NMAFC Twilight Cruising
CYCSA / Naval, Military and Air Force Club, Twilight Cruise, Wednesday 3rd February 2021
a report by David Brook
Jan and I arrived at the CYCSA at 1600 and after reporting in to Inese, who is the Racing Administrator, she took us down to the Members’ Lounge to await other NMAFC members and other visitors who were participating in the cruise. Previously Inese had rung me at home to ask whether I would like to sail on the CYC training boat because she thought that I had an interest in training. The boat would not be racing but would follow the fleet and we could do our own thing. I jumped at the chance because I would not get wet or have to jump about too much. Gunners always go First Class!!! Gradually the others arrived and Inese allocated boats to them.
At about 1700, Inese came back and brought our skipper Rod Hunter to brief us. We boarded Southern Investigator at about 1715, packed our gear away down below and then back in the cockpit were briefed by Rod. Mark Jennings had brought along his neighbour also a Mark and as he was bearded was promptly renamed “Hairy Mark” for the duration so that there would be no confusion. He then was invited by Rod to cast off the mooring lines, the engine had been started and we reversed out of the pen at 1730. Once clear of other boats, the sails were hoisted and out through the breakwater we went. Rod explained every move and because we were not racing he said that we didn’t need all sail set and so the first reef was left in the main and the headsail only partly unwound via the roller reefing gear.
The weather was great with about 15 to 20 knots of wind with an incoming tide. The waves were just starting to develop whitecaps. Southern Investigator was moving smoothly and cutting through the water on a Port Tack to start with a gentle motion across the waves and the helm was taken over by each of us in turn. With two wheels, changeovers were seem-less. We tweaked the main and headsail sheets as Rod ordered and photographs started being taken. We waited below the start line and when the three divisions had started in turn we followed out behind them. Boats from the RSAYS were also out for a Twilight Race and as some rounding marks were the same, possible interaction was likely. A large container ship was in the offing and on the move to enter Outer Harbour.
It was all very pleasant and the winches ground away as we tacked to keep up with the racing fleet. It came time to do a gybe and Rod talked us through it and it was all very gentle unlike some that I have experienced in other boats and other places. It was time to think about returning and dropping the sails. It was my turn at the wheel and as I had not had the helm with wheel steering for some considerable time, it took me a while to get used to not having a tiller which is much more positive as you can feel the rudder. As a result, my wake course was a bit wobbly. I discussed this with Rod and he agreed that wheel steering with all its cable and hydraulic linkages is not as positive as tiller steering which is what I have been used to on a boat half the size for many years. Anyway he gave me a pass.
The engine was started, I kept the bow pointed into the wind so that the sails could be dropped or rolled up and we headed back to the pen at the Club. We secured at about 1920, tidied up the cockpit and sheets and halliards and went ashore with our bags to get ready for dinner. We dined at yacht crew tables after ordering our meals and liquid refreshments. Jan was waiting for me after remaining ashore due to a leg and hip injury but she remains hopeful for a sail in the future. As skipper, Rod was presented with a bottle of wine which his crew insisted was to be taken home by him. The meal was a seafood platter with salad and was delicious. We were most impressed with the efficiency and friendliness of the waiting and bar staff and of course the kitchen staff had done a marvellous job catering for a large number of people. We stayed with most of the crew recounting our experiences on the water until about 2200 when we went home.
From my point of view, it is always good to sail with someone else on a different boat to not only broaden your own experience but learn different techniques and observe alternative ways of doing things. Things like boat management, type of fittings and their placement and maintenance are also important. In comparing our Noelex 25 with Southern Investigator, all I can say is “Wow”.
In conclusion, Jan and I can strongly recommend the CYCSA Twilight Sail to members of the NMAFC but please leave room for us next time!!!!!