Spider T training days

Training Day 01-12May2013

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Photos by Dave and Leslie Everatt (there are more at the bottom of this post)

Mal Nicholson is running training days for folks interested in learning how to sail the Humber sloop Spider T.

Sailing working craft of her type and size requires somewhat different skills compared with a small yacht or dinghy, and Mal’s making plans to ensure folks have what’s needed to sail Spider T into the future.

Judging by the comments and photos I’ve seen, the training group’s enthusiasm is pretty well boundless, even in the rain.

If you’re interested in joining Mal’s training group, I would strongly suggest you contact him via the Spider T website – I would myself if it didn’t take half a day to drive to North Lincolnshire from Kent!

Here’s a report from the second training day, written by group member Kathryn Merrick:

Training Day Two

The aim of the day was to enter the lock and use the bridge, taking the lock down to river level and back up to canal level again. Using forward springs we were to allow the Spider to exit in astern back to her moorings. We were getting the boat ready as if it were going onto the North Sea.

Today’s session began by collecting life jackets from the fo’c’sle. Then the sails were hoisted up to release the shackles. The sails were stowed away in the fo’c’sle, with Andrew and Tony receiving the sails which were released down in a spiral shape into the forecastle. The bow sprit was also raised up.

Next the light-boards were taken in by Tom and Jess so that they would not get caught in the lock. Flags were hoisted and Mal gave the shout to remove the forward spring so that the Spider was to be taken out into the canal. The first attempt did not take her out far enough as the wind was blowing her back on, but a second attempt brought her out to a better position.

We then tested the boat’s ability to remain still in the water no matter how much wind there was. This was proved by using the drop kedge anchor which held her in position. This could be useful if a rope was stuck round a propeller, or a man had fallen overboard, as keeping the boat still would enable the crew to attend to what was happening elsewhere.

Fenders were collected from under the hatches to put at appropriate places alongside the boat and boat hooks were used to push the boat away from the side as necessary. We then set off towards the grade 2 listed lock, which was described by Mal as one of the most dangerous locks in the UK.

The boat was brought through the bridge and into the lock successfully. On the way back out of the lock Mal said that the Spider may hit a sand bank but there was nothing the crew could do about that. In the event the boat manoeuvred slow and steady through the lock and the wind was to our advantage on the return journey back to her moorings where we made her fast.

The EPIRB (Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon) was explained to the crew. This safety equipment maintained the last known position of the boat in case of an accident and information is stored on this on the likely number of people aboard, the boat’s specifics and the contact details of Mal.

Mal then did a debrief on the successes of the day. He praised everyone for working together effectively. Bev asked if we could do some knot-work and Mal explained that there were many areas he wishes to cover, including knot-work, chart, compass, true/magnetic north, wind/tidal speeds and their effects. There would also be time to paint the Spider and create some more fenders, as many had been lost in Immingham Dock.

Andrew suggested that a tick list may be useful of the skills we needed to acquire to sail the Spider. Mal said he liked the crew to gain practical experience first and then he would certainly go back over the skills.

The Spider T summer sailing trip leaving on Sunday 23 June from Hull was mentioned and invitations were given to the crew if they would like to join all or part of the journey up to Scarborough, Whitby and beyond, possibly to Staithes.

The next meeting dates were proposed in relation to good tides so that the Spider could be taken out on the river for training purposes. Suggestions for dates would be put on the Training Crew Facebook page.

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Photos of Spider T’s trip to the Jubilee

Spider T on the Thames during 2012 Jubilee trip

 

The Humber Keels and Sloops website has a nice photo record of the Humber sloop Spider T’s trip down to the Thames and back for the Jubilee last summer.

I gather from owner and restorer Mal Nicholson that a DVD of the Spider T’s earlier trip to Arbroath is now available for a very reasonable £10. Contact him at the Spider T website.

