Leaving came as a bit of a shock. In the rush to prepare the boat, pack the house and pack the boat, actually setting off was in someway a surprise. All of a sudden goodbyes on the quay and off we went. The whole two miles to Stavanger. We had a cake that needed eating and knew a man with coffee. After a second farewell, full water tanks and a provisioning run we set off again, this time destination: Hull, 360 nm.
As starts go, we didn't have the best. Just after hoisting the genoa the halyard gave a pop and the sail came plummeting to the deck. It turned out we hadn't actually done the shackle up....someone would have to go up the mast to retrieve the AWOL line. Fortunately the weather was fairly calm and we were close to Alstein which could provide some shelter from what little waves there were. Since every offshore sailor worth their salt should be able to go up the mast at sea, we thought this would be a good opportunity for an easy introduction. With the boat in slow forward, the autopilot steering and the main sheeted in John winched Ellie up the mast and errant halyard was recovered. It is safe to say we don't plan on repeating that mistake any time soon!
With the sails finally up and pulling we set a course to the SSE, straight to Chequers no.3 buoy. The wind was from our aft quarter so we had a nice broad reach and pretty easy sailing conditions. Through the night and the following day the winds and seas built, reefs were duly taken. By morning of day two we were sailing with only the reefed head-sail and still making 5-6 knots. Ellie took full advantage of the sporting conditions and managed to get the boat surfing at 9.4knots. With classic North Sea short waves and a cross sea to boot, John survived his watches and only managed to communicate in monosyllables.
Passing the midway point we came across our first offshore oil fields. We were pretty close to familiar waters for Ellie, taking a route passing Yme, Alma and just south of Valhall and Ula fields. It's strange that at our furthest from land we were so close to so many people! We even had to alter course for the Enquest Producer FPSO at Alma, not that anybody would have noticed us passing by.
Day 3 and the wind dropped off to something more resembling the 15 knots forecasted. We shook the reefs out one by one and ploughed on at 5knots or so. Passing Dogger Bank a familiar shape popped over the horizon in the form of BB Worker, a tug that we regularly saw outside our window in Stavanger. Its a small world at sea too! As the wind dropped, John's vocabulary expanded too.
Approaching the English coast the tides started to come into play, hindering our progress to the Humber. We had to wait for the tidal gate in the middle of the night for our next opportunity to get up the river. With a tidal rise of some 8 meters and spring tides we didn't really have an option. An attempt to tie onto a mooring behind Spurn Head didn't end so well, one mooring line is slightly shorter then when we left. Heading to the south of the river we anchored in the for a brief sleep before catching the tide up to Hull Marina and a very welcome Full English Breakfast, especially for John who had been lacking in appetite for a significant portion of the trip.
PS: Sorry the tracker wasn't set up for this leg! Sorting it is on the to do list and hopefully before we leave Hull on Monday.