Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Shaken down

Our dear friends at Rig Magic finally fitted the mainsheet track last Wednesday, which meant we could actually go sailing. I see that I originally posted that they were going to bend the track on 23 March. We like Nigel but may not use his services again if we're in a hurry!

By good luck there was an HPYC cruise to Burnham-on-Crouch at the weekend, which we joined. They weren't sure if we'd be able to join them for the restaurant meal, but as it happens the inshore waters forecast issued on Saturday for Sunday was somewhat horrendous (WSW6-7 increasing 8) and a number of people who started heading down the Wallet with us chickened out and went home.

The sail on Saturday was excellent - it looked as though we would be motoring into a headwind but in fact the wind went slightly to the west, and with a good tide we made it to Burnham Yacht Harbour at an average speed of 6.2 knots, sailing more than 70% of the way. The only downside was that Ben wasn't there to enjoy it as he felt he should be revising.

Burnham on Saturday afternoon

We've never sailed into the Crouch before and it is notoriously full of very sticky mud, but in fact all was well, helped by the new optional position for the chart plotter under the spray hood (we can transfer it back to the chart table for security or for planning). Burnham was looking sunlit and very pretty and we had a nice meal at Sgt Pepper's diner.

Sunday was a bit different. A deep low off Ireland was bringing very strong winds to the north and west of the UK (as it transpired, over 100mph in Scotland). We didn't know how much we were going to get but it was definitely going to be windy. However Monday looked worse and there was no guarantee that Tuesday was going to be much better. Furthermore Sunday's wind was WSW, almost astern of us or on the port quarter most of the way, and we would be in the lee of the Essex coast so wave height should be modest. We had a helpful SWIS forecast from Simon Keeling which showed winds easing a bit in the evening. And finally other boats from HPYC were doing the same route at similar times, which is always reassuring.

Of course I was a nervous wreck in the morning and during our visit to the RNLI - especially worrying about leaving the marina. Someone up there was on our side, though, because at around 1445 there was a real lull with the wind easing from 20-25 knots down to about 7-8 knots for a short while. We chucked off all the ropes and headed safely out into the Crouch before it picked up again - pushing the tide initially, but worth it to get out of the marina safely.

The most we saw was 32 knots of wind, with a fairly steady force 6 initially, easing to a 5 as we came out of the Crouch and finally a 4 in the last bits of the Wallet and the Orwell. The worst bit was crossing the Spitway at right-angles to the tide and almost into the wind, but it was only 20 minutes or so of hell. The rest of the time we sailed with a tiny bit of jib at 5 or 6 knots through the water. And the last couple of hours were really pleasant - quiet enough for us to be able to eat supper, albeit rather carefully.

Here's the list of stuff we forgot/still have to sort out:
  • Kayak
  • Kayak paddles
  • Cobb barbecue & charcoal
  • Petrol can for outboard 
  • Fresh food
  • Clothes for the summer
  • Batteries for torches 
  • Charts and pilots
    (Nordics is in the chart table)
  • CQR anchor?
  • New dinghy cover (not really new, cost us £15 from Seamark Nunn, but better than the old one)
  • coffee
  • hand towels
  • iPhone cables!
  • 4-way adaptor
  • Sink plug chain
  • Log book insert

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