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

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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
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