Sunday, 21 December 2008

Aground again ?

Thought we'd head up past Felixstowe. Saw a plastic bermudan having trouble but our brains obviously not in gear. Got close and saw the lifeboat had a line to her. Went the wrong side to avoid it and got stuck on Harwich shelf ourselves.

Honestly, Robinetta is not a pelagic fish.

Lifeboat tried towing us off, but nasty noises down below. Moved the towrope to the mast and that worked.

Tired and demoralised, we messed about a bit in the harbour and went home.

Saturday, 15 November 2008

not always fun

WSW2-3 Tried to go up the Stour but making no head way. Turned round and headed up the Stour. Got as far as Fagbury and turned round and went home. Don't think the crew was upto much today.

Saturday, 25 October 2008

more wind


Motored up to Parkeston Quay. Raised sail with one roll round the boom on the main, stay sail and no jib.

Sailed back.

Saturday, 11 October 2008

Getting the habit

Our normal jaunt up the Stour to Wrabness and turn round.

The hole in the bulwark for the bowsprit needs some attention

Sunday, 21 September 2008

Back Home

Robinetta floated level at 0430, and we were tempted to just go to sleep properly for a bit. However we needed to get home, and we would ground again within the hour, so it was get up, and engine on. We were away from the dock at 0505.

It was very dark, overcast so there was no moon or star light, and slightly foggy. Luckily we had brought our hand held GPS with us, and used it yesterday. It does not have any charts on it, but it did record our track. I helmed while Julian took the GPS to the foredeck and used it to identify the lit channel markers and tell me where to steer.

We picked our way down river carefully, keeping an eye on the depth gauge, and had no problems. The scary thing was that at least two other boats were following our lights....

We got the sails up at Osea Island and started motor sailing, but the fog got really thick just after that and going past the moorings off the Marconi Sailing Club felt dangerous. Luckily the wind increased soon after and blew away the fog giving us a good sail the rest of the way out of the Blackwater.

The wind dropped again later in the morning and we had to put the motor on at 1050. The autohelm came into play again and we ate lunch as we motored past Clacton Pier. We were motor sailing past Walton Pier at 1400, and a soon as we cleared the pier we turned the engine off and sailed into Harwich Harbour.

We were back on our berth in Shotley by 1640, having taken over 13 hours for the trip. Maldon feels like a long way away....

Saturday, 20 September 2008

The Maldon Regatta

No wind for most of the morning. We thought we were quite near the start line when the gun went - then it took 40 minutes to get past it!

Thanks to Robin for this photo!

The course was shortened after an hour since no one was going anywhere, and we just headed for the finish line by the shortest route. We crossed the line at Osea Island at 1238; a motor boat came racing over and threw us a gift pack of Maldon Salt!

We dropped the anchor for lunch in the middle of a crowd of other gaffers.

The Parade of Sail "Race" started at 1435, and there was still so little wind that everyone just drifted up river together, Robinetta right in the middle of the pack. Julian tried poling out the jib with the whisker pole, but it ended up falling into the water. Much to my own surprise I just put the helm over and went straight back to it. One of the great things about Robinetta is how easy it is to pick things up from the water.

The wind picked up a little after that, and for a brief moment Robinetta actually sailed past other boats! They soon overtook her again, but it felt like a proper race as we rounded Hilly Pool Point.

We kept all our sails up as we entered Maldon, even the top sail, only lowering them after we turned back down river having nearly reached Fullbridge.

We had not booked a berth, and ended up docking against a fixed pier. There was supposed to be a mud berth there (which used to belong to Sea Eagle), but as the tide went out it became painfully obvious that we did not fit in it. Robinetta leaned horribly, coming to rest with her shrouds against the pier. Going to bed at an angle was an interesting experience.

Friday, 19 September 2008

Heading to the Blackwater

We drove to Shotley on Thursday night, to spend the night on Robinetta before heading for West Mersea tomorrow morning. I had drawn up a careful navigation plan as this was our first long trip by ourselves, although a lot of the Old Gaffers we had got to know on the August cruise were also heading in the same direction.

We went to the fuel dock and put in 11 litres of diesel and were out of the lock by 0935, an hour after low water. It seemed to take a long time to sort out the sails, and we spent most of the day motor sailing in very light winds. It was our first time heading past Walton-on-the-Naze and down the Wallet to the Blackwater, and the conditions were annoying. There was a swell running, and not enough wind to keep the main sail on one side of the boat so it flogged about. One of the main sheet shackles came off and we lost it over the side, but luckily we have a good supply of old spares.

We sheeted the main sail right in and motored, used the autohelm for the first time. It's no fun steering under motor for long periods and the autohelm proved its worth.

It was a real relief when the wind rose slightly. We passed the North Eagle cardinal on track and sailed up the Blackwater. The chart made it obvious that we needed to navigate with care, and it was nerve wracking as we passed the Nass beacon and entered Mersea Quarters under motor. There is no marina, just a lot of moorings. We called up WM Yacht club as advised in the pilot, and they directed us to take the first vacant buoy we could find in Salcot Creek. We were moored at 1655.

We saw the yacht club launch, and asked about going ashore, to be told that this was the launch’s last trip, and we would not be able to get back to Robinetta. Not to worry, we have food on board!

Saturday, 30 August 2008

Failed attempt

We decided we’d try to get to the Walton Backwaters today since we failed to make it on the August classics. We failed today as well, since once we thought it through we realised that the tide was all wrong and we could easily run aground. We just sailed out to Pye End (the safe water mark for the Backwaters entrance channel) instead.

Monday, 25 August 2008

Back to Shotley

Not having far to go home we did not hurry away from the Suffolk Yacht Haven in the morning, not getting away until 1040. We then had a gentle sail home, the only nuisance being we had to wait nearly an hour to lock in to Shotley. There were a lot of boats coming home on the Bank Holiday after a week away!

We were on our berth at 1330, having had a great time with the Old Gaffers.

Sunday, 24 August 2008

The President's Race

We left Suffolk Yacht Haven at 0930 for a 1000 race start just by the entrance. It was quite windy so we planned to have a reefed main, but unfortunately we ran aground in Levington Creek while sorting it out five minutes before the race was due to start. It was still an hour until low water, so we weren’t going to float off in a few minutes this time.

We got the sails down, then Julian pumped up the dingy and I rowed the kedge anchor out and set it. After that it was a case of sitting still, one either side of the cabin so Robinetta did not tip over as she settled into the mud.

We were in a great place to see the racing boats charging back in from the harbour to cross the finish line, and we floated off at 1240, before the tail end boats finished, but it was our worse performance to date.

We headed back into the Suffolk Yacht Haven for the last gaffers event of the week, the dinner and Prize giving in the Lightship. We did not expect to win anything, but ended up with the Bowlocks Maximus prize for going aground on every race. There were some well known names on it....

After the prize giving we went back to Robinetta, who was docked next to Reverie. Pete the knife and Sarah her owners invited us, and several others, on board for a glass of port and we had a very pleasant after party party....

Saturday, 23 August 2008

The Two Rivers race

Julian thought we should sail off the mooring, so we raised the main sail on the mooring at 1040 and cast off, then raised the stay sail. The wind was very light so we hoisted the top sail, but the top sail sheet came untied so we had to lower it. While we were doing that we ran aground by the Lee Channel marker buoy. We were not the only boat to ground; Kajan had taken the buoy we abandoned the previous evening and was just sitting there.

We got all the sails down while the rest of the fleet started the race at 1100. We floated off by 1115, and raised sail again, but one of the mast hoops had come untied, and by the time we had everything sorted and had sailed over the start line it was 1140.

We ran/very broad reached down the Stour, rounding Shotley Horse racing buoy at 1315, then headed up the Orwell to pass the finish line at Orwell no5 buoy at 1503. Avola, who acted as start or finish boat on the races had waited for us to finish, which felt nice...

