Lazy jacks and caffled lines
Friday 5th August: from
Six of us were afloat on about 12 metres depth of sea water on a falling tide. “Ssh, listen to your Captain.” Eyes and ears strained to follow instructions. This boating experience was courtesy of Boat Owner and Number 1 Niece, she the Captain. Deftly she had unhitched the 36 foot motorised yacht from its mooring and re-tied the small shore-to-mooring tender. We had gathered at on the
The Nephew and Boat ‘Usband (demoted from his Captain status on this trip) were deckhands, letting out the lines, winding the winches, letting go the sheets, later hauling up the anchor. Boat Owner steered while the Captain busied herself below producing drinks, snacks, lunch… There is so much to gaze at on a trip downstream of Burton: the high level Cleddau toll bridge at the start, the jetties from which the old ferries had plied their crossings for so many years, the housing clinging to the steep hillsides, the old dockyard, where once fine warships and Royal Yachts were built, and later home in the forties and fifties to the RAF Sunderland flying boats. A huge white slab all but blocked the way, the Irish car ferry, sideways on, until neatly it berthed. In only 90 minutes time it would be heading back out to the
The waterway broadens and the horizon is filled with angular shapes. On the port (southern) side five quite stumpy, still shiny, chimneys indicate the site of the renewed Pembroke Power Station; not much further on the jetties start. Oil tankers were moored beside them. The Nephew, a veteran of the petrochemical industry, explained which was discharging crude oil, which was loading “product”, oil refined into petrol or diesel or fuel for heating. We gazed at the Greek national flag and at the onboard lifeboat tilted at sharp angle ready to launch off the tanker in case of fire. Later two tugs were busying themselves around one of these tankers. Starboard, on the opposite bank, are more massive jetties, these for the even larger tankers (about 140,000 tonnes) which deliver liquid gas from
We tacked downriver, heaving ho periodically, intense activity followed by gentle water-lapping progress. A few sailing vessels, a couple of speedboats, the harbour police boat, the catamaran for disabled sailors, all streamed past. A mooring for lunch. No towpath bashing-in of mooring pins was called for, just some agile stretching with a boathook to catch the ring on top of a mooring buoy. We bobbed on the sea, just off
The sails flapped, devoid of sufficient breeze. If we were to moor up in time for later arrangements the boat would have to return under power. “Who’s to steer?” called out Boat Owner.
“I will.” The words fell out of Boatwif’s mouth. But there was no tiller! Hands grasped the large suede-covered wheel. What had she taken on…?
“Steer her like a car,” urged this boat’s Captain. Boatwif programmed her mind, trying to concentrate, not to be distracted by scenery or sea.
“You might need to correct again,” said Boat Owner. “Remember, there’s still the effect of the wind and the movement of the water.” There were occasional veerings off course, yet no-one else would volunteer to take the helm. While Boat Owner, Number 1 Niece, Boat’Usband, The Nephew and Nephew’s Wife feasted on fresh fruits Boatwif (more or less) kept them out of danger. During the cruise ears had heard unfamiliar nautical terms, now eyes began to notice unfamiliar signage. For instance, what did the big green lollipop warning sign warn of…?
We cruised back upstream, located the mooring buoy and finished with a wrestling match for the lines (ropes) were very “caffled up” on the buoy (Pembrokeshire term for tangled together). More rope and a screwdriver seemed to save the day. And what a glorious day.
Much, much later, in Baby Sis’s house, there was conversation with a one-time professional mariner, who had circumnavigated the
Finally, what were those “lazy jacks”? Pulleys …? Answers please to Boatwif…