Friday, 29 October 2010

October 28th, a trip to Halfpenny Pier

11.0 nm
Having spent most of the year calling in at the place, and being denied by other boats which beat me to it, I finally managed a short berth at Halfpenny Pier, Old Harwich,  A trip accompanied by mum, we stopped off at the pier cafe for lunch and a ramble around old Harwich, before sailing back to base.  F3 gusting 4/5 south westerly winds. 

Things are becoming rather damp aboard.  Sadly it may be coming towards that time when I might have to call time on a wonderful season. 

11.0 nm today, which brings the total to 432.1nm.

Sunday, 17 October 2010

October 17th Orwell

Orwell, Harwich Harbour
Autumn well and truly with us, but another fine day with sunny intervals, and a promising though, ultimately, uneventful Northerly F2/3.  Uneventful, except for going aground as soon as I let go of the mooring.  Apart from that, good sail with the last of the ebb out to Landguard Fort, perhaps for the season's last peek at the Naze Tower,and then tacked my way back to a point just before Levington Marina where the wind gave up, and then motored back to the mooring.

16.8nm.  Season's total now stands at 421.1nm.

Saturday, 9 October 2010

October 9th, River Stour to Manningtree; 400-up!!

GPS track, 29.3nm
It's important to seize opportunities like this at the twilight end of the year.  A promise of reasonable weather, some good breeze, and a day free from commitments were too good to miss.  So, I took the opportunity to work the Spring tide up and down the Stour.
Left the mooring at about 9.30am, motored against wind and tide until the Orwell turns South; then put up reefed main with jib and mizzen, and sailed to Harwich harbour, round Shotley point, and then had wonderful run up the entire length of the River Stour.  With the full flood, maximum speed was 7.3 knots, which is as high as I can remember.  I reached Manningtree at around 12.30pm, and then turned round immediately, anchored briefly opposite Mistley Quay for a bite to eat, and then in a fresh F4-5 East/North East wind, tacked my way back to Wrabness.  The sea state was rough with the ebb working against the wind; initially used jib and mizzen, then added reefed mainsail and spent time experimenting with various reefs of the jib.  Finally, fearing time may work against me, motor-sailed from Wrabness back to the mooring (reached by about 5.15pm, which just allowed time for me to access the end of Pin Mill hard).
I've spent some time fiddling with a tiller brake which I haven't quite perfected.  Will report when it works better!
Fantastic sailing, the Stour turned pretty rough once the tide turned, so lots of spray.  Surprisingly few boats out to play, but I did see the Deben Drifter on its way out of Manningtree, and then later on in the Orwell - obviously off for a night stop.
Total distance of 29.3nm, and a season's total now standing at 404.3nm.

Sunday, 3 October 2010

October 2nd - Orwell

The promise of gales on Sunday forced me onto the water a day's a tough life!  My objective today was to use the outboard to travel as far downstream as possible in the few hours I had available, and then to take the remainder of the flood to sail back to base.  Rain was promised, and duly arrived later in the day, so the last few hours afloat were wet.  But this didn't matter.  Wind was a South Easterly F2, so conditions were relaxed.  It was good to smell that sea air...

