|Nicki a newbie to Cherbourg|
Incompetent crew (me) aboard Stargazer. Cherbourg Rally
Apparently, just about everyone knows about the debacle that was my passport search, prior to the Cherbourg Rally and it wasn't until Thursday lunchtime that a courier arrived with my beautiful (not!) new passport in his clutches and I could let out a sigh of relief at the ebb of that particular anxiety and start to ride the crest of a new one.
I am a novice sailor and have thoroughly enjoyed the two Solent rallies that I have taken part in but sailing out of sight of land was a first for me. Ian and Dave we're completely reassuring about the journey but I was concerned that the coastguard might have had to airlift an hysterical woman from the deck as I imagined the Isle of Wight disappearing from view.
So it was with valiant courage I gathered my belongings and arrived at the club via a short detour to Tesco's to get some Euro's - which failed miserably because I came out with chocolate and wine....and no euro's.
Thursday afternoon - after a safety brief we headed out into the Solent where the gentlemen debated a motor to Yarmouth versus a sail to Bembridge it was decided the wind and beautiful evening couldn't be wasted so we sailed off to Bembridge then onto Shanklin and anchored in Sandown bay. The night was absolutely beautiful and Ian and Dave were all for continuing to sail but I selfishly told them I was going to sleep. Given my disregard for the potentially beautiful night sail I had to forgive them when I was rudely awoken in the early hours by the anchor chain clattering on the deck above my cabin as we set off for Cherbourg.
Now you will have to pardon my complete lack of technical knowledge here but basically we sailed to Cherbourg with no dramas (at least none that were apparant to me!) and I was absolutely delighted that my hysteria didn't surface and the coastguard was left to attend to more important things.
After arriving and safely negotiating the pontoons - I had had a few nightmares about the predicted wobbly pontoons, following the pre-rally meeting hosted by Chris Glanton - we soon joined Cathy and Derek aboard Bellini for some channel virgin's champagne. Whilst sipping our bubbly we were entertained by poor Steph being hoisted up the mast to retrieve an errant radar device which Simon had engineered to slip it's knots and flip over the shrouds in order to demonstrate his lovely wife's good nature. A bit of boat visiting and a bit more alcohol later I was ready for a shower and a snooze when Ian and Dave hauled me off to a restaurant with no chance to shower or change for the sake of our dining companions. The evening and the company was delightful and the food was delicious.
Saturday - the weather was not so good, after a lay in then cooked breakfast on board we met up with a few other rallyers for coffee and later, lunch in Cherbourg. A visit to gather supplies in the supermarket preceded the pontoon party - now renamed the the potty party as the windbreak qualities of the old toilet block made it the location of choice, given the downturn in the weather.
Now I have been remiss in not saying that the early Friday morning start and the anxiety had led to a little seasickness for me on the journey across the channel and so I had eaten little and drunk only water, however, no need for any concern because I more than made up for this with the amount of food and alcohol I consumed over the weekend!
Dave's organisation and good humour was witnessed on more than one occasion as he did his utmost to keep the yacht club restaurant informed of the potential lunchtime visitors and on Sunday, thirty-four RAFYC members.......make that thirty eight! Sat down to a lovely Sunday dinner and lively conversation.
Ian decided on an overnight sail Sunday night and despite Paul Oliver's warning of rain, we prepared for an approximate departure of 8pm. Once again the mild seasickness returned, Ian ordered me to the helm where equilibrium was restored (well mine was anyway). I soon spotted a distant ship on the horizon indicating the first of the shipping lanes and shortly after decided now was my turn for a snooze - yes you're right - I wimped out on negotiating those big nasty ships!
Ian and Dave were extremely kind to me and I snoozed for a good part of the journey waking to experience the sunrise over the Island and well away from any scarey shipping lanes.
We passed the needles at around 8.30am and motored on into the Solent as the wind was, uncooperatively, not blowing in the right direction for sailing. Still completely togged up we passed the t-shirted day sailors with an occasional yawn and arrived safely back to the Hamble river at around midday.
What I learned on this rally? That Ian is a calm, cool and collected skipper, Dave Le Mare is an extremely good organiser and makes a mean bacon sarnie, that they are both great company, that I have a lot to learn about sailing but I'm very cheap crew - I can be sustained with bread and water and an occasional glass of wine - so please let me learn lots, lots more with all you good folk. Nicki Jackson
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