Hunting The Treasure - A Great Gallant Day

09:45 The politest of enquiries about our “possible departure time” from those hemmed in front of GALLANT at Venture Quays, had as motoring away with Irish Pete at the helm, his new-to-sailing girlfriend Louise decorating the cockpit, Mrs Fenner tucked resolutely as far aft as she could get (a position she’d commandeered throughout the R-T-I to good effect as chief port/starboard spotter) and middle daughter Maddie, newly qualified Day Skipper, at the chart table devising the fiendishly cunning plan….and all this well before 10:00.

10:00 comes and goes. We view Prince Consort from every angle. She’s a lovely shade of black and yellow (or is a buoy “he”?) – but we’ve the place to ourselves” intones Irish Pete, “for ‘tis not another Sigma to be seen” just a shade apprehensively, we concur.

10:10 we exam the good Consort again, practicing our 360 degree pirouettes, oops watch the tide – still not a solitary Sigma to be seen?

10:20 “OK”, says new day skipper, after a girlie huddle with Mum and Louise. “The cunning plan is down with the tide, up with the tide, spin like a top round the buoys Pete, (just imagine you’re doing an Irish reel) and then hee, hee, hee, anchor down by 13:45 ‘cause us ladies reckon those ace Sigma sailors boys will leave it till the last minute and could, just could end up copping the 90% anchoring penalty!” Maddie proceeds to read the rules, (Bit like the Sunday ritual, Articles of War in Master & Commander) especially the dire threat to lost points for those still not in contact with terra firma after 14:00. My chest swells with pride; three years just completed at Sussex Uni, and she can read! “Do we want to lose points?” she says. No!! we cry. “What do points mean?”     “PRIZES, we chorus”. “where’s the rest of the fleet?” she asks? More than a shade anxiously we scan the Medina , noting a complete absence of Sigma insignia; gulp we’re on our own.

10:28 we hoist the vintage Dacron (one reef in the main and the number 3) Well we’re cruisers after all! and Louise’s might spill her coffee , and leaving the good Consort to his own devices, we set off westwards

10:32 Is that Persephone? Could that be Marta? Those glistening Kevlar sails, sleek hulls and dainty transoms, the sight of which disappearing rapidly into the seascape yet again, we’ve come to know and love.

Round Gurnard and that’s 10 points on the clock – Louise notes the time in her little notebook and whoops with joy. Then, the Gurnard Ledge, Salt Mead and Hampstead Ledge follow in a blur before its back over to the mainland and Eastwards ho, mopping up a whole string of buoys on the way as we run back to Osborne.   

13:20 ish and there’s just time to knock off W Ryde Middle, Sunsail and Norris, before its anchor down, black ball up and kettle on - tot up our 490 points. After all points mean…prizes!!…………..so we all bite nails and Irish Pete knaws on his Shillalee as we listen in to channel 77. Curses, Festina has 10 zillion points, hurray she’s coped the penalty. Ugh Persphone’s got millions, cheers, she’s miss it  too. Groans, Marta got more than us, sighs of relief they’ve missed the anchor watch as well (very honest of you Brian). Tension, tension, tension, come on Light –surely we saw you motor past us at 13:59:59?  “Festina this is Light, (long pause for dramatic effect, just like they do on Strictly Come Dancing)    550 points”  and anchored with a millisecond to spare. Groan groan.

Festina on the air again and its cheers all round  - we got a place after all, no penalty deductions, our bag of points were all good, and points mean………………..prizes!!

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So thank you to everybody on Festina for organizing a great fun finish to the RTI. Am sure when the word gets round and they read the write ups –others will join us the next hunt for Sigma points after all points mean……………………….. .

 

Paul Fenner