Here are some thumbnail links to hi-res photos taken over the August Bank Holiday weekend, 2008, of a "Hams' Sailing Weekend". Click on a picture to display the hi-res image, or right-click the picture and select 'Save target as...' if you want to download the picture to your own PC.
Don, acquiring his sea legs
Words of wisdom from the Skipper!
Dit-dah-dah - that's Whisky, isn't it?
This sailing lark's very tiring!
The skipper of 'Cygnet', an 8-metre Catalac catamaran which sails out of the Gosport Cruising Club, is Roger, 2E0RFB, who lives locally near St. Hilda's Church in Ashford (and who has threatened to become a Club menber!). Crew members were Don - G3EAO - chief Radio Operator, Geoff - G0LAM - Bosun and Stuart - M0SAR - Mate & Galley Slave.
We piled Stuart's car high with food, beer, whisky, sleeping bags, more beer, more whisky, more food, clothes, radio gear, inflatable dinghy, lifejackets, laptops etc. Oh, did I mention that we also took some food, beer & whisky!
We arrived at Gosport at around 10:30 and were ready to set sail an hour later. We planned to sail along the Solent to Lymington for the night, but unfortunately the wind was right on the nose and we'd heard from a club member who was already there, that Lymington was already pretty full, so we decided that rather than spending hours tacking backwards and forwards across the Solent making very slow progress in the direction we needed, it would be better to motor directly there and (hopefully) guarantee a mooring in the harbour for the night. Indeed, that was a good decision and we did manage to squeeze in alongside a large yacht near Lymington's Town Quay at about 4:30pm. (Click here for a .PDF of the electronic chart of the outward voyage.)
This had been Don's first sailing experience (with us, at least) and he was quite bemused by all that was going on around him on board. He took his turn at the tiller (it's a wheel, actually) on the way to Lymington and seems to have enjoyed the whole experience, once he'd got used to the boat's motion in the 'Solent Chop'. We had good weather and only took one or two waves over the bow!
Once we'd settled in, we had plenly of time to eat and relax a little. Luckily, we found a variety of whiskies on board, and thus started an evening of whisky tastings!
Don had arranged a sked with Geoff - G3JUL and Pat - M0AAC on 80 and/or 40 metres. 'LAM had brought along a 40-metre V-formation portable antenna which we strapped to the pushpit rails, but although he was able to adjust it to resonance so that the MFJ antenna analyser was happy, as soon as we transmitted (on Stuart's FT-847), the SWR was sky-high and the rig kept on backing off the power.
Stuart had taken along a 10-metre fibreglass fishing pole, an SGC auto-tuner and a variety of wire, so the pole was lashed quickly to the pushpit and a random length (approx 10 metres, of course) of wire was hauled up into the air, then connected to the tuner. We needed an earth of some kind for this setup, so a tried and tested length of green/yellow earth wire, soldered to a small piece (6" x 4") of double-sided PCB, was thrown over the stern to dangle just below the waterline.
This lash-up was soon on the air and Don got on the key. He put a call out (signing as G3EAO/MM) for 'JUL and 'AAC at the designated time, 19:00 local, and on the agreed frequency, and was surprised to have Gerald, G3MCK, come straight back with a superbly strong signal. 'JUL joined in, but sadly we weren't able to work 'AAC.
Roger's friend from the sailing club, John (skipper of the yacht Juno) and his wife, were in moored in Lymington, too (that's how we got the advanced notification that it was busy!). John rowed over to us and came on board for a drink. Rather stupidly, he said that he'd never been able to tell the difference between Scotch whiskies, so, as we had more than one brand on board, the rest of the evening was spent educating him! He'd brought a bottle of Jack Daniels Tennessee Whiskey along with him - so we all had to sample that, too. We all agreed that it was <insert your own derogatory term here!> compared to the Scotch whiskies, and we persuaded him to take it back to his own boat when he left us!
We settled down for the night, but neither Don, Geoff nor Stuart got much sleep - each blaming the other two's snoring for keeping them awake! Roger, in the separate front cabin, slept like a log. Anyway, morning came and we arose around 8 a.m. to a very grey, drizzly, day. A quick brew-up was arranged, together with a rather optimistic check on 160 metres to see if we could hear 'AAC, 'JUL and/or 'WPK on CW. Of course we couldn't, but Don did "CQ EARS" a time or two in case we could be heard.
The weather brightened up mid-morning as forecast, so a visit ashore in the inflatable tender to make use of 'the facilities' was organised. Roger cooked the obligatory fry-up for us all, then we prepared the boat for the sail back to Gosport. Leaving the mooring at around midday, we motored out of the harbour, then once we reached the Solent, it was engines off, out with the jib and set course for home. Roger immediately noticed that one of the fittings holding the jib sail down, had sheared, so he quickly had to make a temporary fix, which thankfully held for the duration of the return trip.
Don found having no engines running quite disconcerting at first, but warmed to the idea eventually and appreciated the tranquility, with just the lapping of the waves, the breeze blowing from behind us and the jovial banter between the crew to break the silence, plus, of course, the plethora of noisy motor boats roaring past us! Why do people have to be in so much of a hurry?
We arrived back at Gosport at 4:30pm, in much less time than it had taken us to make the outward journey, mainly because we were able to make good use of the tide which was travelling with us, whereas the previous day it had been somewhat against us. (Click here for a .PDF of the electronic chart of the return voyage.)
The journey home through the Meon valley was very pleasant and I suspect the crew members all had an early night to make up for the lack of sleep the previous night.
All in all, a most successful weekend - one which I'm sure will be repeated in the not too distant future.
Many thanks to Roger for inviting us on board - and to everyone aboard for making it a highly enjoyable experience.
73 - de Stuart, M0SAR
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