Autumn 2005
AGM, Prize Giving and Party
Annual Dinner
Christmas Is Acoming
Bewl Water in August
News of Members
Palm Court
Regatta, Jazz & BBQ
Richard Does It Again
Sail Training Manual
Sailing Secretary Report
Salcombe Sojourn
Social Calendar
South in a Westerly
Teddington Theatre Group
Twelve Days Of Christmas
Ugly Ducklings
Upstream Launching Ramp
Web Site
Winter Reminders
Working Party

South in a Westerly
   Lyn's cousin Paul runs Hamble Yacht Services out of the Mercury Marina at the head of the Hamble River. Paul had been on at me to go sailing with him for some time. Due to circumstances I'd never been able to make it but at a recent family funeral we again discussed getting away. Paul explained he wanted to relocate his 10m Westerly 330 Regatta from its mooring on the Hamble to Cherbourg for a holiday and needed a crew to help him take it over.
   Three weeks later we met at Paul's place in Hamble and were joined by another Mike. Mike Godwin also has a yacht at the Mercury and is a great friend of Paul's and had also been recruited. When we arrived we found that the Westerly had already been moved on to the holding pontoon and was ready to go (i.e. there was plenty of beer and wine onboard).
   I got a quick orientation tour and we cast off. Paul's boat turned out to be quite an Aladdin's cave of technology. INGPS Satnav linked to George, the self steering gear (should you want to use it). Multi distance radar, two radios and every conventional and digital instrument you ever heard of.
   I was fascinated by the nav system which looked a bit like those you see on modern passenger aircraft entertainment screens. Alterations could be made in real time to way points and to compensate for wind and tide and the whole thing was rather like an aquatic video game.
   Most of the instruments also displayed at the helm station repeater and all the rigging and sail sheeting came onto the coaming above the hatch to the cabin. The guys and halyards all ran through individual muscle boxes and they and the sails sheeting could be led onto one of the six selftailing winches.
   Below there were berths for 6-7 people in three cabin areas. The main cabin also housed a very well laid out galley and a high tech nav station.
The head was aft on the starboard side, balanced on the port side by the 'Captain's cabin'. Everything was varnished teak and was in tiptop condition.
   The run down the Hamble into Southampton Water was done under mainsail and 20hp diesel engine but once we got out into The Solent the genoa was unfurled and got underway. I kept pestering Paul and Mike to keep the sails 'trimmed' and several times had the leeward rail awash. We ran down to Hurst Castle, tacked and passed The Needles away on our port side. Paul set up the course and we sailed out into The Channel.
   The sea was very calm and initially we made good progress at about 5-6 knots; But after three or four hours the wind fell away and we stowed the foresail and started the engine. The rest of the trip across was fairly uneventful apart from dodging the odd freighter. I've never seen the sea so calm, at times it looked like black oil with the moon-light playing across it in silver; it was when we got outside Cherbourg that the fun started.
   We arrived at daybreak (about 4:30 i'sh). We could see the harbour entrance about five miles away but as we cruised in a really thick fog bank appeared out of nowhere and engulfed us. Mike went to the nav station, Paul took the helm and I went right up into the bow. I could only just see Paul 10m or so behind me. We edged into the outer harbour to the sound of fog horns all around us. Other yacht horns were easily recognized but the much deeper horns of the commercial, military and ferry traffic was a worry and they were very close to us. Obviously a lot of the boats were waiting for the fog to lift before attempting the inner harbour.
   Below Mike was 'playing' with the INGPS Satnav display when suddenly a detail of the harbour came up with 'us' clearly showing in the middle together with direction. Paul decided to trust it and we headed for the inner wall with yours truly calling out course changes as other traffic appeared out of the fog. It became apparent that a lot of yachts and power boats were circling including one of the 'tall ships', in Cherbourg for the Bastille Day celebrations.
   After an hour or so we entered the inner harbour and things were no better. Mike continued to call out heading and distance but because of the traffic we couldn't always follow his navigation instructions. It was very crowded; obviously a lot of boats had arrived for the French holiday weekend.
   Then, ahead of us, I spotted some moored up yachts. This turned out to be the holding pontoon just outside the marina entrance. We moored temporarily on this while we got our bearings.
   All of a sudden, and after nearly two hours, the fog cleared ahead and there was the yacht marina off our port bow. Almost immediately a harbour master Gemini appeared alongside and directed us to the visitor's pontoon and moorings. To say we were glad to get in would be an understatement, especially as we could still hear fog horns bellowing in the outer harbor.
   After spending another day with the boat during which we walked around Cherbourg and had a look at the 'Tall Ships' and their crew displays, Mike and I had to catch the ferry back to Portsmouth. The sea was still like a mill pond and we made excellent time.
   Mike's going back in three weeks time to help bring the Westerly home but I will be up at Ullswater for the SigneT Nationals. We all agreed to do it again sometime, and I must say I can't wait. Racing dinghies are one thing but sailing a 10m is a whole different ballgame!
Mike (Over Easy) Baker