Monday, 24 November 2014


Just a little proud that Daisy II made it on to the front cover of the latest DAN.  Fond memories of our early morning departure from the River Crouch in August.

Saturday, 15 November 2014

Late Autumn tasks

Today could have seen a trip to an inland reservoir.  However, the non-existent breeze lead to visions of being stranded far from shore with a pair of oars the only means of propulsion (Anglia Water not permitting use of engines).  Hence, this was a day for winterisation - probably as well, since various jobs really needed doing.

Years ago, I always laughed at my Dad for powering up his outboard, attached to a tree, with the leg in a bin.  Here am I doing much the same ( minus the tree).  After a season of salt water, this was an opportunity to run some tap water through the tubes.
The outboard is now winterised and in storage.

Next, attention turned to a season's accumulation of brown staining along the waterline.  Here's the 'before' image...

And the 'afterwards' image following an easy application of International High Strength Stain Remover.  
 It works well, with minimal effort:  rub on, leave for 10 minutes, wash off.  Handily, I had a half-used bottle in the garage, so no cost to me today at least...

Lastly, some modifications to rigging, mainly with the boom.  Initially, the 'jaws' were intentionally constructed not to protrude forward too far since the jib sheets have a habit of snagging on anything that sticks out around the base of the mast.  This original design had the obvious flaw of allowing the boom to pass in front of the mast when halliards were slack, such as when lowering the yard.  This old set of parrels has been put to use to keep the boom in place.  I purchased a pair of stainless steel pad eyes, screwed to the edge of each jaw and tied the parrels in place.  I'm not certain about the yellow cord, but the wooden beads look the part!
I also added a vertically positioned jam cleat for the topping lift downhaul.  This will help keep the boom at a consistent height when furling the main and make it much easier to secure a raised boom when required.

Lastly, the jib halliard had loosened somewhat resulting in the jib sliding a couple of inches down the furling drum.  The halliard actually doubles as the furling line, running through the drum and along to the cockpit in one continuous length.  I may well change this and simply attach the jib to the top and bottom of the furling drum, since there's rarely (never?) a need to lower the jib at sea.  For now, I've secured the current arrangement with an additional piece of cord tied around the base of the furling drum.

It seemed sensible to remove the bulk of the cabin contents, with cushions and other material items drying out in the heated conservatory.  However, I still harbour the desire to go for one last trip, so the boat remains in standby mode... this space!

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Season's end

I finally called time on the year's sailing, fetching Daisy II from her mooring and bringing her back home.  It's been a remarkable year: next year will have to be special, indeed, to match it.  In the mean time, next year's cruises to Kent need planning and various modifications to rigging done; plenty to ponder upon  during the close season.

Monday, 27 October 2014

October half term Cruise

October half term and, unlike last year which was spoilt by general half-term health malaise and 'Storm St Jude' (which passed over the UK almost a year to the day - October 28th, 2013), this one has begun with plenty of unseasonably fine weather!  Conditions throughout the three days were great for sailing - a testing F4/F5 breeze - the inshore waters forecast mentioned F6 for the second and third days and I was careful to keep a lookout throughout!

25th October: Orwell to Walton Backwaters, via Stour
Coaster Valentine joins Daisy II once again!
A strengthening F4 SW breeze and the final few hours of the flood tempted us up the Stour.  However, a rather late start foiled our initial plan to make it to Manningtree.

Tacking fun on the Stour
We gave up midway between Wrabness and Mistley.  A run with the ebb back to Harwich was the reward.
Running down the Stour towards Harwich Harbour
We then turned into the wind and motored along to Hamford Water in the Walton Backwaters aiming to cook tea before dusk.
Valentine motoring into the Walton Backwaters
Time for some sunset snaps!  Here's one...
...and another...
...and another...
At anchor in Hamford Water.  It was a bumpy night.  I chose a spot closer to the sea than usual since I wanted an early exit in the morning and didn't want to be hampered by lack of depth at low water.
26th October: Daisy II continues up the coast
Glad to have enjoyed the company of coaster Valentine once again for the first day, it was time to go our separate ways. My tentative initial plan was a raid on the Ore with some fairly secure alternatives.  In the event, even though I left Hamford Water at 6.30am, the wind wasn't really sufficiently strong against the opposing flood tide to push Daisy II up the coast with the speed required.  Hoping to be at the mouth of the Ore by 9.30am, I ended up at the mouth of the Deben at 9am in increasingly choppy conditions, due to wind over tide.  I was also concerned not to take unnecessary risks for the trip back the following day, given the forecast of stronger winds veering southerly - which means even choppier seas.  Such conditions, all the way from the Ore to Harwich, were of little enticement.  Hence, plan B was actioned and having used the motor to cross the Deben bar once again, I enjoyed a delightfully quiet reach up to Woodbridge, only using the motor to push the hull the final few yards as the tide crept through the mud to the Quay at Tide Mill.
Daisy II once more at Woodbridge on the River Deben
After an early lunch and a stroll into Woodbridge, I sailed up to the top of the tidal navigation on the Deben and then enjoyed a beat back down the river with increasing help from the ebb which had now kicked in.  Nearly all of this was under mainsail alone in order to fend off some stronger gusts from the breeze.  I was delighted with the way the main behaved with the boom and, with significant help from the tide, was able to point very much closer to the wind than usual.

The evening anchorage was another favourite spot, tucked up close in to the south bank of the river on the final bend between Ramsholt and Felixstowe Ferry.  After the previous lumpy night, this anchorage worked perfectly throughout the night.
More sunset, this time at anchor on the final bend of the Deben, a half mile or so from Felxistowe Ferry

This shows some of the tacking detail on the Deben, beginning after lunch at Woodbridge, sailing to the end of the tidal navigation and then beating back with the tide - for most of this sailing with main sail alone.
27th October, return to the Orwell via Halfpenny Pier
I was a little anxious about this trip given the strengthening southerly breeze.  As I motored towards Felixstowe Ferry, a few bigger gusts came over.
Another dawn; braced for LW action at Deben Bar
As always, Deben Haven was relatively peaceful which belied the lumpy seas beyond.  Passing through the Deben Bar at LW, it was interesting to note that the depth was never less than 1.5m; I was careful to steer a course which avoided the various sand banks, keeping a safe distance from the carefully placed Mid Knoll and West Knoll navigation markers.
The entrance to the Deben
The sea state beyond the Deben was very lumpy, a product of the F4 southerly breeze and the south flowing tide.  I motored SW from the Deben until Harwich Harbour - 90 minutes of plunge and spray, grateful once again that the excellent hull design coped with the stresses and strain of the sea and that the cabin deflected nearly all of the water through the scuppers.  I was somewhat pleased to be able to shut off the motor and hoist jib and mizzen for a more comfortable run into the harbour, along to Halfpenny Pier.
Having had little joy for most of the season finding room at Halfpenny pier, for once I had the place almost to myself!

67.1nm.  Red track from 25th October, Yellow from 26th October, white from 27th October.
This may be the final trip of 2014.  We shall have to see whether the few remaining free days yield any sailing weather!  Either way, this has been another record-breaking year in terms of nautical mileage achieved and the sailing has been, quite simply, brilliant!

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Crew again!

It's the old 'waiting for buses' routine. The best part of a whole season playing solo and then two successive trips with crew!  Hence, this week a number of pictures of me fiddling with the rigging!
Tying in a reef
Still tying in the reef!
Reef set
More views of the reef
Who knows whatever is going on here...!

Action snap
Action snap 2
Skipper and crew enjoying picnic off Shotley Point
Today's trip was a simple run downstream in SW winds F4 gusting at least 5.  On the way to Shotley, with outgoing tide, we used jib and mizzen.  On the return, after LW, I hoisted the double reefed main with reefed jib.

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Trip to Harwich

Showers were never far away but we managed to avoid the worst
We (yes, a rare trip with crew) took a chance on a dodgy rain forecast and, for the most part, came out on top.  The one minor blot was the lack of success at finding a lunchtime berth at Halfpenny Pier.  I also didn't play the tides too wisely, thinking more of a preferred destination rather than going with the flow.  In so doing, the engine was used more than I would have liked but, on the other hand, we managed to avoid a nasty shower which passed over Pin Mill soon after lunchtime.  Additionally, by and large, the engine behaved well.  So it was 'swings and roundabouts' - or perhaps as sailors could say 'tacks and jibes...'?!

