The Naiad Voyages

Mark Austen

2022.08.07 - What is Going On ?

The last few months have been a little traumatic and Naiad has suffered as a result. Well, not Naiad per se, but rather trips to Naiad. One of my brothers died unexpectedly in May and any suitable Naiad visiting weekends after that were taken up with events from his death. Shortly after that my Dad went into hospital, not that unexpectedly since he was 92 at the time, and visits to him in hospital took up several more suitable Naiad visit weekends. 

He died a couple of weeks ago but I did finally manage to get a trip to Naiad the weekend after his death, travelling down in a Friday night and returning on the Saturday afternoon.

I timed the drive to arrive around high tide and was on board by 20:00. Oddly I was exhausted and turned in shortly after arriving. I didn't even wait to have a cup of tea. 

I slept like a rock.

I don't think I stirred until the alarm went off at 05:30, my normal getting up time. Then I had a cup of tea and ate my homemade baked bean breakfast.

This visit I managed to get Naiad off the mooring and out into the River Blackwater for a sail. No photos unfortunately since several things needed to be adjusted during the sail and by the time I'd done that and settled down to some sailing I was too tired to get out the camera. Still, I had a two-hour sail, albeit drifting with the tide for a goodly part of that time. But the sails were up so even though there wasn't enough wind to drive the boat along at times, I still count it as sailing.

As things would have it just as I ran downwind to pick up the mooring the wind picked up and I shot past the mooring like an express train. Well it felt like it anyway.

One of the thing I am going to have to sort out is trying to pick up the mooring under sail whilst there is a dinghy tied to it. I could trail the dinghy behind Naiad, but that would severely restrict her sailing speed. The current plan is to try and set an anchor 10m or so away from the mooring with a block attached in such a way that Sprite, the dinghy, can be hauled away from the mooring to lie to that anchor before Naiad leaves the buoy. The line would be tied off to the mooring but with a weight on the line to sink it out of the way. Then Naiad could be sailed off and onto the mooring without having to worry about the dinghy. Then, once Naiad is safely back on the mooring with sails and ropes stowed, the hauling line could be retrieved from the buoy, Sprite hauled back to the boat and the anchor retrieved.

That's the plan but we'll see how it goes.

In the meantime I now have to wait for suitable sailing weekends. This weekend, for example is a lovely sunny two days, but the wind yesterday was nearly a flat calm and today it is not much better.

2022.05.22 - Getting Naiad Ready to Sail

I have to say that things are really coming together on Naiad. I spend the weekend onboard and finished off all but one of the tasks I needed to complete before I could sail Naiad.

I left Southery at 01:10, yes really that early, and arrived at West Mersea at 04:12 just before high water at 04:25. This is the first visit where I didn't need to use the minibus since Sprite, the dinghy, is already "on site" so to speak. This is great as Tina needed to use the minibus for a Working Equitation class she was attending. I'll probably need to work on the procedure for arriving and getting the dinghy loaded and in the water, but it certainly helped to have a high water for the first time as it meant that the trek to the water's edge was greatly reduced.

Still, the basic procedure is to drive the car in to the dinghy park as close to Sprite as possible. Then the cover is removed from Sprite and rolled up. The heavy items are loaded into the dinghy, I put on my wellies, wheel the dinghy down to the water's edge and launch her. I generally pull Sprite up the ramp a little so that there is no chance of her floating away whilst I do the next bit.

I return the trailer to the park and ferry the rest of the items, if any, down and into the dinghy. I put my shoes back on and drive the car to where she is to be parked for the duration of the visit. This time I used a roadside spot about half-a-mile away instead of the car park I have been using. I don't mind the walk and not having to pay £6 per day for parking is a plus. On returning to the dinghy park I put my wellies back on, stow my shoes in the dinghy, get in, take my wellies off again and proceed to row out to the mooring.

The only disadvantage of this procedure is leaving the dinghy packed but untended whilst the car is parked. Still, the expensive items such as the drone, if I've take one along, and the electronics in my valise I take with me when parking the car and returning.

The bird netting is certainly working well although the smaller birds can still sit on the thin line rigged between the mast the the aft end of the boom as you can see in the video clip below. I'd decided to take a look at Naiad using the security camera as I do several times a day, and this is what I saw. I had the wit to hit the record button and although this is only recording at 5 frames per second it has come out quite well. If I had more wit then I would have switched to 15 frames per second and recorded at that rate. There's no wind so no wind noise, the gulls are not close so little gull noise and thus you can easily hear the birdsong of this bird. It's a Pied Wagtail, I think.

