the Eye sailing!
Eye of The Wind - Newsletter
Once again time has flown, and many miles have slipped astern in our wake since we sent a newsletter to you.
We are anchored off the island of Mustique in the West Indies, with its fine white sand beaches and the soft trade winds blowing.
Much has happened in the last six months. The Cutty Sark Tall Ships Race saw the end of our association with International Maritime/Scottish Maritime Trust. Unfortunately it did not work out as we had envisaged, and a large debt was left owing to the ship. We apologise to anyone who booked for a Western Isles voyage through Scottish Maritime, as there were a few difficulties experienced by some.
Despite all this, the ship has had an interesting year.
Weymouth was the start of last year's Tall Ships Race, and excitement grew as more and more ships arrived, and old friends appeared. The city turned on some perfect weather which enhanced the whole atmosphere, and brought the usual large crowds. We commenced the first race off Eddistone Light, and what a spectacular start it was! 'Eye of the Wind' battled with 'Malcolm Miller' to cross the start line, and 'Kruzenshtem' with her new suit of sails came roaring up astern, overhauling us and the 'Malcolm Miller'. There must be some incredible footage somewhere of this awesome sight.
Once into the Bay of Biscay on our way to La Coruña, we were dogged by light airs, and as we ghosted along, hundreds of dolphins and many, many whales swam in company with us. On this first section we came third in our class.
The sail in company was from La Coruña to Oporto, which was where Henry the Navigator was born. When we finally left Oporto for the second race leg, all vessels were heavily laden down with cases of port kindly donated by the city.
After a slow start, we experienced a series of squalls in the early hours as we approached the separation zone off Cape Finisterre. Whilst trying to manoeuvre through other vessels of the fleet and dodge the numerous Spanish fishing vessels, we experienced one severe squall as we were wearing ship. The main boom parted by way of the preventer band, and a section of the boom came down and damaged Geoff Andrewartha's hand, as he was on the wheel. One of the spokes was broken.
It took us an hour to get the remainder of the boom secured and stowed on deck with the rain squalls continuing, and the night being as black as the inside of a wolf. Geoff was airlifted off by a Spanish Coastguard helicopter, and taken for treatment to La Coruña. The race once again ended in light airs, and few of the square-rigged vessels managed to round the weypoint off Ashant. Several other vessels had to retire due to storm damage, with masts and sails suffering the most.
At St. Malo, a picturesque walled city, we marched through the streets with the other crews, and at the prize giving ceremony we were pleased to be awarded the 'Concours d'Elegance', which was a beautiful painting of Grand Banks fishing barquentines departing St. Malo.
On our arrival in Brixham we were greeted by the local press, who had somehow found out it was Emma's 4th birthday. So we hurriedly had to organise a fake birthday party, as they were a day too early.
However, Emma didn't complain at the two lots of birthday goodies and pink food.
On her real birthday she had a pirate party which I think the young trainees enjoyed more than her, as everyone had to get dressed up and do poems, songs and a quiz. We hate to think what she will want for the next one!
Headed west to the historical china clay port of Charlestown, we wondered if the ship had visited this still working port as 'Friedrich' in her former life. The port is cut out of the cliffs, and it was like stepping back into the 18th century - a forest of masts and spars, with Squaresail's vessels 'Kaskelot', 'Carrie' and 'Earl of Pembroke' sharing the lock basin.
Our replacement main boom, a 50' douglas fir tree was awaiting us in the Squaresail workshop and with the help of a Danish shipwright, was shaped and fitted in a few days. We now have a standing gaff with a brailing mainsail, and have the option of lowering and reefing the mainsail if desired. One watch can handle it under most conditions. In actual fact, I think it has improved the look of the ship. An SOS was sent to a friend in Western Australia for some double jarrah blocks, and it is incredible to realise that on the mainsail alone, there are are 26 blocks (a varnisher's nightmare).
At this stage, we completely severed our connections with Scottish Maritime, and went back to doing our own thing.
The Western Isles of Scotland was once again a magical place, with spectacular anchorages, superb sailing and wonderful weather. In actual fact, it is hard to beat this area for enjoyable sailing - fantastic scenery, not to mention the odd pub to enjoy a wee dram! We saw seabirds, basking sharks, minke whales and otters, which added to everyone's overall enjoyment.
Heading south to Penzance, we had an exciting sail through the Sound of Jura. We roared along under sail with a favourable tide, at times achieving 10 knots. The evening light made the scenery breathtaking, and it will long be remembered by all who experienced it.
Our luck held as we sailed south, racing to beat the first winter gale which was rapidly approaching Scotland. Had the usual welcome stop at Dublin to sample the Guinness and many took the opportunity to visit Trinity College to see the Book of Kells, all the more relevant since our visit to the Abbey on Iona.
