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Old 08-21-2011, 10:15 AM   #1
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Had already been let down with crew failing to turn up. So just took of solo first from Hamworthy in Poole South UK to sail none-stop to Falmouth in Cornwall UK it took 22hrs and during entry into the harbour the oil light came on and I had to shutdown the engine and sail into the busy harbour lucky I had been here a few times so knew the waters well I mangage to grab a buoy. The engine had sheared a vibrating oil pipe in half and all the oil was now in the bilge. I spent hours slowly cleaning up the mess. A day locating and obtaining a new pipe.

Then I used a professional paid for crew requirement agency for I was bound to sail up North to Liverpool to visit my poorly sick Dad. Two days later several crew had been promised by day three I was yet again alone and sailed from Falmouth solo to Milford Haven staying awake was not an issue I had plenty of very strong coffee and had many times done 36hrs this time I had just got half way accross the Bristol Channel when the weather turned nasty I was already passage plannned to the max CG66 registered and had notified the coast guard that as conditions got worse I was now under bare poles yet still making way. They where exceptional and asked me to contect them every few hours with a progress update. Then disaster struck a huge breaking wave swept me still in my harness and attached to lifeline through the upper wash board and left me hanging into the cockpit I pulled the safety clip and released myself to fall to the cabin floor and in doing so caught the microphone on the vhf this tore out the entire socket. Left now with a dead main radio i tried the brand new handheld radio in my grab bag it could receive but did could not transmit the distance to the coast guard. Now i was concerned some 40NM from my destination and eight hours over due. The storm cleared and I rigged the boat for the fastest possible bolt hole I had per planned it was Dales Sands. unknown to me friends had already informed the coast guard I was missing they checked with my designated person who told they that I was an extremly proficient sailor and that at this time they where not concerned. However the CG put in place an ALLSHIPS bulliten to Cargo, Fishing, Pleasure, Ferry and other vessels and ports for a sighting of my vessel.

I became more concerned when a gigantic container ship made a full 360 turn around me whilst under sail and moving at a fast speed I tried to hail them on the hand held radio yet got no reply.

Totally exhausted by now I just kept sailing drinking hot fluids and eating 12hrs overdue I reach St Annes at Milford and managed to get the coast gurad on my handheld with a very weak signal I explained I was okay and still making way informed them of main radio failure and of seawater in my diesel the breaking wave sent water down the fuel tank air vent. Being a very savvy sailor with good mechanical experience I knew I cound drain off the water but not under sail.

I headed for a pontoon at Dale Sands it was the closest land object I could make in my back up plan. I sailed straight on to it without any problems. Tried to radio coast gurad to close the event but again could not get the range on a hand held radio. I drained off the water in the fuel changed fuel filters and then decided to rest. I was woked several hours later by the marine police who checked my log book entries and told me that a full SAR (search and rescue) team where about to be deployed as my vessel still listed as missing and had been sighted in thirteen (13) different locations from the ALLSHIPS request via the coast guard it truned out only the huge 360 truning vessel had correctly spotted my boat. The problem ...the boats name is also a BRAND name. I was given a phone and asked to call the coast guard duty controller to close the event.

Lessons learnt solo sail short distances only. When people fail to trun up for crew never ask them again they are unreliable. ALWAYS have a back-up plan with bolt holes, carry spare parts filters belts fuel etc I did thats why this event is on here to share the knowlage and experience.

I sailed from Dale to Fishgurad after plenty of rest and repair again solo then at fishgurad I had a temp crew to passage with me to Pwllheli. From here a really decent crew person came with me all the way to Liverpool we did it all in a remarkable time and without anymore problems.

I hope this is of some help to others
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Old 08-21-2011, 12:20 PM   #2
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Thank you for posting this. Yes, it is a useful and informative post on single-handed passages.

When a series of "mishaps" like you experienced happened to us, I used to call it our own personal Jumby (Trinidadian term for mischievous sprite/leprechaun) just waiting to catch us napping! Murphy's Law personified.

