Shore trip to Nottingham

Thursday 29 September – Saturday 1 October

The crew installed washing lines all over my saloon – really, how inelegant.  They pegged up everything that hadn’t dried yesterday, and then left me to look after it while they walked off to the Gosport Ferry, in much more seasonal drizzly rain, to catch a train from Portsmouth Harbour to Nottingham, to check the Second Mate’s brother had settled in to university life.  They enjoyed seeing his very pleasant room in halls and a bit of the city centre, and ‘borrowed’ the Mate’s car to visit her mother in North Wales and retrieve the student’s bicycle, as he was finding the car too expensive to run, and park.

Saturday began grey, lulled them into a false sense of Indian Summer and then drowned them in a monsoon with a thunderstorm for good measure.

Back to my old home – again

Wednesday 28 September

We set off early in a flat calm to get back into Royal Clarence Marina in Gosport (yet again) to meet my broker friend, who was kindly returning my crew’s excess baggage, that had been removed to make me look tidy and spacious for the Boat Show.  We tied up alongside a wooden sail training ship, Bonawentura from Gdansk in Poland.  It was hot and still, a brief return to Summer, and the crew built their bikes and cycled to the launderette in town to deal with two weeks’ worth of washing.  While the Mate supervised the machines (funny how this is always a pink job), Skipper took one for the team, sourcing a new gas bottle and a few groceries.

Another change of plan

Tuesday 27 September

Mate inflated my little sister, l’arrêt, to go ashore and collect my mended steering wheel this morning, and by the time they came back, after a cheeky coffee in the Ketch Rigger, the wind had dropped and veered slightly, so it was no longer practical to go to Beaulieu as it’s a long way back to Portsmouth, my next rest point.  It sounded like the tender’s outboard engine was not running very well, so I guess that’s another job for Skipper to add to his list.  We stayed in the Hamble another night, watching other boats come and go.  It was a free but windy berth.

It’s all over

Monday 26 September

The crew were up early to depart the show berth before any wind set in to make it more difficult to slide me out through the narrow gap in the outer pontoon.  We motored down Southampton Water in light drizzle, and Mate brought me alongside a visitor’s pontoon at Hamble Point.  Skipper removed my starboard wheel for re-welding of the hub, and we stayed here overnight.

Southampton Boat Show – Show Boat

Friday 16 – Sunday 25 September

This being my third boat show, and second here in Southampton, I consider myself something of a pro, and fortunately my crew did their bit to keep me looking my beautiful best for my adoring public, cleaning and polishing me each morning, and not cooking anything ‘after hours’ that would leave me less than fragrant when the gates opened sharp at ten each morning.  My lovely broker friends joined us to chat with lots of interested visitors, and I was introduced to or reacquainted with several sailing friends of my crew from their dinghy club days.  Some of the professionals came aboard, too, out of curiosity or to assess issues with items of my equipment.

On Sunday 18 I received a special visitor from the Allures factory in Cherbourg.  He wasn’t directly involved with my build, as he worked in a different area of the company at that time, and was keen to meet my owners and kind enough to take them out for dinner to recognise their contribution to the advancement of the brand.  Really, doesn’t he realise I am their specialist subject?  They’d do it all for love of me alone…

The RYA Lounge is situated in the Holiday Inn on the Show site, and this year offered not only the best catering at the Show, but also free use of the hotel’s pool and gym facilities.  On Monday 19, Mate took advantage of her RYA membership to enjoy a run, swim and sauna.  Unfortunately this must have loosened her brain as well as body, and when she stepped back onboard she tumbled into the cockpit, rolled into the gap between the table and locker and cracked her head on the metal edge of the hatch door.  Ouch.  When she went back to the gym on the Friday, Skipper went with her, presumably to supervise her safety.

On Thursday 22, an old friend of the Mate, not a sailor but a special lady always up for a new experience (just as well as she was about to become grandmama to bouncing twin boys) drove down to visit and give Mate the perfect excuse for the best retail therapy session of the Show.  Not sure how a glass of pink fizz came into it, but it was Ladies’ Day.  One very important purchase was a Tilley hat, thanks to a generous leaving gift from Church friends.

