Skip to content

Meeting Annabel J

Annabel J traditional interior

It’s a beautiful early Spring day, warm in the sunshine; the sort of day that brings on the urge in a sailor to slip the mooring and set off into the blue.  We’re sitting besides the distinctive, round, black and white  harbour master’s office at Warsash on the River Hamble looking out for Phil Cogdell, skipper of Annabel J, who’s going to take us up river to meet this lovely Bristol Pilot Cutter.  With us, folding chopping board in hand, is Sandy Curry, artist and sometimes mate and cook aboard Annabel J – hence the nifty board.

Phil brings a roomy tender alongside the pontoon, introductions are made and we chug off between the lines of yachts.   Lying quietly on her mooring Annabel J is immediately recognizable from the characteristic lines that speak of seaworthiness and sailing ability – proud stem, high bow, sweeping away to a rounded counter stern.  You can  imagine her riding the waves on station waiting for a ship needing a pilot as her predecessors used to.  She herself was built in 1995 to drawings based on the Marguerite T, said to be one of the fastest Pilot Cutters around in the late 1900,s,  with wins in many pilot port regattas.  Annabel J is no slouch either taking line honours  in the  2009 World Championship Pilot Cutter Review at St Mawes, Cornwall, though I suspect a well marshalled crew had something to do with it too.*

Stepping aboard the first thing you notice are the wide uncluttered decks, nothing to get in the way of sailing and great for relaxing on in a beautiful anchorage.  Below decks she’s just as you imagine a classic yacht should be, traditionally fitted out in mahogany, with a place for everything.  Over several cups of tea we chat with Phil and Sandy about sailing on Annabel J and their favourite cruising grounds.  It’s easy to understand why some people become attached to this kindly ship and come cruising each year.  As Phil explains, everyone can get involved in the sailing and working of the ship, taking a hand with everything from setting sails, and steering to mastering the art of conjuring up a meal in the compact galley.  And then when the anchor’s down there’s the promise of, a convivial meal around the saloon table or maybe a row ashore and walk to the local pub to round off the day.  Listening to Phil talk it’s apparent that skippering Annabel J is a job he loves, ” the best job in the world”, he remarks, adding that part of the satisfaction is in the immediate feedback from your guests that you don’t get in many jobs.

The talk turns to cruising grounds, particularly the magical Isles of Scilly. While Phil speaks of the attractive anchorages, Sandy sees the landscape through the eyes of a painte; the light, the colours, the unique flora. Many famous painters have become captivated by the transient nature of light at sea  -  one of Annabel J’s cruises this summer  focuses on painting and Sandy will be on hand with advice – surely an opportunity not to be missed.

We could sit comfortably in the cockpit for hours talking of sailing, the regattas, boat festivals, of quiet anchorages in estuaries just the evocative sound of birds feeding on mudflats at low water, the stillness and peace you can encounter or the exhiliration of bowling along in a good wind, but Annabel J’s first guests of the season are due to arrive soon. It’s time to take our leave.
* Charmain of Poole was overall winnerof the 2009 Pilot World Championship

2013 Sailing Programme

This year Annabel J is taking part in the Old Gaffers Association Round Britain Challenge from May to August.  Can you join her as part of the crew – perhaps not all the way but on one of the legs?  For dates and prices and to see the rest of her 2013 itinerary please see her Calendar.  You can send an enquiry about availability to her skipper Phil via the email form.

Annabel J

Back to Sailing Holidays on Annabel J