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A breeze finds ‘Robinetta’, 2014

Some people just don’t have the time to do a ‘Round Britain’ circumnavigation due to pressures of work, finding crew or just wanting to enjoy the journey. ‘Robinetta’ undertook her circumnavigation over a period of two years, starting in 2014.

Julian wanted ‘Robinetta’ to take part in the OGA50 Round Britain Challenge, but we only had enough time to take her to Cowes and back, so when he managed to get three months leave this year we decided to head north for a long cruise. We want to take our time, so we are not doing any kind of circumnavigation. By adding two weeks of ordinary leave we started at the beginning of May, 2014. The weather in the first couple of weeks varied from a week with force 7 in the forecast everyday, which kept us in Lowestoft for a week, to beautiful sunshine with no wind, so we were glad of our lack of an agenda. After two weeks back at work we continued from Grimsby at the start of June and made great progress up the East Coast. Mostly just motoring!

After calling into various ports with marinas we stopped at Inner Farne, on the 9 June, to spend our first night at anchor. The tour boat moored up in the Kettle anchorage gave us permission to use their mooring buoy, which we gratefully took, as mooring is a lot easier than anchoring! We rowed over to Inner Farne, where our wooden dingy was much admired, and had a good look round, admiring nesting puffins, guillemots, eider and cormorants and getting attacked by Arctic terns. The night was calm, and damp, with fog rolling in overnight, but it cleared as the sun rose and we motored away in bright sunshine to anchor at Lindisfarne for lunch, wondering if we would ever get to sail!

Puffins and guillemot Photo: Alison Cable

An hour and a half after we raised anchor, while we were motored towards Eyemouth with only the staysail raised as a token of the fact that we are a sailing yacht, Julian who was on watch felt some wind. Wind! We could sail! He realised that it was a squall, but after a week mostly under motor he really wanted to sail and did not hesitate to raise the main and unfurl the no1 jib. ‘Robinetta’ has roller furling on the main, which makes reefing easy, and he did put a reef in, but we soon shook it out and were making over 6 knots, which is fast for ‘Robinetta’. The wind was coming off the land so there was no swell and we had a great sail. The wind freshened when I took the helm, and I felt slightly overpowered, so we put the reef back in, and let off the staysail halyard tension so she was balanced again.

Soon there was even more wind; the next reef was to roll the main down to the first mast hoop, furl the jib, and put the staysail back up again. The sea was still slight, but the wind was definitely increasing, and I rigged the purchase which lets me hold the tiller much more easily when we have weather helm. Meanwhile Julian went forward and untied the lowest mast hoop. This lets us fully reef the main on the roller reefing line from the cockpit. Both actions were just precautions, but on ‘Robinetta’ we operate on the principle “If you think about reefing, do it.” 

A quarter of an hour later the wind was even stronger and we reefed the main all the way. Each time we reefed, we picked up to the same speed, so we were doing the right thing. Another hour of fast sailing brought us to the Eyemouth entry cardinal where we dropped the sails before motoring in to the harbour, having had an enjoyable and fun sail.

We don’t have a wind gauge in ‘Robinetta’, but a catamaran that came in just after us had measured  25 knots, gusting 30. There was nothing like it in the forecast! Coming after days of hardly any wind we revelled in actually sailing, but a 6 gusting 7 would have kept us tucking up in harbour if we’d known it was going to happen. ‘Robinetta’ seemed to love it too, she behaved beautifully, but we were glad it was an off-shore breeze with no fetch to the waves.

Alison Cable
Find out more on the log of Robinetta