I don't really mind birds of this sort using Naiad as a perch since their droppings are a little annoying but not obnoxious unlike that of the gulls. Still, it is a lovely clip and I've uploaded the entire 2 minutes video rather than cut it down.

Getting back to the visit, I undid the cover put the valise into the cockpit and climbed in. The cover is detached, folded and stowed under the poop deck clearing the space for the luggage. The washboards are unlock and stowed and then I unload the dinghy being careful not to drop anything in the water or fall in.

Then it's stow what I can before getting to work, usually by putting the kettle on for a cup of tea.

Only this visit I didn't do that, instead I got into bed and slept for a couple of hours and only after waking up did the kettle go on and I made myself some breakfast. Bacon, mushroom, tomato and broccoli fry up, delicious. One of the things I brought with me to use on Naiad is a small cast iron frying pan. The thin stainless ones are great for hiking as they are light but it is so easy to burn whatever it is you are cooking right in the centre of the pan, even on an alcohol stove. With a cast-iron pan you can burn the food all over the bottom evenly.

I purchased a rectangular collapsible bucket to use for carrying things to the boat, mainly stores and this can be put into a number of places. When moored the bucket lives on the port bunk. When sleeping it goes outside into the cockpit and when sailing it will either be on the bunk or put into the footwell beside the centreboard case. This proved to be a great idea and greatly simplified the day-to-day stowage.

The first task was to take off and stow the bird netting. This was the first time I had attempted this so I was extra careful on how I carried out the procedure.

I completed the drogue chute to hang on the stern of Sprite so that the tide pulls her away from Naiad. It didn't take long and I was please to see that it worked well once it had been mounted and dropped overboard.

Next up was the sails. I fetched the sails from the port bunk, found all the rigging for the staysail and put that up.

So far, so good.

The security camera was dismounted and put below and the mainsail bent on. I have to be a bit careful about this since it meant raising the main at various times to work on the lines securing the sail and that meant that the boom was free to swing around in the light wind. Getting knocked overboard by a fast moving boom was not something I wanted to do.

Still, it went on without any problems although I have mislaid one of the reefing lines so I'll have to check back home to see if it is still in the storage container and if not I'll make up a new one,

Finally, I started work on the jib. Now this was a lot more work as I had not completed the sewing and I spend a very enjoyable afternoon and evening sitting in the cockpit with a cup of tea and sewing away. I didn't complete the jib before I went to bed as I turned in early.

I slept well and treated myself to an extra-long lie ie. I didn't get up until 7am. I know, scandalous.

After my ablutions and getting dressed it was time for breakfast. Omelette with capsicum, onion, mushrooms and cheese. Lovely!

Once the washing up was done I had another cup of tea and sat in the cockpit admiring the view. Little or no wind and sunny.

The first task of the day was to complete the staysail. I sat and worked on the last of the sewing, then put the sail and the rigging into the dinghy and went out to the far end of the bowsprit where this sail is attached. That took no time at all so I found the head of the sail and started to tie that to the haulyard when I realised that I had not put a cringle in the clew so I couldn't attach the jib sheets. There was no hole through which they should be tied!

So I took the sail off again and it will have to come home with me to do that small job and be put on during my next visit.

What a pain!

By this time it had gone low water and the tide was starting to flood so I thought it was time to pack the dinghy and ready Naiad for my returning home.

Firstly the bird netting. It went on fairly easily but I will have to mark the pieces somehow so that it is easy to see which of the three bundles of netting is which part, which edge is the front end and also one of the sides as well.

Still, they went on without too much bother despite the rising wind. The last piece of netting that had not bee attached before was then fitted so that the boat was totally enclosed in netting and that completed the fitting of the netting.

Once done with the netting I packed everything up, undid one side of the netting, pulled the dinghy alongside and put the luggage in the dinghy including the spare battery. The drogue was shipped whilst I did all this, trying to keep the dinghy alongside otherwise was not easy.

Naiad does look very tidy down below now that the sails are not taking up space on the port bunk and things can be stowed properly down there. The cockpit cover is not so easy to get on now with the netting in place but it can be done. The last part of the cover and the netting is done when in the dinghy prior to casting off.

