Tentative beginnings...

Queen Mary 2 with the Jurassic coast behindit's good to see these ships this way round for a change...Sailing behind Aurora in a cloud of fuel exhaustA patch of light cirro-cumulus cloud adds a chill to the late afternoon breeze...Evening light at E Shambles, Sunday 17 May

Saturday afternoon, the sun was out, the promise of a sea breeze was there to get me home, so, having scraped off the worst of the weed yesterday, it was high time I unplugged from a far too comfortable winter berth, and got back out in the bay. It felt ever so slightly strange, and getting things sorted out always takes time, though for a change it wasn’t dark and windy leaving for the first outing - but the down side was I wasn’t heading off to France…

Instead, a modest circumnavigation of the ships at anchor seemed a suitable objective for the afternoon, which meant a drift down as far as Bat’s Head and a beat back, ideal for a shakedown sail. I had intended to sail round them all, but the westerly breeze filled in as I came round the ‘Queen Mary 2’ and the favoured port tack back towards Redcliff meant I strictly only circumnavigated the one ship!

It’s curious to see so many idle liners; this kind of ship developed originally on the back of the migrant traffic to the US in the second half of the 19th century, and effectively became redundant with the development of the longhaul ‘jetliner’ aeroplane in the 1950s, though found a new life as an aspirational symbol of ‘luxury’ - even if some of them now look a bit scruffy in close-up, and I found myself wondering if this grouping represents a new moment of potential redundancy.

I noticed, sailing past behind each one, that it was emitting large quantities of fuel exhaust, presumably to keep everything going on board, but making a less than positive contribution to the air quality of the region! They make a fine sight in the bay – albeit possible dinosaurs viewed appropriately against the backdrop of the Jurassic coastline – and their lines are occasionally not without a certain beauty, especially the Cunard ships, though they are prominent examples of the kind of business which will find it almost impossible to weather this new kind of storm.

The sun was obscured for a while by light cirro-cumulus as I crossed the bay on starboard out of Redcliff bay, and I went below to find a fleece and hat. Tea and out-of-date galette bretonnes seemed a long time ago, and I was glad to get back into the harbour, where the sight of the club’s boats all stacked up ready to go was another reminder of the strange new world we now inhabit, though hopefully not for too long now...

Postscript - the joy of a brisk reach out to the Shambles on Sunday evening made up for having to take a winch apart and do various other little tasks in the afternoon...

Steve Fraser
‘Aliya’

Submitted on Sunday, 17th May