The Eventider's News

         

 

 

   

 

Issue Nine, Autumn 2007. 

 

 

Page One

This years 'meets', or should that read 'washouts'!

 

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Welcome to the 9th Edition  of the Newsletter.

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  Well after one of the wettest and windiest seasons I can recall, I can only hope for better weather next year!  We did get some sailing in, but sadly just about every one of our meets had to be curtailed because of the weather.  
   
  We started with such promises of a good season.  April was a gift to anyone painting out doors.  I was working on my daughter's boat and can honestly say it would not have been finished had the spring been bad.  As it was the sun shone and the temperatures rose into the high 70's.  There was little rain to dampen the enthusiasm and Fiddler's Green was also ready for the water by the end of April.

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The Mundon Meet

We were afloat and sorted for the early May Bank Holiday Weekend, setting forth to meet the rest of the fleet at Mundon Stone point for a BBQ.  

   

We drifted up toward Maldon with the tide, passing one of our local resident seals and also our resident cartoonist, Mike Peyton.  We also caught this Finesse on camera, but too far away to identify.

Nigel and Heidi met us and we drifted together for a bit.  Nigel was sorting sails and determined to replace his mainsail after seeing it here!  The new one is cut flatter and is tan!

   

As the tide ebbed we were alone, almost, on a spit of sand on the end of the saltings with no disturbance from man for miles, right in the middle of Essex!  It seem amazing that this area has probably not altered much at all since Maurice sailed here in the 30's and 50's, and maybe for even longer than that...

Last minute weather forecasts meant we did nearly did not even bother to pack the BBQ, but we did get to the beach and were joined by one other boat 'Otteau' with Nigel and Heidi and their dogs.  We sat and drank a toast or two, eat our sandwiches etc... 

 

We look back at our anchored boats and it is so still apart from the splashes made by the passing seals, that you could almost see a perfect mirrored image.

 

        

It was a perfect day, but for the total lack of a breeze.  A staggering sunset and a quiet night.  However the rain arrived with the wind, F6...  on the Sunday and we scuttled back to Bradwell arriving just before the next down pour.

That really was summer..   For the rest of the year it was wet wet wet!

 

 

 

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The Summer, no make that the 'July' Cruise.

   
  We started off by ordering extra provisions expecting foul weather, 'cup a soups' and Bovril!  But as it happened, although it did rain, and with a vengeance, most of the time we were not actually out in it, and it was fine, most of the time.... A look at the skies in some of the pics tells a story though.
   
  We set of from Bradwell on the Sunday, family commitments the day before.  Our friends Phil and Val joined us.  We have cruised the Netherlands together,  last year it was up to Ipswich, so we all get on OK in the close confines of FG. 

We set off towards the Wallet Spitway buoy, under power, as what wind there was was southerly and on the nose, towards the gap in the Gunfleet sand, soon to be marked with rows of windmills...  no more 'can you see the buoy'....   soon should be plain enough to all, where to head for!

After rounding the Swin Spitway all sail was set and we took the young flood and a gentle  Southerly F3 towards the distant shore.  We all sat back and enjoyed a great sail, looking in vain for the famous Foulness seals, no one at home.

We made into the Crouch, noting the odd split in the channel near the Swallow Tail.  There were a few boats about, but not many.   The sun shone and the big black clouds missed us.  We turned off into the Roach, slowly puttering up till we found a quiet spot round the first bend, away from the sight of the other couple of boats we had seen.

 

Dinner was prepared and we enjoyed a quiet evening on board.  After nightfall the rain fell too!  Bucket fulls of it.

In the morning all was wet and still it fell.  Slowly it cleared up and the sun came out. Doug called on the radio, he had come out to join us.  As we knew Jo was away we were not expecting him, but as we were content to stay in the Roach and Crouch he thought he could come to little harm on his own there.  Wrong!

No sooner had Doug entered the Roach than the heavens opened. Hailstones fell and the wind howled.

 

Not only did it pour but the  hailstones were the size of marbles.  We retreated below and waited for an hour, then the sun came out and there was steam everywhere!

