Saturday, 31 May 2014

The trip restarts

When we reached the marina Julian headed straight for the Humber Cruising Club office (which was supposed to close at 1600) and luckily there was still someone there. He had phoned and left a message about our lateness which the berthing officer had just picked up, so he had the paperwork out and ready.

We stowed our baggage and got Robinetta and Worm ready to go. It was tempting to leave as soon as the lock gates opened for free flow, but it would be better to wait until the tide had finished rising, so we ate first.

There were a lot of shipping movements, and once we were ready to go we had to wait for a tug to come through into the fish dock, then hurry to clear the dock area as a large ship came out from the Royal Dock right next to the Fish Dock. There were more big ships waiting to enter the Royal Dock so we stayed in shallow water on the Lincolnshire side for a while.

We got the staysail up, but t did not do much so we just motored over to Spurn Head, closing with the shipping lane, then crossing it at right angles; there were a lot of ship movements!
We anchored in 25' of water, very close to were we were last time. There was another boat already at anchor, rolling noticeably in the swell and wash from large boats. It was just after the top of the tide which had a 5.5m range, so I laid out 20m of chain. It held first time, with the tide running strongly past. Robinetta rolled just as much as the other boat, and it was not easy to get to sleep. Luckily the swell/wash decreased around midnight, and stayed slight for the 2 hours either side of low water. Not a great nights sleep though.

Back on track

Arrived back at Grimsby before 5pm. All well. Going out to anchor overnight at Spurnhead to take the ebb up towards Scarborough in the morning. 


Got to Grimsby an hour late, after a train journey where we took none of the trains we were booked on!

Pre booking a train journey is hugely cheaper than buying on on the day, and when we headed home from Grimsby we booked the same journey in reverse at the same. That meant getting a train into Tottenham Hale from Stortford at 1032 on Saturday morning, and we were at the station in plenty of time. We knew something was wrong the instant we arrived though, as the station was full of people standing around, and as soon as we got onto the platform we saw the station notice that all trains towards London were cancelled due to a fatality at Chesunt.

I don't know what it is about our line, but far too many drivers end up traumatised by people dying under the trains. Accident or intentional it has messed up our travel plans on more than one occasion. This time it seems to have been an accident. Our deep sympathy to the family of the deceased and to the driver of the train.

There was a Cambridge train waiting on the up platform (the timetable was messed up in that direction too) and we were told that all tickets would be honoured as far as Cambridge, from were we could get a train into London Kings Cross. More to the point for us we could get a train to Peterborough from were we couod catch a train to Doncaster and then connect to Grimsby. Julian took a photo of the station announcement board to explain why we had missed our pre-booked trains, but none of the ticket inspectors asked for proof, or even an explanation, and the journey itself went very well.

Saturday, 17 May 2014

Boats and buses and trains

Buying train tickets in our wonderful privatised system without taking out a mortgage is a frustrating business. On the assumption we could leave Robinetta in Bridlington we booked return tickets home from there, to be printed at the station. When Bridlington didn't have room for us we still needed to go there to print our tickets. The best plan seemed to be a bus from Grimsby to Hull and the train to Bridlington.

It worked flawlessly. We had a very pleasant hour in Hull and looked at the Marina there.Hull was in festive mood, it being FA Cup Final day and Hull City were playing Arsenal.

We had another lovely hour in Bridlington, buying farings for work in the sweet shop and viewing the harbour. There were indeed few spare berths even for a small yacht like Robinetta.

Back on our intended journey we passed back through Hull to Doncaster where we tried to get tea. The best we could manage on a Saturday night was McDonalds. I now know why the only memorable thing about Doncaster is it's bypass.

Our cheap tickets involved a 2 minute wait at Stevenage to pick up a train to Finsbury Park. A short hop on the Victoria Line would take us to Tottenham Hale and then home to Bishop's Stortford.

At Finsbury Park we met the Arsenal fans. According to the official FA website

"Arsenal snatched victory from the jaws of defeat to win a record-equalling 11th FA Cup, as they beat Hull City 3-2 in an enthralling encounter at Wembley Stadium"
My goodness they were loud. Otherwise very well behaved, but deafening.

