Crow Buoy, River Roach
Ferry Road Slipway, Hullbridge
The night at anchor on the River Roach was calm, but the drone of machinery dumping spoil from Cross Rail was not conducive to sleep. Ships bring the stuff to a purpose-built quay with huge conveyor belts further up the River Crouch – not a pretty sight.
However, the morning brought a pair of geese honking as they flew across the river. It was time to get up and have breakfast. Dawn revealed a thin layer of grey cloud.
I missed the Shipping Forecast by five minutes. Never mind, I had no intention of going to sea. Breakfast, a wash and shave, plus use of the bucket had me feeling more awake.
My plan was to sail as far as Fambridge against the wind, but with the help of the flood tide. I tried breaking out the anchor, but it was well and truly stuck, most probably lodged under an old mooring. There was nothing I could do except cut it loose. With the bower gone, I could not continue the trial sail unless I bought another one. The small anchor was not enough for holding the boat in a blow. I only intended using it as a short stay anchor and for setting on a beach when drying out.
The wind from the northwest was variable between Force 1 and 2, which made for interesting sailing between the Burnham moorings. I noticed that ‘Minnow’ sailed almost identically to my old Paradox, ‘Faith’, having the same reluctance to carry her way when changing from starboard tack to port tack. I had to nudge her once of twice with the yuloh for the sail to fill. On the other hand, ‘Minnow’ was well balanced, requiring little attention as she cannily held her course, which made my Autohelm almost obsolete, except when motoring.
Well, instead of stopping at Fambridge, I continued to Hullbridge with the intention of taking ‘Minnow’ out of the water. High water was about 16.30, by which time I had her on dry land at the Ferry Road slipway. I had arrived at the slipway twenty minutes earlier, took a taxi home, hitched the trailer to the car, and drove to the slipway. ‘Minnow’ was on the driveway by 17.10.
In conclusion I can confirm the boat sails and performs as she should, but what I have also found is that I do not have the strength and stamina I had only a year ago. Because of this, I know I shall not be sailing the long haul around the Kent coast and onwards to the West Country. I would be foolish to undertake the trip.
I shall also have to consider whether I should take ‘Minnow’ by road to Plymouth, because I have to admit that I may not be capable of keeping myself safe. In view of this I may have to make a very hard decision and recognize that I may have to give up solo sailing.