After being weather bound at Milford Haven for 5 days we now have a reasonable window for good sailing conditions to head out into the big, blue wilderness of the Atlantic and cross Biscay. Our original plans have changed (as they generally do when sailing) so our planned first stop of Bayonna may now be missed if we are making good way so our next stop could be the beautiful Portuguese town of Sesimbra.
The first leg from Fleetwood was quite challenging to say the least. After a good first day of sailing the weather changed for the worse….and then got EVEN WORSE. During the hours of darkness of Friday night/ Saturday morning we faced some pretty horrendous conditions. The saving grace was I suppose the fact that it was dark so we couldn’t see the size of the waves coming our way. The only time we got a view of the waves was when the bow of the yacht was hit by a wave and threw a tsunami of sea water up into the air and along the yacht. All this enhanced by being in the middle of severe gales that were gusting up to 50 knots.
Every crew member did their bit and performed well during the challenge. I can say that when my watch finished at 0130 I was absolutely both mentally and physically drained. So much so that when I retired to my cabin I slipped into a virtual coma which is very unusual as I don’t tend to sleep very well whilst on passage.
I decided to leave entering the river to the marina until daylight hours as I deemed to do it in those conditions during darkness would have been a bit too risky not least the fact that there were numerous large tankers and cargo vessels in the area.
“Sometimes tomorrow comes soaked in treasure and blood”.
Now that’s quite an apt statement for me at the moment with the impending relocation of Atlas to Spain.
The meaning is that though things turn out great there’s a price to pay for it as in battles in years gone by when the treasures gained were soaked by the thought of the blood of soldiers spilled in order to get it.
In all the years I’ve been sailing from Fleetwood and generally circulating around the Wyre & Fylde area I have been privileged to come into contact with some absolutely brilliant people both in business and pleasure. Many of these have turned into being very good friends, not least Craig at the beach kiosk in Fleetwood.
I will be sad that I won’t see many of these people as often as I’d like.
The move for me is semi permanent so I’ll be back every couple of weeks or so which means that you’ll not quite be getting rid of my ugly ‘boat race’ so easily. Although I might not be around the area as much I definitely intend to her in contact with many of the wonderful people I’ve got to know.
I’m also lucky in the fact that I can honestly say, without exception, that everyone who has chosen to come out sailing with us have been brilliant. Not once have a thought on returning back from a sailing day that I’d be glad to see the back of any individual person. Once again, many of these have gone on to be become very good friends.
I’ve also been completely overwhelmed by the amount of emails, phone calls and expressions of good will to me for my new venture.
We set sail around 10am in the morning and I could not have a better crew with me. They are not only very experienced but also very close friends in whom I have complete faith.
I’m very much looking forward to the voyage. Unlike a previous long voyage I’m hoping we all look back on it and think it was a real adventure of a lifetime.
The previous long voyage from Athens back to Fleetwood was plagued with bad luck and misfortune not least the death of my father just one day before we were due to set sail.
This time there has been even more preparation and planning so bring it on!
It’s unfortunate that the marina at Fleetwood seems to be on the wane. There are some really nice people and some good friends up there with whom I will make a point of visiting whenever possible.
I’m sure that when we sail out from Fleetwood for the last time I will have a tear in my eye as we are waved off on our voyage to the new world.
For all those who read this and those intending to come out to Spain let me give you one HUGE
And to finish I will quote my mate Bruce again!
“There’s a new world coming, I can see the light”.
Well the date set for the BIG move is September 10th so barring some inclement weather we shall be heading toward our new base in sunny, southern Spain.
We shall leave Fleetwood and head to Crosshaven, Co Cork where we will restock provisions before heading out into the Atlantic and crossing the Bay of Biscay.
We will make landfall at the Spanish port of Bayonna and then make one further stop at Sesimbra in Portugal before rounding into the Straits of Gibraltar to arrive at our new home in La Linea de la Concepcion.
Although the yacht Atlas and the business will be based over there permanently I myself will be out there for approximately 2 weeks at a time and returning for 2 weeks as the schedule dictates.
There are plenty things I will miss around the area but I intend to keep in touch with people and haven’t ruled out other activities in the area in the future.
Many have asked the reasons for the move and apart from the weather the main reason is the management of the marina by ABP who, whilst I was receiving some exceptionally bad service earlier in the year (which cost me dearly), told that if I complained they would increase my mooring fees which if nothing else is basically commercial blackmail. There are of course numerous other issues but they seemed to think I had no other option as I had put so much into setting the business up from Fleetwood. It is a great shame because they don’t realise what having such a business is for the area not least the fact that I brought the huge brand of IYT (International Yacht Training) to the area. The FIRST sailing establishment in the UK to break away from the Royal Yachting Association which they don’t seem to understand the gamble I had taken in doing so.
