He had been working hard on refitting his Sadler 34 when lockdown brought things to an abrupt stop. With many of his plans cancelled, Marc tells us about how he kept positive throughout lockdown and his joy at getting back on the water…
How did it feel to not be ableto sail during lockdown?
Lockdown happened really beforemy sailing season properly kicked off. I’m lucky enough to have two boats. ASadler 34 called Star Chaser that I keep on a mooring at Quoile Yacht Club inStrangford Lough and also an RS400 racing dinghy that I use for club racingwith my partner at Newcastle Yacht Club.
I’d spent the past winter doinga refit on ‘Star Chaser’ that involved having a new engine fitted, rewiringelectrics alongside the usual annual maintenance. I had just applied first coatof antifouling as lockdown was announced.
I had spent a considerableamount of time and money preparing Star Chaser and was very disappointed as theboat club effectively locked down meaning I couldn’t get to work on the boatlet alone think of launching. I’d also spent a lot of time preparing the RS400racing dinghy and had taken it to my local yacht club in February and had itsitting ready to go for the start of the season in April. I had two boats fullyprepared very early ready for the season however with lockdown were goingnowhere!
What did you do during lockdownto keep busy, were you able to learn any new skills, either sailing or nonsailing?
At the start of lockdown I wasfurloughed from work. I ended up being off for around 10 weeks. I made a listof things I wanted to do around the house and ticked each job off the list asit was completed. This involved laying new patio, BBQ area, gardening, paintingfences, redecorating inside the house – the list goes on.
I also made a list of personalthings I wanted to achieve such as speaking to a family member daily or call afriend. I also turned one of the spare bedrooms into a gym, I already had somekettlebells/dumbbells and managed to have a pull up bar/TRX made. From this Imanaged to do three or four gym sessions a week involving weights, HIIT classesand Circuits. I also took up eSailing through my local club who ran an eSailingchampionship.
This was great fun at the startand one of our club members actually competed in the national finalsrepresenting Northern Ireland.
What did you miss most aboutbeing on the water?
Definitely time away cruisingthe Scottish islands on Star Chaser. I had planned two weeks in Scotland inMay, but this had to be cancelled. I also missed the craic around the yachtclubs and the exhilaration from racing my RS400.
How did it feel to get backout?
I was unsure whether we wouldbe able to launch Star Chaser at all at one point, but delighted to say she isnow back on the water and have already had some great nights onboard. I spent aweek cruising the east coast of Ireland in July and now looking forward to acouple of weeks in Scotland in August provided everything opens up again.
What has been the highlight foryou about getting back on the water?
Sailing up the Irish coastunder full sail on Star Chaser on the way home from the July cruise. We cameacross Dundalk bay averaging around 7.5 knots on a broad reach. Simply magic.
What are your aims for the nextyear now that you are able to be back on the water?
I’m planning two or three weekscruising Northern Ireland and Scotland onboard Star Chaser at the end of Augustand into September. I am hoping with the schools back by then things will be alittle quieter and I can get some great sailing in before Autumn and Wintersets in.
Do you have any advice for clubs andsailors who are thinking of getting back on the water?
You will find once you have sailors back on the water it willquickly evolve into the new normal navigating your way around the advice fromthe NI Executive. You don’t really need club facilities. Look at what otheryacht clubs are doing and also look at how other facilities outside of sailingare operating.