In between meeting lots of people, my crew managed to find time to buy lots of new kit for me and them, and conduct further research into a number of items still on the wishlist that we’ll need when we go further afield.  Overall we were lucky with the weather; it was a little breezy for all but the most intrepid visitors on a couple of days, but only once did the broker boys have to resort to erecting a canopy to keep the rain off visitors in the cockpit.  Just as well – blue is so not my colour.

Three afternoons running I was visited by the excited new owners of my sister yacht, Diomedea – you remember, I saw her launch in Cherbourg at the beginning of the month.  Yippee: she WILL be in Plymouth when we go there for our winter rest, so we’ll all have friends to while away the dark days with…

After the show closed on the evening of Sunday 25, the crew enjoyed a well-earned beer with the brokers while mayhem and madness erupted all around us, with sections of the pontoons being dismantled to allow many of the show boats to head straight back to their home berths or yards.  The hammering and drilling of deconstruction lasted well into the night.

Taking up my position

Wednesday 14 – Thursday 15 September

This was never going to be easy, and in the end Skipper was persuaded to enlist the help of several strong men to help guide me into a very narrow berth at the Southampton Boat Show.  We’re all packed in like sardines so the visiting public doesn’t have too far to travel between boats, but it makes manoeuvring tricky.  At least once we’re in and tied up, we don’t go anywhere until the end of the show.

Now it was time for my cosmetic overhaul, and the crew spent the next two days washing, scrubbing, cleaning, polishing, buffing, waxing and oiling me inside and out until I shone, almost like new instead of the two-year-old I now am.  Friendly security guards kept my crew entertained as they worked, commenting that I must be an owner’s boat, as nobody else would be seen cleaning decks with a toothbrush.  Mate sewed me into a smart new leather wheel cover, until it was too dark to see where the needle was going.

Southampton bound

Tuesday 13 September

The Mate cycled to Waitrose in Gosport for a few provisions, ending up with a trolley so full Daisy her bicycle was unable to carry it all – Skipper’s wheels were enlisted to assist.  Once it was stowed, some non-essential items were removed from my stores into the care of our friendly broker friend in preparation for my imminent Very Important Visit, and we were finally ready to set sail for Southampton around 1600.  The wind was kind to us and we glided up the Solent under the gennaker, spotted from the beach at Hill Head by friends of my Skipper, much to all our delight and pride.  Mate docked me safely on an outer pontoon, near a very large sister.

Is it such a small world?

Monday 12 September

I sailed under gennaker up the Solent, busy with commercial traffic as usual, into Portsmouth Harbour and my old home at Royal Clarence Marina.  Surely I haven’t been around the world already, to be home so soon?  Mate tackled the laundry in the most frustrating machine yet: it eats coins randomly while the counter, supposed to indicate the amount of time left for the money inserted, just runs of its own accord.  The only way to complete a cycle is to sit and watch both displays, and if the time left on the machine is more than the money box has available, insert more coins…which it then might not actually need.  She was pleased the weather looked good enough to hang the washing to dry on the line all round my decks, although I’m not sure it does much to improve my good looks.

Piccadilly Circus?

Sunday 11 September

A beautiful warm sunny still day, marred only by the number of boat owners who were of the same opinion and decided ‘our’ quiet anchorage was the perfect place to spend it.  Inevitably chaos ensued when a departing motor boat tripped the anchor of a small yacht lying close to us, who promptly drifted our way with her crew oblivious.  Fortunately, my Mate was in the cockpit and able to take swift fendering action to prevent any lasting damage.  It sounded like it didn’t do the other boat’s nerves much good, though.

A very relaxed seal, resident of these parts, was admired by visitors in canoes and tenders.  Later, as calm was restored, Mate swam and enjoyed an alfresco shower on the back step, before another lovely sunset.

The day after the day before

Saturday 10 September

The crew dragged themselves conscious reluctantly to a grey wet morning.  This being National Trust property, the warden called early enough for payment, and added insult to injury by charging us more for using a mooring than if we were under 36 feet, even though it’s one boat – one mooring.  We got our money’s worth by moving a couple of boat lengths away to anchor in clear water, for which they ‘invite’ (but don’t insist upon) donations to the charity, and stayed a couple of nights more.  A quiet day of recovery and putting me to rights – a kind of delayed boat happy hour – rounded off by enough breeze to blow away the rain clouds for a pretty sunset.