We then turned down river again and ran down to Levington, and the Suffolk Yacht Haven marina where the fleet was assembled.

Friday, 22 August 2008

Back to the Stour

Graham had tried to get Jacinta’s engine working again, but failed, so we towed her down to Felixstow Ferry. It became obvious that Robinetta’s engine is not powerful enough to tow a boat of the same size when working against the tide, so we gave Jacinta’s tow to Bona, a much larger boat, to get her out of the Deben.

We left Felixstow Ferry at 1015, and motored out of the Deben against the tide (not a good idea, it felt like we were hardly moving forward even at full throttle). Once out from between the sand banks and away from the tide race we raised sail and headed back towards Harwich.

The wind dropped to nearly nothing at lunch time and we had to motor sail into Harwich Harbour, but it picked up again as we sailed close hauled up the Stour, and we picked up a buoy at Wrabness under sail. It seemed a bit shallow, and when I worked out the tide calculations I realised we would ground before low water, so we had to drop it and motor off to find another one.

Thursday, 21 August 2008

Model boats and mishaps

Looked round Woodbridge for a bit, then came back to Robinetta to make a model boat out of scrap plastic (milk cartoon) to sail it in a “race” on the Woodbridge boating lake. Unfortunately the fresh water pipe leading to the sink came off the tap, so Julian had to spend some time fixing it first.

The scrap boat race was great fun even though our "boat" capsized and sank every time we tried launching it.

We left the Marina at 1400, an hour before high water, and motored down river towards Ramsholt. We did not risk the short cut this time, but followed the other Old Gaffers who stayed in the main river channel round by Waldringfield. I noticed white smoke coming out of the exhaust of the boat ahead of us, Jacinta, and the next thing we knew she was drifting without power. Graham, her skipper, managed to grab onto a mooring buoy before she collided with anything, and then we took her in tow down to Ramsholt. We'd never towed anything before, and broke our ensign pole with the tow rope, but luckily Graham rescued it before it floated away.

We left Jacinta on a vacant buoy at Ramsholt and picked up another one for ourselves. Dinner that evening was a communal meal at the Ramsholt Arms pub, right on the river. We got a lift over to their jetty on Spare Rib, who is acting as a general tender to the Old Gaffer’s fleet for the rally. They had a marque set up for us, and a choice of three main courses, all of which were tasty.

Wednesday, 20 August 2008

Scandanavian Seaways Race

The rally resumed with a race from Harwich to the Deben. It started at the Dovercourt Breakwater at 1030, but we took longer than expected to get to the start so we were ten minutes late over the line. We had our ensign flying, and it turns out that you should not fly the ensign while racing, so we got yelled at! (Not in a bad way, just to let us know it was wrong!)

We managed to almost catch up with one boat, Carima, before reaching the finish line at the Woodbridge Haven Safe Water Mark at 1228. The safe water mark shows where to start the passage to enter the River Deben, which has a complicated entrance with shifting sand banks. It felt good to have Carima to follow but the entrance is well marked and the instructions in the pilot are very clear.

We sailed up the river past Felixstow Ferry, but soon after ran aground by not taking enough notice of the curve of the river. Luckily we were on a rising tide and floated off within 20 minutes. Luckily Julia in Carima noticed we had problems and came back to stand by and then lead us on the safe course up the river. This time it felt absolutely necessary to have a boat that knows the waters in front of us! She led us on a short cut that avoided the busy moorings at Waldringfield. It felt very shallow!

We picked up a mooring buoy at the entrance to the Tide Mill Marina in Woodbridge. Access to the marina is narrow, and over a sill so we had to wait until we were called in. The boats that had reached there ahead of us (20+ Old Gaffers) had had to wait longer until there was enough water over the sill. We had to wait an hour before we got in, and we were then rafted up on a modern boat just by the entrance.

Monday, 18 August 2008

We spent Sunday in Ipswich, shopping in the morning then watching the regatta. Looks silly, and fun. The weather was perfect for it, bright sunshine.

