I’m not sure how we managed to volunteer ourselves for crewing the club dory for the duration of the Breydon regatta, but we did and here we are!
Being a relative newbie to this messing about on the water lark, I approached the day with some trepidation. My previous encounters with Breydon have been somewhat inconsistent and usually a bit terrifying.
We arrived at the Fisherman’s late Friday afternoon feeling thirsty after a long drive from Gateshead and we immediately availed ourselves of their hospitality and their amazing view over the island and undoubtedly the best sunset anywhere in the shire.
Some yachts arrived and some drink was had.
Saturday burst out of the beautiful sky with 4 boats prepping for the day’s racing: Dove, Anna, Melinda and Catspaw. Myself & Brian took the YSC dory out to set the buoys on Breydon, Margaret gave us a precise location for the top marker using WhatThreeWords and we were pretty much spot on. Much better than some buoy dropping instructions! Kevin & Ruth crewed the EACC boat and we agreed we would stay up the Yarmouth end and swap ends at half time. There was much amusement when I realised the EACC club boat is called Wilma, and I tried to persuade the OOD she should take the radio call sign Pebbles; we could be Fred, and Chris on the starting gun should be Bam-Bam.
There was some kind of kerfuffle before Melinda left the mooring and she lost a window, but all 4 boats started as expected albeit with Dove thinking she was in a second start (she wasn’t).
We had a bit of a buzz up and down the water in the dory: although not my first stint in the dory it was my first on time on Breydon in something so teeny. We figured we could justify a couple of fast training runs to get me used to moving the boat a bit faster than usual. It was quite refreshing and I was thankful for the spray as the day was getting hotter by the minute!
We tied off to a red post for the duration of the morning’s race and tried to take some pictures of the yachts as they neared the mark. Breydon behaved herself and it looked like an awesome day to sail with a nice breeze and the bluest of skies. I was a little envious sitting in the little dory. Luckily we had taken our cockpit cushions as the dory is a bit hard on the old bum cheeks. We had an uneventful watch and had broached the picnic by 11:45. As agreed, we swapped ends for the afternoon with Kevin & Ruth. They had a little excitement as a hire boat broke down and they had to try and raise Spirit of Breydon for a call-out.
Sunday saw Dove say an early farewell and Maidie arrive. It was a 5 boat start with May joining in the fun. We were on club boat duties again and crewed Wilma: she’s a lovely stable ride, but you don’t half get a bad back - side saddle next time I think! We stayed on the line for all the starts and I had a go at helping Joe hoist and lower flags. The start times were very evenly spaced with Melinda going at 12:45, Catspaw at 12:55, Anna at 13:10, May at 13:20 and Maidie leaving last at 13:30. It did mean of course the Bam-Bam had to set his boomstick off about 12 times to get all boats started (thank god no recalls, not sure he had any cartridges left!). I can’t remember if the quiet or loud cartridges were deployed but there was an amazing cartoon like “peeyawng” echo as the bang sounded off the other side of the water. Imagine Yosemite Sam trying to pop a cap in Bugs Bunny - exactly that noise. It had me giggling all afternoon.
We followed Maidie off the start line at the NRA mooring and sat at Polkey’s to await the return of the boats which had been sent up to water ski signs just before Reedham. We just had time to inhale a sandwich before getting onto Wilma and loitering between Maidie and May on their way back.
It was great to see every boat going home winning something, with Anna having a really good weekend: she ended up with quite a lot of glassware as well silverware and the barometer. The prize giving was interrupted by some tired rangers who arrived back at Goodchild’s pontoon to find a load of wooden yachts moored up, with Maidie temporarily in their spot. I think they wanted their tea, but Margaret with tact and diplomacy negotiated a 5 minute grace period so the giving of trophies could be completed and Maidie could depart.
On the whole Breydon was a great weekend: I know the weather isn’t always kind and it can be unpredictable, but for my first time on the dory on a big water it was a great introduction: I had a load of fun, it wasn’t as scary as I thought, and yeah, I might even do it again (unless it blows a hoolie).
A massive thanks to competitors, race control and volunteers, but most importantly Margaret who works so hard to make sure our events can happen. I’m pretty sure everyone had an amazing weekend: it was great to see you all; let’s do it again next year!