With spring having just about arrived, it was time to depart for the Commodore’s Cruise.  The first destination where most boats assembled was Lymington, to give everybody a good start point to exit the Solent and reach Weymouth.  Traditional NYC wind conditions prevailed, so the majority of boats opted to motor much of the way.

All but one of the fleet were in Weymouth, so there were 13 battle flags flying.  It was also time for Uncle Albert to open his notebook, and begin recording the activities of interest that had already occurred.  There were limes and shoes overboard, near misses of a Yarm Arm, and an appearance of diesel bug.

Our first official Cruise meal was at the Royal Dorset Yacht Club, where we did our customary burgee swap.

Weather reports kept changing, meaning plans for the Channel crossing were updated frequently.  At one point there were at least four options being considered, in an attempt to avoid strong NE winds in Braye.  Ultimately, Plan A was chosen and the majority of the fleet departed for Braye as planned.  For some, this meant heading out into the pre-dawn darkness, but at least it provided an opportunity to see the sunrise.

The crossing was smooth, with the wind being unexpectedly kind, and a dolphin visit made up for the early start.

With one boat leaving the cruise in Weymouth, and another joining in Alderney, we retained great numbers and flew the NYC flags in style. Titian made an extra effort, being Dressed Overall in celebration of a birthday.

After the success of the boules competition when we were last in Braye, a rematch was on the cards.  Team Malaika reached the final, but were pipped for the win by Titian, so unable to retain their crown.  It was a fiercely fought competition, made more interesting by the disappearance under the sand of the jack!  Everybody was kept in suspense as the final result was unknown until the balls were lifted and the jack was located.  Indulgence seemed surprisingly keen to be declared Loser of Losers!

Our time in Alderney kept Uncle Albert busier that normal, with two dinghy’s choosing to eject their contents (one a leatherman, the other it’s skipper), and an unplanned testing of a life jacket.  One outboard engine was taken apart, only to find the issue was the fuel hadn’t been turned on.

Dinghies were also involved in at least a couple of games of bumper boats, with calls of “Starboard” having the expected level of effect, and some clothes needing to be hung out to dry.

The Braye Beach hotel hosted a delicious meal on our second night, preceded by drinks at Alderney Sailing Club, where our burgee was on display from our previous visit.  After so many dinghy related incidents, some crews elected to stow theirs away and pay for the water taxi instead.

Our next destination was Jersey, where the slightly slower boats chose to start earlier and journey via The Swinge, while the faster boats could make good use of the push from The Race.  The sea was a little lumpy, resulting in a bucket being lost overboard when used for a boat wash down at sea (the reappearance of one breakfast hadn’t been a positive addition to the deck).

On arrival in St Hellier, the lights at the entrance to the marina were observed with far more attention than on previous visits.  In true NYC style, we enjoyed a Pimms party on board Catry on the first evening, and a drinks reception on Sea Dragon the following night.

There were various trips around St Hellier, including the Crab Shack, the nearby lighthouse and of course the local Chandlery.

The journey north to Guernsey provided another opportunity for dolphin spotting. There may have been liberal use of engines.

We arrived in Guernsey to enjoy yet more beautiful sunshine, which our resident songwriter sat in to compose a suitable NYC song to celebrate the cruise.  Others used the time to relax on any conveniently located decks, or explore the local shops.  One crew member ‘volunteered’ to be hoisted up the mast in order to fix a burgee halyard. Without Polly to sand and varnish during the cruise, his attention could be spread across more than one boat!

Restaurant 57 was a top choice for our final meal of the cruise, where the latest NYC song was revealed, and sang with enthusiasm.  We then moved on to drinks in the sunshine at Guernsey Yacht Club.

As has now become a Cruise tradition, Catry found a convenient location to dry out for some propellor maintenance.  Fortunately, all was resolved before she refloated.

All too soon, it was time for the fleet to disperse, with some boats opting for an earlier return across the Channel, to get the best chance of a favourable sea state, while others were staying on in the Channel Islands or venturing to French waters.

The fleet had enjoyed the most favourable winds of any recent Club trips, with most passages not being a beat or directly head to wind.

17th – 26th May 2024