Yacht Swagman

Leg 2 - Birmingham to Chester

11 May 2021 | Chester, England
John Allison | Changeable!
Sue playing galley slave and before you ask, no. She doesn't drink Shiraz from a teacup

All went well today.

Packed up from our farmers field by 0900 - and easing into the Reich UK facility by 1000.

We whiled away 3 hours sippin coffee whilst more rain cracked on down, but as promised the motor movers were all done by 1330 and we were off.

Not back to our booked field, but onward north to Chester Fairoaks site where we are sure to find some company, and the city close by to explore.

Believe it or not on the way, sun came out. Then went back in. Then out. Then in.

But fortune saw it dry as we pitched up in this very tidy and busy park, and enjoyed whizzing the van around remotely to get it perfectly parked. Brilliant devices.

The sun remained to allow us to finish off the last four cans of tonic outside with a nice natter with new neighbours - before falling back on vino to accompany Sues gally prepped pasta pesto.

And finally worked out how to get the hot water boiler operating. Every days a school day for me 🤣. And tomorrow’s now a shower day.....

Will explore locally - lots to see - until Friday when we pack up once more and head for the border.

On. On.

So far so good - a damp campsite for one, sir?

10 May 2021
John Allison
Trundled up at 55 mph with no drama. Despite being fully loaded the Airstream towed like a dream. The 55 mph self imposed limit is aimed at keeping fuel consumption above 20 mpg. Means we are down there in the truckers lane. All flashing and indicator signals. It's fun. Slow. But fun.

So got to the gates of the camp site - a working farm setting - to find it deserted with notices stuck up telling us what to do.

Had just got out read the advice on where to go park etc and the sky just opened up. Black clouds, lightening, huge hailstones - fair dived back in the car to sit it out. It all felt quite cosy.

Only lasted 15 minutes, then sun came back, Sue braved opening the farm gates, and we rolled into the site. It was truly a camp site for one! That was us.

But it didn't take too long to get the van detached. Power connected. Ice cubes out. Gin bottle found. Icy tonics from fridge. Slice up a lemon. And even a jar of botanicals to flavour mine. Ahhhhh.

Route North all set

09 May 2021
John Allison
Sadly weathers not looking the best for tomorrow's haul from Milford to Cannock and our first night away in the van.

We've booked a couple of nights in a campsite east of Birmingham, close by the HQ of Reich UK, where we will deliver the van Tuesday for them to fit 'motor movers'. These are four electric motors that can drive the vans wheels when it's not attached to the car. It'll allow us to wander alongside, precisely positioning the Airstream using just a joystick control. Neat.

Then Wednesday will see us on another short leg to a site just outside Chesters ancient Roman walls. Chester is just south of Liverpool and I've always wanted to see more of this city. The 48 hours there will provide the chance.

Then it's a 6/7 hour haul on Friday up over the borders, past Glasgow, onto our first Scottish camp near Oban on the mainland, adjacent to the Isle of Mull.

I can already hear Paul McCartney and his bagpipe pals warming up, ready to serenade us on the stereo...

Fingers crossed the wet and blustery weather improves before we get there. 🤣

One Week Countdown

01 May 2021 | Milford
John Allison

The past weeks have been busy, packing away the house and whittling down exactly what we can take with us on this upcoming road trip. But fingers crossed, next Monday will see us away from Milford towing the silver bullet, heading for our first stopover, a small site close by Birmingham where we've planned a 48 hour stay during which we are having one last job completed, the fitting of some electric 'motor movers'.
We'll then resume our trip north, aiming for another 48 hour stopover in Chester on our way up into Scotland. Neither of these legs is longer than 4 hours, and will allow us to get familiar with any towing peculiarities....
With a supercharged Jag pulling the Airstream don't foresee any issues, and it's all a bit more comfortable and certainly very different from our very first road trip together in 1969.

Back then, shortly after getting married and deciding we hadn't really seen enough of the world, we sold some wedding presents and teamed up with pals Glyn and Moira to spend a huge £120 in Germany buying an old split screen VW combi just like this one.

