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Mingming's Northern Voyage 2007

JunkMing

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12 Mar 2007
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39
Mingming\'s Northern Voyage 2007

For those who may be interested, here's a summary of Mingming's recently completed northern voyage. Mingming is an engineless junk-rigged Corribee, extensively modified for single-handed ocean sailing.

Left Burnham-on-Crouch 0915 22 June. Three days later we ran into a severe gale off the N Yorks coast. This was the storm that caused the first lot of flooding across the UK. I had to sail quite aggressively to maintain position. Winds were NE backing N then NW. I had the coast to the west, Dogger Bank to the east, and the shallower waters off the Humber, plus the gas rigs, to the south. Fortunately I had had enough time to get Mingming into deeper water with reasonable sea-room. Two days later, probably because of strains imposed by this storm, my top two battens broke. Theses were fixed with boathooks, brush handles and bits of spare wood. This patched up rig took me well over 2000 miles. We had to ride out a less severe storm half way up the Scottish coast.

Eleven and a half days after leaving Burnham we rounded the northern tip of Unst, the most northerly island of the UK. Magical moment. Three days later we were off the east coast of the Faroes. Here we started running into strong northerly headwinds. The next day a third batten broke. More patching up. I was heading for NE Iceland but F7 northerlies kept forcing us further and further west. With the broken rig I could not sail too aggressively to windward. Between the Faroes and Iceland we had a pod of 200 plus pilot whales with us for 5-6 hours. I took some amazing video of this.

The consistent northerlies finally put NE Iceland and the Arctic Circle out of reach. Highest latitude reached was 63 12N, about 200 miles short of the Arctic Circle. I decided to head west towards the Vestmann Islands - SW Iceland. Friday 13 July, 21 days out from Burnham, was my day for turning back. At 0815 I was finally rewarded when the mighty Oraefajokull - the 7000' glacier on Iceland's south coast, appeared on the the horizon. We were 55 miles south of the central south coast.

We then ran south to Rockall. The northerlies persisted, giving us nearly a week of fast sailing. We passed Rockall itself 50 miles to the west. A F7 northeasterly was blowing, with big seas - not the weather to venture onto the shallow waters of the Rockall Bank. We followed the 500 metre contour line down the west side. Then down towards Ireland. 130 miles west of Ireland we met a second pod of pilot whales, again about 200. This time the light was good for still shots.

The lows then started rolling in - five in all. The first - through Sole, was the one that caused the second round of major flooding. I did my best to dodge them, at one point holding my position in F7-8 weather about 80 miles west of the Fastnet Rock, waiting for the right moment to cross the Celtic Sea. This came with strong but benign westerlies and I crossed in two days. A final low and a good dusting south of the Lizard kept me on my toes to the end. Towards midnight on 29 July, 37 1/2 days out from Burnham, we dropped anchor in Cawsand Bay, Plymouth Sound. Next day I brought Mingming in to Plymouth Yacht Haven.

A fantastic voyage. Very tough, with plenty of heavy weather and cold conditions. But the northern waters were magical. From the Shetlands to western Ireland I saw fewer than ten other vessels. Total distance sailed was about 2500 miles - so in time and distance it was almost identical to last year's Azores voyage. Mingming was again brilliant - an extraordinary little seaboat, always at ease in the big stuff.
 

CPD

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Re: Mingming\'s Northern Voyage 2007

Roger, sounds like quite a trip !. Good to know you made it back in one piece.
 
Joined
20 Jul 2001
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205
Location
Southampton, UK
Re: Mingming\'s Northern Voyage 2007

Hi Roger

I'm very envious - not of the storms (!) but of the awesome trip you've just made. It's still on my long list of places to sail to - that area of the world is breathtakingly beautiful, especially from the deck of a small boat.

Reading your report, it seems you didn't actually land anywhere? Was this was another non-stop trip, with the emphasis on the sailing, not on going ashore?

I've just spent many happy (and sticky) hours beefing up my Corri's hull, adding watertight compartments (chasing your several cubic metres of air for unsinkability) and adding another mast well forward.

But, judging from yet another set of batterings your game little boat has received - with impunity - have I just wasted a lot of time and several gallons of resin?

