Sunday, 5 November 2017

Rutland Water

A hugely enjoyable if rather cold day sailing at Rutland Water...


Sunday, 29 October 2017

October half term mini-cruise

Back to Harwich
October half term wouldn't be worth it unless some sailing were involved.  Not that I have always managed it, but this year the stars were in alignment and I was able to pop down to the Orwell for a brief 'overnighter'.
Full track for both days, 31.2nm

Between other commitments and howling gales, the weather cleared and I launched at Woolverstone for what has turned out to be the final coastal sail of the season.  There may be opportunities for a day trip to somewhere like Rutland Water later next month.  We shall have to see!  However, the engine is now at Seamark Nunn for winter storage and servicing - expensive but worth it if, like me, one has little understanding of the workings of the infernal (sic.) combustion engine...
Once again, launched at Woolverstone Marina.  It doesn't get any cheaper but it is a convenient place from which to set off - plenty of room for onshore parking and a half decent slip, although I do wish they'd do something about the green algae which makes it treacherous under foot.
Winds were benign on the day of launching (26th October) and, given fading light, the best I could do was to motor downstream with the tide, and cross over to the Walton Backwaters where I anchored in a creek intriguingly known as The Dardanelles.  In all the time I've been doing this trip, this was the first time I have anchored here and it was well worth it - although I didn't get to see much of it in the lengthening hours of darkness at this time of the year!

October 26th, trip from Woolverstone to Walton Backwaters, 10.2nm
Fortunately, winds picked up overnight, so the next day, I breakfasted off Stone Point, before sailing out of the Walton Channel and over to Halfpenny Pier in Old Harwich.
Halfpenny Pier.  It's never accessible during the summer, and it is so good to have it all to one's self during the off-season.

Walton Channel to Halfpenny Pier - 6.9nm
I had the option of spending another night aboard, but the forecast was for strengthening winds - Inshore Waters projection for the next 24 hours to be F5-7 with occasional gale F8.  That put me off, so I resolved, after elevenses, to enjoy the remainder of the sail taking in a bit of The Stour, and then returning up the Orwell for a late lunch in the lea of Deer Park on the north side of the river.
Drilling jack, Paragon B391 at Harwich docks

Felixstowe was its usual, busy self.
 After food, it was a simple case of returning to base, recovering the boat and returning home.
Afternoon track - return to Woolverstone, 14.2nm

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

River Waveney - Drascombe Association rally, 22-24 September

Drascombes gathered on Saturday morning at Waveney River Centre
Nine boats, fourteen sailors and another Broads rally, the eighth edition in as many recent years and a welcome return to the River Waveney.
Participating boats were:
Luggers: Rita May, Little Egret, Duchess, Jimbo
Longboat: Jenny Morgan
Coasters: Spindrift, Kathleen, Prawnpipe, Daisy II

Wooden lugger Rita May
 The sailing plan this year was to sail from the Waveney River Centre to Geldeston Locks, spending the evening in the excellent Locks Inn pub.  We then returned to base the next day.
Departure from Waveney River Centre

Weather conditions were overcast with light winds.  Often, tree-lined banks shielded our low rigs from the wind so, as often is the case on the Broads, it was a frustrating process.  However, on Saturday we had the gentle tide in our favour and boats managed to sail a fair proportion of the way.
Lugger Jimbo

Coaster Kathleen proving a point by sailing all the way!


Ready to pass under the bridges at Beccles

Arrival at Geldeston

Drascombes rafted at Geldeston
Breakfast at Geldeston Locks

Luggers Little Egret and Duchess sharing power

Sunday morning stop at Beccles; we're between the two bridges and so all masts currently dropped.

Sailing east from Beccles until the wind dropped.
On the return trip back to base, winds were mostly on the nose so I motored on past the Waveney River Centre.  Reaching Oulton Broad, I set sail beating across the larger expanse of water before sailing with the wind back to the slipway at WRC.  This made for a pleasant sailing coda to the weekend.

Monday, 28 August 2017

Summer Cruise, August 2017

Arrival at Whitby on Sunday, after 247 nautical miles!
Imray's chart, C29, is entitled 'Harwich to Whitby'.  So I did!  It seemed like a worthy challenge... and, as East Coast Representative for the Drascombe Association, I thought I ought to explore a little more of the area.

247nm (est.)
Of course, there was nothing impulsive about this trip - it had been long in the planning and much of the summer holiday was spent awaiting favourable winds and tides.  I had intended to go a fortnight or so earlier, but the weather had been far too windy to contemplate long days out at sea, particularly for the planned trip across The Wash.  Fortunately, things fell into place for this week and the opportunity was not to be missed.

Day 1: Sunday 20th August, River Orwell to Southwold
Today's destination was flexible - Southwold or Lowestoft.  Lowestoft would cut the sea hours the following day, Southwold is far more picturesque.  In the event, I opted for the nearer port knowing that this would most likely add a day to the journey.  I wanted to reach Wells before contemplating a trip across The Wash and it would just be a step too far to make Wells from Southwold in one day.
I launched at Woolverstone Marina just before HW (11am) having arranged to leave car and trailer here until my return a week later.  Winds were light and I found myself using the engine more than I would have liked for the trip up the coast.  The ebbing tide would be with me for much of the trip, at least until Aldeburgh.
Military hangers off Orford.
Orford Ness lighthouse
 The tide did indeed turn at some point off the nuclear power station at Sizewell.  Sails were dropped, and I motored for port.  Even though Southwold was visible in the distance, it took several hours of motoring to reach port.  Tide was still in the early flood at this stage, and tidal currents in the River Blyth had still to reach their peak, which made mooring much easier.
Secure on the new visitor's jetty at Southwold - a fine facility.

Day 1: River Orwell to Southwold, 36.5nm

Day 2: Monday 21st August, Southwold to Blakeney

This was going to be an exceptionally long day at sea.  I departed from Southwold at 0500, knowing that the tide wouldn't turn in my favour for at least another four hours.  There is a considerable difference.  A favourable tide means speeds of 6+ knots with a modest power input; tides against mean speeds of just over 3 knots with considerable power input.  The calculation today was that I would have a full 6 hours of favourable tides and this needed to be exploited to the full to reach Blakeney harbour.

Leaving Southwold.  It was actually considerably darker than this; the sun was about to rise and Southwold, from the north east, was covered in a blanket of mist.

Sunrise at sea is always a treat.

I took a series of snaps of erosion, knowing that the media has made much of the loss of land and buildings along this stretch of coast.  The evidence was clear to see.

At a point between Winterton and Sea Palling, I was directed a couple of miles away from shore whilst several large tugs and ships conducted a salvage operation for several 500m lengths of floating piping.

Floating piping out at sea.
The tide turned in my favour soon after passing Great Yarmouth.  I had made great use of engine up to that point.  Thereon, I enjoyed a lengthy stretch of pleasant F3/4 winds under sail until Cromer when the wind dropped.

I needed to be at Blakeney Bar by 1930 HW which was managed.  However, a few hours prior to HW, the tide along the coast sets in an easterly direction.  So the final three hours were made with the help of the outboard.  It was questionable as to whether I could have continued to Wells.  I probably might have managed it, but light was already beginning to fade, and I fancied a look in Blakeney harbour, picking up one of several vacant moorings for the night after 14.5 hours of non-stop motion!

Southwold to Blakeney: 62.1nm
Day 3: Tuesday 22nd August, Blakeney to Wells-next-the-Sea

The considerable exertions of the previous day had taken their toll.  The best thing for today was to hop round to Wells and spend the day there, restocking and planning before the next anticipated long haul across The Wash to The Humber.
I left Blakeney probably later than intended and slightly underestimated the relatively short trip to Wells, nevertheless making it by about 90 minutes after HW.  I was against the tide all the way and was heartily relieved to tie up, as instructed by the Deputy Harbour Master, next to a fishing boat on the pontoon at Wells.
Seals off Blakeney Point
 Once at Wells, I was able to recharge the battery (literally), and replenish supplies, particularly by setting off on a long trip by foot to the nearest petrol station, which it turns out is 5 miles away.  Fortunately, kind members of the public took pity on me both ways and I probably walked only about half of the 10 mile round trip - and had plenty of blackberry stops along the way, as well as a lovely pub lunch in the village of Binham.  Still, I had all day in which to achieve this, and it was a splendid day with virtually no wind.  However, why Wells itself doesn't merit a petrol station, we shall never understand.
In the evening, several fishing boats returned including one lowlife skipper whose wash pushed a whole load of sandy scum all over Daisy II's bows and on the cabin top.  This picture was taken after spending much time attempting to clear things up...

