Only three barges approached the start line, Blue Mermaid, Lady of the Lea and Ironsides. Repertor was entered but neaped in her berth at Faversham. Marjorie had been hoping to show off her new leeboards and these were ready but not fitted while another boat was neaped in the dry dock which was earmarked to help remove a year’s growth from her bottom. There was a rumour Niagara and Edith May were coming, both with bowsprits. Still, it was a race and to add to the occasion the smack ADC was there after a refit, as she had been for the very first Colne Race, before the Bar Buoy was a mark in the course and the crabs on the Bar had to duck as she went past, the shallower Hyacinth hot on her heels.
In Blue Mermaid we had left the mooring at Heybridge on Thursday afternoon, as we needed time to remember quite a lot about things we had not set for (literally) a year. Friday was spent practicing and having a very pleasant sail down to the Spitway to meet the two Kent barges on their way over. There was a good breeze and for only the second time we set the small jib on its traveller and left the working jib aboard. This made for a less demanding day and balances the boat nicely. The forecast for race day was for a good breeze from the west. This is the direction that allowed Ironsides to take the course record in 1978 with a fetch all the way around. This was after the Bar buoy was included by the way. This meant there was a possibility if things held and we did well enough by the barge she could have a stab at it. (more…)