Wednesday, 5 December 2007

Quick Update.

It's been a while and not much has happened with Aretia. I'm halfway through stripping the Keel Winch which has had a need centre welded in as the last one has turned in to a cloud of rust. The keel wire will then be replaced, after which the keel will be dropped to inspect the keel bolt. All wood work hhas be taken off for sanding and varnishing, along with the rudder. It looks like Aretia is going bakc to Skeggy next year, though we were looking at maybe putting in a marina on the Humber. Access is still an issue though! Went to the Earls Court Boat show last weekend, very good, better in my opinion than the Excel show, with a much friendlier atmosphere, though maybe not so many people. All for now.

Friday, 21 September 2007

Sailing on the River Witham and the River Trent.

The return trip. Sailing from Boston to Nottingham. Well it’s time to bring Aretia back to Nottingham. The planned trip is to take the boat along the River Witham from Boston to Lincoln, then joining the Fossdyke Navigation and taking us through to join the tidal River Trent at Torksey. A left turn, and up the Trent through Cromwell Lock, through Newark and then on to Gunthorpe just outside of Nottingham where we’ll take the ship out overland to Langar marina. A total expected distance of 117km. Originally the plan was for a leisurely 4 day trip taking in the pubs on the way. However best laid plans and all that, family and work commitments meant a 2 day run became necessary. Sunday 9th September I got the train over to Boston to get the boat ready. John arrived at 1830pm and we set straight off up the Witham. It’s a great little river with a depth of between 4.5m and 2.5m and pretty wide. There is not a lot to see on the way though as for one the banks are pretty high and two we were navigating a night. The plan was to get as far up river as we could then over to Torksey the following day. The navigation is fairly straight forward, no locks to bother about for us until the morning. As the mast was down we had to mackle together the Nav. lights. We used the deck Port and Starboards along with a B&Q Solar Garden light (ideal). It must have been a first no incidents and us moored up at Bardney Village for 2330pm Distance covered. 32km Monday 10th September Up at just after 0600am and on with the trip. The first lock was Bardney. Reasonably obvious where to swing in so long as you are alert. This is one of only two locks between Boston and Torksey. After Bardney which was a manual lock for which you don’t require any keys for apart from the Toilets and Showers you can make our Lincoln Cathedral in the distance. Useless Fact 18 Lincoln Cathedral was the first building to be constructed in the world which was higher than the Ancient Pyramids of Egypt. It originally had a wooden spire as opposed to the current stone one. A dash along here with the navigation narrowing and depth down to 2m you start to enter the suburbs of Lincoln. Here the first obstacle is Stamp End Lock. This is a rare guillotine lock which is electrically operated by BWB Key. Quite impressive. Watch out for high water flow though if they are releasing from the adjacent sluice. On through Lincoln to ‘Glory Hole which takes you under some of ye Olde Shoppes and in to Brayford Pool. Note there are two entrances out of Brayford. Don’t try the railway bridge one! From Brayford it was on to the Fossdyke Navigation which is thought to be the oldest artificial canal in the UK AD120 it was built. The navigation is straight forward with a a couple of small villages and marinas along the way which stock fuel and supplies. The Railway runs alongside as well. Depth does becomes something to watch. We clipped just under 1m at point. Finally reaching Torksey at around 1pm after completing the 17km from Lincoln. A total for the day of 32km. The lock itself is quite unique and is a nice place to hold up until we can lock through the tidal Trent. I would however suggest not dining at the nearby pub. After order a burger and chip for £8.00 the chips came out raw and the burger was still frozen in the middle. On requesting a second go the burger came out Ok but still with frozen fries. Absolutely diabolical. Tuesday 11th September An early rise after spending the night on the ship to lock through to the Trent. We were joined by another 4 motor cruisers who showed more than a little interest in our voyage. We were a little surprised by the lack of depth on exiting the lock though. Just over 0.5m. Not one for a deep keel vessel then. Working our way upstream to Cromwell lock which marks the boundary between tidal and fresh Trent; we followed the lead motor cruiser. The weather was absolutely cracking, sun and a little warmth. It was also surprising the number of sandbanks/sunken islands on this section. No wonder we heard the story that one of the gravel captains had been aground 14 times in recent years. Crowell lock was made just after 10.30am. A very, very large lock even a little daunting , but designed to accommodate the large fluctuations in river depth during heavy rainfall and Spring tides. After Cromwell all was straight forward passing Nether Lock, Newark Town Lock and on to or penultimate lock at Hazelford. This is perhaps the most scenic section of river. Perhaps similar to the Wye in it lower reaches. After a quick pull in to Morton for lunch which we had missed by 10mins we made our way to Gunthorpe and into Kingfisher Marina. This where we had decided to take Aretia out. It’s never straight forward taking a boat out at an unfamiliar slip. This was the case this time as well. Once the yard owner arrived we looked at the slip and it seemed a little short. The owner however assured us that the trailer could drop off the end of slip and we could still recover the boat. With a little of the usual swearing and having to get in to the wet stuff, Aretia was on here was by trailer to her home port of Langar Marina. A bit of a strip down is planned for next week then a few day on Rutland prior to the end of the season.

