The Naiad Voyages

Mark Austen

2018.12.14 - A Cold Winter's Day

Despite the cold and since the forecast suggested that there was a good sailing wind today, I set off early and arrive at my mooring around 09:00. The first task of the day, even before I had completely removed the cockpit cover, was to light the heater and get the kettle on. The temperature outside today is hovering around 3 Celsius so the heater is necessary.

Come to think on it, so is the tea!

I didn't use the normal mugs today but the insulated coffee mugs that I have. Hopefully that should keep my tea hot for more than five minutes which is about how long it takes in this weather to make the tea cold in the standard mugs.

Having started the heater and the kettle I prepared Naiad for a sail. The wind was lighter than I expected, less than the forecast force 2 but it was indeed coming from the East. The forecast suggested that this would become a little more Southerly by noon so a trip upriver was indicated.

I'd come out of the house without the cameras today, I forgot to bring them, but I have my iPhone which should do in a pinch.

It looks like quite a reasonable day but belies just how cold it is.


Enough wind at the moment and Naiad slips along easily.


A nice view looking back towards the club.


And by this time the heater was burning nicely and most of the initials smoke had gone. Not quite all, though, as you can see.



Naiad does seem to sail along well despite the lack of wind as you can can from the video clip above. I took the clip as that clump of bright green vegetation at the the river's edge is Floating Penny Wort, an invasive species that if left unchecked would cover the river completely in a matter of weeks. Last year the river Cam was completely blocked by the stuff and had to be dragged out of the river by machines and the remnants poisoned with a suitable herbicide.


This next clip shows the brown dead and decaying rushes. You can also see how little wind there is (again) at water level. Yet Naiad still sails along. This is the problem with the high banks. Little or no wind at water level but wind enough at the top of the sail to push us along.


This clip shows just how close you can get to the edge of the river in places. I have the centre plate right down so the draft at this point is about 4' and yet I am only a little more than that away from the shallows. The riverbank proper, the hard ground upon which you could easily walk, is about 6-8 feet away from the clear water. The shallows, where the rushes and reeds are growing, is the very muddy edge of the river. You could walk on this wearing waders but you probably wouldn't really want to do that. Then the river bottom drops off very rapidly as you can see. Nevertheless, it is wonderful sailing.


The hand on the helm has three pairs of gloves, well one pair of gloves and two mittens.The first layer, also on the other hand, is a Thinsulate glove. On top of that I have a fleece mitten and over that the waterproof and windproof mitten you can see here. The other hand, when not holding tea or pulling ropes is in my jacket pocket to keep warm. Result, nice warm hands.

My toes, however are frozen!


It didn't take long to reach the Ship Inn, about 45 minutes in this wind. Although there appears to be more wind here you'll notice that Naiad isn't moving quite as fast.


The reason for the slow down as you can see more clearly in this video clip is that the wavelets on the water are not from much wind.



Running out of wind here as Naiad is now in the wind shadow of the Ship Inn. This narrow boat never seems to move. I did see some people on it last year watching the rowing race at the beginning of September but no-one since then. That piece of paper you can see on the front window is a "We are going to take you to court for not paying your EA license" notice. It sounds like Naiad has an engine in this clip, but the motor noise is from farm vehicles the other side of the river bank.

Round the corner the Black Hole was in force and we drifted up river for some while and then I decided to put the kettle on. Now I can't do that and sail at the same time, so I dropped the sails and let Naiad drift into the rushes at the river's edge.


She is just gently laying alongside the rushes. The centreplate and rudder are up and the very light wind is just keeping in place.


This is the stern view. I didn't stay there long, just long enough to make another cup of tea. It would have been quite peaceful but...


...this shows you why it's not. I really do not like sailing up the river along this section of the river, the road is alongside the river all the way to Ely. It can be very noisy indeed. The sailing the other way, down river to Modney Bridge is much quieter but the wind rarely allows me to sail that way.


There is another road on the other side of the river just here but it's little more peaceful. The sheep don't make much noise at all. There is the occasionally tractor, but the noise you can hear is the noise from the traffic on the other side of the river.

I decided to turn around at this point, even the wind in the top of the sail wasn't really enough, In fact, there was so little wind that I paddle-sailed most of the way back to the mooring.


The approach to the club moorings is very different from when I left. Now it is quite gloomy. Still, the paddling was good exercise.

Didn't warm up my toes, however. I'll have to do something about that in future.