We finally departed Grimsby 6th June, with a forecast of SW 5-6 then veering West later and easing 4-5, near perfect if a little windy to start with.
It was certainly a bit choppy, and the new chart plotter displayed the wind 6 – 7 and it touched 8 at one point. All seemed to be going well though, obviously too well, as we heard our name on the radio (that’s the problem with ais). Then we heard VTS calling us (the Boss), what could we have done wrong, we were slipping out the river on our usual route which kept us clear of the shipping channels. We duly responded, asking how we could help, apparently he could not hear us, as we then heard “your entering a restricted area you are not permitted to pass south of the Tetney Mooring Buoy, if you hear this message you must leave the Humber using the shipping Channel” We responded ” We are altering course now “, that message was heard and we were thanked. Another lesson, even pleasure craft, or perhaps especially pleasure craft should read the notice for mariners. We noticed another two wind farms at the just North of the Humber and were pleased to be sailing south. The wind was strong and under just the mainsail we were making good progress, and was I pleased we had put two reefs in before we departed – even though I had tied one reefing tie from the wrong row, its the little things that cause the problems in strong winds. We needed to alter course further south to get on course and so needed a head sail, the small Yankee was hoisted, I returned to the cockpit to find the sheet had slipped from the winch, and the power of the wind was illustrated by the sheet whipping the block back and forth, I attentively moved my hand forward to try and catch the stopper knot and pull the sheet back. It was obvious after a first attempt if I got my hand caught I would be in need of a good had surgeon. I can’t quite remember how I got it back, probably shielding the Yankee in the lee of the main, anyway it was back and the sail was tamed. The next little challenge presented its self as I pulled the other sheet of the Yankee to make it ready if we needed to tack. And yes you guessed the bowline had come undone, well that would have to wait as I didn’t fancy starting from scratch. The crew had done brilliantly on the helm, was upset she had not been able to catch the sheet, but as every skipper knows you don’t blame the crew. It was bouncy, more so than I had anticipated with an off shore wind – the crew was relieved and the offer of the bunk accepted. A loud crack was head as the crews head met with the locker door. I looked down and asked if there was any damage to the wood, which was met with some emotion. My true sentiment was she is conscious so we don’t have a medical emergency. Now single handed it was time to put the wind vane in charge of the helm, again fortunately I had prepared all that and just needed to pull the pins out and set the vane. More easily said than done, as the strength of pulling the pins out against the force of the wind was something else. Last time I had a similar problem I tried shear force and the ring on the pin and it simply came apart and cut my finger down to the tendons so I was more weary as my hand was already covered in blood from the block encounter. A few prayers and a wiggle and the pins were out the vane set and we were off at a cracking speed the log reported 9.9 knots, and the GPS confirmed speeds of 8 – 9 knots that fast for us. It was exciting, but it would have been nice to turn the wind off for a rest, it was not the ideal wind for a shakedown sail despite the amount of preparation put in. Time passed and the boat settled in, some nice warm food would be good. I asked the crew if a pasty would be appreciated, the offer was accepted. I was so pleased the crew had unwrapped the pasties and put them in foil. So all I needed to do was light our primus and we were in business. It was a pleasing sound to hear the roar of the burner and the pasties we on the way. I made a light hearted comment apologising that given the sea state I might not be in a position to turn the pasties in the oven. In fact the banter brought about increased morale and the pasties were turned and then consumed.
The wind did drop to force 4-5, but the sea still bounced in fairness it was still only a slight to moderate sea.
We pressed on across the Wash, and the North Norfolk coast was a welcome sight as evening approached. If the wind veered west we might even make Lowestoft in the early hours of the morning. A curry was cooked to prepare of the night sail.
The wind dropped to a force 3-4 but was still from the SW and if anything hand more south in it, making it difficult to sail down to Lowestoft from the Cockle buoy against the tide. The sea was now slight, and my thoughts turned to finding a spot to anchor, and that spot found off Winterton Ness.
I am very aware of the respect to be shown to the sea, and it’s rewarding to work in partnership with the sea and charts to find a ‘safe’ spot which does not carry the mark of an official anchorage. I sailed carefully to the spot, prepared the anchor and at the appropriate moment dropped the anchor… I could nearly feel the pillow on my head, a silly thought as the anchor just hung of the stem and the chain was solid not on the windlass but on the chain pipe now chain was flowing. A dive into the chain locker revealed the chain had fallen over its self, I can really describe an analogy of tangled chain … heavy and tiring is the best I can offer, but eventually 30 m chain was out and the anchor light on.
The reward was 3 hours sleep in a foul tide, and then the next morning waking up just off a private beach:
Some how a bacon sandwich tastes so much better in these circumstances.
A quick check and Lowestoft was only a few hours away and the spring tide would nearly take us there on its own so we sailed just under the main and arrived in Lowestoft at around 12.15 on Sunday. I would like to say it was planned but it was more luck and we arrived at or around slack water so the entrance was straightforward.
Our track of the first leg should be shown here: