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Eye of The Wind - Newsletter

The sun shone from an azure blue sky as we stood at the base of a 10,000 year old glacier, amazed at the greeny blue colour of the ice, and the surrealist formations that the wind and rain had formed over the years. A perfect setting for Mid Summer's Day at Hardanger Fjord in central Norway, en route to the Baltic for the Tall Ships gathering.
Before commencing our homeward hike, most people climbed to the bottom of the river of ice, and sampled the ice - some even made it back with pieces for their evening gin and tonics.

Mid March found us anchored at Grand Bay, St Martin at the completion of our West Indies season. Our last chance to do the bright work before the bi-annual drydocking in Gloucester. The northern hemisphere had been subjected to one of its coldest winters this century (as you were no doubt well aware). The weather faxes we had received were still showing a continual series of intense lows tracking further south than normal for this time of the year.
During our passage of 28 days, we luckily had cold but not too stormy conditions as we sailed across the top of the Azore high and made for the Western approaches. We had some young lads from Argylle Tall Ships aboard, and they were a little surprised when their expected 3 weeks in the Caribbean and 1 week sail home in actual fact turned out to be 3 days in the Caribbean, and a 4 week passage back.

Some nights it was difficult to pick who was who, as 'Michelin Man' types appeared for watch, nearly unable to move for the 15 layers of clothes they managed to squeeze on.
We arrived at Sharpness, the seaward end of the Sharpness to Gloucester canal. Everyone was feeling a little low in these cold, grey wet surroundings, and the prospect of working in dry dock in driving rain was not overly appealing. However, some made bright predictions regarding the weather, and sure enough our luck held once again, and the next day when we transitted the canal a few even got down to T shirts. The fine weather continued for basically the whole time we were at Gloucester, for which we were all very grateful.

Due to the delay with the "Ocean Defender", an ex whale catcher that was in the large dock we usually use, we squeezed ourselves into the small one. We had to first remove the jolly boat and martingale rigging, so as the water was pumped out, Fred was found bobbing around the hull in his dry suit, waterblasting off the weed and barnacles that had accumulated since last time.

Owing to a paint reaction and the surveyors wanting to see the heads of the rivets, four days peace was shattered by the continuous sounds of needle-guns, as we stripped the hull plating below the waterline of the last few years' antifouling. We were to emerge from our time in Gloucester with the hull looking pristine both above and below the waterline. A new stainless exhaust system for both generators and the overside discharge was put in by John and David Williams. David's state of the art equipment and knowledge certainly made it a lot easier, and we appreciate all his help. Also everyone else that turned up to assist, especially Terry Pooley, Dan Gold, Helen Bird, Jack Peppiatt, Roz, Carole Conconi, The Motleys, and our faithful Bob Godfrey.
Jacci also donned her overalls and came to work in Gloucester for a couple of days. She was able to sail with us to Bristol to familiarise herself with the vessel, and we are hoping she may be able to do some warm weather sailing in the Caribbean.

Fred's van nearly knew its own way between Gloucester and Crediton, as he whizzed back and forth, bringing equipment and parts for us.

We had a very pleasant soiree on Saturday, thanks to everyone who braved the rather cold wind and grey day to join us. Hot mulled wine ended up being the order of the day, and provided ample internal heating.

'TS Royalist' came to Gloucester on the Saturday, and we were both due to depart for Sharpness on Sunday morning. However, a Force 8 gale was blowing, and it was decided to delay our departure for Bristol until the winds had abated on Monday.

Poste haste had to be made in the transit of the canal to catch the first of the ebbing tide at Sharpness. Both vessels locked out into the Severn Estuary as the ebb tide was running. Deb and Emma were driving Fred's van to Bristol when it came across the car radio that a sail training vessel with 34 people had gone aground north of the Severn Bridge. Thankfully the mobile phone was working, and Deb was able to phone up (with her heart in her mouth) to see if we were alright. It was a shock for everyone aboard when our pilot learned from Avon traffic control that Royalist had been swept by the tide out of the deep water channel and had grounded. Thankfully she sustained no appreciable damage, and everyone aboard was safe.

Our first engagement was the International Festival of the Sea at Bristol, a gathering of ships from many nations, including the American vessels 'Pride of Baltimore' and 'Rose'. The two Square Sail vessels 'Kaskelot' and 'Earl of Pembroke', which we had last seen in Malta for Cutthroat Island were also adding to the atmosphere. The Festival was to celebrate the commissioning of the 'Matthew', a replica of John Cabot's sailing vessel that voyaged to Newfoundland in 1497. Numerous old friends turned up on the dock, with a surprising number of 'Young Explorers' form Operation Drake days, many with their children in tow all wanting to see where Daddy or Mummy slept on the ship.
We were pleased to see Gary Wilson aboard his first command, the vintage excursion steamer 'Balmoral', which carries approximately 300 people for day trips around the southern British Isles.
A 2.00 am departure from Bristol docks to look and sail with a flotilla down the Avon River under Brunell's famous bridge, our European voyage itinerary commenced with a visit to Lundy which was shrouded in sea mist but everyone still managed to find their way up through the mist to the pub.
On to Dublin, and on our entry we experienced a Force 10 storm which gave us some exciting sailing and tricky manoeuvering whilst entering the port and berthing alongside. We were in Dublin for the 50 years of the Irish Navy weekend, and everyone found plenty to do.

