"Sally Endeavour" - A Story from the early 90's

From 1973 to 1994, Charles (Chaz) Jordan was a member of Kent Police during which time he competed in a number of police sailing regattas in his Phantom dinghy.

He also sailed a Spearhead - known by many as the 'banana boat' due to it's colour and bendy characteristics. His crew was Bob Bruce.

During Chaz' service he had a number of unique, sailing related opportunities and the story below records his memories of one such occasion.....


Following the bomb at the Royal Marine base at Deal 1989, my crew and very good friend, PC Robert (Bob) Bruce, (Dover Police) and a member of the priesthood in The Church of JESUS CHRIST of Latter Day Saints, with the help and hard work of his family, sold tie-pins at 2 each and raised over 20,000 for the families of the Royal Marines that lost their lives.

Bob was honoured in 1990 by receiving the British Empire Medal (BEM). He is a Yacht Master and was a crew member on the Dover Life Boat for 28 years where he was awarded the R.N.L.I. bronze medal for service during the hurricane on 16th October 1978. During the same period, Bob was also heavily involved with youth sail training at the Dover Water Sports centre, where he worked as a RYA Senior Instructor. In the expansion of the youth activities provided by the centre, yachts were purchased, the Kent Sail Training Association was formed and eventually, a Camper-Nicholson 50ft Yawl named Sally Endeavour was acquired. This vessel was owned and heavily sponsored by the 'Sally Line" a ferry company which operated out of Ramsgate Harbour where the vessel was based.

During 1991, Bob was later involved in more money raising, which was used by members of the Disabled Police Officers Association in their efforts for the Royal Ulster Constabulary. It was decided in consultation with the DPOA committee, that a holiday be provided for children who's parent(s) had been seriously injured whilst serving in the R.U.C. Bob provided the finances and logistics for the holiday. This included transport, flights, and finances for treats on the trip. The D.P.O.A. selected which children of the DPOA families should benefit, as many had not been on holiday for years!

Bob Bruce had organised that the Kent Sail Training Association Yacht ~ Sally Endeavour ~ a Duke of Edinburgh's Award vessel, be used for this purpose. Ten Irish children (5 girls, 5 boys. 5 Roman Catholic, 5 Protestant) ranging from 12-19 years were selected from the families of disabled RUC officers to board Sally Endeavour ~ departing Belfast to Cowes, IoW for Cowes Week. They were to be accompanied by a serving WPC as a chaperone.

It was decided that because Bob had raised the funds for the trip that he should go. But, the inevitable happened, Bob was required to work on an operation during the time he should have been at sea and as I was on leave, I was requested to stand in for Bob. I have to say that Bob was very disappointed. However, towards the end of July, Bob had 3 days off prior to the operation and we flew from Gatwick to Belfast to join the festivities and parades of the 'Tall Ships Race' that had just docked at Belfast before the leg of their race to Norway.

Bob and I were collected by taxi and taken to a Hotel where the DPOA had hired rooms for all. We were introduced to all members of the DPOA, the children and their families. Bob and I made our way to the Belfast docks where Sally Endeavour was moored. We met the skipper and his crew. They had sailed from Dublin in a force 7 going 8 gale. The seas were evidently mountainous. The crew including skipper were very sick. The crew were still swabbing the decks as we arrived. Their wet clothing had been strung out over booms, up halyards and anywhere there was a space to dry them. A couple of the younger members of their crew still appeared rather pale.

Bob had about 25 blue sweat shirts and 25 white short sleeved T-shirts with a 'Kent Police Care' motif printed on each. These were handed out, a pair to each of the crew, which included Dave Hinkley (Mate), Margaret Cunningham and members of the DPOA also Ken Hughes, an Ocean Master and skipper for the Kent Sail Training Association (KSTA) based at Ramsgate.

The new crew of Sally Endeavour took part in the Tall Ships parade through the streets of Belfast to the sound of some very loud musical bands, all wearing newly donned sweat and T-shirts. Bob had purchased a large plastic blow-up killer whale and used it as our mascot. The parade finalised at the Belfast Town Hall, where there were many speeches on very loud, loud-speakers followed by a prize giving.

On return to Sally, we followed the Tall Ships into the Irish Sea amongst a flotilla of all kinds of seaworthy craft. Hooters, whistles and fog horns, all sounding off as the Tall ships headed north.

We returned and berthed at Belfast docks overnight to finalise preparations for our sea voyage. As there were 5 girls and 1 adult female and 5 boys and 3 adult males making 14 including our skipper, during daylight hours we were divided into 4 eight hour shifts and during darkness into 3 four hour shifts commencing at 2200 hours. We all took our turn as cook and bottle-washer and did our own thing in a kind of Karaoke. Some sang, some cited poetry or told jokes.

Apart from my tasks aboard, my main responsibility was to keep a video diary.

We departed Belfast at 1030 hours the following day. We were due to stop overnight at Peel, Isle of Man, but as the wind had eased to F3, our skipper decided that we ought to continue using the engine for extra speed, otherwise we would be late for our first race start at Cowes. As we headed south, our young crew were rather argumentative for the first 10 hours, but as I explained to them, 'Here is an opportunity for you all to make friends' - and they did. They all pulled their weight even when feeling sea-sick. Several threw up, but after the initial 24 hours everyone was good company. I volunteered to be the first Duty Cook - Cumberland Sausages, mashed potatoes, carrots and gravy followed by bananas and custard. They ate the lot and wanted more!

