After the forecast showed good weekend weather until Thursday evening, when they decided that it would be a little gloomy, we were somewhat dissapointed. We set off down to the boat Friday evening, and upon arriving the gloom was immediately lifted, as we stepped into our 'other world'.... I am sure that many other boat owners will be able to sympathise with that feeling. We were further bolstered by a comment made by a marina neighbour..... "hey... we can't complain after 5 or 6 weekends in a row that have been great".... he was absolutely right... and besides, it wasn't cold, just a little grey.... We were intending to go down to Walton Backwaters over the weekend for the OGA event.... a BBQ was planned, but clearly it wasn't really BBQ weather... however, we decided to go anyway.... The tides suggested that an early start wasn't neccesary, with high water at 14h07, so an early start would have merely meant entering Walton Backwaters at very low water.... this was good, as we needed fuel anyway.. We therefore slept well Friday evening, not arising until 08h00 (thanks kids!).... we awoke to another rather grey day, but at least mild, and dry.... after a very nice fried breakfast we nipped over to the opposite marina (haven), which has a decent chandlers.... it was a perfect opportunity to try out our new outboard... ahh... what a treat not having to row..... besides, we had another excuse for travelling over there.... we live in a pretty landlocked location, at least an hour from any navigable sea area, and yet our next door neighbour is also a keen yachty....(weird huh?)... he has just bought a brand new Jeanneau SO 32, and we wanted to have a peek... Anyway... the chandlers delivered the required bits... a replacement bulb for an internal light, a french courtesy flag, a copy of the Shell Channel pilot, and most importantly, a new anchor light (well sort of.... more on that later)..... After a brief visit to the fuel berth, where we ingested a bank busting £10.25 of diesel, we set off up the river around 11h30.... we locked through and were away... We both commented that our boat handling under power, both arriving at, and leaving pontoons is now so much better.... to the extent that SWMBO doesn't even get nervous now!..... when we went for fuel, there was a boat already on the end of the pontoon, with a gap in front of them of about 1 and 1/2 boat lengths.... previously, this would have started butterflys... and sideways glances from SWMBO, but no... we just slipped in, and tied up.... Anyway, I digress.... there wasn't a lot of wind (actually none!), so we motored up the river.... as per usual, it filled in around Shotley, and up came the sails, off went the engine, and peace reappeared.... we sailed for a pleasant hour, right into Walton Backwaters... again, a sign of our increasing confidence.... and after dropping sails, found a suitable spot, and dropped the hook.... no dramas, just settled back on the anchor, a little astern under engine to set it firmly, and then peace again.... We'd only been there 10 mins when a tender pops alongside.... its Paul (pvr from the ybw forum).... he stops to chat for a few minutes... yet again, the forum creates nice encounters on the water.... Eventually, we are happy that she is holding, and I blow up the tender... no easy task on the foredeck, and then lower the engine into the tender and onto the transom... again, not easy! We lock up, and set off for a quick visit to the beach.... we motored all the way around to Titchmarsh to see what is gong on with the old gaffers.... but no signs of any activity.... sadly, it looks like we have missed everything..... so we motor back to the beach at Stone point.... its pretty chilly there, so we only stay for half an hour... just long enough for the kids to get sand in every feasible place....... We set off from the beach after watching a lovely old boat set its anchor just off the shore..... as we motor past her, I read the name across the transom.... 'Francis Fletcher'..... wow, another forum rendevous within the space of a few hours.... lovely boat guys... and she looked an absolute treat dressed up... By now its late afternoon, so we cook a tea, using the ingredients originally inended for the BBQ...very nice... and then play games with the kids for a couple of hours..... its their bedtime, and they retire without too much protesting, being pretty tired...SWMBO opens a good bottle of wine, and we sit and read for a while..... its totally silent, and this is incredibly relaxing..... The anchor light I have bought is actually a small all round white... just a low wattage one, and I was intending to mount it on a spare bracket next to the GPS antenna, which is on a pole mounted on the pushpit.... however, I realise that I don't have anything suitable to mount it, nor enough electrical cable..... so with a piece of inspired jury rigging I created the following.... In the stern cockpit locker is a small light with a switch.... I also still had on board an old multimeter... one of the old analgue ones, that no longer worked... just hadn't got around to throwing it away.... it has the curly type of leads, and on inspection, they are of quite a large core size (which I guess makes sense to keep resistance low)... I remove the cover off the light, pull out the bulb which is held between two metal 'prongs' with small holes in them... these are exactly the size of a bayonet connector... so cutting the probes off the other end of the wires, I wire them to the light, and then run a short piece of cord round the light from the mounting holes to make a 'handle'.... this then allows me to hang the light from the backstay, connect it to the locker light, which is switched, and with curly leads, the tension is maintained, avoiding wires flappin about in the breeze.... the locker lid already has a cutout for a cable for the autopilot, so all in all a really neat solution... so good that I'm going to leave it as a permanent solution.... We retire to bed at around 23h00, and I am only up twice in the night to check the anchor.... (I just dont sleep well under anchor.... although it was better this time than the last... so maybe I'll get used to it)... she however, didn't move an inch... holding beautifully firm.... I think it helped that the anchorage was nowhere near as busy, so I was able to let out a lot more chain..... 