Molly on The Rocks…shaken and a bit stirred or alternatively Numpty on the Helm, a story of stupidity, bravery and wisdom.
As some may know the club newbie, having just bought a newer slightly larger yacht, kindly gave up, (er I mean sold, I am not a charity) Molly Vs chains to give to another Leisure 17 who had taken Molly’s old mooring at the other pier where they fitted perfectly due to the slightly squidgy shaped mooring box . Being a good guy I spent Wednesday up to my knees in mud removing the chains and fixing them to the old mooring. You should know this also included digging a 15 ft x 5ft trench to find one of the sinkers which was surprisingly not in a straight line as one would expect of Phil’s exacting standards.!!!
Anyway I planned to get Molly V out the water and onto the trailer and away as she is up for sale and didn’t want to sit on the pontoon for too long and incur the wrath of the club committee as there will be a clause in the club rules covering this.
So with George doing a wee welding job to fix a broken stanchion I got up at 6 this morning and it appeared reasonably calm…..in Denny…. With high tide at 8 I thought I had nothing better to do than trundle her out of the harbour around to the slipway straight onto the trailer and away, bish bash bosh, job done before Varrie was even out her bed.
With the trailer reversed onto the slipway I headed for Molly and fired her little engine up and off I went.
I swear it didn’t look that bad as I left the harbour and made my way round but it was a little ‘tippy’ as Varrie would say. The wind picked up a little and I saw a few of the Horses’ Mains John D warned me about.
I didn’t think for a second about turning back, the job seemed eminently doable to me.
With Molly V pointing towards the trailer and the wind behind me I headed for the slipway, true it was getting a bit choppy but I knew the line was there and I could get her secured, jump landward and secure the winch. I did think an extra pair of hand would have been helpful. At no time however did I think this plan wasn’t going to work after any problem encountered is simply a solution waiting to be found……Ignorance is truly bliss.
I caught the line and tied off, with the tide still coming in I jumped off Molly V onto the slipway with the forward rope in hand. I secured it onto the towing ball of my car and grabbed the winch.
Now this is where it started to go wrong, I couldn’t winch Molly in with the line tied off, so I had to release the line and let it run through the cleat…..first mistake, unless you count the first mistake as actually going out in the first place……the waves were also bigger than expected and Molly was lurching back and forward a bit violently to be honest.
I decided to use the power of the waves to get her on the trailer and for a few brief moments it worked, with a bit of a thump she mounted the trailer. Sweet… I sprang into action to winch her on as the waves ebbed, alas the winch was slow and a stronger wave followed, lifted Molly from the trailer and pushed her sideways and one of the keels across and over the trailer edge.
Now this is where it ALL went wrong, stupidly I thought I was strong enough to take on the power of nature. It taught me a valuable lesson, I am irrelevant. Molly was not only thrown off the trailer but off the slipway and headed sideways towards the pier rocks. The mooring line had come off, obviously as I had slackened it to winch her. I held on to the bow line which I wrapped furiously around the tow bar and trailer to take up the slack, I jumped into the water and grabbed for a stern rope and scrambled back to the slipway again securing to the trailer, which was by now bouncing about under the pressure.
Those who have seen the for sale advert for Molly will know that I described the trailer as barely road worthy….now it was definitely not road worthy nor sea worthy and struggling against the force of the incoming tide. It was at this point that I had wished I had stayed in bed as I didn’t have a plan for this title predicament ….’.merde’ is what was going through my mind, if you forgive my French…actually it was merde merde merde.
I thought I would somehow be able to hold her at bay until high tide in 3/4 of an hour, as if at the turning point of the tide the sea calms to a glacial pond without even a ripple.
It was getting windy and the water choppier. I was becoming exhausted and Molly was working her way with the tide towards the rocks….it really wasn’t looking good.
At this point I found a free hand and called on my first hero, a text to George S to see if he could help me out.. I think I used the term ‘ in a little bit of a pickle’, as I didn’t want to alarm him or make him feel obliged to come help, it was Sunday after all.
