Sunday, 26 June 2016

Inter-sail maintenance


One of the advantages of and, hence, a key reason for keeping the boat off the mooring this year has been the greater possibility of doing maintenance.  This seems to be a way in which this season is developing: fewer sailing trips, more time to meddle.  
I didn't really plan to work on the gunwales but they were in need of attention.  One possibility was to touch up the Sadolin teak coating which has been a feature of Daisy II for the past several years.  It has served its purpose well during this time, particularly so since it looks smart and is durable, maintaining its finish thoughout a season's wear and tear on a mooring.  Other finishes had been tried prior to this, including a couple of years attempting to use Deks Olje.  It took ages to put on and always looked great for about a month but then needed patching up: that was not feasible with the boat on a mooring. However, with the boat at home, these teak oil finishes start to look attractive again. So, to start off the process, I've set about returning the wood to its formative, bare state.
The previous post showed last weekend's work:

These photos show the updated progress.

It has taken a couple of days and a great deal of scraping but, in terms of gunwales and the stern transom, we're finally there.  In due course, I will also need to work on the two grab handles on the cabin roof as well as the rudder capping and mizzen support.

I decided the stern transom needed removing to strip the wood effectively.  On removal, one of the brass holding screws sheared off and I will need to find a way of removing the bit that's still lodged in the fibreglass.  That's a bit of a pest, but I've ordered a screw extractor kit and read up on what to do...
The next post will hopefully feature this and the new teak oil coating I've ordered, together with the reason for using it.

In the mean time, it has finally been time to make more progress with the Hopwood Memorial boarding ladder.  I constructed a template for this over winter.  Recently, I found a decent piece of 12mm exterior plywood and thought I'd use this to construct the ladder.  If it goes well, I may find a piece of superior quality marine ply and do a proper job.  The photo shows the two side hook pieces cut out and hanging in the place I intend to use the ladder (for which the boat needed to be winched back on its trailer).  Next job is to cut out the central step piece and start to shape and sand down the wood, prior to assembling the whole.

At the moment, I haven't decided on the length so, in keeping it this long, hope to keep my options open!

Saturday, 18 June 2016

Rutland Water and gunwale maintenance

'Twas branded a birthday sail this, since the skipper has one such event on Monday.  Hence, Daisy II was once again graced with crew.  In fact, five filled the cockpit and there seemed to be space for us all.  Rutland Water was the venue, for my first time this season in a Drascombe.

Winds were generally exceptionally light so we were never going to trouble any distance records.  In fact, it made better sense to stick around the Whitwell Creek area just in case we had to row back - there being no private outboards permitted on this reservoir.
What follows is nothing more than a set of family snaps.  But, they do confirm once again that happy sailors are Drascombe sailors!


Ongoing maintenance
The other weekend activity has been a complete rethink on the wooden capping on the gunwales.  Previously, I've been an advocate of Sadolin which has served well whilst the boat is on a mooring since it maintains its colour throughout the season, is tough and durable.  However, it is just brown paint, at the end of the day, and the wood probably deserves better than this. Now I'm keeping her at home, a more aesthetically pleasing solution is called for.  So far, I've used a mixture of Nitromors and general scraping to bring the stern end back to bare wood.  Fortunately, it's been a remarkably straight forward job thus far.  Watch this space!

Monday, 13 June 2016

Wells-next-the-Sea: Drascombe Association Rally 11-12 June, 2016

Daisy II and other Drascombes making slow progress in light winds against the incoming tide
Another rally, this time a return trip to north Norfolk and the delightful Wells-next-the-Sea.  With coastal sailing, tides always dictate terms of engagement and never more so than here.  Water rushes into the harbour a couple of hours before HW and disappears just as quickly afterwards.  Building in a safety net for skippers, such as myself, unfamiliar with the qwerks of this location and we're really looking at a sailing window of little more than three hours per tide.
On my last visit to Wells, tides were on springs, with HW early morning and evening.  This allowed for two daily sails with a long hiatus between.  The drawback of this was the exceptionally early start.  This time, we were on neaps and a lunchtime tide.  I can see advantages both ways but, having seen it both ways, would probably favour the two tide option on future visits.
11.7nm: Red track - Saturday; Yellow track - Sunday

Saturday 11th June
Arrival at 8.30am, rigged and launched by 9.30 and sailing until 1pm.
Launching at the public slipway, steep at the top with a necessary 90 degree turn onto the quay.  However, Daisy II was successfully launched and recovered with no major dramas.  Single handed launching would be difficult since there's nowhere to tie up 

Wooden lugger Rita May with ingenious plastic green seats
Lugger Piper leading the way but where's the wind?

