…it is a long time since I found the time to update this little blog, but here goes.
Where to begin? So much has happened since the last update. I have started a new job in a really nice school. A reduced timetable and the money is not great but a job is a job and blind blokes really can not pick and choose. As if that was not enough good news, I found out yesterday that I have Access to Work funding for a support worker until 2018, which is fantastic and a weight off of my mind. With all the talk of cuts etc it is good to know that I will be able to carry on working, and paying tax, for a while yet.
My right eye is being removed in August. There is no vision in it and I am taking lots of drops and painkillers just to live with it. So, I will soon be able to wear an eyepatch for real 🙂
We have had a couple of nice trips out on Rhoda Rose, an overnight in Brightlingsea and one to West Mersea where I met another sailing guide dog owner on the pontoon! What are the chances of that? I mean, we could have been really close to one another and not even noticed. I think Inca was pleased to find another sailing guide dog, at least he knows he is not the only one after all.
This trip was particularly pleasing as I was able to sail, not motor, Rhoda Rose all the way there and had a great beat, tack on tack, all the way back to Maldon. I am begining to learn that RR will indeed sail, but needs a top F3 to F4 to really get moving. Low F3 and she can not get enough way on to get her head through the wind without starting the engine to help her through. With a full set of instrumentation (wind direction and speed, depth sounder, auto-helm, rudder position indicator) single handing her is possible. I had my old mum on board just to keep a weather eye open for small dinghys and bouys that I might not see but, apart from that, I brought her back single handed. Although I did mess up the berthing just a bit, but there you go, we live and learn. Basically do not try to berth without enough water!
As a VI sailor, taking RR out on my own would be foolhardy. She is too big and heavy to risk a collision and would do a dinghy or classic wooden boat an awful lot of damage, built as she is like a proverbial brick ****house. Yet I have long hankered for a taste of single handed sailing. Just to get out on my own without having to rely or worry about others. To spend a few hours independently. But single handing without putting others at risk, or indeed myself into a situation I can not recover myself from is not an option in a 28′ 6 tonne motor sailor. So I devised a cunning plan…
Little Nutmeg is a ‘Character Boats’ Lune Pilot. She is based on a working craft used in Morcambe Bay to ferry pilots onto ships to bring them up the rivers. There is a fantastic website/blog dedicated to these boats that I heartily recommend ‘www.thelunepilot.com’
She has no centreboard but relies on her hull form to reduce leeway. She also carries 70kgms of ballast in her long keel and is all but uncapsizable, at least so I am told.
Lune pilots are often converted to gaff rig, but Little Nutmeg retains her original standing lug, with a tiny, but essential for tacking, jibsail on an even tinier bowsprit. There is no standing rigging, so even sailing downwind, one can release the mainsheet and spill all the wind, maintaining total control. Technically I think she is classified as a Pilot Skiff and looking from her bow you can see why. She is very flat bottomed but retains a fine entry and is rather elegant, well I think so.
Now to my cunning plan 🙂
On a good day, I have some useful vision. Not much it must be said but some. On a bad day I have almost none, these are the days when Inca really earns his gravy bones.
I honestly think that with my trusty iPad running Navionics, with a large Sowester Bosun compass bolted to the rear seat, with my H/H VHF and my iPhone on board in a waterproof bag and on a ‘good eye’ day, I can manage to sail on my own in this boat. No standing rigging to get tangled and only the main sheet and tiny jib sheets to worry about. I reckon I can sail out of our yard, down river, behind Northey Island, maybe around Osea and find my way back in a tide. If I hit anything or get into trouble, I can not do too much harm in a 14′ dinghy. She draws 15″ so I can use an oar to punt her off of mud banks, I have a little Honda O/B just in case. I have sailed her a couple of times with sighted crew and she is a delight to sail. She points suprisingly close to the wind and is very forgiving.
I know the river well. What could possibly go wrong? OK quite a lot but seriously I think I can manage it. I have a couple of waterproof video cameras and will record my adventure. Watch this space!