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Eye of The Wind - Newsletter

It's Christmas and Newsletter time so here goes … it's by me… Fred with quotes from others included.

The Eye arrived in Rostock for the Cutty Sark Tall Ships Race and was berthed astern of Astrid. Once again we were to experience the comradeship and fun associated with Tall Ship gatherings. We had some rough weather on the way across from Scotland but with it came some great sailing. Gales delayed the start of the race for 24 hours, but then we were off. A spectacular start as class A and B vessels thundered across the start line will all sails set, we had the awesome but breathtaking sight of Sedov under full sail overtaking us and passing within 20 feet .... wow what an experience!

In the race for the first time this year was our Jamie's boat EDA FRANSEN ready at last after so much work with guess who as bo'sun, our own Marion Arneil who has had a long struggle back to fitness after breaking her leg in Bermuda last year. Well done that lass.

As expected, the Russian vessel Mir surged ahead to win the race and be the first ship to enter her home port if St Petersburg. The Eye crossed the line 2nd in her class and 3rd on handicap. Our voyage crew were from Yorkshire schools and what a great crowd of youngsters they were. One in particular Kate Crawford captured our hearts and was invited on to do a short trip later and, to cut a long story short, is now permanent crew on the trip back to Oz. Well done Kate, even though you did fall asleep at 2am on the sea wall in Tenerife in the middle of a party session!

In St Petersburg we were berthed alongside the Capitan Miranda, she was voted party ship of the fleet and we had many enjoyable nights as the South American samba drums and whistles played forth to the astonishment of the Russians.

St Petersburg was out of this world. We visited the impressive Hermitage Palace with its untold wealth of collectable works of art, the first castle built in St Petersburg, many beautiful Russian churches, and we travelled on the metro with its exotic stations. The Russian people we came in contact with were very friendly and eager to assist and practice their English. The highlight of our visit was the captains dinner at the Summer Palace in a ballroom 300 feet long, 60 feet wide with gilded and mirrored walls. We sat down to a sumptuous 5 course feast of Russian fare, including for the first time for many of us, genuine Russian caviar and we were entertained during all this by local folksingers and musicians. To end the evening, we lined the Palace balcony and grand staircase to watch an impressive firework display in the Palace grounds. Certainly it was an evening to be remembered and the whole experience of St Petersburg was a delight for both trainees and crew. Our trainees from Yorkshire schools were more than enthusiastic and did very well in sports and organised events and we look forward to having them with us again one day.

For the next leg which was a cruise in company, we had 6 young Russians aboard and a young Fin who had spent his life cruising the Finnish Archipelago. He acted as our mud pilot to take us through the labyrinth of islands and rocks - 5,000 named rocks and islands and 5,000 unnamed just in the approaches to Turku alone. After a brief visit to Helsinki, we sailed in company with 'Eda Fransen' to Maarianhamina, which is the Mecca for all sailing ship enthusiasts as it was the home of Gustav Erikkson, who between the wars, owned the largest fleet of commercial sailing ships.

A festive spirit reigned during our stay in Turku, Finland. Thousands would stroll the waterside quays and view the armada of ships gathering there, as the perfect summer weather brought out the crowds. The final leg of this year's Cutty Sark took the vessels racing to Copenhagen. After an early morning start all ships were close hauled trying to beat south down the Baltic. Most vessels were able to finish both legs of the race and we were 2nd in our class. Copenhagen, the town of Hans Christian Anderson played host as the final port. It was a sad parting with the Yorkshire Schools group, who must be voted the most industrious and keen group of young trainees we have had aboard for a long time. A final gathering of all the musicians and singers form various craft congregated in the lower saloon for a fare well session. Many a happy night was spent with the musicians of 'Eda Fransen' and Bernie from Shabab Oman and the choral accompaniment of Claire, Roscoe and Suzy.

Unloading the barrelFor the next 2 weeks we cruised the Danish waters competing in the Match Race and Festivals organised at Horsens and Julesminde. We won a genuine whiskey barrel for best singing whilst unloading traditional cargo. The barrel is now in Fred's garden (it's enormous) the barrel that is! They could have left the whisky in for me?

