Rum Sodomy and the Lash

sailing around the world on our yacht, Ruby Rose

Tag: sailing around the world

Our Highlights From a Year of Sailing

One year ago we motored down Conyer Creek with no idea when we might return. It could be in a couple of months, it could be in a couple of years. Hell, we may have made it to Ramsgate, had a sudden change of heart, and sailed back the following day. Sailing was our life, our passion and we loved living on board. But we had no idea if the life of being full-time liveaboard would be for us.

I’m pleased to report that after a year of sailing between the UK and Antigua, we love this lifestyle more than ever. In this blog, we look back at some highlights (and a couple of lowlights) from the past 12 months. Enjoy!

Best Anchorage
Muros Anchorage

Muros Anchorage

It’s not been easy choosing a favourite anchorage. Nick said The Saints, but I pulled rank and chose Muros. This was our first experience anchoring in the Spanish Rias and we stayed here for almost a week. It was perfect in every way: enclosed and protected, the water was still as a pool. We were an easy dinghy ride away from the village, which had a selection of truly sublime bars and restaurants and we celebrated the beginning of our sailing adventure by eating as much Galician food as we could manage. There was a nearby beach, the weather was warm and mild and we were, above all, full of hope and excitement about the months to come.

Anchorage in The Saintes

The Saintes anchorage- a close second!

 

Best Meal
Trying to decipher spanish menus!

Trying to decipher spanish menus!

Nick and I very quickly agreed that Spain had the most amazing food we’ve come across in our sailing so far. Portugal wasn’t bad if you really, really love grilled fish and potatoes, but I’m afraid the Caribbean can be discounted entirely. The food here is, quite frankly, not worth talking about. Morocco was okay, but there’s only so much tagine one can eat. So, that leaves Spain, which is totally fine with me, because Spanish food is friggin’ amazing. And the best place for food in Spain is…?

Well, Galicia came out tops in terms of location. If we had to pick one place, I’d have to say Combarro. We had some truly stupendous meals there and, with no english menus, our Spanish came along nicely. I mean, if you can order some calamares, pimentos de padron, navajas and almejas, accompanied by una cerveca, quite frankly, what else do you need to know? (Yes, I know I probably spelled those Spanish words wrong! Sorry!)

Charming Combarro, seen from the terrace of A Rosa Dos Ventos.

Charming Combarro, seen from the terrace of A Rosa Dos Ventos.

Lunching it up in Combarro

Lunching it up in Combarro

More foooood

More foooood

However, the prize for the best meal eaten in a restaurant must surely go to… do you know, I cannot for the life of me remember the restaurant’s name. However, it’s in Ayamonte and it was just so unbelievable that I sometimes still daydream about it…

Mmm again!

Mmm!

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Cheers!

Cheers!

 

Favourite Island

We’ve visited quiiite a few islands over the past year- in fact, since the Canaries, we’ve not sailed anywhere that hasn’t been an island. So, what’s been our favourite?

It’s hard to pick just one- Dominica, Saint Lucia, Bequia and The Saintes are all favourites. However, Martinique surely comes out on top. Not only was it French- already a bonus- but it was stunningly beautiful, had more picturesque and well protected anchorages that you could poke a stick at, and we could once again live off baguettes and rosé wine. The beaches and snorkelling were some of the best we’ve seen in the Caribbean and the palm-backed beaches full of little colourful bars and restaurants were exactly what we wanted when we decided to sail around the world.

Plus my friend Kate came to stay!

Plus my friend Kate came to stay!

Sainte Anne sunset. I mean, what's not to love?

Sainte Anne sunset. I mean, what’s not to love?

Anse Dufour snorkeling- a definite highlight!

Anse Dufour snorkeling- a definite highlight!

Craziest Location to Berth the Boat

This one is obvious. Essaouira in Morocco was- by far- the craziest place we’ve ever berthed our boat. We rounded the breakwater and got our first glimpse into the harbour, and our mouths dropped as the sight of hundreds of fishing trawlers, all crammed together like the sardines they go out to catch. A narrow corridor was left between the rafted fishing boats and the harbour wall opposite- which itself had boats moored up against it- and, holding our breaths, we slowly motored into the heart of the harbour. Thankfully, we found somewhere to tie up and had an incredible week in this charmingly insane location.

