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Sailing La Vagabonde and their H5000 Pilot


YouTube stars Riley and Elayna from Sailing La Vagabonde recently took delivery of a new Outremer 45 catamaran with a full suite of B&G electronics, including H5000 pilot and instruments and Zeus3 chartplotters. Here they describe a breezy sail in the Mediterranean…

‘Recently we sailed from Porquerolles to Calvi, a Corsican town in southern France, on our new Outremer 45. She is an excellent vessel that we are very proud to own and for two kids from outback Australia we really couldn’t be more thankful to our Patrons and online community that we have built up over the years making this possible. But anyway, recently we sailed to Corsica.

There are two winds that dominate southern France’s waters: the Tramontane and the Mistral. Both can get pretty fierce but for our particular voyage the Tramontane was going to push us straight towards Corsica, almost perfect, if a little too much downwind. We had just completed the shakedown cruise, had the expected small problems seen to back at the yard and were ready to really see what she could do. So when we saw the 25-30 knot winds we decided that would be our day. We needed to cover what would end up being 130nm.

Poquerolles has several protected anchorages, and during July still had the feel of lively place without it seeming touristy. There were still trinkets in shops but they seemed more authentic, there were genuine chandleries there and it was without cruise ships. It was an excellent stop over and we wished we could have spent more time there to explore more. As we weighed anchor and departed there was no wind at all and we were wondering if maybe we might have to motor more than we would have liked. This would have meant having a night landing, being able to sail much faster than we motor, at Calvi which is quite a good spot to arrive in the dark, but we still prefer to make landfall during daylight hours.

Before long though, the wind built and we had the main and Code D up, we were heading quite a bit off course but happy to be sailing. The weather had settled in just as our forecast had predicted and, as it was also predicted to build further, as soon as it became necessary we changed out the Code D for the Solent. We then moved further down wind and on course as we settled into a good rhythm with 25-28 knots at about 150 degrees.

The waves soon followed and we quickly found ourselves surfing at 15 knots and making a steady 11. Still learning the ways of the new boat, and having received a lot of information in a short amount of time during the handover I hadn’t really used the different performance levels on the B&G autopilot, but had a quick play with it and managed to figure it out easily. As the waves built further and we did a number of surfs exceeding 18 knots I was starting to get a few sideways glances from the crew.

Not forgetting the ‘hum’. This particular boat makes a hum when the speed exceeds 15 knots for a period of time. It is a very pleasant and warming hum like whale song. I was steering the boat for a long time before I put it on Performance level 5 on the Auto-Pilot and was amazed. The H5000 pilot was doing exactly what I would have done but just a little before I could do it, and obviously doesn’t get tired. After watching it for 5 minutes I went and made a coffee and if I smoked I would have done that too. Changing the Peformance level to max whilst surfing down waves was key to an infinitely more relaxed sail. We reached 22 knots that day which is about double what I had ever been before and it is a day I’ll never forget!