On Friday, 15 July, seven of our more stalwart members set sail in Freedom for
Plymouth and the Eddystone Charity Pursuit.
This year’s crew were Tom Glomb (skipper), Rick Allbrook, Andy Baker, Gordon Guest, Justin Hayden, Davinia Hollingworth and Tim Newton. The event boosted DSA coffers by approximately £1,400 — not a bad outcome for 3 days of fun!! Here’s Justin to tell you all about it.

It’s the morning after I arrived home and I still haven’t got my land legs back yet – I’d feel better if the house would stay still! I thought I’d write up a few brief notes of my experience in case anyone wanted to read them. Day 1: Torquay to Plymouth
We left Torquay harbour at 9.45am on Friday 15 July. There were 7 of us on board the yacht Freedom, a 35’ Hanse 350 owned by the Disabled Sailing Association: several of us with a range of disabilities but also some able-bodied sailors, skippered by Tom – a very experienced yachtsman. We took turns at the helm sailing down to Plymouth. There was very little rope work to be done compared with the constant alterations when sailing
a dinghy, so it felt much easier. We soon met unexpected swell along the South Hams coast causing the yacht to pitch heavily for a while. A couple of the crew felt ill, but thankfully we had taken sea sickness pills. The tide was against us so it took longer than expected to reach Plymouth (11¼ hours) – just in time to order food before the marina’s restaurant closed. Tired from the sail and late to bed, so slept better than expected. Unsure about the forecast for sail home.

Day 2: The Pursuit
My cabin mate and I woke at the predetermined time to find the boat
deserted – the Marie Celeste has happened again! The rest of the crew had actually risen earlier but kindly let us take our time coming around. After breakfast, more sea sickness pills and a shower, we set off for the start line. We were over the line at 9.25am in a staggered start. 85 yachts were meant to have taken part but quite a few didn’t attempt it – perhaps it was the forecast! 15 yachts withdrew after starting – hearing them drop like ninepins over the radio was a little disconcerting! We soldiered on (sailored on?) in quite adverse conditions, not managing more than 6 knots (OK, it’s a cruising yacht, not a racer!). Taking turns at the helm again, it took us 4¼ hours to reach the Hand Deeps Buoy (pictured) further west of the Eddystone lighthouse, but only a couple of  hours to sail home in glorious sunshine with the wind behind us. Bliss!
An hour to recover before setting off again, this time on the water taxi to the Royal Western Yacht Club for a celebratory meal and to hear the results. We were positioned 46th (35th after the rather complicated system of handicap and points for sponsorship had been applied). 51 yachts made it across the finish line. We weren’t disheartened – it’s a fun event to raise money (nearly £50,000 this year) for local good causes. Early to bed. Even more unsure about the forecast for the sail home – would we sail early to catch the tide or lie in to take the train?

Day 3: Plymouth to Torquay
Woken at 6am by noises on board, so no lie in! 6.30am set sail for home knowing it would be rough. I’ve ridden every ride at AltonTowers (tightly holding my daughter’s hand, I should add) – what could a Strong Breeze do to us! We realised after a couple of hours that we’d not seen another yacht out there. One appeared an hour later in the opposite direction. Then the Coastguard issued a gale force warning before we experienced gusts up to Force 8. I was unable to use the camera during these times due to spray coming over the boat, the rain and the need to hang on to something made of steel! (My kids would have loved it.) In spite of this, with the wind behind us, we made good time and arrived home at 2pm (7½ hour sail), reaching speeds of over 10 knots at times. Wife and dog waving to me from the harbour entrance (yes, both waving). Nice to be safely home after 137 nautical miles. Missed the family and pets. Damp through, hungry, exhausted, but with a huge sense of achievement. Most importantly, I felt highly honoured to have had this opportunity to help raise some cash for a good cause, thanks to the DSA and my generous sponsors.