The weather in the SE of England has been very mild (with none of the fierce gales suffered in the W of England and Scotland) since soon after my arrival in early December - a definite bonus when travelling around so much as I have been, enjoying meeting up with family and friends over the holiday period and trying to sort out boat equipment.
I visited a friend in Ludlow (Shropshire) - a very old town with castle and other buildings dating back at least to the 14th century..... (photos to come...)
On Thursday, I thoroughly enjoyed giving a presentation on my sailing to my grand kids' school assembly - they enjoyed my photos of different flying fish and Falkland penguins - especially the ones of the brown, fluffy, baby King penguins in their nursery area with their parents close by, keeping an eye on them.
Of course, despite my best efforts, I was not able to do everything I'd hoped, despite my visit being longer than usual .... but I achieved a fair amount and my luggage reflected that on the flight back to "Nereida" in Simon's Town, S. Africa. I'd spent two solid, productive days at the London Boat Show - which looked to me to have a very much reduced attendance since my last visit to LIBS three years ago and a very poor attendance by comparison with the Southampton Boat Show in September, which is invariably far more enjoyable than the big 'barn' which is how the Excel Exhibition Centre feels, near to Canary Wharf in London's Docklands.
Looking ahead to my forthcoming solo nonstop RTW attempt (which I hope to start (again) from Victoria, British Columbia, under the auspices of the WSSRC, at the beginning of October), I've been very busy trying to get help with the costs of repairing and preparing "Nereida" (instruments, rigging, communications, other equipment, etc) both in S.Africa and after my arrival this summer in USA/Canada..... (No major sponsor found so far.... any offers?) I'll be sailing again in aid of Marie Curie Cancer Care's free home nursing for the terminally ill.
The Cruising Association invited me last Saturday to their Flag Officers' Annual Lunch - at which Robin Knox-Johnston presented me with the C.A.'s Duchess of Kent Award - a real honour! (It's rarely awarded and was last presented to the Naval Officer who organised the Dunkirk Landings in WWII...!!)
At the Boat Show, I was presented with a personal locator beacon (PLB) by ACR (it's a small floating version of their previous PLB) which transmits to satellites (like a personalized EPIRB) if I end up in the water separated from the boat ... God forbid!... Also, ISP (International Safety Products) presented me with a 'self-righting', inflatable lifejacket with face mask and strobe light - several people asked me to promise to wear it (and the PLB) on a regular basis.... like all the other safety equipment on board any boat, we always hope never to need it in an emergency!! Other equipment I've brought back with me includes lovely new headsails made by Jeckell's of Wroxham (who celebrated their 150th Anniversary at the Show!), spare anodes for my Brunton's prop, a replacement AIS unit, lockable latches for my aft lazarettes, a variety of tools and screws, a long length of LED lighting for my cockpit and hanging lockers and for the engine compartment (donated by IMP - thanks, Mike!), a small radio receiver for 'real-time' weather sat-pics (a new project - need now to construct the quadfilar antenna!), a replacement Hammar hydrostatic release (thanks to Ocean Safety Ltd) for my liferaft (they expire every two years), an improved, stronger self-levelling radar support from Scanstrut (thank you, Tom), updated and extended coverage of the Navionics charts for my plotter (thanks to Lance of Navionics UK and Katia of Navionics Italy), a small but strong fuel pump to move diesel from my jerry cans to my cockpit fuel intake (saves the problem of moving my full jerry cans around - possibly in big seas...) and last, but definitely not least, a commitment from Raymarine to increase the level of support they've already been giving me so helpfully over the last few years by upgrading my equipment well prior to my departure in October from Victoria, B.C.
I hope to be ready to set sail East from here a.s.a.p., aiming to be away by the end of January, stopping in Aus/NZ/probably not Polynesia, although I shall try hard!/certainly Hawaii/maybe San Francisco, on my way to the 'Pacific NW' of USA and B.C., Canada, (Strait of Juan de Fuca) by July sometime... Quite a way to go...!
Well - it's blowing the usual summer Cape SE 'hooley' here in Simon's Town, as I write this... very noisy.. boat rocking about a lot... but I'll go and post this using the False Bay Y.C. clubhouse wi-fi while I listen to the end of the afternoon's music put on by the Y.C. 'yachtie' band .. usually good fun and good to listen to (if the wind doesn't drown them out!)
..... bye for now!