25 July 2010
24 July 2010 | Pötinizer Wik
23 July 2010 | Pötinizer Wik
22 July 2010 | Potinizer Wik
28 June 2010
26 June 2010
24 June 2010 | Den Helder
22 June 2010 | Harwich
21 June 2010 | Ramsgate
20 June 2010 | Dover
19 June 2010 | Rye Roads
19 June 2010 | Brighton
15 June 2010 | Brighton
14 June 2010 | Chichester
03 June 2010
03 June 2010 | Fareham
05 October 2008
01 September 2008

Still here....

25 July 2010
After being all but ready to rock at lunchtime, we again deferred leaving - deciding to go straight to Guldborgsund/Nykøbing tomorrow morning instead, rather than calling in at GroBsebrode. We were both feeling a bit 'creaky' and backachy for no apparent reason so figured a row and a walk might be in order, rather than a blustery sail. So, after lunch we went over to Priwall, had a wander round the woods (spotting wild rasperries that we'd somehow missed on our previous trip) noted the fuel station next to the Passat side if Marina Baltica and then caught the ferry over to the town, and to check out the Trävemunde Week related stalls/stages. Lots and lots of food, a few tirnkets, a few blokes with acoustic guitars and a main stage with a waiting audience but worried-looking soundmen and a band that had wandered off to the bar in the meantime. We hung a round for a bit, but they were already half an hour after the time on the poster, and there was no sign of action, so we sadly wandered off again.

One thing we discovered today was what the mysterious ticket machine next to the ferry was for - it's tickets for the beach! Yup, they charge you for being on the beach (and not a token amount, it was 2 EUR something per person). We'd noticed the beach was pretty empty, despite a generous helping of strandkorben (beachbaskets - the extended wicker 2-person upgrade on a deckchair that are all over the Frisan and south Baltic coasts. I've pondered why we don't have them the UK, they are a brilliant idea- but sadly concluded that they'd all get nicked or set fire to). The charge probably explains why. The main beach is right in front of a set of hotels, so we speculated that they couldn't quite make it a private beach but they just charge non-guests to discourage them. Guests seem to get a beach pass included. Don't tell people back in the UK, they'll start doing it....

We successfully resisted all temptations of food from the stalls and even the fish shop. I was in a funny philosophical mood, in which I saw all gatherings of people (and towns) as being just about food, drink and spending money. I'm not impressed at that passing for enough to entertain you of a day out (or a life....). Since I don't generally participate in any of those for amusement, I do feel a bit quite a bit left out, and sometimes I feel that as not a good thing. I'm just not a good little consumer I guess. I wondered how many other people in the crowd even think of such things - or are they too busy actually enjoying their ice-creams and beers....

We eventally ran out of energy, so it was back to the boat where I made coffee and pancakes - intended as an afternoon snack, but I was surprised to see it was actually 6pm! Did a little passage planning, discussed characterisation in sci-fi novels, wondered why is it we've seen a fair few French films but few German ones, and I tried to express what I'd really like to do with this travelling about since the tourist thing really doesn't do it for me. And of course, wrote this entry!

Another lazy day in Pötinizer Wik.

24 July 2010 | Pötinizer Wik
The forecast was for gales in our area, so we stuck out another 5 m of anchor chain and decided on another lazy day right here. Today is Saturday and I am amazed thaat such a good anchorage, close to the goings-on of the annual sailing week is not packed-out British stylee. None of the anchoring places we have been in Germany have been what you'd call 'busy'by UK South Coast standards. I also found myself wondering why, with all this right here, and as uncrowded as it is, they Germans go and cram themselves in with the crowds in Greece/Croatia/Turkey. Maybe they just like the company. I am a little concerned that we are somehow being antisocial with our choice of spots or just ourselves, I really don't know. We haven't had much by way of contact or conversation since leaving the uk-style marinas of the Netherlands. A few passing 'hellos' and 'nice boat' type things but no real socialisation. I don't speak much German, and the Germans don't speak much English as a rule, at least not that we have found, but I do try. I suppose we aren't pub/bar goers, nor really all that 'touristy' but even other sailors have been thin on the ground - suppose when you have nice lots of space between anchored boats you don't tend to get into much chat. Maybe we can remedy that tomorrow. Aiming to go back via Groþsebrode on our way to Lolland, so we can make sure to pop on the yacht club.