Wednesday, 29 August 2007

Aretia is back on Freshwater.

With the fine weather window we had over the bank holiday, it was a good time to start the trip back to Nottingham. With a good forecast, spring tides, and just enough daylight it seemed like a good idea to take the Jaguar 22 into the Wash and to in to the port of Boston. For once, my god for once, the plan actually worked.!
The overall plan is to take Aretia from Boston up the River Witham to Lincoln then on to the Fossdyke Navigation before finally joining the Salty section of the River Trent before heading to Nottingham. At Nottingham Aretia will be dragged out and taken by road to Langar Marina.
From Wainfleet Ditch to Boston is approximately 10 miles. A 3 hour trip along Boston Deeps and then anchor off Tabs Head in Clay Hole. The trip covered the full length of the Wash from the Steeping River to the Witham.
So on Bank Holiday Monday it was an early rise 0400am to get out by 0530am. We weren't the only ones. Pride was making a journey to Grimsby and FV Challenge was on it's way to do some surveying off the Bombing Range at Friskney.
The weather forecast was for F3-4 NW dropping. Obviously we hit F4-F5 SW. But hey localised must have been conditions. We headed out over the channel after being overtaken by Challenge and waved off by Sammy the Seal. Pride followed us as we headed in to the wash on their way to the Parlour Channel. We were on a tight reach touching 5knts and having to reef down the Genny, with much more and the main would have had to been reefed. John helmed most of the leg whilst I concentrated on the charts and working out which navigation marks were actually missing (plenty). One thing it was, was bloody cold. almost like an October morning rather than August Bank Holiday. After an hour the sun started to come through and we could make out Boston Stump.
With John at the helm as he doesn't like popping below decks 'sea sickness and all that' time was made for breakfast and a cup of sludge.
Following the navigation marks made the pilotage pretty easy. Past the Freeman Channel there were several other boats coming out of Boston. A couple of sailing and also a few motor cruisers, including Antigua whom we moored against over in Wells.
After coming in to Clay hole we dropped the 'pick' in 7m of water and settled in for 6hours. The whole Boston fishing fleet seem to bomb past plus also another 10 boats coming out from the Witham.

After a cooked breakfast, a spot of fishing, a beer, read of the paper and a little sunburn it was time to drop the mast. This all went pretty well and eventually we got this strapped to the boat. I wouldn't fancy doing this in much more wind.

The entrance to the Witham is all fairly straight forward, the only thing to catch you out getting to the first 'pen' at Grand Sluice Lock. Basically 3 hours before HW you can make your way over the bar at the entrance to Tabs Head. Tabs Head basically splits the Witham from the Welland and the tide as you can imagine does like to push you a little closer than you may wish. After that it's all deep water. Big container ships, but deep water. You then have an hour to get to the sluice prior to the lock closing over HW for 4 hours or more. Obviously we just scraped in literally by the skin of our teeth. The lock gates were closing as we were going through.

After mooring up in Boston it was off home. Returning in a couple of weeks to make our way up the Witham.

Friday, 10 August 2007

Possibly on for a Cheaky one on Monday.

The weather is looking promising. The tides are OK and enough crew to set sail. Bet it goes foggy! Chris.

Saturday, 4 August 2007

Friday, 3 August 2007

Sailing in the Sun!

Well it's been a good few days at the coast. Unfortunately due to circumstances out of their control the regular gang couldn't make this week so alternative crew volunteered (press ganged). Wednesday it was off for one a 'tide run' with a 6.6m tide and some day light left, we whizzed out for a quick jaunt off along Wainfleet Roads. Having arrived in good time the tide was a little slow making an appearance but managed an hour or so out of the channel. Julie volunteered for this one, well the Pimms anyway. Good weather, a little wind and Sammy the Seal putting in an appearance. Julie on the Pimms On the way back in, having just managed to get in with the last of the daylight. Having driven back to Nottingham on Wednesday night it was back to Skeg, for 07.00am. A high tide of 7.1m meant that in theory there was quite a lot of scope in getting out of the creek. The weather was forecast as being ideal, so a passage plan was made for a trip up the coast. The only trouble with a 7m+ tide is that at stages you struggle to get to the boat and the surrounding wetland is under water. The forecast was for a F3-F4 from the NE. So out we went, up the coast towards Skeg. and the Centrica Windfarm. They are currently in the process of laying cables from the beach, but luckily not that day, as there is a 1mile exclusion zone around the working barge UR101. Caught inside this perimeter and it's a royal bollocking and a fine! Up past the Windfarm the wind hit a F4, so I reefed the Genoa just to keep the boat under control, well making it easier for 'Dave to helm anyway'.

