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Home / Sailing / Cruisers / Martin Perry Travels with Buster 2021
Home / Sailing / Cruisers / Martin Perry Travels with Buster 2021

Martin Perry Travels with Buster 2021

At the recent Prize Giving, I was very pleasantly surprised to be presented with The Fastnet trophy. Thank you, Jennie! Presented to ".a club member who successfully completes the Fastnet or another established offshore race or for outstanding seamanship", I am not sure if I am worthy of this prize. A few people have asked me what I got up to this summer, so what follows is a summary of Buster's season. That way, you can decide if I deserve to win The Fastnet Trophy! OK, here goes

During the many Lockdowns, while Buster was high and dry, I had plenty of time to think and plan what to do when (hopefully) Buster re-entered the water. I concluded that as European travel was going to be difficult (blooming Brexit!), I would try and travel round the British Isles by yacht. As I had been working from home for the last year, Harwin Connectors (I have been contracting for them over 4 years now) were OK with me working remotely over the summer, which meant that I could hang onto my job AND experiment with the "live aboard" lifestyle. So, after a successful lift in weekend in late March, Buster, myself and Neil Cowell (the first of 6 different crew) departed Chichester Harbour on the 30th April and turned left (a very rare event for me!):

LEG 1 May Chichester Harbour to Amble, Northumberland (19 nights aboard)

May was a cold month. Thankfully, both Neil and I had packed hot water bottles and they were deployed for the first 10 nights of the trip! The first day was long and cold but got us all the way to Eastbourne. We were joined by a pod of dolphins off Selsey Bill, which we took as a good omen, but our arrival at Eastbourne Marina was very stressful as it was shut to visitors, unless you were from a sister marina! Aargh! Thankfully, after some extended negotiations and restrictions on movement, we were allowed in. There followed day sails to Dover and Ramsgate, where we holed up for 3 nights to let a storm rage over the top of the breakwater. A lovely sail across the Thames Estuary followed, zigging and zagging round sandbanks and "gats", to Harwich. Onward to Lowestoft and Wells-next-the-Sea, which was a town I really liked. Another cracking sail (one of very few over the summer I logged over 170 engine hours this season) to Grimsby (there is a clue in the name) before moving onto Scarborough, which is somewhere I had wanted to visit for ages. And I liked it Behind the "kiss me quick" seafront was a lovely town. Whitby followed before a 3 night stay in Sunderland. As this is Neil's hometown, it was appropriate for us to call in here and Neil to head home on the train after an incredible 2+ weeks. Alone, I moved onto Blyth and then Amble, where Buster was left for 3 weeks so that a water pump leak could be fixed and I could return home for some R&R.

LEG 2 June Amble to Inverness (17 nights aboard)

As I was unsure of how I would take to the long distance cruising lark, I had only organised crew for May before I left home I did not want to disappoint future crews if I had reached Eastbourne and then scuttled home with my tail between my legs. This meant I started the June leg on my own, with a short trip to Newton Haven (near Dunstanburgh Castle) where I anchored for a very stressful night in "brisk" offshore winds. I have discovered that I do not enjoy anchoring One of many personal discoveries this summer! A trip past the Farne Islands and Holy Island got me to Eyemouth the next day, to discover another port temporarily closed to yachts. Aargh!! But, once again, some stressful negotiations gained me entry. Phew! I was in Eyemouth for 4 nights, with day trips by land to Berwick (twice) and St Abbs Head + work to occupy my time, before Bro-in-law David joined me for the 45 mile leg to Arbroath. Not a breath of wind that day, but the sun shone, we saw wildlife, passed a famous lighthouse (Bell Rock) and I don't think David (a non-sailor helping me out) got too bored! I was in Arbroath for 5 nights, waiting for Steve Carter (the new crew) to arrive from Emsworth, before we set off for a sprint round the Aberdeenshire and Moray coasts. Stonehaven (lovely) was followed by Peterhead and 2 nights in Fraserburgh, letting a blow from the north pass by. Lossiemouth was next (very nice) before reaching Inverness, where I flew home with Steve for a few days of work and rest.

