A public meeting to discuss current and future matters related to the
tidal Thames will be held at London Rowing Club, Putney Embankment on
Thursday 8 October. Anyone interested in the work and activities of the
PLA or developments on the tidal Thames in general is welcome to
attend. Start 18.30 with tea/coffee and biscuits available from 18.15.
Delicious ice-cold, fruity, blond beer, steaming pots of fresh mussels cooked in white wine with onions and celery, perfectly fried chips dipped in garlicky mayonnaise, and pancakes (pannenkoek) met slagroom (cream) yes, really!
Kate Newman, sailing on Charles Whittams Westerly Fulmar 'Shadow' reports from the 2009 Round the Island Race which took place on 20 June.
The weather was variable but mostly fair for this years Round the Island race run by the Island Sailing Club and once more sponsored by JP Morgan Asset Management. The weather briefing was packed and lively on the eve of the race and I spotted our president, Sir Robin Knox-Johnston in the crowd by the bar. Sir Robin was competing on his Volvo Open 60, 'Grey Power'. On the day, the start line was a bit tough to pinpoint what with all the boats jostling for position and what seemed like a very short start line. At our 0830 start there were about 200 entrants so just over a metre each at the line.
The wind was very light until we were half way down the Western Solent so the whole fleet was very compressed compared to last year. Once round the Needles we had a long downwind spinnaker run right round to Bembridge Ledge with a couple of urgent gybes on the way. It was an amazing sight to see all the different coloured spinnakers and some were on the point of broaching as the swell built up near St Catherines point and for a couple of miles further east.
With the decision to leave No Mans Fort out of the marks of the course, a large number of boats decided to keep the fort to starboard and try their luck with Ryde Sands. Some with great success, some with less success like the Ryde - Portsmouth Cat which got stuck attempting to avoid all the entrants, plus at least another five or six yachts that we could see. The challenge on the Eastern Solent was to get clean air and avoid the adverse tide two opposing challenges to try to balance.
Due to the number of boats competing, there were two finish lines, a South and a North finish, both east of the Prince Consort Cardinal. Broken up by a large central committee boat, the final leg was painful as we needed to tack a number of times to ensure we laid and made the line correctly. The wind was dying and compounded by the adverse tide the approach to the finish was frustratingly slow.
Overall it was a longer day than we had hoped for, over 11 hours on the water, but exhilarating and fun to have taken part in what is a well-organised yearly spectacle.
There were at least 10 Little Ship Club skippered boats taking part in the race, as well as Sir Robin Knox-Johnston in Grey Power. 'Shadow' was best-placed of the IRC rated boats, coming 182nd with a corrected time of 10.01.05. Barrie Martins 'Day at the Races' was 192nd with a time of 10.04.02. In the ISC rated section, Cabriole III', skippered by Simon Aubrey-Jones came 244th ahead of 'Wings of Pegasus', Roger Garlicks boat, which was 457th.
IRC rated boats
Shadow (Charles Whittam) 182nd
A Day at the Races (Barrie Martin) 192nd
Batfish III (Bill Blain) 216th
Jazzy Jellyfish (Ben Few-Brown) 340th
Arvika (Mike Gorvett/Carol Day) 453rd
Sunny (David Ives) 448th
ISC rated boats
Cabriole III (Simon Aubrey Jones) 244nd
Wings of Pegasus (Roger Garlick) 457th
CeAire (Guy Kingsbury) 515th
Mary Lunn (Robin Whaite) 664th
The chief trophy (Gold Roman Bowl) is specifically for IRC rated boats, of which there were 583 starters altogether, split between four start groups based on handicap (faster boats start first).
The second "main" trophy (Silver Gilt Roman Bowl) is awarded to the first boat in the ISC (Island Sailing Club) handicap class, which is for cruisers which do not hold an IRC rating (IRC rated boats are not allowed to enter in the ISC class).
Now is the time to get started with the camera to get those entries for
the 2009 photographic competition ready. There will be five categories
1. Atmospheric seascapes and inland waterways (static boats can
2. Making way sails, motoring and dinghies
3. The enjoyment of club rallies
4. Club members ashore and afloat(if three or fewer people in the shot, photographers must get their permission to enter)
5. Humour which must have a nautical theme and must not be
Closing date is the first Tuesday in November before Club supper. Late
entries are not accepted.
