Posted by: williekp | September 20, 2017

Fishing this time but no sailing

I am having a break in South West Ireland staying at the Thatch Cottage fishing lodge and being guided every day according to the weather and conditions onto different species of fish by the host here John Quinlan. You can read about his operation here https://kerrybassfishing.com/ . Suffice it to say that this is my third visit here, over the years and John is a master of his trade guiding anglers from all over the world onto the unspoilt and many different types of fishing available here. John’s wife Lynn ably supports the operation with great food morning to night.

This time we started on day one on a mountain lough or tarn. It empties via a stream into the sea a few miles away and supports a small run of sea trout and salmon as well as a population of hardy small brown trout. The scenery is absolutely beautiful and so quiet.My fishing buddy Bill and I caught many small trout and enjoyed a great first day.

Day two dawned to a plan to go after sea bass. We drove to an area of great natural beauty called Glenbeigh which looks across an inlet to the beautiful Dingle Peninsula. I have caught bass before but only once before using a fly rod, and then only a small bass. You cast out a small fly which imitates a baitfish and draw it back through the channels in the estuary hoping that they are at home. My luck was in and I caught one which improved my personal best. The surroundings again were beautiful.

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Day three dawned to great weather and an outing in John’s 19 foot boat out into Ballinskelligs bay. The target for today was to try to catch pollack on the fly rods and also to go a bit further out to target some larger pollack to take back home for the table. Both objectives were achieved, again against the most picturesque of backgrounds.

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On day four conditions were right to do something I have always wanted to do which is catch a mullet on the fly. John Quinlan has perfected this but it takes the right conditions, knowledge, skill, patience and is based on the lifecycle of something called the kelp fly. If the wind is onshore at the top of a set of spring tides kelp gets washed up onto the high tide line and is stranded there until the next set of spring tides. If conditions are  right, the kelp fly turns up and lays her eggs which go through the cycle of becoming maggots, pope and flies. The mullet are interested in the small 3 mm yellow or cream maggots that float. So at the next set of springs if the maggots are there they get washed back into the sea and make easy pickings for the mullet who instinctively know where and when to go looking for them. You can see a video of what is under the kelp here. https://youtu.be/KjkBCv39qxw . John has tied an imitation of the maggot which is in the picture below.

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You fish it with an indicator and a very light tippet. The mullet are extremely spooky and you need to wait until they are feeding confidently before offering them your fly. If conditions are not right for the maggots to wash in naturally, you collect them in a crate or wheelbarrow and chum the beach on an incoming tide. This was my result. Not huge but there are 6 lb fish out there.IMG_1280

After the mullet fishing we walked a few hundred yards to a rock mark to try for pollack and wrasse. There were not any pollack but we had a field day on the wrasse. We were fishing with light spinning rods and dropping small plastics like flish minnows directly beneath our feet into about 15 to 20 feet of water. Again John’s knowledge was invaluable. It turns out that wrasse are highly territorial. They attacked our intruding lures time and again. Bill and I had around 6 fish each to around 5 lbs from two adjacent marks. I would not have believed that so many wrasse could be lying there under my feet. Next time we plan to target them with a sinking line and a crab pattern fly.

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On day five the weather broke and we fished an estuary for bass on the rising tide. I blanked but Bill had fish. The afternoon was a write off due to pouring rain but set us up for the next day going after salmon on the River Inney. The Inney is a spate river that has a small run of salmon and sea trout. It fishes well for a short window after a spate so we got our licences and over a few glasses of Guinness and wine eagerly anticipated the next day. You can fish the Inney with a single handed rod and it helps if you can Spey cast with the single handed rod. New rules this season are restricting to catch and release on single barbless hooks which makes landing any taker a bit of a lottery. I had three takes and landed one fish. I missed the other two by tightening up too soon before the fish had turned back down to its lie. I have paid a lot of money to fish much more prestigious rivers than the Inney and caught nothing, so my 2 out of 2 100% success on the Inney is again a tribute to John’s intimate knowledge of the river and the necessary conditions for success.

IMG_1305Day six we opted to try for a bigger mullet and whilst we both caught the big one eluded us. We also fished a small stream looking for beautiful little wild brownies with yellow bellies and red spots. There is a species of trout in Ireland called a  Gillaroo and these little chaps look just like them.