Congratulations on making it. Solo problems seem so much more difficult, if only because you have nobody to share the work and just provide a bit of company as you struggle through ("misery loves company").

Experience is so important in overcoming these problems, and you sound like my husband Peter, who I have learned to trust in any and every emergency. Peter just doesn't get rattled, he never runs about willy-nilly, he remains calm and focused on putting things right. Slow and steady. That's a quality that helps you get through the most painful of Murphy's tricks.

As for your hand-held radio. Rechargeable VHF radios can really mess one up. They usually have 8 (more or less) rechargeable AA batteries, which have one big drawback. Unused, they lose 1% of their charge every day whether being used or not, so stored without charging for two months and you have seriously discharged batteries. Secondly, too often the rechargeable batteries that come with a device are not premium batteries and have lower capacity than the high-end ones. We had some with a capacity of 840 mAh, when the Energizer[sup]TM[/sup] batteries have 2300 mAh capacity! I now carry a sealed plastic bag (with some dessicant enclosed) of regular Alkaline batteries in the ditch bag since they have a multi-year storage life, as indicated on the batteries themselves.
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Old 08-21-2011, 02:12 PM   #3
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Wow glad it's just not me it happens too then.

Have also now got some high end batteries as a back-up for the handheld and it now lives on the charger so in marina it gets automated.

I love the Murphy's Law as you put it I thought it was Sod's Law ;-)

Your husband must be from the same brand as I nothing gets me down it may leave me black and blue soaking wet and exhausted yet somehow I just will myself to deal with whatever may come at any time.

Got a few more bits to post when i can dry my notes out i love pencil it does not run when soaked no matter what :-)
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Old 08-21-2011, 10:16 PM   #4
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I never experienced that before but it is not impossible that it won't happen to me. Thanks for sharing great information here. I'm now equip of good knowledge to bring when I'm sailing.
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Old 08-22-2011, 05:16 AM   #5
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Quite a trip. What are you going to do for excitement now? Amazing how maneuverable ships are when they want to. I've been chased all over the ocean by one and could not out fox it. They were just checking to see if I was ok! I thought they were trying to run me down, couldn't contact them on the vhf and I let off a white flare. Tiredness is the problem when singlehanding for me, start making mistakes and they can be serious. Appreciate your openess in relating this,

Thanks

Pete.
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Old 08-22-2011, 07:26 AM   #6
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Hi Pete,

For excitement now.... Well i am heading back on Thur 25th Aug this week Liverpool to Falmouth .... Have put out crew wanted in the usual places even used a paid service won't mention on here as it advertising not had much in the way of willing offers to join me yet....

Mmmmm me thinks SOLO will be the case ah well shorter legs will be the safe way to sail it.

Yes I too was amazed how a super sized ships could move and circle me very intimidating will try the white flare next time (Hope there is no next time thought ;-) ).
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Old 08-23-2011, 01:39 AM   #7
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Ha ha, yes shorter trips will be cool. I wonder sometimes if telling coastguard ( trip report ) is a good idea. They tend to overreact in my opinion like one hour reporting scheds. I just let someone who knows about my yacht and my abilities know where I expect to be and also use the Spot messenger to send I'm ok messsages. That incident you relate that took out the vhf is a bit scary. Could see that happening quite easily. I have an old vhf onboard for a spare but they are so cheap nowadays I think a newer spare may be the go. I've a mate on the coastguard radio here and he calls me so many times i turn the radio off! Only when sailing about the bay though. Hey Deepblue, tell me your always strapping on and wearing a lifevest with an epirb when single handing. Yes I think white flares are great, very ,very useful.
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Old 08-23-2011, 09:53 AM   #8
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Ha ha, yes shorter trips will be cool. I wonder sometimes if telling coastguard ( trip report ) is a good idea. They tend to overreact in my opinion like one hour reporting scheds. I just let someone who knows about my yacht and my abilities know where I expect to be and also use the Spot messenger to send I'm ok messsages. That incident you relate that took out the vhf is a bit scary. Could see that happening quite easily. I have an old vhf onboard for a spare but they are so cheap nowadays I think a newer spare may be the go. I've a mate on the coastguard radio here and he calls me so many times i turn the radio off! Only when sailing about the bay though. Hey Deepblue, tell me your always strapping on and wearing a lifevest with an epirb when single handing. Yes I think white flares are great, very ,very useful.
YES I do wear a life jacket at all times, strapped on when on deck and my epirb lives on a short leash in my pocket.... Friends call me Captain Sensible ha ha