Poor Doug was just about to anchor when all hell let loose, he ended up on the putty for an hour or two.  To show solidarity, we ran up the mud next to him!

Here is Doug waiting for the tide.  We too were aground at the time, anchor hanging loose over the bow.  We dried off and had lunch in the sun whilst we waited for the tide, then sailed up with the tide towards North Fambridge.

Doug then followed us up the Crouch on the rising tide, we slowly sailed and puttered, between the green fields of Essex.  The whole area was fresh from the rain and sparkled in the sun.  Wildlife abounded, Seals, Herons, Egret  and wading birds everywhere.

Crew on deck admiring the view.  The girls liked the countryside views.  The river was different to how I remembered, no moorings for most of it and very tranquil.  Last I sailed this bit was about 40  years ago in a Mirror dinghy out from Hullbridge!

 

Smiles all round from the girls.  They loved the gentle sailing and puttering. No need for it to be other wise!

Val serves up a special sweet with the blackcurrants we picked just before we left home, delicious! We had a real feast of produce brought on board from the garden!  The little fridge on board is a boon for this.  We can freeze down freezer blocks and use them in a cool bag for fresh veg etc that does not warrant space in the Fridge.

We continue slowly up to N. Fambridge, where we moor on the flood on the inside of the pontoon.  Doug manoeuvres alongside us. 

Alongside North Fambridge.  We sort out the inside berths and move the boats round. We moor here for the night and walk the few yard to the Ferryboat Inn for a great meal.  The facilities are minimal but good and clean/secure.  Charge of just 10 a night. You pay by placing your money in an honesty box in the pub!  No loos, but if you have your own holding tank as we do, no problem.

Whilst we were at North Fambridge we spot a familiar boat. A chap arrives with a Seagull on the back of  an ex police dinghy and Phil gets aboard and turns the clock back 15 years!  The owner was pleased to have a little history of his boat.  At 16ft and weighing half a ton they were robust boats..  We used these as our work horses, towing them to the scene of an incident where we might need dinghy access.  In my day I was Thames Divisions sculling champion 3 years running!  That special knack with a single oar  will stay with me.  No racing now though!

We spotted this  neat little 3 Tonner on a mooring at Fambridge.  No name visible wonder who's this is.

 

On the way back down to Burnham, I ask the girls to look for the green conical buoy!  No wonder they could not see it!

This is the entrance to Burnham Yacht Haven.  a soulless place but good for fuel and chandlery, and a fairly longish walk into town, especially if you have a dodgy hip.  Doug does not let on, but he is suffering.  We go into town that evening to have a meal.  sadly though there were many eating houses we must have chosen the bad one, reasonable pub food, but sadly Mavis's meal was dreadful, we will avoid it next time!

In Burnham Right E Oh shows us his new folding bowsprit.  Reduces Marina bills yet adds over 2 foot to the sail plan.   We plan to go back up to N. Fambridge again the next day, Brian and Mavis had not been there for years...

We motor up to Hullbridge and how it has changed in 30 plus  years.  As a young man I used to sail a Mirror dinghy and before that a diminutive Puffin, remember those, fold down sides!  All the shanties have gone and new-ish houses with personal jetties everywhere.  We drop back down river to meet 'Right E Oh'.

That night we enjoy a magical sunset, the water was as still as it was the top of the tide, the effect perfect.

Right E Oh and Dougaljo are caught in the sunsets glow.  We eat on board this night, the following day we sail in convoy back to Burnham. 

 

   

Val takes the helm on F.G, she is a natural.  Her other half, Phil is on board with Doug, behind her in the second pic,  as we figured it was unfair for us to have 4 on board and he be alone!

We raft up at the Cliffs, all three boats, beautiful calm weather.   Lunch is served. We sail off to the Roach again, to explore the upper reaches.  Even with our meagre draft we soon run out of water, it is just before HW when we turn, with less than 0.5 metres beneath us, if right E Oh had got as far she would have touched, we told them in time and all turned back to anchor near the mouth of the roach for the night.