Dave at the Helm!
No point reefing the main as it's a little like a sieve and lets more wind through it than it catches. I made 4knts going windward whilst at the helm, Dave only managed 3.7knts. By 1300 we'd made Mablethorpe where Ian Martin was surveying. It was a spin around and back down the coast, with a target of being at the Fairway 2hr prior to high water. The wind was variable and had veered to the SE, before picking up to a very steady F3. a great tight reach topping 4knts again. Approaching Skeg just after low water it's quite remarkable how steep the shoreline is. No wonder the currents are so strong. Sneaking back along the roads it was time to anchor of the Swatchway. No easy job on your own with a 2.5knt tide running. I'd already dropped the Main and furled the Genny along with prepping the Anchor just in case I touched bottom in the Roads. I put the engine in to tickover heading in to tide and dropped the pick. Boy did it grab. Once secure and having checked the GPS/transit for any dragging it was time for a little grub and finish packing the boat up. Whilst waiting for the tide to surge in to the creak the Sunset was cracking. Having made our way back in to the creak a slight technical issue occured with a tree becoming stuck between the outboard and rudder, meaning Aretia was shooting past the mooring. So having removed the offending 'Beech' it was time for a handbrake turn, otherwise known as ramming the bow in to the bank to spin the boat. Finally having strapped the ship to the mooring it was off to the pub. With all the rain recently and the high tide the jetty has taken a bit of a battering. In fact the new section added this year was now not supported as the mud had all been washed away. A job for the morning. Friday. A great start to the day, fixing the jetty then out for a quick spin prior to returning to the mooring. Hopefully a few more trips still possible before we bring the boat back to Nottingham via Boston, the Witham, Lincoln and the Trent.

Monday, 23 July 2007

Wells next the Sea and Back part 2.

Tuesday’s weather was typical British Summer weather. Hot and Sunny, then torrential rain. The day was planned out in 15 minute slots to miss the rain and make the most of the sun. The day went something like this… Café, Boat, Pub, Tourist Office, Laptop, Pub, Beach, Light Railway, Boat, Pub, Café… get the drift. For evening dining we made our way to the Globe pub. A great meal, a little pricey but hey it’s to be expected. That nights weather forecast was taken and it was still looking a little bouncy. Having spoken to our neighbours and the crew of the Round the UK yacht which came in on the morning tide, we decided that unless it was going to be horrendous we’d be off at a civilised 09.30am. This was decided not so much on tide time as on the Café opening at 09.00am and being able to get a Bacon Butty. I reefed the main the night before…..can never be too cautious, and always with a little ‘Sods Law’ attached, as I didn’t fancy trying to reef as were were going over the bar. Following a good nights kip off we went. The tractor and plough left first thing before we actually saw any water in the harbour, the RtUK went next and we followed Antigua our Motorboat neighbour on his way back to Boston. (A bit like Thomas the Tank engine this)! The trip out of the harbour went well and the bar was hardly even noticeable with the slack tide. A left turn and it was close hauled to Burnham Flats against a 2kt tide. We radioed Antigua and thanked them for leading us out. After a little while it was evident that the wind wasn’t going to be much of an issue so the reef came out and a little while later ‘Thomas’ started his engine. It was one of those trips where you really thought you weren’t getting anywhere. Basically because we weren’t. You could see the Resolution off Skeggy laying the Windfarm about 16 miles away. That didn’t help the illusion of actually moving. Eventually we crossed passed Woolpack and made it to the exclusion zone around the Windfarm. This we followed on it’s southerly edge, even turning the engine off for a short period. The clouds had been bubbling over the Lincolnshire Wolds since we left Wells and now it was time for the squall. We had plenty of time to take in the sail, crank then engine up and make our way towards Seacroft. Most of the Fishing boats were making their way towards Boston between the outer sandbanks. Having never navigated this was we decided to creep up Wainfleet Roads. Once a marked channel but as the sands move so often it’s now unmarked; a little more interesting. I only got below 1m depth on one occasion and that was with me ‘exploring’. We anchored off the
Swatchway at Wainfleet and cooked up a concoction of Irish Stew and Sausage and Beans all in the same pan obviously. By this time the Sun was scorching no one around except Sammy the Seal and three A10’s and 4 Tornados dropping bombs 500m away! On cue 2hours before HW Ian Martin the local fisherman arrived. It seems the trend for ploughing is taking over the fishing community as Ian was making his way in. We followed for a laugh, may have scraped the bottom once or twice. Finally we made it back to the mooring at about 9pm and what a cracking 3 days. All ending in bright sunshine. Next trip early August.
A useful weather link.

