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Returning the Snark to the sea...

After a six month winter break on the Exeter Ship Canal, the Snark is returning to the sea this Thursday. We will be leaving Haven Banks at 08:30, passing the swing bridges at 10:00 and hopefully she'll be tied up in Turf Lock by noon. We will head around to Topsham on the high tide the next morning.

For most vessels this would be a pretty straight forward trip but... about 50 years ago the Government saw fit to span the canal with the M5 motorway. Theoretically the bridge should have had a 26 m air draft as it crossed a navigation. However at the time the canal was pretty much derelict and the money saving by providing just 10 m clear was too good to resist. So ended the era of square riggers visiting the Quay and canal basin (the Onedine Line TV series was filmed here)

Last autumn the Snark was the first large sailing vessel to make this passage for nearly fifty years. Our advantage here is that we can lower our rigging to get under the M5. We used a crane in the autumn but have now rigged a 6:1 purchase on the forestay that allows us to do it unassisted, much as the Thames barges did in the past; saving £1,400 crane hire for each trip! It was pretty nerve-wracking the first time. However many calculations and checks you have done the proof is in the doing in the end. The end result six spars and 3 kilometres of rope lying on deck (hopefully not too tangled up!) and a general sense of chaos.

The second challenge is the weed in the canal. We have sea water cooling on our engines and the weed can clog up the inlets causing the engines to overheat and invariably shred the sea water pump impellers. So we may need to be towed down the canal as we were on the way in, we will know as we progress.

Still we will get to Topsham Quay I am sure and then do our final spring works to make Snark ready for her summer adventures. We are making good progress re built the guest cabins to give more options and all lower bunks. These now need to be painted and elex fitted before we take our first passengers on 10th May. Lots on our planned adventures already posted and more to come over the next couple of weeks.

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