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Peter Coad’s Seamanlike Self-Reliance Displayed off Sherkin Island in Fastnet 500 Race

9th July 2021
Peter Coad of Dunmore East with his Pocock 37 Blackjack has given an exemplary display of self-reliace when dismasted near the Fastnet Rock
Peter Coad of Dunmore East with his Pocock 37 Blackjack has given an exemplary display of self-reliace when dismasted near the Fastnet Rock Credit: Afloat

Once upon a time, it was a tradition of offshore sailing - whether racing or cruising - that self-reliance in all circumstances was the golden thread running through your every venture at sea. You’ll note we say “ventures”. The traditional view of the saltiest old salts was that if it all became a dangerous adventure, then that in itself was clear evidence of incompetence.

But nowadays with lifeboats and helicopters and cliff rescue services and - in some countries - commercial “tow-you-home” setups all readily available and justing panting for something to do, the old ideals of bothering no-one else with your problem are regarded as being almost quaint.

Nevertheless, it’s like a breath of fresh air to hear of a crew experiencing something as utterly disabling as a dismasting in offshore conditions, and yet managing to cope with the problems - some of them massive - of tidying up the mess, retrieving all the broken pieces, and then - after ensuring there are no training lines or rigging to foul the propellor - motoring competently and unaided to the nearest anchorage.

The is exactly what has been achieved by Peter Coad of Waterford Harbour Sailing Club in Dunmore East, who has been racing his much-sailed Pocock 37 Blackjack two-handed in the Fastnet 500 out of Plymouth. They were approaching the Fastnet in brisk enough conditions when the rig collapsed. But despite being only the two of them and with the usual awkward sea running, they got the bits and pieces and the sails safely aboard, and their trusty auxiliary has now got them safely and completely unaided into the anchorage at Sherkin Island on the west side of Baltimore Harbour.

Published in Offshore
WM Nixon

About The Author

WM Nixon

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William M Nixon has been writing about sailing in Ireland for many years in print and online, and his work has appeared internationally in magazines and books. His own experience ranges from club sailing to international offshore events, and he has cruised extensively under sail, often in his own boats which have ranged in size from an 11ft dinghy to a 35ft cruiser-racer. He has also been involved in the administration of several sailing organisations.

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