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Ashby Girl

Some of the many Dolphins we saw when crossing the Bay

MAY 2009

Well where do we start, we had our leaving party which was a brilliant day, it was so good to see everyone and we would like to thank all our family & friends for coming along. In the day time we had lots going on and one of the highlights of the day was a tender race between Phil in Santa Louise 2, Jon in Double Bruyn 2 and of course me in Ashby Girl 2, of course I won easily and its one of them major events that Phil and Jon seem to have forgot about.

Our neighbour Jon was taking his practical skipper license in the Solent so we decided to take him in Ashby Girl so that Jon could get feel of a proper yacht. We met up with Mike and Carol in the evening where we all had a lovely meal and the following day took Jon over to East Cowes to meet up with his boat and other shipmates. When we saw the yacht that Jon was taking his course in we were shocked to say the least, it was a racing yacht rather than a cruising yacht and I am sure that the wheel was bigger than Jon. After a very hectic week with bad weather conditions Jon completed and passed his yacht masters.

On the 15th May Young Debs retired from her job of employment and on the 22nd May I also retired, although the amount of work I do most people think I retired some 8 years ago. Since retirement we have been busy preparing Ashby Girl for her forthcoming adventures and saying our last goodbyes to our family and friends.

On Sunday 24th May was the end of the Brighton Festival where an annual firework display is held off Brighton Marina wall. We had some friends over and had nibbles and drinks on the back of the boat whilst watching the display. Although the display wasn't as good as previous years we still had a great time. Our friends Rob & Jacqui came down for the event and spent the night on the yacht, this was an experience for them but hopefully a good one.

On Thursday 28th May at 8am we finally released our dock lines and officially started our adventure. Our first port of call was Gosport where we spent 2 nights. On the Friday we spent a lovely day with Young Debs family, her brother David picked us up and firstly took us to see his new house where we had the grand tour, we then went to Emsworth where David & his family are holidaying in their caravan. We spent the remainder of the day at the caravan site where we had fun and games and a bbq.

We left Gosport at 8am on the 30th May for our next port of call which is Falmouth. The first part of the trip was ideal with the wind directly behind us at about force 4, the wind picked up to force 7 but although they were strong winds they were still behind us and this caused us no problems. During the night the wind dropped off until eventually they died completely so we had to motor sail. We had a wonderful sunset, thousands of stars during the night, which is something you never see on land and then a lovely sunrise in the morning. The trip took 33 hours and we arrived in Falmouth Marina at 5pm on Sunday 31st May. We are now in Falmouth waiting for some insurance documents to be forwarded to us and a good weather window to cross the dreaded Bay of Biscay.

Have a look at the photos titled PHOTOS MAY 2009 you could even see yourself. If we can get internet access we will write again at our next port of call that will be La Coruna in Northern Spain and tell all about the Biscay crossing and if it is as fearful as most people say.

APRIL 2009

Good times are here, spring has finally arrived, the warmer weather is now upon us and the tent cover is now been removed, however a slight change to out plans due to certain circumstances our departure date is now looking near the end of May.

Ashby Girl was lifted out of the water where we spent a week on the hard; we decided to stay on her whilst she was having her annual make over, life's hard on the hard (I think a song should be made about this). Since her return to the water her performance has greatly increased, we really noticed the difference especially in the marina where the speed limit is five knots.

Once again we planed a nice trip to Guernsey over the Easter holiday. We decided to leave Thursday lunch time so that we could reach the Alderney race on the correct tide some 24 hours later. There were 2 boats leaving together our neighbour Jon and ourselves there were 6 crew on Jons boat and 5 on ours. All week we had been checking the weather and it was touch and go up until the day before when we decided conditions were acceptable. Jon recently had a new engine fitted on his boat and this was signed off on the morning of our departure. We stocked up with food and drink, weather pretty good, bit choppy and we left just after noon. Jon left first we followed close behind, we just get outside the marina and we get a call from Jon saying he is having engine problems, we remained in close proximity to Jon incase we needed to assist him in any way. We then get another radio call from Jon saying he thinks his engine is fine now so the trip is back on. We put up the sails and are happily flying along at 8 knots we look around for Jon and he still appears to be in the same spot. We then get another radio call from Jon saying he has problems with his engine again and is unable to continue with the trip to Guernsey. We then head back to Jon and towed him back into the marina, by the time we are safely in our own berths it was then too late to continue this trip to Guernsey. We were all disappointed but all feel this is the best decision under these circumstances. Because of commitments Jon & friends still had to go to Guernsey so they took the early morning ferry from Weymouth. We then decided along with our other neighbour Phil to take Ashby Girl to France. We left at four in the morning in darkness and thick fog, the fog was to remain with us throughout the trip. Just before the shipping lanes as the light was trying to break through we had four dolphins swimming with us at our bow, great sight to see and it certainly woke us up. We tried to take some photos but we could only achieve some ripples in the sea. The radar we recently had fitted, worked brilliantly when crossing the shipping lanes, at one time there were over ten ships within close range, but due to fog we were unable to see them, but the radar enabled us to monitor their position and heading and keep us at a safe distance. Had a good time in France, plenty to eat and drink and sight seeing. The trip back was mostly under motor sail due to lack of wind, but the sun was shining so no complaints.

We did wake up one morning unable to breathe and speak due to the domestic battery over charging. The battery and the charger had to be replaced at a cost of £500, nothings cheap on a boat, never mind no beer for Debbie for a week.

Our leaving party is only a few days away and we are busy preparing, we will let you know how it goes in our next update and who made a fool of themselves, this will probably be me. See the photos titled April 2009.


Above is our new sail - its the nice clean one on the left


The picture above shows the solar panels located on the gantry, also the container for the kedge anchor.

Well the date of 27th April is now approaching fast and we still have a fair bit to do. We started with a to do list of well over 3 pages long and this was just the major items. The list seemed to get longer as time went by, but now the list is moving in the right direction and we have just under 1 page left of things to do.

We initially decided against having Radar fitted but after speaking with other cruisers that have sailed the Med we decided to go ahead and have it fitted. The only thing now is we need to take a course to learn how to use it, which we are currently looking into. We also just had a new foresail made which is a heavy Gib sail, this is for bad weather, and it's a lot smaller then our existing foresail and is a lot less likely to tear under bad conditions. We are still plotting our course; trying to learn how to splice rope properly, have a ton of reading to get though on all different subjects from legal matters, formalities on entering ports to how our latest gadgets work.

Like most people we awoke one morning to about 6 inches of snow, this was brilliant because every thing came to a stand still and we were unable to go to work. We are now near the end of February and can not wait until Spring, we can then remove our tent cover from the back of the boat, and it always feels great to remove the tent as you know that the warmer weather is upon us. We are having a bit of a farewell bash for friends and family, this will be at the end of April at the Yacht Club.

January 2009- 2½ Years On

Since our last entry we have had some big decisions to make regarding the options of taking Ashby Girl to the Mediterranean. I was a bit concerned to whether Young Debs would be up to the trip and whether she could cope solely in charge of Ashby Girl whilst I took my turn sleeping. Well we have now made that decision and after a great deal of thought we have decided to stick to our original plans and take Ashby Girl to Greece ourselves. We are now planning our route, but this will be very flexible and may alter at any time depending on the weather conditions. Hopefully we will include a map on the site with all the places we have visited and when possible our next destination.

Over the last six months things have been progressing quite well although the weather has still been awful. Once again we had plans to hop over to Guernsey and Brittany in September but due to bad weather conditions we decided to have ten days in Spain at my sister's apartment which is in Peniscola between Barcelona and Valencia. We have never been over keen on Spain in the past but Peniscola was excellent, the weather was brilliant, the apartment was great and we both had a great time.

During August we spent four days in Eastbourne at Sovereign Harbour where the weather was the best it has been all year and we had a great time relaxing on the back of Ashby Girl sipping cold beers and watching all the boats entering and leaving the lock, this is what yachting is all about. Young Debs parents, Stan & Shirley came to Sovereign Harbour on the Sunday, it was good to see them both as they have been a bit under the weather and not been down for some time.

We have got a new neighbour Jon, he is from New Zealand. Him and his brother Paul bought there boat in America and sailed it to the Azores then Jon and a couple of his mates sailed her to Brighton. They had one or two little mishaps on the way but also stopped at some great places. Check out there blog site, you have to take it into account that Jon is very modest and takes most things in his stride, he has an attitude that most people would love.
See Link below and check out Jon's site.

Captain Jon's Site

When Jon first arrived in the berth next to us we were both thinking the worse as all these loud Kiwis approached trying to park there boat in complete disarray, we both thought these lads have no idea and are the complete opposite to what sailing is all about. How wrong we were, when they managed to berth there boat, they all jumped off, introduced themselves and we have never looked back. I would call Jon an adventurer, always looking for the next adventure, mind you when he is in between adventures he is always busy, either away in foreign parts or working on his much loved boat. We have also been lucky enough to meet some of Jon's friends, Captain Dan, William and Smarty to name just a few and not forgetting his girlfriend Linda. They are just like Jon and have some great tales to tell and live there lives to the full.

Although the weather has not been that good over the last six months, we have still managed to take Ashby Girl out on a regular basis, either with friends or by ourselves.
We have also managed to have a few friends visit us for a few beers and parties, this includes, at long last our best buddies Rob & Jacqui. Fat Boy Slim was playing on the beach at Brighton. We had a prime position on Ashby Girl anchored just off shore with well over 100 other boats. Smarty was also there on Jon's boat, we kept the party going on the pontoon when we got back in.

We are still getting Ashby Girl ready for the off. We have fitted the new electric windless, I made a stainless steel gantry on the stern of the boat where the solar panels are fitted, I have put a third reef in the main sail, we are having a new jib sail made which should be with us by mid January, purchased a new tender and also loads of small bits and pieces that are needed for the trip or just needed to make things a little bit more comfortable onboard.

Christmas day we decided to go out sailing and do a little bit of fishing. On returning to our berth Young Debs has to jump from the boat onto the pontoon so that we can tie Ashby Girl to the pontoon, I was at the helm when Young Debs decided to jump onto the pontoon then slipped straight into the sea. I heard a scream but was unable to see Debs as she was below the boat. I then had to make a choice whether to save Young Debs or save Ashby Girl. I had to think fast as I knew that if Young Debs had not been crushed by Ashby Girl she would not last too long in the freezing water. I quickly went below to check the insurance policies, I knew that Ashby Girl was fully insured but I wasn't too sure about Young Debs. Well after checking the small print I decided to save Debs, after all it was Christmas day. I managed to get Young Debs onto the pontoon then had to go and retrieve Ashby Girl, both Ashby Girl and Young Debs were lucky, both were shaken but no lasting damage.

We have now lived on the boat for just over one year, we have a lot of people asking how we live in such a small space, never being able to escape each other, they say it must be cold, they say it must be horrible when its rough, well no, we reply its warm and cosy, when its rough we get rocked to sleep, brilliant.

We will be updating whenever we have news now as we are getting pretty close to the off. We did have a bit of very upsetting news; we sadly lost our brother-in-law Clive in October after a very short illness, Clive was also into boats and it was only in the spring of 2008 that he passed his Day Skipper course, we will miss sailing with Clive.

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Who: Captain Mike Baker & First mate Debbie Baker
Port: Brighton
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