A good day on the water.
Yesterday we decided to do some exploring in Port Reitz, it was an overcast day but good winds. Seema and I had not been there for more than 20yrs, our memories were of wonderful reaching up and down the port in steady winds. The other sailors had not been there at all, for them it was a new adventure.
As usual getting on the water was an issue, the tide was a spring tide and the water came in hard and fast but late. The boats being set up was another issue with people arriving late not saying they were coming. This meant that rigging was late so the start was delayed. We managed to launch around 2:15-2:30pm instead of 1:00pm then the tower told us to wait as a ship was coming in. In normal situations we do not contact the tower as they are prone to saying we cannot go as there is a ship coming in. On more than one occasion we have been held for up to 90 minutes thus causing the abandonment of the race. There is always a ship coming in or going out and the reality is that it makes no difference to our sailing. All sailors are briefed on procedure of dealing with large ships. They must make sure if they are passing the bows of a large vessel they stand more than 100 metres clear to avert an accident.
On this occasion we were going to Port Reitz and as we had not been there for 20yrs we made the effort to contact the port authorities and they were very co-operative and pleased to help. They also instructed us to contact the tower before we went. With this in mind we did contact the tower and …..Yes we were told to wait 10 minutes as a ship was coming. We waited 10 minutes and still no sign of a ship so we set off staying outside the channel. As we moved down past Mtongwe the ship appeared round the corner and was travelling so slow we were out-running her. We towards Port Reitz and the Tower requested we stay out of the main channel, a sensible request. Once we rounded Flora the bay opened out and it was a beautiful downwind run all the way to Miritini. Two Wayfarers and one Osprey had a relaxing down wind run and kicked themselves for not loading spinnakers.
I had decided to take an Osprey out as I have not been in one for more than a year so I reunited with Tally Ho, took Frances as crew. On the first gust I almost tipped the boat over because I had forgotten how twitchy it is, it powers up so fast the impact can launch you out of the boat if you do not hold on.
Our run to Miritini ended near the train station then we had to come back upwind and there the fight started, a 45 minute run was a two hour beat to get back. The Osprey was so much faster than the Wayfarers we kept going back for them so the fleet stayed together. Seema had a novice crew and a issue with her mainsail which was holding her back whilst Munene and Oyo were doing a great job on “Pippen”.
Halfway bak up Port Reitz there was a loud bang on the Osprey and the foresail collapsed, at the time the crew was on the wire and quickly the boat was brought to wind and the main released. The mast was saved and they had time to bring the mainsail down before further damage happened.
From there it was a tow back to the club against wind and tide until they rounded Flora and tucked under the island shore to find slow water and minimal wind. Almost back at the club and there was the second rescue boat being paddled as it had run out of fuel.
Once onshore I challenged Alphonse the driver as to how he could be a rescue boat that had run out of fuel. I was more than shocked to find that he had left with a full tank and used it all. His boat “Sally B” is an old fibreglass skiff and the weight is so much that he literally burned through 30% more fuel than the RIB. I also realised that my problem with the Osprey was mine as I had rigged incorrectly and not pulled the jib halyard all the way to the wire but instead had tied off with the rope and it was this which had snapped.
Written by: Philip Jones