Spider T sails from the Humber to Arbroath: days two and three, Grimsby docks to Hartlepool

The Spider T at Grimsby Docks The Spider T sailing off Flamborough July 31 2011 prior to the Arbroath Seafest. Photo:Chris Horan

Spider T at sea off Grimsby Flamborough lighthouse taken from the Spider T July 31 2011 The Spider T with main sail sailing to Scarborough in July 2011

In Grimsby Docks, off Flamborough, Spider T sailing, Flamborough light, a full mainsail. All photos thanks to Chris Horan

Here’s Chris Horan’s account of the next two days of Spider T’s voyage from the Humber to Arbroath:

Day two

At 5am the Spider T crew were stirred from sleep by a chorus of mobile phone alarms and while still only half-conscious began their routines of dressing and washing.

Skipper Mal Nicholson wanted the ship to be squared up and ready to head out at 7am to catch the tide out of the Humber Estuary, and to ride the ebb north towards Scarborough, which was a 65-mile sail away.

The ship had two additional members of crew joining for the day’s run to Scarborough,
BBC video journalist Crispin Rolfe, and Jane Chadwick partner of Humber Cruising Association berthmaster John Walker.

The sails provided powered and steadied the vessel as she headed out to Spurn Point, and passed to the north of Bull Fort, a defensive structure built on a subterranean sand bank in the river during World War I. To the south ahead of us a tanker was offloading crude oil by means of the monobuoy off Tetney, a little way south of Cleethorpes.

We then passed the full-time lifeboat station at the end of Spurn Point and headed out to sea waving goodbye to the land. Heading north we were soon in an area of rough water known as the Binks – after the calm waters of the estuary we found ourselves being tossed about like clothes in a washing machine. At least one of the crew wished his stomach was somewhat stronger.

Once the Binks were passed, the sail north was a cruise in glorious sunshine with wind turbines on the horizon and buoys marking crab pots below. Those of us not charged with specific tasks like plotting the course, checking the sails and working in Spider T’s galley could relax – and so we did, until BBC man Crispin began his interviews.

Crewmembers Mick Maith and Paul Coultard were in the wheelhouse during this stretch, and despite some problems with the engine overheating, at 2pm, we were 9 miles off land, and 15 miles from Flamborough and 22 miles from Scarborough.

As we approached Scarborough we saw Flamborough Head’s huge bird colonies (they’re a regular haunt for pleasure boats packed with tourists) and were visited by a black-backed sperm whale, which popped up alongside us, blew as if to say hello, and then disappeared down below.

The sea then became choppier, with swells of up to 10ft, that made keeping one’s own feet, more difficult. While most moveable items were tied down in the hold one or two of the smaller items strayed from their stations, and clattered onto the floor.

The worsening weather meant we were a little delayed, but we still arrived at Scarborough Harbour at around 9pm. The entrance runs almost parallel to the beach.

We then spent a relaxing evening including a traditional Scarborough supper of fish and chips before bed.

Day three

We left for Hartlepool at around 8.30am the following morning – but not before Mal found himself doing an early morning interview with a BBC Radio York presenter I met in a quayside car park.

The sea was flat compared with the previous day, and crewmembers Paul and Bill White now tried their hand at mackerel fishing – and hooked enough for the crew’s supper that night.

The day’s run was to be 40 miles, a much shorter haul than the 66 miles from Grimsby to Scarborough the day before, and would follow a picturesque route including various picture-postcard villages including the fishing village of Staithes.

At Whitby a number of pleasure vessels loaded with camera-toting tourists came out to take a look at Spider T. The Whitby lifeboat was also on the water, and seemed
busy with the small boats.

We made progress using the main and foresails, with the engine ticking over in case it was needed as we sailed north – this area is busy with shipping bound for Teeside, and we needed to be alert and keep our eyes peeled. However, as it turned out, most of the larger vessels were at anchor.

Our skipper made contact with the harbourmaster at Hartlepool around midday to check on details for arrival and in which of the two port areas we would tie up – we were bound for the southern dock area close where the Hartlepool-built former Humber paddle steamer Wingfield Castle now lies.