Keith Darby 2008

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Wayfarer: Keith Darby (2008)

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Posted by Gary Howes, 1st June, 2008

Technical Info.
Craft:Keith Darby
Author:Gary Howes


Wayfarer Keith Darby

Is it that time of year again? Start of June (2008) so it must be the 3 rivers race.

Neil (crew) arrives home from uni on 24th May and the boat is just about ready. Have replaced a couple of bits on it but still having great problems pointing to windward. Oh well, will have to make the downwind legs count. A new spinnaker is fitted, about twice the size of last years. This could be fun!!

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Thursday 29th May

When I awoke this morning my middle finger on my right hand was throbbing around the nail, like I had jammed it in a door (but I hadn’t). By lunchtime it was getting to the “unbearable” stage so a call to the docs, appointment at 3.30 today!! Am informed that I have an infection but can still race. Phew. The only problem is I can’t put any weight (pulling ropes) on it as it hurts too much.

I work out that if I put my sailing gloves on and keep that finger wet (it was also very hot around infection) then the pain is eased. At least there will be enough water around to do this!!

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Friday 30th May

Meet Neil at Decoy Broad and move the boat to Horning. Meet Greg Chapman on the river obviously having a good work out. Over to HSC and find somewhere to tie up and then register, saves a job tomorrow. Mrs GC and the 3 little GC’s arrive with daughters friends and we decamp to The Swan for daughter’s birthday tea. Not bad too.

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Saturday 31st May

Met Neil and his brother at Decoy at 0740, Mark will be taking us to Horning so our cars are in position for our return. We arrive in Horning and ensure everything is neatly stored onboard. We realise that we haven’t got a stove so despatch Mark to buy us one, on the way Mark is asked to go back to my car to get my clip on glasses with full instructions where they are. Mark returns with stove but not the clip on glasses stating “they weren’t there”. The magic fairies are around Decoy ‘cos they were there on my return on Sunday!!

We go off in search of Pauline, another of those that “have always wanted to do it”. Find the young girl in The Swan’s Garden. Breakfast is about half price at the clubhouse so it’s back over for bacon sarnies all round.

So its 1000, time for the briefing and the big news, how far down the Bure are we going. Well, that throws all the plans out the window when Mr Facey informs us “it’s probably past Stokesby but might not be”. Just keep going ‘til you find the buoy in the middle of the river. Oh deep joy. So it’s back to the boats, rig and clear the X zone.

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The Start

We headed for the other side of the river just outside the X zone and held to the bank for a few minutes, on our 5 minute gun we let go and moved into the X zone, having a natter about whether we want to be “high or low” on the line. We opt for high, mainly due to there being a bit of wind and I didn’t want to be on the right hand side of the river through Horning. We get a good start, and hoist the spinnaker straight away. This didn’t last long though as the wind was swirling down The Street so we binned it for the time being. I had a few shouts from people, good to see you all, especially Carol, and Griff in Broad Ambition. Down the street we went and past The Ferry and out of Horning. Good we can relax now as the crowds have gone for the time being. Round Church Bend and we are still reasonably well placed. The Wayfarer start had now caught the start in front, but, in turn, had been caught by the start behind so things were now warming up nicely.

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Ranworth to Acle

Past Ranworth before the A Raters and Punts caught us, not bad as we were still in Horning last year. As we approached The Ant we could see lots of sailies up there, most seemed to be standing still. I heard there were more boats than water in the Ant yesterday!! We turn right and go to South Walsham, this seems the tactic of most of the Wayfarers. Onto South Walsham and round the buoy, dropping the token into it, and back out. Turn right onto Bure, we are heading for Stracey. Up spinnaker and we make up a lot of time on the Wayfarer fleet as we head for Acle Bridge. Another shout to Griff at Thurne Mouth. By the time we had got to Acle Bridge we had opened a gap of about 500 yards on the rest of the Wayfarers. This spinnaker was paying off but we knew we would be caught coming back into wind. Down towards the bridge and through the usual routine, Kicker off, jib down, Boom off Gooseneck, lower the mast. Got close to the bridge on just the main (which stays “hoisted” all the time and gets lowered with mast), spun round into the wind and dropped the mast. I then started paddling like hell through the bridge. BACKWARDS. Neil wasn’t sure what I was doing to start with but once worked out, gave a lot of good digs with the paddle. As we started paddling I heard a shout from the bank to see the three little GC’s and Mrs GC coming down to have a look. They will be off to Stracey to see us down there. Under the bridge and the mast was up and I was sailing again, leaving Neil to get the jib back up, followed by the spinnaker. We were now along way ahead as most of the others tied to the bank and lowered in a more civilised fashion. With our bridge routine worked out, and the huge spinnaker for downwind legs, we might just be able to keep up with the rest of our fleet.

