Monday, 26 March 2018

Calstar: blue water deliverance

[Weds 4th April 2120hrs: apologies up front, this should've been finished and posted after I wrote most of it on the evening of 26th. Instead, it's languished in draft until I could remedy my evident laziness, lightly proof read it and click Publish. All of the following relates to Calstar's delivery to Plymouth, the weekend of Friday 23rd March. We've had another weekend down there since, which I should also get around to sharing. Anyway . . . . ]

Calstar is delivered to her new home.

I booked last Friday off work, not that these people aren't sublimely capable of picking a boat up in one place, and then delivering and refloating her in another without my supervision, but they did all seem to take an awful lot of organisation and coordination and anyway, we wanted to be there.

We'd planned to be at Penarth for when she got loaded onto the back of the truck at 0900 Friday morning, but received a message from the Marina that the truck had already arrived, loaded her and left on its way by end of day Thursday, so we headed directly down to Plymouth.

Two hours and nineteen minutes, clear roads on a Friday morning, no traffic or any delays worth the mention. I don't imagine it'll always be this easy. But the journey went very smoothly, and we arrived in Plymouth to find Calstar there before us, patiently waiting for the crane to lift her from her cradle on the truck.

They weren't expecting us until the afternoon, so there was a good amount of hanging around, but they eventually managed to find us an earlier slot at 1300, just before low water made the slip untenable for a couple of hours.

Dad missed the launch. He'd gone to look for the riggers to organise the stepping of the mast and it all happened rather quick. Next thing I knew Calstar was alongside the pontoon and the Marina Berthing Master was saying we'd have to move her around to the mast crane quickly or we'd lose the water.

So I cast of and took her directly around there myself.

photo: thomas gregory (
I have to admit, whilst I suspect it probably alarmed Dad to have wandered back to the slip to find his beloved Calstar launched and apparently gone, I really enjoyed myself. I so rarely get the chance to manoeuvre Calstar under power in close quarters as Dad's always at the helm in those circumstances and I'm always jumping around with lines and fending off.

Needless to say, I delivered her to the mast crane without putting a single scratch into his lovely, freshly polished and shiny gel coat. A friend happened to be passing on the opposite side of the harbour as I did so and took the above photo of my as I was setting out the fenders. She does look very strange without a mast.

Although we got her to the mast crane in good time, the riggers didn't have anybody available until later in the day, so we waited patiently for a few hours until they turned up. At about the same time the rains came in, thick and hard.

John and Lucy of Allspars did a fine job of raising and rigging the mast, despite the drenching we all got. It took a couple of hours but went mostly without hitch. We had a bit of difficulty re-attaching the boom, as it turns out the outhaul has jumped off its roller and jammed, but managed to work around it, and with the outhaul jammed on, that's a job for another day.

By 1800 she was on her berth, all jobs for the day done. It was still raining hard, so we had supper in at the bar conveniently beneath the marina office, Chandlers. Fishcakes, washed down with a pint or two of Amstel. Really not much to complain about.

I'd originally hoped to sail Saturday, but we had odd jobs to finish up in the morning and by lunchtime the rain came back in, thick and heavy.

One of the jobs outstanding was to rewire the sockets at the foot of the mast.

Dad had the mast electrics replaced whilst she was on the hard in Penarth. New tricolour, anchor and steaming light, a new windex and VHF antenna, and new wires run down the mast. They didn't have time to rewire the plugs however, and with multiple lights running off three wires, the job proved a bit much for Dad and I to attempt.

So there is a birds nest of wires at the foot of the mast.

With the forecast suggesting there were 3m seas beyond the breakwater (and I could see them breaking over it around high tide earlier in the morning) I didn't really want to work around the birds nest in a lively sea, and didn't really want salt water flushing over the open sockets.

I suggested we go out for a potter in the Sound, but Dad declined, explaining that sailing about in the pouring rain was okay if we had somewhere to get to but if it was just sailing about for the sake of sailing, it wasn't what normal people considered to be "fun".

I''m not convinced we've ever been normal, but we are in danger of becoming fair weather sailors.

By the late afternoon, Dad had nodded off reading in his berth below decks, so I went shopping (at the local chandlery of course) and then retired to Chandlers to watch the comings and goings out on the water over a quiet pint and a book.

Dad woke a few hours later and we went to a local seafood restaurant for a fish and chip supper. And a number of glasses of whatever the house white wine was. I have to say, Carafes of wine are not as generous as I remember.

Sunday morning dawned dry and calm. Despite the lack of any electrics in the mast and the open sockets and birds nest on the coachroof, we decided to throw off our lines and poke our nose out into the Sound for a few hours before we headed home.

The sun was threatening to break through the overcast of the sky and catspaws of wind teased the surface of the water as we left the shelter of the Marine and headed out into the Sound. The wind was blowing directly off the shore, and once clear we hauled up the sails and turned on to a training run to take us out across the Sound towards the western entrance.

Blue water, as promised, if a little bit cold still for the time of year.

But it was a good first sail in new grounds. Out through the Western Entrance, then hardened up on to a reach and trotted across the tide and out to sea for a while, before turning to port, and then beating back in through the Eastern Entrance.

Just shy of four hours sailing and just over 14 miles covered. Other than the chill, the weather was perfect; warm sun and about 12 knots of wind, enough to tip the little yacht over and power her along but not enough to worry about bothering with a reef.

If we get a decent summer to compensate for the unusually late, nasty winter we've had, I can see we're going to really enjoy it here.

Actually, we're going to really enjoy it regardless.

No comments: