Sunday, 27 April 2014

Reciprocal footage...

Following last week's footage of  coaster Valentine on her mooring, this week has the reverse footage courtesy of her skipper.  I wasn't able to sail so this is definitely the next best thing...

Monday, 21 April 2014

Easter Monday sail

Today's sail was all about being on the water, going nowhere in particular but enjoying not being at work...  I stuck with the Orwell, leaving the mooring at around 11am in a rather inelegant manner, promptly sailing aground and needing an emergency blast from the engine.  It was an hour into the new flood and, once free from the clutches of the muddy shore, I set about sailing against the tide downstream.  It took a while for the wind to get going but, once beyond the unfortunately named 'Foxes Bottom', the forecast NE F4 set in which enabled much more effective leeway.  I worked my way up Long Reach to a handy lunchtime anchorage on the NE shore of the bend in the river in the lee of Sleighton Hill.

After lunch, the reward for all of that beating against the tide was a glorious beam/broad reach back upstream with the continuing flood, reaching a top speed of 7knts and regularly in excess of 6knts.
Sailing past Royal Harwich YC, I took some footage of coaster Valentine on her new mooring.
Valentine shared in a part of last summer's Blackwater cruise.  Her new owner is now trying the Orwell as a sailing base, quite possibly following my recommendation!  Either way, Valentine is Daisy II's twin sister, seeing as she is Coaster No281 - the very next model after Daisy II and sharing the same unusual round porthole windows, so there is something almost predestined about this renewing of their acquaintance.

Sailing up through the Orwell Bridge, some quite hefty gusts started coming over.  I already had a reef tied in the main in anticipation of this.  Turning at the entrance to Fox's marina, I dispensed with mizzen and put a few rolls in the jib for the return trip.  Even so, I was regularly in excess of 5knts against the continuing flood and the gusts caused a fair amount of heel.

Cruising downstream along Downham Reach, I happened upon a motorboat in 'non-functioning engine' distress, which prompted me to drop sail, start up the engine and offer my towing services.  Fortunately, the engine problem resolved itself before towing commenced.  Having already dropped sail, I resolved upon motoring back to the mooring.

15nm; top speed 7.0knts

Friday, 18 April 2014

Ewarton Ness, April 18th 2014

Today, winds were northerly, and variable in strength: fairly hefty F5/6 gusts with darker clouds overhead and, at blue sky moments, F3.  Leaving the mooring a couple of hours before HW, the aim was to enjoy a sail up and down the Stour, using the northerly wind and the tide.  This involved motor sailing against the tide on the way down the Orwell, and then motoring back up the first stretch of the Orwell on the return.  Otherwise, I started with jib and single reefed main, adding a second reef in the main after lunch anchored off Ewarton.  Even with doubled reefed main and reefed jib, regular speeds in excess of 6knots were recorded - which was precisely why the Stour was a great river on which to sail today. 

On the way back up the Orwell, past Suffolk Yacht Harbour, the mizzen was also unfurled and I managed this piece of video:

Today was also notable for the launching of other Drascombes near Pin Mill.  Lugger Truant was on the hard, ready to float off her trailer.
Lugger launching, Truant-style
Also, I received a text from the owner of coaster Valentine, featured in  last summer's Blackwater cruise.  She is apparently launched just upstream at Royal Harwich Yacht Club and ready to play!

17.0nm; top speed 7 knots (with tide).

Saturday, 12 April 2014

Rivers Crouch and Roach

Approaching Paglesham, River Roach
An Easter cruise is not always convincingly achieved although highly prized.  This week, certain spheres fell into alignment - high pressure (relatively calm conditions), the end of the school term, a clear diary together with a boat ready and waiting - allowing Daisy II's most extensive April cruise yet.  The aim was a 'scouting' trip to the Rivers Crouch and Roach - new locations to me but representing the next logical step in east coast cruising.  The purpose of this particular mission was to prepare the way for a more serious cruise planned for the beginning of August.

Wednesday 9th April
Ideal conditions for a trip down 'The Wallet' (the stretch of coastal waters between Walton on the Naze and the entrance to the River Blackwater) would be NW.  Today's SW winds hadn't read the script, particularly when they fizzled out completely just off Clacton on Sea.  I left the Orwell at 11.30am with the last few hours of the ebb, aiming to pick up the fresh flood off the Naze tower.  Winds were F3 or less and I persisted rather too long with sail power, underestimating the distance from the Wallet, the two Eagle markers, the Buxey Beacon, over the Buxey sands (following AC Stock's directions) and then on into the Crouch.
Buxey Beacon, guarding the Buxey Sands.  AC Stock recommended a short cut shoal-draft channel over the sand bank at or around HW, when approaching from the River Blackwater instead of following the usual Whitaker Channel.  Although I didn't need to follow this route, I wanted to try it out.
 Unlike, Stock, I had to make extended use of the engine, which fortunately behaved impeccably and arrived at my anchorage, just off Wallasea Ness inside the Roach, in the dark!  

