The voyage started with a difficult get-out at 07:10 as there were two boats double-parked in front and the big, arrogant git was close behind us. PeteR worked out that we needed to drive forward on a bow spring to get the stern out and then reverse back into the fairway. This was achieved seamlessly. A slightly late request to slip the bow line completed the job.
Safely facing the right way, RBE slipped quietly to Weymouth entrance past The Pelican and the rather large Channel Islands ferry. The mainsail was made ready to hoist (with one reef) and then Keith, who was stationed at the mast (in order to “sweat” the halyard) walked quietly back to the cockpit and sat down – leaving poor Sue to pull the sail up on her own. Phil leapt into the breach and did the needful while Keith was subjected to some light-hearted abuse from his crew mates. The author believes that this might have been Keith’s first senior, blonde moment.
The headsail was deployed with comparatively little complication, the engine was turned off and we began the best sustained sail of the trip. The wind was a steady north east F4-5 with the occasional F6 gust. The wind and tide combined to give a “left buttock” sea (cf Day 63) which made steering a bit of a challenge. Any difficulties were more than compensated for by the strong tide in our favour. RBE was bashing along at 7-8 knots which, in sailing terms, is quite quick.
PeteR was NOB and was using the old fashioned “non-game boy” approach rather like, it has to be admitted, that employed by Bird watch. This involves calculating the course for the next couple of hours and then seeing where we end up. The navigator was faintly surprised, and not a little pleased, to find that it worked quite well.
About 15 miles out of Weymouth, RBE picked up its first passenger! A small bird (a young female siskin, we believe) landed on the foredeck. It was clearly exhausted and lurked for a time near the liferaft. Once it realised that the crew did not represent any threat, it flitted all over the place, landing on, inter alia, Keith’s foot, Richard’s knee and Phil’s thigh. It got a bit chilly at one point so it entered the main cabin and checked out the DVD collection as shown below.
Any boredom or lassitude suffered by the crew was swiftly dispelled by trying to solve a conundrum posed by Phil: “A man is found lying dead in a telephone box. Explain.” Several hours later, PeteR found the solution. Keith’s reaction was profane and could be identified via the acronym ‘FFS’. Phil then recounted the tale of the two prawns, Cecil and Christian. This also took a great deal of time and he was lucky to survive the punch-line.
The main shipping lanes were negotiated without incident with one very nice cargo ship changing course to save us the trouble. Keith steered us in to Braye harbour on Alderney and we picked up a swinging mooring at 16:40 having covered approx 70 nautical miles in 9½ hours. Not too shabby at all! Keith then liberated our little feathered friend and she flew safely to the harbour wall and, we hope, a full and enjoyable life in the Channel Islands. It is just possible that she had been trying to get to the UK. If so, we apologise!
A very reasonable water-taxi for £1.50 pp (beat swimming ½ mile) moved the crew ashore and to the start of a very long uphill walk to Braye town. Imagine the author’s delight when we found that nowhere was open – apart from the Thai restaurant which we had passed halfway! Never mind, several Singha beers and some most acceptable Thai grub later, life was rosy again. A joyful downhill skip and another water-taxi saw us safely back on board for a rather bumpy night ‘on the swing’. A great day, nonetheless.