Monday, 31 August 2009

August 30th - another trip to Ipswich

Trip with Sally and Tom - last trip before end of summer hols...
We travelled South East down the Orwell to have lunch anchored opposite Levington Creek. Then we sailed in the opposite direction to Ipswich, and back the the mooring.
Season's total up to 279.4nm.

Saturday, 29 August 2009

Trip up the Stour, August 25-26

This trip was much overdue - I've not visited the Stour nearly as much as I ought - a lovely estuary. Perhaps the thing that has put me off as much as anything is the state of the water, when rounding Shotley point into the Stour, which is often fairly heavy, especially in a westerly. This time, I worked my way up to Wrabness (red track), and sheltered for the night in the lea of the cliff on the South side of the river - all well and good until the tide turned, and the incoming tide against a fresh Westerly breeze created a fairly uncomfortable night! That's the Stour. I always have difficulty finding a comfortable anchorage, since, at some stage, wind and tide come into conflict, and there seem to be few obvious places of refuge. The best solution, last year, was to dry out in Holbrook Bay!

Sunrise on the Stour - looking East towards Harwich & Felixstowe.
On Wednesday 26th, after an early breakfast, I motored past Wrabness up to Mistley, and then used the remaining ebb, and a freshening Southerly breeze to sail East along the Stour and then the new flood tide back to Pin Mill (yellow track above). The wind was very gusty. At one point, even with reefed jib and mizzen, I achieved almost 5 knts... Earlier, with all three up, reefed main, almost 7knts was achieved, although the wind was unpredictable, and the boat became difficult to control in the gusts - hence the reduction in rig for a more leisurely cruise.

Mistley from the Stour

Approaching Mistley

Moored boats at Wrabness

including the Drascombe longboat, Camilla Rose, which, along with her owner John, came on this year's Walton Rally
The trip's track was 23.8nm. We're up to 268.8nm for the entire season...

Thursday, 13 August 2009

Summer Cruise, 7-11 August, Rivers Deben, Ore, Alde and Stour

This is the most ambitious cruise I have attempted thus far. The plan was to explore the Deben, Ore and Alde. In the event, the weather was sufficiently clement for a bonus trip on the Stour. The following picture shows the GPS track of the complete trip which amounted to 88.5 nm over four days of cruising.

GPS track of whole trip - red (8th August), blue (9th), yellow (10th) and green (11th).

I arrived at the mooring late in the afternoon on Friday 7th August, and after loading the boat, spent the remainder of the evening reading and relaxing.
On Saturday 8th, I set off for the Deben. Because of the need to work the tides, I motor sailed most of the way. The Deben entrance and Orford Haven are notorious for their shifting shoals and it is necessary to check the latest online information prior to attempting any such navigation. I was able to enter the Deben a couple of hours prior to high tide.
Entrance to the River Deben
Felixstowe Ferry, on the port bank, is the first place of note - I launched here in April 2007 on one of my first trips on Daisy II, the only previous occasion I had sailed on the Deben. Today it looked rather busy...
Felixstowe Ferry

Beyond Felixstowe Ferry, the outboard motor was put to bed, and I had a pleasant sail reaching Ramsholt by lunch time. Initially, I anchored opposite the Ramsholt Arms, the reason for which escapes me at present...

Anchorage opposite the Ramsholt Arms
The afternoon & early evening were spent reading and doing various other jobs on board. Later in the evening, I moved the boat to a more suitable overnight location further upstream off Prettyman's Point close to The Rocks where most visiting boats seem to anchor - on Sunday morning, I counted at least 17 in this stretch.
On Sunday, an early start offered no wind, but some tranquil views of Waldringfield.
I arrived at Woodbridge in time for elevenses, occupying a vacant mooring and going for a stroll into town. Following a relaxing morning, I then decided to do battle against both wind and tide (crazy, but that us why I have an outboard motor), working my way downstream, out to sea, and North East towards Orford Haven.Departure from Woodbridge - soon after this was taken, I passed through 'Loder's Cut' coincidentally meeting Amity II which is owned by some friends of my sister-in-law, who keep their boat at Woolverstone on the Orwell. It's a small world...
It took about 45 minutes from the mouth of the Deben to reach the Ore entrance which was more difficult to negotiate than the Deben. Arriving, as I did, at high tide on the turn, it was much more difficult to spot the shoals, and I was grateful for a couple of departing yachts showing me the way, which was disconcertingly close to the shore. That having been said, there is something rather magical about Orford Haven.
Approach to Orford Haven (the entrance is in the distance left of the jib sheet)

One of the easier shoals to detect...

...past the bar, looking up the Ore (if you'll pardon the expression)...
Thanks to this pair for showing the way.

And, while we're at it, the following view was taken a couple of days later on departing the Ore at low tide, looking from the inside out, as it were:

I love the bleak aspect of this picture which, more than anything else, captures the remoteness of Orford Haven.
Motoring against an ebbing Ore is a slow, noisy business, but I worked my way past several waterskiers upstream to Dove Point on the South West end of Havergate Island, and then turned North West through the Lower Gull, and then North East, past the entrance to the Butley River, into the intriguingly named Abraham's Bosum, which, I correctly reckoned on being a suitable anchorage.
Orford Castle was already in view, as were various buildings on Orford Ness (called The Pagodas) which belong to Ministry of Defence and are strictly no-go areas. A pity - I gather the MOD have moved out now, and this looks just like the sort of place for an interesting ramble. I think it is all owned by the National Trust these days, and one can visit this area from Orford - something to do in future. Anyhow, Monday morning afforded gentle winds and I was in no hurry. I took the opportunity, under jib and mizzen on the flood, to work my way upstream and catch a few snaps of these places.
Orford Castle and church, from Abraham's Bosom...!
Approaching Orford

Radio masts transmitting BBC's World Service
The Pagodas...

