Back Onboard and preparing to go

10th May 2016

160425 1 Sail back onboard

So here we are back in England after almost five months away. 

The plan was to arrive back in mid April when the weather would be a little less harsh. Well someone forgot to tell the weather gods that. Hail, wind, rain, snow minus 2 degrees. Really this was a little unexpected to say the least.

Coming home to Katherine after winter storage is always a little hectic as she is returned to the water and everything internally is relocated to its rightful place onboard rather than being stockpiled in sealed plastic bags. Sails in this case - new ones all need to be reattached and rehoisted. 

We are pleased to report that nothing grew mould and thanks to X-Yachts care Katherine was looking quiet fine with her new coat of anti-foul and cut and polish.

As seems to be the tradition we left Australia on the 5th April and detoured via Mexico once more to take the opportunity to get a few last dives in and catch up with friends. Having now done a lot of dives in the Puerto Morelos area it was great to do something a little different getting in a night dive, a new dive site called Cuevones with some interesting tunnels and for Lee diving a Cenotes. A Cenotes is a natural sinkhole that is exposed when the ceiling to an underground system of water collapses. The Yucatan Peninsular of Mexico is pebbled with cenotes amongst the limestone landscape. It was for the Mayan civilisation the only source of fresh water in the jungle and considered a sacred place leading to the underworld. It was a very surreal dive experience. The water is incredibly clear - except where you experience a halo cline - where salt water meets fresh water - here the visibility becomes blurred as if you are trying to see through jelly or a kaleidoscope. The stalactites and stalagmites were huge and because of the clarity of the water it felt surreal that you were actually taking in this view diving. Being able to pop up into an air space in the ceiling of the cave to admire the formations was also quite strange. Unfortunately Andrew was sick on the day of this dive so no photos from below which was a shame as it was very special. 

160420 2 Leeds Castle (1)
160419 8 Leeds Castle began 1278 Garden Maze160419 11 Leeds Castle at night

We arrived into England on the 19th April and given that Katherine was not due to go into the water until the 21st we chose to drive back to Maidstone home to Leeds Castle. We had unsuccessfully tried to visit last year on our way out of England but had arrived on Guy Fawkes Night Celebrations and the place was literally booked out. The construction of Leeds Castle began in the early 12th century but it was work completed in the 1800’s that reestablished it as a grand castle and then in the 1930’s the refurbishment and renovation by final owner Lady Baille that sealed its stature. Leeds Castle was bequeathed by her in 1974 to a specially set up foundation who’s aim is to ensure that future generations get to enjoy and view the Castle as she left it. We stayed in “The Stables” accomodation set up across the moat overlooking the gardens. It was an enjoyable way to spend our first day back in England, meandering through the castle, wandering the gardens complete with maze, viewing the birds in the Birds of Prey centre and finally having dinner in the restaurant with the castle lit up as our backdrop. 

160426 1 Aidan and Yvonne onboard

With Katherine back in the water and us onboard it wasn’t long before we had our first visitors of the season. Aidan and Yvonne Mutton from Adelaide Australia had successfully completed the London Marathon on Sunday 24th April - under the 8 hour requirement so they got their well deserved medals. We collected them from Southampton Railway station then began a busy five days of touring amongst boat jobs. No rest onboard that was for sure.

160426 6 Beaulieu Motor Museum Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

Our first day out would be to Beaulieu - home to the National Motor Museum, a stately manor called Palace House and the ruins of a Cistercian Abby. Despite the weather - snow of all things - Beaulieu was far more than we had expected. The National Motor Museum housed on the estate had grown since 1952 from a small collection of cars to over 300 capturing the history of Britain's motoring including Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Outside of engines The Palace House, home to the Montagu family since 1538 had a small section open for public viewing, gardens to walk, and the ruins of Beaulieu Abbey to appreciate.

160428 2 The Victory Portsmouth Dockyards

Next tourist stop The Dockyards at Portsmouth. We have now been to the Dockyards several times but never managed the tour of HMS Victory. HMS Victory was launched in 1765 and over a long period of service lead fleets into the American War of Independence, French Revolutionary War, Napoleonic War and most famously in 1805 was the flagship for Vice-Admiral Nelson in Britain's defeat of the French and Spanish at the Battle of Trafalgar. Walking through each of the decks certainly gave an insight into life onboard. The complementary harbour cruise that came with the Lord Nelson boat museum ticket took us into parts of the inner harbour that we had not previously been with Katherine. Hot coffee following the brisk open air boat tour was certainly enjoyed. 

1604230 1 Day 1  XYacht Solent Cup onboard Katherine160508 16 Ride day Di Reflecting on the view

After a short stay onboard it was time to farewell Aidan and Yvonne. We literally left them on the docks at Royal Southern Yacht Club on Saturday 30th April to continue their holiday whilst we welcomed back onboard our Dutch sailing friends in preparation for the X-Yacht Solent Cup. Now if we were serious about racing then we would have 20 people not eleven onboard - we would empty the tanks strip the excess weight etc etc but thankfully we were not and nor were our crew. With new instruments, new sails and a very restricted sailing course of the Solent the weekend was about being out there and being together and having a good time.(and of course sailing as fast as was practically possible)  Think we did that extremely well even with a few unexpected failures. Four out of five line honours, two great days of sailing amongst twenty other X-Yachts, meeting new crew all simply made for a great weekend.  

In amongst all of this there has been a bike riding day with Martin and Di Koerner in the Southdowns making the most of what has been the  one and only true sunny day to date. We have caught up with Hamble residents and have been pushing to complete the necessary job list to get going.

And thats just what we plan to do by the end of the week.

Get going.

Heading first for the Channel Islands - Guernsey once more. 

Katherine sailing X-Yacht Solent Cup (Photo courtesy Stine Holmes)

(For more photos please click this link)

© SV Katherine 2018      Cover Photo: Katherine on Anchor Isle Tabarca Spain