We are sailing... or drifting! - Chittak Blog Post

Saturday 21st of September 2013 07:49:00 AM     Business, Clients, Colleagues, Networking, Sailing, Social     Cowes, Isle of Wight, UK

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No, that's not a life comment! It was 8th August, the middle of Cowes Week. A small bunch of us from Chittak (well, just Trevor and I actually) slipped the mooring with an enthusiastic group of business colleagues and clients on a chartered yacht to enjoy some camaraderie and observe a day's racing at close quarters. Good plan. The camaraderie was evident from the outset, bolstered by bacon butties and coffee at Port Hamble Marina, the arrival of a very convivial skipper called Nick, and a 37-foot Beneteau Oceanis boat that was in exceptionally good condition.

The view from the galley with Natalie Alder at the helm
Motoring the craft down the river was uneventful; tranquil even, apart from the gentle phut phut of the engine. Then a couple of minutes of relatively frenzied activity ensued, as Captain Nick declared that we should hoist the sails. The result? Nothing! It was equally uneventful and even more tranquil without the engine. And that pretty much set the scene for the entire day.

After drifting aimlessly yet enjoyably for an hour or more, the consensus was to drop the sails, restart the motor and get to Cowes. At this point, Chris Alder (from JP Morgan) was taking a turn at the helm. He bravely remained there and navigated us through the marine equivalent of the M25 at rush hour as we entered the Medina river with what must have been a couple of hundred other craft, all going at different speeds and in different directions. There are no traffic lights at sea! Chris was very quiet, I noticed, with intense concentration etched into his face - clearly a man for the job in a crisis. Those, like me, tottering around on the foredeck were secretly rather pleased not to have been stationed at the helm for this part of the passage.

Captain Nick, presumably keen to keep to some business-like agenda, asked the rhetorical question: did we want to hang around off Cowes to catch some racing, or would we rather push a mile up river to the pub...?

...Liquid lunch at the Folly Inn at Whippingham was very pleasant indeed. The sun had burnt thorough the morning haze and there was plenty of space in the pub garden perched right on the river bank. It was all over too quickly.

Captain Nick inspects lunch
An hour later we headed back downriver in anticipation of some racing, munching on crisps and sandwiches provided by the skipper. Once into the Solent, we hoisted the sails and pointed east. Then proceeded to drift slowly west as the tide proved to be stronger than the negligible wind. The news of all racing being cancelled came as no surprise.

There was nothing for it but to take decisive action. So we all sat back and relaxed as the boat pretty much did its own thing, with the occasional adjustment at the helm. That was the collective decision, and a very fine decision it was too. Lots of chatting, plenty of laughter, loads to see, and not a hint of sickly corporate team-building anywhere. Perfect!

I'm sure there are numerous motivating business metaphors and analogies we could draw from this experience: you know, things like the importance of remaining agile to adapt to a changing climate, keeping a team together in challenging conditions, that sort of stuff. But in truth, none of that was on our minds as we drifted sedately around the Solent in what the sailing fraternity call 'light airs' (i.e. no wind to speak of) for the rest of the afternoon. More pressing at one point was the size of the container ship bearing down on us; but that's another story.


Trevor taking decisive action
So we didn't get to see any racing. But we did get to spend the day with a bunch of great people. I like to think of it as floating networking. Who knows, it could catch on.

Our thanks must go to Trevor for organising the day and 'investing' a wad of his hard-earned Bartercard points to charter the boat. And an acknowledgement to Fairview Sailing for keeping their craft in such fine condition - we can recommend them.

Cheers - Steve.