2023.05.11 - Mundon Stone Point Overnight

Thursday. I still had a few things I needed to do onboard before the overnight trips so I went down to the mooring to get those done. I didn't go at stupid o'clock today but left after getting up at the normal time. This was a mistake. A trip that normally takes 100 minutes took 150 due to the traffic conditions in Colchester. Still, I carried out the tasks on Naiad that I had set myself, mainly sorting out the cabin and checking to see that all the rigging was tight and then set off home again. The trip home was better.

Friday. Today I set out at stupid o'clock and had an easy drive down to the mooring. In fact I was there early enough to get my provisions and things aboard, move Naiad to a deep water mooring and then go back to bed for 2 hours. Tim was due to arrive sometime around 11 am and I went ashore at 10:30 to be ready for him. The wind was strong and against the tide so the conditions were just a bit choppy. I couldn't use the club launch for two reasons. The first was that the tide was too low for the launch to be able to get down the Besom Fleet and secondly, I needed the dinghy in order to get Tim's boat launched.

Tim arrived later than expected due to traffic and a couple of relief stops along the way. We got the boat rigged, well Tim did and I assisted where necessary and the boat, Rabbit, was moved down to the water's edge on the trailer.

Rabbit is a Voyager 14 build around 1970 and is much. smaller and lighter than Naiad.

As such it was easy to get Rabbit off the trailer and onto the shingle without having to wait for the tide to rise. We tied Rabbit to one of the scrubbing posts and sorted out the trailer and cars and had a cup of tea at the café while we waited for the tide to rise. We realised at this time that we hadn't taken any photos so we took care of that right away.

The tide came in relentlessly but not really fast enough for people waiting.

Rabbit was soon afloat and we took her out to the mooring that was hers for the night.

As you can see, it's a bit rough as you can see.

We treated ourselves to a meal in the club. This was mine and I couldn't eat it all.

We set sail about mid-ebb and I took a few videos of Tim sailing around the River Blackwater. I've joined them altogether and edited the result a bit and posted it.

We had an amazing sail, we had put in a reef in the mains before setting off but I outpaced Rabbit considerably and I took the main down and sailed with just the headsails up. Even so we arrived at the Osea Island anchorage before low water and since we had six hours to wait for High Water. We had intended not to leave until just before Low Water but the wind was so good we decided to leave early. We both had a nap in our respective boats before Tim went off sailing again. As you can see from the following photos, the wind had reduced considerably as had the sea.

This is the beach by the anchorage at Osea Island on the South side.

There were a few other boats there but otherwise it was not at all crowded.

Rabbit close by.

About an hour before High Water we set off for Mundon Stone Point.

This visit, however, Naiad was moored on the inside of the point about 50m from the point itself. Tim went off for another sail since this is the first time he has sailed on the sea, his normal sailing area is Barton Broad on the Norfolk Broads. I stayed up until the boats grounded in the mud and then went to bed.

The next day dawned bright and calm. Virtually no wind at all. High Water was early and we set off at slack water. We tried to sail but had to paddle until the tide turned and we were taken along by the tide.

We gained a little wind about an hour before we got back to the moorings and were able to sail through the Besom Fleet and pick up the moorings. This time I picked up my own mooring and while Tim waited I closed up the ship and then rowed back to the shore with Tim sailing along behind. We tied Rabbit to a vacant mooring for the moment, then went ashore via the Hammerhead pontoon. The cars and trailer were retrieved from the club car park and the trailer taken down to the water's edge and put into position with the hitch pointing away from the incoming tide so that Rabbit would be pushed onto the trailer when we got to that point.

We had another cup of tea at the café and waited for the tide to cover the trailer wheels.

Rabbit was retrieved from the mooring, Tim rowed while I held the painter. When we were in shallow enough water I got out of the dinghy, I was wearing my waders for this part of the exercise, and Tim rowed ashore and beached the dinghy. My task was to position the boat such that the tide would push Rabbit onto the trailer and then hold her in position and wait for the tide to rise far enough.

