Happy Crew lined up in Weymouth!
(L-R Steve, Eddie, David, JR, Kevin, Bill and Keith)
As part of the MVS deployment to Weymouth for the Olympics, one of the Charities larger vessels was required to act as Mother-ship to the smaller vessels, as well as a Command and Control post for all the MVS activities both in and out of the harbour. Originally it had been planned for National Training Vessel MVS Appleby to fulfil this role, but at the 11th Hour changes to the plan had to be made and instead of travelling to Gosport for an evening departure, I found myself on an early train to Eastbourne.
The vessel had been prepared by volunteers from the local unit who had worked hard to get ready for the deployment. I met Ian doing the finishing touches but know that Dave W and others worked equally hard to get the ship ready. The experienced crew made up from local units was, Keith Johnson (Mate), Eddie Oades (Ch. Eng), Steve Cox, John Rabbittts (Ch. Cook) , Kevin Willmoth, Bill Edwards (Navigator) and myself as Skipper.
I found out early, whilst still in Sovereign Harbour, about ES1’s reluctance to turn short about, particular with a wind on her starboard quarter; however after that little excitement it was smooth sailing. Exit from Sovereign Harbour was exciting with some heavy seas, but once clear of the Fairway buoy it was plain sailing. For the first few hours we had reduced visibility of about 1.5 nm until we had passed Littlehampton but then the sun burned though and we had fine weather for rest of passage down the Channel.
Sunset saw us passing to the South of the Isle of Wight but apart from seeing a cruise ship leaving the Nab in the distance and a couple of tankers at anchor in the deep water anchorage, the traffic was light with just the odd yacht on passage or fishing boat.
Coming back on watch at midnight there was a completely clear sky with the stars in clear visibility. In a short period of time however, it completely clouded over as we were chased by an electric storm with some fantastic lighting on the southern horizon. As we altered course to the North to enter Weymouth Bay it missed us, but we could see the rain storm clearly on the radars.
Arriving in the early hours of the morning, we set up a patrol line to the South to await a daylight entry and favourable tides for berthing. We arrived at the entrance at 0830 and were met at the berth by Chris Davenport from Portsmouth Unit and Robert Chick from Weymouth Unit. We first made fast at a temporary berth by the Harbour Office but then after a reshuffle of the pilot boat, moved up to our long term mooring alongside an old Fleet Tender which is going through a conversion to a private expedition Yacht.
After an excellent breakfast, the crew made the ship ready to be used as the Command and Control vessel; with shore power and fresh water hook ups, rigging of shore gangway from jetty to the fleet tender and safe access from the fleet tender to ES1. After clean ship it was time to leave ES1 to the tender mercies of her ship keepers and time for me to find the train station home.
A big thank you to all the members from East Sussex and Shoreham units in preparing the vessel and providing the passage crew. If the rest of the MVS deployment in Weymouth goes half as well, then this will be a really successful Olympics for the service.
MVS East Sussex1 with MVS Avocet alongside the old Fleet Tender in Weymouth Harbour