LEG 3 July Inverness to Oban, via The Caledonian Canal (11 nights aboard)

When I left home in late April, Plan A had been to travel round the top of Scotland, via Pentland Firth and Cape Wrath. But a quick read of the almanac's Passage Information for this area quickly made me change my plans The North Coast is no place for a small yacht and a nervous skipper! So, Paul (a non-sailing friend from Belfast) joined me for a gentle motor through the heart of The Highlands. After entering the canal and a night at Dochgarroch, we traversed Loch Ness to Fort Augustus, with no sightings of Nessy She was keeping her distance for "Covid Secure" reasons, no doubt! Onward to Laggan before Neptune's Staircase (8 locks) down to Corpach, near Fort William. Upon entering salty water again, nights in Loch Linnhe (near Appin) and Dunstaffnage Marina followed, before arrival into Oban. Paul and I enjoyed a couple of days here, cycling the length of Lismore Island (a lovely spot) amongst other places, before abandoning Buster on a swinging mooring for another 3 week rest.

LEG 4 August Oban to Craobh Haven, via a very circuitous route (10 nights aboard)

Another sailing club member, Liz Stewart, and I drove up to Oban for a 10 day trip. We did not make much progress rounding the coast but enjoyed a more leisurely cruise taking in Tobermory, Loch Sunart and Loch Aline before retreating back to Oban and Dunstaffnage due to poor weather. So, we took the car for a couple of day trips round the west coast, keeping out of the worst of the rain, before one final motor/sail to Craobh Haven Marina, via Cuan Sound, which was quite exciting for a few minutes (very strong tides)! We crossed paths with Fixation at Craobh Haven and were very well fed and watered by Hugh and Penny. They also provided a water taxi service back to Oban next day to recover the car, ready for the drive home. Thank you, both!

LEG 5 September Craobh Haven to Ardrossan, via The Crinan Canal (7 nights aboard)

You can get very nice weather in Scotland in September, but not this year! Actually, Buster and I had been very fortunate because June and July turned out to be rather nice in Scotland - Not much wind but lots of sunshine and benign temperatures, so I am not complaining. But Tim (a friend from Bristol) and I enjoyed rather grim weather in September (damp, dull, cool) so the last leg of the 2021 adventure consisted of 7 short "hops" between marina's with electrical hook-ups for the fan heater! - We could have stayed aboard longer, but decided to find some better weather further south! From Craobh Haven we popped round to Ardfern before another short leg to Crinan, where we locked into the canal and enjoyed a day of walking and relaxing. The canal only took a day and traversed some lovely scenery but I have now decided that I have done enough locks and raised bridges to last me for many years! Salt water again at Ardrishaig, before a night in Tarbert and then a great sail round the Kyles of Bute to Rothesay. A very "dreich" morning greeted us for the trip to Largs Marina, which I like (lovely showers and a great restaurant called Scotts). I was woken on our last morning aboard by fog horns (Aargh!!!) but after feeling our way down the coast, making full use of the chart plotter and a well buoyed channel, the "pea souper" cleared in time for arrival into Ardrossan, Buster's home for the winter.

The rest of the year has been spent coming to terms with all that I have learnt from my summer aboard Buster. The major take-away is that I do not enjoy the "live aboard" yachting lifestyle. It does not suit my character. I was a little disappointed when this realisation hit me as I had always imagined sailing away into the sunset when I do finally retire. But at least I now know and can start thinking again about retirement plans. Other lessons learnt are that I don't like single handed sailing, anchoring, being aboard Buster on my own and long passages. Things I do like include marinas with showers and electricity, short passages and knowing where I am going My sense of adventure seems to have deserted me! Perhaps some of it has to do with a "mental health hangover" after too many horrible Covid Lockdowns but I fear that most of it is due to me getting older I look back at the things I got up to when I was younger and shake my head in disbelief and amazement! So, an intense and memorable summer. But all the pleasurable times were overshadowed by my self induced anxiety and stress about the next leg/day/week/month.

So, am I a deserving winner of The Fastnet Trophy? Answers on a post card to the usual address, please! But back in the 1990's and early 2000's, I did complete 3 Fastnet races. On the last of these, in 2005, I was part of a crew of 8, aboard a Prima 38 called "Bounty Hunter", that won our class (IRC 1). I always wondered why I did not get this trophy at that time but perhaps it was because no one had heard of me back then!

Last updated 14:09 on 25 May 2022

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