Henry Bomby Boat
How does it feel to be back?
It was a great feeling arriving back in Dartmouth, with all my friends and family there to welcome me. I was on a real adrenaline high and being thrown back straight into Regatta meant it’s been a hectic few days ever since. Only now am I starting to sort things out and settle back into a normal routine – it took me a week to unpack the boat. I’m enjoying Mum’s cooking again – she’s fattening me back up as I lost a stone in weight during the trip. I think my parents liked having me back…for about ten minutes. Now it’s just the normal ‘tidy your room etc’ but also ‘when are you next leaving!’. I think they really enjoyed following the trip.
How did the trip progress?
The start of the trip was a bit disjointed what with taking time out to race in the Round the Island race and then flying out to Lake Garda to take part in the J80 European Championships with Team Baltic – where we did really well, coming 5th and the first British boat. It’s amazing, however, how quickly you get into the groove of the trip, from being with the team to focusing on the navigation, the planning for each new port, getting up early, cooking for myself etc.
The longest leg was 195 miles, which was from Southwold to Whitby, which took 39 hours and was very tough during parts of the leg because of the conditions. Normally, I’d average about 60-70 miles – a full day’s of sailing, although there were some shorter trips down the west coast of Scotland. All the trips up the East coast were over 100 miles. This took quicker than I expected and I reached the north of Scotland within two weeks. At that rate, I would have been back in Dartmouth by the end of July, which wasn’t what I planned so I did consciously slow down a bit thereafter. At the end of the trip, the log showed 1501.1 nautical miles travelled.
Did you ever have any doubts during the trip about what you were doing?
Never – well perhaps, but just for a minute or two! I just tried to enjoy every minute of it, whatever I was experiencing, as I knew I would miss it greatly when I was back. The three weeks of solid rain whilst in the north of Scotland, however, did dampen my spirits a little. It was all upwind, lots of fog (I never saw any of the great scenery!) and I could never get anything dry.
I loved the longer passages, being at sea for long periods, sailing through the night. But it was extremely tiring, as I never slept for more than 10 minutes (propped up in the cockpit). Originally, I set myself 15 minute naps but I found that shipping would loom up so quickly so I adjusted the breaks. In bad visibility, I would have to be more alert and got little sleep as a consequence.
The climbing of the Three Peaks was great fun – it was a different challenge and a welcome change although the weather could have been kinder. I did Scafell Pike by myself and Ben Nevis and Snowdon with my family or friends.
What did you learn on the trip?
I learned a lot about pilotage – I visited such a variety of different harbours, all with a variety of approaches which has really helped build my confidence on making different landfalls – in total I visited 33 different harbours.
As the trip progressed, I was able to plan each leg more quickly as my confidence built. I became fascinated with watching and understanding the changing patterns of weather, almost to an obsessive level. I now have a better knowledge of reading synoptic charts and predicting the impact of weather on each passage and cloud formations etc.
At the beginning, I learned a lot from making silly navigational errors where, for instance, I failed to predict the full impact of a change in tide. But these mistakes tended to be as a consequence of becoming too tired and not taking the change in conditions fully into account. I also learned a lot about how hard I can push myself but it’s the gradual build up of experiencing different conditions and overcoming different problems that has really honed my sailing and navigation skills.
What were the highlights?
The big highlight was arriving back into Dartmouth but I have so many great memories from throughout the trip – I can now look at a map of Britain and have specific memories of each place I visited or passage I made which is lovely. Some of the places north of Scotland were beautiful – possibly more so if the weather had been kinder. Travelling between Skye and the mainland, however, on a fine day was just magical.
I met lots of people – many would come up and chat about the trip I was making. Everyone was very welcoming.
What did you do when you arrived in each port?
Well, I didn’t get distracted by a pub crawl as many like to believe! I loved exploring each new place I visited. I did become an expert in the quality of showers at each port – if the showers were good, I was very happy. I soon realised that the basic creature comforts of being clean, warm, dry and well fed were all I needed to feel content.
What are you now up to?
At the moment I am getting the boat ready for sale to pay back the loans I got to finance the trip. It will be a great buy for anyone as the boat has been completely refitted with lots of new gear on board. I take it the boat survived the trip intact?
The only breakage I had was a broken spinnaker pole which was a consequence of leaving the kite up for too long but other than that the boat has performed fantastically well. I had a few problems with the engine but these were all easily fixed. The boat coped really well with some of the tough conditions we went through. I was never afraid for myself or the boat. For a 26’ boat it’s incredibly sea-worthy albeit a bit wet!
It has really spurred me on to build a career in sailing especially in offshore racing. I’ve a trial later this month with the Artemis Offshore Academy. There are eight places available for the 32 participating in the trial.
A word for your sponsors?
I am so grateful to all my sponsors for the great opportunity they’ve given me to undertake this trip; Baltic Wharf’s original support was key to getting the project going and being able to use their fantastic facilities was so important in helping prepare the boat for the trip; the support from Specialty Fasteners and Foley Steel was critical in keeping the project going when they came aboard as Gold sponsors and, finally, The Seahorse Restaurant coming on at the end as Title sponsors meant we could run the project properly and thoroughly.
First published September 2010 By the Dart