Yacht

Marquesas to American Samoa

We hauled anchor out of Hiva Oa, raised the mainsail, and keenly watched our repaired boom under full canvas. Was that flex? How much flex is too much flex? How strong is this wood boom compared to the original aluminium extrusion? Who knew. Powering downwind between Hiva Oa and Tahuata, we spotted a sailing boat in the distance, as it vanished into an inlet on the lee of the island. With good wind and several hours of daylight left, we decided to meander around the corner and see what the anchorage looked like. On approach the masts appeared, along with a small white beach lined in palm trees and crystal clear water in the foreground. This was the Marquesas we were looking for. After over a week of rain, a heaving anchorage, and a long row ashore, we simply had to stop.

With the anchor down in clean azure water, the anchor chain was visible and arched all the way to the sandy bottom. I jumped overboard for a swim. Any sailor worth his weight in bronze, is constantly on the lookout for anomalies. Checking, listening, watching parts move, halyards potentially chafing - a keen eye and ear for trouble. I swam around and checked the rudder. Two large cracks along the cheeks had made themselves apparent, and flexing the rudder by hand expanded the cracks. Unfortunately this was a fairly serious show-stopper. The three most important things when sailing, are to keep the mast up, the water out, and the rudder on. Making things even more difficult, we were now in a fairly remote anchorage without access to any parts. Chris and I discussed our options. Can we pull the entire rudder off underwater, haul it up on deck, and re-glass it? If not, what could we achieve with the boat in the water? We decided we needed large stainless rod, and some kind of flatbar to make a repair good enough for us to continue on.

Our new friends from Hiva Oa on SV This Boat, Jim & Amy, happened to turn up later in the morning, and I rowed over for a second opinion. Jim said 'I can give you as much help as you need, just let me know when' - tomorrow? Sure. But we needed stainless rod. Jim mentioned that Suzie, an Australian from another boat in the anchorage, would be returning from Hiva Oa via the cross-island ferry. We got a hold of Suzie's number, and texted her over the satellite phone. Yes! She would stop by the hardware store and pickup what we needed. Later that day, poor Suzie, who had been running around picking up things for everyone, arrived, holding the exact parts we needed in her hands. We woke up early, Chris had freshly baked bread ready, and I cooked our unrefrigerated bacon, scrambled eggs, and percolated coffee.

We spent the entire day in the cockpit with hand drills, tiny useless electric drills, blunt old bits, and hacksaws, making our repair. To get working room on the rudder, we placed Jim's dinghy on the bow, and filled it with water. This provided enough weight to lift the stern up high enough to work. Without the required flatbar, I scarified the windlass handle, sawed it in half, and completed the all-day repair. Fairly confident in our work, we weighed anchor the following day and set sail for the Tuamotos, halfway between the Marquesas and the atoll of Suwarrow.

Eyes on the boom. Was that flex? Eyes on the rudder. Is that crack expanding? No. We sailed on, becalmed just few days on. Bobbing around, books read, bread and brownies baked, the days drifted by, the mainsail slatted and banged - both damaging to sailor and to boat. Being peacefully adrift in the middle of the ocean, is one of favourite parts of any passage (granted the days don't turn into weeks!). We bobbed for a day and a half, the wind returned, strengthened, and gusted to 30 knots for two days. We howled downwind, fully reefed, a poled jib, and everything seemed to be holding up.

Fast asleep, the sure sound of breakage on deck. What have we lost now? The entire mast? Chris and I jumped up in seconds. The telescopic jib pole decided it wanted to collapse on itself, the jib flapped; nothing serious. The Tuamotos neared, only 60nm to the south. A strong SE wind was still blowing, and we pulled down a forecast to see how long it was supposed to last. The forecast showed strong winds for the next five days, and we desperately looked at our distance from sunny French atolls, and contemplated the alternative of solid wind onto Suwarrow. Being inside an atoll in strong wind is rarely pleasant, and we could make Suwarrow in 7 days with good wind. We changed course, and headed due west without stopping.

