Spring Cruise 2019 – Channel Islands and France
We were to meet in Cherbourg on the Saturday evening. The retired and long-legged set off early to capture the decent winds; Titian making fantastic progress from the East coast at 8.5 knots. The ‘workers’ set off at various times on the Saturday and motored across in very little wind. Favorita still had a shaft issue, limiting revs and maximising vibration, but sure enough all but Polly were happily ensconced in Cherbourg marina by nightfall. An impromptu gathering in the Brasserie set the tone for the week and the ‘lay day’ on Sunday was needed by some.
It started cloudy and wet, dampening thoughts of the BBQ planned for later. Many took to maintenance, and the ‘jocker valve’ become a key topic of discussion, with Fav (2No, one inverted), and Malaika (1No) needing replacements. In true French style, Magali, the marina manager, organised both the loan of a large BBQ and stopped the rain to permit the crews to gather and feast together from late afternoon.
An un-rehearsed launch of the NYC Mystros revealed skills in both playing and singing that should perhaps have been kept under wraps. During the evening, a threesome of Pen Duick yachts (all previously raced by the late Eric Taberly) arrived to support a sailing festival, but undoubtedly the stars were the proud NYC battle flags being flown across the fleet. We really looked the part!!
We motor-sailed to Cape de la Hague, and briefly tried some big light-wind kites to get us on track for Jersey. Some (Titian) sailed most of the way, but the winds were light and the tides large, so most used diesel to support the trip. The weather was glorious, and it was great fun to spot the range of routes taken by the different sized yachts, all heading for Corbiere.
Strangely, we all grouped up at Corbiere, smartly joined by Polly who had sailed directly from Hurst. We marched along the South coast of Jersey in a line, only broken at the harbour entrance when some enthusiastic skippers chose to ignore the red signals and frustrate the ferry manoeuvres. Some were chastened, some were otherwise, some were roundly told off! The man from Uncle was watching!
St Helier marina staff were, as ever, fantastic. They came out to welcome us (having already checked in with Barney by phone and confirmed our berthing arrangements). Steadily, we all got tucked in on one long pontoon, and again raised the battle flags of membership. Paper Tiger had called in with one failed engine and arrived late with a huge mass of weed on one propeller.
The Crab Shack was booked, and a range of routes and vehicles were used to get crews back along the South Coast. Paper Tiger decided to use the beach to clear the weed, and limped around under motor. Most cycled or bussed to meet in St Brelade.
The Crab Shack is a fabulous setting and the staff were fantastic, but some were a little disappointed with the food choice and the price. We toughed it out, with the added cabaret of Paper Tiger on the beach (with magically disappeared weed) and determinedly worked our way through the beer and wine list! A long hill out of the bay required a detour to the pub for refreshment on the way home. The hired bikes were handed back almost as “tired and emotional” as the hirers.
The plan was for a longish leg direct to Alderney, but the smaller boats noted the spring tides and light winds and suggested a stop in St Peter Port. This was agreed, and what a great idea. A lovely light wind sail to St Peter Port where the Harbour Master could not have been more helpful and friendly, including a decent rally discount in the reckoning. It was noticed that Malaika was constantly checking her fuel tanks and draught. Waggers’ walk was limped by some as the knees groaned and weather returned to sunny loveliness and the beer was worth the effort. The others went shopping, and Navy Blues changed their jocker valve – not to be left out. The Quay Side Brasserie hosted many crews, while others ate up leftovers aboard. The Brasserie feedback was very good!
Sadly we had to leave Malaika at St Peter Port, with a need for some physical redress. The rest had a great sail up to Braye, with clear glimpses of big downwind sails. Fav got her butterfly out again!! We all took a buoy before lunch, and Fran (who took over from Andy H as Olympics host) gathered us all on the beach for the Olympics.
We had four dinghies, 8 paddles, some engines (one made unattractive by a local dog), a long rope, and Ron the ultimate judge. Good wet fun. Titian suffered constant disqualification, Samollu suffered directional malfunction, most suffered wet bottoms, and everyone badly needed more beer! Winners were declared, pub visits were prepared, and supper at Cantina 6 was booked. Exhausting! It was very late when the crew of Titian staggered into their dinghy, but their spirits were overflowing.
We woke to the second channel challenge, and a light NW wind. We could just about make our course hard on the wind. Set by tide we all slid East, and then as the tide turned, the wind freed and we all slid West into Weymouth bay. It was a great crossing, with little drama, but a few boats confessed an early reaction to the short steep seas off Alderney .
We had set a challenge to write a 50 in the sea. Some tried as part of the beach Olympics, but Malaika and Titian showed us all up by submitting marvellous boat-written courses. Titian’s was the best, allowing them to win one thing at least!
We then set out for a cracking sail back to the Solent. Light and a little fluky up to St Albans, but then filling in for a storming run to the Needles. Malaika showed her true pace, and stuffed us out of sight, while Navy Blues showed true courage being the only one brave enough to set a running sail. Polly had problems .. we thought she was ‘writing her 50’ but had actually pulled her runner fittings straight, from top mast pressure!
All fitted alongside the Gins Farm pontoon and enjoyed the welcoming hospitality of the RSYC. The wind steadily eased as the evening came on and slowly the disguises started to appear. This was the ‘Lori disguise challenge’. Some made more effort that others, and many applauded the choice of joke and dressing up shops in Weymouth, but all enjoyed a massive carvery supper and the now ‘traditional’ NYC song. The resident RSYC club members certainly seemed to have fun.
Nips and some beautiful Hetherington whiskey aboard Fav bought the event to a close, with mutterings of ‘early across the bar…’. It was a truly memorable cruise with enough sailing and fun for most. We called it the ‘heads’ cruise due to the constant investment in jocker maintenance but, in reality, it should be named after the fantastic battle flags so kindly donated by Mike and Sara. They bought the fleet together, focussed attention on us, and showed what a fun and enthusiastic club we are… They were the real stars of this event!!!
18th-27th May 2019