Monday, 1 May 2006

The Blackwater

Previously, only having visited Brightlingsea, and hence skirted the outer limits of the Blackwater, we thougth we'd head to Bradwell this weekend. So after arriving Friday night, spending the evening getting the radar cable down the most and through the deck, and wired up (successfully - works a treat!), we got to bed reasonably late. This didn't however stop us getting up at 06h00 for an 06h30 departure, optimum for the tides. The day was grey, but not too cold, and we slipped, dressed for the cold, and all seemed OK. By 08h00 we were passing Harwich, still under engine, as I wanted to get out of the river as quickly as possible to avoid too much of the flood.... As we passed Harwich the tide was turning, and we set sail, and off with the engine.... timing was good, as the tide had turned, and with just 8kts of wind, we were making a decent 6 to 7 kts over the ground.... We were soon round Walton headland, and clear of the shelter of the land, the wind picked up a bit to around 12kts, and with a reach, we shot down the Wallet towards the Knoll buoy.... the sun was out in patches, but when it disappeared behind clouds we were grateful for hats and gloves..... by 11h00 we rounded Knoll, and headed up towards Eagle and into the Blackwater.... tight on the wind, and it was chilly! As we made progress up the Blackwater, and the training wall, just by the entrance to Bradwell creek appeared, we dropped the sails, and motored... no problems with depth, as it was near high water.... straight in, and tied up.... we did have to back out of our first attempt at the pontoon.... not used to these marinas with tidal flows!.... however, second effort was spot on.... We had agreed to meet up with Jim on Full Circle and crew, and they hadn't arrived... so we sorted the boat out, grabbed a quick lunch, and then Jim radioed in.... perfect as he was allocated a berth just 2 up... Soon they had arrived, and with introductions all round, we sat and chatted..... SWMBO made oohing and aarhing noises about Jim's lovely SO35.... yet more positive noises being heard about buying a bigger and newer boat....! That evening, Jim announced a BBQ.... bit cold we all thought... but when we got out of the wind, on the grass at Bradwell, it was suprisingly warm.... We were joined by Kas and Patrick on their pretty little Stella, Vreny, and we enjoyed an decent mix of nosh, mixed with a decent quantity of good wine..... We retired by 20h30 towards the Green Man, only to find that it was packed out, and the family room was booked for a private function, so we headed back to the sailing club, and sampled their offerings until by 23h00, SWMBO decided I was sufficiently innebriated, and that bed was neccessary! Kids awoke us at 07h00 the next morning, and we proceeded to consume a large fried breakfast... yum yum... I was slightly thick headed, and with a departure time of 13h00 being muted, we decided to take a walk the mile or so into the village of Bradwell, partially to blow off the cobwebs, and partially because it was the only open shop around..... very pretty... worth the effort... By 12h30, we were ready to go, so slipped half an hour earlier than planned.... Vreny followed us out.... we motored out of Bradwell creek, no more than 5 or 6 minutes, and then hoiked the main and motor sailed.... a couple of miles up the Balckwater, and Full Circle came past us, like we were going backwards... Oh for a decent engine! The usual ritual of photos being taken, and Full Circle peeled off south towards Burnham, while we continued up north east towards Harwich.... the tide was still just against us, so it was slow out to Knoll, which we rounded just before 15h00. At this point we were able free off a bit, so up went the genny, and off went the engine.... about 12kts of breeze, and a tight reach again, verging on a beat, and we flew north..... over at 20deg heel toe rail just kissing the water, 7 to 8 kts SOG and this was fun!... unlike yesterday, the sun stayed out, and despite us being quite tight on the wind, it wasn't too cold. I set the autopilot, and we relaxed.... An incident free trip up the Wallet with one exception... While making a coffee, I came back out of the companion way, just bumped the top of my head on the boom... instinctively I ducked, and smacked my forehead on the corner of the companion way slides... Klutz!.... another cut, that will no doubt scar to add to my collection... only a little one, but deep, and bled profusely as head wounds do! The trip was fast, and before I knew it, we were freeing off round Walton towards Harwich..... as we approached Harwich the wind died off, and as we were fighting the ebb, I stuck the engine on, and we motor sailed.... at this point I realised that we had sailed the entire way without tacking or gybing.... excellent! We motored up the Orwell, finally dropping the main just before the bridge, and entered the lock.... a bit of a slow lock, as the rise was enormous.... from a gulley to being right up above the lock walls!... and a bit rough in the lock as it was filled! Back alongside and tied up by 19h30, still sunny! We retired to bed early... knackered from the fresh air... Monday morning, I was awoken at 08h30, not by the kids for a change, but by a short pump from the auto bilge pump.... ****** I thought.... rain.... (we have a keel stepped mast - try stopping rain getting down it.... its an un-winnable battle!)... I could also hear the rigging whistling..... A quick poke of my head through the hatch, and yep.... windy and wet.... guages showing peaks of 20kts, and it was chucking it down.... We decided to cook another decent breakfast.... a full fry up again... this time included Smoked Mackerel... double yum!, and then set to tify Maggie up, put her to bed, and were departed for home by midday..... All in all, a great weekend.... everyone enjoyed it.... excellent company at Bradwell, and a couple of cracking good sails thrown in.... another 10 degrees of warmth, and it would have been perfect...can't please some people can you!

miles this weekend 48nm
miles this season 72nm
miles since this blog started 853nm

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