Tall ship sailing: Sailing ketch Irene

Having now sailed in the square rigger Morgenster and completed my RYA competent crew training I was on the lookout for another voyage when I Ketch Irenespotted a trip on classic sailing on a smaller ship, the ketch Irene. The ship was planning a voyage from Oban around the small Isles and Skye, a part of Scotland I love, so I signed up. I joined the ship on Mon 5th June 2017 in Oban.  Early next morning the skipper, Ieuan told us there was a storm predicted for later so we headed for the shelter of Tobermory bay under engine power.  Spent the day waling around Tobermory, it was a bit wet and miserable but Tobermory is always a nice place to visit we even had the treat of seeing the paddle steamer Waverley in port as well as a most fantastic sunset that evening. Most of us eventually congregated in the pub to warm up and dry off. We were reliably informed by Ieuan that the storm did arrive in the middle of the night although most of us slept right through it and didn’t even notice. The morning was beautiful when we set sail for Eigg this was great sailing with fantastic sunshine, we launched the dinghy to buzz round the Irene for a photo shoot. After a night anchored at Eigg we set off for Skye on another glorious sunny day, dropping anchor in Loch Slappin we went ashore for a wander around and a coffee at the local cafe. There were some great views of the Cuilins and the ship at anchor. The next day was another glorious sunny day but with light winds so we eventually had to use the engine to get us to anchor in Loacaline where we went ashore to the local pub in the evening. the morning of the 10th June was not promising and we had very heavy rain for the first part of the day. I learned to very important lessons that morning hoisting sails in heavy rain, firstly make sure the cuffs of your waterproof are pulled tight otherwise the rain just runs up your arms, and secondly a pair of deck Wellies is a very good idea , my feet and arms were soaked. The weather cleared later and we had a very sunny afternoon,  some of us even went for a swim.  It was good sailing back to Oban and I took the helm all around Kerrera and into Oban harbour but Ieuan took over when we had to play dodge the ferries when looking for a mooring buoy.

Tall ship sailing: Competent crew training

After getting the sailing bug during my first voyage on the Morgenster I was keen to learn a bit more about sailing so I enrolled on a RYA competent crew training course being run by BritSail out of Kip Marina. This proved to a memorable trip, but for very different reasons from the Morgenster.  We sailed in some of the most beautiful areas of the West of Scotland, leaving Inverkip we sailed up towards Colintraive practicing anchoring  and maneuvering techniques. Then onto Tighnabruiach mooring to a buoy, launched the dinghy then off for a well earned pint. Next day we sailed the beautiful Kyles of Bute then across Loch Fyne to Tarbert with more mooring practice and man overboard drills.  We then headed back through the Kyles on onto Gare Loch dodging nuclear submarines and eventually mooring at Rhu marina. Our final sail was at night where one of the other crew who was going for his coastal skipper accreditation had to navigate with only the information we at the helm gave him, depth beneath the keel, heading etc. It was tougher than I thought, trimming the sails, looking out for marker buoys whilst learning what all the different lights and sequences meant, keeping track of headings, depth whilst trying to stave off the cold. But we made it safely back to Kip, cold and tired but well worth the experience.

Tall ship sailing: Morgenster Feb 2017

MorgensterTowards the end of 2016 I was reading Facebook posts from a friend who was sailing on the Bark Europa tall ship heading for Antarctica. I was not only amazed at the voyage she was on but also intrigued as to how one gets on board these tall ships, so I followed the link she posted to classic-sailing.co.uk where a whole world of possibilities opened up with numerous ships and a huge range of voyages available. Setting the sailsHaving never sailed in a tall ship before I felt that heading off to Antarctica was probably too ambitious for my first voyage so I opted for a trip to the Canary Isles, which I’ve visited a few times in winter. The ship I signed up on was the square rigged Morgenster, (Morning Star) a Dutch ship built in 1919. I joined the ship in Santa Cruz de Tenerife on 4th Feb 2017. We set sail for La Palma, then La Gomera then finally back to Tenerife. This was a fantastic introduction to tall ship sailing, great crew, great guest crew, fantastic weather and absolutely awesome sailing on a beautiful ship. I learned so much on the voyage about rope work, sail work tall ships in general but mostly I had one of the best experiences of my life, I was hooked!