Saturday 14 December 2019

ARC 2019 Finish

We finally crossed the finish line in Rodney Bay, St Lucia at 10:10 local time on Thursday 12th December.  I am pleased to say that the genoa is in it's bag, the forestay has been repaired, the boat is spotless and we are all on our way home for Christmas. Thank you for all the comments, emails and feedback.  

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

Wednesday 11 December 2019

Last day at sea

We wake to an amazing dawn. Oults very kindly stands my night watch, andby 5am, after eight glorious hours of uninterrupted sleep I am in the cockpit, refreshed and ready for our last day at sea. Rosie comes on watch at 6am but Oults can't drag himself to his bunk, away from the marvel thatis taking place on the huge stage in front of us. Massive cumulus clouds soaring thousands of feet into the sky behind us, are suffused by the glow of dawn, creating a tangerine sky that becomes more intense and then, by degrees, is washed out by the glare of the risen sun. We gaze in rapture at the beauty and enormity of this spectacle, conscious that by this time tomorrow, land will obscure this endless horizon and we may never see this sight again.

All bets are off

Black cats crossing one's path are supposed to be a sign of good luck. Not so with ETA, who has caused nothing but trouble ever since she scrambled onto our decks, tempting us with rum punches, steel drums and flights home.

Tuesday 10 December 2019

Guest blog written by Oults

Magellan's journal: Nov/Dec 2019

Setting sail in the good ship Hera from Las Palmas, armed with only a sextant and a pair of binoculars (with nifty compass embedded within), many of my correspondents, and most especially my crew mates, cast doubt on the likelihood of our ever reaching landfall in the right ocean, let alone on the right Caribbean island, if I was to take any part in the navigation. And to be fair, my first few readings were a little erratic, reaching a somewhat dangerous low when I placed us in the middle of the Sahara desert on 28th November, some 5 days' out to sea.

Guest blog written by Andrew

Crossing the Atlantic by Catamaran, by Andrew

In 2012 I was one of Paul's crew who crossed the Atlantic on Juno, a mono hull. I was very happy to be invited to make the same crossing in a catamaran("cat") so that I could experience a cat and make a judgement as to what I preferred. As prep for this I re-read Steven's 2012 guest blog on life on a mono hull – I would recommend digging it out and having a read.

Monday 9 December 2019

The cat's out

Oults is mother again; a diligent cook and a truly great housekeeper, vacuuming and mopping floors, scrubbing decks, and generally making Hera look pristine. ETA, a new crew member who I shall introduce shortly, is at the supper table, monopolising the conversation as usual, when Oults conjures up from the galley, Mahi Mahi, cooked with Harissa (if you don't know what this is go to any Waitrose in the home counties, and follow the frenzy of Ottolenghists, hoovering the jars off the shelves).

Guest blog written by Rosie

Classified Advert - AirSeaAndSea November 2019

Hera, a small deluxe short or medium let exquisitely furnished boutique Hotel, conveniently located near the ocean. All rooms have sea views. This ultra modern hotel comprises three double rooms with snug en suite facilities, a very comfortable kitchen, diner with lounge and office fit together well in the centre of the property.

Sunday 8 December 2019

Disaster Averted

Venture Capitalists like me, who invest in young technology companies, tend to fall into two categories. There are those who "optimise the upside" and those who focus more on "downside protection". While I have high hopes for all my investments, I am definitely in the latter camp, and I always like to have a plan to deal with the worst possible outcomes, or better still to take pre-emptive action to minimise the likelihood of a disaster.

Saturday 7 December 2019

Bandit Country

When Andrew wakes me for my watch I am in a deep sleep. I remember reading that in warfare, commanders plan their night raids for 3am when the body is at its lowest ebb, and I can see why.

Friday 6 December 2019


Leaning back languidly against the guard rail, hair ruffled by the wind, making no contribution to sailing the boat, never touching a winch handle or a sheet, but appearing in every photograph, is Molly. Not Mervyns new nickname, not a stowaway, but our floor mop, much admired by Oults, exercised by some more than others, Molly always retires to the cockpit when her work is done, drying her j-cloth locks in the sunshine. When I draw attention to this now permanent feature of the cockpit, Andrew announces that he doesn't like Molly any more, and would prefer a sponge. Maybe it was just a wave that caught the boat but I'm sure that I saw her flinch at this rejection.

Thursday 5 December 2019

Half Way

Black squalls, blown by the trade winds, chase up from behind us like marauding thugs; they wander the skies, becoming more crazed and unstable, intoxicated by the limitless supply of warm tropical water. Eventually, they overdose, unable to hold the moisture as water vapour any longer; it falls as rain, the cooler air descending rapidly and as it hits the ocean it fans out in all directions.

Wednesday 4 December 2019


Overnight the wind has risen, gusting at up to 30 knots, creating a big
following sea that chases in behind us. The water is pure cobalt blue,
shot through with streaks of brilliant white where the crests of the waves break in the bright sunshine. We have definitely found the trade winds and we blast downwind on a broad reach, covering over 200 miles in the past 24 hours.

