16 December 2017 | Slipper Sailing Club
08 November 2017 | South coast
07 November 2017 | Newhaven
06 November 2017 | Beachy Head
02 November 2017 | South Coast
01 November 2017 | Thames Estuary
31 October 2017 | Harwich
30 October 2017 | Southwold
27 October 2017 | North Sea
25 October 2017 | Lincolnshire Coast
18 October 2017 | Yorkshire Coast
17 October 2017 | Bridlington
16 October 2017 | Flamborough Head
12 October 2017 | Yorkshire coast
10 October 2017 | Geordieland
09 October 2017 | England!
16 December 2017 | Slipper Sailing Club
I met fellow Westerly Centaur owner Tom Bedford in Milford Haven. As it turns out we also share a fondness for real ale and the band Steely Dan. Tom is a freelance journalist and when I got back to Emsworth he suggested writing an article about my trip. I agreed without too much reticence and he sent Andy Lloyd down to Emsworth for a photo shoot. We moved the boat round to the Slipper Sailing club where he took hundreds of shots.
The article was originally going to be an exclusive in the Sun. However, this didn't happen, possibly due to Meghan Markle being more newsworthy at the time. So on Tuesday this week it was offered to a number of papers. I knew the Daily Mirror had taken it and saw a short paragraph in there on Wednesday, and apparently it was also in the Daily Star.
On Thursday I ran into Paul Tomlinson, the bar steward at the club, walking his dogs. He said there had been an article in The Telegraph on Wednesday with a photo of me and him in the background. I chased down a copy and it is reproduced here. It is mostly accurate, but one slight error had crept in. So my favourite pub in Padstow was the Golden Lion and my number one beer was Tribute. However, the Golden Lion does not serve St Austell's beer. It is a friendly, lively pub with Sharp's Doombar and several other good ales on tap. For a good pint of Tribute in Padstow I recommend a visit to The London Inn or The Shipwrights Inn.
08 November 2017 | South coast
Northerly force 4/5, mostly sunny
I checked the live wind at Chichester Bar this morning on the Chimet web site. Force 4 northerly. Hey! we could go somewhere, Little Hampton (LA) or even further. I might just make it for the 9 o'clock lock out. I called them and they said I would be going out of the smaller Prince George lock. I had about 10 minutes, not time enough to go and pay for our overnight stop, I would phone later. I sorted the lines and saw the traffic lights were green. They then turned red and a footbridge was replaced and a load of cyclists and pedestrians hurried over. The lock keeper then beckoned to me and I motored over, ready to tie up on the starboard side. When I got in the keeper said I needed to be on the other side. The lock is not wide, but I hoped the wind would push the boat across. It was not to be, and the bows started to swing. I managed to just turn the boat around with some judicious use of the gears and throttle. The lock is not much wider than Marica's length. The lock keeper congratulated me on the manoeuvre! He asked for my marina receipt and I admitted I'd not paid yet. He said he could take payment if I had cash. I asked how much fall I should allow for in the lock. No need, the pontoon Marica was tied to was floating and would go down with us. He asked if I would turn the boat around to get out, I said I'd reverse out.
The water went down and a gate opened. However, the exit was half the size of the entrance, and was to our port side. The Volvo kicks to starboard in reverse, so backing out did not seem viable. I tried springing off a stern line. It pushed the bow out, but not enough to complete the turn. Lots of backwards and forwards engine resulted in me breaking the running lights on the bow against the wall. Ah, I might need those later. Eventually we got out. I guess that didn't impress the lock keeper quite so much this time!
Coming out of the harbour, conditions could not have been different to yesterday. Sunny and bright with a fairly calm sea. I pointed the boat towards Selsey Bill. The wind was Northerly and felt like a force 5, maybe because of the chill. I unfurled the head sail and we were moving at over 5 knots. After a couple of hours I noticed water splashing out of the bilges onto the cabin floor. Looking in the engine compartment, the water level was quite high. I could see the leak on the cooling system was much worse than previously. I bailed out the majority of the water.
As we approached the marks Street and Boulder, that designate the Looe channel, we were making nearly nine knots over the ground as the tide helped us along. It was a bit rocky with the waves coming from off the land. Round Selsey Bill and there was a big mass of land or structure ahead of us that I didn't recognise. I could only see its odd outline against the sun. I thought it was maybe a stately loaded container ship, as it later turned out to be. I pointed the nose towards West Pole, off Chichester bar. There was water splashing on the cabin floor again. I opened up the engine compartment and started bailing again. The water was leaking quite quickly now. As I bailed though the leaking stopped. This was worse! I checked the exhaust and no water was coming out. I dropped the revs and water started to flow though the system again.
