Anne and I planned to have 2 days at Rutland over the late August bank holiday weekend. We decided to sail on the Friday and Saturday to miss the bank holiday traffic. Unfortunately Anne missed her bus from Oxford on Thursday and the only other one she could get was to Leicester via Milton Keynes and was due to arrive at 19:30. I went to pick her up and by the time we got back to Branston it was a bit late so we put off preparing Sophie for the road until Friday morning.
We were both fairly tired so we got up at 0900 and after a hearty cooked breakfast we prepared Sophie for the road and got everything loaded into the car ready for the day - picnic, cool box, drinks etc.. We decided that we would not spend the night on board this first expedition. We had a good trip down to Rutland and arrived there just after 1300. It was a perfect day; a beautiful blue sky, very warm sunshine and a steady breeze with occasional gusts around 14 knots. We were both looking forward to our first sail.
We went to pay our sailing fee for the 2 days (£30) and took Sophie down to the West Creek which is where the cabin cruisers launch from. By now it was 1330 and we set about rigging the boat. Everything was going pretty well; ropes untied, shrouds connected and finally we were ready to step the mast. Anne fitted the step bolt without difficulty and while I supported the mast she took the line we had attached to the forestay. Taking care to ensure that the shrouds were not kinked we gingerly raised the mast. When the mast was near vertical Anne got the forestay bolt in hand but seemed to be having a bit of difficulty fitting it. I pushed forward a little harder on the mast and Anne managed to fit the bolt. It was then that I noticed that the port side main shroud bottle screw had not slipped around the deck fitting U bolt into the vertical and was bent at the bottom.
It was now 1415 and we went along to the chandlers to see if they had a replacement bottle screw. Although the sign on the door said 'Closed for lunch, Open at 2PM' it was nearly half past 2 by the time it opened up. They did have some bottle screws and I bought the smallest one they had, however, when adjusted to the shortest length it was still too long for the job. We got a refund and decided to leave the bent bottle screw as it was but, as a precaution, we lashed around the U bolt and through the eyelet at the bottom of the shroud wire 'just in case'. By now it was 1515 and so, as we were both hungry, we decided to have our lunch before launching. Twenty minutes later with full stomachs we bent on the sails, furled them and reversed Sophie down the slipway to the waters edge.
A chap (Hugh) who had been working on his boat came over to give us a hand and finally at 1600 Sophie was floating true to her marks next to the launching pontoon.
I drove the trailer back up the slipway while Anne secured the bow and stern lines on the pontoon. When I had parked the car I walked back down the slipway to the pontoon and as I got to the pontoon I saw Anne was sat on the ground looking a bit pale and Hugh was by her side talking to her. As I got to her I saw she had a big gash in her thigh and numerous cuts and grazes on her leg. She explained that she had secured the lines and turned around to talk to Hugh and had stepped into the gap between the 2 sections of the floating pontoon. The cut at the top of her leg was particularly nasty so I got the car, bundled her in and whisked her off to the club house for a bit of first aid.
They managed to clean it up a bit, apply a dressing and then phoned through to Oakham casualty to get it cleaned and dressed properly. I drove Anne down to the hospital and they applied butterfly stitches, steri-strips and dressings to Anne's various cuts. Anne was by now, unsurprisingly, very sore and her leg was a bit stiff. We got back to Rutland at 1800 and decided it would be best to pack up and go home as by now Anne could barely bend her leg. Hugh had kept an eye on things and was a great help getting Sophie back on the trailer. We de-rigged and prepared once again for the road arriving back at Branston at 2145. It seemed to have been a very long day!