Log Entry 18th August 2014

We survived the high winds in Ramsgate on the 10th August 2014 and have a video clip to remind us of the effects in the outer marina in the inner basin.

The snacking of the pontoons in the first part of the clip perhaps gives best indication of the swell.

Our thoughts turned to where we might next go, and Harwich seemed to be a fair option, the direction of the wind was not fair, the weather unsettled, so there was no rush – other than the Ramsgate marina fees which were in excess of 30 pounds a day.

We decided to explore by land and took the bus to Margate.

Margate_S1

There appeared to be little Margate could offer in terms of refuge for a deep keeled yacht but it was a pleasant town to visit.

The crew had a taste for land (cant think why), and a 5 mile sea walk to Broadstaires and back was presented as a plan. The walk was comfortable, and there was some kind of celebration at Broadstaires.

Broadstaires_1S

It always good to see how the other half live on the land side of a beach, though not one that appeals on a regular basis.

Having walked the five miles we anticipated the effects would have most impact the following morning, and thoughts turned to how we would get out of our bunks with the aching muscles, a night-cap would help.

It was so nice to be in a bunk which was still and facilitated sleep.

The following day arrived, and strangely there was no problem in rising from the bunk – for a large crunching sound shuddered through the boat – we were hit – the command of the English language faltered, and the fore hatch opened to see a yacht reversing back.

Clothes were thrown on and an inspection made of the bowsprit – the only obvious problem was the anchor was now wedged into the bowsprit. The owner of ‘Esprit’ a Moody 31, approached – it’s an awful feeling when you bump a boat – so there was no point in shouting – so I invited the skipper to see the problem from the deck. He tried to free the anchor, but it was wedged solid – he suggested it might be shifted with a crow bar – he then looked at my face – and offered his name and address – I said that would be a good idea.

He returned with his piece of paper and I thanked him for his honesty.

Our resilience to challenge was to be tested further – for ‘Esprit’ was set to depart again. It is no exaggeration to say the boat went full speed astern and then full speed ahead. To be clear this was full speed ahead, not full revs ahead and astern to turn the boat within its own length. Each time the boat moved to and fro it came within centimeters of boats on each row of pontoons – it was a fifty chance of which row was going to take the hit – and yes it was us again – crunch. Screams from the wife of the skipper and glass flying everywhere from a shattered navigation light – a change of luck is was not ours but his. I am not sure what happened next but it was some relief to see the stern of Espirt disappear off to sea, minus a nav light. I dug deep and consider it was fortunate I had managed to put Cariad into the berth stern to else there would surely have been fibre glass damage rather than scrapes to stainless steel.

The rest of the day passed without event – and a serious night out was called for and enjoyed.

We planned our passage to Harwich, and had two options an early start for a day light arrival or an afternoon departure and a night arrival.

The afternoon departure was chosen because the wind was forecast to be from the west backing southwest, which gave us a fair wind until the last couple of miles.

Before departing the marina filled with boats for Ramsgate Week, It was interesting watch how boats with crew (3 +) struggled to moor up, and one might think a boat flying a blue ensign which was not defaced, might be humble about their mistakes – but no. Anyway now was not the time to comment as it was our turn to leave the berth – dividends for the stern to berthing were reaped – we gently motored through the gaps and sought permission to leave for sea.

The wind was a force 4 – 5 south-westerly, which meant we were on a broad reach. Not to worry it would make Harwich fairly straight forward. We had a reef in the main, the smaller Yankee and no staysail as the wind was forecast to be 5 to 6.

As we headed north up the minor shipping lane, the wind veered W and increased. The next weather forecast now suggested the wind would be west 5 to 7, and possible gale 8 later. This should still allow us to get to Harwich.

The wind increased and Cariad seemed to be quite hard pressed, though we were making over 7 knots over ground. Time to swap the Yankee for the Staysail – a crawl along the deck ahead – I looked at the small Yankee and reconsidered my thoughts of buying a third Yankee in between the large and small one – the small one looked quite large – that being because it was the large one – ‘b**** ***l’ its a bitch taking this large sail down in anything above a force 4. It was not the most elegant sail change with the crew safe below. It was interesting seeing, from the foredeck, the bowsprit disappear into the waves, but once sailing with just the staysail and the single reef in the main Cariad was much happier.

With the westerly it was not possible to sail the next leg of 18 miles to Harwich, having promised the crew Harwich it was time to put pride aside and try motor sailing closer to the wind. Cariad was to assert her will to sail, as motor sailing only achieved about 2 knots given the sea state. Coming off the wind gave 4- 5 knots. 20 nautical miles 2 knots 10 hours – with the possibility of stronger winds – I don’t think so.

The route for Lowestoft was already in the chart plotter from the outward passage, so it was just a case of adjusting to the revised destination – and informing our land contact of the change to the passage plan – there was no phone signal in the middle of the Thames – so the HF radio and ability to send an email came into its own.

