Classic Boat

STUCK ON A FALLING TIDE

ne of my more spectacular experiences of getting stuck on a falling tide took place the day before Christmas Eve in 1969. I was a hand on a 90-ton trading ketch, recently liberated from a life of toil in the Baltic, which my shipmates and I had been fitting out in a mud berth on the Hamble River. The scenery there was spectacular because we lay between the mothballed hulks of famous J-Class racers and , with the mighty gaff cutter not 30 yards away. It must be said that in such exalted company our little ship was distinctly workaday. Unlike the neighbours, however, by late December she was almost ready for a transatlantic voyage. Working on the sedge, we’d made new masts from tree trunks and had somehow wrestled them aboard without swelling the coffers of

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