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OGA60 Small Boat Fleet: report from ‘Agnes Jayne’

I am the owner of ‘Agnes Jayne’, a Clovelly Picarooner and we took part in the OGA60 Jubilee Party. ‘Agnes Jayne’ is a fine example of a Gaffers & Luggers Clovelly Picarooner, built by Martin Heard of Tregatreath Yacht Yard in Mylor, near Falmouth, Cornwall. The Picarooner is a sturdy and well-built seaworthy 16’ gaff rig sailing dayboat, based on the old wooden fishing boats that sailed out of Clovelly to fish for the local ‘silver darlings’ or herring. The original mould was taken from one of these old lug-rigged sailing boats and the rig converted to the more popular gaff rig and steel centreplate, for this GRP version. She lives on the River Deben at Waldringfield.

We are only little and the marina pontoons at Suffolk Yacht Harbour towered over us so we were at risk of slipping underneath. ‘Charm’ very kindly allowed us to lie alongside and I am grateful to her owners and their leadership in organising the event. We failed to get to the Butt and Oyster on the Thursday, as in the morning I went round Spirit Yachts and by the time I caught up with the Open Boat fleet they were leaving the pub. On the Friday we thought we had reached the Royal Harwich Yacht Club in good time for lunch, but halfway through our ‘pink leader’ asked us to abandon our dessert and follow him into what became almost a tropical downpour. There was some hesitation among some of the Small Boat fleet. We rushed through our chips and said we would motor to catch up our ‘pink leader’. We caught up with our ‘pink leader’ as dark clouds rolled in by the Orwell Bridge and awaited the new start time. While we listened on channel 72 for guidance, it seemed that someone had issued the command to scatter. Later the sun came out and we were then becalmed spending time drifting home. A breeze came in and we only had to wait ten minutes outside SYH Marina before being allowed back in.

‘Agnes Jayne’ Clovelly Picarooner Photo: Sandy Miller

On the Saturday we had another go at the Butt and Oyster and were successful. Chris, who had finished off the build of the most beautiful Gaffling 4.1, came with me as crew. We became snug inside the pub with the crews of two other Gaffers. After a couple of hours ‘pink leader’ was on the phone wondering where we were. Reluctantly we set off back in the rain. On Sunday we raced. I am indebted to Chris who crewed again and Julian, the Scottish OGA President who not only crewed but carried out a jury rig when the cord holding the port shroud snapped. We had reefed but the wind was sometimes too strong causing us to surf and the rig to be overloaded. First the cord holding the lower mainsheet block came loose and the boom came to rest against the starboard stay. We were late starting. Later when going to windward the cord holding the jib in a roller reefed position came loose. The jib unrolled to full size, the rig overloaded and the cord holding the port shroud parted. While the jury rig was expertly applied the leading boat, ‘Joy’ sailed away from us to the finish line of the shortened course. We did finish our exciting sail without any other gear failures. I was especially grateful that neither the tiller nor the bowsprit had broken as they had recently been replaced by East Coast Gaffer Rik Graham, who clearly had the skill to make them carry the required load. 

Report: Charles Croydon

Visit the Roaringwater Journal for more information about Picarooners