Items from 2014

A tender moment

   - from the camera of Peter Spinks

Channel Islands July 28 - Aug 3rd


On a Medical Emergency, a  Hanging Dinghy, a Nightmare Harbour and more.

The above all happened when Chris and Sam and Jeremy and Peter and Richard and Dr. Andrew went to the Channel Islands with the cook.

The week started at 20:00 with dinner on Sunday night in Mary Mouse.  Sam was new to the crew and he brought with him years of experience. I believe I heard him say at dinner that he is one of the blokes who say that you have passed your ocean master test or not. I think that this was the first time we had had one of that elite group aboard for a whole week. Oh to be able to pick his brain.


The boat was under way by midnight and we went out through the forts rather than trek down the Solent to The Needles.  It was pretty uneventful for the first few hours and the cook went to bed.  The wind got up and so did the sea. About 6 hours into the passage to Alderney a call was put in to the coastguard by the skipper along the lines of “we ... medical emergency ...... 6 hours from anywhere....... go to Alderney.......lifeboat, doctor .........pickup” .

Unfortunate for the cook’s plan to do some brain picking but more unfortunate for Sam, his medical condition took over and he was not a well body at all. Equally unfortunate for Lady Emma the only place the Sam was able to sleep was in the aft heads with his head in the sink. That meant that the stopcocks to the forward heads – yes the ones the you keep shut at sea – had to be opened and as it was explained a siphon system was set up and there was a lot of water in the boat by the time we got to Alderney.  We were extremely worried about Sam but Dr. Andrew kept a watch over him and assured us that the best thing to do was nothing. Short of a massive morphine injection which we didn’t have and could not administer even had we had one, he was better off sleeping because in that state he didn’t hurt too much. Sam managed to sleep in the heads for 7.5 hours. How, no one will ever know.


The lifeboat from Bray came out to assist us and we eventually were put on the lifeboat buoy number 2 and Sam was taken to the hospital. He was adamant that he wanted to go home that afternoon but the Doctors at the hospital kept him prisoner until Monday. They very kindly let us know how he was doing. He got home on Monday and according to his wife, when Jeremy rang to ask after him, he was out walking.  Must have been a whole shed load better than when we last saw him.


Chris had a little run in with the water taxi lady Victoria, all sorts of additions to her name come to mind. Do watch out if you need the water taxi in Bray after 20:00. She does the late shift and we were reliably informed by her employer that once she gets fixated on an idea there is no shifting her. You have been warned dear reader.

Tip 1: Best to ask who is driving the taxi when you call up for it.


Tuesday we set out for St. Peter Port. This time we caught the Race just right and arrived in Guernsey about last boat in. We were told by the Harbour Master in Bray that ST.PP had made all the outer pontoons walk ashore. What a good idea because the last water taxi boy had been really iffy (could this be a local condition of the job?).  By doing this the town bureaucrats have created a nightmare for you to moor in. 5 or 6 U shaped basins have been formed which the man directing traffic in the harbour boat was filling up by rafting up 3 rows of 6 on one side of the U and three rows of 3 on the other. Now if you come in first guess how many boats have to move to let you out. Wednesday morning was great entertainment. It was like musical chairs in the water.  We were number 6 in the outer raft so when the chap on the other pontoon left we grabbed his spot and then just sat and watched with glee at the boat ballet going on around us. Here is tip 2. Get to ST PP late so as not to be anywhere near the middle.


Jeremy lost his hat and gloves in the gents. Well he left them and when he went back the cleaner had put them away in his cupboard. Not knowing that he went to Boatworks and bought a new pair. The pair he misplaced was new at Christmas. Careless is what I say. It worked out in the end. He found the missing bits of attire on Friday morning when he caught up with the cleaner.

Wednesday we stayed in St Peter Port and did some shopping and watched some cricket and the cook went to B&Q. When the marina was being redesigned the ‘powers that be’ decided that because most of their visitors are French they could remove the hose pipes from the water stands and in order to save a quid or two they would only have one water stand on each pontoon and that would be placed a third of the way from the land end so that unless you have a 30m hose pipe in you locker you don’t get water. You also need the bit with the ‘screw on’ attachment. This is why the cook went to B&Q to buy one of those new hose pipes that shrink down to nothing and weighs a couple of ounces but the man in  B&Q said that you could only get them on the internet. A lot of help that was. And B&Q is miles from town.


On Thursday we went to Sark for the day to see if we could wangle an invite to tea with the Barclay Boys. No luck there then. Chris and Jeremy and Peter and the Doc took the dinghy – the one with the long painter but not quite long enough- rowed ashore and climbed the hill. Richard and the Cook didn’t see them again for 4 hours. It could have been a lot longer because when they got back the dinghy was in mid air hanging at the very end of its painter. A few more minutes and they would have had to wait until the tide came in enough so that there was a long enough bit of rope to let it into the water and still hang on to it. Here is tip 3. When going ashore on Sark take the really long line that will reach to New York. Here is tip 4 – oars don’t float for very long so if by chance you happen to throw one up onto the boat from the dinghy don’t throw so hard that it goes over the opposite side. We returned to St PP for the night and unlike our experience of Tuesday berthing was not such an issue as there were far fewer boats about.













