Wednesday, 27 May 2015

May half term cruise 24-27 May

A quiet bank holiday Monday anchorage off Iken Cliff on the River Alde, just short of Snape (day 2)
Another half term holiday, another opportunity to wind down from work; what better way than cruising.  Nowhere in particular to go, all the time in the world to achieve this!

Day 1, Sunday 24th May: Orwell to Deben
Tides, during this cruise, featured early morning and early evening HWs, heading towards neaps.
I left the mooring at 1330 heading downstream with the intention of setting out to sea, towards the Deben.  Winds in Harwich harbour were easterly and touching F4 leading to quite loppy seas.  So I decided to run with the tide down the Stour waiting for conditions to improve.  Winds duly abated and I turned back under motor, using the beginning ebb, back through Harwich harbour, cutting the corner at Landguard Point and then setting sail towards the Deben.  The sea state had much improved by the time I reached Woodbridge Haven.
Woodbridge Haven
Winds were now NW and very light.  I wouldn't have made much progress beating against the ebb, so motored to a favourite anchorage on the NW shore near Bowships Reach.
Anchorage on the Deben at Bowships Reach
Deben sunset
Day 2, Monday 25th May: Deben to Snape
Ordinarily, I don't bother with curtains in the cabin.  One reason for this is so that I wake when daylight arrives and don't lose a moment.  Today was no exception.  I left the anchorage at 0430, before breakfast, and enjoying the last hour or so of the flood up to Woodbridge, beating into NW breeze.  
Woodbridge once again!
The good reason for being on the Deben today was to rendezvous with the previous owner of Daisy II who was a part of the Cape Cutter rally which had reached Waldringfield.  A return run downstream led to me sailing past his boat at 0810.  Not having the heart to wake his crew, I stretched out time by sailing on to The Rocks and then beating back upstream against the tide where captain and crew had finally surfaced.
Following a pleasant coffee aboard a Cape Cutter - splendid boats, perhaps more to write about these another time - I needed to press on with the day's objective which was to reach Orford Haven in time to use the flood up to Snape.
Good facilities at Felixstowe Ferry
I was leaving the Deben at LW, but there was plenty of water.  Out at sea, the flood had already set, so the trip up the coast was against the tide.  In order to speed things up, the outboard was deployed about half way up the coast until safely in the Ore where, against a NE breeze, sail was set for a beat up the Ore and Alde as far as Aldeburgh.  Turning west at Aldeburgh, winds abated so I motored along to the evening anchorage at Iken - photographed at the start of this article.
View back towards Iken Church, overseeing the ominously named 'Troublesome Reach'
Further view of Iken Cliffs
Day 3, Tuesday 26th May: Snape to Walton Backwaters, via Stour
Today, it transpired that Daisy II put to the test that notion of sailing all day, without a single break.  Just how far can a Drascombe coaster go?  Here's an answer:
This will surely be one of the longer daily doses of cruising, lasting from 0700 at Snape until 2100 in Landermere Creek.  Still, it's 14 hours at an average speed of 3.5knts which is not unusual.  There were plenty of moments of much greater speeds, particularly with the ebb down the Alde/Ore and then along the coast in a pleasant F3 easterly breeze.  Returning to the Stour, and an unsuccessful attempt to find a lunchtime berth at Halfpenny Pier, I pressed on upstream, lunching on the hoof (?) as it were!  Along the way, I heard the boat Lucy Laver call the coastguard on VHF confirming its successful trip from Ramsgate up to Harwich.  That sounded like quite a trip, even more so when the very boat appeared alongside me off Erwarton Bay.
Lucy Lavers
She looked an interesting boat so, since returning home, I've looked her up.  She was returning from the 75th anniversary of the 'retreat from Dunkirk'.  She was one of the boats that participated in the real thing.  Extraordinary.  Her website is here.
Winds gradually abated so that, at a point short of Mistley, a few hours short of HW, I found myself drifting upstream under the power of the tide alone.  There still wasn't quite the depth to plough on to Manningtree, except along the channel along Mistley Quay.  I didn't fancy this, so turned back downstream, initially against the flood.  Eventually, the easterly breeze picked up and I had a wonderful long beat back towards Harwich harbour.  Off Parkeston Quay, I realised that it would require a night sail and some stamina to continue sailing to the Backwaters.  I had also experienced trouble during the day with the outboard being very reluctant to start.  I have a feeling it may be a carburettor issue.  So, an 'Italian tune-up' seemed a good idea.  Make or break!
Returning past Harwich Lifeboat Station, Lucy Lavers was seen mixing with the new boats!
The ear-splittingly noisy trip round to the Backwaters took 75 minutes!

