Cargreen, up the Tamar. The gale had shredded itself so it was time to move out to the start line to commence operations very early next day…..
Pippin’s lovely Douglas Fir bowsprit measures 4.5″ at the pointy end and right now it was aimed at the inviting saloon window of a large lightweight Frenchie as I faffed. I do not know the French for “f…..g eeeejit!!!!” but I knew 2 things for sure at that very moment. 1. The French skipper was saying that, very loudly and 2. Pippin would make expensive mince meat of that lovely saloon window. At a point just before no return, Pippin obeyed her propeller and strolled to a halt, a metre off. I raised my tea mug and offered my warmest smile from within the wheelhouse, but neither gesture was sufficient to break the permafrost of Franglo relations.
Mr. Rocna reappeared at 0100 as instructed and thence began a harrowing passage in the darkness through moored yachts and out across Plymouth Sound, an unwelcome test for a brain addled with tiredness. Sensing this perhaps, Hercule soon had Pippin on 135 degrees, destination St. Peter Port across a horrid rolling sea, the pre -dawn air bracingly cold.
The Channel was busy and trawlers seemed drawn to us, when all I wanted was to be left alone. A Sunfish slipped alongside lazily waving its flippers and 2 dolphins came to check us out. Spirits rise with the sun, even if on this occasion it revealed the chaos of departure, as Pippin pointed her ‘sprit for home, visible hours later first as a line of cloud. On with thermals, gloves and hat …. in August.
A smudge appeared before Les Honois eventually emerged from the murk, right where it should after 80 nautical miles, Pippin going like a train though the wind later eased up to walking pace and the motor went on for the final few miles. Mr. Rocna signalled journey’s end as he rattled down to burrow into the sand of Fermain Bay and the skipper demolished the last Fray Bentos (Steak & Ale) for supper. They say its nice to leave, but nicer to return and its true for it puts things into perspective and enhances appreciation of what one has. Pippin and I had only journeyed 910 nautical miles, not without incident, but we are still friends and we will journey again.
Journeying with Hercule in a warm wheelhouse means more time for reflection and to look at things on passage and I have long had a fascination with teak, preferring the natural look and eschewing the plethora of cleaners, finishers and oils that are available. So I decided to conduct a scientific experiment on the cockpit teak grating, and I must confess that the results bring on smugness. The key is the aim, for there is the angle of dangle not to mention the pitch of the boat to contend with, but get it right and miss your sea boots and the results after 6 weeks are most worthwhile. Looking at that grating you could be forgiven for believing I had worked assiduously with expensive products but only the former is true. This is a long term project so I’ll keep you posted, though I shall refrain from selfies.
Across the sea, a weather front loomed ominously over Jersey, from whence most things of an unpleasant nature are borne I find, and a terrier barked excitedly in a small boat as his fisherman master hooked a biggie. All around the familiar Gull Chorus sang of home and my French neighbours waved as they rowed ashore from their British yacht, Franglo relations positively glowing with bonhomie.
This trip proved you can manage solo sailing with a seriously bad back and mind altering medication, so long as you adopt the Willis Saga Mode – stop, 2,3, prioritise 2,3 one at a time 2,3 slowly 2,3 tea 2,3 and work out how you can deploy that middle aged spread, rather than brawn and grunt. Conversely, Pippin shows few signs of weakness caused by anno domini. Slim hulled, low and sleek she has the fin and skeg layout of a fast boat and the wheelhouse enhances comfort in any weather, a real safety factor. She has taught me to reef first at 15, second before 20 and if I ignore her, Hercule steps in to remind me; boat and skipper in harmony
There is always plenty to do on a boat but right now my priority is to fit a gimbaled tea mug holder, though I can’t decide where. Perhaps everywhere would be sensible. Then there is where to store the tea for quick access ……
It is time to go and for this journey to end before the next one starts. Cheeri