Tuesday, June 12, 2007

New Lessons

Tuesday, 12th June

The 0520 Shipping Forecast for Thames predicted SW 3/4, occasionally 5, with fog patches, showers and occasionally very poor visibility. In the event, that was not a bad forecast for having a bash at reaching the Walton Backwaters. I needed to make 4 knots to ensure I would arrive at Stone Banks off Naze Point before the flood tide would sweep me towards Clacton; furthermore the long range forecast gave a South Westerly 6 for the 13th June when I planned to return to Burnham. A delay hanging around at the Backwaters would not give me the time I needed for personal things that have to be done before I take ‘Faith’ to the West Country later in the month.

As I had not fully tested ‘Faith’ in strong winds I decided it would be more profitable and more pleasant to sail against the SW4 or 5 on the River Crouch to Fambridge, but conditions were entirely different to those of yesterday. Initially the wind was SW 2 which was ideal for tacking through the moored yachts at Burnham. Everything went flawlessly and it was great fun sailing between the yachts, but as we neared Creeksea the wind increased and the tide strengthened which caused short steep breaking waves. ‘Faith’ was over-canvassed as she hobby-horsed without making a great deal of way. At first, attempts at tacking in those conditions were not always successful, but I soon discovered I needed to free the sheet to allow the bow to pay off, especially when changing to the port tack because the sail is mounted on the port side of the mast.

I soon learnt to reef smartly so as not to be over-pressed. All in all, I learnt a great deal about handling the boat and anchoring. I discovered I needed to raise the rudder before anchoring by the stern to prevent the rode from snagging the rudder; in force 3 I found it was necessary to reef the sail when going to windward; in choppy conditions I found I needed to sail freer. Generally, ‘Faith’ moved faster when the sheet was not pinned in.

My day had plenty of excitement as I sailed many different courses with variations of sail area. The fog did not materialize; instead there was sun for most of the day. For lunch I anchored off Cliff Reach then I had a snooze. It was very pleasant at the prettiest spot on the River Crouch. I noticed how badly the red clay cliff had eroded in the last couple of years. Suitably refreshed, it was time for more sailing before returning to Burnham Marina. I wanted to while away the time from 1500 until 1700 when it would be low water to make it ideal for sailing in the marina. There would be less wind because the banks of the marina would bring about a lee from the South West wind.

During those 3 hours I thoroughly enjoyed trying all sorts of manoeuvre before making my attempt at getting into the marina. As it turned out, everything was very favourable. I could steer ‘Faith’ on a reach with only two panels of the sail as I made for a pontoon near the slipway. There I nosed the boat to the pontoon so that she almost paused in stays, but it was not perfect; she gently hit the floating platform bow on, then started to fall back, but I just had time to step on the pontoon to make her secure with a painter.

I’m not overly keen on Marinas, but they do have their advantages: a shower and toilets for example, and electricity for charging my laptop computer. I can charge it from the ship’s battery, but mains power does it more quickly.

Tomorrow morning I’m hoping to take ‘Faith’ out of the water when my daughter will bring my car she has been using while I’ve been afloat; then I’ll see if I can retrieve the boat.

No comments: