Sunday, 26 June 2011


It was a lovely day for a sail but we were a bit lazy getting up and in any case we had been waiting for a 'gentle' day to retrieve the topsail halyard. We'd lost it up the mast the last time we'd used it. I really need to improve the attachment point. Its a rectangular runner that slots into a track on the yard and it pops out sometimes when lowering the sail.

It was also an opportunity to replace the peak halyard which is attached to a wire rope strop at the top of the mast. We've already done the throat halyard and the jib halyard.

Alison did a grand job going up the mast on the jib halyard. She took a lot of her weight by gripping the mast with her bare feet and some more by hauling on the safety line. Coupled with the 2:1 purchase on the jib halyard it made my job really easy.

By pulling herself up on the safety line she was able to grab the wayward topsail halyard and bring it down. She also unshackled the old peak halyard so we could get that down.

I re-used the thimble in a new eye splice and Alison went up again to fit it. It took a while to get it running clear, but we now have good rope on all the main hauling lines.

I thought we might get around to giving her a bit of a scrub, but it wasn't to be. Hopefully we'll manage something before the East Coast race next week.

So no sailing, but a lovely day on the water anyway.

Sunday, 19 June 2011

A very short trip

The Holbrook Rally was the first OGA event we ever went to, and having missed it last year we definitely wanted to go this time, so Julian booked a day off. We checked the weather reports, and they were just about okay, and we headed to West Mersea in plenty of time to catch the lunch time tide.

It was windier than we expected on the mooring, and spitting with rain, but we set everything up, and cast off at 1305. The radio had been silent all morning, despite being on 16, so when we did not hear the 1310 forecast announcement I went straight to channel 84, and luckily caught it all. General synopsis contained a gale warning for Thames of force 8, occasionally severe gale 9 later. The Inshore waters forecast was just as bad so, not being idiots, we turned straight round and were back on our mooring by 1320.

We drove to the rally next morning instead. Only five boats actually went to Wrabness, and they spent a very rough night on the moorings. The racing was cancelled (not enough boats), but the lunch at the Royal Hospital School, and the barbeque on the beach both went ahead as planned and were very enjoyable. The weather was fine.... as long as you stayed ashore!

Monday, 6 June 2011

...and back home

After an enjoyable Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning socialising with the Old Gaffers it was time to head home. The planned picnic at Kirby Quay got cancelled because of the weather; no one wanted to be out in a small boat in a F5-7, however sheltered the area!

At least the wind direction was right for going home, still NE, but the sunshine went before lunch time.

Our plan was to leave just before the evening low water to catch the last of the ebb out of the Backwaters and then enjoy the flood sweeping down the coast. The cancelled picnic made us think about leaving earlier, and we left Tichmarsh at 1630 and motored down to Stone Point. One look out into the bay made it clear that the wind over tide would make for a very uncomfortable trip, so we decided to stick with our original plan, and picked up a buoy in the Walton Channel to wait.

We ate dinner on the mooring, then stowed everything carefully before listened to the 1910 weather. Wind speed was down to F5-6, and this was when we planned to leave anyway, so we were off the buoy by 1915, and motored out to Pye End (no cutting any corners on a falling spring tide!). We hoisted a reefed main and stay sail in the swell, then sailed off out towards Stone Banks, glad not to be heading straight into the waves any more.

We soon shook out some of the reef, and unfurled the jib to balance it. We had to refurl it after we reached Stone Banks, and turned onto a run. Low water was 2043, and as soon as the tide turned the swell eased. We were past the Holland on Sea radar tower by 2145, having hoisted the full main. We were making 5.5 knots, touching 6 sometimes. Fast for us.

We rigged a preventer, then I had a doze for an hour while Julian helmed, then we swapped after unfurling the jib since we were now on a very broad reach. It was full dark, and the GPS was invaluable for peace of mind even though we could see the navigation lights on the Gunfleet and channel markers.

Using the channel markers as aiming points was excellent for steering, but I nearly put us on the Eagle shoal after I mistook North Eagle for Colne Bar and did not check the GPS at the right scale to confirm my aiming point. The depth was shallowing when I did not expect it too, but luckily Julian woke up and realised what was happening before we touched.

We rounded North Eagle (on the correct side) at 2330, and had a lovely reach up the Blackwater to the Nass Beacon where we dropped the sails just as it began raining.

We picked our way up to our mooring through progressively heavier rain, with horrible visibility. Julian kept us on course, while I kept collision watch in the bows. We've definitely got better at this, since we were never in any danger of touching anything, but it makes a nerve wracking end to a long night sail!

We were on our mooring at 0125, and ashore at 0240, absolutely soaked through.

We had a good weekend of sailing, the only problem being that most of it was in the dark!

Saturday, 4 June 2011

Up the coast with the tide

Real life got in the way of sailing after our adventures at Easter, so I only went to Robinetta once in May to check on her. She was fine, but looked a bit shabby with bird droppings, and the same was true when Julian and I got on board on Friday evening. We spent a couple of hours cleaning her up and getting her ready to sail then went to bed; we wanted to catch the early tide window up the coast to Walton.

High water was 0230, and that was when we dropped off our mooring and set out in the pitch black. We had the GPS chart, with our previous track on it so we knew where we were going, but the ticklish bit was picking the way throught the crowded moorings. Julian helmed, and I went to the bows and made sure we did not hit any buoys (the boats were much easier to miss!).

We were in open water and sailing by 0315 and made good progress to reach Clacton by 0545 despite the NE wind. After that we were headed too much by the wind, so it was on with the engine before we reached Holland on Sea and we motor sailed up the coast and round the Naze into a very rolly Rolling Ground littered with scrap plastic crab pot markers that were hard to see in the swell.

We cut across Penny Hole bay to the Backwaters number 2 bouy, keeping a careful eye on the depth gauge. We did not touch, but it was a huge relief to turn into the channel and turn the engine off to run into the Backwaters.

We were moored in Titchmarsh Marina at 1030, ready to drop.