Thursday, 28 August 2014

August 27-28: Stour and Walton Backwaters mini-cruise

Red track: 27th August; yellow track 28th August; 37.3nm with tide-assisted top speed 7.1kts
Cruising has taken something of a back seat recently while other matters have been attended to.  In so doing, a greenhouse has been purchased on ebay, disassembled in Stevenage and reassembled at home with a new base - all for the cost of £51.
 The attic has been cleared - probably one of those 'moving in one's mind' moments.  I also accompanied mother on her recent cruise along the Kennett and Avon Canal, negotiating around 60 locks from Devizes to Reading.

Weather has also played its part, so the past few days have presented, realistically, the last opportunity of the summer holidays for an overnight stop. 

Wednesday 27th August - winds E/NE F4.
Arriving later than planned at the mooring, I motored against wind and tide out of the Orwell, raising the main at Collimer Point.  I switched off the motor off Shotley Point and had a run with the last 90 minutes of the flood up the Stour.  Around HW, I turned, just off Mistley, and tacked back downstream with the ebb, turning the corner off Harwich crossing safely in front of the arriving evening ferry.  There was then the exciting prospect of a glorious reach across Dovercourt Bay into Landermere Creek for the night.
Dovercourt Bay

Thursday 28th August - winds SW F3/4.
After morning rain had cleared, I had a clear run, initially against the flood, back across to Harwich before picking up the remaining flood with a wonderful reach across Harwich Harbour and into the Orwell, where a top speed of 7.1kts was managed with flood.  Turning at Collimer Point, the final stretch up the Orwell was a close reach.
New ensign pole working well!
This will be the final cruise before term recommences.  There are still potentially a number of cruising opportunities ahead this year, most particularly another Norfolk Broads event in September.  I'm also ever-hopeful of a cruise during the October half term, although we're very much at the mercy of the weather by then!

Saturday, 16 August 2014

Further sea-trials with the new boom

Today, winds were forecast F4 gusting 5 and presented a good opportunity to try out the new boom with a reef in the main.  No pictures were taken, since much thought was being given to the best way to rig the clew connection with the outhaul.  Initially, it was difficult to keep the foot of the sail sufficiently close to the boom, and the webbing connection for the mainsheet, which should have been close to the reefed clew, seemed to want to remain at the end of the boom.  During gusts, I found it difficult to keep the luff fully tensioned.

Thinking this through whilst hove-to with coffee in hand, I made some modifications to the outhaul which now works like this:  an outhaul shackle is now attached to the topside of the mainsheet webbing.  The outhaul connects first to this shackle, then to the clew by means of a free-moving snapshackle, then passing back down through the outhaul shackle and on through the pulley at the end of the boom.  This change transformed the shape of the sail and enabled a much more successful last few tacks.


Friday, 15 August 2014

Mainsail boom

Introducing the mainsail boom, whittled from an old rotting mast.  I've also changed the sheeting arrangements, moving away from the traditional Drascombe 'W' pattern to a straightforward double block arrangement.
Having previously enjoyed both making and sailing with a mizzen boom, I had no real intention of moving on to the mainsail.  The decision to proceed was based, in part, on some very useful descriptions posted on the Drascombe Association Forum regarding methodology.  Additionally, it helped that I had an old mast which was waiting to be whittled into shape.  Lastly, there's nothing like a summer holiday for proceeding with a project.
The decision was not based on any real expectation of an improvement in sailing performance.  Daisy II already sailed perfectly well and I knew of no conclusive proof that a boom improves things other than heresay.  There are no doubts that a boom prevents the sail from collapsing in downwind situations.  Moreover, there was a realisation that the boom would change the way the boat performed and discovering exactly how was certainly a lure.
Boom length 310cm.  I planed an old, rotting coaster mast to a diameter of roughly 5.5cm.  This, handily, already had a slot for the intended outhaul, although it would be necessary to create a smaller wheel for this.
The wheel was created from an old wooden kitchen chopping board; the initial disc was cut from the wood and then centred on a screw bit mounting for a Dremel which, when rotating, enabled various sanding jobs to be done, including the concave groove on its diameter.
At the other end, a set of jaws, hewn from pine, were shaped, sanded and then glued to the main shaft.  Finally, I cut a curve to match the diameter of the mast against which the boom will rest.
Not photographed are the leather protectors glued to each end of the boom.

Rigging decisions involving sheeting, outhaul, topping lift and attachment to the mast can be observed from the following pictures of today's maiden sail.
I took the opportunity to change the sheeting arrangements.  The traditional Drascombe 'W' arrangement has been replaced with a simple pair of double blocks, one on the clew and the other, with becket, on the slider.  The latter was purchased and, although slightly oversized, is very effective.  The improvement in performance is manifest.  Sheeting in is much less effort and, when paying out during gusts, the sheet slides through with ease.  A fantastic and unexpected bonus from this modification.
Following advice on the Drascombe forum, the block attaches to the boom by means of a sliding strap which I made from an old trailer winching strop.  The idea is that the strap slides along the boom to match the foot of the sail depending on how it is reefed.  This worked well enough.  Initially, I had the clew outhaul passing through a loop in this strap, but I may dispense with this and have  the strap running free inside the outhaul.
The clew outhaul passes through the slot in the end of the boom and then along the boom to a clamcleat positioned halfway along the boom.  This will enable easy tensioning of the foot.  At the tack-end, the jaws are held against the mast by luff tension and the tack downhaul.  A pair of stainless steel eyes from an eyebolt and an eye nut above and below the jaws enable these attachments.
Another view of the sliding strap and clew outhaul.
The boom also provides a great place from which to hang various plastic bags which hopefully help to deter wildlife whilst on the mooring.
Fitting the boom was made more challenging due to several passing showers.
Once fitted, the rain showers seemed to stop and the reward was a pleasant 'maiden' sail up the Orwell, during which time lugger Truant was having a splendid sail.
The maiden sail for the boom involved full main and a few rolls in the jib.  Winds were F3-5 and the boat heeled over nicely during the gusts, and the new sheeting arrangements for the main worked exceptionally well.  She certainly feels different to sail, the mainsheet is more comfortable to hold and the sail feels more controlled.  The downside is the obvious boom swinging just above head height in the cockpit area, although in time one supposes this will be an extra thing to grab hold of when moving around the boat.


Sunday, 10 August 2014

Still thinking about the cruise

The latest upshot of last week's cruise is this video which gave me the perfect excuse to learn how to fiddle with iMovie software.

Yesterday, I popped down for a brief sail.  In truth, the purpose had been to play with a new boom, but that will have to wait until a delivery of various fittings is received.  That will be the subject of another post...  The other reason for going yesterday was that it was the only day spared from various summer storms which seem to be making tracks across the UK....ever more thankful that the cruise took place last week and not this.

The other good news is that the latest 'anti-seagull' device seems to be working well and no further mess has been left on the boat.

Monday, 4 August 2014

Summer Cruise, July 28th to August 4th 2014

Coaster Valentine sailing NW along the Blackwater from Osea Island
Participants: Drascombe Coasters Daisy II and Valentine.
Identified, active Drascombes encountered along the way: Longboat Cruiser Pen; Dabber Susie

This has been the most ambitious and, ultimately, most rewarding cruise undertaken in Daisy II to date.  A track log of 204.3 nautical miles speaks for itself.  In partnership with coaster Valentine, the voyage covered six estuaries/rivers (Daisy II covering a seventh - the Deben - after Valentine shortened her trip by a day returning directly to the Orwell from the Crouch), undertook three lengthy sea passages and, but for one night on a mooring in West Mersea and my final night at Woodbridge, enjoyed the spectacular freedom of spending all remaining nights at anchor.

The only minor blot came afterwards, when downloading track data and realising that we had travelled too far for the memory of my previously trusty Garmin GPS, which dutifully deleted the tracks from the first six days in recording the seventh.  Having realised something was up, I recorded my final, eighth day on a Motion-X GPS App for the iPhone.  Hence, I've had to draw the rough outline of the first six day's cruises on the map below.
All but the white and blue tracks are 'best guesses' plotted onto the map after the GPS deleted the real tracks
The final two days - in white and blue - are genuine, the remainder are best guesses and, naturally, miss out the many passages where we were beating into wind, such as north from Colne Point to Mersea Stone Point and a particularly arduous stretch south west into the Crouch after having previously passed through the Rays'n Channel.

Monday 28 July
Left mooring at 2pm, sailed upstream briefly for rendezvous with coaster Valentine.  Sailed downstream and then up the Stour for evening anchorage off Harkstead Point.
Valentine cruising towards Felixstowe Docks.  Note the newly-fashioned mainsail boom.
Valentine cruising up the Stour
Sunset over the Stour
Tuesday 29 July 
Left anchorage early, taking remaining ebb out through Harwich harbour, on to past the Naze Tower, and joining the new flood tide down The Wallet.  We turned into the wind past Colne Point, beating along to lunchtime beaching and afternoon anchorage at Mersea Stone.  Later in the afternoon, motor/sailed up Brightlingsea Creek, and then tied up to public pontoon.  Early evening sail along the Pyefleet Channel to evening anchorage adjacent to Maydays Marsh.
Valentine on a run from Harwich Harbour
Daisy II cruising along The Wallet
Winds diminished for a while along The Wallet, opposite Clacton on Sea
Daisy II beached at Mersea Stone
Coasters at Brightlingsea
Sunset over the Pyefleet Channel

Wednesday 30 July
Returned to the Colne, past Mersea Stone and then SW down the River Blackwater.  Late morning beaching at Osea Island.  Lunchtime encounter with LBC Pen (which is based at Marconi SC) off Osea, then sailing in dwindling winds up towards Heybridge.  Returning with the ebb past Osea and on to West Mersea for evening meal in West Mersea Yacht Club, and then borrowing one of their moorings for the night.
Approaching Osea Island from the east
Beached off Osea
Longboat Cruiser Pen
Valentine keeping a lookout!
Silhouette over Osea
Thursday 31 July
Left West Mersea, after briefly calling in once more at West Mersea to deal with Valentine rudder stock issue.  Sailed around St Peter's Flats, then south through the Rays'n, finally beating SW into the River Crouch. past the Inner Crouch buoy.  Then, dropped sail and motored up to public pontoon at Burnham-on-Crouch for early evening meal.  Finally returned down Crouch, into River Roach, anchoring in Brankfleet.
Little and Large: Thames Barge Reminder meets Drascombe Coaster Valentine
Valentine beating, in a loppy swell, SW into the River Crouch
Safe haven at Burnham-on-Crouch
Twilight over Brankfleet
Friday 1 August
Morning trip to Burnham, followed by sail with flood up the River Crouch as far as Brandy Hole Yacht Club.  Mid-afternoon lunch in restaurant, then return sail with the ebb, anchoring once again in Brankfleet.
Valentine cruising up the River Crouch
At the cunningly named 'Brandy Hole Yacht Club'.  Contrary to information in the otherwise excellent Imray publication, East Coast Pilot, there is no official club pontoon.  We had to scramble ashore to gain permission to pull up here.
Captains enjoying excellent afternoon meal at Brandy Hole Yacht Club!
Panorama of view from Brandy Hole Yacht Club restaurant
Afternoon reach, with the help of a strong ebb tide, achieving the cruise's maximum speed of 7.9kts
Daisy II returning to Brankfleet for evening anchorage
Saturday 2 August
Morning trip to Burnham, picking up crew and returning to River Roach, sailing up the Roach past Paglesham, where we had a rendezvous with Dabber Susie, and on to an area just beyond the entrance to Bartonhall Creek; returning for mid-afternoon snack at anchor.  Returned past Paglesham, into Devil's Reach and then south into Yokesfleet Creek, clockwise around Rushley Island, taking in the view of Havengore Bridge and Creek and the rough seas beyond.  Past Sutton's boatyard, returning down Yokesfleet, along the Roach, and then returning crew to Burnham for evening meal.  Return to Brankfleet for final anchorage.
Isn't the outboard sort of ..... cheating....?!
Dabber Susie joins us off Paglesham
Reaching down the River Roach
Valentine on the Roach
Valentine's skipper proud to reach Havengore Bridge.  One day, we hope to return to see the bridge rise as we return from a voyage to the north Kent rivers.
Assistance from crew in Yokesfleet Creek
Sunday 3 August
Sailing out of the Crouch, along the Whitaker Channel, past the Swin Spitway, into The Wallet and back past the Naze Tower.  Valentine returned to the Orwell, Daisy II continued to the River Deben, ending the day at the Tide Mill Quay, Woodbridge.
Early start at dawn, with tiny vespers of wind on the Crouch
Sunrise over the Whitaker Channel

The sun rises!
Daisy II enjoying sunrise
Wind turbines on Gunfleet Sands

It's big close-to!
Valentine cruising past Frinton on Sea
Daisy II relieved to enter the relative safety of Woodbridge Haven, having encountered heavy following seas in F5/6 off Felixstowe
Looking back seaward: the state of the sea not really evident from the picture...

Monday 4 August
Returned with the ebb down the Deben, out to sea, back into Harwich Harbour and on to mooring at Pin Mill.
Morning stillness on the Deben
A tranquil view of Deben bar from the inside!
The sea is a draw for all sorts...