That’s torn it

So it’s the end of our sailing season, and the last in the UK for who knows how long. We have been really pleased with the new genoa and decided to take it down to protect it during the winter. Unfortunately I hadn’t noticed the razor sharp edge at the bottom of the track near the drum assembly of our Harken system. As the sail was lowered, the luff tape sliced straight down through it.

Luckily I stopped the sail from lowering completely which would’ve meant a very expensive repair, so Kemp Sails did a stellar job within 24 hours !

Its now safely stored in the lock up we have rented for the winter at the marina, which is filling up rather quickly too.



The only other new additions to date are replacement swing out davits and a bowsprit pole…. oh and a 40″ smart tv !

When we had the arch made, we agreed to have the davits made in 38mm stainless steel, but in hindsight this has been too thin and we noticed an unacceptable bend when the Rib & engine was lifted together. The davits are now 50mm diameter with a much thicker wall size so problem solved.

When I look back to when I first started this blog I naively said we had very little to do to Silhouette to get her ready for our adventure…… never underestimate what needs doing !

There’s a sea survival course to fit in along with plenty of paperwork to organize, along with a full inventory of spares to decide on. We have decided to fit a new Lecomble & Schmitt autopilot system exactly the same as we have now and keep the original as a fully working spare. There is no doubt the autopilot will get plenty of use so it makes sense to carry another as they aren’t available “on the shelf” everywhere.

At this rate we will need to raise the waterline again 🙂




Lessons learned

Our fridge compressor has been making a metallic sound for some time now, which finally got to us. It works fine but the noise on a quiet night is really annoying, so we decided to replace it. The original Frigoboat system is still available from Penguin but the very helpful man on the stand at the boat show said their standard system was better and cheaper. Although still air cooled and not as efficient in warmer waters, it is a simple connect to add a keel cooler if we want to. I will not swear on this blog, but the fitting of it was an absolute b*****d. I reckon Beneteau made the original fridge and associated pipes then built the boat around it!!! I had to make a large hole in the under sink cupboard just to see the pipes and found they were clipped in around the freezer unit meaning they were never going to come out by pulling. So my quick changeover ended up taking 6 hours. The next day it stopped working, and I traced the fault to the thermostat. I knew it was the same as the old one, so whilst waiting for a replacement I’d swap it over……. now to retrieve it from the bin, YUK 😦

The lesson learned was, don’t be so quick to throw things out!

With the UK sailing season fast coming to an end, it was suggested a 4 day trip to put in some miles with the full “Atlantic crew” on board. This was myself, Caroline, Charlotte along with Nick & Carol making up the 5 for the adventure. The original plan was to sail to Guernsey-Dartmouth-Poole as a triangle course, unfortunately the weather had other ideas with the tail end of 2 hurricanes headed our way. Although not due in until our final day, we saw no point in chasing towards it, so went from Poole to Brixham to Weymouth and back. We were able to sail all points including a full run downwind with the main and genoa poled out goose wing in average 22kts making it good practice in a rolly Lyme Bay.

We also had great excitement as for the first time ever we had a pod of dolphins play around the bow. Sadly we didn’t get any photos but we can’t wait to see them again.


Nick seen here in his usual laid back position is a really knowledgeable sailor at home on the water, and a huge asset…… (he’s also really good at taking the mickey so I need to be on my toes)!!!

He and Carol have just bought a Southerly 135RS to replace their Westerly Corsair, and are eager to get to know her. We will see lots of them next spring/summer sailing in the same direction until they head back to Poole and fly out to us in the autumn.


We haven’t sailed into Weymouth for a long time, and as it was the end of September and the weather was pretty grim we were one of only 2 boats on the quay.

The trip has been a big success and a thankfully small list of jobs to do we’d not thought about. This shakedown was really important to all of us and we would recommend it to anyone contemplating distance sailing.

The next time we see this we hope to see blue water and sun !






Cherbourg & arc !