Anne Malcolm competition organiser
The Club will be offering bento boxes, club sandwiches and burgers at
lunchtime from May for those who want to eat but dont wish to dine
formally. Head to Bell Wharf Lane one lunchtime and try them out!
We could have called this blog "How to make an interesting story out of 2,022 miles of featureless ocean"
The Owl (Anthony Mason), in charge over all, with particular responsibility for heads and rubbish bins, and stopping the crew doing stupid things to themselves.
The Pussycat (Celia Mason), in charge of everything else, and particularly valued for her detailed knowledge of the store cupboards.
Ships Artist (Miggie Wyllie), to be found at the saloon table at all hours, recording impressions of wind and waves.
Ships Siren (Rachel Hedley), named at first for her honking cough and cold, but metamorphosing into a mermaid as the trip and the tan progress.
Gentleman Gin (Jim Wyllie), who gets twitchy at midday and 6 pm, before drinks are served. Doubles as the Cabin Boy, when theres brass to be polished.
Thursday 4th December
C: We are off! Re-vittled, re-crewed, revived, watered and slept; Tomia loaded down with spares lugged out by our long-suffering friends; final phone calls made and emails sent, there is nothing more to stop us.
We left Mindelo in a rollicking wind, the Owl steering. We curved around the bottom of the island of Santo Anto, littered with mini volcanoes, as pustulant as a teenagers chin. At 12.51, we recorded boat speed of 9 knots flying along. Barbados, here we come!
By mid-afternoon, we were in the wind shadow of the island, and the log reports, rather tersely: Wind all over the place. Engine on. Over the next four hours, the wind faffed and we fiddled, until we got well clear of Santo Anto, the wind settled down, and we got the main out onto the starboard gybe, where it may remain for several days.
The first 24 hours of any passage are always rather fractured and awkward. We and the crew even more are finding our sea legs, dealing with sea-sickness, remembering how to move and work on a boat that is constantly and unpredictably moving. Anthony and I are briefing the crew, trying to get a balance between giving them all the information they need for their first night at sea, and not overwhelming them with facts or appearing too downright dictatorial. The crew, however experienced, are getting to grips with a new boat, finding hand-holds, working out how to use the heads without getting catapulted all over the place, understanding the chart plotter and the auto helm and the radar.
Our sleep is uneasy; the boat rolls, the sails frap, Anthony and I sleep with one ear open in case the crew should need help during their watches.
Friday 5 December
C: Sailing downwind in 10 15 knots of wind is exhilarating. Rolling around in 5 knots of wind which is aimlessly wandering about the compass, is quite exceptionally frustrating, especially when the seas are left over from yesterdays higher winds and are both large and confused. None of us have slept well, and the mood in the cockpit is fragile. We let out the mainsheet, try to pole out the yankee, get the spinnaker out, get the spinnaker down, and in desperation turn on the engine just to give us some steerage and stop the wallowing. We take refuge in our books, and Mondays UK papers.
Three hours later, the whole mood has changed; the wind filled in, and settled down from the east. Two bonitos were caught in quick succession the girls line was snaffled first, but the boys landed the biggest. The supper menu is revised in light of the fresh provisions.
We have opened a book on when we are going to arrive in Barbados. The pessimists (Ships Artist and the Pussycat) were taking a certain gloomy satisfaction about our slow progress, but now the optimists are feeling smug on the basis of our average 7 knots.
By the afternoon, the crew are really humming. They are all spotting things that need doing, cooking and washing up, keeping the deck log, and, best of all, we are all joining in the debate about how best to sail the boat. This is starting to feel like a team!
R: The Owl runs the generator, makes lots of water and heats it up and then announces we can all have showers. The crew is delirious with such a surfeit of creature comforts and all scrubbed and clean we enjoy our G&T moment in the cockpit feeling positive about the voyage ahead.
C: A small indicator that we are on a long passage: the fruit bowl has been emptied into the net above the galley, and refilled with a selection of vitamin pills, in case our diet becomes too restrictive.
Simon, the ships cat, has been joined by a stuffed tiger, called (inevitably) Richard Parker. Simon maintains his usual imperturbable sleep, while Richard Parker has a look of slightly apprehensive excitement. We will see who ends up eating whom.
