You left us anchored in the Colne after a debrief in the rain with Ian Harris and his group. That evening the torrential rain was joined by an unexpectedly strong south easterly. With the wind direction due to box the compass by morning we were anchored in the middle and when the ebb came away there was an unusual sight from aft in the normally sheltered river of the bow rising and falling three feet. At dusk we watched out anxiously for the return of the crew from Hardy anchored nearby on her way to the Swale Match. They included our trainee Ben experiencing some Summers and Payne design as a change from Horlock and being keen to visit the Pioneer facility they had rowed ashore earlier. They made it back safely and we continued clearing up for our guests of the morrow before indulging in a fine Tesco carbonara before bed.
Friday dawned much improved though with a threat of showers, thunderstorms, calm and later wind. It all came to pass and turned out to be a memorable day in all respects. Having collected our crew for the day from Brightlingsea, where only car parking charges dented their enthusiasm, the conversation in the tender included mutual congratulations as these were the first young people to join us afloat this year. We had planned a major project with Inclusion Ventures potentially funded by SELEP to take eighteen young people and support staff over three weeks to culminate in those who wished to return independently for several weeks in the summer holidays. Covid put an end to all that until at least next year, but to keep the flame alive we were honoured to welcome Jess, Laci, Ruby and Sarah aboard as a test of our covid alertness. (more…)
We are sailing again at last, although it seems it could be a while before residential work can happen except for families. And sailing again feels good although the muscles that have atrophied during the months on the mooring are feeling it somewhat.
We rigged in the first week of August and had a shakedown sail in the second week. Although antifouled in March the barge needed a scrub badly so the third week saw us at Pin Mill on the blocks. The passage round was slow with ficklewinds and rain, taking twelve hours from Colne Point to Pin Mill, and of course the barnacles made a difference too. We spent an afternoon cleaning the mud from the blocks with shovels and yard brooms before going on and this made the experience easier and more pleasant. Despite being ready to come off the weather took a turn for the worst with gales late in the week and we stayed securely tied up until the Saturday when Gus Curtis kindly took us to anchor at the Clamp with his tug. Nearby was Victor on a day trip from Ipswich and anchored in the lee as it was still blowing hard. (more…)
On the whiteboard is the most amazing summer season for Blue Mermaid this year. So amazing in fact it has been left intact partly to remind us of the possibilities when conditions allow and partly because the truth of a big blank space is just too depressing to contemplate. But the good news is important too. We are still here and despite the challenges it looks like survival is possible for the charity thanks to government help and grants from the Association of Sail Training Organisations. Understandably much assistance has been prioritised to support charities working with the charity and our work does not do that so it is not open to us and many others. (more…)
Blue Mermaid is on her mooring at around a week’s readiness to sail, in the expectation that it may be possible to do some sailing this year and with the intention of keeping costs down. The crew are furloughed where possible and Mate Oli is working as ship’s husband part-time as he could not be furloughed and this enables our Shipshape Heritage Training Partnership trainee Ben to keep involved in worthwhile activity. They are also spending time on other work like maintenance on SHTP partner Cutty Sark with TS Rigging.
We have applied where possible for emergency funding and have been successful with grants from ASTO, our umbrella trade body (the Association of Sail Training Organisations) and recently with the discretionary grant scheme from the government via local authorities. We are immensely grateful for this and the furlough scheme which together have meant we are still able to plan to restart sailing with groups when the restrictions allow for residential work. Having said that, although there is a small sum available to support this restart with bursaries, there is very little money available for core costs, which will increase as the furlough scheme winds down. We continue to seek emergency funding on this basis and to welcome any suggestions we may not have thought of. (more…)