Monday, 25 April 2011

The Two Towers

Another bank holiday, another chance for a sail.  Arose at 5am, motored down to the coast, and was casting off from the mooring soon after 7am.  The weather was calm, a gentle northerly breeze promised much, and certainly did well for the first two and a half hours, enabling me to reach most of the distance to Rough's Tower.  Thereafter, mostly motor sailing whilst the fickle wind worked out what it wanted to do...
Rough's Tower

Rough's Tower is an extraordinary monument from WWII, during which it was apparently created to defend the port of Harwich.  Since then, it has been passed through various hands and is currently a self-declared Principality of Sealand.  The wikipedia link says it all, really...

Anyhow, several miles off the Suffolk Coast, this makes a good target for a sail in benign conditions!

Naze Tower

Following Rough's Tower, I thought I'd take in another tower - this time the Naze Tower.  En route, I had to dodge the Cork Sands which explains the rather strange track below.

Photographing this tower was rather trickier, given the general haziness of the day, so this link should provide a better idea of what its about.  This splendid octagonal structure was built in the 18th century as a marker for ships - before lighthouses were invented, one imagines.
Must get a proper viewing at some stage...
33.1nm - season's total 112.3nm.

Thursday, 21 April 2011

April 19-20 Back on the mooring

GPS track 44.4nm
One of the great things about sailing in April is that I have so much more of the water for myself.  So many other boaters are still enviously scraping and painting hulls.  Yet, I've always found good sailing conditions during this Easter break - admittedly later this year than most.
The forecast for these two days was extremely fine - F3 Easterly winds, sunshine, some haziness, but that all added to the charm of the seas.

I launched at Pin Mill at around 2pm HW.  Many admiring glances from punters at the Butt and Oyster.  I also met a couple of fellow Drascombers who came for a welcome chat.  Daisy II pootled off to her to her mooring, and, after much fiddling around, I went to fetch some provisions, sorted out car and trailer and returned to the boat for some adventure...

I left the mooring, taking the last of the ebb and sailed out through Harwich harbour and along to Stone Point on the Walton Backwaters - red track - where there is a handy anchorage, and also easy landing.
Stone Point landing
Sunken Barges protecting Horsey Island
The next morning, rose with the sun as always, and took the last of the ebb, sailing out through the narrow passage that marks the entrance to the Backwaters, followed by a series of larger tacks across Dovercourt Bay and finally returning to Harwich Harbour, pulling up at Halfpenny Pier at around 9.30am.
Halfpenny Pier

After a chance to catch up with some rest, and read the paper, the wind had practically died. I pondered whether to take the flood all the way up to Manningtree and, after a bit of dithering, the wind finally plucked up some leverage, and gave me an easy, albeit gentle ride there.  On the return, a pleasant F3 breeze allowed for long sweeping tacks back to Harwich with the early flood.  The track shows the difference a running tide can make to the tacking angle.  At Manningtree, I was still beating against the last 45 minutes of the flood.  By the time I had reached Wrabness, the ebb was now helping and, going past the Harwich ferry terminal, a 2 knot tide considerably stretched out matters.
Whilst on the way back, a chap in a Wayfarer who I had noticed working his way in my direction, finally caught up with me at Erwarton Ness. He said he was in Manningtree Sailing Club when he saw me sail past and everyone had commented on Daisy II looking a real picture.  So, he decided to sail out and tell me...  It takes all sorts, and obviously took him several miles to be that sort - I suspect there was a bit of racing on his part but not on mine - Drascombes don't race.  I purposefully chose a non-racing sailing boat and am more than happy watching others sail past me at the back of the fleet...!

But for a brief motor when arriving and departing from Halfpenny pier, I had sailed all day.  However, when adjacent to Trinity Terminal, the wind did its usual trick and hid behind a huge China Shipping container ship.  With a healthy ebb to work against, and the need for evening food, I motor-sailed the remaining distance back to the mooring.

Season's total sailing distance now 79.2nm
Mooring at Pin Mill

Monday, 11 April 2011

River Blackwater - first sail of the season!

GPS track - 34.8nm
Launched at Bradwell Marina.  Red track is for Saturday 9th April, launching early afternoon, and taking the tide up the river to Osea Island, into Lawling Creek, followed by a circumnavigation of Osea Island.  Dried out for the night off the west end of Osea Island.
Next morning (green track), took the ebb and worked my way back downstream to Bradwell and beyond, enjoying some motoring along the coast of  West Mersea, returning to Bradwell Marina by 1pm.   34.8nm.

New, home-made mizzen boom Mk1

Sunrise off Osea Island

Monday, 4 April 2011

Spring developments

Following a cold, cold December, there's evidence of the 'blossom' of anti fouling paint, teak oil on gunwhales, painting of centreplate - or at least the exposed bit that I could get to when the boat was moved back off the trailer -  and changes to rigging...
A few images:
In the above image, I backwinched Daisy II so that her bow was resting on the rear keel roller, the rear cradle supporting the hull and the stern on blocks.  This presented quite an interesting exercise in the mechanics of balance: the rear of the trailer also needed supporting on chocks.  However, this was all managed single-handed, which is one of the things that makes these boats so appealing - I don't need an audience, and can potter around (or, as my wife says, 'stroke my boat') without the need for assistance.
The purpose of this exercise was to gain access to the centreplate, checking for wear on its pivot pin, and also presenting an opportunity to paint that part of the centreplate I could reach.  In due course, the whole thing needs regalvanising, but that will hopefully wait until another off season.
In this image, the mizzen is now supported by a home made boom, which is basically the thickest piece of dowelling I could purchase from Homebase, plus other bits of scrap pine forming the open jaws.  These ideas were borrowed from various posts on the Drascombe forum:  
  • The mast needed to be raised by about 15cm.  To do this I purchased a short piece of thin stainless steel tubing which, with a bit of chiselling of the mast, could be placed over the top of the current mast, and a spare piece of wooden roller blind tube placed inside, all supported with six stainless steel screws.  I shall probably paint the whole of the top of the mast white.  I've tried to manage this project so that it can, if necessary, be reversed and the old bumpkin can be brought back from retirement.
  • Topping lift runs from the end of the boom to an eye at the top of the mast, and then cleated off on the same cleat as the ensign, 
  • sheet attached to rear of outboard well via a single block about two thirds of the way along the boom to a cam cleat on the boom
  • the whole sail tensioned by a piece of cord attached to the clew, through an eye at the end of the boom and, eventually, tensioned by a cleat on the boom (part on order).
This is very much a first stab - the Mk1 mizzen boom.  I haven't bothered with varnish yet, and will see how it works 'in anger' before making these arrangements more permanent.  However, it very much looks as though I shall join the bumpkin-free zone....

Hopefully launching next weekend for the first of many planned trips this season.