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!