Why a blissful summer afloat takes planning and preparation. Welcome to the July 2019 issue of Yachting Monthly, on sale 23 May
Our summer cruise last year was both a yachting utopia and a baptism of fire. We had bought our Sadler 29 at the start of the season and spent every evening and weekend bringing her back from boatyard ornament to seagoing vessel. There had been time for a couple of weekends afloat, but the first time Pasque’s bows met the English Channel was on departure day. We were content to treat the first week as a shakedown, but by the end of four weeks away we’d been shaken up and thoroughly shaken down. In the process we’d gained confidence in our boat’s abilities, as well as our own, and loved every minute of the adventure.
Among the challenges was an anchor chain that parted in the middle on the River Dart, held together only by a link opened up to a C-shape (a new chain was hastily found). Then there was the echo sounder mis-calibration and an hour or two touching the bottom in a blissfully peaceful Gorran Haven, plus the flexible water tank that ruptured mid-Channel and the alternator failure from which we were rescued by a friendly power-boater with jump leads.
Despite all that, it was the most glorious holiday. We basked in the Scilly Isles during the heatwave, scudded across the Channel under spinnaker and blue skies, sipped gin and tonics in deserted anchorages, covering over 600 miles in our own little boat. What higher pleasure could there be?
Our tribulations go to show that preparation is key; any of these mishaps could have derailed our plans. Having a boat that is properly prepared, with sensible passage plans to keep your options open, as Peter Cumberlidge and Dag Pike describe (p46), is far more seamanlike. I’ll certainly take their advice this year.