Friday, August 14, 2009

Good Sail

I had a good sail today. Low water was roughly 1230, and the plan was to beat up the River Crouch from Rice and Cole towards Fambridge, then return against the incoming tide with the South Westerly helping us along. Before setting out I used the garage broom to scrub the fuzz off the bottom of the boat. This was easily done in about 10 minutes from the dinghy by using the side of the dinghy for levering the broom against the yacht’s hull.

After having morning coffee I prepared ‘Ladybird’ for sailing and shipped the new Honda 2.3 outboard. It was 1130 and the wind had backed to the South, which was ideal for a fine reach to Fambridge. As shadows were cast on the water from the clouds, wind gusted to the cool spots causing problems for the Autohelm; therefore I had to steer. I felt a bit peckish, so I ate an early lunch as I steered with my leg over the tiller.

At around mid-day the wind backed to the South East and it eased somewhat, which caused me to change my plan. Instead of going to Fambridge I would need to work the boat to the East, because both wind and tide were coming from that direction.

Having sailed along the South side of the moorings via the dredged channel to a point beyond Rice and Cole, we arrived at the widest part of the River. There, the wind veered, which caused me to free the sheets to prevent the boat from gybing. Continuing to the East, my next plan was to sail into the River Roach for beam reaching on the starboard tack. I reckoned there would be enough wind to enable me to return against the incoming tide, but as I steered a course into the Roach a short distance from the Branklet Spit Buoy, the wind veered to the South West. I therefore gybed the boat towards the Crouch, but as I did so, the jib sheets snarled together and the wind increased to about a Force 4. By using the Autohelm I had time to untangle the sheets and set ‘Ladybird’ on the port tack for returning to Rice and Cole. Although both the mainsail and the jib were reefed, ‘Ladybird’ heeled to the gunwale in the gusts, and the wind continued to increase. I needed to get back to the mooring quickly because the wind could increase further, and being on my own, picking up the mooring could be tricky. A couple of hundred yards from the first of the moorings I started the motor and took in sail. Tiny, as the Honda 2.3 is, the little engine had enough power to push the yacht against a good Force 5, with the help of the incoming tide. I steered a looped course between the moored yachts to bring the boat head to tide, with the wind from astern. That enabled me to reduce the boat speed before picking up the mooring.

When my yacht was shipshape and securely tied to her mooring I made myself a refreshing cup of tea. After stowing the engine and locking up, I rowed the dinghy to the Rice and Cole floating pontoon. All in all, I had a jolly good sail.

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