Monday, February 20, 2017

Pre-departure Penarth...filed for completion, Jnauary 16th and 17th

January 16, 2017

Hello to all. Progress has (finally) been made, multiple projects accomplished, and all is looking good on this end. I have been sorrowfully out of touch since I have been here...and for that I apologize, but I have spent my time attending to boat projects since my arrival. Tony Truin and Steve McWatters joined me on Thursday and have pitched in 100% as well - the "Calvary" has been a great help. Since my arrival I/we have accomplished:

Trouble shoot and then exchanged out our speed sensor (re-ran entire unit)
Trouble shot and fixed the Windex (ended up as poor connecting terminals at the mast junction)
Replaced the forward shower sump pump
Trouble-shot and fixed the aft head sump pump
Removed the boom vang fitting, repaired and painted the track, and had riggers reinstall the new part
Replaced the boom vang and remade the stopper line
Decanted propane from UK bottle into our USA bottles
Removed and cleaned battery cables and replaced all replaceable battery terminal connectors
Trouble sot and had the heater/boiler system repaired
Had repaired (twice) the fluid core of a fan-box in the heating circuit
Changed the heater fluid because of piping failure
Changed autopilot motor brushes
and a few other things

People think that yachting is so exotic!!!

Our plan is to leave Monday morning (sadly sans Steve) for an overnight sail from Penarth, Wales to Falmouth, England. We have postponed departure to let some weather pass, and should have relatively benign conditions on our 26-30 hour trip, expecting a mid day arrival in Falmouth. I have a few OCC contacts in Falmouth, and should be able to gather some good insights to make our stay enjoyable. We will then plan for a 10-14 day passage to London, which will allow sufficient time to choose the days we want to be out sailing. 

With most projects checked off, we are a bit more relaxed and will have a pleasant weekend before we head off. We will stay in touch,

Best regards,

Bill and the crew of SY Visions of Johanna

January 17, 2017 - safe and sound in Dartmouth

Hello all: A 7:30 AM departure yesterday and a reasonably uneventful
pass through the 2 sets of locks (ie. no damage) was followed by a
very satisfactory passage to Falmouth. We motored 2/3 of the
time...expected, found some lumpy seas...expected, had a bit of nice
winds...expected, and Tony and I did just fine. We were very happy to
have Alethea's beef stew on board for dinner (or is that Tea???) We
dined delightfully well and barely missed the nice Red we didn't share
with dinner!

We will explore Falmouth this afternoon and at this point plan a
predawn departure tomorrow (Wednesday) to Dartmouth, sailing back to
back days to make some miles before a predicted easterly arrives on

Best regards,
Bill and the crew of SY Visions of Johanna

Week 2 in London

Monday, February 6th was the Queen's sapphire Jubilee - 65 years as queen, and was marked with cannon salutes and parades. There was a 65 gun artillery salute nearby at The Tower of London, but we traveled by the tube to Buckingham Palace to see the music and parades that accompanied their cannons. Pomp and Circumstance it was. And very, very, British I might add!

Riding on the London Tube:

New Cars

Selections of Shoes on the Tube

We stopped at Chinatown on our walk home.

On Tuesday, we walked about and later went to the Royal Ocean Racing Club to meet friend and crew, Steve McWatters. Steve treated us to a great evening at the RORC, and a fine dinner that we shared with Cheese (aka David Cheeseman - another blimey great sailor, of course).

On Wednesday we visited the Museum of London which displays a fantastic history of London from paleolithic times and beyond.  Roman, Anglo-Saxon, and medieval rule to the great fire in 1666, and through to modern times is all depicted. The breadth of history is remarkable and we need to go back to see more and the special exhibit on the 1666 Fire of London, a devastating event.

At the Museum of London
We ended our Wednesday with an evening at the theatre, and went to see Jersey Boys.

Pre-theatre Dinner
London at Night

There is construction everywhere in London, even at night
Thursday evening we went out with friends to the nearby Wilton Music Hall for dinner and a Cole Porter songbook performance. We were a group of yanks, including Gus and Helen, and David, all friends from the Dockyard. Gus, the London OCC host remains an absolute fountain of information.