Thursday 10th April
Last night's anchorage was, literally, a shot in the dark and I knew, from echo sounder information, that I would be left high and dry and, most probably, on a slope.  Fortunately, the slope wasn't too pronounced, although I was hugging the port gunwhale for much of the night.
Grounded at dawn on Thursday morning
Today's plan was to take the morning flood up the Crouch, and the evening flood up the Roach, looking out for suitable landing spots along the way.  As with the previous day, winds were exceptionally light in the morning although the sun shone and the face burned.

Approaching Hullbridge - looked to be a stopping place for a meal here.
North Fambridge Yacht Station - stopping involves paying!
Approaching Burnham on Crouch from the west.  Handily, there is a town pontoon which was almost deserted, although I imagine things will be rather different in the summer.
Tied up for lunch at the town pontoon, Burnham on Crouch
The usual town facilities are within easy walking distance - this will be handy in the summer.

After lunch, the wind made a more serious attempt at doing something useful.  In F3 W winds, I worked my way back down the Crouch to the entrance to the Roach, and sailed along the main river towards Paglesham, enjoying both navigation aids and the wildlife.
Navigation markers on the Crouch have a statuesque quality: something of the 'Queen of the Night' about them when approached at dusk!  They were much appreciated, as was the fact that my 2004 paper charts were woefully out of date.  Fortunately, I had the up to date chart on my ipad.
Seals aplenty on the River Roach
Paglesham boatyard looks as though it might be 'visitable' in the summer
My intended anchorage for the evening, Paglesham Creek, noted on the charts as being a suitable anchorage point, had a disconcertingly hard floor to its central channel which my anchor didn't appreciate, giving feedback all through the night.  Despite moving to a different location at one point, things didn't improve.  One to avoid in future, unless stopping on one of the sloping mudbanks.
Paglesham Creek
This evening's meal was more Lloyd Grossman 'red curry sauce' with chicken, added mushrooms and courgettes.  Worked a treat, as does the Trangia alcohol stove!

Friday 11th April
The forecast for today wasn't ideal - light winds from the NE, opposing my intended journey back up 'The Wallet'.  However, the next day looked worse and needing to be back home by tomorrow, I didn't want to leave all of the journeying until then.  So, the plan today was to sail back to the Walton Backwaters, and spend the night in one of my favourite anchorages.
I spent breakfast amongst the seals just inside Yokesfleet Creek.  Several came up for a chat, but few were close enough to photograph.
Shy seal
I did manage this bit of video.

Afterwards, I sailed round to Burnham for morning coffee.
More of the town pontoon at Burnham
Then, I sailed out to the mouth of the Crouch in NE winds.  I didn't fancy beating out of the Crouch, so used the engine to work my way along the official channel, using the northern arm - Buxey Edge, Swallowtail No3 - and then returning to sail, sometimes motor sailing, cutting between Wallet Spitway and Swin Spitway markers north east to the distantly observable Essex coastline.  At Frinton, the wind became too light to make much impact on some loppy conditions, and predicted afternoon showers threatened.
Afternoon showers were forecast for the Suffolk/Essex coast which, I thought, was just my luck as the remainder of the country bathed in sunshine.  Curiously, whilst there were clearly plenty around, I managed to avoid them all, although they made for interesting scenery.
So I used the engine to round the Naze tower along to the Pye End buoy and then into the Walton Backwaters.  I managed to pick up an empty mooring in Kirby Creek round the back of 'Skipper's Island', nostalgically, the same mooring that I spent my very first night afloat in Daisy II back in 2006.

Saturday 12th April
Leaving the mooring at 6.30am, I sailed back to Harwich and had a brief sail up the Stour.  Feeling fairly tired, it was time to return to the mooring which I managed by about 12.30pm, using the engine for the final mile. 'Brunch' and tidying followed and I managed to hit the road by mid-afternoon, before the onset of road tiredness - it being an 80 minute drive back home!

Overall, it was such a bonus to enjoy an extended trip and stretch further the cruising grounds of Daisy II.
Overall trip length 120.9nm.  Day 1: red.  Day 2: blue.  Day 3: yellow.  Day 4: white.

Saturday, 5 April 2014

Launch and first sail, 5 April 2014

As the previous post stated, 5th April has been my stated goal in terms of launching this season.  Tides were just about ok to launch at 3.50am at Pin Mill.  Unfortunately, tide heights thereafter were due to decline as the moon waned and I would have had to pay to launch elsewhere.  So, silly time as it was, I just about managed to roll the boat off the trailer at high tide at the public slip by the Butt and Oyster pub - not a soul about although it was rather dark.  Fortunately, I could make use of an excellent head torch.