It's always better to be safe than sorry I'm often shocked to see crewed overloaded vessels with nobody in a life jacket. Makes me wonder why some people buy them?
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Old 08-24-2011, 07:00 AM   #9
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Yes they are a bit like a seatbelt in a car, get so used to using the gear that its a no brainer. Same here, people go out here without lifejackets on, a disaster waiting to happen. Great if you can get a crew or two, best of luck.
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Old 08-25-2011, 03:57 PM   #10
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Yes they are a bit like a seatbelt in a car, get so used to using the gear that its a no brainer. Same here, people go out here without lifejackets on, a disaster waiting to happen. Great if you can get a crew or two, best of luck.
Captain Sensible has delayed a day for a crew member travelling a huge distance to join the vessel wiil let you know how return sail works out. Still room for two more? Hoping for Fair Winds & No rain ha ha if Only ...
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Old 08-26-2011, 08:29 AM   #11
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This was very interesting, thank you Deepblue for sharing your ordeal. Always keen to read about other solo sailors.

I have just returned from a 4 week solo cruise. Longest non-stop distance 80 nM. Fortunately I did not have any of your difficulties but as you know when you sail solo you do sail with a thin margin. Usually I enjoy it and when things deteriorate as some time they do I keep reminding myself that at least I do not have to worry about a panicky crew.

Happy Sails

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Old 08-26-2011, 10:19 AM   #12
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This was very interesting, thank you Deepblue for sharing your ordeal. Always keen to read about other solo sailors.

I have just returned from a 4 week solo cruise. Longest non-stop distance 80 nM. Fortunately I did not have any of your difficulties but as you know when you sail solo you do sail with a thin margin. Usually I enjoy it and when things deteriorate as some time they do I keep reminding myself that at least I do not have to worry about a panicky crew.

Happy Sails

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Oh wow you cant just be that brief with your first solo cruise and an 80nm non-stop passage please do tell more?

I never have panicky crew I brief them before we set sail ... Incase of Fire follow me >>> I'll be in the Dingy ha ha kidding I do give a very short meaningful brief to all who come out with me so in the event of an incident they can assist or even resolve stuff adore sharing the whole experience.

Thanks
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Old 08-28-2011, 01:16 PM   #13
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Oh wow you cant just be that brief with your first solo cruise and an 80nm non-stop passage please do tell more?

I never have panicky crew I brief them before we set sail ... Incase of Fire follow me >>> I'll be in the Dingy ha ha kidding I do give a very short meaningful brief to all who come out with me so in the event of an incident they can assist or even resolve stuff adore sharing the whole experience.

Thanks
Sorry if I miss led you. This was not my first solo cruise. I have been doing this for over 15 years. Most of the times I find solo sailing very relaxing and I do enjoy the complete freedom. But, there are times, just as in your case, when things do get out hand.

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Old 08-28-2011, 04:54 PM   #14
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Sorry if I miss led you. This was not my first solo cruise. I have been doing this for over 15 years. Most of the times I find solo sailing very relaxing and I do enjoy the complete freedom. But, there are times, just as in your case, when things do get out hand.
Wow thats great stuff. I find because I keep sailing while the conditions are good the hours sailing take a lot out of me so always offer Free crew opertunities have a member with me until Monday 29th when I reach Pwllheli North Wales... Then I hope to find mile builders, experienced passengers, recreational sailors or pleasure sailors to hop abord for a leg or all of them back to my home town Falmouth ... Fingers crossed adverts everywhere....
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