Wilton’s Music Hall bills itself as the oldest grand music hall in the world. It recently completed a 4 year renovation project and apparently has won multiple awards including Building Of The Year 2016.The music was quite fine and styled a bit differently than the norm, as the London pianist and performer invited friends, an opera singer and a cabaret singer from France, to join him in London for the performance.

The Tate Modern was Friday - a fantastic modern art museum about 1/2 mile up the Thames. It was a nice riverside walk, and like many of the British museums in London, admission is free and you purchase tickets to special exhibitions as desired; we did a simple walk-about this first time. The entire history of modern art seems to be represented, and there were many groups of art students lurking and drawing, and an art group studying with Sotheby's, where we overheard erudite and informative discussions of the finer points and quantified analysis of grey blocks of paintings. Actually, it was really neat as I learned how each emerging artistic movement might represent a departure form the previous norms, would tend to happen every 20 or 40 years, and would generally make it's originators famous.

Jo at the Tate, seeing young ballerina,thinking of Emma

Finally this week we visited the Victoria and Albert Museum (for the first of many times) on Sunday the 12th. The V&A is a stunning museum, and possibly the most amazing collection of artifacts we have ever seen. It was also cool that we were watching the series Victoria, and just saw their romance evolve. Fun. We saw an exhibit on clothing and dress over centuries,  an exhibit on Lockwood Kipling (Rudyard's father), and an exhibit involving history with India...which segued of course exceptionally well with the Kipling exhibit.

V&A Lower Halls

Dining Room

That's it for now. I'm already behind by a week so hopefully more soon!

Monday, February 6, 2017

Week 1 in London

A busy week began with a short cruise! We lobbied and were given a few choices for alternative spaces in the marina, and moved to a new berth last Wednesday. Our new space is over in the east basin, and is cleaner and quieter, and has many hours of sunlight - much improved.


Here are some highlights of our past week...

On Wednesday we began our exploration of the city by foot, and wandered towards the West End and the Theatre District. We like to walk because we feel it is the best way to really see an urban city, and it is good exercise to boot. And speaking of exercise, we have fallen into a routine of hard-core gym workout days alternating with hard-core long walk/explore days. Not too bad! Without really planning on it, we found ourselves at several of the last minute ticket booths (like TKTS) and walked away with tickets the next night to Beautiful, the Carole King story.

 St. Paul's Cathedral

On Thursday, we walked back to West End and the Aldwych Theatre to see Beautiful.

The music, well known to us, was fantastic and the story line of her as an emerging artist was interesting to see. The walk back to the dockyard was beautiful at night past many iconic landmarks...

 St. Paul's Cathedral
When we see the ramparts of the Tower of London, we know we are getting close to home.

Tower of London at Night
Friday was another day of exploration.

On Friday, we walked to a large food and produce market - Borough Market. It had multiple stalls with fantastic choices of cheeses, meats and fish, name it, surrounded by food stands and restaurants.

The market is comprised of 3 interconnected halls and is only a short walk from St. Katharine Dockyard, about 20 minutes.

Check out the mushroom display!

And to get there, we get to walk across the river on the Tower Bridge and then alongside London City Hall and the Thames path across the river

Saturday was a wet and damp day here. We stayed aboard much of the day and also had a good day at the gym. Sunday found us walking to the British Museum. Britain's most popular destination, the museum is a time-frame treasure trove of world history. It is huge, and it's also free. So our plan is to digest it in bite size time chunks.

That's all for now...


Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Hey, ho, here came JoJo

Our trip up the Thames crossed (actually re-crossed) the Greenwich Meridian. The Meridian separating east from west and is inextricably linked with Greenwich Mean Time, and the Royal Observatory in Greenwich is where east meets west at Longitude 0°. 

A bit of history: In 1884 the Prime Meridian was defined by the position of the large 'Transit Circle' telescope in the Observatory’s Meridian Observatory. The cross-hairs in the eyepiece of the Transit Circle precisely defined Longitude 0° for the world (as the Earth’s crust is moving very slightly all the time the exact position of the Prime Meridian is now moving very slightly too). The world had become smaller in the 19th century with the vast expansion of the railway and communications networks (sound familiar?) and the worldwide need for an international time standard became an imperative. Since the late 19th century, the Prime Meridian at Greenwich has served as the reference line for Greenwich Mean Time as prior to this, there were no national or international conventions which set how time should be measured. 

