Towing and fish & chips highlight the third day of the RYA cruise in company

My last report blithely stated that I would be making the voyage from Cherbourg to Alderney on board Legend 356 ‘Suzie Too’ – although still true, events have been a little different to expected! Apart from lead boat ‘Sea Hawk’, ‘Suzie Too’ was the last boat to leave the marina. As skipper David Chappell pressed the engine start, fitful coughs and a cloud of black smoke greeted his efforts, but there were no signs of life from the 3GM30 engine. David made his way up to the local Yanmar dealer, only to find them closed. After a superb display of boathandling by lead skipper John Wetton, ‘Sea Hawk’ took ‘Suzie Too’ under tow, managing an impressive six knots through the water as far as Alderney, where local Yanmar agents Mainbrayce agreed to look at the defective engine as soon as ‘Suzie Too’ made harbour. As I write, engineer Rowland Neal is examining the engine, hoping to get it running in time to join the cruise on its voyage to Guernsey tomorrow, or perhaps during the rest day on Thursday. There appears to be water in the cylinders, probably the fault of a defective anti-siphon valve. David and Suzanne have just been tasting the cooling water – an ideal aperitif for tonight’s fish and chips!

David, 49, and Suzanne, 44, started sailing about two years ago when they realised they needed a different challenge after their children left home. After doing both their competent crew and dayskipper courses, they bought ‘Suzie Too’ at the last Earl’s Court boat show in 2003. Despite logging nearly 2000 miles since their purchase, the RYA cruise represents their first long-distance sail, and they are full of praise for the support offered by the fleet. Suzanne commented that it allowed them to ‘push themselves a bit’ and visit new places, while giving them a great opportunity to learn more about sailing and navigation with the reassurance of the lead boat and the friendship of the flotilla. Talking to them, we came back time and again to the social side of sailing – since they both became interested in the sport, their circle of friends has widened enormously and altered to include a wide range of different people with a single common interest. As time goes on, David and Suzanne hope to sail the Med and perhaps to take part in an ARC.

Log on tomorrow, when I will be reporting on the sail to Guernsey. I hope to be on board long-keeled Rustler 36 ‘Caramor’, owned by Geoff and Catherine Dunk.