Sunday, 31 July 2011

Summer Cruise - Orwell to Blackwater estuary

Thursday 28th July (red track - 26.4nm)
Left mooring at Pin Mill, sailed out to the Naze tower and, given little wind, motor-sailed along the Wallet which runs along the Essex coast, past Walton on the Naze, Frinton and Clacton, and finally pulling up at Mersea Stone, just inside the mouth of the River Colne at about 9.30pm Anchored for night.

Friday 29th July (green track 16.6nm)
Sailed up the River Colne past Wivenhoe, finally stopping for lunch at the Anchor Inn in Rowhedge - simply because it had accessible mooring at or around high tide. After lunch, sailed the return trip, taking in a brief look in Brightlingsea Creek, and a marvellous reach both ways along the Pyfleet Channel. Returned to Mersea Stone for a second night at anchor.

Saturday 30th July (yellow track 27.9nm)
Awoke, somewhat bemused, to find that the boat had dragged anchor and was now half a mile out to sea. How the anchor didn't snag on the plethora of other boats' anchors...?
So, having started early, continued to sail up the Blackwater to Maldon, eating bits of breakfast 'on the hoof' as it were...
Borrowed mooring at Maldon, in order to find a bog and some chips for lunch. Then left Maldon, and took the ebb back to West Mersea, principally, Ray Island which is up the Ray Channel. Dried out there briefly for an evening meal, then took the early flood back to find a spare mooring nearer to West Mersea.

Sunday 31st July (light blue track - 30.9nm)
Briefly called in at West Mersea for necessary purchases, motored/sailed out of the Blackwater until opposite the entrance to the Colne, then stopped the engine and sailed with jib, mizzen and double-reefed main all the way back to Harwich, stopping a few miles west of Parkestone Quay. The sail up the Wallet was superb - strengthening south-easterly F4 led to mounting seas, some hairy moments, particularly when the jib stay almost unattached opposite Clacton Pier. Daisy II coped amazingly well. As the coast turned closer to the North, some amazing speeds with tidal assistance were clocked, consistently above 6 knots, often over 7 knots.  Stunning day's sail, definitely the highlight of the trip, and in conditions I wouldn't ordinarily have put to sea in.

Monday 1st August (white track - 7.4nm)
Sailed back up the Stour, round into the Orwell, and back to Pin Mill. 
Splendid trip.  (hopefully will add a few photos in due course).

Total track 110nm; season's total: 376.5nm

Sunday, 24 July 2011

July 24th - School's out, at last... time to return to Pin Mill

I'm having a first go at blogging directly from the boat with a new iPad...
...brought Daisy II down to Pin Mill this afternoon. Launched from the slipway opposite the boatyard an hour before high tide. Had a pleasant sail to the Orwell Bridge, and back. Followed this with fish and chips from a dodgy take away in Ipswich. The plan is to sleep aboard tonight, and then return home tomorrow.

Plans for a summer cruise, starting on 28th July beginning to take shape. Just need the weather to play fair...

9.4nm, Season's total 266.5nm.
Red track shows Sunday evening sail (wind F3 south easterly).  Green track shows an early morning sail on Monday in a v. light north westerly breeze, tacking against wind and tide.

Monday, 18 July 2011

Drascombe Association rally, River Blackwater 15-17th July

13.6nm, Season's total 257.1nm
As luck would have it, a dirty great low pressure system parked itself over the British Isles, doing its best to scupper rally plans.  However, a number of hardy boats stood up to mother nature, and went for a Saturday sail across to the Ray Channel which runs west of Mersea Island, anchoring in the lee of the northern tip of Ray Island.  This provided welcome shelter from F5-6 south westerly winds, but the rain still poured throughout lunchtime.  Highlights included a perfectly executed manoeuvre, choreographed by Steve Maynard, leading to the fusion of two separate rafts of boats.  A couple of boats, Drifter Moonstone VIII and Coaster Pamela peeled away soon after high tide, making a dash for Bradwell, but coasters Spray, Virginia and Daisy II stayed a while longer, and were rewarded by the best weather of the weekend, and a fantastic thrash against wind and tide on the return trip to Bradwell, topping out at 7.7knts (although, to be fair, this was when we were being pulled out to sea by the ebb - should have stuck to the shallower waters of the northerly shore - I live and learn!). 

Other than this, much good company, including a barbecue on Saturday evening, kindly hosted by Bradwell Quay Yacht Club, and a Sunday walk along the sea wall to 'St Peter's on the Wall' Chapel.  By then, the F5-7 forecast with squally, thundery showers had pretty much put an end to further well as my camera, which still won't work, despite the airing cupboard treatment...
...but at least we managed some sailing the day before.
Pictures of skipper's briefing, Saturday morning, kindly supplied by David Lewin:

And another snap, the only one so far of some sailing action, kindly donated by Nick Payne:
Drifter: Moonstone VIII
Coaster: Virginia

Yours truly

Gin palace!

Evening social, Bradwell Quay Yacht Club

Barbecue and rain, an inevitable combination...

recovery of  Sapphire

No, you need to put hands on knees like that....

Typical weatherscape...

St Peter's chapel

Saturday, 9 July 2011

July 9th, Blackwater pre-rally sail

22.5nm; 243.5nm in total
 Next week is the Drascombe Association River Blackwater rally.  This week, couldn't be called a 'dry' run, because it was anything but dry, and the tides were doing the opposite of what will happen next week.  Hence, instead of being swept upstream, I was swept out to sea, and took the opportunity to take in the River Colne, as well as parts of Mersea Quarters.  Strong, gusty south westerly F4/5 led to some heavy seas, but great for a run with jib and mizzen.  Maximum speed over 6 knots.
Exhilarating day's sail which had the added excitement of hearing, and then witnessing the aftermath of a mayday call on the VHF - a boat claiming it had collided with another, and was taking on water.  Thames Coastguard sent out the troops, and I passed them as they were returning to Brightlingsea - boat, rescue boat, and interested flotilla.

Saturday, 2 July 2011

July 1-2 Orwell, Stour

15.5nm, 221.0nm total
Another Friday 'getaway'.  Winds very light and fickle.  Certainly a change from recent weeks but too far the other way.  What would be really good would be some steady F3/4 conditions.  We've been missing this.
White track shows the trip on Friday - motored down the Orwell until just beyond Levington.  Then sailed round to the Stour, and spent the night anchored off Ewarton Ness.
Red track shows return trip on Saturday morning where winds were virtually non existent. Sailed briefly down the Stour from the anchorage, and also, for a few tacks upon entering the Orwell.  However, most of the progress was made with the tide and, in the end, I gave up and used the motor!!