A great cruise in company

Graham Snook reports from the RYA Yachting Monthly Cross-Channel Cruise:

Since leaving Cherbourg on Wednesday morning the 17 yachts in the RYA cruise have been though the Alderney Race to St Peter Port and most opted to pass though the Swinge to finish up on Braye this afternoon. The cruise started on Sunday in Portsmouth with 20 yachts, including the lead yacht Windsinger on loan from Hamble School of Yachting. Unfortunately during the channel crossing two yachts suffered engine trouble and had to remain in Cherbourg while the cruise moved on. Troika, were staying on in Guernsey to meet up with friends.

The forecast for the Alderney Race wasn’t the most optimistic, 20 knots from St Peter Port, while this gave a great sail along the top of the Cherbourg peninsular, as the fleet approached Cap De La Hague, the water became rougher and more confused, and so the bumpy ride began. The wind was constantly over 20 knots and gusts exceeded 30, but in spite of the moderate to rough sea, all the yachts made it though without serious incident. All the yacht reported taking green water over the front. Christine Boulcott (55) along with her husband John (57) on their Hunter Pilot 27 explained ” Looking thought the deck saloon windows we could saw a sea of green coming towards us?This will be interesting I thought, but she came though it well”.

A lot of the yachts reported sea sickness, and a few of the crews found that windows and hatches weren’t as sealed as they could have been “We knew we had a leaky window, but it’s become more apparent now!” said Gareth David (43) on his Dehler 41. Neil Dymott (47) on board High Spirits had to spend two hours cleaning up his Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 34 after finding out his for hatch was on its latch and not securely shut. “I’ll never make that mistake again” he said while waiting for his washing to finish drying at facilities in St Peter Port. Luckily with only two of them on board they were able to relocate to their aft cabin while they dried the front out the yacht.

Thursday was spent exploring Guernsey. The crew of Landings took the opportunity to explore Victor Hugo’s House, while most of Ocean Waves Crew went for a picnic. The also fleet caught up with Dances with waves who came down the race a day early, Brian Thomas, (61) has really made the most of the cruising ground. Instead of heading to St Peter Port, he found the conditions were good so they just kept going?to Jersey! Arriving at 10 pm, they were in time to catch the local curry house, spend the night in the marina before and sailing up to Guernsey to meet the fleet. The next day, rather than walking round the island, they decided to sail to Sark and back before rejoining the crews in the Guernsey Yacht Club for the evening drinks reception.

Around noon on Friday, as the fleet entered Braye, one yacht looked more familiar than most. Quokka, one of the yachts left behind in Cherbourg with engine trouble, had had their problem fixed and were waiting on a buoy for the fleet to arrive.

So 18 yachts and their crews, have had a fun-filled week, crossing the channel, experiencing the Alderney Race and cruising the Channel Islands.

The event finished in Braye, though some yachts joined the lead boat for the passage back to the Solent.

The weather has made for some memorable sails for both good and bad reasons, but the 2008 RYA Sail Cruise has been a great success. A full report will appear in Yachting Monthly in the September issue.