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.

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