I wanted to post this to show that not everything is sunshine and rainbows and that sometimes things can and do do go south. I also want to say a huge thank you to Humber Coastguard and to the RNLI who were incredible and helped me out of a tough and potentially dangerous situation. I probably learned more today in a few very stressful hours than in all my rows to date put together.
So i checked the wind, weather conditions and tides the night before like a good boy, and headed out from Hartlepool Marina as normal. It was tough going as the wind suddenly picked up and my gauge was showing 5 knots more than predicted. Lesson 1 learned!
I was struggling to hold the boat against the wind and tide and decided to head back. Shortly afterward my autohelm died. What proceeded was in hindsight quite funny, but at the time extremely stressful; The rudder on a Rannoch R25 works very well above a speed (COG) of 1.5 knots. What I learned – Lesson 2, was that below that speed it is effectively redundant.
So with the Autohelm out of action, it was over to the hand steering. As a solo of course it is physically impossible to row and steer at the same time – Lesson 3. So i was rowing hard, then getting up and trying to steer, then rowing, steering, rowing, steering…you get the idea. With a now very strong wind (not forecast) and a decent tide it became almost impossible to row above 1.5 knots and therefore steer.
I had been on the VHF to Tyne Fairway and Humber Coastguard throughout the day who had been tracking my AIS and were very helpful, and I made them aware that i was in difficulty, but when it was obvious that I wouldn’t make Hartlepool before dark and I started getting close to the rocks, it became very clear that i needed assistance and I radio’d Humber Coastguard.
They were brilliant. Tyne tideway sent their pilot vessel who threw me a line and kept me off the rocks while I waited for a tow. The RNLI then sent their RIB and gave me a tow back to Hartlepool Marina. Thanks guys, you couldn’t have done more to help!
All-in-all a very humbling experience, but I learned a huge amount, and I am extremely grateful for Humber Coastguard and the RNLI.