I was really surprised that the crane driver was prepared to lift boats into the water as the wind maintained 35 to 45 knots with even faster gusts for most of crane-in weekend. All the same, we made good progress on the Saturday, however there was a bit of a roadblock in the harbour as more and more yacht owners opted not to leave the safety of the pier wall.
It was pretty blustery, and there were regular instances of hard hats being blow right off worker’s heads and straight into the harbour. Although my hard hat had straps, I still did my bit to retrieve one or two hats using a boat hook.
I also helped crew a Colvic Countess round to her mooring (shot above from onboard the Countess looking astern to a Hunter 26). It was a bit lumpy, a tad wet, and it took three attempts to pick-up the mooring buoy, but we made it without too much fuss. Eventually work stopped early on the Saturday as there was no more room alongside.
The following day started off with lighter winds, but that didn’t last long. I had hoped to fit a new bilge pump hose in the morning, but it failed to arrive the day before and thankfully a friend from the club fashioned a temporary solution for us. Despite the high winds, we made reasonable progress and our slot was getting ever nearer.
Time was getting tight and some individuals were cutting corners, which is never a good idea when there’s heavy equipment in play. As with the day before, hard hats continued to whip off club member’s heads and into the drink. One chap decided that it would be easier to pick up a hard hat that had landed in-between his yacht and the harbour by hand …rather than fetch a boat hook. A large shout went up as inevitably the boat jostled in towards the wall, and the chap ended up in the water squeezed within a rapidly diminishing gap. Disaster was averted, and hopefully he learned a valuable lesson.
Then during one of the lifts, hydraulic fluid erupted from a hose on the crane, and crane-in ground abruptly to a halt. As the news filtered through to us, ‘the crew’ started putting away our guide ropes and fenders (see above).
Amazingly though, the crane driver drove off in the defunct crane, and returned just over an hour later with a replacement. I was impressed by his dedication and thanked him personally for returning to finish the job.
The wind was howling, and it subsequently became clear that most of the 13 yachts left were not going to be lifted that day. After consultation, it was decided that no more boats were going to be allowed out of the harbour due to the conditions, and there was only one suitable space left alongside.
As luck would have it, we were the only yacht out of the remaining 13 boats that were lifted in over the weekend. I put two control ropes on the bow and the stern to make it easier to steady our 32ft Macwester Malin in the strong westerly. The lift went without any drama.
The wind had died down substantially by the Monday and I fitted the permanent bilge pump hose. I also rowed the dinghy round to our mooring. Unfortunately, as I had been too busy talking before we left, we made it to our mooring too late to simply step off the dinghy, and I ended up dragging it over twenty metres through the mud. That was hard work; a bit like wading through …wait a minute. It was exactly like wading through mud, only I was dragging a heavy GRP dinghy along behind me.
It was pretty thirsty work, so we headed to the local for a well-earned cold one after we had tied the dinghy to our beached Hippo buoy.
The new season starts here!