Trip on Shropshire Lady II starting 2014-06-26 in BSAJuly14
Sunday 22nd – Thursday 26th June 2014 2014 – report by skipper Jeff Birkin
With the crew change and re provisioning complete, we slipped at 4:20pm in bright sunshine and a warm SSE 4-5 heading out and looking forward to a long fast sail towards Dartmouth. Unfortunately, as previously, the wind Gods were not playing fair and, after a brief spell with the spinnaker by 6pm the winds dropped to zero and we were again motoring towards the Needles. Eating, drinking and having a laugh, the picture-perfect sunset and still waters gave way to a peaceful night’s passage. Unfortunately, it was noted the compass binnacle light was not working so it was a job that had to be fixed before Friday’s race.
By 7:30am on Monday 23rd, we entered the river Dart and motored up river to take a visitors mooring near the hamlet of Dittisham. Bacon butties were accompanied by the attentions of the harbour patrol and a fee of £17.30 was handed over for the day’s stay. We spent the day resting and exploring the west bank area before an excellent evening meal in the Slip Inn.
06:30 on Tuesday we slipped and motored out on a glass like river but were able to finally switch off the engine and sail under spinnaker from 07:20 as we made our way across Start Bay. Guess what, by 08:35 the wind had died and we were again under motor and breakfast was served.
A little later we were motor sailing with full main and jib when a problem was spotted at the top of the sail. This was, of course, the obligatory opportunity for Alan to head off up the mast where he found a cover ring had slipped down and was preventing the upper 2-3ft portion of the sail from being opened. This had manifested itself as a reluctance to unfurl that we noticed during the RTIR but failed to find the cause. Might it have made a difference? Anyway, by 12:30 we were moored on the pontoon in the river Yealm for a pleasant relaxing stay.
08:40 the Wednesday morning we headed towards Falmouth with wind! It was E F4 building to a 6 occasional 7. After being bounced around in the heaving seas the cooker gimbal gave up and broke. Mooring at Falmouth by 3:30pm, a major port, we expected to be able to fix all our problems. Unfortunately, the previously brilliant chandler has now become more of a high street boutique – something we could not have guessed at the time. We dropped the jib to fix the offending cover ring - an easy gaffer tape job but, failed to find anyone who could weld or drill the gimbal strap. Don came to the rescue with a drill borrowed from the boat that rafted up against us. With a lot of sweat and burning out at least two bits, the hole was made and the cooker could be re assembled with a new bolt and washers. Well done Don. However, we could not find a bulb for the compass in Falmouth but finally located one in Mylor – just a few miles across Falmouth Bay.
10:45 on Thursday we slipped and motored to Mylor and purchased the compass binnacle bulb from their excellent chandlers, fitted it and were on our way towards the Helford River again by 12:20. Tacking all the way, we noticed a hole had appeared in the leach of the jib about 6ft from the top. This was another job that would have to be fixed before the race. Finally, by 3:20pm, we moored alongside a large Halberg Rassy sharing her buoy near the ferry slip. – the closer the better as we had no outboard motor.
We again dropped the jib and found a separation of the leach line fold and sacrificial strip caused, no doubt, by age and fatigue. Alan set to work taping and sewing the sail to prevent any further separation making an excellent repair.
Shorty after we all met up at the sailing club, entered the race, showered, drank and enjoyed the excellent hospitality offered by this most friendly establishment. Fun over, we made our way back to the yacht in the pitch black glass like river for a relaxing night to be ready for our race start – 2:15pm.
Friday dawned and brightened after a brief rain shower and, as planned, we all said our goodbyes to Chris who had to leave the boat to return to Bristol. Alan then took over as skipper for the L’Aber Wrac’h race.