Modifications and Improvements

Improvement schedule since purchase 22nd August 2012


Northshore upgrades Winter 2012/13


Replaced Stainless Steel Water tanks (x2) and Stainless Steel Diesel tanks (x2) with polyethylene TEK tanks.

Installed a central third rudder.

Fitted a new transom portlight to provide light and ventilation to master bed head.

Installed a deck-wash pump.

Installed Katadyn water maker.



Installed Air breeze wind generator, braces and charge display ,interchangeable with new outboard davit.

Installed photo voltaic panels on coach roof and charging display.

New outboard bracket fitted onto new vertical stanchion infill.

New transom shower controls and fittings.

New fender stowage nest fitted and mounted to match, port and starboard.

New horseshoes with new LED lamps and brackets.

30M kedge webbing reel added to inside of port lazarette locker.

Bow sprit designed and manufactured with stowage arrangement in anchor locker.

New pulpit seat with integral SS socket for passerelle spigot.

Existing 30m of chain replaced with a new length of 100m with a spliced rope end and markings every 10m.

Installed storage arrangement inside anchor locker lid for anchor ball & motoring cone.

Upgraded electronics including extra auto control at companionway, AIS with new GPS aerial on coachroof.  New digital radar scanner, hailing horn at cross trees, E125 plotter at nav station, modified the binnacle and mounted E7 plotter at helm, repositioned Navtex aerial at pushpit, installed globe surfer unit with aerial on cross trees.

New display housing and cockpit table. Iridium dome in the background.

New 13A sockets at base of companionway, inside locker in galley and in front of nav station.

New cockpit table.

Installed LED lamps everywhere (including nav lights) except steaming light and foredeck floodlight.

Re-instated 2 way switching in galley.

Installed new tide clock and barometer.

Installed pockets for binoculars and torch inside companionway.

Fitted new DAB radio/CD player with sub-woofer under floor at base of companionway.

Installed bracket for stern passerelle attachment on transom.

Transom bracket and Passerelle

New folding passerelle modified for spaced suspension with wire suspension and lateral support lines and stowage bag.

New lazy jacks with small blocks rather than just loops for adjustment.

Two sets of 10M tripping buoy arrangements made up including chain weights and 10M extensions.

New stanchion mounting BBQ with polypropylene protection sheet cut to fit aft deck.

New wind scoop made to hopefully exclude rain.

Torsion luff added to gennaker and new Karver continuous furler added.

New Hypalon Zodiac Cadet 285 Fast Roller Dinghy sized to fit inverted on deck between stay sail and self tacking track using ratchet straps.

New 6HP Yamaha 4 stroke outboard (internal and external tank arrangement) with lifting straps and cover.

Wire strop arrangement for lifting dinghy.

Coach lines repaired where damaged and missing.

Snap shackle added to main sheet at traveller so that the boom can be used for MOB recovery.


New Yankee jib and jib sheets.

New mainsail and battens.

Replaced spinnaker halyard and masthead turning block. Provision for second block.

Replaced inner forestay and staysail foil as the original foil was too short and bodged.

Replaced roller furling lines (longer on yankee jib to reach electric winch) and fitted jamming block on staysail furler.

Replaced spinnaker pole height adjustment cleats with jammers.

Added whisker pole attachment eye above upper pole track car.

Replaced staysail sheet.

Replaced seized coach roof turning blocks.

Made GRP masthead burgee stave served with grey shrink wrap .

Masthead Burgee

Installed a new digital masthead TV aerial and new amplifier.

Fitted plug and socket arrangement to all mast wiring.

Repaired AC system to Master cabin. Temperature sensor had not been plugged into controller as cable too short, instead it had been hidden behind pipework. Pulled spare cable through and plugged it in – perfect – what were Northshore thinking ?

New 19000btu AC system to serve the saloon. Installation included new sea cock and outlet. Controller matched to existing system so new remote operates both.

Hull, keel and grounding plate grit blasted and treated with two coats of epoxy and 4 layers of coppercoat.

Exhaust outlet re- welded, exhaust pipe replaced.

New prop shaft, stuffing box packing replaced and propeller serviced and balanced.

Flexible coupling added to prop shaft with electrical continuity link.

Third rudder split (new Northshore rudder was waterlogged) and 50mm added to leading edge and  100mm added to trailing edge. Not only has this 3 rudder configuration enhanced low speed  control but I have never felt overpowered downwind.

Barry cleaning prop in Antigua. Picture shows enlarged central third rudder

Third rudder seals replaced as the seals fitted by Northshore were inverted and broken because of incorrect fitting.

Gunwale teak capping removed, upstand infills removed (bad Northshore job with softwood rotting and expanding) new marine ply infills glassed in, width clamped back to correct width and re-sealed.

Gel coat repairs to various deck and hull blemishes including reworking trailing edge of sugar scoop where the previous repair had been the wrong colour.

Optimised lip to lazarette lockers where too low at hinges resulting in leaking into lockers.

Re-varnished woodwork in the area of the companionway.

Installed grating in the bottom of the fridge so no soggy juice cartons in future.

Serviced rope cutter, replacing shims.

Fitted anode to third rudder skeg extension and replaced all other anodes.

Replaced keel lift pennant and modified turning blocks with new bearings but retaining sheaves.

Removed offending wireless windlass remote system.

Refurbished plug in windlass control, fitting new wire and plug and socket.

Re-seated starboard primary winch to (hopefully) address leak.

Repaired saloon 12V. sockets.

Fitted new GPS aerial on coachroof to match AIS aerial.

Serviced morse control unit and replaced cables with new ‘silky smooth’ versions.

Replaced automatic bilge pump.

Serviced heads pumps and replaced some pipework

Fitted new holding tank sensors and gauges.

Replaced some portlight seals.

Replaced large springs on Med mooring stern lines.

Fitted mirror in fore cabin.

Installed steel strong box in mid cabin.

Split bimini frame into 3 bayonet locking sections for convenient stowing.

Replaced bimini yokes with correctly angled fittings.

Repaired stack pack.

Waterproofed existing bimini.

New reflective bimini with partial, roll up sides.

New bimini strap fastenings.

Leather rubbing patches (for bimini straps) onto spray hood.

Stowage bag for spare danforth bower anchor.

Reflective blinds (to fit outside) for saloon windows.

Iridium Satellite phone system with ‘red box’ WiFi unit and mounting strut to match opposite side.

Email compression system for satellite transmission, wireless and blogging software.

Fitted a new windlass.

Replaced Raymarine VHF radio, mast top aerial and wiring.

Had original Raymarine VHF repaired and now stored as a spare.


New rudder bearings, seals and greasers to a revised specification to eliminate the possibility of ‘pumping past’ in a heavy seaway. Rudder tracking angles adjusted.

Bruntons H5-485mm Three Blade Autoprop Propeller

New  Bruntons  Autoprop propeller fitted.  Variprop cleaned up and stowed as a spare.

Repaired and improved stack pack with wider flap to cover the zip to resist tropical sunshine.

Installation of new ‘Watt & Sea’ hydrogenerator (new unit returned to manufacturers in France as leaking oil while stored in outhouse!) including transom bracket with interchangeable fixture for mounting the outboard for manoeuvring in the event of engine failure.

Replaced rubber flap seals on keel slot.

Additional skeg extension anode fitted as single anode found to have deteriorated disproportionately.

Installed baffles to minimise (hopefully eliminate) slopping into the bilge from the keel pennant access.

Two new fishing rod holders each side of the cockpit mounted on aft stanchions to clear boom.

New wind scoops made for the small saloon linear hatches and the two forward lateral hatches which fold flat for stowage.

Replaced engine starter motor, original refurbished as a spare.

Stowed a spare new 80A alternator.

Stowed a spare fresh water pump and accumulator.

Stainless steel profiled sections added to gunwale capping to stop fender lines ‘grooving’ the teak.

New gas alarm with interlock (and manual control) to new gas shut off valve (with by-pass in case of failure) and new bilge ventilation fan.

Replaced fresh water filter.

Third reef tack rams horns added to gooseneck and jammer installed on coachroof.

Replaced jaws on main halyard jammer.

Changed shackles on the original spinnaker lines so they match the new Parasailor lines and are more user friendly.

Hull cleaned and polished.

Coppercoat re-touched where necessary.

Fire extinguishers serviced and supplemented.

Force 10 Euro Compact cooker replaced with larger Euro Standard model with taller oven giving extra shelf.

Worktop and new cooker modified to allow full gimballing and closing cover. (Not foreseen when replaced)

All AGM batteries replaced and third domestic battery added – domestic capacity now 660AH. Battery link cables uprated.

Stainless steel channels added to battery banks to secure in the event of knockdown.

Central eye added to forward face of mast for the connection of the new whisker pole.

Old  yankee jib serviced and fitted with a new torsion luff for mounting onto the bow sprit for ‘reefable’ twin poled out foresails for trade wind night sailing.

All instrumentation replaced with the new Raymarine E series (to match others) with the new acclaimed compass and auto control system. Wind display subsequently changed to the digital version.

Stainless steel rubbing patches added to prevent damage to the gel coat from the furling lines and the spinnaker halyard when used on the windlass rope drum.

Intermediate sized, more useable coffee table made and neatly stowed.

Cup and bottle holders (de-mountable) added to cockpit and pushpit seating.

Adjustments to door catches found to burst open in heavy seaway.

Retaining rods added to lockers prone to shed contents on unfavourable tacks.

Isolating valve added to transom shower to prevent inadvertent dumping (it happened!) of tankful of water.

New TV (digital this time) DVD player and new, more versatile, mounting arrangement.

Vac formed stowage pockets added to the inside of various lockers to optimise wasted space.

New outboard propeller with finer pitch to (hopefully) enable achieving the plane more probable even with my weight !

Made a ‘boom crutch’ to brace and lock the boom using main sheet on traveller and new light, opposing bracing tackle.

Added new high volume emergency electric bilge pump (1700 gallons per hour) with a manual switch incorporated into the main isolating switch panel under the companionway steps, a new legend panel has been installed to include the new switch.

Substantial security bars have been made for the two large hatches using ‘keyed alike’ padlocks.

Handy stowage pocket added to the pedestal.

Standing rigging replaced in Vilamoura.

Dynema gybe preventers added to the boom, cleated near the gooseneck for easy deployment using the ‘handy billy’ onto the lateral bow mooring cleat through the fairlead.

Two ‘fold out’ mast steps added near the top of the mast to allow access to the very top.

New turning block added to mast head and spare spinnaker halyard installed.

Large diving knife/scissors added to the pedestal.

Additional 12V ‘lighter’ sockets added, two in galley, one in Master Cabin at bed head and one in Forecabin.

12V socket replaced at forward end of chart table – pilot berth.

Forward heads Lee Sanitation dosing unit replaced.


2015 / 2016

Grab bars added to the aft deck with eyes and retaining arrangements for strapping spare diesel containers in place. Central boss incorporated for twin spools of 2” webbing, each 160 metres in length.

Dedicated yellow brick satellite tracker added to stbd. pushpit.

Master cabin head lining insulated.

Replaced fresh water filter.

Master Cabin heads Lee Sanitation dosing unit replaced.

12V fans added to inventory, three centrifugal and two (cheap) axial.

Through hull for watermaker replaced with log impeller type unit with removable bespoke intake.

Former water maker sea cock fitted in galley and sea water hand pump added to the sink.

Karver K2 furler repaired (by Karver) and fitted on Gennaker.

Drop nose pin preventing rotation of the Watt & Sea bracket increased from 8 to 10mm diameter.

Dyneema ‘oversleeving’ added to jib sheet ends to limit chafe and sheets ‘overended’ so previously chafed ends become the cockpit lazy end. Dyneema section held in place with whipping and knotted into clew bowlines.

Second scissor type diving knife and sheath added to boom vang and spare sheath added to Iridium mast at the stern and two sheaths added behind companionway steps for safe stowing.

Rubber infill to anchor outlet on locker replaced.

Rubber baffle added to cutlery drawer so large sharp knives don’t continue to damage drawer end when pitching.

Cockpit RAYMIC VHF unit replaced. New spare sourced and stowed in waterproof box.

Water maker membrane replaced, used then ‘pickled’ upon arrival in Port Solent.

2016 / 2017

EV1 heading computer replaced and system re-calibrated.

Companionway steps removed, prepared and treated with 7 coats of the hardest two pack varnish. Re-installed with larger screws.

Watermaker filter re-positioned back to the original, more accessible location.

Reflective covering of clear Perspex washboards replaced – lock screw protected by rubber ‘foot’ to mitigate further damage.

Curtain segregating forward guest cabins replaced with opaque version for better privacy.

New hand hold added en-route to galley as identified on passage.

Outboard bracket replaced with machined solid nylon version.

Support struts to the Wind Gen replaced with more solid tube type. Longer for/aft strut modified into two halves to clip together.

Solid gimbal locks added to cooker for use in port.

New seat and backrest cushions fitted to pushpit seats.

New (blue) covers made and fitted on the transom over the shower fittings.

New spray hood fitted and zip changed on the cockpit cover to match.

Cockpit cover modified to tension with webbing and waterproofed. SS bridge fittings added between cockpit and traveller. ‘Button’ retainer added to dorade cover.

Two new twin 13A 240V socket outlets added to the Master Cabin.

Bruntons Autoprop removed and returned to Bruntons for service.

Prop anode exchanged for solid rather than ‘shell’ type.

Bow thruster anode replaced.

Ambassador ‘Stripper’ rope cutter removed and replaced with ‘Prop Protector’ blade type rope cutter – no moving parts to clash.

Prop, rope cutter, bow-thruster and log impeller treated with ‘Propspeed’.

Raw water pump impeller replaced with new model to take ‘screw on’ extractor and spare stowed.

Speed Seal (water pump impeller replacement system) knurled nuts machined to incorporate coin slot to assist if necessary.

The existing gearbox (KBW 20-1) was leaking oil and apparently obsolete. It had become noisy and the neutral position was becoming difficult to select. In that its successor was also obsolete it was decided to replace the unit with the new current model (KM35P) which is meant to be quieter. The physical difference in sizes is remarkable.

Original large gearbox
Original large gearbox

Unfortunately this is not a direct replacement as the new unit is shorter, the ‘splined’ drive shaft is a smaller diameter and the drive plate is a smaller diameter. This has meant that an adapter and spacer unit has had to be machined. In addition to this the output height is higher requiring the lowering of the engine, beyond the tolerance of the new engine mount nut adjustment necessitating the use of shims.

New 'petite' gearbox
New ‘petite’ gearbox

Engine thrust plate replaced.

Engine mountings replaced.

New earth continuity straps bolted over the flexible prop shaft unit.

Waterline raised 40mm and treated with epoxy and Coppercoat.

Skeg extension and prop shaft gland treated with epoxy and Coppercoat.

Coppercoat ’touched up’ on rudder, keel and sea cock outlets.

Gel coat repaired on stem and cockpit where poorly laid up and where pins (previous cockpit cover retention) removed.

Hull and deck cleaned and polished.

Chain depth markings repainted – green, yellow & red.

Shore power cable replaced with new 30metre, 4mm, tinned flexible cable (to reduce ‘volt drop’) and spare 20metre extension stowed.

Gas struts added to two cockpit lockers.

Cleat added to end of staysail self-tacking frame for spare spinnaker halyard.

Forward Heads pump (leaking) replaced, pipework and diverter valve replaced. Jubilee clamps on pipework at the extreme of reach tightened as probably never properly tightened from original construction and partly responsible for water ingress.

Forward Heads shower hose tightened also partly responsible for water ingress.

12V outlets added to mid cabin and port berth in forward cabin.

Generator serviced with new impeller, filters and oil. Degraded capacitors changed to increase output voltage which should stop AC tripping out on ‘Low Voltage’.

New Mastervolt 12/100-3 battery charger fitted to replace faulty 80A unit. New 100A charger better sized for larger domestic battery bank and additional charging facilities enable individual charging of both engine and generator batteries.

Engine main isolating switch replaced as original lost its ‘spring’ feel which is the first sign of imminent failure.

Additional jammer fitted on port side of coachroof and tack line rigged to enable the third reef to be fully deployed without leaving the cockpit – discovered fairlead holes are an original feature of the gooseneck.

All the ‘Alcantara’ furnishings in the saloon removed and professionally cleaned.

Additional hooks added forward for the hanging of clothing etc.

Cupboard door hinges replaced where necessary and 170 degree opening hinges used where appropriate.

Modified manual pump stowed next to stuffing box to overcome air lock on AC condensate drain and to dry bilge to lowest level.

2017 / 2018

Kenwood TS-480 SSB radio installed with Balun mounted below the insulated backstay.

Dynaplate (giant) added to the hull for SSB grounding.

UltraSonic anti fouling system added with two transducers.

Liferaft replaced with a physically shallower container to free up access to the transom mooring cleats.

Padded canvas covers made to fit over spare diesel containers mounted within the aft deck grab bars. These will both protect the spare containers from sunlight and provide extra seating.

Lifejackets, EPIRB, PLBs and flares all serviced and updated.

Replaced ‘un-matching’ additional clutches on coach roof with two extra matching Spinlock CAM-0814 clutches on each side affording one spare on each side.

Fitted 12 ‘Rain Shields’ on coach roof portlights to make them rain proof. Ordered from ‘’ and delivered very promptly.

Rain shield with Lewmar mosquito mesh fitted


Replaced ruptured port side water tank which involved the removal of the two AC Units and the port side diesel tank which enabled the following improvements:-

Installed improved tank support arrangement for both water and diesel tanks.

Improved limber hole on replaced glassed in bulkhead.

Replaced diesel tank drain plug with correct fitting and inserted with sealant.

Removed black jelly from diesel tank.

Replaced Eberspacher dip tube and made correct all copper pipe connections throughout.

Diesel tank connections

Improved AC unit supports and installed a second condensate drain.

Second condensate drain

Replaced blocked and scaled heads pipework in forward heads.

Scale reducing the internal diameter from 38mm to less than 20mm

Cut access holes to facilitate the above.

Hatch cover access to pipework in forward heads

Replaced engine starter motor.

Replaced automatic bilge pump.

Installed galvanic isolator on shore power.

Installed triple deck organisers mounted over the existing quads then installed machined aluminium spacer block to prevent lines being trapped.

Uprated the Battery charger trip switch from the previous 6A to 10A to accommodate the replacement battery charger delivering 100A as opposed to the previous 80A.

Replaced the domestic batteries with 3 off 200AH AGM batteries.

Replaced the on board router operating from a mobile roaming data Sim card. Now handling 4g+ network.

Installed breather tube on galley sink drain to overcome airlock preventing water running away.

Irrigation pipework pushed over the spigot and extended to inboard of the sink under the worktop.

Cockpit lights

Easy cockpit lights with no wiring involved can be achieved by securing cheap LED lights on the spray hood/bimini/tent using rare earth button magnets.

Cheap LED magnetic light
Cheap LED magnetic light
Button magnet securing light
Button magnet securing light

Hejira data


Southerly 135 RS Series III

British Registry:        SSR 110134

Hull Number: 23        Colour:  Ivory White

CIN Number:                             GB NYY 00182 G003

Year of Manufacture:              2004

international Callsign:              MEEY9

MMSI:                                        235 016 623

Home Port:                              Portsmouth UK

Yacht Club:         Royal Victoria Yacht Club. Fishbourne. IOW.UK

LOA                                         45’6”                13.86m

LWL                                         36’6”                11.13m

BEAM                                      13’6”                  4.12m

DRAFT                                    9’9”/2’9”             2.96m/0.84m

DISPLACEMENT                    27,708lbs        12,563Kg.

