Cher­bourg re­verse

Yachting Monthly - - THE END - Brian Cle­ments

Long ago, when a West­erly 33 was thought large, five friends and I char­tered one from Lyming­ton. Our nav­i­ga­tor failed to show so it was down to me to find Cher­bourg. Young, con­fi­dent and in­ex­pe­ri­enced, I found the port after an un­event­ful night pas­sage.

Then it un­rav­elled. En­ter­ing the Grande Rade, a strong south-east­erly headed us as we looked to cross to the ma­rina. We mo­tored, furl­ing the sails, but the wind checked our course. Alarmed, we dropped our an­chor, en­gag­ing for­ward gear to ease the strain on the ground tackle. The an­chor dragged; the har­bour wall neared. Our first flare failed. The sec­ond soared over Cher­bourg, land­ing on the har­bour look­out tower, star­tling its oc­cu­pants. The French Navy came, tow­ing us the short dis­tance to the ma­rina.

Next morn­ing, a writ ar­rived, keep­ing us in har­bour un­til pay­ment of sal­vage. The char­ter firm ad­vised flight. We sought the Lloyd’s In­sur­ance Agent in­stead. Re­lease was se­cured with prom­ise of pay­ment of the sal­vage claim. A visit to the ad­mi­ral saw re­moval of the writ with an apol­ogy that pay­ment helped keep the French fleet at sea.

Back on board, my crew had solved the prob­lem of the night be­fore – the gear link­age had re­versed.

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