On reaching Jersey Will reflects on the lessons learned over the past fortnight and asks himself if the holiday was a failure

Off to Jersey. I took extra care doing the nav. Lots of dangers lurk below, not to mention the tide. The tidal range is quite extreme, especially at springs. Five hours later, in a lumpy sea we arrived off St Helier. The approach was straightforward enough. Waiting pontoon, then marina. First impression was ‘underwhelming’. After the friendly hustle-bustle of St Peter Port this place looked drab and deserted. Our initial intention was to stay for two days, but one seemed ample. Still, it was not all gloom and doom: the girls absolutely loved St Helier – shops, hence civilisation! And, I must admit: very good ice cream – I had five in one day.

We caught the tide the next day. The now well trodden route to St Peter Port was handled without much ado. Just a one night stopover to catch the tide the next morning. Only Alderney left to complete our Grand Tour of the Channel Islands.

As everyone retired to their bunks early I sat contemplating the last two and a half weeks. We set out to complete the Biscay Triangle; yet, we did not even come close to achieving our goal. Could we label our holiday a failure? In a way. The Spanish courtesy flag we optimistically bought at a boat jumble will have to remain in its wrapper a couple more years. The prospect of taking part in the rally did, however, provide us with a focal point. We had to get things ready, we would find out if we and the boat were ready for offshore work. We had signed on extra crew to supplement the unreliable autopilot. I should have realised that once the autopilot died and the crew did a runner (it turned out to be boyfriend trouble) the rally was a non-starter for us. Especially on long passages a reliable autopilot (tempted to opt for a windvane on the next boat) is essential.

In short we learned three things: too much – too soon – wrong boat. We fail only if we don’t learn from our (expensive) mistakes. As a family, we need more sea miles. Yanita has made it clear the she does not like the heavy work. She can be the perfect coastal cruiser – for someone else. A couple of years wiser, and more experienced, we’re now hunting down our perfect Blue Water cruiser. I still have a couple more years to do till early retirement, so there’s still time.