What about the boat?

Arctic joy, my so far trusty vessel, has done exceedingly well, she is a day sailor a Hawk 20, designed and built by Reid Marine , Christchurch England (www.hawk20.co.uk). When I first sailed on her when she was being used by Exe Sailing Club in Exmouth Devon as a volunteer with their sailability scheme. I looked and sailed her with various groups on the river Exe and also out to sea towards Dawlish and was impressed. About an 8ft long cockpit, and thought this boat is built well and could do alot…. ok we sneakily fell in love and so i dreamt a dream of sailing her to the Arctic and named her Arctic Joy hoping a good trip would ensue. Realizing the size of the trip, well ok getting a glimpse of what it could be like to sail an open boat so far, I set about training and that meant going sailing, bearing in mind i did my RYA dinghy level 3 only 6 months before buying the boat… The learning curve would be steep, and occasionally jagged with bitey like teeth, which bit, but was fun and fascinating, I was hooked. Now 2 years after buying her, here I sit in Denmark on the isle of Mon preparing for the next leg up the East Coast of Sweden, which looks like being fairly rocky judging my stack of charts from Iver Weilbach in Copenhagen…

Back to the boat…. She is 20ft long, with an 80kg aluminium centre board, and also ballasted with lead. She is self righting, and yes I have tested it.. Twice!! She has a cunning spinnaker tube through the bow, with snuffer too,a beautiful striped ash and chestnut i think rudder, though don’t quote me. A 5hp 2 stroke outboard, which sits inboard,with chocks so i can close the outboard well. On the last leg our trim was appalling, due to so much weight in the fathomless bow locker, though this year I have installed new lockers in the stern, hopefully I can store 2wks food in each side and maybe a rum or 2?? That being the modern system, liquid movable ballast.. The boat came with a new main, and I had a slightly bigger jib made, which I find balances the boat more betterer, My spinnaker is getting tatty but patched now, so tempted for a union jack one from Exe Sails and Covers.. They make good sails.. This year I have adapted my boom so I now have 3 solid reefs, all of which come down to cam clutches at the foot of the mast, more lines than most yachts have (11), but when single handed, ease of use, and knowing the set up, and to trust it and not have to use the rams horn whilst being battered, as when I use the 3rd reef it will be blowing probably a six, that being for the landlubbers reading a Beaufort scale force 6, 22 to 27 knts or 39 – 49kph. Alot of wind to be out in a dinghy? The boat copes well and i feel safe and confident in her, though beating in the Baltic with the short sharp swell in usually a fairly wet affair, but come on, it is a water sport, get used to it or stay on land, but good kit is good.

What gear do I use this year?

Musto.      Mpx Jacket ( good solid jacket that gets better with reproofing, an awesone collar and hood. BR2 sallopettes, getting worn but good and for this year I have made space for my arctic pro jacket, as who knows how far I get back next year..

Typhoon PS330 drysuit. I cant stress enough the comfort they bring, It does what it says, to stay dry with waves breaking down the boat 3hrs from next safe harbour keeps me alive. Have also used it on yachts.. Buy the best kit you can afford, as when you depend on it, it has to work.

Yak. Touring kayak cag with cuff seals and good hood, could do wit an xxl, but only for my shoulders, but they don’t ,make em for beefy paddlers???

Palm. Dry trousers which do just that, and my adapted rescue 850 boiuyancy aid, with harness line attachment point. Though after my first capsize whislt clipped on, I don’t use it as my movement is too limited, especially with my mainsheet in the centre of the cockpit.

Merino. Lots of Merino. all underlayers, plus some mid layers, even an icebreaker jacket. Fabulous material..

Pertex. not down which is useless when wet. I have musto ski trousers, Rab jacket, Mountain Hardwear jacket, Musto jacket… It also works, windproof, and shower proof, but not immersion proof.. it is all about the layers…

Dry bags and barrels…. 5 30 litre bluechemical barrels, 2 which live in the cockpit, and lots of dry bags. Everything must be double bagged, most are from Overboard, but also various others are there too..


Grab back… More than enough flares, fully charged DSC handheld radio, urgent engine spares, emergency water, chocolate, spare meals, compass mirror, large first aid kit (an adapted Lifesytems mountain leader pack) and other odds.

General onboard kit includes, two Cobra handheld hh350 radios, Garmin 84s handheld gps, though not for navigating, but used when needed , but not great battery life, spare etrex gps, more flares, including an electric one with an 8hr battery life. I can charge radios as have 12v battery and 2 solar panels, quite important for the speakers and mp3 players. multiple as salt water kills shit.. and lost one on first capsize.. smart phone with navionics for planning tool, though not on deck when sailing, fuji film xp90 camera, theorettically water proof, soon to be tested, couple of anchors, 2 garmin virb cameras. And finally my Kannard marine SAFELINK SOLO PLB, my emergency positioning beacon, hopefully it will never be used, but if in  utter danger of life it is there, wether I use it in that case we will see.. Well others will put there life on the line for me. Why should I put someone else in danger.? I am not suicidal, and I know the risks, I take calculated risks and am aware that if or more realistically  when I fuck up, it could be painful..  I learn everytime I go sailing. I wanna sail alot, all over…. I don’t plan to fuck up, but I may, or is Sinbad gonna push me?

So now I sit here, with 2 Admiralty planning charts on the wall of the Gulf of Bothnia, and a stack of charts, with some still to come and a couple of harbour guides, cunningly in Swedish.. but they come with pictures, which some say are worth a thousand words, so I can have some idea of the harbour as single handed berthing is all about preparation, lines and fenders ready. I always set up for port or starboard, if on  a pontoon and always have two bow and stern lines set up, and a midships line too with a karribeener, usually for those days when i should of stayed in bed. The Northern European Pole births are fairly tricky with a beam wind, but practice, and then some more makes it easier, and a day to day job.. I may try to film one, but no guarantees on that.. As my technichal ability is worse than my sailing I will probably delete it instead of sending it!

Time for a Danish Easter beer and finish sewing my sail cover..