Sunday, 25 November 2018

November Sailing

Julian and I decided we would sail Robinetta to the OGA AGM since it was being held at Brightlingsea on a Saturday when spring tides would give us plenty of water to let us get on and off our mud berth. We did not even need to take Worm. The harbour master at Brightlinsea provides a winter water taxi service until 16:00, and Colin Stroud had promised to give us a lift back to the harbour pontoon after the meeting.

We were on board by 10:30, ready to strip off the winter covers and load on all the things we needed for a weekend on board. These included plenty of warm clothes and double sleeping bags, since the forecast was for a cold damp weekend. There would be wind though, force 4-5 ENE, so we could easily sail the 8nm to Brightlingsea in daylight.

Robinetta floated at 11:20, earlier than we expected, and after an interesting time getting clear of the berth we raised the main sail in Tollesbury Fleet at 12:05. We kept one reef in the main and used the no.2 jib, which was a comfortable sail set for the conditions. The engine stayed on until we were clear of the Leavings, but we were under sail alone as soon as it felt safe.

We were not the only sailing boat out and about. We saw at least 7 other boats taking advantage of the best weekend wind conditions for a month. The weather was not too bad either, although cold enough that the three hours it took us to beat down the Blackwater and into the Colne were enough time on the water. We did have a great sail though!

The long harbour pontoon that holds the visitor berths was almost deserted. A very rare state of affairs, and due to the fact that all boats had been asked to vacate them while new piles were put in. These were now in place, but the boats were not back yet.

The harbour master came by once we were moored, and we agreed to pay in the morning before we left. Once Robinetta was tidied up we headed ashore, for a convivial evening at the Colne Yacht Club which was hosting the AGM.

Broad reaching along the Mersea Flats
To our surprise the night aboard Robinetta was easily warm enough, and Julian had the best night's sleep he had had in weeks.

The sail back to Tollesbury was as enjoyable as the one out had been. Possibly more so since we saw a tiny bit of blue sky. It was also a little warmer with the wind behind us, a little wetter since it did rain briefly, and a lot faster! The tide and wind saw us nearly touch 7 knots over the ground as we very broad reached along the Mersea flats.

We had plenty of time to get to our berth, so Julian decided we should sail as far as we safely could. We furled the jib away at we passed the Mersea quarters buoy, which slowed us down to 4 knots and simplified our gybing in the wriggling approaches to the South channel. Then we ran on goosewinged stay sail and main, past the moorings in the Leavings.

Normally we would put the engine on to turn head to wind to drop the main sail well before reaching the turn to port that would take us into Woodrolfe Creek. This time we continued under sail until we were just past the turn before ducking head to wind and dropping the main. Then Julian turned us toward the creek while I set the jib, and we entered Woodrolfe Creek under head sails.

A yacht came overtook us under engine just inside the creek, but were careful to give us space, as was the yacht heading out from the marina.

We made the turn into the Saltings (just before the lightship) under sail, but were making too much lee way for comfort in the narrow channel, so Julian reluctantly turned the engine on (although not in gear) and I furled the jib. We carried on under stay sail power until we gently grounded on the mud in the final narrow gut way leading to our berth.

We had expected to ground. High water was not for another 1.5 hours! Grounding was no hardship. It gave me time to stow the bowsprit and get the head sails away, while Julian stayed on the helm and kept us heading for the berth whenever Robinetta floated off the mud.

We were back in our berth by 12:30, after a lovely 24 hours getting reacquainted with our local waters. We knew this would be our last sail of the year, so we tied Robinetta's covers on securely and brought all her sails home with us.

No comments: