It was recently my dad’s birthday and I was due to go home the following weekend. My dad however had booked himself on a powerboat course in preparation for the eventual and controversial (with my mum) purchase of a boat. Instead of going home another weekend, I decided to join my dad on the two-day course.
Since the course was to take place in the sea, in November and, most importantly, in the UK. I made sure I put on plenty of layers (about seven in fact). The result, as you can see here was something akin to the Michelin Man. Indeed, measuring with a ruler shows that I am half as wide as I am tall. After a somewhat lengthy (as in I should have done this before putting all these layers on) toilet break, we were ready to hit the water.
The first part of the morning involved retrieving the instructor’s yacht from its current mooring and towing it to a slightly different mooring. Since there was only three of us and the instructor was piloting the powerboat, my dad was nominated to “hop” onto the yacht in order to separate it from the mooring. Unfortunately, my dad had a bad knee, so at the time, hopping was not one of his strong points. I will never forget the look on his face as he straddled the two boats, one foot on each as they bobbed around independently in the waves. In the afternoon, we practiced some slow speed maneuvers and did some theory work (attempting to tie knots and read maps) back on dry land.
On the second day, we were due to spend most of the morning and the whole afternoon on the water. Before heading off into the open sea however, we first had to plan our voyage. After a few minor hiccups (i.e. holding the plotter the wrong way round, giving us a course 180 degrees off of where we actually wanted to go) we were done. We started by going up the estuary away from the sea, following the course we had plotted by keeping an eye on the depth of the channel and avoiding the other boats by keeping an eye on the other boats.
Eventually, after getting a chance to hit maximum speed (around 40 knots) we reached our destination… the pub next to the beach. The instructor anchored the boat and we had some rather good value food. In the afternoon, we went along the coast to Portsmouth Harbour. For those who don’t know, Portsmouth is a very busy harbour, both for large passenger ships and military vessels. I therefore had to be extra careful not to do anything silly. After stopping to refuel, we pulled up alongside one of the historic ships, the HMS Warrior (the docked ship in the centre of the picture). I even managed to get close enough to touch it; however due to the false economy of pound shop batteries (as is the case with toilet roll – although that is another post for another day), I have no photographic proof. We then headed once again out to sea, this time getting around 2 miles off the coast. It was pretty exciting crashing over waves that I am sure seamed much bigger then they really were. Finally, under sunset, we headed back to the harbour on Hayling Island.