For days the wind blew, and we started doing our best 24 hour runs in terms of mileage - 120nm, 130nm, 140nm. One hundred short miles from Suwarrow, the wind backed, and I wondered if we would end up becalmed so close to paradise. However, the sun set, and 16kts of breeze appeared from nowhere. The following day, masts appeared in the lee of Suwarrow, and Harmony danced through the reef entrance inside the tight inner passage, and shortly our anchor was down once more.

After fourteen days at sea, we jumped in amongst the reef sharks and swam ashore. An imposing Cook Islander stood on pier Tom Neale allegedly built. He asked for our paperwork and to come ashore with passports. I was slightly taken aback - I hadn't mentally planned for immediate bureaucracy. I actually had no idea Suwarrow was a clearance port.

Coconut trees, swings, the 'Suwarrow Yacht Club', a book swap full of terrible paperbacks. A statue of Tom Neale, and cleanly swept sand paths. Charlie, the second ranger on the island handed us drinking coconuts, 'welcome to my island, this is my home'. It was his home, until he was 12. He even claims that Tom Neale was a fraud (spending only nine months on the island), a womaniser, and father of 29 children. I still don't know what to believe.

We swam, waited for the breeze to return for our departure, fished with Charlie for Wahoo and Tuna, visited outer Motus (the small islands inside the atoll reef), circumnavigated the tiny island by foot, collected fishing buoys, and for the first time on the voyage, had a moment to enjoy the hard work it had taken to get there. I arrived in San Francisco in May, and it feels like the work hasn't stopped since.

Today we are in American Samoa, re-provisioning, waiting for wind, and enjoying our brief stop amongst a people whom I think are the friendliest in the South Pacific.

Our next stop is Australia.

Constellation's dramatic adventure

It's been quite awhile since I've written an update. I guess not a lot has been happening in my world of sailing... Until Dave (for those who missed it, Dave is the second owner of Constellation since I sailed into Australia almost exactly two years ago) decided to head off across the Tasman sea from Melbourne, for Opua, NZ. Unfortunately, he didn't get very far. The whole story involves hitting the EPIRB, being rescued by a Japanese freighter, Constellation being towed alongside said merchant vessel, pulling her cleats and going adrift, Dave being picked up by the water police, and a local fisherman salvaging Constellation and requesting a tidy ransom for her return... Read on for the full story from Dave.

This has all just unfolded over the last few days... I went down to see Dave near Wilson's Prom and see how he was going. Shaken, but otherwise physically fine. Constellation is being held by the fishermen, and Dave is in negotiations to come to an agreement on a reasonable salvage fee. There is a short article in the news about the retrieval here.

Constellation has sustained quite a lot of damage, all inflicted by being towed along the Japanese grain ship, and subsequent salvage. It breaks my heart to see her like this, having traveled with me for so many thousands of nautical miles, across two oceans, and even across America to 10,000ft above sea level, atop a sketchy trailer. She is a true battle ship, and thankfully will live to see another day. Another ocean. Another adventure. But right now she lays alongside an old fishing vessel, as the privateers negotiate with Dave and his understandably emotional and shaken headspace.

Read the full account from Dave himself on what happened here.







Dave and I before his departure



There is other damage including broken spreaders, most cleats being pulled off the deck, etc... But I think you get the idea, and I don't really like dwelling on the photos that much.

RESCUE NOTES

AUSTRALIA-SOUTHEAST COAST. BASS STRAIT. DISTRESS SIGNAL RECEIVED ON 406 MHZ FROM 26 FOOT S/V CONSTELLATION, RED HULL, ONE PERSON ON BOARD, IN 39-10S 146-48E AT 060727Z NOV. VESSELS IN VICINITY REQUESTED TO KEEP A SHARP LOOKOUT, ASSIST IF POSSIBLE. REPORTS TO RCC AUSTRALIA, TELEX: 7162025, PHONE: 612 6230 6811, FAX: 612 6230 6868, E-MAIL: RCCAUS@AMSA.GOV.AU. (060825Z NOV 2011)

