Day 84 – Saturday 27/09/14

Up about 7:00ish as had to be off the Town Pier by 08:45. Had initial tea/coffee/cereal etc and woke boat up. Ready to leave so Phil went to the (still closed) HarbourMaster’s office in order to pay the mooring fee. He should have tried The Cherub Inn: at least someone would have been there – and they serve better food.

Having cleared Dartmouth, Phil ran through the ‘Man Overboard’ procedures and then everyone had a go at picking up the unfortunate Bob while under sail. The wind was light and, by the time of  the author’s turn, had died away completely. Having occupied the cabin next door for three months, Keith found this remarkable.

With the practice done and training boxes ticked, sails were lowered and bunting hoisted. Keith then brought RBE (now “dressed overall”) onto the Events pontoon in Brixham and parked her immaculately. 2500 miles and not a scratch – not bad!

Five have been sailing

Five have been sailing

Soon afterwards, Duncan strode down the dock. All the crew were pleased to see him – possibly because he was carrying a bottle of champagne and six glasses. Greetings were exchanged and libations offered. Job done!

Keith and Richard helped Phil carry his kit on the not inconsiderable walk to the bus station. He was then faced with two bus and multiple train journeys before reaching home in Pompey at 21:30. He left with our sincere thanks for all his expertise, hard work and good fellowship and with our very best wishes for the future. As for his jokes…(!)

Most of the crew packed up their kit and transferred it to various cars. Contact was made with family: Sue with husband Nick and their beloved Maisie and Richard with his  wife Nuala and their daughter Laura. Much needed showers were had and then festivities started with a second bottle of champagne courtesy of SWMT. The party transferred to the Buller’s Arms to meet the estimable Duncan and Tank and then on to The Market House to meet Keith Felton of SWMT and his wife Jenny. Keith’s wife, Liz, joined us having driven up from Plymouth. More drinks followed and eventually food.

After the meal, Keith F bade everyone welcome and said some very nice things about the crew. Duncan, slightly atypically, also said some nice things and then handed out the official certificates of circumnavigation and the all-important tee-shirts. Richard replied on behalf of the crew and offered their sincere thanks to Southwest Marine Training and to the individual skippers. Fond farewells were bade to Jackie and Sue who were driving to their respective homes that night.

Five have been drinking

Five have been drinking

VALEDICTION

This must begin with our thanks to five excellent and truly expert skippers: Duncan Bridgnell, Symon Cater, Peter French, Sheila Lauchlan and Phil Brown. They have shared their knowledge and humour with us and helped us grow.

And now the crew: Keith Brooker is going back to driving SouthEast Trains, Jackie Rice will be tending her patients and Peter Rice will be starting his Yachtmaster training, Sue Russell will be starting her retirement and Richard Godfrey will be trying everyone’s patience – nothing new there, eh Dunc!

So that’s that then! Thee months ago, five people met as strangers. Since then, they have travelled 2500 miles in close company, eaten a vast amount of food and now part as friends. What a wonderful experience!

20140928_090445 Certificate

Day 83 – Friday – 26/09/14

Up at 05:30 for an 06:30 leave as long trip in prospect – as were unfavourable tides, light winds and some rain. Permission to leave harbour was granted by St Peter Port Control and RBE then safely  followed the various transits through the Russell Channel. The by now customary excellent breakfast was prepared by Keith.

We were making good progress as the tide decided to give some help early on and hoisting the sails also provided some assistance as the wind had got up nicely as well. Turned the engine off for a while and banged along at 7 knots which was very pleasant and also saved some diesel which looked like it was running a bit low. Lunch, of Ginsters’ Spicy Slices, was served and enjoyed but, for future reference, the author prefers their pasties. 

As the wind died right away, the main diesel tank was topped up from the reserve tank and we motored on in increasingly pleasant weather. Listened to a pan pan incident in Torbay which ended in a successful rescue and then enjoyed a delicious afternoon snack of nachos a la Sheila prepared by Keith and Jackie.

At approximately 16:00, RBE reached the longitude of Berry Head (003º 28.2’) which the crew had decided would mark the actual circumnavigation of Britain. Phil emerged bearing six glasses and a bottle of champagne. He then made a good speech and said some very nice things about the crew and their achievement. The speech, like his stories, went on for some time and brought tears to the eyes of those present. Whether the tears were caused by emotion or thirst is irrelevant. The bottle was opened, pictures taken and an OM✽ awarded to Phil for a brilliant leg, some awful jokes and, not least, the shampoo.

Dunnit!

Dunnit!

Dunnit 2!

Dunnit 2!

When a mobile signal was available, Richard, as NOB, called the harbour master on a very bad line and politely requested a berth in the quasi-official language that is expected. The lady at the other end, unable to suppress a giggle, informed him that he was talking to the Cherub pub! When he did get through to the Harbourmaster, the office was closed. Some contests are unwinnable.

Eventually, RBE tied up in Dartmouth at 1800 after some perfunctory pilotage from Richard and some decisive docking from PeteR. Keith left immediately on his usual ablutionary excursion.

Kingswear from the Town Pier

Kingswear from the Town Pier

Post-docking beer was taken and then the crew made the very short walk to the Cherub Inn. When the drinks eventually arrived, the health of the ship’s company was toasted and they then got on with what they consistently do best: eating. It proved to be a very good meal and our thanks go to Duncan for his kind recommendation.  A wander back to RBE for tea and chocolate and then bed.

 

Day 82 – Thursday 25/09/14

Another rest day devoted to food and slumber. Phil had recommended a dockside cafe for breakfast and Keith and Richard duly indulged. They paid little attention to the old gentleman in the corner who turned out to be er… Phil and who graciously accepted their fulsome apologies in the spirit in which they were made. Back to RBE to find Phil seriously asleep and oblivious to the calls on Ch 16 to keep the noise down. Sue and Jackie and PeteR had gone off in various directions to see sights, buy postcards etc etc.

J & P were pleased to report later that they had travelled around the entire island by bus for £1 each. They had turned down the opportunity to view Victor Hugo’s house as it cost £7 pp to get in and, “once one has seen Les Miserables, what else is there to know?” They then found a french restaurant, Le Petit Bistro, which made up for its uninspiring title by providing excellent food and service and at which they blew a small fortune on lunch.

Keith wandered off looking for new showers before lunching at the yacht club where he was joined by Richard and a rejuvenated Phil. Two pints of Doom and a gigantic ham baguette saw Richard taking over sleeping duties before his return to RBE for blogging and booking of The Cherub Inn in Dartmouth for dinner on Friday.

Passage plans were prepared for Friday and Saturday and dinner, of grilled sausages, proper vegetables and proper gravy, was prepared by PeteR. Drinks were taken in the local pub as no-one could face the trek back to the yacht club.

St Peter Port and harbour

St Peter Port and harbour

Day 81 – Wednesday – 24/09/14

Another lovely day with the tide dictating a civilised departure at 08:00. The slip was not totally uncomplicated as a strong wind was “blowing us on” to the pontoon. Richard, as helm, employed the same manoeuvre as PeteR in Weymouth: drive forward onto the bow spring, back bit comes out, reverse with plenty of left-hand side, bring pointy bit round, drive away which did happen – eventually – and with much enthusiastic use of the bow-thruster. This was viewed with mild disapprobation from certain male members of the crew (carefully chosen words) who opined that, given sufficient skill, it should not be necessary to deploy the B-T. Richard’s characteristically mild riposte was on the lines of “What the fork is it there for then?”.

A Condor Ferry

A Condor Ferry

After this interchange, Richard was not relinquishing the helm any time soon and, having cleared the harbour entrance, invited the crew to “hoist the mains’l’ and, after a short interval, “hoist the heads’l”. Both exhortations were followed by the obligatory “pleese” which, given the foregoing, might have lacked complete sincerity.

We then started on a brilliant sail with lots of tacking to avoid rocks, shallows, ferries etc. In the meantime, Sue, who hadn’t banged on at all about the B-T, was preparing the dinner. Measuring and mixing several spices while standing at an angle of 45º takes some doing and, to her great credit, done it was. After a couple of hours, we cleared Pointe Corbiere and turned NW for Guernsey sailing on a close reach with a fresh force 5 and a lively sea which was both exhilarating and tiring. A message then came though on the VHF (always tuned to the Coastguard channel 16) concerning a strong wind warning “Strong wind for the Channel Islands, force 6, WNW or NW imminent”. And were they right! Another reef was put in the mainsail which placated Jackie who had been grumbling about it since St Helier.

We were continuing under slightly more control when another message came through on the radio: “Pan Pan, Pan Pan, PAN PAN!” This is Comrec, Comrec, COMREC!!” (A Pan Pan call is one down from Mayday) The terror in this lady’s voice was unmistakeable and the memory of it still causes a shiver. The coastguard answered immediately and gradually elicited that she was on a small yacht 10 miles south of Pointe Corbiere with one other person on board and the boat was taking on water. The St Helier lifeboat was alerted and offers of assistance came through from several other vessels. We believe this tense and harrowing story had a relatively happy ending: the fishing boat Time and Tide reached the yacht after 40 minutes and tied on thus preventing her from sinking. The St Helier lifeboat arrived soon after and took over the rescue.

