As a relatively new member of the S&CA, I am thrilled to have had the opportunity to sail my new Hanse 470e (2009 vintage) on its maiden voyage from Oban to Portsmouth. I am proud to have achieved my day skipper’s license not long after joining the club and was thrilled to win Best New/Improved Crew unanimously.

My journey began in November 2022, when I purchased my new boat, Angel Share, in Oban and left her on the hard stand over the winter. After doing some antifouling, I set sail on March 15th with two club members, [Redacted] and [Redacted], as crew.

We faced head-on, southerly winds, picking up to Force 7. Not comfortable at all! We stopped overnight on the Isle of Gigha, before sailing on to the Seafront Marina at Ballycastle, and then on to Bangor Marina in Belfast.

Mid-passage we did encounter one or two technical difficulties. First, the autopilot screen died so we were without useful data display. Second, the lazarette became a steaming sauna due to an accident with a hot shower hose. Despite this, we managed to keep our spirits up and pressed on with our journey to Belfast, arriving on the 17th (St Patrick’s Day). Given the adverse weather conditions, Angel Share behaved extremely well. She is very well built, with a galvanized steel substructure, and a slightly higher build quality than the standard production boat. We visited the Royal Ulster Yacht Club on the 18th to watch the England v. Ireland Rugby match (must have been a quiet occasion – Ed.) and flew back to UK on Sunday 19th to arrange equipment repairs.

The autopilot fault was almost certainly due to water ingress via perished rubber buttons, rendering the whole device knackered (a technical term). Unfortunately, but perhaps unsurprisingly given its age, the model (a Simrad AP24) was not longer available, and so I have replaced it with a new Simrad AP44, with a color screen.

After a few days back in London to rest and plan the repairs, I returned to Belfast on Saturday 1st April (superstitious – not me). By Sunday afternoon, after cutting a new hole and re-wiring, the new unit was up and running. Then after a quick trip back to London to pack items for the next leg of the voyage, I flew back to the boat on Tuesday 4th – complete with two new crew, [Redacted] and [Redacted], whom I had contacted following a suggestion from fellow club member [Redacted], of Commodore Yachting. [Redacted] and [Redacted] were engaged in a Zero to Hero sailing course (no, I’ve never heard of it either – Ed.). This is an 18 week, non-stop course, to become a fully qualified Yacht Master Ocean. They needed to build up their sailing miles; perfect for yacht delivery.

As with the previous passage, we again faced a few challenges along the way. The most difficult was when our anchor dragged and became entangled with a discarded steam engine at one of the overnight anchoring points. The engine was massive and must have weighed at least half a ton when out of the water. The boat’s windlass could only just raise the anchor (plus engine) to the surface, so we attached a halyard and used another winch to lift it to a point where we could drop and free the anchor. Unfortunately, we were then unable to reach the halyard snap shackle. As it was now 3 am, dark, raining, and we were drifting towards the beach, I made the call to cut the rope. After re-anchoring, we re-set the anchor alarm and collapsed back in our berths, exhausted. Thankfully, the anchor held and we all slept well for the remainder of the night. However, I will be upgrading to a New Zealand Rocna.

Another rather close encounter on my watch was with a gigantic, and very curious, Grey Seal. At first, I thought it was going to join me in the cockpit, but it soon became obvious that it was just interested in what we were. After a few snorts through its nose, it rolled over to show me its fat belly, and then gradually drifted away before submerging.

Despite these challenges, we had an amazing time. Crew [Redacted], an Italian, provided some pleasant eye candy by sunbathing topless, and also showed his culinary skills by making fresh pasta! We sailed 3-hour shifts, with 6 hours of sleep in between, and made good time, arriving in Solent on Easter Monday. We enjoyed many beautiful sunsets and relaxing nights. Overall, I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity to have completed this journey with two sets of wonderful crew, 622NM in total, and some boat maintenance to tidy things up. I’m really looking forward to many more adventures with the S&CA in the future.

Scott Drinkwater

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