It has indeed shaped up very gusty today with the boat changing direction on a regular basis (and then swinging back again almost as quickly). There are distinct waves, with little whitecaps in the bay, which is impressive as it's partially sheltered from the prevailing wind and it's all of a mile or so long. Nothing compared to the Groþsebrode thunderstorm, but enough to make me sure that we were right ot stay put, at least today. Yesterday, on the other hand, would have been alright. Ho hum. When you have a great sheltered and secure anchorage where you can swim, go ashore easily and walk in the woods or go across to town and you aren't payign a penny, sometimes it can get har do to get up motivation to move.

We sat down together today and worked out timings etc. for our further travels. Given that we really only have 3 weeks before we should be back on the other side of the canal, we think that Copenhagen is probably out. We are aiming to go up to Falster/Lolland/Sjælland and across to Nyborg/*ro/Langeland then probably the Schlei/Eckernförde(again) and thence back to the canal. But it's all weather dependent and we shall just have to see... Even going via Groþsebrode may bite the dust if we get good wind for Falster (Nykøbing).

My new keyboard is not, alas, the full answer, I am still getting erratic perfomance from it, missing and repeated letters - however it seems to calm down when I have been using it for a while... Hmmmmm

I got dem ol' cozmic blues again mama....

23 July 2010 | Pötinizer Wik

I was feeling physically and mentally below par this morning, so this, combined with a slightly iffy weather forecast for overnight means we have stuck around in Pötinizer Wik. My digestion didn't much appreciate the museli/bread/ice cream etc. that it got dosed with when I was back in the UK, and the lack of sleep over the 5 days don't help me much either. I had one of my "it's all too hard" moments with all the charts out and the electronic chart software running. I have no idea why these moment strike me, because usually, later, usually after I have eaten, all becomes clear and I am both troubled and embarassed at my previous doubts.

So what's the issue? Well, we'd like to get to Denmark at some point - and it had better be soon because I want to be back in Borkum for the 2nd last week in August in case it takes us 2 weeks to get back to Portsmouth - after all that's how long it took us on the outward trip. The wind was forecast to come in at up to 13 m/s from N/NW - meaning the bay I had picked for a short hop today (Boltenhagen Bucht) was totally exposed and the one with better shelter (Wohlenburger Bucht) dangerous to approach due to the very reef and shoals that protect it once you are in. The Rocna anchor is so good that you get tempted to say "ah, but we will be OK in the open bay" but that's not a good habit to get into. OK to feel fine about relying upon it if the wind does change from off to onshore (as we have) but I think it's irresponsible to put yourself in a lee-shore high-wind anchoring situation to *start with*. Of course, then I get to being a bit resentful that Molly is not a 'marina boat' - with the long low bowsprit and the nasty astern behaviour she is certainly not a Baltic marina box mooring boat - or maybe I am just too much of a coward? Both, probably. Many of the boxes are also really narrow... I need practice but I hate practice because of the risks. How can I devise *safe* practice? I really don't know.

Hmph, well I get all stressed about it all too easily - I don't really enjoy the passage planning at all. Some people love it, revel in it, to me it's just another chore and being as I'm the only one who can do it, it can get to me. Sometimes there are no good choices - at least none I want to make. I like to hang round places for a while - but I feel pressured to move on. I'l hasten to say that that pressure is all internal, Steven is happy to take things as they come - I wish I could reach such a state... but there is so much to see.... maybe the trick is to pay full attention to where and when you are. In fact I know it is, and I used to be able to do it almost all of the time, I don't know why I have let that slip away... (I think it might have been a side-effect of when my back was bad) must get back to that, it's a good state for enjoying life - maybe the only state for enjoying life...

