Who needs a health and safety “Method Statement”

Scoresby Sund Expedition 2022

Day 14, 15 and 16. 26th June 2022

Position: Mooring buoy Ullapool Harbour

Wind: SE F4-5. Visibility: Good. Sea condition: Choppy in the harbour. Sunny spells

Approaching Ullapool

Phil and I left the delights of Isle Martin on Friday morning and pottered into Ullapool. There are eight good strong blue visitor’s buoys in the harbour bay, so we picked up the nearest available one to the shore and Phil pumped up the Avon dinghy. It was time for Phil to leave the Good Ship. He had received a text to say that there was a lift going back to Dunstaffnage if he wanted it and as the bus alternative is a bit of a trek he jumped at the opportunity.

After the wobbly start to my voyage, with my original crew being unable to make it and my partner getting covid, I certainly landed on my feet with Phil volunteering to stand in as crew for the first leg. As a yacht owner himself and a very competent power boat handler (I’ve seen him handle the Dunstaffnage launch) I would have been quite happy with Phil on the helm and me doing the crewing. However, no matter how competent the crew may be, the crucial thing is that they are good company and we yarned away the whole journey in great spirits.

With Phil on his way, I wasn’t to be alone for long because I had arranged to meet Tim, Dan, and Charlotte at the Loch Broom Sailing Club in the evening but even before that Joe motored past the mooring with his two children to say hello. I first met Joe on St Kilda after he decided to sail there on a whim because Tim had mentioned that he was setting off to meet me there the following morning. If I remember rightly, Joe’s first words were asking if we had any tea bags. That seemed to be his biggest concern in life. They are a tough breed the Ullapool lot!

On board Sumara in St Kilda. Megan, Joe, Ray and Tim (left to right)

A bit later on a large Oyster yacht came wafting past my mooring with the owner explaining that they were friends of Dan and Charlotte and I should come aboard for coffee in the morning. Gosh it is a very sociable place.

On arriving ashore at the slipway, I met Adrian who owns Vertue No2 called Sally. We had a good natter and decided to meet up later in the week. Then I saw Megan, Tim and Alex’s daughter, who is easily recognised from any direction by her curly red hair. Megan sailed out with Tim to St Kilda. My crew Ray called her The Gazelle because she seemed to be able to run up the hills completely effortlessly. Megan is restoring a “Suhali” yacht with a bit of help from her father.

Soon Tim and Alex arrived followed by Dan and Charlotte with their two children Douglas and Ella. Later Greg and Rob from the boatyard came along and a few beers were bought from the garage but not before launching the Sailing Club’s new acquisition.

What could possibly go wrong?

At this point any Health and Safety Officers should turn away. A “Method Statement” was felt to be far too restrictive for the imaginative launching ideas of the crew. I think Dan thought that it would be a good idea to launch the yacht like a proper ship – head-first with the crew and some children aboard. I could write a short essay on all the things that could have gone horribly wrong, but then I remembered that Dan’s catch phrase on the Jan Mayen Expedition was “It’ll be fine”. Tim being only a fraction less gung-ho decided to tie a rope onto the trailer in case it needed a brake and it was pretty obvious that it would! The rope was clearly marked “Floating Rope” but I am pretty sure it sunk. At the very last moment it was decided to bend on the sails so they could sail straight off the trailer with no messing about. And remarkably that is exactly what happened! Who needs “Method Statements”?

After they sailed around the bay the crew joined us at the Club’s wooden table for a beer. It seemed like a good point in the evening to hand over the Tilman Medal.

Tim and I were awarded the Tilman Medal by the RCC after our voyage to Jan Mayen. We swap ownership every time we meet. There is a tuft of St Kilda wool under the medal for a bit of an aroma

A few beers later and the order was placed for an Indian meal which was devoured at Dan and Charlotte’s newly renovated home just up the road. It couldn’t have been a better evening.

On Saturday the wind piped up so I spent most of the day aboard until Bob kindly whizzed down in his tender to see if I could join him and his crew for coffee. I slipped on some oilskin trousers, for it was liable to be a wet ride, and jumped aboard the tender. Wow, his yacht was massive! I was introduced to his crew, and we whiled away an hour or two nattering about all things nautical. When Bob mentioned his old yacht was called Antares it suddenly clicked that Bob is responsible for producing the amazingly detailed Antares Charts which help yachtsmen and women explore bays and anchorages which they may not have dared to venture into without the extra detail. http://www.antarescharts.com/ A big thank you for that!

The new Hanse burner fitted to the Taylors Paraffin Cooker

Today my cooker decided to squirt paraffin everywhere. I couldn’t work out exactly where it was coming from so I decided to change the burner. I’ve ordered two more spares at a gobsmackingly eyewatering price, but I couldn’t risk a problem in Greenland. Salad would not go down well with Ray!

A Cautionary Tale

You may have noticed that I now only use first names on my blog after causing a bit of trouble for my late good friend Peter. Peter wasn’t the greatest sailor but he was mighty good company. I felt it was important that everyone on board had a clearly defined task and so we appointed Peter as Ship’s Diversity Officer. All was well until one day he mentioned that the boat was getting a bit of a mess and we could do with a women on board. Obviously he instantly resigned and made his profuse apologies. The whole sordid episode was recorded on the blog. Sadly several years later when Peter ……. was punting for a video contract for his company during the final interviews one of the questioners said “Now Peter, tell us all about your time when you worked as a Ships Diversity Officer”. I’ve been careful ever since. I can’t remember if he lost the contract or not.

2 responses to “Who needs a health and safety “Method Statement””

  1. Hi Alasdair! I work with Mark (from your BMF class) and have been following your journey :).

    Best of luck with the onward trip 🙂 and we look forward to future blog entries.

    1. Hi Barry, Great to hear you are following the little adventure. I’m missing the BMF crowd. I think I’ll be bottom of the class when I get back!

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