UK - Cowes - New cockpit
14 May 2011
So it was and so shall it remain - Poole Harbour in the rear view mirror
I liked Poole , just time to move on .......
2010 had been kind to me , I had worked my butt off and saved a little money for essential boat maintenance, Id seen an advert for cheapish lift outs in East Cowes, so Sammy, Lord Nelson and myself had set sail with intentions of getting to Cowes for a lift out the following day.
The weather wasn't brilliant, South West force 6 and it had been blowing hard for a few days, but the yacht is better than me, I always bottle out long before she complains, guess I should own a laser dinghy or something even smaller!
As is often the case, we couldn't be arsed to secure the dinghy on deck, instead choosing to tow it behind us (mistake) , the seas over christchurch ledge were pretty horrid, big nasty rollers rearing up under us, we surfed down them, often leaving the dinghy behind the crest.
So much so that when the tow line took up the slack with an almighty crack I thought we would lose our heads, we shortened it as much as we dare, and watched in disdain as the little rib was lifted and surfed into the stern of us on every wave.
The oars had come loose from the side clips and were dragging in the sea, except when the rib was hitting the stern, at which point the rib stopped and the oars continued, like some demented oarsmen of the apocalypse.
Nothing we could do, but watch and hope that once over Christchurch ledge the conditions would settle and then just a short trip before rounding Hurst castle into the solent and our planned overnight stop in Yarmouth. Trouble is when you are watching one thing, there will always be something else you are NOT watching, in this instance it was for lobster pots.
Any yachtie worth his salt knows that where there is a ledge (underwater) there will be crabs- where there are crabs there are? .....STI Centres? ..NO ....Crab Pots Stupid !
You got it, whilst staring behind at the dinghy - (that i should have lifted and stowed) - we sailed over a bloody crab pot float all we heard was an almighty bang as the floating rope parted, it didnt even feel like we slowed down - hardly surprising considering the 25 tons of momentum surfing down a 8 ft swell.
The old wheel in the cockpit, so lovingly varnished, the wheel that glistens in the sunlight, went slack in my hand and we veered off course, cursing my own stupidity I spun the wheel, there was some resistance but not what should be there. I opened up the rear lockers to search for the emergency tiller (and to see if the shaft was still in place )
Blown Away is a long keel boat, I mentally fought to see how a rope could hook the rudder which is hanging from the end of the keel. We weren't taking on water and the rudder shaft was still there, had it become detached from the lower keel bracket I thought to myself ?
Then the answer lay before me, the bracket securing the shaft inside the locker had sheared off, the bracket made some 35 years ago had finally given up and retired without prior notification in writing, no three months notice just BANG gone.
So now the top of the rudder shaft was free to roam the locker as it pleased, each time i turned the wheel, the leverage from the quadrant would move the shaft sideways. I did as best as I could to lash the shaft to prevent lateral movement and continued sailing, in the back of my mind I was worried the shaft could rise out of the lower bracket and simply slide out of the tube it rotates in and sink the twenty meters under us , never to be seen again.
I simply HATE asking for help , I broke the table in half in the upper saloon by trying to lower a new cooker (in its packaging) through the sky light. I leant over to far and the weight of the cooker and my refusal to let go dragged me through the sky light and both myself and the cooker crashing down onto the table ...oops, splintered wood in all directions , stupid table !
The radio call :
Solent coastguard Solent coast guard this is sailing vessel Blown Away OVER. As reliable as Christmas being on the 25th of December every year, a well spoken professional voice came back on the radio.
Blown Away this is Solent coastguard if your traffic is routine please go to channel 67 and await my call.
Err well solent its like this you see ...........
Long story shortened, the coast guard decided to send out Yarmouth lifeboat to escort us into Yarmouth its self, once the orange clad cavalry had established the rudder was hanging on by .... Well bugger all really , they decided towing was a bit of a better choice, lord Nelson was well impressed with that and showed his approval by barking orders for the next hour.
Oh yeah the title of this is Cowes, so better finish the story, we are too heavy to be lifted in Yarmouth - (way to much dog food on board), so we had to organise a tow to East Cowes as the old coasties weren't to keen on us making the rest of the trip without help, I didn't need the bad publicity (do you know who I am ? ) of calling out the rubber brigade for a second time in a week, so I fessed up half the maintenance money in towing fee's to cowes!
I got a little chop happy with the grinder as you can see from the pictures, i hacked out most of the supports, drains and frames in the cockpit locker and made all new steering brackets, then to compensate for all that extra weight in the stern, I bought 160 meters of new anchor chain - that ought to balance us back out and save me adjusting the waterline :-)
What next ?