Muster – to call troops together – as for inspection!
My morning started off rather bureaucratically (is that a word?). I thought I had managed to escape the computer work and form filling but alas not today. There were a range of important but rather mundane tasks that required taking care of. Like preparing the crew lists, assembling the passports and filing the next of kin documentation for each person.
I got to have a private quiet snigger at all our passport photos which made up for it though…
The deck hands hoisted all our individual crew flags today. We are carrying 6 different nationalities on board the Irene so we are flying a flag for each country. The shrouds look great decorated with all our national colours!
Our ale delivery destined for Brest in France was finalised this morning. We will receive this precious cargo of custom labelled ale from the Exeter brewery bright and early on Valentines day ready to be loaded by hand.
The final tasks required of the Marine and Coastguard Agency (MCA) have been largely satisfied (we think!). We took Irene out once again, this time with the MCA officials on board. They were keen to see the Irene with her New Dawn Traders in action.
I did wonder whether this was all in aid of getting a cheeky play on Irene – she is pretty magical!
It has been really difficult for the boat and this crew to meet the multitude of regulations. Not because we are doing anything dangerous necessarily but because we don’t fit into neat categories of the rule book. The rules have been written for vessels of a different nature as far as I can tell.
The only way for the authorities to make decisions is based on seeing the boat and her crew in action hence our little escapade today. It’s been hard for us but we hope that its worth it and that other ships can follow us in trading fare by sail without leaving polluting footprints in our wake.
We glided out of the harbour across the Plymouth Sound to Cawsand bay. We all got a chance to helm (steer) Irene and test the emergency drill procedures, alarms and protocols. Check out Antje, our trainee from Germany, pictured above taking the wheel for the first time. It is pretty damn incredible helming 200 tons of wooden sailing ship to say the absolute very least.
…getting bruises from pinching myself… I’m living out my wildest adventures…!
We are proud to say that we pulled together and put on a great show for the inspectors. There was an immense amount riding on today. We tested the man over board drill, checked the flares and life raft drills, the fire drills, manned the fire hoses and lowered the anchor.
Lowering the anchoring and then retrieving it is no mean feat by the way. It weighs nearly a ton without the chain! Everything on the boat is manual and requires our collective strength and a range of pulleys to get things moving. There are no electric winches, no auto helm to steer the boat, no carbon fibres sails etc. She is wooden, hand crafted and sailed with human efforts. Sailing back in time.
When we finally returned back to port we found Pat, Leslie’s wife (Leslie is our skipper and owner of Irene), waiting for us with a delicious meal ready to heat up. We massively needed it. Safe to say none of it lasted very long!
Thanks Pat. It was supremely delicious. We are very happy crew!
As we set about laying the table for supper I recieved a tweet from a friend with a link to the Guardian newspaper. Front page of the website no less! Was quite a shock to see myself in my sailing overalls squinting into the sun. There was a really superb shot of Irene on the pontoon in the dawn sunlight. Dreamy.
Completely beyond our wildest expectations.
Happy Valentines everyone!
With love to Rio – This week of pigeon flying has been kindly sponsored by my dear newly wedded friends Alex and Anna. XX