It was to be a record breaker… if not a record number of boats on a cruise, certainly the record overall length. Interest peaked at 14 boats and one car, but then a few glitches occurred before we’d even left port. Jenny Wren, a staunch supporter of many a cruise and rally over the years, was sold, and Manketti was busy preparing for the ocean. Fine Fleur withdrew at the last minute with technical issues, but then Emma Keturah, a beautiful 47 foot dinghy, joined in. Our eventual fleet comprised 12 boats and one car; Hooch Pooch.

It became immediately clear that the organiser could not read tide tables, as the first day’s tide times were frustrating. We aimed to gather in Portland on the Saturday night, but those who could read headed early to meet at Brixham on the Sunday.

Favorita sailed through the Friday night to meet Paper Tiger and Chesterton in Portland. As more of the fleet arrived, Paper Tiger and Chesty headed off to Lyme, to break up the Lyme Bay crossing. Sea Dragon, Navy Blues, Emma K, and Carinya gathered as planned. Emma K was crewed by Brendan ”supercrew” McGarvey; who dropped a fender in the harbour !

Not knowing numbers or times we had made no arrangements for food, and Mike D of Navy Blues picked up the challenge with a riding his folding bike to the chippy for fish and chips in Fav’s cockpit. Good call Mike. Off to a decent start.

Opinions varied about “when to go” around the Bill .. and the boats left at various times, for light downwind sailing to Brixham. Many sails stayed in their covers as Debby, from Samollu, had organised amazing weather. In Brixham the fleet would assemble.

Favorita arrived just ahead of Navy Blues, to be greeted by Samollu (from St Malo), Malaika, Belrose (direct from Lymington), Titian (from Wolverston), and Polly. The fleet was almost complete, but the same couldnt be said of Polly. She had left a trolley full of equipment on the pontoon. Nothing vital, only the autohelm, windlass levers, winch handles, compass, dividers, ensign, ensign staff, and fog horn. Luckily none of the crew had yet noticed.

Lori led a “yomp” across the headlands to a well-known beech-side café, whilst others relaxed, prepared, mended, or polished. Sadly the café was under construction when we arrived, however Peter H took over and marched us all to a fabulous manor house hotel for a much needed lunch.

This day was Richard’s birthday. Fran and Richard are new members, but well known to a few already, and they held a birthday party on Titian. The bait was the offer of Stuart’s ‘anchovies on fried bread’. If offered, these are not to be missed. We had a fantastic party on Titian; I don’t think Stuart left the galley, however Andy H left his hat!

We re-grouped that evening in the Old Market House, a fish restaurant in the heart of Brixham. Dave L, from Jenny Wren, had set it up, and what a great ‘plaice’. We had a moving feast, with many awards, and a toast to our missing Jenny Wren … “A great little boat, and great little people”.

Weather was still light and from the East, as we staggered out of Brixham bound for Plymouth. Big coloured sails filled, and collapsed, and filled, and wrapped their way around Start Point… then we were headed, and had a fantastic fetch into Plymouth sound. Emma K caught us up, noticed we were clearly having fun sailing, and headed up to push a few buttons. No sooner had their sails filled than the wind died … Sorry Brendan !

We squeezed our way into Queen Anne’s Battery, up to three out, and negotiated a number of berths for Paper Tiger; the “cat.” None had any idea that we would be paying a Queen’s ransom.

The footbridge to the Barbican was closed, and the walk around significant so, completely without request, the QAB team organised a water taxi to get us all to the Gin tasting. Perhaps they are L’Oreal after all …

The Gin tour was fascinating. We learnt about ‘botanicals’, ‘feint’, ‘nose’ and ‘Navy strength’. It seems Plymouth Gin was responsible for the Empire ! It is definitely closely linked to sailing, a link NYC seemed keen to maintain.

Jane H then led us all up the hill to the Royal Plymouth Corinthian Yacht Club. Here our final ‘yacht’ joined us .. Hooch Pooch arrived, with Mike and Jo in fine fettle.

What a setting! Looking out over the Sound, watching the evening racing in our own dining room and private bar! We sat at three large round tables between amazing cabinets full of racing silverware, served by plenty of friendly staff. The menu choice was jacket potato or meat balls, and both were rather good.