If the wind stays N/NW then we will have a hard time getting up to Copenhagen and back in time, at least not without a big North-Sea-crossing equivalent overnighter (it's 135m from here). I'm not keen - hand-steering all the way in 2 hour shifts is not really my idea of fun. Must somehow get that self-steering behaving itself.

Hmm, well, we shall see what tomorrow brings. Steven seems perfectly happy, we've had a (naked!) swim and a shower and I have done my hair and written this up, so maybe it's a good day after all. Especially since it's now raining..... I'll get the guitar out later I think.

Teerhofinsel-Pötinizer Wik/Travemünde

22 July 2010

We managed to do some more food shopping in Bad Schwartau and kick ourselves off from the Nord Ost Marina on Teerhofinsel nr Lübeck (We'd been back to the UK for a family party and the early busy time and early flight meant a day just recovering). I'll fill in on the marina and town as there's lots interesting to say. We didn't have much in mind, just to move down to the Pötinizer Wik, the bay we had used as an overnight stop when we turned up in the Trave. We picked our spot carefully and though still in 8m of water, were nice and close to a little landing beach.

Maybe now's the time to say a little bit about our dinghy. Just before we went away, literally days before departure, we bought the (2nd) prototype pram dinghy made by Nestaway. It was pure chance I was checking their site, and it was advertised for sale, complete with sailing kit (or most of it, anyway and he could provide the other bits). It's a hard dinghy in 2 halves that fit inside each other making it a much smaller package to fit on deck. The guy who started the company, Ian, was inspired to design it after spending some time cruising in the Caribbean, and wanting a proper dinghy on a small boat. Assembly takes about as much time as blowing up a rubber dinghy - maybe a touch less, and it rows really nicely, hardly any effort at all. Not the load carrier that the big yellow one was, but perfectly good for what we want to do with it - light enough to easliy launch and carry (well with the 2 of us, but we aren't big). Also Molly's low freeboard and lack of lifelines helps a lot in launch and recovery. We haven't yet tried to get the bikes in though...

When we get ashore we try to lock it to something using a really long ladder lock. We also lock the oars in the boat using small padeyes that I put on them for that purpose. The screwheads on these padeyes and on the anchor padeye were partly drilled then filled with 'Chemical Metal'to deter the non-gooder who happens to carry a screwdriver. We used to do this with the yellow one at Wicor's to save carrying the oars back and forth all the time. Some places we haven't found anywhere to lock *to* but they have been pretty civilised-looking places and the boat's always been there when we came back.

I could, in fact, write a much longer article on the dinghy and how we came to buy it - but I'll leave that for another time.

By the time we got to the anchorage, sorted ourselves out and launched, it was about 5 o'clock. After pulling the boat up on the beach and locking it to a tree, we set off in the direction of Passathafen, to get the ferry over to Travemünde, which we'd admired on the trip up to Lübeck. With many moorings of the "how the h*ll did they get in there" box variety and a cafe-filled promenade looked like it was worth a trip.

Priwall, where we landed is an island (or nearly so, I think) and mostly nature reserve and a beach, so we had a nice wander through the woods, guessing our direction and keeping track of our turns by the numbered nesting boxes. We only went a little bit 'wrong', ending up at the main ferry point, rather than Passathafen. There are two ferries between Priwall and Travemunde, and they run every 10 minutes during the day. One stops from 10pm till about 5 or 6 and the other goes down to half hourly. I am not sure we'd get such service anywhere in the UK!

We had a bit of a wander, ending up spending most of our time on the museum ship "Fehmarnbelt", an ex light vessel(or Feuerschiff - fireship as they say in German). The engine was especially interesting with an exposed top end, the rockers right out there for full admiration. The man in charge lured us in with a bit of semi-English chat, and my semi-German comprehension, and we ended up with 2 beers (which Steven had to drink both) and a tour of the bridge, where all the old instrumentation exists alongside the new (but the modern stuff is hidden by towels). The boat is 100 years old and was taken out of service in 1984 (as far as I could gather), putting 12 men out of a job. On the foredeck there was the huge anchor windlass and the biggest stenhouse slips and steel shock absorbers that I've ever seen. I surmised that they comprised the snubbing arrangement that let the ship ride to her 3 anchors through all those Baltic winters...

