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.