BBQ Weekend 26-28 Sep 2008

Forever after to be known as “The Inuendo Cruise”) – Bavaria 34 “Bagadeus”

As I was unloading my rather small weekend sailing bag containing, 2 pairs of shoes, 1 Pair of seaboots, thermals, mid layer, oilies, hats socks – you are getting the picture? Well this is the Solent in September!! I was accosted by an old acquaintance who appraised me of the weather forecast for the weekend!!, shall I just take a pair of shorts and a couple of shirts??? Nah, as I already said, this is the Solent in September!

Our skipper and some of the crew were already on board and after introductions the obligatory kettle was put on. Soon after another member of the crew joined us and we then adjourned to the Ketch Rigger for our evening meal and a small glass of Sherry, and then we were joined a little later by the 6th and final member of our crew who has an affinity to Prince Charles as he has the unusual claim to fame of also being at both of Charles weddings!! The evening degenerated as the effect of the Sherry kicked in, and the small talk went from, how much sailing experience you have to what washing machine and vacuum cleaner you own and even what sort of lawn mower !!!

‘Bagadeus’ the kettle was once again put on, and out came  homemade cakes! Coffee and Walnut and Lemon Drizzle!!, Now call me shallow if you like but I was really beginning to like this particular crewmember by now, especially as Coffee and Walnut is my favourite, and I made a mental note to ensure that there would be none left by Sunday.

Saturday dawned cold damp and very foggy, this is not good we thought. However, after an expertly cooked breakfast, the sun began to burn off the fog and a gorgeous day looked in prospect.

I was offered the honour of acting as ‘Mate’ for the day, so with myself at the helm we slipped Hamble Point without too much stress and headed out toward the Solent. The wind was really light and quite fluky so motor sailing was the order of the day with each crewmember having a half hour stint on the helm. Our original plan was to anchor in Newtown Creek for lunch, but on approach it looked like a motorway service area on a Bank Holiday, so we decided to use the anchoring area outside. All was calm and serene as we made our approach and the order was given to drop the anchor. After a relatively short time all hell broke loose as the windlass tried to follow the anchor and chain into the murky depths!! The decision was made to cleat the anchor chain off and reassess the situation after lunch (assuming we were still afloat!) On further inspection it was discovered that the base mounting for the windlass had already been repaired, and this is what had failed again.

The wind had filled a bit by now and we were able to make reasonable headway across towards Lymington with a view to tacking back to Yarmouth where we had a berth booked. As we approached Yarmouth we were greeted by the spectacle of numerous Gaff rigged boats with their multi coloured sails being picked out in the bright sunlight, it really was special.. Passing the sign saying “Harbour Full”, we found our pontoon and rafted alongside a Westerly Consort with not too much drama and broke out the beers.

The Mate had arranged all the food for the BBQ and we made our way to the BBQ area, surprise surprise, lovely summer evening and all of the BBQ areas were taken, a-ha time for another beer!. The Mate being as resourceful as ever found a large stone near to the shoreline, which was perfect to house our coals, so we fired up. The BBQ consisted of Steak burgers, Ferociously hot Lamb and Chilli burgers, chicken and lamb kebabs and sausages all cooked to perfection, thank you Chef!

We returned to Bagadeous for the obligatory night cap and slab of cake, I now was on a mission as I had heard that a potential robber was back in the country and may be parachuting in to stake a claim on my cake.

Now, when we were discussing sleeping arrangements on the Friday night, I was very honest and said that I snored, a lot! However my companion in the saloon said that he didn’t, needless to say I was a little concerned that I may keep him (And the rest of the crew) awake! Can I just say – you is a fibber!!!!

Our neighbours had said that they were leaving early so the decision was made to get up about 7 and beat the rush for the showers

Sunday morning was again still and misty, and we all managed to get up on time and undertake the trek to the toilet block, which was really quite busy even at this ungodly hour. On our return a conversation ensued regarding the inordinate amount of time that a woman can take to shower, at which time our skipper made his feelings known in a way that only a chap can!! However this was taken as a compliment that quite clearly our skipper felt comfortable in her presence.

We left Yarmouth with the Mate at the helm and Mate for the day and started our way back to the Hamble in very light airs, motor sailing became the order for the day again. We picked up a buoy on the lead in to Power Station creek and sat in awe at the size of the container ships that were going in and out of Southampton. After a short break for lunch we proceeded back to the Hamble in a really busy procession, which got quite exciting at times as only the Hamble can on a busy Sunday afternoon, but a perfect approach was made as was departure to and from the refuelling berth at Warsash!

