The RYA cruise reached Guernsey this evening. Dave Pugh spent the day aboard Rustler 36 'Caramor' - and finally goes sailing!

The RYA cruise reached Guernsey today after yet another day’s motorsailing. On board ‘Caramor’, the tedium finally got to us, and after completing most of the journey under engine, we hoisted the sails and made the most of the 5-10 knot winds sailing off the south coast of Sark. Sailing in the Channel Islands is a real privilege – with very few boats around, the crystal clear waters are an open invitation to those confident enough about their tides. Rustler 36 ‘Caramor’ behaved like the thoroughbred she is, tacking through 70 degrees, her long keel leaving the helm feather-light.

Caramor’s owners, Geoff and Catherine Dunk, would probably prefer me to call me her parents, such is the relationship they have with their boat. The classic long-keeler certainly inspires that kind of loyalty – after only a few hours I was already talking about her in the same way that I refer to my own boat! Geoff and Catherine first started sailing about seven years ago on a competent crew course, but poor instruction put them off for another two years until they took the course again, this time with much better experiences. Since then they have both taken their day and coastal skipper courses, sailing on four different charter holidays in between, both bareboat and as part of a flotilla. They bought ‘Caramor’ in 2003, and decided to take part in the RYA cruise after 40 knot winds caused them to turn back from an attempt to cross the Channel in October last year. Geoff commented that they really appreciated the support offered by the fleet, as well as it forcing them to fix a date to make the crossing! Geoff and Catherine hope to take a few years away from work sailing the Med and crossing the Atlantic. They still don’t know how they will get on with long-distance sailing – Geoff described their approach as ‘suck it and see’!

The fleet’s all-too-brief stay in Alderney was thoroughly enjoyable. Alderney Sailing Club made us very welcome, and thanks are due to their Commodore, Julian Cobbold, for allowing me to make use of their Internet connection! Alderney is a fascinating place, and Braye was full of friendly, helpful, down to earth people. The fleet will spend tomorrow in Guernsey before its return on Friday, when forecast strong winds could make for interesting sailing. Tomorrow I will be interviewing the crew of Dehler 36 ‘Nordlicht’, on board which three generations of the same family are enjoying the Guernsey sunshine.