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News 1999

Training sailing weekend, 24-26 March

Sun 19 Mar, 7.15pm Jim Pirrie's house, London Crew meets for advance briefing at skipper's house. Got lost on the way and arrived late. Hope that means I'm off navigation duty. Size up rest of crew and skipper. Very satisfactory ratio of four men to one girl. They all look able bodied and keen. Might get away with just coiling the odd rope and making tea. Surreptitiously find out how good the others are. Discover one of them (Valentin) is Bulgarian and has sailed on Black Sea, is a carpenter and has pony tail. Not sure I can compete with any of that. Although could grow hair....

7.28pm Someone proposes sailing from Portsmouth to Yarmouth. Convinced Yarmouth is on east coast of England and no chance of getting there and back in a weekend, but don't like to say so. We get out chart and it transpires Yarmouth is on the Isle of Wight. Glad I didn't open my mouth. Maybe was thinking of Great Yarmouth….

Fri 24 Mar, 11.55pm Fareham Creek, Portsmouth harbour Jim in dinghy ferrying us and the kit to his boat. Bit like a Famous Five adventure. Quite cold. Stars are out. Guarding my sleeping bag with my life.

Sat 25 March, 10am Portsmouth harbour It's sleeting. Wonder what the first signs of frostbite are? No chance of slipping below decks and reading a good novel. Also, they seem to have forgotten I'm a girl and keep passing me ropes to hold. Hmm. Couldn't we have just spent a nice weekend on the mooring? Solent grey and wet and extremely uninviting. Ugh.

1pm Yippee! Common sense prevails and we've anchored off Osborne Bay for lunch. I'm the first down the companionway to forage for our Tesco provisions. Yummy warm soup in the saloon. This is the life. Even the sun's come out so maybe we'll have a nice afternoon.

3pm Feels like a force 6, or 7. Can't really tell as my Beaufort scale is a bit hazy. We're whizzing along at about 6 knots. Have to admit it's great fun. Don't disgrace myself on the helm so maybe I'll get a chocolate biscuit later as a reward. We scoot past Cowes and on to Yarmouth.

6pm Arrive at Yarmouth and moor up beautifully. Terrific token-operated showers but despite some very sound advice from Jim on how not to end up running out of water when you're covered in soap, I end up running out of water when I'm covered in soap. Have to finish off in the basin. Wonder if I left my brain in London.

7.30pm In the pub. This is definitely good fun.

8.30pm We roll across the road to "Salties" and claim our table. We take pity on two Scottish cyclists who have not booked in advance and let them sit with us. Warm alcoholic glow intensified by feeling magnanimous. Note male: female ratio now 6:1. Couldn't be better.

Sun 26 Mar, 12am Run for water taxi to avoid having to swim back to the boat. Back on board curl up round another bottle and listen to the hum of the heating. Could fall asleep right now…

2am Clocks go forward one hour. Think this means I get less sleep, but am finding calculation difficult. How much did we drink?

6am Valentin receives a call on his mobile phone from Bulgaria. Hmmm. Think we might have to have words about this later on.

7am Jim goes on deck to check the wind direction. So glad I'm not a skipper. Very cosy in my sleeping bag.

8am Philip starts frying bacon. Might get up after all.

10am Glorious sun, steady breeze and an easy run back to Portsmouth. Time to sit back and apply my suntan cream. Would anyone notice if I read my novel?

10.05am Valentin itchy for spinnaker practice. Wonder if I can dissuade him. Perhaps it's time for that chat about mobile phones. Notice Jim is fishing around for the spinnaker and all those bits of coloured rope that go with it. Better look interested. Who designed such a complicated sail anyway?

11.15am Spinnaker's up! Took a while but was worth it. Can now look smug when sailing past other boats without one.

12am Time for tea and biscuits. Yessss.

1pm Jim and Valentin disappear below deck to do a few home improvements. Hear sawing from below. Jim is making the most of having a carpenter on board.

2pm Portsmouth harbour looks rather nice in the sunshine. We were robbed yesterday. Mike hooks our mooring buoy. Settle down to some lunch before packing up. Notice that Valentin is eating his banana the wrong way up , starting with the little black end not the stalk. Don't like to draw attention to it but curiosity gets the better of me. Is it a Bulgarian custom or is he just idiosyncratic? Major discussion on correct way to eat a banana. Realise there is a small possibility Valentin is right, as black end signifies flower and therefore top of banana. Don't like to concede defeat, though, and we all agree Bulgarians are wrong. Mental note: if ever in Bulgaria, begin banana from bottom up. Wonder if we have been too long at sea? Maybe it is time to go home, after all.

4pm Pack up and climb into Jim's car. Would like to discuss what a nice time we've had, but fall asleep instead. Hope he understands it's a compliment.

Kirsten Birkett

Wth thanks to Jim Pirrie for being a great skipper and Philip Moore, Mike Stark and the ever patient Valentin Nedyilkov for being such amiable crew mates.

Copyright © London Corinthian Sailing Club, 13 May 2000