Yacht Swagman

16 October 2016 | Altea, Costa Blanca
03 October 2016 | Ibiza
02 August 2016 | Calpe, Spain
19 July 2016 | Portugal Peniche
22 August 2015
14 August 2015
10 August 2015
06 July 2015
22 June 2015
08 June 2015 | Cherborg, France
21 May 2015 | Eddystone Lighthouse
02 March 2015 | Lymington

Another Nice Day at the Office

16 October 2016 | Altea, Costa Blanca
John / SW 8 knots / NE 13 knots / clear sky / 24C.
Sue holding today's trophy at the post race party

Just enjoyed a great weekends sailing out of Altea Club Nautico, taking part in Saturday's La Almadraba de La Marina 40 mile combined fleet race, and today (Sunday's) shorter '5 Clubs' event.

Both under brilliant October sun, winds lighter Saturday with average of 9 knots from the SW, and today pretty solid 10/13 knots from the NE.

We had taken Jumbuck from Calpe down to Altea after last Thursday's training day, so she was sitting there looking pretty for the weekend. Nice Marina and club. Even got a swimming pool!

Had some fastish competition for both events. Fleets of 22/21 respectively. The boats we specifically wanted to go up against were 'Optimum' a Mumm 30 out from Denia sailed by the Halsey / UK sailmaking team, 'Kalamandurrio' a gun Dufour 40 out of Altea, and 'Tagomago' - a new Dehler 42 out of our Club at Calpe. All well sailed boats and at this stage in our development - the ones were using as a benchmark.

In Saturday's 22 boat fleet we started at 1100, and managed to creep over the finish around 1930 on a dying breeze, to be placed 7th overall. With pals Chris Gibson, Allan Mabin and Rupert Houlton flying in from the UK, they joined Edo Volker, Kevin Moss and Eric Degerland to make us 7 up. We had agreed our focus was to be on swifter sail handling and upwind trim - both areas we know we need to improve.

Saturday was not the best start we've ever had. Got a good spot at the right place and in the front line, but loads of bigger boats simply barged in twix us and committee boat - some single handed - so despite best efforts impossible to get them up. We were frustratingly swamped.

But the wind was well aft, so once into clear air with A2 and staysail drawing well, we began to move out nicely. We sailed high and over a lot of those earlier 'bargers' down the 10 mile run to the first mark. The Mumm had got away mid line and equally flying under a hugh kite. We rolled the Dufour but they got their nose back in front at the mark, with the Dehler running fast but behind us.

Then it was a 20 mile beat, initially into a gate off Altea, then out around south to Benidorm Island.

Stunning area to sail in close alongside high sandstone cliffs copying the locals to gain pressure and lifts - and all over reasonably flat water too. Learnt a lot about the lifts in the breeze under the cliffs, and the north flowing coastal current which reverses about 1/2 mile off, and we certainly held off those behind and oh so slowly, seemed to be catching those in front.

But the wind began to soften before we got to Benidorm Island, and whilst an extremely pleasant evening sail, it wasn't looking like we'd catch anyone......

lovely offwind run back the 10 miles to Altea, but in a dropping breeze. Had even the earlier light breeze held, we would have moved a few spots up the placings. But it didn't.......:-)

Crossed the line doing 2 knots.....

Today's race was better, only 11/12 miles basically around the three fish farms off Altea and Calpe on a pretzel shaped course.

Got an excellent start on a proper 1 mile windward leg this time. Went the right way, and using our bigger headsail and racing under a revised ORC rating, we were on the pace.

The Mumm again sailed flawlessly to be right up with the Div A fleet maybe a minute in front of us at the first windward mark. We rounded right on the heels of both Dehler and Dufour, but swift kite and staysail up, rolled both on the next short offwind leg as Jumbuck surged along before fresh 12/14 knot winds.

Opened out a surprising lead over those behind as we reached around the Altea Fish Farm, and turning back for the longer upwind leg hunted down the Mumm to eventually trade tacks as we approached the second windward mark. They won that battle.....

The Durour in the meantime had caught up and slotted twix us and the Mumm as we all rounded to pop kites For the longer run to the line.

