A slightly different approach was taken this year as the focus was on making the most of the available time on the water before heading north to Southampton UK for a 20 year periodic refit at the end of July.
With family members getting older there was also more call for individuals to take off and explore the Mediterranean with their friends. As a result Cambria cruised the Tuscan coastal islands, Southern and Eastern Sardinia, and also Corsica over June and July. One of the many highlights of this time was one of the children catching their first yellow fin Tuna. Though we have caught many tuna over the last ten years, we have never been lucky to do so whilst guests are on board and this catch finally dispelled the myth! Our first cruise took us from Livorno, Italy to Cassis near Marseilles via Elba and North Western Corsica.
We then competed in our only regatta for the season: Argentario Sailing Week, held in the beautiful Porto Santo Stefano. Our draw card was Shamrock V who was competing in her first regatta at this amazing location. Again the breeze was excellent and the two yachts played out dramatic scenes on the water with many fine crossing moments. Both yachts having their days, though the overall winner of the week was Mariquita who had learnt the vagrancies of the wind around the edge of the bay from the previous year. Cambria fell out of the ranking for being DSQ on the last days racing. This was due to an ambiguous course layout which Cambria interpreted the wrong way! Though losing the regatta as a result it certainly highlighted the problem to the race committee and the potentially dangerous situation they were creating with such a course. None of this really mattered as the spectacle far outweighed the results. To have Shamrock back with the owners on board racing and having such a fantastic time will hopefully lead to many more such encounters.
From Santo Stefano it was a quick change out from racing to cruising gear and off to Cagliari, Southern Sardinia to pick up the family for the next leg of cruising. Once again, our time on the east coast of Sardinia was breathtaking; where some of the finest anchorages in all of the Mediterranean are to be found. Northern Sardinia was particularly breezy which resulted in some exciting sailing. Some magic down hill runs with 35 knots abaft the beam on flat water through the spectacular coastal inlets and waterways. The Mistral continued incessantly. We attempted the Bonnafacio straight to sail up the west coast of Corse, but 4 to 5m seas lead to us having to change plans and cruise the east coast of Corsica as the west was blown out and untenable. Following this, we continued up to Elba where we enjoyed plenty of watersports and of course watching Germany win the world cup final.
Cambria then returned to Cannes to restock and pick up guests for another attempt at cruising the west coast of Corse. The Mistral was easier on us this time and we had excellent sailing between Girilata, Calvi and St Florent . The two memorable sails were the down wind sprint from Calvi to St Florent with 35 gusting 40 knots of westerly in beautiful sunshine, and the return crossing from Calvi to Cannes in 25 knots of South Westerly.
This took us to the end of July and we now had another quick turn around to prepare for the 2000 Nm voyage to Southampton. After three days we set off with 4 extra delivery crew; Woody, Christophe, Ollie and Ez. Though the fishing was excellent, filling our freezer before reaching the Balaerics, the wind was not so favourable. By the time we made Gibraltar we had sailed 12 hrs and were forced to make a second fuel stop. The weather up the Atlantic coast , though by no means perfect was kind to us and we made it through to La Coruna in 4 days rather than the 9 it took 5 years ago! With another quick crew change in Coruna we were off across the Biscay. After two days of Northerly the breeze back to the west and then south west allowing Cambria to finish the delivery in style, with trysail, staysail and jib we ran up through the channel arriving in Southampton waters at dawn on day 5. Of the 15 days of delivery we only managed 3 days of sailing, however, compared to the beating over 25 days we took last time we (and Cambria) were very happy with the voyage.
Arriving in Southampton by the 19th of August gave us time to de-rig, unstep mast and start emptying Cambria readying her to enter the SYS shed: her new home for the next year. With help from the delivery crew, Cambria was derigged within three days and the mast out. One week after arriving, Cambria was calmly waiting at the SYS yard for her shed to be cleared and was hauled out on the 2nd of September and into the shed on the 3rd. Whilst still in the slings of the travel lift, we removed the rudder on the 4th - this allowed Cambria to now be ‘blocked off’ and for the travel lift to be moved out of the shed. With this out of the way the mast and boom which had been barged up the river, could now be rolled into position next to Cambria within the shed and allowing the front of the shed to be closed over.
It was vital to get Cambria into the shed as early as possible to have the sheathing removed to allow her to properly dry out before the winter set in. Cambria has been wrapped in GRP sheathing for 20 years. With the glass removed, her planking (now exposed) can dry out allowing us to fully understand its state.
It is now January 2015 and we are 4 months in to the refit and we have had the opportunity to let her dry out and fully investigate the works required. There is a tremendous amount of work to do, however there have not been any unassailable surprises. As expected, the main issue has been high moisture planks and corroded steel work. This has lead to the stems removal and opening Cambria’s bow to expose the steel work needing renewal. The amazing part about what we have found is the incredibly good state of her teak back bone and her keel bolts. Along with her first six planks, also teak, these are all 86 years old and in excellent condition. Other than the major repairs to the steel keel plate, angle and vertical keel plate forward of the mast, the remainder of the steel work will have minor repairs where required, thus again leaving Cambria 95% original.
A full refit report will follow…..
A special thanks to all of the permanent crew and race crew for their hard work this year. Cambria is still the belle of the fleet and sets the bench mark both on and off the water.
As another year ends, it is amazing to think this has been the 10th year of the current owners stewardship of this great yacht. There have been ten proprietors of Cambria over her 87 years and she has never been decommissioned during this time. Such a life is rare for a yacht and shows how important Cambria is as one of the most original, if not the most original, of her class and era of yachts. It is testement to the owners and crew who have maintained her over this period.