Sunday, 4 July 2010

The Worm that turned

We thought about spending Saturday night on the boat but left it too late. We got away nice and early this morning and were at West Mersea by 9am. We couldn't find a trolley to borrow so we made yokes and walked the Worm to the pontoon and motored to Robinetta. It was heading towards low water so we wasted no time dropping off the mooring and promptly went aground turning round. The Ray channel is very narrow.

I managed to reverse off and we had another go and did the same thing again and then finally motored off towards the Blackwater. The forecast was westerly backing south west, so we decided to head up the Blackwater. That way we'd have only an hour of foul tide before it turned to help us up river against the wind and then the wind would help us back to West Mersea. "Towards Osea" was duly entered in the log.

The wind seemed much stronger than we expected so we started with one reef and the staysail. It was plenty, so although we got the jib out after about an hour under sail we soon decided to furl it away. We beat happily up the river in gorgeous sunshine with occasional gusts that needed careful handling.

There are two anchorages at Osea Island, one at the west end where we had lunch on the Maldon Regatta a couple of years ago and one east of the old pier. I decided there might be some shelter on this one so we dropped the hook. The plan was to take the Worm ashore and barbecue some bacon on the beach for a late lunch.

The wind was so strong at the anchorage that we decided not to bother going ashore and I made BLT's. We rested up for a bit and then hauled up the anchor and began to run home.

The wind was still very strong so we reefed a little more and had a nice sail. Elfreda passed us heading up river under motor, and gave us a wave as we passed the Marconi sailing club buoy.

As we neared Mersea Quarters we spotted two canoeists and then saw one on them capsize. We headed towards them and they asked for help so we put Robinetta head to wind, started the engine and dropped the sails. We threw out our new safety line and after a bit of faffing the guy who had capsized made it into the Worm. The other canoeist caught the capsized canoe and tied it and his own to the throwing line but he then capsized too. We managed to get him on board Robinetta and then the Worm was turned over by a big wave so we got the other canoeist into Robinetta too. Another yacht had stood by us until everyone was safe.

Towing two swamped canoes and an upside-down dinghy was too much for the engine, but with the staysail up we managed to make progress. We tried to right the Worm but couldn't manage it, then it happened all by itself and we made it back to West Mersea. We dropped Jed and Neil and their canoes at the pontoon - so now we know we can get Robinetta to the pontoon at high water. They helped us bail the Worm and we rushed off before the falling tide stranded us.

We didn't make a very good job of this rescue, but we managed it and learned a lot, as well as helping out.