Tag Archives: sailing

Holiday Sailing and Yacht Delivery Scotland

Yacht Delivery Scotland………. Reasons to get your yacht delivered to Scotland!

After a hectic and very successful season, the Thumbs Up Sailing Yacht Delivery Team decided to take… wait for it….


Personally I’ve done a lot of sailing in the Mediterranean, England and Caribbean. And to those of us lucky enough to sail for a living, most of us have! So being based in the North East we though what better opportunity to sample some of Scotland’s delights!
The resounding review from all was that is was quite literally the most breathe-taking and fun sailing holiday we had ever taken!
And here’s Why!

We drove up from Scarborough with our little Albacore Dinghy in tow. We headed up past Edinburgh and up to Grandtully for the night (Just short of Pitlochry, the gateway to the highlands, as described by a friend) We caught glimpses of the amazing scenery as we drove through the dusky evening. Excitement higher than ever, everyone desperate to get there and pour the first whiskey.
We all stepped out the car, unhooked the ‘Albi’ and took in a big breath of clean Scottish air. The sound of running water ever present. After a delicious pub dinner with beers, we went back to settle down for the evening with a whiskey mac.
After a good few whiskey mac’s, it wasn’t to be sleep on the agenda. But a little late night expedition to discover the whereabouts of the aforementioned running water.
It didn’t take the merry band long to stumble onto a fast flowing river cascading down. We took three steps back, and settled down next to it for another drink.

The next morning was another serene and clear day. With the length of Highlands and all the scenery that has to offer we set off nice and early. From then on, it seemed like every corner we came round was another even more spectacular view!

Excitement mounted as we turned North just short of the Skye Bridge towards Plockton. Our final destination nearing, the beach cottage at Craig Highland Farm.
We arrived to find our little cottage tucked up against the forest, right on the beach. Unfortunately, the there was a train track between the car parking and the cottage, so we had to row the dinghy under a bridge and round to the beach at high tide. It being such a nice day, we decided to pop a coat of varnish on her. Just get her looking pristine again!

What greeted us for our first sail, was typical of the Highlands…

Flat sea with lots of breeze!

It makes for great sailing, we could really focus on boat speed and trim. Without having to take waves into account, small adjustments to trim and setup showed obvious changes in boat speed.
We were really impressed with the Albacore! You get rewarded for your efforts, especially up wind, hiking hard helped us point surprisingly high! Also shifting our body weight made big differences in speed and handling. A couple of inches eitherway made big differences.

Empty Anchorages

Just a quick glance at the charts showed such a variety of ‘secret’ spots. With lots of options for shelter. Each new spot offering different scenery and wildlife. Glen’s, Loch’s, Waterfalls……..  Seals, Otters, Herons…….. Scotland has a lot to offer anyone with a thirst for nature.

Whiskey Distillery’s and Pubs

You can’t go up to Scotland, especially the Highlands and not enjoy their fine Whiskey’s and good local pub food. We had some excellent, down to earth and tasty seafood. The quality and freshness only rivaled by the reasonable prices.

Little hint. Whiskey mixed with Ginger Wine (Whiskey Mac) is an absolute winner for combating the weather!

The Caledonian Canal

The Caledonian Canal is a canal in Scotland that connects the Scottish east coast at Inverness with the west coast at Corpach near Fort William. It was constructed in the early nineteenth century by engineer Thomas Telford.
Only one third of the entire length is man-made, the rest being formed by Loch Dochfour, Loch Ness, Loch Oich, and Loch Lochy.
It provides a fantastic, incredibly scenic and unique shortcut. It can handle anything up to 45m in length and 10m in beam. So for the majority of us, that poses no problem!
You’ll find yourself very jealous of the lock keepers and the idyllic places they live.

And forget just how much the canal itself offers, the opportunity for cruising on the other coast has just as much if not more to offer!

The canal also offers us East Coast delivery skippers a quick route for getting owners yachts over to the west. Which luxury you don’t get down South.

So why not take your yacht up to Scotland? Contact Thumbs Up Sailing Yacht Delivery to discuss your requirements!


