Safety Boat Duty
The end of 2023 is drawing nigh, and the Annual Boxing Day Lapthorne Tankard (CPN) & Boxing Day Trophy (PHC) are up for grabs. However, as sailors, we are entirely at the mercy of the wind. On this particular Boxing Day, it was conspicuously absent. Paul and I decided that after our first Safety boat rescue perhaps volunteering to man the safety boat of Boxing Day was a good idea. We have experienced some strong wind the past few days. Storm Gerrit is due on Wednesday. In between on Tuesday (Boxing Day), the air was still, and hardly a flag fluttered at the sailing club.
We did notice a new island had appeared on the other bank. A small log was sticking out of the water near to one of the jetties. Before any racing starts, these need to be removed, with four men gathering around Tigris V, willing the engine to life. After a five-minute struggle that felt like an eternity, the engine finally sputtered to life.
Two members set off to examine the new forest island. We decided that two should go out and investigate. The other two waiting safety boat duty crew should stay on the bank. This was in case the boat should break down and a second safety boat crew needed to rescue the first.
Not an Inch
Approaching the new island, it seemed to be a large tree firmly wedged into the riverbed. It was held there by a very strong current. The crew tugged on the tree, but it was very quickly apparent that it was going to need a significantly larger amount of Horsepower than Tigris had to move it. With one failure done, it was time to turn the attention to a much smaller log affixed to the jetty.
The Yule Log
The safety boat, Tigris, manoeuvred into position. The crew got a rope around one end, pulled, tugged, and heaved until the log came loose. After pulling the log around a circuit across the river to free it from the pontoon, the log was brought to the slipway. The team could have left the log to go, but that will cause more damage downstream. A six-strong-man team heaved the tree out of the river onto dry land so that it could be cut up and used as a yule log for many families.
Now, with the course as ready as it could be, we awaited the opportunity to race. Alas, as had been the theme of this season, the day of racing fell on an airless day nestled between two menacing storms. Sailing can be unpredictable, but the unexpected challenges make each adventure unique and memorable.