A Cruise Around the Block
Bye bye Thames
07/23/2013, Ramsgate

We took the first lock out of St Kats on Monday, gaining no advantage, as we stemmed the tide which still runs strongly in the upper reaches. We motor sailed into a stiff Easterly and finally crept into Queenborough to pick up a mooring in the early evening. This morning the crew went ashore to see the limited delights of the town. Harbour masters have such a rose tinted view of their domain. We took the last of the ebb out of the Medway, making better progress this time and enjoyed a leisurely sail round to Ramsgate. It didn't rain on us but this evening as we sit on the Yacht club balcony, overlooking the harbour and sipping a pint of Shepherd Neame, it's sultry. Tomorrow it's a longish haul to Brighton or similar if we get fed up or the weather turns against us. Probably another night passage beckons if we are to make Dartmouth by the weekend.

Tower Bridge in the Sun
07/21/2013, St. Katherine's Dock

I've just watched Lady Daphne, a Thames barge, locking into the marina. She warped around the tight bends to reach her berth in the West Dock. Yesterday they opened Tower Bridge for her, as we held station, awaiting our turn in the lock. The last few days have been a bit of a blur. We had a cracking run down from Brightlingsea to Leigh on Sea, under genoa alone, the fresh North Easterly speeding us towards my birthplace. We anchored in the Ray Gut and at 9 p.m. Near the top of the tide, we crept inshore hoping to get alongside to pick up my sister for the trip up the Thames. Despite only drawing 1.2 metres we ran aground. Some speedy motoring astern slid us afloat and we stood off the Essex Yacht Club, whilst my brother persuaded the club water taxi to ferry Marian out to us. We re-anchored in the Ray and rose at first light, 3.30 to punch the last of the ebb and carry the full flood up the 40 miles to Tower Bridge. After. Good meal near Butlers Wharf, we slept like babies. This morning I waved a sad farewell to Harry and Barry, with whom I've voyaged 350 miles in the last week and enjoyed the best sailing to date. Tomorrow we hope to squeeze amongst the barges in the first lock out of the day and start the passage to Dartmouth. Once again London has impressed to the full.

The Smoke Beckons
07/18/2013, Lowestoft

Arrived in Lowestoft yesterday afternoon after a 33 hour passage down from Whitby. We had to motor most of the time threading our way through a wind farm, across the traffic scheme of the Humber and finally persuading the wind to permit us a tight fetch down the Norfolk coast. On Monday, after 1300 miles since setting out, I enjoyed my first decent beam reach on course, from Hartlepool to Whitby. Today we are heading for Brightlingsea and then on Friday round to my birthplace, Leigh on Sea. All being well we shall take the early flood up to London on Saturday morning. If we achieve that, Shearwater will have done us proud. Tower Bridge here we come.

07/18/2013 | Guy
Ah the Wetherspoons in Wick, i know it well having just returned from a short windless Orkadian/Caithness adventure. What a fantastic trip you're on and making great progress. Looking forward to seeing you and the leg before you turn into the home-port straight.
Sloping Decks
07/11/2013, Blythe

We're sitting in the bar of the Royal Northumberland Yacht Club, which occupies the oldest wooden lightship afloat in Britain. They also run the pontoons where we berthed tonight after a heavy week's sailing. Heavy in the sense of the distance covered, the wind has been fickle. Today we managed a sail down to Lindisfarne where we anchored to eat lunch amongst the swooping terns, parading seals and sundry trip boats. After lunch the wind stayed stubbornly in the South East so we had to motor sail down the coast, past the huge wind farms. Tomorrow should be an easy sail down to Tynemouth and North Shields, the destination for this week. The crew have done a great job and the flight South is well and truly under way. The sun finally obliged and we have a rosy glow. The beer and the accents in the clubhouse bar are magnificent and we are contented.

07/14/2013 | Andy Oldfield
Glad to hear your enjoying the local scene. Hoping for more wind on the next legs. Tom has been shown the bag he has for kit and then looked at the pile of gear on the floor with No way look !. He was a little crest fallen when I said you don't have a plasma tv onboard aswell. Looking forward to joining.

Andy and Tom
07/14/2013 | adrian
You seem to be on course We ve had or team meeting so forced to look at sample tattoos to match the other sea dogs All very worrying! Hope the weather holds, Can you do dartmouth in 2 weeks? Yo Ho Ho just like old times!!!!
Warmth on our Backs
07/09/2013, Stonehaven

We are sitting in the Marine Hotel in Stonehaven. Syd is in seventh heaven because they serve seven real ales. Our faces are glowing from two days of sun, that magical element which I last felt I don't know when. We left Wick yesterday for the long haul across Moray Firth. The wind died away and we had to motor most of the way. We entered Peterhead at 2330 amongst the many huge commercial tugs and vessels still very active at that hour. After a good night's sleep, we ate a hearty cooked breakfast, put a turn in the forestay, re-fuelled and sought clearance to leave the harbour. Rather than another long passage we opted to sail down the coast to Stonehaven, a delightful old fishing village where yachtsmen are more than welcome. The engine earned a well deserved rest and we sailed into the harbour at six, the harbour master giving us his berth alongside the harbour wall, his boat being on the other side for anti fouling. Tomorrow another long passage to Eyemouth and then Shearwater is almost back in England for the first time since we left Bristol.

The Flight South Begins
07/07/2013, Wick

I'm sitting in a Wetherspoons pub, having watched Andy do the business. It's been an eventful couple of days. I flew back up on Thursday, spent Friday doing boat jobs and then greeted Dave and Syd in Stromness. Yesterday we set sail for Longhope at the South of Hoy to spring our escape from the clutches of Orkney. We enjoyed a great beat through Scapa Flow and they found room to berth us inside the tiny harbour where we joined their annual regatta. Dave and I helmed and crewed an Orkney Yawl, courtesy of the chairman of the association, Bill, a sprightly 81year old who was tickled pink that we helped him retain the trophy. We spent a busy night adjusting tyre fenders on the harbour wall and set sail at 4.30 a.m to catch the tidal maze that would see us through Pentland Firth where the tides run strongest in Britain. We left the calm of the Sound and with some apprehension faced the mayhem of the overalls off Catteril Head. The sea was breaking at each end of the headlands and also on the island opposite. The swell was enormous with overalls disrupting the face of the waves. The wind was kind and we powered through and through the race at more than 9 knots. The run down to Wick was calm and easy and we moored up in the old fishing harbour of Wick by mid morning. A shower and a good sleep beckoned. Tonight Keith arrived by plane to join our merry band for the East Coast express. The plan is to be in London in 2 weeks. Will the weather Gods co-operate?

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A Cruise Around the Block
Who: Rod Shiers and pals
Port: Portishead Quays Marina Bristol
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