The other event of significance, today, was Daisy II breaking her season's distance record.  Winds were F2/3 southerly.  We motor sailed against the tide over to Harwich and then sailed back to a point just west of the entrance to Levington Creek where the wind died and the above photo was taken.  At this point, anticipating some rain, the sails were furled and we motored back to the mooring.
With any luck, the current total should pass 700nm by the end of the month although, with Autumn now well and truly upon us, the weather will have the final say!  The plan is for a two-three day shiver-aboard cruise during the early part of the half-term week at the end of October.

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Autumn commences with a chance encounter

A chance encounter with Valentine afforded the opportunity to compare recent modifications
October sailing days seem more like sailing days gained rather than an expectation.  Today was a case in point with a high pressure lull briefly sandwiched between two cold fronts yesterday and (forecast) tomorrow.  Conditions were benign.  Passing the sugar beat factory at Bury St Edmunds, the plumes of smoke were rising almost vertically - not a promising sight for sailing!

Reaching the mooring at around 12.30pm, the first thing noticed was that the wildlife had largely left the new cover alone.  It still shone a 'new blue' although there was evidence of bird feet towards the rear.  Hopefully, the plastic bag deterrent will continue in its effectiveness.  The boat on the adjacent mooring has a whole flock of birds almost nesting along and underneath its similar blue cover, so there can be no room for complacency!

Motoring down to Shotley Spit for a lunchtime anchorage, the engine was sounding a little wobbly.  At various points, it sounded quite normal, almost 'sweet' but then it would waver, revs would inexplicably diminish; upon reawakening, the sound would become much harsher.  I wonder if this will be its last season... One more service, and we'll see.
More sailing amongst the big ships....
...although Trinity Docks were less busy than usual.
After lunch, the air began, at last, to flow - a mild southerly, barely F2, but sufficient for some tacking action through Harwich Harbour.  At LW, I turned for a slow run back to base.  
Valentine joins Daisy II for a return trip back to Pin Mill
 Returning to the mouth of the Orwell, coaster Valentine  turned up and we skippers enjoyed a gentle run reminiscing upon our wonderful summer cruise, as well as comparing the latest modifications we had each done.  Our new booms are almost the same but for a few small but important details.  Valentine now has a cleat on the mast which maintain the jaws at optimum height when the yard is lowered - a good idea and something for me to thing about!
On the Orwell, Peter snapped a seal hitching a lift on an inflatable tender!

The next sail, if we are granted another sailing day gained, will be in 6 days on Saturday when I may well have crew!  I should also see Daisy II break last season's distance record!

Saturday, 27 September 2014

Sculling and covers!

Saturday began the final leg of the season, Daisy II returning to her mooring until late, late Autumn.
 Launching took place on the night tide.  It was very dark with no help from the new moon, but sufficient light pollution from Harwich and Ipswich to make launching possible with a head torch!  HW was at 2am and I managed to push her off the trailer at Kings Boatyard slip at around 1am, finally turning in at 1.30am.
There was absolutely no wind throughout my stay aboard.  In the morning, I tied up at the end of Pin Mill hard in order to fetch the tender.
Waiting faithfully at the end of Pin Mill hard
The still conditions provided a great opportunity to experiment with sculling - my next seamanship project.  The plan is to purchase 10ft oars and to adapt one for use in Daisy II - this will inevitably involve some form of oar extension in order to stand and scull from the cockpit, since the Drascombe design leaves a considerable area of decking aft of the cockpit.  The following video clip of the sculling expertise of Jack O'Keefe in his coaster Tyboat illustrates what may eventually be possible:
For now, I'm practising with a short oar on the dinghy.  Having done a good deal of online studying, the 'falling leaf' technique seems to work quite well and that seems to be the method used by Jack.
After a few experimental trips around the boat, I managed to scull the quarter mile back to shore in about 15 minutes.  That works out as roughly (given approximate distances) 1 knot which will do for starters!  It was also quite a workout but that had as much to do with my inefficient technique; I'm also not sure a BIC245 dinghy with it's twin bilge is quite the best sculling boat!

