Chairman, Bruce Hewitson, opened our most recent meeting. After the usual house reports and the raffle we welcomed guest speaker, Lynda Thompson, all the way from Swindon.
Lynda had long harboured the idea of sailing on board a tall ship. On one of her visits to Bristol Harbour to help with restoration and other general activities on the tall ships she learnt that there was a berth available for her to travel from Bristol down to Tenerife in the Canaries on tall ship, The Eye of the Wind. She zoomed back to Swindon, gathered her kit and rushed back to the harbour.
There were 36 people on board including a small number of permanent crew. The rest were people fulfilling a dream, the oldest being 82!
Lynda explained that the ship had been restored from a rusting hulk to the superb ship she is today. In the galley/dining room the walls were made from wood reclaimed from an old bank and the floors from wood reclaimed from an old bingo hall!
They set sail at 4.00 am, due to tide restrictions, and sailed down the river Avon and out into the Severn Estuary and on to the sea. From Land’s End they sailed for 11 days without sight of landfall before arriving in Madiera. Those that could, climbed aboard the ship’s tender and spent time ashore.
Lynda explained many of the unusual things that had to be done on such a voyage, swabbing the decks to stop them from getting slippery or drying out, cleaning the brass every morning before 8.00 am and only having one 30-second shower in hot water every three days. The soapy warm water went into a bucket and then you used it to wash your clothes! We won’t mention the toilet arrangements.
The next landfall was The Savage Islands. Here they could see the upturned bow of a huge container ship which had run aground; quite an imposing sight.
Finally they arrived in Tenerife some three weeks after setting sail. With no room in the main harbour, they berthed in the fish dock.
Again during this voyage she explained many of the technicalities, including the ropes (sorry Lynda) and sails, the ship’s compass and the shop’s log and a lot more besides.
Lynda made the whole journey come to life and educated us land lubbers to boot! After questions, she received a very appreciative round of applause.
The Chairman announced the next speaker who will be Richard Cripps talking about the ‘Seasons on the Willow Brook’. The meeting will be held on Tuesday 18th April.