ABANDONMENT NOTES

AUSTRALIA-SOUTHEAST COAST. BASS STRAIT. 1. DERELICT EIGHT METER S/V CONSTELLATION ADRIFT IN 39-06S 146-41E AT 061244Z. 2. CANCEL THIS MSG 091345Z NOV. (061343Z NOV 2011)

Constellation is for sale (again)

In a strange twist of fate, Constellation is for sale again - But I'm not selling her! I wish I could buy her back... But, alas, paying rent on land is hard enough! So, the person who bought her, is selling because he doesn't have the time to do the things he wishes he could with Constellation... With that in mind, she's a bargain and needs to be sold ASAP. I hope someone with big dreams buys her... Presently she's up for $17k Australian Dollars, with all the gear that was previously listed. Since new ownership, she has new bottom paint, new dinghy, and some new seacocks.

Here is a video I recently made experimenting with a few things in my video editing software - The last scene is my seeing Constellation for the last time.

Someone who reads this blog, please buy my old boat back and sail her to... Madagascar. Or somewhere similarly far away.

If interested, contact me for details - She is on a mooring in Sydney.

nick.

Guernsey, Brittany, A Quandary

I sit here, in a quaint little pub in L'Aber Wrac'h, France by the sea. This area of France is absolutely beautiful. I could live here, in a little white-washed hut on a stone island perhaps. Tending to the bees or working as a fisherman. But alas, it will not be so, for I have itchy feet and live on a boat.

The trip from Cherbourg has been mostly good. I sailed through the infamous Race of Alderney. I was hesitant as always about areas people warn me about. I was however somewhat disappointed when I didn't sink or get washed up on rocks (not really), as the Race was a piece of cake, and I sailed through at 7knots. I was an hour early, being silly and forgetting about the summer time addition (or was it subtraction...?).

I continued on to the island of Guernsey.

I stayed a night in the marina, just to refuel and spend some time in the town. The marina was expensive... 14pounds for my little boat - Luckily I still had some change left over from my stop in Dover. I moved at the next tide to Havelet Bay to anchor. I saw a bunch of private buoys, and seeing no one was using them, I used one for the night, bouncing about all night like mad. I always get nervous using the anchor, my dreams permeated with waking up beached like a whale, local conservation groups standing around and patting me down with wet towels, ushering me back to the sea.

I moved on the morning, deciding to sail to Lezardrieux instead of direct to L'Aber Wrac'h which was the initial plan. There was no wind, and I just didn't feel like motoring for however many hours it was going to be. I made the decision to change course probably a little late in the tide, so I ended up entering Lezardrieux in the dark. So this is where the bad part of the last week started - My GPS has been playing up - It just turns itself off all the time. I kept smacking it back to life, but it's the only one I have, and I was pretty nervous about it not coming back online when I needed it. So as the fog decended, what vital piece of equipment decided to fail? The GPS. I'd already taken it apart to look for loose connections, but all I could see was a complicated circuit board. It was stupid only having one GPS onboard, but it was really the last thing I thought would stop working, and I don't have the money to have spares.

The entrance into Lezardrieux is not really difficult in the day, because you can see all the rocks, and it's well marked. Remember, this part of France is Brittany - You know, the area where all the lighthouse photos come from - The lighthouses with the giant 1000ft waves crashing over the top, and a quote underneath saying 'Follow your own lighthouse' or something equally stupid. Or sometimes you seen these lighthouse posters in the offices of accountants. Anyway, you get the point - It's dangerous to navigate in, there are many obstacles (rocks) and boats don't like hard surfaces.

