Rocking and Rolling All Night is not always fun – by Helen May

After a fun week island hopping around sunny Croatia, our enthusiastic crew agreed we should continue our connection with the mainsail, jib, sheets, … We decided we would sail across the Channel. It took some time finding a weekend when the tide was right, a boat was available in Portsmouth and the busy crew were free. So it was a cold blustery Friday night in October when we set sail.

To catch the tide, we were unable to leave until 23:30. Due to the late hour and the long night, we had all feasted before boarding the boat. I had taken the required insulin before donning the wellies, waterproof trousers, thick fleece, ultra-waterproof jacket and ensured I was covered by warm, waterproof clothing from head to toe. I was not looking my most attractive but who’s going to worry in the middle of the sea at midnight?

As we left Portsmouth harbour, we waved to the Spinnaker Tower and motored gently out of the sheltered Solent into the Force 8 gale blowing through the Channel. I was very glad of my warm, dry clothes. I was also glad of the tether that kept me attached to the boat as we rocked and rolled up and down and left and right. It was there that I discovered the smooth Adriatic had not prepared me for the rough Channel. I lost my sea legs and I “lost” the feast I’d eaten on dry land.

My fellow crew members did not fare much better – only two very seasoned travellers managed to maintain their sea legs. However, they did not have diabetes. They did not have to manage a falling blood sugar because of the loss of food and they did not have to consider exposing enough flesh from the mounds of clothing to inject their basal insulin –to be honest, this was The occasion when I could not bring myself to inject.

I was very glad to arrive in Cherbourg after eleven and a half choppy hours on the seas. After some stability and food, we all started to feel better. But I was not able to fully relax: I knew we had to turn around the next day for another crossing and I was not looking forward to it.

Thankfully, the return was much smoother: almost too smooth. It was boring. The highlight of an eight hour (the tides and winds were more favourable to us making the return shorter) crossing of the busiest shipping route was not the sight of large cargo ships or tankers – we did not see another ship – it was a bird clinging on to the mast for a few hours.

I usually enjoy busy weekends, visiting new places, trying out different hobbies, learning new things. I certainly learnt a couple of new lessons that weekend: I learnt I only enjoy fair-weather sailing but, whatever the weather, sailing is one of the activities when I need to take the Orange Box.

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