Certainly on the breeze we had held our own against our rivals, and offwind the guys worked really hard to keep us on the pace. Not ideal wind direction for us as the runs were real runs, and of course our competitors all carry symmetrical kites and could sail deep whilst we zigged and zagged behind them!

The Dufour and Mumm still beat us in, maybe 2 minutes ahead, but in a close finish we just pipped the Dehler 42 over the line.

Super upwind trim from Edo and Rupert. Very swift and slick hoists by Eric and Chris, and brilliant offwind trim by Kevin, together saw us win a 3rd place in Division B and as a result, be placed 5th overall. The competition wasn't weak in any way, all good close tight racing.

Surprised and pleased when the results came in. Its a neat modern trophy we were presented with at the party afterwards - where Sue and Marian joined us for the feast.

So it's well done team.....

Need to say the overall hospitality shown on the local Spanish events is very hard to fault. Considering there's no race registration fee, getting a 5 course meal including all the wine and beer you can consume just for taking part was remarkable....... Altea Club Nautico have gained a few more fans!

On. On.

Solid start to our Spanish Campaign

03 October 2016 | Ibiza
John / 40C / variable 0-7 knots from all over the place
New Norths 3Di main, staysail and A2 deployed as we round Formentera on Race Day 3

Had an unexpected result on our first outing racing against the locals here on the Costa Blanca - with a 2nd place trophy!

It was Race Day 1 in the Jorndanas Pitiusas Regatta hosted by Ibiza Club Nautico, and run over three days Friday / Saturday / Sunday 23/24/25th September.

The boat bottom was freshly rubbed back and repainted, we were fully loaded with a need to sleep a full 7 crew, but resplendent with our new Norths mainsail. Brilliant sail. Enjoyed a relaxed sail on the 70 miles over to the Balearics Thursday to enjoy an equally relaxed night out in the old toWn. I LOVE Ibiza town.....

It proved to be a pumpy weekend as all the clubs were having their final season parties. The island was full to busting.

Complete with obligatory headaches Friday, Race 1 was from Ibiza Town around the island anti-clockwise to finish in San Antonio on the north coast. Very very light winds were forecast and we watched dockside (with some surprise) as all our competitors offloaded all their 'surplus' kit. Fenders, anchors, cushions, storm sails, even a good deal of safety kit, were all emptied into what looked like custom made huge bags on the Club Nautico dockside.

Seems it's the norm here in these typical September / October light conditions. But wishing to risk a protest for not doing the right thing, we stayed fully loaded. Won't be doing that again!

Not our best start ever. With winds forward we weren't expecting much with our small IRC headsails, but with good crew work - and a bit of luck when the winds puffs up and went behind, we dragged our way back into the fleet and then to our surprise, scored that 2nd place in Division 2!

It was a great days sailing but under hot hot hot sun. When the winds veered it allowed us to deploy the Code 0, and with the winds eventually settling from the SSW but only coming in zephyrs it turned into a really tactical race where the tidal flow around the high cliffed corners of the course was often greater than the breeze. But the Code 0 was the winning sail both upwind and down. It actually proved better than the A2 kite even when running in sub 5 knot winds, retaining its shape and keeping us moving when many around were simply standing still.

So nice to have the crew up on the podium in San Antonio. Edo Volker (mainsheet), Sue (strings), Kevin Moss (trim), Eric Degerland and Chris Gibson (sharing foredeck / mast), and Teddy Chadd running around to fill in where needed. All did a great job working together for the first time. Both Chris and Teddy had flown in from the UK and I think found the sights and sounds of Ibiza Island in full party mode maybe a little different than say Lymington or Cherbourg........

With a crowded boat for sleeping and temperatures still mid 20's overnight, Sue and I had thoughtfully booked nearby hotel accomodation in both Ibiza and in Formentera. That was a really good move - but post this race it was all crew hunkered down together overnight in San Antonio.

Another good night out and early hours to our bunks. Can't recall the boat feeling crowded. Just maybe the G&Ts, vino, beers, then brandy had the right analgesic effect......