The wind did gust force 7, and if I was honest we should have put another reef in the main, but I convinced myself it was better to have the extra speed and get safe into Lowestoft before the gale.

It’s clear a tradewind 35 only really starts to sail in winds above a force 4. I now have the confidence of sailing in a force 6 – 7, and am not fearful of a gale 8 – though most certainly respectful of the same. That confidence assumes no problems, which hopefully is the reward of putting the work into the boat.

I find the worst hours to be those between 01.00 and 04.00, especially as the nights grow longer. Morale is raised with things like hearing Humber Coastguard, a packet of wine gums and last but certainly not least the sound bytes that come from the crew including the offer to provide some respite – alas the stronger winds and amount of shipping preclude the feasibility of accepting.

We approached Lowestoft at 8 knots over the ground at some points, and whilst pleased to get there before the winds got stronger, making passage through the entrance was interesting with the strong tide, and the possibility of engine failure does not bear thinking of. Whether we should have reefed earlier and arrived closer to slack water is a possible alternative, if the winds had reached gale force 8 we might have had to stay at sea – but the water is not always deep in the North sea. I suppose Holland might have been a possibility.

Those who do sail single-handed may truly understand the benefit of having crew that come to life to put fenders out, turn the boat into the wind to drop sails – and I should add can now take a sail down in lighter winds.

Anyway we enjoy Lowestoft – so we have time to reflect and plan for next year.

3 thoughts on “Log Entry 18th August 2014

  1. Rob McGuinness

    Well, you certainly know how to have a reader with their heart in their mouth! What a string of events! I must admit that the love bite from the Moody 31 gave me a wry smile and a feeling of dread in equal measure. My dad has a Moody 31 up in Scotland and I remember the first (ever) time he left a marina berth in her. I will never forget the look of horror from an assembled crowd on the pontoons as it all went a bit wrong. The horror turned to terror as the boat headed straight at them at full chat! Fortunately nothing and no one was hit! A steep learning curve for all.
    Interesting hearing about your sail plan. We have both staysail and Yankee on furlers to remove the need to go forward for a sail change in poor weather. This is backed up by a removable inner forestay for a storm jib which has yet to be used – by anyone who has owned the boat since its launch in 1985! Not keen to seek weather that would test it!
    I can’t imagine how much more confidence you have in the boat now after this trip. Much more passage making than a season of weekend sailing. We were given dire predictions by many when we bought a Tradewind that the boat was a consummate ‘plodder’. We haven’t really found this to be the case. Yes, she goes better in a bit of wind but we can usually get 4kts from about 9kts of wind in flat conditions. Over 12kts of wind and she is like a different boat. We are still getting to grips with her as we haven’t done any real long passages yet but certainly don’t find we are the slowest out there.

    BTW, did not like the look of that pontoon in the video one bit!

    Rob

    Reply
    1. admin Post author

      Hello Rob

      I recall well steep learning curves in a Westerley Centaur … I think we have all been there and I was pleased my late Dad was at the helm at the time !

      The main reason for hanked sails is the fact the roller reefing that came with the boat failed on the delivery trip home, and as a result the forestay snaped in the Wash. To say I was frightened was an under statement – I managed to furl the sail by turning the boat in circles and then motor back to Lowestoft. The friend who was with me stepped of the boat and made striaght for the train stations 🙂 . Whilst I was impressed the mast did not come down, from then it was curtain hooks for me ! When I can’t manage the foresails .. its time to think about a barge.

      Now it is my turn to be impressed …. 4 knots in 9 knots of wind … do you offer lessons in sail triming – I have read some of the theory but have never quite got the hang of the sail tell tails – so it is probably my short comings.

      We do tend to try and sail, though there have been some noteable exceptions this year, we are slow when motoring, in part because of the hydrovane rudder which vibrates under engine above 4 knots. Durring the night I often been green with envy seening yachts on the AIS doing 6 – 8 knots when its flat calm.

      Keep in touch and if you ever find yourself sailing up the East Coast do let us know.

      Paul

      Reply
  2. Rob McGuinness

    Hi Paul

    I am no sail trimmer either! I do think we may have a slightly taller mast than standard (reference to it in the build notes) so may be carrying more sail area. The caveat on the light airs performance is that we are much much slower accelerating from a standing start by sail, in fact, it seems difficult to overcome the initial inertia from the weight of the boat. I have found that in light winds, if I motor up to about 6kts and then trim the sails and cut the engine, we are able to maintain a higher speed under canvas. Maybe its cheating!
    I understand your comment about motoring with the Hydrovane (also have one). Without the Hydrovane rudder, we get some vibration through the boat rudder, felt in the steering. I have put this down to the fact we are throwing a very large prop in a relatively small apeture, resulting in a significant disturbance of water. Either that, or I need to service the steering!

    Rob

    Reply

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