Corporate Sailing (continued)

Cambridge, 31st August 2001
Each day generally followed the same pattern for the sailing. We'd raise the mainsail, motor towards the Solent and sort out the headsail or sails to be used that day. What we used depended on how many guests we had, how keen they seems and what the weather was likely to be. The headsails would go up once past Calshot Spit (which roughly marks the change from Southampton Water to the Solent). We'd sail around, doing the odd tack and gybe for around an hour or two before dropping the headsails for lunch; it's hard to serve and eat lunch when the boat is sailing properly. We'd have to set lunch out, and get to have some of it after the guests. However, after just a couple of days of the same chicken, salmon and various salads, even just the sight of it was enough to put you off your food. In the afternoon the sails would go back up, and we've eventually sail back into Southampton Water and back towards the marina. Closer to Ocean Village, the mainsail would come back down and be flaked out (packed away on top of the boom), and the mooring lines and fenders be set for where we were going to moor that day.

During the sailing, our main job was to try and get the guests doing all the work, under our supervision. It took me most of the first week to get the hang of this; to start with, I joined in far too much. As soon as your head goes down to look at what you're doing, you can't see the guests. It took a bit of adjustment to realise that they really didn't know anything, and needed to be shown (repeatedly in most cases) what to do. I made quite a few mistakes, however they did get less frequent during the two weeks - I tried to make sure that I didn't make the same mistake more than once or twice. Both Olly and Alfie were really good about it all, and were really encouraging, but it was only for the last few days were I felt that I could contribute what I felt was needed to the crew.

Some groups were better than others; even within a group there were some people that were really keen to learn and join in, and some people that were quite happy just to sunbathe and drink. It takes a bit of skill though to be able to spot the difference between someone who doesn't really want to join in, and someone who is just lacking the confidence to volunteer.

Some of the guests had got some sailing experience. They tended to divide into two camps. The first were the kind of people that were actually helpful - they didn't show off, but were useful in that you could give them a job and have some confidence that they knew what they were doing. The second group, of which we had a couple, seemed just to want to talk about it all the time. The slightly glazed look on Alex's face when talking to once of these told volumes. However, they were all paying for the experience, and our main job was to grin and bear it - make sure they at least enjoyed themselves!