Race 2 was from San Antonio out west then down to finish at Savena, on Formentera. Despite the fresh headaches we got a better start offwind, but again light light light winds then saw me iffing and butting on what side to go to, just to make that first rounding four miles away upwind. Meant we ended up in the middle of the bay and in zero wind - whilst everyone else on the edges simply drifted away from us. Two hours later we finally got to that rounding point more or less dead set last boat in the whole fleet, but from there we sailed a blinder.

First ghosting downwind under Code 0 between the islets on Ibizas west coast, then hoisting the A2 when we found a narrow wind channel of 9 knot wind, it was gybe, gybe, and gybe again as we rapidly closed on the fleet. They call it the gap, a narrow channel between high cliffs on the lowest islet and Ibiza itself. With the Code 0 then deployed we found the .5 knot southerly current helped us create our own wind and catch up with the whole fleet, sitting stationary close by that gap. It was almost like we alone had a small electric engine running......awesome feeling as we slid past 40.7s, Grand Soleil 40s and an assortment of other larger boats.

Again our lack of local knowledge let us down after that super recovery. We chose to tack down the thumb line on the shifts to the finish off Savena on Formentera, whilst a lot of the others either went east to the Ibithan coast, or west and offshore. When the new wind started building and then savagely backed and filled in from the east, it gave boat groups on either side an advantage over us. We made 9th in our division........but better than a last place, eh?

Another pleasant night out at a dockside restaurant, another nice airconned hotel. For this Race 3 we were joined by Marian Volker to sail a course from Savena, around the bottom of Fomentera, and back north to Ibiza Town. As Teddy was flying home from Ibiza early the next day I was worried we might not finish on time, but the CN Ibiza race team assured me we would, so we glided under sub 5 knot winds into a great position on the start, and got away maybe 1st or 2nd. Soon rolled by bigger yachts with bigger sails (and unloaded,h probably lighter than we were) but we sailed well considering our lack of local knowledge. Good trim. Efficient gybing. The A2, the Code 0, the staysail, plus super hard working crew, saw us get make 6th place in that.

So at the prizegiving on Sunday at CN Ibiza we found we had achieved a 5th in Division 2 of 19 boats (every one of them bigger than we were) and 14th overall. Nothing to write home about, but fine by me. Newly formed crew. Small headsails. Heavy boat. Lack of local knowledge. I've got all the excuses I need.....😀

But seriously, we had lots of fun, and enjoyed the event.

The parties and the venues were awesome, as was the scenery as we slid (and at times parked) alongside the stunning cliffs off these Balearic Islands. Spanish sailors have been really welcoming, and good competitors on the race track, and pretty good party animals when they want to be.

Still can't get my head around them emptying off even safety gear, but it wasn't weight that let us down. It was some wrong decisions by me, and our lack of local knowledge.

So it's on on on for next year - where we can hopefully apply all we've learnt on this outing, and maybe do better next time. Fingers crossed.

Thanks everyone for this one. Great.

Delivery Complete

02 August 2016 | Calpe, Spain
John / 40c, Hot, Variable light winds
Sue on the helm

All done. Enjoyed a blistering run towards the end of our leg to.Lagos. Too much wind to carry a kite around Cabo San Vincente, but we managed a swift traditional toast to the patron saint with dark and stormies, and then surfed onward along the Algave to Lagos. Over 45 knots from behind saw us down to white sails but had the boat absolutely flying with bow waves like a power boat, until we finally rounded the stunning sandstone cliffs off the port and hauling down our sails to slowly motor up the oh so welcoming canal toward Marina de Lagos.

If you've never visited here, it's a lovely upmarket Marina surrounded by palm trees, bars and restaurants - and white marble and frosted glass showers. What more can three smelly boys ask for......

So we enjoyed a blokey blokes three days R&R with far too much grog in Lagos nightspots, with Sue arriving Friday late to place our feet back firmly on the ground!