11.9nm.  375nm in total

Saturday, 25 September 2010


I'm no boating diy expert, but was asked just recently about some of the gadgets I had bought for Daisy II, so thought it about time to list what had been done.
When I purchased her, she was known as Aquarius and I took the potentially perilous decision to rename her (grabs large plank of wood).  The previous owners left a legacy website detailing her previous history as well as the modifications they made.  In a recent email to a fellow Drascombe enthusiast, I listed some of the things that I have done myself.  As time goes by, I hope to add to this list.
I invested in a new optima yellow top battery at the start of 2009, dispensing with a much heavier, older marine battery.  I went for one which was around 40ah which has served me well for the last 2 seasons and hopefully will last for several seasons more.  I chose the yellow top since this seemed best suited to what I need - a deep cycle low discharge sort of thing that would cope with being left on the mooring all season.  This season I invested in a solar battery charger.  This is ideal for leaving the boat on the mooring - just plugs into a 12V socket.  I have no idea how effective it is since I have no meter to judge what is going on.  That is for another season!!  I never bothered with the business of connecting up the battery to the outboard for charging, partly because I don't have the time to find out how to, partly because when I changed the battery I moved the battery and all the electrics out of the rear lazarette into the cabin and so further away from the outboard, and partly because I don't really use the outboard sufficiently often to be able to rely on this as a method of recharging.  These batteries are much more expensive than conventional ones.  Whether it is worth the outlay is open to debate.  It suits me though.
I also invested in a CTEK charger which I use on the battery about once mid-season ( I disconnect the battery and take it home for this purpose), and of course at the beginning and end of the season. 
I use the battery for a cabin light, a Flextek 360 degree anchor light which plugs into the 12V socket, powering my GPS and as a back-up for my handheld VHF radio.  The previous owner used a raymarine electronic tiller pilots, but it was a bit old and juddery and I understand they use lots of power, so I dispensed with it, and use a tiller brake instead.  I might get some LED navigation lights at some stage, but I'm most likely to be looking for some simple ones - probably separately powered - that  I can attach when I need, as opposed to a permanent installation.  It's not as though I make a habit of floating around at night...!!
 Considering some of the mods done by the previous owners, the compass continues to work really well - apparently you have to be careful not to install near other electrical/metallic items to avoid interference.  The echosounder/log is going to have to be replaced soon.  I have to thump it to make it work.  The speed paddle for the log also gets bunged up with weed on the mooring so never works after about mid May.  I'm also wary of it because, to install it, a hole had to be drilled in the hull for the paddle.  I'm anxious to get that one filled up asap.  Also, my GPS tells me my speed  So, I'll most likely replace it with another plain echo-sounder, the current one of which is just glued to the hull, just underneath the bridge deck- it is very accurate and useful.
I use a Garmin handheld GPS.  It is powered from the 12V socket since it is quite heavy on single cell batteries.  This model has now been replaced with an updated range.  There are several variants and it is worth researching them carefully to see which one is needed.  I didn't and ended up spending more than was required on one which is also has an inbuilt Altimeter - splendidly useless for sailors except for showing tidal changes during a cruise - but might have been great fun if I was also in to mountaineering or hand gliding.  Nevertheless, it is a great piece of kit.  It can also be attached to the bike at home, logging cycle rides.  It details speed, and distance travelled which is another reason for dispensing with the above log.  They can be expensive, separate detailed maps need to be purchased and 'unlocked' since the basic one they are sold with is next to useless.  Even without the detailed maps it still records the track, which is downloadable onto google earth but, for example, when recently sailing at Hickling, the basic map would have told me I was sailing through a field, whereas the detailed map shows something not too far from the ordnance survey map of the same.  I have marine maps for the regions around the east and south coasts.  They are no substitute, however, for an actual chart.  Needless to say the separate maps are not inexpensive!!  What do they say about boating being about tearing up £10 notes...!?

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Hickling Broad - Drascombe Association Rally, 17-19 September 2010

An album of photographs for this event has now been posted on the Drascombe Association Website.

17 boats, great company, superb sailing, wonderful location.  Not a bad recipe for a successful Drascombe Rally.  On Friday 17th September, 17 boats attacked the quiet village of Hickling, taking over the staithe adjacent to the Pleasureboat Inn.  As well as Coaster Daisy II, our fleet consisted of Coasters Mudskipper, Espiritu, Gadfly, Liberty Jane, Longboat Cruisers Moonstone and Kitt O Shea, Longboat Jenny Morgan, Luggers Peewit of Parkgate, Draggletail, Demelza, Lady Woodmouse, Fiddler's Green, Jimbo and Pelican, Dabber Teal and Driver Mantra.  I read, in Practical Boat Owner, a comment about our 'Armada'-sized rallies.  This certainly fitted the bill!  A particular highlight for me was to see the wonderfully restored wooden lugger Peewit of Parkgate, lovingly restored by its owner David Wray.

Saturday saw westerly winds touching F2/3 in the morning, and then slackening during the day.  We spent the first hour or two exploring Hickling Broad.  Several boats made a circumnavigation of the enticingly named Pleasure Island, a few getting stuck in the reeds!  Depths on Hickling Broad rarely exceed 1.5m under a Drascombe Hull.  In fact, the carefully marked out 'deepwater' channel is not much deeper than any other part of the Broad. 
Leaving Hickling Broad behind, we worked our way down Deep-Go Dyke, and left into Meadow Dyke which leads on to Horsey Mere, which marks the far north-eastern corner of the Norfolk Broads.  A delightful lunch at Horsey Mill was only marginally marred by a moody mooring attendant who had us booked in overnight, presumably confusing us with other cruising parties, and was aghast when we all left...
Most boats then returned to Hickling where we had a splendid evening meal in the pub.  The landlord, Paul Thurston and his employees looked after us well! 

Sunday morning marked fresher winds, certainly F3-4 in the morning.  Most boats went for a morning sail on Hickling Broad, a few ventured further towards Potter Heigham.  Then departing captains and crew helped each other take their boats out using the crooked but manageable slipway at Whispering Reeds Boatyard; a few boats remained for extended stays and one returned by water to its base on Oulton Broad.

Drascombe rallies are certainly a pleasant way of enjoying our boats in the company of like-minded fellow sailors.  Always to be recommended.

I have posted more pictures on the Drascombe website, and will provide a link as and when they go live.  In the mean time, the following snaps give a flavour.

Gadfly, Hickling Broad

Horsey Mill moorings

Hickling Broad manoeuvres

Daisy II, Hickling Broad
GPS track - red, Saturday; green, Sunday

Total distance - 20.4nm. Season's total distance travelled: 363.1nm. Back to the Orwell, next week...

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

September 12, Hickling Broad

This was intended as a trial run for the Drascombe Rally to be held at this venue next weekend.  In the event, I had such a splendid sail, that at 6pm, I phoned my wife, who would have been expecting me home imminently, and said I was still one hour away from Hickling (not to mention the further 2 hours drive back home...) I'm lucky to have such an understanding wife!!!
 If the weather does this next week, we'll be in for a truly wonderful time.  Unfortunately, as I write this, things have taken a turn towards Autumn...
12.4nm, which makes a total track this season of 342.7nm

Hickling Broad

Add caption

Saturday, 4 September 2010

September 4, River Blackwater

Went for a sail in, for me, uncharted waters, with my sister-in-law Gilly, nephew James, plus Sally and Tom.  Launched at Bradwell Marina and had a wonderful sail with the outgoing tide as far as the mouth of the River Colne, and then a marvellous broad reach/run back with the new flood.  Wind was ESE, F3/4.  For most of the journey, we used reefed main with jib and mizzen; on the return trip, I shook out the reef, and we often topped 6 knts.  What particularly struck me was the sheer expanse of water even at low tide.  Clearly, the South East corner of Mersea Island has some issues concerning depth, but the remainder of the sail was simply glorious.  Easterly winds against the ebb left some wonderful waves to negotiate, and we all had a good dose of saltwater - all added to the excitement.
We anchored off the southern shore of Mersea Island for some well-earned lunch.

Today's track was 15.5nm; season's total now stands at 328.3nm.

Slipway at Bradwell Marina
The slipway at Bradwell Marina.  The costs were £16, payable at the office.  The slipway is relatively narrow, but with a gentle gradient.  The water is shallow at low tide; I launched at HW+4hrs, and, whilst the lower reaches were very slippery, the car coped well.  Recovery was equally straight forward.  Definitely recommended.

Happy crew
Return to Bradwell

Friday, 27 August 2010

August 27 - Rutland Water

GPS image of sailing track at Rutland
Time for a change!  I took Daisy II off her mooring on August 25th intending to do some sailing at other locations and, eventually, to attend the Drascombe Association Norfolk Broads rally organised for September.  Finally, the weather cleared up, and the first stop was Rutland Water.  I've been here before but not for a couple of years.  Despite incessant rain over the past few days, the reservoir was lower than I have previously experienced - by at least a couple of metres.  Launched at Whitwell Watersports centre - good value at £10 for use of a very straightforward, user-friendly slipway.  13.2nm later, returned to the same slip.  For some reason, boats were not allowed to go in the south-western arm of the reservoir which is a shame - it would have been good to do it all.  Wind was Northerly, gusting 3-4 initially, but eventually settled down and then completed disappeared - just as well I was close to the slipway by that stage - no engines allowed at Rutland.  Total distance now stands at 312.8nm. 
The following images show some points of interest - firstly, the engineering feat that Rutland Water must be.  The trees from this wood obviously had to be felled in order to facilitate the reservoir - all that is left are these worn out stumps!  Secondly, the slipway which is remarkably user-friendly.
The slipway at Whitwell

Thursday, 19 August 2010

August 17-18; Orwell, Dovercourt bay, Walton Backwaters - a new jib!!

Following an extended absence (family holiday in USA) it was time to fit my new jib - superb workmanship from R&J Sails.  Took a brief trip on 17th (red track).  Then, on 18th, following a loppy night on the mooring - westerley wind against the tide - took an extended day cruise leaving the mooring at 7.15am.  Leaving the mooring at HW, I sailed out through Harwich harbour, across Dovercourt Bay and anchored off Horsey Island in the Walton Backwaters for 'brunch' at 10.30am.  I then returned to base, with a brief anchorage in Dovercourt Bay, finishing off with a wonderful beat up the Orwell back to base.  Wind on the 18th was F4-5 Westerley.  Sailing the entire way, the eventual log was 25.2nm.  This brings the season's total to: 299.6nm.
Next week, I shall run another trip (weather permitting) and then take the boat off the mooring, and launch again on the Norfolk Broads, in preparation for the forthcoming Drascombe Association Hickling Broad Rally in mid September.

Saturday, 24 July 2010

Orwell cruise

Orwell Cruise; 55.6nm.  Total (with corrected rounding errors) now stands at 274.4nm.
Red track stands for 23rd.  Green for 24th.
Top speed achieved, under sail, of 6.8 knts (with the tide).  Not bad for a Coaster...

Sunday, 18 July 2010

July 18th; Reefed Main and reduced jib with no mizzen

Arrived at boat a couple of hours after low tide, made my way down to Levington, and then back upstream with the tide, anchoring up opposite Freston for afternoon coffee.  The wind switched to a more South Easterly direction, on the return.  Sailed the entire way with no use of the engine. 

Wind F3-4 with some stronger gusts, up to F5, I'd guess.  Not my favourite type of wind, since you cannot relax, and have to be on the lookout all the time, looking to pay out the mainsheet in the larger gusts.  Usually, I resort to jib and mizzen on these sort of days, but today I tried a reefed main and partially furled jib with no mizzen.  It was surprisingly effective.  It had the advantage of leaving a great deal of power - typical faster speeds of 4.5knts against the tide, and well over 5knts with the wind.  Didn't seem to point well into the wind, but certainly effective on a reach. 

9.9nm.  Season's total now stands at 218.6nm.

Sunday, 11 July 2010

Drascombe Association Rally, Suffolk Yacht Harbour

Drascombe Association Rally, 8-11 July. 
8th July - white track - taking Daisy II from mooring to SYH.  10th July, red track, Saturday day sailing.
11th July, green track, morning sail.  White track, return to mooring.

On Thursday 8th, I motored Daisy II over to Suffolk Yacht Harbour and then motored back to Pin Mill in my tender.  All then set for my arrival on Friday. 
On Friday, seven boats gathered: Drascombe Coasters: Daisy II, Sapphire, Espiritu; Drascombe Longboat Cruiser: Morning Star; Drascombe Peterboat (6.0m): Peterkin; Drascombe Lugger: Lady Woodmouse; and Drascombe Dabber: Teal.  Crews gathered for a social evening in the Harbour Lights Bar/Restaurant on Friday evening - in my case, a fine plate of Fish and Chips and a pint of Adnams!
Saturday morning, forecast 3-4 Southerly.  Initially, there was no wind, and it was extremely hot.  We took the last of the flood up to Pin Mill, during which time the wind eventually joined us.  We then turned round and took the early ebb downstream, eventually rafting up for lunch opposite Trinity Container terminal.  In the afternoon, we had a fine sail around Harwich harbour.  The plan was to call in on Halfpenny pier, but there were no free berths, so we kept on sailing, and then back to SYH for about 5pm.  Fantastic day's sail.
The Saturday evening barbecue was really enjoyable.
On Sunday, winds were much gustier 3-4; this made for challenging sailing and few of us spent more than an hour or so out on the water.  A couple of boats stayed in the harbour - engine failure...!  Most boats turned for home at midday.  Disappointing, but Saturday more than made up for this.
I then drove my car round to Pin Mill, took my tender back down to SYH and returned with Daisy II.  A hugely enjoyable and really successful Drascombe Association rally - first one organised by me...

