Guapa: Beauty and the Sea

One family and their boat. A daydream, a vision and now, slowly, becoming reality.

14 December 2016
25 May 2016 | Sainte Marine
23 May 2016 | L'Aber Wrach
21 May 2016 | Port Pendennis
19 April 2016 | Boxmoor
05 April 2016 | Northwood
28 January 2016 | Hemel Hempstead
17 December 2015 | Boxmoor
01 September 2015 | East Coast
30 July 2015 | Northwood
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01 June 2015 | Ostend/North Sea
27 May 2015
31 March 2015 | Leverstock Green
23 February 2015 | Leverstock Green
13 January 2015 | Leverstock Green
24 November 2014
14 October 2014 | Leverstock Green
19 September 2014 | Leverstock Green
15 September 2014 | Levington, River Orwell

Last sail of 2006

28 December 2006 | Levington
Over my extended X-Mas holiday we've managed quite a bit of sailing. Nothing exciting, the usual same old, same old, but it was good to be out on the water none the less. Sometimes it was just Evita and I, sometimes the whole family.

I had posted on the YBW forum to see if there was anybody around over the same period. Some replies, and all of a sudden I find myself with two crew - how did that happen?
I'm a private person, and hardly ever sail with non-family crew. In fact, it's only happened twice before. Each time it was a friend whom I have know as long as I sail and boasts a lifetime of experience (Alain - Ostend), but apart from him? Not a soul. Sailing on our boat - with wife and kids - is to me, a deeply personal experience. We started out together, we learned together and we know what's expected. In my view, sailing defines us what we are as a family. A team.
But still, I had met Jim and Neil before and it would only be for a couple of hours. How bad could it be? Anyway, I also press ganged Evita - just in case.

Jim and Neil arrived on time - always a good sign. Weather was overcast and not much - if any - wind. Would our last sail of the year turn into motoring? Surely not?
Crew had brought lots of goodies along for lunch (and after).

We set sail 10-ish. Other forumite Roger comms-checked via mobile - he would catch up eventually. F-All wind on the river going down. The crew seemed to like Wortegemsen (Belgian lemon schnapps) a lot! Just the thing to keep the cold at bay. Suggestion of a breeze by Shotley Spit. Sailable wind by Landguard. About 10-12kts over deck and Guapa rewarded us with 6.5kts cruising speed. Gentle tootle towards Medusa. We rounded Medusa 45 minutes later.
Roger caught up on the way back. Working lunch afloat - Neil turned out to be a dab hand in the galley. Food was plentiful. Sailed up river - sedate 4kts. Wind died completely past the container terminal. Rags down & motored back to SYH. Roger and crew rafted up alongside.
Jim's Gluhwein & Roger's coffee. Pleasant conversation oiled by some drinks.
The end of the day came much too soon, but it had been a very nice day all the same.

How did I like having crew aboard? I don't know. Mixed feeling I guess. It was nice to have some (pleasant!) company along and just spend time on the water talking boats. And you always learn stuff, not a bad thing either. On the other hand, it felt like sharing your wife with other people. You don't do something like that. I guess I will need a lot of therapy before I'm ready for a repeat.

And that was 2006. Hope 2007 will bring us more of the same, but better.

Winter sailing

09 December 2006
November was not much, but December was quite a good month. We got plenty of sailing in. The usual routine - up the Orwell, round Medusa or Woodbridge Haven and back. Not exactly "going where no man has gone before" but it's always good to be out on the water again. What is it that makes people lay up in winter? I don't get it.
Quite a few times we met up on the water with fellow YBW forumites - and dare I say it - friend Roger in his Oyster 37. Thanks for the pictures.

Life was good. Sure; it's cold but there's no such thing as bad weather - only bad clothes. I must admit I don't enjoy sailing in the rain, but you can dress for the cold. And in winter you can be sure to have most of the river/sea to yourself. No ducking and diving, no racers, no jet-ski, it's heaven.

I had 3 weeks holiday coming up in December and I intended to spend as much time afloat as possible. Some jobs needed doing - like replacing the forward head - but they take second place to the sailing.

Pontoon berth

28 October 2006
Our insurance company insists on a pontoon berth in winter. We've only needed them once, but they were absolutely brilliant, so I'm not about to argue with them.
My first choice would have been a berth at Fox's. Further upriver, more sheltered, and we have some friends there. The marina at Fox's is sort of an afterthought. I had been given the run-around by the harbour master. We might/might not have a berth. Yes, we do, but do you sail a lot? We may have to raft some boats up to you.... Yeah, right. To top it, they turned out to be more expensive than SYH. No contest really.

At SYH I got the pick of three possible berths. Two of those would have impossible for us to get out off. Guapa kicks to port (a lot!) in reverse. Easy choice - we opted for the berth we had briefly occupied in August. Back on familiar ground.

