Boxers, goggles and the freezing waters of the Solent

I am training to become a successful offshore sailor and achieving this it takes a lot more than actually sailing. But finally, after days of fitness training and talking about sailing, I am managing to get some much-needed time on the boat because, believe it or not, I quite enjoy sailing.


More seriously though the clock is ticking to my first ever solo offshore race in 2016 and right now I can expect all manner of terrible things to happen. There is a lot to do and only a fraction of time to do it so I must prioritise and start with some strong foundations. I shall be the wise man and build my house on rock.


It would be fair to say I am getting to know the boats very well, not just at deck level but on another axis all together. I went for my first solo sail on board the Figaro which was a big hurdle and spent most of the day out of my comfort zone. Unlike going out on your own in a Laser, taking the 33ft Figaro for quick sail is a bit of a mission.

Fortunately the Solent provided some ideal newbie conditions with about 10knts and flat water, which meant Will Harris and I could get around a short windward leeward course without wrecking anything.

However after a few laps I decided to motor over to Will and have a bit of lunch and discuss what I was doing wrong and he was doing right. What I didn’t realis was that one of the spinnaker sheets was not all on board. It only took a few seconds for it all to go in the water and cut the engine out, which prompted some choice language and left me wondering what the hell I do now?

I gave a call to Will on the radio and whoever was listening to Channel 72 must have had a little chuckle when I said “erm Will, I might have got my sheet caught round the prop”.  As Will made his way over I tidied the boat and, after a discussion and a phone call, the plan was to sail over to a mooring and go for a little dip. They say the water in October is the warmest, I say it’s still bloody freezing, especially when you’re only in your boxers. It took me a good five minutes to get over the cold water shock and be able to hold my breath for any amount of time underwater; fortunately there was a pair of goggles on board without which I wouldn’t have seen a thing in the murky Solent.


Along with the time spent under the boat I also got myself up the mast, balancing out the world. Other than yin and yang, learning to get up the mast without someone helping is an important skill to learn, and tricky to pull off even in the calm waters of Cowes marina. Offshore, a solo trip up the mast would be a horrendous experience. I am still getting used to working on the bow with the autopilot on (who I have named Jarvis) let alone being stuck up the mast where I could plummet to my death.


Another word heavy blog but every waking hour is being filled with content which to me at least is fairly interesting, so till the next one.



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