Perşembe 17th Mart 2022
Where it all started
I started sailing in the first “Oojah”, a 10’ folding dinghy, at the age of 7. There wasn’t room for an instructor so I had to teach myself. I messed about on gravel pits & nearby rivers, but always dreamed of sailing to faraway places. Racing provided a little more immediate focus.
First steps offshore had to wait for adolescence, when we were able to charter small yachts on the West Coast of Scotland, but another 20 years passed before we owned our first yacht, a 24’ Cornish Crabber. We explored the South Coast of England. The yachts slowly got bigger. We crossed the English Channel during the school holidays. I raced at weekends with the kids. When they moved on, I was left shorthanded.
The beginning of racing
My first single-handed race was the Round the Isle of Wight in 1990 – I won, but there was less competition in those days! The first significant single-handed offshore sail came about by accident – the crew didn’t turn up! I was moving the boat from Hamble to North Wales. Being stubborn I went on my own – only during the 4-day passage, did I discover I had no insurance to sail at night. I did a lot of double handing culminating with a class win in the 2006 Round Great Britain and Ireland Race in the J110 Oojah.
Exploring the world
We did 3 transatlantic crossings in the J’s and took the J122 up the US Eastern seaboard from Florida to Maine; we made 2 trips to Norway, up the coast beyond the Arctic Circle to the Lofoten Isles. There were a couple of expeditions into the Baltic, but we were increasingly aware, that there might be more comfortable ways to cruise. We wanted to live in our cockpit, not on it.
A windscreen and secure coamings would be nice. The skipper wanted a good sailing performance. Shortening sail and getting the laundry done, were the two most stressful parts of cruising for the crew.
Our first X
We looked at many alternatives on our travels but a visit aboard an Xc50 in the US Virgin Islands, was the catalyst for the big change. We were fortunate to be able to buy the first one, of the second generation Xc42s in 2015. With Furlerboom & washing machine of course!
We took delivery from Haderslev and spent our first summer in the Baltic getting as far as St. Petersburg, before returning home to Hamble. 2016 was spent getting our breath back and we left for the Mediterranean in 2017, getting as far as Corfu.
After 2 years in the Ionian including a visit to Croatia, we transited the Corinth Canal and explored the Western Aegean & East Peloponnese. Fortuitously, after many years as marine nomads, late in 2019 we decided to base ourselves on the island of Leros in the Eastern Aegean and took our first annual marina contract since setting off. By chance, this left Oojah secure during the Covid restrictions and enabled us to get Greek residency, before EU restrictions limited the time UK citizens could spend in the EU to 90 in any 180, a serious limitation for us.
Our plans for the future
We plan on visiting SW Turkey in 2022 and then returning to Leros for the winter layup. There have been 4 other Xc42s based in the marina while we’ve been there, making it the world centre for the very best of the Xc’s!
We have enjoyed generous support from X-Yachts and I can recommend membership of the X-Yachts Owners Association and the Cruising Association, which both have been worthwhile sources of information and help on our travels.
The Xc42 fits our lifestyle perfectly and has met our expectations in every way. She’s the perfect size for us. Robust and responsive, yet easy and undemanding to live with. Our guests might wish for a little more space in the aft cabins and the skipper would love a forward sail locker. Dream on…