Coast on the Coast: Birthday Boating on the Solent

The annual Coast Digital birthday, not just a time to recognise the great year that has passed but also a unique opportunity to bond the team and bring members of staff together for training and fun. In previous years there has been yachting and even a day out at Henley; but 2011 was decidedly more powerful. The venue for Coast’s 9th Birthday was Southampton, close enough to the water to undertake a monumental team building challenge, but also a fun and exciting place in which to spend the evenings.

Thursday 30th June – And So it Begins

With excitement in the office reaching fever pitch on Thursday afternoon the arrival of the coach was warmly welcomed. In glorious sunshine the Coast team embarked upon their journey, eager to arrive in Southampton and begin what was sure to be a weekend to remember.

The Coasties were not disappointed. After a quick change in the hotel rooms the lobby soon started to fill with an odd collection of pirates, cowboys, where’s wallies and eighties cops. The fancy dress played its part perfectly, with each team for Friday’s event sporting a different uniform it acted as the ideal icebreaker and brought every member of staff together in joint ridiculousness. Thursday night was the Coasties’ chance to relax; some danced, some sang but everyone enjoyed themselves.

Friday 1st July – To the Boats!

Friday was an early start as the Coast party arrived at the Marina, looking forward to the promised bacon sandwich that would set us all up for a day on the water. Amidst the chatting, coffees and bacon came each of the four skippers from Team Tactics, Rob, John, Barry and Tom.

The entire Coast team were then told the enormity of their task; to complete a treasure hunt on either side of the Solent, visiting Yarmouth, Cowes and Portsmouth in turn. At each location the teams were tasked with using initiative, imagination, creativity and innovation to find the answers. It was however the mode of transport which raised the excitement level, 4 RIB boats each with a 250BHP outboard engine capable of propelling the craft to in excess of 45 knots.

Over to Yarmouth

A sedate cruise through the Southampton Docks was soon interrupted by the revving of the engine as the 4 boats began racing towards the Isle of Wight. The exhilaration of the first 5 minutes were surpassed as the boats began to weave in and out of each other’s wakes, sometimes leaving the water and occasionally getting the crews decidedly damp.

The pace continued as the boats steamed towards The Needles and in the exquisite sunshine a brief stop allowed the Coasties to check in on Facebook in a quite unique location. From the Needles the boats headed to the small port of Yarmouth; where amongst some humorous photos being taken of teams in phone boxes for the photo challenge, each team under the captaincy of James Frost (Cowboys), Paul Coffey (80s Cops), Richard Brenkley (Wallies) and Darren Bond (Pirates) did their best to answer the questions in sufficient time as to not incur a time penalty (ahem, Darren).

A Brief Blast to Cowes

Back on the boats the Team Tactics skippers performed admirably in thrilling (and often scaring) the teams as they navigated their way to Cowes. Mooring up in Cowes, the teams each sat down to lunch in the Island Sailing Club where in addition to the sumptuous food laid on by the club, a fair amount of strategizing took place for the Cowes section of the treasure hunt.

Cue the Coasties running frantically along Cowes high street looking like a strange mix between Captain Pugwash, Clint Eastwood and Aneka Rice asking members of the public, checking every alleyway and shop front for answers to their questions. Simultaneously, the efforts made by some teams to provide misinformation could be construed as unfair play; although arguably it was a genuine and wholly worthwhile tactic.

Fed and watered and back on the boats the Skippers then pointed their bows towards Portsmouth, the final destination on this epic treasure hunt across the Solent.

Portsmouth Harbour and Creative Photography

By this point every participant seemed to be relishing the time on the boats, whooping and hollering above the noise of the monstrous engines. The highlight of this short cruise over to Portsmouth was the appearance of the Coastguard’s helicopter, making some team members revert back to a Vietnam-esque mindset.

Arriving in Portsmouth’s Gunwharf Quay the teams once again split to answer the various questions on the treasure hunt and completing the final elements of the photo challenge. Whilst there was time for a very brief ice cream (thank you Nikki), it wasn’t long before everyone was back in the boats for one last mad dash back to Southampton.

Winners and Losers

After a ludicrous 20 minutes making a colossal nuisance of ourselves in and around the Southampton docks; taking the opportunity to get some “air time” in the boats, it was back to the Banana Wharf bar for a Pimms reception and the prize giving. Honourable winners were the Wallies, who despite their team name managed to return a mammoth 77 points. Arguably all the teams took the result well (sort of!) but everybody was in agreement that spending the day on the boats had been a great experience and an excellent way to bring the entire Coast staff closer together.

At this point it should be said that everyone at Coast would like to thank the guys from Team Tactics for what was an excellent and exciting day which will be remembered by the Coasties for a long time. Without their knowledge, insight and attitude towards the day it simply would not have been the same or even half as enjoyable.

A Well Deserved Meal

Washing the saltwater from our hair and donning the glad rags the next stop was the Oxford Brasserie, where fine wine and a fantastic meal was enjoyed by all amidst the sharing of some of the more memorable events of the day.

Saturday 2nd July – The Long and Winding Road Home

With some blurry eyes and some tired but happy faces on the coach home the journey back to the Coast Digital offices was decidedly quieter than that of Thursday night. All that can be said is thank you to everyone that made this weekend so brilliant, the planning was to the tee and the team spirit that has resulted is sure to add to the overall way in which we carry out our day to day business here at Coast.

Oh and of course… an ungrudging congratulations to Team Wally.