Friday, 16 May 2014

A day sail!

This morning saw the decision made. We would leave Robinetta in Grimsby. More expensive than South Ferriby, but easier access to the sea when we got back to the boat. We paid for a fortnight's mooring, then wandered back to Robinetta for breakfast. 

We chatted with a couple who were waiting for the lock to go to free flow. Turns out that the spring tide was too high to open the lock without over filling the marina, so the lock keepers had closed the flood gates. If we had decided on South Ferriby we would have been fighting the tide the whole way.

It seemed like ages since we had just headed out for a sail, so we went out for a day's drift on the Humber at 0840. We had bright sunshine, but very little wind, and with the tide against us we motored up the river inside the Burcum Sand at about 0.8knots. Julian bent on the no 1 jib and raised the main and when the occasional breeze picked up we made an additional ½ knot. The wind died away completely as we reached the top of the Burcum sand and after we got tired of motoring up river very slowly we crossed the channel and turned the engine off to let the tide take us down river at 3-4 knots.

We had to turn the engine back on quite soon, as the tide was sweeping us back into the channel and we needed steerage way to avoid buoys that looked as though they were motoring towards us. There were ripples on the water though, and soon we had enough wind to sail. The next hour was lovely as we beat down to Spurn head, mostly on one tack, then a short tack back to the channel before we got too close to the drying sand on the Yorkshire side.

We reached Spurn Head and turned in towards the anchorage. We furled away the jib, then dropped the main, and anchored under stay sail. Julian put the engine on just in case, but hardly used it in the event. There were two other boats there, a GRP and a wooden bermudan.

We set the chart plotter up for an anchor watch, and realised before the kettle boiled, that the anchor was not holding us. The engine went back on, in reverse, to pull the chain out tight and dig the anchor in, and after that we stayed put.

Julian got his pastels out for, the first time in a couple of years, while I practised the mandolin and read the paper. A lovely way to spend a relaxed afternoon. We decided we should stay there until 1630, then sail slowly back to Grimsby to do through the Fish Dock Island lock at free flow. The modern bermudan upped anchor first, then the classic, but it was only 1615... They were local boats though, so we decided to follow suite.

We got the anchor up without any problems although I had to get Julian to motor towards it a bit. We then got the sail up and headed for Grimsby, by pointing at Bull Sand Fort.... We could only sail at about 2 knots in the light wind, and the tide was taking us up river at 4!

We got to the lock early, and hung around outside, with at least 6 wind farm boats, 1 trawler, a sport fishing boat, and the classic bermudan. We got the main and jib away, and managed to maintain steerage way on the stay sail alone, but we were being swept down past the lock by the time it opened. 

Back on the pontoon by 1845, after our first sail where we returned to the same place we left since the Jubilee race at Cowes!

Thursday, 15 May 2014

Julian's Birthday

Woke up and found,
  1. Worm lying politely alongside, although still set up for towing.
  2. Staysail with no cover and halyard attached.
  3. Main, peak halyard on, and no cover.
  4. halyards not frapped.
We'd done nothing the night before except make sure Robinetta was securely moored and fendered, which we had mostly set up before entering the lock. In our defence we had stowed the jib and properly flaked the main a couple of hours before we reached Grimsby, and brought the bowsprit in before entering the lock!

We tidied up then got fuel, including an extra 5lt in the can, and paid for 1 night's mooring, intending to head out on the evening's free flow. 

A cooked breakfast was calling, and we found a cafe on the way into town. After filling up very pleasantly we explored Grimsby, ending up at the Fishing Heritage Museum. It was an interesting place to visit, well set up to immerse children in the way the industry used to work.

As we walked back to the boat Julian phoned Bridlington to talk about leaving Robinetta there for a fortnight. 
No go. 
No way. 
No how. 3 days maximum stay!

That put our plans into chaos. We had already bought fortnight return train tickets from Bridlington to be picked up at the station there. Instead of heading out on the evening free flow we hurriedly researched options, not helped by poor Internet in the marina. (seemed to be a problem with the ISDN line, not the marina wi-fi, as we got good connection in the bar, but still no WWW). Julian e-mailed around with his smart phone and got a good response back from South Ferriby marina, but I got no answer from Whitby (which would have been an expensive option even if they'd let us stay longer than Bridlington.)