As we drove down to the marina I noticed our neighbour down in the river. Was that where she should be? I can't see Guapa anywhere! As it turned out, our neighbour had broken her mooring. Guapa was where she should be. Windy day!
Last trip over to the mooring in 2006. Just Evita and me, Brigitte and Yanni stayed behind and would take our lines when we came alongside. Last look round, and a half a NM to our new berth. I fancied a quick sail, but it was just a tad too windy and I also wanted to take advantage of the fact that it was very near LW. So our new berth would be a bit sheltered.

Coming alongside went without a hitch. Just a last trip over to our buoy in the dinghy to recover our pick-up buoy and line. Got soaked on the way over, but surfed all the way back. Kind of fun.

Attempted murder

10 October 2006
October 10th - my 41st birthday. I'll be brief

Had the day off - never work on my birthday.
The good lady threw a sickie as a surprise & proposed a gentle sail - just the two of us. What a woman!

Little did I know it was so she would try to kill me.

Drove up to Levington - got the tender in the water - motored over - as we came alongside Guapa I tried to grab the bathing ladder - I missed - B. "tried" to be helpful - stood up & tried to grab it - tender went turtle
Lifejackets worked - gentle drift upriver.

An East Anglia Sea School boat spotted it - thought it would be a good moment to practise MOB - rescued us & dropped us off o/b Guapa.
Nothing/no-one damaged/hurt (apart from my pride) - but it could have been soo much worse. Thanks a bundle!!

Dried - changed - hot soup - bailed the tender & fiddled with outboard engine till it worked again. Motored back to SYH.

Didn't really sail today.

Whatever else we would have done today, it would have been boring compared to this.

Autumn cruising

09 September 2006
Of course, typical, as soon as I'm back at work the weather improved a lot. September was an absolutely brilliant month. We were on the water every weekend. Last weekend of September: 25�C - T-shirt and shorts.

Most of the time we restricted ourselves to local daysailing. Up the Orwell, Deben and back, rounding of Medusa. Yanni's birthday was celebrated afloat, and he had a friend along. Good time was had by all.

I had gotten a rigid dinghy off eBay and it proved just the business. Trips to and from the mooring were becoming routine. The outboard had been serviced by Seamark Nunn. Great service, very reasonably priced. Picking up our buoy went without a fault every time. Our mooring seemed to be quite popular with other boats as every time we came back there was another boat on our mooring. Could it be the pick-up buoy I had attached? Not that I minded, but the occasional "thank you wave" or other acknowledgement would have been nice.

In away, September almost made up for the crap August we had had. I think I'll give this sailing lark another chance.


28 August 2006 | Ramsholt
End of August bank holiday. The weather's not too bad. Not exactly neither warm, or even sunny but nor rain of significance at it looked like there was going to be just enough wind. A friend suggested a trip in company up the Deben. I'd never been there and with 2.1m below us I was a bit weary of the bar. He suggested we would be OK, and as it turned out - we were.

Quite an experience though, to be "carried through" by the current on top of 13tons at boat at 9.6kts over the ground whilst your echosounder alarm's in overdrive. If we had struck ground then, it would have been big.

We picked up a mooring at Ramsholt. One of those picture postcard places. And they had a fair going. Dinghy ashore. The outboard broke down - again. Paddled the last few cables ashore. Met the Harbour Master - what a character. Poked about the fair, bought a book, had a pint (several). There was an incident with a powerless dinghy (kids), a badly sprained ankle (me) and some-one (who shall remain nameless - but you know who you are) falling off the quay at low tide. Quiet evening on the boat.

Long lie in the next day - HW was not till lunchtime. The trip back was uneventful; a bit of a breeze was just what the doctor ordered. All in all, not a bad way to spend a week-end.

The End

19 August 2006 | Levington
As it turns out; no-one knew we were coming, much less what mooring we were supposed to be one. The one bloke who knew everything would not be back till the next week. Would we mind staying alongside for a week? If it didn't mean paying extra I didn't mind in the least.

Back next weekend to move the boat onto her mooring. Stiff breeze. Large wavelets on the river. Getting back ashore in our little inflatable dinghy looked like it was going to be fun. I've opted to leave Brigitte and Yanni ashore and pick up the mooring with only Evita as crew. That would mean only one trip ashore.

Evita managed to grab the mooring on our first approach - well done! I rushed forward to slip a line through - we're sorted. I had found in Guapa's cavernous holds a pick-up buoy and what could serve as a sturdy puck-up line. A permanently rigged pick-up buoy would make our life so much easier in the future. I lower the dinghy - choppy out - and manage to affix the line and pick-up to the mooring buoy without getting completely soaked.

The trip ashore, however, did not go quite that well. Halfway across the outboard died on us. If I didn't have bad luck, I would have no luck at all. The tide was running at it's strongest. Paddle, paddle for all you're worth. Evita was knackered. I can't! You will! Sharp words were exchanged. Not my best moment. Rescue appeared. A fishingboat on it's way in kindly offered us a tow. Yes please.

