A new decade beckons


As we start our 11th season of sailing Cosmic Dancer, in many ways it seems like only yesterday that we were tentatively nosing our way out of the Lymington River having just taken delivery of Cosmic Dancer from Berthon, bound for Cowes on our first shakedown sail. However as we look back at our logs and blogs from the past 10 years they tell us that somehow we have managed to squeeze in over 35,000 miles of sailings in that time, despite still having to work for a living.

Those 35,000 miles include 4 seasons spent north of the Arctic circle cruising in Norway, Svalbard and NW Greenland, a circumnavigation of UK, 2 seasons in the Baltic, an Atlantic crossing, a season in the Caribbean, exploring the US and Canadian East coast from Virginia to Labrador, and 4,000 mile side trip into the Great Lakes just so we could listen to some blues in Chicago!

The highlights are too numerous too document, but a few memorable moments include casting the skipper adrift on an iceberg at 80 degrees north, sailing in the midnight sun amongst the towering rock spires and icebergs of NW Greenland, and winning the 2 handed divisions of the ARC and the Atlantic Cup. At the other end of the spectrum we've had our share of anxious moments including a catastrophic engine and gearbox failure whilst caught in the ice off NE Spitsbergen, a near sinking in the Barents Sea when an anchor drain became blocked, a knock down in the icy waters of the Davis Straits, and a truly terrifying electric storm whilst crossing the Gulf Stream between Bermuda and the US.

However, as we set sail from Jamestown, Rhode Island it is not a time for retrospection. New adventures beckon. For the past few years we have debated making an attempt on the NW Passage before concluding that it would be a step too far for a fibreglass yacht with not even a spray hood for protection in the cockpit and a crew that does need to get back to work now and then!. However, we have come up with another "cunning plan" for getting to Alaska and British Columbia.

Like so many sailing plans it was borne out of a night of wining and dining, but in a place better known for rowing than sailing, Henley on Thames, where at this year's OCC annual dinner we were privileged to spend an evening in the company of Tony and Coryn Gooch. With a sailing CV that encompasses so many of the things that we aspire to do one day, they made the suggestion ' ..if you can't go round, then go over... that's what we did twice" . If an OCC Vice Commodore says it's not cheating to go 'over rather round' then that's good enough for us!!

Consequently, if all goes according to plan by the end of this season we plan to be sailing at 183 meters above sea level, bound for Minnesota, a state not immediately synonymous with sailing. However, Duluth, at the far south west corner of Lake Superior is the closest point you can get to Seattle by water. From there we plan to truck Cosmic Dancer overland across North Dakota, Montana and Washington to the Pacific.

It sounds simple enough, but as we have come to appreciate over the past few years of sailing on this side of the Atlantic, distances here are deceptive. In order to get to Duluth we will have to sail a distance roughly equivalent to crossing the Atlantic from Newfoundland to Ireland twice - and ascend Niagara Falls in the process - although for the latter we will have the assistance of the Welland canal, with its huge lock gates that are twice the height of our mast, whilst enjoying the unusual phenomenon of watching cars and trucks drive underneath you as you transit the canal.

After a week of working on the yacht in Jamestown we are now ready to take off on what we hope will be a decade filled with as much fun and adventure as the last one!

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