Went out to dinner at YuMe, Grimsby's only Japanese restraunt. Great tempura (veg and squid), well cooked vegetable gyoza, and pretty sushi, but the sushi was definitely the low point of the meal. However the internet there was very good, and I discovered I'd bought non refundable train tickets.

We decided that the best thing to do would be to either head to South Ferriby in the morning, or arrange to stay in Grimsby if they'd let us, then head to Bridlington on the bus and train to collect the tickets on Saturday.

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Leaving Wells-next-the-Sea

I love Wells-next-the-Sea. We were made very welcome by the harbour staff and felt much more part of the place having arrived by sea than otherwise, but I'm not sure I would want to sail in again. Coming in on Monday evening was quite hairy. We were rolling all over the place, and it was even worse coming out at 6am on Wednesday morning. The wind was light, but mostly northerly, and the seas were very short and steep, breaking on both sides of the entrance channel. Very uncomfortable. I helmed as Julian was feeling a bit hung over after yesterday's wine (it's normally me!). 

The seas stayed steeper than Robinetta handles well for another hour and we could not sail as we were heading directly into the wind. Julian started the navigation by programming in a course to South Dowsing, almost due north from Wells. The seas got little better and I asked him to re-set the course to take us through the deep water Race Channel. Things eased up after that. 

By 11 there was enough wind to sail, so we turned the engine off for an hour and a half to sail while we had lunch. Blessed relief! The engine went on again at 1300, and the man came down about1730 as it was doing nothing.

The auto-pilot earned its keep today. Julian fitted it about 1330 and it kept the course more reliably than a human could in the conditions.

After lunch I tried to nap, then looked at the Humber navigation and passage planned it. I set it up on the chart plotter, which gave an arrival time of 2030, just on the far edge of the 2hr either side of high water for free flow at Grimsby dock. BUT our chart plotter is set to UTC and real life is in BST, so we would be an hour late. We read up the pilot, which said that the lock might open up to HW +_4 for a charge of £10.

I also looked at the anchorage under Spurn Head. It would be a sensible place to stop, but we did need diesel, having only put in 5lts at Lowestoft and none in Wells, so we decided on Grimsby.

The Humber estuary is quite busy with shipping, and we saw oil tankers, cross North Sea ferries, small container ships, a cruise ship...but no pleasure yachts except us (and a couple of none-commercial fishing boats). We also saw the Tetbury Monobuoy, a strange structure with a floating boom that I noticed as we motored past, luckily on the side away from it! It seemed to have a strange attraction for the auto-pilot, however many extra degrees to starboard I programmed in it persisted in staying on the nose! I ended up disconnecting the auto, and hand steering the rest of the way.
Our next sea mark was the Bull Sand Fort, a second world war structure, not nearly as picturesque as the Napoleonic forts guarding the Solent.


The sun set as we approached Grimsby, but with a full moon and clear skies we could still see quite well as e entered the fish dock. I had called ahead and been assured that the Fish Dock Island lock that we needed to get through to moor up was manned 24 hours, and would be available for us, and it was.

The lock is short but wide and deep; Robinetta fitted quite snugly for length with her bowsprit in. The lock keeper threw lines down to us and chatted as we rose. Turns out the lock can be used at all states of the tide. If I'd known that before I'd not have worried! I was absolutely shattered by the time we were moored up in the Grimsby Yacht Club.

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

A glorious day in Wells-next-the-Sea

Today was beautifully sunny but with a cool breeze. We went for a long walk, out along the harbour wall to the new haven cut for the wind farm boats, then out onto the sands to see the entrance channel at low water. I took lots of pictures, and picked up shells. Julian found a wonderful golden translucent shell remnant which he gave me.

We then walked along the beach for a long way, on firm golden sand with amazing cross ripple mosaics. There were some slightly lower areas, where water still lay, baring easy access to the water's edge where the waves broke with a crash of spray. We walked back behind the remnants of sand dunes topped with marram grass. The sea obviously cuts them off as islands at spring tides; the sand was firm but dry, held flat by a thin layer of fine mud left when the last of the tide evaporated rather than running back to the sea.

