us a berth at the marina in Santa Lucia, positioned under the battlements of Castel dell’Ovo which takes its name from the the legend that it was built over an egg placed here by Virgil in Roman times: it is believed that if the egg breaks, Naples will fall.  

Thursday 14 August 2014

Amalfi Coast

We are on the Costiera Amalfatana, just outside Salerno, working our way north along the Italian coast towards Naples and then onto Rome.  We are berthed in Marina d’Arechi, a brand new marina that isn’t even on my chart, where we spend the day cleaning Stromboli ash from the decks.  Hertz delivers a car which Fatty dubs a Fiat Ugly, and we set off in the hot afternoon sun, air conditioning on full, through Salerno and onto the coast road that runs along the south of the Amalfi peninsula. Our destination is Ravello a small town up in the hills above Amalfi, but first, that crazy coast road.

Saturday 9 August 2014

Stromboli Erupts

We are in the Aeolian Islands off the north coast of Sicily.  Not far from mainland Italy, yet too remote for most. Grouped by name but each resolutely individual: the isolated brothers, Alicudi and Filicudi; the bohemian and glamorous sister, Panarea; the wooded and fertile mother, Salina and the moody and unpredictable patriarch, Stromboli.

Tuesday 5 August 2014


Cefalu is a medieval town on the north coast of Sicily, perched on a rocky promontory under the dramatic backdrop of La Rocca, a huge rock that towers over the town. It is so picture-perfect that it was used as the setting for the famous Sicilian film, Cinema Paradiso, and tourists from all over Sicily flock to Cefalu to stroll the narrow cobbled streets. We anchor in milky blue water outside the small marina and wait for the wind to back to the west to take us to the Aeolian Islands.  It also give me a chance to catch up on admin after a frustrating few days in Palermo where we suffered more gear failure than in our entire three years afloat.

Wednesday 23 July 2014


As we approach Palermo the shoreline turns from soaring cliffs and wooded slopes to dusty roads and bricks and mortar. The urban sprawl of Sicily's largest city reaches out through the valleys and stretches its fingers down to the sea. The wind is still gusting at over twenty knots and we rocket into the bay of Palermo at 10 knots on a broad reach with Fatty testing the cockpit cushions for comfort.

Sunday 20 July 2014

Egadi Islands

We have been living a Spartan existence. Since leaving Cagliari a week ago we have spent not a single Euro.  We have been at anchor ever since, eating aboard from our supply of fresh produce from the market, and our dwindling supplies of San Miguel and Prosecco.  After a few days in Villasimius in southern Sardinia the forecast is good and its time to head for Sicily.

Wednesday 2 July 2014


Cagliari is one of our favourite Italian cities.  The elegant facade of the Avenue di Roma which lines the water front; narrow backstreets adorned with washing hanging from rickety balconies, winding up the steep hill towards the citadel; and the panoramic view, north into the mountains and south across the huge bay of Cagliari towards the African coast.

Thursday 26 June 2014


The Mistral is still lurking in the central med and we have sailed for cover behind the marina breakwater at the head of the bay of Teulada, on the southern coast of Sardinia.  While setting the anchor, a grey rib surges along side and the driver politely asks if we want to enter the marina for the night. When we decline he looks up at the cloudless sky;  'Very dangerous, the Mistral' he warns with furrowed brow. Of course, we end up in the marina, with a whole pontoon to ourselves, our ensign hanging lifeless in the still evening air.

Sunday 15 June 2014


A line of white buoys stretches across the horizon at the entrance of the channel between the island of San Pietro and Sardinia. It is the Mattanza festival, a bloodthirsty affair when the migrating tuna are herded into large nets, and then slaughtered. Fortunately the slaughtering is over by the time we arrive but the nets are still in place, bulging with tuna which we assume are being saved for later.  The channel is gusty and shallow,  more acute because the water is gin clear, magnifying the rocks in dangerous hues of green and brown. 

Saturday 14 June 2014


I find the wind fascinating.  The breeze that cools our skin and flows over our sails is created by a complex combination of natural forces that shift and change continuously: there are the constant global factors such as the rotation of the earth, creating the spin that produces benevolent trade winds and ferocious revolving tropical storms; the impact of the equator as a huge heat store that causes air to rise constantly, creating the equatorial low that sucks in cooler air from both north and southern hemispheres; and then against this backdrop are the high and low pressure systems that develop like mountains and valleys in the atmosphere, generating gradient wind as air flows from high to low attempting to equalise pressure.

Thursday 5 June 2014

Blood on the mainsheet

At last, after six months of preparation, both at home and on Juno, it is time to leave the dock.  We order meat for the freezer, six crates of provisions for the galley, fresh fruit and vegetables from the market, settle our bills at the marina and finally, finally, disconnect from the pontoon and head out of the bay of Palma. It feels great to be back at sea on Juno. As this is our first sail of the season it is just a short hop to Calla Vells, a small bay on the southwest coast of Mallorca that is usually sheltered from the prevailing winds.

Friday 16 May 2014


The sprawling city of Palma is an amalgam of districts, each with its distinct personality. From the postcard architecture of the old town with its dark mysterious alleyways, to the brash neon strip along the waterfront, home to bars and nightclubs; Palma is diverse and cosmopolitan.  Commercial areas line the ring road, dominated by huge slabs of hypermarket with acres of car park, but the real charm of Palma is the residential sectors that are the soul of the city and reflect the character of its occupants.

Wednesday 23 April 2014

Winter Haul

For the past two weeks we have been staying in an apartment in Palma. A stone's throw from the magnificent cathedral, we are in an old town house with high ceilings and stone floors divided into three apartments set around an inner courtyard.  Each morning I set off on my bike on a short commute to the boatyard while Fatty has Spanish lessons with Rosa.  In the afternoons, Fatty works on our sailing itinerary for the World ARC and I return at around 7pm, covered in dust from the yard and ready for a cold San Miguel on the terrace, which catches the evening sun. 

Tuesday 18 March 2014

Palma in Winter

Today has been like any other day in the Solent.  Halliards hammer against masts, gusts whip the surface of the sea into white crests, seagulls wheel overhead, cawing indignantly as they lean into the breeze. Only this isn't the Solent, it's Palma de Mallorca and the locals are dressed for extreme conditions as they celebrate yet another fiesta.

Saturday 1 February 2014

The Plan

It seems auspicious that as I write this blog after a long absence, forty five boats have crossed the start line in St Lucia for the World ARC, bound for the Panama Canal and the Pacific Ocean beyond.  In exactly one year from now, that will be us, insha‘Allah, and I feel my pulse quicken.  I remember not so very long ago, crossing the English Channel seemed a huge adventure, but since then, the Bay of Biscay, a Mediterranean circuit, an Atlantic Crossing and now the possibility of heading into the Pacific on a circumnavigation – gulp.