Dabber Mary Jane 
6.7nm: Saturday track.  We sailed in light, dwindling winds, out of the harbour.  The winds died away completely, leaving us drifting eastwards in the now ebbing tide, so we motored back into the harbour.

After-sail entertainment 

Berthing on the pontoon: excellent washing facilities for visiting boatmen although one of the duty harbour masters seemed reluctant to release the key code.

View of the pontoon and the harbour beyond.

A spell of beach cricket gave an opportunity to look at another of the many retired lifeboats which are moored in the harbour.  This one is, apparently, used as a holiday home!
Sunday 12th June

Lugger Jimbo at 6am.  Skipper Yann yet to surface from his ingenious tent

Lugger Piper.  Crew performing a 'wind dance'

Winds finally arrive!

Lugger Jimbo's turn to host additional crew

Dissension in the ranks.  The fleet opposes the admiral

Dabber Mary Jane

Winds drop, once again, opposite the lifeboat station
5nm Sunday track.  Once again, we motored out of the harbour, hoisted sails and made something of the light breeze

Friday, 3 June 2016

Norfolk Broads cruise, 1-3 June

Camouflaged Drascombe on the River Ant
I wasn't planning a trip on The Broads, rather looking to launching somewhere on the East Coast.  However, when F8 features in the inshore waters forecast, it's best to take note.  The rushes and reeds of the Broads do a good job at filtering the excesses of the wind, although one still has to be careful.  For some time, I'd wanted to do some cruising on the Broads, specifically with the intention of scouting some potential alternative locations for a rally.  This mini-cruise began and ended with the familiar - Hickling Broad - and had the unfamiliar thrown in between - the River Ant, Barton Broad and Stalham.  Although I'd been to all of these places before, it wasn't in a Drascombe and I hadn't been planning.  I think there is potential for a rally based at Stalham, perhaps for 2017.  Barton Broad is too enticing, and there are plenty of nice pubs around!

Total track: 32.5nm
Wednesday 1st June - Hickling Broad to the River Ant
Crooked slipway at Whispering Reeds boatyard, Hickling
Launching at Whispering Reeds, with its crooked but manageable slipway, winds were northerly, gusting F7 so I motored round to Potter Heigham for the first of two 'mast down' pit stops.
Mast down for Potter Heigham bridge
The River Ant is a charming stretch, but it isn't wide and has plenty of bends; couple that with a marked increase in holiday traffic once past the bridge at Potter Heigham, and it is clear that the Ant isn't an ideal sailing river for Drascombes.  That having been said, as stated below, on the return trip, I sailed almost its entire length from Stalham using the Northerly breeze with jib and mizzen.

Most of the official mooring places were full, but Drascombes can fit into places other boats cannot.  Today's stop was tailor made for Daisy II with some handy trees as mooring posts.
Countryside mooring on the River Ant
Day 1, Hickling to the River Ant, 9.9nm
Thursday 2nd June: continuing along the River Ant to Stalham; return to Horsey Mere
Following a lazy start, due mainly to being kept alert by hefty overnight gusts, I continued to motor up the River Ant, through Barton Broad and on to Stalham.  I stopped here once before in mother's river boat.  It hasn't changed at all!

Mooring at Stalham
A growing gaggle...
Steam boat alongside Stalham's Broads Museum
After elevenses at Stalham, I had the opportunity to use the northerly breeze and set jib and mizzen making a return passage as far as Ludham where masts have to be lowered.  I then motored on to Potter Heigham and then on to Horsey Mere where coaster Marie Ellen was unexpectedly sailing - we both stopped at the wind pump at Horsey Mere for the night.
An unexpected but welcome rendezvous with coaster Marie Ellen on Horsey Mere 
Overnight mooring at Horsey Mill
It's always disconcerting to find the water level higher than the surrounding land.

The coast is a pleasant mile's walk from the moorings at Horsey Mere, all the more so for the excellent pub on the way back selling a fine selection of ale.
A short walk to the sea for the impressive, man-made sea defences.  This is taken from the landward side.  I understand the last time these defences were breached was during the great floods of 1953.
The other side of the dunes - the photo doesn't do it justice, but the winds were strong and it was bitterly cold for a June evening.
Day 2, River Ant to Stalham, return to Horsey Mere: 19.2nm
Friday 3rd June: return to Hickling
I planned to return home promptly so, having risen at 5am, I motor sailed back to base.
Day 3, Horsey Mere to Hickling: 3.4nm