Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Adventures of the Dix 38 Pilot "Spailpin"

In December last year I wrote about the voyage that was being undertaken by Barry Kennedy in his Dix 38 Pilot "Spailpin" to Antarctica, their second in a year. Read that post here. Since then a lot has happened. If you think that you have had it tough on land through the COVID-19 pandemic, you may change your mind after hearing Barry's story.

The photos below show some of the incredible scenery that they visited. Barry was not alone, he had two crew with him. Together they visited places and had experiences that very few people in the world will ever appreciate. It takes much hard work and dedication to get to these places and very few boats manage to receive permits to even go there.

This time the weather was much more mild than the previous year. But it is a very dangerous place and the weather can turn very fast, changing an apparently safe anchorage into a deathtrap. That is when an able boat and capable crew combine to bring all involved back to safety. Always being aware of every aspect of the surroundings, i.e. terrain both above and below water, ice and weather is imperative to certainty of completing the cruise plans and getting home again.

Even the most carefully laid plans can go wrong, for totally unexpected reasons. It was on the voyage back from Antarctica that exactly that unexpected situation dumped itself on, not only "Spailpin" and her crew, but on the entire world. They sailed from Antarctica to Tierra del Fuego, then to South Georgia. From there the next stop was to be Tristan da Cunha, approx. 1450 nautical miles away. They arrived there to find that COVID-19 was hammering the world and everything was shutting down. That included Tristan da Cunha and they were not permitted to land, despite having been at sea in the most extreme of self-quarantine conditions for a month, with zero chance of having contracted the virus.

So, they headed back out to sea, target Cape Town, South Africa, another 1500 miles away. But two days after leaving Tristan South Africa closed down, shutting off that option. They changed course for Jamestown on the island of St Helena. After being in the Southern Ocean for more than a year this leg can be a bit of a doddle through or around the South Atlantic High but 1300 more miles to get to a destination that they did not want.

They arrived off Jamestown to another closed port. One of the crew needed to return to Cape Town and was allowed to go ashore on St Helena through diplomatic intervention. He was to fly to Cape Town while "Spailpin" voyaged further, next stop Georgetown, Ascension Island. This was to be a relatively short hop of 700 miles but ended the same way. Barry was able to go get fuel before they coninued on their way, now headed for USVI in the Caribbean.

By then Barry was urgently needing to get back to work, so flew off to take care of that while his crew sailed "Spailpin" from the Caribbean to Chesapeake Bay, where she is now in Annapolis, MD.

Barry needed to move up to a larger boat for his future voyaging and contacted me before this recent voyage to ask if I knew of a suitable candidate built to one of my designs. No suitable boat was available but he has found a boat from another designer and bought it. That brings "Spailpin onto the market at a very attractive price for a quick sale. There can be no doubt that this boat is well-proven for voyaging to the harshest oceans on our planet. If you are interested in buying her, contact me by email so that I can put you in contact with Barry.

To see our range of designs go to our main website or mobile website.

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