It worked like a charm. Rabbit slid onto the trailer and we immediately pulled boat and trailer out of the water and onto the shingle. Tim pulling on a long rope from the shore and I pulled the trailer directly. Then it was just a case of use Tim's car to pull on the rope and then the trailer and move Rabbit up to the top of the shingle.

Tim then derigged Rabbit and once that was done we parted company and returned to our respective homes.

A very good outing.

Time for a cup of tea.

2023.05.07 - Voyage to Mundon Stone Point

The weather forecast and tides for today looked good for a trip to Mundon Stone Point and return. Low Water was at 08:07 and it was Spring tides so I would need to get to the slip no later than 90 minutes earlier to ensure that Naiad was still afloat. I set of at stupid o'clock (translation 4am) and had an uneventful drive down. I do like driving without other traffic on the road, or very little. However, I miscalculated and found that I barely had enough water in which to launch the dinghy so I had a very rushed time getting the dinghy out of the park, loaded & down to the water's edge, return the dinghy trailer to the park and then park the minibus in the club's main car park 5 minutes walk up the road and then back down to the dinghy which was nowhere close to the water's edge any more. Still, the mud was slippery enough to be able to push the dinghy over it with the quant which I had brought along to put on Naiad.

It must have looked a strange sight of a man standing in a small dinghy pushing it out over the mud with a 12 foot pole until I could sit down and row the rest of the way. The pole was tied to the back of the dinghy and towed in the water as it was far too long to put in the dinghy.

I reached Naiad with only one grounding on the mud but then had to rush to get Naiad ready to sail since she was also running out of water.

I cast off the mooring at 07:15 with enough wind in the channel to be able to sail out without tacking. I did run aground a couple of times as I strayed out of the channel but I pulled up the centreboard each time so that Naiad could sail on and when back in the channel let the board down again.

I was so rushed to get going that I didn't have time to make a cup of tea but I had half a travel mug of coffee left from the drive down and made do with that.

Several boats from the WMYC were out in the Mersea Quarters preparing for a race and I sailed through the fleet as the were putting up sails and generally getting ready to race.

There were not many boats out for this race.

About seven all told but they did seem keen.

The boat without any sails up is the committee boad from which the race it run. 

The AIS antenna sits snugly on the mast as you can see here and this is a "publicity" photo that I'm going to send to the guy who manufactures these units.

A three-masted ship crossed in front of Naiad's bows, it looks a lot further away than in reality due to using he iPhone camera for marine footage.

Radio Caroline. How many people remember that? I certainly do and my early teenage years were around the time that Radio Caroline was broadcasting originally.

The Radio Caroline name still lives on and "Ross Revenge" the ship from which Radio Caroline still broadcasts has been anchored in the Blackwater River since 2014.

Doesn't look like much but has a long history.

The remainder of the trip to the point was uneventful and aided by the tide. I took some photos as I approached the point but, as, usual, you really need a very good camera to take this sort of shot sucessfully.

Another shot and if you look carefully you can see the channel marker buoys.

This is a closer photo once I had dropped anchor in about 2 foot of water. The mud is about 20 yards away and it is about 2 hours before High Water.

A long shingle spit runs to the West of the point and at the time this photo was taken the lower end of the spit was covered in noisy seagulls. However, I prefer the noise of the gulls to the loud music being played from the holiday park on the other side of the creek and later the raucous noises of fast jet skis and motor boats that tore around the waters for most of the afternoon. These days the River Blackwater is a popular place for watersports and not so good for peace and quiet until they go away.

Having tided up the sails I decided that brunch was in order and for this I had brought along the makings for an omelette. Eggs, milk, butter, red pepper, mushrooms, bacon, salt and black pepper. I forgot the cheese but it was a pretty good omelette nevertheless.

This is the point about an hour before High Water and you can see that most of the shingle spit is now underwater.

However, you can quite clearly see where is is since the tide still rushing into the creek overfalls the shingle and makes a definite line in the water as you can see on the left of the photo. I flew the drone for a few moment  but that video is for later.

