Trip on Demelza starting 2008-07-24 in BSAAug08
“Demelza” goes to the Scillies: the story of the vanishing wind – report by Ros Bennet
Thursday 24th July 2008
Demelza, my 24ft , 1978 Cornish Crabber lives in St Just's creek off the Carrick Roads so my crew Gordon Ogden and I needed to sail her round to Penzance to be in time for the start of the PASAB race. There was an East wind F6 and big seas beyond Black Rock and we debated for an hour or so as we sailed towards the Lizard whether or not we could/should carry on. Mercifully the wind eased a little and we rounded the Lizard to achieve a comfortable broad reach across Mount's Bay and reached Penzance just before the lock gates opened. There we found excellent showers and later ate supper in the evening sun in the cockpit.
Friday 25th July
Race preparations on board included a walk to the excellent chandler on the quay in order to mend a join in the fresh water pump. Pat Douglas and Sue Fowle came to visit us for a lunch time drink but then had to dash off for 'race training'. We later met up with Malcolm and Clive at the race briefing at the Penzance sailing club. There were to be 32 competitors. When the lock gates opened an amazing assortment of boats made for the narrow opening in order to be ready for the race.
Demelza and her crew were full of energy and enthusiasm. We carefully positioned ourselves for a perfect start. However the wind had other plans, it vanished and left us behind the start line with the two luggers. They began to row, we, alas, had no oars. Eventually, an hour later, the race organizers brought the start line to us. They grinned, waved the buoy at us and said, “there, you've started now”. They roared back to Penzance leaving us to flounder alone. We watched the lights of the rest of the fleet dancing in the distance. By 11pm we stared at the glassy sea, let out 28 metres of anchor chain and turned in.
Saturday 26th July .
After wallowing for 4 hours we realised our only option was to retire from the first leg of the race and motor to the Scillies over the calmest of seas under a night full of stars. We tied up at Hugh Town pier at 11am where we heard that a few competitors had managed to complete the race, some had given up, some were still trying and one had had to be rescued by a BSA boat!
We filled up with fuel and after bacon and eggs and a nap motored over to Porth Conger on St Agnes and anchored in crystal clear water a few yards away from the Turks Head pub. We cadged a lift ashore in a half inflated inflatable. The rest is predictable!
Sunday 27th July
A glorious summer morning. We were to have raced around the Scillies but in the absence of much wind we raced around St. Mary’s. We willed and nursed Demelza round trying desperately to catch the two luggers who had a higher handicap than we did but to no avail. We finished last, but having had a hugely enjoyable sail. Lunch anchored in Porth Cressa bay and then motored into Hugh Town harbour, rafted up and joined everyone for supper at the Scillonian Club.
Monday 28th July
We woke up looking forward to a cracking race back to Penzance! The race began with the lightest of breezes. The trimaran, Pandemonium, swept past the fleet, the rest followed and we were again deserted even by our arch rivals the luggers. Two hours later we passed Peninnis Head. By late morning we had only just left the Scillies behind leaving us in our now customary position of bringing up the rear of the now vanished fleet. But we were not downhearted and after on hour or so a good wind developed over a lumpy sea, we even thought of reefing. We began to make some headway towards the Wolf Rock. However, two miles form the Wolf, guess what, the wind died. Two hours later we were still trying to round it. We gave ourselves a cheer when we finally achieve our objective, by now 7pm, and I cheerfully and optimistically predicted a fast run back to Penzance but, yet again, the wind gave up the ghost .We made our way towards the coast at 1 to 2 knots. By 10pm we were wallowing in a big swell off Tater-du. It was with some anguish that we realised we would be unlikely to complete the race and with great reluctance, turned on the engine.
Tuesday 29th July
Tied up at Newlyn Marina at about 0100 hours. Tried later that morning to sail back to St. Just’s but were defeated by a strong wind and big seas. We retreated to Penzance wet dock where Demelza stayed for the next ten days.