Sunday, 23 June 2013

Robinetta comes home

For many years, Mike Garnham kept Robinetta at the Orwell Yacht Club. Peggy, the boat I stayed on in Belfast, now has her mooring, just south of the Orwell Bridge. Peggy, is of course on the Round Britain Challenge and the Club graciously allowed us to use the mooring until the Jubilee cruise. This was especially fortuitous given the weather in the Wallet today - we would not have enjoyed the trip back.

Our good friend Melvyn looks after the moorings and crane at the OYC and had his Westerly at Wrabness. He kindly offered to take us ashore - its about 3/4 mile and the weather was not the best for rowing Worm.
I love it when not having a plan comes together. Thanks to Melvyn we got safely landed and put away at the Orwell Yacht Club and driven to the station just in time to miss the fast train to Colchester. But it didn't leave on time and we caught it! At Colchester we were 3 minutes late for the bus to West Mersea. 2 hours until the next one. But due to the wonders of Mersea spring tides, the bus had had to wait for the Strood and was 4 minutes late!
The bus dropped us by Tesco and I went to get the car while Alison bought some liver for dinner. She met Keith and Julie whilst shopping and we had a little chat about the weekend.

East Coast Treasures

ElectronAndy and Fiona came passed us in Electron looking good. Yesterday, Andy had helped ferry crew and tow smacks boats from Holbrook Creek to the anchored yachts when we all got so badly lee-shored

A little later, we passed the barge Thalatta sailing down river from Ipswich, looking equally fine in the chop and the murk.
We also saw the John Laing of the Ocean Youth Trust, but didn't have the camera out. Here is one they made earlier.

Sloops and anti-sloops

We sailed up the Stour on Friday sloop rigged and we are sailing down on just the staysail. The Scientific American I haven't been reading reminds me that every particle has an anti-particle. It feels like we have morphed - neutrino-like from one form to another.

I wanted a lie-in but we found we were too close to Pintail of Morra for comfort. Quite how we can have dragged our mooring upwind is beyond me. We motored off the mooring and headed straight down river. Four or five boats are now visible behind us.

Saturday, 22 June 2013


Another great Wrabness BBQ night with fine music from Mike Feather, Jo Masters and Brenda Read from the Orwell Yacht Club.
A highlight of the proceedings is always the prize-giving. Not for the first time in recent years there had been no racing. This year Mike Robertson awarded seamanship trophies to Pintail of Mora, Maid of Tesa and Summer Fox the three boats who's skippers had the sense to stay at Wrabness! Andy Abraham got a well deserved award for acting as tow, ferry and safety-boat for the rest of we idiots and PtK and Sarah were thanked for their usual, but always outstanding, hospitality.

Another ride on a lifeboat

This time it was just a boat to boat transfer. This morning the forecast high winds had arrived. We anchored off Holbrook creek but it was too choppy to row in in Worm. Pete and Claire gave us a lift in their smacks boat. Three of the other smacks boats, Lettuce, Papa Stour and Ripple sailed over. A pleasure they were destined to regret. The RHS gave us their usual welcome. They have a new exhibition of school memorabilia including Nelson related goodies. It is open to the public regularly and will be formally opened by the Duke of York next weekend. Then we had coffee and pastries and headed back to the creek.

The wind had got worse and there were white horses in the bay. Neither Papa Stour not Ripple had an outboard. PtK fought the wind and managed to scull Papa Stour to the landing but Wrabness was out of the question. Mike and Sue took Sarah in Lettuce and towed PtK in Papa Stour.

Andy and Fiona (Electron) towed Ripple with their tiny RIB and we sat in the front of Transcur's smacks boat with Pete, Claire, Josie and Millie. Mike and Sandra braved the waves in their inflatable and got safely to Lilli Bullero, who had dragged her anchor half across the bay. The younger Robertsons went in AWOL and managed to sink. Luckily, the water was only shoulder deep and they got safely back to shore, the only permanent causalty being Clive's phone.

