Lockdown2-day7 and the vittles (aka crisps) are already running low. The cry goes out ‘ bake more cake ‘ ‘reinvigorate the sourdough starter’ ‘order more noodles’….
Then , as we navigate our way through increasingly turbulent waters and storm after storm batters our sturdy craft we hear the cry from aloft ‘ Vaccine ahoy ‘
‘ Shake out the reefs and run for the shelter of the bay’ comes the order and off we go, surfing down the rollers, two on the wheel to hold off the broach. ‘ keep an eye on the leach, watch for the curl,’ hard in on the rolling vang, boards up and runners tight, we round the headland and cut into the bay through the random waves of the overfalls to smoother waters, the wind eases, the roll steadies and we fly, the bow wave foaming, towards the safe haven of Covid free holidays.
If only! In reality, it’s more like feeling our way through the fog, hoping to find a clear path ahead before we hit some uncharted obstacle. The winter lockdown allegories are coming thick and fast as we dream of slipping our lines and heading of again to explore the coast and rivers of the West Country.
The privately owned classic boat fleet is under great stress as a result of the loss of the 2020 summer season. We rely solely on the income from our charter and cruise passengers to enable us to operate the boat and keep the traditions of commercial barge sailing alive as well as giving our guests a fantastic holiday. Obviously not all is well in the charity owned fleet either, boats are laid up or up for sale, restoration and maintenance projects are on hold and all sources of funding are in short supply.
However, in contrast with the charity owned boats privately operated craft get few if any concessions from harbours and port authorities, no access to heritage emergency funds and minimal support through employment or hospitality business property support. The owners are not rich amateurs dabbling in the world of traditional sailing but qualified professional sailors who have often invested significant sums in building and/or restoring these wonderful vessels. So, when you are looking for a holiday afloat for next year please don’t assume you should favour one of the charity vessels, the private sector also needs of your support.
Having navigated through the rocks and races of the past year we are confident we will be here in 2021 to continue the Snark adventure. If you aren’t up for one of our fantastic sailing holidays or retreats yourself how about giving one of our gift vouchers as a special Christmas present to someone who would be.