The four of us enjoyed a final Saturday night out in Lagos old town before resuming Jumbucks delivery Sunday with an 80 mile day passage along to Vila Real set Portugese side up the Guardiano River which separates Portugal from Spain. There we had liaised to catch up with good pals Trish and Jim from Dragonsong who are currently heading westward. Great to swop tales enjoying a late pavement meal and drinkies in this small fishing township. Super night, lovely people.

Monday saw a longish haul heading NE starting early initially with low winds and headaches, but building to a head clearing 30 knots on the nose, and eventually pulled into Rota on the Spanish southern mainland around 1900 that evening. Bit tired, but that didn't stop another nice night out.

Tuesday began a slightly longer haul eastward towards Trafifa and the Gibraltar Straights.

The forecasts were sadly accurate, with solid winds on the nose. It saw us rock hopping in two / three mile legs clinging to the coast to avoid negative tide, beating under single reef to claw past Tarifa late afternoon. Had a 60 foot French cat in loose company all the way. They were relying solely on two big engines, whilst we tacked back and forth and stayed ahead right until Tarifa.

We'd sailed a bit faster than expected and got there a little too early so big winds in the straights (36 max) and the adverse tidal flow (4 knots against us) saw sails dropped and with our little engine whirring away we got down to 2 knots SOG at one stage, but as evening closed around us, the winds eased and the tide turned, we got the main back up, and finally motored into Gibraltars Marina Bay at 2100 (just behind the 60 foot cat) for another well earned evening out......

In fact, the steaks I treated everyone to alongside the marina were probably the best pieces of beef I've ever eaten. Ever. Maybe my opinion of Gibraltar needs revision......

Wednesday onward from Gib to Benelmadina where Chris stepped off was a pleasantly smooth but hot day sail with every sail in our wardrobe being deployed at some time or other. Original plan was just to drop Chris off (he was visiting his Mum who lives close by then flying home), but tiredness along with the Benelmadina Marina facilities combined to make us stay. So yet another nice night ashore for Sue, Kev and I.

Thursday we put in a full 24 hours at sea to make Calpe from Benelmadina by the Friday. Winds totally against us the whole way - either too little or too much. Why don't the weather Gods ever let us reach, eh?

But having only a 100 litre fuel tank meant we had to stop half way across Cartegena Bay in the small port of Aquila to refuel Whilst it's pumps were open, and dawn Friday saw us still motoring and passing our local resorts of Alicante, Benidorm, then Altea to finally slide into RCNC Calpe midday Friday.

So job done. And a good job at that.

Even adding our three days R&R at Lagos in the middle, our six night stopovers at St Heliers, Bayona, Vila Real, Rota, Gibraltar and Benelmadina, it still only took us 16 days to complete the delivery. If we had a bigger fuel and water capacity and hadn't made this stops, then it could easily have been a sub 10 day trip which could have been amazing.

But even 16 days was a short time for a short handed 35 foot boat - and a tribute to Kevin and Chris over the longer legs, and Sue for the last few days.

No breakages. Not one cross word. All much better than one could expect.

So huge thanks to Chris G, Kevin Moss, and Sue, for helping make this such a gloriously fun loving trip.

We are back to the UK for August, and return to Calpe and the prep on Jumbuck for our first serious Spanish event - the Jordanis Pitiusa Race Series around Ibiza and Formentera end September. With a couple of UK crew flying in, and four or five newly inducted local crew, we aim to do our best.

On. On.