Saturday 6 December
R: We have been taking down the spinnaker at night and using a poled-out yankee. Partly as everyone prefers this slightly less volatile rig at night and partly because raising and lowering the spinnaker gives the crew a late night and early morning workout. This mornings hoist was smooth and slick and done with great humour. Just as we were putting the world to rights in the cockpit the Owl spotted a dolphin fin and within minutes a pod of dolphins were playing around the bow circling, somersaulting in the water and jumping clear a little further off. Wonderful creatures which seem to relish the contact with this human-driven vessel.
Now that the crew are settling into the rhythm of the boat, we instigated a happy hour and spent it dusting, mopping and generally satisfying our Hyacinth Bouquet side. It is interesting in this stripped down life how one starts to relish having chores to do to break up the time between keeping watch, sailing the boat, making food and sleeping.
C: Lunch today was a gastronomic feast: a salad of fresh tuna, marinaded in lime, together with the bonito caught yesterday, fried in ginger and garlic flavoured oil, with coriander, freshly squeezed lime juice, and a dash of sesame oil. Followed by chunks of watermelon, straight out of the fridge. Thank you, Siren!
We were just wondering, in a self-congratulatory fashion, whether the food in Barbados would be as good, when we were brought down to earth by the sudden failure of the sparking gadget which lights the gas on the oven and hob. It turns out that this is one spare we dont carry
The top drawer in the galley reveals two part-full boxes of matches and one rather tired book from a nightclub, containing a total, after counting twice, of 18 matches, which works out at just over one a day. Mournfully, we contemplate our lockers groaning with a variety of delicious, but potentially forever cold, cans, and wonder if rice and pasta would become edible if soaked for long enough in water that was warmed all day on deck.
At 17.30 ships time, we crossed a landmark, 30 degrees west of Greenwich, which means turning the clocks back by an hour. Bad luck for the person on watch, whose watch is extended by an hour and for the rest of us, who have to wait an extra hour for our G&Ts.
35 minutes later, at 17.05, we achieve 300 miles. Only another 1,723 to go!
17.30. Gentleman Gin asks plaintively if, the clock having gone back, we have to wait a whole more hour until drinks are served.
18.15 On being told about the lighter crisis, the Pussycat, in her quartermaster role, casually opens a drawer with a further seven boxes of matches and three lighters. We are saved.
Sunday 7th December
C: The spinnaker is up, and the cabin boy is polishing the brass. What a crew! A special cushion is found in the bosuns locker for kneeling on when polishing brass. What a ship!
R: Today the Ships Artist is on galley duty. Our watch rota is working well. We decided to run 2 hour watches through day and night with the Galley Slave being out of the watch system during the day. We have also instigated a volunteer skivvy to assist the chef of the day. Its a good way of sharing out the fun jobs (oh yes, washing up is FUN here!) and we are also able to knock off and get our heads down, or read our books when not on watch.
As we turned the clock back an hour yesterday, our 24 hour run was read at 1100. 409.8 miles. We can see the quarter of the passage mark ahead of us sometime tomorrow. In between the hardwork: brass rubbing, cooking and sunbathing two books have been finished. The cabin boy waded through Lollipop Shoes and declared it over decorated. The Owl finished a Stephen King novel which he offered around to others with an Its rubbish codicil attached.
C: We are starting to live completely in the moment, and lose track of time. What day is it today? is an increasingly common wonder, as we all try to keep our diaries up to date. Personal space fluctuates in this tiny environment; we are learning to read each others body language, and the subtle signs which mean I am buzzing with interesting thoughts from last nights watch that I want to share with somebody or Go away, I am deep in my book and dont want to be disturbed. We can all find our little patch of space, which seems a mile away from the others, whether its on the aft deck, or writing at the saloon table.
The Pussycat is loving all these competent cooking crew members. It is the first time since Tomia left her home port that she hasnt been planning every meal.
Monday 8th December
The Pussycat, asleep in the foreward bunks, is awakened by thundering footsteps above, followed by shouts of yee hah! She wonders if a rodeo is taking place, but the wind has come in, the spinnaker is up, and we are doing 10.2 knots surfing down the waves.
