Heading South Instead Of North, For Now

We're going where the water is brown

The last few months have been a blur of constructive activity. Back in the UK for work, then home to Pèlerin to finalise our refit and get under way. After some fairly substantial work we needed to have a good shakedown sail before heading off on the long haul, which went very well. We’ve seen our first flying fish (these waters are warmer than any we’ve been in before!) and explored our first great Iberian river already, and we’re only just in June. We’ve also been going through the spreadsheets to ensure we’ve got all the spares we need, checking the medical kit and finalising the paperwork – it’s just like the day-job, but without being paid. Just the same as John and Phyllis, except that they are heading North, and we are heading South.

I’ve had the immense good fortune to have spent most of my sailing in some of the loveliest waters, such as the west of Scotland, and I can’t say I don’t miss it. But for the most part that was ‘work’ as a professional skipper, and as someone far wiser than me once remarked ‘if you want to destroy your favourite pastime, make it your job’. And there’s no denying that there is truth in that. The responsibility for the boat, the endless decision making and the need to keep everyone safe, sound and happy for months on end took its toll, and it has taken the last three years to get back to loving the sailing once again.

Part of that healing process has been to sail in places that are completely new to us, as a team, which is in itself part of the adventure. We’ve had our ups and downs, but we’re working well together, and that’s a real joy. We have a common sense of purpose, and we’ve allowed each other to develop our own areas of competence on board – Lou does all the close quarters boat handling, I call the shots further offshore – and so, mutual confidence and respect has become our third crew member.

What We Have In Mind

When we planned our voyage, we started with a map of the world, and made a list of the places we want to visit under sail most of all. High latitude places figured largely on it – Norway, Patagonia, Newfoundland and Alaska, for example – but first you’ve got to get there. But we also wanted to visit many other wildlife and culturally rich places along the way, many of them hot, such as parts of Africa and South America. So we chose an Ovni 435, with her lifting keel and rudder as a kind of marine Jeep, capable of crossing oceans or creek-crawling up rivers – the limitation is us, not the boat. And we both agreed that we wanted (and badly needed) a change of scene, before heading for the cold once more, to recharge our batteries, if you like.

So in a couple of weeks time we should be in north Africa, starting with Morocco, where we plan to sail down the Atlantic coast and explore everything the country has to offer. Then, if all goes well, out to the Canaries and down to Senegal, Gambia, Guinea-Bissau and the Cape Verde Islands. It has taken a while to sort out the formalities (not least insurance – more of that in the future), and to equip the boat for such hot climes (bimini, mosquito nets, fans, etc.), but we’re pretty much ready to go. And we can’t wait to get there. The last couple of years have taught us to be flexible, and we need to be, as we both still have to earn a living. So we may have to roll with the punches, but the bigger picture looks good – very good.

Stay With Us

So, as with John and Phyllis, posting may be sporadic at times, although we’ll do our best to bring things to your attention that might prove useful, thought-provoking or entertaining whenever we can. Between Morgan’s Cloud and Pèlerin we’ll be crossing a huge area of the Atlantic Ocean with vastly differing temperatures, cultures and habitats, but hopefully you’ll all find it to be worth sharing with us in the spirit of Attainable Adventure – what this site is all about.

And as for the cold stuff? Don’t worry, that’s still in the picture – we’ll get there. And the new bimini doubles as a cockpit tent!

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Meet the Author

Colin Speedie

Colin, European Correspondent here at AAC, is a deeply experienced offshore sailor who holds a Yachtmaster licence, and a gifted photographer and talented writer who has added a whole new dimension to Attainable Adventure Cruising. In addition, since Colin and Louise are from England and had their OVNI 435, Pèlerin built in France, they bring a European perspective to our site. You can read more about Colin and Louise and their business at their website.

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