Preparation and Departure
11 March 2007
This is being written from alongside in Yarmouth after the start of our grand tour. It was an emotional day for both of us yesterday and the evening before was a fantastic party that we will always remember. Before I get to the meat of this blog, we just want to say thanks to everyone for turning up to give us such a fantastic send off and all the very kind messages from you all; it is really heartening that we have so many good friends and family supporting us.
So to business; since our last update we moved Rahula initially to the Joint Services pontoon at Haslar Creek to finish off our final preparations and make sure our new home is as ready as she can be for the next instalment of the trip. This mainly involved stocking up with our emergency rations and me spending a freezing couple of hours up the mast to service the rig and replace the deck flood light. Amelia provided stalwart support from below, sending up all the stuff I had forgotten to take with me on the signal halyards, and taking pictures (see below). Throughout our time there, the skippers and staff at JSASTC were great and, apart from the free berth, we are extremely grateful for their advice and support.
James up the mast Preparing Emergency Rations
With the practical aspects as complete as they ever will be, it was time for the social and emotional ones to be taken care of and so on Thursday 8 March, we moved across to Gunwharf Quays. Once there, Ship Open To Visitors was a great success, with a stream of friends coming to see the 5 Tonnes of GRP that has been our sole topic of conversation at various social events for the past couple of years. There were lots of polite ‘gosh isn’t it big’ remarks and a few raised eyebrows, but most people seemed to be very interested in the ‘guest suite’ for future cheap holidays to exotic locations!
Friday brought with it more visits from family and friends and Felicity Mansergh (our youngest visitor) managed to stay onboard without throwing up, unlike her last visit on a lumpy Bridport Harbour wall last summer! Having worked so hard over the last few months to make this happen, we now took the opportunity to kick back a bit, drink a lot of champagne and enjoy the company of friends and family. It was a fantastic evening and I even managed to stay awake until the end (which as most of you will know is a rare event since I turned 30…). As usual with parties we just couldn’t spend enough time with everyone so we hope you had as good a time as we did. We really were very touched and pleased to see you all there. We understand that not everyone could make it, but the messages we received made up for it and we will certainly miss you all.
In the best traditions of the RN, the morning of the tenth was spent clearing up the alcohol related detritus of the night before, enjoying a portion of Portsmouth’s finest fry-up, completing preps for sea and saying more farewells. Our published time for departure (1300) approached and Amelia got more emotional and I got tetchy and restless. Preps for sea found a problem with the boom, which was quickly solved and helped take Amelia’s mind off goodbyes as the last of our guests departed to go to the Round Tower. After a quick discussion with QHM to deconflict our use of the main channel from more legitimate users, we were finally clear of Gunwharf, making our way up harbour to stow ropes and fenders (well nearly all of them) and get some sail up.
The sight of all those people (and one dog, mustn’t forget Flags) on Round Tower flying streamers (see photo) was one we will carry with us for a long time. There were far more people than we expected, making us both a little emotional and hoping that some of you will find time in your busy lives to come and see us before we get back. With three reefs in we began a slightly uncomfortable beat to the west and just as we thought we had said all our goodbyes Russ Clark turns up in his RIB to say cheerio (mild panic then set in as we know the boat wasn’t trimmed particularly well and the sailing legend that is Russ will surely notice!).
Round Tower Russ saying goodbye
So after a beat up the Solent, saying goodbye to some of our old favourite stamping grounds, we made it to Yarmouth. It wasn’t long before we went to bed after a very tiring and emotional day.
13 March 2007
The following day, the weather looked good so we left Yarmouth at 1300 to catch the west going tide through the Needles for the start of the first proper passage of our deployment to Falmouth. We made good time, considering we were beating into wind all the way, and logged just over 150nm in 24 hours even with some fluky wind that always ended up coming from the direction of Falmouth! We arrived at Falmouth early in the evening, just ahead of HMS NORTHUMBERLAND (I hope this isn’t a sign of things to come!!). Amelia was lining up for the berth (the joys of off-season sailing; you can always find an alongside berth!), but with a cable to run the engine died, and wouldn’t revive. So she deftly lined up for a mooring buoy and I lassoed it as we drifted on. Luckily we managed to get the engine running long enough to get us onto the pontoon. After a swift tidy up, we showered and went off in search of fish & chips to fill our tired and hungry bodies.