With our days off from work being Monday and Tuesday. Lucie and I thought it would be a good plan to sail down to Sark for a couple of days.
Sark is a little Island about 16NM SSW of Alderney with no cars, dirt tracks, bikes and horse and carts.
We asked around and found a full boat of people, all keen for leaving on Sunday evening to mean more time in Sark. Our plan was then to return on Tuesday evening meaning we had two full days away.
As the days flew by getting the boat ready to leave, the weather forecast worsened. I had to make the tough decision to leave the following day in the light. We loaded up the boat in the morning with Kayaks and headed off.
We left Alderney by Engine at 12:00 and headed down the Swinge making good time. Lucie on the helm, myself organising the sails and everyone else settling into the trip.
Once we had made it to the bottom of the Swinge I hoisted the sails and prepared to change course for Sark. About to head aft to turn the engine off and raise it out of the water. As I was about midships the engine started screaming at high revs. Full lock to Port and SNAP. Suddenly no sound. No engine noise, didn’t even hear a splash.
I went further aft to find a stump of wood which used to be the engine bracket, with no engine to be seen. I looked up and Lucie who was in shock, thinking it was her fault. My words exactly to her were ‘We are NOT in danger, It’s not your fault. It would have happened to me, to anyone.’
As we had caught the first of the tide, to make it home we were pushing it. We swung the boat around to head back up the Swinge to either crawl home against the tide, or to be sailing for 5/6 hours not moving.
By going down wind with Main and Genoa, I set the sails and Autopilot to Goosewing, this is where both Main Sail and the Genoa are on different tacks (one one side of the boat and the other the other side). We were still making good ground despite pushing some tide. I re-assured everyone that again, we were in no danger. This is a sailing boat designed to sail and the engine is for convenience. We stripped off our wet weather gear down to shorts and t’s and got the music playing and enjoyed our sail home.
Our approach was into Braye Beach so I gave everyone on board a job. All of whom, apart from Lucie and myself, had little or no sailing experience. But I wanted to keep their minds on helping.
Henry, the blue line next to you, that is the Genoa Halyard. That lifts and lowers the front sail. This is how you let the line out of the Jamming cleat. When I say NOW I want you to let it go and feed the line out.’
Sophie, next to you is two red lines, These are the Main Halyards. They raise and lower the Main Sail. When I say NOW I want you let go the same as Henry.
Matty, next to you is the Main Sheet, This is the rope we use to tighten and loosen the sail to control the strength and shape of the sail to make the boat sail. I will talk to you as we go about tightening and loosening as we tack into the bay. When I say NOW I want you to let it go and feed it through to stall the sail.’
Jamie, next to you is a red and white rope, This is one of the Genoa sheets, This controls the shape/ tightness of the Genoa to make it sail. I want you to listen to me and do the same as Matty.’
Lucie I want you on the bow with the anchor ready to drop when I say, and please be careful of my paintwork 😉 ‘
And It was as easy as that.
We sailed into the bay and did a tack by the reef and another in the fairway. The sails came down and the anchor caught on the bottom in Braye Beach.
Looking back on what I would have done different.
Idiot Line- A rope tied between the engine and boat to prevent loosing the engine.
I have had many comments from people about not having an idiot line. If I’m honest, I’m glad I didn’t.
Looking back on it if the engine had fallen off at the high revs that it did, unless the idiot line was long enough to dunk the engine to stop it (which could have broken it anyway). The engine tied to a piece of rope, hanging on the beam between two wooden hulls which it could reach while spinning, could quite easily put a hole in the hull.
Personally I would rather have to buy a new engine then to be put in that position of a sinking boat and no engine.
Other than that i’m sorry we didn’t make it to Sark, We are in the process of getting a new engine and when we do so we will organise the trip again.