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single-handed sailing: only in solitude can true freedom be known


Jester's Ultimate Storm
by Mike Richey

At 2030, approximately, I noticed through the scuttle the ends of the downhauls and hauling parrel trailing from the rope box on deck. The weather must by now have eased for I removed the hurricane hatch to clear them. At that moment the boat was knocked down violently to port, rolling through 360° in perhaps 10 seconds. I had my hands on the inside rim of the control hatch and must have been doubled over backwards, shouting as we came up ' God, I've broken my back'. The mast had snapped about 12 ft above the deck and, for some reason (pressure?), the forehatch cover had blown completely out. The boat was now wallowing, although more stable without the mast. The first thing was to get rid of the water and I seized the heads bucket, a pliable plastic object which would fit into confined spaces. Filled, I couldn't lift it; my back had seized up completely, frozen. (As it turned out, I had fractured three vertebrae.) more


Sven Yrvind is a noteworthy Swedish small boat designer, builder, sailor and writer, shown here with EXLEX his latest project he intends sailing to New Zealand next year.

Yrvind web site

Yrvind on youtube

Yrvind talks about knots on youtube

Sven Yrvind

Navigating the War: A Centenary Exhibition of the Richey Archives

Charles Marvin Fairchild Memorial Gallery
June 23, 2017
September 22, 2017

Of the war itself I have little to add. It is over and, like one's schooldays,
neatly defined by its dates. I served in ten ships, the largest
a 20,000-ton armed merchant cruiser in the South Atlantic...
Operations at different times took me as far south as the Antarctic
and as far north as Russia.

--Michael Richey, from the preface of Sailing Alone

Michael Richey (1917-2009), first director of the Royal Institute of Navigation (UK) in 1947 and founding editor of its prestigious Journal of Navigation in 1948, served in the Royal Navy throughout the whole of the Second World War, most of it at sea in the North Atlantic. For one extensive interlude he was in the South Atlantic. From there, as we read in the epigraph, he went really South—nearly as far south as polar explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton and his team—for a secret expedition on HMS Carnarvon Castle, the ship on which he served as Assistant Navigator (RNVR) between 1942-43 under Captain Edward Wollaston Kitson. This was Richey’s fifth ship, following a stint in the Free French Navy on the corvette, F. S. Roselys. Based in Freetown, Sierra Leone, they were offshore for significant stretches, with average trips at sea lasting a month or more.

By the end of the war, Richey had completed his specialist course at the shore-based Navigation School, HMS Dryad, and was appointed Navigator of ships involved in the D-Day landings at Normandy and the U-boat surrenders at Loch Eriboll. But what of his passage? How did he get there? What do we actually know of his wartime travels and what records of this did he leave, given censorship during wartime, the secrecy of positions, and the erratic nature of postal deliveries at sea?

Thanks first to the conservationist efforts of his mother Adelaide, and subsequently Georgetown University Library’s manuscripts librarian Nicholas Scheetz, there is now a considerable Richey archive lodged in the Booth Family Center for Special Collections, as part of its collections on British Catholic authors. After attending the Catholic boarding school Downside in Somerset, Richey had seriously considered a monastic vocation before going to artist Eric Gill’s printing press and lettering workshop at Pigotts in Buckinghamshire, where he apprenticed as a stone carver and letter cutter from 1936 to 1939. This highly formative period led to lifelong friendships with a literary and artistic circle that included Tom Burns, Harman Grisewood, René Hague, and David Jones, all of whom are also represented in the manuscript collections at Georgetown.

During the war, Richey wrote some first-rate letters from various ships and naval bases (as did his brother Paul, author of the classic book Fighter Pilot, A Personal Record of the Campaign in France, 1939-1940, first published anonymously, due to regulations at the time, in September 1941 by B. T. Batsford, and subsequently by Scribners three months later, in an edition which featured the author's name and a cover photograph by Cecil Beaton).  Michael Richey also wrote superb first-hand accounts of two events: the sinking of his first ship HMS Goodwill and the expedition of HMS Carnarvon Castle. The first, “Sunk by a Mine,” having been refused by the British naval censors “on the grounds that it might ‘lower morale,’” was published overseas in The New York Times Magazine on May 11, 1941; it won him the first John Llewellyn Rhys Memorial Prize for Literature in 1942. The second, “A Taste of the Antarctic,” was written as a broadcast and read by (Sir) Ludovic Kennedy for the BBC. Kennedy became a well-known broadcaster after the war, and this was his first broadcast.

Post-war, Michael Richey became a legend for his singlehanded transatlantic sailing adventures in his famous little boat, Jester, which he bought in 1964 from Herbert “Blondie” Hasler, wartime hero and inventor of the first practical self-steering gear for yachts. He had signature postcards printed for his solo voyages: on the front, a blackand- white photograph of himself sailing the boat; on the back, the incomplete address in black type, “Yacht Jester at ______.”.