Daisy II's log registered 26.1nm.
Total now stands at: 208.7nm

Sailing in Harwich harbour - Peterkin putting a bowsprit through Espiritu!!
Day sailing in the Orwell... from foreground to background, Teal, Espiritu, and Morning Star.  It wasn't a race!

Saturday, 3 July 2010

Rough's Tower

Rough's Tower, an extraordinary object.  28.0nm.  Total distance now 182.6nm.

Wednesday, 30 June 2010

June 27th Orwell

Took a trip downstream into a South Easterly.  Welcome sail in F3-4 wind, balmy conditions.  Infinitely better than watching England lose to Germany...  Fortunately, many fellow sailors seemed to have disagreed and the river was pleasantly devoid of traffic.

Reefed main, at first, then shook out reef until close to Levington, where the wind picked up towards F5.  Picnic off Levington, and then a pleasant run back to the mooring.  Sister-in-law, Gilly, helmed all of the way except for the final stretch back to the mooring - her first time helming a Drascombe, which goes to show what a wonderful boat Daisy II is to learn to sail on.

6.8nm.  Season's total now stands at 154.6nm.

Saturday, 12 June 2010

June 12th - Orwell day sail

14.7nm, and a pleasant rehearsal for the forthcoming Drascombe association rally based at Levington marina in July.  Wind was F4 northerly with some interesting gusts.  Sailed against the tide from mooring to an early lunchtime anchorage opposite Trinity container terminal.  Then, continued around Shotley point, and down the Stour.  Then, taking the ebb out through Harwich harbour, resorted to engine for the first time, returning to the Orwell.  Motored up to Collimer Point, and then sailed most of the way back against the tide.
Total distance for season, now 147.8nm.

Saturday, 5 June 2010

June 2nd-4th early summer cruise

The half term holiday granted a perfect opportunity to set sail for a couple of nights.  The original plan was to head SE to the Blackwater estuary.  However, prevailing NE winds left a generally loppy sea state, so such a trip has had to be postponed.  Instead, I stuck to local waters and did a little 'scouting' of the potential routes for a Drascombe Rally which I am organising in July. 

The tracks show the various legs of the trip.  In red, the outward bound leg took me to a favourite anchorage in the Walton Backwaters, just to the west of Honey Island.  From here land can easily be reached using my latest toy, an inflatable kayak.  A 1.5mile sea wall walk took me past Kirby Quay (pictured) to the curiously named village of Kirby le Soken, where a handy pub provided some liquid refreshment.

On the following day, a (for me) restrictive sea state led to the definitive abandonment of any hopes of reaching Brightlinsea, so I headed back across Dovercourt Bay and up the Stour (yellow line).  I briefly called in at Halfpenny pier, but all the berths were taken, so I kept going.  Lunch in Holbrook Bay was followed by an inspection of the landing points off Wrabness, and then a long series of tacks against the tide (green line).  Initially, in a fresh and rather gusty F4 breeze, I used just jib and mizzen but, by about the 6th tack a reefed main was added, and progress was steady against the flood.  By the time I was adjacent to the Harwich ferry terminals, high tide had been reached, the reef was shaken out and I was able to round Shotley point and then sail back against the tide up to my mooring for a second night on board.  A curious rig has been placed in the middle of the River Stour, adjacent to the Harwich ferry terminals.  Can't help wondering what that is for...!

