Delivery of our new Southerly 42 sailboat & first voyage from England to Portugal. Crossing the English Channel and Bay of Biscay
Greetings from Lisbon, Portugal, where we have just completed the first leg of this year's voyage from Falmouth, England, aboard our brand new Southerly 42RST sailboat, “Distant Shores” built by Northshore Yachts in Itchenor, England. The boat is beautiful and we are really thrilled!
We took delivery of the boat on November 21st, which was two months behind schedule unfortunately. This meant we were now trying to leave England late in the season in cold weather and when there are more frequent gales. This could hold us up further, especially for the 3-4 day passage across the notorius Bay of Biscay where we'd need several days of reliable northerly, preferably northwest, winds to get across to Spain.
Joining us on this leg of the voyage as our first guest is Gord Zimmerman of Bobcaygeon, Canada. We first met Gord and his wife Sue when they attended one of our “Outfitting and Provisioning for Cruising” seminars before they left for their 2-year cruise to the Caribbean aboard their Sidelmann 37, “Lady Simcoe”. We have kept in touch and we are now all members of the same yacht club at home. Gord is a life-long racing and cruising sailor but had never sailed in Europe and wanted to experience some longer offshore passages.
“It's not too often you get the opportunity to sail aboard a brand new half-million dollar yacht that has all the latest safety and navigation equipment installed. I'm getting to learn how to use all this gear, having a wonderful adventure, and having a great time with Paul and Sheryl,” says Gord who will sail with us as far as the Canary Islands.
Gord has been a great help to us on this first leg since we are still cutting our teeth getting to know the new boat and are constantly sorting and re-sorting gear as everything finds its place. Gord loves rigging and has made some excellent suggestions as well as designed and rigged a new boom preventer/barberhauler. This consisted of a 3/8” D-ring bolted through the caprail with strong backing plates to secure a strop and turning block. This is all controlled with port and starboard lines to a block and clutch making it safe and easy to control from the cockpit. We are enjoying having Gord aboard as crew and are benefiting from his input. If you would like to join us for a week of cruising please see our Share the Sail page.
We received a lovely farewell from everyone at Northshore Yachts who have built a beautiful and seaworthy boat for us. They couldn't do enough to make the boat as perfect as could be and even on the day when we got our weather window and were scheduled to cast off from Chichester at noon with the tide, people were still onboard “just checking this” and “touching up that” so that finally Paul had to say, “Okay, everyone. You have one minute to get off this boat!” Gord keeps checking lockers to see if anyone has stayed on board :-)
Our first sail was an overnight passage from Chichester along the south coast of England to Falmouth in the west where we would jump off to cross the English Channel and the Bay of Biscay as we headed south. We had great conditions, winds from the north, and the boat sailed like a dream. But it was cold! We were dressed in so many layers we could hardly move and the person on deck on watch was given a hot water bottle to stuff down their foul weather jacket. At midday the next day, we were headed by west winds so pulled into the picturesque little harbour at Fowey (pronounced Foy) a little east of Falmouth. We were very happy with our new Mastervolt generator so we could run our heaters and stay warm below! That night Paul's Aunt Janet and cousin, Clare, drove down from Truro to see the boat and say farewell.
The next morning conditions were good for continuing on to Falmouth, a town we know with lots of chandleries, hardware and grocery stores, and cruising friends to greet us and drive us around. But we only had 6 hours since bad weather was in the future and if we didn't leave by midnight we would be stuck in England for another week or 10 days. When we arrived in Falmouth friend, Peter Flutter, met us on our arrival and then wisked us off to his father's home where Peter's lovely lady, Sue, was preparing Sunday Roast and had kindly invited us to join in. It was just what 3 tired hungry sailors needed – good for the body and soul – and fueled us up for the passage ahead.
We returned to the boat and had a lovely visit from the rest of Paul's family in Truro – Uncle Chris, cousin Daniel and his 3 children who we wouldn't be seeing again for some time. Another bittersweet farewell. Then we went mad running errands including purchasing another few sets of “thermals”, thick gloves, and balaclava hats. My gosh, but night watches were cold but as we got further south each day the weather warmed delightfully. Here in Portugal we in T-shirts during the day and sweaters or light jackets in the evening.
As it turned out, a high pressure system moved in and remained settled throughout our whole voyage south to Lisbon. After a couple of hours of sailing we had to turn on the motor and so it continued most of the way across the English Channel and Bay of Biscay. As we rounded Cape Finesterre where there is always wind, it was so flat calm the stars were reflected in the water!
One of the new Raymarine navigation systems we have aboard “Distant Shores” is AIS which stands for Automatic Identification System. All large ships broadcast information including their name, size, course and speed, destination and the system will calculate the closest proximity to you and give the time of this closest contact. It took away a lot of stress in the VERY busy shipping lanes along our route. It was especially helpful when we wanted to contact an oncoming ship since we could call it by name. We'll be writing more about this in our New Boat Blog as well as details on all the latest high-tech equiment we have installed on our new boat.
We had hoped to continue on straight to Lisbon, but due to the lack of wind we stopped at the lovely Club Nautico in Portosin, Spain, in the Ria Muros to get fuel, before continuing south to Lisbon on December 1st.
We are now prepared to cast off from the Marina Cascais, near Lisbon, to make the voyage to Gran Canaria in the Canary Islands. There is a thick fog so as soon as it clears, we'll be on our way again. We'll update you again when we arrive.
Before we sign off we have a few announcements:
Wishing you all the best for the season and health, happiness and prosperity in the coming year!
Sheryl and Paul Shard
Aboard SV Distant Shores