I weighed anchor about 20 minutes before High Water and paddled out into the main river as the wind had died and I wanted to make sure that I made full use of the ebb tide.

The return voyage back to the mooring was pretty boring from a person reading this, so I won't bore you with the details. Suffice it to say that the wind picked up abut an hour before I sailed back up the channel agains the still ebbing tide and onto the mooring.

Once again I had to hurry to get Naiad put to bed and get ashore as the mud was growing. In the process I broke the dinghy trailer so before I can sail again I have to fix that.

Nevertheless, it was a great day, one that I thoroughly enjoyed.

Time for a cup of tea.

2023.04.29 - First Sail of the 2023 Season

The weather forecast for today called for winds initially from the North East and then from the South East later force 1, sunny with a high of 14 Celsius and no precipitation. So I made the decision to try to get Naiad out for a sail. The tides were not optimal which meant another early start but nothing untoward otherwise.

I still had a few things that I wanted to do before sailing and hence the early start as I wanted to get them done before sailing and that meant arriving before the tide started ebbing. High tide was at 07:20. I need the ebb to be able to get out of the channel in light winds.

This is the scene that greeted on my arrival at the public slip at 05:30 this morning. A beautiful, clear, calm, warm and starting to get sunny day.

This shows just how calm the water was, with neap tides not even disturbing the water, a near perfect mirror sea. 

There were four main things I wanted to get done today before sailing. The first was to put a red line on the forward, port side of each of the bird net sections so that it is easier to figure out where they go when putting them back in place. 

The second thing was to re-rig the parrel beads that are being used instead of mast hoops or a plain lashing as I wasn't happy with the way I had them last year and also the new mainsail has four cringles for the lasing instead of the three I had before, so I needed to buy more plastic stoppers to make up the fourth.

The third task was to put thinner line on the staysail Wykeham-Martin furling gear as the line I had been using was really too thick. This didn't take too long and made quite a difference to the ease of furling and unfurling the sail. I had already done the one for the jib a couple of seasons ago, I just never go around to doing the staysail.

Fourthly, I took off the snap shackles on both headsails that I had used to attach the sheets and replaced them with a rope replacement that I had made up. I had intended to do this right from when Naiad was launched and the snap shackles were just an interim measure. But I never got around to it until today.

I discovered that I'd forgotten to put the milk into the carrier when I left the house at 03:30 this morning, it is still sitting on the kitchen table, so once I had the tasks done I rowed back to shore and went to the café only to find that I'd left my wallet on Naiad. Fortunately they let me have a tea anyway on the promise that I'd pay later. I took my tea back to the boat and then found that I'd also left my breakfast at home, that's still in the fridge. However, my tea from the café was so nice that I grabbed my wallet, rowed back ashore and went and bought another one as well as paying for the first one. That's my exercise for the day. A total of three trips out to Naiad and back again.

Two chocolate bars substituted for breakfast.

On the first trip back to shore I took my VHF as I wanted to check that the AIS was working. It was, I'm pleased to say.

With all that out of the way and with the wind now about force 1 as forecast, I rigged Naiad for sailing, cast off at 09:05, about an hour before half-ebb, and with the light wind blowing up the channel and the ebb flowing down the channel I slowly tacked out of the channel and into the River Blackwater. It was marvellous!

This is the new mainsail. Not only does it look good but it works well also. All the sails do and with all sails set in the light breeze Naiad was perfectly balanced. It was remarkable. I rolled the jib in as the wind grew stronger to keep the helm balanced and pulled it out again when the wind died down a little for the same reason. Two of the reefing lines needed to be redone as they crossed instead or running straight up and down. One of those I did under sail and the other one when I returned to the mooring since it is right at the end of the boom and more difficult to get to when sailing.

Once I was out in the River I set up the GoPro on the new mount and set it going only I found out when I got home that although I turned the camera on, I clearly heard the bleeps, when I pressed the button to start recording it didn't. I don't think I pressed the button hard enough. The case I'm using has a special microphone attached that has a wind noise reducer on and as such I can't see the screen on the back of the GoPro and couldn't see if it started recording. Fortunately I did take a couple of photos with my phone. This one is looking back at the Bessom Fleet (pronounced Buzzan Fleet), the channel in which Naiad is moored.

