UK to France (Max’s blog)

Max.

Max joined us as crew for half a year and sailed on Artemis from England to the Canary Islands. Here are the blog posts he wrote about his time on board.

So, I had been promising to write a blog about my time on Artemis with Dad and Heidi forever now. It seems like Dad has given up pestering me for a blog (but it’s understandable on his end) and now I feel bad for nearly letting two years go by without writing it. First of an apology from my end to both my captain (Dad) and his first mate (Heidi) for dragging this out so long. But I should still be able to get a rather good recap of all the things we managed to do together, as sailing for that long is rather memorable (and I still have the unedited four day crossing of the Bay of Biscay). 


It all started a lot of years ago, actually, when Dad had mentioned it was his life dream to sail around the world. Being twelve at the time I promised at that time that I would accompany him on his journey. The original time plan he gave me for the round tour was one year (which we now know is a joke, unless you are racing) and once I started getting older the planned time also went up. When I was 16 I still was planning to accompany him, the allotted time now going up to two years. Longer but still manageable in your twenties, for that is when the plan for sailing was sort of roughly set. After that came my travels through Australia and New Zealand after being fed up with my job in Germany, but always in the back of my mind was the plan to help Dad sail around the world. Later in the years of 2016 and going into 2017 the plan was coming together, as Dad was getting all his sailing licences and looking for boats on the market. Then at the end of 2017 he purchased a boat in Scotland and it was looking like leaving in 2018. Early in 2018 I got the surprise news that Heidi, a long time friend of Dads was now also coming along. A surprise, surely, but a welcome one, as it did free me up a lot whilst not having to worry about a solo sailor (I had become a bit more independent whilst travelling). Heidi coming along was brilliant, as Dad and her are both really adventurous, love doing things together and for the time I was on board I knew I could get along well with her (and she with me). 

So the final plan that we managed to hammer out was that Heidi and Dad would pick up Artemis in Scotland, sail around in the north whilst it was till summer and then met up with me in the south of England at Aunty Pips, Dad’s sister. 

Whilst still being underway in New Zealand, Australia and the Philippines I followed their exploits on the Buruwang blog. Looking at how things were going, the first few days and then weeks on Artemis. 

After spending a week and a bit saying hi to everyone at home in Nesselwang I left for England and walked off the bus at Pips. Rang the doorbell and was greeted to a massive hug from Heidi, Dad and Pip, followed by some lasagne dinner I had missed and then a game of phase ten after that, all the while chatting about everything we could think about. We spent the night on land at Aunty Pips before restocking on food on the way to Artemis. In Chichester I had the first look at the Rustler Dad had fallen in love with at first sight. She was/is a very ocean going looking sailing boat. Not something you would expect in the Mediterranean, but more at home out on the Atlantic. Smaller than a few others, so ideally for two people, but a third person was just about to squeeze in. Quite literally in the case of my berth, as you had to balance weirdly on the chart table to get in. 


After saying goodbye to everyone on land we set off out of Chichester to an anchorage down stream. 13 years after first hearing about it, I was on a proper sailing trip out and about (there was a short time in Oz and Croatia, but that’s not the same). 

Laying in bed the first night after having a few drinks and dinner wasn’t really too much of a problem. We were well protected by a sand bank and didn’t have to worry about waves out of the English Channel. The next morning I was up early and let the drone have a fly around the boat. Nothing too spectacular, so it never ended up in any videos or pictures. After breakfast we lifted the anchor and set off through the Solent, a stretch of sea between the Isle of Wight and the English mainland. We used the current most of the time, anchored whilst it was against us, heard a pissed of tanker toot his horn at a small boat more times than necessary (was it five or more, meaning “f**k of”? He was VERY annoyed) and then spent the night in front of Yarmouth. I was scared that night as we were anchoring and the current was pulling us straight towards a rock. I had trust issues with anchors from my Australian experience, but Dad and Heidi laughed it off, knowing their anchor would definitely hold this and worse. 

The next day we crossed the English Channel to France. I was really looking forward to this. I had never sailed this great a distance before, never not seen land from a boat and never been to France. Also how to get across was interesting, as Dad had calculated the currents going across the Channel and the resulting GPS track at the end of the day looked a bit wonky (more like an S) but we honestly were going in a straight line towards Cherbourgh. Once out in the blue the wind left us, but not really. Just so much that having the genoa out would have been annoying, but having the main sail out stabilised the ship from rocking too much in the nearly non-existent waves. Out there with no one in visible distance to us I packed out the drone again and had a hair raising flight in which everyone was needed to fulfil a certain task to safely get it back again. Also we ran into an issue that plagued me for the next six months on board. My weird type of sea sickness. I don’t seem to have your typical throwing up all over the place and being absolutely useless type of sickness, but more of a bad feeling. If there were important things to do that I could really concentrate on I had no issues whatsoever. Give me a few seconds to think about things or relax a bit and I’m back to feeling queasy. It’s good in a way as I’m not useless lying under deck and no help whatsoever, but it was constantly there on the longer travels. Aside from that minor thing I was still really looking forward to France and towards the end of the day the coast could be seen in the distance. Getting closer the massive defensive fortifications built by Napoleon came into view and we sailed around them into the main harbour. Anchored just shy of a military area and had dinner and wine (duh!) before heading to bed. 

Artemis crossing the English Channel

Stopping by in Cherbourg had a few reasons. First off, it is the closest stop to England from the coastline near the Isle of Wight. If you really want to cross in as short a time as possible, the Dover/Calais crossing is your point. But dodging container ships the entire time there is the norm, as it is so narrow. Second, we headed to the city of Cherbourg specifically, as we needed parts for the solar panels that Artemis was supposed to have installed. Turned out there was a blocking diode missing, so quite a bit of the day was spent running from electrician to electrician looking for a “diode de blockage”. Turned out our French was crap, because we would ask for aforementioned diode only to be met with questioning looks. After showing a picture they pretty much exactly said what we had mentioned just a few minutes prior. None of us understood what we were saying wrong. After finding a TV specialist who probably had the diode, but was closed that day, we spent another night there, had a bit of a look around town and the monuments. Sometime during the next day we managed to get A blocking diode, not THE blocking diode as he didn’t have that, but we tried with that one and it worked too, so there you go. Managed to get some fishing gear to hopefully catch some fish whilst on the go. After another night we then left Cherbourgh to carry further along the coast to the West. We only sailed a short distance that day. Well, not really sailing, as the wind was once again not there. But a current was taking us in the right direction again and we bobbed along with it. Laid down on the front of Artemis enjoying the sun and blue sky, whilst Heidi and Dad relaxed in the back. We ended up anchoring just off the beach near the town of Omonville la Rogue were I tried swimming for the first time. Don’t know if the other two have had a dip in whilst in Scotland, but here in France the water didn’t feel much different (as in freezing). If we had fallen asleep during the calm trip here, the water certainly woke us up. Spent the night at anchor again (really loving the Rocna anchor now) with most likely a superbly cooked food (can’t remember exactly what we had, as it was a while ago) by Heidi.

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