Engine:                        Yanmar 4JH3E 56HP     Serial No: E27501

Insurer:                                    Pantaenius

Policy Number:           70885056-11               Expires 20/08/2019

Liferaft:                        Crewsaver UK ISO      4 Person Canister

Serial No:   5232500101616

EPIRB:                          McMurdo Model G5

Unique ID:       1D0C51F93EFFBFF

Serial No:        200-15519

Tender:                  Zodiac Cadet 285 Fastroller ACTI-V (Hypalon)

Serial No:        FR-XDC10A95C111

Outboard:              Yamaha 6HP  4 Stroke F6CMH

Serial No:        6BX S 1020493 B

Owner:                                    Nicholas  Mines

‘Thornleigh’ 11, High Street

Sunningdale Village

Ascot, Berks



Telephone Mobile:                  + 44 7860 536812

Telephone Home:                   + 44 1344 291057

Telephone Office:                   + 44 1344 620001

Email:                               (via satellite)

Qualifications:         RYA/MCA Yachtmaster Offshore No.13108

Sail & Power with Commercial Endorsement                         International Certificate of Competence No 319164

Jolly good spot

We have spent a couple of days here in Jolly Harbour and they have been very enjoyable, it being a surprisingly good destination for all sorts of reasons. The Marina is sheltered and well serviced. The cross section of shops, restaurants and bars is very extensive and the overall ‘feel’ of the place is relaxing and comfortable. We have met a number of interesting ‘cruisers’ who all sing the praises of the lifestyle and Jolly Harbour in particular.

Stern to in Jolly Harbour
Stern to in Jolly Harbour

Today we ‘hauled’ with the very competent and confidence giving staff and we have been doing all the necessary work to leave Hejira ashore here until the end of April. It was interesting to note that the travel lift ‘load cell’ registered over 16 British tons with full tanks, all our spares and stores but, bear in mind that was with me still on board!  We have knuckled down to the myriad jobs including the fitting of a new through hull fitting for the water maker intake.

Block off
Block off

This turned out to be a bit of a breeze having made the unique unit back in the UK over Christmas and the drilling for the larger aperture could not have been simpler in that it only involved drilling over the existing unit having centred the drill with a bung driven up the small original opening.




Centred with a bung
Centred with a bung
Drill over the existing
Drill over the existing


The new solution is an adaptation of a log impeller through hull.

Extended intake beyond the hull
Extended intake beyond the hull

The water maker will only be used on long ocean passages so we will be able to ‘blank off’ the opening with the ‘plug’ for most of the time. This will allow the yacht to ‘take the ground’ unimpeded by the necessary intake extending beyond the hull surface which is recommended to eliminate picking up bubbles which are the curse of water-makers.

New intake inserted into the log impeller apperture.
New intake inserted into the log impeller apperture.
Northshore strainer
Northshore strainer


Unfortunately Northshore had installed a traditional strainer which would work well in port but, on passage picked up small bubbles which collected in the top of the unit and were released as a large bubble when heeling on passage. The larger nature of this intake of air meant that the pump could not hydraulic the water through the membrane as the air would compress, diminishing the pressure and stopping the unit from producing water. We overcame the problem on our Atlantic crossing by dropping a weighted tube down the keel aperture but a more permanent solution was required.


Upright, bubbles collect in top
Upright, bubbles collect in top
Heeled, large bubble released
Heeled, large bubble released

So it’s home tomorrow, earlier than intended but happy that our Southerly is in a good place and in good shape.

I just hope that I have a comfortable flight as my crew John, being a retired BA pilot is (confidently) expecting to be able to stretch out ‘up the front’ having paid nothing for his ticket while I languish ‘down the back’ having bought my ticket twice!

I will resume the account towards the end of April.


Antigua landfall

We have ‘signed off’ our cruise with another great sail. F5 on the beam making 7-8 knots all day – big seas – great stuff!

Well reefed in the big seas
Well reefed in the big seas

John has become the perfect crew member, Happy to steer all day, knows where everything is and how it works, needing very little prompting when decisions are required – brilliant !!!
Anyway, we are now moored in Jolly Harbour in Antigua and perversely, bumped into (small world) the crew from Mojica who we have been ‘alongside’ since Las Palmas in the Canaries. They welcomed us into Rodney Bay with generous ‘OIlie Ollie Ollies’s’ and they will always remain in our memories.

John reports:-
Well it’s my last entry in the blog after a fantastic week’s sailing and generally hanging out with Nick, who despite everything I’ve written about him is a thoroughly good egg, (half-boiled obviously, but the other half is fine).

Turquoise inshore
Turquoise inshore

Today was the best yet with a cracking 50 mile leg up from Guadeloupe to the final port of Jolly Harbour in Antigua. As Nick said, the wind was perfect at 22kts all the way straight on the beam. That and some pretty big wave action made it my best ever days sailing, nearly five hours of playing the wind and waves. I LOVE it!. (Busting for a wee, but that could wait…).
The approaches into Antigua were magnificent, the water so blue initially becoming the most intense turquoise as we sailed into the shallower reef-ridden waters closer in. Some seriously big gin-palaces at anchor here, with more radomes and windows than you could shake a stick at, and masts that seemed so high they probably scrape the International Space Station’s botty.
Thing is though, they are SO big they can’t actually get into any of the decent places that humbler, less oligarchically-minded boat owners could reach. I guess they could summon a small destroyer or a helicopter to get them ashore, but really, what’s the bloody point?

