Wow, what a Show. It's not every day that you get to
open a boat show and it is certainly not everyday that you get to
lead a convoy of naval ships, royal marine gun ships, lifeboats,
pilot boats and a cross channel ferry through a huge water arch.
Oh, I forgot to mention the RN Lynx helicopter thrown in for
good measure. Huge honour and one we will remember for a long
This was Wetwheels' second visit to Jersey. Such was the
excitement caused by our visit in 2012, within days of our
departure, a working group had been formed by Jersey based charity
Le Tournoi to investigate the possibility of buying their own.
Within months, funds had been raised, Wetwheels Jersey ordered and
she is due for arrival this summer.
To raise awareness of the iminent arrival of their own boat,
to showcase to disability groups on the island what will soon be
theirs and to demonstrate to funding bodies exactly what their
money is funding, Wetwheels Solent was invited back to Jersey for
the Barclays Jersey Boat Show - and what a weekend it was.
The sun shone, more than 30,000 visitors attended and we took
just over 90 disabled kids from Jersey (including a brief trip to
Guernsey) out on the water.
I think it is safe to say everyone in Jersey is now itching
for their boat to arrive. We could only offer brief, 45 minutes
experiences around St Aubin's Bay or a quick whizz down to Corbiere
lighthouse but it was enough to light the excitement fuse of all of
those, disabled and able-bodied, who joined us.
(Two HMS Iron Duke sailors having a "run ashore" in The
Minkies with Wetwheels anchored in the bay behind).
Of the many great moments, the highlight was possibly our trip
down to Les Minquieres (The Minkies), a land mass bigger than
Jersey but only accessible at low water when the rocks are exposed
- it was like a lunar landscape set in the Caribbean. Eerily quiet
and tranquil, but what an experience.
Sincere thanks to Andy le Seelleur (and his team from le
Tournoi) for their vision and enthusiasm without whom
Wetwheels Jersey would have never happened, to Lieutenant Governor
Sir John McColl for his ongoing support and enthusiasm, the Royal
Navy, to Barclays, to the wonderful Myra Shackley from Jersey Boat
Show who allowed us to be a part of the Show, to Howard le Cornu
(because he knows everyone and made all the ideas a reality), to
Suzuki for their sponsorship and to everyone who made us so
welcome. If we have one worry, it is not being asked back
next year once Jersey have their own boat.
Apart from the obvious benefits of time away in beautiful
Jersey, skipper Paul and I took the opportunity to get our fishing
rods out (it would have been rude not to) and the Channel Islands
kindly yielded 6 of her finest turbot - very nice indeed. We will
be back, invited or not.