We had set out in a dinghy and arrived in a floating swimming pool. Soaked! We need something firmer. I'll start looking on eBay tonight. In the mean time: all's well that ends well. No-one died and no damage was done. Let's hope next year's better.

Home run

13 August 2006 | Harwich
Two days later, watching the weather on TV. Out of the blue - tomorrow looks good. Forecast for the next few days: crap again & more of the same. Let's get packing. WSW 5-6. That's going to be as good as it gets. Train to Ostend and back on the boat. You know you're having a bad holiday when you're relieved that the end's in sight.

Next morning: drizzle and a stiff breeze. At this moment, I'm past caring. Let's just go home. The swell just off Ostend is terrible, put improves once we're in open sea. The wind's pretty much as forecast. I adjust our course a bit N to allow us to sail. The engine's OK now, but let's not take any risks.

By mid-afternoon it stops raining and we're making good speed. The last time we sailed from Harwich to Ostend in Yanita we managed it in 11 hours 20 minutes. At the time I thought we did pretty well - now it looks as if we're going to beat that personal best with ease. Just when everybody's comfortable with the routine of the crossing the Sunk appears. Time to keep eyes and ears open. I switch the VHF to keep watch on CH71. I'm always more comfortable if I know what's going on around me.

Up the Orwell towards Suffolk Yacht Harbour - our new "home". Brigitte suggests a night alongside before we move onto our mooring buoy. It will make the offloading of "stuff" so much easier. A pontoon berth for the night is as duly arranged. A bit of a tight squeeze first time in a strange marina, but otherwise hassle-free. Thank God it's all over.

Stuck again

10 August 2006 | Ostend
It never rains, but it... . After 4 days in Ramsgate it looks like we're in for the long haul again. Unbelievable - friends of ours went to Normandy less than 3 weeks ago. They complained of the heat and the fact that there was no wind at all. They managed to sail only a handful of hours in two weeks.

What they didn't get - we're getting loads. We've been here for 3 days now. Not a single day has gone by without rain and heavy winds. The local club's organising a dragon championship - they fear the worst.

Brigitte's been suggesting returning home early - being stuck on a boat in the rain is no fun at all. Forecasts are no help at all. They contradict eachother so much - it's scary. A man with a watch knows the time; a man with two watches is never sure. Maybe we should just GO! The barometer keeps falling fast - not good. The wind seemed to have veered from W to NW - again not good. Not interested in a long slug home to windward. As it's been blowing for a couple of days now there'll be swells.

Family meeting: suggestion - let's visit grandma & grandpa for a couple of days. OK - but at the first sign of a weather window, we're off! Deal! Bags are packed, boat locked up, harbour master informed. See you soon.

Mad dash

05 August 2006 | Ostend
Up at the crack of dawn - I want to make Ostend in good time. Lots of activity, the first reasonable day this week. Lots of Dutch boats keen to get home. Let's hope they're not heading for Ostend or it's going to be very crowded there too.

The first few hours serve as a reminder - this is what it's all about. True, it's cold and windy; but what a sail! Seastate's "lively", but we are making very good speed - we never log less than 7.5kt boat speed. As far as I'm concerned this can last for ever.

As always - good things never last. About 15NM off Ostend the wind sort of dies on us. There's a zephyr of wind, but boat speed's dropped to 3kts over the ground. On the horizon I can already see Ostend's Europa-tower, and all the yachts heading for it. I decide to get the engine going and motorsail the rest of the way.

A mile off Ostend breakwater we usually get the sails down, and so again this time. Lights were red a minute ago, but that ferry's sailed. Better press on now, as the next one in is due in 20 minutes. And then it happens, what I had been feeling in my bones all week. Two cable inside Ostend breakwater the engine dies on us. Try as I might it will not restart. Battle stations! We get the genoa out so that we make some headway at least. And it's busy like the M25 at rush hour. I've got the RNSYC Harbour Master's number on speed dial. As usual, Robert wastes no time and he's sent our diesel guru out to tow us in the last few cables into a berth.

Once alongside Brigitte and the kids are off shopping and I wait for Cedric. Who shows up, as promised, half an hour later. It turns out to be a blocked fuel line. We had been sailing on the last 25% of fuel and the lively sea had stirred thing up a bit. In April Cedric had replaced the fuel filter on the engine but had not been able to do the pre-filter by the fuel tank (part still on order).

Not as bad as it could have been. And we were all looking forward to some relaxing days in Ostend. We're on holiday after all.
Vessel Name: Guapa
Vessel Make/Model: Kalik 44
Hailing Port: Ipswich, UK
Crew: Wim, Brigitte, Evita & Yanni
About: The Vandenbossche family
Extra: One family and their boat. It started as daydream, then a vision and now, slowly, becoming reality.
Guapa's Photos - Beauty and the Sea (Main)
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