We stopped and talked to some other tourists who we overheard wondering about the tides and how far from the water's edge the beach huts looked. Turns out to be an English couple showing their Australian friends that England has beaches too.

We ate lunch sitting in Robinetta's cockpit. Bread, cheese, and salami with beer for Julian and mineral water for me. It feels like a huge privilege to be able to sit there, part of the scene, rather than just an observer of the picturesque. And it was a lovely picnic! We finished it with an ice-cream from a shop on the quay, that we ate while walking round the town.

 A cup of tea was calling me, so we went back to Robinetta to put the kettle on. Julian suggested we take the harbour boat trip. Excellent idea! We took our mugs of tea with us, and were out for an hour and a half with an ex-whelk fisherman turned boat builder, who was able to tell us interesting facts about the whelk fishery. Turns out they are caught in traps, like lobsters and crabs, I had thought they were picked like cockles.

We saw Little Terns, with have just started to nest in the area by the new haven, and Golden Plover (might be ringed, I need to check), plus had a look at the wind farm boats coming through the entrance.

We ate dinner at the restaurant attached to the Edinburgh Pub. Odd set up; the waitress will not bring you any drinks, you have to go to the bar and buy them. Well cooked lamb shank on mustard mash for Julian, slightly stodgy vegetable lasagne for me, but a good bottle of Rioja, that inspired me to look at the desert menu. Hazelnut meringue with cream and hot chocolate sauce appealed, so I succumbed and shared with Julian. HUGE meringue sitting on a bed of softly whipped cream, with a pot of hot chocolate sauce beside it. Excellent serving idea as the sauce stayed hot.

Back on board Robinetta we drank tea, and booked our train tickets home from Bridlington for Saturday at 5pm. Now we just need to get there!

Monday, 12 May 2014

Finally headed for Wells-Next-the-Sea

The weather forecast promised lighter winds this morning, so we laid careful plans to escape from Lowestoft. We've enjoyed our stay, but a week is long enough!

The alarm went at 0340, and we were away from our berth by 0430, with everything properly stowed away. The passage in to the harbour last week had showed how rolly the harbour entrance could be! We got permission to enter the harbour straight away and were soon motoring towards Great Yarmouth with the stay sail up and the no 2 jib bent on. Julian got the main up, but it stuck part way, so we reefed it to that point, set the jib, and motor sailed like that while drinking the tea I had made before we left the berth.

Once I was a bit more awake I spotted that the lowest mast hoop had got itself stuck on the goose-neck. Julian went forward and freed it, and we got the main up properly.

We motor sailed the whole day in the hope that we would make enough speed to reach Wells-Next-the-Sea in time to enter, and by running the engine at full throttle managed to make 6-7 knots in the morning. The wind began to decrease, so we swapped the no. 2 jib for the no. 1 at 1050, and that kept our speed up for long enough to counter the later effects of the wind going light, and the tide being against us, which brought our speed down to 3 knots.

We started pumping unexpectedly at one point, and I realised I had not shut the inlet valve for the heads. Our toilet is below water level, and if we forget to shut off the valve after we've pumped out it can fill and flood the boat. I'm glad we've got a float switch on the bilge pump!

Although we motored all day, we also sailed for most of it, including tacking though a fine array of well marked crab pots to reach Cromer.
We were able to sail more directly after that, as the westerly wind became north westerly allowing us a single fine reach all the way to Cley-next-the-Sea. After that the wind fell too much to be of use and we furled the jib away and got the main down.

We reached Wells fairway buoy by 1700, and called the harbour master. The instructions were to pass CLOSE to the red buoys in the entrance channel so we did. Julian had put trackback on on the chart plotter, and it was interesting to see out track meandering over what had been a drying part of the entrance when our charts were published!

The rollers in the entrance were interesting to steer across, and I was glad we had made it in time (just) to enter on a rising tide. The harbour launch met us just after the lifeboat shed, and led us along a very winding channel to the harbour office quay pontoon. We were moored up with the engine off at 1745.

Friday, 9 May 2014


After a great start on Sunday and Monday, widdershins progress has halted. The wind is gusty enough to keep us in port. Progress in other areas is good though.

