Saturday, 12 December 2009

Gentle Stroll

Just a couple of hours of light once we got there. Alison working but Ben fancied a sail.

basically chilled whilst pottering up towards Levington, then turned round and came home again. Very little wind in the Orwell but another boat had 27 kts in the bay!

Saturday, 7 November 2009

Lovely Day!

Seems like ages since we went out on Robinetta. After a weekend on a Dufour 40 and three days on a Swan 38 it was interesting getting used to her again.

When we got there the working battery was flat - 8 volts! But the other battery was fine and we got a good charge back in during the day. We think the solar cell had been too much in the shade. It was throwing out 25 V in the sun so definitely working.

So much to get wrong! We managed to get the starboard jib sheet on the wong side of the staysail.

But the weather was gorgeous. Perfect blue sky, 12-15 knots of wind. We went out into the bay and around Stone Banks and then up the Orwell to Woolverstone to have a look at the Marina in case we sail up to the AGM next week.

Jolie Brise took our picture and posted them on yourboatpix. Many thanks.

Saturday, 10 October 2009

What everyone should do...

is practice safety drills. It's what you're tested on on every pracical sail training course I've ever been on, but I have to confess that we'd never done a man overboard drill on Robinetta before. I decided that we should definately do some this weekend, no wimping out, so that was our intention when we left Shotley, heading out to Pennyhole Bay.

The forecast was good for October, force 4, WNW, with sunny spells, and we had a good sail out into the bay with main, jib, and staysail. We were doing well over four knots over the ground, against the tide, and soon passed Pye End. I was helming, and began to feel rather overpowered, she had a lot of weather helm and kept trying to round up no matter how I trimmed the sails. Julian had put the cornish pasties in the oven, so I told him to turn them down and come back on deck; experience said that Robinetta needed reefing, so we put a couple of turns around the boom. I love how easily she reefs now we know how to do it! The key is to unhook the topsail from the topping lift and let it hang down. Otherwise the topping lift tries to wind the topsail yard into the reef! We also furled the jib away, thinking that would slow us down nicely while we had lunch.

Sea state was slight, but increasing, and the wind kept getting up. We were tuned to Harwich Harbour VTS, and several people asked for wind information which they reported from the Landguard cardinal (very close to where we were) as 20-25 knots WNW, which is force 5-6. Helming was still hard work, and I decided this was not the place to risk our best bucket and fender doing man overboard drills! I gave Julian the helm and we tacked round the Pennyhole Bay buoy before heading back into the Harbour.

Yachts were racing out of the Walton Back waters, some spinnakers flying, and once they rounded Pye End they came our way, heading for Pennyhole. Julian steered us nicely through the pack, and we were soon in the relative shelter of Harwich harbour.

We had to tack up the Stour, and Julian took us in close to Halfpenny Pier while I made a cup of tea; there was a shanty festival on, so we became a photo opportunity!

Wind over tide made the main channel a bit rough; Robinetta was dipping her bowsprit in the water on a regular basis which I hadn't seen before, but she felt perfectly safe, and not even too uncomfortable! We had not planned to do the drills there as it would have been a very antisocial place to mess around, but I was glad to reach the more sheltered waters of Erwarton bay. It was nearly high tide so there was plenty of water there, and our bucket and fender man went over the side.

Julian had first go, under sail, and we did get the bucket back on board, but it took us two goes to get there and we did not quite stop. I did it under motor (by dropping the peak and loosening the stay sail halyard to de-power the sails) and got back in one, but had similar problems staying still. We both need more practice.

The other drill we decided we should try was heaving too. I've done it successfully in Bermudan Sloops, but knew it would not work with a self tacking staysail! We unfurled the jib, and backed that, with the helm hard over, and she hove too making 2 knots of lee way. We got that down to 1 knot by loosening the staysail halyard, but we were drifting back into the main channel, so we called it a day, rolled away the jib, and headed back to Shotley.

We should do man over board drills more often, conditions where someone might end up overboard and more likely to be like Pennyhole than Erwarton, but you have to start somewhere....

Sunday, 27 September 2009

Walton Backwaters

The forecast for the whole weekend said "light winds" so I did not have much confidence that we would get anywhere when we went to Robinetta on Sunday. We bumped into Melvin on the pontoon, and he said he was just back from Walton backwaters, motoring all the way because the wind was too light to sail. None the less we decided to head out because the wind had risen in the afternoon yesterday, and might do the same again today.

We were out of the Marina at 1205, just before low water, and got all the sails up including the top sail. That did give us enough speed to sail; Robinetta does well in light airs and what there was was in a good direction for Walton, so we headed out as we had planned. The sky was clear blue, and warm (especially for September), all in all a good day to be on the water.

There were quite a few boats taking the rising tide into the Backwaters, and several were already anchored at Stone Point. We were just there to explore though, so we sailed on after all the other boats had put their motors on. Tacking into the Walton Channel while motoring yachts kept clear of us was fun, but hard work. One eye on the yachts, one on the boays, one on the depth gage, one on the GPS plotter, keeping track of the wind direction, all in a narrow channel we'd never been in before.... I was helming, with Julian as skipper navigating and tacking the jib.

We did not go far up the Walton Channel, just up to no 11 buoy, because the wind was virtually on the nose. We gybed round and headed out again, then went up the Hamford Water for a short way. Julian took the helm for that; much easier sailing than tacking into the Walton Channel which had exhausted me!

The wind got up a little as we headed back towards Shotley, and we were very broad reaching all the way. All in all a lovely afternoon's sailing. I don't know how many more we'll get this year!

Thursday, 17 September 2009

the neverending task

Varnish looks pretty, but keeping it that way needs vigilance. It gets chipped, and rubbed, and attacked by UV light, so I went up to Robinetta today to give all the varnished teak a new top coat for the winter. That means rubbing it all down with very fine sandpaper, wiping it with white spirit, then coating it. Then it needs to dry for 24 hours without getting rained on, not to mention that the wind should be light so no dust gets blown onto it, and the temperature must be above 10°C, and below 20°C or it dries too quickly to brush out properly... Today was a bit windy, but otherwise perfect.

I also gave a quick coat of varnish to the tiller and winch handles, not to mention part of the bowsprit. Then it was International 100 on top of the life caulk I used between the bulkhead planks on the port side. I need to sand that down on my next visit (not this one because it would just have put sanding dust on the wet varnish...).

I really need to put a coat of sadolin on the wood that still has it, so it's protected for the winter (even though I intend to convert that to varnish next year), and the decks look grubby so they're calling for a coat of paint too, but that's a job for next time...

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Showing off

Robinetta has two new associations.

She will be R1717 on the National Small Boat Register at the National Maritime Museum in Cornwall.

I've let the folks at the WesterleyNomadand22 group on Yahoo! know about her too.

Slowly getting the history site (linked from the header) into some kind of shape.

Sunday, 6 September 2009

Walton - not!

The weather looked pretty perfect for the weekend and we decided it would be nice to get to Walton backwaters, having missed it on both the August Classics cruises. Unfortunately I came down with the cold Alison had had during the holiday and it knocked me flat on Saturday. I felt well enough on Sunday to try for it.

The day started dull at home but was much nicer on the way and at Shotley. We set off around 11am and headed out towards Pye End. We had forgotten the Chart Plotter and decided this was a really good idea. Its too easy to become dependent on them and its a very different mindset sailing without one. More the kind of mindset that is the reason we sail.

I used my memory of the President's Race to work out which of the other boats were heading for Walton but finding the buoy was not so easy. We thought we had it then Alison spotted we were almost on it!

Just like the previous week, the wind veered around Pye End. I'm sure just a coincidence and not a local happenstance. Unfortunately that mean't it was now on the nose for going along the buoyed channel towards Hamford Water. The channel is narrow and not really suitable for beating up, particularly on one's first attempt. The cloud had built-up again and it was a bit cold and I was feeling fragile enough to want to call it a day.

As soon as we turned onto a run everything got much nicer. The tide was turning and we lost the swell and with the reduced wind chill it got quite warm. Back on the berth by 13:30 we still felt we had had a worthwhile sail. We had lunch in the Shipwreck and I had a sleep in the cabin while Alison put Robinetta to bed.

Not likely to sail next weekend as I'm in Amsterdam Friday and Saturday. The following weekend is the start of Alex's University term so we will be in Wales, so I was glad to get out today.

Monday, 31 August 2009

Homeward bound

Monday morning and Suffolk Yacht Harbout are keen to get their berths back. We decide on a short trip up the Orwell to give Amy a bit more of a sail and to see how lovely it is around Pin Mill. We leave at 9am and raise sail whilst still in the dredged channel and have a lovely reach up and down on staysail and a single roll on the main.

A highlight of the trip is a seal in the water right by the boat near Pin Mill. Amy has never seen one outside a zoo before!

We now feel confidant about the flaky winds around the Orwell entrance and are determined to get out without the engine. It all goes well and we are back on our pontoon by 12:30.

Not a great weeks sailing but an incredibly relaxing one. Alison's main goal of not going aground satisfied. Sunday's race told us we still have lots to find out about the boat and how to get the most out of her.

Sunday, 30 August 2009


Pete Thomas sculled round the fleet in the morning saying the weather had lifted and we would do the long course. Fantastic! Lots of discussions around sail plans. I say I'm thinking full main but its skippers call.

We head out at 10:30, desperate not to repeat last years fiasco of running aground on a falling tide trying to get the peak up. All goes well and we stooge around keeping a close eye on Charm as usual - Robert almost always gets it just right!

Alison has decided to stick with the reefed sail plan and we see lots of others (but not everyone) with reefs. It seems sensible as we are going all the way out to Stone Banks.

Bang on 11:00 we cross the line right in the middle of the pack but fall quickly behind. By the time we get to Colimer there is almost no-one behind us. We had been more or less keeping up with Melvyn and Julia on Ellen but they start pulling well ahead.

I make some suggestions and Alison says we are just out for a sail. I kind of lose it at this point. She hasn't discussed this at all. I say I don't mind coming last but I don't want to hold the committee boat up for hours and I don't want to let Robinetta down when she's been so kind to us all week.

Alison relents and changes mental gear after Nancy Blackett screams past us joining the race from Wolverstone.

We shake out the reefs and unfurl the jib and she picks up. We see other boats heeling but Robinetta stays fairly upright. Its very clear that she needs much more canvas in strong winds than other boats, and that she can take it. We raise the topsail too. Revere had hers up from the start, but on top of a double reefed main. That blessed topsail sheet seems to jam again so its not as tight as we'd like but the speed picks up noticeably and the balance is OK.

We're keeping up with the fleet now, but about 10 boat lengths behind Ellen and Nancy. Amy make sure we honor the right buoys. We put a couple of tacks in to get to Pye End and Alison says the topsail isn't helping - shes remembering Southwold when Charm took hers down and we left ours up and it was a bad idea. The topsail does look like its backing.

We take it down and lose 2 knots! It goes back up again and we find we're overhauling Nancy and that Reverie has appeared from nowhere not far ahead - they must have made some bad decisions. (Pete told me later they'd taken their topsail down and shaken out one of their reefs before raising their topsail again during the race. That might have been why we caught them up here? AMC)

We catch Nancy up but then the wind backs and we make a couple of bad tacks to get to Pennyhole. The top sail is backing again so we take it down while on the last starboard tack before rounding Pennyhole buoy. It's a good decision as Robinetta feels overpowered once we go onto the broad reach after the bouy. She's making nearly six knots and we're just getting near Nancy again when we see her retire and run back to Harwich - we find out later her forestay has failed.

Reverie has pulled ahead again - boy does she heel compared to the long keelers. We follow her line to Stone Banks. The sea's rather rolly, and windy out here. Foxes is really hard to keep in sight - there is quite a lot of swell and the line is parallel to the coast so there are no landmarks. Alison is getting tired and can't keep track of our course but refuses to give up the tiller. We drift out to sea and lose further ground to Reverie.

The next buoy is Outer Ridge - there are lots of candidates. We work out which one to go for and I manage to get Alison to take a rest once we reach it. Its all simple now - just follow the small ships channel back to the committee boat and get the finish klaxon. We give Amy the helm to take us across, and she does it in fine style. Several boats including Ellen are still milling around, so we weren't so far behind the pack.

We cross the finish line at around 15:30 and are back on the pontoon at Levington by 16:00.

When it comes to the prize giving they give the Bowlocks Maximus to Rick & Kelpie II for some rigging misdemeanor on the way to Ipswich. We get the Bitter End trophy for coming last in the Presidents Race. I consider this promotion!

Another great closing dinner to the cruise, although a little more subdued than last year and the food at the Lightship was really pretty poor.

Saturday, 29 August 2009

Still Windy

At the beginning of last night's Pin Mill barbeque, the Pete's had been hopeful of running two races today and we'd worried we'd be late because of picking Amy up from the station at Ipswich. By the time we had the briefing the latest forecast was predicting wind force 6 or 7 so everything was cancelled again. We just needed to get round to Suffolk Yacht Harbour for the evening. Recommended we be there by 15:00.

Amy turned up at Ipswich 5 minutes early after a train/bus/train trip from London. The weather forecast was not too bad so we decided to try a short sail up the Stour. We got the boat ready in a leisurely manner and slipped from the pontoon just after 11:30. A big bermudan stole our position on the fuel dock so we did't get into the lock until noon. Took on 9.47 litres of diesel.

We reefed the main right down and left the jib furled. The wind felt really strong but the sea state was slight and we beat up the Stour in a very gentle manner. I felt Robinetta wanted a bit more canvas. Passed Gwenilly coming back down. Quite a few boats were out. I suggested we do the seamanship challenges (man overboard and leaving a mooring under sail) but the skipper decided not.

We turned round onto a run by the Erwarton cardinal (blank looks from Neil and Mike when we described this to them at Levington afterwards but they were just taking the mick of our lack of local pronunciation skills - Mike says "Urten").

Rounded the Shotley Horse onto a smashing reach and had a fun ride into the Orwell. Heard boats being turned away by Suffolk Yacht Harbour - "Sorry we're full of old gaffers tonight". Quite surprised to be given a huge pontoon berth to ourselves - presumably because we had our names down quite early. Lee shore though - needed a bit of reverse to keep station whilst we tied up. On the pontoon around 15:00. Hate the metal "staples" they have on the pontoons instead of proper cleats.

Big party on Transcur and surrounding boats to drink all the booze we should have had at the Stone Point and Wrabness barbecues - not really a tough job for the gaffers. Plan is to do the short course for the Presidents race in the morning.

Walked up to the pub at Levington for dinner - really great food.

Music session around Reverie when we got back. Mike doing great stuff on his banjo - really good to hear him again, not sure we've heard him since the RHS Rally in 2008. Keith from Maryl also doing lovely things on the guitar and Pete & Sarah with some songs. I gave them Fred Wedlock's "Early one Evening" with impromtu banjo accompaniment. Went OK.

Thursday, 27 August 2009

Easy Passage

Away at 03:50 in the dark. It was eerie to see lights behind us as other boats followed us down river, and a huge relief to realise there were two boats ahead that we could follow! (Much easier than following our GPS track back) We copied Charm and took a buoy at Felixstowe Ferry to wait for sunrise and have a cup of tea. By the time we'd finished it we were at the back of the fleet leaving the Deben but it was really easy getting over the bar just after high water. We motored to Landguard as the wind was virtually on the nose but we used the staysail to steady her as we had down from Southwold.

Raised sail once in the little ships channel and had a nice sail into Shotley, Rosemary at the helm.

On our berth by 09:00 am having avoided the high winds forecast for later. Three boats in the fleet, Kajan, Constance, and Tabnab (?) decided not to leave the Deben, and motored back to Woodbridge instead.

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Lazy Day

Spent the day on the boat nursing Alison's cold.

Used the new micro-inverter plugged into the cigarette lighter socket to power my 15W soldering iron and put the VHF antenna plug back on properly. Works a treat!

We hitched a lift ashore for the barbecue in the evening. Everyone's a bit anxious because of the forecast; it looks as though we have to catch the first high water over the bar because the wind will be too strong again by the afternoon and might not drop again for a couple of days.

Joined after the barbecue by Rosemary who had being crewing on Kajan since Ipswich. Yvonne (Kajan's skipper) was not keen on risking the passage tomorrow so we said we'd take Rosemary instead.

Early night for the whole fleet as we need to get going about 4 am to catch start of the ebb over the bar.

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Sliding down to Ramsholt

Motored down to Ramsholt with the tide at 3pm. Got a lift to the pub in Transcur's smack boat. Good food from the Ramsholt arms and lovely music from the gaffers but Alison has a stinking cold.

Weather going pear-shaped. Too windy for the Scandinavian Seaways race to Walton tomorrow and the forecast is such that we might get trapped in the Backwaters if we go there so Stone Point barbecue is moved to Ramsholt.

Monday, 24 August 2009

Passage to Woodbridge

An uneventful trip.

Left the marina at 7:30 and got the mainsail up almost as soon we we left the Ipswich Wet Dock lock. We got a little help from it as soon as we were past the Orwell bridge, so we got the staysail and jib up too, but we mainly motored down to Pin Mill. We need to keep our speed up at 4 knots to make the tide window over the Deben Bar. We could not make it under pure sail but motor sailing worked really well - the forward motion shifted the apparent wind so we could point down the river and put in a series of long tacks. We did switch to pure sail after passing Levington Creek, but gave up trying to tack around Colimer and motored to Landguard and then across the big ships channel.

We had left in the first lock out, and motor sailed to keep up our speed, but once across the Big Ship Channel we turned off the engine and ran along the coast. We could see the larger and faster boats coming up behind us so we raised our top sail to try to keep ahead.

The fleet converged on the West Knoll buoy in an amazing way! It seemed like every boat on the East Coast - not just the gaffers - were coming in at once! We took our topsail down before going onto a run to pass West Knoll, and came past East Knoll with Random right behind us, a big plastic boat to port and Nancy Blackett on the starboard beam. It felt like there were inches between us.

We nearly got washed down onto the Deben buoy but Alison touched the engine and pushed us past it.

We had a perfect run up the Deben with the last of the tide and dropped the Main sail in Granary Reach before going practically into the Tidemill on staysail alone.

Sunday, 23 August 2009

Fun & Games

No sailing today but we did motor over from the marina to the town quay to make room for the rugby. Really hard work getting out past the bowsprits but it worked quite well.

Tried the all comers race in our flubber - blades kept coming loose!

Got a duck in the duck hunting - but only because our score was zero. Chased one duck round the harbour but our wash kept it squarely out of reach. Most embarrassing flubber ride ever!

Had more fun in the rugby (distinguishable from football in that the ball was a rugby ball and the goal was Transcur's bowsprit and a line across the entrance and scoring was over, not under it.

Got totally soaked but made one goal.

Saturday, 22 August 2009

Passage Race

Left Shotley at 10.

Alison decided to go up the Stour rather than to Landguard. Passed Reverie and Ro an Mor coming down, neither racing.

Were passed by Rick in Kelpie II at Pin Mill but he had some problems by the bridge and turned back.

Topsail halyard came off as we lowered sail and got jammed on the sheave at the mast head.

Had to avoid a big ship just passed Foxes and locked in around 3pm.

Friday, 21 August 2009

August Classics kicks off

Went up to the boat after pizza. First time we have slept three - Alison, Ben and me. Passage race tomorrow but only to Pin Mill so we will probably go out to sea a bit first and start at Landguard.

Saturday, 15 August 2009

Sailing again!

We've been busy doing other things the past few weekends, so it seems like ages since we went to Shotley. However today the weather was perfect, (blue sky, wind force 4-5) so we were determined that we would sail, and we did.

Getting Robinetta ready to sail took longer than we expected because when we went to bend the new staysail on we discovered that there were no cringles to run the rope through to lash it to the club foot! We'll have to take it back to be re-made. So much for using the same sailmaker and asking for the sail to be the same as the previous one.

Once the old staysail was back in place we headed out, and ran down from the marina entrance posts to the Shotley Horse on jib alone, then turned back up the Stour to raise the main. The wind was strong enough that we put a reef in as we raised, and once we had the main up we furled away the jib and ran back to the Shotley Horse then turned up the Orwell. We tried to put the staysail up, but that was too much sail so it came down immediately.

We broad reached on reefed main alone until we got past Orwell no 2, then let out the jib as we headed closer to the wind. We were a bit overpowered, but furling it away was not easy, so we stuck with it as we reached up the Orwell. Had to put a couple of tacks in as the river winds round to west of north. By the time we got to a point about half a mile past Levington Marina we were sailing very close to the wind, and definately overpowered, so decided to go onto a run and get the jib furled away. Once we had headed down the Orwell to do that we decided we had gone far enough anyway and did not turn back up the Orwell, just broad reached down on reefed main and had a lovely sail back towards Felixstowe. Once the river turned so we were reaching we put the staysail up, and by the time we got to to Trinity quay the wind had dropped and we needed the jib too to fight the tide.

The jib got put away as soon as we were past the Shotley horse as the smooth sailing we had enjoyed on the river got rougher, and we went back into the marina after a short but enjoyable afternoon's sailing.

Bosun's log

Bought 5m of 6mm Hardy Hemp to replace the frayed line holding the staysail to the club foot. Almost exactly the right length but a little bulky - 4mm would be nice.

Still need to replace the staysail sheet and the jib furling line.

The mast boot is coming apart at the rear - not a good job by the yard. At the front it was fouling the staysail traveller badly. Removed the self-amalgamating tape at the front and added some whipping to pull it in as much as possible.