Awards were given and speeches made. The main award being to Debby for her amazing weather (it was later revealed that she keeps her weather Genie in a locker aboard Samollu). Trevor was also given a small encouragement to buy ‘The Puff’ … a NYC Spring Cruise valiant, very fondly remembered. Richard enjoyed the balloons.

The weather grew a little, but stayed in the East, and we all headed out to re-group in The Bag at Salcombe. Chesty was to stay in Plymouth awaiting Ron’s return, and Paper Tiger was heading East to try and get ahead of forecast stronger winds. Some motored into the Yelm for a lunchtime stop, the others had a fantastic race/beat to Salcombe. Favorita tried hard, but was roundly trounced with Jane on Malaika’s helm; that boat points like an arrow, more than can be said for Paper Tiger, which needed tooth picks to improve pointing! We were sad to see Andy and Alex go …

The fleet was down to 10 boats, and we cuddled up two out in The Bag. We had the usual Salcombe welcome, friendly harbour master, everything organised, easy call water taxi … a fine time. We had arranged a BBQ at the Salcombe Yacht Club, and an evening of ‘bring something to play’.

A memorable evening … what hospitality. The staff had BBQd an amazing feast of burgers, chicken, whole mackerel, and a blue cheese salad to remember. Luckily, we had a private room, as Polly had bought the wigs. Leslie had joined them from Chesty, and they entertained us all. Carolyn and Matt, from Carinya, had made an NYC pin the tail game. Very loud and loads of fun. Richard predictably sang “Oh Lord it is hard to be humble,” and a “band” was in the making. There were eggs for the less rhythmic, Mike B on the washboard, and many playing spoons …… Peter remembered all the words to Paddy and the barrel of bricks!! 

The water taxi was caught, and a reasonable dent made in Fav’s whiskey stocks. The Polly crew arriving first and last, and staying latest … just to clear up a few low bottles not worth keeping! A very special NYC night!

The next day was a lay day .. and started slowly. A few of us headed out to Bolt Head to clear our own …  The crews were interestingly quiet for the day, some of the older ones simply sat with ice cream. We had a mostly civilised evening. Polly was leaving in the morning, heading West to a gaffer’s gathering, and Emma K was heading East to get ahead of the forecast “blow.” Hooch Pooch was also heading home!

The shrunken fleet set off East the next day, battling strong(ish) winds to get to the Dart. Everything was on the nose, and a range of tactics on show. Titian showed us all how to sail efficiently to windward, tacking tightly under Start Point, and Sea Dragon showed the other extreme … with a powerful engine and enclosed cockpit. Favorita had some fun tacking duels with a few boats, and were amazed to compare Fav, with two reefs in everything, to Carinya with all sails full .. she really stands up to her canvas.

We motored up the Dart to Dittisham, to four reserved buoys. A ‘row around’ supper was planned in three teams, with the closing party aboard Fav.

Bruce was alone on Emma K in Kingswear and planned to join us by taxi. He was checking his mooring lines just before leaving, when one he pulled was not attached. Bruce can swim, and so can his phone, but his wad of freshly drawn cash seemed less than impressed.

Many were creative with their courses, and extravagant with their cheese, but most were leaving early and bed beckoned . The majority were tucked up around eleven, although one group appeared to have ducked the party. So much fun (cheese) was being had on Carinya that they all arrived a little late. The Titian crew, seeing no lights, considerately withdrew. The same was not on the radar of Samollu and Carinya … bang bang bang on the hull …. “sshhhhh .. I sink I can shee shome lights on .. yes look he’s up!” “nice PJs commodore” ….

They had very kindly bought over a large bottle of malt to re-seed the Fav stocks, gifted by the crews. Very much appreciated by the Commodore.

The fleet separated from 04:00, iron headsails to the East. After a bumpy start, most settled into a one or two day chug back to the Solent, staying in touch through the WhatsApp group. Titian was last in … 41 hours home, mostly on the nose until cross the Thames estuary.

Highlights for teh Commodore ? 

  • Definitely the use of a WhatsApp group. Debby set this up, and everyone contributed .. The witty quips extending from sea to shore and across the team. A great way to stay in touch, and to engage with everyone.
  • Definitely the Salcombe YC evening. Those wigs should have a mirth warning.
  • Definitely the fab weather …… Debby the weather star !! Oh Yes …
  • Definitely the company …. as Bruce said when he joined in late, “I had forgotten what great fun NYC is …” 

2019 is already in the planning !!

19th-28th May 2018