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EVECOM MULTIHULLS -
KvK Noord.: 73078476
An Autumn Cruise And Round Britain Race Qualifier
From, Multihulls, July/August 1985
By Mark Orr MOCRA Venture Trophy Winner
You cannot always have your own way in life, if you did, life could become too easy and boring. My modified Strider Class catamaran, Scorpion, designed by Richard Woods and built by Palamos Boatbuild at Plymouth, was strengthened and modified for two specific races, the 1984 Three Peaks Yacht Race and the 1985 Round Britain Race.
The boat was finished in April, but required further modification, thus it stayed in Plymouth until June, when our team for the Three Peaks Race arrived. I work in Munster, West Germany and since my favorite races are held in British waters, I have to face the problem and expense of travelling. After last year’s Three Peaks Race,Scorpion stayed in Plymouth for repairs and more modifications. This left me with the problem of how to get the boat back to Munster at the end of the season. I was unable to take leave until October.
Have you ever found it difficult to get crew when the weather is unpredictable? I ran out of addresses and telephone numbers, and this persuaded my father to join me, for whatever time he could spare from his busy job. He is a retired Naval Officer, holding a Master Mariner’s Ticket, adjusting to life away from the Armed Forces.
When you leave a boat for a couple of months there is much sorting out to do, and Scorpion was no exception. Winches required a spot of WD 40, electrics needed a complete’rethink’ as the mast had been taken down, even the outboard required service, etc. However, a short two days saw the work done and we departed Plymouth under sail. Never trust an outboard! We left on the evening tide in a gentle westerlyF2. I hoped to make Gosport, near Portsmouth (the British Forces have a Joint Service Sailing Centre-
The winds were forecast as westerly F3-
My course was as straight a line as possible between Bolt Head and The Needles, meaning I would be close enough to Portland Bill to get a good eyeball fix and also avoid the notorious Race. My dead reckoning (DR) proved accurate and the Bill appeared a 16:00. We were going well despite the light winds, definitely no record-
The beauty of the warm, bright days is often followed by crisp. clear nights which, though very cold, give good visibility and make navigation, easier. On cue The Needles’ light appeared and we passed through Hurst Narrows out into the Solent on the very last of the tide. I was now on home territory. Once again the wind died, leaving us chasing zephyrs along the coast of the Isle of Wight, to avoid the spring tide. By the time we decided to abandon the struggle against the tide. we had reached Gumard Bay, just west of Cowes, where we anchored at 02-
It was a pleasant sail, enjoyed by both of us. We moored at JSSC at 10: I 5.A slow passage, but I was happy having enjoyed the pleasure of taking Father, my greatest supporter, for a sail on my boat. Once in harbor, Father had to return to work, so it was just Scorpion and I together for the rest of the trip. My first priority was to buy a reliable outboard motor, fortunately Geoff Williamson, a good friend, had advised me well. He also helped me beef up my chart folios. so that when I left Portsmouth that evening I was well prepared for my first, major, single-
Portsmouth to Brighton is a simple trip, out through the forts that have guarded one of Britain’s major naval harbors since Napoleon’s time, and along the coast to the Owners light buoy and into Brighton’s very ’mod’ marina. I wanted to use the trip to get the feel of this ’single-
As I set off, the wind was southwesterly F2 with a forecast of southeasterlyF’3 and fog patches. I soon made Beachy Head under spinnaker and full main, rounding at 16:00, helped by the tide. The weather was still clear and Scorpion and I were the only yacht to see an entrancing sunset form and fade -
The wind was wonderful. It gently picked up on the beat towards Dover. providing very good progress. With excellent visibility I picked point after point off the chart, making Dover Harbor by 03:00. As I was still feeling fresh, had favorable tide and wind, I felt it would be cheating the gods to go into Dover, and I pressed on to Ramsgate. This is a lovely passage through the Goodwin Sands, which in good visibility and weather is a safe short-
The wind remained northeasterly F2, requiring constant tacking up the various channels and the use of clearing lines to avoid the many sandbanks. The joy of shallow draft was again appreciated, cutting comers as the tide changed against me on my last couple of legs to the harbor. I got in at 07:30 and anchored to wait for daylight outside the main channel. No sooner had I moored, than the Harbormaster arrived and asked for £9 mooring fees. I was astonished. this was double the rate for my length because I was on a multihull. I was livid! I used no more alongside space than any other 25ft yacht, had few facilities, toilets 200m. water 100m, etc.. and this in an empty harbor in late autumn. After l had cooled down I slept for a few hours and adjourned to the local pub.
