Layla - We made it - final blog entry

It has taken a few days for me to get around to writing the final blog entry for our amazing trip. I guess partly because it seals the lid on a great experience and that feels somewhat final. On the other hand it is partly because we have all been busy since arriving with a mixture of cleaning, partying, hiking, laying on the beach and putting Layla back to her normal pristine self. (Amongst many things swapping all the kitchenware from plastic back to china and emptying out any of the excess provisions).

The last couple of sailing days were accomplished with mixed emotions - by then we had been at sea for about 16 days with our short turnaround in Mindelo and whilst we were still enjoying it most of us were ready to reach land. So it was heads down with our best sail plan trying to reach the Rodney Bay Marina before midnight on Wednesday 4th. Since we had patched the power to the Raymarine that had held up perfectly and apart from one sail change when the Gennaker decided to unfurl itself whilst the pole was being put away we were drama free. That was a good reminder to us all about doing things in the safest way rather than the fastest way!

So how to summarise 20 days at sea. Firstly being in the middle of the ocean with only SatComs we had the joy of avoiding discussions on Brexit and the UK election, and instead we plundered our back catalogues of funny stories and jokes. Fortunately "B" was a gold mine of one liners and we managed to regurgitate  quite a bit of old Monty Python. Our spirits were pretty good for most of the journey with each of us having some quiet reflective times and each having moments when we sparked the conversation and made the tea. Overall we were a good team with complementary skills... pretty important when you have no one else to turn to.

On the last day I conducted the "what did you like best / what did you like least" survey and here are the results...…

Lets start with the "least" part since I would like to finish the blog on a high just like the trip itself.


Well anyone who had followed this blog will know we were delayed leaving by 5 days due to a cracked forestay - after so much prep that was hard to deal with but with safety first and some fair winds we made it the leg 2 start in Mindelo. Getting parts from Europe into Las Palmas proved much slower than we thought but thanks to the team at Alisios we got away in the end.

We started as a crew of 5 but unfortunately by the time we had arrive in Mindelo Steve was suffering from abdominal cramps and after a trip to the Medical Centre and another 13 days at sea ahead he decided to fly home. We had planned on a crew of 5 so that is someone had to drop out we could still continue but we had not thought we would actually have to lose someone after leg 1. Steve we missed you and we thank you for all your messages of support. Apparently you had gifted your share of the "Goodie Bag" to "B" something we are yet to verify??

We have mentioned the Raymarine - on a trip like this you realise how much you rely on all your instruments and systems, a crash gybe and broken preventer was not much fun but it was the overriding feeling of uncertainty that was the hardest to deal with. We thought at one point we had found a fix but then it all failed again - it lost us a lot of time and we set very conservative sail plans for a while thinking that the pilot might stop again. In the end it was a temporary 12v supply fix that saved the day and today a week on since arriving we are going to try and locate the real cause of the power loss.

I just mentioned above the Gennaker unfurling itself in the middle of a pole change well we started the engine to reduce the apparent wind and once that was safely furled again the engine changed note and "B" quickly put the engine in neutral - we found that we were dragging a huge fishing net - full of fish round the prop and rudder. Our hearts sank with thoughts of having to dive under the boat and / or a very slow last two days but "B's" fast reaction and some swift use of the boat hook and engaging reverse managed to unwind it. Unfortunately it was too heavy for us to pull in so it is still out there waiting for its next victim.

Of course food prep in the galley was not eveyones favourite activity - it was described as a combination of cooking in a washing machine whilst people threw plates and ingredients at you. Something for "It's a Knockout" if they ever shoot another series!


There we  so many but these seem to have bubbled up to the top

Catching and eating Fish. "H" of course caught 3 to Malc's 1. "B" with his marigold lures did not make the scoresheet. The fish were truly delicious and of course as fresh as is possible. Since arriving in St Lucia we have been eating a lot of fish but nothing compares with something caught by your own hand and eaten only an hour later. For entertainment I made a recording of the noise of the line playing out on my phone and we managed to fool everyone by playing over the music system.  The sight of someone jumping up, closing the clutch and realising that the line was not moving made us all have a chuckle.

Sails plans... both "H" and myself being the least experienced sailors learned so much from all the configurations we tried.. with so much time to practice and to look at the results it was an amazing lesson to us... thanks to Malc and "B" for sharing their knowledge with us. Malc has a love/hate relationship with his Gennaker it worked so well on a narrow range of  wind angle but alas it was not so good dead down wind in any configuration. The teamwork on the foredeck and those on the winches got better and better the more we did as did the long distance communication necessary on a 64 footer.

Food, we ate very well with everyone cooking some delicious meals. As you all know it is difficult cooking when everything is flying around the kitchen and cooking diner was really a 2 hour endeavour from start to finish. We also managed to all convert to the taste of Zero Alcohol San Miguel beer after much early scepticism.

Teamwork... we all had moments of fun, stress, tiredness, frustration, elation and that just describes a typical day :-) together we got through all of that which is a great testament to us all as individuals and as a collective crew as well.

Reception in Rodney Bay - thanks to our shore crew and the ARC team for such an amazing greeting with much noise, banners, hugs and kisses. We apologise to Zappa and Island Wanderer who's CH77 comms were made so difficult because of all the noise since our shore crew thought both of you were Layla. It was quite a moment to step onto the pontoon... one for the memories and our bucket lists.

A final comment from "B" when asked what his favourite parts were  was one of his legendary one liners "I am going to quit whilst I am ahead" and I guess for the moment we will all do that as we return to the UK for Xmas  in three days time and for the moment will leave sailing behind.

If anyone would like to see the photos of our trip they are posted onto our website at

Like many things in life coming through highs and lows is something that you will always remember and without such moments perhaps this amazing voyage would feel just a bit too easy.........… but then isn't that the point of doing this in the first place!! 

Thanks World Cruising Club, thanks shore team and thanks to the captain and crew of Layla 2019

Layla Out