Saturday, 8 September 2018

Ramsgate to West Mersea

We got down to Robinetta yesterday afternoon. Separately as Alison wanted to get there early and I had to work in the morning. We had a nice dinner at the Thai restaurant near the Royal Temple and an early night.

Our destination was Tollesbury but we can only get in there around high water which this weekend was around noon and midnight. So we could try and leave about 3 am to get to Tollesbury around noon or we could go somewhere else today and have a shorter journey to  Tollesbury on Sunday. We chose the second option and decided Brightlingsea was a good idea.

The tidal streams dictated a departure around 8:30 am and we got off on time with several other yachts. There was very little wind until we got past North Foreland but then it filled in to a really nice broad reach so we turned the engine off. With the tide under us Robinetta was doing 5-7 knots over the ground. The other yachts were much faster of course and seemed to be heading further north through Foulger's Gat towards Harwich.

We got to Fisherman's Gat an hour before high water and were at the Sunk Sand with so much water under us we just ignored it.

Of course it couldn't be perfect all the way and once we were in the Barrow Deep and trying to head back west towards the Spitway we had to fight the strengthening ebb. The wind was due west by now too so we put the engine on and slogged for about an hour into the wind and tide at less than 3 knots, sometimes much less.

But we managed to get over to the Gunfleet side out of the worst of the tide and picked up speed and the wind backed a little and we were up above 5 knots again so after 90 minutes motoring we turned the engine off again.

It was still above half tide and we know there is a lot of water over the west end of the Gunfleet sands so we cut the corner from the south west end of the wind farm to the Wallet Spitway buoy. Robinetta was back in Essex waters!

We saw another yacht coming through the Spitway from the Spitway buoy and they gradually overhauled us at the Eagle, just east of the entrance to the Colne. They called out to us as they passed - a friendly 'You went the right way!' - I looked more closely and recognised the sail mark as a boat we had seen go past us outside Ramsgate. They must have come a very long way round!

In the mean time I'd been looking at public transport. Tollesbury on a Sunday was a non-starter. So we decided I would go home tonight and bring the car to Tollesbury in the morning while Alison stayed on Robinetta and single-handed her round in the morning. I looked at getting home from Brightlingsea and it looked complicated. West Mersea would be easier and a shorter trip for Alison the next day.
Nass Beacon with Bradwell power station beyond

So instead of turning into the Colne we carried on up the Blackwater. We got the sails down by the Nass beacon and called up West Mersea Yacht Club and they allocated us a buoy in the Salcott Channel.

We got up the channel at about dead low water. The buoy was a long way up and when we turned to pick it up we went hard aground about 10m from the buoy. I got into Worm and tried to row over to the buoy with a line. But one of the rowlock mounts came off. We hardly ever row Worm with only one person aboard so this pair of rowlocks hardly ever gets used. Another repair to put on the list.

My sculling skill were not up to the task so I used an oar as a paddle and managed to get to the buoy and got a line on it. Luckily it was possible to pull the buoy back to Robinetta so once we floated we would be moored properly.

Back on board we called up the yacht club again to get a lift ashore. The launch was hard aground on the hammer head! It really is a low, low tide. Lunar perigee at the dark of the moon - a 'Super New Moon'. It didn't take too long before they were afloat and they came and got me. Three buses later and I was at home.

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