The other change is the new cockpit cover which is now rather more than its name.  The story goes that my old cover was threadbare and needing replacement.  Balking at the replacement cost from either of the existing Drascombe builders, I started looking at much cheaper options from online and local PVC cover makers.  Further online discussions about stability on the mooring, coupled with the new boom convinced me to leave the spray hood down in future.  In turn, the new cockpit cover needed to cover the cabin entrance as well as its original brief.
New cockpit cover in place; I need to work on the best method for tying it down.
I found a very helpful local supplier who made covers to match the dimensions requested.  The eventual cost for this considerably larger than intended cover, around £140, is still cheaper than the much smaller, bespoke Drascombe cockpit cover.  The intention is to increase stability in the event of another Autumn storm, such as was experienced last October.  Whilst Daisy II coped perfectly well during this event, the additional boom means there is just that extra weight higher up, so this modification will hopefully compensate.  Hopefully, the new arrangements will protect the canvas sprayhood which needs a thorough clean and reproofing this winter.
It remains to be seen what the local wildlife make of it - anything new and blue seems to be a particular target for the birds; hopefully the plastic bags will continue to be an effective deterrent, although they do need a breath of wind to get going!

Sunday, 21 September 2014

River Waveney, Norfolk Broads - Drascombe Association Rally, 19-21 September 2014

This was the final Drascombe Association rally of 2014 and featured a varying number of boats, depending on the various pitfalls which befell the various participants.  At some time or another, the following boats were launched:
Coasters:Daisy II, Swift Tern, Nonsuch, Sapphire II, 
Longboat Cruiser: Puffin
Longboat: Jenny Morgan
Gig: Tra Bhui
Lugger: Muckle Flugga
Eight from the twelve who were booked in at the beginning of the week isn't a bad return!

Our hosts were the Waveney River Centre, which is a charming location roughly two miles from Oulton Broad and about eight miles from Beccles. 
The slipway is wide, with plenty of room.

Stern-to moorings at Waveney River Centre

Skippers and crew making final preparations for Saturday's trip!

On Saturday, for our planned return trip to Beccles, conditions were overcast and rather damp with a very light northerly breeze (F2-3).  Once the reeds and treelined riverbank took the edge off the wind, there was little left for us, so a good deal of time was spent motoring, or motor sailing.  However, various boats managed substantial periods of time without engine, particularly on the return trip.

Jenny Morgan ahead of Daisy II making what they could of the little wind available!

Gig Tra Bhui motor sailing

Daisy II arriving at Beccles, picnic awaiting!

Swift Tern bringing up the rear of the fleet!

The rare sight of Daisy II gaining a welcome crew member for the return trip!

Yours truly!

Muckle Flugga in motion!

Puffin in full sail!

Such a pity the wind wasn't playing!

Tra Bhui waiting for wind!

Jenny Morgan hitches a lift after terminal outboard woes....

Look, no helmsman!

Evening meal

Conditions on Sunday morning were rather clearer, although no less helpful - F5 gusting higher, sunny intervals with showers.  

Cheery sunshine on Sunday morning; a colourful array of Drascombes awaiting action!
Our planned trip to Oulton Broad went ahead, although the gusting wind made for some interesting manoeuvres.
A lugger sandwich?  Muckle Flugga leading the way on Sunday morning!

Mastless Sapphire II stops for elevenses just off Oulton Broad

Jib and high-peaked mizzen is the order of the day for Longboat Cruiser Puffin and her charmingly boisterous skipper and crew!  Taking a boozy short leave of their nymphs from the shore, the crew member was singing a rendition of the Sailor's Chorus from Act III of Purcell's Dido and Aeneas!

Jenny Morgan in familiar territory

Swift Tern making a charming habit of arriving last in the fleet!

Puffin's high-peaked mizzen looking splendid, motoring along Oulton Dyke.
The wide and gently sloping slipway at the Waveney River Centre was very straight forward with easy access, plenty of room for rigging and laying up and reasonable charges for usage.
Tra Bhui on dry land.
Daisy II returns to terra firma, being readied for the trip home.
17.6nm; red track - return trip to Beccles on 20th September; yellow track - return trip to Oulton Broad on Sunday 21st September