Our chilling period extended for over two weeks, of course in the first week there had been plenty of opportunity to sail home with some rare easterly winds but there after the winds were less favorable. We identified a window of opportunity with easterly winds on the 27th August and aimed to depart around 07.00 BST, on the morning the wind was NE and there was a forecast of 4-5 occasionally 6. NE would mean we would be beating for the first part of the passage, and then on a nice beam reach across the Wash – tempting. After discussion with the crew we decided to stay put – memories of Dunkerque . We saw one of the Grimsby yachts making us feel a little disappointed we had decided to stay.
We had a great night out in Lowestoft and returned to the boat for a night cap, couldn’t resist checking the weather conditions in the Wash, xcweather reported over 33 knots of wind (Force 7) ….. such a relief to be tied up with a drink!
Finally we departed on the 30th August 2016 at 9.30am, with a forecast of south or SW winds 3-4 occasionally 5. For the first time we had a full mainsail and the large Yankee hanked on. The wind was from behind for nearly 10 hours i.e we had southerly and then south easterly light winds. I had hoped for some rest time but with the wind from behind I was reluctant to leave the crew alone on watch. We could have anchored off Cromer, but the winds were forecast to move round to the West which would be unhelpful to sail to Grimsby.
We pressed on and actually put a reef in the main before night fall, and hoisted the Staysail as the wind was now veering South. There was a temptation to also hoist the Yankee, but in a force 5 it can be quite hard work when dodging the shipping etc.
We made steady progress across the Wash and the electric auto helm easily managed the light sail plan …. if we had used the Yankee we would have had more speed. At around 4.00 am the crew kindly did a 2 hour watch ….. it was so nice to close my eyes and have a little sleep. We plodded on and the Lincolnshire coast came into view, we would just make it across the firing range at Dona Nook before it opened. At around midday were able to anchor off Haile Sand Fort and wait for free flow through the lock at Grimsby at 16.40. The crew did a sterling job on the helm from Haile Sand and we arrived just before free flow, the tide was strong and it felt like we surfed through the lock. There were some friendly faces to greet us at HCA, our berth was free, but with the strong tide following us in I completely misjudged mooring up and had to take a second attempt, fortunately we had a helping hand from Gary who had witnessed my first feeble attempt.
A safe arrival drink and then bunks, nearly 30 hours without much sleep is a long time and not getting any easier …. requires much thought on how plan for next year. Again this year it is very clear that sailing has changed in the last 25 years … but we managed another more traditional season where we sailed for a significant proportion.