Mind you - those whales sound a little nervewracking. I had just one Pilot whale diving under the boat in mid-Channel once, and just hoped it didn't give me a playful nudge in the process.

Also, should I stick to wooden batons? My junk rig has basic spruce batons, but I was thinking of swapping to either GRP or jointed ones to achieve the extra 15% drive I'll need to beat you (yeah, right) to the Azores. I know you have plastic (PVC?) ones on Ming-Ming, and they had been great up till then. Was it just fair wear or tear?

Congratulations once again - a fabulous trip, modestly narrated as always. Funny, it doesn't seem that long ago that you left...

Be great to see some pix when you get the chance.

Best wishes
 

steviewhitts

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15 Oct 2001
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166
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Devon
Re: Mingming\'s Northern Voyage 2007

Roger,
What a fascinating account - I echo Jakes comments......... I envy you the trip and I'm only just starting to hanker after long single-handed trips! This might sound like a daft question but do you have a water maker or do you carry enough o/b for the whole trip?
Dont suppose you have the pics/video on your own website somewhere?
Finally - are you still in Yachthaven - if so would you mind a visitor?
Cheers
Steve.
 

Superflid

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17 Jan 2004
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On a sandbank......
Re: Mingming\'s Northern Voyage 2007

What a fantastic trip.
Just the incentive I need to keep pushing on getting the Corribee into the water asap....

Congratulations on making it sound so routine!!!
 

Inatthedeepend

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Joined
7 Aug 2007
Messages
21
Re: Mingming\'s Northern Voyage 2007

Hi all,

I am new to this forum, but have read Rogers account of this voyage on the Corribee.org website, where it has been reproduced with some great photos.
I have added a link below, if it does not work, from their home page go to the Jester link on the lefthand side, then onto the Roger Taylor and Mingming link top centre. Then scroll down page.
A great account, and photos an inspiration to us all.

Roger, do you have a similar account with photos of your Azores trip?

Thanks for a great read.

Kev

http://corribee.applescruffs.org/jester.html
 

JunkMing

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12 Mar 2007
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39
Re: Mingming\'s Northern Voyage 2007

Thanks for your various replies and kind words. To take your questions in turn:

Jake:

I can't see that strengthening a hull can ever be a waste of time. The Corribee build quality was notoriously inconsistent. I suspect that the junk-rigged Corribees, of which so few were built, maybe got better attention than some of the standard Corribees. However I would certainly not attempt the voyages I have made in an unmodified production boat. While not doing any actual hull strengthening, the structural changes I made were partly designed to increase the stiffness/rigidity of the hull and minimise hogging and sagging. I have observed Mingming very closely during heavy weather and have never seen any sign of the hull 'working'. This gives me a certain amount of comfort. However one reason I chose the design was for its low freeboard and very tight curvature. We have taken many mighty blows on the beam. They make a pretty scary sound when you are below, but Mingming shrugs them off. With the low freeboard, less than a foot amidships in full cruising trim, there is not a lot to hit. The gunwhale breaks the impact. so the cabin does not get it quite so hard. Below the waterline the very tight turn of the bilge acts as a good defence.

As regards the battens, these were 32mm plastic waste pipe with a spruce core. I've not yet had a chance to fully examine the breaks, but from what I've seen so far it seems a case of simple work hardening/fatigue. The plastic, and wood core, have sheared cleanly at 90 degrees. I intend to measure exactly where the breaks were, but, not surprisingly, it looks so far as if it was exactly half way along each batten.

I'm by no means an expert, but I think GRP battens have been tried and not found particularly successful. The current trend seems to be for aluminium, with articulating joints, and a sail cut with some camber in it. I'll be exploring all this as after 27 years with her current rig I think Mingming deserves a new sail and battens. Having said all that I'm still a great fan of timber anything. So easy to repair and feels good.

The first pod of whales (long-finned pilot whales are technically a species of dolphin, by the way) did give me a few moments of anxiety when we became completely becalmed. They were circling the boat very closely, with lots of tail slapping that occasionally gave us a tap. One of those great foreheads could stove the boat, no problem. But considering that all in all I had something like 150 tons of mammal playing round us for about 12 hours in total, they were remarkable respectful.

