Catching up: a summary of 2017’s cruise
Now I’ve got the history of my site as up to date as I can – unfortunately most of my blogs covering my travels with Stu in New Zealand have been lost in the confusion – I can catch up with my last two seasons’ sailing in Meander. I’m afraid the posts will not be as detailed, particularly for last year as I made few notes, but at least we can right up to date.
Fortunately last year I started making my log on Meander into more of a narrative and less of a navigational record, as the pages looked very thin after a passage where most of the navigation was done by Mk1 eyeball and there was no string of hourly positions and meteorological records, which in any case make for very dull reading. It does mean that I have a reasonable basis for getting my blog up to date however!
Last year was the second year that I had really struggled to get any crew for my summer cruise. Other than a short week with Eli Pacey, who was on leave from the Brixham trawler Leader, also operating on the West Coast, I was therefore entirely on my own for much of the summer. In 2016 I had had similar troubles and had resorted to using Crewfinder, a website for matching crews to boats. I found one chap who was moderately experienced and made for a pleasant companion, and a second who turned out to be a complete disaster. The cruise did not take me very far as I was ill-prepared for going it on my own, and the sailing was limited to going north to the Minch and back again. I did have the opportunity to stop at Gairloch for a few days and attended the annual gathering, run by the family of friends of mine, and I helped out with some of the setting up and breaking down the site, as well as tending the bar at the Saturday night hop!
By contrast, 2017 was a far more positive experience, as I made no plans beforehand which were going to rely on my getting a crew (much of this requirement, by the way, is due to insurers’ insistence on a maximum of 18 hours on passage singlehanded, so if I want to go further afield, I need someone with me – there are other factors as well, which I may well bring to light in the next few weeks), and was better prepared mentally for sailing singlehanded.
The ships’ programmes meant that I was away until quite late in the spring last year – I spent a couple of months in Tenacious in Australia and New Zealand, and did not get back until the first half of June. There was a frantic week or so of work getting Meander ready for sea, ably assisted by my shore support team, my parents Lyn and John. Once she was back in the water, I gave myself a short period to gather myself, and also went for a fun daysail in Leader whilst she was operating out of Oban, then on 22 June I finally slipped my mooring at Kilmelford (where Meander had successfully spent her first winter, having been forced to shift from Barcaldine after the boatyard was bought up and closed at relatively short notice by Scottish Sea Farms (thanks!)) and my first day was spent getting her out through the Cuan Sound. This is a a narrow passage between the south end of Seil (where I now make my home, of course) and Luing. You have to time it to go through with the tide, and at the height of the ebb it gets quite exciting, with a rock in the middle splitting the flow, but also introducing a step in the water level. At its greatest, the water level either side of this rock can ;