For most of the day at Brighton there’s been a raging storm. The south westerly wind accelerates as it blasts the chalk cliffs from which the Marina was excavated. There’s a high-pitched whistling from the rigging of hundreds of yachts moored within the artificial harbour basin, but it’s comforting to feel safe with the boat securely tied to a pontoon, well away from the breakwater taking the main force of the waves, which send cascades of salt-laden spray high into the air.
Heavy clouds built up during the morning, and by the afternoon they became very threatening before bursting and releasing torrents of windblown rain. Despite nature’s onslaught I’ve been able to carry out the necessary maintenance tasks; things like: checking the batteries and the engine, replenishing the Porta Potti, doing the laundry, buying diesel and visiting Asda for groceries.
I enjoyed having a bit of a sleep-in, by not getting out of bed until 0730 – that’s an extra two hours of idle luxury! If you think working a small yacht single-handed for several hundreds of miles along the coastline of the UK can be done by not using all the daylight hours under the sun, then you’re mistaken. During a day, twelve hours at a time at the helm without anyone to stand in can be quite normal. There’s much concentration and physical effort needed. You have to be reasonably fit to cope with the demands of steering, navigating, watch-keeping, working the boat and feeding oneself. When you arrive at your safe haven you need to either anchor or tie alongside a pontoon or another yacht, and if you are at a marina, you have to register, then be allocated a berth, which means you have to move the yacht yet again. Finally, you need to make everything shipshape before preparing a main meal, if you’ve not been able to do it while at sea.
Some would regard yachtsmen as hedonists – those who seek self-pleasure – but quite a bit of the activity of yachting is far from pleasurable in the sense that one ‘feels pleasure’ much of the time. I would say there’s more a sense of achievement in having used the elements and your boat in the most efficient way to carry you from one port to another. There’s an affinity with those such as fishermen who go to sea to earn their living. They have to work, to labour, while respecting the sea, being fully aware of the dangers. For both the yachtsman and the fisherman there’s a craft to learn that can only be had by doing it. No amount of theoretical or book learning can replace the hands-on experience, but head knowledge has its place also.
In the UK there’s no enforcement regarding being qualified in navigation and boat handling before going to sea, but only a fool would do it. Just now, a storm is raging and the boat shakes while in the marina, which emphasises the words I’ve typed a few seconds ago.