As we’d not done too much sailing over the last few weeks, partly due to other commitments but mainly because of a rubbish August “again” ….. we decided to do a quick hop over the channel to Cherbourg, a french town we really love. The forecast was due to be very little wind meaning a motor all the way, but the forecast was wrong. We managed to sail right from the anchorage by Old Harry Rocks all the way to the inner harbour at Cherbourg in 8 1/2 hours. The wind was a perfect west/southwest 5 only dying away in the last 10 miles meaning we averaged 7.4 knots for the trip which was easy sailing. If we can maintain that speed next November on the Atlantic crossing from the Cape Verde to St Lucia, it’ll take about 12 days …. “that’ll do nicely” !

2 days later the wind did die and we had to motor back to Poole but we had a great time especially in Carrefour 🙂

Crossing the shipping lanes was the usual case of playing chicken with some very big ships. We never assume shipping will give way (we were motor sailing though so not relevant), but one giant container ship certainly did as AIS showed their course alteration. They look so graceful, the one in this picture was gliding along at 18kts barely leaving a wake!


As mentioned briefly in the last post, September 1st was the day the world cruising club opened up entries for the ARC 2018, I received the email and we went online in the afternoon to sign up. This was a huge event for us….. embarrassingly halted by my card being unauthorised. After a call to the issuer it turned out their system put a security block in place due to “unusual activity” which is quite reassuring really.

30 minutes later, we pressed the submit button again and this time everything was ok meaning the champagne (well prosecco!) was handed out.

Steve & Helen on Allegrini have changed their plans and have entered ARC+ along with us now, so there’s 2 Beneteau 473’s going in the same direction at the same time…… hmmm !!! The socialising and sailing is going to be epic 🙂

We have on board an almost new 110% yankee furling Genoa which was unlikely to see much use especially as we have a new Genoa in place, so we came up with a plan not to waste it. We have had soft hanks fitted to it so it can be raised up our inner forestay, in effect giving us twin head sails. We can use both on the down wind sections poling each out, one with the boom and the other with the spinnaker pole, but the yankee still has the ability to fit on the furling system if the main Genoa needs lowering. Quay sails have said it won’t furl tightly with the webbing/hanks in place but is a clever idea, something hood sails did a few years ago. We were hoping to try it out on the France trip but it wasn’t ready in time so no pictures yet.

The Southampton boat show is next week which will be our last…. hope the card doesn’t get blocked again !







WE’RE IN !!!

After years of looking at the ARC event from a computer screen, we’ve finally done it. Today we had the email we’ve been waiting for informing us that the entry for ARC 18 was now open, so we have now officially signed up for ARC+ 2018 ! A hugely significant event for us, which we shared immediately with Steve & Helen on Allegrini …… who promptly signed up too. They originally were going to sign up for the main ARC fleet but have now decided on ARC+ as well. It will be a very messy time indeed 🙂

Currently sailing in France so will update fully shortly including details of a record channel crossing.

(sent via ssb radio)

ARC+ 2018


When we started this blog almost 2 years ago, we had an idea of where we wanted to go and a rough idea of the routing which was to spend 2018 and most of 2019 in the Mediterranean before crossing to the Caribbean in 2019.

Timing is everything and time waits for no-one, so we have decided to bring forward the Atlantic crossing to next year meaning we will only take a brief look in the Med if time permits before heading down to Gran Canaria via Madeira for October. We are delighted to announce our daughter Charlotte will make the crossing with us. We’ll take a much more leisurely look around the Med on our return whenever that is!

This means the Southampton boat show in September will be rather special for us as we sign up with the World Cruising Club for ARC+ 2018

No pressure !!!