Of course, beer promotes appetite, so there then had to be wurst - the local kiosks seeming to favour a high sausage to bread ratio, putting a giant wurst in a small dinner roll. All perfectly fine by me, even if I didn't have the appetite-priming beer. The pomme-frites mit curry mayo were hard to resist, but my hapazard carb-laden eating when back in the UK had done me no favours at all in terms of physical or mental state, so I didn't indulge.

The town was getting set up for the Travemünde sailing week, with stalls, DJ booths etc etc. Could be quite a party town over the next few days... should we stay and check it out??? Hmmm....

As we pondered, we wandered down to the other ferry point then caught the ferry back to Passathafen where we had another (slightly shorter) woodland walk back to the beach, the boat, dinner and bed!

Tired of playing catchup

22 July 2010 | Potinizer Wik
Tired of playing catchup.

This blog now has such a backlog that it is putting me off actually doing entries at all - which is downright silly, so I'll try to keep up to date and "fill in the gaps" when I have an excess burst of enthusiasm (well, I can hope).

I do, however, now have the new keyboard fitted to the laptop which means that the space bar works again, and that entries will take half as long to type.. Hurrah! Of course I also seem to have got into the habit of extra-long/hard key strikes on some of the keys that were previously sticky leaddinngg to doubble letters... Bear with me. I'll put up a note when I get each batch of catchup entries done, as they will appear in their proper date order within the blog.

Vlieland part 1

28 June 2010
Another dawn and we set off out of our anchorage, the marker buoys glowing in the rising sun. This is one of the advantages of this west facing coast, that in the evenings coming into port/anchorage the sun catches the buoys and lights them up for you and the rising sun does the same on the way out in the morning. It doesn't quite make up for having to spend hours in the little channels to get round the back of the island (where the are harbours generally to be found), or that in order to catch the tide right for the main part of your journey East exiting (and often entering) these channels tends to be against at least some tide. It does make seeing where you are going a lot easier.

I ended up free-climbing the mast on this leg, to retrieve and restring the topping lift tackle which had come adrtift due to it getting in a fankle with the gaff when we raised the main. I found myself thinking it was just as well that I had done it in play only the day before or I might well not have known I could do it. Mainly climbing hand over hand up the throat halyard with a bit of aid from bare feet on the mast. Varnish, though shiny, is stickier than you'd think for such purposes - handy. I was a constant tree-climber as a kid, and have no reaction at all to heights, which is useful for jobs aloft. If I use gear, it's a climbing harness rather than a bosun's chair as I feel insecure and helpless in the latter (mainly because you can't actively climb very well). I've strung a B&Q handyman's toolbelt from my climbing harness to carry, well, tools (all of which should be on a string lest ye drop them on someone's head/teak deck/in the drink. I think there is often an over-elaborate amount of fuss made about "going up" but that's me, it is no doubt best to be secure to your own standards before doing such jobs and I'm not going to argue that 2 lines are safer than one (or none). Sometimes speed of getting the job done is a safety consideration too... One handy thing I find is a downhaul on you and/or a rope round the mast so you don't swing out in windy or rocky conditions is a good idea. Not to mention someone to send you up things that you have forgotten (in a bucket onto the flag halyard usually).

After all too short a time, as seems to be typical on this trip, the wind vanished and we were motoring again. During the tidy up of deck, I noticed that we were missing the cap for the water tank. We'd noticed that water was coming out of the taps but thought it was just slop from a full tank. Nope, all our freshly filled water was now contaminated with salt. D*mn! as Captain Carrot would say. I couldn't find the cap itself either, which was very strange as we have 7" bulwarks and nothing of any size can fit through the scuppers. Still, it appeared gone nonetheless and speculation was that it might have gone out forwards through the gap in the bow for the bowsprit. We found a wooden bung that would at least stop up the hole, switched to using one of our 3 10l water containers and kept on our way.