The staysail now tacks properly but the boot is getting rubbed at the front and needs sealing at the back.

Saturday, 25 July 2009

Night Exercise

Took her down to the lock at low water and managed to get to the mast head and fix the rigging. Jib halyard had to inside the copper pipe that acts as trunking for the VHF cable, which was on the wrong side so we had to turn her around in the lock and start again.

Also used some wire and insulating tape to make the loops smaller on the back-stays so hopefully they will not fall off.

Pitch black by the time we got back to the pontoon but very pleased with our manoeuvring today.

Also (in the afternoon) fitted ratlines 2/3rds of the way up in case we need to get up there again.

Saturday, 11 July 2009


Went up to sort the running lights and the jib halyard.

Re-wired the running lights completely - all working now except the port LED cluster has lost a pair of opposing segments. Brought it home to attack with the soldering iron.

Got a long ladder but still not long enough to reach the masthead. Got close enough to see that the back stays have fallen off their attachment point. They're supposed to sit on top of the point where the mast gets narrower, but they have slid down and now seem to be held in place by the copper pipe that acts as trunking for the VHF antenna and anchor light.

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Homeward Bound

We left at 5 with Flamingo. They raised sail immediately but we were feeling a bit sleepy. We put the stay sail up and it helped a lot to steady the boat through the swell. We could have reached across Dunwich Bay but from Sizewell onwards the wind was on the bow. It was a fast passage with the stay sail helping the motor and the tide flooding at about 2 knots. The wind was fine but the swell was quite unpleasant, although perfectly safe. Once we got to Felixstowe we raised the main sail and sailed into the harbour. Got to get that jib sorted.

Monday, 6 July 2009


We left on the end of the ebb at 4:30 am. Turned the VHF to channel 16 at the harbour wall. Immediately we got the dreaded Securité, Securité, Securité from Yarmouth Coast Guard. Gale force 8 in Thames and Dover expected soon. We turned round and went back in.

No-one else had heard it. Pete called them on the VHF and confirmed. Most people secured the boats and organised transport, planning to return in a day or two.

I checked my diary and found it clear enough that it made sense to wait on the boat. Walked into town and picked up email at the Swan and then came back to work with the laptop, planning to swap today's holiday for tomorrow. Managed about half a day solid. Also tried Clive on Quintet's ladder to fix the jib halyard but too windy.

Leak seems well under control, stop worrying about it.

Sunday, 5 July 2009

Lazy Sunday

No sailing today. We visit the Adnams brewery, have Fish & Chips on the pier and walk to Walberswick for dinner. Gromit and Ladybird left during the day, leaving Transcur, Gwenili, Random, Flamingo, Robinetta, Quintet, Charm and Victoria in the harbour.

Saturday, 4 July 2009

Sole Bay Race

The days main event is the Sole Bay race. This is a triangular course with a variable number of laps so the slower boats can finish with an average lap time without delaying the start of the next race. This is important since we have to be back in the harbour before the ebb runs too fast out of the river.

We get into a good position for the start, but two boats miss the start line and end up on starboard tack across our bows so we have to slow down. Pretty soon we are in the back rump of the race but we make some good decisions and round the windward buoy at the front of the stragglers. We get all the way round without being caught up or lapped by the fast boats. The downwind leg is very long and we decide a cup of tea is possible on the next lap (not sure this is really the racing spirit).

We make a real hash of the windward buoy second time around, taking three goes. The kettle goes on but they have moved the next buoy. Our concentration is shot. We get round this one but make another mess of the one near the pier.

They give us the gun as we pass through the line. Technically this means we finish first! But of course we have only done 2 laps and the folks right behind us are finishing their third!

We do OK in the second race but Patient Griselda, who we beat in the first race, have found their form and shoot off ahead of us.

The weather is just perfect for sailing, probably a steady force 5, sea state slight. Full sails including topsail all day. Wonderful. Now we just need to work out how to make her perform to her potential.

Prize giving, raffle and music at the sailing club in the evening. Alison wins a raffle prize and we get a pack of wooden bungs - something I've been meaning to buy.

Friday, 3 July 2009

Off to Southwold

Met Sue and Howard in the marina. They've brought Victoria down for the run up to Southwold. We both decide to leave about 8am. We end up going out first but they soon catch us up - Victoria is a real racing boat - built for the police in the 19th century.

We meet lots of boats coming out of the Orwell and a few more join up at the Deben.

Everyone passes us but we still get into Southwold nice and early with the young flood. Given all we read in the pilot its a bit of an anti-climax.

It should have been a really enjoyable trip, but I'm worrying about the jib and then we start taking on more water than we ever did before. In the harbour Pete Thomas takes a look and is sure she's just taking up after being out of the water. We decide to relax.

Made very welcome in the Southwold Sailing Club, especially by the Harbourmaster Colin, who will be in charge of the racing tomorrow.

Thursday, 2 July 2009

We need a longer ladder

Went up to the marina after dinner to try and sort the mess we made with the jib halyard. Our folding ladder doesn't even come close to getting me up there. We will try it as it is. Sleeping on the boat is the first comfortable night we have had for a week. The heat has been horrid inland.

Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Getting on with it

I headed up to Shotley today with a long list of things to do, and our younger son Alex to help me. He's a dab hand with a paintbrush, so got on with anti fouling the rest of the rudder, and varnishing the cheeks while I drilled out and filled the too large holes for the gooseneck fitting. I'd made some square soft wood plugs at home, so it was just a matter of sanding them to fit, on 80 grain sandpaper, then glueing them in place.
I re-ran the ariel lead and fitted the fair lead, then Alex and I had lunch and a walk while the glue and varnish dried.
I cut the plugs off level with the mast, and cautiously drilled the first one out. I was afraid that the plug would just disintegrate, so drilled the hole a size smaller than I would otherwise have done,; the plug stayed intact and when I screwed the screw in a little it bit well. I did the others the same way, and fitted the gooseneck.
After that it was just a matter of sliding the boom back onto its fitting, lashing on the sail, refitting the gaff, and checking it all worked. Just a matter of..... I re-ran the ropes four times before it all worked properly!
Alex gave the rudder cheeks a second coat of varnish while I tidied up, then we headed home, tired but content.

Monday, 29 June 2009

Bosun's log

To do before we can sail (some more critical than others):
  • fit mast boot
  • repair gooseneck fixing screw holes
  • fit gooseneck
  • fit boom
  • attach throat halyard to gaff
  • attach gaff saddle to mast
  • bend on mainsail
  • run topping lifts
  • raise mainsail and see if halyards must be re-run
  • finish anti-fouling rudder
  • varnish rudder
  • fit ensign holder
  • run aerial lead and re-fit UHF plug
  • fit running lights and wire-in
  • move jib halyard lower down mast onto small hound
  • fit bow fair lead
  • whip end of jib traveler in-haul
  • improve attachment of block for port jib sheet to grab rail
  • fit longer tiller bolt
  • touch up paint tiller on jaws
  • fit new buffer to stay sail traveler rail

Sunday, 28 June 2009

Putting her back together

The yard put her back in the water on Friday. We went down on Sunday to sort the rigging out and hopefully leave her ready to sail.

At first sight all looks well. Down below she's nice and dry. Then we start to notice a few things. The jib halyard is tied on where the forestay should be and the mast hasn't been blocked in or booted. We get the mast sorted and the forestay on properly and rig the bowsprit but there is something funny with the jib halyard. Eventually we work out that we've fixed it on too high up the mast. We'll have to go up there and sort it. Definitely not a job for today.

Then we try fitting the gooseneck. Three of the screws on the starboard side of the lower bracket have stripped holes. We do a few bits an pieces feeling very demoralised. Alison will talk to the yard tomorrow - we thought fitting the boot was something they were going to do and getting it sealed is not trivial. So we turn her round to bring the rudder near the pontoon for final painting and leave for the day. The rudder looks OK.

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

will she - won't she ?

Took a look at the Marina webcam - she didn't go back in the water yesterday - will they get around to her today ?

Saturday, 20 June 2009

Fitted the repaired rudder

Eversons at Woodbridge repaired the rudder. Went to fetch it this morning and fitted it this afternoon. Alex primed and anti-fouled it and put a layer of varnish on the topsides.

Fitting the tiller was a problem. Need to do a better job with the bolts later but at least she can go back in the water as planned on Monday.

Monday, 15 June 2009

General work

Alex did a great job removing the Sadolin from the front of the cabin and varnishing that. The only Sadolin left now is on the sides of the cabin and in the cockpit.

I tried to free-up the salt water inlet/outlet for the vanity basin and the heads. Think it might need a bit more work another time.

We re-ran the cables for the echo sounder, running lights, etc. so they don't go through where the stove fits. We might be able to fit the stove once it gets cold.

Saturday, 13 June 2009

Work on the Hull

Not too much to do. Plenty of bare wood below the waterline - result of last years pelagic exploration of the east coast and a couple of nasty scrapes. Sanded primed and anti-fouled. Alex did a fine job fettling the gloss above the waterline and we re-drew the join line. I like it better now.

Wednesday, 10 June 2009


We've renewed all the serving on the rigging. The serving we've used is white braided polypropylene which works well but is not very UV proof - possibly worse than the natural fibre (parcel string?) that it replaces. We painted the aloft stuff with a thinned black acrylic, mostly to dull it down but with the hope of providing some UV protection.

Three of the wire loops were unusual. The strands had been un-laid and three brought each way round to make the loop and re-laid. I tried splicing the ends in a bit better with mixed success but much learning.

Friday, 5 June 2009

Work on the mast

We knew we ought to have the mast out and take a look. After the VHF antenna cable came loose on the way back from Mistley it became a must.

This is what we found:

Water had got in via the VHF antenna mount and the top 10cm of the mast was rotten.

Two wooden brackets holding the peak halyard on were slightly damaged.

Other than that everything was sound.

We stripped the Sadolin off and soaked epoxy into the mast and then varnished.

I made new brackets from teak.

We sawed off the top of the mast and made a new top out of russian redwood (same piece of timber used to repair the bulwarks last year). Fixed it on with 4 dowels and glue and then tacked a copper band round the join. Time will tell if its a good enough job.

Fitted the new home-made LED anchor light (bulb from ultraleds, brass bulb holder from Ryness, glass from an old spice bottle).

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Oh No!

The rudder broke! We were going for a sail before taking her out of the water for a scrub and anti-foul when the rudder failed. Luckily we could get back on the mooring.

Sunday, 24 May 2009

Mistley Trespass

Our trip to Mistley began explosively when I dropped half the contents of the washing up bowl from the coach roof through the hatch and into the cabin. There was broken glass everywhere, including in Julian’s trainers so he had to wash them out while I swept the cabin. Luckily taking the washing up to the car was the last thing to do before leaving the pontoon so it did not delay us too much.

