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Adam’s day sail On Provident May 27 2024

Provident, Blue Seas and Sky, Dartmouth and 100 years

I had a fantastic day sailing on Provident in Brixham on the Late May bank Holiday Monday 27th May 2024.

Morag and Steve had kindly invited me along as part of a select team  of Provident former crew and friends..

I found Provi lying outside of Pilgrim on the Heritage Pontoon making a great spectacle. On the other side of the Heritage Pontoon was Royalist II putting the young trainees through the up and over the mast exercise. That is climbing up the foremast ratlines, though the crows nest and down the other side, all with full safety gear and plenty of assistance in the rigging. All in all a fascinating place to be.

Morag and Steve welcomed us with tea or coffee and after some domestic chores had been dealt with Steve gave a safety briefing and we got ready to set off from beside Pilgrim.

The weather was sunny with a F4-5 from the SW or West blowing Provident onto Pilgrim and made sailing away unrealistic.

Did you know Provi has an offset prop, that is one that sticks out one side and is not placed centrally through the stern post. This makes handling under power interesting to say the least!

This meant we had an interesting manoeuvre leaving the berth, I had correctly positioned myself to hoist the staysail which helped pull us around and avoid the Torquay tripper boats. I dropped, under control, the staysail as soon as our exit route was clear as the next task was to run out the bowsprit and having the staysail up would have had it flapping around our ears.

Martin, the mate, gave clear instructions about who was to do what and when so everything went very smoothly. 

We hardly spent any time heading towards Torquay before we had set the sails to starboard. Hoisting the mainsail  in 2 mins 51 seconds, this was the fastest time on record. Great team effort.

Sails up we jibbed around and headed out beyond Berry Head into the English Channel. Lovely sailing with sunny spells and a few white caps on the waves. The wind picked up to F5-6 and Provi lapped it up.

One of my greatest pleasures when sailing is to take a few minutes out by sitting as close to the bows as possible avoiding any wet areas. To just sit there feeling the ship rise and fall beneath you, it’s an experience that goes back to my youth and going to school by boat, I just love that sensation. Added to that is the joy of listening to the stem punching through the waves and the wind in the sails and rigging, pure happiness. 

We were way out into the English when I took the helm around 1:30 and very soon tacked Provident round onto a port tack heading for the distant entrance to Dartmouth. It become cloudy around 2pm but no rain which was just as well as Toni had no waterproofs, bless him.

Toni, who’s Toni? Well if you have never sailed with Toni Knights you have missed one of the most experienced and best traditional skippers in the UK. Toni is an ex deep sea fisherman from Brixham, ex Fisheries Protection Officer, ex skipper of many traditional ships and an extremely talented artist. But a bit scatty about his own arrangements. 

Going  alongside the Town Quay in Dartmouth Toni conducted a master class of handling Provident and her awkward offset prop. Using wind, tide and  bugger all engine he got Provident manoeuvred starboard side to the pontoon with all the ease in the world. 

Later that evening we had a fascinating guided tour of the Shipyard where Provident was launched a hundred years ago. 

A big thank you to Steve and Morag for giving me such a wonderful day on Provident.

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