The RYA fleet arrived back in Gosport yesterday after an exhilarating sail home

Westerly to northwesterly force 6 winds, with gusts reaching force 7, gave the RYA fleet an exhilarating Channel crossing home yesterday. On board ‘Sea Hawk’, we finally proved to the flotilla that the lead crew could sail, covering the 110 miles from Guernsey in just fourteen and a half hours! ‘Nordlicht’ set the record for the fleet, reaching over 13 knots surfing down the waves. With all the crews back in the Haslar lightship bar for last orders, we were able to relax in the knowledge that everyone was back in the UK and to swap stories from the day’s events. The only serious problem of the day was encountered by ‘Nordlicht’, who lost her steering just outside Portsmouth Harbour. Skipper Paul Tranter was fortunately able to rig the emergency tiller, bringing her safely into Haslar Marina for repairs.

Talking to cruise organiser Carol Paddison on the way home yesterday, she commented that she was delighted with the way the cruise had gone. All the crews said that they had enjoyed the week, with at least two boats considering doing the cruise again next year. There certainly seem to have been some new friendships forged, and hopefully some of the fleet will be meeting again for the New Year celebrations at Cowes. Carol will be organising next year’s cruise, and will be releasing the dates soon.

I had a fantastic week, and would like to thank Carol, John and all the crews for their friendship and help writing this series. The ‘cruising in company’ experience is great fun, and as any sailor knows, the next best thing to being on the water is talking about it in the bar afterwards, something which this group has been very good at! I would certainly recommend this cruise to anyone considering a Channel crossing but apprehensive about their passage planning or simply about the loneliness of being out of sight of land – it’s reassuring to know that another boat is only a VHF call away.

For information about the RYA Sail Cruise 2005, contact Carol via email, or telephone 02380 604232.