‘Bessie Ellen’ 3/10 – joining ship, a new crew

I was anxious about joining a crewed vessel. I mostly sail single-handed and have single-handed ways – I can spit over the side, eat at irregular hours, not change my clothes, leave my bunk unmade and so on. How would it be with a group? With people who are younger and fitter? More experienced? More talented? What about sleeping arrangements and so on?


They are making Mark’s bike fast to the ceiling while we find our bunks. Mark has ridden his bicycle from Cumbria to Oban and is planning to ride it back to Cumbria from Cornwall. Well, that’s left me behind for a start!


Looking back, I can say that a little anxiety is a good thing, more anxiety is a waste of a good time. Take twelve people of different ages, gender, backgrounds and experience. Put them in a smallish space for ten days. Give them a task – to crew ‘Bessie Ellen’ to Fowey. Allow them to sort themselves out as best they can, (personalities will ebb and flow), and treat them (lead them) in what, thirty years ago, we called a ‘loose-tight way’.

The credit goes to Nikki and her crew. We were gently moulded, where ‘gently’ counted, and forcefully pushed, where ‘pushing’ mattered. A crew of four is tight but manageable for this vessel, a crew of 16 is a luxury.


The ultimate responsibility lies with the skipper to run a tight ship, (and she does),


but Pete, Karina and Lucas are more than capable of shepherding us too. By the time we get to Fowey, we have each found a place that suits –  on the after-deck, amidships or on the foredeck, and, if not yet slick, at least know what to do!

(To be continued)

Images by Bill Whateley