Oudeschild - Vlieland

26 June 2010

We were up bright and early(ish) to get in the queue for fuel - we took the cans as that seemed to be a) easiest b) what everyone else was doing. We hadn't planned an early departure as the tide was not in our favour til after 2pm. used to UK marinas, we asked the guy going round putting reservation signs on various berths "what time is leaving time?" to get in return a confused look and "whenever you decide is leaving time". So we decided to go in to town to try to find the fish shop. I should add that I, up to this point, had lost a day somewhere and thought it was Sunday - far too easy to do - but maybe that's part of the charms of cruising.

We had already encountered the rather large local sheep, with their amazingly deep and macho collection of "BAAAAAS", and gathered that they were possibly a bit of a Texel 'industry', so were not surpised to find a large shop selling all sorts of sheepskin and wool products, though not many of them as you'd hope were actually local, which I think is a shame. We never did find the fish shop, but ended up in the chandlers looking at tools (the mythical adapter exists but not outside of a set), admiring the array of 'proper stuff' (it supplied the fishing as well as leisure fleet) and buying me a set of overalls as they had children's sizes. Shame the sexy red ones were just a trifle too small to fit many clothes under (hmm, maybe that'd be the right idea.....) so I ended up with an only-slightly-too-long-in-the-leg pair of blue ones. Only ' 16 though - bargain!

Having observed that the main inrush of boats seemed to be around the harbourmaster's opening hours, we set off at half three towards the next island, Vlieland. There was a good breeze going and we were going great guns, even catching some mackerel! We also got a visit from the Customs - 3 blokes in a RIB all serious expressions and regulation moustaches. They showed no signs of any interest in boarding us to do any checks - it was more than a tad choppy by now.

The day had gone quicker than we expected - or perhaps progress had gone a little slower than we'd hoped. The harbour on Vlieland is tucked behind the east of the island, and I didn't recall that there much by way of lit buoyage, and around 6pm we were still only just at its western side. I made one of those tired decisions that you might just regret and decided we might find shelter from the NE wind tucked a little behind Vliehorst, in between Texel and Vlieland (Eierlandsche Gat - yup, just like off the East Coast, they are 'gats'). It would have been more sensible to anchor off the beach on the NW coast of Texel - at least it would have been a quick exit in case of any trouble. But with the aid of my 2010 Dutch charts and the sun behind me, I navigated us in, failed to find any spot any better than any other (and none close to shore at all), anchored up, and made very detailed pilotage notes for exit. Apparently such is not to attempted without extensive local knowledge, but luck, good charts, a depth gauge and an ultra-reliable anchor seemed to serve. We didn't, however, see any of the seals (parts of the area are a seal reserve). I made mental note not to do anything like this again if I could help it.

Den Helder - Oudeschild

25 June 2010

After more than a few hours sleep, we got ourselves washed/shaved/hairwashed using a mix of facecloth and the 5l pump-up shower spray - which works pretty well. I bought it in Halfords ages ago, orginally for washing my motorbike, but having found it had a demand showerhead attachment, it got co-opted as a shower (my flat at the time had only a bath) and now travels as ship's equipment. Fill it with half boiling water from the kettle and half cold and it's about perfect. I have yet to devise any satisfactory way/spot to use it inside the boat (ideally near to the heater, for those chillier days) - may have to build a collapsible 'tray' to put in the space between the heads and the wet locker. That's be easier if it wasn't partially full of mast..... Anyway, in fine sunny weather such as we are having, the cockpit is fine. One can wear a swimming cossie if shy - but sailors rarely are - and the Dutch/Germans/Scandinavians (from my observations) *definitely* aren't.

By the time we had done all that, and spent far too long debating that if we went over to Oudeschild were we staying there or coming back here (we do a bit too much of that, must improve) we set off for the other side of the harbour and Oudeuschild's sadly neccessary fuel dock - whose opening time we missed by 15 minutes. I do think the life of a Dutch or German Havenkontor/Hafenmeister seems a relaxing one give their opening hours. Here, they were on duty 0830-1030 and 1530-1730. We were ably assisted in our tying up to the fuel dock by Pieter, who added further kindness by spying us out a spot where we might berth,and by his wife Helena who phoned the harbour master to checkit was OK. He also helped us with our lines when we got there and invited us over to their boat for drinks once we were settled.