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Our week was over. I caught bass, pollack, mullet, trout, sea trout, salmon all on the fly. In addition we has wrasse, pollack and cod as well as some other bass on lures. I put on 7 lbs and had a fabulous time in great company in the midst of the most stunning scenery. I am sure I will be back again. Thank you John and Lynn and Ireland 🇮🇪

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The jury is out on this one. I am sure that  I mentioned that a drive belt on the hybrid motor broke on the way here. The net effect of that was not significant , such is the redundancy built into our particular Wylo. One of the jobs of the hybrid is to generate lots of electricity when the engine is running. If the hybrid is not working, we fall back to ordinary systems where, when the engine is running, it charges the batteries through the alternator. This is slower and not very efficient but gets the job done. We can’t manoeuvre the boat using the electric motor and can’t use the mains type electric for cooking or charging stuff. Other than that, it is a non event.

We took the precaution of pre-positioning a spare belt around the prop shaft before the shaft was coupled together. That meant that the belt was ready to slip over the various wheels and tensioner and then be tensioned and “Bob’s your Uncle and away you go “.

However, when you really look at everything there are a number of pieces of this jigsaw that don’t seem to fit. Most frustrating but very much helped by a call to the man who invented the thing and who is happy to help a helpless customer on his Sunday. Graeme of Hybrid Marine, made a short video for me showing the majority of what needed doing, sent me an updated version of the manual and took a long call from me while I checked my understanding. Loins suitably girded, I got out the tool bag and jumped in. Everything went swimmingly until I got to an unforeseen step which was cleared up by another call to Graeme. Problem was I needed tools I didn’t have. Step in the marina. They provided free loan of the bits I needed and joy of joy, job done. 

Time to start the engine and test things out. Turn the key and flash bang, no engine start but sparks and sinking feeling. Racking my brains as to what I could have disturbed, managed to take a lump out of my finger on a sharp bit while tracing wires. Not happy. Phone Graeme. Within two minutes fault is traced to loose connection on the engine battery and engine starts as normal. Then run through a series of checks to verify that the repairs to the belt are sound and that the hybrid is working normally. Lo and behold it all works. 😀

What is the learning? I need an expanded range of tools. Having a great supplier who is willing to offer support in a tight corner is fantastic. Having sorted it, it was relatively simple with the right tools. 

My conclusion is that I am not yet mechanical enough but I took big steps in the right direction today.🛠


Oh by the way, given that this is Willie’s Adventures Sailing and Fishing you might like to know that we caught our first fish, a tasty tuna called a bonito. See below.


Oh, and did I happen to mention quietly that IRELAND STUFFED THE ALL BLACKS. WAHOOO!!!!!!!

Till next time when we will be en route to the Canaries via a couple of deserted islands.

Regards

Willie

Posted by: williekp | November 2, 2016

Remarkable progress despite weather, wind and engineers

The new crew assembled according to plan in Lisbon. We made a small cruise down towards the sea to get a away from the noise of the bridge and to get to a nicer marina.

Then the weather took over and we waited for 6 days for a consistent forecast that made the 5/6 day trip towards Madeira possible. Some people in the same marina planning on the same passage left a day earlier than we did. However, comparing notes at this end, we all had the same frustrations of not enough wind from the right directions to make the passage really great. Having said that, we had a really good passage where we tried out the modified self steering on various points of sail and I was pleased with the results. We can self steer reliably on many more sail plans and points of sail. We also had a little visitor.

The new crew were great. We paired them off in watches of two with me as the floating resource. After about day two, I really wasn’t needed and had a lot of sleep while the crew managed the boat. We arrived uneventfully in Porto Santo about 20 miles north of Madeira Tuesday lunchtime after departing Lisbon the previous Thursday afternoon. This was an average of just under 5 kts for the 570 mile passage.

Relaxed helming!

In Lisbon I employed some engineers to service the engine. In that process they moved something and didn’t put it back exactly. The net result was a broken drive belt on an important piece of kit that generates electricity on board. We are still carrying that defect and will attend to it in Madeira.


Speaking of which, we are ready to leave tomorrow and will be there for about a week when I will repair the belt and get a few other little jobs done. I will leave you with a few views of Porto Santo.


Till next time… Willie

Posted by: williekp | October 18, 2016

New Toys all round

I have decided to upgrade my communications equipment so that I can better receive wifi and cellular signals when in or close to harbour and also send and receive e-mail and get weather information over my satellite phone when out of conventional internet range. An upside is that when I post now you will also get an indication of where the boat is if everything works properly.thumb_img_0001_1024To see the new posts you have to log on to blog.mailasail.com and scroll through the boats alphetabetically until you find my boat lila and click on there. I will still be posting on williesadventuressailingandfishing when I have normal internet access.

That’s it for now. Must get packing.

Posted by: williekp | October 13, 2016

Things are busy even when you are back at home

Got back yesterday and it is lovely to see friends and family after a 6 week absence. Great to visit the squash club and the golf club and loving the fact that I have actually managed to lose weight. Sailing is great for that. I tend to eat less, drink less beer and put out a few more calories just through the movement of the boat. Long may it continue as I have a way to go yet. Today was all about liaising with the new crew members and ordering bits that I need to take back with me to keep things running smoothly. We chlorinate all the water we take on in marinas and we also pass it through domestic water filters before it gets out of the taps on board. I ordered three new filter cartridges today. I am also hoping that my guide to cruising Maderia and the Canaries ( plus the Azores and Bermuda) will arrive in time before I head back next Wednesday. I will give it a day or two before I start checking up with the technicians that I have booked work in with on the engine, wind vane steering and some internal door handles. There is always a long list of little jobs to be done to keep things ship shape. My crew John flies back tonight so I am hoping that the leaving the boat checklist I left him with gets done and there are no surprises when I get back next week.

We have 5 people on board including myself for the next legs. I plan to do a shakedown day and move Lila back down to Cascais. Everyone should get a familiarisation with raising and lowering the sails and bowsprit and reefing with a dose of tacking and jibing so that when we get our weather window to leave for Maderia we have some level of confidence on each watch with me available to help out and supervise where necessary. Five on board will also be interesting to see how space and comfort and general crew dynamics works out. The next crew look to have a good level of sailing ability and I am optimistic that we can run a safe and happy ship. Joyce will be joining the crew for the first time and I am looking forward to that because it is really she and I who are committed to getting across the Pacific. The Atlantic is something Joyce has done in the past but we are both excited about the possibility of visiting all the Pacific islands we can in the time available.

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Committed Pacific crew mate Joyce

 

More on the rest of the crew next time.

I have been having trouble getting my tiller pilot to work properly. Having spent a four figure sum on acquiring it and having it fitted it turns out that it doesn’t like metal boats because they confuse its internal compass. I am sure I could spend as much again trying to get it sorted out properly but on the way down to Lisbon we motored a fair way and I rigged up a tiller lashing way of steering which worked pretty well.

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So I am postponing spending money on the tiller pilot and buying a Jordan Series Drogue instead. This is a bit of kit that keeps you and the boat safe if you really get unlucky and encounter s very severe storm.

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Jordan Series Drogue

I would hope never to need to use it but with a 20 plus day Atlantic crossing and a 25 day plus Pacific crossing and the changing weather patterns we are encountering everywhere it is a good thing to have on board. Trevor Robertson who owns and sails his Wylo singlehandedly and who has been to Antarctica and the Arctic in his, has just acquired one and comments that he should have had one years ago. That is good enough for me. No one who has ever used one has had their boat damaged or lost even in a hurricane ( it says here). More next time when we have a new crew and are heading for Maderia.

Posted by: williekp | October 9, 2016

Crossing Biscay

When we left things last time it was a bit touch and go crew wise as to how we were going to get across Biscay. I even thought I might have to sail back up the channel and take Lila to the Med through the French canals. Harriet who was the only crew at that stage didn’t seem too keen on that so we went into overdrive to recruit suitable crew at short notice. A while ago when this whole idea was brewing I joined the Cruising Association (CA). It is not anything to do with gay bars. It’s a non profit for people who cruise, live aboard and share info on how to make life generally easier. They have a crewing service so I updated my needs on there and on Crewseekers. In addition the CA has a section where potential crew set out their experience and what they are interested in. So Harriet and I made a list and e- mailed about 20 prospects. Next day we phoned up the best candidates on the list. To cut a long story short, we recruited two who could join us on the Wednesday to make a weather window of 4 days that started on the Thursday.

It takes 4 days to cross Biscay offshore. My insurance also stipulated that I wouldn’t be covered if I didn’t make the crossing before end of Sept when storms become more frequent. We set off on Thursday 15 th Sep with a forecast of North Westerly winds of 20 knots gusting to 23kts for the first two days and then light winds after that.The two crew were a man and a woman. The chap had done a single handed Atlantic circuit and  was both a good sailor and a really good shipmate. The woman’s sailing CV read like Sir Francis Chichester. She was a disaster. A moaning passenger who broke the bog seat twice, bog door once and managed to lock us all out of the boat by changing the combination on the lock without knowing that she had done it. She was the only person seasick. She also had no discernable receive mode and seemed to be stuck on transmit. I had paired her with the other chap and felt very guilty about it. She was also permanently late for her watch and left her massive amounts of stuff in everyone else’s spaces. Needless to say when we got to Northern Spain we didn’t see much of her.

Back to the crossing itself. We had to motor for a good distance out of Falmouth as there wasn’t much wind but once we found the wind we found a bit more than we had expected. It was averaging 29 kts and gusting to 37 which in shipping forecast terms is Force 7 gusting F8. The sea was also not great with at least two wave trains running in different directions. When they met they sort of exploded upwards. So we got to see what Biscay has got its reputation for. This meant I was kept busy on the foredeck reefing so we didn’t have too much sail up for the wind. We ended up with three reefs in the main and Lila self steered that whole first night beautifully.

We had a good sail the next day until the wind dropped out and then we motored or motor sailed for the remaining two days and docked in A Coruna in N Spain early on Monday 19th. All safe and sound with nothing broken. Except the bog seat twice etc etc.

On the way across we saw a lot of wildlife. The highlight of the wildlife was a large pod of pilot whales who followed us in daylight for about half an hour. There were at least 20 of them ranging in size from about 20 feet down to babies. I got lots of good pictures but unfortunately got my camera wet in A Coruna and lost the pictures. The memory remains.

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Our excellent crew member

The crew left in A Coruna and Harriet and I managed the boat around to a place called Camarinas. We anchored up for a couple of days to await the arrival of John Bullard who was returning to help crew us down to Lisbon. On the day JOHN was to arrive, Harriet got a call from home that meant she had to abandon her plans and return to look after someone close to her who was unwell. That was a sad loss as she had been a great crew member . Poor John turned up to find that it was just he and I.

He and I managed Lila without much help from the wind round Cape Finisterre and down the coast calling for a few days at Porto and Lisbon. Most of the other stops were brief either on the anchor or one nighters in a marina. The stops in Porto, Vigo and Lisbon were fun but it is a long way down here and I wanted to schedule a break before the next leg to Maderia and the Canaries. That meant for me that it sometimes felt less like cruising and a bit more like a delivery trip. I intend to fix that from here going forward, only sailing when there is wind suitable for what we want to do. We did have a bit of fog which made for some nice pictures.

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Cape Finisterre looming up out of the fog

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Fishermen dredging by hand in the early morning fog

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Motley crew safely in Lisbon

We have been working a bit on the boat and boat handling with modifications to the self steering and putting up and down the topsail.

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Topsail flying!

Tomorrow I am back home for about a week with Lila laid up here in Lisbon. Crew is arranged for the next legs to Maderia and the Canaries and that will be a bit of a selection exercise as to who will make the Atlantic crossing in January. The plan is to make it to the Canaries by about end of October and then cruise the Canaries for a few weeks before laying Lila up again until January when we will reconvene for the trip to the West Indies via the Cape Verde islands. More about that next time. Thanks for reading this and feel free to comment. Willie

 

 

Posted by: williekp | September 24, 2016

Cowes to Falmouth

Positioning for a crossing of The Bay of Biscay

On the first of September we convened for a shake down cruise in East Cowes. There were six on board that day including myself and Sarah who had come to meet the crew. The crew were two women and two men. Harriet and Joyce and John and Glenn

imageWe did the shake down sail in the Solent and after a few emotional goodbyes between Sarah and myself we left the next day on the tide down through the Needles channel and heading for an anchorage at Studland bay near Poole harbour. Joyce left us too and is planning on joining us in Lisbon for the open ocean sail to Maderia and down to the Canaries.

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It is not easy making ones way west to position to cross Biscay. The prevailing winds are westerly so unless you get lucky you are head to wind and every 6 hours the tide turns against you which further slows progress. The leg to Studland was uneventful with mostly motor sailing. At Studland we anchored up and had supper on board and a few hours sleep before setting off at 11 pm to sail across Lyme bay and into Dartmouth.

