As you may know from my last post, I prolonged my recent visit to the UK so that I could attend the funeral of a dear friend, who was well known in sailing circles in Greece, Turkey, and beyond.
Ian Blayney (‘Lord’ Blayney as he was known to his friends) and his wife, Bette, sailed here and in many other places in the world for several decades. Many of our students have shared in the open hospitality that was a regular feature of their sailing life. Ian was a great host and Bette is a fabulous, if not spectacularly organised, cook.
Ian was also our Diesel Engine Instructor, having worked for Ford for many years. He could explain the workings of a diesel engine in such a humorous and entertaining manner so that even I understood!
Ian died near his home in the Forest of Dean and will be sadly missed by all who knew him.
Some people possess a wonderful wit and dry humour and Ian was one of those. He didn’t tell jokes as such but could recount stories of his everyday life in such a way as to have you rolling on the floor laughing. He and Bette were never ones to say No to adventure so he had plenty of stories to tell. Maybe I can pass some on in future emails.
Ian would have approved of the funeral and wake that followed, I’m sure. Those who paid tribute to his life had the mourners laughing as much as crying.
Ian & Bette owned a big French built ketch called Spirit of Vortigern, named after the ancient King Vortigern who controlled Britain around 425 AD. Like many long-keeled yachts, Vortigern is ideal for living on board – I’m sure she has as much room as many a small modern city apartment. The downside is that, like all long-keeled yachts, she is dreadful to steer astern.
In order to moor in the Med where yachts normally go astern on an anchor and then put lines ashore, Ian and Bette perfected an unusual technique for Med mooring which Ian copied from Turkish gulets he had observed using it.
Instead of dropping the anchor and reversing into the chosen mooring space, they dropped the anchor and then motored ahead over it towards their destination. Two boat lengths from the quay they performed what can best be described as a ‘skid handbrake turn in a boat’ – using the anchor to hold and spin the yacht around to immediately in front of the boats already moored and then reversing back into position with their fenders holding her in line.
It was always amusing to see the horrified faces of the skippers and crew of neighbouring boats as several tons of huge yacht with a high bow bore down upon them, apparently riding over their chain. It was common for people to shout and wave them away, looking aghast. The expressions of dread changed into astonishment and then awe as Vortigern performed the critical spin and slid smoothly into the vacant spot. Bette would wander back and calmly pass the stern lines ashore.
Often applause broke out from those watching upon completion of the dramatic manoevre.
The next sound that followed was usually ice clinking into a glass as Bette served up a gin and tonic to the skipper!
The method they employed utilises the paddle-wheel effect that occurs when most yachts are put into reverse gear. Using this to your advantage is something all good skippers do and you’ll learn the basics when you are taught everyday Med mooring at our school on a Day Skipper course.
The particular technique Ian and Bette used is very skilful. It requires perfect co-ordination between the anchorman (or in this case anchorwoman) who must quickly bring in the chain at exactly the same time as the helm puts the wheel hard over and the yacht into reverse, and then quickly release the chain again at the precise moment that the yacht has spun 180° so that it moves astern neatly into the gap.
Although Ian was the main recipient of the praise, as with normal Med mooring, the success of the manoeuvre is due equally to the skill of the person on the anchor … as with everything in sailing, it is a team effort!
Having a good crew is essential if you want to look good as a skipper. If you crew for friends or family and want to be well trained and understand what to do I suggest you attend an RYA Competent Crew course. It’s good fun as well!
I’d like to finish by saying Rest in Peace, Ian, but I can’t really imagine he’d be happy just resting. I think he’d prefer to be looking down chuckling at the antics of those of us who are still here.
We won’t be doing any Turkish moorng but, if you want to improve your skippering or crewing skills, we still have one cabin available on our annual autumn Milebuilder to the Cyclades starting in the afternoon of Saturday 5 October. Contact me for details of this very special trip. Those who have passed a Day Skipper Practical course are particularly welcome as we need another person to act as watch leader. This is your chance to be in charge of a 50ft yacht! (with help of course …)
PS: We’re now getting a lot of enquiries for 2014. As in previous years if you book and pay your deposit by the end of November you can have this year’s prices. Click
to fill in our contact form and we’ll send you information. You can also get an early booking discount on bareboat charters so let us quote you for your next sailing holiday in Greece.