After the hull and baby painting on the Lyhner we headed back down river to the mooring.
Next day we tidied up the last of the piles of wood on deck and moved them into the aft cabin. Now the deck finally looks a bit more ship shape. A few more items taken ashore including the return of Bryher’s beautiful boat cot made by Chris Rees and generously loaned to us. A trip to Mayflower Marina on Friday to launder our clothes and pick up good old friends Matt and Christoph who were coming to help us get some sails up over the weekend. We had hoped to get down to Falmouth but alas the winds were too westerly to make it. So we will instead just sail out and see where we end up.
We headed to Cawsand and anchored for the night. Amazing phosphorescence could be seen after dark. I remember the first time I saw this natural wonder up in North Devon. I honestly thought I was loosing my marbles as bright sparks of light danced in the water I was splashing. It’s always magical to see it and we laugh when you flush the toilet at night and the bowl flashes with each flush. Some of these glowing plankton you see in summer are the size of a grape, made of a jelly like substance and glow as you would expect a UFO to do with pulsating light moving in bands around the outside of the creature. In my mind it means summer is here and the sea is getting warm.
On Saturday morning we start the day with a proper South Star breakfast of kippers and eggs. Herring oil must be in the ships timbers and in our veins also. The crew jump in the sea for a swim, wash and to reconnect. The captain stands well back feeling old and cold. After this we start the sail hoisting. First the mizzen which needs a little adjustment but goes up fine. We up anchor, which these days is so much easier due to new hydraulic pump (for ten years we endured the old pumps leaks and lack of power). As we turn off the wind we pull up the large jib. This sail was only a recent addition and is a heavy canvas sail of the old type. Smelly and heavy. But very well made and with appropriate stains and marks to blend in aboard. South Star starts sailing. Its been so long since we did this last…almost two years. We quickly head her up into the wind so we can pull up the mainsail. This is all on a new mast and with new rigging also. Up she goes and we head off the wind again. South Star pulls well and I can feel the extra power that the bigger sails are producing. We half heartedly try a tack and she moves her bow up towards the wind and almost makes it through..but not quite. She definitely feels better balanced now with the moving aft of the mainmast. She would have gone through the wind had we been better prepared. We gybe with no dramas and head out to sea.
The wind is blowing at around 12 knots and we are moving through the water at about 4-5 knots. This doesn’t sound a lot but you could cover 120 miles in a 24hr period at 5 knots. Considering South Star was not built as a sailing boat she sails gallantly as her shape was an evolution from the pre war sailing trawlers. Water is rushing past the hull and smiles are on everyone’s faces. Bryher goes down into her cabin for a snooze and stays asleep in her new bed down there for two hours. This is the first time she has properly been to sea. Bryony is straight up on the helm and is enjoying seeing the new rig working, some payback for our efforts. Lined up in front of her are vhf radio, depth sounder and baby monitor – essential kit.
The wind pipes up a bit as we approach Eddystone light house. There is some alarming bending of spars as the big jib catches more wind than my rigging can handle. We reposition some blocks on the main-sheet which calms things down a bit. There will have to be some improvements before we leave for France but it is to be expected after all the work we have done. On the whole it seems like the boat is better balanced and has more power and with stronger mast & spars. We will have to learn how to make it work with out too much straining. Having the extra crew has been great though and the fear of the new rig has reduced somewhat.
The door to the wheel house at one point slams shut and I pin it open again. Not long later while Matt is drinking his tea on the side deck it slams shut again – well it would have if poor Matt had not been between the door and the hole. He puts up his hand but his his hand and the door hit him hard in the head. His thumb is bent badly also. Luckily the door was fine. A lesson that there is no time to wait to fix problems. You must deal with them the moment they arise.
We sail back to Cawsand bay and in gusty conditions manage to drop the jib. Then down comes the main sail followed by the mizzen. We drop the hook off of Kingsand and head ashore for a celebratory cream tea. How times have changed. It would have been a few pints a few years ago!
We now have a list of things to do over the next week. The weather looks set to be gloomy and windy with no hope of favourable winds for Falmouth so it’s back to the mooring and on with the work.