Monday, 3 July 2006

mud plugging and beer festivals!

What a weekend! Sailing with a couple of guys from work, both experienced sailors.... Traffic was an absolute nightmare getting down to the boat, and one of the crew, Tony, got held up to the extent that we decided to redirect his to Titchmarsh, where we would pick him up from the waiting pontoon... Rod, the other crew member and I were at the boat, with food shopping completed by 20h30, and so slipped fairly sharpish to get off to Titchmarsh..... as we were late, the tide was in flood, so we were slow up the was therefore dusk by the time we reached Pye End, and so picking out the channel markers up to the cardinal marking the split of the Twizzle and Hamford water against the backdrop of sodium lights on the shore was very difficult.... we went very slowly!.... we missed one port marker completely, and after touching the bottom twice realisd the error of our ways, and with a bit of judicious engine power made our way back into the channel... Rounding into the Twizzle was equally challenging.... remarkably, of all the buoys, the few that show the sharp dog leg neccesary to get into the river are unlit.... so as we crept past the sandbanks showing in the moonlight, and the breaking water 20 feet either side of the boat, we breathed a sigh of relief when we got in, without touching down again! We had arranged to meet up with another forumite, Pete (GC1) who was anchoring for the first time, and were somewhat suprised when we rounded the corner to see Pete with his boat lit up like a Christmas tree... literally.... fairly lights all over the boat! We paused to say hello, and then carried on up the river to fetch Tony.... Carried on, is perhaps a generous term. Rather we dug our way further up the river. For those that know the Twizzle, it is narrow, the path between the moored boats is indistinct in places, and it isn't lit..... so we felt our way in, watching the echo sounder.... as the boat ground to a halt, we put on the power, ploughed a furrow, and generally got going again.... only had to back out once.... Eventually we got to the bit of water by the holding pontoons.... we lined up for a perfect arrival.... slipped towards the pontoon.... and ground to halt 6 feet short of the pontoon..... so, more power and we gradually moved closer, and made it alongside.... immortal words from the crew.... shall we tie up, or are we getting straight back off again? .... huh?..... the boat wasn't going anywhere.... clever pontoons.... no need for warps.... boat was sitting very comfortably alongside... in the mud.... least it was a rising tide.... So we stopped there.... had a beer... met yet another forumite (hi Tim)... an decided to stay there, and depart early back to the anchorage to see Pete, and have breakfast when anchored.. 07h00, we arose, slipped and went and dropped the hook at Stone Point.... no problems this time, 3m under the keel all the way, and Soooooo much easier in daylight! The Twizzle has great holding, so I was somewhat suprised that the anchor took quite a while to bite.... we had to motor back a good distance before it set... Regardless, we were in.... had a huge fried breakfast, and then Pete came over to say hello, tied up alongside us for 15mins.... By 09h00, we slipped quietly out of the Twizzle, and set off towards Burnham.... Its fair to say, you don't get many days sailing like the one that followed in a year... We reached over towards Walton headland in about 10kts of wind.... lovely, and really hot that early in the morning.... As we rounded Walton, we freed off to a run, and the wind freshened to 13kts... so we decided to pop the kite.... we took a while to rig it, since I had rearranged all the winches, clutches etc since the last time it was out of the bag, but eventually we had it sorted... and up she went... a perfect hoist.... it went up, filled, set and was spot on.... Only downside was that I had given Rod the wrong bag, and we had flown the number 2, so we were slightly down on sail area... never mind though.... we could have peeled it, but it was hot, and we were flying along at 8kts over the ground having just had a large breakfast.... wind was so stable, we were able to make the sheet off and largely just leave it to get on with it.... With that boat speed we made the Wallet spitway in no time.... dropped the kite easily, reached through the spitway, and into the channel down towards the Crouch.... still a decent breeze, and we flew down past Buxley, Outer Crouch, and before we knew it, into the Crouch itself.... by 15h30, we had to drop sails, motored over towards Full Circle on his mooring, and said hello.... The plan was to grab a spare mooring next to Jim, but we had yet again been having battery trouble.... my main service battery has never fully recovered from me accidentally flattening it completely in the winter, so we decided to head into Burnham Yacht Harbour instead to grab shore power.... Ordinarily we wouldn't need too much battery power, but the fridge was suffering in the heat, and we didn't want the food to go off, so we really needed shore power.... We watched the footy at BYH... ho hum.... grabbed showers (much needed after a whole day at 30deg+ !)... and headed off into Burnham to meet Jim at the White Hart.... Enjoyed a couple of pints of Crouch with Jim, and then he declared that we were off to the Beer Festival.... ooh 'eck! So we sampled a few more beers at the Beer Festival... my favourite, Maldon Sea Legs... very appropriate, and a good pint.... By 21h30, we were all peckish... despite having had two hog roast sandwiches at the beer festival, so we finally agreed on a Thai, and ended up in there until late.... A grand evening.... thanks Jim! Set alarms for 06h30, and slept like the dead! We slipped BYH at just after seven, and headed off up the Crouch.... dropped some bits off at Full Circle on the way past, and set out towards open sea... Fantastic.... very very hot for early, and a wind direction that allowed us to hold full sail tight on the wind without tacking all the way out to Number 6 buoy, where we freed off for the Spitway again.... soon through there, and set a course for Medusa, again, tight on the wind, but no need to tack.... on went the autopilot.... heaven! Sampled the very best of Sandwiches... made with loving car from the very best of ingredients... washed down with a litre each of fresh apple juice, and then a superb trifle!.... we didn't go without! As the wind was a bit lighter, and on the nose our speed over the ground was a bit reduced from the previous day at about 4kts, so we had a 3hr leg back up the Wallet... so we took it in terns to kip.... About half way down, we were joined by two homing pigeons who clearly looked in need of a rest... they stayed with us for 45mins... and were clearly well used to human company, as they didn't have any fear of us, and came and sat next to us for a rest.... I wonder if getting a 3nm lift from a boat is considered cheating? We rounded Walton soon enough, although we did have to plug the tide a little for the last 30mins... nothing too bad though... and freed off.... the wind built slightly, and we had a brilliant reach into Hrawich.... good boat speed, and showed a couple of other boats a clean pair of heels... excellent... As we passed Felixstowe docks we suffered an enormous wind shadow and had to motor for a few minutes, but past Felixstowe we were able to sail again... sailed all the way back up the river to the bridge, dropped the sails and went through on free flow... this was all working out perfectly... Enjoyed watching an old gaffer sail though the lock... and soon alongside and tied up... Back in the car by 17h00, and home by 18h45... what a weekend!

Miles logged 61nm
Miles this season 324nm
Miles since this blog started 1,105nm

(note... i've decided that the log is significantly under reading.... I need to calibrate it... all these distances are taken from the log rather than the GPS, so once its calibrated, i'll adjust them.... I think its out by nearly 30%!)

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