Wow! It’s Antigua Race Week, and we sailed straight into the middle of it! Great atmosphere, boats and bods all over the place, talking to complete strangers at the bar about sailing, the best rum, flip-flops and of all things, Kazakhstan and its people! (Google “The Mongol Rally” to see what I’m doing in July, August and some of September… all will become slightly clearer I hope). Bands playing, flashing coloured lights, people chatting and laughing about their escapades in the day’s races, the nearly-half-moon on its back, grinning down at us like the Cheshire Cat, and quietly in the background to it all, the night breeze humming endlessly through the rigging.


Party time
Party time

I could get used to this……….
But then again it’s not really real is it? Perhaps better now to go home, all tanned and relaxed, and remember this as a great, fun thing that may happen again if I’m very lucky, and in the meantime get on with all the other good things that make Life worth living, like playing with my new Grandson, like working on my own boat, like playing with the guys in the band, and mostly just being Home among the people I love…
…until the next time…
Cheers Nick, thanks for having me, it’s been, as they say, a blast!

Lee ho

The passage north has taken us from the Windward Islands to the Leeward Islands and, unfortunately the only discernible difference is that, on this occasion, we have had rain and I mean heavy, relentless rain with absolutely no wind.

We ended up motoring up the West coast of Guadeloupe, close inshore for the best possible mobile signal to pick up the radio five live rugby commentary – sad maybe….. Strange what drives our decision making!

Our chosen anchorage before our final step to Antigua is Deshaies (pronounced “Day-Ay”),  on the north west corner of the island. The large bay is very busy and, with all the mooring buoys taken, we decided to anchor ‘deep’ beyond the melee. With 100 metres of chain we can still anchor in 20 metres and achieve a 5 to one ratio and it is re-assuring to have this option.


John adds his bit:

Never mind all the techo-nautiguff, it’s pissistantly rained for much of the day, I even had my Gore-Tex on while keeping watch for the plastic lemonade bottles that mark lobster pots. This morning leaving Saintes Isles the little clumps of bottles appear quite suddenly out of the murk, and we had to dodge them or get the rope caught around the propeller.

The predominant colour today is grey, the grey silhouettes of the receding Isles replaced by the grey bulk of Guadeloupe ahead. Occasional bursts of sunshine sent the temperature soaring again to what I’d paid for. But then more cloud and rain, and not a breath of wind.

Highlight of the day so far: Dolphins playing a couple of hundred metres to starboard. But even they must have got fed up with the rain, because they soon dived and were lost to us.

Then we were at Deshaies Bay, lots of moored and anchored yachts and now with more boats arriving behind us, it’s a bit of a waiting game to see whose anchor chain is too long/short, which may be entertaining at about three tomorrow morning if the wind gets up as it’s renowned to do around here and all the boats start swinging around like massive glass-fibre conkers.

Deshaies  on Guadeloupe.
Deshaies on Guadeloupe.

Hey! Hang on! All this grey talk, anybody would think it wasn’t a good day today. It depends on your perspective, for a Solent sailor like me, it’s warm, the sea is as smooth and well behaved as Cowes entrance but without the tide and Commodores to worry about, and when the sun did deign to show his face the water is the most amazing blue.

All that and Captain Finicky has been as nice as pie today, and so I can’t even take the Mick out of him today.

What’s he planning?

Hmmm, something must happen soon…

Whale washing

Being moored to a mooring buoy (especially when you have given it a big tug to be sure),  gives one a more relaxed night’s sleep. No worries about dragging the anchor or other yachts dragging, you can sleep worry free!

Les Saintes seen from Hejira's mooring
Les Saintes seen from Hejira’s mooring

So it was a leisurely start to the day with a dinghy ashore for me to watch the France vs Ireland six Nations game in a French port with Frenchmen. In the end France ‘nicked it’ but I was more enthralled with the tweets from Esher vs Fylde which left me drained as the score and ascendency swung back and forth with Esher just winning in the end. The bad news was that the viewing venue is closed on Sunday so it will be an attempt to stream the England game on Radio 5 over the internet as we make our way to the north-west corner of Guadeloupe.

The clear waters in Les Saintes bay prompted the breathing kit to be deployed so the missing anode from the prop could be replaced and a general ‘scrub up’ exercise carried out.

John working on the propeller.
John working on the propeller.
Nick working on the keel.
Nick working on the keel.

We managed to secure a table in the vaunted restaurant ashore which had been ‘complete’ last night so by the time John adds his thoughts, we will have experienced this treat:-


Well the first part of my day was laaazzzyyy, just sitting in the cockpit in the shade reading my book. Around midday I went for a rather sorry snorkel seeing lots of dead coral and a few fish. Hardly the Great Barrier Reef, but the water was cool and I decided that would probably be enough exercise for one day.

HAH! Fat chance…

Admiral Lord Nelson hailed me from his rubber dinghy and within half an hour we were grinding bits of reef off the bottom of Hejira. I have to admit the pumped air breathing gizmo was rather cool, and allowed one to hack away at the barnacles for a lot longer than by snorkel alone, although I could taste plastic for a while afterward.

All this submarine activity gave me a chance to try out my new underwater camera, and I reckon the results aren’t bad, and the first real pictures it took are of a close encounter with a whale doing what whales do in their natural habitat. I’m sure it was only a baby whale and probably thought the bottom of the boat was it’s mother judging by the way it rubbed itself all over the hull…

Out tonight for a cracking meal at “Au Bon Vivre”, ask Nick and he’ll tell you it was one of the best meals he’s ever had. (He’s told me seven times already tonight…)

So, Guadeloupe-bound on the morning tide…

…all 8 inches of it.

Caribbean contrasts

From Martinique, we headed for Dominica which is an independent country but the ex-British influence does at least mean that they drive on the left! We decided to put a ‘day in hand’ and head straight for Portsmouth at the North end of the island. This was a wonderful anchorage with the large bay providing shallow (ish) water for lots of anchoring options. We tucked in close again and explored ashore but we had missed the customs deadline for ‘clearing in’ so we enjoyed Sandy’s bar before returning to Hejira for a meal on board.

Anchored off Sandy's beach bar
Anchored off Sandy’s beach bar

Walking the length of the bay to clear in and out in the morning we experienced the joys of this wonderfully ethnic and unspoilt island. It is a favourite!

Des res Dominica style
Des res Dominica style
Curious house on Dominica
Curious house on Dominica

The 20 mile sail to the pretty Les Isles de Saintes just south of Guadeloupe took us to an altogether different experience and I will let John expound on this:-

John at the helm.
John at the helm.

The sail from Martinique to the top of Dominica was just over 51 miles and was again a great mixture of big blue seas and a steady force 4 to 5, occasionally less as we sailed into the wind shadows of the 4500 ft mountains of the Dominican interior, and sometime a lot more as the wind got squeezed through narrow valleys in between.

And on into St Rupert’s Bay and the little town of Portsmouth with a bar called Sandy’s a stone’s throw away from the boat. A lovely anchorage but a windy one, and of course in the whole two miles of available beach where we could anchor, we had to anchor right over the top of a bloody water pipe! That night I was constantly woken, sleeping as I do, in the forward cabin right aft of the anchor windlass. Creaks, thumps and bangs went on throughout the night. I listened for the dreaded judder of a slipping anchor, and the expensive jerk of a water pipe being ripped open, but luckily it didn’t happen and in the end after sticking my head out of the hatch after a couple of particularly loud thumps, it was a case of “oh sod it!” and I slept like a baby until morning.

Before we leave Dominica and Sandy’s Bar in the wake of our voyage northwards, I’d just like to say that the local people there are lovely. We were walking through the little town towards the Customs office, when this little old lady and I exchanged a “Good Morning” and before I knew it, I had a potted bio of Mrs Clarabelle Symonds, who had lived for fifteen years in Lewisham, and how the kids were still there and so on. It was great that for once someone just wanted to chat and not try and extract money from me. And so it was with everyone else too. The roads were as pot-holed as anywhere else in this part of the world but here people greeted each other like they were all one big family and just passed the time just being themselves.

We filled in the customs forms and on the way back went into the police station to get a Dominican stamp in our passports. The police motorbikes were pristine Chinese motors called of all things a police bike could be called “Jailer”! Someone MUST have known surely…

Appropriately named
Appropriately named

Mistake of the day: Lifting the anchor, the bloody thing swung and ‘dinked’ the hull. I said I’d put a piece of chewing gum over the 2mm chip in the gel coat when I could find the right colour match. I think banana flavoured gum should do it…

A great romp over to Le Saintes Isles just south of Guadeloupe, which seem to be a bit of a holiday destination even by Caribbean standards, with boatloads of people coming over from Guadeloupe to sit in the beachside bars and play in the crystal waters. It’s as if someone took a lump of the South of France and mixed it with a fishing village and plonked it on a hilly version of the Scilly Isles! We had a couple of decent rum punches and later a really nice dinner. All terribly French and actually really quite cool…

Les Saintes waterfront.
Les Saintes waterfront.

Nick’s smug highlight today: Translating from Germanic English into French and back, between a German yachtie and a local engineer who’d fixed his boat. Nick thinks he’d solved the issue and brought two great nations closer together but why did I hear police sirens and see an ambulance outside the bar a bit later?

Nick’s talents: Farting like a trooper, snoring like a jack-hammer and being able to sleep on a bar-stool without falling over. All quite impressive attributes it has to be said.



Carnival cacophony

It is feature of the Caribbean islands that they are mostly volcanic, rising out of the sea and, as a result, the depths offshore tend to plummet. In some places this makes anchoring something of a challenge as, in an offshore wind (where we tend to anchor) it is possible to drag quickly into deep water and away. In bays such as Cumberland and Wallilabou on St. Vincent, this problem is addressed by pulling the anchor ‘up-hill’ and running lines ashore from the stern. At St. Pierre to the north of Martinique, our setting off point for Dominica, there is only a narrow shelf of anchoring depth water and this was already heavily populated with anchored yachts by the time we arrived.

Reduced draft
Reduced draft
Anchor well dug in
Anchor well dug in

An advantage of our Southerly yacht is its ‘variable draft’ and we were able to lift the keel, tuck into shallow water just off the beach, inside the other fixed keel yachts and anchor with room to swing without fear of grounding.

Our evening in Le Marin was greatly enhanced by dinner in the excellent Indigo restaurant with Simon and Jenny from Fenicia who had crossed after Christmas with the Jimmy Cornell rally. I had previously enjoyed their company in Albufeira on the Algarve in July. We exchanged stories and experiences and had a splendid evening talking ‘bilge’ as my wife describes yachting conversations!

