Martin Conway

Tasty food made easy

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Cowes to St Katharine Docks

on 'ROSA'

Good Friday 10/04/09

0500 Wakey wakey time, thank God, not slept at all with John’s extreme snoring in my ear all night. We must be underway by 0530 to get the most out of the flooding tide to take us to lee of Dungeness by the evening.

Had a great trip down on the afternoon before, getting the train from Burnham & Highbridge (Somerset) to Bristol then on another to Southampton Central, quick bus ride to the Red Jet and over to Cowes…….bloody knackered all ready, at least John met me there with his car laden with the provisions for our trip.

Meet up with all the Crew, Alison & Debs who I had never met before, Sarah and David, gosh I remember Sarah now, sailed with her twice before she was married to David. Then along came Damian, I have sailed with Damian loads, including the Fastnet.

All the provisions unloaded (I so hope John has got all my ingredients I asked him to get). We all fit the new jack-stays to Rosa, a 10 minute job turns into an hour's hard work due to the incompetence of the British craftsman that seems unable to use a tape measure. We have a quick curry in town and back on board to bed.

With a massive headache (I hasten to add from John’s explosive snoring, not the Cobra beer consumed in the restaurant) we set off from Shepards Wharf. Foulies on-it’s raining. Straight down the river and hang a right into the sea, oops sorry (sailing with Ali and Debs for 4 days) follow the Medina down to the Solent and head East. As the weather is so yucky John splits the watches in 3, David and Damian, John and Sarah, and I with Ali & Debs, 2 hours on, 4 off.

My first watch is at 0800 with the girls (Ab Fab) Ali has volunteered to nav for the day, I’m sure it had nothing to do with the persistent drizzle and heavier rain that seemed to unload itself whenever I went on deck. The day dragged on as the rain continued to dampen everyone’s earlier enthusiasm, still we had caught the spring tide well and made good progress on the engine. At some point on my watch the wind increased to 12 knots from the South, “lets sail”, the main was already up, we unfurled the Genoa and cut back on the engine revs…..great we are sailing. 10 minutes later the Genoa was away and the revs back up…..blast, but we had tried. Alison was doing a fine job navigating, and starting to lose the frown marks of concentration or of pure terror. A map was every so often becoming a chart, popping downstairs turned into going down below to take a fix, and we were bang on course.

1800 I started to prep dinner, a lovely Pork Wellington for all (apart from David & Sarah, who stuck to their guns with no meat on Good Friday) Wow I'd been looking forward to this all day. Thought I’d get all my ingredients ready to make things easier as I went on. Pork Wellington, needs pork fillet, I shout to John “where’s the fillet of pork” John “ I did not have time to go to the butchers so got some pork things from the supermarket”. Great 4 pork loins, but hay ho this is sailing and I’m supposed to be good at adapting so no probs. I find the mushrooms, onion, pastry, olive oil, bacon, pepper but no salt, “where is the Pâté John?” “bloody hell forgot that”. This is getting harder by the minute, so lets have a look at what else we have got on board, 3 pork and leek sausages that will do for the Pâté along with some Chorizo and I found some black olives, they will do for the salt flavour, Pork Dubarry was invented.

Saturday 11/04/09

Our journey today was to Ramsgate and spend the night in the marina. We awoke to a heavy mist, the sea was oily calm not a ripple, Dungeness nuclear power station making an eerie backdrop, still the weather could only improve…..fingers crossed. The weather situation was not helped by regular phone calls from my wife telling me how hot and sunny it was back in Somerset.

Damian throughout yesterday had mentioned a few of the power stations we had passed on route and gave us info on them as we passed. Not much thought was given to this, but as our trip continued so did Damian’s obsession with power stations. We found Damian starting to take more interest in the charts, not lat and longitude, but “there’s a good one coming up soon”. Not only was every power station we passed, named, told if active or not, what year commissioned, de-commissioned, fuel type, mega watts outputted, but some even had pet names. “Damian me old mate I’m sure you can get help for this or just try going out a bit more”.

We upped anchor at about 0930 and it was Sarah’s turn to navigate for the day. The mist soon turned to fog so all up on deck with life jackets on, we motored on through the fog for a couple of hours and saw a lone porpoise having a mid morning swim. Lunch was a simple affair ‘Nacho’s a la Conway’ always a winner with the crew. As we neared Ramsgate the wind increased to a good 20 knots, so instead of going straight in we had a good hours sail in and around the bay.

After we tied up alongside in Ramsgate, the important process of showers and were the facilities going to be any good here……well……yes they were. I must admit I was not that looking forward to pulling into Ramsgate…….but the shower block was tops and the marina had a very French feel and look to it. All washed and togged up we hit the town and had a nice fish and chip supper on the front, we than had coffee and cognacs in a great little bar also on the front. We were all very pleasantly surprised with Ramsgate and I would certainly recommend a visit.

Easter Sunday 12/04/09

Wow the Easter bunny had visited us in the night and left loads of chocolate eggs for us to nosh on, brave bunny coming on board Rosa in the middle of the night with all the snoring and other noises going on.

We cast off early in the morning to catch the flooding spring tide again, but in hindsight a tad to early as we ran aground right in the harbour entrance. The harbour Master didn’t seem too bothered so we decided to wait a few minutes till the tide had risen enough to float us off. We heard on the VHF another yacht asking the Harbour Master about leaving and was told to keep us to starboard and he would be fine. The other yacht came out and kept us to starboard with a big smile on his face as he passed us….then promptly run aground. The next over the VHF was a small Belgian yacht, the Harbour Master asked him to pass us to port and he will be on his way….ops run aground as well. The next yacht on the VHF was asked his draft and told to wait for half an hour till the tide had come in a bit, quick learner NOT.

Debs turn to do the navigating today, the mist and fog were still with us and we were on the engine as the lord of wind had deserted once again.

Progress was steady, I was planning to do my lime and coriander chicken for lunch (bit of a signature dish of mine as it was the first recipe of mine to be filmed). With the marinade made and the chicken sliced up in it soaking up the flavours I went up on deck. Damian was still pointing out various power stations and getting excited about a really interesting one that we would be near tonight, Debs was doing a great job on the nav and John had taken the Sunday Times down to the crew head and did not want to be disturbed for a good 20 minutes. The rest of us were on deck chewing the fat so to speak when a RNLI rib came alongside and asked if we minded if they did some training manoeuvres around us. They bombed about and all around us for 5 minutes and then came alongside and asked if one of them could come on board. With the RNLI guy safely aboard in full kit, the ladies all of a sudden got interested and asked him if he would like a cup of tea, he replied “I’m not staying” and promptly through himself of the stern and waited for his buddies in the rib to retrieve him. While all this was going on John was just finishing of in the head…….I’m so glad it wasn’t me floating around in the cold sea to the portside stern of Rosa!

Lunch was on deck and washed down with some refreshingly cold Sol beers. David was still sporting his ripped jeans, in fact, he had not stopped wearing them since I mentioned he looked like a reject from a boy band (I’m thinking Sarah had made him not change them).


Photo's taken by Alison Mansell