Anchored once again in the Roach, Elizabeth and Brian, owners of the Eventide 'Avocet', sail past in their Silhouette.  That night the wind pipes up and we are pleased to be securely anchored.  Many of the little group of Silhouettes move off.  After a breezy night I contemplate dropping the girls off at Burnham and sailing back on our own.  However the forecast is talking about the 5s and 6's dropping off.  I am waiting to sail out, thinking I can wait till a couple of hours before HW and take the Raysand route, or wait longer and 6 hours later go right out to the Swin Spitway.  If the wind does not drop or we go and look at the Raysand and it is too lumpy, we still have time to turn back to Burnham and drop the girls off before attempting it at L.W.  Doug has already headed back to his mooring at Burnham and Right E Oh is going to take the Spitway and on to Harwich earlier.  We hear from them later, was a trifle lumpy early on, but the got back OK.

As happens the wind seems to falter so we go for the Raysand.  I am very aware that I must not scare the girls.  We have been very fortunate so far this week, do not want to mess it up now.  Sure enough as we sail down the river it is  a fresh SoutherlyF4, that should be OK....  As we turned into the Raysand now with the wind astern, the breeze died.  We almost drifted northwards as the tide reached HW.  Here is the Laptop in the quarter berth, linked to the GPS.  The girls enjoyed this part too, we were never too far from land, though it was the low lying seawall and fields of Southminster and Tillingham, so it was not that conspicuous!

This shot taken of the screen of my PC shows we have just crossed the shallow patch on the entrance to the Raysand channel back to the Blackwater.  I can just make out the speed over the ground was 5.4 knots.  We had loads of water today, minimum was 2 metres under the keel.  I have run aground in here and often sail through with 0.2 metres showing, that's 4 inches under the keel!  Not to be attempted when there is any breeze and sea running.  I normally allow 0.5 metre for safety, but with our boats you can really ditch crawl here.  Fun to watch others trying to follow, you just know they will touch, and they do, as we come through on a rising tide there is normally no danger to them, they will lift off....

On our way back into the Blackwater we spot the Riptide  'Ramillies II' under sail,  leaving.  Sid was out for one of his longest trips so far, still sorting the sails, you might be able to see his crew untangling the roller headsail on the end of the bowsprit!  Sorry the the pic is not the best, but they were a long way off.  they never saw us.  They were  heading for the Pyefleet for the night, before heading south to the Crouch and a new mooring.  We hope Sid will get more use from her next season. Pleased to say his eyesight is restored!

Now the tide is ebbing out of the Blackwater, the sun is out and in the failing breeze we have to resort to 'iron topsail' to make any progress. We gently putter back into Bradwell in the late afternoon.   Phil and Val were invited to stay with us and had an evening meal  in the Marina bar, but as it was our wedding anniversary, they opted out and we went off home, then off to a local restaurant for that romantic meal.  A good week.

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The West Mersea Meet 2007

 

     
  John posing for the camera, leaving Bradwell with his trade mark hat...  the small motor cruiser behind me is on it's maiden trip, with new owners, our lad Michael with his lovely, long suffering wife, Karen.  Both beaming like Cheshire cats!

pics on this page by John Stevens, myself, Mark, Nigel Seary and Brendan.

  Karen enjoys the sun!  Could not have been better for a first time out. They have both got powerboat practical tickets and the new DSC VHF tickets too!  Michael is at night school doing his Day Skipper this winter...
     
  Brendan enjoys a trick at the helm!  With John Stevens on hand to give friendly advise, I need not worry about the new crew.  He was soon steering like a seasoned salt!
     
  On our travels we saw this boat.  I believe she is a Vulcan, by MG, but not the one we know on the Blackwater, 'Evenstar'.  Do we know which one she is....?
     
  Nigel and Heidi come out to greet us, they are already secured to a mooring in the creek!  The nearly got more than they bargained for as 'Bombastique' was about to come flying past to show us all how fast he could go, for the camera!  no harm done!  You will note that even Nigel and Heidi's dogs wear jackets!
     
