August Bank Holiday Weekend
Starting off at sunset for France, Will's Wind made extraordinarily bad progress.
Within minutes, a spooky thick fog rolled in across the Itchen, the engine
speed was reduced to the pace of an arthritic hedgehog and inexperienced members
looked for lifeboats to escape on.
Skipper Rod Eames decided to follow Paracetamus, which was following a strange
zig-zag pattern similar to that used by convoys in the Second World War to
avoid U-boat attack. Submarines were not sighted, but ships the size of Canary
Wharf did appear out of nowhere in a highly provocative manner. It was only
later that we discovered that Paracetamus had been hijacked by drug-crazed
lobsters under no human control. Charlotte Cochrane made a stunning dinner
while Paul Simons was attacked by vegetarian meatballs shooting off the cooker.
The fog grew thicker and so did the crew. An echo reflector was dangled -
as much use as waving a hankie at an oncoming jumbo jet - and a fog horn bleated
like a frog with laryngitis. When we reached the Solent, John Hargreaves used
his immense navigational skills to drop anchor off Sandown.
Next day was warm, clear and sunny, but little wind. The motor was started,
but stalled repeatedly after moving backwards and forwards. Owner Tim Watts
thrilled to receive our distress call at 05:30 hours but his advice came to
nothing. Then Rod noticed the fisherman's buoy we had anchored close to was
now missing, and so was the rope it was attached to. Divers were called out,
featuring bronzed beerguts, tatoos and pierced nipples - much appreciated
by Nuala Galazka - and cut us loose from the lobster pot we had fouled. 'Free
the Lobsters', cried the seabed prisoners, but alas they remained in detention.
Tim Waite sailed by and looked surprisingly pleased, helped by an all-female
crew surrounding him like a photocall for Hugh Heffner. We declined to follow
his hareem to France and instead sailed to Cowes, where the last day of the
America's Cup was celebrated with tall ships, the Red Arrows and filthy rich
bastards. There was even one boat carrying a helicopter on its top deck.
We moored at the Foley Inn for a night of tabletop dancing, the Isle of Wight
version of lap dancing. Next day a cold front came in with thunder and lightning,
and as we made for Poole, Paul Simons - fresh from his incompetent crew course
- steered a course inbetween two oncoming ferries steaming fast in a scissors'
movement. The tide was growing too strong, and so we put in to Yarmouth, where
Paul Simons caught his foot in the helm wheel whilst headfirst in a locker,
steering the boat towards a docked ferry and a verbal exchange with the skipper.
Fine weather and some better winds took the boat round the Solent, where
Melanie Haslam pleaded to be yanked off by the coastguard, whose helicopter
was out practising rescues on yachts. Rosemary Littler and Nieve made a terrific
lunch standing at 45 degrees in the galley - Rosemary having travelled from
Leeds for the privilege. The marina was reached by sundown and the trip nicely
rounded off when a jar of Branston pickle popped its lid and jumped out of
a binliner down Paul Simons's trousers and shoes. Much hilarity all round
and lashings of gingerbeer afterwards. Congratulations to Rod for his first
trip as a fully fledged skipper, in charge of a crew half of them very inexperienced.