The first night…

Having arrived and had a modest celebration we wnt home to get cleaned up and then Trish and I returned to the OP to watch her down on the tide. This is where the problems started.  As she took the ground there wasn’t enough mud on the outside of her and she started to lean out.  She ended up at about 45-50 degrees list to port! This was not ‘ideal’ as we ended up having to sleep across the boat and were almost standing up!  At this point I think Trish was even less impressed than on her first viewing.  Here she was the proud new owner of a stinking, dirty, uncomfortable boat that didn’t even have the ability to be level to sleep on! I’m sure the phrase ‘not impressed’ would suffice at this point! In some ways it was good that Trish couldn’t even get off as it was a good 10ft to the ladder so she had to stay aboard.  The morning did seem a long time comming though…

All round, not a happy situation.  It odes get better though so keep reading 😉

The voyage home…

Well dear reader, this is where it all starts and we see if we had done enough preparation before setting off.

I was joined by my good friend and ex merchant seaman Steve and my aunt and experienced sailor Sue, both willing volunteers/victims (I get those two words easily confused).  Once they were aboard I left my friend to drive home and we chucked the ropes off and left Penzance heading east, we were coming home!!! 🙂

We soon got settled into the motion of the boat and the rhythm of the engine.  Out across Mounts Bay, so named because of the St’ Micheals Mount monastery on an island in the middle of it. A beautiful afternoon with a gentle westerly breeze changed into an even more glorious evening as we passed by the Lizzard Point and turned up towards Falmouth as I wanted to give everyone a decent night after their long days of travel earlier. We arrived in Falmouth at about 10 in the evening, by which time it was dark and the mass of dockside lights made it very difficult to see the correct channel buoys and even harder to find the moorings!  We eventually got alongside another boat, but were the third boat out from the pontoon. Not the best place to be, but it did us for the night.  We planned to be away early in the hope of missing the dues man ;-), sadly he must know our trick and still managed to charge us £25 for the night. I did point out we had only been there 7 hours and were nowhere near a pontoon let alone any facilities.  This made no difference to him so I paid up but will never return!

On our run up from Penzance we had been taking a bit of water through the stern and a couple of other weeps, although the pump had been dealing with this very well.  It is not uncommon for a wooden boat  to do this especially when she hasn’t been to sea for a while.  As we left Falmouth Steve commented on the leak from the stern saying it was a bit worse although as the pump was more than keeping up with it we weren’t very concerned and decided to monitor it and stay a bit more inshore than going much further out to sea.  We continued up the Channel and had all the sails up. she looked and felt fantastic and all was well with our world until I went below to check the chart plotter! The screen was very dark indeed, it had turned itself off.  Now before you say we should have proper paper charts etc etc, WE DID and had been plotting our position regularly 😉 I wasn’t concerned about losing the plotter but did delve further into the electrical supply and discovered that we had a collection of batteries that hadn’t been being re-charged by the engine at all and so were flat.  They made good ballast but that was it!  This left us with a more pressing issue, we were nearly at the western approaches to the Solent, it was starting to go dark and we had no navigation lights.  Do we go into somewhere like Yarmouth on the Isle of wight and pay through the nose for everything or do we keep going, staying south of the island and keeping a bloody good look out.  We decided on the latter and sneaked past the island under a starlight sky. No one came near to us during the night although I was extremely pleased to see the sky lighten in the east as the dawn came.

The day continued without further problems. The stern leak got no worse and whilst we daren’t stop the engine as we could not have started it again she kept chugging along nicely We passed Brighton and Newhaven, then came to Beachy Head which slowly went astern of us as we progressed across Eastbourne bay.  We had spotted a dark gray boat some distance off and we watched them as they watched us.  It was a small naval vessel, probably customs or fisheries.  We were the only ‘different’ boat in the bay as all the rest were white plastic yachts with white triangular sails, whereas we are big, black and have brown four-sided sails.  Talk about conspicuous! Fortunately their interest waned and we were left to go on our way. Much relief all round aboard the good ship OP! 

We had made very good time since leaving the Isle of Wight behind and were very early arriving in Rye Bay.  We then spent a few hours just gilling up and down, up and down waiting for the tide to rise high enough for entry into the harbour.  Steve is one of the Rye Harbour pilots for the commercial side of the port and so I left it to his discretion and expertise as to when we could safely enter between the pier-heads.  We entered much earlier and by a different route in than I have ever been before and shot past the pier-head lights like a cork from a bottle!  When you come into Rye Harbour the Harbour office is on the starboard side and you are normally required to stop.  Stopping was not an option as we went past at about 10 knots and continued up the river towards the town.  We turned hard to port into rock channel and ‘nearly’ missed the channel marker buoys.  Rock channel is very narrow, especially when only half full of water so we progressed as slowly as we could dragging our keel on the bottom all the way to our mooring.  There was,of course the grand welcoming committee all awaiting our arrival with great interest and once we had got the ropes ashore, there was much jollity to be had! We eventually got to put the boat put to bed and retired home Knackered, but very very satisfied!

 

Then the work begins…

The preperation of the good ship OP…

Having purchased her, the next task was to get her back to Rye, a distance of about 300 miles. This was due to be an interesting if fairly long sea trial!

