What a cracking day out (as Wallace and Gromit would say) it was today! (For those interested in Wallace and Gromit...and all sane people should be, you can find out more here at http://www.wallaceandgromit.com/ )
Leaving the Sutton Harbour and assembling in the Cattedown
For the rest of you with no soul or humour, then today was the Plymouth Classic Boat Rally and Arwen carried me and my friend Dave up and down the flanks of the ‘big boats’ all morning......and we didn’t get in anyone’s way or mown down by the big boys! Whew! One very nice soul even came close by to say what a pleasure it was to see Arwen so often sailing well across Plymouth Sound waters and that he hoped we’d sail her down to Fowey for next week’s Fowey Regatta because Arwen was such a lovely boat! I have no idea who this kind gent was but he had a great boat with well trimmed sails, clearly recognised an outstanding small boat and brilliant seamanship skills and we liked him!
You really can only see a classic boat rally from the water. It just isn’t the same from the quayside. We nipped in and out and between boats; we raced one or two and were, of course, severely outdone! Everyone on board smiled at us but I think they thought we were a cheeky little upstart interloper.
There were a few 18’ boats – old wooden restored sail fishing boats....some waved; one or two looked at us a little disdainfully but did we care? No we didn’t! We smiled, waved and sailed on by!
It is amazing to think that some of these boats are 100 years old and so beautifully maintained. It is so wonderful to see that there are people who are prepared to give up so much time, money and graft....to keep these amazing boats pristine and on the water.
We marvelled today at some really good seamanship. On one large 45’ boat they had what we think is a dipping lug sail. When it came time to tack, everyone jumped up off the deck, ran forward, lowered the HUGE lug sail a certain amount and then pulled down the tack end and swung it right around the front of the mast to set the sail on the other side before hoisting it once more. It was done with speed, precision and sheer good seamanship. A pleasure to watch!
A real pleasure was watching my neighbours, a few houses down from where I live, sailing their boat ‘Phoenix’. I don’t know what type she is but I do know she’s had an interesting history and is in fact ‘a windfall’ boat from WW2.
I think she was built in the 1930s and was one of only six built. She found her way into the ‘care’ or otherwise of the Third Reich and I think Himmler and friends were supposed to have sailed her although I will need to check that fact when I see them next (the neighbours, not Himmler, that is!) She was confiscated by the Allies and then disappeared for a time having different owners. Eventually she was found by my neighbours tied up and somewhat neglected and abandoned somewhere ‘up the Tamar’. They have spent time and money restoring her and they have done a cracking job. In fact when she sailed past Arwen along the inner breakwater wall – you could still smell the fresh paint (which I think they finished putting on her yesterday!!).
She has lovely lines, a good turn of speed and she is owned by a lovely, wonderful family who clearly are very proud of her and rightly so. She has no engine and so there is some pretty skillful sailing by the two of them!
You can find out which boats were at the rally by going to this site. I’m sure more photographs of the 2011 rally will appear in due course. http://www.plymouthclassics.org.uk/entrants.html
This rally almost didn’t take place. It was originally cancelled but rescued at the last moment. I’m really pleased. It would have been a great shame not to have seen these wonderful boats parading out past the Hoe and Mountbatten Breakwater. It must have been an impressive site from Madeira road along the Hoe foreshore.
Some shots of Arwen to finish - here is the refurbished outhaul
a reasonably well set jib sheet
Arwen just needs tidying up after a great morning's sail
Back on the driveway
Tomorrow I'll post some short video clips of some of the boats sailing by us. I'm sorry for the poor quality of some pictures. It's difficult taking photos one handed when dodging through larger boats; and frankly, my little Samsung camera just doesn't do good distance shots. The exposure and clarity are always poor and need cleaning up in some editing programme. I'll have to wait until circumstances improve so that I can purchase a new one.
I hope the shots give a flavour of what a lovely day it was.