Sunday, 11 May 2008

Hottest place in Europe!

Amazingly, the normally average east coast weather completely excelled itself this weekend, with the UK recording the hottest weather in Europe, and the East Coast heading the league within the UK.... I honestly think that today was hotter than at any time last summer. Not complaining mind you!We were late down Friday.... C wasnted to go to Sea Cadets, and M Cubs, so it was gone midnight by the time we arrived... still in Shorts and Tee Shirts...Kids soon despatched to bed, and SWMBO and I enjoyed a quick drink before ourselves slipping quietly to our berth....No rush planned for the morning... The Backwaters was the target destination, with a beach trip on the cards, but with the tide times, we didn't want to be going in much before 13h00....However, after a leaisurely start, it was still only 10h00 the following morning before we decided to just get out and enjoy the weather.... and what a treat to lock out into 27 degrees of clear skies and sun, and 12 to 15kts of apparent wind....It was so nice that we ste off and sailed up the coast towards Felixstowe, past the Deben and just carried on for a while.... The kids were absorbed in a game of some kind, SWMBO so chilled I wanted to check to see if she was still breathing, and I, with the aid of the autopilot, merrily tacking my way up the coast single handed.... marvellous.... I refined the tacking angle on the autopilot, and my timing for letting the working sheet fly until I could just crank a couple of turns on the winch handle and she was snugged down on the new tack.... at a perfect 5 to 6kts through the water, I could have just kept going for hours!Eventually, we had to turn back, and as we turned downwind, the apparent wind dropped down, and with a reducing breeze, it wasn't long before we had to furl the genoa and stick the engine on.... we held out as long as we could to avoid the engine intruding on what was building up to be the perfect day, but when ground speed went below 2kts, I resigned myself to it, and turned the key....We crawled our way into the Backwaters.... the shallow entrance seems a bit deeper this year, despite the ever advancing Stone Point, which seems to have gained another 5m or so this winter, plus become significantly bigger, with a very steep bank on its most seaward corner.... maybe the narrowing entrance is running faster and scouring the channel more effectively?There were a few boats in the anchorage, but not many, and with the experience of numerous visits now, we new just where to head for the best holding.... and within a few mins, were secure, beer in hand and getting the tender in the water....Kiddy pressure saw us on the beach in near record time, and we proceeded to build an enormous sand 'boat'..... while SWMBO surpassed herself by producing from her bag, a flask of good strong coffee.... beer would have quickly become unpleasantly warm, so a coffee was perfect.By 16h00, I was feeling a little frazzled by the heat, and so we returned back to the boat.... or we tried.... half way back the engine conked out.... and despite repeated attempts to restart, extensive cussing and mild percussive maintenance, I rowed the rest of the way...A few hours later, I nearly got myself in a pickle.... I lifted the engine, opened the cover and noticed the oil level a little low... so I filled it, stuck it back on the tender and floated off to try and restart her.... she wouldn't..... and by this time I was now a few hundred yards from Morgana..... so I started to row again.... only now the tide was in full ebb.... at about 3kts..... I was rowing as hard as I could go, and making about 6 inches on each stroke over the ground...... it was a very red in the face, and thoroughly exhausted skipper that eventually lunged for the toe rail in a desperate attempt to not have to row another dozen strokes..... you can get into trouble real quickly....We enjoyed a wonderful evening on board, with our usual family games, a good wine, and peace and quiet....Yet again the following day, the tides were civilised, and by 10h00 we went for another beach trip... only this time to take a walk at low water along the low sand spit only exposed at low tide.... The kids collected a veritable mountain of various descriptions, including 'mermaids purses' and some very pretty shells... we managed to prevent M from bringing home his collection of fish skulls!We finished our walk and watched a familiar boat enter the Twizzle, complete with helmsman in a Tricorn hat, and Jolly Roger and Swallow flying proudly from the Spreaders.... it could only be Bill, who skippers the 'Nancy Blackett' as well....We rowev back, passing Bill on Sentana, and said our hello's.... he's obviously looking forward to Pirate weekend, as he later demonstrated by flying an enormous (at least 5' across the top) skull and crossbones!We left the Backwaters at around 12h00, narrowly avoiding a soaking from Bill's brilliant Boat hook/Waterpistol Combo (Nancy would have adored Bill.... he's definitely a candidate for Captain Flint! - read Arthur Ransome if this doesn't make any sense - in fact just read it anyway... you'll love it!)It was pretty much dead into the wind out of the Backwaters so we motored, and by the time we cleared Pye End with less than 1nm to go, we decided to not bother with sails, and just motored slowly into the Stour, radioed up the lock and got immediate clearance inbound.... SWMBO was chuffed to bits with herself, as we need to shuffle along in the lock to let another boat in... and in her own words 'I did a good job of that didn't I'... and yes she did!By 15h00, we'd packed away, filled the water tanks, set the boat up to be left, and set off home..... we are all a bit red.... our faces have that late season deep tanned look already... and we glow as I type!No sialing next weekend... SWMBO must work, something that doesn't happen at weekends often thankfully, and so the next time we'll be on board is the following Thursday evening, when we'll be setting off for Oostende on our annual May Bank Holiday pilgrimage.....So, here's to more weather like this!

Miles logged 16nm
Miles this season 151nm
Miles since this blog started 3,088nm

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