The wind increased still further so the foresail was reduced but we were still making 7 knots through the water which in yachtie terms is pretty quick. So rapid was our progress, we reached St Peter Port about two hours early. PeteR guided us onto the waiting pontoon with total assurance and no B-T but tactfully refrained from practising his one handed bowlines.

Boat cleaning and cups of tea preceded moving on to our berth in the marina proper once the tide had risen sufficiently. Then came dinner! Sue produced a sensational lamb rogan josh for which she receives a justly deserved PM.

Waterfront at St Peter Port

Waterfront at St Peter Port

A very long walk to Guernsey Yacht Club was rewarded by a pint of Doom, excellent wi-fi and oblivion.

Day 80 – Tuesday – 23/09/14

As it was a rest day, little happened. Nonetheless, readers are respectfully offered the quintessence of a marital relationship in: Jackie: Are you coming to help me choose a new book? PeteR: I am sure that I would love to.

The St Helier marina was busy.

St HelierMarina

St Helier Marina

One of its many niceties was the Beaufort Scale rendered in paving stones. Force 12 is normally described as: “Hurricane >64mph Wind capable of carrying boats short distances”. The Jersey rendition is shown below.

An alternative view

An alternative view

Useful activity included passage planning for Keith (Wednesday) and Jackie (Saturday). Careful, non-invasive examination of Jackie’s waypoints showed that her route from Dartmouth to Brixham would pass through a local caravan site.

The rest of the day focussed on food (nothing new there). Lunch for Phil, Keith and Richard at a cafe next to the Royal Yacht Hotel. Royal Yacht Burgers and proper Stella Artois hit the collective spot. Sue enjoyed a luxury Jersey ice cream while window shopping. Jackie made a sensible sandwich and opened a box of Pringles but did not eat it all (the author is advised that this is significant). PeteR, unsupervised, purchased a ham and cheese baguette which he cheerfully described as monstrous.

Dinner of fish chowder and strawberry meringues (two courses) was prepared by Richard. The day ended with a visit to the pub for beer and whisky and later a portion of chips for Phil.

Day 79 – Monday – 22/09/14

The day started with rather good egg and bacon banjos* prepared by No 1. These were followed by a very interesting talk on “Man Overboard’ by Phil focusing on performing the procedure under sail. We then set off to catch the famous Alderney Race which is a tidal stream running NE/SW at up to 7 knots. Ethel Wind was in residence so we motored most of the way.

We were having a really good sail at up to 9 knots along the southern coast of Jersey when we spotted a Condor Ferry leaving St Helier. These vessels go at up to 35 knots so it had our complete attention when we realised we were on a collision course. We did all the proper stuff by making a distinct move to starboard. Now only ½ mile away, he then altered course to port in order to maintain the collision course. By now, RBE was feeling collectively nervous so we quickly tacked to port and it was this manoeuvre, we surmise, which alerted the ferry to our presence. We suspect that no-one was actually on watch and their anti-collision software saved the day. So, a big MF to the skipper and crew of the ferry which left St Helier at about 15:30 on 22/09/14.

Our original plan was to moor on the visitors’ pontoon outside the marina. This was thwarted by the said pontoon being closed for maintenance. We were then invited to moor up “anywhere on pontoons E, F or G”. We selected a nice gap on F and then realised that the dock had no cleats which we could lasso from the boat. The day was saved by PeteR traversing from the boat to the dock (leaping would be too strong a term) and then running around like a dervish threading our lines into the metal loops provided.

A lassoable cleat

A lassoable cleat

 

An unlassoable loop

An unlassoable loop

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Facilities were enjoyed (oh yes they were) before a sumptuous dinner of chicken pie with vegetables followed by jam tart. All the aforesaid was prepared by Jackie in total contradiction to the revered Duncan who, some months ago, firmly averred that cooking pastry on RBE was impossible.

RBE Chicken Pie

RBE Chicken Pie

This culinary milestone was followed by a quick visit to the Lamplighters Bar for welcome refreshment.

*Banjo is squaddyspeak for a roll containing egg and/or bacon. When the roll is munched, egg yolk, bacon fat or other detritus can fall onto the front of the consumer’s clothes causing their owner to make a strumming motion in order to remove said detritus.

Day 78 – Sunday – 21/09/14

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.

RBE: double parked in front and The Pelican and ferry behind

RBE: double parked in front and The Pelican and ferry behind

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.

Our passenger could be a Daniel Craig fan

Our passenger could be a Daniel Craig fan

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.