On the Monday after the JRSRC rally I attempted to sail north around The Naze against what developed into a force 7 wind. I wanted to go north for the next part of my summer plans, but I wanted to see what Tammy Norie could do. Here’s some of the story in video.
While I was out there having a good time there were two mayday calls.
The first yacht failed to reef and lost control, hitting a sand bank near Gunfleet Sands that knocked off their rudder. This call was quite distressing to hear, especially since the caller clearly had only a rough idea of their position. I put my engine on and motored in their general direction to see if I could pinpoint them and offer help.
A second yacht initially reported seeing the first but said they were unable to turn back and help. Then they called for help as well.
A ship and lifeboat reached the first yacht before I got close, and I turned back to get shelter from the seas that were preventing my progress. A second lifeboat and a helicopter were launched to help the second yacht, and I believe both crew were airlifted to hospital in Ipswich while their boat was towed to safety.
Meanwhile, someone in Frinton saw me beating not far off the beach and called the coastguard on 999, believing I must be in trouble. The coastguard sent a RIB to come over and check me out. I had a cup of tea in my hand as they approached and we had a shouted discussion over the waves, and I explained that I was making one last attempt on The Naze using the beach as shelter, but I’d likely turn back soon. They called out “have a good sail” and returned to base.
Soon after it began to get dark and I decided to turn back. Though I still reckon it would have been possible for Tammy to weather The Naze and beat up to Harwich I think it would have been foolish to try. With the wind in the North West it would only take a few mistakes to put me aground on a lee shore.
Speaking of lee shores, Tammy Norie is definitely having trouble getting to windward in the waves, and is having trouble tacking because of lack of momentum. I’ve heard several people say that a cambered sail makes a lot of difference, but I also wonder if she needs more weight forward as suggested by my friend Igor. These are the kinds of things I went out there to discover. I most certainly want to know that I can climb off a lee shore — that’s a matter of life and death.