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Questions Questions ...

The pupils of Tighnabruaich Primary School have been following Jock and asking questions, the TDDT Heritage Centre has set up a slide show featuring Jock's voyage and the papers want to know who's shirts he wears ....

Good Morning all,

Thanks to Tighnabruaich Primary School for being in touch, they have a few questions for me which I’ll answer below.

When did you first sail a boat?

- Have you seen any wildlife in the Atlantic?

- What position in the race are you?

- How do you entertain yourself?

- Do you get lonely?

- What are your meals like each day?

- Have you ever been sailing in a really bad storm?

I first sailed as a child with my father in around 1969 when I was about 9 years old on a sailing holiday in Kent on a small yacht. There was a sailing club at the school that I went to but we couldn’t join it until we were about 11 or 12 I think , but I joined as soon as I could, I loved sailing as a child, it gave me a sense of freedom and responsibility.

I’ve not seen much other than birds, there was a pair of sparrows aboard for a few hours on the second day, there have been plenty of fulmars, gannetts and guilliemots, I’m surprised that I’ve seen no dolphins as yet, I’ve heard them, they make two kinds of noises; a puff when they come up to breathe and a clicking noise when chattering to each other, I’ve heard a few puffs but not subsequently seen them. Incidentally the third night out was beautifully clear and the stars, when seen from a boat, are magnificent. The difference from seeing them from ashore is that there is no light at all anywhere so the sky is black and the stars shine much more brightly, the other difference is that from a boat the whole horizon is clear so the whole of the sky can be seen.

It looks like I’m first in the race at the moment. AJ Wanderlust a 45 ft boat seems to be to the NE of me and Lazy Otter a 36 ft boat (I’m 33 ft long) is to my East, we’re racing pretty much to the West. The fourth boat seems to have had a problem and sailed back to Plymouth, we’ve not heard from her as to what the problem is or whether she will start again but she would be a long way behind if she started again.

If I’m not doing jobs on the boat like changing the sail area to suit the wind or looking at weather and planning routes or cooking I read and or listen to music. I have a selection on my phone, current favourite is an album by Richard Stilgoe and Peter Skellern called Who Plays Wins, it’s both musical and funny.

I’ve not been lonely yet, but it’s nice to hear from home.

My breakfast is often porridge, for lunch I usually have a sandwich and pork pie. On my first two days out I was being sea sick and didn’t eat much other than cold boiled potatoes which I’d cooked prior to leaving harbour, they don’t taste too foul on the way back up again and are easy to eat, not requiring any preparation. I have a fridge which I’ve stocked with meat and cheese and hope I’ll be able to eat fresh for a couple of weeks at least, after that it’ll be down to salami which I’m hoping will keep without refrigeration for meat and the remains of my vegetables until that all runs out and I’m down to tins. I obviously have plenty of rice, flour, oats and so on, foods that keep without refrigeration. For evening meals so far I’ve cooked twice and made enough for two nights, the first meal was a shrimp (‘though the supermarket calls them prawns) risotto with lots of vegetables in it, the second batch which I’ll finish tonight is a creamy chicken, pepper, ginger casserole kind of thing with potatoes in it. I try to do dishes that can mostly be done in one big pot as it’s easier to manage when the boat is moving around.

I’ve not been sailing in a really bad storm in a small boat like this, on the way to the Faroe Islands in my previous boat, a similar sort of size, I had a force 9 Gale which was quite frightening, it was my first time at sea on my own on a small boat, I hope I wouldn’t find it so frightening now. A force 9, on the beaufort scale is one below a Storm which is 10, 11 being severe storm and 12 being hurricane force. I work on ships for a living and have been in a couple of Force 12’s in the North Sea, again, it’s quite frightening.

OK class, some questions for you! -

How much water does the average person in the UK get through in a day? (Not just for drinking but for everything).

How much water do you think that I am carrying?

Well, it’s Friday morning and the wind picked up overnight I’m down to a small area of genoa and 3 reefs in the main, I may take the main down to make things more comfortable as we are creaming along in any case with the wind on the port quarter. There is a bit of a gale coming through and I’m trying to get North of the worst of it so I’m sailing NW, I may end up in VHF range of AJ Wanderlust later as she’s to the North I’ll try to call her at around lunch time. This weather is set to continue for a couple of days, I’ll probably turn back to the SW tomorrow afternoon. I’m having to charge the battery because for a time last night before the wind picked up there wasn’t enough to make the self steering work properly so I had the autopilot on.......

I’ve just stowed the main sail, we’re still doing 6 knots under a little bit of genoa and the steering is happier because it’s a better balance of sail and direction.

I’ve had to batten down the hatch completely because it’s pouring with rain and with the wind astern it all comes into the cabin making conditions below very wet and miserable, the down side is that if I want to go on deck in a hurry not only to I have to struggle into my oilskins I also have to remove one hatch board and then pull my leg up over the remaining one because I’m no longer sufficiently bendy too manage it with only leg power.

I’m off on deck again now to reduce the sail further but will send this now so it’s in time for the school.

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May 15, 2021

Another great post. Good luck negotiating the next weather system. What interesting questions from the children! I’m planning on sharing this with the children at Kilmodan Primary School on Monday.


May 14, 2021

Fascinating dear cuz. How wonderful for the school to be involved. xx


May 14, 2021

Great questions and great answers, too. Good luck getting ahead/ north of the storm.

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