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Sick as a pig

Sick as a pig.

I’d worked hard that spring to get Emily ready for sea.
Not to say there was no more that needed doing, that’s boats for you.

But she was at least basically seaworthy and watertight to a degree.

I was to take her down river to a borrowed mooring for the night, so I could keep pumping until she took up. Then the plan was to depart early the next morning for Falmouth and the Helford River. Only a nice day’s sail from Plymouth.

Whilst on the mooring in the lower reaches of the River Lynher, and cooking a huge meal on the old Taylors parafin cooker, the weather forecast was not encouraging.

Despite the earlier promises of the bad weather not arriving until very late the following day, the timescale had changed and the weather was now due to come in tomorrow lunchtime(ish).
And it would, as always in those parts, be from the west.

So after doing the washing up I sat for a bit contemplating the options.
I could take her up the Tamar to my own mooring, and leave the trip until later. Or sit tight on this borrowed mooring until the gales went away. Neither ideal solutions.

Or I could go right now and make a night passage of it, arriving 06:00 ish tomorrow morning, thus avoiding the onset of bad weather.

I asked Emmy if she was up for it, and had no complaints.
Well you do these things don’t you.

So, a flask of soup at the ready, I droppped the mooring and headed out.

When you don’t need wind there’s always too much. And now I needed some there wasn’t a drop to be found.
Just a light breeze from…. the west!
So it was motor on, set Fred the tiller pilot, and watch out for lights.

And pump of course.

The night was cold and dark. It was springs and the ‘dark of the moon’ summed it up nicely.
No stars either what with the cloud cover.
Sailing, or motoring, into the dakness with only the few lighted bouys and other shipping for company is always a strange experience.

It was, in some ways, a mistake to sail after the hard day’s work at the yard, with all the last minute, and some not so last minute, jobs on Emily, and after launching on the late tide.
It had left me tired and drained, but somehow glad to be afloat again.

I had expected the pumping to becpme less as time went on, but it just seemed to be getting worse.
That’s when I discovered the end of the bilge pump pipe had come loose somehow, and all my pumping was circulating the water back into the bilge.

That fixed, things looked up a bit.

I was too tired for a trip like this really, and avoiding fishing boats by trying to decifer their lights was a game I’d rather not be playing.
But it keeps you awake at least.

It was a cold night and the soup was soon gone.
Luckily it was also a calm night, so the kettle got little rest, as did the saucepan.

Passing the coast that I knew well but couldn’t see was strange. Just the position on the chart plotted our progress.
The tide turned against us for much of the second half of the night, which only served to increase the sense of tiredness and frustration.

Eventually though, with the dawn, the Helford river came into view, and in the gradual light of morning it was not too early for me.

I was definitely over tired and cold, despite the extra layers of clothes, and that patch of choppy stuff just off Helford entrance when the tide is the ‘wrong’ way, got the better of me and I was seasick over the side.
Sick as a pig I was.

This had never happened to me before in all the years I’ve sailed, and it took me by surprise, not to mention feeling terrible.
But it is true what they say, you do feel better afterwards.

So onward into Helford River, and a phone call from my son, who lived on their boat in the Yard at Gweek at the time, was very welcome.
He came down river in the dinghy, with No 1 grandchild Rowan, and escorted Emily and me up the river to the yard.

Finally tied up alongside the quay, I crashed out for most of the day.

Little did I realise I was going to become very well aquainted with Gweek Quay Boatyard.

With a twist of fate the sailing often brings, Emily had returned to where we had fist met, for it was from Gweek Quay that I bought Mark Twain, that was soon to become Emily.

Well, not so old really.
Emily is a Purbrook ‘Heron’, built in 1960.
She’s Mahogany on Oak, about 22ft LOA, 19ft waterline, double ended or canoe sterned, and bermudian rigged. She’s been out of the water for a whole season now. But that’s a story for further down.