Today was supposed to have been the day, but, sure enough, Sod’s Law stepped in.
Mention of it at the end of our last report had nothing to do with premonition or tempting fate. The fact is, if something can go wrong, it will – especially on a delightfully unsophisticated sailing boat like Dumpling.
Nick Cole admits that over the long hot summer, with a tight budget and an October deadline, he cut a few corners in trying to refit his 10-tonne, 13-metre ketch.
“As time passed, I had to accelerate the work. I put things off in the process. After we got Dumpling back in the water, I made lots of little discoveries. I found too many things half finished.”
And then there were one or two mishaps. The bowsprit got slightly biffed in a dodgy quayside manoeuvre. A paraffin lamp mysteriously smoked out the galley and head one night.
Even when Nick finally managed to get the rigging sorted, he still could not go for a trial sail because of a two-day delay in loading 140 sandbags of ballast.
Eventually they had to be lugged on board across the deck of a fishing boat moored between Dumpling and the quayside. While this was going on, maritime police officers dropped by to check that the contents of the 25 kilo bags really was sand.
Meanwhile, Nick discovered an underwater plug was leaking where Dumpling’s propeller shaft would normally be – if she had an engine and a propeller, that is. The leak was “no big deal.” But then he found a more serious one in the bow.
“I was a bit morose for a few hours after that. You must be sure everything is okay before you set out. Unless the boat is right, you can’t go.”
He has now reluctantly concluded that not only will his departure be delayed, but he will have to curtail his plan to sail via Madeira and the Azores to the Hebrides off the west coast of mainland
For now, Scotland Madeira will probably be as far as he
Despite these disappointing developments, Nick, his wife Sally and one of their twin sons visiting from
manage to sit down on Dumpling’s deck
occasionally and have a laugh. England
“Boats bring out the Laurel and Hardy in people,” says Nick.