Steve:

Mingming is still in Plymouth Yacht Haven. I will be down there next Saturday during the afternoon to get a lot of stuff off and prepare her for a lift-out. Be delighted to see you if you come down.

Kev:

Many thanks for putting the Corribee link on here. I would have done it but don't know how! The same photos, with a little more commentary, are also on the Royal Corinthian Yacht Club website. There is a summary of the Azores voyage on the Jester Challenge site - www.jesterinfo.org

I think I've answered everything. Let me know if not and thanks again for your interest.

Roger
 

srp

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10 May 2006
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Barnard Castle, Durham
Re: Mingming\'s Northern Voyage 2007

The link that will take you directly to Rogers page is:
http://corribee.applescruffs.org/jester1.html
Jake also has a page at:
http://corribee.applescruffs.org/jester2.html
The link Steve posted above is the sort of general Jester info/intro page, and, as he says, will get you there as well.
Some of you may also be interested in the Jonny Moore section of the www.corribee.org site - he's currently just past the half way mark on a trip from North Wales to the south Devon coast and back in his mkII Corribee, partly in preparation for his UK circumnavigation next year.

Steve P
 
G

Guest

Guest
Re: Mingming\'s Northern Voyage 2007

Hi Roger

thanks for posting about your trip. Inspirational stuff.

One question I'd like to ask is about generating electricity during your 5 1/2 weeks away: do you operate on a tight electrical budget, and what means do you have for generating ?

Colin
 

JunkMing

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Joined
12 Mar 2007
Messages
39
Re: Mingming\'s Northern Voyage 2007

Thanks for the question, Colin. The only electrics on board are the system for powering the LED navlights. These run off a gel battery charged by a very small flexible solar panel. This has worked without fail for well over 80 nights at sea. I don't have any of the usual paraphernalia - depth sounder,log, fixed vhf,fixed gps, ais,radar etc etc. Just two hand-held GPS's to back up my celestial navigation and a hand-held AA battery-driven VHF for contacting marinas or ferries about to run me down. I now use wind-up LED torches for interior light - not that I need much as I get a lot of ambient light from the navlights.

Roger
 

JunkMing

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12 Mar 2007
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Re: Mingming\'s Northern Voyage 2007

Steve - I forgot to answer you question about water. I carry it all with me - 60 litres plus 10 litres of long-life milk. I've found over many years I can get by on 2/3rds litre a day, which I know is well below the recommended amount. I have evolved cooking methods that use virtually no water. I don't use water when cleaning my teeth - just brush then spit! - and use antiseptic gel handwash to keep my hands clean.

Roger
 

2nd_apprentice

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Berlin
Re: Mingming\'s Northern Voyage 2007

Roger, one more question if I may: what about weather forecasts? Do you make your own from barometer/barograph readings, rtty or radio broadcasts? Perhaps you've got more of a Tillmanesque approach towards this and regard forecasts as useless and just look outside instead of worrying?

Patric
 

JunkMing

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12 Mar 2007
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Re: Mingming\'s Northern Voyage 2007

Patric, that's a really interesting question, on which I could write reams, so I'll try and be brief! But first thanks for mentioning Bill Tilman, who I have to say comes closest to being my personal hero and role-model. I was absolutely blown away last year when the Royal Corinthian Yacht Club kindly presented me with a trophy they have only awarded about 9-10 times since 1938 and I discovered that Tilman's name was on it too (along with other names from the pantheon such as Pye,Illingworth, Worth and the Hiscocks). I still haven't fully recovered from the shock!

Anyway - weather forecasts. I guess I am essentially a voyaging yachtsman rather than a cruising yachtsman. Once I've left port my aim is always to create as much searoom as possible. This defines me in relation to heavy weather. As regards that, I think there are two types of sailor - those who at the threat of a storm think 'shelter' and those, probably the minority but possibly the savviest, who think 'sea-room'. What this then means is that once I have my searoom (and, preferably, at least 200 metres depth) I couldn't give a damn about weather forecasts. I'm going to get what I'm going to get and that's that. If I can't take it then I shouldn't be there in the first place. In a boat that as yet has only exceeded 100 nm in 24 hours once, meaningful weather routeing is impossible. The Met Office anyway simply cannot predict the track of a fast-moving low. I listened to them regarding the first storm I encountered on the east coast. First it was coming through Tyne and Dogger. I was in Humber so dawdled a bit. Then suddenly it was coming through Thames. I had to get north fast into deeper water and had lost valuable time.

