PC 215 Almost A Disaster – 1970 something!

This sailing story has no names, neither the skipper nor of the four other crew members, apart from me, obviously, and not the name of the yacht. I think what happened, and what might have happened, was something everyone wanted to put behind them. How could we have …..?

The seas around The Channel Islands are a great cruising area within easy reach of the English shores; Cherbourg for instance is about 12 hours sailing from Portsmouth. The islands lie around the north west corner of the Cherbourg Peninsula – the large islands of Guernsey and Jersey and the smaller Alderney, Sark and Herm. They are Crown Dependencies, not part of the United Kingdom and with their own independent administrations; their inhabitants are British.

From west to east, Guernsey, Herm, Sark and Alderney. Jersey is just off this chart to the south. The Cherbourg Peninsula lies to the east.

After an uneventful sail to Cherbourg from the Solent and an overnight stay to enjoy the moule mariniere, we set off for Guernsey. Between the Cherbourg Peninsula and Alderney the tides run extremely quickly due to the shape and depth of the seabed. This ‘Race’ can run at over 9 knots in a northerly direction, slightly less for a southerly set; breaking waves and fierce currents are normal characteristics. If your yacht has a theoretical hull speed of 6-7 knots, you could be sailing forward but going backwards relative to the ground!! 

Overfalls make for a rough passage through The Alderney Race

We left Guernsey for a day’s sail to St Malo on the French coast; the weather forecast was good but with light winds and low visibility.

St Peter’s Port Guernsey

Our course would take us to the west of both the island of Jersey and also a large patch of rocks that dried out at low water to its south, The Minquiers. This was marked by a number of buoys.

The Minquiers at low water

We had set a full main and the yacht’s large Genoa. The issue we all realise with large headsails is that forward vision is blanked by the canvas. In this case the clew of the Genoa came aft, almost to the cockpit winches. The wind was blowing from the south east so the sails were set over the starboard side and winched in tight ….. but not too tight!

For those not that knowledgeable about yacht rigging, the mast is generally stepped through the deck to the keel. Above deck wires run from the masthead fore and aft (forestay and backstay) to the deck and sidewards to the widest part of the hull. These latter stays are called shrouds and are kept away from the mast by spreaders. I haven’t been able to determine why they are called shrouds as they are far removed from a cloth in which to wrap a corpse!!

The mainsail runs from a horizontal boom to the masthead, the sail attached to the mast with moveable runners. The aft end of the boom can be supported when not under sail by a topping lift, clipped into an alloy forged-ring. The sheets that control the mainsail are also clipped onto this fitting.

The morning progressed …….

An example of poor visibility

Sailing in poor visibility can be tricky! Often during racing a crewman is positioned up in the pulpit (on the bow) scanning the sea for other yachts but generally when cruising an occasional glimpse under the sails or from the bow is deemed adequate. Looking for a small buoy or another yacht in misty conditions can be tiring on the eye, particularly when there’s a weak sun reflecting off the sea. The trend to larger and larger, and lower cut, foresails has increased the need for greater vigilance.

So often in life a chance ‘wrong place – wrong time’ type of event determine one’s future …… or by the slenderest of margins you realise that today it’s not your time! (Note 1)

The yacht’s Genoa is blanking off the view to starboard and the mainsail’s winched in so that the aft end of the boom is just over the side of the boat, maybe by a metre or so. We must have been doing 4 knots – so covering about 125m every minute; visibility was probably about 500m. The yacht has a slight cant to leeward. I join the skipper below to make some coffees and mid-morning snacks, leaving the other three sailing the yacht.

Suddenly there’s a crack/thump ……. I look up through the companionway to see another yacht metres away sailing in the opposite direction …….. the man on the tiller shouting something like “You fool! You bloody fool!” I still remember him today, stunned by what had just not happened/happened, showing typical British sangfroid.

