Monday, 9 August 2010

Brighton bound

In preparation for our Caribbean adventure, we made a round trip to Brighton from Eastbourne this last weekend, with a crew of Dave (skipper), Magda, Adrien and myself and Russell joining us for the return leg.  We cast off at around 11h15 and caught the 11h30 lock, and so were underway by 12h00.

The weather was challenging - a grey sky and south westerly breeze varying between 15 and 20 knots, sometimes more; and with wind against tide (we left on an outgoing tide to take advantage of the flow towards Brighton) the sea state was lumpy, particularly around Beachy Head.  But with a well-fuelled crew (sandwich-making while the helmsman was negotiating steep troughs wasn't without it's hazards, an unruly breadknife being one of them), and the odd conversation with Ralph, we managed a speed of up to 6 knots (even with a reef in), making Brighton by around 17h30.

After negotiating a packed visitors berthing area, we moored up and enjoyed the relative stillness of the marina (although Brighton itself was celebrating Pride weekend, so festivities could be heard in the distance). We watched a red sun set and chatted over a few beers and bottles of wine.  A hot meal of pasta and tuna, followed by a hot shower, meant that sleeping bags were beckoning and Vega A was all asnore by midnight.

Marina sunset
The following morning was bright, and the day's plan was to try and get the spinnaker up on the return trip to Eastbourne.  After being joined by our 5th crew member, Russell, and a good breakfast of bacon sandwiches and coffee, we set off at around 11h00.  The wind had turned to the north west, and conditions were a contrast to the previous day, with calm seas and a light breeze.  Our first few attempts at raising the spinnaker were bungled, as none of the crew (except Dave who was helming) had raised a spinnaker before; but victory was eventually ours once we'd figured out the system of lines.  

Beachy Head lighthouse
Progress was slow with a fickle breeze and sailing against the tide, but we relaxed in the sunshine until we rounded Beachy Head, when we set the cruising chute and made better time into our home port of Eastbourne.  We locked in at 17h30, and were moored up by 18h00.  After scrubbing the decks and packing our gear, we said our goodbyes and headed home, tired but satisfied that we'd learned a lot and had a whole lot of fun.

As September approaches, our team is bonding well - a couple more weekends and we'll be a well-oiled machine ;-)

Until next time...