The RYA Southern region's 'Cruise in Company' left Gosport today under clear skies. Dave Pugh talks to the cruise leaders

The RYA Southern region ‘Cruise in Company’ slipped their lines at 0445 this morning, leaving Haslar Marina, Gosport, bound for Cherbourg. The rising sun laid a shimmering path across the water as the nine boats made their way out towards Bembridge with a NNE force 2. As the RYA lead boat, ‘Sea Hawk’, motored out behind the fleet, I chatted to skipper John Wetton and cruise organiser Carol Paddison about their sailing experiences.

John, 34, started sailing on a Nicholson 55 during his Army training in 1987. On completing his 18 months training in as an apprentice electrician with the Royal Engineers, John was discharged on medical grounds and looked towards sailing to start his career. After a wide range of experiences, sailing boats of all shapes and sizes from Optimists to tall ships in places all over the world, John started teaching and qualified as a Yachtmaster Instructor. He came to Gosport in January 2002 having been invited to help start Haslar Sea School. John still works at the school, which is a part of Victory Yacht Charters who have provided the Bavaria 36 ‘Sea Hawk’ for the cruise.

Carol, 31, has been sailing since 1997, after a brief experience in 1989 which left her hating the sport. Her conversion occurred during a family holiday with Sunsail, after which she has taken every sailing opportunity available. In September 2002 she bought her first boat, MG Spring 25 ‘Jasper’, and in March 2004 undertook a Sunsail delivery trip from Palma, Majorca, to Gibraltar, experiencing force 8 gales and all the fun of provisioning in Morocco on the way!

Over the coming week I hope to interview the crews of different boats about their experiences on the cruise and their history on the water. Keep reading!