Archive for June, 2009

AGM Weekend (15-17 May 2009)

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2009

The club had chartered 2 yachts for the AGM weekend out of Hamble Point Marina: Dumbledore a Sun Odyssey 37 and Jasper a Dufour 36.  As a new club member I was asked to write a few words about the event.   This was my first practical experience on a Yacht the size of Dumbledore.

Friday Evening

The joining instructions got me down to Hamble Point easily enough and I soon found Dumbledore’s berth in the marina.  After brief introductions I was shown to the Marina Office where I hired some foul weather gear. After taking over the respective boats we all lubricated our vocal chords over dinner in the Kedge and Rigger. The skippers also took the opportunity to agree the rules for the pre-AGM competition planned for the following day.  This was followed by a friendly but rigged game of dominos.  It was then back to the yacht for coffee and some delicious cake and after many a yarn we all turned in. Earlier in the day the 24 hour forecast for Selsey Bill to Lyme Regis had promised: Wind: Southwest 5 to 7, occasionally gale 8 for a time.  Sea State: Moderate or rough.  Weather: Showers.  Visibility: Moderate or good. The weather gods were clearly at work.  Indeed over the course of the weekend they not only delivered 95% of that forecast but surpassed themselves by playing the odd joker without the need for either skipper or crew to make any peace offerings, sacrifices or apologies.

Saturday

Next morning were all up again by 08:00 and after a morning shower, lashings of bacon and a welcome cup of tea for breakfast we prepared for the day ahead.  We had a thorough safety brief from our skipper before carefully slipping from our berth in the marina at 10:05 and motoring out into Southampton Water.  By 10:40 we had 3 reefs in the main and ¼ genny up which become the default for the weekend.  Our route was planned to maximise training value and average speed through the water.  It took us west along the Solent for a time.  We then made for Cowes and some close quarter manoeuvring to a berth at Shepherds Wharf Marina at 12:15.  By this time the weather had improved so we were able to have a leisurely sandwich lunch and complete the quiz whilst alongside in what was by then glorious sunshine. By 14:10 we were comfortably sailing again in a strong breeze, making for Portsmouth Harbour and arriving via a brief detour circumnavigating Spitsand Fort.  We saw the war memorial and church spire that form the transit for the swatchway and then motor-sailed into the harbour before mooring in Haslar Marina for the night. The AGM was held at the Landers Bar and Restaurant just outside the marina.  I won’t attempt to duplicate the minutes except to mention for the record that the quiz competition held earlier in the day was won by Jasper; however, following careful scrutiny of the skipper’s log, Dumbledore was declared the winner with the highest average speed. By now the harbour was like a mill pond and the sky was clear.  The weather gods were teasing us.  Although dinner after the AGM was excellent the cake and coffee was again calling out to be eaten.  John and his crew from Yacht Jasper also came over to put the world to rights.

Sunday

By next morning the still calm waters of the harbour had given way to more lumpy conditions and some rain.  The forecast had worsened to SW /S 5-7  Occ 8.  After another excellent breakfast of sausages and scrambled egg, we slipped at 10:00.  We motored out into the Solent making use of the transit for the swatchway and once clear of the shipping we made the most of the strong SW wind with 3 reefs in the main and 2/3 genny.  Given the conditions at the time the original plan had been to head straight for Hamble Point; however, we made such good progress that we decided to have lunch  in the shelter of Osborne Bay.  By 1230 after a little difficulty with the electric windlass we were at anchor. After an uneventful lunch we set sail for Hamble Point once again.  This time with the wind from the South we opted so sail with about 2/3 genny taking care to stay well clear of the Bramble Bank.  By now the sea was very confused.  I was particularly taken by the fact the boat was so stable and was able to make such good progress in such conditions.   Most of the crew were wearing their hoods by this time due to the spray and we were often surfing along. As we approached Hamble our skipper made a point of warning everyone about the danger of ‘cutting the corner’ at the entrance of the Hamble estuary.  We then motored in to re-fuel and by 14:45 we were once again at Dumbledore’s berth in the marina preparing the boat to be handed back to the boatyard. The weekend exceeded expectations in so many ways – both in terms of giving me much needed experience at sea, providing so many learning opportunities and probably more importantly in demonstrating the camaraderie within the club.

Some learning points that I have taken away

  • Excellent safety culture all round – Good Safety Briefing
  • Planning, communication and teamwork prior to and during any manoeuvres
  • Checking rigging including reefing lines before departure
  • A main with 3 reefs can provide a lot of thrust
  • The genny on its own was surprisingly powerful
  • Uses for the bowline knot
  • Lookout – it can be hard to predict what other yachts are going to do next and other traffic from behind can quickly become a problem.