Once you get into the more remote shipping areas the forecasts get further and further from reality. I only listen to 198LW, and once past the Faroes I couldn't pick it up anyway. This was a kind of relief. No more tyranny of the 0520/1204/1756/0112 whatever it is (I never listen to that one) listening watch. No more bum leads, no more unnecessary anxiety about weather that doesn't eventuate. Just the sky and, as you correctly guessed, my barometer.

Where I started to get more attentive to the forecasts again was down the west coast of Ireland, approaching the Celtic Sea. I did not want to end up with SW Ireland as a lee shore in prolonged SWerly weather. I did not want either to be forced to run before heavy weather up into shallower and shallower and more tidal water towards St George's Channel. At that point I was more or less hove-to (in weather I could have continued on in), well west of Fastnet in the deeper water of the Porcupine Bight, while potentailly threatening lows went through. Then I caught a ride across on the W/NW change that ensued.

So I suppose in summary I'd say that yes, I do listen to and note down the forecasts whenever there is land and shallow water about and my searoom is less then about 70 miles in all directions. I've learned not to take them as gospel - they can often be horribly wrong. But they do of course allow you to get a general picture of the pressure systems in force at the time.

But I admit I'm happiest when I can't hear them and don't need them anyway. Why? Freedom!

Roger
 
G

Guest

Guest
Re: Mingming\'s Northern Voyage 2007

Hi Roger
in view of your considerable offshore experience, I wonder if I might ask you 2 further questions ...

The first relates to what was in effect your direction around the British Isles during your extended trip Northwards: in your view, what are the pro's and con's of sailing counter-clockwise around Britain ?
It seems that most 'Around Britain and Ireland' events opt for the clockwise direction (starting from the south coast), presumably to take full advantage of the Gulf Stream and prevailing south-westerlies - but that leaves the unhappy prospect of perhaps needing to tack though the North Sea gas platform and shoal areas much later in the event, when fatigue will undoubtedly have become an important issue.

The second question relates to the use of sea-anchors and/or drogues: do you have any views based on experience in their use, especially on small light craft such as the Corribee ? And - any opinions on the never-ending bow vs. stern debate ?

Many thanks
Colin
 

JunkMing

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12 Mar 2007
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Re: Mingming\'s Northern Voyage 2007

The round Britain and Ireland clockwise or anti-clockwise conundrum is pretty evenly balanced, but I lean towards anti-clockwise. This is contrary to the perceived wisdom, but nothing new in that. The really tight and potentially difficult stretches of that circumnavigation are the south coast, particularly up-channel, and the lower part of the east coast - ie from the South Foreland to the mid-Yorks coast. If we assume SW as the predominant wind ( a dangerous assumption, I know, but it has to be the starting point), the question then is which way would you rather do those stretches of water? There's no contest - it has to be anticlockwise. Try breaching the Portland Bill tide-gate going the other way in a F6-7 SWerly at spring tides (I'm thinking engineless sailing here by the way). As you rightly point out, a clockwise circumnavigation also involves a lot of on-the-wind sailing through the channels and swatchways of the East Coast. The contrary view may then be, ah yes, but what about from Shetland south west around Ireland, straight into the North Atlantic current and the SWerly weather. Well firstly the further north one gets the greater the chance of NEerly winds. Secondly the North Atlantic current apparently is weakening and is certainly not as vexatious as strong tides. Thirdly I would rather face the contrary conditions with plenty of searoom. I would also prefer to get the difficult stretches out of the way early and have the sea-room at the end, rather than vice versa.

If I were organising a Round Britain and Ireland Race, it would be;

1. Two man/woman. The current race has that right. Singlehanded would not be acceptable from a watchkeeping/fatigue point of view.
2. Non-stop. I think the current mandatory stops, at places like Barra and Lerwick, create more potential stress and danger than keeping the sea with a good offing and keeping sailing. I would hate to be forced to make a landfall in the Western Isles.
3. Plymouth to Plymouth in either direction. Leave it up to each crew to decide their preference. That would make for a really interesting race!

