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Events

Sailing in Solent

 ASTO Small Ships Race -
 Cowes - Friday
 3rd to 5th October 2008

 Event details

Sponsors


Participants from Dering Employment Services

 Dering Employment Services
 announces its sponsorship
 for a group of eight people
 to take part in LSP's first
 voyage on 5 - 9 May 2008

 See more about Dering

  Offshore Cruising log by Martin Johnson

Adventure of blood, sweet, tears and getting soaked ...

Martin Johnson went on a London Sailing Project's Deaf Cruise and wrote about it in his diary. Here is his story ...

Friday 18th September 1998

It is the beginning of a week long adventure of blood, sweet, tears and getting soaked as twenty three people resembling the cast of a 'Carry On' film made up the crew of the ocean going ketch Rona II on her high seas voyage.

Unlocking the baggage on board, it was every person for himself as grabbing their bunks on a first spotted this is mine basis, except for the

ship's crew who had reserved bunks in the stern.

After a few introductions, we finally left the moorings despite some hours delays, under the 'questionably' skilled handling of the Captain 'Long John Silver' and his first mate 'Short John Silver' who was just as incompetent! A trial run for the crew and their desk hands was made up Southampton Water, to allow them to be acquainted with the day to day operation of a yacht while at the same time we made a 'victory' cruise past the Southampton boat show just to show off!

Late afternoon, a couple of hours sailing under our belts, we anchored in the Isle of Wight waters as a watch rota was constructed by 'Short John Silver' and we all enjoyed a hot meal before starting an all night watch which consisted of every member putting in an hour's time each. (Except the watch leaders at two hours each. Ha, Ha, Ha!)

Saturday 19th September

The morning sun rose above the horizon making for a sight one can really describe as breathtaking while enjoying breakfast on desk.

Immediately after, we set sail for Cowes to get a new water pump and some more supplies for veggies, (yes, there were four on board) in the course of this trip we had our first taster of docking Rona II to a pontoon which turned into quite a shambles and a few lessons were learnt from that.

As we departed for Weymouth everyone was getting excited for their first day of proper sailing as the full complement of sail was hoisted up, but sadly we ended up motoring along as virtually no wind was left, so the rest of the day was spent cleaning the cabins and desks or just plain lazing around the yacht.

Docking alongside the Donald Searle at Weymouth harbour it was off to the pub for a good booze up after a record breaking evening meal and washing up routine on board yacht.

Sunday 20th September

06:00am Sunday morning and the throbbing of the engine was felt throughout Rona II. It woke up a quite few desk hands who may have mistaken the vibration for their alarm clocks!

The sun rose from behind Portland Point creating some spectacular shadows and colours behind the lighthouse, whilst at last we had some acceptable winds to suck us along to our destination which at the time was still unknown to many! A few hours later of almost perfect sailing conditions was alarmingly disrupted by an approaching fog bank coupled with an increase in wind and wave size, just as we were on route to Salcombe harbour. It resulted in amore cautious approach with twice the amount of lookouts on desk fully kitted out for severe weather, their job to point out any hazards such as buoys, fishing vessels, etc. Two hours passed without incident as we made out approach into the mouth of a most spectacular harbour, sheer cliffs either side spotted with houses perched precariously on the edges. Mooring on to a visitor's buoy, it was another record - breaking meal and washing up routine all over again, then off to the pub in a water taxi for yet another good booze up. Three desk hands decided to have a late night skinny dipping game on their return to Rona II as they managed to half capsize her inflatable dinghy due to a slight off balance manoeuvre as all three moved to one side at the same time.

Monday 21st September

Early morning, today will probably be the ultimate test for all of us inexperienced ones as we prepared for a trip to Guernsey carving through the English Channel and her main shipping lanes.

In a Force 7 gale the bow lookouts were getting totally drenched by waves crashing over them as Rona II sliced through all the havoc of the cruel sea, her deck crew hanging on for dear lives as two of them succumbed to seasickness, down below the remaining deck crew trying so hard to make cups of tea, snacks and lunch which were proving even harder to accomplish.

Two huge monsters crawled their way across out bow as we approached the main shipping channels steadily crossing their wake as they made off into the distance seemingly unawares of the fury of the sea, which was battering us so violently.

Approaching Guernsey the sun descended the horizon turning the sky into an absolute splash of brilliant red streaks against a deep blue sky which was joyfully appreciated by Blue Watch still on deck, wet, cold, but determined to see Rona II to the safety of Guernsey's sheltered harbour.

21:30 hours, an exhausted crew moored Rona II to the visitor's pontoon while a hot evening meal was prepared and the rest of the evening was spent having a few drinks, laughs and for some of us, an early bunk down.

Tuesday 22nd September

A day of rest and relaxation as we spent a few hours exploring Guernsey, taking a blissfully warm shower as soon as the inflatable dinghy dropped us off on to shore.

Returning to Rona II at 16:00 hours having had six hours on shore we prepared to leave harbour by 17:00 hours to catch the correct wind and tide settings to send us on our way home but alas it was not to be. Two deck hands had lost their credit cards and wallet, which after some frantic phone calls to the police, was later retrieved sadly too late for an acceptable window to make out journey back.

The decision was made to have an early morning departure the next day, which meant it was back to shore and down the pub for another piss up much appreciated by a few alcoholics.

Wednesday 23rd September

05:00am. A day that will not be forgotten too easily as we headed back towards home. With the winds at a steady force 6 and the sea picking up, but well within, what we experienced two days before, we were warned that our route took us through some very treacherous waters and that should be well prepared for it. The first signs of the Alderney Race were when the waves started crushing over the top of the cabin roof and cockpit, water seeping in the forward vents, plates, tins and various footstock being tossed about, deck crew down below being shaken like pleading for an end to this nightmare

Twenty minutes of continuous pounding was taking its toll as Rona II violently carved her way through mountainous seas, her deck crew getting battered and bruised, praying at the same time until an eerie calm overcame us all as we exited the Race with a sign of relief.

Ten hours after leaving Guernsey the Needles lighthouse was a welcome sight as we approached the Isle of Wight for the short hop to Yarmouth Harbour just around the corner. The wind was so light and the sea so calm that cruising the last few miles required us using engine power up to the docking in full view of a mass of traffic waiting to board the Isle of Wight ferry!

Quick clean up below and above deck ensured that it was straight off to a good hot slap up meal at the White Hart public house in Yarmouth and a few drinks included too, made up for a merry atmosphere after the nightmare of the Alderney Race. A few bottles of bubbly cheered the ship's crew coupled with some 'shorts' and a great many photographs were taken near blinding everyone from all those flashes.

Thursday 24th September

10:00am The final journey home - an almost unbearably calm and collected trip compared to previous days of sailing.

Arriving earlier than expected to the mouth of Southampton Water, two afterguards decided to mutiny with help of a few deck hands and organised a short sight seeing trip up Southampton Water for a bit of fun before turning Rona II on her last short stretch of Hamble river to the moorings back at Universal Shipyards.

For an hour and a half Rona II was cleaned and cleaned up, a final group photo was taken as everyone took a last look at eacdh other and said their goodbyes and "see you next year" lines before going their separate ways.

So we come to the end of a sea voyage which brought together seven hearing and sixteen deaf people from different walks of life, who ate, slept, worked, laughed, argued, supported, and most of all, mixed together as if a team made in heaven.

Martin Johnson 1998

 

  Offshore Cruising log by Martin Johnson