Libby Purves

Fric­tion be­tween land and sea

Yachting Monthly - - INSIDE THIS MONTH -

As skip­pers and crews look back on the sea­son, fondly or rue­fully, there will be the usual mem­o­ries for the jour­nal. About wild seas and flat ones, coast­lines, har­bour walls, moor­ing em­bar­rass­ments, jokes, sin­ga­longs, break­ages, meals to re­mem­ber or to for­get, bit­ter lessons learned about the new spin­naker, and all that.

But along­side the actual cruis­ing there may be mem­o­ries of crew-changes. Of frus­tra­tions, chaotic mo­ments, des­per­ate Googling and un­wel­come costs. Any skip­per lucky (or old, or rich) enough to cruise a long sea­son will al­ready be groan­ing in sym­pa­thy with that sen­ti­ment. We love the sea be­cause it is an en­tirely dif­fer­ent world to the land, and runs by its own rules with­out a road or rail­way line in its vast ex­panse. But this means that its junc­tions with the more pre­dictable terra-firma are not as nu­mer­ous or easy to get at as one would al­ways like. So to off­load one crew­mate and pick up an­other, es­pe­cially when hob­bled by diaries, re­quires close plan­ning, and safe har­bours for the in­evitable ir­ri­tat­ing wait.

Paul sailed round Ice­land this year, and seems to have spent long days hang­ing around in town­lets with un­pro­nounce­able names, wait­ing for the next hand to turn up by way of two air­ports and a bus. My­self, I joined the new ship Pro­lific, to cel­e­brate its ac­qui­si­tion by the peer­lessly ami­able and in­trepid Ocean Youth Trust South. We were tak­ing her to the start of the Tall Ships, where she would get her youth crew. From a grand launch event un­der Tower Bridge we went down­river, round the cor­ner to Har­wich and across to Den Helder. There I had to leave: train, bus, ferry, and bingo! I was back in Har­wich. Bar­ring one rather em­bar­rass­ing glitch (a tip: Hoek is nowhere near the Hoek van Hol­land, ig­nore that bus) it went well.

Other at­tempts at join­ing and leav­ing have been more fraught: ask any­one. Some­times it is straight­for­ward – off the train and down to the quay – but not al­ways, es­pe­cially if the weather changes every­one’ plans. In my own pier­head- jump­ing ca­reer I have had some brac­ing mo­ments. Wait­ing three days on São Miguel, blag­ging ho­tel room ex­ten­sions while Paul, on the AZAB edged painfully through deep calms to­wards it. Years ear­lier, money run­ning out, I hitched a break­neck jeep ride to Grant­ley Adams air­port on Bar­ba­dos when there was a ru­mour of standby tick­ets.

Even more re­cently there have been a few odd in­ter­faces be­tween land and sea, though once you are old enough to throw money at prob­lems it gets eas­ier. I have trekked through huge con­tainer ports look­ing for one tall ship, and when leav­ing an­other early for work rea­sons I waded ashore and walked across much of Sark in squelch­ing boots, drag­ging a bag and feel­ing rather too lit­tle con­fi­dence about where the ferry ac­tu­ally went from. I have puz­zled my way through Nor­we­gian and Dan­ish bus timeta­bles, and can draw you a sketch map of where to find shady cafés when stuck in Cas­cais. As I write, I am try­ing to work out how to get to the Farne Is­lands, hop­ing that Wild Song gets there at the same time.

As for skip­pers’ frus­tra­tions, they are plenty. You take trou­ble to an­chor off Paign­ton be­cause there’s a sta­tion, but your ab­sent­minded crew over­shoots, doz­ing af­ter a heavy night out, and rings up baf­fled from Pen­zance. Get gale­bound up a snicket of Bran­don Bay, and your crew frets be­cause there’s a cheap flight booked pro­vided he can get the af­ter­noon Din­gle to Cork bus to catch it. But you’re damned if you at­tempt to round the head­land in this wind.

Or, less ex­ot­i­cally, you have to put in to Rams­gate and miss a tide and a fair wind be­cause Dave has a sud­den job in­ter­view. Enough, a skip­per might mut­ter, to turn any­one into a sin­gle­han­der!

‘ We love the sea be­cause it is an en­tirely dif­fer­ent world’

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.