Monday, 5 May 2008

Phew what a scorcher!

Quite extraordinary weather this weekend!We arrived at the boat somewhat delayed after a major road closure forced a massive detour, meaning the journey took nearly 4 hrs!Never mind.... arriving to find the sun still shining, the temperature balmy despite it being 9pm, and it didn't seem so bad...We wolfed down the fish and chips we'd procured on the way to the boat, and settled the kids down for the night, and also enjoyed a sensibly early night ourselves, planning a 07h30 departure in the morning... we were also pleasantly surprised to find Clive in the marina in Sirenia.Bright and early, we slipped, stopping at the fuel berth for about 80ltrs of diesel, and a spare gas bottle, to find a pleasant F3 South Easterly, just as promised, and had the sails up very sharpish.... the boat was a bit hard on the wind as we left the Stour, and I soon had my jumper off... its amazing how quickly the weather can change... it was 20 degrees!.... however, its was also very hazy... classic early season weather.... it was a pleasant sail over to Walton on the Naze headland, only spoilt by the massive proliferation of lobster pots, some of which are so badly marked its down right criminal.As we rounded Walton, the wind came on the beam, the apparent wind over the deck dropped, and it felt even warmer!... we were in 12kts of wind, with 7kts of boat speed, in T shirts.... marvellous!It was a simple and straightforward reach, with one minor glitch along the way.... We'd spotted a few pots in the middle of the wallet, and i'd remarked how well they were flagged... and went below... a few seconds later, SWMBO lent down the hatch and said that there were hundreds of smaller pots between the bigger ones... I popped me head up for a look..... NET!!!!!!....... it was a 1/2nm long net strung at right angles across the Wallet....and typically we were aiming right for the centre.... we took a sharp left, into the wind, motored the 1/4nm round the end, and established our original course again.... there was no sign of a guard boat... it would have been well marked for a pot, but was terrible for a net, and on a public holiday weekend... someone wants shooting.Eventually we passed the outer end of Colne bar. and then we did have to motor the last 2nm into Bradwell, as the wind had dropped a bit, and as we turned dead downwind, the apparent wind dropped to about 3kts, and with the tide just starting to turn we were going nowhere.... but it was uneventful, and easy to get into Bradwell creek... we radioed up for a berth to be offered C21 or C22... oh good I thought... a choice.... so we set up for our preferred port side too... and as we rounded the pontoon, saw why they offered us 2 pontoons... it was a single slot.... with our beam, we slipped just perfectly into the gap... a pontoon either side!.... Opposite us was the catamaran Chellers, whom we introduced ourselves too.... the kids introduced themselves to their dog Lucy, and everyone was happy!Within a couple of hours, most of the group had arrived, some by boat, some based at Bradwell already, and some with sorry tales of boat maintenance headaches....I also made the most of the ease with which we can now luanch the tender, to drop it in, and scoot off up the creek with the kids exploring... great fun.. real adventuring!An evening of fun and games ensued, with much merriment, the usual carbonised BBQ food, and to top it all, and adults versus kids game of baseball..... the kids won, and that was despite the despicable cheating going on, including kidnapping the keeper, removing the pads, and rugby tackling the runners!... those guilty may rest uneasy.... its all on video!!!!Sunday was a truly relaxed affair, with the tides trapping us in Bradwell until nearly midday... so with yet another amazingly warm day in prospect, we eventually let the lines off (after a normal Morgana hearty breakfast with all and sundry invited), to find very similar conditions to the previous day, but if anything, even warmer...The plan, agreed the night before, was to head towards Walton Backwaters, and try the anchorage on the other side to our normal Stone Point destination, in a small pool cum creek called Hamford Water.... no stepping ahore here (unless you like waist deep mud), but an adundance of wildlife, and peace.. the real genuine article... no buildings in sight.... no roads... no nothing but tranquility....We had a magnificent beat back up the Wallet.... on just a beat... we tacked twice in 10nm, making 7kts through the water, getting slowly cooked by the sun... the cockpit speakers made life very pleasant, with gentle easy listening music, cold beer (the new fridge bit worked perfectly!), and ideal wind speed....And wow, whwn we reached Hamford Water, did it live up to its reputation.... fabulous holding.... I dopped the anchor, and stuck the boat in reverse to set it properly, and nearly stood her on her nose..... it was in!!!!Within a few mins, the tender was luanched, and we went exploring.... we quietly slipped through a creek surrounded by literally thousands of roosting birds, wheeling and screeching around us... quite a sight... and then came across an entire seal colony... now here on the UK east coast, seals aren't exactly a rare sight, but this colony had youngsters, and the youngsters were curious.... they came closer and closer, popping their heads up to inspect us, and see if we looked like a threat or a meal.... we sat quietly, and watched, and got closer to seals in the wild than I have ever done.... a large colony of maybe 25 animals.... and what great animals they are.... with their enormous sad eyes and whiskers that would make a cavalry colonel jealous!... the kids were enthralled, and pleaded withus when we said enough..... we'd decided that this was their space, and we'd probably invaded it for long enough.... so we motored slowly and quietly back to the boat...Clive had arrived on Sirenia, and we all went over for a drink.... it was a realtively short event, as we were all completely exhausted after 2 days of hot weather and fresh air...As the anchor lights came on, it was totally silent, save the odd bird call, and after the kids had collapsed into their beds, we sat in the cockpit for a while with a glass of wine and savoured the unique experience that we are so so lucky to be able to be part of.The following morning, we pulled the hook by 10h00, and motored slowly out of Hamford Water.... I have little doubt that we'll be back....The narrow channel on the way out was straightforward, with the only noteworthy event being a complete dickhead in a big motor boat coming down the channel at about 20kts, which sent us rocking and rolling to an alarming degree... which we weren't happy about, but could have lived with, but I was livid, as we'd just motored past a little 21'er, with a family on board, including 2 kids of under 5,and could see the mother clinging on to the kids as the boat rolling from rail to rail.... he could have so easily put a little child over the side..... and to prove what a berk he was, the motor boats following slowed right down as they passed and showed a little simple courtesy...We pulled the sails up as we rounded Pye End safe water mark, and sat hard on teh wind into Harwich harbour, freed off towards the Stour, and dropped the sails quickly and easily just outside the marina entrance...By midday were tied up.... glowing with the effect of the sun... what a great weekend.... fun company, a wonderful new anchorage, and 3 perfect sails in 3 days... life seems good at the moment!

Miles logged 58nm
Miles this season 135nm
Miles since this blog started 3,072nm

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