25m in just 5 metres of water..... The second time I arose was because of an annoying frapping.... thinking it was the spinnaker halyard, which I use to hoist the anchor ball, I gave it a good tug to tension it a bit more, and ping... the plastic clp at the bottom of the ball fell apart, and the anchor ball went swinging off, just above the spreaders, attached to the masthead spinny halyard.... bugger... it was about 02h30, so I thought sod it, and left it until the morning..... We arose about 07h30, and upon inspection, I found that the halyard had passed through the spreaders, and the anchor ball had jammed itself onto the backstay at about 8 feet from the top..... flippin 'eck... how on earth was I going to get it down.... Not only did I not fancy a trip in the bosuns chair, but the anchor ball was pretty much put of reach.... after 10 mins or so of thought, I solved it nicely..... I used the topping lift initially.... to snag the ball, and pull it of the backstay... I then 'spun' the topping lift around the spinny halyard with a series of rodeo style arm gestures, and by pulling down on the topping lift, was able to retrieve the anchor ball and halyard back to the deck..... this however was only part one, as the halyard, albeit now at deck level, was still through the spreaders..... I therefore rigged a long piece off cord to the pole halyard which enters the mast just above the spreaders... I joined the cord to this halyard at its middle, and coiled one half, and rigged a slip with the other half.... I was then able to hoist the coil to just above the spreaders, wait for a suitable gust to blow it part through the spreaders, and a sharp tug on the other end and it uncoiled, and dropped down the other side of the spreaders.... voila... I now had a cord, running from the deck over the spreader, and back down the other side.... it was now simplicity to hoist the halyard over the spreader, and back to its rightful place..... I was chuffed with myself..... Anyway... we then had another great fried breakfast (boy have we eaten well this weekend!).... and after a bit of timewasting (great!).. we left the Backwaters at about 11h30.... soon as we rounded the corner, we unfurled the genny.... we decided to see how she would reach under just genny, as it was now blowing around 17kts, and we didn't want to muck about too much with the main, as I had without thinking buried the reefing lines beneath the temporarily lashed on outboard... (I'll try to make a cockpit mount this week).... fortunately, she went nicely, and the short reach across to Harwich was conducted at a fast pace... making 7 knots over the ground.... she really sails nicely on all points of sail with the big 150% genny completely unfurled.... we then freed off, and sailed the who way back to the Orwell bridge dead downwind under genny alone.... the kids helmed most of the way back, with my gently guidance.... C in particular seems to have a very natural feel for the boat, letting her do most of the work..... C also takes great delight in learning the rules of the road, and is now comfortable with the correct response to most simple situations... although at 9 years old, I still monitor her carefully..... I am able to trust her for a few seconds... for example long enough to nip down below for a biscuit or whatever... which helps me no end, and takes the pressure off SWMBO... I would imagine that by next year, she'll be confident enough to helm for extended periods..... In fact, she is probably more able to decide upon the correct course of action than SWMBO at the moment! As we had turned past Shotley it had started raining, and it steadily increased all the way back.... I am keen to sail under the Orwell bridge... its become a bit of a 'need'... so thats what we do.... as we pass under the bridge, I furl the genny and start the engine... SWMBO declares that we hadn't quite cleared the bridge, so I'll have to try again soon!.... we however are soaked by now, and fortunately the lock is on free flow, and we pass straight through, and are soon on our pontoon.... again, a safe and happy arrival..... SWMBO has been packing up as we have gone back up the river, so not too much to do... the usual round of gas, seacocks, shore power, ensign, and various other tasks like sail covers, and anti-frap string, and we are ready to depart by 15h00..... as we are admp and a bit chilly, we all decide that a nice hot shower in the marina facilities would be good, so we partake, and are still departing by 15h30..... All in all a very successful weekend, that all have enjoyed again.... tiny bit spoilt at the end by the rain, but major success in a holding anchor all night, and the kids really getting to grips with the helm........at least everyone is happy..... M slept the whole way home.... knackered!
Miles logged - 25.25nm
Miles this season - 331nm