Keith Darby 2016
Wayfarer: Keith Darby (2016)
Posted by Gary Howes, 29th June, 2016
Boat is moved to Horning courtesy of Tim and boys. Rigged and in the water by 1600 on Friday.
Next move is to go to Acle and see if the tide has turned on time. Low tide is due for 1751 this evening. Stood at Acle at approx. 5ish and the tide was screaming out, moved down to Stokesby, Low Tide approx. 1720. Left there at 1730 with it still going out. Good guess is the tide will be running late on the day.
Arrived at Horning with Neil at approx. 0845, found a parking spot and loaded the boat with spare clothes, nav lights, food including the chilli, stove, but not the kettle. This was still on the side in the kitchen at home. Alison brought it over, Ta.
Tim and the boys arrive with a headstrap for the GoPro. The idea is to use this at the start, turning points and bridges. Well, that was the idea….. Briefing at 10 on the island, buoys rounded to Starboard except the Lower Bure, which is to Port. Lower Bure mark is at Stracey Arms. Wind for the day is a North at 10mph, going NE but staying up overnight. Low tide at Stracey was sometime during the evening, probably around 1830. In the boat, all sorted and move off out of the X zone. We are fourth start at 1115.
The plan, yeah like we stick to the plan, was to go up the Ant, Hickling, Lower Bure and South Walsham on the way home. At 1115 we cross the start line a couple of seconds after the gun and second Wayfarer on our way down The Street. Spinnaker sorted and we pull away from the other boat. Looking back, we seemed to be the only W flying a spinnaker which seemed strange. Had a reasonable lead on the class as we left Horning and past Cockshoot Broad.
Taking the left turn in the river, we came upon a bottle neck of boats from previous starts, somehow we threaded our way through this and managed to get away, towards Ant mouth, not too much tacking except in the first part up to Waterworks.
We were moving quite well, just after Waterworks the Thames A Raters caught and passed us, but we had a reasonably clear river so could sail our own race. We don’t like tacking battles as the boat doesn’t like going to windward too much.
A few more turns and we are at the mouth of the Ant, Left Turn! We entered the Ant with a Half decker, Cruiser (Possibly Moonraker) and something else! After a couple of tacks, they were clear of us but also forming a barrier between us and anything coming down, sailies and stinkies alike. A big stinky cruiser tried a couple of times to get past and then decided to sit and follow us up the Ant. THANK YOU. A Raters and Punts were coming down towards us but there were no incidents and we managed to reach the buoy at 1300, round it and head down. We tried the Spinnaker but it was twisted and probably not a good idea really, with the amount of boats coming towards us!
Back on the Bure, we turn left and head for Potter Heigham bridge. Spinnaker is sorted and hoisted for a while before lowering it prior to Thurne Mouth. Past Thurne Mouth and we are now going into wind and tide. KD doesn’t enjoy this as we cannot “point” as high as others but KD is being good today and we start the slog towards that little hole in the wall.
Things seem to be going well and we can pinch some corners, this isn’t the KD we normally sail but we are enjoying it. As we approach the bridge, I take the helm as Neil is better lowering/hoisting the mast. We approach the bridge with lots of spectators watching, the idea is to shoot the bridge but with wind and tide against us, this is going to be impossible without the use of paddles. We get as close as we can before Neil lowers and I start paddling. He misses the cross bar at the back to rest the mast on but soon assist with the paddling for which I am greatful as it was hard work against the tide. Through both bridges and the mast is back up. We pass about 5 boats that are on the side remasting. A close reach up to Martham, Neil takes the helm, and we turn left again towards Hickling.
It is getting colder, we are nearer the coast so it’s on with a layer and keep going. Nice wide tacks using the full width of the river/sound even going outside the posts where we can. Neil is helming as he has been for most of the day. As we cross Heigham Sound, I’m the one getting wet with spray coming up. Finally onto Hickling at 1530 and the slog is nearly over, we round the buoy and get the spinnaker up, taking the short cut off the broad. Being a dinghy we can raise the centreboard and take the direct route, whereas the cruisers and others have to take the channel. Spinnaker stays up until we are back at Martham, turn right and we are on a close reach back to the bridge, this time we will have a better time under the bridge as the wind and tide are now in our favour.
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Approaching the bridge, a Yeoman had demasted and pushed off into our path. A quick shout that we were still under sail and they ensure they are out of the way. Mast dropped at last possible moment, we attempted to sail between the bridges but it didn’t quite work so paddled through the little hole, a lot easier this time, mast straight back up and I’m sailing while Neil puts the boat back together. The time is now 1700ish which would put us at the Lower Bure Buoy at around tide change, if it happens when it should.
I’m helming, Neil wants to play with Big Blue (Spinnaker), so we hoist it and it pulls us along quite nicely. We pass a couple of boats but this is normal going downwind, we don’t pass boats going upwind! We discuss shooting Acle Bridge with the spinnaker still up but decide that the other sails fall into the boat but the spinnaker wouldn’t so we decide on the normal approach.
Acle bridge is passed at 1800, Alison and the little boys are on the bank, along with Rusty (we’ll take care not to hit the bridge this time!!) and lots of others. We are on a close reach approaching the bridge and this time paddles are not even moved “just in case”. We know the tide will take us under. Closer and closer, Neil has the mast in hand and with about an inch to spare he lowers the mast. As the burgee gets to the bridge, he lowers it slightly further and under we go. A halyard gets jammed under the mast, so it’s down and back up again, this time there are no problems.
Once again, I start sailing while he puts the boat together. Big Blue is deployed and we are making good time, the tide still taking us downwards. Let’s hope it turns before we get to the buoy. We wind our way round the river towards Stokesby where for the first and only time today we see Jasmine of Horning. Pleasantries exchanged, there is no stopping for a chinwag. Round the corner to Stokesby and there is a bit of a bottle neck. The tide is still going out, the wind is behind us so in front of those coming back up. It looks like carnage with boats everywhere. We are informed by someone coming up river that there is a cruiser aground in the middle of the river. There are about 15 sailies of all sizes trying to come up river. We wind our way between them and the boat that was “aground” wasn’t, it just couldn’t move. The situation wasn’t helped by the stinky cruisers who seemed to just leave their moorings to come and join the melee before returning to their moorings.
We’re through and after a couple more bends we are bearing down on the mark. Big Blue is lowered, probably for the last time this race and we round the mark to Port. As we rounded at 1900, it was good to see the tide had turned so was now pushing us up river. Through Stokesby, round by Acle Dyke and we are back at the bridge at 1955. With the wind slightly against we will be paddling through this time but it’s reasonably easy and the mast is straight back up, I carry on sailing while Neil puts it together again.
Neil takes the helm and we are moving back towards Thurne Mouth quite well, we even manage to pass a few sailies going to windward, something unheard of with KD. Left turn and up towards St Benets Abbey and the entrance to Fleet Dyke and then South Walsham. The sun is getting lower and the sky is impressive with its various shades of red.
Moving well, just past Thurne Mouth and we are getting cold, I suggest that we get into Fleet Dyke and get changed. Left turn at 2100 and the wind drops, we drift sail down to the mark which we eventually round at 2200 and then start the slog back up the dyke. It’s now dark and attempting to see which way the river goes is proving slightly hard but we manage to get out onto the river again at 2315.
The tide is still assisting us as we push for home. This is strange with the wind still up, under cover of darkness we are moving well through the water until just past Waterworks. As always, it’s fluky down here and, after a while, Neil manages to find the leeward bank and a few trees. Grabbing the trees, attempting to turn the boat so we can sail away results in a few trees inside the boat but after what seems like ages, we are free.
We find the breeze and follow another boat, possibly a Rebel, into Horning. Going from total darkness into a village with all the lighting made life easier as we could at least now see. A few tacks later and we have the sailing club in view, well not quite as the Ice Cream Parlour has a very bright orange light on it and we are being attracted to it like a moth to a light. Just past Southgates and I finally say to Neil that we are either first or third in class, two other W’s done the sides, went down to Acle then Hickling. I’d been thinking this since we came out of Fleet Dyke but didn’t want to say anything. Were they in front of us, we don’t know.
At 0120, 14 hours and 5 minutes after starting this gruelling race, we cross the finish line, tired, body screaming through pain, back killing me but we had made it.
Moored up, thanks to Tim and the boys, we are told to leave the boat in the water and they will recover it on Sunday. De-rig the sails, find the race pack, quick tidy up and attempt to get out of the boat. Onto dry land and the island is moving under my feet, swaying back and forth. Well, ok, it’s me that’s moving!!
Into the clubhouse and fill in the paperwork to say we have finished. The young girl ticks us off the start list and I notice that we are the first W to be ticked off. So I ask if anyone else is home yet, but nope, we are first in class. After 10 years of trying and 2 retirements, we have finally got it right. Luck, judgement? We got the judgement calls right. Luck? Managing to get in/out of South Walsham, KD not being the “normal, I’m not going into wind” boat that we know and love.
Breakfast was had at the club, kit thrown in the car and the drive home, via Postwick was long and painful.
The chilli and most of the sandwiches that we took weren’t eaten this year, we were far too busy having fun sailing. Even the kettle that had been lovingly delivered by the good lady and Oliver hadn’t been used. It must have been a good race!
The GoPro was used for the start until we got out of Horning and Ludham turning, unfortunately, when we switched it on for PH bridge, it didn’t want to work so no footage of us shooting the bridges which was the reason for taking it in the first place.
14 Hours and 5 mins overall time. Corrected time (due to handicap) 11 hours 59 mins. 37th Overall and 1st in class.
Having paid Tim with bars of chocolate for moving the boat for us, I text him on Sunday morning to tell him that if he liked the look of anything in the cool box he could have it, more chocolate was there but hadn’t been touched. Later in the day I received a call from Tim informing me that the boat was back in Brundall but he hadn’t got my text 'til he got home!
Many thanks to Horning Sailing Club for the organisation of the race. To all those giving their time up to stand on Guard boats shouting “Race number please”, Thank you and a major THANK YOU to the chefs on duty at around 0130 on Sunday morning.
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