Anyway gentleman George arrived ten mins later by which time Molly’s bow was smashing against the slipway wall….not good. George being a very decisive individual quickly assessed the situation and agreed it was bad. That said he rushed and got a few substantial buoys to help protect Molly’s bow to give some breathing space to hatch a plan. All the while Molly was crashing down on the rocks with her keel and it wasn’t a nice sound at all.
At one point the bow rope snapped which meant she was going to smash against the rocks, bow first. Amazingly it turned out to be a good thing as she rose on a particularly large swell, digging deep we managed to move her back against the tide and afloat. At George’s instruction I got on board the battered and bruised Molly and grabbed hold of the slipway line and somehow managed to pull her towards the sinker and away from the rocks where I tied her off securely this time.
In a moment of madness it looked as if we had the opportunity to get her onto the trailer, a couple if swells and waves reminded us that it could be back to square one, the fact that the tide had also moved the tracker sideways was the clincher to this and the trailer had a lot somehow came if the tow bar to make thinks worse.
I have to confess at this point, my body ached, my hands burned from the ropes I had been grappling with for an hour and a half and I had cuts and bruises I wasn’t aware I had incurred. George could clearly see I was soaked and exhausted and suggested we leave Molly and return at the next high tide when it was supposed to be calmer. We would meet at 6pm and pull her away and back round to the pontoon if it wasn’t an option to get her on the trailer on the slipway.
There was a bit of water between the exhausted me bouncing up and down on Molly and the slipway, George fetched his tender for the rescue, a few of the halyards had also detached but I had nothing left in me so they would have to wait.
The rescue with the tender wasn’t straight forward as every time George tried to launch it the sea decided to fill it, such was the height of waves at this point. I can’t say it was the most elegant entry into a tender, because it wasn’t, an elephant with a blind fold and a gammy leg would have done better, but I got in and was pulled ashore.
I have to say that I had been pretty convinced that Molly was to be dashed to pieces against the rocks. I was in for a right row from Varrie on many counts when i got back…. I also recall thinking I am gonna get the biggest set of lines to do when Phil finds out.
I headed home, got cleaned up and told Varrie the a watered down version of the story, and promptly fell asleep through exhaustion.
A couple of hours later I was awakened by the phone….Phil, oh dear now the row and punishment to fit the stupidity. ‘what have you done’ , anyway the lines for the teacher would have to wait as the news wasn’t good, Molly wasn’t on the slipway but had moved across and was buffeting up and down with some force on the boulders that lay at the slipway side as the tide retreated.
There was nothing to do, damage was inevitable but it could have been worse, I decided she would just have to tough it out and settle on the boulders.
I headed back across to Limekilns nearer low tide to survey the damage and perhaps clear away some of the boulders beneath her before the tide returned for round 2.
I was gob smacked and extremely heartened to see club samaritans Russell and John, supported by Duncan working away on freeing Molly from rocks that surrounded her and with a plan to get her back onto the slipway before the return of the tide to give her another thrashing.
A short time later Phil arrived and the elders got their heads together whilst Duncan and I watched, it was clear that these guys were good at resolving problems and had many many years of mariner knowledge. Like the three wise men they hatched a plan and using guile, the knowledge of fulcrum and leverage and with some planks of wood and metal rollers not only was Molly moved sideways back onto the slipway but up out if harms way and into the defo not roadworthy anymore trailer.
This was a painstaking effort over many hours and has not been done justice in the few paragraphs here that covered the mammoth effort these kings of men made. I am sure in their earlier years the built pyramids without the use of tools such was their wisdom.
Molly has a few scars from this little adventure as do I, but nothing that won’t mend in time.
Anyway on reflection, the plan for today was to get up nice and early and get Molly V out of the water and onto her trailer in readiness for the arrival of her replacement. Mission accomplished even if not quite, or at all, according to plan. Varrie reckons Molly was teaching me a lesson for disrespecting her by selling her just after she won us a race….perhaps she is right.
Mostly though I am truly heartened by the spirit of family within the FCC, and many many thanks to the guys who gave up their valuable time to dig out the club numpty and save him from his own stupidity. Drinks are on me.