Planning A Trip To Atlantic

I was going to race my new yacht Gipsy Moth III which had been launched the previous September. She had been built during my illness, and few new yachts can have been less supervised or visited by the owner. We saw her only twice while she was building. Once during a temporary improvement in my lung trouble I flew over to Dublin with Robert Clark and Sheila. While Robert and I walked down to the yard beside the river, the biting cold wind seemed to drive right through me. Robert grew more and more irritated at my stops for coughing bouts, and finally snapped, ‘Stop coughing, now!’ To my astonishment I did stop, and wondered if I must be a malade imaginaire. Fortunately for Robert this lull did not last long, otherwise I should have had to ask him to live with me until his new cure was complete.

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When we visited the yacht, Sheila said that the seats in the main cabin were too low. Robert assured her that they were the standard height. Sheila, probably because she is a portrait painter, has an incredible eye for line and form. She was convinced that they were too low, and refused to budge in her opinion. They argued about it for hours on the way back to the hotel and throughout the evening, but Sheila, although she was opposing a famous architect who had been designing yachts all his life, refused to change her view. Before breakfast next morning Robert went down to the yacht and returned with this story: the water tanks under the cabin sole (floor) had been built the wrong shape, and were two inches higher than designed. Instead of re-making the tanks the yard had re-made the cabin sole two inches higher.

Several times when my illness was at its worst and seemed hopeless, I said, ‘Sell the yacht, and let’s be free of that worry at least.’ Each time, however, I changed my mind and hung on. Jack Tyrrell and his firm were very good about my illness; they moved the half built yacht to the side of the shed, and let it rest there until I was well enough to consider starting again.

In September 1259, after the Fastnet Race in Mait II, Sheila and I crossed to Arklow on a Monday morning to launch the yacht, which we found sitting in her cradle beside the river. The tides are erratic there, and we waited about all Tuesday for enough water to launch her. We had given up hope for the day, and were in the middle of our dinner at the hotel, when a boy came rushing up to say that the boat would be launched in ten minutes. We dropped our forks, grabbed a bottle of champagne, and rushed down to the yard. There were only a few people standing by when Sheila climbed on to the platform and well and truly crashed the champagne on the stem of the yacht, showering us with champagne and glass fragments as she named the yacht Gipsy Moth III. The yacht had looked powerful and tall standing on the hard of the river bank, and slid away quietly into the water.

Next morning Robert Clark arrived and rowed with me round the moored boat. ‘What’s wrong with the doghouse ?’ he asked. The doghouse is the raised part of the cabin roof at the aft end.

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