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Moving Triple Fantasy to her new home in Plymouth by Julian Woods
(with comments by Bryan Wright)

I arrived by bus in Canterbury at 0900 on a Saturday morning after an overnight bus from Plymouth where I only managed to get an hours sleep. At 1130 my parents drove me to the club with all the stuff I had stored at their house; the dinghy, water containers, sleeping bags, thermals, wet weather gear etc. I met Bryan at the club, had a lunch time breakfast from Christine with Bryan and my parents, and then we took everything out to the boat and set off that afternoon.

Triple Fantasy under sail last year

We sailed through the night and at five thirty in the morning (Sunday) off Dungerness in a SW 5-6 we snapped our Kevlar jib halyard. We limped over to the roads on the east side of Dungerness and threw out an anchor and had some well earned kip.

Later in the day I went up the mast in a F5 to re-thread the halyard and then we set off again. Note: Bryan had an ingenious way of capturing the halyard as it came down the inside of the mast by looping a cable tie holding both ends and inserting the loop through the slot in the mast. The cable tie springs out making its loop on the inside of the mast, pushes all the other halyards and wires to the outside of the mast and captures the halyard as it falls through the looped cable tie. All you then need to do is pull the cable tie out. Brilliant.

We missed the critical tidal gate at Dungerness (did I mention it was Spring tides) and the firing range at Lydd was open which meant that after six hours of sailing we were only off Rye a mere ten miles from where we started. In the relatively sheltered waters off Rye we 'hove to' to get some rest and decide what we were going to do. [Bryan: I sent Julian for a sleep, he looked dreadful]. It was decided (by Bryan as I was sleeping) that as we still had 20 miles of battling against the tide before next shelter it would be better to sacrifice the ten miles gained, go back to where we started from earlier, throw out the anchor and wait for the next tidal gate to open. We had a very fast down wind and tide sail and arrived back where we started just eight/nine hours earlier. We put alarms on and slept, but I woke in the night with something falling onto the coach roof. I went out in my skivies to find that one of the lazy jacks had fallen off the mast and it would need sorting the next day.

We woke, (now Monday) had breakfast, but before we could set off, I was up the mast again. While I was up there I found that a retaining pin was missing on part of the upper diamond stay of the standing rigging so a quick split pin and tape was sent up by rope to avert further problems. The forecast said W F7 so we stayed put for the day. Later that day we donned dry suits, jumped overboard and removed the weed and barnacles from the bottoms. Dry suits are amazing!

The next morning 0400, we put on our trusty dry suits and set off again in pitch blackness. The tide helped and we made good time even though we had F5-6 on the nose the whole way. In one and a half hours we got to the same place that took six hours the previous day, a good decision from Bryan. The wind was WNW and so we had very long tacks out to the shipping lanes with short tacks directly into shore.

Our tack from Rye took us out to the shipping lanes off the Royal Sovereign, before we tacked back in. A couple of tacks later to avoid the shoals at Royal Sovereign at low spring tides against and we were off Sovereign Harbour. We hove-to off Eastbourne for a break setting off again after an hour. The next tack took us out past Beachy Head with the tack back in taking us on a lift past the base of the cliffs where we were lifted all the way to New Haven entrance where we started to run out of wind. We tacked back out to find wind and had a frustrating slow tacking dual to get to Brighton.

We arrived in Brighton on Tuesday evening for a couple of hours stop-n-go to pump out any water in the floats, get drinking water in the water tank, get provisions, and have a quick shower. We had been sailing since 4am and were pretty kn..d but there was forecast a few hours of Northerly winds that night which we wanted to use. We paid for a four hour stop and after chores and showers we went for a pizza to plan the next stage. Julian would take the next four hours whilst Bryan slept. However we had a mutiny of sorts that evening, (in hindsight, it was another good decision from Bryan) in that he went off to the loo (to think) before we were to leave Brighton and came back saying that he didn't think we should go, we ought to have a restful sleep and recharge, the promised northerly hadn't materialised, (I had struggled into my dry suit by this point and was not best pleased but didn't hang the mutineer from the spreaders.) So, we stayed the night.

Bryan’s viewpoint: As you work together you adopt roles. One of Julian’s roles was to go up the mast at least once a day and one of mine became passage planning (plenty of time to do that with Julian dangling from the top of the mast). All my plans were made as suggestions with reasoned arguments not as ultimatums. As the trip went on I think we became a formidable team.

The wind was now a F3 and had a bit of N so we were able to make a long tack passing to the south of The Isle of Wight. We tacked back towards land and with the tide we were being taken directly towards St. Catherine's Point. Bryan was trying to sleep when I noticed a series of black lines in the distance. I decided to tack the boat on my own with the assistance of our tiller pilot but found out that the tiller pilot doesn't have a quick enough change or a long enough thrust to tack Triple Fantasy and so it took a couple of tries before we went round which put us into the race at the St.Catherine's Point.