Stormy but favourable conditions continued as we sailed north up the Irish sea, and entered the Hebriddean Sea by the Sound of Islay, an exciting passage with both wind and tide in our favour. Scotland was at its wonderful best, and we called at Fingal's cave, lona, Tobermorry, Rhum and Stornaway.
As always, we found it extremely hard to anchor in Tobermorry picking up several wire cables, rope and other assorted rubbish - no doubt all left over from the many attempts to find the Tobermorry gold galleon.

There were a few nervous people aboard as we departed Oban, but we managed to get to Stromness in time for the wedding of Angela and Benny Gordon. Stromness turned on a perfect day (by their standards) and everyone got to the church on time. Benny and Fred cut very fine figures in their ancient Gordon tartan kilts as they waited for the bride to appear. Angela of course looked stunning, complimented by her very able flower gins, Emma and Angela's cousin Amy. After the ceremony there was a cocktail party aboard, with approximately 200 guests (I don't think even Benny realised Angela had so many relations) with a jazz band accompanying proceedings.
We all had a rather quiet day on Sunday, and went on a bus trip round the island to see some of its highlights. The Orkney island group is really fascinating with its neolithic and early Viking influences, and there are many amazing archaeological sites apart from the natural beauty of the islands.
The locals must have wondered who Angela had married, as we bore Benny away on the Monday morning (they will be having a honeymoon later in the year).
A fast passage across the North Sea, but as we approached the Norwegian coast the wind swung lo the north and picked up to a Force 8. Our planned port of entry was to be Bergen but owing to a May Day call (we were not required as it turned out) we were swept further south and cleared in at Haugersand. This allowed us the opportunity to visit the southern fjords, and gave us our perfect Midsummer's Day.

En route to Sweden, and with Lennart Martinson aboard (his family used to own the ship when she was 'Merry') he guided us to her old home ports of Stockevik and Fiskeackskil. We were grateful for his knowledge as we have travelled through the southern archipelago of Norway and the western archipelago of Sweden. At times it seemed as if the yards would be scraping along the pink granite rocks as we traversed these narrow coastal waterways, with its breathtaking scenery. Boatsheds and wharfs are to be found in the most unexpected places and one can see how these people have so much in common with the sea.

Rostock saw the start of this years Tall Ships race, which for the first time will visit Russia and the fantastic port of St Petersburg. During the cruise in company we plan to visit Mariehamn, the home of Erikson's sailing fleet, which was the last commercial fleet of sailing vessels in the world and plied between Australia and Europe up until the late 1940's.

12 October 1996 will once again see us bound for Australia, 20 years after our maiden voyage.
To date we have received a good response to our itinerary, and we look forward to being back in the Pacific in our old haunts with the fantastic diving and shore explorations.

Whilst the finer details of our programme after Tasmania have not yet been finally formulated, at this stage we are planning to return to the UK via northern Australia, Indonesia, Indian Ocean, Cape Town, South Atlantic and the West Indies.
We hope that this exciting and varied itinerary will stir the 'lure of the sea' in you, and entice you to run away to sea once again.

We have finalised a series of voyages along the Australia eastern seaboard, which we feel will be a great introduction to anyone who has never been to Australia.

The emphasis on the northern cruises will be the ecology of coral reefs and tropical rainforests. An opportunity will be given to learn to dive and experience the wonders of the Great Barrier Reef. A local expert will be aboard to lead you on excursions to the islands and the tropical rainforests of Queensland.
Tasmania provides the opportunity to explore the South West Wilderness area - listed on the UNESCO World Heritage list for both its outstanding cultural and natural values. There are aboriginal sites of significance dating back 10,000 years or more around the spectacular, pristine waterways of Port Davey and Bathurst Harbour. This is one of the few remaining great temperate wilderness areas. The rugged landscape which has escaped degradation by modern man is remote and inaccessible. 'Eye of the Wind' offers one of the few opportunities to visit this area for a sustained period.

This is your chance to sail in the Roaring 40's which should give us sightings of numerous seabirds, various species of seals, and whales.

Tiger

NEWS FROM FRED....

I think Tiger has given you a good newsletter yet again. From my point of view, Jacci coming on the scene this year has been great. She has taken a lot of the hassle away from me and together, with her enthusiasm, I think we make a good team and I have actually had time to do some of my own work including finishing my new house (Squirrel Lodge).

Things are looking real good for the 'Eye' and all the hard work by the Shore Crew i.e. Lisa, Helen, Sue and Jacci over the past couple of years is paying off. We have managed to get good press, even a full page spread in the Times and front cover of Classic Boat.

Nine of the trips between now and Auzzie are fully booked and others filling fast. So if you are interested get in quick! Even though the 'Eye' is off to Australia we will of course keep you up to date with news and progress.

I would like to thank the past and present crew members for helping make the Eye of the Wind what she is....the best.

My love and regards to you all

Fred

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