More power


The arch was designed so that solar panels could be fitted giving an unobstructed view for the sun. We have relied on the Rutland 1200 wind generator and a single 80w solar panel on the coachroof to see how the power management worked. The result is it didn’t keep up with demand. Certainly when it’s windy the Rutland is great but it doesn’t always blow 20+ kts, so we spoke to Marlec and have bought 2 more 80w panels which have been fitted on the arch. imageWe now have 240w of solar panels and the Rutland all controlled by the mppt which is great. We recently spent 4 days away at anchor and the power input was more than usage, we ran the generator for an hour a day to create hot water, not starting the boat diesel at all. We are completely confident with our charging options !!! This photo was taken on a sunny yet windless day here in the UK showing over 13 amps with fully charged batteries 🙂

It isn’t all work though, we bought an inflatable stand up paddle board which will be great fun and good for core fitness…. but it does something else too, If you stand up whilst being towed by the RiB it doubles up as a giant wake board 🙂 The instruction manual certainly doesn’t cover it ! When I’ve figured out how to add video I promise it’ll make you smile, however, Charlotte has decided we need more social media interaction with a youthful aspect, so she has started a facebook version which she is going to run….. yikes!!! which starts off with the video!






Reunions & New York

New York

Since the last post we’ve been somewhat busy with everything except sailing, last weekend being the first trip which turned out to be a bit of a reunion with my Uncle Colin and “Auntie” Penny who first introduced us to sailing. They’ve now retired from working in the BVI’s and have returned to Lymington after some 20+ years sailing and chartering. We sailed up to Yarmouth on the Isle of Wight and met them in East Cowes where they were staying for the Isle of Wight music festival. They came back to Silhouette for the evening and Colin’s son Lee and daughter in law Julie came over in their RiB from Lymington too… not forgetting our daughter Charlotte back from Greece for a while. A great evening was had by all, followed by a very windy sail back to Poole in Westerly F6/7 which was exactly the direction we needed to go.  I’d not encountered such a big swell off Christchurch ledge before, along with the breaking waves which made their presence felt in the cockpit ! Exciting would be a good description but Charlotte decided to sleep through it in the saloon, laid back or what !

Away from sailing, Caroline and I made a 4 night visit to New York to celebrate her 50th birthday. As a one time event we managed to get first class tickets out & business class for the return which was quite something. Neither of us had been before and New York didn’t disappoint. We got up early on our first day as the weather was due to be perfect and we wanted to see as much as possible due to a weather bomb coming in the next day. We did all the sightseeing, empire state, Rockerfeller, Times square etc and then took a water taxi down to the financial district.

9/11 memorial This was to see the 9/11 memorial and then to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge. Much has been printed over the years about the World trade centers but nothing can prepare you for what you see in person. Above all it is the one thing that will remain with us from the trip. The footprint of the original towers are now a memorial to the lost with their names engraved around the perimeter.

P1020288NYC place a rose by the name of each person on their birthday and we saw quite a number. The museum which is underground is within the footings…. if you’re ever able to visit New York this has to be at the top of your list, with survivors guiding you around with their accounts as it happened.



Brooklyn bridge was an amazing sight, we were warned by the captain on our flight not to walk in the cycle lane as “they don’t like it”, he wasn’t wrong ! The pound unfortunately is a little weak against the dollar and as such everything is quite expensive, even the hotdogs !!!

IMG_0136[429] IMG_0135[427]

which is something we will need to be aware of as we travel, especially if we sail up to New York in the future. The weather bomb duly hit and New York was dumped on by 4″ rain and President Trump who made a visit to his home, which caused major road closures, protests along with some very menacing looking people with very big guns and body armour outside Trump Tower… so what did we do? We went in for a Starbucks 🙂


We also a small package arrive from Steve & Helen (Allegrini) with a very clever digital countdown to their departure. As I write this they’re at 322 days 21 hours which is on par with us, so very exciting all round.

In the last post I mentioned we were getting a quote from Kemp sails for a replacement bimini along with drop down sides to make a full enclosure. We had anticipated the cost to be around £3000 which would’ve made it an order but they quoted nearly £6000 which really meant in my mind they just didn’t want to take it on!!! Shame really as they are a great company. So we’re looking elsewhere.