Excalibur sails over Cowes week – Bembridge

Ok so I didn’t actually race Excalibur over Cowes week, but we did sail around the races.

I took a week off work and had the challenge of taking some non-sailing friends (Dave, Kit and Peter) um well sailing, with Ollie joining a little later in the week.

I spent Friday prepping the boat before the guys came down, and tried to fit my new topping lift and main halyard.

With everyone departing at different times, and as they didn’t have any sailing experience I decided to try and pack in as much as possible into one day.

I did the safety briefing that night, and we all did our best to get our heads down for a few hours.

We woke up at 3:30am whilst it was still dark, and did my best to give everyone small jobs to do.

We pulled out of the berth and as soon as I radioed the lock my front nav lights stopped working. Dave and Pete managed to fix it, and then they stopped working again, second time lucky and the problem was resolved. By this time the sun was starting to come up, and by the time we left the lock we were greeted with a beautiful sunrise.

There wasn’t a ripple in the water, and not a sound apart from Excalibur’s engine pottering along and birds going about their morning routine.

The guys enjoyed reading off all the funny boat names as we motored to the anchorage at East Head.

We dropped the hook and had a full english, followed by a nap. We set off again at 9:30am. We got the sails up for all of 10 minutes, kit at the helm and Pirates of the Caribbean blasting from the radio for dramatic effect.

We then motored to the forts for a gander, and then off to Bembridge.

I thought anchoring outside Bembridge before heading in would be nice, as we could only get in around high water.

We dropped the hook and Dave went about making some lunch down below. It was a bumpy affair at anchor. The rolling affect didn’t sit well with Dave’s stomach, and before long everyone was mucking in to get the anchor up (which was a real bitch!) whilst Dave fed the fishes.

Two things I’ve realised. Firstly I really need an electric windlass, and secondly I still haven’t mastered the art of keeping seasickness at bay. Bloody hate it when it strikes.

Fortunately we were super close to Bembridge, super super close. Navigating in would have been relatively simple, though every man and his jet ski were out, along with every other manner of waterborne craft you can think of.

As we turned the corner we were greeted with a sea of yachts all rafted up 5 deep. We were given instructions as to who to raft up to by a very polite guy who had the insanely difficult task of directing an ever moving conveyer belt of boats. Literally don’t know how he manages it! Should he need a new job I’m sure a position as a air traffic control operator at Heathrow would suit his skill set. We did a few circles and then rafted up like a boss, and watched the comedy show that is called “who’s going to have boating fail at raft time”.

Being a small boat in a big boat world means you’ll most likely get placed on the outside of a raft up, as its not feasible to raft big boats up to small boats as they’ll get squashed. So we were the end of terrace boat for the evening, which in theory should make our departure the next morning that more pleasurable, as we can just peel off and beat the traffic.

We took a taxi that evening to Cowes for some Cowes week action, and that’s all I’ve got to say about that, we got very drunk.

Author: Tim Butler

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