Wednesday, 2 June 2010

long overdue


So the blog seems to have slowed down a little.... I know, I know.... but hell... how many times can you post about going to Stone Point with out it sounding the same... well..this time I have a good few things to update on... so i'll start with the weekend's sailing adventures...

As ever, we planned a long weekend to Oostende for the latter May bank holiday, and as ever, the forecast looked uncertain. Unlike previous years, due to plans for a longer summer trip (more later on that as well), annual leave was limited, so we added a tuesday to the break, but couldn't add a friday. Departure was therefore scheduled for early Sat am (02h00), along with the Tinkles (rebranded - more on that later... phew!)... we also had guests on board... interesting ones... Karen and Pat, long terms friends and sailors, complete with their now 18mth old son, AJ... it would be a first for them and for us... AJ has sailed before, but never more than local hops..

We arrived at the marina friday at a sensible time, and did the usual stuff... this includes taking the tender and davits off for the Oostende trip, so that we can go stern too... and then grub.... by 20h30, we met with the Tinkles, and mulled over the weather forecast... currently good weather, but with a gale forecast for later in the day Saturday. We clearly needed to get off. So a decision was reached... we'd go for an overnight crossing, and promptly started to get ready to set off.

By 22h00 we locked out... it was still just light, but by the time we'd reached languard at the entrance to Harwich, it was dark.

We motored down towards Cork Sands Yacht Beacon. This is a marginally longer route than via the Medusa channel, but is free of lobster pots, so much safer at night. It is also well bouyed, so easier.

As we rounded Cork Sands Yacht Beacon, up went the sails. This is always a turning point in a North Sea crossing. Its the first time that you point the boat obviously away from land, and so always one that I look forward to. It was improved even more this year by the appearance of 12 to 15kts of wind across the beam!

We shot off towards Rough Towers, and then on towards Long Sand Head, and then on towards the TSS. By the time we reached LSH though, it was starting to get light, and no need for nav lights by the TSS so a nice easy crossing. All the while we'd been romping along at between 5 and 7kts of boat speed. The TSS proved effortless... with virtually no traffic at all, let alone traffic to be avoided. It was nice to have another pair of experienced eyes though!

Past the TSS, the next waypoint is West Hinder. This tower is so large that it is visible from a significant distance. Which is great from anavigational point of view, and rotten from a 'are we nearly there yet' perspective!

It was made substantially easier by the steadily increasing wind across the beam... now recahing 20kts on occasions.. we'd put a reef in the main and genoa, and making great boat speed.

Rounding West Hinder meant that we needed to head up slightly, and with a slowly shifting wind, it came on the nose a bit more... still sailable though, but as it increased to 22 kts, with gusts now reaching 30kts, more reefs went in.

AJ is having a ball.. he's slept well, and is now demonstrating his ability to be completely complacent about living at 45°!

We sail the remainder of the way, heavily reefed, but really enjoying the trip, with a still flat sea, and strong winds, we are really sailing well, leaving the Tinkles way behind!

Arrival in Oostende is straightforward, and by 14h30, we are tied up.... for once, Robert, the Oostende HM has given us a pontoon berth... result!

With various socialising to do, including a mass participation Greek meal (well organised Jim!), the time shot by... with a planned depart on Monday.

Monday was however, determined to upset the plan. The forecast remained stubbornly windy, with F6.... not enough to stop us ordinarily, but is was a NW, so directly on the nose the whole way back, and after a few days, into a rough sea.

It did promise to drop off substantially by Monday pm, so we waited.... and it did... and then we decided to leave early Tuesday... into a dead calm wind wise, and a rapidly dying left over swell.

Leaving at 05h00, it proved to be a long boring motor back the whole way, arriving into Shotkey at 16h15. But as they say, an uneventful day at sea is a good day!

Miles logged 169nm
Miles this season 365nm
Miles since this blog started 4,945nm

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