Gentleman Gin is on galley duty for the first time, and mighty apprehensive he is too. He has sensibly being laying a stock of goodwill by washing up and making coffees, and now cashes it in all at once, getting advice on every aspect of the forthcoming ordeal.
The last of the fresh fish and meat has been eaten, so its cans from now on, unless the fish come and get caught.
Tuesday 9 December
C: The wind has fallen away, and we are making little progress under engine. The sea becomes progressively calmer, until it is almost smooth, and we can see Tomias reflection in the water. We decide to turn off the engine, and go for a swim. Some of us are rather nervous, not of the boat disappearing off, as we check very carefully that there is still one more person on board before jumping in how stupid one would feel to look round and say Oh, I thought you were going to stay on board as she sails off without us! but of a tentacle reaching up from the deep to caress our ankles.
In the end, we do all go in, in shifts, and the water is both wonderfully warm, and surprisingly silky on the skin. We put the lifebuoy out on a line so we can catch it if the boat drifts quicker than we can swim. The Pussycat swims out to the end of the line, looks at how far away the boat is, and returns at speed.
The wind gradually fills in towards the end of the day, and we get the cruising chute up.
Wednesday 10 December
C: A hot day. The wind fills slowly, coming aft, and the cruising chute is boomed out onto the main boom, with the jib poled out on the other side.
We see a ship! The first in a week. A vast solid lump, like two container ships welded together. It moves steadily southwest across our stern; we speculate that it may be carrying grain from the US to Africa. There is another boat sharing our world; a yacht which we can pick up on the radar, about six miles away. We catch occasional glimpses of her sails in daylight, and call her up on the VHF, but there is no reply. Ships that pass in the night has an increased resonance for us.
Thursday 11 December
C: The morning is clouded by two sadnesses: busting the cruising chute when getting it down, and a blockage in the aft heads, which casts a pall over the whole ship. The Owl has been tweaking at it all morning, and has just manfully gone back to the job after half an hour of fresh air in the cockpit during which the rest of the crew withdrew upwind to give him some space. At least we shall all know how to do colonic irrigation from now on. He and the Gentleman are now making innovative use of a bamboo pole and a drill bit.
The Ships Siren is on galley duty, and has put the bread on to rise. The beansprouts are sprouting.
The wind has freshened, so we are romping along at over 7 knots. The forecast is for the wind to strengthen over the next three or four days, up to 25 knots, so with a bit of luck it will have been too strong for us to use the cruising chute anyway.
R: The unblocking of the aft heads continues all day: the Owl and the Cabin Boy devise ever more interesting appliances as makeshift Dyna-rods. The ex-Commodores specially woven burgee proves the most useful as it is attached to a long bamboo pole which can have the end of a Phillips screwdriver embedded in it to chip away at the blockage. The Owl clips on and lowers himself over the stern to give the offending tube a final rinse in the sea. Before lowering himself down the bathing ladder he asks the cockpit ladies to run through their man overboard drill. Luckily there is no need to put it into practice.
By the end of the day the heads are functioning again and there is a collective sigh of relief all round.
Ships Siren has a superior skivvy in the form of the Pussycat, who makes an interesting concoction with condensed milk, bread and coconut, baked in the oven. Plaudits all round from the sweet-toothed, comfort-food loving crew. For our evening meal we go to India for a red-lentil curry, via Italy with some parmesan toasted artichoke hearts for starters and finishing off with a watermelon and papaya fruit salad. If we keep raising the food standards like this were going to be stretching our culinary imaginations to the limit by the end of the trip.
Friday 12th December
We reached the halfway mark at 0713 today 1,014 miles at the beginning of the 8th day at sea. The boat has been romping along at over six knots for the last 24 hours, giving a mileage of 142.1. A double cause for celebration, and the champagne, stashed in the fridge last night in anticipation of the halfway celebration, was brought out for a celebratory breakfast. Neptune was paid his due with the first glass being poured over, before we toasted the remainder of the voyage and remembered that halfway is still just halfway and the next celebration will be when we sight land.
The Dyna-rod teams clothes from yesterday are given a special wash, with Dettol taking the place of fabric conditioner.
The Artist takes a delicious, though slightly more ascetic, approach to food, which is probably good for us.
