An important element of sustaining the boating economy is facilitating opportunities to develop relevant skills and capabilities, which has consequences in matters such as safety at sea, but also contributes to the amount of enjoyment derived this type of leisure activity. Working together with local sailing schools to offer discounted courses, or planning workshops or cruising-in-company events, are productive ways to encourage people to become more comfortable with boating and acquire the confidence to travel further afield.
Beyond expanding competences, getting to know your marina neighbours can be very beneficial, leading to collaborative relationships based on sharing knowledge, equipment, and generating good feeling amongst fellow berth-holders.
Le Havre Harbour Master, Julien Lebas, recently organised a cross-Channel cruising rally to the Solent for sailors in the marina, focussed on those seeking to gain experience in night passages, whilst also promoting community fellow-feeling amongst newer berth-holders.
After a series of safety and informative briefings, covering topics such as weather, equipment, preparation, Channel currents and traffic, – and very importantly, a preview of how to access each marina – a fleet of 9 boats set off from Le Havre, departing at 20.00H. Their details and TransEurope Marinas berth-holder codes had been sent to the destination marinas in advance, facilitating the whole experience for participants.
Landfall was made successfully in Cowes Yacht Haven on the Isle of Wight at 14:00H the following day. The marina kindly made space for the fleet to berth together, and cruisers found the location of the marina in Cowes perfect for exploring the charming high street. Another highlight was visiting the Royal Yacht Squadron departure point for RORC races, such as the Fastnet. The overall impression in Cowes was of a great atmosphere with numerous boats arriving in preparation for future races.
The next stop was the Buckler’s Hard on the lovely Beaulieu River, where the fleet was welcomed by two marina staff who gave the group plenty of information on the river, including the chance to take the tenders upriver and visit the motor museum. Participants then enjoyed a barbecue on land with a tent made available to enjoy their meal. High spirits continued with cocktails from a bar just next to the boats.
The next day afforded a rare sight of some 40 vintage Austin-Healeys. Participants declared that they would definitely return!
The return sail was greeting with a rising sun as the fleet passed through the Needles. A fantastic stay and an excellent experience for all.
It is great to see harbour masters going above and beyond their daily remit, to support those new to boating and help them gain experience by accomplishing their first night crossing; an integral step towards being able to extend their cruising range. Hats off to Mr. Lebas!