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Heavy Weather

There’s nothing like a good blast to clear away the cobwebs, shake down the crew and check out the boat after a winter on the hard - but I don’t think the Sailing Fanatic really meant for it all to happen during the Scottish Series.

It was quite unfortunate really - there he was, dragging the crew out of their beds every Sunday morning for weeks before the big event, only to spend that precious practice time drifting around the Largs Channel, waiting for the wind.

There he was, anxious to test the sheets and sails for signs of weakness, only to have them hanging limp, as stressed and taut as a banana skin, each time he went on the water.

And there he was, keen to prove that his time and effort over the winter had actually managed to stop the water that was seeping from somewhere onto the galley floor, only to find that, after an hour at sea, the galley floor had returned to its usual glistening wet self.

In short, by the week of the Scottish Series the Sailing Fanatic had not completed his scheduled shake-up and shakedown.

So it was all the more unfortunate that the Scottish Series happened to be rather windy. Very windy. In fact, extremely windy - dropping Sea Dreamer and its novice crew right in at the deep end.

Force 6/7 spinnaker reaches, crash gybes, broaches… what a way to start the year!

And never mind the actual racing, nothing brings home the joy of competitive sailing like sitting for two hours in the torrential rain on a pitching boat waiting for the committee boat to get its act together.

But the Sea Dreamer crew were not alone in enduring the event – by all accounts there was frequent carnage on the reaches, broken spinnaker poles, tattered spinnakers, a man overboard, a broken boom … I listened to the tales over the phone at night, snug at home, feeling supremely glad that I was not there.

Luckily Sea Dreamer survived more or less intact. The Sailing Fanatic has admitted to one broach and a few broken bits, but claims that the yacht has actually been improved by the experience. The ongoing saga of the galley floor leak has, he says, been resolved: it was a simple matter of some numpty leaving the seacocks open.

And as for the crew, they all made it back in one piece and are recovering at home. Whether they will ever want to sail with the numpty again is another matter entirely…

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