Rushing up on deck with the skipper close on my heels it was very clear how lucky we had been. In the middle of the sea to the west of The Minquiers, some ten miles south of Jersey, with acres of open water around us, the course of our yacht has intersected with someone else’s. But just how close our hulls had come to smashing in to one other became clear when we determined what had touched exactly. (Note 2)

The wire forming his starboard lower shroud had hit the right hand little ringlet on the outside of the metal cap on the aft end of our mainsail boom. Being an aluminium casting, the force had taken it clean off and with it the whole cap and the mainsheet block.

It took us no time to replace the end cap and continue towards St Malo; the little ring that was broken was not essential. We tried in the city to get another one made but soon realised this would need to be ordered from a boatyard in the UK. After two days in St Malo …….

Aerial view of the beautiful city of Saint Malo in Brittany, France

………. made our way back to The Solent. We caught the edge of a gale off The Needles and came creaming in through the narrows by Hurst Castle under a storm Jib and no mainsail and sailed up to Bosham. A few days later we tied up in our home marina after an eventful cruise!

Richard 29th January 2021

PS If you are in the area, visiting Mount St Michael for instance, go and see St Malo

This chart show Jersey at the top, The Minquiers and St Malo at the bottom. Mount St Michael is in the right hand bottom corner.

If you can’t go, read the very atmospheric novel ‘All the Light We Cannot See’ by Anthony Doerr, about a blind French girl and a young German boy; set in World War Two in St Malo.

Note 1 In 1991 I was a passenger in a car in rush hour traffic in Canberra, Australia. Ahead an overtaking car was approaching at speed; a head-on collision seemed inevitable. We went one way, they chose the other and the only damage was our passenger-side mirror which was ripped off.

Note 2 The ‘right of way’ when sailing is given to the yacht whose sails are over the port side ie with the wind over the starboard side. We were completely at fault – although the other yacht didn’t see us either!

PC 214 Saints & Sinners

In the United States on November 5th last year, the results of their Presidential Election became clear. Most Americans believe they are the focus of the world, so some news channels factually reported that the BBC Evening News showed fireworks displays over London. Surely this was a little over the top in recognition of the Presidential Election result? Fortunately viewers flooded the switchboards with comments that in the UK we celebrate Guy Fawkes’ Night on 5th November ….. with fireworks. Whilst there is no reason to export this particular festival, we do seem to have imported an American one, Halloween, with all its attendant party-focus, ‘trick or treat?’ and the association with summoning the dead.

In fact Halloween is short for All Hallows’ Eve and a ‘hallow’ is a saint. So it should be considered as a time of remembrance of individuals whose life or actions were an inspiration and who ‘made a difference’. But all individuals are flawed and have times of both greatness and lapses; what counts is being honest about both – ‘so on balance he or she was ….. ?’ Got me thinking about saints and the opposite pairing, sinners. Bit like those themed parties in the 70s Saints & Sinners, Vicars & Tarts etc.

Sadly, fundamental Christians are taught to believe that all of humanity is born with a built-in urge to do bad things! They believe that ‘original sin’ stems from Adam & Eve’s disobedience to God. The idea of the poor innocent baby ‘born with original sin’? Give me a break! The little mite’s taken its first breath and already it has been infected by the sins of previous generations; if it develops a tendency to commit sinful acts so be it, but give it a chance!

Ah! ‘Sinful Acts’! My last PC focused in part on the number 7 and Simon reminded me there are seven deadly sins. Reading them today you wonder how they could have become such an important part of Christian belief; pride, greed, lust, envy, gluttony, wrath and sloth. I guess the problem lies in the translation of these feelings into inappropriate actions. Or do they really believe that thinking in an envious way, for instance, is in itself a sinful act? Only if you tell someone what you’re thinking maybe? Of course Christians have their own set of guidelines in the Ten Commandments, the urging ‘Thou shalt not ……’. So if you can’t ……. what could you do to be saintly?