We should have been heading to the Walton Backwaters with the Old Gaffers, today but the wind was too strong and in the wrong direction so that part of the rally was cancelled.

Motor sailed from Ipswich to Shotley. There is a slight tear in the staysail, so we mended it with sail repair tape as a temporary measure.

Saturday, 16 August 2008

The August Classics Cruise

Went up to Robinetta on Friday night to finish reassembling the cabin before our first long cruise, a week with the Old Gaffers racing and touring round the local rivers. Strictly speaking it’s the racing series that is called the August Classics, but the same name seems to be used for the week long cruise that is built around the racing. Robinetta is not a racing boat, but the cruise looks interesting since it is scheduled to go to places we haven’t been yet.

We managed to get everything in place and luggage/provisions stowed by 1600 on Saturday then cruised up the Orwell, past Pin Mill and all the way to Ipswich which we’ve not done before. We entered the lock with 9 other boats, most of them heading for the rally.

We tied up at Ipswich Haven Marina alongside Charm, a very smart small gaff yawl.

Sunday, 27 July 2008

Harwich Sea Festival

We took part in an unofficial OGA race as part of the Harwich Festival of the Sea. We don't point up as well as some of the other boats. Managed to overtake the Quiz on a beam reach but drifted further and further behind on the beat.

Course was Halfpenny Pier to Fort to Parkeston, back to Fort and then past the pier. Rafted up by the Trinity House quay for a cup of tea and then went home.

Sunday, 20 July 2008

Having problems

Decided to take her up the Orwell for a change. Bit of a swell. Motored a little way up the Orwell and turned round to raise sail. Couldn't make it work right and got quite stressed. Partly the new gaff saddle, partly the swell, partly getting our ropes mixed up.

Sunday, 13 July 2008

New Gaff Saddle

Murray McPhail at Classic Marine in Woodbridge made us a new gaff saddle in steel.

We took her out into the bay to try it out. Very little wind, mostly motor sailing. Used the topsail too.

It doesn't sit right like the old one did. We have to pull on the throat halyard to nudge it into position against the mast.

Lovely broad reach back to Shotley. Big queue to lock-in. Messed about sailing on the jib alone for practice while we waited our turn.

Thursday, 26 June 2008

Out with Ben

Took Ben out with us for the afternoon. Beat up the Stour to Wrabness and then ran back down.

Tiller felt a bit heavy, Ben pulled some strings and all of a sudden she was perfectly balanced - his Yachtmaster training really worked!

Freeflow through the lock on the way back in.

Aluminium gaff saddle found to be collapsed due to metal fatigue.

Sunday, 15 June 2008

Home again

Leisurely sail back from Wrabness to Shotley.

Left 9:30, back on our own berth by noon.

Saturday, 14 June 2008

RHS Trafalgar Rally

we motored up to Holbrook for the Old Gaffers rally and anchored for breakfast at the RHS school.

In the afternoon there was a race round Shotley Spit and back. We hit a squall on the way back and used the engine to steady her while we got the topsail down so we retired from the race.

The barbecue on Wrabness beach in the evening was great.

Stayed overnight on a mooring at Wrabness.

Sunday, 8 June 2008

First Trip

We finally get to sail her! (just a short trip up the Stour)

Left at 14:00 with Alison as skipper, wind N2-3 Hoisted sail off the Ganges pier.

Ran down to Erwarton S Cardinal

Yard still working on her so we left her on the C pontoon after some maneuvering practice in the marina.

Out for about 3 hours with about 1 engine hour.

Wednesday, 14 May 2008

Back in the water

It was getting really hot and the planks were drying. Now she's finally on her pontoon.

Saturday, 10 May 2008


Seems to have gone OK - Russian redwood from our timber merchants in Bishops Stortford.

Friday, 11 April 2008

Getting There

All the major repairs done, painted and antifouled.

Saturday, 29 March 2008


Some rot on the bullwarks - think I can do this myself.