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Stokesby to Potter Heigham

Off we go, Stokesby bound. Lots of wind and we are going really well. Think it took us less than 3 hours to get to Stracey, including a visit to South Walsham. Stracey found, we have a quick chat with Mrs GC and head for the buoy. Rounded and coming back up river it was about 10 mins before we saw another Wayfarer. Lets hope we can have a bit of speed into wind. Unfortunately not. By the time we had got to the bridge 3 of them were ahead of us. But, same routine as last time, they tie to the bank and are civilised about it, we charge at the bridge and drop at the last moment, only to be halted by people shouting at us (thanks Richard and others)!! This gives us a head start for the next leg to Potter. Under the bridge and once again the mainsail is up for me to sail with. Neil has a problem with a couple of shackles so takes his time getting them fixed. We are passed Upton dyke before another Wayfarer passes us. Up to Thurne mouth, turn right and away we go again. Through the bungalows at Potter and to the bridge. Now for those that have seen us at bridges, you may also have heard us. Simple ritual, I say what to let go, Neil repeats it once done. At this point may I please apologise to the two ladies on the bank just south of the bridge opposite the pilot’s office. I blame Neil for it!!

As we approach the bridge the usual crowds are around and Neil asks what’s happening, more in a way of “sail to the bridge and we’ll go for it”!! So we do. Passed the guard boat and give them our number. Approaching the bridge we start the ritual. Kicker off, kicker off. Bit closer then its “jib down”. “JIB down” I said again. Get the ******* jib down Neil. I didn’t realise he had a problem with the halyard and he hadn’t told me. Anyway, on the last request it came down. We lined up on the bridge and went for it, straight through the hole in the wall (more of this hole on the return journey). We are now on a reach down to Martham, turning left to go onto Hickling. Neil takes us through the first bit of Heigham sound. My body, at this point, is nearly refusing to play. I take over as we come onto Hickling, the main reason being Neil is better with the Spinnaker, which will come into play on the downwind leg. Finally get up to the buoy at approx 7.30ish (I think), rounded the buoy, Neil done the honours with the token, then it was “up spinnaker”, and away we go. Time to make up time on the other Wayfarers. Can I just say, those that have never been under a spinnaker on open water before, give it a go. The boat was moaning as we were exceeding the hull speed but what the heck, we had boats to catch and places to go, like Ludham Bridge

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Up to Hickling

We are literally flying off Hickling, with a Yeoman in company, passing those without the big rags to fly. Down to Martham and turn right heading for that little hole in the wall. Another reach through the bungalows and we catch two of the Wayfarers (including Neil’s uncle) by the bridge. Normal routine sees us, the other Wayfarers and another dinghy heading for the little hole at the same time. Suddenly, a shout from the lead dinghy. Hang on, there’s a big ‘un coming up river. OK, size wins. We held off for all of 30 seconds. The reason we didn’t give the bigger boat longer? When the air draft boards at Potter Heigham tell you that you need 6’6 to get under and you are 6’9 then you will have problems. Now this boat, I believe, had put the boom on top of the mast to make them too high but I am sure someone will attempt to tell us the real reason. So the big ‘un hits the bridge, realising it ain’t coming through we charge for the hole. I’m third through and lost my nav light deflectors as this big ‘un decided to attempt a sideways transit of the hole, and the gap in front of them is getting smaller all the time. Managed to get through and kept paddling as far as we could towards the guardship. Mast up, and sailing down through the bungalows. There is Neil’s uncle chasing us down again but then he gets becalmed, we come out of the bungalows and its up with the spinnaker and we are off again. Passed Griff who is now tied to the bank by Womack. Through Thurne Mouth and onto the Ant before we see Neil’s uncle again. Once he passes us we know we have no chance of getting the place back so realise we ain’t going to win the group. Little did we know, nor was Malcolm!!

Ludham back to Horning

Turned on the Ant mark at approx 0015 this morning, and then took another 6 hours to find HSC. Becalmed, aground, you name it, we had it. To cap it all, we had the stove to heat the chilli but someone had forgotten the matches. Oh no. Finally into Horning and making the way up to HSC. Got as far as Southgates before we realised that 45 boats will not go through THAT hole at the same time. Took us about an hour to get through there, but it then took about another hour to cross the finish line at 06:09 this morning. Placed around 60th, not bad as most boats will be finishing. Not quite as I had predicted during Saturday afternoon but still better than last year. Mrs GC had asked if we wanted collecting from HSC, wonderful idea and will go back tomorrow to get the boat. She did turn up with us still not finished though!

Would I do it again? Not in the Wayfarer I have used for the last couple of years due to its inability to go to windward. BUT, if there is a space on Wandering Rose or I find myself a different hull, Yes.

Oh, one last thing. As we were coming down from Martham to Potter Heigham I had said to Neil that we hadn’t seen Pauline all day. We had seen Waif, Steve and Helen, Japonica, and the Forum boat (Wandering Rose), along with lots of others, but where was Pauline.

She was the face I saw peering through the hole in the wall at Potter Heigham after she had just hit the bridge.

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