A Biblical saintly group

I read that if you live in the following way – putting God first, forming a plan for your life, clearing out distractions, living modestly, being humble, avoiding temptation, leaning on friends and family and living in the moment – you could be on the right path! A recent example of the making of a saint is Cardinal John Newman 1801-1890 who, after a period as an Anglican priest, at the age of 44 joined the Catholic Church. He became a cardinal and in October 2019 was declared a saint by Pope Francis; the first ‘saint’ who wasn’t martyred in 500 years. So Catholics have made him a saint, but he admitted to being gay, something the church doesn’t accept! So does that make him a sinner as well? Certainly some Protestants labelled him a sinner for having joined the other side! I think it makes him human. Having never written about saints before, they are obviously a bit like buses, definitely in vogue! (Note 2)

Neither the Catholics nor Protestant churches have an unblemished record, a saintly history. Most recently the Irish State’s report on the way children of unmarried woman were treated over decades is an absolute sin. There are no saints here: how can you hide under the cloth of religion and believe sincerely you are doing good, when it’s obvious to anyone with a degree of common sense and decency you are not?

I said earlier that it’s the translation of emotion into acts that cause the problem. Islam teaches that sin is an act and not a state of being and that God weighs an individual’s good deeds against their sins to see which direction you go at the end! (Note 1)

In the run up to Christmas there was a huge effort on a radio station Classic FM to find by popular vote the most loved carol. For most it’s a mixture of memory, of tune, of ability to sing (too high, too low), of words that resonate and are memorable. Drawn to the predictability of the well-known, whether you necessarily agree with the words, the whole experience can be uplifting. For me, “For All the saints, who from their labours rest, who thee by faith before the world confess” to the tune Sine Nomine by Ralph Vaughan Williams ticks all the boxes.

It was recommended we should watch a Netflix series called Fauda; so being an obliging couple we have started Series One and are now midway through series two. Made in the Middle East it’s a story of conflict as old as the sand; the fight by Palestinians for a ‘homeland’ and of Israeli resistance. It’s badly dubbed from its original Hebrew and Arabic – but you get used to that. What I find amazing is, if the translation in the subtitles is reasonably accurate, the constant evoking of God to help whoever is making the plea. I am beginning to wonder whether this is a cop-out for personal responsibility.

You want to get hold of this man and ……?.

And in the fight against the pandemic, today’s saints must be those health workers, the doctors and nurses, the care workers and ward cleaners who work on our behalf. Conversely the sinners must be those who protest, who create and broadcast conspiracy theories and argue against vaccinations; particularly those who harass and abuse those NHS workers as they come into the hospital. They need to be taken in to the ICU ……. and have their faces shoved into the exposed virus fight.

I read the other day that there are no saints in Judaism but a similar recognition of special individuals. These 36 special people, the lammed vavniks (literally ‘the thirty six’), sustain the world through their righteousness. What I adore about this tradition is the fact that no one knows who they are, not even those who belong to this elite group, and when one of them passes away, another arises to take their place and keep the number at 36. (Why 36? Why not?). So you could be one of ‘the 36’, given that those who are don’t know they are and don’t recognise others of this select band. All very magical and delightfully intangible; almost saintly!

Richard 22nd January 2021

Note 1 After PC 213’s focus on the number 7, Meryl told me that Muslim pilgrims completing the Hajj must circle the Ka’aba seven times in a sign of completeness.

Note 2 In TODAY’s Times, two stories about saints!! First the announcement that Elizabeth Prout, a Manchurian Victorian nun, has been given the title ‘venerable’; this is the third step out of five on the road to sainthood. Another chap being made venerable today is Jérôme Lejeune for his work on the genetic basis for Down’s syndrome and especially for his anti-abortion stance. He died in 1994.

PC 213 7 Up!

Just to get it out of the way, this PC is not about a carbonated drink popular in the last century, 7 Up! First marketed in 1919, this lemon-lime-flavoured non-caffeinated drink became a staple for the soft drinks industry.

The easily recognised green can

It’s thought the name referred to the seven ingredients, namely carbonated water, sugar, citrus oils, citric acid, sodium citrate and lithium citrate. The brand’s owner, Keurig Dr Pepper, announced in May 2020 they would no longer produce the drink due to falling demand; interesting, as fizzy drinks account for some 34% of the UK soft drinks market – the market leader Coca-Cola had sales of £176m in 2018.

There is a theme though, around the number 7. A Prime Number, Seven is a favourite digit: ‘The Seven Wonders of the World’ for instance (why 7?); God worked for 6 days to create the world and rested on the 7th; the business guide chose ‘7 Habits of Highly Effective People’ – why not 6 or 8? In ‘As You like It.’ William Shakespeare wrote about the seven ages of man (and woman); “All the world’s a stage” and “One man in his lifetime plays many parts – his acts being seven.” Shakespeare was born in 1564, some 30 years after the foundation of the Jesuits, which today is the largest Catholic Order of Man and has its first Jesuit Pope, Francis. A well-known Jesuit saying is “Give me a child until he is seven, and I will give you the man.” And it may have been this that was the inspiration of one of the first reality TV programmes.

In 1964 an Australian TV Producer working in London, Tim Hewat, tasked Michael Apted to find a set of children that reflected the class make-up of Britain and interview them about their hopes and fears, their aspirations and ambitions ……. and of course uncover what actually happens! It’s been suggested this was almost the first Reality TV Show.

Michael Apted 1941 – 2021

The programme, Seven Up, made such an impact that it was decided to re-interview the group every seven years. ‘Sixty Three Up’ was broadcast in 2019 and featured the remaining 11 active cast members. Last week Michael Apted died aged 79. He apparently regretted he only had 4 girls in his original cast of 14, acknowledging that “The biggest social revolution in my life has been the change of the role of women in society.”

Some of the participants in 63 Up! with their 1964 photographs

For those who avidly followed the series, there were some surprises as well as some predictability about the way the fourteen lives unfolded. I suspect you my readers collectively cover those Shakespearean seven ages and, as you read my little notes, will no doubt reflect where you are on these seven year steps; what you were doing when you were 7, or 21, or 42 or what you are doing now? Did it feature in your thoughts as a seven year old?

My own life could compress into these stages somehow, inevitably in an extremely sketchy outline. I predated the first Seven Up programme by 11 years; my first 7 Up would have been in 1953.  I was living with my mother and brother in the servants’ accommodation in the top of 15 Royal Crescent in Bath, a glorious Roman and Georgian city. (See PCs 164 & 165) My grandmother played the piano …….

…….. and her husband was an Ophthalmic Optician who had a practice on the ground floor. My parents had divorced and my mother made hats to make ends meet. I came back from school one afternoon to find a goldfish had jumped out of the tank and my mother was too squeamish to pick it up!

14 Up – 1960 I remember a romantic notion of wanting to be a farmer, although I knew no one who farmed! Boarding schools in Somerset and Wiltshire. Found difficulty finding my feet. My brother was at the same school and I was naturally ‘minor’! Athletics in the summer; the CCF; “A from Andromeda” on a black and white TV the highlight of a Saturday night;  a school swimming pool fed from a spring; Elvis on the record player.

The seven years from 14 to 21 are quite naturally the most interesting to look back on from a developmental point of view. Growing physically, growing emotionally and growing mentally! But in one hundred words?

21 up – 1967 Growing in confidence as a person, although always finding academic life challenging. Played and enjoyed Rugby; played and enjoyed the trumpet. O and A levels – What to do? I wanted to be an architect but that profession was going through one of its cyclical downturns so got selected for Officer Training. Hitchhiked through Europe one summer. Drove to Greece with 5 others in 1965 before joining Sandhurst. Pushed from pillar to post; grew from schoolboy into young adult. Commissioned in July 1967.

