“On 17th September my daughter Clara, 18, and I boarded Grayhound for the last cargo run of the season. I had been on Grayhound in May and felt inspired watching the mate, Laura, share her love of the sea with her nephew Bertie, 11. Clara had little sailing experience and what she had was easy warm weather day sailing on a charter boat in the Med.
Clara was about to embark on her gap year and I was keen for some mother/daughter quality time doing something I love but have never really shared with my kids. I thought Grayhound with her family atmosphere and cosy interior would be a perfect introduction to traditional sailing, and transporting cargo by sail would open her eyes to a different way of trading, kinder to the environment. I wasn’t sure though how much she would enjoy it and I was worried she would get seasick. I shouldn’t have.
We took the ferry to St Mawes where Marcus was waiting for us with the gig and we rowed ourselves back to Grayhound at anchor, how fun was that introduction to the ship! After a welcome cup of tea we helped bring Grayhound alongside and we were immediately put through our paces loading ale into the cargo hold (usually the saloon), had a safety briefing and slipped out to sea in darkness where we hoisted the sails up. Under Marcus’ kind guidance Clara took the helm as we were speeding at 8 knots across the Channel under the stars and found out she was rather good at it. We were on watch for 3 hours then slept for 6 at night and 4 hours on, 8 hours off in the daytime. Such was her enthusiasm that Clara,who normally sleeps till at least lunchtime at home, was having no trouble getting up at 4am for her watch and very quickly became a part of the team.
As promised we got to Douarnenez in Brittany in time for a breakfast of coffee and fresh croissants on Saturday morning. We helped Freya apply a lick of fresh tar to the topsides. We unloaded the ale and loaded gin, vodka and wine to take back to England. Sunday was rest day. We explored Douarnenez, had crêpes and cider and just relaxed. Monday we set off for Dartmouth. Clara’s confidence grew and whenever something was happening on deck she was quick to get involved in the action. The going got rougher yet she was giggling at the helm as we sailed through rainy squalls. She loved her early morning watch and enjoyed the transition from starry night to sunrise and the ever-changing colours of the sea and sky.
By the time we got to Dartmouth she had become such a salty sailor, she couldn’t even be bothered to have a shower at the Yacht Club! A far cry from the teenager at home who washes her hair every day! She thought nothing of sleeping with her clothes on between watches, crawling over the cargo to get to her bunk and the lack of privacy onboard. That’s what Grayhound does to you. It brings you back down to Mother Earth and the bare essentials. We are now sailing close-hauled to Falmouth. The wind is dictating our progress. Clara’s had to shelve plans of meeting up with friends for drinks on Friday night yet she doesn’t mind. She’s happily reading her book waiting for her turn on the helm. We are sitting side by side in the pilot house, the sun is shining outside, Dave is helming, Marcus is resting, Freya will soon cook us one of her delicious meals and we are enjoying just being together on our little self-contained floating world. The trip has definitely brought us closer and has provided Clara with a wonderful insight of what has been a very important part of my life when I was her age. Not many sailing boats are as welcoming to parents and children as Grayhound is. We never felt we were paying guests, we felt part of the family.”
Guest blog written by Virginia who sailed with us a cargo crew with her daughter Clara. To read more about moving cargo on Grayhound follow the link http://www.grayhoundluggersailing.co.uk/move-cargo