Delivery On Track

19 July 2016 | Portugal Peniche
John / Sunny / F4 NNW
Kevin Trimming in the light stuff

Typing this sliding past Islas Berlengas off the Portuguese Atlantic coast - will upload when we get in. Sun and spinnaker up, on track to berth in Lagos tomorrow (Wednesday) evening.
Great trip so far. Good rollicking sail Lymington to St Helier on Wednesday. With 5 knots following tide through the Swinge we flew at 11 knots SOG smashing through a mile or so of big standing waves. Awe inspiring for Kev and Chris alike who've not sailed through such conditions before. Got into St Helier just before the pubs shut....excellent timing!
Topped up water and fuel, and away from Channel Islands midday Thursday for good cracked beat to Ushant. Treated to multiple firework displays as we closed the N. Bittany western tip at midnight. Thought it was multiethnic weddings but realised later it was every town celebrating Bastille Day. But sadly it was around then we lost all wind - and it didn't return until midday Friday. But when it returned it was with a vengeance.
We were following the rhumb line down across Biscay, maybe 10 miles inshore of the big ship freeway, and were soon down to reefing the main and rolling in some headsail as the winds built and built. Highest seen wind speed was 41.8 knots but most of the time it was solid 25/30. Jumbuck slid along - a great sail. Fast but easy. Autopilot took most of the strain with no issues.
Winds died again Sunday evening as we passed Finistere on the Spanish NW coast and it took 5 hours of motoring to get into Bayona by midnight. Fortunately it was a fiesta happening so ordering food at 1 am was not an issue! Drinkies outside a local bar until 3 am, then crashed.
Late headaches enjoying breakfast and then a supermarket shop, refuelled, and out on this leg down the Iberian Penisular by 1130 yesterday.
Bouncy going for first few hours Monday morning with 30 knots on the nose, but it died off mid arvo. From then we've been motor-sailing in 5 knots of breeze to try and get around the bottom at The Algave, but this arvo it picked up so kite deployed and drawing well before 15 knot NNWlies.
Over Bicay we enjoyed literally hundreds of dolphins, had three humpback whales breach 50 metres off and swim in company for 30 minutes. Very smelly blowholes!
Plus lovely cute (and not so scary ) pilot whales also came to say hello.
So a good trip so far, and if forecast holds, will carry this kite as far as we can southward. Who knows, maybe even right to Lagos!
Then I'm pretty sure, we will be off to a pub!
On on.

New Developments - New Plan

09 July 2016
Having to wait for a new rig ruled out the original plan to take part in Volvo Cork Week, and with at least two crew happy to help out, I've decided not to waste the next few weeks and set sail on Jumbuck - taking her down to our local Club in the Med.

A year back we got a villa in Javea on the Costa Blanca, and I've really enjoyed this past winter and spring avoiding English weather. I've also enjoyed local racing from Royal Club Nautico Calpe, and think I'll enjoy a few years more doing that on my own boat. With a solid local program of medium distance races out and about the Balearics and up and down the coast, our new rig and by September a new main, we should do ok under IRC and also ORC.

So providing the new rigs in midday Tuesday, and we can swiftly load on our cruising sails and other needed kit, we could depart early Wednesday aiming sail across Biscay, down the Portuguese coast, in past Gib, and make Calpe by month end.

Current weather forecast shows a favourable course initially SW, then W, before turning the corner and dropping down to cross Biscay. Most of it reaching. Of course this may change in 72 hours, but as it stands outline passage is Lymington to Channel Islands, Channel Islands to Bayona in 3 days.
Then day / night passages down the Iberian coast around Cape St Vincent and along the Algave, past Gibraltar and upward. So planned ports are Beyona to Cascais, Cascais to Lagos, Lagos to Cadiz, Cadiz to Malaga, Malaga to Cartegena, Cartegena to Calpe. All longish legs, but with good winds from behind under guaranteed sunny sky's, it should be a pleasant way for three blokes to loose three weeks.

Kevin and Chris G are happy to sail with me, so three up over Biscay with winds from behind should be easy. Sue flying to join us in Cascais. Chris and Sue later departing Malaga to fly back to UK. Kev and I do the last few days two up, tidy the boat, and follow them by flying back too.

So that's the plan. Every cloud / silver lining - you know the proverb....

Suddenly, the worlds a nicer place. Good, eh!

Don't forget you can use the favourites link on the right to track us on Marine Tracker......



Round the Island Race 2016

05 July 2016
There's probably one thing worse than not winning a race - and that's not finishing because you've broken your boat!

I'm afraid with our rig finally looking like this half way over Sandown Bay, that's what happened Saturday to us.......

We had a good start in 15/20 knots of fresh breeze at 09:20. On the line at the gun, clear air, allowing us to sail our preferred course beating down a lumpy Solent. Well up with the 109 pack going through the gap rounding the Needles, and once we launched the Code 0, away we went.