A final stop at the Scillies (but unfortunately we didn't see Prince Charles at his easel) savouring the visual delights of Tresco and St. Marys, timing our departure to catch the morning tide into Penzance the following day. Whilst there, we tied up alongside the 'Maria Assumpta', who was de-rigging for the winter.
Penzance gave us the opportunity to see Fred's new venture 'Crazy Diamond', an ex-Admiralty puffer, which he is fitting out to do salvage work around the south coast of England. On seeing the weather patterns that the UK has experienced, perhaps he should have headed south to the sun with us.
Yet another hurried turnaround, as we had been approached to be in the background for the Geena Davis movie 'Cutthroat Island'. True to form with film companies, they cut their budget at the last minute, and informed us a week before we were due to leave.
As it was too late to change our plans we headed off for a good sail across the Bay of Biscay. We passed through the Straits of Gibraltar nine days out of Penzance, with a strong westerly wind which carried us 170 miles into the Med, before promptly dying. Our new propeller came to the fore, and we motored on doing the incredible (for us) speed of 7-8 knots. All those years of plodding along, seemingly getting nowhere, have hopefully come to an end. It certainly made an amazing difference, and all of Fred's efforts getting it organised for us have certainly paid off (not to mention Dan's invaluable help).
The blue-eyed wiggly squid gave us an excellent (and unprecedented) catch of five tuna and one swordfish (which made excellent eating).
Spent four weeks in Malta. The weather was perfect, so this gave us the opportunity to rake all the seams, and completely replug and re-caulk the main deck. Ahead of us on the quay, an army of workers transformed 'Kaskelot' and 'Earl of Pembroke' into two 18th century galleons.
They certainly looked impressive, but everyone was a bit concerned when they had to go out for a short filming session, as the weight of the superstructure made them wallow like pigs. Hopefully for everyone's sake they have light airs when they come to do the filming, or parts of them may come adrift.
In usual movie style there were slaves, bodies, blood and gore everywhere, as they filmed on part of the wharf just up from us. Understandably, it was hard to convince Emma that it wasn't all real - they certainly do an amazing job. Some of the stuntmen from our Taipan days were working on it too.
Everyone managed to escape work for a couple of days, and had quite a good look around. Malta is an exceptionally historical island, with settlement going back to approximately BC5000. We were tied up alongside the wharf at Vittorioso, which was where the original castle was built by the Knights of St. John, who endured the Siege of Malta against 10,000 Turks. Their Chapel was just up the hill, and they kept their galleys in our harbour.
On departing Malta we were faced with a 1,800 mile passage to Tenerife, where we were to start our Trans-Atlantic voyage to the West Indies. The pilot books stated that we could expect over 60 westerly or north-westerly winds. Once again our luck held, and we had mostly north-easterlies and easterlies, and managed to clear the Med in seven days.
As we passed through the Straits of Gibraltar for the second time, we had the most incredible performance, with dolphins streaming like fire balls through the phosphorescence. They stayed for nearly three hours - we even got Emma up as it was so spectacular.
The mountain peak of Teide soared above the clouds as we approached Tenerife and the port of Santa Cruz. We had hoped to catch up with Ross and Kerry, and Alan Campbell, who were working on 'Anna Kristina'. Unfortunately the ship was out, but Alan managed to come down and see us, so we caught up with most of their news. By now they would all have left, as their contracts finished, and they were planning to head back to the UK.
Departed Tenerife with strong southerly winds, which made us take the great circle course to Barbados. For the first time since the Horn trip, Santa had to find us at sea. We had already advised him for Emma, and we were pleased he was able to locate us, but due to strong winds he was unable to land on the monkey poop. Always the innovator in any situation, he managed to find a heaving line and lower her sack of presents so she didn't miss out.
We also had a Christmas Eve party where every watch had to do a Christmas song or poem. Everyone put in a fantastic effort, and there were some very clever skitts as a result. Tiger was even seen pushing Emma's pram, and sporting a white beard?
Whilst in Malta, we were approached by a film company to participate in a move called 'White Squall', a story revolving around Ernest Gann's vessel 'Albatross', which is set in the late 1960's in the West Indies. The last minute details were sorted out for us by Fred last month, and everything is now finalised.
Consequently, we are now able to advise you of our itinerary for 1995/96 and the proposed plans for 1997/98. We trust this long term schedule will give you more opportunity to perhaps voyage with us, in what we know will be an exciting programme.
As you can see, this involves a voyage back to Australia. To undertake such a voyage, and parts of the itinerary, it will be necessary for us to market through agents. At this stage the final pricing has not been fixed, due to discussions with agents. However, anyone that wishes to join us, and who has sailed on the ship in the last two years, will be offered a generous discount.
(picture added for this website by Ina)