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 Chris Richardson  “Atlantic Sailor”

Mr Richardson worked for many years in the Polyester business of ICI at Wilton. He retired some 11 years ago and in retirement fulfilled his dream to sail across an ocean, the Atlantic. His copiously illustrated talk covers this journey and the many ports of call both in Europe & the Caribbean.

Chris knew that the round trip would be arduous & long, some 14 months, if the most favourable times of the year were chosen for the transoceanic sectors of the voyage. His preparations were meticulous, the first being to select a suitable boat. In 2003 he bought a new yacht of Swedish design, 37 feet long & nine tons displacement with a keel requiring a 2 metres draught, which he named „Pelagia‟. This was then modified for the voyage by fitting a wind generator, revised navigation & communication equipment, including a single-side-band receiver to receive faxed weather forecasts, even in mid- Atlantic. He was advised to take a comprehensive medical kit, capable of coping with every emergency. Also essential was an enormous amount of spare parts & the tools to fit them. The navigation charts alone exceeded 50 kilograms in weight.

Finally, on the 7th May 2007 he left Whitby, his home port, bound for Falmouth. Immediately they ran into gales & were forced to seek shelter at Lowestoft for 4 days. After a week at Falmouth he sailed to Brest in poor weather & then, in a heavy swell, on across the Bay of Biscay to Coruna in North West Spain. A brief stop was madeat Oporto before rounding Cape St Vincent and entering harbour at Lagos to check the boat. The next stage of 500 miles to Madeira was made in good time with a steady following wind allowing them to set their cruising „chute‟, a large spinnaker. Final preparations for the ocean crossing were made, including washing all the provisions bought locally to remove cockroach eggs.

At 6am on 25 Nov 2007 the transoceanic voyage began, soon accompanied with a 35 knot wind, dolphins, turtles & a whale which swam under the boat for some hours. As they entered the tropics, 50 to 100 flying fish landed on deck every night. Progress was rapid, 160 mile per day &, apart from hearing Mayday calls on their radio, without incident until landfall at Barbados.

One week was spent in Barbados before setting out on the second phase of the voyage, a comprehensive tour of the West Indies. This comprised short stays on St Lucia, Martinique, Dominica, Guadeloupe, Antigua, Nevis & St Kitts, the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico & the Dominican Republic. His descriptions of the individual islands & their differences & histories were both fascinating and colourful.

The return across the Atlantic to Falmouth was made via Bermuda & the Azores, once again following the„trade winds‟. Finally they returned to Whitby on 13th July 2008 after a voyage of 15,000 miles

A vote of thanks was proposed by Dick Hawkins.