2011 A17 Gambol at Play Chichester

Claims that the Atalanta was a suitable boat for families, on account of her roominess and sea-kindly qualities, were soon confirmed by several accounts of cruises in which children accompanied their parents.

A92, Sea Major, is a boat, which has provided many holidays with children aboard. In 1961 John and Ursula Valentine with their three children aged 15, 13 and 10, trailed Sea Major to the French Riviera and launched her at Cannes. They sailed eastwards by easy stages as far as Alassio in Italy before turning westwards again and calling at a different set of ports with a final exciting push from the mistral back to Cannes. The journey overland was treated as a camping holiday in the boat stopping at different camp sites en route including two nights in the Bois de Boulogne to give the children a day’s sightseeing in Paris. In the next year this family again trailed to Cannes and sailed over to Corsica, which was voted to be well worth the effort.

After two trips to the Mediterranean the Valentines decided to try the Baltic in 1963 and set off gaily in what proved to be one of the wettest and windiest Augusts on record. They towed to Dover, crossed by ferry to Ostend and then towed again through Belgium and Holland to Kiel in Germany where they set sail for a 500 mile cruise round the Danish Islands of Als, Fyn and Sjvelland. After a weekend in Copenhagen they battled their way through strong weather to Kalilaun in Sweden. From this point the boat started to leak and in Force 7 winds the young ones, soaked by torrential rain and seas breaking over the boat, resorted to burning joss sticks in the after cabin to combat the smell of wet clothing. The final verdict was of a very exciting holiday with pleasant memories of the hospitable Danes who seemed to welcome a British boat among so many German visiting yachts.

The following year they trailed Sea Major to Largs in Scotland and cruised the Inner Hebrides. Finally in 1965 the boat was taken overland some 300 miles to Bayonne in France and sailed 150 miles along the N Spanish coast to Santander. That was the last of the Valentine family holidays in their Atalanta.

Sea Major was sold to Peter and Francis Martin who had four children, the eldest only seven years old at the time. Their Home Port was Bangor in N Wales and their first sail at Easter 1966 was fairly traumatic in the swift tide of the Mensai Strait. The children wisely insisted on being disembarked before all sorts of mishaps occurred. For their next expedition at Whitsun the Martins invited another family aboard, making four adults and seven children. This was a successful outing and all the youngsters, bar one visitor, were happy. By the end of the season the Martin children were keen and enthusiastic and Sea Major, for many years, has been a much sailed family boat.

More recently A17 Gambol has provided a platform for the Garratt family to enjoy the sea around the UK and in France.

Similar accounts could be written of other Atalantas providing enjoyment and adventurous holidays for families and, in this respect, Alan Vines’ vision has been amply fulfilled.

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