That’s more like it. The mast is up.
It all looked a bit daunting when we laid it out on the ground.
First job was to wire up the masthead lights and the VHF antenna. That went smoothly enough. Then we heaved the thing aboard and set about the rigging. By the time we’d finished we’d learned most of what there was to learn about what goes where. We’d experimented with different ways of knackering ourselves trying to raise and lower the mast and finally settled on a technique that involved a fair bit of swearing and an excursion into hernia territory.
It was getting late in the day by the time we’d done but it seemed daft not to take her out and have a go. We pushed her out into the stream, got the roller reefing working and hoisted the sail. And at last, very slowy, we began to creep along the key heading. Big smiles all round. Five minutes later I’d turned into Candle Dyke, attempted to tack, avoid oncoming traffic and a strategically placed fisherman and driven us with a sickening crunch into a heavy piece of timber protecting the bank. We got the sails down and limped back to the mooring to check for damage. She still seemed to be in one piece, which was more than can be said for the captain’s credibility.
Next day we tried again. This time we motored up to Horsey and with lots of clear water around us tried to unfurl the jib. It was fouled and refused to move. Still, the handbook said she’d sail happily on main alone and so we hoisted the sail and waited to see what would happen. Nothing alarming it seemed. We were soon tacking up and down the broad and enjoying ourselves no end. This was our first real sail after the weeks of endless setbacks. After an hour or so we turned for home and thought it would be a fine idea to try and sail round the first couple of bends in the tiny winding channel of Meadow Dyke which links Horsey with the open spaces of Heigham Sound. The channel is very sheltered and about a mile long so we thought we ought to be able to haul down the sails without too much drama when we ran out of water.
The next half hour was magical. Gypsy Roma just kept creeping along catching a breath of wind here and there, rounding bend after silent bend. We reached Heigham Sound and decided to keep going. In the end we sailed the entire 3 miles back to the mooring. The sails came down without too much drama and we tied up feeling pretty good about things. It took us five minutes to sort the roller reefing out and re-rig it so fouling was much less likely. Then we broke out the beer.
Next day the wind had swung through 180 degrees and we sailed off the mooring and all the way to Hickling Broad. We ended the morning with another major cock-up. Attempting to get the sails down after our epic voyage we lost it completely and were driven into a reedbed. At least it was a soft landing.
Today Rob is going to come and give us a couple of hours tuition to see if he can make us less of a threat to life, limb and passing shipping.