Started Sailing

Sailing From Fife to Minorca

by Bob
(Kirkcaldy, UK)

I'm writing a novel in which the main character is forced to sail a 29ft sloop from Fife, down the east coast of the UK and round to Minorca. Trouble is I know less about sailing than John Prescott knows about walking past a pie shop!

What I think I need is either a good book describing this or a similar voyage or a video/DVD of that voyage.

Please don't ask me to get into a boat and do any sailing. I can't swim and I don't have the time.

I have done a bit of reading and know something about sailboats (keel, jib, painter, draught, tacking - see?) but what I lack is the experience which, of course, will need to be second-hand.

Can anyone recommend a good book or DVD?

Comments for Sailing From Fife to Minorca

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Dec 07, 2010
A writer again, great fun!
by: Han

Hi Bob,

I'm sorry you had to wait for a few days; had to finish installing the new garden doors in the extension while the weather was dry.

I will, as far as I can, provide you with all necessary details, because the information you ask for is indeed available but scattered across hundreds of books and camera-footage; it would consume all your valuable time to scrape it together, which will then leave you with the task of understanding the jargon.

So, please start by getting your local fishermen interested in your story, and try to get any information about their experiences there out of them.

I take it your hero (why is he forced?) will set off from your hometown Kirkcaldy, where the sloop (is it a keel- or centreboard sloop?) is moored or anchored in the inner harbour? As I remember, the inner harbour can be closed for the tide? In case of a keel, he'll have to wait for the tide to rise and have a meal or a Laphroaig and a good Havana cigar.

If you like this as a start, we'll work forward as you proceed.

Please let me know your thoughts,



Dec 07, 2010
'Lady Lesley' a 29 ft sloop.
by: Anonymous

Thanks for answering, Han. There are not many people doing little outdoor jobs up here just now. Just the odd guy shoveling snow and a couple of brass monkeys wearing two pairs of underpants. Me? I'm staying inside where it's warm.
The boat leaves from Dysart harbour, Dysart being a small village that has been swallowed up and is now a suburb of Kirkcaldy. You can see it on Google Earth.
All I know is that the boat is a 29ft sloop. Don't ask me why, I just sort of looked at boats in various harbours and identified the ones I liked the look of as sloops. As long as it can sail down to Minorca, it doesn't really matter. Oh, and it needs to be manageable by a crew of one.
I did copy the full spec from a 'boat for sale' ad and tended to use that as a guide.
Keith is forced to sail because someone is after his hide. Actually, there are initially two of a crew but one gets killed.
I finished writing the book tonight and will now begin the long slog of editing and trimming and correcting all the boo-boos.



Dec 08, 2010
North Sea, Channel, Bay of Biscay, Atlantic Ocean, Strait of Gibraltar, Mediterranean.
by: Han

Alright Bob,

I'll give you the rough outlines of this trip without going in too much detail; if you want them you'll only have to ask.

The whole trip (in which season?: summer and winter) is sailed in the prevailing Northern Hemisphere winds: north- to southwestern, which means Keith can sail the first leg in an easy reach. He sails far from the coast to avoid shallows and is keen on crossing ferries, which are the main threat on this leg. It gets more dangerous when and after passing the Humber-mouth: more ferries and more other shipping, which will keep him busy till he reaches the Med.

Apart from that the sea-conditions become worse in general: going south the North Sea narrows, so the tidal currents become stronger. This not only speeds him up or slows him down, but it has a strong effect on the forming of waves too: when the wind goes with the current, the waves are lower and longer which makes for relatively dry sailing, if it's against the tide it heightens and steepens the waves and Keith has a hard, wet job. (Personal experience: going the same way through the Channel against a weak wind and a strong tide, we -boat and me- had to tack for some hours roughly between Dover and Calais, never making any real progress, dodging the ferries and the ships (and oh boy, they're fast) sailing northeast and southwest in the shipping lanes, until the turning of the tide brought me through at last.) Conditions in the Strait of Gibraltar are the same.

Seeking refuge and replenishing stocks in the Channel harbours brings a new experience: the fall from high- to low tide is often more than 30 ft., so mooring at high tide on short ropes means you find your boat hanging at the quay high above the water upon your return (or worse). If you need to know how it's done properly, say so.

Once Keith and Lady Lesley have safely passed by Ar Men (The Rock, the westernmost lighthouse off the Brittany (where I live) coast, they are in relatively calm seas again, the Bay of Biscay and, more to the south, the Atlantic along the Spanish and Portuguese shores. Only Gibraltar remains as a difficult passage.

