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Azores to La Rochelle

Tuesday 6 June 1200 GMT


Left Ponta Delgada 1700 yesterday negotiating strong wind off in a tight space, controlled until clear by midship spring. Yes! Based on wind off expected nice following wind east to Ponta de Madrugada. Ha! Man plans and God laughs! Wind on the nose and only 5kn so engine on with mainsail and mizzen raised.

Engine is still on ... steaming 6kn in a north easterly direction in search of a bit more puff. Careful what we wish for as there is a low travelling north east. We are hoping to catch the edge of it.

More anon.


Wednesday 7 June 1100 GMT

​Current position: Lat 40deg 17' 29" N. Long 21deg 25' 32" W

Wind picked up overnight to true 15kn but still on our tail. Woke up at 0330 for 04-0800 watch. Wind steadily picking up and steady at 210 deg. so engine off at dawn. What a pleasure!

Mizzen staysail up for 2 hours until wind gusting over 20kn so down it came. Not really a broad reach sail anyway and not convinced we got any speed out of it anyway. At least we know how to raise and stow it now ... bring on a beam reach.

Must go, sitting down to 3 course lunch. Two navy chaps on board who insist we dress in number 1s ...

Thursday 8 June 1715 GMT

​Position at noon: Lat 41deg 53' 23" N Long 19deg 31' 29" W

Election Day - well, the sun is shining beautifully in the Atlantic!

Good day's sailing, making a steady 6 - 7 knots. Wind direction won't really play, so still heading 030 deg. - due to back and strengthen this evening, so we should be able to gybe and make a bit more ground to the east. By this evening we will be closer to mainland Europe than to the Azores so we're getting there!

More wonderful food today - the restaurants in La Rochelle will have something to live up to.

Off to put a reef in for the expected overnight wind boost - more tomorrow - Good evening all.

Friday 9 June 1640 +1 GMT
​Position at 1612: Lat 43deg 42' 18" N Long 16deg 14' 41" W 

​Today's theme: Learning by doing.. BB is gliding along on a broad reach in 25 - 30kn winds, gusting 35kn (f8) with 1/4 Genoa, reefed mizzen, no mainsail. If you want to experience ocean sailing then BB is a good place to be.

What's this doing and learning, then? Very chuffed with self for reefing early, first genoa then mainsail during yesterday. Weather forecast icy the predicted 30kn but by end of my watch at 0400 hrs it was still manageable. Thought about putting 3rd reef in main before putting my head down.

Mike and Chris woke me at 0515 to put the third reef in! As they say "Don't think about reefing, just do it!".

Enough for today as another cordon bleu meal is ready: Mexican chicken, rhone beef, chilli con carne so far. Michelin 3rd star next week!

Saturday 10 June 1545 GMT

​Position at 1545: Lat 44deg 19' 8" N  Long 13deg 33' 17" W 

​A little slower today and that com

Only got 6 words. Can you send again please? Bob

That comes with a gentler

It's Gordon making a pig's ear of it. It's gentle sailing today and another splendid lunch. Sunny with no clouds means watch out for sunburn ... Everyone on deck well creamed. Watch/lunch/wash up rota now fixed for next 7 days and everyone is in fine form.

15 kn as I write this, true wind 240 deg, which isn't perfect but hey, that's sailing. so good so far.


Heading more north now to see if we can catch better wind angle Monday - Wednesday. Out.

Sunday 11 June 1400 GMT
​Position at 1400: Lat 45deg 43' 53" N Long 11deg 43' 2" W  

​Theme for today? Before I started cruising with Brighton Belle I only ever heard of things like Tony Bullimore surviving in an upturned yacht. Or climbing the mast in a force 99 gale. It's a short step to imagine eating tinned sardines and baked beans day after day with stale bread. Not a bit of it on BB. This week's Master Chef dishes include Rhone beef, chilli con carne, tuna fusilli and salad, Mexican chicken.

Oh, and the sailing? We have reached 46N level with La Rochelle and have about 450nm to go. We'll go further north, currently on 085deg. All part of a cunning plan to take as much advantage as possible of NE winds expected Monday to Wednesday. If the bet is correct, ETA is late Wednesday.

More soon

Steve B

Monday 12 June 1200 GMT
​Position at 1031: Lat 46deg 7' 52" N Long 8deg 55' 26" W 


​As expected, the wind veered overnight and is now < 10kn and direction about 020 deg. So after 5 days peace the iron donkey was kicked into life. Fickle partner, the wind. We are staying on our 080 course in the hope that the wind increases, although today's 2 day forecast is for only 15 kn. If so we expect to get the full rig up, genoa, staysail, main, mizzen stay and mizzen. Who knows, but it would be nice to return to peace, one of the reasons I for one go sailing.

Tuesday 13 June 1400 GMT
​Position at 1709: Lat 45deg 30' 43" N Long 5deg 14' 19" W 


​175nm due west of La Rochelle now, with engine on and perhaps less than 2 days to go.

As ship's cook, those French restaurants are beckoning, although the price point that I've proposed has frightened many of the horses, nae crew on this cruise. Perhaps we need a themed cruise entitled Michelin Discovery.

George the Autopilot has been strangely absent without leave for almost all of this trip. However, at 0200 son of George ie. George II made an unexpected appearance whilst the George was totally powered off. George II helmed with precision (with zero crew intervention) whilst close-hauled (for first time on this trip) for a full 1 hour + in winds of 12-15kn with a good Atlantic swell running.

Brighton Belle as a well-balanced ketch has much to recommend it!

Stuart Ritchie

PS. Warm greetings from all the non mal de mer crew!

Wednesday 14 June 1200 GMT
​Position at 1200: Lat 45deg 51' 43" N Long 3deg 1' 20" W 


​Sadly the wind has deserted us - we are motoring across the Bay of Biscay under a cloudless sky - but the sun is shining brightly - bikini weather.

Dawn this morning was very special. The sun leapt above the horizon behind low level cumulus sending rays skyward and painting a multi-coloured pastel skyscape which even Michelangelo could not have surpassed.

Four hours before this dawn the watch on deck had to quickly lower the mainsail under threat from an electric storm. Dramatic forked lightning followed by thunder claps at 3 second intervals was unnerving to say the least! This spectacular sound and light show will be long remembered. (Stuart, our electrical engineer crew member recommended personal electronic equipment be placed in the oven!)

Yet another meteorological event had occurred earlier - we were motor-sailing in light winds when suddenly the wind increased to 20 knots and then to over 30 gusting 40 apparent. The sea became confused and steering difficult. After an hour the wind abated - the squall was over! Of note is the fact that the barometer had dropped 4mb in 3 hours and shot up again immediately the wind eased.

Ocean passages are never dull, even when motor-sailing...

Mike Maddox

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Steve Benham

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