28 Up – 1974 Periods in the Army in Germany interspersed with three years at University. Sailing in The Baltic and in Sardinia. 

Racing to Bermuda 1976

35 Up – 1981 Married. Daughter Jade born 1980. Raced from Tenerife to Bermuda. Operational tours in Northern Ireland. Bought first house.

Commanded 43 Air Defence Battery (Lloyd’s Company) RA 1982-1984

42 Up – 1988 Left the Army after 20 years. Divorced. Living in London. Working for Short Brothers. Two weeks out of four abroad. Read Florence Scovel-Shinn’s The Game of Life and How to Play it.

Such an inspiring book

49 Up – 1995 Redundancy in 1991 very cathartic. Lived in Canberra Australia for four months. Worked for Morgan &Banks, a Recruitment and Outplacement Company in London.

56 Up – 2002 Started my own business coaching company The Yellow Palette in 1996

63 Up 2009 Had a rescue Labrador, my beautiful Tom. March 2009 started hot yoga

70 Up 2016 Married again; moved to Hove in 2012. Hot Yoga becomes a daily ritual. Started writing what became Post Card Scribbles in 2014.

Back to ‘Seven Up’. The assumption driving the episodes was that the social class into which the children was born would create obvious winners and losers. In fact they have showed that achievement, fortune and contentment are influenced by more fundamental things than class. They showed that our lives unfold through both circumstance and our own choices and it’s up to us what we make of them. We all have a choice!

Richard 15th January 2021

PC 212 Gardening – Evolutions

Growing up as a teenager, my abiding memory of my step-father Philip was him sitting on his Atco mower, virtually every weekend in the summer, both Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning, mowing, his pipe clenched between his teeth and a white hat to prevent sunburn. There was a great deal of lawn at Orchards, a white house in Balcombe just 30 minutes north of here (see PC 58 Going Home) and it required a great deal of time and effort to look stunning. A huge labour of love if ever there was one but I vowed never to find myself in a similar situation!

My own first house was a Victorian cottage in Fleet, Hampshire. The garden was no gem; my only contribution was collecting lots of stone from a quarry on the road to Gloucester which I formed into a rockery. My green fingers didn’t stretch too far and, after a couple of years, it still looked like a pile of stones dropped by some alien. It might have looked better if I had fashioned a little sign: “Alas! Here Lies Poor Fido.”

I became more creative when I moved into a lower-ground flat near Clapham Common, London in 1987. There was no garden in the traditional sense but I ‘owned’ the extremely narrow space between the enormous house and a very tall wall, over which lay the Cavendish Road Police Station. The previous occupant had planted a couple of shrubs and left a dilapidated rotten old shed; the owner of the large rear garden had right of access. Sunlight was at a premium given the shade produced by the towering brickwork and on a good day it only got about four hours.

The first and only time I have built a wall!!

Lacking the money to get someone else, I built a six foot wall of old brick at the rear. Every evening I came back from work and mixed some mortar and cement, and laid a course or two; it often rained! A proper bricklayer would have taken a day; I took ages but it’s still standing 40 years later! I completed the space with some raised flower beds, laid a brick floor and built a pergola that soon became covered in Passion Flower, whose fruits were delicious.

The new pergola with Passion Flower plants.

I love the sound of running water so created a cascade down some steps that led from a blocked-in door; at the bottom was a little pond with a pump. What I hadn’t factored in was the amount of evaporation the flow over nine steps would create. On a hot day I needed to have a hose constantly topping up the pond!!

The outside privy reduced to rubble

My Victorian terrace house in Bramfield Road, Battersea, had a 16ft x 16ft south facing space. When I bought it, the outside privy a previous owner had used as a space for their washing machine was still standing and, in another corner, stood a leaky world war two air-raid shelter, built of reinforced concrete and engineering bricks.

