Posted by: Jo | 13 August, 2017

The real value of shore crew

It’s our summer holiday, we’ve made a 24 & 8 hour passage from Milford Haven round Lands End and Chula is currently moored in Falmouth. Lowenna, who on my last post was 2, is now 5 years old and Rowan, 2 years old, are colouring in together having played various games with little more than their imaginations in various parts of Chula. It’s raining, and has been raining for a few days, giving me plenty of chance to reflect on the last 3 years to get to where we are now.

The passage round Lands End was a stunning sail with just Joe and I aboard. Typically, the British weather was not cooperating so we had to scour the forecasts to look for a ‘window’ for the 120nm sail to Mounts Bay. We found the smallest of opportunities and went for it, sailing in F4-6 rather than F7+. We anchored off Mousehole at dusk, just in time for a quick pint, and continued into the Fal the next morning. In all we were away from the kids for 5 days, we have never both been away from them for so long.

When Lowenna was born we were living onboard and I would never have contemplated sailing without her. She spent the first 2 years of her life living on Chula, I had read the book about sailing with kids and felt confident she would adjust to sailing. However the realities of sailing in the UK with our home port on the Bristol Channel and making sailing holidays fit around 2 working parents has been rather different from the book. The weather is rarely ideal and the short sharp seas of the Bristol Channel are very real.

The first long trip we took Lowenna on was to Cornwall, she went by land and we joined her after a 48 hour passage, the intention was to make short hops to get back to Cardiff over 2 weeks. The weather wasn’t ideal and we had one very seasick baby! She ended up doing a few of the hops by land thanks to Grandma and public transport. A great trip in the end but we vowed to make sailing fun and not something to be endured.

Rowan was born a year later and work life necessitated a move to land so Chula was given a well earned respite out of the water for a year after 7 years living aboard (we also had a long list of jobs that she needed to be out of the water for).

Whilst she was out of the water we realised that we were no longer restricted to berthing her where we lived and some good friends won their campaign for us to explore the river Cleddau for the summer seasons. Again we sailed the 18 hour passages (each way) with the kids safely with our shore crew.

The Cleddau is a wonderful place, our mooring is 2 hours up stream in Llangwm. There is plenty of mucking around in boats to be had and pubs readily accessible by tender. 1 hour downstream is Neyland and Hobbs Point for provisioning. A further hour downstream is Dale and the amazing Watwick beach lie at the Heads of the estuary. Out to sea Skomer Island and Jack Sound are very worthwhile destinations. Being on the boat is fun here, we have great friends to share time afloat with and make adventures.

For the kids Chula is now an amazing play den, she visits the best beaches and we all go on lots of adventures together under sail and engine. The tender is absolutely adored by both, they are happy to wear their lifejackets and often play ‘tenders and beaches’ when away from Chula. I love watching them play like this and it makes me so happy to see their genuine joy at any mention of Chula. For us, sailing has been reduced to a few hours with the kids and probably under less canvas than before or longer passages without the kids. But as they grow in awareness and competence I can see them asking to join us for the longer passages. And this is what I’m really striving for, passages they want to be part of rather than needing to endure.

To get to Falmouth we enlisted the help of a majority of our shore crew so that the kids can just enjoy being afloat. Once here, Joe has had to go to Scotland for work and so the three of us are on a mooring exploring Falmouth and the Lizard. We take our tender to shore and the kids need to have enough boat awareness for this to be safe and not (too) stressful plus entertain themselves in Chula on these rainy days. I’m enjoying seeing how they play and going at their pace with minimal pressures of getting somewhere on time. In a few weeks we plan to sail to Scilly, with kids if the weather permits, but with the back up of shore crew if needed.

None of this would be possible without such supportive shore crew, not only do they have regular safety check-ins but they also embrace the kids during this time with the ambiguities of weather and logistics of transport and sailing. We couldn’t do it without you: Nanny Styles, Grandma & Grandpa Hare xx

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