Tuesday, 25 August 2009

The Channel Crossing Part 1

Arrived in Gosport on Sunday early evening full of optimism and high hopes for a pleasant crossing on Monday. Marc and I had decided that it was a great idea to take the children across the English channel to France on a sail boat. We invited two friends, Kerry and Eddie, to be crew. We hired a 38' Barvaria boat and carefully packed and planned. Marc got all of his required certifications in order. We were rearing to go.

Kerry and Eddie arrvied an hour or so after us and after getting the boat sorted we took the ferry over to Southampton and enjoyed a gorgeous dinner al fresco in some of the best summer weather we've had all year. My optimism swelled. This was going to be soooo much fun.

Sleep was hard to come by overnight as I was frightened we wouldn't wake up for the required silly early departure time. At 4:30 am I viewed Venus shining brightly in as the rising sun changed the colour of the sky to pale oranges, yellows and finally read marvelling at other people exhibiting equally poor judgement at this insane hour. I could see the weariness in their eyes and maybe for the first time thought this might not be such a good idea. Something about red sky in the morning = shepard's warning. Trying desperately not to panic or wake the rest of the boat I got the coffee on and prepared for a small, quick breakfast. Finally everyone one else stirred at 5:30 am and bang on 6:00 am we set off in a dead calm.

The first few hours the sea was like a mill pond. It was hard to believe that we weren't just on a small lake. No wind, no waves, no swell, and a strong tide in the opposite direction meant we were going nowhere fast. We motored for quite a bit although not nearly as long as we should have. Seb was desperate to sail so we prayed for wind. The power of our prayers for a bit more wind came in all at once. And then the seas roughened. The wind was right on our nose so we had the sails tight in and the boat was tipped right over so much that a simple cup of tea became an impossibility.

Abigail was the first sailor to feel the effects of the bopping and swaying. Kerry held her over the side right up until the point that Kerry started hurling over the side. This pattern continued for the remainder of the 15 hour epic journey. Thank goodness no one wanted to eat because we quite simply couldn't have made anything. Any more than 1 minute under deck and the tummy started doing somersaults. Sebastian only had one spectacular event hurling over the side.

But undoubtably the 1st pplace gold medal prize goes to Abigail who never whined, never cried, never moaned, never complained. She sat on deck in the spray, the wind, the cold and just hung on. Sebastian comes in at a close second by fortuitously lifting everyone's spirits at the very end of the journey when we all were disheatened and thoroughly fed up he started singing, telling jokes and stories, and pretending to surf. He helped to keep Abigail warm by cuddling up with her.

Abigial announced that she could hardly wait to get to France so she could have a croissant. We must have laughed for 30 minutes. Here this wee little angel was wet, cold, miserable with sick in her hair and all she wanted was a croissant. Bless her!

We finally entered the harbour and moored at the marina. I have never been happier. Abigail and I went for a hot hot hot shower whilst the boys prepared some soup and bagels.

It could have been so much worse. It could have been raining. It could have been colder. The wind could have been stronger. The waves could have been bigger. The children coul dhave been crying and freezing. And althought it was the worst sea conditions I've ever sailed in, I am so proud of my children and us as a family. This was an adventure of a lifetime. And it's only just begun!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

My grandchildren come from some real tough and strong genes..We girls are tough cookies..Please stay safe..Love to all of you..