the Eye sailing!
(Some parts used again in the Autumn 1995 newsletter - anyway this one is genuine! - Ina)
Isles des Saintes, 4th February 1995
It is hard to realize that a year ago we were in Australia and putting up the Christmas tree. 1994 has flown past, and we are once again like the swallows and swifts, heading south and chasing the sun.
On our return to the ship in Antigua, we were in time for Ross & Kerry's marriage, which was held on the poop deck in Falmouth Harbour - the first one we have had since Tasmania. They are now both working on 'Anna Kristina' in Tenerife.
The Caribbean was wonderful after the cold of England, and we enjoyed being back. Not quite like the Pacific islands, but very easy to deal with the authorities, and some very historically fascinating places, as well as ones of great beauty.
Emma made the most of the bubble float she got from Santa, and did a lot of swimming and nearly learnt to snorkel. However, that doesn't stop her talking, as she talks and sings through the snorkel as she goes.
Saw 'Sea Cloud', 'Astrid' and the Mike Bourke ships, and it was amazing the number of ex-crew that we caught up with. Had quite good sailing for the whole time there, with very little rain, little rain, which made it ideal. Also caught up with 'Sorer Larsen' in Grenada before she headed back to New Zealand, so had quite a social time.
Sailed up to Bermuda, and had a week alongside at the naval dockyard. Tiger managed to burn his hand when the pitch kettle blew up when they were re-caulking the deck. The 3 of us jumped in a taxi (Marion the nurse was off for the day) and headed to the hospital. The sight of his hand almost made the nurse sick, so she left us to take most of the dead skin off. All this time Emma was sitting watching while eating hot chips and tomato sauce - she found it very interesting. Tiger emerged with an enormous bandage (and an enormous bill!). From then on, Emma and Marion dressed it every day, and he was very lucky and made a good recovery, with really no great amount of scarring.
New London was our port of entry into North America, which was just recovering from its worst winter this century - 9 severe blizzards occurred during the winter months, which washed the wharves away. Grace, Helen and Fred joined us on the sail up to Boston, and we went to Mystic Seaport, Cape Cod Canal and Provincetown on the way.
As usual, our limited time in Boston was spent in a mad panic getting stores, and the American pastime of shopping. We were told about these outlet stores, and headed off in a 2 car convoy one night in pursuit of these bargains. Of course, we got separated, but luckily we both managed to get there by different routes. It was amazing to see miles of enormous shops selling everything you could think of. However, when it came to the crunch, we spent a lot of time looking and not much buying, as the bargains were few and far between.
Emma and I were fair weather sailors, and flew to Gatwick, leaving the serious sailors to the Atlantic crossing. They departed on a cold and blustery day, and sailed to Provincetown to give the young trainees a last chance to stock up on socks and chocolate before setting off into the Atlantic. Waiting to depart as well was a young French man, who was intending to row across in an 18' purpose built rowing boat. We heard later that he was taken off his vessel only 200 miles from the French coast in the middle of August - an amazing effort.
Our voyage was a bit quicker, as we managed it in 20 days from Cape Cod light to the entrance of Cobh Harbour, Southern Ireland - an average of 6.3 knots - the whole times under sail. The icebergs were a lot further south this year, but luckily we headed south and skirted the Grand Banks, with its dreaded fogs. No icebergs were sighted, but we had numerous visits from dolphins and whales.
Emma and Deb came back in Ireland (after doing the rounds of staying with friends, and our arrival heralded the first sunny day in Ireland since last October, so as you can imagine, it was the legendary green fields that greeted us.
From Ireland we sailed up the Bristol Channel and through the canal to Gloucester for our bi-annual survey. Fred organised a new propellor for the ship, and we had a frantic time fitting it and getting all the normal hull work done in the 2 weeks. We were coming back through the canal when the prop started making a dreadful noise, and everyone's heart missed a beat. We stopped immediately, and Fred went over the side, to find we had picked up a bit of old wire.
We sailed in perfect weather to Lundy Island (in the middle of the Bristol channel, and a very dramatic island, where they have nesting puffins and other birds) and on to the Scilly Isles. These are owned by Prince Charles, and is where he gets a lot of his watercolour scenes from (however, we didn't see him at his easel).
Weymouth was the start of this year's Tall Ships Race. Deb and Emma had an unexpected holiday as they were not allowed to do the race this year. Unfortunately, we were moored about 50 yards from the Cutty Sark hospitality tent, and they all saw her playing on deck. So the evening before the race, we were informed that she was not to be on the ship.
It was all a bit sudden, but didn't work out too badly in the end, as one of the girls who was a young explorer in the Op Drake days had come to see if she knew anyone on board, and caught up with Tiger again. She had 2 kids, 4 & 6, so we went and stayed with them for a while, before heading off on another round of visiting friends.
A spectacular start of this years Tall Ships race commenced at Eddistone Light. 'Eye of the Wind' battled with 'Malcolm Miller' to cross the start line, and 'Kruzenshtem' came roaring up astern. There must be some incredible footage (we still don't own a camera) 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. The sail in company was from La Coruņa to Oporto, which was where Henry the Navigator was born. When we finally left Oporto for the 2nd race leg, all vessels were heavily laden down with cases of port kindly donated by the city of Oporto.
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 punctured a hole in Geoff Andrewartha's hand, as he was on the wheel, and broke one of the spokes.
It took us an hour to get the remainder of the boom secured and stowed on deck with the 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 waypoint off Ushant. 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, and were surprised prize-giving ceremony 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 1ocal 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 soon. 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 trainees enjoyed even 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 part of Charlestown. We wondered if the ship bad 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 Squaresails vessels 'Kaskelot', 'Carrie' and 'Earl of Pembroke' sharing the lack 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 so desired. One watch can handle it under most conditions. In actual fact, I think it has improved the look of the ship, An SOS sent to Robin WA for some double jarrah blocks, and it is incredible to realise that on the mainsail alone there are 26 blocks (a varnisher's nightmare).
At this stage, we completely severed our connections with Scottish Maritime Trust, and had we are now 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. It brings back memories of the terrain and beauty of Port Davey.
Mile sailing oft Iona, we had a short service and scattered the ashes of Capt Tim Gellatley, wham many of you may know. Seconded to the British Navy during wartime years, he spent time operating out of this area.
Headed south to Penzance with a welcome stop for a few Guinesses at Dublin. Yet another hurried turnaround, as we picked up Emma's Nanna, and headed off for Malta. 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 they informed us a week before we were due to leave. Unfortunately, it was too late to change our plans, so we headed off anyway.
A good sail across the Bay of Biscay (much to Nanna's relief), and passed through the Straits of Gibraltar 9 days out of Penzance. A strong westerly wind carried us 170 miles into the Med, and then promptly died. 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 has made an amazing difference.
The blue-eyed wiggly squid gave us an excellent (and unprecedented) catch of 5 tuna and one swordfish (which was beautiful eating).
Spent 4 weeks in Malta. The weather was perfect, so this gave us an opportunity to rake all the seams, and completely replug and recaulk the main deck. Ahead of us on the quay, 'Kaskelot' and 'Earl of Pembroke' were transformed into 2 18th century galleons, by an army of workers.
They certainly looked pretty, 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. Emma was hard to convince that it wasn't all real. Some of the stuntmen from 'Taipan' were working on it too.
We managed to escape work for a couple of days, and had quite a good look around. It is an exceptionally historical place, with settlement going back to approx. BC5000. Lots of sandstone and churches and cheap local beer. Emma made friends with a couple of local kids, and went to birthday parties, picnics and lunches, and enjoyed herself.
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 have had mostly north-easterlies and easterlies, and managed to clear the Med in 7 days.
As we passed through the Straits of Gibraltar for the 2nd time, we had the most incredible performance, with dolphins streaming like fire balls through the phosphorescence. They stayed for nearly 3 hours - we even got Emma up, as it was so good.
The mountain peak of Teide is ahead of us in the cloud. On our brief stay in Santa Cruz we hope to catch up with Ross & Kerry, Alan Campbell, and Curly Pete is he is still on 'Anna Kristina'.
For the first time since the Cape Horn trip, we hope Santa will find us a week out of Barbados. We have already advised Santa for Emma, so hope he can find us in time, and that he will be able to manoeuvre his sleigh on the monkey-poop.
Plans are under consideration for a celebratory 20 year return to Aust, and will probably commence the homeward voyage in October 1996 from England. We will then tie up with the Tall Ships race ex Sydney in January 1998, with no doubt a season in Tassie, and then make a return voyage via Indonesia, Cape Town, Africa and back to the UK. At this stage, it does not seem viable that we can stay in Aust, without being able to go to PNG.
At this stage, Emma and I will probably return to Aust for 6 weeks or so, avoiding the problem for her of the Tall Ships race.
We wish everyone an enjoyable Christmas (and lots of rain for those in Australia), and a Prosperous New Year.