My friend Agne is unbelievably adventurous.
She cycles to Europe, she sails around the world and she is learning to fly a plane. All whilst doing her CFA exams!
For a while now she has been trying to get me involved in these activities and, most recently, she asked me to go sailing with her.
Now, I am a fairly average swimmer. This, coupled with my significant dislike of turbulence put me off the idea. However, true to my new years resolution (of saying “yes” to everything!), I signed up!
The itinerary was as follows:
We met up at Gosport arena on Friday night and, after Agne (“skip”) showed us around the boat (a Bavaria 38ft by the name of “Elizabeth Star”) and gave us wet weather gear (a must if you don’t want to get soaked!), we headed out for dinner at the Castle Tavern.
Over dinner, we talked about all things sailing and the experienced member of the crew passed on some key tips.
The portions at the Castle Tavern are HUGE:
In hindsight, this was probably a bad idea given that a) toilets on the ship are difficult to flush and b) the sea the following day was ROUGH!).
After dinner, I went back to the Elizabeth Star to familiarise myself with my home for the next two nights.
The first thing you notice is that everything, EVERYTHING, moves on a boat! However, it is surprisingly soothing and I fell asleep immediately in my new VANGO Sleeping Bag:
The following morning, I woke up to the smell of breakfast and coffee, courtesy of Skip! After a quick shower, we headed out to sea!
Whilst Agne steered us out of the port, the experienced members of the crew (Frederik, Delia and Lydia) taught us the basic knots
the different parts of a boat
and how to tack (turning the bow of the boat through the wind so that the wind changes from one side of the boat to the other side) and jibe (the opposite of tacking, whereby the stern of the boat is turned through the wind so that the wind changes from one side of the boat to the other side).
Soon enough, we had headed out of the port and we could soon see the Isle of Wight in the distance. Skip soon handed over the orders to the crew members whilst she headed down below to make us another breakfast.
However, eating this breakfast turned out to be a mistake on my behalf – the porridge (even thought it was possibly the best porridge I have ever eaten!) unsettled my stomach and after one tack too many, I did the unspeakable….the Chunderdragon.
For me, the reason behind this seemed to be due to sitting on the wrong (low) side during the tacking! A lesson learned the hard way!
Luckily for me, Skip decided to turn on the motor and, as a consequence, the going got smoother!
Before long, we had headed past the Needles and were on the home straight to Lymington. The mainsail was let loose and it was (excuse the pun) plain sailing from there. On the way, the crew talked about their previous expeditions (Skip and Frederik raced over crews around the UK!) and also their favorite seaside towns (Skip loves Poole!).
By the time we headed into Lymington, it was already quite dark and Skip showed some real skill in parking the Elizabeth Star. This maneuver actually required the crew to work together: a few of us had to use buffers to protect the boat whilst the others had to jump onto the dock and reign in the boat. It’s harder than it looks!
Dinner and drinks (there were quite a few!) at The Ship Inn were incredibly good – if you ever go, try the fried Camembert starter or any of the seafood dishes. However, the bar staff didn’t seem to know what a dark and stormy is (I was offered orange juice and rum….)
On the way to dinner, we saw some questionable boat names:
The following morning was fairly relaxed: Skip made cheese toasties (having learnt from the previous morning, I passed up breakfast) and after a quick shower (the facilities at the port are really good!) we headed back home.
On the route back, I got a chance to helm (steer), we saw a race unfolding (there are so many rules regarding the right of way!) and even got showboated by a kitesurfer (it looks like so much fun!)
For lunch, Skip made us Gorgonzola gnocchi (it was such a gourmet trip!) and told us about her upcoming sailing trips whilst Frederik regaled us with some of his wilder stories (NSFW!).
As the sun was out, a couple of us decided to have a quick nap!
Soon enough, the Spinnaker tower came into sight and we were on the home straight. After a few emotional farewells, it was time to get the train home. By the time I got home, I was absolutely knackered. However, it was an incredible experience and one that I would love to do again!
Agne, thank you for taking me with you and thank you for the wonderful experience!
Agne is always looking for volunteers on the sailing meetup boards. If you are interested, get in touch! You won’t regret it!