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The Ellen accolyte from Milton Keynes completes her voyage round Britain in the wake of Iduna

Tuesday October 1st 2002, Author: Karen Hodges, Location: United Kingdom
I left Poole with a nice strong Westerly - little did I know this would be my last favourable wind! I was blown through the Needles in no time and after a visit to Yarmouth (just because I like Yarmouth) I made my way to Cowes Yacht Haven.

My stay in Cowes was pretty surreal, I started by meeting Doug from The Alamo and in no time was heading out in a rib to the drying Brambles to watch a cricket game. Well not quite a cricket game - it's a sort of blend of games including rugby and mature men’s mud wrestling.

After being whisked back at 35 knots I made a bee line for Murrays where a fantastic three course five star complimentary meal was waiting for me. It was delicious, I ate all the types of fish I had sailed over!. From Murrays I wandered back to my boat, with a very full belly, to plan my departure the next day .

The next day the weather was all over the shop with gusting winds and torrential rain. I decided to stay and had another interesting day. I visited the Offshore Challenges office and got to sit on Kingfisher, however I wasn’t allowed to touch anything or to go into the cabin!! I then had a snoop round OC1 and met Nick Maloney, very cool - I just know he’s going to kick arse in the Route de Rhum! Before leaving I was given some merchandise so that I had something clean to wear for my arrival home.

From my high in Cowes, I soon came down to earth as a light head wind slowed progress considerably. From here the wind set NE and only varied in strength. Anything force 5 or above and I had to stay put, hence it took three frustrating and tiring weeks to get to Ramsgate.

(Thankyou ; Yarmouth, Cowes Yacht Haven, Newhaven, Eastbourne, Dover, and Ramsgate, for the free stays)

From Ramsgate I was going to make the jump to home, I just needed a window in the wind to at least let me out. For four days it blew NE 5-6-7 , then it went down to a 3-4 but from the NNW, not too helpful, but I got out there anyway.

My last leg was horrendous, a choppy sea, head wind, and after two hours no electric’s. I got into Harwich at 1:30 am with no Radar reflector or lights! I stuck tight to the recommended yacht track.

DONE IT!! 2040 miles hand steered around Britain, so much for auto pilots.

The big day was Saturday 28th, It was without a doubt the best day of my life. I was escorted up the river Orwell to the Royal Harwich Yacht club by seven beautifully dressed club boats. fog horns were sounded and as I approached the pontoon a canon was set off (but they missed!) It was just amazing, the best feeling in the world.

I am now, thanks to this trip, one of the very fortunate people who know exactly what they want to do: the Mini Transat. If you’re interested to see how I make it, please keep in contact via www.zoneseekers.com/karen

Thank you everyone who has e-mailed me. I’m sorry that I wasn’t able to reply to all but time and facilities were limited.

Phase one complete!

Sailor Hodges.

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