A dream fulfilled

Yachting Monthly|July 2020

A dream fulfilled
Peter Kersey experiences a lively channel crossing aboard the Brixham trawler Provident
Peter Kersey

Provident! The Brixham trawler has been part of my nautical memory for decades. I first came across her in Yachting Monthly – Des Sleightholme was once Provident’s skipper – and fell in love with the beauty of her under full sail with topsails and flying jib set. When the opportunity came to sail her, I didn’t hesitate.

At that time she was run by the charity Trinity Sailing Foundation, which has since had to put Provident up for sale due to funding problems.

We joined the wooden trawler in Brixham for a cruise to the Channel Islands and North Brittany. There were eight guest crew as well as the permanent skipper Ben, mate Jo, boatswain Ida and cook Daisy.

Following a safety briefing, we threw off Provident’s lines and after Ben expertly used the mizzen to turn the boat within the confines of Brixham harbour, we motored in very light airs to Dartmouth.

We were awoken at 0500 the next day for a departure at 0630. Just outside the harbour, sails were raised by the old method of sweating and tailing. The mainsail required two teams of three to sweat it up, one for the throat halyard and one for the peak halyard; the mizzen sail was hoisted similarly. The staysail was hoisted direct from the deck but the jib was hoisted in stoppers, run out along the bowsprit and broken out when aloft. To hoist in stoppers, the jib is first laid out along the deck, then tightly folded along its length and tied at about one-metre intervals with light natural cordage that will break with a good pull on the sheets once aloft.

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July 2020