Sussex Police Offshore Sailing Club
PSUK NATIONAL OFFSHORE SAILING CHAMPIONSHIP, THE SOLENT, 13TH - 17TH MAY 2013.
Support boat, Bavaria 44, "Emerald Star". Skipper: Paul (Dusty) Miller.
Reflections by crew member, Peter Kennett.
On the Friday after it was all over, I called Mrs Kennett, who was home alone in Spain. She asked, "How did it go?" I said, "Well, we picked up the boat last Sunday, it was pouring with rain, freezing cold and we had storm force winds for Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. We cooked breakfast and dinner for fourteen hungry cops for 5 days. Someone on board snored like a freight train. We were becalmed on Thursday, had to queue for a shower and a poo most mornings and evenings - and I'll be home tomorrow.
Mrs Kennett said, "Why would you want to do that for a week?" It was a good question and well put. With my innate inability to think on my feet, it left me struggling for an answer.
In truth - it was great, I loved it. It was like a 5 day and night episode of Dad's Army.
This was our cast: Captain Mainwaring - Dusty Miller, Sergeant Wilson - Ron Nevitt, Corporal Jones - Phil Mears, Private Godfrey - Me, Private "don't give them your name Pike" Pike - Owen Poplett, Private Walker - Dave Mallon, and ARP Warden Hodges - Kevin Claxton.
What a motley crew! Only one serving officer, the rest of us have hung up our truncheons and in various states of retirement.
When I was posted straight out of training school to Bognor, Dusty was an old hand with about 12 months service. Ron Nevitt was my Sergeant, and managed to keep me on the straight and narrow. When I was posted to Eastbourne some years later, Owen Poplett was a probationer. He didn't stop taking then, and he still hasn't. Dave Mallon was in Firearms before we had guns. I didn't know Phil and Kevin, but suffice to say, I do now.
We all got on like a house on fire, everyone pulling together to prepare breakfasts and dinners for the race crew and ourselves along with the shopping, washing up and cleaning. In between those tasks, there were some serious swinging the lead sessions, about the old times, the good old boys and girls, "big jobs wot we had done", "cock-ups wot we had made", and generally catching up on news about old colleagues. Life on Mars - bring it on!
After chores, the sailing was excellent. Dusty is my kind of Skipper. When asked by the helm, he would let the helm decide on a course of action. Having said that, the odd "What depth have you got, helm?" would come up from below. Oops! "Have you got the container ship on the starboard beam?" Another Oops! In other words, letting you get on with it, but not letting you sink the boat. He was always happy to let the crew do the most difficult manoeuvres and remained calm when they made a right lash up. Mooring a 44ft sailing boat, stern in to a strange marina with a force 5 or 6 howling, was never going to be easy. It was a comfort to have Ron's experienced eyes as a back up. It also helped having a merchant navy First Mate on board - Phil. After he finished sailing the seven seas, he ended his merchant days as the number two on an Isle of Wight ferry, so his
expertise was invaluable.
We were also fortunate in having the excellent photographers, Kevin and Owen, who took some great snaps which can be seen on the SPOSC website. - to see the photo's click here
Considerable praise must be given to our three evening chefs, Ron, Kevin and Dave, who prepared exquisite food in the restricted environs of a yacht galley. Credit to Owen who did the lion's share of breakfast cooking.
There were extremely testing sailing conditions for the race crew, which was evidenced when our own Kevin and Dave joined the race team for a day. I hope that with our support we helped to make the crew as well prepared as possible.
If I am spared another year, I will be applying for a place on the 2014 championship support boat. My grateful thanks to my skipper and fellow crew members, and of course to the SPOSC for their support in what was truly a brilliant and memorable week.
Note about the author:
Peter joined the Sussex Constabulary in 1969 and retired at the rank of Detective Superintendent in 2001. His minor claim to fame was that he was the SIO in the Sarah Payne murder investigation. At least he thought he was, until he read that the current Police and Crime Commissioner from Dorset led the investigation. Funny old world........