So, despite the pressures of work in London last week, I managed to keep Friday clear and instead of going into work, I headed off to Trearddur Bay in Anglesey for an extended weekend, with a very clear purpose. That purpose was to launch Sanderling well in advance of the racing season at Trearddur Bay Sailing Club, so that sufficient time is available this year (unlike previous years) for me to fix the broken bits and to tweak the rig so that she does better than she did last year. You will have gathered that, like many competitive sailors, I am of the belief that where a boat finishes in races and how she ends up in the tables for a season has absolutely everything to do with the rigging and the amount of tweaking performed, and absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with the capabilities of the helm and crew! Each year, the racing season at Trearddur Bay starts on the last weekend of July and culminates on the Saturday of the August Bank Holiday weekend.
It is only appropriate for me to introduce you to Sanderling. She is a Seabird Half Rater, which is a 20′ carvel planked classic sailing boat, the origins of which date back to 1898, making Seabirds the oldest one design class sailing in Britain. The class is raced competitively at Absersoch, Wallasey and Trearddur Bay. At total of 106 Seabirds have been built over the years and 35 of these are based at Trearddur Bay. Sanderling was built by John Jones at Classic Sailboats Limited in Caernarfon and we launched her in 2005.
After arriving in Trearddur Bay at lunchtime on Friday, I went up to Porth Diana Boat Yard to check that the various maintenance activities, such as treating her with antifoul, had been performed. All was looking good and the final touches were being made to Sanderling’s hull, such as fitting the big chunks of lead to the centre plate casing to bring her up to the minimum weight for her class. We fitted her mast, sorted out the halyards and checked that all of the important bits, including sails, were on board. Ten minutes later, she was on her mooring, which is a different one this year and will, I am sure, present me with new challenges and my fellow sailors with much amusement as I become familiar with the “lay of the water”.
The next step was to head off to see James at Yachtshop in Holyhead Marina to get some bits. There were a few things last year that frustrated us which I decided to fix this year, including the outhaul and one of the blocks on the main sheet, so the necessary bits and pieces were duly procured. It was clearly thirsty work, so I called time on boat-related work for the day and headed off to The Seacroft to meet up with some friends for dinner and a few glasses of a rather pleasant Malbec. You’ll hear a lot about this place over the coming weeks!
Saturday started relatively early, with a 20 mile cycle ride around Holy Island with the Vice Commodore, Mark, on his electric bike. It was a good way to work off the excess Malbec. During the ride, it struck me that Mark had a rather unfair advantage going up the hills! After the cycle ride, it was then time to get out to Sanderling to get her rigged and trimmed.
As I approached Sanderling on her mooring, it was clear that she had taken quite a bit of water on board. It takes a while after she is launched for Sanderling’s planks to absorb sufficient water for them to expand and the gaps between them to close. The water was quickly removed and I then fitted the new bits and pieces, and sorted out some of the things that weren’t quite right from last year. Mark then joined me to help do the finishing touches, raise the sails and get her ready. We were rewarded with a brisk sail in a Force 3/4 around the bay and over to The Fangs (about 3 miles away) and back. It was a wonderful way to spend a day and the two hours that we spent actually sailing and doing more tweaking were justification on their own for the long journeys between London and Trearddur Bay, and back again.
Now I’m off to The Seacroft and will no doubt spend much of the evening talking about today – and why not. Tomorrow, I plan to pump out the unwanted water in Sanderling and then head off.