We blagged a sponsorship from VW (yes - travel by van then was still newsworthy) to get its engine rebuilt, and stocking up with as much as it could carry (which wasn't a lot with its 1300cc of pure power), and with a balance of just £150 in our purse we departed the UK with a dream of driving overland to S Africa. As needs must we reckoned we could always work when the purse got empty.

It was a blast of a trip ....

The van had 6v electrics and despite the service, a dodgy generator. So the slower we went, the dimmer the lamps and the slower the wipers. Top speed was 70mph and that downhill with a following wind. Much, much slower uphill and across the mountains. It was the time of Parisian pavement partying, mixing with local kids, US draft dodgers from Vietnam, and expat youngsters avoiding the troubles in N Ireland. Of crossing a Spain with no freeways and unfriendly Guardia Civil. Of North African border guards with scissors on hand and authority (and guns) that allowed them to shear off hair off hippies that they considered too long. A Gibraltar blockaded by Franco, all barricaded and garrisoned by several Brit regiments to halt a threatened invasion. It was all so cool, a happening time, and we were fortunate enough to be right in the middle of the mix.

Over those two years we learnt lots about life and definitely about ourselves whilst out on the road. It cemented an understanding that traveling is good - and provided some life guides we've stuck to ever since. Our time in the early IT sector. Choosing to work for various European and American firms. The 20 years in Australia. Our early retirement and cruising 30000 miles on various yachts. Our more recent time down in Spain. They were all fueled by the zest to enjoy new people and new places which probably stemmed from that very first van trip together 50 years ago.

And just so you know, when we made it over to Africa, we just couldn't get through. Even in convoy with other travelers, the wars we found raging - in a band across the continent (Congo, Chad, Sudan) - made it impossible to drive from the north to the south in safety......and then while we were over there, the Six Day War kicked off! The whole of N Africa became a tricky place for any European travelers.

So it was a speedy scurry back to Gib. Pick up some local work to replenish the purse - and later fly back to the UK.

Must say on settling back down, I began to appreciate that I left the UK as 21 coming on 17, and returned 23 coming on 30. The traveling experiences taught us lots, and the trip was a fantastic achievement in some difficult times. But with a new family on the way, it was appropriate to then trim the beard, cut off the hippie locks, and (oh no), go get a proper job.......

So here we are now just over 50 years later, embarking again on another traveling adventure.....albeit with more dosh in our pockets and this time in a bit more luxury.

But next week I'm departing as a 73 yo, and absolutely don't want to return feeling ANY older than that! But what with lots of hiking, cycling and relaxing partying over the three months, my goal is to return not just fitter but maybe feeling younger too.

Now WOULDN'T THAT BE a fantastic achievement? On. On.

One Month Countdown to Off

09 April 2021 | Lymington
John Allison | Chilly
It's exactly one month until we burble off on our 3 month GB road trip in the Airstream we got as lockdown started. Beginning to feel the bubble of excitement......

With the past year lost to Covid and lockdown, it's certainly been a long time coming. It’s given me the chance to work my way over the van fixing up what’s required, buying a huge volume of goodies that apparently no camper can do without, and rationalizing on what we can and can’t take with us.

With overseas vacations still banned, UK staycations have become all the rage, so we've ensured we've got places to stopover and booked up multiple sites in a long clockwise loop from the south coast, right up along Scotland's west coast, around and back down England's east coast, to cross over our outward track and end up with six weeks in Wales and Cornwall. Lots of link ups planned with pals but doubt we will feel too lonely trying out this 'new to us' means of travel.

It’s not a boat, but the principals much the same. It’s a neat way to move from party to party.....

Our plan is to settle in for a week at each site, and drive / bike / hike out from each exploring the surrounding regions, little Tommy in tow. Just itching to get going ..... so much to see.

Will take loads of photos and keep you all posted on how it all pans out ............on on.

