Trip on Appaloosa starting 2011-04-29 in BSAMay11
Escaping the Royal Wedding – report by Steve Hall
When Jock emailed to ask me if I would be interested in joining the crew of Appaloosa (a Bavaria 36) for their planned escape over the last weekend in April, I didn’t take long to decide. There were threats of Street Parties and other compulsory activities down in West Somerset and with the greatest respect to the happy couple, I really didn’t want to be involved.
Jeff Birkin was skipper, Alan Howells catering manager (any other description of Alan’s role would not do him justice) andPhil Steele, Jeff Woolmer and Fabienne Isidore and this scribe were the “scurvy crew”. The presence of three Yachtmasters (Offshore ), one Coastal and two Day Skippers might have seemed excessive but the combination worked really well.
Hamble Point Yacht Charters were happy to release Appaloosa a little earlier than planned and so Jeff, Phil and I managed to do the handover checks whilst awaiting the other three crew members who took the scenic route from Bristol to the Hamble. With the catering supplies stowed (I still don’t know where Alan put it all) the decision was taken to sail towards Fécamp on the Thursday evening. Jeff W and Fabienne were asked to work out a passage plan. This was most unfair as they had the least experience of the Solent and the rest of us were in a hurry to leave!! Ideas of a shorter passage to Yarmouth with an early departure for somewhere in the West of Normandy or the Channel Isles were discussed and discarded in light of the forecast wind.
The weather forecasting for the week before had been somewhat imprecise and it was quite a surprise that we had a decent sailing breeze as we left the Hamble. North East 4/5 seemed ideal as we would be on a reach for the passage and so it proved. The wind gods kept their word with regard to direction but did rather underestimate the strength with gusts to over 30 knots on occasion. The saving grace was that several days of benign conditions had left us with a sea state which never went above moderate for the whole trip. Apart from the occasional sneaky look at hand held GPS sets smuggled on board, navigation was traditional with a slight assist as we approached the French Coast with visibility reducing.
Fécamp is a delightful town. On my insistence, the whole crew indulged in Moules Frites for lunch which was taken whilst a spectacular thunderstorm provided the entertainment. On Saturday we visited the market, drank cider and had an excellent meal in a restaurant overlooking the harbour. In light of the on board catering this was totally indulgent but just something which has to be done!!
After some vigorous discussions about departure times we slipped before dawn on Sunday and enjoyed a very fast passage back to the Solent. The wind had veered slightly and was now more or less easterly which gave us another broad reach albeit with three reefs for most of the day as we now had a consistent Force 8 with the occasional gust to over 40 knots.
Haslar Marina in Gosport was our destination and Alan demonstrated his culinary skills with a superb lamb meatballs with couscous. This was, of course, after the compulsory couple of pints in The Castle. Sunday brought more strong easterly winds but we found some shelter in East Cowes Marina where we spent several hours doing boat handling and mooring manoeuvres until we had to depart for Hamble.
All in all this was a great trip. The banter was superb (but will of course remain undisclosed to a wider audience) and I must thank everybody who made my first “proper” BSA trip so memorable. I also have to recommend that we always take a native French speaking crew member on trips to France.
Note from the skipper:
Steve – All the embarrassing stuff was given by me at the last meeting. Sorry, that’s the price you pay for writing a report and not being there to read it. Why do they call you Dizzy Gillespie?