Friday, 27 December 2013

Christmas 2013

This year's sailing related present was a book about the 2008 voyage around Great Britain by Mike Brooke in a Cape Cutter 19.
I first learned of this trip in January 2008 at the London Boat Show.  The stand for Honnor Marine featured the newly built boat Theo's Future.  Subsequently, I followed Mike's blog as he completed the trip.  Inspirational!  A challenging future prospect for Daisy II!?  Mike's book, which has only recently been published, is a good read with plenty of interesting anecdotes and some fine photos.  Well worth the outlay, with proceeds going to worthy charitable causes.

I've always greatly admired the Cape Cutter - not a Drascombe but, nonetheless, a well-built, proven hull design with traditional rig and pleasing lines.
At the aforementioned boat show, mother and I spent time sitting in the cockpit and cabin.  The cabin has something of the tardis about it, with room for four - two in the V-berth forward, and a pair of quarter berths.  What would I miss in owning one?  Ease of launching - Bob Brown thought it would be a challenge to launch and recover single handed, since the trailer is not of the 'roller coaster' variety.  I'd also miss the mizzen, and the fact that the outboard cannot tilt clear of the water when not in use.  If money were no object, the ideal boat for me would be the Baycruiser 20, made by Swallowboats.  It ticks all of my boxes and has the added benefit of larger cockpit and cabin in a shorter, lighter hull which has proven 'rightability', particularly through its use of water ballast.    
However, lacking the spare £30K needed for one of those, a Drascombe Coaster is considerably less expensive and ticks almost as many boxes: highly capable and utterly dependable.  I also own one, for which I count my blessings every day.

So, back to Daisy II, sitting in patient hibernation on the drive, buffeted by the various passing winter storms which have characterised this month and reflecting on an outstanding season past.  Indeed, I doubt if there will be a finer year, particularly in terms of nautical miles sailed.  Inevitably, the new year beckons and, with that, a brand new set of challenges.  Formative plans include joining one of the south coast rallies in May; I also hope that there will be summer holiday time to visit the Crouch by sea for the first time.
In the mean time, we've upgraded our home computer to an iMac and I'm enjoying working out how to edit videos on iMovie.  Hopefully, future offerings will be rather more accomplished that the efforts thus far.

Daisy II sailing the River Blackwater, August 2013

Saturday, 23 November 2013

Rutland Water on a cold November Saturday

It would be rather unjust to describe last month's weather as disappointing, since it did offer up a rather fine storm.  However, little sailing could be managed throughout October, so it is good to be back on the water seizing the opportunity presented by high pressure on this cold November day.  Any opportunity with the boat at this time in the year can only be viewed as sailing gained!

Cockpit view
The mizzen boom still makes use of my 'jury rig' - ever since the damage incurred from unknown passing traffic on the mooring at Pin Mill.
No engines permitted on Rutland Water.  If the wind drops, oars must be deployed.
Sailing without an engine is a liberating experience and I've only ever once needed to resort to rowing on Rutland Water - and that was for the final few hundred yards.  Today, Daisy II sailed beautifully throughout the day.
Sunset at 2pm?
Winds were pleasantly F3 NW but, as with most of my previous sailing on Rutland, which only ever takes place at the beginning and end of a season, it was cold.  As I drove in, the car registered 4 degrees, enough for its usual ice warning.  I was on the water by 12.15 and sailed non-stop through to 3.30pm by which time the Watersports Centre at Whitwell require all boats to return.
In the latter stages of the sail, before returning to Whitwell Creek, I managed a top speed of 6.1 knots.
Poor attempt at a panoramic view...

10.4nm, season's total 654.5nm
I think I'll keep the rigging on the boat just in case another winter opportunity arises!

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Storm St Jude

It was no typhoon but, by our standards, a fairly big storm.  These pictures show the moments when the worst of the storm passed over the Orwell.  The weather report from Harwich suggested F10 gusts.
The owner of the upturned boat in the second picture must have been licking wounds afterwards.
Daisy II and three other Drascombes were just upstream from these pictures, and all survived unscathed.

Drascombe Coaster Bounty with owner aboard during the F10 gusts!  Daisy II lies a short distance upstream (left) of this picture.

 Many thanks to one of the local Drascombe owners for sending me these pictures.

