RUNNING DOWN TO LYTTLETON AND BRUISED AT THE DOCK

The weatherman was still telling us we had 15 knots, but now he was also predicting an approaching gale.  Well we know ‘no condition is permanent’ so I waited in anticipation for the elusive wind.  By 10:00 zephyrs were showing on the water,  a slowly building N’ly breeze, we were soon sailing with the main double reefed, staysail and yankee, making good speed.  As I hoisted the sails bunches of moths dropped out, I tried to avoid stepping on them but unfortunately some are squashed onto the deck and need cleaning up.

In view of the upcoming gale I had decided to head for Lyttleton and not Akaroa.  Lyttleton is a few hours closer, we could make it before dark, an easier course to steer as it’s not directly downwind and on one tack.

Progress towards Lyttleton was good and steady, the wind building gradually all afternoon to 25 knots, gusting 30, approaching the harbour mouth.  By 17:00 we were past the big headland, Godley Head, that marks the northern entrance to Lyttleton harbour.

I had arranged a berth in Lyttleton Te Ana marina.  My friend Steve had advised me that it’s a tricky place when the wind is blowing and to be careful if going there.  His advice was to take any vacant outside berth until conditions were right to moor in the allocated berth.  Well the wind was gusting quite well with lulls in between the gusts.  I entered the marina, looking for my allocated berth.  When I located the berth I realised I would not be able to berth there single handed as the wind would push me away from the dock and down onto an adjacent boat.  I reverted to plan B and headed for another empty dock where I could lie until the wind gusts eased, then relocate.

As I headed into the vacant berth a tremendous gust of wind caught the bow, just as we were entering the berth, nothing I could do as I watched in horror as Truce listed to starboard and the bow flew around.  A sickening crunching sound told me we had landed hard.  I jumped ashore with the lines and secured Truce.  I hardly dare look at the damage I had inflicted.  It is not pretty, a gash about 70cm long that has cut through the outer skin of the hull down to the second layer of planking.

Gash in hull about 70cm long
Gash in hull about 70cm long

I am disgusted with myself.  I was warned.  I feel I have let Truce down badly.

After Truce was well secured I went ashore and had a nice hot shower.  The Te Ana Marina has good showers, the best sort they are not coin operated or hot water rationed.  They are free but of course you pay for it somewhere in the berth fee.

After a good shower and clean clothing, I was in a condition to re-join humanity and socialise.  I headed into town and found Eruption Brewery.  The guys there were friendly and served good beer.  A couple of young guys asked me to join them and we had a good chat, one a sheet metal worker, the other a Tradie having made a few trips to Antarctica.  Being young guys they wanted to hear stories of pirates, rescues at sea, mutiny, debauchery and storms.  I think they found me a bit boring.

Ngozi is in Christchurch visiting friends and its only twenty minutes away, we will meet up tomorrow.  I can’t wait for her comments on the damage to Truce!  But whatever, it will be great to catch up again.

I am not going to move from Lyttleton until repairs are effected, one way or another.  Not much I can do until Monday, apart from putting a waterproof cover over the damage.

Waterproof cover over damage to hull
Waterproof cover over damage to hull. Photo Ray Penson

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