Friday 10 February 2023

Sailing, sailing, over the bounding main

Sailing, sailing, over the bounding main

My family enjoys sailing and we have a boat on the Solent, in the South of England. 
Appaloosa, named after the kennel name of Cariadd

The Solent is a 20-mile-long narrow strait between the Isle of Wight and mainland Britain.
The Isle of Wight is marked red

 Isle of Wight , showing the Solent
The Isle of Wight was a favourite haunt of Queen Victoria and it is where she died, in 1901, at Osborne House, her summer holiday home. Her patronage of the island made it a popular destination for wealthy Victorians.

In addition to being a major shipping lane for commercial and military vessels, the Solent is a recreational area for water sports, in particular, sailing. The annual Cowes Week series of races attracts competitors from around the world. The week culminates in a splendid fireworks display.

There are a number of webcams situated on the island, which we enjoy watching. There is also a live map which enables watchers to identify different craft, from huge cruise and container ships, to local ferries to busy little tugs and pilot boats. 

USS Gerald R. Ford was moored in the Solent, near Portsmouth in November 2022. The world’s largest warship, it had been engaged in training exercises in the Atlantic with other NATO partners.
USS Gerald R. Ford

Watching one day, we saw our boat sail past, with one of its fenders hanging over the side. (Our boat is chartered when we’re not using it, which is most of the time!)

Both my parents were born and brought up in the area, my father in Gosport, my mother in Southsea. My father joined the Royal Navy and in those days, the 1920s, commissions were long. He left on a commission in 1928 not long after my sister was born and didn’t return for three years. The men made their own entertainment, Uckers, a form of Ludo, being one favourite occupation. Sometimes it was played on deck, on an oversized board, using a bucket to throw the large dice.

 He was a good pianist, so was a prominent member of any Naval band. He saw action in the Second World War, notably in the Arctic convoys. When he took my mother to Russia and it was discovered that he had been on the Arctic convoys he was treated as an honoured guest.

A favourite pastime with children on our boat was to hoist them up the mast in the bosun’s chair, where they could swing to their heart’s content. The bosun's chair is intended for repairing rigging - no ladders available!

Another pleasure for them was to sit in the boat’s tender or dinghy, attached to the boat and use the paddles. They also used to dive into the water for a swim, always attached to the boat by a line. 

Safety lines and life jackets were de rigeur and none of the foregoing activities were carried out unless the boat was safely moored. So the children became familiar with the boat and the sea, later learning to fish, then gut and cook the catch.

Nights were spent in peaceful moorings, like the Beaulieu river. Watching a wonderful sunset or waking to a glorious sunrise and enjoying the varied birdlife all enhanced the experience.

Of course, the weather was often inclement, sometimes foggy, frequently raining or blowing a howling gale. Then the dress of the day was oilies and sou’westers, often bright yellow or red, for, after all, if you have the misfortune to be swept overboard, you want to be easy to spot in the boiling sea..

Note the opening phrase of this post, ’My family enjoys sailing.’ The sad fact is that they do and I do not. A peaceful day on the mooring is lovely but my anxiety levels rise alarmingly if Barry should suggest that we ‘go for a little sail’. He has tried so hard over the years - more than fifty! – to encourage me but has finally accepted that I am not going to experience an epiphany. 

I find it sometimes boring – a wide expanse of sea with nothing in sight, unless it's crowded with small craft racing, or big vessels travelling – and, more often, worrying. I do not enjoy standing at right angles to the waves - it can hardly be called ‘sitting’ when one is braced against the opposite side of the cockpit, watching the water streaming past one’s feet at a great rate of knots. My family, however, find it exhilarating when the boat is over on its ear, and do everything they can to get the greatest possible speed out of her.

Then there are the ferries, cruisers, tankers and vast container ships and I know they have every safety device known to man, but I fear being mown down into a watery grave. I have every confidence in my husband, an experienced sailor since his youth, who can look at calm water and tell if a breeze is coming, and I know he is a cautious man, up to date with all the latest safety gizmos, but still I cannot help calculating the distance to the nearest shore and wondering if I am capable of swimming to it. I am sure Davy Jones has me in his sights to join his locker.

In short, I regard myself as a Jonah, destined to bring death and disaster on board. Not for nothing do suspicious, superstitious sailors fear that a woman on board presages bad luck.

Anyway, someone’s got to stay at home to look after the animals!


  1. My brother and I grew up relatively poor but he worked hard and got educated in a well-paying field, and a few years ago realized his dream of buying a sailboat. He made two trips to the south of the USA from our home province of Nova Scotia, Canada. But you couldn't have paid me enough to convince me to take that journey. I was on his sailboat once, and was glad to get off again. So I hear you loud and clear! I enjoyed the Disney version of Sailing, Sailing, and that sunset was beautiful. It's good for the younger family members that they grew up so comfortable around water. I do wish I feared the water less.

    1. Well done, your brother. That's a long sea journey. I just don't like losing sight of land!

  2. You have a boat? An actual sea-going vessel? I'm a little bit jealous. I don't know if I would be a good sailor, or spend my time hurling my lunch into the waves, but I did cross from Germany to Australia aged 6-9 months without any trouble so maybe I'd be okay. And I do love watching the ocean, and beaches, and fish-and-chips.

  3. Germany to Australia is a long sea journey. I don't usually get seasick - especially if I don't set foot on the boat! I like the seaside and enjoy watching other people in boats from the safety of the shore.

  4. I like all boats but have never been on a sailing boat. From River cruises to 3000 people cruises, I have done them all. Rick once tried out a sailing boat but didn't like it ! Too much work I guess. But if I wouldn't enjoy it 10 elephants wouldn't pull me on a boat. I think we are born with. Like people who are afraid of thunderstorms. I would love to see the Isle of Wight, that's what I haven't seen yet.

  5. The Isle of Wight is an interesting island historically. I hope you manage to visit there one day.

  6. The picture in the bosun's chair gave me palpitations. I am not fond of water or baoting, although we used to cruise once a year. I almost drowned when i was a child and then fear becomes terror.
    Looks like your family had lots of fun.

  7. I can imagine almost drowning, at any age, would create a lifelong terror of huge expanses of water.

  8. Hi, and thanks for visiting and commenting on Nobby's blog. This post brings back rich memories of seaside holidays on the Isle of Wight (Seaview), learning to sail in my father's rather leaky dinghy. My father, having survived service as a Mosquito pilot in WW2, had a different attitude to safely to what would be acceptable these days. Instructions to six year old daughter were basically to remember to hold on to the boat if it capsized (which it did). I loved it!
    Cheers, Gail.

    1. Great attitude to safety! Too much mollycoddling these days, I think;-)

  9. Hi Janice - yes ... not for me either - my mother loved sailing and one of my brother's was very keen - though none of us have owned a boat. Sailing in Falmouth sound was enough for me - a huge swell, a warship (or equivalent) resting ... and we were being sucked in towards the rising bow - not much fun! Cheers - but I hear the joy and love the snippets of family life - well the animals will ground you at home! Hilary

  10. Sailors love the 'challenges' - gone aground? No worries, the tide will lift us off . . .


Thank you for visiting. I love to read your comments and really appreciate you taking the time to respond to posts.

I will always try to repay your visit whenever possible.