Day 4, Wednesday 27th May: return to mooring

Well, this is a well-rehearsed route.  Winds, today, were NW so pleasant until reaching Harwich when, again, there wasn't sufficient strength to justify a long beat into the harbour and back to the mooring against the ebb.  So, following on from yesterday's ear-splitting ordeal, I put the outboard to the test again.  It still isn't starting properly, seemingly not starting within four pulls with choke pulled out, but then starting second pull with choke pushed back in.  It's never behaved like that before.  Better that it starts any way than not at all...

Sunday (yellow), Monday (red), Tuesday (green), Wednesday (white).  116.2nm

Sunday, 24 May 2015

Rudder rest and day sailing

I've been making do without a rudder rest for a couple of seasons since the old one finally broke for the last time.  Due to other recent woodworking successes, it seemed churlish not to have a go at making one.  I used Tim Pettigrew's excellent website for inspiration although the dimensions, particularly in terms of length were changed slightly.  My version is ever so slightly shorter in both overall length and the length of the slot.  I also made use of a cheap supply of stainless steel fixing plates (ebay, all the way from Hong Kong!) to reinforce the top.
Rudder rest in situ

As can be seen from this picture, mine is slotted in in the opposite way to Tim's - ie. with open bit facing to the stern.  If I had tried it the other way round, it simply wouldn't have fitted - and it would seem odd trying to slot it in that way round.  It seems to work this way round, although the front end does rest on the upper bearing so the whole thing doesn't quite rest in the rudder casing.
Given that I simply used old spruce off-cuts from my store in the garage, the whole thing cost no more than £6.50.

All of that excitement aside, I have been for a couple of day sails during the past three weeks - the weekend in between was choral society weekend.
Coaster Pamela coming out to play on the 10th May - sadly, I was on the way back to shore!
On the 10th May, I came down just to spend a few hours fiddling - fitting the rudder rest.  I went for a brief sail, but conditions were of the gusty kind I don't much like.  Yesterday, 23 May, the purpose of the visit was to prepare the boat for a cruising beginning today.  It was such good weather, I had to go for a sail. I was also looking out for Cape Cutters who are beginning their annual meet based at Suffolk Yacht Harbour.  I saw a couple and took some good snaps!  They are truly splendid boats and I would be tempted to buy were they not so damned heavy - you really need a good 4x4 and a two people to launch and recover with ease.
Cape Cutter Sapphire

Cape Cutter Fraoch

Cape Cutter Fraoch
10th May (yellow) 2.2nm; 23rd May (red) 7.8nm

Monday, 4 May 2015

A bank holiday Monday well spent...

The second trip of a long weekend.  A cruise had regrettably been out of the question due to inclement conditions yesterday and easterly winds the day before.  Winds today were much kinder, F3/4 SW veering S.  With all sails hoisted, the plan was to use the lunchtime flood, the target being Ipswich Docks.  
It was good to sail under the magnificent Orwell Road Bridge and then glide past the two docked ships.  Winds are always flukey in the harbour with plenty of high objects to deflect and funnel the air.  Tacking back downstream was, therefore, an inconsistent experience until back under the bridge.
Unlike Saturday, the outboard remained truly untroubled even though winds were rather livelier as I returned to the mooring.  The view of Pin Mill above showed some stronger southerly gusts blowing across the river.  This made the eventual business of picking up the mooring strop rather trickier than usual, so I pulled down the main and used jib and mizzen to swing the boat into the wind at the appropriate point.  There's a technique to this which I'm not certain was convincingly demonstrated today!


Saturday, 2 May 2015

Strengthening breeze...

Saturday, 3rd May.  Easterly winds, F4 gusting 5.  The forecast suggested that winds would strengthen during the day and this is, indeed, what happened. There wasn't a huge quantity of active boats on the water and those that did venture out were well reefed.  
I set out cautiously with double reefed main, reefed jib and furled mizzen.  This set up seems to work well for me whereas most Drascombers seem to prefer jib with mizzen.  
Reaching the boat at HW, I tacked downstream with the ebb, anchoring off Trimley Marshes for a late lunch.  Then, with same sails set, back upstream against the tide but with the wind.  Turning at Freston, beating back into the breeze started to get a little hairy.  Just as I was congratulating myself on not using the engine, the biggest gust bore down and the outboard chugged into life opposite Woolverstone for the final mile back to base.