At the end of the evening everybody would come home bleary eyed after some great musical extravaganza ashore. Our final leg of our Northern waters voyaging led us to the Kiel Canal which we transited at top speed with a favourable tide and we were able to make Heligoland 24 hours after entering the Canal. We had some great sailing on this leg and finally surfed into the Dutch port of Scheveningen where we were greeted by many tall ships. We had a fair wind down the channel seeing the white cliffs of Dover as dawn broke. We made landfall at the very friendly port of Weymouth (Jacci's home town!) and after a short stay made our way down the coast calling at Brixham and Charlestown before docking into the inner harbour at Penzance (Fred's home port). Mike Kitchenside took over from Tiger for two one week trips to Milford Haven and back, giving Tiger, Debs and Emma a well earned break. They stayed with me for a few days. It was great having them visit my new house for the first time. Tiger sat for hours just looking at the fantastic views across the Devon landscape and on one occasion remarked 'those tractors are just like little dinky toys in the distance'. Back into Penzance ant the turmoil of yet another refit, our last before Australia in '97. We concentrated on the foc'sle bilge, soil tank into lab, rigging, engineering etc. I finished up, driving back and forth to Devon fully loaded nearly everyday. We had a good crowd of volunteers and a great atmoshere… not to mention a few pleasant evenings in The Dolphin. At long last and something like 40,000 miles at sea later, the mythical Harley Davidson came out of the lab and appeared on the deck all bright and shiny. Much of the surprise of the young trainees on the Asgaard II which had berthed alongside. With open mouths they said to Suzy, 'is that a real Harley Davidson?' to which she replied in that lovely whit of hers 'of course it is, haven't you got one then?' It gave a great thrill to ride it home to Devon where it now has pride of place in my front hall. (thank you Tiger).

We bid a sad farewell to the lovely Claire, we will miss her smile and singing. Note I had a card from her a couple of weeks ago, she is working on a boat in the Caribbean and guess what? it is a dry boat (poor Claire)!

Suzy and Roscoe left us here and we look forward to catching up with them in Hobart. The autumn gales delayed our departure from Penzance for a day. It was a sad but hurried departure at 5.30 am with John Lart taking pictures as he did in Ramsgate in 1976. Many thanks to all who supported us since we came back to the UK, it was lovely seeing you all again.

We had some heavy weather on the way to Tenerife but with it of course some great sailing. We had a week in Tenerife storing up and I swear Debs has enough food and drink onboard to last a year… (Don't worry Debbie, I'll polish off that lot in January.. Jacci!) One of the local traders recons the Eye spends more money in Santa Cruz than the Q.E.2 (only kidding Deb). We would be lost without you (and your washing machine). I had a week in Tenerife with Sue and had a great time.

The Eye made the crossing to Barbados in 21 days with once again a full ship and some good sailing.

(Quote form Debs). ‚Spume flies before the fore foot, and flying fish take to the air to escape the westward tracks as the Eye runs down to Barbados before a steady force 5. We are running under all squares, and the windward stunsail. This produces a trade wind roll which always seems to become pronounced at mealtimes causing all hands and the cook to be spreadeagled grabbing every movable item amidst howls of laughter.'

Our crew for the trip back are Tiger, Debs, Ross P, Ross W, Benny, Thew, Kate, Kerry, John, Angela, Andreas, and Gary W will be joining us in Grenada and of course, (the boss) Emma! I must admit it is with a sad heart that I see crew leave us to move on to other things. One gets very close to them, some are really special and you think that things will never be the same again… then along come new faces and you realise just how lucky you are to meet so many of the (they all become family).

Well folks, it has been a great year for the Eye and the future looks even brighter with very few berths available for the next 18 months. We haven't sorted out plans from May '98 yet, but there are some exciting prospects in the pipeline. We will keep you posted and look forward to seeing some of you out in warmer climates. Go on, come out to Oz … you only live once!

As you know we have asked for your letters, anecdotes, stories, poems etc, asking what the Eye means to you and we have had a terrific response. Due to the response and content received so far, we have decided to go ahead and make a professional book of them (not just a flappy leaflet type) so please send in your stories - we love 'em! One of the stories is enclosed with this newsletter, it brought tears to my eyes when I read it - it makes all we do worthwhile.

Have a Merry Christmas and a great '97

Love, hugs and regards to all till we meet again.

Tiger, Debs, Emma, Fred, Jacci and all the crew

(picture added for this website by Ina)

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