Post scipt on Moonbeam IV at Panerai Regates Royales Cannes

28/09/2012
Moonbeam IV on a charge
Post scipt on Moonbeam IV at Panerai Regates Royales, Cannes.

Flying home on the plane I remembered a few points about my sail on the classic yacht not mentioned in my previous Blogs.

The first concerns the crews who on each change of tack have to haul the mast into tension. At five points on the huge mast, ropes are attached which lead down to the deck. Two of these points lead to the aft whilst the remaining three join into a large hawser rope on the deck towards midship.

I noticed that some of the crew had large oval spent blisters on their heels and long angry burn marks on their instep. The reason is the hawser. As thick as your wrist, it runs aft along the gunwale. On the call to action, four of the crew sit on deck with their heels to the floor and toes on the gunwale, under the rope. In time, they then take a huge bight of rope in unison, heaving it towards them before pulling the rope down whereupon another crew member takes this tension around a cleat thereby keeping the hawser tight and the mast at the correct bend.

I have already mentioned the straining effort required to do this task in my previous blog. This effort is transferred into the friction burns on both heel and instep and evidence of the crew’s commitment.

When our race had finished, the relief and congratulations felt by the skipper and crew were self evident. A more relaxed mood was regained but there was still work to be done. This included the lowering of the top spar, the second boom if you like which holds the topsail, the triangular shaped sail above the main sail.

All hands were required for this job. Looking aloft, the whole long length of timber spar, controlled by halyards attached to the front and back, swung incongruously many feet above our heads. Calling the shots was Tristan at the mast, detailing the fore and aft movement of this huge beam. Any slight slip of concentration and the weighty timber would come crashing to the deck with unthinkable consequences.

The job is made even more difficult as the boat shifts from side to side in the Mediterranean swell coupled with steering the spar from entanglement in the lazy jacks on either side of the mainsail. Slowly but surely the beam came down, sail unleashed and tied to the deck.

Everything on this ship is ‘shipshape’, including the instruction, orders and delegation. Safety is paramount and there is a JDI attitude brought about by trust in the giver of the instructions. A brilliant lesson in management.

The yacht, one of the beautiful Fife yachts from Scotland was started to be built in 1903, but was not commissioned until the 1920’s. She has had various owners and rebuilt at various stages in her life. She iss now a true credit to classic sailing, her skipper, crew and owner of course.

Finally, and this from my wife Julia, Moonbeam IV was once owned by Prince Rainier of Monaco his honeymoon on her with Grace Kelly.

Ian