Blakeney Harbour to Wells-next-the-Sea, 9.2nm

Day 4: Wednesday 23rd August, Wells-next-the-Sea to Tetney Haven (River Humber)
This was always going to be the most arduous passage of the trip.  In retrospect, I chose a silly route in steering away from shore.  I should have followed initial instincts which had been to work a passage over to somewhere close to Skegness, avoiding the several wind farms of course, and then up the coast.  It's a lonely place, out at sea with no land in sight and The Wash presents tricky conditions.  Today, a relatively light, but nonetheless noticeable south-easterly made for some very rocky seas, and visibility was poor.  Once away from Wells, I didn't spot land again until entering the firing range off Donna Nook, close to the intended destination.
To cap off a difficult day, the GPS kept cutting out, something I subsequently gathered may well have been a loose connection at the positive terminal on the ship's battery - but I didn't spot that until a few days later...
Anyhow, today was not a day for photographs until close to Tetney Haven itself - an anchorage which most certainly didn't disappoint.  In fact, I was mightily impressed by The Humber in general, and look forward to returning one day for a longer cruise in this area.

Inner Dowsing navigation marker

Haile Sand Fort, River Humber - a welcome sight since, the area to the rear right of the picture is Tetney Haven, my intended anchorage for the night.
 Tetney Haven itself didn't disappoint and provided a welcome sanctuary.  Arriving, as I had planned, near to HW, I found, easily enough, the strange channel into the haven, as described by Henry Irving in his excellent Imray publication: Tidal Havens of The Wash and Humber.  Eventually, I cast anchor in the middle of the dozen or so moorings from the yacht club here, having accepted advice from a local yachtsman.  The thing that was most noticeable was the roar of the tide as it subsequently left the Humber.  In our sanctuary, we were protected by a high bank of sand known locally as The Whaleback.  Drying out, it was another pleasant, still night of sleep.
After four days out at sea, the ship's fridge ceases to be effective, so I have to forage in the lower locker areas for sources of potential food...  Still, OSH doesn't hurt...

Wells-next-the-Sea to Tetney Haven, River Humber: 52.8nm
Day 5: Thursday 24th August, Tetney Haven to Bridlington
Yesterday's was the most difficult passage.  Today, once having negotiated my way across the mouth of The Humber and clear of Spurn Point, the excellent weather forecast offered reason for much optimism for the final two legs of the journey.  I set off at HW 0830, intending to reach Bridlington by about 1800 which would be about an hour before its HW.
It is difficult working across the several shipping lanes at the mouth of the Humber. As ever, ships which seem miles away suddenly approach in full view just as one sets across their path.  I cut things a little fine negotiating my way across the final shipping channel today, but made it just.  Then, it is necessary to steer a wide berth around Spurn Point due to challenging eddies.  The trip up the coast, however, was truly splendid. Westerly winds were pushing me further and further out to sea whilst under sail.  So, once clear of the two wind farms in this region, I furled sails and motored back to shore before setting sail once again for Bridlington harbour.

Approaching Bridlington under sail - full main with reefed jib.

Safely moored at Bridlington - an excellent harbour with good facilities.

This turned out to be quite atmospheric, as a shot taken early the following morning.  The reason for taking it, though was the image of the rusting fishing vessel to the right which was named Budding Rose.  Yes, we're in Yorkshire, and that is Yorkshire humour...!
Tetney Haven (on The Humber) to Bridlington: 46.7nm

Day 6: Friday 25th August, Bridlington to Whitby
And so it came down to the final day.  Winds were, again, light and westerly/south westerly.
I set off at around 0800, an hour or so before HW.  The tide was already helping me on my way, and I had an inspiring couple of hours looking, close in, at 'nature's cathedral' - the several miles of cliffs, stacks, buttresses and caves which constitute Flamborough Head.

The inspiring Flamborough Head - nature's cathedral!
Thereafter, I swept in as close as I dared to Filey Brigg, and then even closer in to Scarborough.  Winds had been very helpful up to this point, but dwindled somewhat as I approached Robin Hood Bay, by which time the tide had also turned against me, so I motored the final 6 miles or so to the destination of Whitby, as photographed at the head of this post.
Once inside Whitby harbour, I had to wait half an hour before Whitby bridge became operative two hours before HW, and then found my way to Whitby Marina for the night.
Whitby Marina

Bridlington to Whitby: 39.8nm
This wasn't, of course, quite the end of the excitement.  I needed to use public transport back to home in Cambridgeshire, and then was driven back to Ipswich to pick up car and trailer.  The next day (Sunday), I drove the trailer up to Whitby early in the morning and took Daisy II out of the water close to HW at the excellent slipway adjacent to the marina, prior to driving back home.

I've made it to Whitby.  What next?  Well, another summer, another challenge: Whitby onwards! The Tyne and Lindsfarne sound appealing.  Moreover, having holidayed there previously, I have an ambition to make it over The Forth to Anstruther in East Fife!