First Trip


We first saw Free Spirit on the 'hard' at the Northshore site at Itchenor. Having decided this was the one for us we commissioned various changes which took some time. Thus when we traveled down to sail her back to Brighton it was , in fact, the first time we had actually seen her in water. The story of that weekend in Feb '05 is retold here -------


---We arrived on Saturday 19th Feb. around 13:00 after buying, at extreme cost 4 new life jackets!! ( essential for tomorrow's trip) with the key tasks of checking the boat over to ensure the planned return to Brighton the next day was a sensible, safe, and trouble-free run. The weather was sunny, windy (20 knots), and quite cold 4° C .

The check list was in someone's head !! and clearly included water, gas ,fuel, engine controls, commission new GPS and Radar equipment, test VHF, fit and raise sails, many other things plus ideally a test run in the water and familiarisation with boat systems and equipment. Anyone who has done these will realise that they require a substantial effort and a long time. While Mark pursued these tasks Nat and John recorded on camera and video various pictorial representations of the scene!! ( Short videos will be available later for Broadband users) and some of Natalya's artistic shots are captured in Photo Album Free Spirit 1.



Mark, meanwhile was completing the task sheet!. Raising full sails without being able to head to wind turns out to be a fun task The sails and their attached ropes ( sheets) develop a life of their own which had almost decapitated John with video in hand and left Mark lying on the floor with his hat deposited in the sea!

Finally sails were installed and a few minor repairs became obvious raising the question of whether to pursue a set of new sails?? Water and fuel was sorted and engine responded with some slight hesitancy.

It was difficult to keep to the task sheet if we had had one, since this was the first time that any of us had been able to inspect the boat at our full leisure.


Finally having achieved the basics and time run out we departed for Brighton to spend the evening with Jeff and Kerry. A good evening was had and in view of early start early to bed was order of the day. A cold night ensued and we headed back to Itchenor after a great breakfast at around 05:30 with the temperature around 1° C clear skies and good wind. Free Spirit was waiting to go and engine started and we headed off to the open sea with Natalya volunteering to produce bacon and egg sandwiches,


The trip down the river to the open sea was good with the sun slowly rising and the sails being raised and the coffee and sandwiches being readily dispatched. John did enjoy them but suspected later in the day that they plus his obsessional use of the camcorder gave rise to a prolonged period of isolation under the spell of sea sickness. This was a reasonably long trip, 60 miles, and was clearly going to take a long time, around 10 hours. While the wind was averaging a healthy 23 knots with later gusts of 30 knots, and the sun was shining , the key problem for everyone was the intense cold (near freezing - 2 C ) with strong winds.



A couple of hours into trip and before John fell foul of sea-sickness we were fortunate enough to get the company of a dolphin which raised everyone's chilled spirits . The hours then passed and John slowly recovered and Natalya retired to the saloon to sleep. We then duly arrived in Brighton marina having had a cold trip but totally trouble free and Free Spirit had dealt with the wind and tide and sea in an impeccable and very stable manner. All had been very successful .


We rapidly tidied the boat and had a quick coffee and went back to Jeff's for a pleasant evening before being returned to Itchenor early next day to pick up the car and return to Stamford. Unfortunately on the way back someone kindly rammed John's car from behind but the damage did not disable the car. As they say " It's all good" and the weekend had been a great success and Free Spirit was now in Brighton in Mark and Natalya's competent hands