"All I ask is a Tall Ship"

Yes I really went up there!  When the Royal Southampton Yacht Club invited Little Ship Club members to join them on the Tall Ship Stavros S Niarchos for a short trip across the channel I was the first (and only) to sign up.
We boarded at Poole on Wednesday and spent the day training and literally learning the ropes. I had volunteered to work aloft stowing sails on the yards from where I had a terrific view of the ship or the port if we were in dock.

Soon after eight on Thursday morning the pilot came aboard and took us out to the open sea where we set some of the sails and proceeded eastwards with the wind although the direction we wanted to go was south to Cherbourg. These square-riggers don’t do up-wind and the forecast was that the wind would come around to the north in the evening. I was on watch at sunset when the sinking sun turned our sails golden and later in the night the clear sky was full of stars with a hint of the Milky Way.

We went along side in Cherbourg in the late afternoon on Friday and various groups went ashore for dinner. Our party included Peter Armitage, Commodore of the RSYC and we chose the ‘Café de Paris’ for a splendid dinner. As we were not sailing until after lunch we went to the Saturday Market in the centre of town and finished off with a ‘cafe au lait’ in the sunshine.

We cast off at 1.30pm and headed north with the wind now coming from the south west and we were able to sail again but not for long.  So we motored through the night and when I came on watch on Sunday morning we were steaming up Southampton Water on a blustery day. So ended a great trip, one I had always wanted to do.

Patrick Smith, 10.10.2010 | More from Patrick Smith’s blog