Summer Cruise: Last Day (Sealand Express)
04 September 2014 | River Orwell, North Sea
Our last chance of 'going somewhere' this Summer. The forecast wind (E-NE 3-4) looked to be too light to get us to Ramsgate in a timely fashion - or would require motoring at last part of the way there. To boot, it would require a 5 o'clock wake-up call.
The alternative (Bradwell) only called for a lunchtime departure. And since it is considerably nearer than Ramsgate we would certainly get there on one tide - even if we managed nothing more than a sedate 5kts of average SOG.
That was the plan. It bears no relation to what actually happened. Just giving it to you as background information.
Wednesday and Thursday looked like they were going to be the best two days of the week, so Yanni and I made our way up to the boat after rush hour Tuesday. Just made it aboard in the last of the sunlight. The days are getting noticeably shorter.
Slept in and woke around 09H30. Checked the NAVTEX - lots of WX messages had come in overnight. Today (Wednesday) was going to be a good day: E-NE 3-4 - seastate smooth or slight with lots of sunny spells. The following 24 hours, not much so: NE 3-4, backing N. This would see us motoring up the Wallet - wind against tide - on our return trip from Bradwell. Not a fan of motoring just for the sake of it. Quick Plan B: Sealand was going to be our last 'foreign' destination of the year. Once there, the plan (I must stop making plans) was to get the gennaker up if at all possible and sail up the Orwell as far as we could before returning to our mooring. Woke Yanni and informed him of the change of plan. Since it meant he would be back home - and on his computer - a day early, he approved.
Had breakfast in the cockpit - even though it was somewhat cold and foggy - and busied ourselves with some other boaty maintenance jobs. The main one being untangling the gennaker, which had been recovered and stowed somewhat haphazardly last week. Also, did already put the require blocks back in place if we did indeed get the kite up today.
Around lunchtime we cast off and motorsailed past Landguard and Cork Sands. As we bore away for the leg to Sealand we could finally unfurl the genoa and switch off the engine. Utter bliss. A nice beat to windward in glorious sunshine. It doesn't get much better than this.
Got quite close up to Sealand - close enough for one of the natives to come out and give us a friendly wave. Tacked in due course and made our way back to Cork Sands. Relative wind: green 60-90 degrees. The gennaker was going to stay down below for a bit yet.
Cork Sands to Landguard saw us with the wind right up the chuff. Keen to avoid another gennaker wrap situation I decided to leave it down below for a bit longer. Maybe up the Orwell.
Cracking sail up the Orwell: Landguard to Collimer. Overtook quite a few boats, am especially pleased that we managed to overtake a Malo 43 (roughly the same size and somewhat lighter than Guapa) and leave her in our wake - by some distance. When two or more yachts are going the same way, it's a race - always - and we won (handsomely).
By Collimer the gennaker finally saw daylight. Up and flying in less than two minutes. We're getting to be pretty good at this. What followed next was pure and utter heaven. Made our way up the Orwell with grace and style, leave more than a few boats in our wake. Once we got to Pin Mill, the wind started to become very fickle. The river was also getting too crowded and if anything happened there would be very little searoom. So, somewhat reluctantly, I decided to take the kite down and make our way back to the mooring.
Mooring picked up and various G&Ts enjoyed. Today had been a VERY good day. A day you would frame if you could. Tidied up the boat, did the dishes, emptied the bins, etc... As I'm due back at work on Friday, it will be some time before we get to go sailing again.
Made our way ashore just before HW - this always makes recovering the dinghy at lot easier. Decided to have dinner at The Lightship first rather than join the M25 traffic. The place has a lot going for it: food was decent, bar staff were very friendly. However, there is a downside: it's being run by a yacht club. And one thing the place is not is welcoming. The moment you dare set foot in the place you are being made to feel like an intruder rather than a potential future club member. Nice as the meal was, next time I think we'll give the newly reopened Ship Inn in Levington a try.
So, there we are: nothing went as planned but I think we had a great father-son day on the boat. I think Yanni enjoyed himself, but with teenagers you can never quite tell.
Back to the real world (work) tomorrow - I don't think I'm ready.