Remark from my side: if they were after my hide, I would have taken the long way north around Scotland, through the Irish Sea. Reason: you never escape discovery and registration through the Channel.

That's it for now, let me know if and when you have questions.



Dec 08, 2010
Registration - groan
by: Bob

Wish I'd come here earlier, Han. I did think I might be copping out by taking the boat down through the English Channel with police and coastguard looking out for me. Thought it wouldn't really matter, though.
But it's too late now. Keith has dropped in at several places down the east coast and had some adventures.
Is there absolutely no way at all (legal or otherwise) to avoid registration? I'd really hate to have to bend the whole story to have it go down the Irish Sea. It is a possibility, though, if there's no other way.

Dec 09, 2010
Pulled your leg successfully; big grin here!
by: Han

Sorry about that and hi again Bob,

I write a bit myself too (but books, I fear, are above my league), so I know what it means when somebody throws a new light on your proud, almost finished blood, sweat & tears.

Keith can tackle The Channel -the direst straits imaginable for a sailing fugitive- fairly easily by behaving the whole trip long as a careless tourist: making the odd mistake for example, not being hurried in any way, subtly changing his and Lady L's appearance and her name from time to time (hell, am I telling you how to do your job? you've pulled me right into your story, mate!)

But I'm wandering off-track with this; we should be writing exclusivily about sailing on this site. If you would like us to meet on another level too, you can find me on facebook under the name Han Lanser.

Hope to "see" you soon again,



Dec 11, 2010
by: Han

Hi Bob,
How's your (and now a bit mine too) hero?

Dec 11, 2010
My hero
by: Bob

Hi, Han,

It's all done and dusted. Now it sits on the shelf for a couple of months until I feel like scanning it for errors and then beginning the polishing process. Keith finally wins the heart of a Spanish beauty, then loses her. He wreaks vengeance on the man who killed his friend and denies the organisation that hounded him the artefact they seek.

I sense you are curious about the book so here's a little more info. Note that the story initially sprang from a skull found in Mexico but I transplanted the theme to Minorca.
If you want any more background, Google 'Star Child'. That's where I got the idea. I could even let you see the first chapter if you're really a glutton for punishent but I suspect that would be overload on your website.
More to follow:

Dec 11, 2010
Some more
by: Bob

Background to the story–Skull Discovery.

Sixty to seventy years ago an American girl of Mexican heritage in her late teens (15 to 18) was taken by her parents to visit relatives living in a small rural village 100 miles southwest of Chihuahua, Mexico. The girl was forbidden to enter any of the area's numerous caves and mine tunnels, but like most teenagers, she went exploring. At the back of a mine tunnel she found a complete human skeleton lying on the ground. Beside it, sticking up out of the ground, was a skeletal hand entwined in the other skeleton's upper arm. The girl proceeded to scrape the dirt off a shallow grave to reveal a buried skeleton smaller than the human one and also malformed. She did not specify the type or degree of any of the "malformations."
The girl recovered both skulls and kept them for the remainder of her life. Upon her death they were passed to an American man, who maintained possession for five years before passing them to the American couple who now control them.
A large number of people believe the smaller skeleton was that of a child born to the woman and fathered by a creature from space 900 years ago. They call it Star child. Around this fragment of bone has grown a religious group calling themselves FOSC (Followers Of Star Child). As their numbers swelled, as their power and influence spread, inevitably the essence of their belief was diluted by greed. Greed for power, greed for wealth.


Battling against powerful forces–the sea, religious dogma and the irresistible attraction of a beautiful but dangerous woman–Keith struggles to survive and, in doing so, avenge the cruel murder of his friend. He discovers, within himself, the ability to accomplish things he previously would have considered impossible.

Keith makes a simple mistake when he picks up someone else’s suitcase at the airport. But that small slip leads to a relentless chase over land and sea as our hero battles against a religious sect whose doctrine seems to exclude the commandment ‘Thou shall not kill’. He has to learn to sail. And he has to learn quickly or die in the attempt. The people who want to take the suitcase from Keith don’t own any it more than he does. They just want it more than he does. And to get it, they are prepared to kill anyone who gets in their way.


Dec 11, 2010
Thanks, Bob,
by: Han

Good Whisky has to mature too...

If you need future help:

Regards, Han.

Jun 06, 2015
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