The attempted tacks woke Bryan up and if that didn't, the race certainly did. The wind started picking up to a F5 and I said to Bryan that I needed him up as I wanted to put in a reef. Bryan had just struggled into his dry suit and life jacket, was just stepping into the cockpit when the whole boat gave a jolt and a shudder and the main sail reefed itself into the waiting lazy jacks. Bryan looked at me and said, "there you are!" and turned to go back to bed!. The main halyard (kevlar) snapped at the top of the mast. We hove-to again and made a plan. The boom was lowered to the deck and the topping lift was used to hoist the main. The reef was put in and off we went for about two minutes when the first reefing line snapped where it went round the sheeve at the back of the boom. The boom was again lowered till we could get the third reefing point and use the third reefing line instead of the first, then the main was re-hoisted and off we went again. The new destination was now Swannage so that I could go up the mast again to rethread the main halyard. The main was badly damaged with three 12 inch vertical rips near the tack when I lowered the boom the first time without letting off the outhaul, so this would also need to be repaired before we could sail again; we had the technology.

It took us forever to get to Swannage and we eventually put the engine on and motored the last half hour. I think Bryan finally agreed to put the engine on just to stop my incessant winging . We dropped anchor after dark (almost in the float circled bathing area) dropped the sails, dropped the boom on the deck, transferred the topping lift, hoisted the boom, flaked the main, unrolled our sleeping bags and got some much needed sleep.

Triple Fantasy at Swanage, taken by Bryan's friend Arthur

The next day was a bit of a leisurely start as we had to have a repair session. We had a visit from Bryan's neighbour who happened to be camping locally who stood on the shore waving at us. I went up the mast again and re-threaded the main halyard, Bryan's system of halyard capture working first go. I did a bit of rig adjustment while up the mast and then came down to fix the three rips in the main. We have a much reduced 45 meter roll of six inch wide clear sail repair tape; a very sticky Sellotape of sorts. I first made fine strips of tape to draw the rips into the right position and then covered the entire area with a layer of wide tape. I started on the second side when Bryan started getting antsy and fidgety asking how much longer it was going to take. It transpired that Bryan had been planning again and that the tide had turned in our favour and that we really ought to be off. A quick slap dash job on the second side of the main and we were raising the main and on our way again. Thanks to Swanage for such a lovely flat stretch of water. Bryan decided to do the first stint which was a long tack out into the channel and I went down to try to catch a bit of sleep before my evening/night stint at the helm. The wind when we set off was F3 N of W, but on a weakening trend and so when I took over South of Portland Bill (about seven miles off) the wind was down to a F2. I was on the helm for about an hour when we had a nice F4 blast for about 2 minutes and then nothing. The water started flattening and it wasn't long after that I turned the motor on.

Bryan's friends Arthur and Brenda

We ran the motor all night and crossed Lime Bay under motor. The little 'lighty planktonny creatures' in the water were stunning. In the very early hours the wind off Dartmouth came and went, a bit of puff, engine off, unfurl genoa, sail maybe......? No? Furl the genoa, engine back on. The day just started to brighten as we were off Salcombe where I had a bit of a run in with a bloody fishing boat coming out of Salcombe. They were not working, they were heading out to sea to work, they changed course and accelerated to set up a collision course with us who were motoring but were the give way boat and finally I decided I am not going to play this game and peeled off, did a tight 360 and then resumed course. After forcing us to give way, he changed his course dramatically to go off behind us, a course he would have easily attained if he had just gone straight out of Salcombe and not adjusted his course to intentially create a collision situation. Grrrr..... I could say something rude as it still winds me up!

The wind continued to come and go but as we were wanting to make a ten am high tide time at our mooring, Triple Fantasy's new home, we decided to continue motoring the rest of the way. We were beginning to have concerns about the amount of remaining fuel, but the Yamaha 9.9 is a surprisingly efficient motor and by lowering the revs slightly made the mooring with fuel to spare.

Bryan became our first guest in our new home in St Austell. I want to thank him again for assisting with the delivery and hope he has recovered from the trauma.That's the delivery trip.

Bryan’s viewpoint: I look back on the trip with pleasure. Spending the week with my friend Julian was brilliant. Seeing Becie at the end was icing on the cake. It took me a few days to acclimatise to Triple Fantasy. I wondered where and when I would meet my watery end, not if. It did not seem natural to me for a boat to hiss through the water at 10-15 knots whilst beating into pounding and bone shaking waves, flexing and shuddering as it went. My recently purchased dry suit was an essential and not an option. Our seamanship was tested as we coped with several breakages on the way (some Julian has mentioned). However I came to love and trust that boat and as Julian reminded me she has survived for thirty odd years and has probably seen much worse weather.

Triple Fantasy in her new home Plymouth

Thank you Julian for a great week and look forward to seeing you soon.

Date Published 3rd Mar 2013