With the weather forecast to be fine this weekend I took Friday and Monday off in order to spend it sailing. The forecast wind looked like it would be possible to sail up to the Walton Backwaters on Friday, sail back again on Saturday and then have a trip up the Blackwater on Sunday returning to the mooring on Monday.
With all that in mind I set off on thursday afternoon after work with supplies and clothing for the four-day trip.
It was the normal tedious drive to Mersea, then getting the dinghy down to the water, packing my things into it, parking the car up at the club carpark, walking back to the dinghy, pushing it into the water, rowing out the the mooring, undoing the bird netting, taking the cockpit cover off, unlocking the boat, unpacking the dinghy, stowing everything away, taking down the Reolink and finally having a cup of tea !!!
During the evening a Spitfire did around 10 minutes of flying over West Mersea and I was able to get most of this on video taken with my iPhone. Now an iPhone is not the best video camera for this type of work but it isn't too bad despite the plane being a bit small in the video.
After that I finished my tea and recorded another much shorter video.
After that I turned on for the night as I had a very early start.
No sooner had I dropped the mooring lines to sail out of the channel but the wind died and I spend the next few hours paddling Naiad to keep her from hitting various buoys and markers.
As you can see from the above video, there's not a breath of wind.
Nice picture of the sunrise, though.
It soon became evident that I wasn't going to be able to make the BackWaters since the force 3-4 South East wind that had been forecast turned out to be force 2-3 Easterly. Not strong enough to get me up the coast fast enough before the tide changed and in the wrong direction. Time to look at plan B. Since I was just passing the mouth of the Colne I could perhaps sail up that river and spend the night at Rat Island or in the Pyefleet. I headed in towards the mouth of river and started making plans for where I would anchor for the night when it occurred to me that I should check the weather forecast for the next day. Just as well I did since this showed me that although I would have no trouble getting into the river, getting out again would not be so easy and would be very uncomfortable.
Okay, then Plan C. I'd go to the beach near Bradwell and stop there the night a day earlier than planned. But when I got there an anchored I found that the small bay was not sheltered from the Easterly wind and it was not going to be comfortable there either.
Right then, plan D. Spend the night behind Osea Island. I hoisted the anchor and set off only to find a little while later that my sounding cane had fallen overboard. Now this might not sound like a big deal but the cane is pretty much essential when sailing up narrow creeks in the mud and for ensuring that when you do anchor there's nothing under the boat that could cause any damage. Things like old tree trunks or Austin 7 engines once used as mooring sinkers.
So, Plan E, Mundon Stone Point.
Throughout my sailing life until I bought Naiad the abiding principle was stay away from the shore and don't go aground. It was therefore difficult for me to sail up to Mundon Stone Point on this occasion with the firm intention of beaching Naiad on the mud for the night. I just couldn't do it and dithered around sailing across the river and back each time getting carried further and further up the Blackwater by the tide and unable to get back to the point due to the strength of both the wind a tide.
Eventually I forced myself to anchor in shallow water which, by now, was quite a distance away from the shore.
Another short video.
The mud gets closer and closer.
As it does so the waves get less violent and Naiad stops being thrown around.
Next time, and there will be a next time, I'll head straight for the point and be done with it.
Another short video.
It was quite a relief to have Naiad aground safely. I really should have anchored much sooner than I did. I would have had nearly six hours of restful sleep.
In the end I only had around three.
Of course, the wind died around sunset and the waves died down.
It was still a beautiful day and although I'd spent several hours waiting for the tide to go out and being thrown from side to side by the waves, I had a good day's sail.
The speck you can see sticking out of the water ahead of the boat is one of the flukes of the anchor. Not something on which you want the boat to settle, so when the tide is going out you make sure to locate the anchor before it's too late to do anything about it.
I put up the anchor light for the first time. I bought the light several years ago but didn't use it since the burner was not held in the lantern firmly and having burning oil all over your boat is not something you really want, so until I had fixed this issue, I didn't want to use the light. Fixed it is now and lit for the first time as the sun sets.
Here is the anchor light as the sun rises, still burning in the fore part of the boat.
I hung around until just before High Water and here you can see why Mundon Stone Point is really only easily accessible from the water. At High Tide it is completely surrounded by water.
Even the land linking it to the shore is underwater except for a few lumps here and there sticking out of the water like the back of some sea monster.
After casting off I had a fairly good sail back to the mooring.