So the GPS turns off, and I hit it to bring it back. Nothing. Then I hit it again, and screamed at it. Nothing. Then I curse it, remove the batteries, replace them with new ones, put it back together, and it still doesn't work. So I smack it again, hove-to at the entrance (stall the boat) and dismantle it again. Put it back together. Still not working. The fog is still there, and the sun hasn't come up (9hours to go). Furious, I regretfully (only regretfully because it's polluting) I hurl the thing into the sea... That GPS was a 21st birthday present from a good friend, and now it is at the bottom of the entrance of Lezardrieux, and I'm still stuck. So I navigate under compass bearings from my last known position. Somehow, I manage to get up the entrance into the river and find a private mooring buoy for the night. I was really angry, but the area was so still and quiet. As soon as I turned the engine off, my worries dissipated, and I wondered what the area was like I had just found myself in. The incessant movement of the ocean can be really grating, and all of a sudden, everything was utterly still.

Waking in the morning, I was still surrounded by fog. I waited for a few hours, and slowly the wind and sun sent it away to another port. I wasn't disappointed by where I'd landed. Lezardrieux is really nice.





It was a Sunday, and the port capitaine was away, so I moored up for the day and met some incredibly nice French sailors, who gave me their boat food supplies as presents, fed me pizza, wine and Apple liqueur. I was a little wary of the French after being in Calais and Cherbourg, but things have changed dramatically since getting to Brittany. I now only have praise.

I spent the afternoon walking around and eating Oysters. I recommend future sailors to take a bottle of champagne, a knife and a lemon down to the waters edge. I didn't have the champagne or a lemon, but I was quite content.

When dusk came, I decided to move while there was still light and find another buoy for the night. The tide was ripping, but I really wanted light. I pushed off and put a new scratch in my paintwork along the side of Constellation. Poor boat, having to put up with me. After another quiet night, I woke up to catch the tide, and motored out.

Or, as was my plan. That's when I found a dead battery. How was it possible, I thought? I have two batteries, so it wasn't too much of a problem, but it begs some questions. Why was it not charged? Maybe my $5,000 solar array wasn't functioning (I don't have one.)? Oh, I know, the alternator is broken! How wonderful! I started up and sailed to Trebeurden without a working alternator or a GPS. I replaced the GPS at some ridiculous local price, and left the alternator for another day.

I moved onto L'Aber Wrac'h, and along the way, there was a great choppy swell. It was the worst leg of my journey so far. Even worse than my North Sea adventures. I was absolutely sick, throwing up over the side, not able to eat the entire day. I don't quite know why I was so sick (and don't say it was the Oysters) but I was, and my sea sickness medication was useless. I just sat in the cockpit and let the windvane steer, trying to think happy thoughts. The forecast did not indicate such swell, but there were breaking waves and deep caverns for Constellation to contend with. Weird.

The GPS and alternator were at such great expense, I don't know how to continue this season, or whether I should right now. The Bay of Biscay scares me, it's the wrong time of year, and what's on the other side? Let's be realistic, there is not going to be a heroic Atlantic crossing this season. It's just not going to happen, I've missed it. I left Holland under the pretense that maybe something would crop up along the way (like, I might win the lottery, even though I don't buy tickets) or a particular sponsor might see I was 'for real' and cough up. Ha!

So I'm just going to hang out here for a few days and think about my options. If I do cross, what are my realistic work opportunities? If any? Maybe I should sail back to Guernsey and get a suit and tie job for the winter? Get cashed up and give Constellation gilded bow? Or maybe I should buy a lottery ticket and continue on anyway? It seems pretty disappointing to 'winter' already. But this so called 'reality' is catching up with me, fast.

Back to my hut, to tend to the bees,

nick.

France Shakedown Sail

I may be leaving a few days late, but I have my French courtesy flag all ready, and we'll be touching the coast of France sometime on Friday. So far the plan is to sail across, drink a bottle of their cheapest wine, spend the night and sail right back to England. I then have two more weeks of work, and the trip to Hamburg begins. What happens once in Hamburg is still up for debate, however I have my fingers crossed that lady luck will appear, and I can start moving south, singlehanded as planned.

Thanks to you-know-who for the artwork :)

nick.

P.S Happy Independence Day to the American readers!