This centenary exhibition is a snapshot of one of the most distinguished British navigators of the twentieth century, and one of its most reluctant autobiographers. The epigraph has been taken from an unfinished work, Sailing Alone. The title was suggested to him by his great friend, the novelist Graham Greene, whose centenary Richey celebrated at Georgetown in 2004.

More information here
Navigating the War pdf


Len Hiley gave an excellent talk recently on ‘Sheet to Tiller Self-steering’. He sailed over 5,500 miles in the 2014 Jester Challenge using the sheet to tiller method he talked about.

This is a chapter from ‘Self-steering for Sailboats’ by Gerard Dijkstra recommended by Len………… Using Sails to Steer the Boat

Another book recommended is 'Self-Steering for Sailing Craft' by John Letcher. John has very kindly allowed his book to be downloaded, for personal use only. download here

Len talks about his self steering techniques on YouTube

Olivier Delebecque sailed 20ft Godot in the 2016 Jester Azores Challenge using the ‘Sheet to Tiller Self-steering’ method mentioned above which was an amazing achievement! about his voyage here

Energy supply : From Expansion to Contraction

Many people ask: Are we running out of oil? The simple answer is; Yes, we started doing that when we consumed the first gallon. But running out is not the main point when what matters much more is the onset of decline which now dawns as we enter the Second Half of the Age of Oil. Britain’s energy policy begins to attract much comment, mainly in connection with the threats of climate change, but the underlying issue of oil supply may deserve more urgent attention.

Some 400 million people lived on the Planet at the time of Christ, and the number no more than doubled over the next seventeen centuries as people lived sustainable lives, relying on muscle-power, delivered by themselves, their slaves or oxen, and supplemented by minor amounts from wind, water and firewood........ read more

And he woke up and rebuked the wind and said to the sea: 'Quiet now. Be calm.' And the wind dropped, and there followed a great calm.
This passage from the gospel of Mark (I use the Jerusalem Bible) brings to mind a curious incident in Faial when I first sailed Jester to the more

MBE, Hon FRIN (1917-2009) by Kai Easton

I suspect I am the only one here who didn’t know Mike in his transatlantic sailing days with Jester, but our lives have circled around each other for years, since I grew up, as it happens, not very far from Newport, just across Narragansett Bay in Barrington.

We met very soon after his 90th birthday in Brighton when my husband Robert, our rough-haired Jack Russell terrier Harry, and I moved into the same regency house where Mike had lived since his early days as the Director of the (Royal) Institute of Navigation.  He was still cycling his 10-speed Peugeot bicycle along the undercliff, a daily exercise of some five miles, and he still kept his classic more

I left Whitehills on the Moray Firth on the morning of 4th July, heading first for Björnøya – Bear Island. Bear Island lies about halfway between the North Cape of Norway and Spitsbergen, and is the most southerly of the Svalbard group of islands. I ducked through the Fair Isle passage to be better placed for a short blow form the south-east, and sailed up the west side of the Shetlands, past my old friend, the island of more

Mingming's 2009 Northern Voyage

Left Whitehills Harbour on the Moray Firth, northern Scotland, at high water, 0200H on Friday 26th June. Ran up through the Fair Isle Channel, past Fair Isle, then outside Foula, the westernmost Shetland island. With settled weather from the east, though with occasional calms, I was able to lay down an almost straight track to Jan Mayen, which we reached 121/2 days later, on Wednesday 8th July. The highlights of the leg to Jan Mayen were two encounters with pods of killer whales, and a close shave with a Russian factory trawler, the Armanek Begayev, of Kaliningrad, which we met just inside the Arctic Circle. We had crossed the Arctic Circle......more

Amongst the bergs and bergy bits, 80 miles ENE of Scoresby Sound on the East Greenland coast
Amongst the bergs and bergy bits, 80 miles ENE of Scoresby Sound on the East Greenland coast
On Reflection 2
My first sextant was bought from an instrument maker in Glasgow, for 30 shillings I think. It was, of course, a Vernier, and from time to time I would rub graphite, mixed with a little oil, into its elegant silver arcuate scale to bring up the markings. Its mirrors were as bright as the day they were made and a drop of salt water on the corrector screws after adjustment kept them from shifting.
I imagine it dated from the early days of the century, but I had fitted a new telescope which was used for all bodies. My first appointment after buying it (this was during the war) was as assistant navigator in an armed merchant more

1972 OSTAR


Apart from writing about the event, the website has no association whatsoever with the Jester Challenge
For all matters concerning the Jester Challenge please contact Ewen Southby-Tailyour

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