My sailing has had a very late start this year due to illness and injury, so I was absolutely delighted to finally get out on the water last weekend, and then get involved in a rescue (of sorts) within an hour of casting off!
Friday night was dark and stormy, and I spent a lot of it in the bar at the Fareham Sailing and Motor Boat Club chatting to Bob, whose large centre-cockpit cruiser was on the club pontoon next to Tammy. He mentioned his ideas about circumnavigating Europe, and I told him about the Rhine-Main-Danube canal and my ideas for a trip through the Black Sea. “So I’m not the only one who thinks about these things!” he said.
No indeed. Next summer I hope to be in the Jester Azores Challenge, which means I’ll wind up in the Azores. Rather than heading straight back, perhaps I could sail in to the Med. Even more ambitious, my friend Tan has just taken up a research post at Eilat. Could I sail through the Suez Canal and round to Eilat? And then back via the Bosphorus and Danube, finally popping out at Rotterdam? Maybe, maybe.
On Saturday morning I waited for my friend Chris to join me on board. I finally rang him at 10:00 and caught him still in bed! It was too late for him to join me before his work, so I set off solo. I made a couple of turns up and down Fareham Creek with Tammy being knocked over by 30kt gusts through the trees and buildings on the bank. It was great to be back on board, great to feel her move, and to be able to deal instantly with the changing wind in a tight space thanks to the ease of handling of the junk rig.
Then I set off downstream into Portsmouth Harbour proper.
Tammy never fails to turn heads, and I greeted people as I passed. One chap seemed particularly interested, standing in the cockpit of his moored cruiser. Just as I passed he called out “Can I have a lift? I’ve dropped my paddle!”
This confused and intrigued me and I tacked back up towards him. He gestured at the kayak on tied to the yacht’s rail. It wasn’t his yacht at all! He was out in his kayak, had dropped and lost his paddle, and it’d been quickly blown away on the persistent 20kt winds. I invited him aboard and we tethered his kayak to the stern.
His paddle was likely on the mud downwind, but we couldn’t see it. The falling tide would’ve stranded Tammy for some hours if we went over to look. “Don’t worry,” he said, “I’ve got another one on my boat. Can you take me there?”
“Of course! I’m only out here mucking about. It’s no problem at all.”
So we beat our way back up against wind and tide towards the Royal Navy Sailing Association pontoons. There he showed me his rather magnificent steel cruiser and made me tea. He’d sailed her back from the Algarve and has been working on her for the past three years. She’s just the kind of boat I was thinking of when I was thinking of a larger boat.
Satisfied that Dave was no longer in mortal peril I set off back downwind towards Portsmouth and Gosport, borrowed someone else’s buoy within sight of Gunwharf Quay for a rest, and then caught the flood tide back up to Fareham.
What a lovely day!