It was great to reach West Pole, and then Chichester Bar, and then through into the harbour. Home ground at last! I decided to stop at the visitors pontoon to sort out a few items before coming into Emsworth. I tied up, put out fenders and then decided to press on anyhow while it was still light before the tide fell too much. I headed for the Slipper Club quay. There was a yacht on the club quay that was also blocking some of the town quay. I motored in gently and tied up carefully so we would not clash, and to allow the boat to dry out.
I was sorting the boat as the tide was falling. I heard some running water, I checked the engine compartment again and water was pouring in through the cooling pipe. I closed the inlet valve. I used the bilge pump as the water was high. I pumped over 300 strokes and checked the level. No appreciable difference. I decided to wait until low tide and siphon out the water. No rest for the wicked, even on the last day of the voyage!
The photo is of a mark that Marica last passed in May, with the Spinnaker tower in the background.
07 November 2017 | Newhaven
Southerly Force 6, showery
On Tuesday morning we wake to a southerly force 6. The sea state was expected to be 'moderate' and waves were crashing over the harbour breakwater. George and I had porridge and reviewed the situation. He decided caution was the better part of valour and I walked him to the train station.
I thought I would use the morning to do much needed washing, but the guide was incorrect and there is no laundry facility at the marina, or even in the town now. I wanted to top up on fuel. I saw the there was a wind turbine service cat on the fuel berth, which is about a cable north of the marina by water. He was not moving so cans were the only option involving a bit of a walk round. I got a couple of gallons. I told the marina I intended to leave at two, the man seemed slightly surprised. I got the same reaction from harbour control. Slightly daunted I headed out. The harbour was rough, but outside was rougher. I could not let go of the tiller and was constantly steering into steep waves. My hat was below and I was getting soaked. After half an hour I changed course slightly so the waves were more on the beam and were now rolling the boat. I managed to get the autohelm engaged and started to get things in order. Fenders inboard and warps put away.
Brighton was looking very tempting at only 7 miles along the coast. I had thought of turning round and back into Newhaven, but I didn't fancy that journey again. We pressed on beyond Brighton to Shoreham. The sea was still rough and the wind didn't seem to have died at all. I made out the entrance quite close in and came in on some big surfing waves into the harbour.
There was a dredger working the harbour and I manoeuvred round it while sorting out lines and fenders. I called the lock and they directed me into Prince Philip Lock, the bigger, commercial one of the two. I tied up against a ladder. Now is the water going to be rising or falling? I opted for risising and went to fix a slip on the dock. Nothing close so I used the top of the ladder. The dredger and a fishing boat had joined Marica in the lock. I had just untied the boat from the bottom of the ladder as the water started to rise. The harbour directed me to the visitors pontoon in Lady Bee marina. I tied up and sorted the boat. I'd called the marina during opening hours. The landline number went through to a dentist and the mobile to voicemail. I was worried that I would not be able to get back on the pontoon if I left. I went to investigate. There was a little gate with no lock straight into a car park. Not very secure, but perfect for tonight.
I went for a little explore then called my mate Dave Carrington. He lives in Stenning and used to be joint owner of Marica with me. He said he'd meet me in an hour. He found me later and asked how long was it since I'd had a pint of Harvey's? Funny you should ask. He drove me to a pub that also had London Pride and St Austell's Proper Job. I opted for the Proper Job and some bangers and mash. Dave drove me back to Marica after I'd had a couple and I was tired. The forecast was not looking good for tomorrow so I could have a lie in and potter about in port.
The photo is of some of the cats that have taken over the visitors moorings. I guess they pay much more and wind farms are big business.
06 November 2017 | Beachy Head
F /4 W to S/W Sunny
My dad joined me on a frosty Monday morning for our leg from Rye. His name is George so he is the original George according to my sister, or he is George V for this trip. I thought Eastbourne would be a suitable port to make for, and could be completed in daylight hours. Dad had suggested Newhaven so we would round Beachy Head. This looked like it would suit my plans and those of the weather gods for the next few days. We opted to make for Newhaven, with the option to bail at Eastbourne if conditions changed.