There was little to do but eat, sleep and be on duty. However, there was a lot of leg-pulling and general mucking about. As sun sank below the horizon, the temperature fell and there was a definite damp chill in the air. The night watch donned their warm mittens, scarves, woollen hats. Phosphorescence could be seen in the bow wave and wake. The wind had freshened to F4-5, so we cut the engine and eased the sheets so our heading was due south on a broad reach. We clocked between 5-6.5 knots.

During our second successive night, as we passed Cape Cornwall we kept 'The Brisons' rock to starboard, we hardened up onto a port fetch towards Land's End, making sure Longships Lighthouse was always to starboard. As we reckoned that we had Longships about 3 miles to our Starboard quarter, we hardened up onto a close haul and heading of 170 degrees. Sailing at about 5.5 knots we cleared Gwennap Head and noted the tide was with us and we made good time across Mount's Bay towards The Lizard and began to ease the sheets onto a fetch. As the sun began to rise, the wind strength dropped from F3 to F2, so we used the engine to assist. Within one hour of the sun coming into view, the wind dropped from F2 to F1 and then calm. The sea was almost smooth; not quite a mill pond. Seagulls swooped beckoning for scraps. We motored along making 7.2 knots over the ground, whilst the sails flapped limply.

It was during these quiet periods that Ken, Dave and myself gave verbal and visual seamanship lessons to our Irish visitors. Rope and wire and rope to wire splicing. Knots and lashing. Simple navigation and maintenance to yachts. Marks and night-time navigation sounds and signals, etc.

We entered Falmouth and moored to a pontoon. As soon as we had made everything shipshape and Bristol fashion, most of the young shipmates went to explore. Whilst they were gone, skipper Dave, Margaret and I went to the local supermarket for provisions. I had never shopped like that before. 6 of that, 7 of something else, 3 dozen eggs, 10 loaves of bread, 25 cans of baked beans, etc., etc. Three shopping trolleys were used.

Later, everyone went to a Falmouth Restaurant to sample fine Italian cuisine, paid for by Bob's fundraising. They had fully relaxed by this time and everyone had a jolly good time. On return to Sally we were all in good spirits. Many of the crew stayed awake until the early hours of the morning.

Just as dawn was breaking, we set sail, well, rather motored out of Falmouth to Cowes. The sea was calm and glistened as the wake created patterns on the oily surface. Towards early evening, having passed the Needles about 3 hours previously, we moored alongside several other yachts at a marina on the River Medina, near to Clarence Road, East Cowes, Isle of Wight. Everyone on board was excited. Our young crew zoomed off to explore the town.

It had been arranged that, as the Sally Endeavour was part of the Duke of Edinburgh's award scheme and that His Royal Highness was present at Cowes, he may pay us a visit. In the event, although aboard the Royal Tender, he did not come aboard, but cruised by just looking.

Sally Endeavour was never designed for racing. She has cruising lines all over - heavy duty masts and rigging with heavy sail cloth. She did not have a folding prop. The fuel tank was not emptied. The water tanks were almost full. There were provisions, the crew possessions, books, charts, landlubbers for a crew, the helm responded sluggishly and she was heavy.

We signed on for 3 races. The first race we failed to finish in time, so we were deemed to have retired. The second race, we hit the mark 'Brambles' fair and square with a resounding CLANG !! much to the amusement of G&T sippers on their waterborne palaces. We were instantly disqualified. One or two of our young crew were visibly disappointed in our performance. Ken decided that with previous racing experience, I should be tactician for the next race. That evening, I got 3 lads to swim around and under the the yacht with sponges, wiping the slime of the hull. According to our scrubbers, they removed quite a bit. They were in the water for 2 hours. They did a fine job! Having signed on we left our mooring for the start of our third race three hours early in an attempt to whip our crew into some sort of shape. We practiced tacking and gybing. They were keen and soon got the hang of it. About 20 minutes before the start I positioned Sally Endeavour about half way between Cowes and the mainland. I handed the oldest lad a megaphone to stand at the bows facing forward and asked him to repeat loudly whatever I told him. The start appeared to be on a port bias and the large racing yachts began to gather for the start with 10 minutes to go. We were on a starboard fetch with the tide under us, we headed from outside the start line towards the outer distance mark. With 90 seconds to the start, we were about 50 metres outside the line and my lad shouted "STARBOARD!" Came the startled reply, 'You can't do that!' "Oh yes we can. We are racing and if you do not tack, I fear we will hit you amidships.!" There followed a great deal of shouting for water to tack and as a gap opened between the leeward yacht and the mark, we tacked onto port and started. There was a great deal of expletives from the other yacht.

We finished and went to sign off. Although 9 of the 36 starters had retired, we were last, but 27th out of 36. We had actually achieved a result! Our young crew cheered! They were well pleased.

The last evening of the Regatta we left our mooring to watch the fantastic firework display. Having returned to our mooring and spent our last night on board together, we motored over to Gosport and moored at the Camper-Nicholson yard where we disembarked. We had enjoyed 16 days and nights with a great group of Irish lads and lasses. Bob arrived driving the Force coach and was waiting to take our crew to Gatwick for the flight back to Belfast. Every one of the crew said their goodbyes and left, hopefully knowing their world is now a better place. One or two said how much they had enjoyed their trip and that they now wanted to move to and live in England. Praise indeed.




Chaz Jordan
(ex Kent County Constabulary)