I decided not to stop at Orford, tempted even as I was by the knowledge that there are some fish-smoking outlets there (and having previously visited the castle). The morning sail took me on towards Aldeburgh where there was an extraordinarily busy scene with, literally, hundreds of sailing dinghies crowding onto the water (presumably for some sort of regatta).
The scene is somewhat lost in this early photo, but there was no opportunity to use a camera close up, since I was too busy avoiding collisions - queues of boats piling onto an already crowded estuary. I was reminded of a war scene from the films of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, with seemingly endless numbers of orcs swarming from their lairs...
I didn't stop there, continuing on the River Alde, as the Ore becomes somewhere between Orford and Aldeburgh, to Snape, which was the furthest intended point of the trip. The channel, as one approaches Snape, past and beyond the village of Iken, is marked out by a series of withies. Some have improvised red pots on top, presumably identifying themselves as port markers. Even fewer have green ones (starboard markers), and the majority having nothing at all, and steering a path through them all is rather like playing a giant dot-to-dot puzzle. Having gone aground a couple of times, the second time offering an opportunity for a timely coffee stop, I decided to wait for a boat to come down the other way to show the way. A Cornish Shrimper duly obliged, and I was able to weave my way up towards Snape and the world famous Maltings.
A mud bath?
Mudbanks sandwiching the progress of the meandering river downstream, with helpful (?) withies attempting to mark out the appropriate channel towards Snape Maltings in the distance ...
almost there, now...
final furlong - or should that be the 'culminating cable'?
There is something magical about Snape. You can almost hear the four 'sea interludes' from Britten's Peter Grimes whispering through the reeds. These days, the place has become rather too commercial for my taste, with dreadfully twee and not inexpensive shopping outlets and cafeterias. Can't help feeling that Britten would be proud of his musical legacy here, but I hope he would have taken a dim view of the confounded side shows...
A convenient berth

The famous Henry Moore sculpture looking out over the Reeds towards Iken Church...another scene which, like the picture at the mouth of the Ore (above), for me captures the essence of this beautiful place, the solitude and haunting tranquility of Orford Haven and the Alde.
Snape Maltings Concert Hall - must go to a concert there one day...

Following lunch at Snape, I worked my way back towards Aldeburgh, and anchored off Old Brick Dock, in order to walk into Aldeburgh, buy a pint of milk, and, in the event, to walk along the sea shore at Aldeburgh, and back along the tidal defences protecting Aldeburgh from the Alde... It is fascinating to see how close the Alde flows to the actual sea - a tiny spit of land, barely 100 yards wide is all that separates the two at this point. Fascinating Geography.
anchored off the Old Brick Dock for a pleasant circular walk around Aldeburgh.
Later that evening, I moved my anchorage to the opposite bank for more shelter and a night stop.
On Tuesday, I left the anchorage at 6.45am using the last of the ebb for the most glorious sail down the Alde, Ore, through Orford Haven and along the coast to Harwich, using the SW tidal currents of the flood tide. I used all three sails, unreefed - gentle winds mostly, with maximum gust F3/4.
Leaving the River Ore

The view South West along the East Coast, past the Deben entrance, towards Old Felixstowe

Back amongst the big ships...

I arrived within Harwich Harbour by 11am, calling in at Halfpenny Pier, off Old Harwich, for an indifferent lunch at one of the few remaining pubs (I walked past three which have recently called time once and for all) in a town sadly losing its identity. Once upon a time, this must have been an old tar's paradise. Today, it seems in need of some care and attention.

Because I could, I performed a 'coda', a pleasant beat up the Stour almost as far as Holbrook Bay, until the wind died...whereupon another coffee break led to an invigorated breeze, and a run returning to Harwich.

Royal Hospital School at Holbrook (nice work if you would want it...)
A departing ferry; the ship's horn makes an tremendously resonant sound (I often hear them at Pin Mill), and the ship can seemingly 'turn on a sixpence'...(well, almost). However, I kept my distance...

Lastly, I motored round Shotley Point, past the Felixstowe Container ship terminal (astonishing to thing that one of those can take about 3000 lorries worth)...

... and against the full ebb, home to Pin Mill.
The total journey of 88.5nm brings the season's total up to 245.0nm, still a good way short of A.C. Stock's 1996 total of 1609 miles (A.C. Stock: Sailing just for fun, Seafarer Books), but then there's nothing like a target for future years...

Self-portrait of some old sea dog...

Saturday, 1 August 2009

July 31st, Orwell

Running with the tide towards the Orwell Bridge

Mark gaining practice at the helm...

Our GPS track

Sailing with brother-in-law Mark. Unusual for me to be sailing with extra ballast on board...! The forecast was for light F2 winds but, in the event, things were much windier. It was one of those gustier days where the wind just couldn't make up its mind, and varied from S to SW, F2 to f5 gusts.

We started off with full sail, but I soon hove-to and put in a reef. We then tacked our way down to Levington using the last of the ebb, and anchored for lunch on the south side of the Orwell, opposite Levington Marina. The wind showed no signs of abating, so we then picked up the flood tide on a long run all the way into Ipswich docks, and then motored our way back against the full flood to the mooring. Interesting speed attained at full throttle, for a brief period, against the tide of almost 6knts. Most of the time, we settled at lower revs at a speed of about 4.3knts. These are real speeds relative to land, measured by GPS. The paddle wheel on the echo-sounder is currently gunged up with fouling, so doesn't work which is why the photos show the depth, but seem to indicated zero speed... I hope to do something about this next Friday.
Total distance for the day measured at 13.0nm
Total for season 156.5nm
Next sail will, weather permitting, be a 5 day trip starting on Friday 7th August.