Days 1,2 and 3
We arrived on Tenacious on Saturday 17th September – the first time I’d sailed on her. We started with assorted briefings: our first seamanship briefing (names of the sails and the difference between sheets, buntlines, clewlines and halyards); a tour of the bridge; and safety briefings (including what to do if we sink…). WE remained moored at South Quay in Great Yarmouth overnight, then took on a pilot after breakfast to motor out of the harbour. Once out of port, it was all hands on deck to brace the yards (swing the yards that carry the square sails from port to starboard) and set the lower and upper topsails and outer jib. There was a cold north-westerly wind so I’d layered up with lots of warm clothes, but then I went on mess duty. Even after stripping down to a long-sleeved shirt, I was soon sweating in the galley and wished I’d been wearing lighter trousers and a T-shirt.
I slept very soundly and didn’t hear the anchor rattling out during the night off Deal.
On day three, we remained at anchor all day for the Queen’s funeral. I was still on mess duty – wearing a T-shirt this time! – but was excused duty to attend a harness fitting and again for the Queen’s funeral. Fliss and Tom had set up a screen in the lower mess for us to watch. Claire and I described the proceedings to Simon who is visually impaired while Sherwood did the same for Richard.
In the afternoon, after a further excellent briefing from Stu the Bosun, we had the opportunity to climb one of the masts to the first platform using the ratlines. Wearing a harness, we had to attach ourselves to the safety line using a safety gadget called a Fall-Arrest which does what it says on the tin. I was a little anxious as I have a shoulder injury, but Stu reckoned I’d be fine and he was right. That’s not to say it wasn’t scary! The upper part of the climb, the Futtocks, lean out slightly with little room to put your feet. With lots of encouragement from Bosun’s mate Linnea, I made it. We had a group hug and admired the views of Dover and France.
After an early supper, I was on watch from 8 – 12pm and glad I’d ditched my T-shirt for warmer clothes again. There was plenty to see as we entered the main shipping lane in the English Channel: boats everywhere and flashing lights on sandbars. We could see the lights of towns on both sides of the channel and very slowly came up to Dungeness lighthouse. We were motoring against the tide so making very slow progress. However, once past the lighthouse, Dungeness and the bright lights of the power station disappeared quickly astern – the tide had turned!
Tom, the third mate, showed us to take readings from the many instruments in the chart room so we could fill in the log every hour. He also pointed out the phosphorescence on the bow wave caused by phytoplankton: the white foam flashed brighter in streaks running out from the bow. The sea was relatively calm and steering was very easy, it also helped by being under motor not sail. The watch seemed to go very fast, and soon I was back in my bunk and looking forward to what day four would bring.
Feature image description: A group of voyage crew on one of the mast platforms, taken from the opposite platform by Officer Tom