And this is West Mersea from mid-river.

I sailed around the river between West Mersea and Bradwell just enjoying the sailing and then went back to the mooring. A total of over three hours sailing. The tablet holder worked really well and I didn't need to tilt the holder up much at all for it to be useful. The screen on the Tripltek is so very bright that it was easy to read even when in direct sunlight.

The only downside of the day, apart from forgetting the milk and food, was that the cockpit cover is torn. I didn't put it back on but took it home to use as a template for a new one. Hopefully it won't rain too much before I get the new one made and taken out to Naiad.

A splendid day and time for a cup of tea or two before I collapse into bed and catch up on my sleep !

2023.04.22 - New Sails

Before I can go sailing on Naiad I had to put on her new sails. I collected these from the sailmaker on 17th March and they have been sitting in the house waiting to be bent on. I did a couple of jobs on them whilst they were at home. The reefing points were taken off the old mainsail and put on the new one and I also added four low-friction thimbles to the reefing cringles, two at the luff (the front edge of the sail) and two at the leech (the back edge of the sail).

The theory goes like this; when putting in a reef when sailing the procedure is to let the throat down and attach the luff cringle to the boom. Then the peak is lowered and the leech cringle is pulled down and attached to the boom. Ideally the now spare sail is rolled up and the reefing points are used to tie this neatly away so that it doesn't catch on anything.

This procedure is fine if you have crew but when you are single-handed it is usual to run the reefing lines to point on the boom so that the cringles can be pulled down without leaving the cockpit.

Now this is where it gets technical. The reefing cringles are quite narrow and the line used to pull down the sail has to make a 180 degree turn through the narrow cringle and this make it hard as the friction is very high. So instead you lash a wide cringle to the narrow one so that the line doesn't have to make such a sharp turn and that significantly reduces the friction and makes it easier to pull down the sail and therefore it makes it safer.

Although I took the sails last week when Naiad was launched, by the time I got her out to the mooring and had tidied up I was pretty tired and when I'm tired I make mistakes. I think most people do and the trick is to recognise when you are making mistakes and to stop and rest. The forecast suggested that today would be a good day in West Mersea to put on the sails so I got up at 3am and was away by 03:30 having packed the car yesterday after work.

It was an easy drive down with little traffic but there were a few fog patches which meant I had to take a little care in these parts of the trip. I arrived at the Yacht Club at around 05:15 and it was already light by this time so I didn't need to resort to using a torch to change into trousers and wellies and then get the dinghy from the "toast rack" as it is known at the club. I am going to have to find a better way to get the dinghy out and put it back again as it is very heavy.

This was the sight that greeted me after I had rowed out to Naiad. As you can see it is completely calm, not a breath of wind and the ripples you can see on the water are from the fast ebbing tide.

The first job of the day after getting onboard was a cup of tea. You'll notice that I haven't even removed the bird netting as I want to do some work on them before getting the sails on. Two parts of the netting over the cockpit needed to be tied together, they have been attached using a few clips but this is not very good so instead I tied the nets together at the corner of each square where they touched. It was about 30 knots in total and my fingers were really cold by the time I finished. This was partly the reason for doing this first, it was easy and safe, no chance of me falling in by slipping on a wet deck or losing my grip because of cold hands.

Here is the tablet in the new holder. It's pretty good but does suffer one drawback that I didn't think of and that it it is impossible to get the tablet out of the holder with gloves on! Looks good even so. I'll probably put a lift tape at the bottom in such a way that pulling the tape lifts the tablet up so that the top edge can be grasped by a gloved hand.

I had arrived about an hour before low water and by the time I'd had my tea, tied the bird netting and then taken it all down Naiad was on the mud.

The next job was to lower the mast as I noticed that I messed up the rigging of the forestay and the jib halyard last week. The photos I took last week didn't look right and I only noticed when I was back home.