  Here is the crew of 'Bombastique', (a fitting name, chosen by our Michael), picking up a mooring for the first time.   They managed well considering they had only taken possession of the boat a couple of days before. 
     
  A perfect evening.  We were blessed with one of the best weekend of the year for the meet.  Smiles all round!
     
 

This picture of 'Dougaljo' was taken by Mark, who moors nearby and always admires our vessels every year.
     
 

And here is Otteau by Mark!  Must admit the sun and conditions were perfect!
     
  Here the F.G.  crew  is picking up a vacant mooring. 
     
  Dougaljo enters the moorings.  We will have to time our arrival better.  There is not a lot of water here at LW and we all touched at some point or other!  No damage done, just makes things difficult...
     
  Dinghy transfers to the WMYC.  It was good to be independent, as the trot boat became very expensive after 10pm, 3.00 a head, single fare!  He also packed in early, so we could carry on till late, which was just as well as it turned out...
     
  Just look how calm that water is!  You will note everyone is wearing a jacket, even in a flat calm!  They knew there were seamanship prizes to be won!
     
  I wish I had a penny for every one of these Blackwater August Bank holiday sunset pics!  We do seem to be blessed with good weather, at least for most of the Saturday nights...  this year it was for 3 nights!
     
  Outside the club we gathered on the grass, till the dreaded Mersea Mossies started to bite.  Good to see Sid and his lady, the owners of 'Jeopardy' and Scott and his good wife, the owners of 'Maplin Maid'.  Also joining us, and my crew, sporting a snazzy Tee shirt was John Stevens.
     
  Inside we were upstairs with the 'Cruising Association' contingent, which actually included Brian and Mavis who were in both camps!  Sadly the WMYC could not cope with the numbers, we were 22 strong, the CA over 40.  As a result we did not get dinner for more than 2 hours, so we will not be repeating that mistake.
     
  Sneakily Karen and Michael had had a celebration cake made for my 60th and as deserts were not forthcoming it proved popular! (We had snuck off to the Outer Hebrides for my actual birthday a week or so before...)
     
  Helped by Brandon, another of my crew.  My grandson.  He had come with me that morning on the pretence of having to pick up some parts from the Chandlery.  Whilst there I just happened to point out a row of youngsters lifejackets on the stand, and asked him which one he would chose....  He came out as my crew and we could not prise it off his back till bed time!  He only took it off to eat!
     
  The Senior at West Mersea.  We sort of know who it belongs to, but he was not forthcoming...

 

     
  'Maplin Maid' Scott's 26ft Bawley
     
  This beauty belongs to Mike Gager, someone I know from years back at Tollesbury. 'Floray' is a Buchanan design of course.
     
  Sunday morning and the Skipper of 'bombastique' is firing up his BBQ!  The boat has no fixed gas cooker, just a portable gas ring, so Michael has opted for this American S/S Gas fired BBQ. fixed when wanted to the rail. It seems to work well, until that is you throw away the gas bottle cartridge with the special adapter and can no longer use it...  He had to send to the States, at least he has a spare now!
     
  When you have no cooker, it is as well to be alongside the wicked step father's boat with a decent cooker!
     
  Tony Nelson on 'Silent Annie'  Tony is a dear friend of ours, and an associate member.  he and Sally, with the dogs always join us, indeed Tony organises the moorings, we make a donation to the RNLI. 
     
  Out on the Monday, with John Stevens as crew, we sail up and about just for the heck of it. I make no apologies for the pic!  These sails are 17 seasons old and in great shape.  They are pampered almost every year with a full valet and  service. all the small repairs save larger ones later and the frequent washing has kept that abrasive salt at bay.
     
  We went into Tollesbury for lunch on the Monday and picked up my 'spare' mooring.  members are welcome to use it.  as you can see it is well marked.  You will find it on the port hand immediately after the buoyed channel in Woodrolfe Creek. If anyone wishes to use it for longer than a tide, just let me know, as many friends 'borrow' it.!
     
