John Laing

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OYT South bulletin 21st June 2004

Hard to believe, I know, but JOHN LAING has now crossed the Channel two weeks in a row and may be getting the hang of the ice-skating thing! (Apologies to readers who didn’t see last week’s bulletin and may be somewhat bemused by the analogy). This is obviously good news for those of us who are booked to sail to Brest in July….

The latest foray into the wide blue yonder was greatly aided by the fact that the crew all came from the Isle of Wight and so were naturally free from inhibitions about abandoning the south coast of England. Spurred on by their enthusiasm, Wolf took them on an epic trip in which they covered 321 miles, the longest distance in a single voyage since the Tall Ships Race in 2002. They also visited a port which was new to Wolf – quite hard to do since he is now in his fourth season skippering in the area.

This was all achieved with a lot of hard work and long hours by everyone on board: not a day passed without someone being on deck and awake for sunrise. (Wolf says: “Well, they did ask to do some night hours….”) Apparently no-one complained and everyone joined in cheerfully with all the work.

The trip started with a crossing from Cowes to St Helier, Jersey, which is Dinghy Boy’s home port (believe it or not, he’s not actually on the boat at the moment). He came to meet JOHN LAING and say hello, and ended up changing a fuel filter. Some people might feel this is rather like popping round to someone’s house and being asked “would you mind just unblocking the drain, since you’re here?” However, either Dings is naturally good-natured, or the OYT brainwashing scheme has been successful…

The next stop was Lezardrieux, unexplored territory for Wolf – though not for me; and I’d like to apologise for giving him a sleepless night by responding to the news of his arrival there by telling him the tale of the last time I left Lezardrieux and was engulfed in fog just outside the entrance, on one of the rockiest coasts I have ever seen. Fortunately JOHN LAING was spared a similar fate, and everyone enjoyed the visit there, though apparently the locals’ fluent English inspired several crew members to plot rebellions in school French lessons on the grounds of there being no point learning the language. Some of us could have told them about quite different experiences on other voyages: stuck in Lorient hospital for hours with three sick crew members and no entertainment but an Asterix book in the original French, I could not have been more thankful for the efforts of the irascible Madame who steered me through my French exams at school.

St Peter Port, Guernsey, was next on the itinerary, where Wolf’s friend Matt visited (but was not asked to unblock anything) and then they sailed back to Cowes. Completing the list of friends seen on board during the week were Tony Salmon and Nick Bonham, both of whom visited JOHN LAING in Cowes.

Apparently the crew on this trip experienced every single point of sail, plus a NW6 in the Alderney Race, with some big waves which they enjoyed very much. Seven people earned their RYA Competent Crew certificates, and others completed the RYA Start Yachting course, a new course for novices which can be done in two days and can easily be upgraded to Competent Crew given a little more time.

After the crew left, the intention was for the sea staff to deliver the boat back to Southampton. However, there was a slight hitch in this plan which Phoebe has given me permission to tell you all about. Those of you who read about her exploits during the refit will find the following tale perfectly understandable. Readers new to the ongoing saga of Phoebe’s World should understand that contrary to what some might think, she is actually a highly competent watchleader. However…..

In Phoebe’s World, the laws of physics are suspended. Paint aimed at a surface in front of her can end up on the back of her head. Tools fall through wormholes in the fabric of space. And now the inspection plate for the engine raw water filter, in Phoebe’s hands, becomes invisible when put in a bucket. This means that when you empty the bucket overboard, you experience an unexpected splash linked to the displacement of a quantity of Cowes seawater not unconnected with the volume of the aforementioned inspection plate for the engine raw water filter. Anecdotal evidence suggests that the rate of sinking of the inspection plate is almost identical to the rate of sinking of Phoebe’s heart as she watched.

JOHN LAING now carries a spare inspection plate for the engine raw water filter.

This episode notwithstanding, Wolf says she performed very well on the voyage, and as ever he would like to thank all the sea staff who made the trip possible: Graeme Cole, John Clack, Phoebe, Alan Underwood and Di Roberts. Alan and Di are new prospective sea staff and both made good progress towards becoming 3rd mates. Thanks also to our Isle of Wight support group for arranging the voyage.

This week’s voyage is now underway, and when I last heard, they were hoping to get to Brixham while avoiding a forecast Force 9. One long-lost crew member is back on the trip after not sailing with us for a year: Oli Clements, whom many readers will remember. Not least those of us who saw him being beaten over the head with a spoon in the Scillies (this was a game, not a criminal assault).

Anyway, as ever: enquiries about crew vacancies to David Salmon 0870 241 2252; enquiries about sea staff vacancies to Wolf 07771 771864; and material for these bulletins to me, by email.
 

 





“This has been one of the best experiences of my life and I will never forget it.” Sam, aged 16

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