Chris, skipper of Abana (and son Jonty) invited me aboard for evening drinks - a few too many, I fear. 
Up early on the last day, the white track shows a series of exhilarating tacks with the ebbing tide (for a change) back down the Orwell and across Harwich harbour for a second, more successful assault on Halfpenny pier.  The final blue track took me back across the harbour and up the Orwell, with the new flood tide, for a late lunchtime anchorage opposite Freston, and then a brief motor back to the mooring.
Total track was 60.2nm, and the total for the season now stands at 133.1nm (as measured by GPS - there seem to have been a few rounding errors in previous calculations...).

Saturday, 22 May 2010

May 22nd - Trip to the Naze Tower, Walton on the Naze

Today, I took advantage of some splendid weekend weather to take in a trip of reasonable length, involving the open sea, and some tacking practice.

I thought it was about time to go and see the Naze tower at Walton on the Naze, from the sea.  Unfortunately, the wind pretty much gave up whilst at sea, and its general north easterly flow had made the sea state rather loppy - fine when there is wind to work with, but no fun whilst waiting for such a breeze;  so, having reached the tower, I retreated to more sheltered waters, whereupon the breeze magically returned, and I had a marvellous run back through Harwich harbour, topping 7 knots on the new flood. 

I had some great times tacking today:  one section on the outward trip with the ebb, out through Harwich harbour; then following a long run almost up to the A14 Orwell bridge, I turned back against wind and tide, and tacked back to the mooring - hence the photo which  was kindly taken by some friends who happened to be on the river.

The total trip length was 27.0nm - one of my longer day trips....
The season's total now stands at 72.2nm.

Friday, 21 May 2010

Early May tracks

A couple of tracks from early May.  The longer one 12.9nm consisted of a lovely "Mayday" (3rd May) sail out through Harwich harbour and beyond the breakwater pier at Blackman's Head.  It was splendid to catch the season's first glimpse of the Naze tower.  A trip planned for Saturday 22nd May will hopefully revisit this haunt, and to take in this area in more detail, perhaps to catch a look at Walton and Frinton from the sea.
The other track was a rather more sedate 7.9nm from 9th May, which consisted of a pleasant sail to a favourite lunchtime anchorage opposite Trinity Container Terminal; watching the container ships always provides an interesting viewing point.  Total distance for season now stands at:  45.2nm.

Saturday, 24 April 2010

April 18th - Orwell

A follow-up cruise on the Orwell, taking the last of the incoming tide towards Ipswich and under the bridge, and then joining the early ebb back to the mooring.  Crew consisted of myself, assisted by Sally, Tom, Gilly and James. Picnic, South East of the bridge.  Sailing until final tack opposte Woolverstone, when outboard was utilised.  6.9nm. Odometer now reading 24.4nm.

Friday, 16 April 2010

First cruise of the new season April 14th-15th.

Cleaning, polishing, antifouling all complete.  Time for the sailing season to commence in earnest...  So, launched onto the hard at Pin Mill on 14th April and waited for the tide.  Decided to stop overnight, so had a pleasant couple of cruises under jib and mizzen, in a F4 north/north easterly breeze.  In between times, made use of the Butt and Oyster public house...


Various modifications made, not the least of which are a new mast enabling electrics at the mast head - anchor light now installed, and various handy storage bags both in the cabin and in the cockpit - should help reduce the number of rope ends lying around the place. 

I have now joined the handheld VHF brigade, having finally been converted and attended an excellent RYA VHF course in February.  Quite how we managed all those years before VHF, I'll never know, but I am told this is a 'must have' safety device.  Personally, I view it as little more than a toy, and hope, of course, never to have to use it in anger... this can be seen sitting in the new bag on the starboard side bulkhead.  The model is a Raymarine 101E. Thames Coastguard forecasts gratefully received. 

I also upgraded the map on the GPS, which now provides a much more definitive picture of my position.

 Also, a new tender - a Bic245, yet to be christened - which should make access to the mooring from shore more enjoyable.


The first two tracks involved some pleasant sailing under jib and mizzen, up and down the Orwell, in F4 north-easterly breeze. Total distance covered, 17.5nm.