I punted my way out into deeper water, pulled the starter cord twice and gently worked my way out to some vacant moorings as close to my own mooring as I could imagine in the available light and, by 4.40am, was in the cabin ready for slumber.

The morning was not without its drama - I almost lost the cabin entrance lid, just watching it glide with the tide past the boat and scrambling a loose oar into action, retrieved it in good time.  The remainder of a long and leisurely breakfast was spent cooking, eating and sorting - masts raised, spars attached, various bits of kit stowed.  Additionally, I located the correct mooring - my original stab in the dark was two buoys away from the correct place.
From then it was time for a sail!  Conditions were strange, F4 southerly but with some rather marked F5 gusts as well as a few lulls.  I set off, initially under jib and mizzen since I wanted to test out the new mizzen arrangements.  Steve, owner of coaster Pamela Jean noticed me and sent me some snaps

Daisy II maiden voyage of 2014 captured from shore
The woods at Pin Mill made a fickle wind into an annoyance.  During the gusts, I was moving along at over 4 knots against an incoming tide; eventually, however, the gusts subsided for a while and I hove to and hoisted a reefed main.  After a few tacks, taking me past Suffolk Yacht Harbour, I turned for a wonderful run with the flood reaching a top speed of 6.7 knots.  Working my way towards the Orwell bridge I cast out the anchor for lunch in a favourite spot opposite Freston.
After lunch, the winds still gusting, I returned, against the still rising tide, to the mooring, passing Pamela Jean as she stretched her own sails for the afternoon.
Coaster Pamela Jean 

Back at the mooring, it was time to put things back in order and leave Daisy II to brave the elements from her mooring vantage point.

10.4nm; top speed 6.7 knots; moving average 3.2 knots
Hopefully, this Easter break will yield some opportunities for a few short cruises.  I'd like to see some of the old haunts!

'A little varnish and less polish' - fitting out season, 2014

Alterations to mizzen boom attachment, 16th March 2014
I haven't posted here for a while which is really a reflection of a manic start to 2014 from the non-sailing perspective.  However, things have been ticking along and, following my first sail today, there is some catching up to do.  So, this post is all about the fitting out and I'll put up a second post about today's first sail.

I'm not much of a fitter outer!  A self imposed deadline of launching by 5th April has been adhered to come what may.  Hence, 'a little varnish and less polish' would neatly summarise my efforts in this fitting out window.  I have run some Sadolin over the wooden gunwhale capping - which will doubtless have the purists spitting into their tins of Deks Olje - and scrubbed the decks and hull.  I also repaired the damage to the stern transom caused by that lowlife boater who collided with Daisy II on her mooring last October.  This latter repair involved removing the wooden transom for the first time, use of some 'Plastic Padding' filler followed up with some colour matched gelcoat repair.  The resulting finish is functional rather than professional but then I've never been completely satisfied with repair jobs previously done by boatyards.  I didn't do much in terms of photography for this one.  And, of course, we mustn't forget my favourite job of all - the good old antifouling, by several nautical miles the boater's least pleasant job of the year.  If I had the money to pay someone...
Antifouling, International Micron extra, this year in the preferred navy blue
As for the black marks on the spars, maybe I'll just wait until there are more black marks than brown wood, and then paint the whole lot black!

The most significant modification has been to remove and repair the damaged mizzen boom and use the opportunity to make some alterations to the attachment.  The previous incarnation involved chiselling a groove in the mizzen mast to house the boom fitting.

 This looked rather shoddy but, more significantly, prevented a raised boom from resting flat against the mast.  Hence, following an idea picked up from last year's Broads Rally, I glued together a couple of pieces of spruce over winter, fashioned this into a semicircular prism attachment to fit the contours of the jaws and then, using epoxy, glued this to the mizzen, filling in the previously chiselled groove.
semicircular wooden prism made to fit the attachment jaws

epoxy resin and filler used to attach to mast
Finally, I sanded down the whole and finished it with brown exterior paint.

I used a couple of screws to reinforce the join, but these caused trouble when fitting the jaws so have been removed.  Again, purists will be upending their pots of varnish , but I really don't have the time or patience (or skills) to fashion a fully wooden scarfed joint; I'm not a big fan of varnish and this paint matches a similar alteration made when extending the height of the mast a few seasons ago - a repair which still stands the tests of time.
The major objective - to allow a raised mizzen boom to rest against the mast - has been achieved, although I neglected to provide pictorial proof.  That may be corrected in due course.

I also had some filling to do on the boom itself.  Having filed away the loose wood, I used a similar but lighter coloured epoxy filler, finished with a few coats of exterior varnish and have since reattached the rigging eye.
Not the best angle, but mizzen boom refitted and functioning during today's sail.