Copa del Canal - Party Time

09 October 2018
Enjoyed a wild weekend with CBYA crew of Eric Degerland, Chris and Tammy de Bour, Vicky Power and Nikki Dwyer, zipping across from Denia to Sant Antoni before fresh 20+ knot winds.

Had to drift around off Denia awaiting the wind but when it arrived at 1200 - off we went.

Fantastic ride. Wind angles were perfect for Jumbucks Code 0 and it wasn't long before we left a majority of the fleet a long way behind as we surfed our way across a building sea, rarely dropping below 10 knots boat speed, and eventually topping 14.7 on one sustained surf.

We were sixth over the line arriving at 1835 - giving us an average speed of 10 knots. Simply fantastic result and the gin bottle was swiftly drained in the first hour at the dock.

Fantastic fun night out in San Antoni enjoying curry, then drinks, drinks and more drinks. Hit the sack around 3 am, and were sufficiently presentable at CN San Antonis presentation dinner 2 pm Sunday.

We secured a third place overall and in our combined Division 3/4, so moved on evening hours over to Ibiza Town to continue the celebration.

Fantastic group of people. Chris was exceptional on the main trim. Eric managed the foredeck perfectly. Nikki and Viky trimmed like a couple of demons, and Tammy jumped in to help whenever it was needed. Truly super performances all round.

And what can I say about their partying ability? Equally exceptional.