As regards the sea anchor/drogue debate. I am for
1. The series drogue. The US Coastguard commissioned long and detailed research that showed this to be the most effective heavy weather strategy.
2. Stern deployment. In a very small boat even the idea of going forward to set gear from the bow in survival conditions makes me shudder. Apart from the physical dangers and difficulties involved the main reason is the very real danger, with bow deployment, of being picked up and thrown sternwards onto the rudder. I would rather be travelling in the direction the boat was designed to travel.

Roger
 
Joined
20 Jul 2001
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205
Location
Southampton, UK
Re: Mingming\'s Northern Voyage 2007

Thanks Roger - great advice. I've actually copied yet another of your ideas, and added two chain plates horizontally to the stern quarters. (I bought the plates at a jumble for £15.)

They're through bolted into plywood pads glassed to the inside, and butted up against the transom.

Your boat has this arrangement set up with a bridle to take the drogue, and I take the point about not wanting to go forward in a blow. The only thing I couldn't see when I was aboard Ming Ming before your Atlantic bid was where the drogue was stored? The bridle looked all set to go, so I imagine it was intended for quick deployment if conditions take a nose dive, or if it brews up at night?
 

JunkMing

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12 Mar 2007
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39
Re: Mingming\'s Northern Voyage 2007

Jake - the series drogue is kept flaked down in a big canvas bag at the forward end of the port quarterberth - ie always immediately accessible. The end of the 100 metre line that attaches to the bridle is at the top of the bag. If I needed to deploy it I would feed that end through either the hatch or the after portlight, attach it to the bridle, then feed it out aft straight from the bag. There is a length of heavy chain attached to the end of the drogue, in preference to an anchor, as it is much easier to handle and stow.

As yet I've not had to put this to the test, fortunately. In the North Sea I could not have deployed it properly anyway, as there was not enough depth. Mingming has been through F8 4 or 5 times, and F9 once, without any need for it. Of course every storm and sea state is different, so that is not to say it would never be required in those wind strengths. I have yet to test a F10 in Mingming. Can't wait. Not.

Roger
 

Blueboatman

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Joined
10 Jul 2005
Messages
8,831
Re: Mingming\'s Northern Voyage 2007

An extraordinary and modest account,thank you for sharing it so graphically,Roger.
I have taken the liberty of posting a piccy of the stormsail that I 'built' for my junkrig c'bee which I used both in flat calms and bad weather to save wear and tear on the main sail and its battens.
I also carried pvc pipe and spare wood battens,preferring the heavier douglas fir to the spruce,whichI noticed tended to develop stress cracks at right angles to the grain and then failure particularly when slatting around in light airs and a big sea.
I am in awe of your tenacity and patience with making progress,Iwas and remain a paid up member of the force 4 warm water club!
Tim [image]http://[/image] [image]http://
[/image]
 
G

Guest

Guest
Re: Mingming\'s Northern Voyage 2007

Hi Blueboatman
I'm interested in your photograph - not so much the trysail, although that's an interesting concept - but I see you have a wind-vane and wind-generator at the same height: - don't these interfere with each other ?
I'm currently trying to resolve a similar 'congested stern' conflict on a Coromandel.
'best
Colin
 

Blueboatman

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Joined
10 Jul 2005
Messages
8,831
Re: Mingming\'s Northern Voyage 2007

Hi,it was a tight fit .
The windvane was offset on port side,the outboard offset to port just enough that when down the steering handle rested against the pushpit vertical tube(so would run in a straight line..which meant that I could set the windvane auxiliary rudder on the boats centreline....and the vane part of the windvane was set on the starboard quarter,with a deck socket and a lashing(!)to the pushpit,with a simple draglink(alloy bar) connecting the mechanism at deck level to the auxiliary rudder.
I expect a similar sort of arrangement would be possible for you as you have a motor well but still have a pushpit to brace any wind generator to.
To be honest,that particular LVM windgenerator was a complete pain in the rear-the blades slowly dissolved in the tropics,the mainsheet could catch in it(which is why I set the generator on a cranked one inch s/steel pole reaching aft about a foot aft of the transom,it vibrated and produced not much electricity.I bought and still have an 18watt solarex rigid thin solar panel which proved superior,even in England!
 
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