Dear WSC Sailors, boaters and kayakers
With the boat park open again we are all getting back afloat. One of the areas of focus in the “training” world is skill fade since the beginning of the pandemic. There is a lot of “online” content on “You tube”. The RYA (Royal Yachting Association) is my “go to “ for all things training but do have a look at other web sites. The UK Met office has some tremendous free training videos on the weather and forecasting, all produced in easy to view short programs. Tom Cunliffe is a well-known yachtsman and RYA Yachtmaster examiner. He is a TV broadcaster and has made a series of YouTube videos which cover things such as how to anchor and choose a good anchorage, videos on square sails and topsails, yacht safety equipment and just some good sailors’ yarns sat by his fire with a glass of whiskey! They are worth checking out.
Those of us that head out into Wembury Bay and beyond on our “Sit on Top” kayaks it is good to have a refresher as to how to get back onboard if your boat capsizes. Have a google of “SOT Kayak Capsize recovery” and there is an excellent video of how to get back on your kayak with the video taken in Cawsand Bay on the Cornish side of Plymouth Sound.
It is great to see some of the local sail training vessels back out on the water. One of my favourites is Olga, a Bristol Channel Pilot Cutter operated by “Sailing Tectona”. Olga – almost 56ft long and more than 13ft wide – was built in 1909 at Porthleven, West Cornwall. She is one of only a handful of Bristol Channel Pilot Cutters in the world. When a cargo ship was spotted heading towards a Bristol Channel port such as Swansea, these wooden sail boats would race out to meet her; the first one there got the job of sailing the larger boat in. The vessels were designed for speed and stability. Olga worked as a pilot cutter out of Barry from 1909-17 when she was sold to Swansea and registered as a fishing vessel in 1918. She was then sold as a private yacht and remained as such, before being acquired by the council in 1984. She had been retained as a part of Swansea Museum’s “floating collection” ever since, having regular maintenance and occasionally heading into the channel. Olga was given on loan to Sailing Tectona which was the result of a process, including public consultation, which the council undertook to make tens of millions of pounds worth of savings due to austerity. Several bidders offered thoughtful new plans for Olga and the council felt that Sailing Tectona offered the best deal for the boat, the people of Swansea and the wider public. No money changed hands in the loan deal, but the council will save a five-figure sum every year thanks the Sailing Tectona agreeing to take on maintenance responsibilities.
Johanna Lucretia, another local topsail schooner is often seen in Wembury bay. She measures 96 ft (28.65m) in length, her beam is 18 ft (5.50m), her draught is 8 ft (2.45m) and she has a total sail area of 380 m2. She was built in 1945 at the Rhoose shipyard in Ghent, Belgium as a fishing vessel, although she was never used for this purpose and laid as a completed hull and deck for several years before being sold in 1952. She was then converted and completed in 1954 for recreational use by her new owner and sailed Dutch waters from her home port of Enkhuizen in the Netherlands. In 1989 she was sold to a British citizen, Mrs Heather Henning, who registered Johanna as a national vessel, with Plymouth as her home port. In 1991/1992 she was refitted at T Nielsen & Co Ltd in Gloucester to her present configuration and was used for sail training and private charter from Gibraltar, the Caribbean and the East coast of the USA.
In 2001 she changed ownership and for reasons unknown lay abandoned in Gloucester Docks. In 2008 she was arrested by British Waterways for non-payment of licenses and mooring dues and was subsequently sold. The new owner carried out a major overhaul and operated her commercially as a charter boat for ten years, sailing mostly in European waters and cruising around the Cornish coast during the summer. She participated in several Tall Ships races, winning overall on two separate years. She was sold to The Island Trust (a Plymouth based charity) in 2018.
Johanna Lucretia has made a few film and television appearances. In 1978 she took the part of the Medusa in British spy thriller The Riddle of the Sands, set in 1901 it follows the efforts of two English yachtsmen to avert a plot by Germany to launch a military seaborne invasion of England. In 2006 she features in the film Amazing Grace, a drama about William Wilberforce’s campaign to end the slave trade. She also starred in the Irish reality TV show Cabin Fever in 2003, where she replaced the original Cabin Fever ship after it ran aground off Tory Island.
Stay safe on the water. Andy Brown Editor – WSC FH Wembury Review