Eventful Yacht Delivery of Blue Octopus (Moody 333)

LOTS of drama aboard this eventful Yacht Delivery of a Moody 333 called Blue Octopus.

The proud new owners are the Sinclair Brothers, Ian and Stuart. Being very happy with their new purchase they decided to get Thumbs Up to deliver her to North Fambridge in Essex. Another delivery to Fambridge! I couldn’t believe it, after the 40knot winds we had in the Estuary on ‘Hullabaloo’ I did see the passage with a touch of trepidation. However, having done it once, I was more than confident we could do it again!

We arrived to Lidcombe Boatyard, got the dinghy in the water and loaded our gear in. Quite a lot in the end, this time there was 4 of us! (Anthony Andrew as 1st mate, Donal and Jenny as crew, and me as delivery skipper)
The outboard, after spluttering hopefully once, refused to start up. The yard couldn’t remember exactly where she was tied up and so it was a bit of an exploration around the river to find her. Luckily the tide was helping us along, so the heavily laden dinghy wasn’t too much work to row to Blue Octopus.

When we got on board there were a couple of surprises. The main being, there were only two teaspoons and a couple of mugs on ‘crockery and cutlery front’. The autopilot also seemed to be missing the drive belt, so hand steering all the way it would be!
Donal and Jenny managed to get ashore and convince a fish and chip shop to give us some skillets and plastic cutlery. So at least we could eat!

We departed at 10pm into the night to the sound of what seemed every pub in Salcombe in rapturous Sing-A-long. The temptation to turn back and tie up to the buoy was NEARLY too much. Luckily, the Atlantic swell and darkness quickly put us in delivery mode. Sails up, Lets GO!

Lovely down wind sailing ensued. Off of Ventnor on the Isle of Wight the breeze died late afternoon. Time for the engine!
Aaannnnd…… it doesn’t want to start! Try and try. A complete no go. I gave Stuart a call to report we’d be sailing in towards Cowes to tie up on a mooring buoy and call out an Engineer. Disappointed but understanding, he said no problem.
“Okay, so before we go in… lets try one more time” Amazingly, this time Jenny’s magic touch  got it started!!
“Okay, if we turn it off and it starts again, we’ll continue on..”

And sure enough, started first time!

And so onwards, motoring into the night.Donal and Jenny got me up, a little concerned by some nearby ships. I popped up, nothing to be too concerned about I thought. “Just keep an eye on them for now…” About 5 mins later, they called again… “One of them has turned right in towards us now!”
It was a large commercial fishing boat, pretty infamous for their unpredictability and general distaste for ‘yachties’.
“Hard to Starboard!” I shouted.
Although fairly close, they had previously been going totally the other direction. Whether they’d happened on a shoal of fish that happened to be exactly where we were I’m not sure. But nonetheless, they certainly weren’t hanging around or taking much notice of us! Except for the fishing boat incident it was a beautiful night, the meteor shower and clear sky gave us an incredible display to keep weary eyes occupied and tired minds entertained.

The following morning, the breeze came up again off of Dungeness Point. “Righto, engine off…” As I throttled back and put the engine into neutral, it suddenly started revving up, completely of its own accord. “THAT’S NOT NORMAL!”
When the revs subsided I quickly turned it off. Something weird was definitely going on with this engine.The idle adjuster nut has possibly slipped I thought, after playing with it for a while, the engine seemed a touch more normal, but definitely acting up!
Nonetheless, it started, and gave us forward propulsion without too much problem. So we thought we may as well push on,we were getting quite close now. All that was left was to pass Dover, Goodwin Sands and then into the Thames Estuary for the final leg.
Afterall, the forecast was for pretty decent wind, so hopefully we’d be sailing most of the way!