Thanks guys for a fabulous race weekend and another trophy for the cabinet. Well done everyone!
Vessel Name: Jumbuck
Vessel Make/Model: J109
Hailing Port: Lymington UK and Calpe Spain
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 Europe. 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 - Main
Costa Blamca, Spain
19 Photos
Created 23 November 2016
Professional shots taken on the Jornadas Pitiusas Regatta, Balearics, September 2016
22 Photos
Created 10 October 2016
Sold the little Scow to buy this baby for Spain.
5 Photos
Created 25 November 2014
Five days away with Stu and Moira in Spains Sierra Nevada mountains
25 Photos
Created 30 December 2011
From Moret on the Loing to Migenne on the Yonne, via the River Seine
47 Photos
Created 2 September 2011
We were joined by Paul and Pattie, Rob and Gaye for this trip back north down the Loing to Moret.
20 Photos
Created 2 September 2011
Son and duaghter in law Rob and Louise bring out our two new grandchildren Georgina and William for this week long trip north on the Canal de Briare to Chatillion Coligny.
20 Photos
Created 13 August 2011
We stayed a week at this lovely location down off the canal and adjacent to the Loire. Beautiful.
14 Photos
Created 13 August 2011
A week long push south from the medieval city of Montargis to Briare.
8 Photos
Created 6 August 2011
This is where several steams come together and helped them build the Canal de Loing to form a final link between the provincial centres of Orlean and Briare up to Paris. The streams between the houses are why its referred to as a 'little Venice'.
11 Photos
Created 6 August 2011
This was our first experience with a narrow canal - with a 6 kph speed limit. As you slow down - so does the pace of life. It was like we'd entered an inner kingdom sliding south between the two stunning medieval towns of Moret and Montargis......
15 Photos
Created 2 August 2011
Pronounced 'san mammys' this barge working town spans the junction of the Seine and Canal du Loing. Famed as the favoured living spot for English impressnionist Alfred Sisley
12 Photos
Created 30 July 2011
A scooter ride cross country through the forest to the Palace at Fontainbleu
20 Photos
Created 29 July 2011
The final upper reached of the Seine bewfore we turned off and headed south
12 Photos
Created 27 July 2011
A week long slide on the upper Seine in company with a NZ boat
18 Photos
Created 27 July 2011
Our first real country marina with facilities that would blow a family away. Absolutely made for the young - and not so young....
16 Photos
Created 26 July 2011
Back down to Paris to buy some gaz, then up the Seine through the last big locks towards the canals.
6 Photos
Created 24 July 2011
The lower reaches of the Marne as we head back towards Paris
7 Photos
Created 24 July 2011
A short hop really but lovely facilities in Meaux encourgaed us to stop here and repair our generator. Glad we did.
3 Photos
Created 22 July 2011
We were joined by Stuart and Moira on this weeks adventure to explore the 'capital' of the Champagne Region.
23 Photos
Created 17 July 2011
Sailing with Karen and Jake into Champagne country
20 Photos
Created 13 July 2011
The highlight of our crsuie where we stopped over in the centre of Paris - to be joined by Karen and Jake from the USA.
61 Photos
Created 5 July 2011
A seven hour blast at 20 kph in company with Graylian. it was the tide that allowed us to make that speed............
3 Photos
Created 30 June 2011
A ten hour fog ridden crossing - then rolly seas before we got into Le Havre. Sue kissed the pontoon on arrival................ All we then had was a failing impellor plus a crushed stanchion in the first lock we entered...........
10 Photos
Created 30 June 2011
Planning and implementing our cross channel crossing in Matilda
1 Photo
Created 10 June 2011
Shots around the harbour and bars
12 Photos
Created 6 June 2011
21st May 2011
35 Photos
Created 22 May 2011
Re-launch for Easter
35 Photos
Created 25 April 2011
Our home built rowing / sailing / motoring tender
8 Photos
Created 2 March 2011
A month away to Chile walking the mountains and lakes, then onto a discovery ship for a week exploring Patagonia and ultimately, Cape Horn. Best holiday ever............
5 Photos
Created 28 February 2011
From Turkey in May to the Caribbean for Xmas. We left Turkey two up, spent June in Greece with pals Jude and Viv visiting, July solo in Croatia and August in Italy and then Balearics where Seu went home for a week and mate Brian from Oz came for a weeks sailing. Then Sue flew back and Brian home, we sailed through September to Spanish east coast pals then Lagos in Portugal. Refitted boat for Atlantic and grabbed another week home in UK, then sailed in October to Canaries for start of ARC in November. Joined by pal Gerry the three of us raced in the ARC across to St Lucia and led the Crsuier A Div fleet to finish in 16 days 1 hour - and won the Prime Ministers Trophy!
100 Photos
Created 18 January 2011
The journey bringing Matilda from Alkmeer in N Holland down the Dutch canals and rivers, then down the Belgium and French coasts, across the Channel and into Eastbourne and fianlly on to Lymington where we lifted her for the winter.
21 Photos
Created 18 January 2011
After some time back in Europe skiing we returned to Antigua with a family crew and partied hard during Antigua Race Week. Like to tell you we did well, but not on the race course! Too many hangovers and old cruiser sails meant we were simply not competitive - except at the bar!
47 Photos
Created 5 December 2010
Left in April gales to cross the Med with pals Marcus and Gerry and Sue from Mallorca to Turkey so we could join the East Med Rally from Istanbul. Did not make it and linked up at Ayvalik where pals went home. Did the rally double handed for 3 months down Turkish the glorious coast, then Cyprus, Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Egypt, back to Israel, inland to Jordan, then sail back to Turkey. All nice. Possibly best year of my life!
115 Photos
Created 5 December 2010
Took our new Hanse 461 in May from UK to Portugal along with Rally Portugal, then onward to the Med and Balearics from June. Fabulous summer with lots of mates visiting with us to really explore Mallorca, Ibiza, Formetera. Brilliant weather, sailing and experiences. Eventually flew home end August having berthed Swagman in Palma de Mallorca where we revisited her several times in the fall.
81 Photos
Created 5 December 2010
Took our Grant Soleil 42 Swagman from UK to Portugal with Rally Portugal. Took race crew with Sue and I across Briscay in F8 n'lies - completed crossing in 3 days 3 minutes - averaged 7.5 knots. Won virtually every leg thereafter despite being only two up. Liked Lagos so did visit Gib and ports along the Algave, returning end August to Lagos where we berthed her............and then sold her once we bought Swagman (11) at the Southmpton Boat Show.
7 Photos
Created 4 December 2010