The view from our cockpit in Essaouira!

The view from our cockpit in Essaouira!

Essaouira port.

Essaouira port.

 

Most Memorable Sailing Moment

This one is easy. Crossing the ARC finish line after exactly 21 days at sea! We had the most amazing welcoming committee waiting for us on the pontoon as we tied up in Rodney Bay, Saint Lucia and we were so elated when our feet finally touched solid ground again. Having our friends share that moment with us made it even more special, and it’s a moment we will never forget!

Our beautiful boat approaching the finish line! Thanks Miles for this awesome pic.

Our beautiful boat approaching the finish line! Thanks Miles for this awesome pic.

My expression when we sighted land!

My expression when we sighted land!

Nick's smiling!

Nick’s smiling!

Best Meal Onboard

Well, this is a tough one. I do believe that Nick’s famous Lobster in a Creamy Dill Coconut Sauce (yep, capitals are necessary. Just… trust me) was possibly the best meal I’ve ever had- ever. However, I was so excited about the phenomenal meal I was about to enjoy, I didn’t pause to take a photo. However, our Christmas feast comes a close second!

Magda and Tim, very happy about our feast

Magda and Tim, very happy about our feast

The big moment!

The big moment!

Peeling veggies on Christmas morning

Peeling veggies on Christmas morning

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!

 

Most Unpleasant Passage

We take pride in the fact that we have very few- if any- sailing related horror stories to tell. Generally speaking almost all our passages have been pretty pleasant, if a bit bouncy at times. Sure, there’s been a few sails that have turned me and Nick green and we’ve just been waiting for them to end. But at no point have we been scared. I know sailors who will seize any opportunity to tell you all about that time they were out in a force 9 or whatever, with waves as tall as apartment blocks towering over them, and they seem oddly proud of it. Like a war story or something. The difference of course is that they allowed themselves to be in that dangerous situation in the first place. Nick and I never- never– go sailing in conditions like that. There’s certain places in the world that are notorious for bad conditions year-round- off the Cape of Good Hope for example- and perhaps if we’re ever sailing around those areas, we might have to just deal with whatever Mother Nature throws at us. But in Europe and the Caribbean, there’s defined seasons for sailing and even if you perhaps have to wait out a low pressure system over Biscay, or a storm off Cape Finisterre, all that is required of you is patience.

So the only time we had ‘lively’ sailing conditions were when we did not choose our own departure date, which was when we did the ARC. Had we been doing the Atlantic crossing independently, we probably would have waited for the high winds to pass through before setting off. As it was, we had 40 knot winds and 6 metre seas and, yes it was exhilarating, but if we hadn’t been surrounded by 200 other yachts who were all battling the same conditions, we probably would have been ever so slightly terrified. That said, I’m glad we did it! It was a good experience and we now know that the boat can easily handle it, even if we didn’t find it particularly enjoyable!

Best Overnight Passage

This one is also easy. We set off from Cadiz and crossed the Straight of Gibraltar, then night sailed down the coast of Morocco. Not only was this an exceptionally pleasant sail- light winds, calm seas, cloudless night- but it marked another milestone in our plans to sail around the world: we had finally left Europe! And it felt like it. As soon as we were off the coast of Morocco, the air became warm and scented with spices. It was quite extraordinary, and a moment we will never forget.

Crossing the Gibraltar straight

Sailing across the Gibraltar straight

Most Unexpected Achievement

Nick has had a fear of performing in public for his entire life, which might surprise some people considering he is ludicrously confident in almost every other respect. But playing a guitar and singing in front of an audience was simply not something he could bring himself to do. Enter Tina, from Magic, who, despite having a great singing voice, was terrified of singing in front of others. Put them together, however, and suddenly they were galvanised into facing their fears. They practiced daily and before long they were standing up on stage at an open mic night. After their first number, everyone burst into rapturous applause and from that moment on, we could barely drag them off the stage…

Nick and Tina at open mic night- before it all went wrong!