High water was spot on noon today at Rye and Marica was afloat by 10:30. We had the lines ready to slip and I started the engine but again no cooling water was passing through. I told George we are not going anywhere. I put the kettle on to soften the pipe to allow us to clear the blockage. I went to close the inlet pipe and found it already shut. I opened it and what passed for normal service on board was resumed. I’d forgotten that I had closed the valve in an attempt to keep mud out of the cooling system.
We motored slowly downstream the two miles to Rye Harbour and then nearly another mile to the river mouth. There was not a lot of wind and mostly in the wrong direction. I hoisted the mainsail and we motor sailed. It was a clear and sunny day and warming up a little from the overnight freezing temperatures. Out of Rye Bay we could see Hastings and St Leonards. My dad spotted his house. I called his partner Roz, who had dropped him off at the boat, to see if she could see us, the only boat in the bay. By that time we were obscured from her window by other buildings.
We reached Beachy Head with the sun low in the West and were treated to fantastic views of the rock formations and the light house that was dwarfed by the cliffs. Next we sailed past the Seven Sisters, which is a lot easier than cycling over them on the South Downs Way. Here the wind was more in our favour and we managed to have both sails pulling the boat along. The sun went down before we reached Newhaven. We dropped the sails while there was still some daylight. I called Newhaven on the VHF for permission to enter, they warned us of a dredger and other traffic. We could see the dredger. As we approached the entrance there was an unfamiliar set of lights. This was Green, Green, White. George passed Reeds up to me and I looked it up. Small vessels may proceed, two way traffic. Coming up to the visitors pontoon we saw a head torch with a flashing white light heading our way along the pontoon. The lovely marina lady took our lines. She gave us the local information, gate codes and directions to the nearest pub. She had stayed beyond her working hours to welcome us. That is true customer care. We had been told to moor on the outside of the pontoon, contrary to directions in Reeds. I asked about the vacant berths on the inside. She told me they are all taken up with wind farm service cats. This confirmed what I read on visitmyharbour.com. There is effectively only one visitor berth. She said if we were staying more than one night she would find us a place deeper in the marina. Sure enough the big cats came and moored on the inside.
George and I sorted the boat out and had a cold beer, another cat came and moored a couple of meters in front of us. We moseyed up the hill to the Hope Inn. Some OK food, but they had a decent pint of Harvey’s Sussex Best. An amber beer of 4%, slightly bitter with a hoppy aftertaste, lovely. We studied the forecasts. It looked like there might be a window in the morning or late afternoon for a shortish coast hop. George decided to stay on for another day. The two sleeping bags I offered him were a bit damp so he slept in all his clothes with one under and one on top. It’s a bit warmer tonight than yesterday.
The photo is of George, Beachy Head and the lighthouse.
More water problems
05 November 2017 | Rye
Cool but sunny
I started the engine this morning, whilst Marica was afloat, to check the repair on the throttle linkage. It was fine but there was no cooling water flowing through the engine. I assumed that mud was stuck in the inlet pipe. All the boats settle in this soft smelly stuff to the top of their keels. So no chance of getting at the inlet from the outside here.
I needed to take off the inlet pipe on the engine side. It proved very resistant and I used three kettles of water to soften the plastic pipe enough to come off. Once off I managed to clear the pipe by blowing down it and could feel and hear the air bubbling through. Then another struggle to get the pipe back on again. About two hours in all before it was back to drying out lockers.
It was a spring tide today and the water overflowed the quay. It was a paddle ashore to take this photo.
04 November 2017 | Rye
This morning (Saturday) I found the cutlery drawer full of water. It's just underneath the cooker. I was wondering where the water had come in last night. The boat had obviously been heeled over at a bigger angle at the top of the tide. There had been water in the washing up bowl, that I had not tested to see if it was salty. I checked the cupboards and lower storage areas. There was water in the port locker above the keel. No obvious sign of where the water came in. It may have come through the engine hatches. The water in the sink fresh water from the tank. But the cutlery drawer, was that also fresh water overspill from the sink? The source of the sea water influx is still not determined.
I spent some hours cleaning out water from a number of places. I then fixed (I hope) the throttle linkage so that it can be controlled properly from the cockpit. The local laundry was closed so my washing will have to wait.
The photo is of my first meal of the day. Porridge, the breakfast of champions and confused skippers.
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