After nearly a month of being in home waters with nothing but northerly or northeasterly winds blowing we finally started to see a change in the wind pattern. I had said to Asha that when it goes back to a favourable direction, sods law dictates that it will be blowing too hard. I have heard that words are spells and in this case that was right. In future Mark, just shut it! The forecast showed a nice breeze due to come in from the southwest but over the next couple of days it mutated into a beast! That beast made us run for cover back to the River Orwell as Asha described in the previous blog, Two steps forward, one step back.
Once the gale had blown through, the forecast started to speak the right language. The next day we dropped the mooring buoy at Pin Mill at 0800 and motorsailed out of Harwich Harbour again! The wind filled in from the southeast and the motorsail turned into a lovely sail and we cruised northwards for the forty or so miles to Lowestoft. At this point, had the wind allowed, we would have pushed on straight past Lowestoft to make some miles north but the forecast was showing another gale coming through so we decided to capitalise on what wind we could and just get to Lowestoft.
Lowestoft is a very convenient east coast stopover and we were here last year, again as an act of convenience. I don’t have any intention of cruelty but, in my opinion, Lowestoft can only be described as a convenience. I won’t go any further about its positives and negatives because I don’t wish to cause offence or to put anyone off their UK summer holiday but, if you can read between the lines, change your booking! Perhaps I will just say that as the eastern most point of the British Isles, it is the first to see the rising sun of a new day and we should be very thankful to the sun that it still shines its light there because if I was the sun I think I would have a lay in, open my eye a little later and look at something a little more pleasing! Unfortunately, Lowestoft is one of those seaside towns that needs help, although I very much doubt it will get it!
The Royal Norfolk and Suffolk Yacht Club is a beautiful listed building which sits prominently overlooking their marina surrounded by a substantial wrought iron fence and brick wall with a security gate, probably for the reasons already given. Unfortunately, it’s not unlike a yacht club to exude a ‘members only’ attitude. Sometimes this goes deeper to the extent that you can feel, as a non member, as if you are being looked down upon. This is a sad hangover from the past when sailing could not have been described as inclusive and could absolutely be described as an elitist’s pastime. When I was growing up, some people at school would refer to me in a derogatory way as a snotty yachty. Don’t worry, this is not a ‘poor me story’ because I didn’t give a f*ck! My love of sailing was such that I would simply look down my nose at the underling, tell him that scumbags aren’t welcome at my yacht club, sheet in my mainsail, shout ‘ready about, lee ho' and sail on my merry way along the corridor! Only joking! I would simply say ‘I am not a snotty yachty, I am a sailor.’ And that is a sentiment I still hold today.
As I have said before, I don’t see any point in writing a blog unless I am prepared to be honest. I have no intentions of political correctness or for the bleeding of my colours into one. After all, the truth shall set you free so here goes! The Royal Norfolk and Suffolk Yacht club is a little snotty. As usual with all sailing / yacht clubs, there is a clear message that ‘visiting yachtsman are welcome’ but I have been there three times and regret to report that I haven’t ever really felt that. When we were here last year we met a lovely guy with a beautiful old Van de Stadt sailing boat on which he was having a new engine installed and we met him again this time around, still patiently waiting for the job to be finished! What a charming, welcoming, friendly, windswept and spirited sea dog he is. He wears a big smile and has an aura of pure gent about him and in fact, he reminded me a bit of my dad. This guy should be the leader for all others to follow because the others need a good leader! We actually had hands put up in a ‘don’t come any nearer to me you rabid dog’ type gesture when we approached a couple of members on the pontoon to ask for the security code so we could leave the yacht club, get some supplies from town and then return. I am of course aware that there has been a huge drive for humans to fear humans lately but when you are at least five or six meters away and you see someone backing up along a pontoon with their hands outstretched towards you, it doesn’t give you a warm fuzzy welcoming feeling and, according to government guidelines, is unnecessary!
Once inside the yacht club smiles are a little short in supply and we were quizzed as to where we had come from. Up until this point, the only voice that had been heard was Asha’s and I think someone thought that as she doesn’t sound British, maybe we had come from overseas so we were challenged on our last port of call! Again, I understand the motivation here but there are useful tools of communication such as charm, tact and diplomacy that go an incredibly long way to calm even the most confused or fractious seas and some of these skills would be appreciated.
It really wouldn’t have taken much to completely knock the wind out of my sails and not give me anything to write about here at all. A smile followed by a friendly greeting and perhaps a helpful bit of local information, as is the kind of welcome a visiting yacht crew like us receives in all other places, would have been greatly appreciated and graciously received. After all, their website does explicitly say ‘visiting craft are warmly welcomed’. Finally, it might well be the cream on the cake if the yacht club committee asked members to act in a welcoming manner towards visitors instead of holding hands up like an act of repulsion! We are all human and I know we are all trying to evolve around the strange current affairs but if we let warmth, friendliness and compassion slide then the pit of loneliness and lack of love for our neighbours will isolate and suffocate us all.
Having said all of this, I would hate for anyone to ever say that I hadn’t been polite so thank you very much to the yacht club for providing a safe haven for Altor and us in which to weather a gale. We really do appreciate it but please don’t forget that the small things matter too so, Royal Norfolk & Suffolk Yacht Club, please try harder. I know you can do it…..
Exiting Harwich harbour and giving way!
Finally on our way from home waters but I always miss them
Through the entrance and safely inside Lowestoft harbour
Lowestoft beach just south of the harbour
The beautiful Royal Norfolk & Suffolk Yacht Club building