We did promise ourselves to treat this journey as a holiday and to stay places when we wanted to and to not stretch ourselves too much. The inshore waters forecast is mostly F5-F6 with some F7s. xcweather shows mostly F4 with F6 and F7 gusts. For example at Weybourne at the moment (13:00 Friday) the wind is 27 to 35 knots.We would go in a steady F5, or even with low-end F6 gusts but so far, every day has had long periods of really strong gusts. Tonight is a possibility but Sunday looks horrid. We think Monday will be fine, but the weather on Monday won't be what the forecast says now, so we will see.

So we are having a very pleasant and productive time in Lowestoft. The Royal Norfolk and Suffolk is a lovely place to stay and we keep finding things to do ashore and things to do aboard.

Sorting out the Wykeham-Martin gear has been the most important thing but I have also bought new rope for the peak hardener (the old one was too short), fitted a light in the fore-peak and made it possible to run all the DC electrics from shore power. This latter was something I installed when we first bought Robinetta but never put into service. Now we have a little 12V fridge (7L beer cooler from Maplin) it makes sense to use it. All I had to do was put a bigger fuse in - what it really needs is a slow blow fuse to cope with the transformer in-rush. I also have a separate transformer to charge the batteries from shore power but I haven't yet made that work.

Alison is making a canvas mast boot to replace the poly-tarp we have been using since Tollesbury.

Thursday, 8 May 2014

Servicing Wykeham-Martin Roller Furling Gear

Since its invention in 1907, Wykeham-Martin furling gear has been a common sight on sailing vessels. I didn’t know they had any internal parts or needed regular servicing. Robinetta’s have always just worked. Not this season. On our short passage from Tollesbury to Brightlingsea the jib wouldn’t unfurl. We tried everything we could and it seemed OK but they next time we tried to unfurl the jib it was back to the same problem.

After investigating further it became clear that the drum was not turning freely when the jib was properly tensioned.  A hunt around the net suggested that the ball bearings last 4-5 years. This is what the bearings in our drum looked like:

I will describe the parts of the drum and it’s assembly. Disassembly is the reverse and should be simple and low effort. Ours wasn't like that.

Here is an exploded view of the parts of the drum:

I don’t know what the proper names for the parts are so I’ll refer to them as follows:
1. Drum
2. Shackle Pin
3. Standing Part
4. Bush
5. Grub Screw
6. Nut
7. Pin
8. Washer
9. Washer
10. Ball bearings

The first step is to put the bush onto the standing part.

Then the washers can be added

Then the nut can be screwed on until the holes line up and the pin inserted.

Then it’s time to pack the gap between the washers with marine grease. This makes it easy to insert the ball bearings so they stay put.

Pack the inside of the drum with more grease.

Push the standing part, nut first, into the drum and screw the bush in until the hole in the bush for the grub screw lines up with the hole in the drum

Fit the grub screw.

Now fit the shackle pin and we have a fully assembled drum.

Easy. My problems were in the initial dismantling. I tried to follow Moray MacPhail's instructions on the Classic Marine website. I could get the bush to move, but it just jammed against the standing part. If you are servicing a well maintained drum you should have no problems. The bush should just push the standing part out with it. In my case we had to force turn the bush and the standing part around together while holding the drum still with a screwdriver through the shackle ring. It took a lot of force.

My second problem was that the pin was jammed in the nut. I made a punch by filing the threads off a machine screw and forced it out with the punch and a hammer. On my drum and swivel unit the pins are mild steel. Phil Cogdell of Annabel J says his are bronze. If you find steel ones, changing them might be a good idea.

My third problem was that the ball bearings were rusted almost beyond recognition.

My fourth problem was that the washers were both rusty and worst, worn into ridges where the ball bearings had worn the washers.

The washers are not standard. They are thicker than normal washers. The best I can measure them they are 4.5 mm thick. I couldn't find anything to replace them with so I filed them smooth and turned them over so the faces against the bearings were the smoothest ones.

Our gear is size 3. The ball bearings are 7/32”. Finding that out was fun. However, Simply Bearings in Lancashire have an absolutely fantastic web site and delivery service and for the princely sum of £3.59 I had 10 new stainless steel ones within 24 hours. I chose 316 grade stainless as it was advertised as more corrosion resistant than the others and not as hard, which I thought felt right for the application. Having four different types to choose from and all the possible imperial and metric sizes was great.