We have a fabulous sunset, maturing to vivid orange and mottled with clouds. The moon is full, and drifts back and forth behind the clouds, almost blanking out the stars entirely when it shines through. The Plough is now quite upside down.
The wind has got up, and we hope it has now settled in for a solid 10 20 knots for the rest of the journey. But the waves are causing us problems. These seas are not so much confused as totally bewildered; they come at us from all over the place, and, try as we might to keep her stern to the waves, Tomia is corkscrewing all over the place. None of us sleep well, despite lee cloths and a decent slug of Cointreau in the supper time orange salad.
Saturday 13th December
Well, today was just full of excitements. The biggest was when the impeller of the Duo-Gen, our towed generator, came off, dangling above a 4 kilometre drop. Luckily it was held on by its safety lines, but the Owl is mentally writing a severe note to the manufacturers about building in resistance to the sorts of strains to be expected on an ocean passage.
Then there was a fish, a great big fish on the end of our line. The atmosphere became quite pagan as the winch handle did its work, and everyone crowded round to get their share of blood on their clothes.
Mid-morning, we crossed 45W, which means the clock goes back another hour. Drinks and watches were adjusted accordingly.
On the culinary side, the Siren and the Pussycat have spent a large part of the past forty eight hours whispering sweet nothings to each other, in which the words last tin of condensed milk, ginger nuts, banana and chocolate chunks have featured considerably. The result is cooling in the fridge, next to the fish.
Then we did a bit of sail trimming, discovering, a little late, that in these seas, Tomias motion is much more comfortable if we do not pole out the jib, but set it on the same side as the main. Quartering seas from port can still heel her over, but her sails wont allow her to roll back, so she doesnt set up the corkscrewing motion which has not been lulling us to sleep. To run this rig, we have to set our course slightly south of the straight line to keep the sails full, so we decide to spend the daylight hours going north of our line, and then go south at night. This will add a few miles to our journey, but will be well worth it for a decent nights sleep all round.
Finally, we found a bit of chafe on the jib sheets where they have been poled out, so got the sail down, cut off the chafe, re-seized the sheet, re-tied it and got the sail back up again.
What with breakfast, elevenses, lunch, tea and gingercake, drinks and supper on top of sail trimming and changing, fish-catching and equipment-mending. you can see that we have very busy days! We just dont know what happens to the time.
Sunday 14 December
Today started with a bang. The Ships Artist was on watch in a flat calm, engine on, tiny bit of mainsail out. Then came a squall 35 knots of wind and a deluge of rain. The Cabin Boy was woken from his dreams of being a First Class Passenger with a jet of water on his face through the companion way. Hatches were hurriedly closed as the squall passed over leaving in its wake a lumpy sea which threw the boat backwards and forwards making sleep impossible.
The Pussycat, Ships Siren and Cabin Boy did their early morning workout with some reefing and unreefing practice, not all intentional. Finally we found a sail combination and course which put Tomias stern to the lumpy waves and made coffee time a possibility. The grey early morning cloud cover gave way to brilliant sunshine and opened up the possibility of some scientific suntanning later in the day. The spinnaker was hoisted for the first time in four days actually it was hoisted twice in quick succession, due to getting the halyard the wrong side of the forestay the first time and not just because the Siren and Cabin Boy needed another workout.
The Pussycat was on galley duty and drafted in the assistance of a superior sous-chef in the form of Ships Artist. They secreted themselves in the galley with much whispering and perusing of obscure cookery books. What on earth was cooking today? The waft of baking bread set the nostrils of those in the cockpit a-quiver. Luncheon was served a beansprout, white cabbage and carrot coleslaw which was devoured hungrily. Did it really take you four hours to knock that up? said the Cabin Boy sulkily. But this was Sunday lunch and there were more courses to come. Yesterdays fish had been finely filleted and slivered to make a glorious ceviche (Mexican dish of fish cooked in lime juice), served with individual bread rolls flavoured with dill. To round off the meal a fruit salad with freshly harvested strawberries grown under glass on the foredeck (we jest of course, but it was a superb melange of tinned fruit tarted up with cardamon and ginger-flavoured syrup).
The Owl declared his worry about cooking the next day and announced a back to basics cooking regime. The Cabin Boy volunteered to be Owls skivvy so they could lower the tone together. We all agreed that we needed to lower our expectations as the fresh ingredients are rapidly running out!
