Michael E Briant
MY SAILING EXPERIENCE
In 2003 I completed my circumnavigation. Did not sit down and plan to do it but rather just let the voyage evolved.
My wife gave me a Mirror Dinghy kit when we were in our late 20s and with the children we learned to sail in it. Rather I learned to sail as the rest of the family were much less enthusiastic. Joined the BBC sailing club on the Thames near Kingston and achieved no success at all racing the Mirror.
Whilst I was directing a Royal Navy series called Warship I did the shore based RYA Yacht-masters course under the instruction of Dan Hass and learned how to navigate and tie a few knots.
I found a 22ft Galion for sale (bit like a small GRP folkboat) complete with its trot moorings on the Hamble River, which I kept for the next 10 years.
3 weeks later set off for Cherbourg. Took 36 hours to get there with no wind and the engine was a little outboard with a 2 gallon petrol tank.
Joined Warsash Sailing Club when it operated out of a shed on Lobster Quay. Was and still is a first rate sailing club.
This is 'Mignonne' - a Galion 22 - so pretty!
You never forget your first love...Sold her in 1978 to John .Oakey who still sailed her until quite recently. He installed an inboard engine and 'proper heads' as well as other upgrades.
out of Portsmouth harbour - much modernised and beautifully maintained.
They are such good boats - I was so lucky to have had such a wonderful craft at the beginning of my sailing live.
My wife wanted a table and a loo that was not a bucket. Mignonne gave way to Gamine - a brand new Jaguar 25 with a proper heads,. a table and a bigger outboard with a 6 gallon fuel tank. (This picture is not of Gamine but a similar Jaguar 25 also orange. That spring she broke her rudder blade in a 6-7 off Alderney Race and I was towed for 12 hours into Cherbourg by a French Frigate. My wife who was on board at the time was not impressed and after that I started single handing! Got the repairs done and in-between directing a sequel to SECRET ARMY called KESSLER in Belgium I sailed her back to the Solent.
Needed a bigger sturdier boat and purchased an ELIZABETHAN 31 called LIZELLE. Wonderful yacht. Long keel - well built. She taught me to sail. Went all over northern France and the channel Islands. Down to Brittany then to Amsterdam. One winter I set of from Amsterdam down the canal system to PORT ST LOUIS in the French Mediterranean. Exquisitely beautiful and interesting trip - cannot recommend it enough. Had a few weeks in the Med then work came up and in the end had her shipped back by lorry. These are superb boats. Lizelle has now been re-named White Heather and last I heard was a sailing school boat
Because I had found living in a 31 footer a bit cramped and I intended to do some longer cruises I purchased the ketch SOUTHERN CHANCER an extended Maurice Griffith GOLDEN HIND in steel with a 40ft LOA.
Took Southern Chancer across Biscay to the Med in late September/October and later down to the Canaries. I found the maintenance on a steel boat trying and she was a bit slow. Sailed her back to the Med along the Spanish coast to Sete in the South of France. Took her masts down and spent a pleasant 3 weeks motoring her up the canals then the Seine through Paris to Le Havre.
Sold her in London and purchased BAMBOLA QUATRE an Angus Primrose Moody 36 with a center cockpit and a huge aft cabin. Wonderful value for money. I took her across Biscay and into the Med in early spring and spent the next 3 years cruising from Gibraltar to Turkey - Tunisia to Morocco - Balearics - Greek Islands - France then across the Atlantic to Trinidad - USA - Panama - South Pacific - New Zealand - Australia - Indonesia - Asia - Red Sea - across the Med again and up the Portuguese coast North to home.
Been hit by lightning - attacked by pirates - All without harming me or my crew and had the most wonderful voyage you can imagine. Sheer Magic...
f you are coming up the Red Sea then you may be interested in the notes on my passage.
If you are worried about being hit by Lightning then this may interest you.
If you have not crossed the Atlantic before and would be interested in the log I wrote at the time of my first crossing then Atlantic is perhaps worth a visit. Following that page are how I plan water and food for long trips Victual and as mainly a single-hander how I have found people to help with Crewing. Also there are my thoughts on Watch Keeping that are personal but may be useful.
I shot some films on my way - BLUE WATER CRUISING is how to get going with the dream. A series called BLUE WATER DESTINATIONS about the trips from Trinidad to Sri Lanka. If you are going through the PANAMA CANAL then have a look at my video - the 2nd in the series - Panama to Galapagos you would probably find it helpful if you have never done it before. I went though on another boat called PAX and only filmed - didn't line handle or anything else so it's quite informative.
For various domestic reasons and because I needed a change in my sailing so I purchased a Prout 33 Catamaran - ELOISE - you can follow my adventures and change in sailing habits by going to Eloise Diary
It was very useful for me to have a 'project' so I really enjoyed doing a major refit to Eloise. Sadly my plans for sailing down to the Med each year down the Portuguese coast then returning to La Rochelle via the Canal du Midi never materialised but we had some very good times with her around the ports and marinas of West coast France. She ended up being fully modernised with many systems totally renewed.
With the departure of Eloise I was able to purchase the most beautiful boat I have ever owned. A Westerly Ocean 43 called Paw Paw of London.
Delivering her from Lymington to La Rochelle was an interesting couple of weeks but the difference between a small catamaran of 33ft and even a Moody 36 mono-hull was amazing.
We spent several summers cruising the French West coast and the Spanish and Portuguese Northern coasts then finally moved her down to the Mediterranean and 'imported' her into Spain. We now sail out of Gibraltar and regularly visit Morocco, Balearics and this year are heading for Sardinia and Scilly.