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Off the mooring

Daisy II now safely back on the trailer, having seen off storm "St Jude" from her mooring
We know that Drascombes are tried and trusted designs; herewith, yet more evidence of this.  I remain truly grateful for the quality of a boat which survived, unscathed, the ravages of last weekend's storm "St Jude"; that's more than can be said for a number of other boats moored at Pin Mill.  I noted F10 gusts on Monday morning at Harwich on the windfinder website weather report; Pin Mill was presumably slightly more sheltered but must, nonetheless, have been rather wild.  Subsequent reports suggest the eye of the storm tracked directly through this area of Suffolk.  I understand one boat slipped a mooring, another capsized, and noticed a few badly shredded jibs as I brought Daisy II back to shore in the dark on Friday night.  At the time of the storm, I had been in Cornwall on a short walking break but received a very welcome email following the storm from a fellow Drascomber at Pin Mill to reassure me that all was well.
Pulling her out in the dark on the 10pm tide, artificial light provided by the Butt and Oyster pub was extremely helpful.  Conditions were calm - a good reason for bringing her home then and not later in the weekend when another autumnal storm was due to strike - and she winched onto her newly serviced trailer with ease.

Now on the driveway, the hull has had a hose-down, I've run the engine through with unsalted water and checked the hull for necessary winter repair work.

End of season chores
I'd like to think the season is not yet over and hope to trail over to Rutland Water for the day later this month.  I'm also toying with the idea of taking her up to Honnor Marine for the winter to have her buoyancy upgraded and to leave the professionals to deal with a few other jobs on the wishlist.

Whilst October was a disappointing month with very little sailing possible, on the back of an otherwise superb sailing season, one cannot grumble too much.

Sunday, 13 October 2013

12th October; family trip; damage to stern transom

A trip with family is always worth writing about.  However, this was a trip with an unwelcome twist.

There is always the potential of finding Daisy II suffering after a week storms.  However, I didn't expect to find evidence of another boat having slammed into her.  It is quite likely the offending boat might have lost control in some difficult conditions but, having done this, I hope that someone will eventually step forward and own up.  I don't think the damage is going to cost much more than about £30, but it is the principle.  On rallies, when Drascombes have tangled with other moored boats, skippers have at least contacted the relevant boatyard and left details.  I have my suspicions about the culprit but it would be incorrect to put these into print.
Transom showing damage to grp and teak.  Flecks of light blue paint from the hull of the offending boat have been seized and quarantined.  Fortunately, all damage is superficial and repairs should be possible.
Damage to mizzen boom - the right hand section where the existing fitting has been ripped out, the damage on the left must have been from some other aspect of the offending boat, possibly its pulpit, tangling with the boom.  Fortunately, I can't see any structural damage and should be able to repair this.
Mizzen sheet damaged just above the whipping
Once damage had been assessed, photographed and temporary working repairs to rigging effected it was time for a sail.  Winds during the week had been F7and northerly.  Today, they were virtually non-existent although, following a few days of incessant rain, it was probably a blessing to remain dry.  We motored downstream against the tide until rounding Collimer Point, when we turned off the outboard, hoisted sail and made what we could of the little wind, advancing further against tide by about half a mile.  We then turned and sailed back, giving up hope with the wind just beyond Butterman's Bay.
Crew  just about hanging on in the stiff breeze
Limp sails...
Just as we were approaching the hard at Pin Mill, we noted Garfish, a visiting Drifter 22.  A brief chat with the skipper confirmed that I had come across this Oxfordshire-based boat once before at a rally in the Walton Backwaters about four years ago.
Drifter 22 Garfish on a cruise from the Blackwater
Crew having disembarked at the jetty at Pin Mill, Daisy II motored back to her mooring.
Daisy II at Pin Mill
6.1nm; season's total 644.0nm.

Saturday, 5 October 2013

5th October; return to the Orwell for the final phase of the season

...and what a brilliant season it has been.  I've already sailed further than ever before and, for once, the weather has been kind - we actually had a reasonable summer.  Hopefully, I'll have some short weekend trips this month and, weather permitting, an overnight trip during half term at the end of October, prior to pulling her out early in November.

In preparation for launching today, I had to replace the jockey wheel on the trailer, the thread in the old one having given way - my fault for not greasing it this season.  The new one works a treat.
New jockey wheel
I launched on the private slip opposite King's boatyard at HW today.  The usual back-winching followed by a gentle shove and, with painter in hand, the launch was beautifully controlled.  I then walked her along the pontoon and tied up so that I can sort out trailer, car and tender.
Slipway opposite King's boatyard at Pin Mill
Winds were light today, westerly F3 dwindling, eventually, to virtually nothing.  Once I had stepped the mast and sorted out the rigging on the mooring, I left the tender and went for a gentle sail upstream around HW.  Eventually, with the tide ebbing and the wind diminishing, I turned and, with the ebb running as fast as the wind, had a 'windless' run back to the mooring.
Daisy II once again back on her mooring
I've tried to leave things so that local birds don't make a mess on the sprayhood.  We'll see if this works but I fear I may have to resort to previous tactics involving string and old CDs.
4.1nm; season's total 637.9nm

Sunday, 29 September 2013

Hickling Broad, Drascombe Association Rally; 27-29 September 2013

Twenty five participating boats:
Coasters: Daisy II, Evelyn, Tyboat, Sapphire II, Dottie Two, Pamela, Blue Peter, Nonsuch, Appuskidu, Mudskipper
Dabbers: Mudlark, Teifi Bach, Coot, Teal, Blue Teal
Drifter: Damson
Luggers: Piper, Clare, Muckle Flugga, Trigger's Broom
Scaffie: Blue Moon
Longboats: Jenny Morgan, Harnser
Gig: Tra Bhui
Faversham 14: Merlin
Drascombes at Hickling Staithe, Saturday morning
Some boats arrived by water, part of longer cruises.
Jenny Morgan's skipper at work

Coaster Tyboat, visiting us, all the way from Eire
Most arrived by land, launching at Whispering Reeds boatyard, negotiating its famously crooked slip.  The tip of my mast caught on a telephone cable running across the yard, whilst on the trailer.  This has slightly damaged the masthead light fitting and I shall have to tend to this over winter...
Crooked slipway at Whispering Reeds boatyard (see later pictures)

Drascombe Gig Tra Bhui
Skipper's briefing, Saturday morning

Final rigging on Daisy II
The plan for Saturday was to sail on Hickling Broad until about noon, then along Deep-Go Dyke and Meadow Dyke into Horsey Mere, stopping at Horsey Drainage Mill for lunch.  Winds were easterly F5.
Daisy II on Hickling Broad
These action-photos of Daisy II were kindly taken by skipper and crew aboard the Dabber Blue Teal.  As has often been the case this season, when needing to reduce sail, I ditched the mizzen and sailed with reefed main and a few rolls in the jib.  This seems to provide a very balanced sail plan - no pull on the tiller and she seems to point as well as usual.
Daisy II on Hickling Broad

Lugger Clare, plus my usual reefing camera trick...

Dabber Blue Teal

Dabber Blue Teal on another tack

Faversham 14 Merlin shielding lugger Trigger's Broom

Scaffie Blue Moon

Merlin and Fiddler's Broom continue their tussle

Drascombes at play, beating up towards the south eastern corner of Hickling Broad

Scaffie Blue Moon

Scaffie Blue Moon

Coaster Blue Peter and Gig Tra Bhui

Coaster Pamela and Dabber Blue Moon

More Drascombes fighting with reefing 

Longboat Jenny Morgan glides along majestically

Coaster Dottie Two

Dabber Teifi Bach

Dabber Teifi Bach

Coaster Tyboat shielding another Drascombe!

Jenny Morgan and post

Clare and another post

Jenny Morgan and reeds

Coaster Appuskidu, under new ownership

Dabber Blue Teal

Gig Tra Bhui

Lugger Piper

Coaster Nonsuch
At Horsey Mill, many skippers took a short early afternoon stroll to the North Sea.  Others had a leisurely lunch.

Drascombes at Horsey Wind pump staithe

Lots of Drascombes!

Lots of Drascombes from the other end!
The photo below is a particular favourite of mine - 25 Drascombes created a wonderful spectacle and rather dominated a Silhouette Owners Association Cruise which had turned up.
Drascombe masts!

Blue Teal departure

Blue Teal departure

Drascombes inching along Meadow Dyke

Coaster Sapphire II
Forty-nine punters turned up at the Pleasureboat Inn for a splendid evening meal on Saturday.
Drascombers choosing

Drascombers chosen

Drascombers satisfied with choice!

Chairman's address
On Sunday, winds were certainly stronger and gustier.  A few boats on an extended cruise made an early getaway in order to negotiate tides at Yarmouth.  A small number, with long journeys ahead, took their boats out and headed home.  Some boats headed for West Somerton. I made for Potter Heigham.  I had a wonderful beat along Hickling Broad with jib and mizzen, and then motored the remainder of the way back, knowing that I would be set up nicely for a wonderful run back to base later that morning.
lugger Clare

Coaster Blue Peter
At Potter Heigham, I had an early lunch and watched some of the Drascombes unstepping their masts and negotiating the two bridges, the second of which (not photographed) is rather narrow.
Dottie Two departure under the first of the bridges at Potter Heigham
On the way back, Dabber Blue Teal joined me for a run down Hickling Broad, whilst various windsurfers darted along the water at high speed.
Blue Teal running

Blue Teal making light work of F5/6 winds
Daisy II on a run along Hickling Broad

Blue Teal returning to base
Fortunately, by the time I reached the slip, it was free and Daisy II was uneventfully recovered onto her trailer - uneventful, other than the jockey wheel breaking...
Whispering Reeds crooked slip

Whispering Reeds crooked slip

Whispering Reeds crooked slip easily negotiated by Blue Peter

White: Saturday morning: trip to Horsey Mere; red: return trip from Horsey Mere; Green: Sunday trip to Potter Heigham and back; 19.4nm; season's total 633.8nm
This was the final Drascombe Association rally of 2013; I think we put on a good show!