After lunch the Pussycat and Siren set about working hard on their tans only a few days to go to fill in the white bits before arrival in Barbados. The run this morning for the last 24 hours was 136.5 miles, a total of 1322.9 since leaving the Cape Verdes. The crew are starting to look forward to arrival, while being acutely aware of how far it is still to go. We sat in the cockpit in the cool of the evening with a canopy of stars above us until the moon rose in the sky obliterating all but the strongest. It feels a million miles away from the UK in December with all its Christmas hype and excess.
Monday 15th. December
Even before the ship was properly awake the cry of A fish rang out and the Owl started reeling in what looked like (and was) a whopper. The Cabin Boy wielded the gaff hook, Ships Artist and Siren wielded their cameras. The Pussycat took a mouthful of gin. We momentarily wondered whether she was developing an alcohol problem before she squirted it into the fishs gills. It is supposedly a quick and humane way to despatch the fish, but seemed to require a double dose or was the Owl feeling in need of an early morning snifter too? The fish was a good 7 or 8 pounds and measured 80cms, we started pondering fishy recipes this one will do two or three meals. The back to basics cooking day has been postponed. A beautiful fish he was too, bright yellow, tinged with blue which faded quickly as he died.
This mornings 24 hour run was 125.4 miles. We have less than 600 to go. The Cabin Boy is desperate to keep the boat speed up so he doesnt have to do another day in the galley.
Tuesday 16th December
It is odd how the knowledge that we are approaching our destination reduces our pleasure in the experience we are having. For the first two thirds or so, we all spent a lot of time in zen-like contemplation of the waves, the sky, the clouds. Now we are counting down the last 500 miles there is at times an impatience to be there, and get the last few days over with. The weather, of course, is deaf to these desires, and serves up not a lot of wind. We flew the spinnaker all day, but only averaged just over five knots.
In the morning we found a lump of fishing net had wound itself round the Duo-Gen, seizing the whole thing solid. The letter to the manufacturers now includes a paragraph about providing it with some form of guard rails. The net brought up a colony of finger-nail sized crabs, which were given the choice between flavouring a fish stock and going overboard, and made for the scuppers as one.
The night started off wonderfully full of stars, and we contemplated running the spinnaker through the hours of darkness, until a vivid electric storm a few miles away made us take the more cautious route. Were we the only people in the world to see this display?
Wednesday 17th December
Rain, and no wind. We all loved the experience of sitting out in the rain in our shorts and T shirts, and not minding being wet through. The Siren and the Pussycat, though, are concerned that they are missing out on a tanning day, and will arrive in Barbados with their tummies still white. The clocks go back one last time, and we are now on Barbados time.
We are getting close enough to start fantasising about the joys of land life; fresh pineapple and rum punch are top of the list, followed by dancing on the beach.
Another sign of progress: tonight will be the last time we need to download a 72 hour weather forecast!
Soon after the above was written, the wind died away almost completely. We turned on the engine, and motored on into the afternoon. The seas have died right back, and we are surrounded by a grey undulating downland. The moon is about half waned, so still provides a bit of light, but not so much as to drown out the stars if they werent obscured by the cloud.
After talking about it for 14 days, the guitar is unearthed from the forepeak where it has been keeping the Artist company at night. The Siren plays, accompanied by the Pussycat on the recorder, and the Gentleman on vocals. The result is surprisingly tuneful. Our repertoire is expanded to include The foggy foggy dew, at the Gentlemans request, and then a few carols. We warble cheerfully of halls bedecked with holly, poor men gathering winter fuel, and the frosty wind making moan, while the tropical sun sets behind the clouds.
Thursday 18 December
Its amazing the difference a day can make. Yesterday was a day of torpor for the crew, with a feeling of wanting to be there and only saved by the early evening carol singing. Not being able to sail drains our energy for other things, and we all read ourselves into a stupor. Today, the sun is shining again. After a night of steady motoring, the total distance to go is less than 250 miles. We know that we will be there sometime on Saturday at the latest. It feels as though we are in control of the ETA at last, despite the lack of wind. Once everyone is awake there is a call for a pre-breakfast swim and the engine is duly stopped, bathing ladder dropped, and the ships company dive into the deep blue (not all at once of course).
