Tuesday, 5 April 2016

Easter shakedown cruise, March 31st to April 3rd

Dried out on Saturday evening off the western shore of Osea Island.  It's a little rocky this close in, but I took a chance and was lucky.  The wind was strengthening from the east, with overnight rain forecast; this tiny cove off the west side of Osea provided perfect shelter.
As is the way, these days, a window of opportunity for the first cruise of the season arose during the Easter holidays.  In fact, an early Easter combined with the lack of need to antifoul the hull enabled a launch in March - that's never happened to Daisy II before!

Thursday 31st March - launch at Bradwell Marina, trip to Osea Island
Being unencumbered by a mooring this season, different launching venues beckon, so it was good to visit Bradwell Marina for the first time since 2011.  It is pleasing to see that little has changed.
The slipway at Bradwell Marina
The slipway is just as long as it always was, but it is pleasingly accessible and they obviously take care with maintenance, in particular by keeping the lower reaches relatively algae-free.  £19 for launch, recovery and parking over four days represents reasonable value for the east coast.  It's also refreshing to note that they take the trouble to check launchers possess basic safety equipment such as VHF, flares and life jackets but then they leave you to get on with it - a no nonsense, fuss-free approach.
Cruising in March - a first for Daisy II
Launching at Bradwell Marina, a quiet sail to Osea under jib and mizzen drying out close to the south western shore of this delightful island.
 Friday 1st April - River Colne to Colchester
As is so often the way at this time of the year, a thick sea fog greeted me in the morning.  The night was very cold and frost had formed on the deck.  HW was around 6am, so I moved to deeper water for breakfast, with the somewhat forlorn hope that the fog would clear.
Unable to distinguish between sea and sky!
 The sun was trying to poke through, so I pulled in the anchor and, under motor, made my way with the tide north east past the island.  The sun doesn't always help in the fog, the bright rays glistening on the fog as the following picture attempts to show.
A panoramic view under way! 
 Finally the fog lifted opposite Stone Sailing Club.
The fog finally clears
Sailing out of the Blackwater to the end of the Colne, I stopped at Mersea Stone for lunch and, after a brief trip up Pyefleet Channel, sailed up the Colne past Wivenhoe to the more welcoming Rowhedge with its visitor's jetty.  
Approaching Wivenhoe.  It looks a pretty place but it's disappointing they haven't made shoreline access easier.  A 2 hour jetty, such as many other seaside towns offer, is all that would be required.  I'm sure visitors would spend some money in your town!
Rowhedge - a welcoming visitor's jetty.  The two hour limit is sufficient to visit the local amenities.  Neighbouring Wivenhoe could learn something from this.
Following a welcome pint in the Albion public house at Rowhedge, I motored along to the end of the navigation (at least, without having to lower the mast) at Colchester, just a few miles further on.   For the record, there is another visitor's jetty here, although little to suggest a stay and exploration would be worthwhile.  I turned round and returned to Pyefleet for the night.

 Saturday 2nd April - Blackwater to Maldon
I called into Brightlingsea briefly before setting on my way.
At Brightlingsea

I motored out of the Colne in steep pitched 'wind over tide' waves.  Then set sail bound for Maldon.  On the way, knowing that I needed to wait for the tide to reach the head of the Blackwater, I called in to  Lawling Creek.
Seals along Lawling Creek

I've not had a huge degree of success in the past reaching Maldon.  Today, I sailed in under jib alone - the tide was still 2.5 hours before HW and I wasn't sure of depth.  Today wasn't for stopping although it looks like an interesting place so I will call in again for a longer visit.
Approaching Maldon

Finally, Osea beckoned, as explained in the opening photograph in this posting.
Pyefleet to Brightlingsea, then out of the Colne, up the Blackwater, via Lawling Creek to Maldon, finally retiring to the west side of Osea.

 Sunday 3rd April - return to Bradwell Marina

Dried out off Osea

Sunrise over Osea

After breakfast, a quick trip back to Collier's Reach, off Heybridge, lead to a wonderful reach back down the Blackwater, returning to Bradwell Marina for hauling out.
From Osea, to Heybridge finally returning to Bradwell

 In summary...
72.5nm, top speed 7.2kts (with tide!)