Shakedown Part 2 – on the River

Apologies, Pictures will be added, but I wanted to get the text done while it was in my head!

So, once we had launched, it was time to get to grips with the boat, and the river. The rough plan was to have a potter about under power for a bit, then try the oars. Initially, we were going to forgo the pleasures of sailing, in order to let Krõõt and the kids get the hang of being on the water before we needed them to do to much rope pulling etc.

The engine, on the other hand, thought differently, and decided to cut out after about 5 minutes. I think possibly it was over-choked, as it was only just turning over. Anyways… Oh well. Out Oars!

We got the oars out, and picked up a handy mooring. Ellinor being charged with the actual mooring, a task she achieved successfully, with Daddy on the oars, and Henry on tiller, supervised by Mummy, who was in turn instructed by the oarsman! Handily, the mooring was the type with a large ring on the top of its buoy, so Elli just had to feed the bowline through it, and return it to be cleated off on the foredeck.

Once safely moored, and the oars were stowed, the crew turned to the important things in life, eating their snacks, and playing with some plastic ducks – pre-prepared with a long leash of light line each!

Krõõt and I contemplated the success of the trip so far, enjoyed the sun, tidied ship, and generally enjoyed just being on the water. After a short pause, we began to feel it was time to head for the slip – we wanted to make sure that the kids had an over-all positive experience, leaving them wanting more. The engine would not immediately start, as I could not actually get the starter cord to move. Rather than make too much fuss, we decided to sail, but simply under Jib and Mizzen to make a simple excercise of it. My reading had shown this to be a common practice among drascombers.

However, with the wind playfully sheering around, and a variety of trees and buildings doing their best to help too, we found that this was not particularly do-able. I suspect, with hindsight, that a Burgee would have been very useful, and I have already ordered one. Once we eventually got moving, we ended up in irons after a particulalry unsuccesful tack, and “accidentally” came alongside a pontoon, in a gap between two yachts. Grab on, and hold tight.

We then did our best to furl the sails, which nearly ended in problems when a carelessly placed mooing line got wrapped around the jib. Coupled with the bumkin heading towards our nearest neighbour, there were a few fraught seconds. What we should have done before that occured was what we did once it was cleared, and used the mooring line to make fast, and stop. Count to ten, and start again. Furl the jib, sheet the mizzen tight.

Hug Elli, who was a bit scared and upset.

A quick fiddle with the outboard revealed it still wouldnt allow me to pull the starter…

Out oars again. Cast off, and work her out of the fairly tight berth. Start pulling for the slip. After a couple of hundred metres, we attempted to swap oarsmen. The new rower put in a valiant attempt, but it was clear that we were fighting a losing battle with the wind. We are still not convinced that the oars are long enough, she does not seem quite so easy to row as we had been given to understand, or we were not doing something right. Never mind, I wanted to try the anchor anyway!

So, I dropped the anchor, and did the favourite – count to 10…

After a quick assesment of the situation, I then talked to Ellinor, and, to a lesser extent Krõõt. I wanted to get the sails up, but wanted to avoid further upset.

After that was achieved, it all went rather better. Sails up, anchor up, maintain a modicum of control. Apart from needing an oar to help the bow round when we got caught in the wind shadow of some trees, and again when we ended up in irons over the unpredictable course of a gaggle of paddleboarders, we then had a lovely tack back.

In very light, somewhat gusty breeze, we eventually got the hang of holding the jib aback for a few seconds to help the bow round, and who had to do what. I was on helm and mainsheet, Krõõt and Ellinor handled the Jib, and Henry was in charge of Dave the Duck, still swimming along behind. Our apologies to the wayfarer who nearly collided with him!

As we slowly crept up wind, the wind kept going round until it was blowing more or less straight up the river, which allowed us to sail straight onto the slip. We rolled the jib as we came round the last fishing boat on the end of the fishermans jetty, and let the mizzen fly loose, slackening and sheeting in the main to give just enough steerage way to slip around the jetski, so helpfully anchored in the middle of the approaches. Let the sheet fly once we were round, haul up the plate, and took the ground very gently.

I jumped into the water, and held the boat, while the rudder was lifted out, and the plate hauled the rest of the way up onto firmer ground. Then the mizzen and main were furled, and off I went to get the van and trailer.

By the time I got back, she was hard aground, as the tide was well on the ebb, and the kids were fairly cheesed off, and hungry. We had only been going out for an hour, and had been nearer to three. So they were lifted ashore, into the van, where electronic devices and a piece of Nannan’s fruitcake, which they found in the van, together with the promise of a takeaway for dinner, seemed to make them a bit happier.

I then ran the trailer down towards the boat, and broke it’s back. Once it had its back broken, the after most roller was easily guided down the stem, and the winch strap hooked on.

It was then a simple, if physically gruelling, matter to winch the trailer under the boat, by this time sitting high and dry on the now exposed slipway.

As I winched in, the trailer worked its way under the boat, lifting as it went, until it came to the point it was pulling more than lifting, and the back of the trailer started to close. The latch closed shortly before the stem hit the snubber, and I secured the safety chain. For anyone who has not used this type of trailer, I cannot recommend it enough!

I then did the very bare minimum to put the masts down, and secure the loose gear, at least the bits not just thrown in the van, and get the boat strapped down. As i did so, I had a nice chat to a gent who had been launching his rowing gig, as we did, and returned about the same time, including sharing observations on the need for paddleboarders to have some basic understanding of the rule of the road, which, at least in the case of those we had seen that day, they clearly do not.

Then off home, where the kebab was ordered, and we took part in the “clap for carers”, before eating and bed.