Course Reports

A memorable RYA mile builder–4 rescues in one trip

This is from a memorable RYA Mile building trip to France and the Channel Islands last year.
We slipped from Plymouth on Thursday 17th August and in a blustery South westerly sailed the short distance to the Yealm River and overnighted before running up to Dartmouth for the next night. After a good meal out and an early night we headed off to build some miles to Guernsey, when about 20 miles off our first rescue arrived in the shape of a weary racing pigeon (picture). After half an hour and having drunk some water, but refusing Graham’s famous fruit cake, he flew on again towards the North coast of France. From St Peters Port we sailed on to Sark then up to Alderney where we spent 2 nights.

The second rescue of this sailing mile builder was a crew member who overbalanced getting into the tender in Braye harbour, his life jacket inflated and with a little help we pulled him out took him back on board and dried out the contents of his wallet including the Guernsey £1 Note.

From Alderney we sailed quickly with the tide and against a light Easterly round to Cherbourg to celebrate a birthday in a rather good restaurant that I have found after years of selfless research.
The next day we went from Cherbourg harbour entrance to Portsmouth in 10 hours on a big spring tide and up to F6 from the west. The ‘eat all you can’ in the Great Wall is one of our favourites and the meal rounded off the day nicely. Haslar Marina has a silting issue so we couldn’t really slip until 1000 the next day and we sailed up past the new Aircraft Carrier before heading west to Yarmouth on a big tide and into rather more than the F4/5 Westerly that had been forecast.

We were about a mile off Yarmouth when we heard there was a capsized yacht and 3 people in the water south of Lymington. We headed off towards them as fast as possible but fortunately a Folk Boat recovered them very quickly. We were impressed by the Folk Boats skipper on the VHF and the way he handled the whole rescue, but rather less so by the Coastguard who asked some questions that seemed irrelevant and distracting when you are trying to recover 3 people into a little Folk Boat. Under the old CG system the training officer sometimes brought new recruits onto Wild Spirit so they could get a feel for the limitations of visibility when using the main VHF on a yacht. The impression we formed was that this type of hands on training has been replaced by prompts on a computer screen. Useful experience but we can’t guarantee it on future RYA milebuilding courses.

Graham and I were stripping down a winch when a 33 footer came into the next berth. The conditions for berthing were a little tricky and one of the Marina staff had come to assist them by taking the stern line. The Yacht was a Freedom rig so the mast is cantilevered off the keel and there are no shrouds. The Lady on the rail was not ‘in the first flush of youth’ and as they came alongside the bows started to blow off leaving her hanging off a rather slack top rail and unable to pull herself up. I hopped onto the Pontoon and just managed to reach her under the armpits, she was a little heavier than me and the landing on the pontoon was not a pretty sight, but better than going into a strong tide between a boat and pontoon, especially as she didn’t have a life jacket on.
A little squashed we finished off the winch and the Lady a little bruised was able to sail the next day.
Enough excitement we returned to Lymington after a great 10 day trip and 287 miles in quite often windy conditions and with almost no use of the engine other than in harbours.

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