That said, I have ABSOLUTELY no problem with all the lads (Daryl, Simon, Ian Mike, Dave etc)who actually run the marina. Those chaps are brilliant and actually hold the place together.
I honestly would have thought that with the number of yachts leaving Fleetwood they might have encouraged someone like me who has been so proactive in promoting the area.
Anyway, that’s all I’ll say about it now so it’s onwards and upwards and with the number of bookings that have come in for the holidays and training it’s perhaps something I should have done years ago.
I look forward to year round sunshine and cruising around Spain, Portugal, North Africa etc with the whales and dolphins.
A few of the marketing companies reading this might be thinking ‘Shut Up and stick to sailing’.
However, my view about marketing is that it’s not exactly rocket science it’s all about making a noise in the right ears and attracting attention to what you have.
I do speak with a modicum of experience as I’m now 50 years old and have been involved in business for a number of decades.
Hopefully you won’t think this arrogant or big headed but I will now give you a PRIME EXAMPLE on how to make some noise!
As many of you will be aware I am moving the sailing operation down to La Linea in Spain. The marina is literally on 5 minutes walk from Gibraltar Airport.
The first cruise will take in the area around Southern Spain, Gibraltar and the coast of North Africa. Whilst sailing around here it is quite common to see dolphins and whales in the Straits and unlike the UK we can virtually guarantee SUNSHINE !
Right, LISTEN TO THIS……. In order to promote the first cruise from our new base I have decided to put an exceptionally good offer on. (MAKING NOISE)
The first cruise is October 4-11th and the price will be at the hugely discounted rate of…..
That’s not a misprint by the way. It really is £285 and will include breakfast, lunch, snacks & drinks throughout the day.
We don’t include evening meal because guests generally want to dine ashore in the local bars & restaurants at the places we visit.
If interested, don’t delay as at this price the places will probably be booked up very quickly.
Hopefully, this will prove my point that if you make the right noise in the right ear you will have success.
Obviously the ‘Muso Folk’ will know it’s a well known song but when September does end Atlas Sailing will be based in la Linea de la Concepcion, Spain.
I’ve decided that the way forward with the business is to relocate. Although the business has continually year on year improved and I am very proud to say I was also THE FIRST to bring International Yacht Training (both practical and theoretical) not only to England but to Lancashire there are a huge number of reasons I need to move base.
Many of the reasons aren’t really for discussion in the public forum but two of them I must mention are the constantly decreasing size of the channel to the marina at Fleetwood which for a yacht the size of Atlas can be somewhat awkward and also when I was once asking to speak with ABP management regarding another matter I was told by a member of staff that I shouldn’t because they would increase my mooring fees which to me felt like they were holding me to ransom.
Not wishing to tar everyone with the same brush, I have nothing but praise for the chaps on the lock head and Simon & Daryl who actually run the marina. They are absolutely brilliant.
As mentioned though the other reasons I’m just brushing aside and focusing as I always do in moving forward with nothing but a positive outlook.
Another factor, unfortunately, is the weather.
I knew prior to starting that the weather would be a challenge and it was part of the territory but this year has been horrendous and I have had to postpone sailings on numerous occasions that were more than the norm.
Being based in Spain the only concern with the weather is to make sure your put enough sun cream on AND THAT is a problem I welcome with open arms.
Why La Linea?
After weighing up my options and the general weather conditions for the year I decided that being based at La Linea would offer very good year round conditions and the cruising options are VERY APPEALING with places like Gibraltar, Portugal, North Africa and the eastern coast of Andalucia places to be included on our voyages.
I also decided that I would concentrate on both the 7 day sailing adventure holidays and the training side of the business instead of general sailing days. The accessibility was also a factor to consider and La linea again came up trumps with 4 flights per week to Gibraltar and a transfer time to the marina of LITERALLY 5 minutes it was an absolute no brainer.
We will be setting sail from Fleetwood in the middle of September ready for our first scheduled cruise at the beginning of October. Although the yacht will be in La Linea permanently I will be flying back and forward from the UK as the schedule dictates so I will be able to still attend many of the networking meetings I attend and still see some of the ABSOLUTELY FANTASTIC PEOPLE I have have the pleasure coming into contact with.
The picture above shows in the foreground our marina at La linea with the Rock of Gibraltar to the upper left of it.
Across the bay to the right is Algeciras and to the top of the picture is the coast of North Africa.
I love Lancashire and England but unfortunately as far as the weather goes there is just no comparison.