One foot on the ground
SETTING THE COURSE
On the August bank holiday weekend, Miranda, Bill, Charlie, Amanda, Polly (the ship's mascot) and I set out to sail across the English Channel in an Oceanis 423.
On the Friday night, after listening to Mayday distress calls on route, we moored outside Yarmouth harbour. It looked as though the forecast F7/8 storm was going to make a crossing impossible. We decided to get up at 5am, set sail to the west and use the morning forecasts to decide whether it would be possible. As we rounded the Needles on the Isle of Wight we agreed to turn left and set sail across the busiest shipping lane in the world.
We'd worked out that the tide would first take us to the East, then back to the West and we plotted a course that would take us in a reverse S-shape across the water. With Charlie as our skipper, demonstrating enviable seamanship skills, the crew showed remarkable resolve throughout. There is nothing like spending 72 hours in a space half the size of our kitchen to get to know each other and we worked fabulously well during our individual peaks and troughs. We arrived safely on the Alderney (the most northern Channel Island) as the sun was setting and we let our hair down for a very funny night ashore. After discussions with local fishermen and the harbour master we worked out the best window to get back. Our alarms woke us at 4.15am on Monday morning and we slipped our mooring under torch light. The westerly wind and tides worked in our favour and after a gruelling trip we got back to the Hambles before sunset. The trip was nearly 200 miles and took 28 hours under sail.
Not to be recommended for the faint of heart looking for a relaxing bank holiday!