Brixham Cruise - Sail Report
Deep in the annals of time, just after the GP14 was invented, somebody built a road. A black ribbon of tarmac that gently meandered over hill and dale. It allowed the sea-starved inhabitants of middle England to explore the furthest reaches of this Sceptered Isle. People loved it so much, they gave it a name - the M5 (M stands for motorway and 5 is the number of days it takes to go along it). It was a magnificent tribute to the ingenuity of man. Man and only man could build a car park running from Birmingham to Brixham. To journey on a July Saturday does come with another worry, surely all these people are not going to the GP Nationals and Cruise week, as well? We stop, we move, we stop, we crawl and yes, we slowly, oh, ever so slowly, inch towards the English Riviera. Glad we have a boat behind us, surely Devon and Cornwall will sink into the sea with these hoards seeking the southerly sun? Brixham is our goal, the best, brightest and most beautiful sea-side hamlet on the south coast.
Our hosts for the week, Brixham Yacht Club, are found clinging precariously to the cliffs high up in the jet stream of our atmosphere. Nay, not a Sherpa or oxygen tank in sight, for none is needed, as sheer exhilaration is your driving force. I do not think I have ever been so high above the sea. I eventually stare out to blue waters of the sweeping majestic bay set before me. I gasp for breath in the thin air and admire the truly magnificent vista and enjoy its virility as the changing seasons flash before me, sharing winds from all directions, all within a 15-minute time span.
Time and tide wait for no man, the day comes when we actually get a taste of foaming English Channel. We move with the flow and ebb of history, saunter through the ghostly harbour with anchored yachts waiting to capture your little 14 footer and serenade its dulcet melody through the tides of tomorrow, like a ship at sea; never weary of the tumultuous waves crashing around the beautiful club house shore. But, like our GP President, cognizant of the coming tempest, he adjusts the sails of the metaphorical ship of what has become the GP14 Association. But our time now comes to put aside these flippancies and to seek for the glory and only the glory, that elusive and ultimate day sail to the distant Thatcher Rocks many miles away.
I well remember my efforts; I gazed into the misty horizon seeking just a mere glimpse of this far away island, hidden, unlike our brave face, as we set outward bound across the now turbulent waters of Torbay and into the murky distance. Warnings need to be heeded, this island is apparently within sight of the populace of Torquay, resist all temptation from the natives, with their sugary rock and bright lights of so-called seaside entertainment.
I brief my crew. "We follow this dim and storm-struck lump of rock north until we veer into the Channel, once fabled route to Oriental treasures and our shot at glory in the Sky News , just like previous Nationals, if, and only if, my cruising GP holds together to the bitter end."
Slipping, slipping, desperately holding on for dear life, the tightly wound mainsheet around my hands, hands that were burning, burning, the cold salty spray pounding, pounding, so hard, providing no relief for my aching fingers, the wind howling around my ears, My thoughts turned inward, seeking some kind of hope, some kind of future, some kind of salvation. The waves were choppy and turbulent as I guided my small boat through the dancing waters.
Peering across the grey menacing water of the bay to the distant and the ever so, far away goal. "We must be somewhere near Weymouth" I cry, as I take an old sea dogs estimate of tidal rate and celestial observation.
"Home, sweet harbour of Brixham, where are your enveloping walls of safety?"
Clinging on to the tiller, I point the old girl towards her destiny. Although it's the boat that gives the better reaction of the two.
"We're doomed, doomed I tell you", I yell to my near mutinous crew.
"We havn’a left the harbour yet, yea bloody fool", was her sensible reply.
The storm has passed by, leaving not a trace and the sun comes out. Yet again my foolishness lies bare….I survived. My crew unperturbed was oblivious to the passing squall as nails are now polished and sun lotion has been leisurely applied. The July sun shines in undimmed splendor, and all nature will appear to rejoice in its light. The waves with their silver crests will seem to chase one another in mad glee. The cruising fleet circumnavigates Thatcher Rock and heads for home as they tack to and fro across the Brixham expanse, under a stiff breeze, making the water foam about their blunt prows, and the white winged gulls wheel in graceful circles overhead. There is a sense of movement and life that is contagious. I like the freedom of gliding across the water, letting the wind rustle through my hair and skating along with the sun glittering behind me. Ah, the satisfaction, the sense of achievement, this will be my tale of glory in the club bar for the rest of the year.
Bet they cannot wait to hear it!