My memories of sailing, in pictures and sometimes, a lot of words……………………….
This is ‘Freyja’, my 28ft banana, not long after arriving at Southsea Marina, in April 2012. She is an Atlanta 8.5, built by Atlanta Marine, in Fareham, in 1977. Designed by the same guy who designed MacWesters, C.J.Roy, she has similiar lines to MacWesters, of course. She is a bilge keeler, with a 4ft draft.
You can see my foresail wrapped on the bow. Since those days, she has been fitted with roller reefing and lines leading aft………..
The picture below, is the day I was ‘rescued’ by the Southsea Lifeboat. Looking at the boat, you’d think there was nothing wrong with it………………
We, Paul and I, (there’s a pic of him later, somewhere) had been out sailing. The sea state was moderate, with wind over tide.
We had decided to sail over to Osborne Bay, grab a mooring and have lunch, then sail back. As we arrived at Osborne Bay, the engine decided it was going to start. I found out later that this was due to a £1.89 worth of bulb on the ignition panel. So, I decided that we should head home. We turned into a worsening sea state with the wind picking up, as well, on our nose. We cranked the engine into life and headed off. Not long after, I noticed that the cabin was filling with water. I went below, removed the engine cover, and found that the cast iron exhaust ‘elbow’ had snapped in half. Hence, the engine was merrily pumping sea water and exhaust gases into the boat. It didn’t take me long to decide to switch the engine off.
So, what to do.?…………………I decided that we should try to head towards the I.O.W, since we were on the Lee-On-Solent side of the Solent. Hoisting the old worn out genoa, not much fun in a sea that tries to throw you off the bow, and hooking up the main, we headed towards Ryde. Our problem was that we had to get through the submarine barrier and there was no way we could make it through ‘The Dolphin’, with the wind as it was. My idea was to go round the barrier, on the Island side and then tack towards home. We were struggling with the sea state and wind throwing the boat around. Just to add some fun to the general state of affairs, the old genoa decided to retire and ripped in half. We had to get that down, so leaving Paul on the helm, I went forward and grappled with the two torn halves of the sail. It was wrapping itself around the shrouds and anything else it could find. Great fun.!!! We were now left with the main sail.
We made very slow progress, but eventually I judged it time to tack toward Langstone Harbour. Having done this, we made even slower progress towards home on a starboard tack. At times we were going nowhere. After a couple of hours, we were about 800 yards off the ‘Marine Museum’, having been pushed there by the tide, the wind still on our nose. It was beginning to get dark and we were being pushed, albeit slowly, backwards towards the submarine barrier. At this point, I have to admit, I’d run out of ideas. I was exhausted, cold and losing the will to live. I grabbed my radio and made a pan, pan call. Whilst we were waiting for the Langstone Lifeboat to come out, a yatch stood off, having heard my call. To this day, I feel guilty for not being able to remember the yacht’s name and therefore being unable to thank them for their assistance. During the wait for the Lifeboat, my electrics decided to take a nap. The standing off vessel, kept us up to-date with what going on. We had, by now, been at sea for 12 hours.
The Lifeboat arrived, two members of their crew came aboard and I was ordered below. Paul (bless him), took charge of the helm and when we had a secure line attached to their RIB, they towed us into Langstone Harbour. Apparently, this was not an easy task, due to the sea state. I didn’t see any of it, as I was below being cared for by a Lifeboat crew member. They had an ambulance, on stand by, for my arrival at Southsea Marina. Although, I don’t think there was any real danger to life, I’m sure that I could have lost my boat. I will forever be grateful to the Lifeboat crew, a wonderful group of people, to Paul for what he did that day and to the ‘standing off’ vessel, who I wish I could thank and buy a drink for.
What did I learn, that day.? Well, on an old boat, you need to double up with any maintainance routine. You need to keep an eye on things that you don’t normally look at and make sure they are ‘sea-worthy’. And finally, pray to the sea Gods that it doesn’t happen to you……………..