Friday, 20 July 2007

At last a trip to foreign Climes!

Finally, a trip has been completed 3 days and 40+ miles covered. A trip across the Wash to the as yet undiscovered coast of N. Norfolk. An epic first- well a first for Aretia anyway and with the Sh**y weather no mean feat.
So after the foul weather of last Friday and an aborted day out it was with little optimism that this planned trip was going to come off. Close scrutiny of various weather forecasts was made, each giving different opinions. There was a slight possibility of it coming off. 3 days planned for a 2 day trip. I could bring the boat back solo if necessary or abandon Aretia abroad if necessary for a couple of weeks.
It was of to the ship late Sunday, the Commodore and next door neighbour coming in at high tide to the ditch following a weekend trip to Fosdyke. Boat all ready additional fuel loaded and reef strapped in for an early morning bouncy departure. Once all arranged it was off to Wetherspoons for a bite to eat and a beer. Bargain Beer and a Burger £4.25. Rob arrived over at 11pm for a few hours kip prior to an early rise. Slight technical hitch was the list the boat took that night. The only option was to sleep across the cabin. Up bright and early the weather looked semi decent. Forecast OK F4-5 with possible fog patches.
We went out of the channel and North East to Skeggy Windfarm. Hang a right and followed the Windfarm out to Burnham Flats. The farm makes a great navigational aide. In good visibility viewable from Wells-just. Unfortunately it was obvious mist was coming in as the farm started to disappear. By this time we were out of site of land 6/7 miles offshore in the shipping channel. More plots taken, but then the sun was out and so was the Pimms. Had to be done!
By lunch we were making our way at 3-4 knots with Dave at the helm. Spot on chart work picked out Bridgirdle off Brancaster and then on to Burnham cutting closer inshore. we arrived at Wells for 15.30pm. I decided to moor off Holkham in some shallow water to allow for the rise of tide as Wells cannot be entered until 2hrs before HW. A phone call to Wells harbour to confirm a berth and then for some kip.
2 hours before HW one of the local Fishing boats started to make there way into the channel which is well maked, but can be a little disconcerting with rough breaking water adjacent to the Starboard markers. I left attempting entry for another 30 mins and followed a Motor Cruiser in from Boston. It's a wise choice not to follow the first of the fishing boats in, as I came to learn later. One in particular likes to plough furrows in to the sand on entry. i.e making an early run in, taking ground, applying power and then waiting for the tide to lift the boat off. Great! It's a red fishing boat by the way!
Having given High Fives to the swimmers alongside the boat it was time to make for the pontoon outside the harbour masters. A friendly and helpful bunch with good facilities. After tidying the ship up and having a quick word with the HM it was off to the pub.
Wells is a great place, plenty going on, good food generally and enough to keep you occupied for a couple of days. We made our way to the pub on the Quayside. Not recommended for food or beer, too expensive and the food was diabolical. Under new management apparently, hopefully better next time. After a couple of pints it was back to the ship to get out of the way of the thunder and hail storm. Aretia was pretty watertight event in this weather. I fell asleep during the storm.
Next morning it was up and at em, but we were going nowhere. F6 forecast gusting F7. Not quite sure this materialised by this would have made for a v. bumpy trip back.
Wells Harbour Link.
Wells part 2. Later. ( battery on laptop running out!)

Saturday, 14 July 2007

What's with this weather?

Another fine Summers weekend buggered up because of the weather. It must have something to do with Friday 13th, but yet again it was down to the boat, the weather forecast being 8-10knot winds, sunny etc. Check the next day and get the shipping forecast and it's F5 with F7 expected later plus heavy rain. Great. So it was up at 0400 to get the tide and we were underway by 0500, out of the channel and heading towards Skeggy. The Genoa was unfurled, but it's was a little lumpy. Seeing as we'd be beating back this way later in the day I spun the boat into wind to check the conditons and it was lumpy. Probably a F4. So with the tide tuning to the Ebb, and only 50mins to get back in I decided to err on the side of caution and scoot back in. No point in being out for 12 hours in rain and heavy seas. Howver on returning to the mooring the wind eased to a F2 and continued for the rest of the day until 5pm when it did start getting a little gusty. This would have tied in with the eveing high tide and would not have been pleasant. I don't think Julie would have been impressed. So a two hour jaunt under engine with a quiock flit with the Genoa up. Not all lost I thought, I'd got a few days planned of for the following Mon/Tues and with a Rob as crew had planned on heading over to Wells. All tides were good, wind in the correct direction to get over the bar at Wells. A golden oppotunity. however as I write the outlook is for rain, and winds of F5-F6. I'm sure the boat would be Ok and the crew and myself would be OK , but if the weather is really crap it's a min of 12hrs of crap and nowhere to hide and possibly having to anchor offshore over night. Not something I'm planning to do! So the decision will be made tommorrow as to whether to bother or not. To actually guarantee some sailing this year, I've booked to go to France and on to a bigger ship which will be able to cope with windy/rainy weather. Next year it's got to be a week in the Med! All for now.

Tuesday, 5 June 2007

Jaguar 22 Aretia Trip up the Coast. Skegness Lifeboat

Well it's been a little while since the last update. But it was back on to the high seas yesterday with the ship and the one who wears the jockstrap on their head. The weather forecast was not quite as predicted. Originally it was fog am burning off pm. Great.! Sand banks everywhere plus 20 odd new wind turbines and the piling ship to hit, and not being able to see past the bow. I stayed on the boat overSunday night, and whilst eating the local delicacy, 'Fish and Chips' I was attacked by a mad duck trying to steal the fish from the wrapper. Lazy B'stard! Should catch it like all the other critters! After supper the fog rolled in along with some of the other boats. One looking particularly sheepish after gaining his 'stuck in the channel at low tide' wings. This award is only given to those who have endured 12hrs of all the local twitchers peering at them through their Bino's and thinking 'prat'. Luckily for the awardee the fog came to their rescue, obscuring them from those beedie lenses. New Crew- 'With his Biggles impression' Morning arrived and the sun was out with the wind was from the NE. Most importantly no fog. After unloading necessaries it was time to load the crew 'Big John' now known as New Crew. Not the easiest of task with a gammy leg. Mission accomplished it was a quick safety briefing of don't touch that and if I go overboard press the red button on the radio and don't dare steer the boat towards me! This was the first time the crew had been on Aretia for a saltwater cruise. Previous experience had been gained at the Spring shake down on Rutland Water. Out of the channel with the usual twitchy nerve and crew keeping quiet as the 'standing' wading birds 4ft away from the boat wished us bon voyage. Aretia in the Caribean with me at the helm. Off up north it was, a planned trip of 5 hours up hill and then 5 back. The first WP was a closer look at the Wind Farm. This is something of a concern to the local RNLI as they are predicting an increase in trade during the summer with all the Chavs/Tourists thinking they will paddle their dinghies out to have a look thinking the turbines are close to shore, when in fact they are nearly 3 miles away. Very impressive they are. A beat uphill was the game in the morning, plenty of white caps with the ship dropping off a couple and ploughing through a few more. The Genny had to be furled a little to prevent wetting the mast. At around 14.00pm we reached just south of Saltfleet after waving to my Aunt Pauline at Anderby. A run all the way back with the wind between a 3-4. On passing Butlins the Skegness Lifeboat came out for a look. As they say never go sailing unless the Lifeboat is out. First thought was ooops has the DSC been activated, but no, they were just on exercise and were checking all was good. I'm pretty sure the coxswain recognised the home port of Aretia by the thick line of mud around the water line which is synonymous with being berthed in the ditch. With a wave and offer from us that if they wanted to carry out an exercise with us, we'd be up for it, they blasted away creating the best surf wave of the day. Aretia with her new Tender. It may look like the Skegness Life Boat but don't be fooled! Support the RNLI, it's required to keep this site running when Aretia hits something she shouldn't. I think 'New Crew' when helming back to the entrance to the Haven didn't initially realise the closeness of the sandbanks. With the wind in the direction it was, the breaking was showing on the far side of the bank not our inshore side. So you do have to be a little careful not to hit the windward side of the bank nor the shoreline. Arriving at the haven entrance and 11/2 hours too early for enough water to get in we anchored off the entrance, and were treated to the Tornado's dropping things on the bombing range. At least they were above the mast today! The Radio was busy with a Mayday from a fishing vessel taking on water after catching a Pot. Hopefully this ended OK with the Wells ALB being dispatched. (Update, they were OK and were towed in to Wells Harbour) I had more pressing matters of not becoming an RNLI statistic and running aground on a lee shore coming in to the Channel. Assistance from New Crew was being provided. They were promptly told to shut up whilst I was concentrating picking my way through the paddy fields. A new challenge being the disappearance of several marker and the appearance of what look like a couple of crab pot markers. The Waders held out their wings and shook our hands on a good job well done as we motored by. No problem, coming in this time. Didn't even kiss the mud, as we had an extra 10cm of water under the keel. Giving a full 20cm of clearance! After coming along side in Skeggy fashion 'parking the bow in the mud bank' it was time to off load New Crew who needed their 8th pee of the day. After packing all away it was off the Aunt 'Pols' and New Crews for a well deserved late breakie. After New Crews first successful voyage, I think they will be joining Aretia for a few more. Distance covered 49 miles.

