Sunday, 19 June 2005

Turn up the heat!

What a weekend! Its not often you get a weekend in the UK where its still 85 deg at 20h00...! So, we got down to the boat Friday night, and after a bit of messing about, including taking the kids for a row in the new tender, we put them to bed, and enjoyed a pleasant summer evening sat out in the cockpit.... I replaced the diode, and measured 13.3V at the batteries with the engine running..... humhhhh.... mind you, they are absolutely charged to the top after a week on shore power... Saturday morning sees us up and about at 07h00... no mean feat after being disturbed at 04h00 by the stupid idiots runnign around on the quay, blind drunk, playing football with an empty beer can.... After the neccessary showers etc (it was quite hot overnight, and very humid!).. we slipped at about 08h00 in rapidly rising temperatures, locked out, all painlessly (read - no mistakes!) and proceeded up the Orwell under engine due to an absence of wind...... by 09h30 we were motoring past Shotley, with a bit of wind filling in, so we hoisted the sails, and shut down the engine... ah.. peace.... now, the wind had filled in, but it was hardly blowing a gale, so we ended up sailing directly to Pye End beacon, marking the entrance to Walton Backwaters.... this took us over an hour, so we dropped the sails as we rounded Pye End, and motored up the channel to the Twizzle entrance, and started looking for an anchorage....there were quite a few boats in there, but still plenty of space.... it was just after high water, so needed careful checking of depths throughout teh entire swinging area.... as we motored past Stone Point and its lovely beach, we spot Sailorman from the forum... or at least his boat anyway.... I motor past, and yell "Hello Roger"... blank looks allround.... ow 'eck... I haven't gone and got the wrng boat have I? So we find a deep spot behind Sailorman, and turn round to make an approach... and some cheeky bugger nips in, and drops his hook right in fron of eyes...... So we have to go a bit further and eventually find a lovely spot.... down goes the anchor, 20m of chain, and 3m warp in 7m water... ideally i'd like a bit more scope, but this end of the Twizzle is only 100m wide at low water, so swinging space is limited...and with the weather forecast, I expect a lot of boats to arrive..... As the boat is settling on its anchor a tender buzzes over..... "Hello, its Sailorman.... It was my Son yu waved at.... he wonder who the hell you were!"...mystery solved... After an hour or so around midday, we are happy that we are holding, and have got ourselves sorted, and decamped into the tender.... we row ashore to find an absolutely lovely beach, that is onkly accessible via a boat, so very spacious, and a real sense of camaraderie.... Sailorman turns up with his Grandkids in tow, and we set about making camp, drinking cold beer, and generally relaxing.... As only kids can do, within 10 mins, they have formed a possy with a dozen other kids, and are merrily splashing about, rowing a tender backwards and forwards, and generally having a really good time! 6 hours later, after a good barbeque, with as ever, more food than you could possibly eat, we've had enough of the beach... its been well into the 90s all day, and everyone is a little red, but very very happy. Sailormans son has brought along his dog, Charlie, a delightful Jack Russell, with a lovely nature... I can honestly say, I have never seen a dog look so tired!... he was walking back along the beach with his head hung low, and his eyes half shut.... complete exhaustion! We get back to the boat, along with the obligatory buckets of shells, and several killos of unwanted sand hiding in shoes, towels, clothes, etc etc, and settled back in.... A very pleasant evening meal, and we eventually put the kids to bed..... it was just as the sun dipped, and we are treated to a spectacular sunset... a glowing red orb, disappearing behind the beautiful suffolk countryside with a long reflection tailing across the river, and absolute peace...... We, yet again, settle down to quiet evening.... sat and read for a while... heaven.... And then the magic.... as the light faded away to dusk, the various anchor lights are set, and the river starts to twinkle... no sound other than the gentle frapping of a few halyards, a perfect moonlight evening.... makes you want to beome a poet.... About 23h00, the tide reaches high water, and we start to swing.... I notice that we seem closer to the neighbouring boat than previously... might just be down to swinging patterns, but, no after some checking, we have dragged about 40m on the change of tide.... its holding again, but we are a bit close to our neighbour, and the water depth has shallowed considerably.... we decide to reset, back in our earlier spot, and disturb the peace by firing up our engine... SWMBO is under strict orders... I'll wind in the anchor, and as I feel it lift off the bottom, I'll signal, and she will give it enough throttle to just stem the tide and work our way back up to the earlier spot..... I wind, feel it lift, and give the signal.... revs increase, and the boat simply starts drifting backwards towards the shore.... cripes!... I run back to the cockpit.... ah. I did tell her to give it some revs, but we have a two lever engine control, and I had failed to mention that she needed to put it in gear first!.... problem solved, we motor to our spot, and drop the hook.... it bites, and we settle back... perfect 7.0m of water.... hang on, we must have dropped a few meters short of before.... 6.0m.. thats OK.... 5.0m..... 4.0m.... 3.0m.... we need 4.9m at high water to avoid going aground.... I rush back to raise the anchor again.... SWMBO is now in full panic mode.... the depth gauge is now reading 0.3m...... clearly we have gone too far over to the east, and are sitting over the shelf..... hard to spot when the tide is right in, and covering it.... so we yet again motor forward, and drop again..... this time she settles in 7.5m of water, and stays there.... great, we have found the deep water..... Something just seemed wrong to me, and I couldn't workout what.... eventually I twig, and look over the stern to see absolutely no water coming out of the exhaust..... shit! I stop teh engine.. good job I spotted it, as we don't have a temperature alarm on the engine.... as its so old, it was built before alarms were invented! (only joking)... After SWMBO has calmed down, I check the inlet strainer to find it absolutely bunged solid with various bits of seaweed and sealife... I clear it... hopefully thats solved the problem... I am a bit worried about the impellor having run dry, but its too late to disturb everyone again, so I elect to leave it until the morning, working on the theory that I can run the engine if we drag again for a couple of mins without doing too much harm.... At 07h30, the kids raise us.... I haven't had a good nights sleep, worrying about the anchor dragging again and its seems very early....however, upon removing the washboards and blinking in the already strong sunlight, I find many other crews already up.... clearly this anchorage, and its proximity to the beach means that lots of kids are aboard! I run teh engine to find to my delight, a healthy flow of water out of the exhaust... she might be old this engine, but she's a tough old bird! We wave to Sailorman, and his family, as they weigh anchor, and leave on the now high water...... our kids want another foray ashore, so we nip ashore for a final hour on the beach.... already its really hot, and people are working their way ashore from the various boats... The channel out of Walton can be quite shallow, so we want to leave reasonably soon, to avoid too much risk, and therfore get back to the boat (with more unwanted sand!), and get her ready. Eventually we weigh anchor at about 10h30, and motor off out... as we round the channel marker, where the channel turns North we find a lovely 6 knot breeze, so up goes the sails, and off goes the engine.... silence is returned.... the tide is with us, and we are flying along.... 5.5 knots over the ground, tight on the wind... to my delight we sail over and past several similar sized boats.... this is good stuff..... We sail up past Harwich, and eventually decide to gybe around, and head for home...a reasonably early finish is in order, as the kids have their school sports day on Monday, and they are both tired! We free off the sails, against the tide, and with the loss of apparent wind, we are making precisely 0.0kts over the ground, so I furl the genny, crank in the main, and on omes the engine.... as we motor back across the channel, we see a particularly large container vessel coming out of Harwich, so it worked out OK anyway, as we would have had to fire up the donkey even if we had persevered under sail..... We gradually work our way into Harwich, along the preferred yacht track, and slowly creep past the docks, and into the quieter, prettier river... its slow going... we still have half the ebb to fight against, but we are making progress.... the wind has picked up a bit, so I free of the main slightly, and she powers up, and goes again..... In the distance, I can now see sailorman again, and we aren't catching him up.... he looks like he isn't running his engine, but has 2 sails up.... I don't want to do that, as its almost a run, and I would like to rig a preventer on that tack... but with SWMBO pretty much a beginner, its a lot for her to do when we need to gybe... and its a busy bit of water on a Sunday afternoon, so we could piotentially need to gybe at fairly short notice..., and we do suffer the ocassional idiot, who has a powerful motor boat, and likes to thrash up the channel at full pelt, despite the 6kt speed limit, and both create huge wash, causing accidental gybes, and also create a bad name for the vast majority that are considerate and sensible..... As we come through past Woolverstone, sailorman gybes back.... looks like he's either doing an MOB drill, or perhaps just furling his genny..... yep he's furling his genny, but we have caught him up, and exchange waves again.... he motors behind us... SWMBO puts the kettle on... or rather doesn't... the gas has run out, and we don't have a spare bottle.... tahnk god it happened now, and not yesterday! As we near the Orwell bridge, we have to firstly get out of the channel to let a cargo vessel through, and then head up to drop the main.... Sailorman does the same, and we both pass under the bridge, and he peels off to his marina, while we carry of teh extra 1/4mile to ours. We lock through, and head for the fuel berth at haven..... we wait nearly 3/4 hour for them to get their cat together, but eventually we are full again, after spending £13 from pretty mch empty to completely full! Our berth, as usual causes us challenges... fortunately, the neighbouring berth is empty so we go on the one, and haul ourselves across..... Tired, well sun kissed (red!), and happy than I can possibly express in writing, we head for home........

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