LADY HAMILTON’s Trip to the Sun
Dennis Haggerty

LADY HAMILTON is a Shipman 28 and has been sailed from Paglesham since 1994. Owner, Dan O’Herlihy, commenced his single-handed trip to the Med on May the 24th this year. He is now (15th of August) in Italy tied up to an ancient quay in a small port close to Rome. Here is a resume of the trip so far and some extracts from LADY HAMILTON’s the log.

Having launched Lady Hamilton following a major refit at the Island Yacht Club at Canvey, Dan gave up his job, sold his house, its contents and his car over the Easter weekend(!) He spent the next six weeks dedicated to completing work on Lady H. The weather was kind, and unimpeded by the usual myriad of jobs and responsibilities, finished all of his planned work on the boat. Indeed, the only cause for concern was the delay delivering a new genoa, ordered in January from W Sails of Leigh. It arrived, after a lot of chasing, only 2 days prior to the launch.

The dates below indicate the arrival day at each port Dan visited. 

May 15 - arrive Ramsgate, a beat to windward all the way from Canvey.

May 16 to 17 - overnight sail to Yarmouth Isle of Wight, NE F7, by the second day fully tested the design and strength of the new bowsprit. 

May 19 to 20 overnight sail to St Peter Port Guernsey, through the Alderney Race ok, but missed the tide at St Peter Port, had to run around the back of the island and anchor.

May 25 Tregiuer
May 26 L’Aber’Wrach
May 29 Cameret

May 30 good forecast, wind from the North East, previously variable weather now settled - head out to cross Biscay bound for La Coruna.

June 1 - great progress, but a deep depression is sweeping North from Spain. The recently installed Weatherfax proves invaluable. Time spent interpreting weather information as an air traffic controller in the RAF left Dan in no doubt what was heading his way. Years since spent reading Allard Coles Heavy Weather Sailing and Lin and Larry Pardy concerning small boats and surviving gales, were now very relevant indeed!

June 2- Gale SW, wooden block mounted on the cockpit combing that takes inboard end of the Autohelm splits in two, now have to steer by hand. Reef, then down all sail, deploy sea-anchor, waves vary in size from 30ft to O’hh my God!
LADY HAMILTON drifts with her rear quarter to the waves. Dan battened down below doing a “pea in a pod” impression for two days. Even his cast iron constitution decides that eating is not such a good idea.

June 3 - South-westerly gale continues, the incessant noise and the opportunity to consider the unsuitability of a light weight cruiser racer for such conditions are overwhelming! However the Sat Nav confirms that the LADY HAMILTON’s drift NE is a little over one knot. A great comfort to know where you are even if there is not a thing you can do to about it.

Finally, the wind abates, but now blown further into ‘the Bay’ it is impossible to lay the original course - head due south under jib. Sea-anchor recovered (Plastimo parachute type - £50 in Shoreline) it is found ripped to pieces. It will be replaced with something far more robust - best not to dwell on the consequences should the gale have blown for 3 days.

Fortunately, with her new rig, LADY HAMILTON will sail herself to windward. Hence, the need to hand steer the rest of the trip is avoided and a great relief to the storm battered single hander! 

June 4 - Luarca N.Spain. It’s so good to see people again! Taking stock of the boat, with exception of the self-steering mount, the only other damage is restricted to damp books from a leaking hull/deck join. Confidence in the boat and the design/strength of the new equipment and rigging are now at an all time high. Nifty work with a mastic gun now undertaken to sort the leak.

June 7 - Ribadeo
June 8 - Cederia
June 9 - La Coruna

June 10 - Ria De Camarinas, stuck for two and a half days sitting out another gale, the third so far. Then a run down the coast - 62 miles to Bayona

June 12 - Bayona - finally the weather has settled with a sustained high pressure. But now the Navtext isn’t helping as La Coruna are not transmitting. Hoping to pick up Gibraltar Weather Text broadcasts soon. Now much hotter, the refrigerated compartment built during the fit out is proving its worth. It has a seawater cooled condenser unit which is very efficient and well within the capacity of the solar panel. It keeps a large supply of beer at a perfect temperature!

