Unfortunately I was made to sleep in the saloon, which was odd since there was a spare bunk at the back of the boat. It didn’t really bother me until I realised I hadn’t brought any sleeping gear with me! Ooops – school boy error. The one pain in the ass feature with the drop keel is the big column that sticks up in the middle of the saloon – the drop keel. And when I say pain the ass I mean it. The first time I eased myself down the steps backwards into the saloon I dropped straight onto the steel column, smashing my coccyx. Another school boy error!
The weather continued to amaze us as the sun set in the west and a huge orange moon rose in the east. On the one side was the Kentish coast and on the other Dunkirk, with huge great ships lit up dotted around in-between. We celebrated with a Thai red curry (cooked by yours truly) and ate it outside watching the sunset before us.
The weather was getting progressively worse but everyone was itching to get going and finally hit the open waters. When the green light indicated our turn to enter the lock the sense of nervousness and trepidation increased as the conversation dropped. Once the gates had closed behind us we had a fifteen minute wait as the lock filled and rose to sea level. We were all looking at the red traffic lights and waiting, wondering what the open water had prepared for us.
The crew was ordered to buy Chinese for the guests so off we went into town again, via a bar for a quick drink. Putting the 180 Euro bill on Michelle’s credit card we took the Chinese back to the boat and served it up to a very ungrateful and unfriendly bunch of Dutch f***ers.
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. That changed when we hit a stiff Force 6 on the bow. I’ll never forget my brother’s face as ‘Knight Vision’ healed over to 30 degrees for the first time. I seem to remember his face looked reflected how I felt: terrified! Here’s a brief account of that trip by my father, Mike.