Monday 2 December 2019

Fast as a hare

Every day, during the ARC, there is a roll call held on long-range radio. Not everyone has these sets as they are expensive to install and of limited use in coastal sailing. But when sailing offshore, where the distances are far greater, the SSB radio comes into its own and allows us to keep in touch with other yachts who could be many hundreds of miles away, far out of the range of a VHF radio. 

A Trio of Tuna

We have been sailing all day, making a modest 6 knots, but in the right direction and with the prospect of more wind to come. Oults is back on Mother watch, however these days he is rarely parted from his sextant, his map of the stars, his note book; sometimes he can be persuaded to take the helm for a few moments, before the autopilot is re-engaged and he can return to his life as a midshipman on a square rigger. However he makes time to run up a lunch of pasta with sweet corn and tuna for which we are grateful.

Saturday 30 November 2019


Hand steering a yacht on the Atlantic at night, using the stars to hold the course, is quite magical. I see shooting stars every few minutes blazing across the cosmos in their final dying moments. I surmise that these harmless projectiles are a common occurrence, just one that we rarely witness with our heads down in our 21st century preoccupations. We have no wifi, no whatsapp, no news feeds, no urgent interruptions, just precious emails that we savour and it reminds me of a bygone era of hand-written letters and simple pleasures, the mind given time and space to think and rest; a form of meditation.

Friday 29 November 2019

Rosie's Laundry

Today is Rosie's turn on Mother Watch, only there isn't much to cook as we are still eating our way through the leftovers of Mervyns feast, so he turns his hand to the laundry. With five on board, showering every day, washing up in the galley and hosing down the cockpit after fishing, we use quite a lot of fresh water, maybe 300 litres per day, and since our tanks hold around 800 litres in total, this is less than four days' supply. For this reason we have a water maker, a desalination plant that turns seawater into fresh drinking water at the rate of 240 litres per hour; so once a day, for an hour or so, I run the water maker to top up our tanks.

Thursday 28 November 2019

Watch Keeping on the Atlantic

The cockpit glows in the light of fluorescent tails that snake out from behind each hull. Phosphorescence sparkles in our wake and occasionally a larger glow, like a depth charge, drifts to the surface, then floats away and fades. The sound is like waves breaking on a shore as we surge through the night, spoilt only by the rumble of our engine, propelling us in the absence of wind. In the distance, with some envy, I can make out the faint red glow of a spinnaker, its gossamer fabric floating in the light wind, illuminated by a navigation light, drawing its cargo quietly but purposefully downwind. Once I am awake, the 3 am watch is quite magical, and improves daily as night temperatures increase and skies become more dramatic.

Wednesday 27 November 2019

Mother with a sextant

Today has been an easy day, with glorious sunny weather and great food from the galley, but it has also been a frustrating day as the trade winds remain as illusive as ever and we continue to motor south. The watches on Hera change every three hours and as usual I am on watch from 3am to 6am when Andrew takes over. I do a short handover and then go back to my bunk for a few hours. Oults is on Mother Watch today, which means that he runs the galley, making all our meals, serving drinks and generally doing any housekeeping, and by the time that I surface from my cabin he is already preparing breakfast. It's remarkable how the smell of cooking draws everyone from their bunks and we congregate around the saloon table for cereal, scrambled egg on toast and freshly brewed coffee.

Tuesday 26 November 2019

The Start of ARC 2019

We time our run for the start. Ahead, a large grey Spanish warship is acting as committee boat, marking the inshore end of the start line and we cross under her bows as the gun booms out, announcing the start of ARC 2019. We are in the multi-hull division and the first group to start, and as we get clear air, away from the fleet and anchored oil tankers, our boat speed builds and we are off. The sun has broken through the clouds and it's an exhilarating  start to the largest ocean yacht race in the world.

Saturday 23 November 2019

We leave tomorrow

It’s the day before the start of the ARC. Unbelievably, every item on my list is ticked; a feat that has never before been achieved and this is largely down to our fantastic crew. Mervyn has worked through my list, applying his practical and methodical approach to everything and each day he takes a few more items from my list, allowing  me time to co-ordinate and plan. On this trip we have decided to give ourselves a clear 24 hour rest period prior to the start and by midday today we are largely done.

Monday 18 November 2019

Lanzarote to Las Palmas

It’s 3 a.m. when we cast off our lines and motor out of the marina under a full moon. Our friends Max, Heloise, Chris and Claire have woken up early to see us off and as we leave the shelter of the breakwater, the wind is already starting to build. We are finally leaving Lanzarote, heading south 100 miles to Las Palmas on the island of Gran Canaria for the start of the ARC.  The wind has been blowing hard for the past week and we are expecting a fast ride in a big following sea; and that’s exactly what we get.

Friday 8 November 2019

Introducing Hera

We sold Juno with the slightly vague and dreamy idea to buy a catamaran and sail back to the South Pacific where we spent such a wonderful time with our friends on the World ARC in 2015. Our plan was to spend the northern hemisphere winter cruising the islands of Polynesia, and summers back at our new home on the Isle of Wight. With the ink barely dry on Juno’s transfer documents, we complete on the purchase of a Catana 50 catamaran, now named Hera, with a view to an Atlantic crossing in autumn 2018 and the Pacific in 2020.  And then I have a blood test.