Monday, 27 August 2012

Heading home

Woke up to a still morning, but by 10 am the wind was whistling in the rigging at the Suffolk Yacht Harbour. We were pretty committed to going home though, and Julian checked the wind speed readings coming off the AIS in the harbour. They read 15 knots, so we set off as planned at 1115.

It was on the nose coming out of the Orwell, and very rough, but we motored through and got the sails up in Pennyhole Bay. It took us until 1330 to get everything set, (part reefed main and no 2) and we motor sailed out beyond Stone Banks. We kept seeing another gaffer heading in the same direction, and caught up motor sailing eventually. It was Duet, the Cirdan Trust ship, that Julian and I last saw in Yarmouth, IofW!

We headed out until we thought we could clear Walton Pier when we tacked, at which point we parted company with Duet who headed straight on. After that it was engine off, and long tack, short tack all the way down the Wallet. We did not have fun.

At least the wind direction was good, at south, south east..... but I've just checked the wind speed graph for the day at West Mersea, and by 10 am it was averaging 20 knots, which went up to 23 knots half an hour later, where it stayed until it started climbing again until by 1818 the average wind speed was 29 knots. After that it dropped like a stone, to a lovely gentle 15 knots by 1900. It all found us in the Wallet, but just that bit earlier.

One minute I could not hold Robinetta on course so we reefed the main right down, and the next we were hardly moving even though we shook the reef out. I'd had enough, so we put the engine on, and had a really nice motor sail across Colne Bar in practically flat seas.

What a day!

Safe on the mooring by 2000 in the last of the light. We tidied up, and got into Worm to row ashore at 2100, when the heavens opened and it started to rain. No noticeable wind though!

Sunday, 26 August 2012

President's Race/Ladies Helm/Junior Helm

Today is the last day of racing, so yesterday's cancelled race was added to the President's race. This led some boats to have a choice of three races to enter! After some discussion it was decided that boats could choose which race they had entered by putting it on their declaration forms....

The wind was still rather strong in the morning, so the start time was moved from 1030 to 1200, and the shortest course, up the Stour to Stour no 1 and back selected, since the forecast was for the wind to go really light in the afternoon. We put the no1 jib up, and as Julian hoisted the main I decided to shake out yesterday's reef straight away. We were racing after all, and starting on a run!

The start line between Avola and the Suffolk Yacht Harbour Line seemed quite narrow with lots of boats running down towards it, and it was an exciting start with My Quest and Robinetta crossing the start within seconds of each other and the start time. Luckily both were the right side of the line at the start!

I was helming, and really pleased with our start and performance. We rounded Collimer still in a good position, and even made on Charm at one point as we headed for College!

By Shotley Horse we had slipped back a good bit, but we kept our position on the beat up the Stour, even re-passing Witch at one point! (Well, she had run aground....) We tussled with Katy and Reverie for a while before both passed us close to Erwarton Cardinal, and it was not until we rounded Stour no 1 and began to run back that Maryll got past us.

Crow was the first boat we noticed heading past us in the other direction, but Fanny of Cowes passed closest to us. I want one of those big down wind sails too...

I wanted all the sail we could get, so got Julian to rig the old staysail under the boom as a water sail. It was a bit of a palaver getting it set (Julian had not done it before) but once it was there I could feel the power in it and we kept it all the way to Shotley Horse where we hauled in the sails and began the beat up the Orwell.

The wind had gone very light by then, but the tide was with us, and Maryll and Rely were still in sight, so we kept racing, and got across the line at 1620, about five minutes after Maryll.

The only boat we were aware of behind us was Kajan (who retired), but when we heard the results we learnt that Snoopy was last boat to finish. Hurray! We weren't last!

Dirty Girty was the boat to beat all week, and the Presidents race was no exception. Her handicap went up with every race (from a waterline/sail size  calculated one of .82 at the start of the week, to over 1 for the last race), and she managed to bag both the President's race, and the Young Helm honours. Hurrah for the Young Old Gaffers! They're hoping to take her to Cowes next year!

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Shifting ballast and sailing for fun.

Today's race was cancelled due to the weather forecast. Force 5-6 is a bit much for gaffer racing!

Julian and I decided to do some maintenance work. Julian started shifting ballast to check that there was no water coming in under it. (We've never had the ballast out, because it's very tightly packed and difficult to move.)  We now know that that part of the hull is fine, and that the internal ballast is definitely lead....

After that going for a sail in the afternoon seemed a fitting reward! Racing in winds above force 5 is hard work, but even with her new sails Robinetta likes a decent amount of wind. We hoisted the no2 jib, put a roll on the boom and came off the mooring under sail, to head down river.

