After a shocking start, things are finally looking up
Ocean Pirate is back in the race after battling north 400 miles on her own.
The restored 1968 Brooke Marine hull was one of the first to retire from leg one of the Round Britain Powerboat Race, just a quarter of a mile down the course.
She had hit an underwater submarine barrage in Portsmouth Harbour moments before the start, on Saturday, and damaged one of her props.
As the fleet streaked away down the Solent, a nightmare few days began for Ocean Pirate and her indomitable skipper Mike Barlow as he turned the craft back for Portsmouth.
After lifting the boat at Port Solent Marina in Portsmouth Harbour, Mike removed the damaged prop and drove it himself to St Neots near Cambridge for hasty repairs.
The unwanted excursion took him most of the day but by 9pm Ocean Pirate was back in the water and running for Plymouth at 24 knots.
Then the weather set in. It was a dark night with gale force winds brewing, and bashing into the waves Ocean Pirate took quite a battering.
With green water coming in through hatches in the pilothouse roof at 3am Mike decided to turn right for Brixham, where the boat remained stormbound for the next 36 hours.
It turned out leg two was cancelled because of the weather and the rest of the fleet made their way by road to Milford Haven in Wales for the start of leg three.
But Ocean Pirate, with no trailer at her disposal, was still stuck in Devon and it was only when the weather cleared the next day that she was able to make her way to Falmouth for fuel and then on around Land’s End.
Meanwhile the race fleet stormed away from them yet again, crossing the Irish Sea at top speeds in great conditions.
Mike says: “I had a quote for £3,200 to lift me out and be transported to Glasgow, but we’re in this to go round Britain by sea and not on a lowloader.”
Ocean Pirate headed for Ireland with the hope of catching the fleet for the fourth leg from Bangor, Northern Ireland.
The chances of that happening were blown by a fuel problem, and instead the crew went into Dun Laoghaire, once again hoping they could catch the race the following day.
For once, things went Ocean Pirate’s way and yesterday they made their way back across the Irish Sea to Oban, where Mike admits for the first time in several days he let his hair down.
“We went to a local pub and were joined by one of the fast boats crews. I have to admit I have a bit of a hangover today!”
Relieved to be back on track, he says: “We can’t compete with 38 knot boats in our class but we are back with the fleet and the weather is much improved.
“We are back in the race.”