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Solent OGA member, Ben Collins brings us a summary of the very successful ‘South by South West Cruise, 2017 where he became known at ‘The Admiral’.

Fleet sailing has its special challenges I discover. Everyone nudges each other on. When the going gets tough and you would normally stay put, you find yourself out there, in waves you might not want to meet and some challenging seas! This kind of brovado all starts when a wine fuelled fellow skipper brashly declares the night before, that there is a destination to reach and he at least, will be up before first light’ to get steaming! Other skippers’ thoughts of claiming old age and infirmity seems only too cowardly in such a setting and so we all move on!

The OGA’s Sou’B’ Souwest sail along the South Coast in July had that same ‘All for one and one for all’ spirit about it. Day one out of Yarmouth gave us an early taste of what was to come. Head winds and breaking waves forced some of the smaller boats to take early refuge in Poole Harbour. Then on day two St Alban’s Point’s overfalls, bigger and more menacing than ever, threatening the smaller boats with journey’s end! But Portland Bill and Lyme Bay were made to seem easy as the winds eased.

A big welcome from the local OGA in Brixham and then more strong head winds and crashing waves off Berry Head bringing a broken tiller and shattered mast collar for us. We sheltered up the River Dart and had another party. Re-energised as the weather came good again, we sallied forth! A big warm welcome to a gathering and race with the South West OGA in Plymouth, a pontoon party in Fowey and ten days into the mission we arrived tired but elated in Falmouth. Of the 30 or so boats that joined us, three crews found that extra energy to go on to the Scillies.

A big thanks to Paul Jolley, John Gallagher and Don Garman of the South West OGA for organising the great welcomes en route and so making the trip so special for us all.

Ben Collins, Solent OGA Member