messing about in boats

Being In The Middle Of Nowhere On A Nautiner 30

Posted in Sailing by Joseph Moore on November 2, 2009

I was just reminiscing of a weekend I spent on a Nautiner 30 last summer. I was crewing on a demo boat for Adrian who imports them (they’re Polish built), racing in some RORC offshore channel race. I can’t remember exactly which one, but it did involve us beating against the tide from Cowes to Lymingon, then running back against the tide down to Selsey (I’d been elected to sheet the huge assymetric spinnaker with the cheese-wire sheets – ouch) before heading out across the channel almost to Cherbourg.

Nautiner 30

Nautiner 30 photo nicked from Adrian's website

I’ve never been out in the middle of the channel before. I’ve done a few cruises across large bays before now. In fact, I do remember sailing a Westerly Conway across Lyme Bay in thick fog which was quite surreal. Anyway, back to the weekend on the Nautiner. We were doing 2hr shifts if I remember rightly and as the sun had just set we could still see the Isle of Wight behind us and I went below to get my head down. 2hrs later I clambered into my foul weather gear and out on deck to be greeted by Ben at the wheel who just smiled and said “look up”. It was a crystal clear night with a good breeze and millions of stars in the sky. I get so used to not seeing that many stars where I live, relatively close to the orange glow of London, but we’d come far enough in the few hours I’d been kipping to leave the glow of Portsmouth far behind. It was just us, stars and the navigation lights of the ships making their way up and down the channel.

I’ve got to say as well, I love being in the pulpit at night. During the day it’s all too easy to see the crashing waves below you as the boat surges through the water, but at night it all seems less scary. Clipped on of course, it’s just you and your little red head torch being bounced around while you hank on the bigger jib as the winds die.

Dawn was a fairly peaceful affair. I elected to get my head down for a while as broken sleep does me no favours whatsoever. I get grumpy and in the worst case, nauseous, which given the gentle sea at the time, was a bit ridiculous. When I emerged back on deck at breakfast time it was something else. The sun was beating down with real ferocity and the wind had completely died. Here we were, slap bang in the middle of the channel and there wasn’t so much as a ripple. Not even enough to make any noise against the side of the boat. Add to that, no land in sight, not even any ships in sight. It was utterly, utterly brilliant.

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