Juggling berths, naughty bottoms, and racing

Come late June I had made it to Falmouth. On arrival, and after putting Coralee to bed, I popped straight up to the Turn to Starboard office, to say hello and let everyone know that I was safely in the marina. With one of the T2S boats out, I had slipped into her berth and hoped to be able to stay there for a few days. I always love being in Falmouth for many reasons but mostly the countryside, the pace of life and, of course, the staff at Turn to Starboard – who, for the past 4 years have been my family when visiting the county and volunteering as a skipper at the charity.

I had only briefly nipped up to the office, leaving Mark and Lucas on board Coralee so, on walking back down to the boat, I was somewhat shocked and taken aback to see a stern-faced Mark awaiting my arrival with the words “I’ve got some bad news”. Immediately my mind raced; had Lucas (for whom I was acting as local guardian) fallen off the pontoon and cracked his head(?), was there a major leak(?), had Mark found an irreparable fault with the rigging? Thankfully none of these was correct, but I wasn’t impressed to be shown by Mark that along the waterline the GelShield Plus (hull epoxy treatment) had begun to peel off taking the CopperCoat with it. Before leaving Hayling Island, I had voiced a few concerns over the integrity of this epoxy layer and my fears were now realised.

One less-than-tempered call to the yard later and I was faced with the disappointing realisation that I would have to take Coralee all the way back up to Hayling Island to have the bottom blasted and repainted. I had commitments in Falmouth for at least a week and I wanted to get a few jobs done before taking her back east – the very opposite direction to the one I was trying to head in – and so it was planned to take her back to Hayling for 17 July. This date was chosen as it would give the yard a full 14 days to do the repairs and a high tide to launch her in when the works were complete. The dates also tied in with the inaugural Turn to Starboard Regatta in Gosport.

Turn to Starboard had recently opened a race office in Gosport in order to widen their charitable breadth to include family sailing, RYA theory courses, tall ship experience, RYA practical courses & mile-builders, and now racing. To launch the new office a regatta of eight SunSail SunFast 40’ yachts was organised for the second half of July. Eight skippers/mates form Turn to Starboard were paired with eight mates/skippers from Sun Sail (in order to spread the racing knowledge) as well as crews made up of T2S beneficiaries. Two days’ of race training was to be followed by a three-race competition to cap the event off on the Friday. I was lucky enough to be one of the T2S race skippers and thoroughly enjoyed getting back into the spirit of friendly competitive racing.

So, the voyage back to Hayling that had me heading in the wrong direction, was not entirely wasted. Having Coralee back on the hard had its advantages too: in the first two weeks in July, I had created a list of jobs to do when out of the water. These included changing the pitch of the prop, measuring Coralee’s draft (as it was clearly wrong on her Certificate of Registration), as well as a number of other jobs that are best done out of the water. I also used the time to head back to Suffolk to see my family and drop off a few items that I had learnt were best left off the boat.

It was on 1 Aug that Coralee was re-launched from Hayling Island, this time with a copper bottom that I had a lot more confidence in. The weather was less kind on this (third) trip along the coast. A light headwind took us back to Falmouth but with it right on the nose for 48hrs before dropping completely away as we rounded Start Point (Salcombe), we were left to complete the journey under engine. Safely back in Falmouth I was left answering the next question, “when do I leave?”.

Fair winds,
John & Coralee

NB. we came third.