The pub was so pleasant that I stayed the night, waking somewhat the worse for wear next morning. It was a very chilly pea souper, but a busy one preparing Scorpion for the passage from Ramsgate to the west end of the Frisian Islands, then across to the Skaggerak and south to Kiel, by way of some of my favorite Danish ports. I sailed out of Ramsgate at 13:30 just as soon as the fog had lifted. It had become a pleasant day, southwesterly F2 and sunny. My route would take me to the Nord Hinder Light Vessel, then on to Den Helder, should I need to duck in. Very simple!
The first shock was an enormous bang at 16:00. I was below, cooking, with the Autohelm in command. I leaped on deck, fearing the worst, to find all was intact. The leeward hull had sailed over an abandoned dinghy. I made a quick check for damage, found none tacked round to see the dinghy and, God forbid, what if anyone was in it or near it? I was by now crossing the Thames Estuary and felt that if someone was in the dinghy they would be in difficulty, hardly helped by me sailing over them. Having closed in on the dinghy, it turned out to be a waterlogged Laser-
Who says you can be bored at sea?
As dusk fell, the wind rose to F3, giving me an evening of cruising along at 8-
The ’Met’ people forecast southwesterly F 4-
The greater part of the morning was spent trying to feed two birds that had landed on Scorpion looking very tired, indeed. They weren’t interested. At 11:20 I was passed by the MV Osterheide, going south. In my best German I asked for a position check. as I wanted to be ‘bang on’ before closing the Dutch coast. A very helpful officer gave me 52’52"N/4’32"E. I was about 5 NM off on my DR, which I was not too happy about. He also warned of a gale coming. I thought it was prudent to give the Dutch Coast Guard at Den Helder, now some 15nm away. A call to check on the weather as he saw it. He confirmed the bad news. I told him I would be coming in later that day. I was not keen about losing the good wind, having done 150nm, I decided to crack another 200nm qualifier for the 1985 Round Britain Race while conditions favored high speed. I found three buoys that made a nice triangular course. adding some 40nm to the passage. I felt that by the time I had reached Den Helder I would have done some 210nm. I set off in a steady southern F4-
However, prudence being the sensible thing, I wanted to get into Den Helder in daylight and before the wind rose much more. It was now a southern F6. I decided to cut short my fun and enter the Molengat Channel which, once found, was easy to follow. Once in the Channel, I was surprised to see how steep the seas were in the normally shallow water and decided, having the wind on the starboard quarter, to drop the main that already had two reefs, and to sail in on the No. 2 genoa. It made life a lot easier and gave peace of mind.
Having identified Kijkduin light, I altered course to hug the coast and bring the wind on the beam. The shore afforded some protection from what was now becoming quite ablow. As I approached the harbor entrance I put the outboard on, fired her up and motored into the Naval Yacht Harbor. I was lucky to find a berth under a harbor wall (in the lee), for the wind was being reported to be southern F7 by the Coast Guard.
So ended a really lovely sail, giving me as much of a workout as I had wanted under the circumstances. My disappointment at not being able to go on to Denmark was somewhat reduced by the exhilarating sail into Den Helder and by the gales that raged across the North Sea for the next four days. I had a good time in that Dutch town, and moved the boat into the Ijsselmeer two days later, during a lull in the storm. Scorpion glided up into the terrific marina at Hindeloopen.
I’d learned a lot about myself and Scorpion during the cruise. Anyone sailing single-