Didn’t we have a lovely time the day we went to Dinard ?
Well, no, not exactly. The trip was sold as arriving in time for Saturday lunch and The Joker had booked a slap up Restaurant for dinner. We cursed the decision that the race would exit the Solent going east but as we passed St Catherines the rollicking breeze still seemed to promise a timely arrival.
Sadly, burnt out squalls stationery on the French coast snuffed out the breeze. The hint of wind in the spinnaker was mainly apparent wind generated by our movement on the tide.
The sun sank, a molten ball, filling the gap between the solid black cloud and the sea.
“Grind, grind, grind. The kites down.”
“I Know. Ease the pole forward, gently, under control.”
“Ease the pole back, that’s good there.”
“If we run out of food we could eat Jimbo, bowmen are expendable.”
“You will be disqualified if you finish without a full crew.”
“We will save the bones.”
“If we run out of water shall we drink our own urine ?”
“Grind, grind, grind, ease the pole forward…..kites down……”
The tide finally carried us over the finish line after midnight, several packs of ciggies and innumerable gybes. The last 22 miles took 12 hours and I slept an exhausted sleep.
Our lonely tour of geological land marks on the Dorset coast probably explains our relatively poor position in the race results. Relative, that is, to our potential and ambition.
At least we finished! No mean achievement when one heavy footstep or badly handled gybe would have left us completely stuffed. Jacko judged the tide perfectly and the rest of us did our part, sticking to the task without the frustration and rancour I recall on other yachts on wind hole days.
Having initially doubted my ancient bones would stand another Fastnet my blood is now up. Shakespeare might well now write :
“We few, we happy few, we band of brothers and sisters ;
For those today, that shed their blood with me
Shall be my family; despite their origins
This day we shall all be famous
And gentlefolk in England now a-bed
Shall think themselves accursed they were not here,
And hold their manhood cheap while any speaks
That sailed with us, upon Lancelot, 2.”
Oh yes, and congratulations to Alex, who finally discovered the location of the light switch in the heads.