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Old 23 July 2001, 13:53   #41
Country: UK
Town: GB
Join Date: Jul 2001
Posts: 28
Day Five
Scrabster – Berwick
200 miles (ish)

The next morning saw a reasonable start with all the boats ready to slip ropes by 10am. The beer from the night before hadn’t slowed anyone down, the sun was shining and we were better organised for having had time to sort boats the evening before.

The plan was to run round to Petershead, then refuel and set off for the long leg across the Firth of Forth to Berwick. The forecast was 3-4 easterly, but fine. The fleet headed out of Scrabster in good order and good spirits into a a misty, but calm sea and then stopped!

Gemini was down in the water – well actually the water was up in Gemini!. Her electric bilge pump had failed and the hull was full of water. The only option was a quick swim to release the drain cock from the base of the transom, remove an inspection hatch from the deck to allow the air to enter and drive the boat forward to bail the water out. It seemed to take an age to get the drain cock out, but we enjoyed the sight of Jan in the water at this early hour. She was soon up and away with Toby at the helm and Jan quickly back in a huddle on the deck and sleeping as usual!

The fleet ran through the Pentland Fith – about our forth “worst bit o water round the UK my boy!” – it was in benign mood which suited us all fine. We turned the corner to face south and opened the throttle on a calmish sea for the run across to Petershead.

The fleet made Petershead by mid afternoon. The sun was shining and the marina was excellent. The support vehicles were struggling to get there to refuel the fleet, so we had about an hour on the pontoon. Eventually, some locals helped out with a pick up truck and we got the boats fuelled just as Jo arrived, spitting obscenities about the traffic.

It was agreed that Tigershark and Black Max would run together with Gemini, Bangor Challenger, Team Ribex and Grey Seal following with Yes Dear in Support. We set off for the crossing on smooth glassy seas and were soon out of site of the main flotilla. It took Black Max and us about 20 miles to find the seas, which grew steadily worse until a point where full concentration and active driving came into play again. It was now overcast with a visibility of about 1 mile, the wind and seas were building rapidly and we had a very long way to run. The large seas, occasional 4m wave were at an awkward port beam and turning the run into a real fight. We were down to just about planning speed, 12-15 knts and the GPS was telling us that we were in for a long night.

For hour after hour the seas kept their attack sustained, with both boats and crews taking a real pounding. Black Max had their A frame self destruct around them as weld after weld let go in the flexing seas. On Tigershark, we repositioned spare fuel to keep the boat weighted in the middle. I was becoming paranoid about a structural failure as the seas were causing us to take twisting fall after twisting fall despite our best efforts at helming.
Slowly the mileage crept down as the hours crept by. We ran with Black Max, but heard nothing of the other boats. At about 10pm we picked up an open broadcast from the coastguard hailing any RB4 vessel. We confirmed our position, our ETA and advised the configuration of the trailing flotilla that we guessed to be about an hour behind us.

Finally, the seas began to ease a little for the final 20 mile run down the coast to the headland at Berwick. We passed a cruise liner that was moored just off the entrance and had conveniently obscured the leading lights for our approach!

We piloted the two boats in on a falling tide, through rain and darkness into what was a very tricky little port. Russell’s preparation with the laminated folders proving valuable to the tired and weary crews. There was one slight mishap when he insisted that I steer for a flashing green light that turned out to be red – I had forgotten he was colour blind!, but we got in.

It was great to see the support crews on the jetty end cheering and clapping as we crept into the basin at midnight. We tied up Tigershark and Black Max, climbed over the pilot boat and scaled the ladders. It was great to see Hugo’s beaming face at the top. He welcomed us and congratulated us on the run as we exchanged news and opinion on the others. They had organised for a pub to stay open for us and had sorted out take away Indian for the crews – very thoughtful. We were absolutely finished after the extreme pounding and sustained crossing and very relieved to make it safely to port.

We were soon off to get sorted. After a pint and some curry, we all returned to the pontoon, just in time to see the flotilla make it’s approach. Locals commented on their navigation as they made it inside the outer wall and struggled to find the transit through the sand bars to the inner channel – just as we had an hour before. After the dancing light show as the boats circled around, the flotilla made a correct approach and soon, all were tied up and some very weary looking crews climbed the ladders.

I seem to remember HMS telling us that Team Aldiss, who I had heard nothing off for some days, were racing to catch up after an epic run right around Scotland to Scrabster non stop – very impressive and a story that should be told in their own words. I also believe that Team Spirit and Cyanide had made it to Petershead that day.

We left for bed, with conversations on the quay about the next days run. We had offered our choice to HMS which was for a divert to Whitby, splitting the planned 230 miler to Wells. We left, agreeing a meeting time of 9 for the morning.

This was a classic day –all seemed well and the sea reasonable at the start, but once committed to the long open crossing the fleet took a real hiding. The decision for BM and TS to split from the fleet was reasonable at the time, but with hindsight left us very exposed when we met the larger seas in the Forth. The length of the leg, combined with the challenging sea conditions, following on the tail of several long days came close to beating us. My paranoia about structural failure was growing as was my concerns for our engine – most of the others had suffered significant engine mount or saddle and trim problems by now. I was very concerned about the length of the days, particularly the next day’s run down to Wells and was keen to influence a change. HMS appeared keen for us to run the full day, but was prepared to seek input from the crews. It was good to see him back, nut he was fresh and had not experienced the tough run up the west coast that the rest of us had.

Splitting the next day would also have the advantage of letting Cyanide, Team Spirit and Team Aldiss close the fleet before the reception at Wells, without them having to race hard to catch us.

The incident with the Coast Guard surprised me. I had assumed that the CG were briefed on us each day as part of the support and safety rig. However, it appeared from the transmition that we had been engaged in, that they knew nothing of the fleet or our plans ( I don’t know this for a fact).

I guess I had mentally prepared myself for an easier run down the east coast and I went to bed that night reappraising my optimism complemented by a nagging worry – on the approach to the pontoon, I thought the prop on Tigershark was ‘vibrating’ more than it should. I would need to look at it in the morning…….


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Old 25 July 2001, 13:53   #42
Country: UK
Town: GB
Join Date: Jul 2001
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Where has everyone gone!?

Day Six
Berwick – Whitby
120 miles (kind of!)

The pontoon the next morning at nine was filled with weary, but determined crews. The return of HMS had ‘upped the pace’ a fair bit and things were getting sorted. The decision appeared to have been made to divert to Whitby and split the leg, using up the lay day – this was a good and timely call in my opinion, but must have been a difficult one for HMS, who had to let down the folks of Wells. The combination of the battering that all crews and boats had taken the night before, the late arrival, the prospect of another very long leg, combined with a very tight ‘tide window’ for Wells forced a good call.