Nick and Tina at open mic night

Open Mic night with Nic-o-Tin- it's a nasty habit!

Open Mic night with Nic-o-Tin- it’s a nasty habit!

Nick and Tina treat us to a performance with some seriously questionable backing vocals from the rest of us.

Nick and Tina treat us to a performance with some seriously questionable backing vocals from the rest of us.

Best Cruising Moment

The night that really captured what this cruising life is- or, at least, should be- about was our first beach BBQ in Antigua. When we got to the Caribbean we hoped that we’d be fulfilling our somewhat naive visions of sitting on the beach, surrounded by friends, and watching the sun go down while sipping a cocktail. This vision didn’t materialise until one fabulous evening at Jolly Beach. Many of our ARC friends were in the harbour and an impromptu suggestion to have a beach BBQ suddenly snowballed and we ended up with about 20 cruisers- some of which we knew, many of whom we didn’t. It really summed up what cruising and sailing should be about.

Scrumpy, unlike May, absolutely LOVED the whole beach thing and spent the entire evening dropping his ball at people's feet in the hope they'll play with him.

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So we still have quite a long way to go before we achieve our goal of sailing around the world. But we’ve certainly sailed around quite a bit of it!

 

 

 

 

10 Questions with Ruby Rose

There’s an awesome blog called Newly Salted who interview cruisers that have been underway for less than 2 years. Here’s our responses to “10 questions with Ruby Rose” about liveabord cruising. I hope this information might be useful or interesting to our readers and it’s a great way to round up our impressions of a year of cruising on Ruby Rose!

Me and Nick smiling into the camera- the sun is shining and the skies are blue!

This selfie was taken as we left Conyer almost one year ago- wow, Nick’s hair was so short!

  • What (if anything) do you wish someone had told you before you started cruising?
    Well, people did tell us but we didn’t listen- slow down! We looked at a chart and said, “Oh yeah, we can definitely cover that distance in a season, no problem!” But the reality is that after 6 months, we started to feel tired, frustrated and increasingly irritable with our schedule because we had set ourselves a timetable that was unrealistic. Well, perhaps it was realistic, but certainly not enjoyable. I wish I’d listened to people who told us that we shouldn’t rush, but it’s the type of thing you can only learn yourself!
  • As you started cruising, what transitions did you find the most difficult?
    We had undertaken two ‘shakedown’ cruises on Ruby Rose to France the previous two summers before our actual departure. Both sailing trips were about a month long, and although we were in holiday mode, it gave us a real insight into what living onboard would be like when we did it for real. We walso lived onboard for about 6 months before we actually left the UK, so the transition was a slow one and we didn’t find it difficult at all. The main luxuries we miss are regular hot water, air-conditioning and a front loading fridge!
  • What do you find the most exciting about your cruising life?
    Do I have to pick just one!? We love discovering and exploring new places, people and countries, and I suppose that’s the most exciting aspect of cruising. We also find the freedom we have exhilarating- to think we could simply point our bow in any direction and go wherever we like! We also love meeting new people and making new friends- that is one of the best things about cruising.
  • What do you dislike about cruising that surprised you?
    I asked Nick this question and he replied, “Sailing!” It’s true. We thought we’d have ‘champagne’ sailing as soon as we reached the tropics- we couldn’t have been more wrong! Sailing in the Caribbean isn’t always pleasant. In fact, it’s often quite unpleasant. We’ve whinged about this to plenty of people who have just looked at us like we’re a couple of aliens- or, more accurately, like we not ‘real’ sailors.  But we just don’t like 2 metre swell on the beam and beating into 20 knots- sorry! Yes, we’ve had some very quick sails between the islands. No, we haven’t enjoyed the majority of them.
  • Is there something you wish you had bought or installed before starting out?
    We had planned to only use renewable energy- wind generator and solar panels- but we also really love Nespresso coffee and watching DVD’s at night which takes up more power than our renewables produce. We weren’t realistic about what our energy requirements were, and we also didn’t want the expense of a generator set or a suitcase generator. Plus, we wanted to be green! But after a year onboard, we’ve decided to go ahead and buy a generator so that we never have to spend a windless, cloudy day without the convenience of our electronic devices ever again…
    We also wish we had bought a watermaker with a much higher output (ours produces 12 litres/hour)- at the moment we have to run it for several hours to top-up the tanks, and I’ve already mentioned our issues with power at anchor!
    One last thing. We bought a soft-bottomed dinghy with a 3hp outboard for this cruise, but we wish we had a RIB and a more powerful outboard. We’ll be upgrading as soon as we can!
  • Tell me your favourite thing about your boat.
    We adore our Southerly 38, Ruby Rose . Our favourite features are the big cockpit, the big aft cabin and the big saloon. Sensing a theme? Yes, she had a huge amount of living space for the length and other sailors who come onboard are always surprised at how spacious our boat is. We also love her lifting keel, as going aground is one less thing we need to worry about (we hope!) and it means we can get into shallow anchorages. We think our boat is beautiful, comfortable to live on and she is very seaworthy.
  • Tell me your least favourite thing about your boat.
    All that living space comes at a cost- we have very little storage space on Ruby Rose  or room for plant machinery. We’d love a bigger fuel tank, a bigger water tank, and a gen set. We also heartily dislike our top-loading fridge- any time we want something from the baskets down the bottom we have to empty the contents of the fridge completely in order to get to it! Needless to say, we try not to use the baskets if we can help it.
  • What are your plans now? If they do not include cruising, tell us why. 
    We will definitely continue cruising! We’re storing Ruby Rose  in Antigua for hurricane season which has the double benefit of reducing the risk of damage if a hurricane does come through (plus we’re insured if it’s on the hard and tied down) and gives us 6 months to visit our families, travel and enjoy the conveniences of being a ‘land lubber’ for a time. We’re already looking forward to next season where we will (probably) continue north and visit the BVI, Bahamas and then cruise the East Coast of the USA. After that, who knows- but we have no desire to go back to bricks and mortar permanently. If we can continue to fly home periodically, we will likely carry on cruising for many years to come.
  • Is there anywhere you sailed to that was a disappointment? 
    The Tobago Cays! I thought it would be like paradise- but it was so disappointing! It was like a carpark: there were so many boats at anchor, it was like a forest of masts all around us! The boat boys hassled us and yes, we saw turtles which was awesome, but we’ve snorkelled with turtles many times since. The anchorage was also completely open to the wind which was blowing upwards of 20 knots while we were there, so it was generally not particularly pleasant. We left after one night.
  • What are your impressions of the cruising community? 
    One of the best things about cruising on Ruby Rose is meeting such an interesting mix of people. We have met young couples who barely have enough money to eat- but are living their dream anyway!- and retirees who have recently left very lucrative jobs, have bought the multi-million dollar yacht, and expect everyone they come across to drop to their knees in bowing acquiescence. We’ve met families who are cruising with their children and homeschooling, cruisers who have been living in the Caribbean for 15 years, couples on a 6 month sabbatical, and everyone in between. Even though there’s a minority of the sailing community we try and avoid like the plague, in the most part everyone is friendly, interesting, and sociable. Generally sailors are extremely generous with their time and experience, and if you need help or a spare part or another set of hands, there’s always someone nearby willing to help.

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And So We Wait….

It’s June on Monday. Apparently. I have tried explaining this to my fingers, feet and most other parts of my body. However even ensconced in fleeces, puffer jackets, socks,boots,gloves, and hats they are freezing.

So it’s Saturday afternoon and I am sat in the cockpit looking out at Slate Grey Falmouth, with a sky that is about to spend the next three days doing something Biblical.

Anyway, whining aside. This morning we left Plymouth for Falmouth.