Ellen with Melvin and Julia on board cast off just before us and we shared the lock out of the marina. Melvin hoisted his main and top sail while waiting for the lock to empty, which inspired Julian to raise our main while I got out the bowsprit.

Ten minutes later we had all the sails up and the engine off. The sun shone from a cloudless sky, the wind.... that was the problem. The hoped for 3-4 northerly was at most a 2 (and mostly 1) and we were only making 1.5 knots even with the ride helping us. Half an hour and a cup of tea later we knew we’d have to motor or miss the whole event.

Melvin agreed and Robinetta and Ellen motored together. We passed the Holbrook cardinal at 10, and realised there was enough wind to sail, (just). Out went the jib, ad off went the engine, and peace was restored. Our speed dropped by half, but we were sailing!

We passed Wrabness at the grand speed of 2 knots, but had to put the engine on to make sure we had steerage way round the Lee Buoy. Neither of us wanted to go aground there again! By the time we passed the moorings at Wrabness we were just floating up on the tide again, at 1.6 knots, in company with a lot of other boats. Julian spliced a longer line on our best fender so it was easier to tie at pontoon height, and I made him a paper hat to protect his balding spot against the hot sun!

By 11 everyone gave up on trying to sail and put their engines on. The sails were still up though, including Reverie’s customised top sail with its message “Free Mistley Quay”.

We took our sails down in sight of the Quay, and by the time we arrived several rafts had built up against the Quay. We were fifth boat out on our raft, against Ellen, and then a 38’ Bermudan Avalon asked if they could raft against us. They did so, despite being warned that we were only 22’6”, and it just about worked until Gwenelli decided to come along outside them, with main, mizzen and topsail still hoisted. Neil on Ariel, inside Ellen, told them not to, but they did anyway, and the whole raft began to move. Only the inside boat had shore lines since with only a 2 hour stop and no wind no one else had thought to rig them. Avalon got a bow line ashore and stabilized things a bit, but Gwenelli’s bowsprit took out the ensign from a boat on the next raft forward before her sails were lowered and Graham(as crew) got a stern line ashore. The skipper from Kelpie 2 in the raft forward fell in trying to rescue the dislodged ensign, but Julian managed to grab it from Robinetta’s bows.

When the raft settled down we went ashore and edged along on the outside of the fence to where the ladder was. Passing other people on the way involved using the inner boats of the rafts as passing places, or being very friendly with the fence. There were no problems or accidents though, not even when clambering over the 10’ high metal fence that the whole protest was about. It is a very unattractive barrier, and destroys any amenity to the quay area; I have no idea how they got planning permission for it. Properly presented Mistley Quay could be as attractive as Maldon Town Quay, but the fence ruins it.

The beautiful summer weather meant a long queue for Pimms, but for a non-beer drinker like me it was perfect. Julia got his beer and went off to find lunch while I waited, listening to the band and Pete the Knife reading out the letter he had been sent by the fence erectors about his non-licensed and non-insurable event. A classic legalistic rant about how he’s suffer for organising something that could not be insured while tacitly admitting it was not actually illegal....

I got my Pimms, and Julian brought me a cup of very good fish chowder. He’d signed the visiting boat book and bought a tea towel too. There was a lovely selection of home made cakes and scones so we bought cheese scones to finish our lunch and headed back to Robinetta. The tide had turned and the wind was getting up so we needed to think about leaving.

Gwenelli had already gone, so we waited for Avalon’s crew to return. The raft ahead gained two late arrivals while we waited and saw two boats going aground by going slightly outside the channel. It was only 45 minutes after high water springs! One freed itself while the other was pulled off inside ten mintes. Just as well or they would have been there a long time!

Avalon’s crew got back and explained that they were not worried about the water; despite being 38’ long they have a lifting keel and only need to draw 18”. I resolved never to follow a bigger boat assuming they’d draw more than us. It’s a policy I try to follow anyway, but it is always helpful to be reminded why.

They left, and we followed 2 minutes later, with Melvin pulling our stern right in so our bowsprit swung out to avoid the raft ahead. Ellen and Ariel followed in equally short order. Julian hugged the quay, passing close to the big commercial boats that still use the quay for off loading building supplies and we reached the main river channel without any problems.

There was plenty of wind for sailing, and plenty of water too, since it was still only 1 hour after high water, so we decided to raise the main, only to discover that it would not go up all the way. I was hauling and brought it down again while I tried to work out why; it turned out that the copper pipe that held the radio ariel wire against the mast above the hounds had come off and slipped down to foul the lines. I cleared it and got the main up. Meanwhile Julian had hauled the staysail up. We unfurled the jib, and away we went.... Until the jib sheets came off.

We were trying a new methods of attaching our jib sheets since the shackle we were using ripped the staysail. Julian had discovered something called a soft shackle and made one on Saturday morning. It had worked perfectly in the light airs that afternoon and this morning, but the force 3 we had now was too much for it and the jib sheets pulled loose, Julian fixed it, but it parted almost immediately so we gave up and sailed home on staysail and main. The staysail was not tacking properly on its horse, but that was not a problem while we beat home, and I realised I’d rigged the sheet pulley upside down last time I put it on.

I love the way our little Robinetta forgives our errors and misadventures. We are learning all the time and she gives us a feeling of security every time she’ll sail despite what we do to her.

Mistley Quay Rally

Suffolk Sails repaired the staysail and the jib. The jib now has a much larger ring for the sheets. Not sure this is a good thing.

