Naiad has spent the Winter on her mooring and as a result of this she will have marine growth on her hull under the waterline. This will be seaweed, slime and barnacles all of which will need to be removed before I can sail. Well, I could sail without doing that but Naiad will go quite slowly.
Now, I can scrub her bottom in a number of ways and each of which has their pros and cons. I could for example, swim around the boat with a scrubbing brush and reach under the hull to scrub the growth off at arm's length. But this will be dangerous as the water temperature is quite low at the moment and I would risk hyperthermia. I could do this during the Summer but not right now.
The next method would be to beach the boat and scrub when the tide goes out. However, Naiad is a fairly flat bottom so I would not be able to get under the hull to scrub.
I could get the boatyard to lift Naiad out of the water by crane and scrub her like that but this is expensive and they would only do this during the week and not at the weekends.
Another method would be to put Naiad on the trailer and scrub her like that but the changes I made to the trailer would mean that I could not scrub the bottom of the keel nor the bilge rubbers.
So, I decided to make a special accessory to the trailer that will allow me to scrub her completely. At least I hope it will.
The time of High Water was 05:00, more or less and I wanted to use the flood tide to help get Naiad the 600m or so from her mooring to the hard. If the wind were reasonable then I could sail but the forecast was for very light wind possible a calm so I expected to need to paddle and trying to do that against the tide with a fouled hull did not fill me with enthusiasm. As a result I set off around a quarter past midnight and towing the modified trailer I had a leisurely, uneventful trip down to West Mersea.
On arrival I parked in the public car park which was empty and free between 18:00 and 08:00. Then it was the usual get out the dinghy, row to Naiad, unclip the bird netting, fold the cockpit cover and get her ready for the trip. The wind was virtually non-existent but even so I took off the video camera on the mast and the sail cover so that if I have to do so I could raise the mainsail.
Then it was an easy paddle to the hard assisted by the tide.
I'm always amazed at how little water Naiad needs in order to float. When I got to the shore and Naiad grounded, I got into the dinghy and from there I stepped out of the dinghy into the water. I could have just stepped out of Naiad and still not had the water halfway up my wellies. Astonishing!
I moved the car to the top of the hard and parked it so that the headlights shone on Naiad in the water, pushed the trailer to the water's edge, donned my waders, grabbed the scrubbing brush-on-a-pole that I'd made and waded back to Naiad. Experimentally I used the brush-on-a-pole to see what happened and it was so good that I was able to scrub Naiad completely just using the brush.
I'd put on a sleeveless teeshirt just for this purpose and I stood in the water in my waders and teeshirt and scrubbed away. The only part that caused any difficulty was the part of the hull that lay between each bilge runner and the keel since for this part I had to put both hands under water to be able to get the brush to contact the hull.
The water was very cold and I don't do the cold very well. Still, I managed to scrub this section three or four times on each side before calling that bit done.
Here is Naiad with a clean bottom just sitting in the water.
I took this from further back, just beside the car, the unused trailed is just visible to the right of the frame. This worked out very well as the tide had just turned as I finished the job.
Having done this I put the trailer and car back in the car park and used Sprite to tow Naiad back out to her mooring again assisted by the now ebbing tide. It didn't take long to put Naiad to bed once I reached the mooring. I rowed back to the hard, put the dinghy away and then drove back home. From start to finish the task took about eight and a half hours and I only needed the waders and scrubbing brush.
The next time I do this it is going to be much easier.
The type of sailing I do in Naiad is not what you might call normal. In fact, as the title states, it's a bit of an oddity. I cruise, yes, but to narrow and shallow anchorages that may only be reached by a small, shallow draft boat. I don't visit marinas since Naiad doesn't fit and besides which, I can't really afford the prices. I am a member of the Dinghy Cruising Association since technically, Naiad is a Falcon dinghy but I don't really fit into their philosophy either. The DCA members keep their boats at home, or near home, and take them to the next cruise on a trailer. They launch in the morning, sail around and camp overnight somewhere, sail back to the launching place, retrieve their boats and go home.
There are a few other sailors that do the same as I do in Naiad, but they are not common, so my sailing tends to be very solo. Even the Cruising in Company events that are organised by the Yacht Club are only possible if I can start the day before the event proper allowing me time to get to the destination before the others arrive. They are all much faster than Naiad and if I didn't set off earlier, then I'd not get to the destination in time.
So, what am I planning for this year?
As much sailing as I can get done if weather permits and I want to visit more of the creeks and inlets that border the River Blackwater. I'm hoping to do some reconnaissance during the early Spring, visiting these destinations from the land at low water and taking photos and possibly some drone footage. This will give me a better idea of what the mud is like and where obstructions exist that must be avoided.
Hopefully it will be an interesting year.