Maiden Voyage

I purchased Constellation on August 6th, 2006 - It's be a long road to get here, but I've finally taken her out for the first time. Yesterday was the first full day off I've had in sometime, and while the weather wasn't ideal, it was time to go sailing. I left at around 5pm, with just enough water underneath to get out of my berth. It took 35minutes to motor up the Hamble before I reached the Solent, where I raised the sails and tacked around for the very first time. It was difficult at first having to handle everything on my own, but after about an hour I was used to how things responded, and we got along quite well. The lack of self-tailing winches is somewhat difficult, an issue I'll have to deal with, considering new ones go for 200-300pounds a piece. I've noticed the sheets keep getting caught in the liferaft, meaning I will need to create some kind of webbing over the raft which still allows you to launch without too much difficulty. It was also interesting working in a harness with jackstays, but it feels much more secure being strapped in, and knowing the boat won't sail off without you.

Thanks again to everybody who has helped me get this far - I'm now readying charts and borrowing pilot books off of people around the yard, for the trip to France next week. Time is absolutely flying at the moment, and I still have so much to do. I have no idea how I will fund the Windvane at 1400euros, but I'll just keep plodding along and see where things go. If anyone out there has contacts who might be selling secondhand Windvane equipment, now is the time to pop out of the woodwork, as it could be a real showstopper. At this stage, I need two things desperately, which I have no money to pay for: An EPIRB (300pounds), and a Windvane (1000pounds), both of which I need by August at the latest...

nick.

She Floats. Thank you!

Very special thanks to Stewart for helping cover launch costs; a true gentlemen! Thanks also to Mezzo Man and David, who also donated funds and both hail from the United States. Without their generous help, I couldn't have launched yesterday, and I wouldn't be writing today with the news that not only did Constellation launch after all these months, but she floats. Thanks to Rob, Karin and Al from the boatyard who assisted enormously, whether by helping paint my topsides, to offering advice and tools, and even refuelling my gas canisters for free.

Thank you also to Jack from DNR-Production who flew over from Germany to film and assist. Jack is the first friend I've had come and see whether my boat actually exists after all these months, and it was really nice to see a familar face.

Thank you to Jeremy Rogers yachts for sending over a rudder pintle at the last minute, and letting me pay for it next week because none of my credit cards work. Finally, thank you to John and Kelly at Pantaenius for helping me get Constellation insured - The only people who would go beyond the pale in helping me obtain worldwide 3rd party insurance.

The evening before the launch I was still working on the boat, creeping around the hull with a Tesco's desk lamp, finishing off the paint, and ensuring the skin fittings and new transom pintle were secure and water tight. I woke up early, and finally had a chance to see if all my rudder construction was succesful, and I must say, I was fairly proud of myself when it all came together. Thanks Dad for being a wood worker, even though I'm not, because I must have picked something up along the way. The paint was still wet on the cheeks when Constellation launched, and needs another coat, which I'll need to paint on from a tender in the water. If you look carefully at the photos, you can see the waterline on the rudder still has pink panther pink on it.

Its been an enormous journey finally getting in the water, and now things are really set to start moving along. For almost 12months now, this entire project has been just a concept and a website, however now things have been pushed forward to a new level. The only thing that stops me from going for a sail right this second, is a new starter battery. And I must admit, that feeling is quite intense, because now that I carry my house on my shoulders, I have a new feeling of freedom quite unlike anything I've experienced before. I admittedly have some obstacles in my way, such as money issues, and the fact it would probably not be particuarly safe is I started off tomorrow, but it is the potential that is worth mentioning, and for that feeling to arise, a lot has been sacrificed to get here.

Thank you again to everybody; now the hard work really begins.


Two hours before launch, the rudder still wasn't on.


"Jaaack... Tell me nothing will go wrong!"


Constellation being backed onto the crane sling platform.


I had to finish off some of the antifouling on the hull while in the sling, and as I was underneath, she slipped (note the rope between to the two slings) and I came very close to moving at the speed of light in utter fear of being crushed. Special thanks to the rope that stops the slings from dropping 3.5tons of boat.


'Round she goes


Eeek!


The photo set now jumps straight to being moored, because as soon as she was in the water, I was onboard checking the seacocks furiously to see whether water was pooring in. Not a drop, the boat is completely watertight from the bottom (I still have window and cockpit leaks, but they're above the waterline).