I also dismantled and serviced the swivel unit. That told me what the experience should be like. It has all the same parts and came apart easily. The bearings were fine – it doesn't get the same exposure to salt as the drum. I re-packed it with grease and reassembled it.

I think the drum should be serviced at least every two years. Possibly every season. The swivel can be left longer, maybe even up to 10 years.

Yet another day in Lowestoft

This morning the new ball bearings turned up and I was able to repair the drum on the Wykeham-Martin gear. Then we had a damp walk to Oulton Broad and spent too much money in Jeckells, had a lovely pub lunch in the Waveney and looked around the Lowestoft Museum.

The museum sits in Nicholas Everitt Park. Everitt wrote books on boating, hunting and on his first world war experiences in the secret service. Some of them are on Project Gutenberg and I'm going to try and read them.

At least four fine old broads sailing yachts were moored on Oulton Broad.

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Another day in Lowestoft

Lowestoft plays one small part in Robinetta's own history. In 1939 Denys Rayner took her to Beaumaris for the war. After being called up, in common with a number of RNVR officers he was assigned to the Royal Naval Patrol Service. The RNPS commandeered the Sparrow's Nest in Belle Vue Park for it's headquarters and the building now on that site has a small museum. The RNPS used fishing trawlers as mine sweepers and anti-submarine vessels. A common tactic was to tow a "hammer fuse" behind the trawler which would detonate the mine. If lucky, the trawler would be far enough ahead to escape. It was dangerous work.

Rayner tells of his time at the Sparrow's Nest in his book Escort. He was given the job of assigning crews to ships. Like his predecessor, when he found a crew and ship he liked, he put his own name down as captain and jumped aboard.

We didn't find any mention of Rayner in the museum, but it is a fascinating record of a lesser known part of British Naval history.

We also took our ball bearings around three different bike shops looking for a match. The third shop had eight that were the right size, but we needed ten. At least we were able to identify that they were 7/32".

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

A day in Lowestoft

We walked in the general direction of Bell Vue Park and had tea and a tea cake at the Lighthouse Diner before looking around the Lowestoft Maritime Museum. Across the road are some strange wooden rails. It turns out that these are for drying herring drift nets.

This is a small, volunteer run museum with some outstanding exhibits. The model fishing boats are wonderful. Every block and line is faithfully reproduced. The variety of different shapes of top sail alone is fantastic. The museum also has the contents of Sir Christopher Cockerell's workshop, where, one assumes, the hovercraft was conceived. Also fun were the suits of the '48 hour millionaires' - young lads off the fishing boats in the 1950s with cash burning a hole in their pockets would order more and more extravagant made-to-measure suits in garish colours.

Another interesting feature of Lowestoft are the 'scores'. These are steep lanes running down from the high street to sea level. The word apparently is the same word score used for marking a line on a sheet of card or metal for cutting or bending. In earlier centuries some of these scores were infamous for cut-purses and worse.

Monday, 5 May 2014

A long day

Cast off from the pontoon at Brightlingsea at 0415. There was enough light to see as we made our way out of the harbour and into the Crouch. The wind was pretty much on the nose, so we got the main up.,then cut across Colne Bar as soon as it felt safe. We were just on high tide, so there was plenty of water.

Out came the jib, just as reluctantly as yesterday, and we had a lovely broad reach up to Walton Pier in record time (for us)! I saw a couple of seals, which was good. The wind was going a bit light, so we put the motor on for a bit, but soon turned it off, it was just so nice a day for sailing!

We crossed the shipping lane out of Harwich quite a way off shore, near the Cork Sands, then furled the jib and went for the reaching sail which we carried all the way to Aldeborough Ridge. The tide had turned against us by this time, and the main kept lifting in the swell even though the sails were full. I was feeling the early morning, and felt a bit grumpy, but after a cup of tea and a caramel wafer I was glad to be sailing again. When we tried to go on to a slightly different course at the end of the Ridge the reaching sail kept collapsing, so Julian put it away, and we got the jib out again.