The weekend seemed to pass all too quickly and before we knew it the decks were scrubbed, heads cleaned and we were all heading towards our respective vehicles for the trip home.

I must say that I, for one, had a FANTASTIC weekend, the crew demographics were amazing and I hope that my fellow crewmembers enjoyed it as much. This sort of event makes me wonder why I do not sail with the club as much as I did anymore.

Norway (11-20 June 2008)

One of the BTOSC Skippers has been organising club cruises to Norway for a few years. With an upbringing in Norway, and his ability to speak Norwegian coupled with his love of the area has made him the ideal person to organise such events. Many members have been on these cruises and found out for themselves the beauty of the Norwegian coast and experienced the friendliness of its people. I have always meant to go on one of these cruises but have never quite made it but this year maybe that it could be the last year he would be able to organise such events so I thought I had better sign up while I still could.

The flights were arranged well in advance so we all got a good deal with Ryanair. More particularly a good charter rate had been negotiated, obtaining a bigger boat for less money! The crew first met at Standstead Airport and after a quick top up with duty free which hopefully would see us through the 10 day trip (Alcohol is a little expensive in Norway!) we boarded the plane for the mid-morning flight to Torp. There we were joined by the last member of the crew who had flown in from Manchester.

We then made the short minibus journey to Sandefjord, a delightful town that use to be a centre for the Whaling industry where our boat was waiting for us on the town jetty, tied up next to a restored Whale Catcher, complete with harpoon gun!

“Trans Ocean Express” was not in fact a Container ship, but a Benetau Oceanis ‘Clipper’ 473. She was well equipped with all mod cons plus a lot of extras that you only find on a private charter yacht. Her name sounds impressive on the VHF and harbour masters do tend to query the length and draft sometimes! John knows these waters well and had a full itinerary planned for our nine day cruise, so without delay our gear was stowed and it was off to explore the coast of Norway.

Our cruising area was the SE coast, which is in an area known as the Skagerack. It is made up of thousand of Islands, countless isolated rocks and many deep fiords and sounds. It is a popular area for sailing and holidays. I am sure there are more boats than people. Many charming small towns and villages complement the beauty of the seascape. The geography means that it is often easier to travel by boat than by car. It is boat heaven, during the summer anyway! The combination of rocks and pleasure boats may account for the 5375 shipwrecks recorded in Norway during 2005. Hopefully most of these were minor incidents.

Our cruise took us to Stavern, Kragerø, Lyngør, Tvedestrand, Arendal, Grimstad, Lillesand, and Risør. We did some interesting rock hopping navigation through some very narrow but very deep inshore channels. These passages gave some beautiful views of the Norwegian coast and countryside and access to small hamlets tucked away in virtually rock pools. On the chart some of these passages seemed impassable but local knowledge saw us through and took us to some amazing places.

A social highlight for some crewmembers was our stop at Arendal (Wasn’t this mentioned in Lord of the Rings?). Our visit coincided with a Harley Davidson convention. There were almost as many as Harleys as there were boats and that is saying something in this part of the World. The small town was awash with bikers and live music, all clustered around the small harbour; a great atmosphere and contrast to the normally quiet towns along this coast. Norwegians certainly know how to enjoy themselves.

For others the visit to Grimstad, home to the famous Norwegian playwright Ibsen, was a highlight. Whilst drinking in the Café Ibsen a striking resemblance between a crewmember and the great man was alleged?

For most of the cruise winds were generally light and S’Westerly and on the nose of course. Despite its Northern latitude this coast is normally pleasantly warm in the summer but like England temperatures were down a bit this year. Towards the end of our cruise as we headed back towards Sandjeford the winds picked up giving us a really good downwind sail in F5/6. We stormed into Stavern for an over night stop with wind still increasing and visibility decreasing. We were followed in by some yachts which were abandoning an off shore yacht race due to the high winds and huge seas which soon build up in this area. After doubling all the mooring lines we weathered the worst of the storm in a local restaurant and celebrated what was to become the last night of our cruise.

The next day sea conditions made it unwise to attempt even the short offshore passage back to Sandjeford, so it was agreed with the owner to leave “Trans Ocean Express” in Stavern which made for a slightly longer road journey back to Torp and our flight home.

The crew were also introduced us to the delights of Norwegian cuisine. It is true that some crewmembers did not fully develop a taste for fish balls. The reindeer balls were more to my taste but surprisingly small!

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