Diary of a Tall Ship’s Novice - Part 2 Days 3 - 4

Day 3 – “seasickness and going aloft”

0600 hours – up early to catch the tide and head off down the western Solent towards Poole. Weather relatively dry but still strong winds so the scuppers are under water. Reefed the top sails and proceeded under storm stay sail and reefed tops’ls, leaving the Solent by the north route. It was pretty choppy out in Poole Bay with a confused sea, causing several attacks of mal–de–mer.

Lunch was eaten in watches on the mess deck. Everyone hanging on to the table to stay put on the rolling ship. Not a day to be greedy and we were all glad to get back on deck for a horizon check.

Did a bit of relief work in the galley as the mess men were having a rough time of it. Although not immune from sea-sickness I can usually cope if I’ve gone easy on the food and alcohol the night before. Our yardsman was not too happy with the motion, but performed gallantly on the yard. The motion of the boat must have been dramatically amplified up there, and I was warned that standing directly underneath him was not wise.

We reached the entrance to Poole harbour – up the Swash Channel.Old Harry standing out clear, but unsurprisingly no nudists in Studland Bay. We managed to maintain sail in Poole harbour as far as the turn for Town Quay, where we moored portside to be next to the marina. Had my first trip up onto the yards to hand the tops’ls. Found the yardarm more secure than it looked, standing on a foot rope and leaning out over the yard. Glad we were clipped on twice to a wire jack-stay. Having stowed tops’ls I climbed out on the bowsprit to assist with flaking the jib. All stowing completed we tucked in to dinner of thick pork chops followed by rhubarb crumble and custard. We’re certainly fed well with good wholesome food. Off to the pub for a pint before turning in for the night with a huge sense of achievement, despite foul wet weather.

Day 4 – “coffin dodgers”

Up at 0600 hours. Poole Town Quay has great new showers!Advised to have porridge to settle stomachs, but it wasn’t necessary as we sailed in calm seas towards Lulworth.

The captain asked if there were any Yacht Masters on board. As I was one, I was offered the helm to practise Man over Board. Definitely need more practice and think my strategy out in future. I found it more difficult than usual to see where the wind was coming from, and had to take into account that by swinging the yards, I could use their windage to manoeuvre the ship even though the sails were furled. The captain operated the engine on my instructions and I found it odd giving commands to such an eminently superior sailor. I managed to come alongside the MOB on my second attempt – the captain’s comments were very complementary. Then the professional Cox showed us how it was done, coming neatly back to the MOB in no time at all…good to know that we’re in safe hands if anything goes wrong.

West towards Weymouth, keeping well off the coast to avoid the army firing ranges. We were hardly moving in light wind so dropped the rib for a photo shoot round the ship. Then sails were hoisted and we headed for Lulworth Cove. The plan was to enter cove under sail (engines on standby for safety),drop the anchor and spin round on it under sail, swinging the head round 180 ° to stop neatly in the centre of the cove ready for departure. This requires good teamwork and precise timing. The crew were called to bracing stations – back the main yard to swing the stern round, brail up the square sails and drop the jib and stay sails. Amazing ship handling for such a tight manoeuvre.

Weighed anchor and headed off to Worbarrow Bay. We cleared with the MOD that firing had ceased for the day before sailing in, anchoring and dropping sails. Took the rib ashore for a walk to Tyneham – the village taken by the war office, which never fulfilled their promise to return it to the villagers after the Second World War. Very moving to think what a honey pot it would have been if it was not in the midst of a military bombardment area. From the shore Royalist looked a picture lying at anchor with just her spanker set – presumably to help keep her steady at anchor, like using the mizzen on a ketch or a yawl. Returning to the ship we stowed the rib, set the sails and weighed anchor for Weymouth.

1100 hours - I’m on mess duty in the pantry, serving food, making tea, washing up etc. All cooking is done by our permanent crew cook.Had a lunch time talk on celestial navigation on the way to Weymouth but I couldn’t practise with a sextant due to mess duties. Weather was warm and sunny for a change and we noticed an older crew member lying flat out on the deck. One of the youngsters asked if he’s still alive, “you can never tell” she said “with these coffin dodgers”. “Coffin dodgers?” “Yes, old folk who are still alive but dodging their coffins”. Hmm – so that’s what the younger generation call us “wrinklies” now.

Classic entrance at Weymouth, mooring at Town Quay for dinner of chicken and cheese pie. Off for a luxury shower and then to the King’s Arms for a pint or two before hitting our bunks at 2300 hours.

What a contrast from yesterday – blue skies and glorious sunshine. A day to remember when we get back home.

…….to come – “tight turns and mud”, “fog and farewells” and “back to blighty”

Read Diary of a Tall Ship's Novice - Part 3 here

Author – Dee White

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