Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Out of the water

West Mersea Marine took her out today (or was it yesterday?). Now to find the leak and fix it.

And the stem post ...

And the VHF antenna ...

And the echo sounder ...

And the beading ...

And see if the planks are coming loose again by the starboard bow ...

And do something about the nail sickness on the port bow ...


Sunday, 12 September 2010

Heading Home

Our mud berth held us firmly fixed in place, with Robinetta only floating off two hours either side of high water. The first high tide of the day was at 03:30, and while some boats left then we decided to have a lazier day and take the afternoon tide home.

We helped clear up the Little Ships Club, and got a cooked breakfast in exchange, then Julian had a look at Robinetta's stem post. He had put in some ronseal wet and dry rot hardener yesterday after we got to Maldon, and hoped it would have stabilised the hole, but the wood was still very flaky. He tipped more in, hoping it would harden in the two hours promised on the tin, then worked on the piece of oak we had brought with us to make a peg to fill the hole.

I cleared up in the cabin, and as the tide came in I began to hear water trickling in through the hull by the bows. Not a comfortable noise! The stem post repairs were not going well either; it looks as though we should get Robinetta out earlier than we hoped and work on her ashore.

We were floating by 14:00, and decided to leave even though high tide would not reach Maldon until 16:10. There was enough wind to make against the tide, and we would reach West Mersea with plenty of time to get onto our mooring.

Robinetta was floating, but when we cast off to back out we realised that she was floating in her hole; the mud at the stern held her in place. Julian ploughed through it, and we were off down river.

I got the bowsprit out and the jib raised for a run down river. We left the reef in the main, and the staysail covered and made relaxed progress (about 2 knots against the tide) until passed Osea Island when we turned to a broad reach and the tide began to help us. We sped up to 5.5 knots, and had a lovely reach down to West Mersea.

The wind began to pick up by Bradwell, and the sun went in. We got the sails down by Mersea Quarters, and the tide was running hard against us as we headed up to out berth. It suddenly felt a bit grim, then I took my sunglasses off, and it wasn't so bad!

We picked Worm up from our mooring and tidied Robinetta up before heading home. This was probably our last sail for a while, a lovely gentle end to a hard season.

Saturday, 11 September 2010

Parade of Sail

Originally uploaded by isobar1968
As the parade of sail is a non-handicap "race" we decided to relax a little and put a reef in. We'd dropped the jib for lunch as it had got raised without enough turns on the furler. It took a while to sort and we got it in the water which made us a little late starting but we had everything working and we kept ahead of Jacinta and another smallish gaffer.

The wind never really dropped.
We followed Gwenilli in to Maldon. The Maldon Town Regatta is a wonderful event for contrasting views of watercraft.

As promised, our berth was ready with someone waiting to usher it in for us. A much more relaxing experience than two years ago when we hadn't booked anything.

Race 1

The forecast is always important, so we were awake at 07:10 for the latest weather report. Force 5-6 SW, certainly enough wind for a good race!

We were off the pontoon by 08:05, without taking time for breakfast. It was still over an hour till low water, but even so space was tight to turn Robinetta round and the wind was pushing the bow back up-river. The bows touched the mud. Julian backed her off without problems and got her facing down channel, then I took the helm while he got the sails ready. Every boat we say was reefed, but as we had learned on the East Coast Race, Robinetta needs all the canvas she can muster.

The race started at 09:10, with the smacks going off ten minutes earlier. The committee boat announced radio silence at 08:50, and we did not hear another thing! We saw the smacks start their race at 09:00, but did not know how they knew to go, so had to watch the others in our class to know when we should start. Not the best way to get a head start! It turns out that the start was controlled purely by flags, while we were expecting sound signals.

The course set was the longest on the card. "A", starting up river then turning out to sea again for a long broad reach along the south shore, before turning back for a close reach towards Mersea, then crossing the river again to a buoy by the power station breakwater and another by the entrance to Bradwell Marina, then Thurslet, and the finish at Osea Island pier.

With full main, jib and staysail, Robinetta kept up with the other back markers for most of the race. The reaches were all quite long and we had plenty of time to trim the sails on each one. For once, we got the peak well up and tied the topsail to the boom which meant we could let off the topping lifts and the backstays and get a really good shape on the main.

Originally uploaded by isobar1968

On the broad reach out of the river we had very strong winds and serious weather helm. It was tiring enough that we took turns at the helm. We haven't worked out yet how to get any more power in to the fore-sails to counter the power in the main and reefing would have slowed us down.

We debated whether to tack at the buoy - the long way round, but as Julian came onto a dead run the main became controllable and we managed a nicely controlled gybe. When we came onto the close reach we had lee helm. It should have been possible to tune this out, but we didn't manage it.

I wanted to tack early and get the most of the tide into the river and some of the bermudans tried this but we decided we would fall too far off the wind and left it a bit. Once we did get into the middle of the river the waves made us very uncomfortable. It was now wind over tide and very lumpy. Robinetta buried her bows in several big swells and that slowed us down. Some of the boats ahead of us headed for the shelter of the shore but without a depth gauge we did not want to risk the shallows. Once past the power station the swell decreased and we tacked steadily up the river to the finish.

We made all the marks, did not run aground, or retire, and we crossed the finish line properly, but when we looked at the results we were down as not having finished, which I DO NOT UNDERSTAND!

Lots of boats did retire due to the wind which gusted 8 occasionally, and the swell that got up once the tide started running strongly against the wind. At least one of the boats that stayed inshore to stay out of the swell ran aground in the shallows and retired.

The most dramatic retirements were also very sad. Cormorant got a very good start, (she won a prize for first boat across the start line) but her race came to an end by the first marker buoy in an incident which also resulted in damage to Charm and a modern bermudan called Bewitched.

It was a sad day for the Old Gaffers with two of its most competitive boats badly damaged, and there was a lot of commiserating done with both skippers during the Sail Locker beer reception and that evening in the Little Ships club at the OGA dinner.

Low Water

I put Worm on the roof rack to head off to West Mersea, but got something wrong. She kept shifting on the way there, so Julian opened the sun roof to help hold her on. Not the safest way to anchor a load!

We got there in the end, late and hungry, and headed down the pontoon to find a trolley. The normal one was there, but there was something else missing. Water. We knew we had arrived just after low water, and we knew it was an extreme tide, but did not realise that meant that the pontoon would be aground, with the water over ten foot away across an expanse of mud! We gave up the idea of eating on the boat, and went and got fish and chips while we waited for the water to come back.

We were settled on Robinetta by midnight, but the evening's lack of water made us very aware that we needed to be off our mooring before we went aground on the next low water. I was up at 03:00 when the tide turned to stop Worm knocking on the hull, and Julian got up too. We got Robinetta ready to move off the mooring and onto a space we had noticed on the pontoon between two pilings, knowing she should not go aground there.

We moved Robinetta onto the pontoon at at 06:00, as soon as it was light, then went back to bed for another hour.