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Aurai - Westward bound!

The Biennial Classic Cross Channel Regatta was our target event for the summer and with 60+ classic boats, us scraping in as classic lets us mix with some spectacular boats and their crews. The event is all about 8 parties linked by some sailing and so we were very much looking forward to it.

We did the regatta two years ago and this was a chance to improve on our contribution last time and that depended on suitable crew which I had tried very hard to sort long in advance. Part of the Regatta for Aurai is getting to Dartmouth and back and crew Raj was committed for the whole trip. A very strong and able crew Jerry was joining us in Dartmouth and that would be an excellent team for the event itself. Plus a couple of people to join the delivery run what could be better?

Saturday 18th we left Hoo with seven days for a four day trip. Nice sail to Ramsgate, then a bit of swell and tough gusting SW wind, brought on immediate seasickness for my crew, and then Raj fell across the cabin. I spent the night sailing South on my own and was off Dover in the morning as light dawned and Ewa (Eve) helped on deck so we could then navigate into Dover Marina. Raj checked in with the medics and reported a fractured collar bone, and Ewa was due to go home anyway.

Now, no crew.

Dried out my kit and found a crew chap Steve at Cinq Port Sailing Club, fully qualified, and ready to give up his golf for a few days at sea.

Well, we did our best, always trying hard to get an angle on the wind and make progress SW, or 255 degrees. Only that is exactly where the wind was coming from, complete with a swell that rolled in and many waves breaking over the bow.

We played the same game for two days, went to sea got bashed about, tacked about 75 Nautical Miles and then went into our nearest harbour, which if we had set it as our target would have meant half as many hours at sea each day! Which got us to Eastbourne and then Brighton. By now we were getting the message and with building comradeliness among a minor fleet of Dutch and British crews desperately aiming for Cowes and struggling as we were being reunited in each port, we at least felt it was not total uselessness on our part.

Everybody looking for a weather window to suit and every weather forecast giving grounds for optimism and then returning to same old same old SW kts plus, so much for a promised NW and High pressure system. Now Steve was suffering, he had been drenched too many times and his eyes were playing up.

That meant a decision to return home and we got back to Dover from Brighton in ten hours and then I sailed solo to Hoo from Dover in about 11 hours, finishing with a sunny evening broad reach up the Medway to make me wonder why I ever needed to go away.

Chas

Date Published 29th Jun 2011