Sunday, 24 February 2019

A very short trip

Last week Barry Watts, the engineer at the Tollesbury Saltings repacked the stern gland and fitted a retainer to stop the crown nut coming loose. While the engineer at Bristol had assumed that Robinetta would need to be lifted out, being on a mud berth means the repacking could be done at low water much more simply.

Beautiful weather on Saturday saw us heading to Tollesbury to check out the work. Julian decided he wanted to leave the berth and go for a short motor, so we got all the covers off. It took a while, so we were at the top of the tide and I was not sure we should head out. Unfortunately that translated to us going aground trying to get away from the berth, and it took a lot of revs, and waggling of the tiller to get us off the mud.

In the end we just circled in the channel and went back alongside the berth. This certainly tested the new packing on the stern gland. The prolonged high revs in both forward and reverse were a really good way of checking the shaft was now dry, but I would not recommend running hard aground as a deliberate policy.

Barry appeared soon after we tied up, and checked there had been no strange smells or smoke coming from the packing. It had all been fine.

We put the covers on and came home, after a very short expedition. 

Tuesday, 25 December 2018

Merry Christmas

Since boats can't type I will do it for her.

Merry Christmas to everyone who reads Robinetta's Blog! I give you season's greetings, and best wishes to all.

Here's to the next sailing season!

Thursday, 6 December 2018

Year end totals

Just a quick round up of Robinetta's 2018 season.

We spent 9 weeks, plus 4 weekends sailing, and in that time covered 1306 nautical miles, taking 403 hours on passage. This gives us an average cruising speed of 3.25 knots. As I have said before Robinetta is a slow boat!

The engine was on for 248 hours.

We visited three countries (England, Wales, and France). Our plans for next year are undecided at the moment, but we will certainly be sailing Robinetta again!

Sunday, 25 November 2018

November Sailing

Julian and I decided we would sail Robinetta to the OGA AGM since it was being held at Brightlingsea on a Saturday when spring tides would give us plenty of water to let us get on and off our mud berth. We did not even need to take Worm. The harbour master at Brightlinsea provides a winter water taxi service until 16:00, and Colin Stroud had promised to give us a lift back to the harbour pontoon after the meeting.

We were on board by 10:30, ready to strip off the winter covers and load on all the things we needed for a weekend on board. These included plenty of warm clothes and double sleeping bags, since the forecast was for a cold damp weekend. There would be wind though, force 4-5 ENE, so we could easily sail the 8nm to Brightlingsea in daylight.

Robinetta floated at 11:20, earlier than we expected, and after an interesting time getting clear of the berth we raised the main sail in Tollesbury Fleet at 12:05. We kept one reef in the main and used the no.2 jib, which was a comfortable sail set for the conditions. The engine stayed on until we were clear of the Leavings, but we were under sail alone as soon as it felt safe.

We were not the only sailing boat out and about. We saw at least 7 other boats taking advantage of the best weekend wind conditions for a month. The weather was not too bad either, although cold enough that the three hours it took us to beat down the Blackwater and into the Colne were enough time on the water. We did have a great sail though!

The long harbour pontoon that holds the visitor berths was almost deserted. A very rare state of affairs, and due to the fact that all boats had been asked to vacate them while new piles were put in. These were now in place, but the boats were not back yet.

The harbour master came by once we were moored, and we agreed to pay in the morning before we left. Once Robinetta was tidied up we headed ashore, for a convivial evening at the Colne Yacht Club which was hosting the AGM.

Broad reaching along the Mersea Flats
To our surprise the night aboard Robinetta was easily warm enough, and Julian had the best night's sleep he had had in weeks.

The sail back to Tollesbury was as enjoyable as the one out had been. Possibly more so since we saw a tiny bit of blue sky. It was also a little warmer with the wind behind us, a little wetter since it did rain briefly, and a lot faster! The tide and wind saw us nearly touch 7 knots over the ground as we very broad reached along the Mersea flats.

We had plenty of time to get to our berth, so Julian decided we should sail as far as we safely could. We furled the jib away at we passed the Mersea quarters buoy, which slowed us down to 4 knots and simplified our gybing in the wriggling approaches to the South channel. Then we ran on goosewinged stay sail and main, past the moorings in the Leavings.

Normally we would put the engine on to turn head to wind to drop the main sail well before reaching the turn to port that would take us into Woodrolfe Creek. This time we continued under sail until we were just past the turn before ducking head to wind and dropping the main. Then Julian turned us toward the creek while I set the jib, and we entered Woodrolfe Creek under head sails.

A yacht came overtook us under engine just inside the creek, but were careful to give us space, as was the yacht heading out from the marina.

We made the turn into the Saltings (just before the lightship) under sail, but were making too much lee way for comfort in the narrow channel, so Julian reluctantly turned the engine on (although not in gear) and I furled the jib. We carried on under stay sail power until we gently grounded on the mud in the final narrow gut way leading to our berth.

We had expected to ground. High water was not for another 1.5 hours! Grounding was no hardship. It gave me time to stow the bowsprit and get the head sails away, while Julian stayed on the helm and kept us heading for the berth whenever Robinetta floated off the mud.

We were back in our berth by 12:30, after a lovely 24 hours getting reacquainted with our local waters. We knew this would be our last sail of the year, so we tied Robinetta's covers on securely and brought all her sails home with us.

Friday, 23 November 2018

New Blog Book. Bristol to the Blackwater

This year's book of the blog is now complete and ready to buy from Amazon.

This is the first year that I have simultaneously published print and e-book versions. Publishing a 160 page book in full colour remains an expensive proposition. The paperback book is available at £14.99, but the e-book is only £3.90. The e-book is also available from the other outlets on the side bar.

The two formats are slightly different, in that the e-book has a couple more pictures, but the text is identical.

The book is not just a straight rip of the blog, but carefully edited to make a flowing text. This one is in Julian's voice, and I hope you find it interesting. If you do decide to buy it would be lovely if you left a review!

Sunday, 11 November 2018

At Tollesbury Saltings

I have been to see Robinetta a couple of times in the past 2 months, to run the engine and check over the boat. Today Julian came too. We had been thinking of going out for a sail, leaving at lunchtime on Saturday, then returning at high water on Sunday. The weather was lovely on Saturday morning, but we had been looking at the forecast, and with heavy rain forecast over night, and the wind gusting to force 6 we decided against it. Instead we put the foredeck cover on, and just enjoyed the morning.
Robinetta seems very at home at Tollesbury, and it is lovely to be able to spend a couple of hours on her without a long drive.

Sunday, 9 September 2018


I got to Tollesbury about 10am and met Paul, the manager for Tollesbury Saltings and Max, a friendly  Labrador who is, I think, really in charge. We looked at several berths but with Alison's broken toe the one on the path near the car park was the obvious one for now. I rang Alison and explained how to get to it.

Alison got Robinetta off her mooring at Salcott at about 11am and motored the 3 miles round the corner. I waited by the entrance and when she got near she called me on the phone and I guided her to the entrance.

I walked along the decking towards the gut, paralleling Robinetta.

There is a narrow gut to get through marked by leading marks. I shouted over to Alison and she guided Robinetta through the gut and around onto our berth.

 We got her secured and unloaded most of what was to come off and then went for a fine lunch at the Cruising Club. That meant we could go back and see how she went down into the mud. Less than an hour after high water we were aground. I'm not sure we can get in and out of this berth at neaps!

This is the gut at low water.