Sunday 14 August 2011

Ondine & The Severn

The lake at Frampton has over the course of this year become a bit cramped for Dad’s Drascombe lugger “Ondine” so in an effort to find more space and play in some tidal water, we've joined Lydney Yacht Club.

The very first Sunday after our membership was accepted, they held something they call the "Tea Clipper Race", so it would have been rude not to have joined in.

They take their racing extremely seriously over in Lydney, so in the absence of any manner of Notice of Race, the course and rules had to be very carefully explained to us.

Essentially, the idea was to launch from Lydney as soon as the tide allowed, sail [drift] up to Newnham at a leisurely pace, land on the bank by the public carpark and have breakfast; traditionally a mug of tea and bacon butty from the burger van sited there. Hence the name of the, um, race.

Duly sated, the idea is then to relaunch and sail back to Lydney on the ebb. The first boat to land and retrieve on the slip wins the race. The only way to get disqualified is to accept a tow.

It was hardly an oversubscribed event, with ourselves, a Wanderer and a Wayfarer pushing out off the slip to ride the flood up to Newnham. But that at least had the advantage of no queues for the bacon butties to worry about!
05:00hrs - Collecting Ondine from Frampton
05:54hrs - Sunrise enroute to Lydney
06:08hrs - The gate to Lydney Docks
06:13hrs - Sunrise over Sharpness
06:14hrs – Lock gates awash with the dawn
06:14hrs – We’re heading up that way
(might have to wait for a bit of water first!)
06:16hrs – Sun rising, water to follow
07:42hrs – Ondine rigged & waiting
08:21hrs – Away with Lydney behind us
08:21hrs – Frampton Sands ahead
08:53hrs – Overhauled by the Wayfarer
Aproaching The Noose
0948hrs: Safely ashore at Newnham
09:59hrs – Dad and his bacon butty

The trip back once we left the Noose and crossed Frampton Sands, the centreboard frequently grounding and a hard beat into a growing F4 southwesterly over a fast ebbing tide, became quite “interesting”. Too interesting to risk taking my hand off the tiller to capture any of it on my camera.

As we passed Sharpness lock, the Wanderer in the lead capsized. She came back up quickly enough, but with her lines tangled and her crew clearly struggling to bring her back under control and land in the rough water. We struck sail and kicked the outboard into life then gave them a tow back to the slip before the water completely ran out. Not completely altruistic. By giving one of the competition a tow they were disqualified so we gained a place :)

Retrieving the boats back up the slip was a challenge. We pulled the Wayfarer up behind a car, tried the same with the Wanderer, and destroyed her trolly on the uneven ground beneath the lip of the slipway. We finally got her up on the Wayfarer's trolly.

Getting Ondine onto her trailer was simple enough as the cradle design pickes her up from the ground, even on an incline like Lydney slip it proved. However, dragging her back up the muddy slip was a different level of challenge.

In the end, it took two cars and a long rope pulling in tandem to get the Drascombe up the slip and out of the mud. But it worked.

An exhausting and muddy finish to the day, but not such that it put any sort of a dampner on the day’s sailing. It may well have been something of a baptism of fire (heh, actually, flood) but it was a fantastic way of throwing ourselves in the deepend and introducing Ondine to the Estuary and our new playground.

The people at Lydney Yacht Club are a fantastic bunch. Stupidly enthusiastic about their sailing and the River, very welcoming, and exceptionally helpful. Settling in on this stretch of home water is going to be something of a challenge, but it's going to be fun, and the company looks very promising.

12:53hrs – Refuel & reflect
14:30hrs – Boat packed away, peace returned to the Estuary
Time to find the bar.