Pieter and Helena had just come back from a holiday to the UK in their lovely Victoire yacht - in fact, talking to them, it seems they could well have been the other boat that we saw setting out from Harwich at the same time as us. They had had a slow crossing, but not as slow as ours, and found more wind (perhaps because of a little extra speed), I'd imagine that their boat is faster than our on light airs - well, most are.... So far! Wait til I get the big lightweight drifter....). Pieter explained that Whilst in the UK they had found the English sailors so helpful to them that they wanted to return such kindness. Which they did in generous measure - feeding us dinner as well as drinks and enjoying a good old natter. Their boat, like all the Dutch boats we saw, was in immaculate condition, though ten years old. I think if I ever buy another boat I would have to try looking in the Netherlands first. I like the kind of boats they like and everyon seeems to look after them very conscientiously.

In the last of the light, we went for a wander round the harbour, where the entire fishing fleet was in. BIG compared to UK south coast fishing boats. Very well kept too. They were all of the same style with two big side nets for trawling. What they fish for, I don't quite know - maybe prawns? They all seemed to have processing equipment on board - big tumbler things and conveyor lines and some sort of cooker. I could have wished for an explanation, but the few fishermen about seemed to be enjoying a beer and trying to impress their various 'girls' (2 of which were at least my age) who turned up on bicycles bearing supplies. I am clearly not the only one who wants to know how the boats and their machinery work - a few boats have been converted to tourist trips, to watch the seals and demo prawn fishing, judging by the intact gear and the pictures on the posters.

I found myself pondering the difference between the apparently healthy fishing fleet here and its evident support by the locals and local authorities and the situation back home. Perhaps the fish/shellfish are just not there in the UK anymore (I heard that the SW Scotland prawning fishery in whose processing factories I worked one summer as a student has all-but-gone), perhaps the political will is not there, perhaps there just seem better/easier/safer jobs to be doing. I don't know, I just can't help but notice the contrast... maybe I haven't been in the right places (yet!). Even the tourist trip conversions, which strike me as a good idea (and probably more profitable than fishing!) don't seem to be a big thing in the UK. Maybe we paid them more to just scrap the boats instead... I must read up on all this sometime, satisfy my curiousity and cure my ignorance.

We also met an English bloke in our perambulations, a self-confessed "Thames ditch crawler", semi-retired and taking it easy visiting a few Dutch friends. He had been to the Baltic,so we tried quizzing him on good places to stop on the way, but he had been delivering a motorboat and so the distances would have been a tad unmanageable. He and his wife work casual jobs in the winter, spend the summer sailing - sounds like the life.... He said there was a good fresh fish shop in town, on one of the side streets, which sounded like a thing to check out since we hadn't caught anything since on the way to Ramsgate.

Harwich - Den Helder

24 June 2010 | Den Helder

0710 on Wednesday saw us leave the Stour for the big hop across the North Sea. We got the sails up in the river and started off. The wind wasn't all that promising, and we saw another yacht that looked as if they were headed the same way as us turn back. We elected to get he engine on for an hour or so to see if we could find the wind,and if there wasn't much and progress was really slow we'd go to Lowestoft instead and try the next day. I was, as usual (but not at all sensibly) taking the lack of wind personally and berating myself for not ensuring we had a full tank of fuel - we hadn't enough to get all the way on the motor, which I had wanted to at least be able to do if required just to "get there". By ten past nine, a nice SSW 3 had kicked in and were were sailing (albeit at about 3.5 knots) making good use of the staysail pole and enjoying the sunshine.

These long legs were exactly what we bought the windvane steering for - and we still couldn't get it to work. Kept steadily pulling us up to the wind again. I really do find handsteering boring most of the time,and on long shorthanded passages, being tied to the tiller (not literally!) is inconvenient at best and possibly dangerous. One person on watch needs to be able to go and sort foredeck issues, plot positions, grab a cup of tea etc. etc. without the boat going wildly off course.

