Ever since I was 15 years old I had a dream to sail around the World at some point in my life.
I don’t know why I had that dream but I’ve always loved being on the water, just messing about, and yet I only learnt to swim when I was 20 years old.
I devoured books on Ocean cruising and I especially liked the books by Eric and Susan Hiscock in their various Wanderers. I loved their approach to preparation, seamanship and their sense of adventure.
A lifetime of sailing and working hard has led me to this point in my life where I can now attempt to live out my dream.
We were lucky that the wind was only 5 knots and the sea state was calm
I spent 2 years thinking about what boat is best suited for short-handed sailing yet big enough to be comfortable to live onboard for extended periods.
I created an Excel file and listed all the points which I consider to be the most important, for everything from safety, to performance, to handling, to rig configuration, etc.
I looked at various boats and some had a good feeling about them while others I dismissed within a minute or two of boarding.
I eventually reduced the list to 4 designs all of which are around the same length.
They are the Discovery 55, the Oyster 56, The Amel 54 ketch and the Farr 56 Pilothouse sloop.
I inspected about 10 Oysters and I was never fully happy about any of their internal layouts.
I was very disappointed with the internal finish of the Amel 54 and I was going to fly to Sydney to view a Farr 56 only to be told that it had just been sold the previous week having been on the market for some time.
The Discovery 55 was the only boat that ticked all the boxes in my file and a viewing only confirmed my thoughts. She looked right, she felt right, she’s about the best interior of any yacht I’ve ever been on and I immediately knew that she was the boat for me.
A very detailed survey on a Discovery lying in Berthon, Lymington was followed up by some hard negotiations and the deal was done through Sue Grant, the managing director of Berthon International .
I wrote the previous name in chalk on the keel so that the tide could wash away the past and she could start afresh as a new boat
I then sat with Robin Milledge, the project foreman in charge of the refit, and we made a detailed list of all the jobs that were highlighted in the survey plus extra ones that I wanted done.
It was done in 2 stages between October 2015 and Spring 2017.
The work list was as follows:-
new instruments, radar and navigation software, new standing and running rigging, mast and boom re-painted, plumbing, valves, refrigeration, heating, engine overhaul, generator overhaul, all new batteries, keel off, keel bolts re-seated, new hull/keel join, teak decks refurbished, a bowsprit for the assymetric spinnaker, anchor, chain, warps, safety equipment, replacement front facing windows, interior seating re-covered with cream leather and various sundry woodwork restorations.
A full new set of North 3Di sails were ordered and delivered to the yard early in 2016.
The yacht was launched on April 24th 2016 and renamed Pamela. Prior to launching, I wrote the previous name in chalk on the keel so that the tide could wash away the past and she could start afresh as a new boat.
Pamela was kept in Kinsale for the Summer and the time was used in becoming familiar with her systems and then making the new list for the second stage in the refit over the Winter 2016/17.
In late October, my son Alan, Robin and I set sail for Lymington, on the UK’s South coast.
We had the most glorious sail, beam reaching to Land’s End followed by running under the ‘A’ sail along the South coast.
We averaged 10.2 kts for the whole trip, only motoring at the final stages approaching the Isle of Wight. The weather was exceptionally mild for the time of year and the wind averaged about 15 kts., ie. perfect sailing weather.
Finally, at the end of March, Pamela was ready to be re-launched and she was now better than new.
Alan and I set out for DunLaoghaire, Dublin on the evening of the 7th April 2017 in calm conditions.
We had an issue with our new North 3Di mainsail off Start Point which led me to winching Alan to the 2nd set of spreaders where he spent over 40 mins pulling on the sail which had jammed at one of the vertical batons. After much heaving and pulling he eventually freed it. This was not the first time that we had issues like this, though previously we managed to free the mainsail by gently furling and unfurling it. However that didn’t work on this occasion. We were lucky that the wind was only 5 knots and the sea state was calm.
This stayed at the back of my mind as a potentially serious issue and one that wouldn’t go away and which could cause us serious problems in the future.
The rest of the trip to Dublin was uneventful and Pamela stayed in her home port up to the start of the world trip.
Although the engine and generator had been serviced over the Winter, I wanted to be able to do the job myself, so I got the Yanmar agent in Dublin to change the oil, filters and anodes on both engines while I helped, took photos and made notes.
We then went through the list of spares and we added a spare main engine starter motor and alternators for both engines.
I had been working out in a gym from January to get myself into a reasonable shape but unfortunately in April I hurt my back.
I eventually went to the doctor and was sent for a scan which showed that I had a bulging disc which was affecting a nerve.
Physiotherapy and acupuncture followed which helped to some extent although I remained in some considerable pain.
In hindsight, I’d have been better off doing Pilates instead of going to the gym.