I had a small pontoon party.


Which ended at the Jolly Sailor.




nick.

Real Launch Date, Photos & The Pink Panther

It's been a busy last two weeks, with three days lost pointlessly in London on work... I was then offered to have a tour of the Solent on a Nicholson 35 for two days, and consequently pushed back my launch date again... This time to the 15th - But, unless something goes drastically wrong, I will definitely be launching, as everything is already nearing completion. The additional week may mean I can have the Diesel ready by the launch, as I was intending on getting towed to the berth because I didn't have the money to service the engine and get new batteries in time. Next week I am going to see Jeremy Rogers, to buy a new transom mount gudgeon, and with any luck ask a few questions about my Contessa. It was great to see the Solent at last - After looking at it from practice charts. We sailed out of Gosport, past all the Destroyers and Aircraft Carriers, and back onto to the River Hamble, to have a canvas company double stitch the sail cover. The next day we sailed West, and chased a square rigger back to Gosport.

I was rudely awoken last week, as the tractor slotted into my cradle to move the boat to a new position. I ran out onto the cockpit half dressed waving my hands. Luckily, the yard staff had a laugh and I climbed down, and was moved into a much better place for painting, instead of sitting on the 'highway' which is dusty, and I'm always nervous someone is going to drive past and clip me.

I found out a place for cheap paints, and was kindly driven over by a friend to a very sketchy looking boatyard not from from the River Hamble. The paints and anodes were stored in a shipping container, and everything was 50% off retail. I have no idea if it all fell off the back of a truck, or whether it is expired, but whatever it is, I'm a cheap skate and I was giggling like a child at the thought of not having to pay Chandlery prices.

The rudder reconstruction has also been difficult to content with, because I've been waiting on some free teak planks. I've eventually given in because of time restraints, and purchased two pieces of Iroko (thanks for the tip Rich!) instead, rough sawn for 20pounds. As you well know, I've never rebuilt a rudder, so I'm just trying to do what seems logical with this whole thing... I have a pattern made up, and just need to get access to a table saw to make the cuts. I'll then epoxy the cheeks on, and through-bolt them.

Photos and descriptions below:


Trying to dry cloths.


The rudder template.

Square Rigger
Square rigger in the Solent.


At anchor for the night in Gosport, England.


Pontoon BBQ. These guys are amazing! Karin is always making me up something to eat, and Rob has to deal with far too many questions from me.


My boat has been named The Pink Panther - For now, until I paint over in red.


The planks I will attempt to turn into a rudder

nick.

Launch Date, Website Help?

It's been a very busy past few weeks, getting used to the live-aboard life, working on Constellation, and starting my new job at the pub. It's nice to have some money finally, although I still live week by week, having spent the last pay packet on tools so I could actually start work. I've scored a tin of cheap black antifoul, and decided to paint the topsides while she's out of the water, and I have some time. The colour scheme is dark red on top, with a black hull and no water line. I'll also varnish the toe-rails and maybe do the deck after the launch. Right now, all my focus is on repairing anything that cannot be done in the water, which includes my newly found problem of the week: A rotten rudder. I have some regular pub-patrons on the hunt for large slabs of teak for me, which I will (with the help of a friend in the yard) replace the existing ply slabs with, and varnish. If there is no teak to be found, I'll put marine ply back and fibre glass & paint as per the original. The pintle closest to the prop is also worn, meaning I need to have a local stainless workshop lathe a new one for me... It's amazing being in one of the biggest sailing regions in the world, because anything can be found, and there are loads of people to lend a hand or offer advice. I'll post another time on the great help I've been getting.

Other jobs include the issue of the cockpit draining into the bilge, which I am going fix with a skin fitting on the transom, and run tubing into two more holes 5inches off of the floor in the cockpit. The theory is, there will only ever been 5inches of water which cannot drain, although if the boat is heeling the majority of it should exit through one of the opposing holes. I'll then re-route the existing floor drains into a 'switch' on the bilge pump, so when there is a lot of water flying in, I can switch out the bilge pump and drain the cockpit. I think it's better than raising the floor at this stage; that's the theory.

