Monday, 26 September 2016

Hickling Broad, Drascombe Association Rally 23-25 September

Drascombes gather at Potter Heigham for elevenses
In the several years since I've been involved with the Drascombe Association, this remarkable corner of Eastern England has hosted rallies on seven occasions.  Hickling was the venue for the inaugural event seven years ago, and this is now our third time here.
24.4nm Overture: red (Sunday 18th September); Symphony: green (Saturday 24th September); Encore: yellow (Sunday 25th September)
Overture - Sunday 18th September
Daisy II moored at Hickling awaiting the following week's rally
It made sense to head over the Hickling a weekend early, rig and launch Daisy II, ready for the following weekend.  If it were not for work commitments, I'd gladly have spent a week cruising around the many waterways, but that pleasure will have to wait for another year.  For this year, it was good to be able to spend a couple of hours, this afternoon, reaching across the broad, exploring its nether regions.

By arrangement, Daisy II spent the week moored on the staithe adjacent to the very conveniently located Pleasureboat Inn.
Drascombe Association Rally: 23-25 September
The previous time we rallied here with 25 boats.  This time, 8 boats gathered for a rather less busy but no less enjoyable event.  The participating boats were:
Drascombe Driver: On y va
Drascombe Lugger: Rita May
Drascombe Longboat: Jenny Morgan
Drascombe Coasters: Daisy II, Blue Peter, Dottie Two
Drascombe Drifter: Damson
Winkle Brig: Cockle
The weather for this event was, as might be predicted for one of my rallies, rather testing and this made action shots almost impossible.  In addition, the lens on my camera phone was dirty so most of the fare on this blog entry is pretty poor, even by my standards.  However, Peter Waller, as ever managed some great shots which ended up on this thread on the Drascombe forum.

Symphony: Saturday 24th September
The main day always involves a return trip to Horsey Mere.  Winds were southerly F5 gusting F6, so this was a day for reefing.  Nonetheless, it was quite remarkable how well our boats stood up to the conditions.
Blue Peter guarding against F6 gusts with jib and mizzen on Hickling Broad
On y va, a Drascombe Driver - happy family preparing for sailing on Hickling Broad
Lugger Rita May and Winkle Brig Cockle easing along Meadow Dyke before it opens into Horsey Mere

Drifter Damson reaching across Horsey Mere
Cockle on Horsey Mere
Coaster Dottie Two running back to base across Hickling Broad
Daisy II, sporting a double reefed main and reduced jib, spent time reaching across Hickling Broad, waiting for the fleet to assemble.  We then sailed through to Heigham Sound where we used motors for a while, until turning into Meadow Dyke.  It was good to throw up a jib and drift along the dyke to Horsey Mere.  We then enjoyed reaching across Horsey Mere in increasingly gusty conditions prior to stopping at the staithe at Horsey Mill for lunch.
After lunch, we returned to Hickling.  Daisy II had picked up crew in the form of the in-laws!
That evening, a welcome supper was enjoyed in the pub.


Encore - Sunday 25th September
Plans for the Sunday always depend on who needs to travel where.  Dottie Two left at 7am, returning to moorings in the Stalham area. 
Drifter Damson with lowered mast ready for the bridge at Potter Heigham
Jenny Morgan and Damson departed soon after 9.30am, bound for the southern Broads. 
There are some delightful riverside properties -  I attempted a clever reflection picture but without a great deal of success.  That's Daisy II in the living room!

 The remainder of the fleet headed out into Hickling Broad, bound for Potter Heigham for elevenses, prior to returning to Whispering Reeds boatyard, intent on doing battle with its famous crooked slipway!


Sunday, 4 September 2016

End of summer holiday cruise: Bradwell on Sea to Snape Maltings

Sailing on the River Ore.  Still from GoPro video
Another summer holiday draws to a close with a valedictory cruise with several aims which could be distilled into a single maxim, namely to sail as far as possible for as long as possible!  Every cruise is different.  I've frequently sailed along The Wallet, between Harwich Haven and the Blackwater estuary, but never beginning in the south and heading north.  I wanted to tackle the tricky entrance to the Ore at Orford Haven, reach Snape, anchor around Havergate island, cover at least 100nm, try and push the annual mileage through the 600 barrier.  The trip was an unqualified success unless one calls falling short on the last aim by 0.3nm!!

114.6nm  Red - Day 1; yellow and lilac - Day 2; white and black - Day 3; green - Day 4
Tuesday 30th August - Bradwell Marina to River Ore
Leaving Bradwell
Launching about an hour after HW, the ebb tide helped ease the trip up The Wallet.  Winds were generally light, south easterly F3/4.  I had to put in a tack off Jaywick but, otherwise, this was a starboard reach in glorious sunshine almost all the way. 
Tall ships, off Walton on the Naze, heading the opposite way
The fun, as might be expected, happened off Orford Haven.  The tide had already turned by then and had been flooding (heading down the coast) for an hour.  In itself, this creates choppier conditions.  However, it seemed that the ebb from the Ore seems to continue for a while beyond this, and there were exceptionally choppy overfalls at the Orford Haven Buoy.  I reduced from full sail to main only off Bawdsey and then, given the conditions, resorted to engine alone for the final trip into the Ore - a little disappointing, but it's best not to take risks.  Once in the Ore, as is always the case, things were delightfully calm, once again - belying the chop which preceded this.
Inside the Ore, looking back towards the entrance, known as 'Shingle Street'
Today's anchorage was a place mentioned in the charts as 'Abraham's Bosum' - nestled in the lee around the back (west shore) of Havergate Island.  I have used this location several times before but not for a few years and it was good to return.