    I was to  award prizes after the sail on Sunday, but we decided not to return to WMYC but all remain on board, some of us rafted up.

 

However prizes were  awarded later...

   

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The Walton run, 2007.

 

     
 

After having to abandon this trip last year, and the year before, we set off at the crack of dawn Saturday in brilliant early sunshine and hardly a ripple on the water.  The forecast had been undecided for days, but at the last moment they altered it to fine all weekend, light breezes!
     
 

'Dougaljo', now in Bradwell with us, motored out with us.
     
 

Looking over towards the north we soon spotted the familiar outline of an Eventide coming along to join us.  We met not far from the Nass.  'Otteau' with Nigel, Heidi and son, plus two dogs!
     
 

Coming out of the Blackwater behind us and turning south for the Spitway was an odd looking craft.  Through the binoculars we realised it was the old Bradwell Marina hoist, on it's way to a new home, redundant now the new super hoist is in use.
     
 

Nigel captured FG and Dougaljo drifting along in company.

 

We were as happy as Larry till the Coastguard gave out an amended forecast.  Today was to be as predicted, a day to drift and sunbath, but the forecast now for Sunday was F6 and 7 SW!  Not the weather we needed!  would have meant a motor sail at best, smack into it.  The Wallet can get very lumpy in a good blow.   A quick conflab and we turned and headed back towards the Blackwater.  It was a slack old neap tide and we had not yet passed Clacton pier, so it aught not be too had to motor back... 

     
 

As we made our way back slowly, we met 'Red Dawn IV' a Barbican owned by Rodney Leaper.  We stopped to exchange pleasantries, before sailing on..  Yes there was now enough breeze to sail, albeit hard on the wind, but it was a gentle sail.
     
     
   

September Sail.....

     
 

In late September I had hoped to go out for a few days sailing in company, but the weather was fickle and my crew unable at the last moment, so I went out on my own.  I had the river to myself.  Looking back towards Bradwell, there was hardly a soul to be seen.
     
 

As I sailed on into the setting sun, the breeze began to fail and by the time I was closing the moorings at Stone there was barely enough to make way against the ebb.  I reluctantly put the motor on and at low revs, crept up close inshore to cheat the tide.
     
 

That night anchored in one of my favourite spots, the creek opposite Osea, I watched the sun set as a red haze and in still flat calm lit the old oil lantern in time honoured fashion.  I was not going to be disturbed here tonight!
     
 

The next morning I was hailed by a large motor cruiser passing close, it was David Showell and his wife Katherine, and his Father, Senior sailor all!
     
 

The next day I sailed home under reefed genoa in a brisk F6 past the powerboat boys who were racing with skiers on the back at a heck of a lick, bouncing from wave to wave.  I sat snug in the cockpit with a mug of coffee watching their antics, rather them than me!
     
    That really was the last of the weekend sailing for 2008.  I nipped out a few times up till we hauled out in  November for the odd day sail, but  there not that many good days in a row.  Here's to 2008!
     
   

Very Last Sail of the year

   

 

 

It was Fireworks night, Saturday 5th Nov.  I had been emptying the boat of all it's gear the day before, but as the forecast was good, I left on just enough gear so we could safely go out for another sail, before haul out on the Monday.  The boss was well muffled against the chill....
     
 

'Why', she asks, 'are there no other boats at all out here?'   Mmmm  maybe they have not got such understanding wives...
     
 

Enjoying the chance to have just a few hours out.  Just a run up to Osea and back.  Even the crew had to admit it was perfect, just enough breeze and not cold...  Savour the moment.... Mainsail full, genoa out, beam reach Ahhhh.....
     
 

Best of all is a meal in the clubhouse on our return.  Not quite sure what my crew is saying here, maybe she noticed how good a match the jumper was....
 

 

 
    That was it, 2 days later I had stripped the rest of the gear out and she was tucked up for the winter in her barn.  Fiddler's Green that is, not the crew!
     
     
     
     
     
     

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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