Yanita is in better shape than when they arrived in St Peter Port but attention soon turns to the health of the skipper himself

We’re giving it a go – hoping to rejoin the Biscay Triangle Rally in La Trinite sur Mer. I’ve worked out a passage plan, we should be able to break everything down into manageable chunks. This would mean we’d be able to spend at least six hours at anchor or alongside every night. In fact, we would even have a day to spare – Brigitte’s planning to pick a nice spot. South Brittany looks absolutely lovely!

The boat’s in very good shape: the electrical repairs I’ve made seem to be holding up. On the whole, we’re in better shape than before. Last check of sails and engine (I’ve got a feeling we’re going to need the iron main). If it wasn’t for the autopilot, we would be ready for anything.

Starting off with a long leg – St Peter Port to L’Aber’Wrach: 109NM. Quite strong tides to contend with. The weather doesn’t look all that good, but when does it ever? Upon departure we’re dealing with a SW Force 5 – one reef and a couple of turns on the genoa, but we’re flying.

The highlight of the trip so far

Just SW of Guernsey, we find ourselves in the middle of a pod of dolphins – 20 or 30 of them! Quick! Wake the kids – they will want to see this! Fifteen minutes of sheer magic. In all our excitement nobody remembers to take some pictures. I guess family and friends will just have to take our word for it.

Just when you think everything’s going well, you’re in for it. The SW5 turns into a W6 about 12 hours before it was supposed to. Yanita’s slamming her brains out. The swell’s getting bigger, crew’s turning greener. It’s going to be one of those days. I’m still sore from the last marathon stint at the helm. The horizon can be two miles away, or 20 metres away and the swell is something else. In three years of quite intensive sailing we’ve taken everything the North Sea could throw at us, but nothing prepares you for this. I’ve been in ocean storms in Navy ships, but this is in a different league altogether. We’re barely making any progress over the ground; I hope I can cope with another 14 hours of this.

Doctor’s orders

Just before lunch I shout out for Brigitte: come up now! One of the port shrouds is threatening to break loose. Lifejacket, harness & safety line. I make my way forward on all fours. Thirty minutes, two screwdrivers and four screws later everything is back as it should be. Only my back hurts like hell. It has done since last week. I just assumed I was sore from last time. Brigitte gave me some extra painkillers, but she fears the worst. Her paramedic training kicks in again – she thinks I might have a hernia. We’re about seven hours into our trip – on doctor’s orders we head back for Guernsey. Like she said: I’m not going to kill myself doing this!

Yanita seemed to welcome the decision to return too. She has made it clear to us that she’s more in her element in the North Sea and Eastern Channel. I guess our blue-water aspirations will have to go on the back burner for a while.

After six hours of rolling and plunging into waves we find ourselves back in port. A 13-hour marathon slug at sea to arrive where we left. The logic of it all escapes me. The next day the doctor proved Brigitte right. I hate it when that happens. Nothing too serious just yet, but another ‘slugfest’ is out of the question. It’s with a heavy heart that I inform the rally organisers that Yanita’s out of the picture for good this time.

We take stock of the situation. Holiday plans have changed. Our trip to Spain has now been recast as a grand tour of the Channel Islands. Nothing exotic, but we’ve never been here before. So, it’s all new to us. The next day we took Yanita over to Sark: “the island where time stands still”. They weren’t kidding. Horses and carts all over the place. The salty smell of the sea but a distant memory. Horse manure is all you can smell initially. The gardens of the Seigneury were very beautiful. The kids spend half an hour in the maze. As usual, Yanni took great pride in beating his sister to the exit. Off to see La Coupee (the connection between Sark and Little Sark): words fail me. Very impressive.

Back to the boat for a meal, a game of checkers and an early night.

So far, we’ve done Guernsey, Herm & Sark. Jersey tomorrow.