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 able to sail during lockdown?  

Lockdown happened really before my sailing season properly kicked off. I’m lucky enough to have two boats. A Sadler 34 called Star Chaser that I keep on a mooring at Quoile Yacht Club in Strangford Lough and also an RS400 racing dinghy that I use for club racing with my partner at Newcastle Yacht Club.    

I’d spent the past winter doing a refit on ‘Star Chaser’ that involved having a new engine fitted, rewiring electrics alongside the usual annual maintenance. I had just applied first coat of antifouling as lockdown was announced.

I had spent a considerable amount of time and money preparing Star Chaser and was very disappointed as the boat club effectively locked down meaning I couldn’t get to work on the boat let alone think of launching. I’d also spent a lot of time preparing the RS400 racing dinghy and had taken it to my local yacht club in February and had it sitting ready to go for the start of the season in April. I had two boats fully prepared very early ready for the season however with lockdown were going nowhere!    

What did you do during lockdown to keep busy, were you able to learn any new skills, either sailing or non sailing?

At the start of lockdown I was furloughed from work. I ended up being off for around 10 weeks. I made a list of things I wanted to do around the house and ticked each job off the list as it was completed. This involved laying new patio, BBQ area, gardening, painting fences, redecorating inside the house – the list goes on.  

I also made a list of personal things I wanted to achieve such as speaking to a family member daily or call a friend. I also turned one of the spare bedrooms into a gym, I already had some kettlebells/dumbbells and managed to have a pull up bar/TRX made. From this I managed to do three or four gym sessions a week involving weights, HIIT classes and Circuits. I also took up eSailing through my local club who ran an eSailing championship.  

This was great fun at the start and one of our club members actually competed in the national finals representing Northern Ireland.  

What did you miss most about being on the water?

Definitely time away cruising the Scottish islands on Star Chaser. I had planned two weeks in Scotland in May, but this had to be cancelled. I also missed the craic around the yacht clubs and the exhilaration from racing my RS400.      

 

How did it feel to get back out?

  I was unsure whether we would be able to launch Star Chaser at all at one point, but delighted to say she is now back on the water and have already had some great nights onboard. I spent a week cruising the east coast of Ireland in July and now looking forward to a couple of weeks in Scotland in August provided everything opens up again.  

What has been the highlight for you about getting back on the water?

Sailing up the Irish coast under full sail on Star Chaser on the way home from the July cruise. We came across Dundalk bay averaging around 7.5 knots on a broad reach. Simply magic.  

What are your aims for the next year now that you are able to be back on the water?

I’m planning two or three weeks cruising Northern Ireland and Scotland onboard Star Chaser at the end of August and into September. I am hoping with the schools back by then things will be a little quieter and I can get some great sailing in before Autumn and Winter sets in.  

Do you have any advice for clubs and sailors who are thinking of getting back on the water?

You will find once you have sailors back on the water it will quickly evolve into the new normal navigating your way around the advice from the NI Executive. You don’t really need club facilities. Look at what other yacht clubs are doing and also look at how other facilities outside of sailing are operating.