A weekend sailing on on yacht Arc Angel in December – surely this would be sun filled and fun filled? Suitably blind to the possible outcomes, I joined up as a new BTOSC member and paid my money to join the Christmas Jolly. Packing on the Friday as several inches of snow was already on the ground (with more falling) pointed me to the lack of need for shorts!
Newest members Paton and Watson arrived as guided at the appointed hour – four inches of snow on the ground, outside temp -6.
We managed to find our way to the pub and took stock of the situation…. several hours later suitably fed, topped up with liquid and introduced to other like minded hardy souls that had made it through the weather, a short safety briefing about the boat ensued followed by mince pies and sleep.
Following a near gale force storm and heavens opening during the night, the brave BTOSC members emerged to see all snow washed away and a faint glimmer of hope regarding sunshine and sailing. Further more detailed safety briefing, arrival of provisions, completion of quiz sheets for later that evening and cooking of sausages led us to the inevitable point of getting under way.
Full of confidence, bravado, coffee and sausages the brave team set sail with a view of gaining maximum points from the Buoy challenge in the Solent. Early close quarters sailing aligned with soup and buns lead to a significant (brave or fool hardy) decision to “go long” and aim for a winning points haul. Tight sailing, keen navigation, detailed planning, constant re-assessment of conditions was only matched with one of the teams commitment to winning through lightning of personal weight(small bout of sea sickness) and the well planned use of motor to get anywhere near the VMG needed to make the buoy and get back to the finish before the allotted finish time.
As luck would have it, wind drop and yes another round of buns left us three minutes short of the line – all efforts dashed in terms of winning, but many an excuse logged away to be used as evidence of the moral victory.
Sailing in dark up to the Folly, lead to a great Christmas dinner, second place in the quiz, amazement at the ability of some other customers to dance on the table (badly), all washed down with suitable intake of liquid, shouts to other BTOSC crews of “we”ll be away at dawn” and another round of late night on-board evening mince pies.
Next morning (well past dawn), a strange orange circle was seen in the sky – onwards and upwards the crew was back on form – up the river further by motor to Newport …
…and back into the Solent just in time for all wind to fail.
However full of sausages, soup and buns – brave attempts at MOB practice were made by all crew, just in time for the fog to come down – a real pea souper. At about this time a new style Cardinal Mark was spotted just outside the Hamble.
God bless, planning, a compass, chart plotters and active radar! as we all returned to Hamble Point for tea and medals.
Thanks to all who made this such a great weekend and here”s looking forward to more in 2011!
Article by Brian Watson.
Photos by Brian Watson and James Savage