Trip on Dizzy B starting 2007-09-14 in BSAOct07

3.1Brixham to Guernsey, September 14 - 17, skippered by Jeff Birkin. Report by Bernard Smyth.

The boat, the Dizzy B, a Bavaria 37 from Plain Sailing, was in a clean and tidy condition, fitted with radar and a large screen combined GPS/Radar display at the helm. But it proved to have more than enough faults. We had just left Brixham Mapmarina when we found tears in the mainsail, then another hole in the genoa so returned. Patches of gaffer tape were put on the mainsail and we were assured the genoa was OK as the hole was not in an area that had any stress.

We set off again and found that the log wasn’t working but that was easily fixed by Alan Howells, who had more of a problem with the wind instruments – the boat didn’t have any! There was the bent indicator fitted to the top of the mast but it wasn’t connected to anything and as night fell we found the compass light was broken – and then the stern light kept going out. No problem really, not when you’ve got radar, but that also decided not to work. Good job the autohelm worked very well otherwise we’d have been shining a torch on the binnacle every few minutes. Less bothersome was that there was no washing-up kit on board.

Despite all the problems, the crew of Alan, Andy Hiles, Don Hirst, Emma Campbell, Liz Stubbs and Bernard Smyth, skippered by Jeff Birkin, had some good sailing. We were able to set off early on the Friday as the boat was available, after getting Emma a damp dap after using it tied to a length of string in a bid to get a line in place to haul up the club pennant. We had a starry night for the motorsail to Guernsey. The sky was as clear as many had seen it. Weird light patterns were noticed in the sea near the yacht and once we saw what was taken to be a yacht masthead light which turned out to be Venus rising!

One watch had a to-do with a fishing boat skipper who couldn’t seem to make up his mind which way he was going. We arrived about 8.50am at Victoria marina, St Peter PortMap, in time for a champagne and orange juice toast to Jeff on his first outing as a club skipper. A sunny day off was enjoyed in St Peter Port, although Emma had another bit of “excitement” when she dropped her 21st birthday bracelet through the pontoon. Gallant Don braved the icy water (that Jeff was too wimpy to try) and recovered it.

Even though there was a pitiful tool kit, the stern light was fixed and the radar screen was pulled off in order to fix the compass light. There were no manuals for any of the equipment so Andy spent an hour sheltering from the scorching sun beneath the binnacle cover trying to fathom the radar display. Alas, he couldn’t find any obvious reason for the message “Scanner not rotating”. At this point, Alan went up the mast to give the dome a good bashing but all to no avail. The crew had a bit of a swan around the port to find somewhere to eat, but ended up at a “Mexican” place opposite the marina. The food was good value.

Next day we had spare time so did some touch-and-go practice on the half-empty pontoons before setting sail on another sunny morning. The initial plan was to go to Braye but a vote was held on whether to go to Omonville. Whatever the outcome, it was decided to head for Braye so we would have a shorter Channel crossing on the Sunday night. The skipper advised everyone to put on their oilies as rain could be expected – whereupon the sun came out for hours! We sailed in F3-4 and had a play with the cruising chute but as we arrived in BrayeMap, to moor on a buoy, the sun went in as the wind continued to rise. There was time for most of the crew to have a run ashore but one member who has had more than his fair share of runs ashore sensibly decided to catch up on sleep! By the time we were ready to run home the wind got up to an estimated F6 and was likely to rise further. Alan went up the mast again and bent the wind indicator back into shape and we then found the nav light had given up the will to shine and the screws were rounded off, making the fix impossible in the turbulent harbour. Despite the best efforts of the rigging to foil our attempts, two reefs were put in the main and we set off home.

Twitchy at best, in these rough conditions on a pitch black night, the Bavaria made good speed but was a handful to control. The lack of any useful data on wind direction and speed tested all the crew. But at least we had the compass light that Jeff had repaired in port and the wind direction arrow pointed properly. The night was a mixture of sailing and motorsailing, but the whole trip was done mostly (two-thirds) under sail.

Alan did his usual excellent catering throughout, with moules on the menu two days running, and Don proved a past master at bacon and egg butties although the touchy smoke alarm had to be disconnected during that session!

We arrived back in BrixhamMap for a clear-out and handover with time to spare for a short pub stop on the way home for the skipper to treat the crew and for a chat about the future of the new BSA website, which Andy has set up.

Brixham  50.3991,-3.509
St Peter Port  49.4541,-2.5322
Braye  49.7269,-2.1976
Brixham  50.3991,-3.509