We were slowed to a crawl, (the GPS predicted gone midnight at Lowestoft) so the engine went on, and Julian helmed for the next two hours while I had a bit of a sleep.

I took the helm as we got close to Southwold. The tide was with us again and the wind came up, so I turned the engine off. I could see the flash of the Southwold Lighthouse. Its interesting how tall its tower looks from out at sea, although it looks tiny from the town.

We had an unexpected visitor here, a small but fearless bird that decided Robinetta made an acceptable resting place. It liked the coiled ropes by the cabin, but stopped first, and last, on my head to get a good look round. If anyone recognises what it is, please comment as I don't have a clue!
After our visitor the wind kept rising, and I found it quite difficult to steer. We could have changed down the jibs, but that would have meant reefing to balance the boat, so Julian rigged me a pulley like he did last year on the way home from Cowes, and it worked a treat. We were sailing along at over 7 knots, and the GPS forecast of when we would reach Lowestoft came down to 1830.

We were going fast on a very broad reach as we passed the South Holm cardinal, and I was afraid we would gybe if I tried to change course, or go onto the sands if I  didn't. We hauled the main right in, and put the engine on. Robinetta became more controllable on engine and foresails, but I could tell that there would be a problem if we left the main up, so Julian got it down. I did offer to go head to wind to help, but it is possible to lower the main on a gaffer on a run, so we did.

There might be problems getting the jib out, but the Wickham Martin still works for furling, so the jib rolled away and we turned towards the harbour entrance on the engine and stay sail. The tide had been helping us beautifully up to that point, but I knew it would be interesting getting back uptide and into the harbour. There were a lot of short steep seas, and Robinetta rolled all over the place. We also had to ferry glide across the tide to make the entrance. Motoring sideways up to the harbour entrance was not elegant, but it worked!

I dropped the staysail when we were safely into the outer harbour, then Julian called up the Royal Norfolk and Suffolk Yacht Club and we went onto their visitors pontoon. We were moored up by 1850, and I realised I had been on the helm for three hours. Time flies (like birds!) when you're having fun!

Sunday, 4 May 2014

A gentle shakedown

Left Tollesbury at 5 am. It was already light as we motored over the sill and down Woodrolfe Creek, past the lightship, but dawn did not break until we were in Mersea Quarters. The sky and cloudscape above East Mersea was amazing!

 Leaving the Nass Beacon behind for the last time in a while felt very sad!
The shake down trip to Brightlingsea revealed that we have an annoying problem with the Wickham Martin furling gear, but I'll let Julian explain that one!

We got to Brighlingsea before 10am, (pretty much low water) and the harbour master escorted us down to the far end of the pontoon. We told him that we draw 4'6", but he was sure we would be OK as he keeps his own boat, which draws 5' down there. We came to a halt 4' away from the pontoon at the stern! Not really a problem since the bow was in, and we would soon float, but not ideal.

We went ashore for breakfast at the Victoria Cafe, then bought a new lamp glass to replace the one that got broken last year. The rest of the day was pretty lazy for me!

Saturday, 3 May 2014

Last day in Tollesbury

Drove to Tollesbury on Saturday with Julian to take some final things for the trip, then I left Julian there while I drove home to leave the car. 2 trains, a bus, and three hours later I was back at the Marina. Scary business, cutting free of the car!

Meanwhile Julian had finished installing the running lights, by making sealed units out of old spice jars for the LED bulbs. The bulbs themselves last well, but they are on little circuit boards which corrode when exposed to sea water. The one on the anchor light has lasted for years in its spice bottle, so putting the red and green in the same type of housing (inside the "historic" running light housings) will hopefully help them last longer.

Robinetta did not have much in the way of entertainment facilities, but since we'll be on her for a while Julian decided we should bring our little TV which can run off the 12v battery. It makes the lights dim when we turn it on,but I don't expect we'll use it much.

Julian took Robinetta over to the fuel dock and filled up by himself. He alsofilled the water tanks. Not much for me to do when I got back except finalise stowage!

We checked the height of water over the sill in the evening, and decided we should be fine if we leave at 5am tomorrow. After that it was dinner at the cruising club, and an early bed.