In other news, I really need the help of someone on this website - I have a potential sponsor trying to view the site, but they're locked into a corporate network running Internet Explorer 6, and as I am on a Mac without the ability to test such things, I'm in trouble because this site is apparently completely broken. So, if there is anyone around who might be able to spare an hour or so tweaking my CSS to run with IE6, I'd be incredibly appreciative - Let me know if I can do something in return.

The launch date is locked in for the 5th of June, and I have a mud berth lined up till August. The launch date is slightly late, but what can I say, I'm doing my best. I have a lot to do still, and painting takes good weather, so I really hope between now and then I get some weather to work in.

Outside of my pub job, I've also been assisting on a Fastnet 34 refit, sanding, varnishing and finishing off things around the boat - I'm getting paid about the same as the pub job, and it's nice to be getting paid for something boat-related.

Apologies on this rather dry post, but I've also have a somewhat tumultuous personal life going on in the background, so apologies - I just thought I'd give a quick update on how things going.

I can't wait to get in the water!

nick.

Absolute Truth

I'm beginning to find my battle with water to be utterly amusing. I mean really, I should be steaming mad about it, but I think it's only a small show of what's yet to come. This evening after a dinner of rolls and mayonnaise tuna, I set about wondering what I could amuse myself with when the sun went down (I have no electricity). So there I was sitting in the dark eating my roll, and I had a cracking idea: Audio Books! I set about getting ready for bed, to lie down with Bertrand Russel's 'Religion and Science' crackling through my headphones. I was sure it would set the mood for the possibility of complex dreaming, and if not, maybe the enigma of two opposing systems of thought could be unleashed in the forward cabin of my Contessa 26. I moved into the forward cabin the night before, after finding a few small leaks dripping on my feet from the cockpit seats. Clearly the screws holding the teak down on the seats need a new lease of life, and are letting drips through. So I moved into the forward 'cabin' thinking it was dry and cosy up the front. When I say cabin, it sounds a little glamorous - It's more like one of those Japanese motels that are like decompression chambers. You couldn't sit up if you tried - You'd be lucky to get your head four inches off the pillow before meeting the 'ceiling'. It seemed like a good idea from a damp point of view, but alas, the other issue aside from space was that my feet were ever so slightly above my head, due to a minor incline towards the forepeak. I swear I could feel my heart pumping a tiny bit harder to circulate the blood. So here I am lying in a tiny bed with my feet higher than my head, practically breathing in the gel coat above me, thinking how wonderful all this boating business is. I miracuously slept through, and even quite enjoyed having the hatch just above my head, so as to to look at the rigging when I woke up.

But back to unravelling the mystery of Religion and Science - There I was (and I'm not embellishing this for literary reasons) climbing into bed on my second sojourn in the front cabin with Bertrand Russell playing over my headphones, only to find my sleeping bag completely and utterly wet through. As I had a torch in my mouth, I quickly moved around to see what the heck was going on, only to have it hit the ultra low roof, nearly knocking my teeth out and breaking the bulb. I had one leg in the wet sleeping bag, a broken torch in my mouth, and this rather poncy Cambridge voiceover babbling on about absolute and logical truths. I was just about to get angry, but then I couldn't help but laugh at the entire situation, because I really think its only the nano-tip of the iceberg. I mean really, by the time this escapade is over, nothing will ever suprise or annoy me, ever again.

Luckily for me though, I have a second sleeping bag from when I first came down to see Constellation, back in August. It's too thin for these British spring evenings, so the sailing pants I bought for the failed Sotogrande delivery have finally come in use - They were my pillow, but now they're keeping my legs warm, and maybe even dry if it rains again. Needless to say, I'm back to the bed where I started.

I've decided from now on, the only thing going in the front cabin ever again, will be my pet sea otter, Albert - I'll let him roam about up front, building dams.

nick.