Sheeting with the enemy

Members of the Pathfinder Powerboat Club have risen above the petty sniping that so often marrs the relationship between canvas fans and petrolheads, stretched their hands across the water and gone for a day’s sailing. Teresa King, PPC’s newly-appointed East Coast representative, takes up the story of an eventful day:

“Didn’t we have a lovely day the day the stinkpots met the rag and stick brigade. I have always wanted to go sailing to see what all this rag and stick lark is about and it seemed like a good idea to find out if any other members would be interested.

“The date was set and all week I avidly watched the weather forecast – I know we need it to be windy. Gale warnings were a bit much but to my surprise our sailing day was going ahead.

“Our vessel for the day was the Donald Searle, a 75ft ketch moored on a pile morning on the River Hamble. Thirteen intrepid Pathfinders and belongings were tendered aboard and introduced to our crew for the day (skipper Keith, watchmen Geoff and Gavin and mate John). We were split into two groups, given a guided tour and kitted out with waterproof clothing, life jackets and safety harnesses. We had a quicker than usual departure when our stern line slipped while securing the tender to the mooring but after some frantic action from the crew we were underway.

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“Up to that point, the weather had been quite good but as we approached Southampton Water the heavens opened and somebody said ‘Whose idea was this?’ I kept very quiet. As we zig-zagged (sorry, tacked) our way out of Southampton Water and into the Solent, gradually the rain eased and finally stopped. But to be honest we were too busy to notice. The skipper stayed close to the helm while the rest of the crew and any willing volunteers did all the hard work. Cups of tea and coffee were plenty although every time we got our hands on a cuppa the skipper would announce another change in direction.

“Our destination for lunch was Osbourne Bay and for the first time in three years of boating around the Solent I was actually going slow enough to take in the scenery. While enjoying our lunch of soup and bacon and sausage sandwiches, a Mayday call came over the VHF. A motor cruiser had been struck and was taking on water. They gave their position and it put them opposite us, just off Lee on Solent. As we looked across the Solent, we could see the Coastguard helicopter was already on site. As the story unfolded over the airwaves it became apparent that a Sunsail yacht had hit the motor cruiser and had failed to stop because they were racing! Best keep out of their way in future. The crew of the cruiser abandoned ship too their tender leaving a rather forlorn-looking boat to all but disappear under the rising tide.

“After this unexpected excitement it was time to up anchor and continue our day, sailing past Cowes, west towards the Beaulieu River entrance. By this time the wind had really got up and the Solent was quite deserted. We were all well into the routine by now, the winching wenches (the four female crew) were doing all the hard work, of course, anyone who weanted to took a turn behind the wheel or volunteered when necessary. This had to be the moat exhilarating part of the day; the yacht was really leaning over and the Solent chop was lapping at my feet. Hanging on for all I was worth I looked around at the sea conditions. Although we did not realise it, because our yacht was just cutting through the waves, the conditions were far beeyond anything we would go out in.

“My turn behind the wheel was cut short by the arrival of another yacht belonging to the London Sailing Project approaching from the opposite direction. This was a very good excuse for Keith to show off and for us to put our newly acquired skills to the test and give them a race back towards Southampton Water. To make up for my short turn behind the wheel, they let me bring the Donald Searle back up the River Hamble. Now I’ve done this many ti


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