Archive for June, 2012

Single Handed Mast Climbing

Monday, June 18th, 2012

Petzl Ascension and I’D for Single Handed Mast Climbing

Sadly my crew had to pull out at the very last moment from my planned sail to the Isle of Man due to work pressure. So I think the sail will have to be cancelled as I don’t really fancy walking in the Isle of Man by myself. While I am in Troon I will tackle some of those jobs which never happened before the Peaks Race.
My AquaSignal steaming light has been a bit unreliable recently so I decided to have a look at it. I prefer someone else to be around when mast climbing but that is not always possible so I’ve got some gear which allows me to climb by myself. I use a piece of Petzl kit called an I’D. That stands for “Industrial Descender” but it can actually be used for ascending and descending. I secure a suitable braided rope halyard so a length of rope hangs down from the top of the mast. I then clip on a Petzl Ascension with a foot loop which is used to rise up the rope using leg power. The I’D is attached by a karabiner to my harness and then the halyard is correctly threaded through the I’D. The slack tail of the rope is pulled through the I’D and then you sit back in the harness so the I’D takes the weight. You can now slide the Ascension up the halyard and climb another couple of feet using the footloop and again take up the slack through the I’D. It only takes a few minutes to climb halfway up the mast. The footloop can be used to occassionally stand on and relieve pressure from the harness while working in position. Once the work is complete the Ascension can be removed from the rope and a fully controlled descent can be made through the I’D. The lever on the side has to be held in the exact position or the device will grab the rope and stop the descent. The descent is very easy and smooth and you don’t need to swop equipment. The I’D does it all.
Obviously there is no safety back up to this method of climbing so it is crucial the rope and equipment are thoroughly inspected before climbing.

The Final Leg – Arran to Troon

Tuesday, June 5th, 2012

Gordon Baird Greets us in Troon

Poor Sumara was about a day behind the rest of the fleet but we were determined to finish. We had heard that about 13 yachts had retired and three did not start so although we were definately going to be last at least we were going to finish! We had all booked tickets on the overnight sleeper back to London and some of the crew had to get back to work or other arrangements. It was going to be a very tight call. The sail across is about 13 miles (I think – this is from memory). We ghosted out of the northern channel from Lamlash. From the top of Goat Fell we saw ripples of wind on the water further out to sea, so we were hopefull of a fair sail. It was a slow start and the oars almost came out but eventually we caught a bit of wind and Sumara got under way. Now things were looking promising. We booked a cab to greet us at Troon to get us to the station. However soon I could see a smooth area near to the coast and sure enough when we were two miles off the wind died. A short blast of the motor would have got us there in time to catch the train but there was no way after all this effort that we were going to spoil things so out came the oars. We rowed in desperation to try to catch the train but soon we realised it wasn’t going to happen. We were only a mile off. The engine was a big temptation but instead we decided to call the cab firm and get a quote for Troon to London. Gulp! Oh well, it had to be. We rowed on and the harbour entrance loomed. It was dark now. We rowed towards the marina entrance and pumped up the dinghy. A large fishing boat swung around the corner and was surprised to see us. Grit and Rick rowed on ahead and ran to the Marina Office where a slightly bemused member of the staff was surprised to see us. He thought the race had finished yesterday. Not for Sumara!

It was a shame not to be able to celebrate as Sarah, Charlotte and Rick had to jump in the cab. Grit and I stayed behind to clear up the boat. The following day whilst walking down the pontoon we were enthusiastically greeted by Gordon Baird. Gordon gave us a heros welcome although we came last and Gordon came first! We had a lovely chat and coffee onboard his huge catarmaran called Obedient.  After sorting the boat Grit and I had a tasty meal in the Marina Restaurant and caught the train back to London. The big adventure was over.

We were the smallest boat in the race and we came last. However we did finish. There were 50 boats due to start the race. Three did not make it to the start start leaving 47 competitors but only 29 finished. Obedient came first in 40 hrs and 44 minutes 22 seconds. We took a little bit longer at 106 hrs 57 minutes. We didn’t bother about the seconds!

Rick has done a nice write up in his local mountaineering newletter. Here is the link.

http://www.shrewsburymc.com/pdf/newsletter/SMC_Newsletter_Jul_2012.pdf

 

 

 

Goat Fell

Sunday, June 3rd, 2012

Alasdair Grit and Rick on Goat Fell

Sumara was so late arriving at Lamlash on Arran that the organisers had to leave so they asked us to time ourselves in and out. It was a hot day and we were not going to be running in the dark but we stuck to the rules and ran with the full kit including extra thermals, torches and spare batteries. Grit, Rick and I were the runners this time. I was pretty tired after the week’s hectic activity and slowed the team down a bit. Grit was very perky. Rick described her as a metronome. The run in to Goat Fell is a long trek from Lamlash but the climb is very straight forward with a path to the top. On this sunny day it was crowded with tourists. We reached the summit and immediately turned to descend. Rick flew down in his usual style quickly followed by Grit. I was still taking these downhill runs cautiously to avoid stressing my recovering knee. The long run back to Lamlash exhausted me but for some strange reason, as usual, I sped up towards the end. I’m never sure why that happens. I don’t have the timings with me right now but I think it was around 6 hours. We rowed back to Sumara for the final sail to Troon.

Well it wasn’t as long as six hours! It was 5hours, 28 minutes and 13 seconds. The average speed of ascent was 500m/hr with a maximum of 890m/hr. The average speed of descent was 830m/hr with a max of 1830m/hr. The total ascent was 1224m and the highest point according to my £29.00 Decathlon watch was 878m.

The Mull of Kintyre

Friday, June 1st, 2012

Chart Plotter off Kintyre!

By now we knew we were the last boat to leave Jura for Arran. Barbara, who was one of the organisers had politely asked if we were still competing. “Of course we are” was Chatlottes reply. To get to Lamlash on Arran we would have to round the Mull of Kintyre – a notorious headland with fierce tides and overfalls. The wind was now coming from the south east and we couldn’t lay off the course. We eventually had to tack to avoid contravening the shipping lane regulations. Tim had told me how one year a yacht ended up nearer to Northern Ireland than Scotland. How I laughed, but guess what? The wind became very light and the tide turned and the good ship Sumara found herself nearer to Northern Ireland than Scotland! Of course eventually the tide would become fair and we were able to tack in towards Arran. Rick and I thought it best to grab a couple of hours sleep while Sarah, Grit and Charlotte took the last short watch into Lamlash. Sadly it wasn’t to be so easy. The wind turned and headed them and soon they were closer to Ailsa Craig than Arran. We ended up with everyone rowing as hard as they could. I tried pulling in the dinghy. It took a long old time but we finally picked up a buoy in Lamlash ready for the last run – up Goat Fell.