The plan was to leave by lunchtime on Thursday the 12th of December and to arrive at the Angel Inn round about 6pm. The following day would be spent getting the boat ready to go. Making certain the mast was down and everything had been tied down or stowed aways as it should be. Checking the lights and brakes on the trailer were working, etc. We would then leave early on Saturday, after a monumentally good breakfast at the Angel Inn and hopefully be home by about 4pm before it starts getting too dark.
The trip started off benignly enough. We had managed to stick to our plan and leave at the appropriate time and we got to the Angel Inn by 6pm. We had a lovely shower and decided to have a quick look at the weather. I think it was a this point that it all unravelled and started going wrong. The bad weather that had been predicted for Sunday had been moved forward to Saturday. The prediction was basically for 50 to 60 mile an hour gusts of wind plus of course the usual rain. Neither John or I liked the idea of trying to transport a 26 ft boat in those sort of conditions so we ended up having to mover our plans forward to the Friday.
After finally managing to get hold of the chap at the Marina that deals with taking masts down on boats, we were told that they were much to busy too busy to assist us and could not possibly set aside the 5 minutes it would have taken them to get our mast down. This was probably the last thing we needed to be told but as they were unwilling to help us, we had no option but to do it ourselves.
After fortifying ourselves with another delicious Angel Inn breakfast, we informed the Inn that we would unfortunately have to cancel our reservation for the Friday night. They were kind enough to allow us to only pay 50% of the booking fee for the Friday night. We then packed up and got ready to make our way down to the Marina.
Once at the rain driven Suffolk Harbour Marina, we met the lovely couple selling Genesis and took possession of the keys. They were quite surprised that the Marina were being so unhelpful about the mast but there was not much that could be done about it. We assured them that where there is a will there is a way and besides, we really had very little option but to get the mast down on our own. We decided the best route forward would be to try and create a frame with uni-strut channel, so we could slowly lower the mast onto the frame. Whilst it was not the easiest thing to accomplish, we managed to get some uni-strut and support the mast sufficiently to lower it down without causing any damage to the boat or to ourselves. As a result, we have also come to the conclusion, that we will be building a slightly better frame and lowering and raising the mast by ourselves in the future as there is absolutely no need to pay a Marina to do it. I would also add that considering Suffolk Harbour Marina claimed to be too busy to lower our mast for us - I was quite surprised at how very little they actually did the whole day. I counted at least 4 hours where they were doing absolutely nothing. Obviously, times are a little too good if you can't take 5 minutes to earn a couple of hundred quid taking a mast down.
Once the mast was down and strapped in place, we focused on getting everything else tied down and secure. By the time we had finished, we were both soaked through and absolutely frozen. I was so cold that I had to warm my fingers up in front of the heater before I could actually change out of my wet clothing. My fingers simply could no undo my buttons or the zip on my jeans! Once we had both changed out of our wet clothing and checked that the lights and brakes were working, we set off to try and get our lovely boat home. Little did we know, that there was more drama to come.
As you can imagine, we ended up setting off for home pretty late (3 pm) from the marina but with the impending weather, the focus had to be to get home. The first thing we discovered is that towing a 26 ft boat is somewhat terrifying. Anything above 40 mph and it gets a seriously scary sway on. This might have had a lot to do with the fact that the weight was not very well distributed. Perfect hindsight, would have told us to fill the water tank at the front of the boat in order to help redistribute the weight better. We would also have been better off if the towing point was a bit higher. We will certainly remedy these issues before trying to tow Genesis anywhere again.
Sparks are Flying
If we thought that was to be the end of the drama, we were very much mistaken because shortly afterward, we had a chap pulling up beside the passenger window. I duly lowered the window to be told that there were sparks coming from under the boat! Thankfully, there are still some good Samaritans out there because we could not see the sparks from the car.
We took the next off-ramp in the hope of finding a Services to pull into. We did find a Services but unfortunately, it was a fairly small one and we could not make the turn with the boat,so we ended up stopping on the kerb just after the Services. As it turns out, the brake lines were dragging on the floor. It must have happened when the strut came loose, it probably unhooked itself. Anyway, John managed to rectify the problem and we set off again.
Brentwood High Street
We needed to get back onto the motorway but we couldn't find anywhere to turn around. There are always 101 traffic circles when you don't need one and none when you do! As a result we ended up driving down Brentwood High Street in peak traffic towing a 26 ft boat. To add to the experience, we had some absolute plonker decide that pulling out in front of us without much warning was a good idea. He was duly hooted at and I don't mind admitting that I called him a few choice names. After taking a few wrong turns and negotiating Brentwood High Street twice, we finally managed to get back onto the motorway.