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 !