The weekend after the Folk Festival, ‘Daybreak’ sailed on the Humber with the Humber Keel and Sloop Preservation Society’s ‘Comrade’. During the Festival weekend ‘Comrade’ had managed to fill charters for both days and I had invited friends and family to come with me on ‘Daybreak’. The crew was made up of Alan Gardiner, Ian Murray and Tim Gates, together with my sister Sara and her son Vaughan. Unfortunately Sally was not with me because when she went back to visit her mother she found she was not well and decided to stay until she had recovered. Because of the tides we had an early start and were in the lock alongside ‘Comrade’ at 0700. Sara and Vaughan had been delayed by a puncture and arrived after we had descended in the lock and so were not able to get on board. However we arranged to pick them up at Admiral’s Steps, a jetty just around the corner from the lock that is accessible at all states of the tide.
Having got everyone on board we motored out into the river and held station against the tide while we finished rigging the sails. As there were only light winds we decided to use the topsail, which we had not used for some time. We raised the topsail yard first and then, having made sure everything was rigged correctly, we the raised the mainsail and broke out the topsail. We turned to head downriver and turned off the engine. We had a following wind and ‘Comrade’ was sailing ahead of us. It must have made a fine sight from the shore seeing two keels under full sail setting off down the Humber.
We eventually caught up with ‘Comrade’ and after a flurry of greetings and photography ‘Daybreak’ gradually pulled away from them. This no doubt prompted some sail trimming aboard ‘Comrade’ and they managed to catch us up a little further down the river. However this seemed to spur ‘Daybreak’s crew into action and we soon pulled away again. It is a good job that we were not in a race; otherwise people might have been concerned about which keel could sail the fastest.
When the tide turned we wore ship and managed to sail back across river for some way. However the lower Humber is very busy with shipping and we decided it was not wise to be taking backwards and forwards across the shipping channels. It had also started raining so around midday we lowered the sails and motored back up river to the marina. We locked through with ‘Comrade’ and after tying up both crews retired to the Green Bricks to chat about the sailing and plans for the following day.
The next day Alan and I were joined by Howard and Ron, together with Ian’s friend Bill. As ‘Comrade’ was short handed Ian crewed for them. We set off a little later, locking out at around 0800. Outside the lock we met ‘Tegan’, which had locked out earlier and was holding station waiting for us. We again stemmed the tide while we raised the sails and then turned the engine off as soon as we had turned down river. It was ideal situation for ‘Comrade’ and ‘Daybreak’ because the wind was directly behind us. With her for and aft rig ‘Tegan’ clearly found this a less comfortable point of sail, but later sped past us when the wind was more on the beam. There was quite a stiff breeze and with the tide behind us both ‘Comrade’ and ‘Daybreak’ were making good speed down river. Although the guests were enjoying the peaceful sail Alan and I were already thinking about the trip back when they wind would be against us and having wind over tide would make conditions choppy. As the wind was getting stronger we dropped the topsail in front of the mainsail, then in what we hoped was a lull in the wind, took it down altogether. Although I had warned Bill and Tim what would happen, it still took them a bit by surprise when the topsail was lowered below the mainsail and suddenly filled with wind. After a bit of a struggle we managed to get it inboard and lashed around the spar.
Not wanting to go too far we decided to turn at Grimsby even though this was before low water. We managed to make some progress against the tide by sailing as close to the wind as possible, but as we approached the point where we would need to tack there were two ships, one behind us planning to enter Grimsby and one in front of us just leaving. We decided not to risk tacking across the path of the ships and to lower the sails so we could motor out of the way. In a stiff breeze you would usually run before the wind to lower the sail on a keel, but unfortunately this was not an option with the position of the ships and the Burcom Sand just behind us. We therefore had an exciting time getting the mainsail down, but eventually got it topped in and lashed down. After motoring out of the way of the ships we then settled down to motor back to Hull. Although we had quite a bit of spray over the front deck it was fairly peaceful below and we were able to have a fairly civilised lunch. ‘Comrade’ had continued to sail downriver so we soon lost sight of them and a little while later we called them up on the radio to make sure they had managed to get the sails down and were on their way back.
We arrived back at the lock into Hull Marina a couple of hours before ‘Comrade’, but then spent most of the two hours untangling the cog boat chain and rope from the propeller. On the way back up river I noticed the cog boat was taking on board a lot of spray. I lengthened the line so it was towing more comfortably, but unfortunately I forgot to shorten it again as we entered the lock and as I went astern it wrapped itself around the propeller. We had to haul Daybreak out of the lock and round onto a vacant fuel berth, which I am sure some of the observers thought we were just doing things the way they would have been done in the past. We eventually managed to untangle it and then motor back to our berth, just after ‘Comrade’ had moored up. Not such a good day, but no permanent damage done and we had had a good sail.