Don’t Panic Mr Mainwaring!

January 6, 2014 at 6:21 pm

I’ve been meaning to make a Mayday procedure card, to laminate and have by the radio, for a while now.  There’s lots to be found on the internet and you can download mine here.

Although I’ve heard a few Maydays (mainly in the Solent – not a joke!), in all my sailing “career” I’ve been on boats “assisted” by the Coastguard on 3 occasions:

1) Age 4(?) we were lost the rudder pin (and rudder) on our Shetland Fishing Smack in Langstone Harbour, right opposite the Coastguard Station who saw us and launched the inshore boat without being requested.

2) Age 23 off Sylt in the German Bight we were on passage from Esbjerg to Helgoland when a sudden unforecast gale came through and skipper (Dad) decided we would try to seek shelter in Sylt, except we only had a large scale fishing chart of this mid-section of our passage and we couldn’t find the harbour entrance in the dark, in a force 8 on a lee shore.  After a few hours of tacking backwards and forwards in the dark trying to find the lit stick to mark the channel entrance, with the sound of the waves crashing on the beach in one ear, we radio’d in for directions and they launched to come and guide us in. When we’d tied up we realised that all the lockers were open and every single item we had was on the sole floor and we both had massive headaches.  And then the Coxwain’s wife showed up with breakfast for us.

3) Then a few years later we had an issue in The Wash one time; Combination of a rising headwind and a very short sea meant that we were not making much way and risked missing our tide gate.  Then the skipper (Dad) had a bit of a medical emergency. Medical advice was sought from the Coastguard, and then Spurn Point lifeboat was launched, and before we knew it Spanish Dave had landed on the foredeck of our Trapper 500 with a massive thud, in his rigger boots and with a tow rope in one hand. This was then fastened to the bow, and he then went below to make us all tea while told us the story of his nickname and we were towed into Grimsby and a waiting ambulance.

Hopefully I will never need this card…

Torbay Lifeboat RNLI

Torbay Lifeboat (Courtesy Chris Slack)


Happy New Year Duet

January 3, 2014 at 11:12 pm

“The general synopsis issued at midnight: Low Scotland 971 expected South East Iceland 964 by Midnight tonight.  Deepening Low moving rapidly eastwards expected South East Rockall 943 by same time.”

Today was for checking the boat, make sure everything was secure for the next bout of storms we have forecast, and I hoped to be able to knock a few ‘low hanging fruit’ items off the Winter Jobs List. However the transport gods were not smiling and a front spring went on the van as I drove off from home. I limped it up to the garage and luckily they had her fixed up by 2pm.

Arrived at the Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy (henceforth referred to as “The Academy”) at nearly 4.30pm in the failing light (and probably a good f6) and was glad to see all the boats still safely upright in their cradles (it’s been pretty stormy lately, and it’s quite an exposed spot!)

I’d spent the Christmas break plotting how to remove the 35+kg 8hp Mercury from the stern safely without doing my back in and had planned a rope sling on the outboard, attached to the main sheet (supporting the boom with the topping lift and main halyard).  The boom isn’t really long enough as a proper derrick, but I figured that it would take the strain over the pushpit and I could lower it to the ground safely enough from the cockpit. Would be awkward getting it free from the mount though.

A chap on a neighbouring boat was just finishing up antifouling his keels (catamaran) when I arrived, and was just leaving when I was ready to go so I called him over for a second opinion. He asked whether the bolts were undone, and before I knew it he’d just wrestled it off onto his shoulder and we shoved it in the back of the van. It’s not *that* heavy now it’s off, just really awkward to lift on and off the transom above head height.

So, I thanked him profusely and went aboard and threw the bunk cushions off (I want to look at recovering these) and checked everything on deck was tied down properly.

Unfortunately the headsail halyard seems to have worked free and the shackle is at the top of the mast. It was too dark and too windy to see how it might be retrieved, but I know it’s going to be a pain. Have found some advice here though: I still have the main halyard, and also a spinnaker one as a spare if necessary. Noticed frayed section on the middle of the headsail halyard so it probably needs replacing (I replaced the main halyard and topping lift last year).

No pictures: Too dark / too quick / too windy

Roll on Spring.

A first post…

December 22, 2013 at 2:00 pm

It’s December, just before Christmas and there’s a howling gale outside and rubbish kids Christmas films on the telly.

Then I found this on Youtube .

I laughed, and laughed, and laughed…  If you’ve ever been on a small boat, you will too.

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