Life on the high seas

Sailing 5

Weekly loss: 1.4 lb. Total weight loss: 15.4 lb.

Last year for my birthday, my sister, brother-in-law and nieces bought me a really brilliant present – a voucher for a hands-on sailing experience on a 60ft race yacht!  Since my birthday is in November, I knew i’d be using the voucher this summer, so it was always something to look forward too.  Originally I booked to take the trip today, a Bank Holiday in England, but by a happy twist of fate, the company called and asked that since I was taking the trip on my own, could I possibly reschedule the trip to the day before (i.e. yesterday), and because of the inconvenience (not that it was), they would upgrade me to a trip that included a race in the afternoon.  Yes please!!!  So not only would I get a chance to take part in a race with another yacht, but as it turns out, in good Bank Holiday style, the weather is what can only be described as ‘pishing doon’ today, so it was fortuitous that I got to take the trip yesterday instead!!

The trip departed from one of the many boat marinas on the south coast, in a lovely place called Hamble which is about 4 miles from my house!  I set off early doors and arrived in good time, allowing me to have a coffee and meet up with some of the people i’d be taking the trip with.  Since there were two boats going out at the same time, we were split into a group of 10, and a group of 9 (my group), kitted out with waterproof coats and lifejackets and taken down to the boat.  The boat we sailed on was a Clipper 60 Serica race yacht, and one which has taken part in the Clipper round-the-world yacht race in 1988, 2000 and 2002. The boat has not changed much since it took part in the race, so it was great to experience for a day, what 14 crew would have experienced for 11 odd months on the trot!!! You can find out more about the yacht race here: http://www.clipperroundtheworld.com/about

We set off out into the Solent, which separates the mainland from the Isle of Wight.  About 30 miles long and 3-4 miles wide, the Solent is a sailor’s playground, as well as being a busy shipping route for freighters, the military and passenger ships too.  Initially we motored out from our sheltered marina, and headed out towards the Isle of Wight.  The conditions were amazing; one minute the air was still, the next the wind felt as though it was really strong.  We had to head out a bit further than the boat normally would which worked out in our favour later, as it meant we got an extra hour or so on the water, because it took a while to get back!

First things first, we had to get the sails up.  The main sail was already attached to the mast, but needed to be uncovered and hoisted.  Two further sails (the staysail and the yankee, I think!) needed to be passed up from storage inside the boat, attached to the masts and hoisted.  We all got a chance to help, tying knots, attaching the sails and hoisting them up (apologies to all who are in the know for my rookie sailor-speak!).  Once that was done, we all had to help when we needed to change direction, and soon got into the way of tacking or jibing when required (i’m practically a Captain now).  There was a great mixture of sitting back and relaxing, and then a few frenetic minutes of work when it was all hands on deck!  Everyone also had a go at the helm which was great.

Sailing 2

Making sure all the weight was on the correct side of the boat (a.k.a. having a rest)

After lunch the skipper decided on where we should race, based on the prevailing winds.  At this point, I can tell you that the race took place around a triangle of three buoys, all of which are specifically set out for racing, and sponsored by various companies.  What I can’t tell you is at which point our boat seemed to be winning, and when it seemed to be losing.  Occasionally when you think you’re ahead, you find out you’re not, and vice versa.  Having watched various boat races in the Olympics, I had no clue then either, so it wasn’t a surprise.  Possibly because I didn’t know where were going half the time, as we had to manoeuvre out of the way of a few Sunday sailors with right-of-way, so it was hard to know where we stood in the competition!! Towards the home straight, however, it became clear we were about to lose, and despite closing the gap, we didn’t quite make it.  It didn’t really matter though, because the enjoyment was just being part of a team, all working together to get the boat to where it needed to be.  I just loved the feeling of whipping through the waves, leaning at various odd angles in order to stay upright, and then having to quickly spring into action when the need arose.  I can see why it is such a popular sport.

Sadly, however, the day had to come to an end at some point, so after the race we sailed back towards the marina, using the engine in the last 30 mins otherwise it would have taken even longer to get back (not that any of us would have minded!).  Oh, and I nearly forgot; I’m pretty sure at some point in the afternoon we saw two Lancaster Bombers fly past, as I know they’ve been doing a tour of Britain this year (one a Canadian bomber, and one belonging to the RAF).  A quick internet check shows that it probably was, as they were scheduled to be in Hampshire yesterday!

So all-in-all it was a really fabulous day.  The weather was just perfect, the company on the boat was lovely, and the two crew members, Piers and Sam made it a really enjoyable day.  Living so close to such a sailing paradise, I definitely feel like I need to take the opportunity to do this again, so watch this space!

Sailing4 Sailing 5

As an aside, I said i’d report my weight loss every week, so as it shows above, i’ve lost 1.4 lb.  I’ve been off work on annual leave all week, and indulging a little bit too much, so i’m pleased with the loss!).  Back to work and routine again tomorrow (back to work for a rest I think), so hopefully more progress next week too.

Have a happy Monday folks 🙂

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