Friday, 17 January 2020

Delays and more delays....

The winter is always a quiet time for us, but we generally have a maintenance schedule and post regularly.  This year is is the exception.

We decided we wanted Robinetta out of the water as soon as possible in October so we could get the rudder pintles sorted out, a new rudder built, and some caulking done. Here we are, middle of January, and she is still sitting on her mud berth. There are reasons for this, but it is still frustrating!

1) As we discovered over the summer Robinetta can only get out of this berth for at most six days a fortnight. Most of the time the yard only works for 4 of those days since they are closed on Sunday and Monday.

2) With no way of steering the work boat is needed along side to move her, so the tide needs to be really high for the channel to be wide enough. Down to 6 days in the month...
3) Tollesbury is so tidal that the yard is lucky to get 3 boats out on a tide. Our first scheduled haul out was in December (other people booked first).

4) The weather. High winds on the available haul out days in December meant is would be unsafe to move. Date changed to January.

5) Strong winds again, plus the yard manager is sick. Looks like the earliest we can hope for is first spring tides in February....

We don't know how long it will take to make the new rudder, and Paul Drake who will be making it can not give a cost estimate either until he has a good look at it (and the pintles it will hang on). Our sailing season might start late.

Sunday, 13 October 2019

Rudder woes

When Alison visited on Monday she saw the rudder broken. We went today to fit a new float switch and bring the gaff home to make a new one for next year and took some pictures.

The rudder has completely sheared. It was last rebuilt shortly after we bought the boat. Everson's at Woodbridge build a new head-stock onto the existing rudder and it looks like the break is roughly at the join.

We believe the original rudder was damaged in a fire at Beaumaris during the Second World War. By 1946 it looked like this, and the shape is roughly the same as the drawings in the 1937 Yachting Monthly:
We don't know when the current rudder was fitted, but as it is GRP over a scrap wood core we think it must date to the 1960s. It is a very different shape but it worked really well.
So we now need to decide whether to go for another repair, a replacement more in keeping with the original, or something different.

Saturday, 24 August 2019

Stuck on the berth

I went to Tollesbury on Wednesday to put things aboard Robinetta ready for the weekend. I had been told that the owner of her current berth was coming back soon, so I also needed to check out the new berths available. In the end I moved her round to a new berth that would be hers in the long run, with the only question being would we be able to get out at neaps?

This morning, at 6am we unfortunately discovered the answer to be no.With high pressure, and only 4.1m forecast for the tide we were stuck on the berth. We tried to move Robinetta for about half an hour around high water, and we could not get away, although we did carve ourselves a bit of a channel by aggressive use of the engine....
When I looked at this berth on Wednesday the bottom was completely smooth, but Robinetta has already carved herself a hole, with mud piled up in a cushion around her, and we could not push ourselves out of it.

Sunday, 4 August 2019

Back to Tollesbury

After looking at the tides we decided to leave Burnham around 8 am to head home. Many of the OGA boats had further to go, being based up the Wallet, so set off much earlier, and some based in the Blackwater decided to take the Raysand channel rather than the Spitway, so were leaving later.

The wind direction looked good for sailing once we were in the Blackwater, so we decided to make for the Spitway. I thought we would be motoring down the Crouch and had planned my timings accordingly, but Julian has the sails up and the engine off while we were still in the middle of the Burnham moorings! We did manage to sail for a couple of hours, while the tide was with us, but by the time we reached the Outer Crouch buoy (no2) at 09:50 the tide was against us and with the light winds were were hardly making anything as we tacked.

Motor sailing brought us within a cable of the Swin Spitway buoy by noon, and I began to cut across the sands on the Buxey side, watching the depth gauge carefully. We never had less than 3m beneath us and on this heading we could reach, so I soon turned the engine off.

We had a gorgeous sail across the Spitway and into the Blackwater, only dropping the main sail once we were at the entrance to Woodrolfe Creek. Even then we did not turn the engine on, but headed up Woodrolfe on the tide, using the staysail to give us steerage way. We wanted fuel (the first of the year) and sailed all the way into the marina. Once there we did need the engine for maneuvering!

Having been away for over 3 weeks we were very pleasantly surprised to only need 15.3 litres to refill the tanks. This shows the difference between local cruising without an agenda and an occasional race, and cruising with a purpose as we had been doing for the previous 5 years.

By 15:05 we were back on our berth in the Saltings, after a lovely holiday.

Saturday, 3 August 2019

Racing cancelled

After spending Friday ashore, visiting Battlesbridge by train from North Fambridge, today was supposed to be the Crouch Race. It has previously been held in May, but last year the weather was so bad that no one turned up to race. This year there were plenty of boats ready to race, but no wind for them to race with.