Our first night sail went well with Harriet and myself on the first watch. Because we had to go south initially we could sail without the motor and it was a beautiful moonless night and a bit cold. Harriet had never night sailed before and I was very pleased and relieved that she thoroughly enjoyed the experience and wasn’t anxious at all. That leg to Dartmouth took about 18 hours and we arrived pretty tired. That didn’t stop a meal out followed by a bit of crew bonding which lubricated with rum and gin took us into the early hours and a day off next day.

From Dartmouth we called in at Salcombe, anchored off Plymouth, called in at Fowey where the picture above through the porthole was taken. Most of that was motor sailing with Lila’s engine performing reliably and the wind vane steering working well at a 20 degree angle to the wind. We struck lucky from Fowey to Falmouth with favourable wind and a great sail all the way into the estuary.

John had always planned to leave us at Falmouth and Glenn who was down to cross Biscay with us had to leave because of time pressures at home. That meant that we needed some more crew quickly who were experienced enough to help us cross Biscay.  At that stage I wondered if we should just turn around and get the boat to the Med via the French canals but Harriet didn’t seem much interested in that so we ensconced ourselves in a cafe with internet and made a list of potential crew from the Cruising Association’s web site. We must have e- mailed 20 people and followed up the next day with phone calls. This was Saturday and the available weather window was supposed to open the following Thursday.

 

More on how we progressed next time. John seemed to enjoy himself enough that he signed up to joining us again in Northern Spain.

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Going into a night sky

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by: williekp | September 24, 2016

No news is not no news

If anyone is still out there following this, here is a catch up post that covers a lot of ground. When I got back from my Pacific Adventure, I stumbled across an opportunity to invest in a fledgling boat building company called Voyaging Yachts. That happened in Feb 2012. Over the last couple of years we have built two Wylo 35.5 steel gaff rigged cutters. Due to ill health, thankfully not mine, we are not moving the company forward. I have learned a lot about the process of building and owning a boat. The Wylo had never previously been a production boat. To own one, you had to find the designer Nick Skeates who lives on his boat, buy the plans and then make it yourself.Despite these obstacles there are around 40 Wylos out there cruising the oceans. Apart from the designer who has completed numerous circumnavigations the other most famous Wylo is Iron Bark owned by Trevor Robertson who built his in the Southern Hemisphere and went to Antarctica to overwinter it there in the ice as his maiden voyage.

 

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The first time the sun came up on Iron Bark after the Antartic winter.

Trevor went on to sail up through the Caribbean when the ice released him and over wintered the next winter in Greenland. His most recent voyage was from Newfoundland to Freemantle in Australia single handed and non stop via the Cape of Good Hope. I have no plans to do anything quite as adventurous as Trevor but his exploits show what the Wylo is capable of in good hands.

I am hoping ,if all goes well , to sail from the UK across Biscay, down the coast of Spain and Portugal across to Maderia and then South to the Canaries before the end of October having left the Isle of Wight on 1 Sept 2016. Subsequent blogs in this series will document the adventure and keep me in touch I hope with friends and family. Should that part go well, the plan is to cross the Atlantic in Jan 2017, move through the Caribbean to Panama by Feb and transit the canal to the Pacific in March. Thence forth, pick up my previous track via the Gallapagos and the Marquesas through the Tuamotos to Tahiti and on via the Society Islands to Tonga, Fiji and ending up in New Zealand by end Nov 2017.

This is ambitious and there is a part of me that hesitates to say it out loud. I have found some great crew to help me and share the adventure although I am hoping to get better at picking crew because my success rate is not good enough yet as witnessed by some others.

Look out for additional posts and if you would like to be notified when a new post is uploaded, please put your e mail in and hit subscribe. Also feel free to leave me comments. I am hoping to get the first update out pretty soon.

Willie

Posted by: williekp | August 29, 2016

Here we go again after a long pause

You have to dream big so here we go.

Tomorrow my crew comes together in Cowes and we will set off to position for an Atlantic crossing in January 2017. I have no idea how all of this will work out. Sarah my wife is not up for crossing oceans and will join where possible. I am hopeful that as skipper I can pick suitable crew and create a good environment so that we all get what we need from the experience.

I will need crew with some offshore experience in Jan 2017 in the Canaries to help with the Atlantic puddle jump. Feel free to volunteer if you are that way inclined. I am planning to add a tracking facility to the site so that you can track progress if your desire is to view from afar. The ultimate aim if all goes well is to be in New Zealand by Oct/Nov 2017.

 

Regards

 

Willie

 

Wish us luck..IMG_1493

Watch this space.
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