Saturday 29 May to Saturday 5 June 1999
Well, we did it! Most of the 23 RIBs that started managed to finish the 1600 miles in the 8 days as planned.
Here's a brief summary from my perspective as skipper of "Phoenix of Portsmouth"
Despite several revisions during the run-up to the event, the final route was decided only once we were already underway, with Amble being substituted for Berwick.
<TABLE cellSpacing=0 cellPadding=3 width=620 border=0><TBODY><TR><TD width=140 bgColor=#d7eaff>Sat 29 May</TD><TD width=350 bgColor=#d7eaff>Portsmouth - Falmouth</TD><TD width=110 bgColor=#d7eaff>164 miles</TD></TR><TR><TD bgColor=#f4f4f4>Sun 30 May</TD><TD bgColor=#f4f4f4>Falmouth - Pwllheli</TD><TD bgColor=#f4f4f4>223 miles</TD></TR><TR><TD bgColor=#d7eaff>Mon 31 May</TD><TD bgColor=#d7eaff>Pwllheli - Oban via Bangor NI</TD><TD bgColor=#d7eaff>262 miles</TD></TR><TR><TD bgColor=#f4f4f4>Tue 1 June</TD><TD bgColor=#f4f4f4>Oban - Scrabster</TD><TD bgColor=#f4f4f4>214 miles</TD></TR><TR><TD bgColor=#d7eaff>Wed 2 June</TD><TD bgColor=#d7eaff>Scrabster - Amble</TD><TD bgColor=#d7eaff>251 miles</TD></TR><TR><TD bgColor=#f4f4f4>Thu 3 June</TD><TD bgColor=#f4f4f4>Amble - Hull</TD><TD bgColor=#f4f4f4>152 miles</TD></TR><TR><TD bgColor=#d7eaff>Fri 4 June</TD><TD bgColor=#d7eaff>Hull - Ramsgate</TD><TD bgColor=#d7eaff>186 miles</TD></TR><TR><TD bgColor=#f4f4f4>Sat 5 June</TD><TD bgColor=#f4f4f4>Ramsgate - Portsmouth & PARTY!</TD><TD bgColor=#f4f4f4>165 miles</TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE>
Day 0 Portsmouth
Boats launched and checked over. A rather tense and nervous group assembled in the yacht club for a briefing, and dispersed shortly afterwards despite the bar still being open -- not much interest in getting drunk tonight!
Day 1 Portsmouth to Falmouth
A good start with a following wind all the way. Went through the middle of two thunderstorms which was exciting! Made better progress by sea than the support crews did by road (6.5 hrs vs 7.5)
Day 2 Falmouth to Pwhelli
<!-- embedded table --><TABLE width=350><TBODY><TR><TD class=caption align=middle> Team Phoenix before the start. Clockwise from front left: John Kennett, Neil Elam, Barry Templeman, Simon Grantham. Drysuits by Otter.
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This leg was dogged by a short head sea which made going very uncomfortable. Not big enough to be exciting, but it slowed everyone down considerably. Everyone glad when it was over. Various crews stopped en-route for additional fuel. Haven Divers ran out of fuel and spent the night drifting in Cardigan Bay. Towed in by Alan Priddy in Spirit of Portsmouth in the morning.
Day 3 Pwhelli to Oban via Bangor
Perfectly still, and sunny all day. Despite being long, this leg was a breeze. Breakfast in Wales, lunch in Northern Ireland, dinner in Scotland.
Day 4 Oban to Scrabster
Flat calm start through the breathtaking scenery of the Scottish Islands, with a following sea building through the day. Wave height up to 2 metres most of the way, up to 4 metres off Cape Wrath. Had to go 4 miles offshore from Cape Wrath to avoid Harrier jets on a live firing exercise dropping 1000lb bombs on Garvey Island!
Day 5 Scrabster to Amble
A fairly easy day except for the last ten miles or so, which were lumpy and confused. Longer day than planned, as we had been unable to organise fuel at Berwick. Very friendly at Amble marina.
Day 6 Amble to Hull
Not a bad passage, but were somewhat unamused to travel 20 miles up the river Humber to find that we had a couple of hours to wait before we could get into the marina because of the tide. The only waiting place was a rather rusty and jagged landing stage which was less than ideal. Most took things with typical ribster good humour, and before long everyone was safely in the marina.
Day 7 Hull to Ramsgate
A hard day for everyone. High winds from the southwest made progress very difficult. Some crews went offshore, hoping to find better conditions, but the best progress was made by those who chose to keep as close inshore as possible. Boats stopped in various places on the east coast for maintenance and a break, but most made it to Ramsgate at some point in the evening. A few boats opted to stay on the Humber all day, only making the 20 miles from Hull to Grimsby.
Day 8 Ramsgate to Portsmouth
A relatively short leg, but with a strong headwind the conditions were not good. Everyone made slow progress, but the majority of crews made it to Portsmouth for 2pm. Two of the crews who spent the day in Grimsby came all the way to Portsmouth in one day, arriving at around 7pm. The atmosphere at the prize giving in the evening was markedly different from the previous Saturday, with everyone elated and relieved.
<!-- embedded table --><TABLE width=350><TBODY><TR><TD class=caption align=middle> Back in Portsmouth drinking Champagne!Clockwise from left: John, Neil, Becky
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Our thanks got to Alan Priddy and all at Offshore Expeditions
for organising a fantastic event. It's certainly changed my outlook on distances -- I never thought I would be saying "not far to go now, only 110 miles!". Thanks too to Otter
for supplying the team's drysuits.