This is the rigging at the top of the mast last week, the "before" photo. The two lines on the left of the image meet more or less at the mast and this is not correct. It needed to be fixed since when the sail is hoisted up there the two lines will rub against each other and since one of them is wire and the other rope, it won't take long for the rope one to chafe through and break. So the mast had to be lowered so that I could correct the error.

This is the rigging as I was leaving today. There are three lines but it is the two upper ones that are the ones to notice. You can clearly see that they no longer meet at the mast and this is how they should have been rigged last week. The third line is in the "before" photo but you cannot easily see it as it is going straight up and down the mast as there isn't a sail hosted on that line.

I had to take a photo of this poor boat. Naiad may be moving to that mooring and I hope she does as you can clearly see that the boat is in a little bay at low water and I'm fairly sure that Naiad would still be floating over there. This boat isn't as it has a deep keel and leans over at low water. It's also covered in long strands of weed showing that the boat hasn't been used for quite some time.

So, here is Naiad seven hours later with the new sails put on and she is now ready to sail. Perhaps my next visit will be a sailing trip. I hope so.

It was nearly the top of the tide when I took that photo, just about an hour before high water so I didn't have to do much rowing and let the tide take me back to the hard. Having put the dinghy away and changed back into a kilt I had my breakfast, a two-scoop ice cream in a tub and then set off home again.

A very satisfactory day but now I'm too tired even for a cup of tea.

2023.04.16 - The Launch Spring 2023

Today was going to be a very busy day. My alarm woke me at half past midnight and I was driving away at 01:06 have got up, done my ablutions, fed the cats and the horse and made a coffee in an insulated travel mug. The trip down to West Mersea was uneventful and I stopped four times during the trip to check on Naiad and the trailer. As I had hoped everything stayed where it should have been and nothing fell off or broke.

We arrived at 03:25-ish and I set to in rigging Naiad. It was quiet and windless and I had the slip to myself that early in the morning. For the first 90 minutes or so I had to do everything by torchlight but eventually I had everything rigged and loaded.

This is the situation at 06:30, three hours after arriving. Naiad is rigged, the car is parked and I have retrieved the dinghy from the dinghy park.

I pushed Naiad on the trailer down to the water's edge but not into the water just yet. It's about 100m and quite hard work. It's not easy to see but there is a rise in the shingle just where the green band of seaweed is lying and getting Naiad over that bump was hard.

The dinghy was pushed down next and launched with the trailer being pulled up the beach about 50m. I also attached a long line to the trailer and laid that out up the beach so that I can retrieve the trailer once Naiad has floated.

The trailer was pushed back but I was a bit tired and allowed one of the wheels to go off the shingle and into the mud so instead of being able to float Naiad off the trailer immediately, I had to wait until the tide had come in a bit further. Once she had floated I used the dinghy to tow her out to a nearby vacant buoy, rowed back to the shore, pulled the trailer up the beach, retrieved the car and then took the car and trailer up to the club car park for the time being. Then it was back to the dinghy, row out to Naiad, reattached the tow rope and tow Naiad out to her mooring some 520m away against the tide and that was quite hard work piled on top of yesterday's hard work and this morning's hard work.

Naiad is on a new mooring about 50m down river from her old one so having reached the buoy and tied Naiad to it, I rowed back to the old mooring to retrieve the mooring ropes which were still attached. Then it was back to Naiad and attach the mooring lines to the new buoy and remove the tow rope. Finally it was get onboard Naiad and sort her out as much as I could.

Eventually, three hours after launching Naiad I was rowing away again and took the above photo.

But I still hadn't finished. I put the trailer back in the dinghy park, took the stuff I had returned from Naiad up to the car and stowed that, put on my shoes instead of boots, took the empty coffee mug and went back down to the Blackwater Café to refill the coffee, buy some snacks for the drive home and have breakfast. A double scoop of ice cream in a tub!!!

The trip home was also uneventful but by the time a arrived home and unpacked the car I could barely stand up from the fatigue.

I went to bed really early.

I didn't even stop for a cup of tea.

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