Beating out of the Orwell with plenty of wind and no time pressure was great fun; it took two hours from Pinmill to Fagbury, and I started thinking about doing the laundry and having a shower at Levington before the 1800 briefing. It seemed a bit tame to head back up the Orwell as soon as we'd beaten out though. That's when Julian suggested going to Harwich for an ice-cream.

I had to think about it a bit, but by then we were past College, so we just carried on to Halfpenny pier, dropping the sails just before turning into the shelter of the pontoon.

We rafted up on a motor cruiser and went for our ice-creams. A short stop, but enjoyable.

Running back across the harbour on reefed main and stay sail was like being on a roller coaster. Forty minutes after untying from Harwich we were dropping sail to enter Levington marina.

A great afternoon's sail.

Friday, 24 August 2012

Pennyhole Bay Race

The Pennyhole bay race was supposed to start at 1100, but the start time got pushed back to 1200 to have a little more depth to get past Stone Point. The channel has got rather shallow despite being dredged last month, and some of the deeper draft boats would have got stuck.

We did not get a very good start, and I did not really have my racing head on. We managed to keep up with the Walton Charm for a while, but by the time we were past Pye End we were the back markers. We persevered and passed the finish line at Pin Mill hard by 1550.

Julian wanted to pick up a buoy under sail, and we tried, but the wind and tide conspired against us and by 1635 I had had enough and insisted we put the engine on so we could get on the buoy. Five minutes later we were tied up securely and I jumped into Worm to try to get to the shop at Chelmondiston before it shut.

Not a great day on the water, but the evening barbecue at Pin Mill Sailing Club went well. Unfortunately Julian fell off the hard on the way back to Worm, getting his waterproof jacket and last pair of clean trousers covered in mud. We'll have to use the laundrette at Suffolk Yacht Haven tomorrow!

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Ramsholt to Walton

We set off early from Ramsholt, casting off the mooring under sail at 0800 and taking the ebb down to the Deben Bar. The wind was quite light and we did not want to fight the tide, but by 0830 we put the engine on to give us steerage way.

Low water was at 0930, but we passed West Knoll by 0905, without reading less than 5' on the depth gauge. The latest chartlet showed enough water for us (or we would not have tried) but it was still a relief to get through!

We turned the engine off after West Knoll, to drift with the tide towards Harwich. There was no wind at all, but we were not in a hurry, and it was forecast to come back. We had enough to sail by 1000, and headed off shore to catch more tide push. We went right across the shipping lane since there was nothing in it, and only tacked towards Pennyhole Bay when we reached the Cork Sands.

One long tack took us right to the Walton Channel no2 buoy (Pye End remained elusive) and then we tacked up the channel to buoy no11 before turning on the engine at 1245.

We were on a vacant mooring close to Stone Point by 1300 having had a relaxing sail in light winds and bright sun shine. A good day!

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Woodbridge and Ramsholt

Spent the morning playing with a new lug sail for Worm that John from Tab Nab had for sale. Need longer spars. Lovely sail from the Tide Mill to Ramsholt. Picked up the buoy under sail easy peasy. Food good as usual. Less said about the shantymen the better.

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Scandinavian Seaways Race

The Scandinavian Seaways Race was due to start at 0900 from Wrabness, just after the flood began. The wind was fine for a run down the Stour, but so light that Julian and I did not think Robinetta would make against the tide, so we decided not to try.

Several other boats called up Avola to say they were not starting either, and the fleet split in two. We started off at the same time as the racers, but had our engine on and soon left them behind. I kept looking back, and they looked really good with all their sails out, but by the time we reached Harwich Shelf at 1030 there was no sign of anyone behind.

The wind stayed really light all morning, and we motor sailed to the West Knoll buoy at the entrance to the Deben. The wind began to pick up as we reached it, and with the tide now with us we unrolled the jib, turned the engine off, and had a cracking sail all the way up to the Tide Mill.

We were past Ramsholt by the time any of the racing boats passed us, (Crow, under motor). The wind had totally died in Harwich harbour, and none of the boats could make against the tide. Roy Hart in Greensleeves put out his anchor, but everyone else resigned and put their engines on.

We dropped our sails by the entrance to the Tide Mill Marina, and had our engine on for only five minutes. (If you don't count the four hours from Wrabness to West Knoll!)

Monday, 20 August 2012

Beer on the Beech

The moorings at Wrabness were pretty full by the time we got back from Mistley so we anchored under sail behind Bona. Bev' took this picture of us.
Roy Hart (Greensleeves) donated a polypin for us to consume on the beach so we rowed over for the evening. I'm sure you are supposed to let these things settle for a day or so but it tasted pretty good. The beer was brought ashore and then transferred via wheel barrow to the beach where it took pride of place on the upturned barrow. That's what I call practical engineering.

Thorn Race

The Thorn race followed on directly from the two rivers race with the finish of the one being the start of the second, with a handicapped self-timed finish at Mistley. Boats that would be late were encouraged to resign and motor to Mistley to get fed before the tide left us stuck there.

We expected to be in that group, but we weren’t far behind Janner and they were still sailing and it was so nice we couldn’t make ourselves stop. We said “we’ll stop by xxx o’clock” and then we were so close to the finish line that we carried on. There was so much water in the Stour that we could make really long tacks into the shallows of this beautiful river on a perfect day. Once past the finish line we banged the motor on and dropped sail – the channel was dead head to wind. A boat was aground on Swan Island with a rib and Swallowtail trying to pull her off. We thought about helping but decided that any boat assisting ought to be shallower draught than the boat aground,

Once ashore we discovered that the ‘hot buffet’ was to be plated and served in the Thorn and they hadn’t started. We were really pleased we hadn’t abandoned the race. We handed our declaration in, but the real beauty of the race was the sail itself.

The lunch was wonderful. The Thorn at Mistley is a fine place, professional and friendly. Great ale, great food and a great welcome. When Geoff from Swallowtail and the crew of the grounded boat finally came in after successfully rescuing her the staff made sure they were fed and watered and supplied with packed versions of any of the food they didn’t have time to eat, or were too stressed to enjoy.

Apparently, when the first boats arrived they found one of the fence panels had been removed. People from TWL soon turned up and put it back. I’m told they then welded it in place. According to the Article 4 Direction they need planning permission for each and every maintenance action they take on the fence, so this should be interesting.

Once the panel was in place, our committee put ladders either side of the fence so the rest of us could come ashore without touching it. TWL called the Police who immediately started asking questions and decided we were behaving perfectly correctly. More on this story here and here.

Two Rivers Race

Monday started warm and still. The two rivers race was to be run from Pin Mill to Wrabness as a pursuit race with a handicap based individual start time, both start and finish self-timed. Unsurprisingly, we started first. There was a bit more wind than the RHS race so we did actually start, but having Dirty Girty running rings around us (literally) as we started was a little disheartening. Still, we didn’t fall behind nearly as quickly as we usually do. Once we were beating up the Stour we actually gained on a few boats and nearly caught Janner and kept ahead of Deirdre. It was a fun race

Sunday, 19 August 2012

August Classics Ipswich Regatta

We didn’t bring a flubber this time but we did try sailing Melvyn’s smacks boat in a race and came last. It was so tiring in the heat that we didn’t compete in anything else. We did fill the water tanks though, so at last have running water on board!

We vacated the Marina to make room for the flubber football and moored against the quay. It gave us an opportunity to go shopping, and, gluttons for punishment, we bit the bullet and did our first 1GM10 oil change.

The best boat dog competition was as silly as ever, with a performance by Pete the Knife as a ‘sort of St Bernard’.

This year the Last Anchor provided a barbecue which was excellent.

No mention of the day would be complete without a huge thank you to Pete Thomas, who with everything else he was organising, made time (his welding kit must be capable of fabricating that too) to go home and make us a saddle stirrup to try and fix the problem.

Saturday, 18 August 2012

Passage to Ipswich

Excellent weather for the trip up the Wallet but we couldn’t make use of it. The gaff saddle was really bent out of shape. I used the anchor windlass as an anvil and bent it into some sort of shape but it took most of the distance from the Nass beacon to Walton pier to do it. I had lots of rest breaks – the sun was incredibly hot.

We finally managed to start sailing and made our way into Harwich bay before being passed at a rate of knots by Keith on Maryll. The wind died around Levington Creek and we both motored up.

The Ipswich Maritime Festival fireworks started while we were in the lock and continued as we came into our berths. Clearly we were being specially welcomed!

Alison and I dashed round and sampled the beer festival and had some food. Didn’t try any beers, just ciders and Alison was not impressed – I think the discerning people of Ipswich had drunk all the best varieties.

Friday, 17 August 2012

Busy day on the posts

While I was working in London and then having fun, Alison and Alex did a fine job touching up the paint and varnol and scrubbing Robinetta on the posts at Mersea. They got home about 1:30 this morning, tired out. Heading up the Wallet tomorrow to join the fun at Ipswich.

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Back on board

Alison and Alex are off to Robinetta this morning to put her on the scrubbing posts so she's clean for the August Classics. Weather is looking OK for next week but almost no wind on Monday or Tuesday.