Pupils' 'Spirit' trip is not plain sailing
I can only agree wholeheartedly with the Royal Gazette opinion piece this morning Royal Gazette, January 22) concerning the recent adventure of the Spirit of Bermuda.
I was looking out my kitchen window as the vessel passed my house near noon on Tuesday, sailing under reduced sail, eastward along the South Channel. I thought to myself “must be quite exhilarating out there in this weather”. I noted that she had been in the lee up in the Somerset area earlier (perhaps stayed there the night?).
It wasn't until early evening when I saw the convoy of three proceeding back westwards at 3-4 knots, and after I had heard on the news of the mishap with the engine, that I thought, “What was going through their minds?”
I was shocked to hear that there were schoolchildren aboard. I can't imagine the decision-making process. Imagine you are in a safe anchorage and then deciding to leave that anchorage with the conditions as they were and take a run down North Shore? I had been recording westerly wind gusts in the low to mid-50mph at about 9:30-10.15pm or so and then, as Spirit of Bermuda was passing my house, the gusts were in the low-40s. I fully understand the vessel is capable of weathering far worse, but I have to ask why would anyone take schoolchildren on such a trip and in such a restrictive area? When a squall comes along, things can start to go wrong very quickly. There was certainly potential for a less favourable outcome.
With the wind and tide working against each other outside Ferry Reach, the seas can get very short and untidy (I've been there in winter with a loss of steering — not a comfortable feeling). The rocks along the shoreline in that area are not swimmer-friendly in the best of conditions.
Clearly, someone needs to do some explaining. I know if I had had a child on that trip, I would be seeking some answers. I can't understand how such a decision can be rationalised. I don't have any striped epaulettes, but I have got a little common sense. Thank goodness for the actions of the very competent crews of all vessels involved.