After a good sail past Dover, gybing round the Goodwin Sands and then a beam reach to Fisherman’s Gat. Night had fallen, high tide had just passed and so we decided to come up into the breeze and sail over the sand banks between us and the River Crouch. (Last time I decided to go the long way round as ‘Hullabaloo’ had a deep draught)
I saw by my handheld GPS that we weren’t quite going to cross over the deepest section of the sandbank so I thought “Lets quickly chuck a tack in, and then we’ll have more room for maneuvering”. So we tacked over, I couldn’t believe it… with the tide now beginning to rip out of the estuary, our tacking angle was almost 160 degrees. We were almost going exactly back the way came from! With a bit of trimming and a lot of concentrating on the helm I managed to improve on it a bit, BUT NOT MUCH! Okay time to put the ‘donk’ (Engine) on and motor up tide to a suitable position. “ITS NOT STARTING!!!!!” I couldn’t believe it, if there was a time we needed it, this what is it!
My real concern was, the longer we took before crossing the sandbank, the more the tide was going out! Time to commit! Forget the engine, we’re going to have to sail all the way now!

So we went for it. Donal had a torch on the depth guage and was calling out the depths. It dropped steadily. 10metres…… 9 metres…. 8 metres…. and then quicker!    5metres. 2 metres…

By this stage we were committed, we had all the sails up, were half way across with very shallow water either side of us.
1.8! 1.7!
But thats where it stopped going down, it started rising again and I started breathing again!

Now it was time for the tricky sail and navigation up the Crouch. Me and Anthony began tacking up into it against the tide at 10.30pm.
Tack after Tack after Tack. Every five or so minutes. Again and Again.
Desperately trying to make some headway, some progress up the river. And we did, but slowly.
As the hours hours and the tide flowed past, a dim light began show behind us. “What’s the time!?….. 4.30am!”
It had hardly flown by, but we certainly were kept busy.
By now we could make out the banks of the river and so the decision of when to tack was slightly less stressful.

Finally, we had Burnham on Crouch in our sites, we tacked through moored up yachts in a light breeze. Fatigue really starting to kick.
When all of a sudden.. NO WIND.
There was 2 knots of tide flowing back up the river by this stage, meaning we were just floating, with no engine, no steerage. I quickly looked around as to what our options were, but to be honest. If you can’t steer, its more of a damage calculation than limitation exercise!

A slight puff gave me enough steerage to get around one yacht. There was a RIB behind it, so I wasn’t too fussed about bumping into that… WHICH WE DID.
Anyway, rather fortunately this spun us around into tide with the zephyr of a breeze behind us.
We quickly got the main in, and with Genoa sheet in one hand and helm in the other. I managed to ferry glide us towards a mooring buoy. It was time to tie up, this was getting too risky!
I called up jokingly to Anthony as we approached (He was preparing a lasso in order to tie us up)  “You better get this f—ing mooring buoy!”
At the last moment, a puff of wind carried us too far forward…. “Furl the Genny!”
The buoy was right next to me, but Anthony was up on the bow. “F–k wheres the boathook!……Too late…”
There was nothing for it but to try again, the last attempt was so close. This time though, it worked to perfection!!!
We tied up, high fives and Thumbs Up all over the show!

Fatigue was taking over, we had tacked over 70 times between 10.30 and our arrival at 6.30. But if we slept now, I was sure we wouldn’t wake for another 14 hours. So nothing for it but to start the tidy and clean up.
Keep up the momentum, thats the attitude at Thumbs Up Sailing Yacht Delivery.
A few hours later Blue Octopus was spotless and we were on our way home!

Thumbs Up to my Crew…. Anthony, Donal and Jenny! Excellent work guys, you really got into the spirit of Thumbs Up!

Yacht Delivery of Hanse 37 from Hamble to Fambridge, Essex.

This short hop was a Yacht Delivery on behalf of Robin Townsend and his wife Belinda. They’d just purchased a fantastic new yacht, a 37ft Hanse called “Hullabaloo”.

DELIVERY STATS: Distance: 250nm. Duration: 32 hrs. No. of hours with engine on: 2hrs. Wind range: 15kts – 40kts. Average Speed: 7.8kts! Skipper: Matthew Kotze. 1st Mate: Lyle Skipage

Hullabaloo in the Hamble pre-departure.

