Wayfarer weekend

Bit belated due to lots of commitments like getting my boat onto its trailer at the club so we can move it for the rally!

The weekend started with a bit of a disappointment as many people dropped out due to weather and last-minute commitments. So, we were left with Sea Fever crewed by Roger (Seasick Steve) Bamford and myself, Windlord crewed by Annabel Dance and Susan Pearson as the only Wayfarers. (Sea Fever has a Wayfarer rig) Dave Phillips on White Gull, Gordon Higgs on his boat, Moonwisp with Hedley Blackwell, Mark Pagliaro and Hynek Oberhel on the Hunter. These latter two boats decided a night in Portishead was preferable  to roughing it in St Pierre so off they bounced!

After a lovely sail down with the wind behind us and the sun beating down we slid into St Pierre Pill. The wind had been quite strong and Windlord lost her main sheet but continued on looking like a Dhow and made it in. A few bits of bailer twine and she was good as new.

We settled against the pontoon and Reuben Howes, Commodore at St Pierre kindly opened up the facilities for us. Good job as after a few glasses of Wine and a beer I managed to walk the plank straight into the mud!

Tents setup and a little snooze then off into Mathern Village for the pub. Quite a hike around fields led by locals Annabel and Susan.

Great food and a couple of pints then a tired stroll back via St Pierre Golf course, Mathern village, the Bishops palace and halfway to Severn Tunnel on the railway line. Annabel leading the way, thank goodness Roger had a torch 😉

6:00am rolled round really quickly and we awoke to the howling of the winds and rain pattering on the tent. Oh joy!

Muesli for breakfast and a nice cup of tea then tents packed and stored on the boats we slid them over the mud and into the pill.

Windlord and Gordon were away first. We then wended our way carefully through the moored boats and out into the Estuary. Sails up quickly and a beat across to the old Severn bridge. Things started to pick up and we saw Gordon turn around and head back to St Pierre. Windlord was a good way across and tacking for the bridge. As we got nearer the seas were getting really heavy and the wind was howling. Sea Fever seemed aptly named!

Tacking round we headed under the bridge at a good speed and it started to calm a little in Slime Roads. However as we tacked back across toward Oldbury it started to get really heavy with a nasty broadside sea. Roger asked if I knew where the entrance to Thornbury was but unfortunately (or not ;)) I’ve never been in there. He therefore decided to tack round and head for the relative calm of the bay and take short tacks while we assessed the situation. Things then went from bad to worse with Roger feeling exceedingly ill, I took the helm while he attempted to bail. This made him feel worse but the boat was handling well so I kept going. At one point it was suggested we return to Slime Roads but that would have been difficult against the fast running tide. We agreed that putting the Gib away and going on main only for a while would be safest. At one point we put the engine on to help her point and did short tacks along the bay. all this time Roger was feeling worse. The constant need to bail was taking its toll.

Things then seemed to ease for a while and we could see home which helped us both. We even let out a little Gib to help her point. Frankly, if we’d hove to and let the tide take us up we could probably have made it quite easily before the tide turned however Roger was feeling very unwell and consequently quite cold.

To this end, the best plan was to get to Lydney as quickly as possible. We rounded the Pier and sailed in against the tide to the slip where Roger used his last reserves of strength to get the trailer and pull the boat on. We were home safe!

Lesson learned, with me on the helm take Stugeron!

Many thanks to Roger for an interesting weekend and some very pleasant company and for getting us home safe despite feeling like death warmed up!

Eric Witheridge

5 thoughts on “Wayfarer weekend”

    1. Oh yes but you try reading a chart on a bucking bronco whilst someone is chucking water in your face John :)Also whilst cleaning un-mentionable goo off your waterproofs!

      On Tue Jun 14th, 2011 8:26 AM BST

  1. Excuse me, there was no bailer twine used!!!
    Annabel and I managed to get away first and had an excellent sail with the wind behind us. We did a series of gybes and as the main had two reefs in it the top batten got caught on the port side shroud – we were sailing well so decided to leave it. Everything was going well and we were having a great sail when Annabel called that we had lost the main sheet – a look along the boom confirmed that the hook that it attached to at the end of the boom had fractured – I think that we came to the conclusion that there must have been some hairline cracks and that the weather conditions were the last straw. Oh by the way all of this happened before the old bridge. We managed to contact Hedley and he agreed to continue sailing behind us and to follow us into St Peirre Pill and tow us to the pontoon and then he was continuing on to Portishead.
    We decided to see if we if could get under the bridge and then go head to wind behind Chapel Rock and attach the main sheet to the end reefing tie – fortunately the river was calm under the bridge and we managed to do as we planned. We were then able to sail into St Pierre and almost sailed to the pontoon – but we hit the mud and rowed instead.
    Bliss to be out of the wind. As Eric said we had a good social lunch with good food, wine and company. tghen pitch the tents and off to the pub.
    Annabel and I followed Gordon out and overtook him at the entrance to the Pill. After the calm of the Pill we were met with the force of the wide and tide in the river. Oh well we were there so make the best of it. We tacked most of the way up and Annabel managed to keep Windlord pointed so that the she rolled over the waves. Certainly an interesting sail back and not one for the faint hearted. We saw Eric and Roger well behind us and that they were coming up the gutter and we were wondering why that was. We found out when we got to Lydney.
    I have photos of the place where Eric went in the mud!!!!


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