Charity challenger Dave Birch has completed a 75-mile cross-Channel voyage from Guernsey to Torquay in a Laser Pico dinghy.
The sailor and his support team made the crossing from Dartmouth the Channel Islands on a motorboat, with the Pico lashed to the foredeck, a day ahead of last week’s intended challenge day.
The forecast was a perfect SW F4-5, however the motor across the channel was a rather choppy SW F5-7 with the wind on the beam.
Once in Guernsey, Dave and the team prepared the dinghy for the journey ahead but came close to postponing the voyage when SW F4-5 with 3-4 hours of F6 were predicted mid channel.
The 5am forecast changed back to much more favourable conditions, SW F3-4 with F5 for a time mid channel.
As Rooster Sailing reports, it was then all systems go and Dave set off just after 6am on Wednesday, 15 June.
Once clear of Guernsey the sea conditions picked up to a westerly 6-8ft Atlantic swell combined with a SW 4ft wind chop.
Dave consumed vitamin and mineral drinks, plus protein bars every 30 to 45 minutes to keep him fuelled up.
After a couple of hours, dolphins came to play offering the most spectacular sight. Dave said, ‘Watching them swim past just under the dinghy a few feet away was simply incredible’.
The first real obstacle Dave had to deal with was negotiating the busy shipping lanes. The English Channel shipping lanes see hundreds of cargo vessels pass through them every day. Each of the two shipping lanes are only five miles wide which funnels all traffic into them.
Numerous changes of course were required to pick his way through the flow of container ships.
When the F5 winds came, the little Pico was rocketing along and surfing at 8-9 knots.
Unfortunately, the perfect winds only lasted a few hours, and progress slowed.
The approach to the UK’s South Coast saw the weather turn to drizzle and visibility down to just a mile or so at times.
Once back in the bay with the finish in sight, a couple of small boats came out to greet Dave as the wind gradually died off at the end of the day. Dockside, there was a large gathering of followers eagerly waiting to see Dave’s safe return.
Touch down after 14 hours and eight minutes at sea was to the blare of fog horns, cheers and the popping of champagne corks.
Dave described the finish as a ‘life defining moment’.
So far, Dave has raised £5,300 for Rowcroft Hospice in South Devon.
On Facebook the day after the crossing, Dave said: ‘My body feels like it’s been run over by a freight train this morning!
‘But hey, we frickin did it, we actually did it.
‘BIG THANKS to everyone that that came down to the marina to welcome me home. It was a truly amazing homecoming.
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