And, at the behest of crew-mate in abstentia Ben Ellison, due respect to England's history and to the Greenwich Meridian was provided, albeit a bit late as our eyes and hands were busy avoiding skinny or hard floating objects, and obeying rigorous vessel transit regulations.

As we approached the St. Katherine Dock lock, the shard was sighted and then Tower Bridge was on the bow:

Once through the Dockyard lock, I was offered one option...a spot that required a shoehorn, for entry...

 and managed somehow to squeeze in without harm. Still not sure how I did it!

And yesterday of course was a great day, as I picked up Johanna at the airport. Her journey was disrupted at the very outset due to protests and closure of the SFO international security gate - necessitating bus transfer to and from another terminal to pass through security. Aside from the early confusions and angst she experienced, the trip was otherwise reasonably uneventful and I was eagerly awaiting her arrival at Heathrow. We took the tube back to St Katherine Docks, and are settling in, beginning with a quick walk along the Thames:

So much to see...

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

In Hamble, prepared to be underway

From Dartmouth, we sailed a long day to Lymington, arriving Sunday late afternoon after 12 1/2 hours on the water. A daylight arrival in Lymington required an early start, and it struck me that some might consider arising at O'Dark hundred hours to be underway at 4:30 AM on a cold, wintry January morning might be considered to be daft by casual observers. None-the-less, we were up and out and I was dressed for bear against the cold. After a bumpy start with wind against tide exiting Dartmouth in the dark, we had a fantastic sail most all the way to Lymington. The sunshine almost made it feel balmy, layers came off, and we sailed from dawn to 2:30 PM when the wind eased and we motor-sailed to keep speed.

Berthon at Lymington was quite posh. No pictures though, as the fog set in the next day. Jo and I had been here last September, and I remembered it well. A nice town with an incredibly old waterfront area, we ended up spending a second day in Lymington waiting for heavy fog to lift. We departed mid-morning yesterday for Hamble; it was still quite foggy and most of the 16 mile motor to the River Hamble felt like a July day in Maine, but the fog cleared as we entered the river and entry was easier.

This entire area is called the Solent, a large area bounded by the southern mainland and the Isle of Wight with the fabled harbour of Cowes. It is a bit like Newport or the Vineyard/Nantucket axis and I had hoped to spend a few days, but weather conditions are preeminent and decision has been made to push off today for an overnight to the Thames Estuary and Medway anchorage, preparing for a sail up the Thames to London on Friday.

Sailing up the Thames is another notable event, and much preparation is in order. Along with Tony's help and local knowledge, Gus Wilson who is the London OCC Port Captain has been incredibly informative and has provided a Thames guide; we also have "official" transiting documents and recommendations for our reading pleasure.

More from the Medway.


Thursday, January 19, 2017

Safe and sound on the River Dart...hello from Dartmouth.

We had a 27 1/2 hour sail from Penarth to Falmouth, reasonably benign, all considered.  After an early afternoon arrival, we got out a bit to stretch our legs and see some sights.
Visions of Johanna anchored off the ships of Her Majesty's Navy
Falmouth town

At anchor among Naval supply ships

The overnight sail unfortunately was followed only by a brief stay in Falmouth. Weather dictated a short stay as strong easterlies were forecast to arise in 24 hours and we elected to leave for our next port, deciding upon Dartmouth. Dartmouth turned out to be a great choice, although the distance of 68 nm. required an early start. We slipped away at 0555 the following morning for a long days sail.

One of Her Majesty's Ships on maneuvers off Plymouth
 We sailed east past the yachting and naval port of Plymouth, and heeded warnings regarding live fire and submarine operations in the area. We saw a submarine on maneuvers with a surface ship, and observed it diving, which was pretty cool.

Tony at the helm, watching for subs

Our approach to Dartmouth was just before sunset; our timing was perfect. The River Dart has high ridges and hills on both sides, the town of Dartmouth to the south, and the village Kingswear across to the north.

We anchored in a designated spot as the sun went down. Dartmouth is pretty at night; the large rather imposing building is the Britannia Royal Naval College of Dartmouth.