Of maybe 400 boats on our horizon we were one of perhaps ten who were carrying any form of kite in the building 20/25 knot WSW wind. Most were reaching under white sails.

Very shy, steep seas with wind 90/110 degrees on the boat, and tide pushing on our nose, it all suited our flat heavyweight 70 sq M Code 0 perfectly. It allowed us to really move out with lots of yahoos and great surfing. 15.8 knots top speed recorded, but rarely below 10.

If you watch this video you'll see at 5 minutes in, a J109 with a A4 red kite passing this First 40. We were further offshore but level with this 109 and going very slightly slower, but no by much. The video gives you a good impression of conditions. I believe the 109 was Diamond Jem.

Youtube from the winning First 40

(BTW. If you watch the video to 14:58 you can just see a white kite / black main boat on the horizon right on their bow once they passed St Catherines. Think that was us - as no one else had one up!)

Anyway - back to the race along the bottom. Surfing off rolling waves towards St Catherine's we slid past lots of craft, many who had started ahead of us from Cowes, and lots bigger too. Lots of bow wave spray as we bashed through the overfalls off St Catherines, close call situations with several bigger boats who were not happy to let us pass, and dropped the Code 0 once into clear air and slightly flatter water.

Gybes into the shore on white sails, and overtook 2nd place 109 Jazzy Something and then J109 frontrunner Diamond Jem, who had dropped her red kite and was equally under white sails.

For a few minutes we were sailing same course on different gybes with headsails held out wing on wing nodding hellos across a few metres of water, but with gusts coming through more from the west, we smiled over to the other helm and crew, popped the small new bullet proof kite, and away we whooshed once more.

It felt really good (at the time). Fantastic ride.

Passed loads more boats doing just solid solid solid 12 knots over smooth water and we felt chilled leaving the other 109's for dead.

And then the rig fell down.

It was a gust, certainly a strong one, that caused us to loose control and broach. The boat rounded up savagely, the kite filled when we were laid over with another big gust, and bang, off snapped the top third of our mast. Weird really, as the boat then came upright and we found ourselves still sliding downwind at 7 knots with kite and headsail acting as drogues by dragging in the water alongside, and debris on deck all around.

The crew reacted swiftly.

We couldn't run the kite (or any sail for that matter) as the halyards bent out around the torn mast stump and snagged - and there was no way we could get anyone up there to cut them away - but one way or another, It all got tidied away so we could fire up the engine.

Had issued a pan pan so eventually had the lifeboat alongside but they couldn't do much for us. We eventually cut down a lot of the main (sob sob) and turned at Benbridge Ledge going ok under engine. But when we got to Horse Sands Fort it was clear we couldn't go to windward with a portion of main still up, so we continued over the Solent with the wind of our beam, and into a nicely sheltered Gosport Marina.

There we got a berth, found a tall wall we could improvise and reach to cut the halyards, electrical cables, and more of the main, and then drop the broken mast section down to the deck and properly stabilise the remaining stump of mast section.

With boat secured, it was taxis home.

Boats now in the Hamble whilst quotes are being collected. Negotiations with surveyors and insure company underway.....
So what a shame. Went into the event hoping to get first 109, and came home with nothing.

What's next?
On. On.

Vessel Name: Jumbuck
Vessel Make/Model: J109
Hailing Port: Lymington
Crew: Sue and John (here crossing the line to win the 2007 ARC) on Swagman
Married 46 years and been sailing for 35 of those. Keen racers and cruisers starting in Australia and now based out of the UK. From 2004 to 2009 we cruised most summer months on our yachts exploring UK to West Med, East Med to Caribbean. [...]
In 2010 tried the darker side with a classic 45' motor launch. It opened up the rivers, canals and backwaters of Europe for a year, but that did not hit all buttons, and yacht racing drew us back. Got a Scow dinghy for club racing in 2011 and called her Billy Can, got a J109 for racing 2012 and [...]
Jumbuck's Photos - Moret to Migenne
Photo 33 of 47 | Back To Album
Prev   Next
Market buying - Pont sur Yonne
Market buying - Pont sur Yonne
Added 2 September 2011