We left Friday morning for Cherbourg and had to motor northward with the race as there was no wind to speak of. After we got round Cap de la Hague we were able to put up the sails and sailed the rest of the way. We spent a nice evening in Cherbourg and had a lovely meal in The Cafe de Paris having given the cook the night off. 

On Saturday morning we set off at 08:30 boat time and for the first time in the week it rained. Everyone was done up in all the wet weather gear but about an hour later the sun came out and it was back to shirt sleeves and sun screen. The passage was as uneventful as you could imagine. There was one cat motoring back to England and after seeing half a dozen ships going to Le Havre there wasn’t a thing to see until 3 ships went passed going westward. Not so much as a porpoise or the pilot whale from last summer. The weather forecast had predicted that the wind and sea would increase over the afternoon and it did. We had to put in another reef around 17:00. We arrived at The Needles at 20:30 as the skipper for the day had predicted and were tied up in Lymington Yacht Haven by 21:30. We had an interesting last dinner – pork crumble. That was a new one for the cook.


Sunday morning there was a slight problem getting back to the Solent. A mud bank, the Lymington Harbour rib, and a ferry trying to pass a ferry on another mud bank. We had a leisurely sail up to Cowes where as it was the second day of racing things got a bit hectic. No incidents to report. Tied up in Portsmouth around 14:00. 


All told though it was an enjoyable trip. We had to replace all the service batteries in ST.PP and it was a good thing we took the battery booster with us or we would still be in Cherbourg. The Doc was handy, the Lifeboat was handy, the berthing arrangements in St.PP we could get used to but it will take practice, the weather was great, B&Q was useless, the water taxi lady was weird, the company on the whole was genial. As the other Lados (Lancaster Amateur Dramatic and Operatic Society) might say “ All’s well that ends well”.



Sailing With Sid in April


On Friday night Maggie and Chris and Jeremy and Sarah and Adrian and I had dinner in the newly reopened restaurant in Mary Mouse now called Trinity’s. Very nice it was too. The new people who are now running it smile for starters and the food was good. Two very important things when running an eatery.


On Saturday Steve joined us just after 09:00 and as Chris was being ‘skippy’ this week he got to decide that we would go to Poole. (Yes I want to know where Sid comes into this too) There wasn’t much sun and such as there was did its best to hide most of the day. The wind was mostly westerly so Poole was going to be a bit of a trek. We had a backup plan as usual- Yarmouth if we were cold- possibly Lymington if we were cold and Yarmouth was full- and if things were really bad and we wanted to watch telly then we could go to Cowes.


We managed to get through Hurst by 13:30 and as we were doing 7.5 – 8kts and the distance to the waypoint at the Poole Channel was only 11ktm one would think - ohhh another 11/2 hours should do it. Well after a lot of tacking back and forth between Hengisbury Head and the Needles we took the flappy bits down and turned on the donkey. Poole at 17:30. By the way don’t ever ask an unemployed skipper to do lunch, they tend to get a tad grumpy. They are best left to their own devices – sleeping is good.Now I am not sure if this was the point at which Sid joined but whenever it was he has a lot to answer for.


We went to the pub for a pre dinner drink. That could have been where Sid found us but he definitely put in an appearance at dinner. Dinner was a rather grand 3 course affair with entertainment. There was some old storey telling –‘ tales of daring do’ on the high seas, ribald jokes which we have all heard 1000 times before and some new one and some that no one understood because either the punch line was missing or the bit before the punch line was missing and then there was pole dancing! Yes you have read that right. Sarah started it - well Adrian started it actually. Anyway someone told her that she would never get between the bulkhead and the ‘pole’ in front of the mast. She grabbed hold of it at the top and swung herself around it and emerged unscathed on the port side. Then everyone had a go except Adrian and me. I don’t know what his excuse was but I was taking photos. They went right to left and then back the other way it was all ’verra jolly’.


After dinner Steve and Adrian and Sarah and I decided to go back to the pub and listen to the live music. It was a Led Zepplin lookalike band. They were easily as old as LZ must be by now and they played all the old songs. The really sad part of that was that I remembered them from the first time around. After the old pub entertainers packed up the geetars and went home we went next door to the other pub to listen to the juke box. Adrian sloped off at some time which left Steve to do the gallant thing and make sure that Sarah and I got back to the boat. Sid definitely came back with us.


