A young woman and sea fishing – launches Lady Grace
After weeks of back-breaking slog, Lady Grace is ready for sea fishing. Stacey Belbin’s unusual life starts its next chapter as Lady Grace is launched.
Before I had invested everything in buying and renovating Lady Grace I had ploughed a great deal of time, effort and money into getting all the necessary bits of paper to my name.
First aid at sea, fire fighting at sea, sea survival, safety at sea, offshore commercially endorsed yachtmasters course – all of these certificates take hours of study and experience before you can even attempt the exams.
It was all worth it when launch day came around – Lady Grace and I were proudly ready for passengers.
I had been running the boat less than an hour when I got my first paying customer onboard. We were chatting away happily when I noticed a cloud of black smoke billowing through the floorboards behind him. The engine began to make some concerning noises and I stopped alongside a nearby barge.
How embarrassing – my first paying customer and I’d broken down and, if that wasn’t bad enough, he was my former Ocean Masters exam teacher from just months before.
Another course I had taken was on basic diesel engine repair and maintenance so was hoping I could sort this out myself. As I lifted up the engine hatch it revealed the swan neck had broken clean away from the header tank – I couldn’t sort that there and then.
I got a tow back to my mooring and my father-in-law kindly came to lend a hand. It turned out that the engine was too old to make a replacement viable and with a heavy heart I had to invest in a new engine.
The engineer was fantastic, the boat was whipped out the water on the Monday and the new engine was ordered. These engines are built to order, which took two weeks but by end of week three the new engine was fully fitted, tried, tested and the boat was sitting on its mooring ready for the weekend action.
Lady Grace was up and running smoothly by the Mersea Regatta – the busiest day of the year.
The morning’s sailing races were followed by rowing races, swimming races, races consisting of directing your blindfold husband while he rows, shovel races, walking the greasy pole and much more.
When all the races are over everyone retired ashore for food and to wander round the stalls. The prize-giving and the best firework display in the country was in the evening.
Then everyone wandered down to the fair ground, drinking and eating candyfloss until the bagpipes start to play and the whole of the Mersea population followed the pipers through the town.
This was the best day for Lady Grace’s official launch. I worked till gone midnight ferrying visiting yachtsmen back to their boats after the enjoyment ashore.
I named my boat after my husband’s Grandmother, whom I had loved dearly. She had unfortunately passed away the year before.
Grace had been Scottish and the skirl of the pipes seemed a fitting end to Lady Grace’s launch day. As the pipes started up I looked at Scott with tears in my eyes as all the wonderful memories of Grace came flooding back.
It seemed Scott, Lady Grace and I together would make a success of this business – her launch day had certainly been a success.
It was a sign of things to come. Just being on the water with Lady Grace brings me alive, it’s as though Grace is with me keeping me safe.