Upon my return to Soteria at the end of March it was such a mess with almost total lack of progress I had to plan very carefully to see what could be done. My initial reaction was to give up and just walk away.
However by working such long hours that I did not even have enough time to sleep I just managed to make the vessel shipshape. Each day was a struggle not knowing if I would get enough help for those items that could not be done on my own. By a series of miracles materials were obtained at incredibly low prices and the most essential work completed. Many volunteers helped at just the right moment. The main mast was removed for survey and some new rigging installed. 2 feet longer and Soteria would not have been able to enter the lifting dock!
There was an extreme lack of funding, people to help and time. The biggest crisis since I have been on Soteria.
Thereafter we sailed to the Irish Maritime Festival Tours via Walney Island where we saw a seal colony. Each city requested the option of the pirate pageant to entertain the public crowds complete with working cannons. – See photos on our website or Facebook page! www.schoonersote.org.uk The Festival income enabled loans to be repaid.
Then 2 new crew arrived: Paula and Derek, a Christian couple with a long term vision to help afloat. Qualified too! This has been such a blessing to have permanent crew. Our biggest shortfall has always been in permanent core staff. Now we just need to find those crucial staff needed to work ashore.
After the Festivals we dried out in Carlingford harbour where miraculously Peter came with his pressure washer to clean Soteria’s bottom. What a help he was just when needed!
Then we sailed up the canal to Newry. What helpful and friendly people we found there right from the start! Actually the Mayor (even with no experience) helmed most of the way up the canal with ease.
Then we started sailing to The Canaries. Unfortunately during a squall in St Georges Channel one night the Main boom and Fore gaff broke. We replaced these in Fowey with much stronger versions in knot-free seasoned Douglas Fir.
We have frequently been assisted during critical crew shortages by an Irish gentleman named Damien. He helped us sail back to Newry where we will only resume our passage to The Canaries after obtaining more bookings – essential to cover our costs!