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.

Friday, 2 March 2007

The Sails have been hoisted!

What a great day. Almost Spring like! Probably due for rain now for the rest of the week! Final preparations now for the big launch next week. The sails went up for the first time today and all the running rigging has been replaced. Pretty much all the rope was courtesy of the wonders of Ebay. We even had the Genneker up for an airing and to make sure it had been rigged correctly. You'll probably notice the 'pop-top' up as well. A great design just bloody awkward to put up and definately needs tying on to the mast to stop it falling back down.

I put the new Gold coving line around the hull yesterday, but it looks as though this is going to have to come off. After polishing the hull last weekend some T-cut seems to have remained and in a couple of places the tape has not adhered. Luckily only £1 a roll from the Boat Jumble the other week so no great loss and still got 4 rolls in storage.
Also tested the brakes on the trailer- very sharp and the reversing lock definately works. Interesting and also a little scary how much the trailer flexes when towing on the main drawbar. I figure this will lessen when the boat is strapped down to the trailer! Currently looking out for a Seagull engine as a spare for the boat and also for the Dinghy. I know they are old but they are reliable and also take up the least room of any outboard.
So if all goes according to plan it will be off to Rutland Water next week for a couple of days sailing. Unfortunately Rutland doesn't allow outboards so they will have to be tested elsewhere. All for now. Chris. Images for Rutland next week if all goes according to plan.

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