Learning to sail by JoJo

'Better drowned than duffers, if not duffers won't drown.' 
 Arthur RansomeSwallows and Amazons
Myself and my sister sailing Mlulu in Esterpona harbour.

My first command was a tiny little dinghy my father built for me in Durban, South Africa. I was not quite three years old and apparently when put in the dinghy I cried! Not a good start.

Back on dry land by JoJo

Summer 2015, back in the UK

After our mad dash to Grenada and a quick pack up of Island Swift (hope we did a good job) we were back in the UK just in time.  Simon's Dad was very ill and sadly died two days after we got back. He was at home with all his family around him.  I am just so very grateful that we got back in time, and that we were not in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, which had been the plan.  Simon then spent two lovely sunny afternoons with his Mum, Elsie. Sadly she suddenly got very ill and died a few days later, exactly one week after Ken.  So very sad for us all, but so romantic for them after being married for 67 years.  I loved Ken and Elsie very much and was not prepared for how emotional I became. They had a beautiful joint funeral.

Ken and Elsie

Coming home by Lochlann

Summer 2015

The prospect of coming back to the UK had been hanging over us since we had arrived at the Caribbean. Decisions were made, scrapped and frequently forgotten. In the end we had made the
irrevocable agreement (because mum books the flights) that we would leave the boat at a boatyard and fly back home.

But as we were slowly island-hopping south towards Grenada (the island where we were going to leave the boat) we received an email from Dad’s sister Miranda. My grandfather Boppa was extremely ill and the doctors said he was too frail to operate upon. Boppa had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease a few years earlier, and we had been worried about leaving England in the first place. So now we raced across the ocean straight to Grenada as fast as we could go.
Ken and Elsie

Packing away for the hurricane season by Jojo

Passage from St Lucia to Grenada, May 2015

We were making our way slowly down the Windward Islands towards Grenada, where it was planned that we would leave Island Swift for the hurricane season. The hurricane season goes from the beginning of June to the end of November.  Although we are not planning on working this summer, we still needed to go home for important things like peanut butter and family weddings!

Sunset in the Caribbean

Caribbean Sailing by JoJo

Caribbean May 2015

As I write this blog we are anchored in Soufriere Bay, below the stunning Pitons mountains on St Lucia in the windward islands of the Caribbean. Simon has just climbed to the top of Petit Piton. We could see him through the binoculars! Finbar is studying his OU Maths course, learning about calculus. Lochlann is playing the piano, teaching himself how to play The William Tell Overture. We have been in the Caribbean for nearly two months now, and life is good.

St Lucia Mountains Los Pitons - JoJo

Our first month in the Caribbean by Lochlann

Caribbean April 2016

We had been in the Caribbean for over a week and had been cruising up the Martinique coast thinking “WOW!!!!!!” when we visited the site of my downfall.


Crossing the Atlantic Crossing by JoJo

Passage Island of Sao Vincente in Cape Verde to Martinique in the Caribbean February 2015

Our dream was to sail across the Atlantic Ocean to the Caribbean. Although I had already crossed the Atlantic Ocean twice before, this would be the first time as an adult and skipper (a big responsibility!).

Atlantic Crossing by Lochlann

Passage Island of Sao Vincente in Cape Verde to Martinique in the Caribbean February 2015

When we left the Cape Verde to cross the Atlantic I felt that we had finally succeeded in our dream. We had talked, planned, discussed, argued and eventually agreed about going to the Caribbean, and now we were actually leaving.

Racundra's Last Cruise Published by Marine Quarterly

The article was published by Marine Quarterly in the Spring 2015 edition.

The wind was howling around the roof of my house in Penzance one stormy day last winter, and I was feeling happy to be safe on dry land.  I was in the attic sorting through some boxes when I came across a couple of letters that my father, Rod Pickering, wrote to my family about the beautiful sailing boat Racundra.
            Racundra was built for Arthur Ransome of ‘Swallows and Amazons’ fame in Riga in 1922, and is immortalised in his wonderful book ‘Racundra’s First Cruise.  Adlard Coles bought her, renamed her Annette II, and wrote about her in his book Close-Hauled. She was renamed Racundra after Adlard Coles sold her. She passed through various different hands and fell into obscurity.  My father was her fourteenth - and last - owner.

The only photo I have of Racundra.  This is the pic my father took when he 'found' her in Tangiers, Morrocco.

Canaries to Cape Verde by JoJo

Passage Canaries to Cape Verde, January 2015

We have been late ever since we left England on 2nd September, last year. Most yachts leave the Canaries at the beginning of December for the Caribbean.  I did not want to cross the Atlantic until after Christmas so as to ensure that the trade winds were well settled in. So I did not particularly want to be early, but we now found ourselves in Mindelo, in Cape Verde in mid-February.  The main reason for this has been waiting for good weather windows.  Not perfect weather, but trying to avoid big swell and strong winds.  Despite this, we have had strong winds since leaving Madeira!
Arriving at Cape Verde.

Passage to Cape Verde and Mindelo by Lochlann

Passage Canaries to Cape Verde, January 2015

There was a lot of discussion in the family before leaving Las Palmas.  We talked about sailing back to Cornwall after the Caribbean, then renting out the house and leaving again as soon as possible. But first we had to get to the Carribean ASAP, ensuring that we could spend the maximum time there.
Sailing along towards the Cape Verde, on the last day as conditions moderate.

Arrecife and Christmas by Lochlann

Arrecife, Lanzarote Christmas 2014

The evening we arrived in Arrecife, the main town of Lanzarote, we had to anchor on top of a rocky and stony seabed. This meant our anchor might drag, so Fin and I had to swim the anchor into place manually. The visibility was fabulous and the job was easy. We also put the fisherman's anchor out, just to make sure.  Then we found a concret block in the right position for us, so we attached to that too! We were not going anywhere and now Mum would sleep well!

Growing on Lanzarote.

Lanzarote camels.