Weather delays play for MBM Channel Island cruise

A total of 26 boats are heading for Cherbourg, Jersey and Guernsey this week but freshening winds delayed the start today.

A total of 26 boats are heading for Cherbourg, Jersey and Guernsey this week but freshening winds delayed the start today.

Most of the participants gathered yesterday (Saturday) at Berthon Lymington Marina where the RNLI was in attendance to offer Sea Checks and a flare demonstration. Later in the afternoon Dominic May gave a conducted tour of the shipyard facilities at the marina.

At the initial skippers’ briefing a note of caution was sounded regarding the possibility of undertaking a Channel crossing to Cherbourg and, although the morning dawned calm, the MBM team were able to observe, via various Internet sources, the weather build to the top end of a F5 in mid Channel. Less than half-an-hour after the postponement briefing the wind started blowing in Lymington and with a strong wind warning in place for the French coast in the afternoon it wasn’t a comfortable day to travel.

Taking it easy is a usual MBM cruise in company policy but it is particularly relevant on this trip with the crews on several boats poised to make their first Channel crossings. The extra time in preparation has not been wasted among the fleet or indeed on the two nominated control boats.

Following an afternoon session demolishing and remaking the boat, MBM’s own Sealine F37Calm Voyagernow boasts an extra VHF radio- a Simrad RS87 on long-term test. Having taken the time to install the Simrad’s processing unit and cabling well away from the boat’s existing Raymarine set it was gratifying to find that neither of the radios seemed unduly fussed about the presence of the other, even when both were tuned to the same channel. The boat is now one stage closer to Russian trawler in profile, sporting matching port and starboard antennas. Both sets will be gainfully employed in monitoring as many as four channels at the same time on events this year.

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The second control boat, the Fleming 55Play d’eauowned by the du Pre family, is not long out of the box. Skipper Piers and crew Kim Hollamby, on his umpteenth comeback for MBM, fiddled and fettled a little, checking that the anchor chain was safely attached by a rope tail to the locker (it was) but the boat is proving to be unproblematic, an impressive state of affairs for a complex new build.

The Fleming tops out the list of boats on the fleet in terms of size; the smallest and fastest participant boat is the Windy MiragePanarrow, the slowest the VDL PilotSapphire Rose(9 knots). Several of the fleet are recent builds but there are some classics to be seen including the Fairey FantomeShadow. Two boats are already enjoying French hospitality following earlier passages in settled conditions at the beginning of the weekend; the rest hope to be with them tomorrow.

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