The rest of this is hearsay (I was sleeping). In the wee small hours of the morning Chris got up to use the heads and wandered into the aft cabin where Jeremy and I were sleeping. Jeremy very politely, but in no uncertain terms told him he was in the wrong room. Jeremy then got up for the same reason and Steve who had been in the heads after Chris came and got into Jeremy’s sleeping bag and lay down in his spot. Now if he was sleep walking he was very clever to actually manage to get into Jeremy’s bag because it is not your ordinary sleeping bag, it has arms and legs just like the ‘onesies’ which are all the rage at the moment. That left Jeremy with 2 options he could either go and sleep with Chris or persuade Steve ever so gently to ‘BOG OFF’ out of his bed and bag. Needless to say in the morning Chris denied having got the aft cabin and the heads mixed up and Steve had no explanation for his bag hopping only to say that it must have been Sid and not him at all. As Adrian was heard to say it was an odd ‘Siduation’.


On Sunday morning the boat left Poole at silly o’clock because of the tides at Hurst. (isn’t it always thus –the tides at Hurst). We were passing Yarmouth not long after 09:30. Having had to motor all the back across to the Needles it was nice to be able to sail up to Cowes where we stopped for breakfast. Not wanting to be the brunt of the unemployed skipper’s wrath I had made lunch while I did dinner the night before. This presented us with another ‘siduation’. It had been decided by the crew that come-what-may all of lunch would have to be consumed by said unemployed skipper if no one else was hungry. Immediately after potato and sausage hash and eggs on toast had been consumed lunch was brought out on deck, it now being normal lunchtime.


Back out in the Solent it was time to play with the boy’s toys. Sid suggested that it would be fun to put the cruising chute up in preparation and practice for the RTI race as at least ½ the crew for the race was on board. I don’t believe that any other boat in Lady Emma’s class has a thing to worry about from a racing point of view but please will all of you keep a very sharp lookout for LE it could be dodgy and that is all I am saying on the matter. Having got it up and deciding that there really wasn’t enough wind to keep it up it was taken down and ‘Maggie of the South Cardinal’ bagged it up beautifully just in case it is needed for the race. I have my fingers crossed that it wont be. At that point the donkey was engaged again and we went home where Maggie gave another lecture/ demonstration in her practical theory course 101’ How to fold and bag the laundry’. All the flappy bits have been ironed and put away neatly. Well the ones we used.


I truly believe that all eight of us enjoyed the weekend but I might think twice about letting Sid book a place again.


Pole Dancing Emland Style

Where's Sid?

Tom Cunliffe May 9th


We had yet another really good day with Tom even if the weather was trying to get the better of us. The forecast was dreadful and getting worse but we did manage to do some sailing. No one was late and we did spend the best part of the day on the water although we had 3 reefs and the storm jib as our only means of propulsion. we sailed around the eastern end of the Solent and then Chris asked Tom which was the best way to sail onto a buoy. Must explain that he and Paul and Niall and Jeremy had been attempting this outside Yarmouth a few weeks before. Just between you and me I don't think it went all that well. Tom true to form said that it all depended. If the conditions were this you did that and vica versa, and OH BY THE WAY lets go up Fareham Creek and find an empty one and practise.


We did find an empty one but a purist might have said that the dead warship parked just in the wrong place would make things a bit tricky, and it did. Chris realised that he is too tall to try picking up the pickup buoy whilst standing upright.This is a job best done lying down, just one of many  jobs which are better done in the prone position.Tom found that it wasn't as easy as he had hoped, partly to do with the crew in his case. Jeremy was top at the exercise until Maggie had a go. She thus redeemed herself from the ignominy of putting us on the putty last year and was declared the best at picking up 'boys' as opposed to sand bars. After no one else wanted to have a go, my theory being that 'my boat would have had an engine' Mary then  took us out to the second fort because it was there and we fancied the trip. The wind was getting very strong by this time and the pontoon seemed a good place to be.


We were going to stay from the weekend but with force 9 in the forecast we called everyone and postponed the weekend to the end of the month. 


Tom will be with us again in October when no doubt we will learn loads of new stuff and refresh what we have already been taught. I'll bring the pie.

February 2014.


We did eventually manage to get out on the water in February. The water was in the Solent - not anywhere else. There was a point around Christmas when I thought we might be able to sail in my sitting room but we got off lightly compared to the Somerset Levels where you can probably still sail in a paddock.

The boat has had some essential work done in the down time and we feel quite confident in saying that the major ingress of water has been sorted. Someone at Bowman's forgot to plug the hole at the top of the mast after rerunning the electic cables and although there was some thought that the water in the bilge was from the mid ship water tank it was actually coming down the inside of the mast whenever it rained.

The boom has had the jammers replaced and they now work very smoothly and easily and best of all independently of each other.

The damage done last January (2013) to the keel and rudder has been fixed and the main sail and cover have been refurbished. The hull has been cleaned and anti-fouled.

We had a great sail but only as far as Cowes because once we got the sail back on and fixed the reefing lines and did a few other things we were just about going to make the pub to watch the England Ireland rugby match and it was getting cold. On Sunday morning the decision was taken just to go back to Portsmouth as the wind was getting stronger and stronger. We just put up the storm jib and got back  before noon by which time it was windy enough not to want to be out anymore. So all home early.

The object of the exercise had been achieved in that we confirmed what we hoped to - everything still works!