Having demolished both structures, I created a pond for Wanda, and planted a vigorous climbing Clematis Apple Blossum against the back wall. Along a side wall some embedded Tracheospermum Jasminoides, once established, produced lovely small white flowers with a heavenly scent.

Conversion complete! Our Amber House rear patio with steps up to the communal grass (Oct 2012)

The west-facing garden of Amber House is ‘communal’ – ie owned by the freeholder (Southern Housing Group (SHG)) but available for use by the twelve apartment owners. It didn’t take me long to realise that the wind off the sea carries a lot of salt and plants which would normally have thrived, shrivel and die. We have a little patio space so started with pots on the steps and, at the same time, planted some Tracheospermum Jasminoides and some Apple Blossom Clematis alongside the fence. The Clematis lasted10 months before giving up!

Our lease is covered in ‘catch-all’ clauses, including ‘no gardening’!! Hoping the landlord wouldn’t object. I tried my luck, putting in some roses, a hydrangea, planting a row of lavender and a broom which has gorgeous yellow flowers in the spring. The deafening silence from the landlord encouraged me to be bolder with this garden evolution, for next door in an exact mirror image, Gilmour House’s garden remains, to this day, a bare stretch of grass. For the first three years a contractor cut the grass – often with a strimmer! Then the chap took most of a little Ceanothus shrub off! Strimmed to an inch of its life, it needed A&E! I took the bottom off a plastic pot and placed it over the stub and packed some compost around it, a sort of temporary ICU! Eventually it got big enough to move and now is a well-established shrub.

Beginning to take shape (2014)

In discussions with the landlord’s estate manager I suggested I could mow the lawn myself. “No you can’t, because the lawn is owned by us and you would not be covered by our insurance!” Then he had a brilliant idea; I could become a ‘volunteer’ for SHG – so I went through the endless form-filling required, completed a risk-assessment and, having had suitable training to use a mower, with the appropriate protective clothing, we have ditched the contractor and I do it. Yes! I know, why would I volunteer to mow the lawn after my teenage memories of Philip?

Circa 2018

Reasonably confident now that the landlord will no longer object, I have added some trellis in one corner for a honeysuckle and another for roses at the far end. It’s rare for the other occupants of Amber House to use the garden as the sea is a mere two hundred metres away and most people head that way; however I have put up a little bench for those who wish to sit.

A passion flower bloomed and then died and the climbing hydrangea over the Bicycle shed struggles. I have come to appreciate that grey leafed plants and grasses do well in this marine environment. The latest evolution of the Amber House garden was to install three vertical mirrors partly covered in hessian.

Philip would have been amused.

Richard 8th January 2021

PS If Dave the electrician comes back to me (?) I hope to have a few garden lights by the end of this month.

PC 211 Off Arromanches (……. continued …. see PC 209)

Asking Kevin, both mate and the yacht’s mate and the most competent of my crew, to take the wheel I headed below. Sure enough there was about two inches of sea water washing around; lifting a board confirmed the bilges were full and it wasn’t simply water off crew oilskins. (Note 1). My heart started to beat faster as the crew expected me to sort it out!

I turned on the electric bilge pump; nothing happened. I shouted to John in the cockpit to find the manual pump, to make sure the tube was out of the locker and to start pumping. My mind began to fill with a thousand things I should do …… and they were all ‘NOW’! Where’s the pump? Saucepans please! Put a position on the chart, note in the log. Where are the flares? Is the life raft easily ready? What about life jackets? I had never felt the necessity of always wearing a life jacket on a yacht – but sense these days with smaller less-bulky ones available that might be an out-dated practice. But I knew down over the lee rail was the coast of Arromanches, with its rocky shallow foreshore extending far from the beach and we were on a falling tide. (Note 2) “Oh! Shit! The club’s flagship might go aground! Explain that to the Committee!” Then at last the first and only important question: “Why was there water inside?”