Day 1: 34.6nm; Bradwell Marina to Havergate Island, River Ore
Wednesday 31st August: Rivers Ore & Alde, return trip to Snape Maltings
Winds were from the SW today, as is often the case, light in the morning and rather more testing as the day progressed.  The objective was to use the lunchtime tide to reach Snape Maltings and return with the ebb.  The associated video footage with this cruise shows the delightful beginning of the day as I sailed around the north end of Havergate Island to rejoin the Ore as it turns towards Orford.  The river from thereon to Aldeburgh is characterised by steep mud banks and the view only really returns once the Ore becomes the Alde (never quite sure where the one stops and the other starts - the charts mark it as the Alde south of Aldeburgh whereas I tend to think of the Alde as beginning once the river turns sharply to the the SW at Aldeburgh).  The winding, increasingly shallow stretch of the Alde as it progresses beyond Aldeburgh, towards Iken and Snape is a continuing delight... although, as stated, the mud bottom is never far away...
I sailed as far as Iken Church, and then motored up to Snape where I stopped for lunch and then turned round.
Snape panorama.
Winds having been light on the way upstream began to strengthen on the return trip and bigger gusts started to push their way across Mansion Reach.  By the time I turned into Island Reach just short of the moorings at Aldeburgh, I had to reduce sail furling both mizzen and jib, and proceeding with full main.  This worked exceptionally well for a long hard beat all the way back to Havergate.  There was no hurry, I had the tide with me and, despite some steeply pitched waves (wind over tide) which had a tendency to stall progress, particularly during when going about, I decided to press on sailing under main.  In total, this pushed the number of tacks for the day to exactly ninety - it takes a nerdish sailor to count them all, in respect of which the track recorded by the GPS rather comes in handy!
As ever, in such conditions, photography is relegated to 'unnecessary' status.  It was only when passing Orford that the wind abated, and full sail was once more used to push me back to the point at which the day had started.
Sunset, safe in 'Abraham's Bosum'.

Day 2: 28.5nm; 'Abraham's bosum to Snape Maltings (yellow).... and back (red).  90 tacks in a day...!
Thursday 1st September: River Ore to River Colne
The choice was whether to return south today or tomorrow.  As ever, the forecast was the deciding factor and a prediction of strengthening winds for tomorrow left little doubt that today was going to be the best option for a lengthy sea passage.
In contrast to conditions experienced when entering the Ore a few days previously, Orford Haven was  utterly calm today.
Calm seas off Orford Haven as sunbeams reach through early morning cloud cover.
Leaving soon after dawn, using the last of the ebb from the Ore and immediately picking up the flood, a light Westerly breeze propelled Daisy II south once more.  I was crossing the shipping lane off Harwich at a busy time - around 8am but managed to squeeze across prior to a couple of departing ferries.
A couple of Thames Barges had departed from Harwich and headed south with me.  One motored and passed by, the other sailed and fell further back.
Thames barge motor-sails by, pictured off Walton on the Naze.
The wind dropped considerably off Clacton so that, against what little vespers there were, I decided to drop sails and press on under motor.  Rounding Colne Point, a SW F3/4 breeze helped me sail up the Colne.  Today's objective was to reach and utilise a new public jetty at Wivenhoe.  I stopped here and stepped a shore to explore for the first time, utilising the pub!
The new public jetty at Wivenhoe.  Hats off to the local council for putting this in place - it's good for visiting yachts people to be able to step ashore!
After lunch, a brief foray into Brightlingsea Creek preceded the usual reach across Pyefleet to a well worn anchorage. 41nm in one day!

Day 3: 41.0nm; River Ore to River Colne (white) and sailing in River Colne (black)

Day 3: detail of sailing in River Colne to Wivenhoe; return to Pyefleet Channel
Friday 2nd September: return to Bradwell
Dawn over Brightlingsea
The forecast wasn't incorrect.  Once the sun had risen, winds strengthened and, whilst the beat out of the Colne was pleasant enough, the well known Blackwater chop - SW winds over the flood tide - made conditions too challenging for me.  I was tired, the objective was really to return to base, take the boat out and tow home.  Slightly more appealing weather might have tempted me to spend a morning sailing around the Blackwater area but, given the conditions as they presented themselves, I furled the sails off Bench Head, and motored across to Bradwell to bring an end to this cruise and a fantastic summer holiday of sailing!
Day 4: 10.5nm; Pyefleet to Bradwell