As it turned out, the decision must have been made late the night before. Mark from Black Max had thoughtfully text messaged the lads from Team Aldiss, who were catching a few zzs in Scrabster after an epic run. They picked up the text at 3am when they got up to leave and were somewhat pleased by the shortened leg by all accounts, trying to return to their B&B for some extra R&R they found that they had locked themselves out! Still tough chaps these Royals!

I wanted to check out the prop on Tigershark, mindful that I might have hit a sandbar or some debris the previous evening. I tilted the engine up and had a good look, all the blades seemed fine, I tried the prop nut to see if that was lose, all looked well, I then tried the whole assembly for travel – oh no there appeared to be some play. I sought a second opinion from Mark, who is a Sowester man and knows a thing or two about Mercury engines – “could be the thrust bearing” he offered. No problem, we had a spare one on the boat.

Big mistake!! – I leant over the back, with a borrowed bit of wood to jam the prop and removed the prop nut and washer. Very carefully, I lifted the prop off the splined shaft as I balanced carefully at full reach with prop in one hand, the other hand underneath to catch the thrust washer if it lifted – I saw a splash and ‘something’ drift off down into the depths. What had I lost? I quickly put the prop down inside the boat, looked at the shaft and saw the thrust washer still in place – what had I lost? To this day, I don’t know what it’s called, but part of the housing for the laser prop was gone, there was no way to replace the prop! No problem, we had a complete spare, complete with all the trimmings to fit – but if we hit anything at sea we would be finished! – Stupid, I should not have rushed, I should have got help, I should have slung a sheet under the gear box etc, etc.

I returned my attention to the shaft, somewhat annoyed and riffled. There was definite play in the shaft along it’s axis. Mark’s opinion was sought – “not sure” was the answer, but he offered to line up an engineer to take a look if we got the boat to Hartlepool. The spare prop was fitted – very carefully and preparations made for the run to Hartlepool. Black Max had an A frame to fit, so agreed to run with us. The main fleet would head straight for Whitby. Yes Dear, the big Ribtec, would be late leaving as they had damaged their propeller on a sand bar the night before – Obviously, HMS had supplied the Indian, so they supplied the cowboys!! – just kidding

The fleet prepared and the time ticked, but it was a short leg and for once all seamed calm. Team Ribex had a problem with their trim, boats were fuelling and Black Max was removing the last of her A frame – she also had a problem with their doubled GPS systems. The stern set worked fine, but the coxwains set was down for some reason.

I had got Tony Hole (our Plymouth based Mercury dealer)to teach me how to bye pass the electric trim solaniods on our engine as part of our preparation. I offered to have a go for the lads on Ribex. Their uplift solaniod shorted and constantly lifted the leg. It turned out they had a different model to that fitted on our 90 and I couldn’t work out the short without a multimeter (which was in our support vehicle and already heading south). It was agreed to leave the unit off and to tape over the connection base to prevent any further contact problems. I suggested they drop the engine down on the manual bleed at the base of the ram – “do what?” came the reply. I adjusted their engine trim for them.

It was a small incident, but we had had a few examples by now of crews on the ‘sponsored boats’ not knowing their way around their boats electrics and engines – a disadvantage of having everything just arrive on a trailer I guess, but one to watch if you get an offer in the future. We knew every inch of Tigershark, having built her ourselves. The engine, we had deliberately got some personal tuition on to ensure that we could cope with likely problems, if not major failures.

Black Max and Tigershark, slipped the ropes at about 11am – just after the main flotilla and headed out into a playful, but not large sea. The visibility was dire. Thick fog and wollowing swell as we headed down towards the Farne Islands. There had been some debate about running the inner channel, but in these conditions, with only one GPS on either boat working and both of them in the rear seats, we decided to run off the outermost island. The fog was intimidatingly thick and there was a nasty tidal race creating big waves that appeared aggressively out of the gloom as we battled round the end. It was over as quickly as it had begun and we settled to a fast, if depressing run down to Hartlepool.

The whole way, I was chastising myself for the prop and worrying about the gearbox play – thinking this could be the last of it for us. We entered the marina at Hartlepool in improving weather after an uneventful run. We docked through and were directed to the fuel barge. Mark had sorted the guy from the local Mercury dealership, who took one look at the prop and said “aye, that’s normal lad, what yer worrin fur?” I was very relieved and managed the first smile of the day. Offering coffee by way of an apology for wasting his time, we had a quick chat and some lunch on the pontoon. The Marina manager come down – a right ‘jobs worth’ and gave us a good ticking off – there had been a cock up in communications and he didn’t know who or what we were. The man was dame right rude, but he had a point, as the chain of communications had failed. We packed up, muttering obscenities and discussing ‘ what we would do to him, if we weren’t on an official event!’ etc, etc.

The mood, like the weather had improved dramatically. The sun was out, the sea was playful and the two ribs left Hartlepool and bounced impressively across the chop of the bay, spraying white water into the afternoon sunshine. I started to feel, that we might be in with a chance of getting home.

Somehow, we managed to make Whitby ahead of the rest of the fleet and run down the first bit of coast we had really had a chance to see since western Scotland. Whitby is a magical place and very pretty from the sea. The view was even better for Mark, whose wife and young daughter were on the breakwater to greet the Black Max team.

All the boats were in by six with fuelling and checks completed. Our second chance to go on the piss – so we went on the piss!! After all it was only 120 miles to Wells tomorrow, what could possibly go wrong?!

The shorter day, combined with the prospect of all the remaining legs being 130 –160 miles, lifted the teams. Everyone benefited from coming off the gas a little. Hugo had integrated back into the flotilla very well. He had made a good call the night before and had a very positive influence on both the Rib International teams.

Jan continued to assert authority and run the morning briefings, he now had the respect and following of all crews by my judgement. We had split from the main flotilla and run separately with Black Max for two days now. We were averaging a faster speed than the other boats, so it made sense, however, I had a nagging doubt growing in my mind about the wisdom of this, as we would be very exposed if either craft had a critical failure at sea. As it appeared that the start times were improving, with lower distances to run, I was keen to regroup with the main pack for the remaining days.

Several incidents had now occurred to reinforce my earlier suspicions that most of the boats weren’t carrying the full inventory of equipment that was asked for. These combined with the lack of boat knowledge left me with nagging doubts about the preparedness of some crews to deal with incidents at sea that should be self contained and solvable. Failure to do so, would cause significant problems for the fleet. Jan in particular, gave me the impression that his patience was wearing thin for messing about with minor problems at sea. The fleet was doing well, had come along way, but the crews were starting to show the strain and equipment failures continued to present themselves. The next couple of days would be critical and my paranoia was now virtually fully developed!


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Old 26 July 2001, 05:25   #43
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Country: UK - Isle of Man
Town: Peel, IOM
Length: no boat
Join Date: Nov 2000
Posts: 2,300
Where has everyone gone?
I'll tell you where they have gone, Vernon. They have gone totally quiet and are all holding their breath lest your train of narrative goes. I think I speak for many other of YOUR readers out here when I say that we can barely wait for your next episode.
Will Vernon make it?
Will there be a mutiny against Jan's leadership?
Will the weather close in?
Who's equipment will fail next?
How will the good people of Wells receive the fleet?
These and other questins are keeping us all in front of our computer screens Vernon.
More please?
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Old 26 July 2001, 07:19   #44
Country: UK - England
Town: Solent
Boat name: Outspan
Make: RibCraft
Length: 4m +
Engine: Mariner 60
Join Date: May 2000
Posts: 17
Brian: Couldn't agree more. This could be quite an active forum once Vernon completes his account of RB4 and the RIB Mag publishes their account.

John: Perhaps this forum could be edited into a permanent feature once its finished as I'm sure there will(and already are) good tips and lessons learned that a lot of people could benefit from in the future or the 2011 reunion!

[This message has been edited by LamacqS (edited 26 July 2001).]
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Old 26 July 2001, 10:51   #45
Country: UK
Town: GB
Join Date: Jul 2001
Posts: 28
Thanks guys - there will be a prize for the person that totals the most spellings, typos etc....

more tonight

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Old 26 July 2001, 15:59   #46
Country: UK
Town: GB
Join Date: Jul 2001
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Day Seven
Whitby – to the back end of beyond!
120 miles or so, maybe, if you really care

One of the nice things about making port at a reasonable time, apart from the obvious, is that you get a chance to see the weather forecast on the telly! It was like looking at an X- ray and discovering a shadow! Out there in the Atlantic, hiding behind the presenter, a dirty great sodding low pressure system, with my name on it! The call to split the rest day didn’t look quite so clever now – oh well.

The brilliant news that morning was the arrival of Team Spirit and Cyanide. We hadn’t seen these guys since Pembrook! This was tempered by some bad news that Team Aldiss had thrown it in the day before. I understand they had run out of fuel off the east coast somewhere after their internal tank baffles had failed and drained all the fuel into the tank they were running on – impressed by their fuel efficiency, they turned to the next tank when it eventually run dry to find it empty! The delay this caused compounded yet further aggressive driving to close the fleet, which resulted in a structural failure yet again on the Tohatsu engine mounts – game over. Much sympathy and a bitter shame for them within a day of their own port of Wells.

Talking of Wells and the fleet’s growing culture of black humour. The teams were generally fairly sceptical about the proposed visit – called Wells NEXT to the sea. We wondered what we were in for. It was tidal bound (not ideal) with a difficult entrance (not ideal), the nearest fuel was 15 miles away by road (not ideal). In short, we wondered why it was we were down to stop over there and several unsavoury but amusing jokes were starting to do the rounds! As you will see later, it turned out to be one of the highlights of the trip and all I can say, is those unscrupulous ribsters who doubted the quality of the venue should be thoroughly ashamed of yourselves!

The mood was one of carnival, the weather was overcast with an easterly 3-4 blowing, but it was a short hop and the promise of a good party awaited. We set off with the main flotilla slower than us again, Black Max and Tigershark soon drew distance on the fleet. There was a plan to rendezvous in the wash near some famous bouy who’s name I can’t remember now and eyeball the sandbars etc, before deciding the route through to Wells.

We reckoned we had enough time to make a quick stop in Bridlington for coffee and a bite to eat. Mark was keen to do some sight seeing, as Bridlington held particular fond memories for him of teenage passion – could only have been a small fishing village in those days, but oh well. BM had her new A frame and seat fitted and was running well as was TS. The seas were reasonable, if playful as we pounded south. We stopped off Scarborough to make the final call to visit or not. There appeared to be enough time, but I didn’t want to miss the fleet out in the wash after our experiences in the Forth. “There’s a McDonalds” Mark offered – decision made. George erupted out of his text messaging slumber (he can do 120 words a minute for 4-5hours through a force five you know). We ran into Bridlington, the seas calming considerably once we had closed the headland. It was a holiday town in windy, but sunny conditions and a great place to visit. As we closed the port, a radio message came through for us, be we didn’t catch it fully. When we got in, a right bunch of dodgy looking geesers descended upon us – after our welcome at Hartlepool, we were a little concerned. They turned out to be local ribsers and a top bunch of lads. Frustrated by their inability to persuade the local tractor launcher to get them and their rib off the beach they were in the town with radio and binoculars to welcome us – very friendly and a real good laugh, but as I say, dodgy looking – still that’s divers for you.

Stories were exchanged and Mucky D’s were consumed and eventually the lads left. Steve had the lads back about half an hour later though, this time on their rib, Badger’s Mist having obviously lent on the tractor man a little! – it was a stiff on shore wind after all. The effort was much appreciated lads, many thanks.

We left in good spirits shortly after, visiting the wooden shark and diver moored just off the entrance for the benefit of local tourists on the way and set out into the wash. We closed on the fleet with 30 minutes and all came together somewhere in the middle of nowhere – I hope Wells is ready for us!

The Wash, which I had reliably been informed, was the worst bit of water round the UK, was at least as bad as the Pentland Firth, Cape Wrath, Mull of Kyntyre etc etc so we cruised through in warm sunshine as a fleet without really noticing it.

What we did notice though was a sodding great Tornado bomber that buzzed us doing mac 3 at fifty feet. He was so pleased with himself that he turned round and did it again – most impressive and we all appreciated the chance to sort the bowls out after many days at sea! Suddenly, we were impressed with the good folk of Wells for being able to lay on this kind of reception as we laughed our way towards the Devil’s coast without further incident.

We were about 20 miles off the entrance to Wells (I use the word in it’s broadest sense) when Russell, who was driving, said “this doesn’t feel right”. I was just beginning to relax and enjoy myself, but was now once more fully alert and fully paranoid – we had a fuel problem. We were running on the front tank, with the rear empty, but with 40 litres spare in cans. We were defiantly suffering a fuel starvation problem. Everyone else was lolling along, singing songs etc and we were back in the shit.

The fuel rig on Tigershark was one of our biggest mistakes. We have already talked about the error of having extra fuel that needs to be tipped into the main tanks at sea, rather than just plugged in. To compound that, the fuel/ water separator was mounted inside the console as was the pumping bladder – fine for a tidy boat, but bugger all use when you wanted a quick look to see if it was collapsed! Particularly when the deck space in front of the hatch was piled high with strapped down fuel cans, dry bags, sea anchor etc.

It felt like the tank vents were shut, so off with the seats to check they were open – they were. If we had left the valve open on the empty tank, she might be sucking air – we checked, it was shut. The easy options were running out fast, as TS continued to splutter after the fleet. I had had problems before when a pick up pipe in one of the tanks had worked it’s way into one corner of the tank – I took the filler off to look, it was fine. “OK what next?” I asked myself as I computed my options, distance to run, tow speed and tide window for Wells – things didn’t look too good, just when it was turning into a picnic!!

Must be contaminated fuel – other boats had had problems. Tip the 40lts of spare into the rear tank and run in on that – good plan you clever old so and so. This we did, turned the valves to set the rear tank and opened the throttle – perfect. We closed the fleet with the lads on Yes Dear taking the piss quicker than a dialysis machine (they were starting to suffer their own fuel problems which was to nag them all the way home – still they had spanner!).

Problem solved, I’ll sort the tank when we make port, I thought. 10 minutes later and I had calmed down a bit, when the problem returned with a vengeance. “OK what option are left?”. We can make way, but not enough speed to stay with the fleet. She is pulling petrol, but not enough to run above about 2800rpm. Must be a blockage in a filter, or the fuel line is crushed / kinked inside the console. All the cabling etc runs underneath the two fuel tanks the length of the console. Maybe a tank had moved and was obstructing a line, or it could be ‘all the kit’ stuffed into the bow locker around the fuel separator. We were losing ground to the fleet, the pirates on Yes Dear were getting more confident in their glory and I was becoming more frustrated. We had a tool to remove the fuel separator, but that meant stopping and we might not get going again. “Strip the gear out of the forward locker, sit there with the pipe and pump the bladder if need be” I barked at Russ. Easy to say from the helm station but a bitch to do as I continued to try and make ground on the fast retreating fleet, through the 1 – 2 meter chop. He got thrown all over the place, but it seemed to help and our speed crept up and we closed the flotilla. We made Wells in this configuration, though it was a stressful 20 miles for me and a bruising one for Russ.

The sun was out, so was the tide! We waited off Wells for the pilot boat to come out to us. We were all informed by radio that we had to wait for the press before making our way up river to the quay- there was considerable comment and micky taking amongst the crews, but also a real air of anticipation as we hovered in the channel waiting for half an hour or so. The mood was good and it had been a largely uneventful day for most. Word had got back to the fleet about our ‘lunch’ with reports of a picture posted up on Rib Int’s web site – pretty good going I thought.

Eventually, the pilot boat came out, with a camera man on board wanting a set of shots that took a further 20 minutes or so to execute. A big plus, was to see all the support crews on the pilot boat – nice touch and much appreciated, perhaps we had got it wrong about Wells (not that far away from) the Sea.

Soon enough, we proceeded upstream in orderly fashion following the pilot cutter. I would not recommend you enter Wells without local knowledge, assistance or a good sense of adventure, but it was definitely worth the effort. The whole town had turned out to meet us and everyone’s chest swelled and grins grew – it was marvellous.

The boats were made fast to the pretty quay, onlookers asked questions, some of the crews headed for the pub, some sorted boats, some started the long process of getting fuel. The sun shone and we were all on holiday! Except me.

I was inside my console, stripping everything out looking for the blasted fuel problem – I didn’t want to have to strip carbs, so was hoping to find a blocked filter. Sure enough, the main water / fuel separator was choked. Choked with the same brown, flaky sludge I had tipped into the forward tank off Pembrook in a moment of haste, late the first night!!. Relieved and confident to have found the problem, I was once again very annoyed with myself. The original incident should not have happened, I should have drained and cleaned the tank that night in Pembrook, I should have changed the fuel filter at least once by now etc etc. “it’s always fuel that stops a boat, my boy” – how many times had I heard that, how many times had I been stopped by fuel problems before?, don’t you ever learn, you idiot?

Just in case, I visited my floating chandlery (Black Max) and they gave me a spare line and bladder long enough to bye pass the under console system. I had been wise enough to cut a hole in the console and fit a removable plug for the purpose of running an extra fuel line, which made me feel a little less silly, and this I now did. I put the whole lot together again, fitting a replacement fuel filter, took the inspection plate off the forward tank and had a good look for signs of further dirt, but decided that it was all in the old filter by now. I continued with the new, improved fully belt and braces routine of checking everything, plus my new additions from today’s lessons twice! At this rate the boat checks will take longer than the passage making by the time we make Southampton!

All seemed well, Wells was a pleasant surprise and know what? It was time to go on the piss again! Tough stuff this endurance ribbing.

Things were looking up, we were getting south, the fleet was now all together again (even Team Aldiss were here, albeit on their trailer poor lads). We were off to a magnificent reception at the sailing club and a few beers. There was only one issue for the night – young George. There had been some debate, should we introduce him to the delights and sins of the female form? Get him a suitably tasteful tattoo? or encourage him to get drunk? A hard call for a 15yr old. Still being socially responsible, mature guardians of this fine young prodigy, it seemed only right that we should conspire to help him through the initiation into manhood. On the other hand, I have great respect for his father, Big Willie was like a personal body guard (and didn’t see the funny side of the conversation!), I doubted if the good folk of Wells could provide suitable females or tattoo artists and George assured us that he was familiar with most of what was being proposed anyway!! So we settled for ½ a cider with lemonade, oh well the thought was there and I still think the tattoo was a good idea – maybe Southampton?!

I went to bed that night having enjoyed the run down and the hospitality of Wells immensely. I was however, further sobered by the thought of our fuel problem which served to remind me that we weren’t home yet. We had come so far that we now had more than ever to loose and I needed to remain fully focussed on the task. Seeing Team Aldiss reinforced the need to maintain discipline and attention for the days ahead.

Black Max was now complaining of loose engine mounts and a possible transom problem, we had had a scare today, team Aldiss were out, everyone seemed to be relaxing, but that big bad low with my name out was starting to appear between the weather presenter and that little stretch of water called the English Channel. North Sea Tigers, be damned, who did we think we were kidding? It ain’t over till the large lady strikes up a tune and the doorway on the channel looked like it might be flung shut in our faces! If our engine holds out that long….

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Old 27 July 2001, 14:19   #47
Country: UK
Town: GB
Join Date: Jul 2001
Posts: 28
Day eight
The fine town of Wells next to the Sea – Ramsgate
160 miles

Splendid, magnificent Wells was a hard place to leave. It was not that the people we so nice, though they were. Nor was it because it was so beautiful, though it was. No, the tide was running and we had to make the channel before it had all left. Still, the boats were sorted, the hangovers bearable and the sun shining. I was keen to be off, to see if our fuel problem was sorted. Yes Dear was also nursing fuel problems, Black Max was worried about engine mounts and transom cracks. The rest of the fleet appeared fine apart from Gemini. Jan was busy looking for his very expensive GPS plotter system, last seen on the quay the night before during our arrival and now nowhere to be found! No doubt it wasn’t his anyway and as was pointed out to him, Paul Lemmer appears to be successful and a most considerate man – Jan didn’t appreciate the support! I had completely forgotten that the night before I had picked the said item up off the quay, concerned that it might disappear and put in in Black Max’s support vehicle for safe keeping (suggesting that we might give it back once we made Plymouth! – this seemed a reasonable and funny proposition with several pints inside the night before – but now a little ungracious after Jan’s magnificent leadership) The said item was returned, Jan looked relieved, but suspicious and I put it down to another of life’s little character tests- we were getting through them on this trip!

The fleet left at a reasonable hour, in good spirits and finally all run together on a calmish sea and a mixture of light mist and sunshine. The hours skipped by, the miles logged up and all was well with the world – you guessed it – time for an incident!

We were somewhere off Lowestoft, in light mist when Yes Dear decided that the fuel situation need a little extra drama. The fleet hove too while spanner went to work to try and sort out what appeared to be a fuel blockage. Time ticked by, crews dosed in the warm heat, spanner blew back through fuel lines, checked filters, primed systems, swore, kicked the engine, swore again and repeated all of the above. Carl the not so proud owner and a magnificent man when asleep, threw teddy into the water and discussed options for who he might sue – we helped him along with little comments and advice, coupled to estimates of the value of the high tec, inboard diesel masterpiece (old bus engine) that was his pride and joy. Jan’s professional opinion was sought on the inverse proportional relationship between boat size and sexual prowess – but he was still asleep.

After about an hour of stirling effort from spanner, and a significant achievement in self control from Carl, Jan suddenly came on the radio suggesting strongly, that if the problem could not be fixed in five minutes, the fleet would leave for Ramsgate. He reasoned that without the aid of Cyanide – who I assume was still in Wells with Spirit dealing with poor Brian, who had broken his arm in a street brawl the night before (or so I have been led to believe!?!) there was little any of the boats could do. Yes Dear could make was, but not get on the plane, she face the prospect of a long slow run to port. Jan may have spat the dummy a little, but essentially he was quite right, the cat calls and ooers! That came back at him, lightened the mood, but there was no point in us all pissing about as there was little we could other than offer moral support.

Hugo was in a cleft stick. The poor man had only been back with us for a couple of days, in that time he had lost Team Aldiss from the fleet, Brian had broken his arm (I also heard he was arm wrestling some local farmer for the affections of the Major’s daughter) and now it looked like he was going to lose his safety boat and film crew. Jan was challenging for a strong decision to be made – it was a difficult call.

HMS showed true selflessness in my opinion by suggesting that the fleet should go on and that he would accompany Yes Dear in Grey Seal. GS could do nothing to assist the big Ribtec, other than moral support and the facility of another radio. It was a gallant act. It would have been easy to abandon the poor old so and so’s on Yes Dear, which would have been churlish after they had spent several days, at their own expense running at a slower speed than would be ideal for the ribtec to support all of us. Not only that, but they had had to deal with the artistic demands of Papa Smurf (the film crew from digital vision were given this nick name because of the large yellow sowester hats they wore to keep water off their kit).

There was little, that we could do on Tigershark – even with our larger engine, we didn’t have the power to pull the ribtec up onto the plane. However, we could provide additional support to GS for the run on from port if we had to leave Yes Dear somewhere. The plan was decided GS and TS would stay with Yes Dear and escort her to Mdway, where our floating almanac (Mark from Black Max) informed us that there was a local Volvo dealer – oops, did I say Volvo!

The fleet roared off into the mist (once Jan had recovered his teddy from the water). Rus, set to, to punch up the co-ordinates for the divert port, we looked up – everyone had disappeared into the mist –stupid! We hit the GPS for the new waypoint and set off hoping to close GS and YD. After five minutes, we saw them about a mile ahead on the edge of the visibility line – a close call.

We closed on Grey Seal, to see a lonely HMS at the helm, he had thoughtfully transferred Tom onto Team Ribex and was obviously contemplating another long and boring day, as we were. However, Yes Dear was doing about 30 knots – that I thought quite impressive for a fuel blockage! We hailed her on the radio, she informed us that the problem had reversed itself – she was now fine with the throttle open and spluttering like made at idol. The answer was simple, keep it on the stops, close the fleet and make for Ramsgate, this we all did, with much relief, meeting the main fleet a few minute later.

The rest of the run went fine. It was the best weather, the smoothest seas and the best pace that we had encountered so far and the whole fleet made it to Ramsgate together for about 7pm.

The boats were fuelled and tied up. Black Max was soon on the trailer to shouts of “everyone needs a big Willie!” Plans were laid for all to meet up for a drink and a restaurant was booked for all to eat together – this was more like it. Spirits were high, the hour was early, we had experience a wonderful day apart from the problem with Yes Dear –it was Friday night in Ramsgate and the town was swinging – you guessed it, it was time again….

This was a dangerous time, we had all benefited from two easy days with improving weather. The only problems at this time were Black Max’s engine mounts, which were being changed as we downed the first pint, by a local dealer – Yes Dear’s unsolved fuel problem – which was fine for her to run, but could compromise actions if she was needed to recover or tow a smaller boat and poor old Gemini – who had experienced a problem selecting reverse gear – not to worry Paul Lemmer had turned up and was busy sorting that one well and truly!!

People were relaxing and an air of it’s all done bar the shouting was starting to take hold. I was not so sure, I was worried about the weather that was building, I was also paranoid about our engine, that had yet to suffer any problems (other than the fuel) and was about the only one left to do so!

The evening was improved by the good company and a great meal – all the better for John Harvey and Paul Lemmer turning up. We felt like it was within our grasp.

I wondered back to my hotel late that night alone (having failed to get into the night club – the rest of ‘em leaving me on the pavement!!). As I walked the promenade, I saw Michael Hestletine sitting alone starring out to sea. On getting closer, I realised it was Hugo – he looked in pensive mood. I sat with him and we chatted for a while – I offered my congratulations on the enterprise, my gratitude for his efforts and my admiration for his courage (it does no harm to keep in with these people!). As an organiser of events as part of my normal work, I knew some of the exposure and responsibility that comes with the territory. The man genuinely impressed me. They care for his son, the good word he had for all, his enthusiasm and his ability to reintegrate without upsetting the dynamics. We talked about several things, but I left him on the bench, cap on the floor, newspaper over the knee and as I went I felt better about the man. It was a rare moment to catch him off duty and talk honestly and a privilege.

Still enough of that, back to the hotel, taking great delight to lock Russell out as he had made it into the night club and I had been refused! Then off to sleep with a slight sense of unease. The sea had been calm and the night sky clear, but I could feel it coming. I briefly wondered if we should be slipping ropes and heading for the channel while the conditions were good – but then, Friday night in Ramsgate was probably Jan’s best chance of pulling and after today he needed to relieve the tension….

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Old 28 July 2001, 07:09   #48
Country: UK
Town: GB
Join Date: Jul 2001
Posts: 28
Well done to the team from Hot Lemon!!

Day Nine
Ramsgate – Southampton
Distance 140 ish

There was an angry bang on the door at about 3.30am – Russell had got back into the hotel by phoning Rob our support crew and now wanted his bed. He dropped into bed and was snoring immediately, I looked out the window, rain was starting to fall and you could hear the wind - umm!

By about 6.30 I was awake again, the rain was now lashing down on the roof outside our window and the wind was quite angry – we should have carried on last night. We were in breakfast for 7.30 with several crews staying at the hotel. Charts were on the floor, planning going on and comments being made about the antics of the party goers the night before.

The fleet assembled for the off by nine and we were away by a reasonable time, though I can’t remember exactly what time it was. There was a loose plan for some filming to be undertaken off Brighton, by aircraft if the weather allowed. So the crews agreed to RV just prior to arrival at Peacehaven. Yes Dear was to run with her throttle open to stop her fuel problem returning, so would be of limited use in a safety boat capacity. Black Max had her new engine mounts fitted and was in good order. Team Spirit and Cyanide were back with us. Cyanide was now being coxwained by Alan, following Brian’s broken arm (apparently he broke it trying to prise open his wallet in a rare moment of generosity in the bar at Wells). Gemini was operational again following Paul Lemmer’s valuable help with the gear selection problem. He had selflessly stripped the control box, removing several components that he obviously felt were superfluous, and reassembled the complicated device so that the crew now had to select reverse on the controls to engage forward gear and power! We remarked that this was very kind of him, particularly as he was in the process of selling the boat at the time! – Jan remained philosophical!. Still they were moving, and Paul would have ‘round two’ that night at Southampton, if the boat didn’t disappear stern first back to Wells today!

Of the boats preparing to take on the force 5 SW in the channel that day, several had now had significant repairs undertaken and damage sustained. Engine mounts had been replaced on Team Ribex, Grey Seal (I think), Black Max. Team Spirit were on their second engine after their saddle bracket had fractured on the first day, while Team Aldiss had retired after two engines had failed (again engine mounts), fuel tank ruptures and console failure. Grey Seal had also had major repairs to her trim mechanism and worst of all from Toms perspective, had lost her CD player! While Team Ribex had lost her power trim through solenoid failure and had experienced a seat failure as well.

Yes Dear was suffering a determined and stubborn fuel problem and the starboard side rubbing streak was coming off the boat. Gemini had experienced a bilge pump failure, causing flooding, coupled with a gear selection problem as described above, but apart from that was going well. Black Max was on their second A frame and had replaced one seat, while there was also gel coat cracking on the transom supports, these were judged to be cosmetic. Team Bangor Challenger, had probably experienced the least problems, with only a broken handrail on their console (however, she had missed much of the severe beatings the boats took on the first two days of the run) The Irish lads’ tactics of slow and steady, was obviously saving damage to the boat. Cyanide looked to be in tip top condition (worrying for Alan I’m sure! now that she was his responsibility). Many of the boats had suffered minor failures suck as comms problems (particularly antennas), electronics failures and nav light failures.

As for Tigershark, we were still largely intact, we had rigged a new fuel line, retightened the engine bolts after nearly losing the rig off Cape Wrath, lost one GPS system, lost one handrail, dropped part of one propeller, and sustained some minor damage to the console after slamming a metal jerry can into it! - we were largely OK. Only Gemini, Bangor Challenger and ourselves were yet to experience significant engine problems – time for more paranoia as we set off into a lumpy sea. The channel looked like it was lining up to give a right pasting and we weren’t to be disappointed!

We were now so close, with the compass swinging west again, that failure would be very bitter. I had been checking our engine for movements for several days now, and thought that the lateral play was beginning to increase. My plan therefore was to take it very steady with Tigershark, an engine mount problem now would put us out of the event, we had to nurse the old girl home.

However, there was to be no let up and certainly no nursing done today. As the Kent coast crept by in heavy drizzle and thick fog, the fleet split apart. We heard messages on the radio that suggested that several of the boats were finding the going very tough. We were running with Black Max again and both boats were taking a severe beating in the 3m plus head seas. For hour after hour we smashed our way forward into the gloom, groans and sighs from the crew were matched by creaks and wallops from the boat. We were barely making 12 knots and the seas were continuing to build. Southampton started to look impossible. We had several stops, for fuel and radio checks while we tried to work out how the flotilla was coping. Eventually, we agreed to try an inshore route to see if we could find better seas and pick up the pace – this stuff wasn’t funny and my character was already fully tested!

We headed inshore, now tracking across the waves at an angle, this helped to pick up the speed a bit. We saw the East Sussex coast loom up out of the mist and stopped for a quick rest. Everyone looked beat up. This was proving to be a serious test. Next on the agenda was Beachy Head. The seas looked nasty and the race significant. We elected to run it close inshore, where the seas were no easier, but less sustained. The problem was the strong on shore wind – if either boat suffered a problem it could be catastrophic. We nosed into the battle, TS being tossed and thrown all over the shop, this headland proved to be as bad as any we had met, but no one had told us that Beachy Head was in fact the worst bit of water in the UK!! Carefully we picked our way through, keeping a close eye on Black Max to our rear.

Both boats then set course for Brighton. There was no let up in the sea and no shelter. We were trying to establish contact with other boats and work out where the fleet was. Eventually we made the RV just East of Brighton Marina and found all the fleet there. They must have come further inshore across Rye Bay and fared better that way then we had trying to transit directly between Dungeness and Beachy.

There was an attempt to get some footage filmed from the aircraft, but really the crews had their hands full with the passage making and Southampton seemed an awfuly long way away in these head seas.

At least the fleet stuck more or less together as were run down the coast past Brighton and Hove. Boats were being flung everywhere by the head sea and some big air was being taken. Both Russ and I were ever paranoid about Tigershark. The engine and hull were being pounded for hour after hour, not what we wanted at this stage of the game.

Slowly, ever so slowly Worthing, Littlehamton, Bognor passed by. Any hope we had of Selsey Bill providing shelter was soon dashed, if anything the seas were becoming larger and steeper. The fleet was only making about 12 knots and we had reached the point where Tigershark was not sustaining planning speed. Rather we would power up a wave, close off the throttle to stop ourselves launching into the air, only to find that she would drop tail first into the trough of the next wave. The heavy rear end on Tigershark was now exerting full disadvantage for us. The Mercury was nearly spending as long underwater as above. Experiments with changing the throttle regime and timing didn’t really help – the waves were just the wrong height, pitch and speed for our configuration. We could have skipped from crest to crest, but that was to run considerable risk of finishing off the hull or engine and was not really an option for us at this stage. This was a frustrating and stressful time.

It was time to take the imitative. All the fleet were running line astern, taking serious air and smashing the hell out of themselves. The relaxing, almost carnival atmosphere that had been building over the previous two days was gone. I had definitely had enough of the sea dictating our regime. I had used every expletive I knew on the seas by now and needed to do something before we finished the boat off.

The answer of course, was to zig zag. We opted for running at 45 degrees to the sea swinging back and forth across the general line of advance. We were able to get our hull speed up by at least 10 knots, reduced the steepness of the waves we presented to the bow and lengthened their pitch considerably. I was now, once more, able to bring positive helming into play with throttle work combining with steering to make for a much faster and smoother ride. We were keeping pace exactly with the ‘head on’ fleet, but covering much more ground if you know what I mean. However, we felt in control of the sea again rather than the other way round. It was a wet ride, but I would rather be wet than smashed to bits.

I was a bit surprised that none of the other boats adopted similar tactics, perhaps the hull lengths and weight distributions didn’t cause the same problems that we were suffering in these particular seas. Boats continued to shoot skywards and spew large sprey waves all over the place – it looked like a school of Whales.

We all made it round Selsey Bill and settled at last for the run into the Solent. The Isle of Wight emerged through the drizzle and slowly at last the seas eased a little. The run up into Southampton water seemed to take for ever, we were very grateful for the day to end as the first few boats headed into Ocean Village together.

For me, this was by far the toughest day of the whole trip. Sustained battering for several hours meant that an extra thorough check over Tigershark was called for. We were too late to fuel from the barge (I think it was about 8.30pm). checks done, I tried the engine, there was definitely more play than before – the engine mounts appeared to be on their way out.!

We gathered for the reception that had been planned in the Yaught Club. Most crews attended in their day kit and everyone looked considerably chastened by the day’s experience. Tomorrow should see us all home in Plymouth – so close. However, another day like today and we were almost certain to pick up further equipment failures in the fleet and the forecast wasn’t that encouraging.

The plan was agreed for an early start the next day, a refuel stop was agreed for Yarmouth. 8am slipping the ropes was the call, and we were ‘going’ if boat crews were there or not! – this agreed, we left to find a petrol station – I wanted some reserves on the boat for the run to Yarmouth, not wishing to risk running out.

It had been a very tough day, we had picked up some damage and I was far from confident that Tigershark would finish the event. If we met similar conditions the next day we could be in for real trouble. Luck and great care might get us through – this one really was running to the wire!…..

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Old 28 July 2001, 10:02   #49
Country: UK
Town: GB
Join Date: Jul 2001
Posts: 28
Day 10
Southampton – Plymouth
140 miles

Finally, at last, after so many days, the crews gathered on time for the off!! 7.30am saw the boats slip ropes and head for Yarmouth and the fuel pontoon. We were frustrated by the non arrival of Black Max – we were waiting to borrow some bungee to strap our engine up. We left a message with Jo to let them know we had gone on to Yarmouth and set off into the early morning of an overcast, but dry day with a very fresh breeze in our faces and our hearts in our mouths!

It was an uneventful run down to Yarmouth, where all the crews fuelled more or less together. Team Ribex had stopped in Southampton water to strap their engine cowling which was working lose. Once BM arrived, we strapped our Mercury’s leg in an attempt to reduce the strain on the engine mounts – several of the other boats had elected to do similar this morning, obviously everyone was expecting a lively passage and didn’t want to take risks. I am dubious as to how much support this improvisation actually affords an engine, but you might as well do it – the only problems being extra strain if you need to trim the engine and stiffer steering.

We all set off together with a plan to run down to Swanage and then on to Portland Bill. Carl from Yes Dear was back on home waters and offered advice about the tide races off Durlston Head, St Albans Head and Portland Bill – could these really be the worst bits of water in the UK?

On clearing the western approach to the IOW, it became clear that the seas were on the nose and verging on the troublesome, but not as bad as the day before. The coast offered the prospect of better shelter and most crews ran inshore. Yes Dear tended to blat ahead and then wait as she was still suffering fuel problems. We went and had a quick look at old Harry’s rocks. The sun was out, the wind tugging at our hair but at least there was stuff to look at! For most of the trip we had run too far off shore or in bad visibility and had seen precious little of the coast.

We cleared the Purbeck coast and it’s overfalls in bouncy but contained style and headed round the bay for Portland. You could see that the seas were a nightmare further off shore, but by staying well in, things were managble –the fleet started to drift out.

We all hove too in the lee of Portland Bill, the race looked unpleasant, but there is a good inshore passage which is very close to shore. Once the fleet had gathered in the sunshine, we all elected for the inshore route (funnily enough!). A plan was agreed to run down Lyme Bay and for everyone to rendezvous in Salcombe and then proceed to Plymouth together. I was very concerned that it would turn into a race for the line with a messy and fractured finish, unless good control was maintained on the fleet.

We set off, rounded the bill and set too on a significantly bumpy sea. The waves were on the port bow and we had a few hours of hard passage making to make the Devon coast where there was a prospect of better shelter from the westerly winds. The fleet soon spread again. We had Black Max running about 2 miles further out then us, Yes Dear running more or less with us and the others drifting back. We caught a radio call stating that Grey Seal and Team Ribex were diverting to Lyme Regis to see friends. This annoyed me immensely, the plan had just been agreed to run to Salcombe, now it looked like skipper initiative was going to spread the fleet even more with the prospect of some boats making Salcome and not knowing how long the wait would be. I thought this a bad and selfish call and brooded as we bashed on down the coast.

About half way to Torbay, our tectronix RIB antenna failed. These had been in much evidence at the start, but of the 14 or so examples on the start line at Plymouth, there were now only about three left! Ours went the way of the others, but we could still transmit and receive over much shorter distances through the base housing, which was all that remained.

As we closed the Devon Coast, the seas eased a little. The only boat we still had contact with was Yes Dear. I was keen to be near the front of the flotilla for the final day, so that we had time to deal with any problems without getting left behind – things seemed to be working. Even if boats were cutting straight across from Portland to Start Point, the seas off shore suggested that they would still be slower than us.

Russell and Carl hatched a plan to stop in Dartmouth for a pint. We headed into Start bay, with Yes Dear already waiting off the Mew Stone for our arrival. Carl knew a top spot in Dartmouth for a pint and was keen to have a quickie – Russ was up for it, but I certainly was not!!

I thought we should stick to the agreed plan – others were expecting us to make straight for Salcombe. I was also expecting the race off Start Point to be tricky and exposed in the strong winds. We all agreed to run on without stopping – the right call. I was fighting the growing sense of it’s all over. We still had some tricky seas and a reasonably exposed passage to make – we needed to keep focused.

Sure enough, the sand bar and race off Start Point, proved to be a place demanding attention and care –two of the worst headlands we passed all the way round lying within a stone’s throw of Plymouth! If anyone every asked me for advice, I now knew where the worst bit of water around the UK was!!

We ran into Salcombe at about 2pm with Yes Dear and settled on the pontoon. The run up the estuary is beautiful, with sandy beaches and rocky cliffs. The sun was out and full holiday activity was going on – it seemed incongruous to us, fully kitted up in dry suits and safety gear as we idolled through the mêlée.

The rest of the fleet gathered over the next 45 minutes as a couple of pints were consumed. This was Team Spirit’s home port and there were friends and relatives on the pontoon to welcome the boys in. Cyanide left early to run ahead to Plymouth to pick up Brian for the finish. A nice touch as he had missed out on the last few legs, having broken his arm in Wells (after allegedly slapping the landlady of the pub, on the backside in a friendly but misconstrued manner!!).

We left Salcombe in fine mood, headed out into Bigbury Bay and all hell let lose!

The race was on.

HMS had suggested that the fleet gather again at the Eastern end of Plymouth Breakwater – we had countered with ‘off the Mew Stone’ to keep us all from the temptation of the finish line. The fleet were now off and running and it looked to me like there would be no stopping them. They were champing like hounds on the scent and things could easily get messed up for the finish.

Still we had an extra 40hp on most of them and now caution was thrown to the wind and poor old Tigershark was asked to produce the goods one last time. It was an exhilarating ride as we skipped the wave crests, prop singing to close down and overhaul the front runners. I really enjoyed the 20 minutes of helming in my more usual style as the old girl awoke from her ten day plod.

As we rounded Wembury Bay, the Mew Stone came into view. Several ribs and boats were there to greet us, including supporters from home – a much appreciated effort and suprise. We hove too, keen to ensure that others stopped too and that we approach Plymouth as a fleet in good order. Over the next few minutes the boats came in and soon there was a fair gaggle wallowing off the island.

Near the back Grey Seal and Team Ribex came through and appeared not to be stopping – anxious skippers watched their progress and played with their throttles – the finish balanced on a knifes edge, if anyone broke from the fleet, it would turn into a head long scramble – this was definitely not good. Eventually they hove too and things calmed down a bit.

A plan was agreed for us to run in ‘V formation’, with Yes Dear at the apex setting the pace. We set off to round the Mew Stone and headed for Plymouth. Holding station proved difficult, Yes Dear was running a little slow and boats were struggling to keep the plane, the chris crossing wakes, combined with the lively chop to throw the tightly formatted boats all over the place, but slowly we got it together eventually after a few near misses and frantic hand signals.

The water vibrated, the boats roared the crowed waved and we finally crossed into Plymouth Sound, past the breakwater, past my family who were waiting to se us, past the finish line where some kind of cannon was fired, all hooters blowing – a marvellous spectacle and a flood of relief for a safe journey’s end.

We bought Mav, my five year old son on board and headed for Mountbatten with the rest of the jubilant crews. 1700 miles in 10 days with only two boats missing! – it had however been the finest of margins for several more of the fleet.

The reception at mount Batten was everything you would expect. Prizes were awarded, hands shook, addresses swapped and speeches made. By 9pm most of the boats were strapped onto trailers and crews were contemplating the long drive home. We however, were once again donning waterproof and lifejackets. Our way home lay up the Tamar, past the docks and ships of her majesty’s navy. Under the famous bridge at Saltash, deep into the Devon countryside and up the little Tavey estuary to our home at Bere Ferrers. This trip we now did as we had done thousands of times before. We had both Mav and Rob, our trusty support crew on board for this final leg. We closed on the quay at Bere Ferrers as we had done countless times before as the sun settle red in the west. We were greeted with the sight of colour and waving such as I had never seen. It seemed like most of the four hundred villagers were out to see us in. This was by far the best reception of the trip. As we stepped onto the quay to glasses of Champaign, back slaps and grins and hugs.

Tigershark was carefully brought to rest on the beach by many helpers and we made her safe for the last time. Fuel cock off, engine tiled up, nav systems and radio powered down. I rested my hand on the top of her console and said a quiet work of thanks to the old girl – she had indeed been magnificent.

Then Rus, I and Rob exchanged hugs nodding a deep and silent understanding of a job well done, and guess what?

It was time to go on the piss again!!?!…..

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Old 28 July 2001, 10:08   #50
Country: UK
Town: GB
Join Date: Jul 2001
Posts: 28
Well that's it for now folks - I'll calm down and give a chance for others to add their own versions.

If anyone has questions, observations or comments on the maritme or organisational aspects of the story, post em up and I will configure a reply in due course.

I hoppe you all enjoyed the tale. It is a personal account will doubtless be inacurate at many points, but that shouldn't get in the way of a good story!!

It reflects my memory of event, and perspectives on things as such it is mainly opinion and should not be confused with fact!!

Thank you for the support both on this discussion board and the many direct mailings I have received.

I will do a technical peice on the lessons, rig etc in a few days. Both from a perosn, boat and event perspective there was much to be consolidated and shared

still enoug for now lets get some other voices heard!


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