The crew formed a saucepan chain (you know what I mean!) and bailing began. Waves were breaking over the bow and it was unpleasant below and on deck. I needed to get the yacht in a more stable state so took the helm, brought the bow through the wind without changing the jib sheets and hove to. Wonderful! Suddenly the movements lessened and there was less noise.

Rudder tries to turn the yacht towards the wind; wind on the foresail resists

I hope none of you have had to heave to in an emergency; I certainly hadn’t before but had demonstrated the technique to those learning to sail. I had likened the sails to two hands around a bar of soap. Squeeze – tighten the sails and the wind has to accelerate through the narrower slot – the soap and it shoots out – and the boat moves forward. When you take the bow through the direction of the wind, and leave the foresail untouched, the mainsail and rudder try to move the boat forward and the headsail resists. The yacht simply sits, slightly head to wind, and if the sail areas are well balanced, hardly moves.

I have sailed on many wooden yachts that let water in, as the planking opened a millimetre or two beating hard to wind. The 30 sqm and 50 sqm yachts at the British Kiel Yacht Club (see PC 106) were particularly wet below and it was essential to have all your spare clothes and sleeping bag wrapped in black rubbish bags to keep them dry! But St Barbara III’s hull was made of GRP (Glass Reinforced Plastic) – God help us if we had somehow cracked the hull on some high bounce as we left the harbour!

Dismissing this nasty idea, my thoughts then turned to the anchor stowage. A more stable yacht meant less water was breaking over the bow ….. and finding its way below! I knew from experience that if the Kedge Anchor was not exactly positioned in its locker, with even a centimetre proud, the hatch cover would not fit and lock properly and water would seep in, and in rough conditions flood in. Turning on the foredeck lights, I took Hew with me and, clipping on at each stage, we made our way up to the bow.

Generic ‘anchor stowage’

Sure enough, we could make out the anchor locker lid was not flush with the deck. In their haste and in the pouring rain, coping with a pitching deck as we motored out through the harbour entrance, the foredeck crew hadn’t got the anchor properly stowed. It took Hew and I about 5 minutes to get it fitted properly and, as we made our way back to the cockpit, we hoped that the level of water on board would begin to reduce. After ten minutes that was noticeable and there was much relief all around.

I was a bit of a stickler for writing up both the daily log and the journal so, as we set a revised course for The Solent and Gosport, wrote up both whilst the emotion was running! Somewhere in the archives of the Royal Artillery Yacht Club are that log and the journal entries.

Google Earth showing The Solent, with the Isle of Wight on the bottom left and the entrance to Portsmouth top left

As is often the case when sailing, conditions can change quite rapidly. From our rough start from Trouville in a Force 7, the wind had gradually decreased as we crossed The Channel. We shook the rolls out of the mainsail and changed up to the No 1 Jib.  Abeam of the Nab Tower, the wind dropped completely, the sea strangely calm and the last few miles were made under engine. 

The Nab Tower at the entrance to The Solent

It was quite a relief to tie up alongside the pontoon in the Gosport Marina mid-afternoon and switch off – in every sense!

Richard New Year’s Day 2021

PS A Very Happy New Year to all my readers

Note 1 Gallows Humour is often part of a crisis and this was no exception!  I was reminded of part of Tales of Old Dartmoor, a radio sketch from The Goon Show (February 1956). To cut to the chase (It’s all on You Tube so if you have never listened to it, do so!) Dartmoor prison had somehow become HMS Dartmoor, a floating prison ship (!), and the crew were looking for the ‘treasure of the Count of Monte Cristo’. Rumour had it it lay under the floor of Cell 626. They lifted a flagstone.

“Ah! Look! Water.”

 “Salt Water!”

 “Look! There’s more of it! It’s coming in.”

Note 2. After reading PC 209 Jonathan sent me this photograph of his great uncle Harold Hickling briefing Churchill at the Mulbery Harbours off Arromanches. June 1944