My First Ever Sailing Trip!

Mike: 45 years out of practice

So this is it! The first ever sailing trip that set the course of my future life at sea. Not that I knew that at the time, mind. As far as I was concerned I was just on a jolly with my dad and brother. Here’s a brief account of that trip by my father, Mike.


“It’s 4.30 am and I am wondering what I am doing here in Shotley in Suffolk (south east coast UK). After an early arrival the previous evening, I was forced into the local bar to drink what seemed like gallons of Adnam’s Broadside since Knight Vision was being re-victualled when we arrived.

Not having been near a set of sails for more than 45 years, I was perhaps somewhat unprepared for what was in store. My biggest fear was being sick-and the first thing I did was to cram seasickness tablets in my mouth before a hasty breakfast. At least I had every confidence in John, our skipper as well as the boat, which seemed well found. I was used to boats under power and had no problem with leaving the moorings or motoring out past the first channel markers.

Marcus at the helm
Marcus at the helm

When John said something about the trip taking more than 12 hours, Jamie, Marcus and I looked apprehensively at each other. Surely, I thought, it can’t take that long as I had been on the ferry to Holland before! With about 85 miles of North Sea in front of us and an average speed of 5 knots (if we were lucky) then yes, it’s going to be a long haul.

My abiding memory on that first day was being at the helm in a Force 6 blow, about half way across. It was not the canting deck or the spray, but the wave pattern which continually pounded our starboard bow which impressed me most, making it hard to keep on course as the wind kept trying to push the bows around. John was below getting a cat nap when a particularly large wave hit us and we gibed as I could not hold Knight Vision’s head against the pressure on the hull. John came up from below like a bullet and soon sorted us out by taking in a couple of reefs on the main. Despite me realising we were in a very precarious situation I was still not bothered at all. Mostly during the trip we, the crew, amused ourselves by checking the log repeater to see how fast we were actually travelling; at times it seemed we were positively flying along (we were certainly beating 5 knots).

Practising coming alongside pontoons, Middleburg
Practising coming alongside pontoons, Middleburg

After that the Dutch waterways and inland seas were a doddle-it was like a pleasant holiday with the sun shining and plenty of stops in charming little towns where refreshment came on tap. On the last day in Holland with roughly 120 miles of North Sea facing us, it was noticeable how quiet we all became, as we knew what lay ahead. Despite that, the overnight crossing was certainly educational ‘though fairly uneventful-crossing the main sea lanes in the dark, however was quite an eye opener!

Last day back in the UK with us all shattered, we did our “man overboard” (where Marcus excelled) and shake down, before cleaning Knight Vision and then heading for home.

Would I do it again? Of course, but I would like to re-learn the basics of sailing (dinghies) since I think the fundamental stuff will help me enjoy myself much more, rather than making hard work of it.”

See all photographs from this trip.

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