The Mistley Quay Rally was fun. Climbing over the fence to get to the quay is crazy. Pete the knife read out a letter from the owners TWL Logistics which was laughable.

There is a great set of photos on Flickr

Sunday, 3 May 2009

Crouch Rally

We had a lovely sail down the coast to Burnham on Saturday.

On Sunday morning we started the race quite well. We seemed glued to Otter for the early part of the race but they made the turn much better than we did and we fell further and further behind as we beat back up-river.

Got in a mess later and the jib thrashed about, damaging the foot and the jib-sheet shackle hit the staysail and cut a large slit in it.

The gaffers were made immensely welcome at North Fambridge and the DIY barbecue was great!

Even with no functioning staysail, we had a wonderful sail back home on the Monday.

Sunday, 19 April 2009

Sea Trial

I fit the new chartplotter in the extreme starboard foreward corner of the cockpit. It all goes OK but we find the wood underneath the seats a bit soft. Something to look at next winter. Its spliced into the power lead to the auto-helm using gell-filled crimps. Pretty cool devices. The Garmin came with some of these for signal connections but I'm given a larger power one by a friend at work.

After a little time the receiver puts us exactly on our berth. Both the map and the gps are that good!

We sail up the Stour and back again and every bouy is right where it should be. I'm happy.

The scary thing is even the depths are about right. Too tempting. We must not start to believe it will always be this accurate.

Sunday, 12 April 2009

Easter Sunday

After the smack boat outing yesterday the gaffers are wondering what to do today. Pete the knife suggests the Bakers Arms at Holbrook. We sail down and anchor. Inflate the dinghy and row ashore. Alison & I are not working well together on the paddles. We decide to look for a different dinghy.

The pub is great. We sit on the grass in the garden and all is well with the world.

The sail back is interesting. The wind is gusting. It rises steadily and then drops rapidly and then repeats. We notice again that Robinetta points much higher in a breeze than in light airs. As the wind rises I point her up. When it falls we are in irons!

Sunday, 5 April 2009

Robinetta goes high-tech

We've mislaid our GPS. No idea what's happened to it. Its an old Garmin GPS12 I bought for hill walking many years ago but it works well. We've looked everywhere!

We're going to Burham next month for the Crouch Rally so we need something. I look at the market. There are a bewildering set of options
  • replace the GPS12 with the modern equivalent - I'm reluctant to do this coz I'm sure the darned thing will turn up
  • go for a hybrid walking and marine handheld with maps
  • go for a hybrid car and marine dash mount unit with maps
  • go for a proper chartplotter.
I decide all the hybrid units are a mess. The hybrid car units don't do turn-by-turn voice prompts, the hybrid walking units cost too much to add proper charts to, ...

I reckon there is nothing worth buying in the £100 to £300 range, below are good cheap hand-helds, above are some wonderful value mini-chartplotters with full UK and channel coverage. I order a Garmin GPS 450. Probably should have gone for a 450s with built-in echo sounder (add £50 for a transducer).

Saturday, 4 April 2009

Pin Mill

Wind W2-4 Ideal for Pin Mill. We get into the Orwell and its shifted north and we beat up river.

We gybe round at Pin Mill and run back down. We get back to Levington and past Suffolk Yacht haven then the wind shifts more than can be accounted for by the river's curve and we are headed. Some of the boats are managing to beat through it but we're pretty tired and she's proving quite hard to control.

We find that if you tack and haul in tightly on the jib, that it can be hard to stop her going further round the turn. Lose off the jib a little and de-power it and all is well. Once she has forward motion on the new course the jib can be sheeted in.

We give up and motor back round to Shotley.

Sunday, 15 March 2009

Felixstowe Ferry

Decided to go to Felixstowe Ferry for lunch. Obviously we would have the tide against us in both directions because the Deben bar is best taken at slack water and the Suffolk tides flow in from the North Sea.

Wind NW2 so expected to beam reach on port tack on the way up and starboard tack on the way back. Crossed the shipping lane ok and then the wind dropped and came back from SSW. Starboard tack - thought about the topsail but didn't raise it.

Got into the Deben perfectly and picked up a mooring. Had our lunch and then went back out on the start of the ebb. Piece of cake.

Totally headed now by the wind, with the tide against us too. Motoring along quite happily and then spotted white smoke from the exhaust. Turned the engine off, raised sail and beat back along the coast. Doing quite well on the port tack but losing ground on the starboard tack.

Gently try the engine occasionally. Very slow progress.

Cross the shipping lane in the gloaming. Follow the first few bouys and then its pretty dark. Ease our way in and find the Harwich shelf on the echo sounder and turn towards Felixstowe to avoid. Find the shipping lane again and hug the western edge all the way to Shotley.

Alison is sure she can see the posts marking the seaward end of the dredged channel. I go below to call the marina on the VHF, when I come back up I find Alison has taken us the wrong side of that weird 3 masted motor to sail conversion thats continuously anchored off Shotley. Before I know it we are aground on Shotley Spit, within a 100m of the lock.

Now we are really embarrassed. The only good thing is that its taken us so long to get back that we are now on a rising tide.

We wait an hour and she floats off and we get back OK.

We get an engineer to check the engine, and they tell us that the thermostatic valve got stuck, which was why the engine was emitting steam, (not smoke as we thought).  We got the engine serviced, and the thermostatic valve replaced.

Friday, 2 January 2009

New Year

Took Ben up to Wrabness and picked a buoy up for lunch. Rain shower. Raised sail on the buoy and sailed off. Wind got up and headed us by Erwarton cardinal. Dropped sail and motored back.