Around 05:15 on 17th June 2017.
Tally Ho is underway, headed north towards Port Townsend and Sequim, which will become her home for the next couple of years.
Judy May Lopez and Pat Kellis, both Albert Strange Association members, were both there to see her off and to take some photos.
Joyous but Sad
This must have been a time of very mixed emotions for both of them, but especially for Judy, who's late husband Manuel had been restoring Tally Ho when he had his fatal heart attack. Memories of Manuel, memories of the project, and watching this particular memory being towed away. But also that understanding that Tally Ho is going somewhere where she will live on, and therefore, so will the spirit of Manuel.
I sent word to both Thad and Leo this morning - and sent photos – TH is on her way north. I saw Pat at noon today, he was cleaning up the boat area. I have a video, it hasn’t been uploaded because of the size, but should be later. The driver told me this morning they expect to be there in two days. Link on TH from local newspaper: http://www.currypilot.com/
The Journey to here.
Tally Ho had been languishing, perhaps 'marooned' at Port of Brookings Harbour for some years. The Albert Strange Association did not have anywhere near enough resources to take her on for ourselves, either for the restoration, or to run her as a vessel for the Association, though with enough application it was certainly possible. The plan early on had been to find someone, probably with lots of money, to buy her and have her restored. The estimate to do that properly was "probably in excess of half a million pounds".
We asked a favour of a classic yacht broker, who had her on his books for some time. Through him and our own efforts, we found several interested buyers, usually from the UK, but the final answer was usually the same "I would if she were in the UK, but in that area of the US west coast, it really isn't realistic for me". Who could blame them for that?
Port of Brookings Harbor were supportive, but also had to be realistic about their business. For a very long time they had found an out of the way corner of their yard (a corner of some foreign field, perhaps) and charged us a very low storage rate. But there finally came a time when that corner was needed. It's been bought for a new sewage processing facility. As a consequence, they said "sorry, but she has to go. We are unable to keep her here any longer". A few members were upset by that, but we reminded them both of how long they'd supported us and, with the efforts and determination of a small core of us, that "They have done us a favour. They have forced us to go to another level to rescue Tally Ho". I'm usually up for a challenge.....
The general feeling amongst us all was that the main problem with trying to save her was "where she was". There simply isn't much interest in that area in classic yachts of any kind. A few hundred miles north around Puget Sound, things are better. East coast USA is much better. But her real history and importance is as a British yacht. We made a decision ... we would try our hardest to bring her back to Britain, where we could then have a realistic chance of finding a buyer, or indeed where we had a realistic chance of getting grant funding in the UK. Most of the funders have no interest, or indeed are not allowed to have an interest, unless the boat is in the UK.
Many is the time that people have said "we'll never do it". But I don't give up easily! Early on when the fund raising stalled and we failed to get the proper full-scale crowd-funding site up and running, I began for a while to think they were right, though in no small part that came about because one or two people, reasonably, have "seen this all before" and simply didn't believe we could succeed.
My campaign was with the website and Facebook, contacting organisations and people with experience in supporting a boat if we tried to restore and run her for the Albert Strange Association, some was getting her name, history and plight "out there", some was trying to find a shipper that might be able to move her as a favour for the publicity, some was encouraging support from UK grant providers for if/when we'd "brought her back home". All was exploring every avenue we could think of, short term and long term, whilst trying to fund a move at least somewhere.
We received several enquiries during the campaign. More often than not from well intentioned people who did not understand the scale of the task. All but one came to nothing.
But One Is All We Needed
The person who came forward has a much more modest budget than the estimate, but the estimate is for professional restoration by a good yard to pristine. The guy who came forward is young, keen, very determined, a trained boatbuilder, had done one previous small restoration apparently well. And was pleasingly realistic.
Our main boatbuilding members, Thad Danielson in the US and Jamie Clay in the UK had extensive email and telephone discussions, a précis of which they fed back to the team. Our excited and very apprehensive contact asked lots of excellent and sensible questions, not just about what is really involved in the restoration, but also things like "if I then sail her to the UK, what might I have to pay in taxes for her import?".
Thad met up with him at Port Townsend and drove to Brookings.
"It was intense in a relaxed way. 11 and 13 hour drives, with much talk about details especially after Brookings. The way down was mostly getting to know each other. 10 plus hours with Tally Ho. Then in Port Townsend at breakfast, we started at 7:30 yesterday with a boatbuilder/teacher who sat with him looking through his pictures seeing very well the situation. We went on to the Port Townsend Maritime Heritage Center, the Wooden Boat foundation/Schooner Martha Foundation, a do it yourself boatyard, the high school boatbuilding program, lunch, the Port Townsend Foundry, and the Wooden Boat School, where I left him. For my ride to the airport."
Here was a sane and sensible man who seemed to have the right skills, attitude, judgement to take on Tally Ho. And on the west coast of America, which was just as well as we still had only 10% of our fundraising target.
After much more research on his part and not a little due diligence work on the part of the Association which wanted to avoid "rescuing her all over again in a couple of years time", we agreed the sale.
The sale was made May 30th, for the massive sum of one US dollar.
The funds we raised, and also a substantial chunk of the Association's meagre funds have gone to help pay for the move from Brookings to Sequim, which was a more costly move than our original short move fallback position, but she was going to a real new home for restoration, not just to another holding place.
Hopefully, in a couple of years, we'll see her sailing back into the UK and also, hopefully, we'll see her in a centenary Classics Fastnet Race. Racing again against Jolie Brise. Now that really would be the "cherry on the cake"