No one on the water was safe on Friday as the Adlard Coles Editorial team enjoyed a Big Day Out, sailing aboard Director Janet’s yacht, Caprice.
Waved off by a triumvirate of swans from our pontoon in Shamrock Quay Marina, Southampton, we beat upwind, tacking, tacking, and tacking again, until we almost appeared to know what we were doing. The breeze was scarce and cruising was slow, but our wonderful hosts took advantage of the conditions to set us to work helming, trimming the sails and perfecting our bowlines – all to varying degrees of success. Near Calshott, we picked up a mooring buoy for lunch, before pottering back to the marina.
Jess, Jenny and Liz even braved the water for a quick dip post-lunch. With bellies full of sandwiches and cake we jumped in, and promptly regretted it as it dawned on us just how cold and salty seawater actually is. But who can resist a spot of wild swimming amongst friends…?
An ode to the prospect of a new boating season, by the Grand Mariner
There are nightmares and pitfalls everywhere in the boatyard at this time of year!
• A helpful rain shower just after completing the antifouling
• The boat next door spraying off after you’ve nicely polished & buffed the hull to a gleam
• Not realising you are tramping dark blue antifouling spots from the bottom of your shoes all over your nice white fibreglass deck
• Getting distracted and antifouling part of the prop in error
• Losing a critical tiny screw in the gravel
• The nearby hosepipe springing a leak and soaking your trolleyful of tools
• Worst of all – running out of teabags!
And then you look out over the water and see what awaits and the anticipation is almost tangible. The nightmares fade into an array of rainbows, beckoning all manner of pots of gold in the form of exhilarating passages, interesting landfalls or even just peaceful anchorages offering simple swimming and fishing opportunities – and watching the sun go down with glass or mug in hand of course. Bring on those days…!
No such lovely weather this year… but the anticipation is just as high
The pay off for all that hard work…
And here, in a nutshell, is what makes all the hard work worth it.
At this time of year I really love the song of the boatyard – drills, grinders, power washers, sanders – and the groan of aching backs! It’s the sound of boats being readied for the water; being scraped, repaired, spruced, buffed, and protected for another season on the water. So none of the hard work, pain or aching really matters because there is the delicious prospect of another year’s sailing to be had. And the satisfaction of seeing your boat smart and gleaming like she never will be for the rest of the season once the weather gets to her!
The boatyard is abuzz
Whilst the elbow grease goes on the talk is of when, where, who with, for how long – all couched in the perennial seafarer’s caution (superstition?) – ‘If the weather is right / if we can make it / if we can get away’ etc etc. No-one wants to be so definite in their plans that Neptune steps in and says, ‘We’ll see about that…’
Ah, the prospect of time afloat, what a tonic it is. Roll on launch day!