The boat, her crew and the first 10 years

Hannah: 
A Gaff Ketch, she has been our home since October 2000. Some 36' long, beamy and deep she is a close copy of a Colin Archer, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colin_Archer
but with a ferro-cement hull.  Although we find the gaff rig interesting to use, visitors are often taken aback at the huge number of lines that seemingly lead every which way. I guess you get used to things! After the pasting we took in 2005 we decided to build a small doghouse over the hatch to give some protection from the elements and have been very happy with the result, as has Toots!


We replaced the original stove with a Morso Squirrel that can burn either wood or coal - very
nice after a cold, wet passage to know 20 minutes after you anchor the fire will be roaring and we'll have a drink poured!!

A clever coal cellar holding about 250lb(115kg) sits behind the stove, protected by an air gap



The saloon table tends to be commandeered by Toots to bask in the heat produced.

The dinghy is a two-part design that we rarely now bother to unbolt. About 12' long, it sits, upside down, between the main mast and the main sheet horse and lashed to the deck. Toots has a bed under it and this is probably her favourite space on the boat. We can row two up, (but mostly it's just Bee) and are able to cope with most conditions you'd consider having a dinghy out in. But two rowers  means we can get back when the wind pipes up and catches us out. If it has a drawback it's the weight and launch and retrieval is done using the throat halyard and 10 years experience...

We have subsequently added a Seahopper to our "stable" Although early days we're loving the lightness and the fact that we can quickly rig it to sail. Seems a tad flimsy after the two-parter we have but horses for courses and all that.


Toots:  
Toots arrived in October 2002 at the tender age of 8 weeks and has clocked up  47,000
 miles with us (Jan '13), so this is really the only life she knows.  If we're alongside she'll wander off on her own to explore, if we're at anchor she'll either remain happily with the boat or if the landscape appeals she'll come with us. She doesn't like rough weather, children or high pitched voices and will hide whenever they appear in her life. Various beds are scattered around the boat which she uses depending on the state of the weather although since we took a big sea over the boat she is wary of sleeping below the skylight
 To date she has fallen in 13 times, though never whilst we're sailing. In her early days she used to drive me frantic by wandering along the main boom to the end and then finding, because of all the lines, she had to reverse her way until she had sufficient room to turn. As we were sailing on a broad reach and the end of the boom was some 17' from the centre of the boat you can understand my panic... The last time she fell overboard this is what we wrote..


Bee, feeling that we stood a chance of seeing the Northern Lights, opted to read after we went to bed whilst I settled down to sleep. A strange bang alerted us and we got up to investigate what we believed to be the chain snagging on an underwater rock. By torch nothing could be seen off the bow and the chain showed no sign of snatching. Stranger still Toots, who had been on deck sleeping under the dinghy had not come out to investigate with us. I wandered back and shone the torch over the stern to see a very frightened Toots, eyes like chapel hat pegs, clinging desperately to the rudder blade of our self-steerer. Her front legs were wrapped in a death squeeze around that slim bit of wood and she was not letting go. Neither of us know how it happened but my call of alarm had Bee from one end of the boat to the other and over the side clinging to the self-steering struts as she made a grab for one very wet, skinny, clearly terrified Toots who showed no resistance to being bundled into a towel and dried off.

from October 2009

Like her supposed owners, she has a passport and gets her jabs updated regularly. Some countries don't allow animals to enter but it hasn't really been that much of a problem, particularly as we're normally anchored off . Oddly enough the most difficulty we've experienced is on returning to the UK where animals have to enter via a recognised carrier and private boats don't count.

She likes to travel ashore perched on the bow. It was from this position that she once fell in when Bee pulled sharply on the port oar to alter course.....

Likes Atlantic crossings when heading west as flying fish land with regularity.
The First 10 Years: 
We spent the summer of 2002 cruising in Denmark and we then left England in 2003, worked our way down to the Canaries, crossed to the Caribbean, Venezuelan Islands, Cuba, USA where we wintered in Belfast, Maine. In 2005 we continued on to Nova Scotia, Cape Breton, Newfoundland, Labrador and Greenland. On the trip back from here we experienced our worst ever conditions (see below if you're interested) arriving back in England 35 days later. 
18 months later we set off again, sailing along the coast and up to the Outer Hebrides, Ireland, Spain, Canaries, Senegal, Tobago, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Jamaica, Cuba and into the USA and up the east coast. A circumnavigation of Newfoundland was completed in 2009 and  2010 was spent in Labrador. At the time of writing we've managed 42,000 miles.

The forecast was favourable the next day and we headed out with a promise of NW winds intending to get down to Julianhaab, rest up and leave from there with a good forecast for the trip home. Hours later the forecast came in on Navtex to warn of a wind switch to SE 8 with worse to come. The whole coast between us and Cape Farewell, the southern tip, was nothing but gales or storms with wind speed of 25 metres per second or getting on for 60mph... 

....On one night the storm raged to such an extent we simply went below, putting the heavy washboards in, locked the hatch, spread the genny on the cabin floor and lay down together encased in our oilskins. That night little was said but we lay there hugging each other, thanking Hannah’s strength and design. “Would we survive the night” thoughts roamed unbidden through our minds and afterwards Bee said she felt sad that no one would know where or how we might have disappeared........ An indescribably low and frightening time...
from Return from Greenland October 2005 

Finances:

How do we do it? We live on somewhere between £4,000 -£5000 a year. When we return to the UK we'll work at whatever comes along and then trade and barter for other bits and pieces as we go along. And we brew our own wine when the opportunity allows - we do a mean rice and raisin! The bottom line is to have the discipline to know that we can only keep going providing we stay within budget.

However....since June '13 when I reached the dizzy, pensionable age of 65 our finances have DRAMATICALLY improved to the extent that we (almost) feel like frauds. It will be interesting to see how this wealth (£10k pa) impacts upon us or whether the habits of the last decade or so have become so ingrained....

If you're interested do leave a comment or write to us at:

mickandbeeathotmail  dot co dot uk