I collected enough tools, equipment, spare parts and odds n sodds to sink a battleship and headed off to Penzance with a mate driving for a third time.  Someone had to bring the vehicle back of course.  We arrived late that day, only had a brief look over the boat and retired to the pub for a well-earned Spingo 😉 For those not up on west country ales Spingo is where it’s at!  Easily drinkable and every pint tastes as good as the first 😉 The following morning we were up with the lark (almost) and down to the boat in good time to get her sorted and ready for sea.  There were 101 things that ‘needed’ to be done and only limited time before my two crew would arrive and expect to be able to chuck the ropes off and come back to Rye.  We set to and the work proceeded at a good pace, checking this and fixing that. Making sure the lights worked (more on this later dear reader) Checking the engine over and all the other things you would expect before going to sea. At the end of day one of operations we were suitably happy and confident to retreat to the hostelry and partake of a glass or two 😉

Day two started on a less than ideal footing.  Not because we’d had too much the previous evening, but when we stepped aboard and I went below I could hear DRIPPING!  This is a bad thing to hear on any boat, but especially one that we are soon to be taking to sea.  We spent some time trying to locate the source only to discover that it was the raw water cooling pipe for the engine.  This presented a few issues as we couldn’t completely turn off the seacock and therefore whatever repair we made had to be pretty quick as all the time the pipework was disconnected there was water coming into the boat.  It is amazing how fast water will flow through an inch and a half pipe. I had visions of having to ask for assistance from the lifeboat without even clearing the pier-head, a most embarrassing thing to do!  In time though we managed with a few trips to the local chandlers/marine engineers shop to solve the leak. Much to my relief.  I will let you dear reader guess how the evening was spent…

Day three and indeed Departure day dawned bright and sunny.  This was to be a good omen for the trip.  We had only a few jobs to do today before leaving which included getting diesel etc.  I had two options for fuel and they both involved me moving the OP for the first time under my ownership and more importantly my insurance 😉 For those that aren’t familiar with Penzance dock, it’s not by any means the largest and is usually full or thereabouts with craft of all sorts, so not much room for manoeuvre!  We were alongside the wall and acting as a pontoon for three boats moored outside of us.  These we had to slip out astern of before turning her head towards the open dock gate and the sea beyond.  With the help of the harbour staff this went extremely well (even if I do say so myself) and I was relieved to leave the gate astern and head off to get fuel.  Having discussed the options with the local fishermen it was decided to go across Mounts Bay to Newlyn to take on fuel as it would work out much cheaper than purchasing it in Penzance.  On arrival in Newlyn we caused a bit of a stir because she’s a very well-known local boat and hadn’t moved much for a while so we had an audience to either welcome us in or watch when things went badly.  fortunately for us I managed to put her alongside the end of the ‘New Pier’ (it’s been there for years but names stick down west) and we were made very welcome, with lots of questions as to what my plans were with her and I’m sure some checking to make sure I was a suitable purchaser of one of ‘their’ boats!  Whilst waiting for the fuel bowser an old boy walked along the pier and I was introduced to him.  He is the grandson of the man who built her! I was honoured to meet him and spoke for all to short a time about her before the bowser arrived and I had to attend to the fueling.  I really must get back West and buy him a pie and a pint whilst he tells all! 

 

 

Anyway with the fueling completed we returned to Penzance to await the crews arrival outside the dock gate as the tide was away and we needed to leave as soon as they arrived…

At last I’ve started!

Well here it is, the start of my blog about life with our lugger the Ocean Pride PZ134. 

As a bit of background we purchased her last year in Penzance where she had been laying for a while and not in the best of condition!  We had been to see a number of boats over the preceding 9 months or so, with mixed results.  The OP however kept appearing in my search results.  I had to just ‘have a look’ to discount her from our search.  That was when the trouble began!  We got to Penzance on time having driven 7 and half hours and met the owner.  We were also due to meet with the broker but they turned up an hour and a half late (having to drive only twenty minutes).  I hate being late myself and dislike it in others, so when she eventually turned up and admitted to knowing nothing about the boat I decided that if we were to proceed with the boat then she would not be part of the equation!

On first looks Trish my other half was NOT IMPRESSED!  She said it stank, was filthy and generally horrible!  Not perhaps the best starting point.  I however was, I admit now, already smitten.  All I had to do was convince Trish that we could get her clean and tidy again, yes it would take a lot of work, but anything is possible I said. I could tell that most of the old original boat was in reasonable condition, but that the cabin and wheelhouse that had been fitted in the early 1990’s was rotten or at best past it’s prime!  The engine started and sounded sweet enough although it was huge and in the wrong place if our plans were to be followed, just another job I said 😉

After the viewing and a long quiet drive home…

Much discussion followed and eventually we decided to get a Survey carried out on her.  I knew roughly what was required and wanted confirmation of my thoughts along with a skilled eye over the parts I considered to be OK.  Another long trip, by train this time found me in Penzance again.  The survey day started dull gray and deteriorated untill the rain was so heavy it made working very tricky indeed. 

To those who think being a yacht surveyor is a glamorous occupation looking at beautiful yachts surrounded by gorgeous people, I can tell you that Aiden the surveyor earned his money that day!

The results of the survey were pretty much inline with what I already knew.  She would need quite a lot of work, but was basically sound hull wise and was worth the effort!  An offer was then made and accepted and we became owners/custodians of the Ocean Pride 🙂