Sonars up, up and away!

It was only a Winter’s tale


Actually, not 'away'

On Thursday March 8th Keith C organised a small working party to get the two Sonars from their moorings and onto the shore by the new and temporary workshop in the old quarry. What he didn't say very early in the volunteering cycle is that the trailers they sit on when ashore had been stored very carefully and neatly up a brushwood covered slope with very attractive brambles growing through them!

To be fair, he'd intended to use his car to haul them out, but the building of the new road bridge into the marina, while on schedule despite the snow, was not open for traffic, so his party of Claude, and Tim girded up their loins, put their noses to the grindstone, their hands to the wheel, manned the pumps, wished they could splice the mainbrace, and extracted them.


It was less than easy.


How lucky it was downhill!


While a fourth person would have helped with the raw horsepower it worked well with three. Decisions were made quickly, something that never happens with a larger team!

The trailers having been parked (note the classical education of the author and the use, in English, of the Latin 'ablative absolute'), and coffee having been got (absolutely not too much of a good ablative), Noss staff having been asked when they wanted the boats (ok, too much of that stuff now!) the gang grabbed Support Three's safety box, and pootled over to the moorings to tow the first Sonar in.


Their engines were off being rejuvenated, so a tow was essential. As we approached the crane berth Tim noticed 'concerned' looks from a couple in a very pleasant motor boat that was moored on the pontoon just down tide. More of them later. A brief excursion to get the second Sonar and it was lunchtime. There were slightly less concerned looks from the motor boat. Obviously we'd proved ourselves to be ok at towing and berthing earlier.

To be fair, all coming alongside with a tow requires is reading the current correctly and 'ferry gliding' to the pontoon, but it can surprise someone not used to seeing it because it goes so neatly and with no fuss. It's a manoeuvre we need to practice more, though. We need more and more folk who are comfortable with towing our keelboats.


Lunchtime dawned. Keith had brought some. Claude had no idea it was going to go on so long, and Tim had chosen not to eat lunch. There was still milk in the fridge that hadn't gone off, though, so tea and coffee were welcome.


The couple in the rather lovely and shiny motorboat had bought it that very day and had engaged a professional waterman to help them on their first voyage, a short hop to Brixham, but our Sonar and Support Three raft was hemming them in a little. Picture a pontoon on the starboard side, with the sonars two abreast and support three moored outside the three of them, and up tide of the motor boat, and pretty close to it, with about two metres clearance.


We worked together with the skipper. Keith put Support Three into slow ahead to make sure our vessels were kept pinned up tide. Claude and Tim worked under the professional skipper's direction and handled his lines, and he ferry glided (Should that be 'ferry glid'? Er, no.) softly out of the gap.


Support Three was the boat in the way, but it had been kept there because there had been no indication that the motor boat was leaving. Since there was now a shedload of pontoon space and the boats could be manhandled Support Three was put away.

One large yacht had to be dropped in and then the Sonars could be craned out. Premier is very kind indeed to Dart Sailability, and fits us in between other jobs. This is a good time to remind them how grateful we all are.


The first Sonar came out with a forest of weed on its rudder. Part of the lifting out is an immediate pressure wash of the fouling. If it's left to dry it sets like concrete. Onto the trailer and the second was hoiked out, washed, and onto its trailer. They are now in the workshop area.


What was really good is that it was a dry, sunny, warm spring day.

There's a fair bit of work to do on them, and Keith has it in hand. That includes a bit of careful fibreglass work on the bow of one where it had a disagreement with a pontoon during the Dartmouth Regatta.


They'll be in tip top condition by the time of the first RDYC Wednesday race.

Of course none of the gang took any photos.


This is just a snippet from the great tale of what happens during the winter. A load of folk do a load of work to make sure Dart Sailability is ready to go afloat again in the spring. There's no obligation to do it, the only reward is the silent gratitude of others, and it's also good fun.

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Noss on Dart Marina, Bridge Road,Kingswear

Dartmouth. Devon. TQ6 0EA