Wednesday, 2 May 2007

Jaguar 22 Sailing Yacht.

It's all well and good this sunshine but it is also proving to be a little Windy for Aretia. I don't fancy taking the Jaguar 22 out in too stiff a blow on the big pond. Was hoping to take it out single handed last week but a F5 put pay to that. I'm pretty sure the boat would be OK, but it would still mean being out for 12hrs awaiting a high tide and with nowhere to run if the weather deteriorated. So, hopefully got a crew this weekend and off to Wells Next the Sea. A little tight on daylight on the way back but figure a large torch will cover that. Still quite windy over the weekend but at least with two onboard I can take a break from the helm. Checked the Mariner 6hp out last night purrring away nicely. I've now worked out why it's so heavy compared to the 5hp Mercury. The 6hp is actually the same block as the 9.9hp. So shouldn't over stress the engine, just my back. Next update on Tuesday.

Thursday, 12 April 2007

Shall I go or Shan't I!

Well the weekend is supposed to be the hotest April ever so that is always a little bit of an incentive. However a slight crew shortage is an issue. No brother as working this weekend and unAble seaman Rob is doing so filming. I had plans as well!

Every cloud does have a silver lining though. FOG, that is what's forecast so may be thankfull. Will be checking the Skeggy webcam! Click on the piccie for the latest image.
Over at the ship on Friday as need to battern down for 7.3m tide on Monday and also get the engine sorted.

Sunday, 8 April 2007

Sailing in the Wash

Just got back from a couple of days away at the boat. Travelled over on Thursday and took the boat out at 7am on the Spring Tide. The weather forecast was for a NE 3-4 and that's what we got. This being the first time for Aretia on the sea we thought it prudent not to travel to far but to make the best of the weather and explore around a little. First we had to navigate the channel and it really helped having walked it the other week. Still only a metre or so under the keel but we were pushing it a little. See the seagulls standing up next to us! Once out of the channel it was up Wainfleet Roads to Skeg. The easiest guide is to remain 200m off the beach and follow it up as off to starboard is a knarly little sand bank. With the headwind we decided to motor it to test out the engine. On motoring up the roads Ian Martin the local fisherman over took us with Challenge on his way up the coast. A little while later we had a call from Challenge to let us know a new floating pipe had been laid out from the coast. Presumably to catch unwary Yachts! Good of Ian to let us know though even if we were off to the SW. Once level with the Pier it was sails up and heading over to West Lynn. We weren't actually heading for West Lynn as this wasn't on the chart but hey every buoys a help. Must update the chart! It was a little choppy by now with the sea having a long fetch from Scandinavia and the water here reaching 45m. John wasn't feeling so good so I was taking turns navigating and helming whilst concentrating on eating my sarnies! Once we could identify Woolpack just off Burnham flats we decided to have a look at the Parlour channel which cuts through the sandbanks. Figuring the weather was good and low tide was approaching this would be a good opportunity to try and squeeze through and if we did go aground only a short time to wait. So a course of 250 was set from North Well fairway and bang on we reached the entrance to the Parlour. Most disconcerting having the sandbanks towering over you and seals basking above you. Sails down, engine on. We picked out the first channel markers and had a good 7m under the keel. The next port hand marker could perhaps do with moving a little as it was aground and then so were we. A little swearing, frantic reversing winding the keel up and we tried again. Bump! This time we went for the more disturbed water to Starboard. Hey we got through! Then we came across the shallow and narrow section of the channel. Zig Zag ing across the channel with a close watch of the depth sounder we made it through. Off down to Long Sand before turning north ad heading to Wainfleet Swatchway. A couple of buoys missing including Pompey and Swatchway but visibility was good. Once in the neighbour hood of the Wainfleet Channel entrance we decided to scour the area with the depth sounder to see what we could find. After getting to 1m we decided to anchor. A coffee and a read was in order. By this time it was 3.5hrs before HW so a little time to wait. Another yacht from the Humber arrived to await enough water to enter. 2hrs before HW we decided to follow Challenge in keeping close to the Starboard entrance marker. A very strong cross current here meant we were entering the channel sideways, Ian must have been kissing the bottom as we were. I'm glad we only draw 60cm and the depth was only 70cm in places and we did do a little ploughing in places. See Photo. Finally with the light fading Aretia was back on her berth. Damage. One scrape noted down the side of the starboard stern quarter, which we think has been caused by floating debris rather than a boat. Coving line has come unstuck at the bow. Bloody T-cut! Presume antifouling off the keel. Groundings 2 maybe 4 if you count trying to push in the channel. Bonus' my new boots, all very comfy. Work to be done adjust the outboard tick over for starting. Get John on his sea sickness tablets. Next outing. Possibly 15-17th either to Hull or over to Wells depending on crew and weather (must be sunny!)

Thursday, 29 March 2007

The Channel in to Wainfleet Haven

As I've previously mentioned the Channel out from Wainfleet Haven and Skegness Yacht club changes almost on a daily basis. The club therefore host a date each year when some work can be undertakn on the channel marks and also members have the oppotunity to walk the channel. This is very prudent to get an understanding of not only the channel but also where is mud where the channel has steep sides and also where the channel looks as though it is moving to. I would say it would almost be lethal to go out on your own across the mud flats as 'quick sand' is prevalent and even in our group a few sank to there knees in mud and weren't going anywhere.Apparently the technique if all else fails is to lay flat and try and swim out whilst abandoning the wellies!Ian Martin the Local Fisherman and Buoyage Officer for the club is the font of local knowledge when it comes to the shifting mud and sand banks. What Ian dosen't know you needn't worry about. Within the marsh surrounding the channel are at least two wrecks one of a fishing boat deliberatley beached here as it was taking on water and also a WW2 Bomber which occasional surfaces depending on whether covered by sand/mud or not.
The channel also comes within the Gibralter point Nature Reserve (SSSI). With muscles, seals and one of the UK's most important wetland habitats for birds. So the less damage and interference for Humans the better. The adjacent bombing range doesn't seem to bother any of the wildlife.
The entrance to the channel. Currently shifting northwards.

Monday, 26 March 2007

The BIG launch!

The day had arrived. Time for Aretia to have the first taste of briney water. The usual epics to be expected though we were a little more confident that the boat was going to go in compared to lauching Red Star Last year. Red Star with it's fin keel drew 5ft. Aretia 18inches. So launching the boat was hopefully going to be a case of just 'lobbing' it in.

The scariest bit was towing the boat from Langar Marina to the coast. Having decided not to do battle with the morning rush hour I left at 06.00am. All good all the way to Boston. As soon as I came through Boston there was an inch of snow of the ground and worse black ice under the snow. On the main A52 I was doing no more than 15mph. Specific nerves started to twitch when without warning the whole rig (Isuzu Trooper and Trailer and Boat) slid sideways down the camber on the road. 200m on and there was the enevitable pile up. Me not included thankfuly. A52 closed for an hour. It slowly got better after this and made it to Skeg for 09.00am. A little faffing around with the boat and it was off to Tesco for Brekkie. Mast up using the gin stick, replaced the coving line with something that would stick this time. Boat fully rigged all good to go. Only issue was the tide. Being sure to ensure the tide was high enough to launch we inadvertantly picked one of the 2 highest this year. An average spring high hits 6m whilst we were looking at 7.5m. (piccie of Wells Harbour on same day) This means the whole marsh area goes under water. Plenty of water for launching but could be an issue fo the Isuzu which would be under water. Decided to launch in the morining instead. At the boat at dawn, hithced up the trailer and dropped Aretia in no worries. Started the outboard all looking good. The got the Rudder downhaul wrapped around the prop. Not only this but pulled a chunk out of the Rudder. So after removing the rudder it was engine only to steer. Mooring was it's usual fun with the parking the bow on the bank tenchnique offically recognised as being one of the most effective./ Tied off and proced to fix the new Radio in. John was more concerned with how I was going to get off the ship. Again the trusty ladder was used. Off to Tescos for a well earned mighty fry up whilst Aretia settled in to her new home.
On returning we decided we needed to finish off the Jetty. A case of build your own in this neck of the woods. After a little thought, and I mean a little a GUCCI jetty was decided upon, one on which we could actually get on to the boat without worring about disappearing in to the mud.
The Result. (Looks like it grew there!)
So all was good Aretia still afloat it was time to go home. Only to return 2 days later to check out the channel. Next posting La Manche!

Friday, 9 March 2007

It Floats!