We spot a sail on the horizon and the Pussycat calls up the stranger on the VHF. Who would believe it, after 14 days alone on the ocean with just a couple of ships and distant yachts for company, the stranger turns out to be Chao Lay, the boat belonging to Fran and Alex which left Sal a day before us. The Pussycat and Fran swap notes about the crossing. Chao Lay wants to know how we got abreast of them having left a day later. As she is three foot longer and ten years younger, as well as being built as a racer / cruiser, we feel distinctly smug about. The whiff of testosterone drifts across the waves. Having motored all night we are enjoying the peacefulness of sailing again and hoist the spinnaker. Chao Lay comes on the VHF again noting our spinnaker flying tactics. They hoist theirs. The race is definitely on. The Pussycat and Siren start discussing Portsmouth Yardstick handicaps and the like. When beer and lunch is consumed we lower the spinnaker and hoist the iron topsail. Chao Lay comes back on the VHF Whats happened to your spinnaker? and admits to competing for line honours in Barbados. The Siren and Pussycat declare a moral victory.
Friday 19th December
What a way to end! The wind blew, the spinnaker flew, the beansprouts grew, and the fish was blue. Our final fish: a vast Wahoo 90 cm long, made the fishing line twang like a tuning guitar as it gobbled its last meal our lure! We felt a little sorry for it until we saw the array of sharp teeth; it is just as much a predator as we are as the little fish we found in its stomach demonstrate. We do feel obliged to eat everything we catch, so the Galley slave now has to deal with 12lbs of raw fish in as many appetising ways as she can think of.
The wind was cracking, and the Siren did a great job of tweaking the spinnaker to keep our speed up to the max; her expertise was available for anybody who chose to learn from it. Our final spinnaker drop had the usual share of ropes twisted round the wrong way, but it came down safely, and we romped into Port St Charles, Barbados at up to eight knots on a three sail reach.
Distance run 2,042 miles, time taken 15.5 days, winner of the sweepstake on when we would arrive: the Siren.
The lights of the island started to loom ahead; the end of the voyage was in sight. For the Siren, this was just another ocean crossing (her second), for the Artist and the Gentleman it is the start of a holiday in the Caribbean; for the Owl and the Pussycat it means getting to the end of the plans we have made.
Saturday 20th December
This blog has to end somewhere; we leave you in Carlisle Bay. The palm trees are blowing against a blue sky with puffy white clouds; the Artist tells us that the colour of the sea is Cerulean blue; the bars on the beach sell rum punch. And we have just upset the dinghy by misjudging the swell on the beach; our Bajan dollars are pegged out on the rails to dry.
Vende Globe skipper Jean Le Cam was rescued 7 January from his upturned boat, VM Matriaux, south of Cape Horn. Fellow competitor Vincent Riou risked his own boat PRB in the rescue, which saw him manouevring alongside under sail as PRB had a faulty engine.
PRB was later dismasted and taken in tow by the Chilean patrol vessel Alacalufe. The two skippers were safely ashore earlier today.
But what happens when your boat capsizes? How does the human body survive the ordeal of being trapped in an upside down world of dark freezing water with just a small pocket of air to breathe?
The 2008 Little Ship Club photographic competition produced some great pictures. These were celebrated at the annual exhibition and prize giving in early December, presided over by the Commodore.
The evenings success is entirely due to the talents of many members and the assistance of judges, the previous years prize winners together with some of the members who had not entered photographs.
For the first time for many years, the art category was re-introduced. As the competition will be reported in full in the Spring issue of Little Ship magazine, only a couple of entries are on show here, one from the Making Way Category and the other from the Art Category. Both are prize winning entries from Honorary Port Officers.
Marinella by Ian Foster, HPO Alcudia, Mallorca
Barges at Pin Mill a watercolour by Dr Jean Plancke, HPO Calais
The judges made their choices subject to the guidelines was the picture of acceptable quality and did it reflect the spirit of the category it was in?
Every year I am surprised by the results as are those who enter the competition. This year we are all being kept in suspense waiting to hear which photographer has won the Alan Walden-Jones Trophy. The Commodore will announce the winner in 2009.
So all photographers are encouraged to keep snapping out on the water or in the club house. The success of the competition in 2009 depends upon you.