Rainbow in St. Pierre,
Rainbow in St. Pierre,


John bares his soul:-


It’s Carnival time in Martinique, which basically means that all the useful shops are shut for the duration and that it’s absolutely fine for a maniac in a boat to drift up and down the marina with a sound system Led Zeppelin would approve of, playing non-stop heavy bass carnival music until late at night.

And then at  five-thirty, yes five-bloody-thirty in the morning, the maniac is back revving it all up and playing it all again.

I blame the Ganja…

…and Nick slept through the whole thing in his palace in the stern!

Bleary-eyed but triumphantly armed with two French sticks, half a gallon of UHT milk and half a dozen bananas so green they won’t be edible for at least three days according to the lady I bought them from out of the back of her van, at least I think that’s what she said (but I know a bargain when I see one, one euro for a kilo sounds good to me), I managed to dodge the showers, get back on board and help get Hejira ready for departure.

The rugged Martinique coastline somehow matched the sulky weather with lowering clouds and begrudging gusts of wind, rather like a Parisienne waiter in fact. But as we passed around the south-western corner of the island the weather became much less French and the sun came out and with it a steady force four to five off the starboard quarter, so unfurl the genny, up with the staysail, set the main! We hit 8 knots for a while, and the wind held true for nearly all the way. It turned French again as we approached St Pierre bay, but by then the engine was on and the sails stowed ready for arrival.

Now a word about navigation. Obviously, I blame the French, I blame tectonic movement, and of course I blame the electrickery of the Navionics chart-plotter.

I, of course, was the innocent victim.

So no matter what Captain Nick may tell you in the future about my momentary lapse over our “apparent” position, I just want you to know, from the horse’s mouth, it wasn’t me Guv… I would possibly have gone sailing past the bay, rounded the distant headland in the mistaken belief that St Pierre was “over there somewhere”. Why? Because the magic box told me fibs… outright lies in fact!

Not that he’s mentioned it more than a few (dozen) times in the last few hours..!

St. Pierre, Martinique. Viewed from Hejira at anchor.
Viewed from Hejira at anchor.

Anyway, now we’re anchored off the beach, full of chilli and rice and wine, and all is at peace again.

Except that there’s this bloke on the beach with a sound system that Led Zep would give their eye-teeth for playing non-stop heavy bass carnival music…!

C’est Martinique

My 3 days alone in Rodney Bay Marina on St.Lucia were spent productively doing jobs, having the laundry done, organising the cleaning of Hejira and sorting out the best places to watch the rugby on TV. All this achieved, it was good to welcome my next crew, John Coe from Ash. John is a retired BA pilot and was introduced to me by Richard Cracknell as being suitable as a sailor with the flexibility to fly in and out of different places on staff travel. He was meant to be followed by David Hodges, another retired BA pilot but the whole enterprise has had to be re-worked and shortened, regrettably letting David down and I am very sorry about the disruption I have caused.

In brief, our son Oliver has been selected to play rugby for his country and these are fixtures I really don’t want to miss. On the basis that sailing holidays can be repeated I am returning early, in time for the fixture against Scotland and Hejira will be left in Jolly Harbour on Antigua until I return with Barry at the end of April for the passages back to the UK. This will head off from the British Virgin Islands on the 7th of May and take in Bermuda, and a cruise through the Azores. Ollie was to have crewed from Bermuda to the Azores but he will now be on tour to Canada.

In the mean-time, after a night at anchor off Reduit Beach, John and I have made the passage to Marin on the French Island of Martinique where we are berthed in the Marina. This is such a contrast to our previous Caribbean Island experiences and seems to be like a little slice of France. All of the (very efficient) officials, bar staff, waiters and patrons all seem to be French, it seems to be an enclave and I am not sure it fits well within the Caribbean experience. What have they done with all the ‘locals’?

Still, tomorrow, we sail over 30 miles to Rosseau, at the north end of Martinique from where we will anchor, then set off for Dominica having already ‘cleared in’ and ‘cleared out’ in the same process here.

John makes a contribution:-

Sometimes Life throws you an opportunity that has to be grabbed. So when I got a text from this bloke I’d met in a pub asking me to drop everything (so to speak) and get out to St Lucia for ten days sailing, what could I do except blow any remaining Brownie Points I may have had with my wonderful, long-suffering wife, pack a bag and hop on a flight to St Lucia. Funny that, only three months ago we came out here to Reduit Bay for a beach holiday, and now here I was on this lovely big yacht looking at the beach that I was sitting on looking at the boats anchored in the bay!

The first evening was spent chatting over a bottle of rum based rocket fuel, and it didn’t take long to realise that we both talked the same sort of scribble, which was handy…

Woke up with a headache, so obviously the rocket fuel was off…

Anyway an exceedingly lazy day on Monday was followed today (Tuesday), by a rattling good sail up to Martinique, thought my “Vomitometer” was going into the amber for a while but fine once I took the helm.

John adjusting
John adjusting

So far so good then, but doing more bloody washing up than I’ve done in years!

Bring it on!

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