Passage Plans Rarely Survive the First Storm

»«Sunday 15th November 2015

The Winter Cruiser Lunch series got underway with a fine talk by John Apps. John is a veteran singlehanded sailor, having completed the 2008 Jester Atlantic Challenge in his UFO27 Glayva in a little over 410 days.

In 2014, John embarked on a singlehanded circumnavigation of the globe via the Northwest Passage in his Rival 34 Raven. Unfortunately, a heavy storm struck just south of Greenland causing one of the starboard shrouds to break. Water in the diesel line forced John to turn onto port tack and sail to the Azores for repairs. Tiredness brought the apparition of a German U-boat Commander, who provided ghostly warnings to avoid the Northwest Passage.

Realising that the window of opportunity for sailing his original passage plan had closed, John decided to turn left, sail down the Americas and circumnavigate via the three capes. After a quick crossing through the doldrums, John discovered two things: his water had become contaminated, and a rule that if anything was going to break it would be at 03.30 hrs.

A stop in Nova Cruz, Brazil delivered water, and John was off again. During another storm off the Cape of Good Hope, John made contact with a commercial vessel to ensure the vessel would pass safely. The storm was still raging two weeks later, when the same commercial vessel passed him in the opposite direction. The radio operator contacted John again to make sure he wasn't really the famous Flying Dutchman, because he had only moved two miles in two weeks!

John made it to Cape Town, where good family news caused him to postpone his circumnavigation. He returned to the UK via St Helena and Ascension Island.

John's tale of planning and re-planning, of resourcefulness and determination was delivered with great humour. The photographs he used included kamikaze albatrosses, reef-like whales and images of the beautiful places he visited (albeit unexpectedly). The hour set aside for the talk went by all too quickly.

After the presentation, we sat down to a splendid meal prepared by Simon and James, pleasantly served by the waiting staff, while Tony (as ever) ensured the event ran smoothly.

Our next talk is on January 10th 2016, and is an evocative tale of the East Coast, following the life of the Leigh Bailey Endeavour, through Dunkirk and the war years, it's decline, rediscovery and rebirth. It is currently campaigned in Old Gaffer races and used a vehicle for education, keeping the East Coast traditions alive. Be sure to book early to reserve your place.

Chris Nolan