Yesterday I was fortunate to be able to crew on Tony Ryan's Smack Gracie which took part in the Swale match race. Gracie is a wonderful and powerful Smack. This was the first gaff rigged vessel I have sailed on and I was bemused by the number of ropes there are to hoist and set the sails.
At the start the wind was a force 4 and soon freshened to a force 6. The course was 23 nautical miles. Unfortunately due to gear failure and an injured crew member the decision was made to drop sail off Whitstable and motor back to Harty Ferry where we dropped anchor for three hours whilst we waited for the tide to return in order to return to the Gracie's mooring at Hollow Shore. We were not the only small ship to suffer gear failure. Several barges and smacks had lost their top masts during the race and one smack's gaff jaws had broken.
I have to say I have been smitten by Smack sailing and look forward to future adventures on this and other traditional working boats.