Saga of the ‘SUMMER CRUISE TO HOLLAND’  RUDDER -     May - July 2017

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By Maurice Futerman


Mo Ali, Arran Gillies, Johannes Menzel, Ilias Michopoulos, John O’Sullivan and me.

At 0830 on Saturday 13th May, Brisbane Star slipped its moorings in Gosport Marina and with anticipation we headed up channel for the first leg of the cruise to and through The Netherlands. With the wind varying between 8 and 16 Kn and NNE, we had a tight reach with the cruising chute up most of the leg to Eastbourne. As we approached Eastbourne the wind was failing and so motored into Sovereign Harbour near the ebbs of the tide and docked at a little after 9 o’clock in the evening.

The following day, The wind was up at 12 to 19 Kn SSE whBeachy Head to Dungenessich gave us a good run,averaging 7 to 8 Kn in a following but lumpy sea. Just after midday, there was a big thump and John O’ shouted from the helm that he had lost steering.   One’s first  thought was that the steering mechanism had failed, shortly after which, there was a cry ‘There’s the rudder floating over  there!’  We must have caught a hawser, some trawling gear or a Russian submarine.

We were at a narrow part of the Channel,1.7 Nm off the busiest shipping channel in the world and 1.3 Nm from Dungeness Point. So, with six persons aboard it, a Mayday call to the Coastguard for lifeboat assistance was the best option. A nearby fishing vessel, 'Panganina', also answered our call  and offered to hold us head to wind in the breezy swell. When they arrived, I remembered to question them about salvage and it was stated that they wanted none, especially as their skipper is a lifeboatman. In only half an hour, the Shannon class RNLI lifeboat was with us; put a man aboard and took us into tow to Dover. Despite our putting drogues and buckets out on lines to stabilise the boat, the fin keel with no rudder was very unstable, the boat yawing from side to side all the way through the five hour tow to Dover where Brisbane Star was finally tied up on a tidal mooring.

And that is where the cruise finished and the ‘rudder saga’ started.   The crew all departed back home, except for John O’ who offered to keep me company. After 36 hours, Brisbane Star was towed by the Harbour Master’s launch into the Granville Dock until she was lifted the following day and put on stands in the boatyard for the next two months. 

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There was absolutely nothing left of the rudder below the hull!   Having been hit by the news from Clipper Marine, the Bavaria agents, that a new rudder would be 10 to 12 weeks delivery and thus wiping out sailing for the rest of the that season; I rang Vivien to ask her to pick me up and take the trifling remains of the old rudder to Gosport. This turned out to be a near 400 mile drive for her.   After a week, I managed to ascertain that Clipper has a ‘used’ rudder for a Bavaria 37 but some dimensions were different.  Over the successive eight weeks, I drove back and forth to Swanwick, Gosport and Dover ferrying the ‘new’ rudder weighing 85Kg or so in the car – thank goodness for SAAB), items made to suit the rudder and organising other parts. The steering quadrant had to be modified to suit, the ‘new, used rudder’ which had to have some fibreglass attention; there were holdups due to holidays, but, at last, on 22nd June, Brisbane Star was lowered back into the water ready for a crew of four (Kevin, Robin, John O’ and myself) to start the journey back to Gosport that same day.  (Sailing time was not wasted though. Some who had been aboard Brisbane Star did a short week on another boat – see Melbourne Star Cruise below.)  Leaving Dover through the Western harbour entrance was an experience in itself driving into a good Force 5 with a 4m sea produced green waves rolling down the deck from the bow. Clearing Dover, now in a smaller sea, we were subject to the more normal soaking from sea spray most of the way to Eastbourne where we moored for the night. The following day the sea and wind was up again so we split into two watches. We sailed on a loose beat with an occasional broadside wave. At one point, a ‘freak’ wave hit us on the beam making the boat lurch and roll so that Kevin was thrown across the cockpit from one side to the other hitting his ribs on the edge of the hard seat producing blood curdling yells of pain. It was determined that he could not carry on; luckily we were off Brighton, so having radioed ahead an ambulance and paramedics came to the marina to meet us when we docked. Kevin was kept in Brighton Hospital for a week with three broken ribs.

It was Saturday and the remainder of the crew had run out of time and needed to get back to London so I decided to do the same. As my train approached Victoria I went to get my sailing bag from the luggage rack – it was not there – it had been stolen with my camera, sleeping bag and some clothes. Sunday, now at home, I bought replacements for all the stuff I had lost and arranged for some other crew to help get the boat back from Brighton. So, Monday, train to Gosport, then Tuesday train to Brighton and get back on the boat to greet the replacement crew. We set off with a F3-4 following wind and had 4 to 5 hours of a really great spinnaker run – then came the rain, in torrents – away went the wind so it was motoring all the rest of the way, we all got very wet but, at last the boat was home again.

A couple of days on board to fettle and get Brisbane Star ready for the next outing, The Round the Island Race. Thursday evening welcome the RIR crew aboard, practice sailing on Friday, berth in East Cowes for Friday night and an early start for the race on Saturday. It was one of the best RIR races we had competed in – great wind all the way round - the nice, nearly new rudder performed very well, better, I think, than the original. Thus ended the saga from May to July on an upbeat note.


MELBOURNE STAR CRUISE (Sun 21st May – Friday 26th May)

Robin Imray, Mike Carey, Arran Gillies, John O’Sullivan and me.

To assuage the loss of the Netherlands Cruise, a short cruise on another boat (Bavaria 36) was arranged.
With fair weather and light to moderate winds the itinerary an amazing itinerary was achieved: Gosport – Cowes (Yacht Haven) – Weymouth (Custom House Quay) – Portland Harbour – Lulworth Cove (anchored for the night) – Poole (Yacht Haven) - Newtown Creek – Langstone and Southsea Marina – Gosport. All in six days. A really enjoyable trip with plenty of activity.

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BRISBANE STAR END OF SEASON CRUISE (28th September – 2nd October)

Robin Imray, Aran Gillies, Mike Morley, Karen Wilson and Mo Ali.
In some very windy weather, this trip was kept within the Solent. Another trip enjoyed by all on board.

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