Plymouth was a nice enough place to visit. Oh to damn with faint praise! Typical of many european cities that had been carpet bombed during the war and rebuilt in the 1960’s. The historic part that remained was charming and we spent a couple of happy afternoons eating and drinking in the sun.
However, the weatherman was becoming more somber by the day as he discussed the impending weather. Storms tomorrow, through next week and so on. We only had our berth until this morning as it belonged to a charter boat and it was due to return today.
So at 5am we rose, made coffee and motored out through the breakwater into a Southwesterly chop.
Now sailing is awesome. Don’t get me wrong. I love it, I love the adventure, the freedom and being on or near water. However there are certain times,when I would rather be doing something else. This morning was definitely one of those days.
It was freezing, really cold. The wind was 20kts on the nose and the previously mentioned chop was bucking the boat about. I think that the proper term for chop is “swell period”. Either way, the swell period was 5 seconds, which meant that every 5 seconds a wave came along and made the boat buck. When its on the nose it is uncomfortable. When its freezing cold and on the nose it is miserable.
So by 6.30am, we are both huddled under the spray hood feeling spewy and sipping ginger tea. “Never mind” we reassured ourselves, “it’s only for 6 hours!”. Jaysus! Anyway,we bore away a bit to try and get some wind in the sails and calm the boats motion. So thats what we did, beat 40 miles in the cold.
I did however manage to break up the journey by running up and testing the water maker to make sure it was still working after nine months asleep.
Anyway, we arrived at Falmouth yacht haven, and moored up with a little help from some nice people on the pontoons.Our yacht has a fat arse, and we have to shoehorn her into most berths. The first we found wouldn’t fit at all, so we patiently waited while a speedboat vacated the only other free berth and motored and hauled Ruby into place. A couple of quick thankyou’s to our new friends and we slumped below in the warm, broke out the emergency tortellini , inhaled them and slept. I don’t ever remember falling asleep.

Falmouth is a beautiful city. The Yacht haven is strange though . It is quite small and poorly equipped, yet the yachts here are serious pieces of kit. As Falmouth is the jump point for travel South, many blue water cruisers wait here for a weather window. There are many foreign ensigns on the yachts from the USA and further afield.

We have at least a week here , while we wait for our crew. The long term weather forecast is ummming and ahhing about the weather forecast for our due jump date about the 7th of June. We may be stuck here for a while longer we wait for three days of settled weather in Biscay. However as my friend Neil says ” nothing you can do about the weather”. So its going to be fleeces and gloves for a while longer. Because even the cold, cold ,wet weather is preferable to getting a kicking crossing the Bay of Biscay.

Balls, cards, boxes and balls!

This week saw our schedule become tighter as a week that could have been spent preparing for a circumnavigation was spend instead eating various pork products in Germany.
As the blog is meant to reflect sailing,I won’t dwell too much on Leipzig.Suffice to say that it was warm and pretty.
We did however purchase a lovely and totally impractical addition to our yacht:balls.To be more precise 20 cotton balls with Christmas light in.I have seen these in every Thai market I have ever been to, and they cost next to nothing. However,add some fancy packaging,a good choice of neutral colours and the gay man that hides in all of us jumps out and spends 30 Euros on a set.

Cotton lamp balls. A practical addition to any yacht

Cotton lamp balls. A practical addition to any yacht

They are however lovely,and until we get caught in a rough sea where they will be smashed to bits,they’re staying.

Trevor in the marina was kind enough to open up on a Sunday and allow me to retrieve our deliveries. It looked like the dullest version of a Dickensian Christmas as I opened package after package to find ,lovely gifts like burn cream, first aid supplies ,oil and fuel filters.

Spares, emergency supplies and boxes

Spares, emergency supplies and boxe

 

 

We did however finally get our business cards delivered. Now for those of you who may have seen or read American psycho, I have a thing about business cards. I mean, I haven’t as yet come close to murdering anyone for having a superior card. However I wanted ours to look good. Very good. Unfortunately , I will be handing them out over the coming weeks whether you want them or not.

Spangly , spot varnished business cards

Spangly , spot varnished business cards

Now I have a week ahead to tackle another set of tasks on our list, which has ” sort out the forecabin” at the top.
Our forecabin has spent the last six months being filled with sails and all the stuff we have accumulated for our travels. It now looks like a bloody jumble sale.

The Devils work. Our forecabin

The Devils work. Our fore

As you can see, there is all manner of junk to store effectively, including a stand up paddle board, my surf board , which I am going to string up from the roof, and buckets of other things. I have a long week ahead!

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