Firstly, I'd like to profusely thank BeforeUdig.co.uk - The company who put up the funds to power Constellation with a brand new offshore cruising sail, made by UK Halsey Sailmakers of Bursledon. I picked up the new sail just days before leaving England, and couldn't be happier. My old sail was tired and worn, and will now be only used as a backup, should something horrible come of my new one. The new sail has a slight racing leech, and a reduced third reef, which nears tri-sail size. Special thanks to Duane Rogers at Beforeudig.co.uk for believing in what I'm trying to do, offering constant encouragement, and of course for funding an expensive but necessary piece of equipment.
(It has been hard for me so far to keep the narrative of this trip going in any kind of order, since the last couple of weeks were a blur, and my updates have been infrequent and random - This is my attempt over the next few posts to show some order...)
I finished my job at the pub last week, which was a welcome relief. By the end of it, I was tired and anxious to start the trip, and it seemed no matter how hard I worked, I still never had enough money to achieve much at all. I did get things together in the end, but it was trying to say the least. I finished work on a Wednesday, and traveled into London the following day to pickup Johannes and Jack from Victorian station. I had planned to be two hours early, yet to my astonishment, as I walked out of the bus doors, I nearly ran into Johannes, waiting at the bus stop, carrying enough luggage to move house for a family of six. We lugged it all back to the train station, where I met friends from Australia and ate lunch in the nearby park. We eventually met up with Jack, and travelled back to Southampton, loaded to the hilt with equipment. The following day was spent sailing in the Solent, to give Johannes and idea of how Constellation was sailing, and also as an opportunity for Jack to film at sea. I also learnt that I need an outboard.
It was a rush-job on Saturday to get Constellation ready for departure. I was waiting on guardrails to be sent from Compass, we needed to install the wiring and mounts for the autohelm, and I still had to climb my mast again to fix the aerial. The VHF turned into a debacle when the feeding line got jammed at the foot of the mast, however Johannes retrieved it, and the job continued. It was only when I pulled the wiring through the cabin roof did I realise there was nothing wrong with the old aerial at all - There was a BNC connector between the inside cable and the outside cable which had come loose... The moral of the story is, assumptions are fatal... Ok, maybe not fatal, but irritating and stupid.
I had final drinks with my new friends from England, whom I already miss dearly. I think if I had been living entirely alone in the boatyard, without all the wonderful people who also lived there, my experience would have been drastically different. There was always someone to ask a question, borrow a tool from, or just someone to talk to, and it's to those people I thank immensely for being so kind and generous.
Constellation was ready for departure, and at 5am we left under blue skies. Bill followed in his boat, waking up at such an un-Godly hour just to see us off, and to let Jack film from another vessel while we motored for the last time up the River Hamble. Thank you Bill, you are a true gentlemen, may the sea chickens live on.
Thank you England for everything -
Brighton, Dover, Belgium and Holland in the next post.