AFT PORT: The Lovely Watch
We departed St Malo on a baking afternoon, watching a flotilla of traditional and replica sailing vessels coming through the lock gates into the inner harbour before we could leave. One of them sailed close alongside us, the crew dressed in the uniforms of the French Revolution, loading their cannon and muskets meaningfully as they passed before. We reminded them of Trafalgar, at which they sheered off and eventually shot up the rest of the flotilla. A perfect evening's sail to the Iles Chausey would have beed completed by having the wind in the direction we wanted to go, rather than the opposite!
We spent a peaceful night anchored off the islands, a group of low-lying rocky islets belonging to France that nestle under the armpit of the UK Channel Islands. The tidal range is huge, about 10 metres, so what we could see as night fell bore little relation to the scattered hunks of rock still visible as the sun rose.
The main island has a population of only about 40, enough to support a souvenir shop, two cafes and a restaurant.The big attraction, however, was the white sand beaches and clear blue sea which seduced a lot of crew into swimming, even though the temperature was still only an icy 14c!!! After the ribs had shuttled everyone back aboard we raised the anchor and set off for the UK again, waiting for the wind to turn in our favour.
The big excitement of our last two watches at sea was when our two Watch members, James and Jordan, who are doing the Leadership programme, took over as Watch Leader for a watch each. Both did spectacularly well and got a round of applause after some trying situations. They had written a matrix of the tasks and the Watch members available, and proved themselves highly adaptable to the unexpected, particularly when a dense sea fog descended after leaving Iles Chausey and a new set of tasks and timings was required.
And, oh, the foghorn...
Now we're in the middle of the Channel under sail aiming for Weymouth Bay, with a NATO aerial wargame going on overhead, and French Mirage fighters flying about masthead height with a noise like ripping steel. We have reminded them about Trafalgar too, but they haven't taken the hint. Well, they are our allies now and they do make great cheese and not bad wine, so we can't be too hard on them.
Now our cadet, Corinne, is having a turn as Watchleader. She is having a bit of an adrenalin rush, having drunk too much Irn Bru (made wi' girders) 24 hours ago, and is making us work like crazy. We are having to use every trick we have learned to avoid undue effort!
Peter, Watch Leader - deposed!