Hullabaloo in the Hamble pre-departure.

On arrival to the yacht in Hamble, we did the usual handover. As the owners were stepping off to head home back to Essex, they dropped their car key in the harbour!
And unfortunately, not the usual metal type of key. One of the fancy, plastic ‘not a key’ key! We tried the magnet trick, but there must not have been any metal in the key at all. There was nothing for it but to dive down, I’m not a fan of harbour water to say the least. But, beyond the call of duty and all that! Unfortunately the tide must’ve carried the key away, because it was definitely not there anymore!

We departed next morning, after getting the main on. We were hardly off the pontoon, when a lovely, very British, torrential downpour soaked us to the bone. A sign of things to come!? Definitely!

We did however get very good Solent sailing! She took off from the start at 7+ knots. (Mind you, the Volvo Ocean boat Abu-Dhabi did sail circles round us.)

Thumbs Up Yacht Delivery12We managed to get our tidal calculations spot on and so had very favourable tides in all the right places: Solent, Beachy Head and the Dover Straits.

Sailing downwind in a F5, we made great progress. The speed never dropping below 6kts.

By the time it was my 4am watch we were already approaching Goodwin Sands (A sandbank thats reported to have claimed more than 2000 vessels) On its eastern side, sits the East Goodwin Lightship, which if kept on the port side going North guides you safely round the sandbank.

Coming up onto a beam reach, sent our speed soaring, we were averaging well over 10knots. We passed the London Wind Array in no time.
As we began tacking up The Kings Channel, an almighty Gale kicked in. The breeze was gusting 40knots. The last 20miles therefore was a tough sail, torrential rain made the visibility very poor and so tough to be tacking up the relatively narrow channels of the Thames Estuary.

The approach to the River Crouch is not much easier. No real landmarks and lots of semi-submerged mudbanks depending on the state of tide!

Due to a concern that the engine was running a bit hot, we decided to sail all the way up. It was a blessing really, as once were in the river. The sun came out and it really was a lovely sail!

We arrived at Fambridge with more than enough water to get in. And so after a big clean up and rig-check. The yacht delivery was done. Thumbs Up to all!

English: River Crouch. View from footpath East...

Thunder Clouds at Fambridge Yacht Haven

Irving Johnson (Around the Horn) on the Peking: Quotes and thoughts

As sailors we watch this Irving Johnson film about rounding the horn ALL THE TIME! I can highly recommend watching it if you can get hold of it. Its a 40min silent film that documents the voyage of P-Liner “The Peking” from the North Sea to Chile via Cape Horn. The wrong way.

The Peking is a 4 masted Steel Barque built in 1911. The voyage takes place in 1929. Irving Johnson was aboard for the entire trip, shooting the footage. He later added the narration.

The sails are everything

The sails are everything

This type of footage is truly unique, as it takes place at a time in history where technology meant that for the first time they could shoot moving images but yet “The Peking” was one of the very last sailing cargo ships of its kind. A really precious nugget of sailing history.

I found his narration combined with the incredible footage, absolutely enthralling and so compelling I decided to go through it and blog all the best quotes (in my opinion.)

Please feel free to add any others, or your own thoughts on this incredible journey!

“The North Sea in the winter time is a horrible place”

“There’s something about these vessels that cause some kind of hypnotism, you do things you’d never dream of doing in your ordinary mind”

“Remember how cameras cut down the size of waves”

“She looks better coming into port than she did leaving”

(Attitude about discipline) “Now look, thats for nothing, now see you don’t something”

“Here we have 4 propellors, chewing along, cheing up the wake, going oike a bat. 4 propellors no! its simply the wind in the sails, the sails that we made with our own hands, and we put up there with our own hands, and we adjusted with our own hands. roaring long she is now, 12, 14, 15 16 kts. Tremendous. 8000tons bowling along” Our yacht deliveries aren’t on 8000 ton tall ships, but the feeling of being in control over all these tremendous forces is incredible.