June 15 - Viano Do Catelo (Portugal)
June 16 - Leixoes
June 17 - Figheira Da Foz
June 19 - Peniche
June 20 - Cascais
June 22 - Sines

June 24 - Cape St Vincent. Finally got away from the North-westerly swell that has dogged the trip since leaving France. After 4 weeks of rolling Dan could not stop rolling when he walked ashore (unless it was all that beer). 

June 25 - Vilamoura, the Algarve is marvellous, one long beach with lots of anchorage’s. However the marina here charges like the proverbial wounded bull! Fortunately only in for one night - Spain (once more) tomorrow.

June 26 - sailed overnight to Barbate

June 28 - Gibraltar, tried to get into Sheppards Marina, but it was full. Have to anchor right at the end of the airport runway, the noise is incredible. Cranking battery loosing charge if the engine is not run for a few days - turns out to be faulty wiring of a switch, but nearly went to the expense of buying an expensive replacement battery. The original came with the boat and is at least 7 years old. Fortunately the Farymann diesel starts with the slightest provocation and it’s easy enough to hand crank. 
Shopped at Tesco’s and had lunch at Burger King, the first chips since leaving England.

July 2 - Duquesa
July 3 - Fuengereola
July 4 - Marina Del Este

July 5 - Almerimar - disaster! In a flat calm under ‘iron topsail’ made a routine check on the engine. Horrified to find the engine tray awash and further inspection revealed bilge water almost up to the floorboards. Close sea-cocks and PUMP! Inspection revealed a 4mm hole on the underside of the cylinder head (it is a flat engine - i.e. it is mounted on its side). It was leaking about 8 gallons an hour with the engine running.
Probing opened this hole up to twice the diameter. Corrosion had finally eaten through a thinner part of the head casting. It is impossible to drain every last drop of (raw) cooling water out of an engine of this design and after 25 years of corrosion it finally gave out. 
Necessity being the mother of invention, via a nearby access plate, working at extreme fingertip length, in the tiny gap under the engine, it was possible to clean up and plug the hole with epoxy and piece of scrap stainless. Almost 50 hours of motoring later it is still holding. A recommendation from John Quillam to use ‘liquid metal’ was passed on by phone and Dan duly bought some to hold in reserve.

I have now been charged with finding a second hand cylinder head for a Farymann A40M, 12hp single cylinder raw water cooled diesel. Horizontally mounted. And if you know where I might find one give me a call on 01702-258651

July 8 - Gabo De Gata
July 9 - Garrucaa
July 10 - Mazarron
July 12 - Torrevieja
July 13 - Villa Joyosa
July 14 - Calpe

July 15 - Morayra - the trip since Gibraltar has been dogged with persistent light headwinds, frequent calms and occasional F7 - always on the nose and making daily progress painfully slow.

July 16 - Ibiza, San Antonio has not changed (Dan was here in the late 80’s. He found an old mate Jeff who is still living on his Heaven Twins Catamaran in the harbour - his 12th year). The bay is very full of yachts so pushed off for a week of sailing around the island waiting for mail to arrive from the UK.
July 18 - Espalmador
July 19 - Formentera
July 20 - Espalmador
July 21 - various coves
July 22 - San Antonio again.

Total distance sailed since the start of the trip from Canvey: 2190 miles.

July 28 - Mahon (Menorca)
July 29 - commence what turns to be an 84 hour beat to Sardinia including 25 hours under power.
August 2 - Conoscere (Sardinia)
August 10 - Civitavecchia (Italy)

Next stop Anzio. Dan’s plan is to spend the rest of the summer sailing to Levkas (W.Greece) and to over winter in Corfu. But then again, he could end up just about anywhere. 

He plans to fly back at some point during the winter. Dan may stay beyond a few weeks in the UK and find work to top up his ‘cruising fund’. It depends whether he is able to secure anything abroad. Any offers of employment considered! 

Editors note: Dennis flew out to Corfu on 14th Sept for a week sailing with Dan on the LADY HAMILTON. Hopefully we can ask him how he got on at the dinner!