Itchenor Dinghy Cruise Report


I had a great flash back moment to prior sailing days whilst unloading my sail from my car outside the Crown and Anchor. I inhaled the delicious Crown and Anchor wood smoke / fried chips exhaust smell. This moment was combined with the perfect combo of sun, shimmering water and fresh breeze. It was going to be a great day’s sailing ! Dell quay was much busier than normal. There was a fishing contest, a race event and a cruise all on. Dell quay had sprung alive . Mark Moran was there at the centre of the activity. It was my first event organiser volunteer duty and I only had a vague idea of what I needed to do. I had a slight concern about leading everyone to a water death. Fortunately, Mark kindly gave me his time to give me all the essentials of what I needed to do/know :

Basics of the briefing

Look at the sailing conditions
Roster of who is going and on what boat name/type
Agree on where we’re going and when we return.
Where to group prior to all departing
Decide on who goes at the front and back

Basics of VHF.

Refresher on radio etiquette
What to use as my own call sign to Marie Rose and the club
Channel M12 Vs 77

During the briefing we all agreed to sail to CYC and play it by ear, either going into CYC or heading onwards the extra 500m to the Westlands buoy.  Apparently DQ club members have visitor rights to other clubs . Never knew that.  

The dingy gear needed some extra 20 minutes TLC arising from several months of hibernation.  Dom helped Henning bring his outboard back to life with copious WD40.  David and I worked on a stubborn shackle on his Laser 2000 with a pair of pliers. Ten minutes later, everyone was launched and I was pulling in the main sheet and feeling that amazing feeling of acceleration from nature’s free energy. The tide was quite low and all sailors had to make continual adjustment to their dagger boards to avoid the estuary bed. Jon Richards and I tacked back on forth, purposely crossing passed each other’s tacks. We made our way windward towards CYC, passing a flock of Brent geese and a few egrets at Oldpark Wood. The fleet was as follows :

Andrew and Dom Buchanan – Patrol Boat
Jon Richardson - Tinker
David – Laser 2000
Carl Pisani – Cormorant 12
Henning Schaeper – Wayfarer
Zander Hack - Bosun

Andrew and Dom went ahead with the Patrol Boat with the speedy leaders.  My first radio call (ever) went something like this “Mary Ross, Mary Ross, this is Zander over… Zander this is Mary Rose over, Mary Ross, please ask all sailors to tie up on the pontoon . Let’s get some beer over and out” .  I didn’t feel quite so cool moments later when I got distracted whilst unsuccessfully trying to start my outboard, and then getting becalmed in the muddy shallows just beyond the CYC pontoon. I had to paddle landward. This was made worse by Carl easily sailing past me. Carl thankfully threw me an ego lifeline by shouting out that his Gaff rig sail gave him better propulsion.

CYC had a great selection of draught beers + crisps and plenty of outdoor benches. Excellent. A local there that I knew commented, “oh that was you who was struggling to get to the pontoon was it?”. Oh well, cover blown. We all sat together for about 30 minutes enjoying the sun, beer trading sailing banter. Time flew by and I missed my own 4pm planned return deadline. Fortunately, there was still ample southerlies and we all were back at DQ by 16:30pm, bang on schedule as per the briefing plan.  

Back on Dell Quay , everyone helped each other pull their boats out- as is the normal for DQSC way. Jon Wilburn, DQSC dinghy cruise leader showed up. I was relieved to report everyone had survived. Looking forward to the next cruise already and now with new sailing friends.