I took the opportunity to take a few photos of Naiad as I drifted away.

The wind and tide took me to the Hammer Head jetty with little effort from me and it was very relaxing letting nature do the work whilst I just rowed a stroke or two every now and then to keep me pointing backwards so that I could see where I was going.

Getting the dinghy back to the park was the reverse of before only this time it was low water so there was a fair distance to pull the dinghy up and into the park.

Still, it wasn't difficult and I wasn't in a rush.

Once the car was packed I parked it a little way down the slip out of the way and treated myself to an ice-cream before starting the journey back home.

All in all a very successful weekend and once the staysail is bent on I'll be able to go sailing.

I wonder where I should go first?

Time for a cup of tea.

2022.05.08 - Not so Well Set Up.

For various reasons I decided to got o Naiad late Friday afternoon and spend two nights onboard. I also would be able to leave the dinghy in the dinghy park on my return as that opens on 5th May this year.

I discovered that Naiad is not so well set up for more than a single night or a day visit.

A two night visit is not something that I've done before or I would have found out the problem earlier, but in a nutshell the stowage space is badly laid out so that it is quite difficult to access the things you need.

For example, all the cooking utensils are under the starboard cabin seat.There are two problems here. firstly I have too many utensils and secondly, I'm usually sitting on the seat when I need to access the utensils that I need to use. So, I need to bring a few items back home and divide what is left into two portions. One portion being the stuff that is use regularly and the other is everything else.

The regularly used stuff should not be under the seat!

The food needs to be in baskets or carriers that have a handle and a lid and these need to be able to fit in the foot well between the centreboard case and the starboard seat. The idea being that during the day these are either on one of the berths or in the foot well and during the night, they are out in the cockpit.

The milk crate in the cabin needs to have just tins or small bottles and not anything else.

During the night the cockpit tent needs to be erected so that things from inside the cabin can be moved out into the cockpit and not get wet if it rains or blown away if the winds blows hard.

Or both.

So, lots more work to do yet.

I'm enjoying this!

2022.04.14 - Easter Visit

This visit to Naiad is a little different. Tomorrow is Good Friday and the forecast for the day, indeed the Easter Weekend, is very good. As a result the parking at the Public Hard is going to be in high demand and I'll need to arrive early to be sure of getting a space. Unfortunately, low water is at 06:20 and that in turn means that I'll not be able to get Sprite in the water between 04:40 and 08:00, so I either arrive before 04:40 or after 08:00. After 8am and parking will be an issue. Before 04:40 and it will be dark and that'll be an issue.

So, I decided to travel down this evening (Thursday) arriving before dark but after low water and spend the night on the boat. This meant a lot of packing since I have not yet taken bedding, towels, spare clothes and the like to Naiad so that all had to be listed, found and packed.

The list is essential so that I don't forget anything.

I set off at 4pm and drove at 50/60 mph down to West Mersea. There was a couple of delays on the way totalling about 30 minutes, but nothing that was irritating. I arrived at around 18:15 and found spaces to park without issue. Then it was unload the dinghy, pack it full of gear and take it down to the water's edge. Strictly, the water was too low to be able to get the dinghy launched but I managed to find some relatively firm mud on which to haul the trailer and dinghy and left Sprite on the mud just above the waterline. By the time I had returned the trailer to the van and re-parked the minibus in my preferred spot, the water had risen and Sprite was almost afloat.

Making sure to gets much mud off my wellies as I stepped into Sprite, I soon had her in deeper water and was pulling for Naiad.

The first task was to reseal the ash tray and heater with the full width tape rather than the half-width tape I tried last visit. Then the heater went on and I checked the foredeck. No fouling from the gulls, so that's a success. 

I unpacked everything and made up the bed. A warm sleeping bag formed the bottom layer, then a cotton sheet sleeping bag, then a duvet for the top layer. That should be warm enough.

Then it was the for a cup of tea and a read as the sun set before turning in.

I slept well.

This is the view from the cockpit as the sun rose the following morning.

Naiad lay on the side of the mud bank at an angle. Nothing too bad but care had to be take with the cooking.

Today's breakfast. Bacon, mushroom, tomato and broccoli fry up! This is one of my favourite breakfasts (144 calories), tasty and filling. It was even more satisfying since I had made it onboard. I plan to cook good meals on my non-day trips to Naiad. There's no point in roughing it when you don't need to.

