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I once owned a rocketship.

In a previous blog, I wrote about a catamaran that I owned (in a partnership) and touched on a gained experience and a lesson learnt, #gizmosandgadgets.

This ownership came about through a series of events.


I, as a young poor professional shared a house with fellow housemates, Ray, and Rod. The household of the three 'R's'. Ray had caught the sailing bug and announced one day he was going to buy a catamaran which was going cheap in West Wales, offering the advert in my direction to review.


I took one look at the picture and said 'OMG, it's a rocketship. You will die a swift death left to your own devices', I think was my direct only reply. My other concern was the boat name in bright illuminant pink and limerick green 3ft high on the side. "RICOSHEA".

Oddly but understandably as it transcribed the current owner, Mr John O'shea, was a proud Irishman.


A plan was hatched to view the boat and if it was all it was said to be, which was afloat, supposedly in turnkey and good order, I agreed I would go half as a partner, especially as I could get a good discount at the marina where I worked, helping out with the financial burden of yacht ownership. Subject only to a good survey by my favourite surveyor, Mr Geroge Reohorn, whos only passing comment was 'it looks like a rocket ship'. And so, the story began.


Fast forward a little to a very balmy late summer in the Bristol Channel. For those who are not ofay with this name or as a sailing area, it boasts the 2nd highest tidal range in the world.

As new owners with a new toy, every opportunity to use it we did. This particular weekend I suggested late in the day we just sailed and stopped 'somewhere'. That was it, the full passage plan, well, maybe a little more thought in the general direction was discussed, but this boat was quick with a cruising speed in light/medium airs of 7 or 8 knots to a very healthy ten without trying, plus the tidal current of six knots. So distances that could be a slog and tidal dependant became less of a challenge.


So we arrive at the end of the daylight to a bay on the Devon coastline after a blistering sail, with a small dilemma, Ray wants a pub and I want a safe anchorage which does not involve drying out. The main available harbour (with a pub on the quayside) dried out, its entrance was negotiated via withy sticks stuck in the mud which in failing light tricky to find. Or, the other end on the harbour, not known for being an anchorage but the water depths were ok, it was protected from two sides of wind direction, with little chance of a lee shore. Plus, the bonus; the main town was just in spitting distance of the beach according to the chart, which obviously would boast more than one pub.

Well, that is how I sold the idea.


So anchored, riding light ignited and hung from the forestay, two thirsty and eager sailors set forth on their floppy bottom inflatable driven by the mighty hum of 'seagull'. Any health and safety expert reading this may shudder the consequences and possibilities that might become an open flywheel driven one-speed outboard lashed to the back of a flexible air boat, but it didn't occur to us at the time.




As the shoreline started to loom, I became aware of a gentle but increasing swell running to the beach, in the darkened distance a sound of whooshing and pebbles rolling. It was a starless night, and the next wave pushed us harder towards the 'noise'. The third wave picked us up and accelerated our approach as the beach-line became visible. Our wave had not started to break, but ahead of us, its earlier sister had arrived with a flurry and fury of foam exploding up the beach, and dragging back with it in anger some of the round pebbles.

'Ray, brace yourself', I said hurriedly, 'we are about to do a beach landing - be ready to jump out and pick the dinghy up - we have to get out of the surf .....'

'Surf' - said Ray?

That was bad timing because that's exactly what we started to do, Hawaii style.

How we did it I am not sure, but we did manage to turn off the engine whilst simultaneously jumping into the water and picking up a side of the dinghy, lifting and running out of the crashing anger of wave hitting the rocky beach.


It was by my dead reckoning town was two fields and a couple of hedgerows in a straight line, but distance can be deceiving in the dark. So we set off leaving the grey dinghy on the grey beach, in the dark, knowing full well it should not be a problem to find it again! (Which is another story)


'Are you sure we are in the right place', Ray asked. Doubt crept into my mind, maybe I had made a mistake, maybe my navigation had been off, perhaps we would get there to find no pubs, and that worried me more!

It was a bit boggy underfoot in the first field and roughly ten steps in Ray exclaimed SHIT.

I asked what's wrong?

SHIT he said again. I've trodden in shit, cow shit.

I dare not ask which foot, as he was clutching his broken shoe at the time, but we had strayed into what appeared to be the first line of beach defense from sea invasion. A minefield of cow shit.


Progress was slow and shitty thereafter and then a hedgerow to push through, and yet another endless tufted tangle of ankle-twisting turf but time had become the greater topic. The chime of the church bell clearly stated it was ten o’clock.


Ten o'clock on a Sunday night.

This would not trigger any fear in the Millenials, but for us at that time in the UK, pub closing was ten-thirty and doors closed, by law.


One hedgerow to go and we pushed through and burst forth onto a nice little lane right in front of an oncoming car. Ray flagged the car to stop, and in his calmest welsh tones said,

"Excuse me, but where are we"? - to which the answer was, 'Church street' -??.

NO NO - said Ray, what town? Which laid to rest my fears instantly when the right reply came.

And could you tell me where the nearest pub is, please.


The directions had not sooner finished as I waved thank you to the driver, a squelch flop, squelch flop squelch flop noise charged off down the street, Ray was GOING to the pub. I caught Ray just at the threshold as he pushed vigorously on the solid 18th-century door and we both spiled into the small

log warmed quaint and very full of the local's lounge bar, (the posh bit of a pub)


Two steps we were at the bar, I cleared my voice and glanced to guage Ray’s level of annoyance written very clearly on his face. In my best BBC TV broadcaster accent, I asked for

'Six pints of bitter please landlord'

The landlord looked over my shoulder and said - 'and the rest of your group'?


I smiled sweetly at the landlord, as the faint smell of cow shit started to waft up to nose level, removing a piece of bramble from my sweater and looked down at the two small puddles forming around the floor -


“No sir - it's just us”


'Ricoshea' - formally 'Stampede of Cowes', 1979.

Isle of wight.

28ft LOA - 14ft Beam - Recorded top and record speed of 22 knots.



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