Titch and Snoopy
After postponing the start for two hours in the hope that some wind would come up the decision was reluctantly made to cancel, and have a parade of boats down to Burnham where there were moorings booked instead. We were supposed to leave together at noon, but this did not really happen and the boats straggled down stream, with some trying to sail.

Julian "dressed" Robinetta on the way downstream to try and make a bit more of an event of it, and we left the flags up as we caught the launch over to the Royal Burnham YC for the final event of the Summer Cruise, the prize giving dinner.

We did not win anything (we did not expect to), but we had had a really lovely week sailing with like minded people and beautiful boats. The East Coast OGA Summer cruise remains a great week of sailing and socialising.

Thursday, 1 August 2019

Across the Spitway to the Crouch

West Mersea was our last port of call in the Blackwater for the OGA summer cruise. Today we had a self timed passage race through the Spitway and into the Crouch. We decided to use every bit of tide we could, so decided to leave West Mersea two hours before low water to take the last of the ebb down river, cross the Spitway at low water, then take the first of the flood up the Crouch. This works fine for Robinetta, drawing 1.4m, but on a spring tide made owners of deeper draft boats reluctant to do the same. Another reason for reluctance was it meant leaving around 5am...

We crossed the start (Nass beacon bearing 0M ) at 05:17. Sunrise exactly, and on a lovely broad reach.

passing the Wallet Spitway buoy

Three boats did the same as us, and we sailed almost in company down the Blackwater and to the Spitway. Once through we had to harden up, and beat into the Crouch. It was only just after low water and there was very little tide to help. We had wanted to go north of the Swallowtail Bank, but could not make the course, so ended up in the main channel, tacking as close to the sand banks as possible. We could see them clearly, which helped!

We had almost made it to the end of the Swallowtail bank when we saw Transcur beating down on the other side of it. Being later over the Spitway she had more tide assist so could make the course. Why didn't I think of that?

Beating into the Crouch is not generally much fun, but after we were clear of the Swallowtail the making tacks got longer, and I enjoyed myself handling the jib while Julian helmed. I could see a lot of seals on both the Buxey and the Foulness sands, and once we were passed the Inner Crouch bouy there were other things to look at too.

We finished our race at 10:46, on the Royal Burnham YC line, then continued on up the Crouch towards Fambridge. Despite Julian's dislike of beating up the Crouch he wanted to keep sailing not put the engine on, so we stayed under sail all the way to North Fambridge, only getting the engine on after we had passed the Yacht Station pontoon where we were to moor the for night.

Once we had everything away we motored back and rafted up on Rely.

Wednesday, 31 July 2019

Heybridge to West Mersea

This was the day of the Ladies Helm/Skipper and Junior Helm race. We had tried hard to borrow a junior to helm Robinetta for the race, but all the young ones has better (i.e. faster) offers. I never feel right competing in this race as it is meant to encourage people who do not otherwise take the helm. Julian was also feeling slightly grumpy as he had nothing to do but crew,  so I decided that our official "class" was Lady Skipper, and as skipper I would put Julian on the helm. This is not really in the spirit of the race, but it made Julian happier.

The start at Osea Island was a bit confusing as we could not see Emmanuel, the start boat, very well and it was a down wind and down tide race. I got Julian to stay back from the line and we kept having to avoid other boats. Julian was getting grumpy again from my lack of aggressiveness, and we made a poor start, trailing at the back and getting further behind.

The turning mark on the Mersea shore, where the race headed back towards West Mersea elusive. It was one of the West Mersea YC racing marks, and we had the lat/long for it which we had put in the chart plotter. The rest of the fleet seemed to be much further down river that where we knew it should be, then we heard a call on the radio. No one could find it, so the race would now turn at an 8 knot speed limit buoy.

Initially we felt rather grumpy about this, seeing where the rest of the fleet were, and declared that we would turn at the proper buoy. Only when we got to where it should be we could see nothing but an 8 knot speed limit buoy.... This was much closer to the shore than the race mark should have been, but we could see it, and it was in approximately the right position. We used it as our turning mark, and were suddenly back in the race.

The beat back towards the finish line, the Nass beacon bearing 195M, was hard work, but good fun. We rarely push Robinetta, but she had carried full sail on the broad run/run down river, and now we were beating she was healed well over, with the gunnal under. The flat seas meant I felt quite safe with this, and we short tacked up the Mersea flats to avoid the worst of the ebbing tide. We raced against Titch, who went so close to the shore she ran aground, then held our own against Crescent Moon at the line.

We got the sails down just after the beacon and called up the yacht club who were organising moorings for us. They gave us one that was nice and easy to find, and we picked it up without any problems.

We confessed to not finding the "right" mark either and turning at the speed limit one at the yacht club that evening when we met Ed who was running the race. He told us it had sounded as though we would lodge a protest when we called him up during the race!