The task for the day was to rig more netting over the boat aft of the mast and over the boom. This was tricky and time-consuming as the fixing and cutting need to be done from the dinghy but arranging the net in the correct position had to be done from onboard Naiad. I manage to to get all the starboard side done and half the port side but needed to spread the remaining pieces of net out on a large flat surface as the last part of the port side needs a piece 1.8m or 6ft square so I'll need to take the pieces home. I'll spread them out on the hardstanding to see if I have a piece left big enough to get that out in one piece or if I have to join two or more smaller pieces together to get a piece big enough.

Still, I was happy at the result and left Naiad at 11:45 after deciding not to stay, just for the sake of it.

Naiad as I left.

A closer view of the netting.

The next task, apart from fitting the remaining piece of netting, is to thread the iridescent tape through the net at the edges and the top so I know where these are and to take the net down. This will be done by unclipping the net two or three clips at a time and rolling the net up starting at the back of the net.

The net is in three sections. From the transom to the peak halyard. From the other side the peak halyard to the mast and the foredeck. The idea is that each section will be carefully rolled up, tied and stowed. The tape should make putting the netting back easier.

We shall see.

Even if it is a little tricky it will be worth it if it keeps the gulls off the deck!!

2022.04.10 - Anti-Seagull Measures

With a good forecast for the day I made another very early start leaving Southery at 04:00 for the drive down to Mersea Island. There has been panic-buying of diesel in our area and thus a shortage locally, I drove carefully and at 50 mph in the 60 mph areas and 60 mph on the dual carriageway and keeping my accelerations down. Not being a lead-foot driver really helps the fuel consumption. I started with 2/3rds of a tank of fuel and that may have to last me some time. I decided to keep an eye out for fuel stops on the way down. 

I arrived at 05:55 to a beautiful morning and by 06:20 I was on the boat.

To my surprise, very little of the tapes I had tied onto Naiad during my last visit remained but there was only a little recent fouling on the foredeck that had not dried. I presume that the tape kept the gulls away until it was blown away by the very strong winds a couple of days ago and hence the much reduced fouling.

The view from the cockpit aft.

The view to the South-West

And the view to the North.

Today's main tasks were to try and seal the ash-catcher on the heater to the heater body and to try to develop easy to mount and dismount anti-seagull measures. The reason for the seal was to try to reduce the gaps at the bottom of the heater where air can get in so that the airflow control is purely down to the adjuster. This was moderately successful. I'll have another go next visit as once the heater is hot it is not possible to make another attempt until it has cooled down.

For the anti-seagull measures, the first thing to do was to screw on a number of lacing straps under the gunwale. You can see three of these in the photo above. You can also see the muddy bottom which shows just how clear the water is at the moment. The depth of water at the time is about 1.2 m or 4 ft.

The lacing straps were put on at 12" (30cm) intervals on both sides of the boat.

The current idea is to use bird netting to cover the deck and clipped to the lacing straps using the spring hooks shown above. Both the lacing straps and the clips are 304 Stainless Steel and should not rust.

I started with the foredeck and will see how well that keeps the dreaded flying rats from fouling the deck. The net is held up by a couple of thin lines from the mast to the forestay, seen as the red lines in the photo above.

A side view showing the net.

A closer view showing the netting. If this works as I will find out on my next visit, then I will make two more anti-gull nets to cover the deck from the mast to the peak halyard where is it attached to the gaff and the third from there to the aft of the boat. With the hook and strap arrangement undoing the netting should be fairly straightforward, hopefully rolling the net up should also be easy, as should putting it back again before I leave. 

Showing more of the lacing straps.

For now I have tied a few tapes to the boat to scare the gulls aft of the. foredeck, if there is no strong winds between now and my next visit they should stay attached.

I do hope the netting works, I really do not want to put on the mainsail until this is sorted. The sails may not be particularly good but I'd prefer them not to be covered in seagull droppings.

One last task was carried out during this visit and that was the replacement of the GifGaf SIM card in the camera with one from EE. I can now watch the boat nearly all daylight hours. I worked it out and for the monthly fee I could watch the boat for 10 hours per day, every day for the month using the low resolution.


As an aside, I was able to fill up with fuel on the way home. Most fuel stations were selling diesel for around £1.75 to £1.80 per litre but two were selling at £1.71. Guess where I filled up !!

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