“This is what we love, we created it, we feel like supermen, we made all this happen”

“Theres no polllution out here whatsoever”

“But you should see the safety regulations here on this ship, they’ve never heard the word. Safety.. Whats that.. Take care of yourself in every case, and you’ll be alright.”

(Talking of two fellows up on the top yard 170ft high) “neither one is fastened, why should you be! Pay attention, get a hold of something, it’d be silly to let go wouldnt it!”

safety regulations. they havent heard the word

safety regulations. they havent heard the word

“The sails are everything, they’re our connection”

“The sails they’re our connection with the elements”

“Now I’m am going down the stay from the top of the fore top mast to the end of the bowsprit, some 17 stories down. You’re not suppose to use your legs for gripping the stay, if you do you’ll wear out a new pair of dungarees in a day.”

17 stories up coming down the forestay

17 stories up coming down the forestay

“A fella came down the edge of sails so I gave it a try and another fella got pictures of me and uh, I found I could do it even though I had to hold my fingers straight and thumbs straight and pinched the canvas between the ends of my fingers and thumb. A most insecure feeling but it did work.”

Coming down the edge of a sail

Coming down the edge of a sail

“I wished for some A-number 1 first class storms off of Cape Horn and look what I get: for a week or ten days nothing more than a couple of mile an hour breeze; flat calm.”

“But finally it came! It had to eventually. And came up with a big blast and sent us scurrying to the sails. Here’s 40 men furling one sail; the foresail. And they’re not up there playing Tiddlywinks!”

“The two fellas just coming into the picture at the right here now, were washed overboard on the way home. That means two empty bunks. And nothing is said about it, it’s all very quiet.”

the two fellas on the right were washed overboard

the two fellas on the right were washed overboard

“You’re going to see the ocean down here looking like the bottom of Niagra Falls.”

“The water’s blowing horizontally now… just screaming. 350 lines just screaming like you’re torturing animals to death. The noise if fantastic.”

“This tremendous part of the open sea is shown, just look! It’s tortured! Tortured. Tortured just like the water coming over the Niagara Falls.”

Tortured, Tortured

Tortured, Tortured

“Look at this, the open ocean! The forces involved are fantastic! There’s no words that I can use in any language that will tell you what it’s like. If you’ve been there it’s the only way you’ll know because the forces are beyond anything you’ve ever experienced or thought was possible.”

“But oh, the chaffing and the wear and tear, not only on the ship but on the individual.”

“The third mate got up on the end of the yard, he couldn’t reach the strip of canvas so he hung down by one arm and one leg from the foot rope and just then a squall came and the ship rolled to windward. And that man’s entire body vibrated just like those sails. The whole body just flapped like that sail… And when he came down, nobody said one word to him, we all would have done it. Some kind of hypnotism makes us do those things. It’s just incredible. When you look at it later, it’s crazy! But they do it under the conditions.”

And that man flapped like a sail

And that man flapped like a sail

“They’re working for the ship, making her go, she needs you. And when there’s something like that going on, you would do the same too.”

Holding on!

Holding on!

“And there you have the ship, sailing in proudly. The vessel that we fought for, that went into danger for, that we got bashed up on and that caused such agony. Cold, wet, sleep in your wet clothes no other way to dry them, but that’s the vessel we fought for.”  This is how we treat every Yacht Delivery! If after reading all this, you still want to come and crew for us. Visit our yacht delivery crew page to sign up.

“But what a voyage! What I learned there that saved my life, times in the future. Watching every detail, making sure it’s right ahead of time, and that captain really is a magnificent example of a seagoing character.”

“There’s no tug in the port that could pull us up the harbour. The captain had to beat the ship up just as if it were a private yacht.”

“But why do they sign on for all this misery in some cases? They kind of forget about that, they think of the thrills. But mainly they think of the sailing along as the sun sets on the Trade Winds. It’s absolutely lovely, that’s Cape Horn as I saw it. Thank you.”

We got sails

We got sails

Hope you love the quotes from Irving Johnson. What a man. What a voyage.

Thanks for reading, from the guys at Thumbs Up Sailing Yacht Delivery