The waves got bigger and the smacks boat's outboard was out of the water too much. Pete started rowing too and we were making progress. A few waves came in at the bow but the boat felt very safe. These smacks boat are great little craft. Pete and Claire swapped to get more of the weight aft to lift the bows and keep the prop in the water more and then the engine cut out. It couldn't be started again and things were not looking good.

Luckily we managed to get Lilli Bullero's attention and she got close enough for me to throw her a line and we got aboard leaving Pete in the smack's boat. Lilli then got close enough to Transcur for Claire to get aboard. The other smacks boats had tied on to her to be towed. Robinetta was dragging a little by now too and we needed to get aboard. She was bucking like a bronco and still too close to Transcur for it to be easy to get to her in Lilli.

Melvin had seen the difficulties we were having and had told the coastguard. The inshore lifeboat came to see if assistance was needed but the boats had pretty much got themselves sorted. They kindly gave us a lift to Robinetta and we raised anchor and motored back to the mooring at Wrabness. The sun came out and the wind and the water were warm it was really nice.

Under the shelter of the cliffs it was fine. But Holbrook bay was a different matter. 

Friday, 21 June 2013

Fate let us off, for once!

We had just the most fantastic sail up the Wallet. F4 broad reach. One gybe at Wallet no 4 and all the way to the Harwich shelf cardinal.
Hardened up into the Stour at slack water and had a jolly good beat up under reefed main and no 1 jib. Fine dinner of steak, mushrooms and tomatoes and then a little light carousing at Pete and Sarah's beach house.

Midsummer bliss

It felt really good to get away, and we had favourable tides the whole way. Since it was neeps, and we were only two hours after high water when we got to the Colne Bar we did not bother honouring the buoy, and cut across the bar, doing 6.24 knots over the ground under sail alone. The wind would have been directly behind us if we took a most direct course up the coast, so we headed towards the Gunfleet wind farm on a broad reach, then gybed in sight of Gunfleet no.4 buoy and headed towards Walton on the Naze at 6.5 knots. With the tide pushing us up the Wallet we did not need to gybe again, and cleared the Naze easily. 

The wind was getting up, and we dropped the staysail and put a roll and a half of reef in the main near Landguard. That was the only slightly uncomfortable part of the whole trip as the tide against us and the wind with us made for a slightly increased seas, but by the time we reached Harwich Shelf the tide was slack, and we entered the Stour under sail without any problems. The beat up to Wrabness was fun rather than frustrating, and we picked up a buoy feeling really happy with our day's sail.

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Tempting Fate

Robinetta went back in the water around the 4th June. We are driving back from Scotland today to join her in the morning for a trip up the Wallet to the Royal Hospital School Rally.

Unbelievably, HW West Mersea is 10:50 and the wind is SW F4. The ideal conditions. 

Saturday, 1 June 2013

not back in yet

The tides were not good for getting Robinetta back into the water on Friday, so after I found out that the person we had invited to come sailing on Saturday would not be coming I told the yard she did not need to go in. This meant we could work on her on dry land over the weekend.

Julian got the fore hatch back in place on its hinges properly, and I gave it another couple of coats of Varnol. It's so easy to do, that the fact that it does not last as a finish doesn't worry me! I also got a second coat of varnish on the cap rails on the foredeck bulwarks. The main hatch was also ready for its finish, so I gave it six coats of Varnol. In between coats of Varnol I got Toplac on the bits of hull that Alex put primer on on Thursday, It's amazing what two good painting days can do to get a wooden boat looking smarter!

I made some new longer crutches for the boom, so I could bring the old ones home and re-varnish them properly.

There is still a lot I could do, the bits need attention, more coats of varnish and varnol are needed, and in an ideal world I'd sand down the whole of the blue hull and get a complete coat of Toplac on for the season. It's not going to happen though!