Most of my early boat ownership didn’t involve a delivery passage because I built them myself in our garage.
But when we bought “Gala” our Hurley 22 she was in Emsworth on a trailer. We were living in Cornwall, 6-7hrs drive one way. We went to look at her in August 2005 checking one road going and another coming back, looking for roads without any steep hills. Liking what we saw made an offer subject to survey and “Gala” became ours in September.
Now to tow her home! I am well used to towing trailers as I have done 75% of my working life, reversing isn’t a problem for me. I checked with my friend “Jay” a engineer what I needed to check re bearings of trailer, he said to jack up and check movement, should spin easy but there shouldn’t be any lateral movement. I checked weights the HOA website said the yacht weight was 1.75 ton (I found out later after the tow, that this weight was dry hull factory weight and didn’t include anything else). The van I was going to use for the tow was rated to 4 ton all up gross including van weight. The trailer was 1/2ton, the van was 1ton and I allowed 1/2ton for extra’s, which added up to 3.75ton, with in limits I thought!
Early in September we set off in my van to tow “Gala” home, checking another road for steep hills on route. By the time we arrived up to Emsworth the second time we had checked 3 roads all of which had a steep hill somewhere, so we were going to have to try another road which we didn’t know yet. Not being rich we stayed aboard “Gala” that night and I remember sitting in the cockpit a lovely starlight night and watching the lights of the planes fly over head. Next morning I was out early doing my bearing checks and the boatyard pulled “Gala” out onto the exit road for me to hitch up on tarmac. Mast strapped down to “Gala” and “Gala” to trailer. I checked the height of load in case of any low bridges, she was a lot taller than the van.
Then we were ready to go, the time had passed, it was 11am. We had looked at the road map book again and decided to go north up the motorway and join the A303 running west. This we did “Gala” was towing well but there was quite a rattle coming from the trailer, I pulled over to check, it turned out to be the solid brake rods rattling in their holders. It was slow going, our max speed was 50mph because she would snake above that speed. All was good until where the A303 passed over the A350, we came along a level to the bottom of a steep hill and I thought to me self this is going to be a tester! We were in the crawler lane and cars even lorries were passing us up the fast lane, we were in 3rd then down to 2nd and then 1st. We almost made it to the top! The van stalled just before the hill started to level out. Well we couldn’t stay there on this busy road, so I reversed back down over the hill in the slow lane to the level and parked up. I crossed the road on foot and asked a farm worker if the minor road (cut though to A350) I was standing in was steep, he said “no, it’s a gentle incline compared to the A303” I thanked him and crossed the road again backed to my van. My next problem was crossing the A303 from inside to turn right onto the minor road, I am glad to say other motorists stopped to let me do so, she was heavy and slow to get moving, one moving I didn’t want to stop, up this minor road we went and out onto the A350 heading south, up the slip road to turn right back onto the A303 heading west!
Continuing west each hill after that, the thought in the back of the mind was are we going to make it! But all was well until Honiton the A30 had been blocked by a landslide and we were diverted to join the M5 at Cullompton. We decided stopping at the Exeter services was a good idea for food and toilet break. There we would of stopped for the night but it wasn’t permitted. We decided the A38 wasn’t a good option due to the steep hill so we went on west on the A30. After Okehampton we turned off a minor road to Roadford Reservoir carpark for the night. That evening I phoned “Jay” and explained the problem with hills! I asked weather he would come out with his works Landrover if we couldn’t get up a hill somewhere, he thought for a bit and then said, “I will give you a route to avoid steep hills” which he did. Next day we carried on west on the A30 to Blackwater Roundabout and then we went back to Truro on A390, Truro to Falmouth on A39, Falmouth to Helston on A394, then on to our local roads, we had to go to Gweek to avoid another steep hill and on out onto Goonhilly Downs to avoid another, but we got back home in the end. The total journey time had been 11.5hrs excluding stops. Having done that tow, I said “never again!” But I did tow her to and from the water with my Landrover Discovery at the beginning and end of seasons for a number of years until I saw sense and used a local farmer with a 4×4 tractor.
“Gala” ready one season between 2011-2014 for the 2 mile tow to the sea.
When we sold “Gala” in 2017 the new owner arranged with a boat transport company to tow her to South Wales, the companies base was Porthtreath in north Cornwall, the owner came with a Landrover to tow “Gala” on her trailer to his base where she was loaded onto a low loader for delivery.
This my last photo was “Gala” awaiting Landrover tow to Porthreath, and then low loader to South Wales.