The first cruise of the year, to "blow away the cobwebs", is suitable for those sailors who just can't wait to get back on the water, despite the unpredictability of the weather at the time of year. This year it is being held, very auspiciously, on April Fool's Day, . See below for a taste of what this cruise is about.

Cruising 2002: 23/24th March.

Predictably it was my birthday again on this year's Cobwebs and, having not provided cakes as is customary, my offering is the following version of events:

The crews of Bryan's Dream and Bryan's Spirit (twin Bavaria 37's) met up after eating, respectively, in the Square Rigger and the Boomerang in Hamble on a cold weekend just before Easter. The crew of Bryan's Spirit, however, nearly failed to live up to our boat's name with a "liquid provisioning shortfall" - soon thankfully sorted out by a mercy dash to Tesco's and more than compensated for by oodles of food. Friday evening was glorious, with a beautiful moon ringed by a halo which no-one was quite sure was portent of, but it was clear that 'Spirit' was as usual the theme, and we were immediately designated 'party boat'. Celebrations continued well into the night and, as there was every indication that there would be a few 'slow movers' on Saturday morning, I thought it best not to have the 6am roll call again.

The following morning, after the handover from Fairview Sailing, we had a lovely sail and made such good time to Yarmouth we decided to sail on to Alum Bay and drop anchor for a late lunch. Our sister ship agreed this was good planning and also avoided an impending extended shopping/watching rugby session in Yarmouth.

The rigours of the morning and night before having taken their toll, both crews took the opportunity to 'power nap' whilst listening to the rugby - multi tasking as ever - before upping anchor and sailing off to deal with the excitement of Yarmouth on a Saturday night. By 8pm blood to alcohol ratios were reaching critical levels, so it was champers all round (kindly organized by Mike and Yvonne for the above 'birthday girl'), closely followed by supper at Fenders Restaurant and a quick pre-water taxi pint in the Wheatsheaf.

The night owls then all gathered on the party boat, and conversation flowed deep into the night with Rose and Shaun engaged in a robust discussion of the state of the "NHS". Nigel & Roger adopted remarkably similar poses; arms crossed whilst listening intently to the thrust and parry of the debate and occasionally nodding agreement at a point well made or just, well, nodding off. Eventually the skipper rescued Roger, whose berth was the debating chamber, by turfing off the boarders back to their own boat.

After a typically nautical and 'normous Sunday morning breakfast and the winds being favourable again, we set off back home after agreeing to meet up that afternoon in Osborne Bay (where Queen Victoria mourned Albert). It was here after lunch that one of us, who shall be nameless but who was looking forward to receiving a new pair of glasses, momentarily put the skipper of Bryan's Dream on red alert. She swore he had slipped anchor without telling us. A rather perplexed couple on a weekend cruising yacht motored off wondering why a complete stranger should shout across 'go on then bugger off without saying goodbye; see if we care'. Confusion then ensued, as a radio call to Bryan's Dream to ascertain their position led to panic as they thought we were informing them they were dragging their anchor!

Once calm was restored, we then scooted back up to Hamble as one of the crew - the one who hurled abuse at the non-plussed Sunday cruisers - had to hop off onto another boat to do her Day Skipper course. I'm left wondering if there should be a requirement of the Day Skipper Course to be able to read a boat's nameplate at 20 yards!! Skippers: Gordon Robinson, Mike Wood Crews: Nigel & Lesley Birch; Yvonne Shaw; Roger Keusch; Rose Littler; Nick Jenkins; Neil Robertson; Mike & Sue Starks; Shaun Curran and Cathy Burge.
Lesley Birch.

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