Friday, 8 June 2012

Day 6: The Dark One on the Forth

The day started lightheartedly...

... but after the Kincardine Bridge things went desperately dangerous in a terrible sea... tide ripping out East and the wind gusting well against it, stronger than a force 4, ENE... and we were trying to head ESE to the mouth of the Carron. Donald and Geordie had returned to escort us in the rib but as things chopped up they had to cast off and keep their distance for fear of damaging the rib.

Most of the other boats had been through this water ahead of us, Gamebird being the most remarkable with her tiny dimensions... they were all safely in the sea lock except Colin's cruiser that had stuck in the mud under the M9.  Donald estimates the waves were approaching 1.2m and there wasn't a thing he could do but look on. Peccadillo went so well... rode those waves and took on very little water, and didn't break so much as one mug...but this was not supposed to be the scary bit! I've been so busy passage planning the west coast I'd thought to just tag along on this one! The crew was not safe and sea protection kit was not in place. As we headed for Bo'ness I tried to turn to starboard a couple of times, making for the Carron, but this created such a dangerous roll that at one point the prop left the water and Donald says he had a clear view of the underside of the bows... about a 35 degree list. I radioed the rib to say "I cannot turn"... not knowing for a minute what I thought they could do about it. But at this Donald shot across the bows and raced some figures of eight that momentarily flattened the surface... long enough for me to swing my stern to the wind... and the danger was over.

I'm not proud of any of this. I have been mightily humbled and am grateful for the lesson.

We'd missed the tide for the Carron so moored up on the mud at the yacht club till 2330 when we had enough water to get into the sea lock.

And guess what. Having survived that godforsaken sea and broken not so much as a teacup... as we returned to the sea lock I lost reverse throttle and hit the wall... Everything fell... Went below to find glass everywhere, a candle had started a small fire (the yacht club was only half a mile from the Sea Loch so we had stood down the sea-readiness and had dinner) and it took us till 0330 to clean up. (This after helping Donald pull Colin's cruiser in).

Anyway, pecc hull is fine but I cannot get the throttle mechanism to work...  we wrestled her back to Auchinstarry and I have a charter on today to do day 8, auch to glasgow... We can limp that. But I discovered in tidal waters that she overheated... Resolution to all this? I need to put the big gearbox in, replace all cables and mebbe get a new morse control a new engine... a new story... And all I want to do is sleep... I'm so tired. It almost feels a relief to decide I'm gonna have to call in a mechanic now, but money money money has been flying out in all directions.

Having said that, money has also been coming in, along with warm wishes... There were pats on the back aplenty on the canal bank as the story travelled from east to west... I feel full and still and small in a way that perhaps you only can having stood more terrified than I thought imaginable watching the bows in front of me drop eight feet into solid dark sea. But she rose every time and braved those waves better than I...

... I wet my pants just a little bit.

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