Aretia has spent the last two days enjoying sunshine at Rutland Water, where we have been getting used to the boat and checking over the kit. Nothing of any significance broke so it looks as though it’s all good to launch at the coast in a couple of weeks. I’ve drafted a few comments on the equipment, how it performed etc. Solar Panel- This was purchased off ebay (£25.00); like most of our kit, and is a 5w unit, charging at 12v to a 75amp battery. The calculations indicated that based upon average UK sunshine the unit will charge the battery from flat to full in 20 days. I’ve also employed a snail in a mouse wheel connected to a dynamo as a control to compare the performance of the solar panel! This may sound as though it’s useless but on average the boat will be used for 5 days per month over the summer. A digital log, depth sounder and a few lights are really not going to stress the battery. The Radio generally is only on receive for most of the day and when transmitting should only be on 25w when the boat is sinking, otherwise only on 1w. good seamanship and all that. Generator– I know it sounds excessive but the boat is moored in the middle of nowhere. The generator weighs around 12kg powers out at 700w and cost £35.00 new from B&Q. Ideal for running most powertools, charging the battery, even though it takes a few hours plus also the Sky Dish (joking about the last one!). Too handy to dismiss, so that is now stowed in the rear locker and can run a 12v supply through a battery charger if required. Depth Sounder-This was a brand new NASA target unit. The transducer was installed inside the hull with silicon. We’d done this before and it worked successfully. This time however it was useless. Readings all over the place. That was until day two and we discovered the radio wasn’t working correctly as we couldn’t get any volume even when adjusting the squelch. Initially I thought it may be my wiring however it looks as though the NAVICO Sea Ranger 5600 has transmitted it’s last message! Once it was disconnected from the power we noticed the Depth Sounder was more stable. This was tested in know depths of was between 5m and 40m (Rutland Water is that deep in places), so all is good even the min/max depth alarm. Note to self. Do not try and run two depth sounders at the same time. One ping to a depth sounder is like any other. Hence they either wont work or it seems you are in very shallow water! Log –All good for the NASA target log. Still think it should be showing a little faster as we only managed 5knts at full whack! Genneker - This came with the boat so we figured today we’d give it a spin. I spent a little time last week working out how to rig it whilst the boat was on terra firma. Now just had to work out a launch and recovery procedure. Not our first choice, but the halyard runs directly over the a top sheave in the mast and straight to the sail. Usually we’d add a block below to take the pressure off the sheave, but after some deliberation we couldn’t work out a way for this to happen, there was already too much clutter at the head. I made a short strop for the tack to connect with a snap shackle to the bow stem. The strop allows the sail to fly over the pulpit. To launch I tied the sail bag to the pulpit and connected the sheets, halyard and strop. With the boat on a broad reach and the Genoa furled we launched. A little note is that the sail doesn’t like to be launched on a dead run and is at risk from being worn around the forestay/roller reefing. Once up, it flew great, even poles it out, gybed a few times etc. To take down it was a case of controlling the halyard and releasing the sheet, gathering the sail in to the pulpit bag. I will eventually get a bucket or have a suitable bag made for the job. Dave-Dave is almost the most competent crew member on the boat. Happy at the helm, never steering off course, never finding something on the horizon more interesting. Dave only every asks for a little of his favourite tipple and he’ll spend all day holding his course. Yes Dave is the Autohelm! And his favourite tipple is 12v. a better helm than many. Dave came with the boat in the guise of a Autohelm 1000. No spring chicken and without the correct attachment to the hull. A little fabrication was required from a propane gas bottle to provide the correct thread. Dave will be taken on all future voyages as a standing member of the crew. The Scuppers-Bastards. Not the best design in the world. A small hole in the bottom of the cockpit which attracts things to block it up. Also designed with a sea cock of dubious quality with rubbish piping which if it breaks will sink the boat. Great!Winter project for 2007. Drill 2 new scuppers holes through the solid stern just above the water line. Add a little plumbing waste pipe with appropriate fittings and hey presto two highly effective scuppers! The Trailer-Mmmmm. Less said about this the better. It’s in black, looks all good from a far, but really does flex along the drawbar. So once the boat is launched it’s going to be tickled with the welder again. Coving line-Bargain said my brother £1.00 a roll, gold 1inch coving strips. Crap I now say as the strips fell off when exposed to water. Not the adhesive holding the tape to the boat but the strip separated from the gold colouring. Have now ordered 24m of 40mm navy blue vinyl stripping which is much more reassuringly expensive. Other highlights of two days on the water-As the lake was very quiet we managed to see the ‘flock of Ospreys’ which breed adjacent to the Lake. Unfortunately my brother mistakened one for a seagull, until he realised the actual size of it. RAF must have a few quid left in the fuel budget as the Tornados and AWACS were doing a lot a flying around. Even managed to get Big John out on the boat, taking his position on the helm whilst I made all efforts to get some kip and catch some early spring rays. Next update from Skeg. Credits. Big John at the helm. (safest place for him out the way. Little did he know Dave was keeping an eye on him!), Brother John in Red Jacket and me not having had a shave in a couple of days.

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