Swallows & Amazons for Grown-ups

Two years have passed since the last Semaine du Golfe. It gets better every time (every two years) as more people bring their boats and the organisational logistics people become more experienced. This year, it is from the 27th May to 2nd June, always the week of the Ascension, which corresponds with the neap tides. 1,528 boats are registered for the gathering, including Sarum (centre of the photo above with the red sails).

I have also gained more experience, not only in handling the boat, but also in assembling all the stuff I really need and no more. I have a better (and more environmentally-friendly) outboard engine than my old British Seagull, a 3 hp two-stroke Chinese engine designed for strimmers (weed whackers as the Americans call them) and mounted on an outboard assembly with a compatible mounting and centrifugal clutch system. The engine is air-cooled, so that much less trouble and I will have 20 litres of ready mixed petrol / 2-stroke oil for the week. It beats rowing when the wind drops or the close vicinity of other boats literally takes the wind out of my sails!

Also I have organised my storage space better now that I have fitted inspection hatches to my buoyancy tanks and can use them for storage. That should give me a tidier ship.

Each time, the places visited change, so it is new as well as familiar each time. Here’s some footage of two years ago:

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4 Responses to Swallows & Amazons for Grown-ups

  1. David Llewellyn Dodds says:

    To your title, I say, ‘Indeed!’ – how delightful and exciting a prospect! And what a jolly film – with an 18th-c. replica from St. Petersburg, and a Dutchman with – I think – an organ-grinder’s organ in a boat named ‘Nutshell’, among things that caught my eye. But the ‘traffic congestion’ looks rather hair-raising – when other boats can literally take the wind out of your sails!

    All good wishes, and, keep us posted!

    • I’ll be taking photos and notes to write an article when I get back home. The “congestion” looks quite terrifying, but the distances are more respectable on the water. During that Grand Parade on the “conveyor belt” (strong tidal current), the important is to have the engine running in neutral and always ready so that I can keep control over the boat in case of a wind drop or a whirlpool (I once had to have the help of a Zodiac to get out of one). The Zodiacs also help to keep small boats out of the path of big ones.

  2. David Llewellyn Dodds says:

    I was reminded of your post about Louis Duveau’s painting, A Mass at Sea in 1793 (1864) – though I find it hard to believe that it appeared nearly 4 years ago! All sorts of ‘mobile chapels’ then sprang to mind (e.g., special railway carriages), and got me wondering if you’ve even encountered an on-board chapel, here?

    • I’m taking a minimalist Mass kit with me, but will only say Mass when the boat is dried out on the beach. It won’t be easy. Saying the Office will be more practical most of the time. I have never seen a chapel on a small boat. If I ever buy a sailing yacht, the chapel “stuff” can be kept in a cupboard and set up in the saloon when needed. Ocean liners usually have a chapel or the chaplain uses a theatre or dance hall on a Sunday morning for Mass. This is the case on the Queen Elizabeth 2 where my Bishop has attended Mass while going to and from the USA by sea (his health doesn’t allow him to fly because of pressure changes, etc.).

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