Faced with strong winds and as much water falling out of the sky as sitting below the boot topping, the crew of Missing Link stay put and go goggle-eyed over chart plotters.

Faced with strong winds and as much water falling out of the sky as sitting below the boot topping, the crew of Missing Link stay put and go goggle-eyed over chart plotters.

Missing Link log 20 April 1999

Crew: Kim Hollamby, Alex McMullen and William Payne
Location: Cobb’s Quay Marina, Poole, Dorset.

Port engine start hours: 271.3. Finish hours: 271.3. Hours run: 0.0.
Stbd engine start hours: 273.3. Finish hours: 273.3. Hours run: 0.0.
Log start: 2859.4nm. Log finish: 2859.4nm. Nautical miles run: 0.0.

Commentary

Driving rain and wind meant that we had no difficulty in deciding to leave the lines firmly fixed between Missing Link and Cobb’s Quay’s new D pontoon. Instead we drew the curtains on the bleak vista outside and set-to analysing and photographing the differences between the plotters we have on test and the electronic cartography they employ.

Converting the boat into a photographic studio is almost comical in nature. Preparing lunch in the galley with a tripod leg stuck in the way of the all-important cupboard housing the tea and coffee was a minor triumph of dexterity. Our photographer William Payne managed to fabricate a piece of headgear out of masking card that wouldn’t look out of place in a Sound of Music spoof. In case you are wondering, the aim was to cut out unwanted stray reflections on the screens. And whilst all this was going on the editor was trying to catch up on his June issue copy, late as usual.

One pleasant surprise was the receipt of several e-mails from around the country inviting us to visit various people, places, clubs, RNLI stations and events on our Grand Tour. We sincerely hope to take up every offer, but glued firmly to the berth it all seems a bit academic at this stage.

Our favourite amongst several kind messages was the following from Lynn Trout of Trouts at Topsham. She offers “some good reasons to be storm bound in Topsham”, namely “10 Pubs, five good restaurants, your own antiques show, a local museum, a short bus ride to Exeter, and Powderham Castle!” If this keeps up Lynn we might hire a car and make like shipwrecked sailors instead.

Cobb’s Quay staff kindly brought round the forecast tonight and it looks as though we may be here until as late as this coming Saturday (24/4). The low that is causing so much mayhem should be well on the way to filling by then, although we suspect the Channel will be somewhat bumpy still.

Alex has just got one of the PC plotter programmes to tell him it is a 65-mile run from Poole Fairway buoy to the River Exe if we take the scenic route around the edge of Lyme Bay. If were leaving that buoy now (11.00pm) and making 22 knots, we would apparently be inside the bar at the mouth of the Exe at 1.59am. Strangely enough we have decided to pass up the opportunity. The software in question has accounted for tides but it is not quite clever enough to work out how a wave can influence one’s progress when it is propelled by 30 knots of wind, especially when you can’t see it before it hits.

For our Cruising Club boats the options are a little easier; back home to the Solent at the weekend. Crews are quite stoical in the face of the weather but equally strong about not wanting to be out in it; quite right too.

There’s talk afoot of a big meal at the Cobb’s Quay Yacht Club tomorrow night (Wednesday 25/4). We hope to join in once we have found a way of parking Missing Link in the best part of a beam-on gale following on-water chart plotter trials in the relatively safe confines of Poole Harbour.

More news tomorrow including some idea of changes to our schedule, hopefully.