I eventually managed to rig a combination of the tiller ropelock (not quite on but providing friction) and a bungee from the tiller to a cleat on the coaming on the weather side to take out the minor variances. It didn't work perfectly but I only had to do minor fiddling of the tension on the bungee every so often as the wind went up and down which at least enabled me to read a book (in between scanning the horizon for ships) which improved my mood immensely. Unfortunately the bungee wore out twice where it went over the coaming side so it's not an ongoing solution - at least not without some changes to the attachment.

I put us onto 2 hour watches after lunch. I am a great believer in starting watches early to make sure the crew is properly rested. I have had too many overnight passages/races where the watches started far too late and I was myself tired out by it - and resentful! I am not the type of person who easily stays up all night but conversely I do not suffer when my sleep is broken into smaller units. I also wake up "fully switched on" - got a fast boot sequence I guess :-). Of course it is not all about suiting me, but iI found that in the longer races I have done where the watch system was established and stuck to as soon as the start was cleared the crew performance was much enhanced.

Conditions didn't vary much for the first 100 miles of the crossing, light patchy wind which eventually died totally at 1715 on Thursday evening. Becalmed, we got the headsails in and started the motor- by now, our half-tank of fuel would be plenty...

There wasn't much ship traffic on the crossing, a few ships across the DWZ, but as we clipped the entry approaches to the Texel 'roundabout' we did have enough that I was juggling 3 sets of bearings to judge and converging courses. The trick is to remember which ship is on which heading - and to makesure your boat is itself steady on course. This latter i s never easy with Molly, particulary under motor she needs a lot of helm input.

We were at Den Helder by a little before 2am on Friday morning. This was Steven's first real experiance of a strange portat night and his comment was "lights lights everywhere!" On my previous (outbound) visit, I had pulled up in the military yacht club but the entryandberths looked rather tight for Molly's big bowsprit, ponderous turning circle and random astern behaviour, so we found our selves patch round past the port in about 6m. Little tricky, as there is a deepish channel directly along the west side(but you can't anchor in it!) then a shallow bit then a deeper bit. I hadn't quite managed to get the geography over to Steven well enough so we had a few beeps on the shallow water alarm.... but no actual touches. We were nowhere near shore - but we had no need, we just needed a few hours sleep - then the plan was to nip over to Oudeschild for fuel and come back (or maybe anchor over there) for the night.

Ramsgate - Harwich

22 June 2010 | Harwich

I do love my shiny pole...

Bright and early start for what proved to be an excellent day. Wind was great, very deep reach that meant I played with polling the staysail out and eventually got her balanced with the main and job on the same side and the staysail poled on the other. Great thing that little whisker pole. Steven knocked it up to my design out of spare fir left over from last years mast repair.

Staysail whisker pole is 6ft long with a slot in one end to engage the sheet and the other end rounded off and secured by a loop of rope and a loop of bungee both spliced through a hole drilled in it. These loops loop over two seperate pins on the pinrail at the mast base. I use the lazy sheet as a 'guy', no uphaul/downhaul required (though the set is not always perfect as a result). The staysail sheet leads outside the shrouds and to a block on a short strop - this is the usual arrangement but it works especially well with the pole. When we get the big drifter and its (longer) pole I will need to put some blocks on a strop or maybe even get a barber-hauler type set up going to get the right lead. We will have to see. The staysail pole is light, and so dead easy and quick to use - but strictly for light winds as it's only about 45mm diameter. We can make a much deeper angle to the wind with it - the staysail is easily blanketed by the main into annoying indecisve flappiness. As an instructor of mine once said, "A flappy sail is not a happy sail" - and so we endeavour to keep the sails happy.

Talking of the main, we had the full sail up for the first time in yonks. Good sight - but even the new bigger pinrail doesn't clear the peak and throat halyards from the gaff jaws. I can see that shroud-mounted pin rail happening very soon - and/or trimming a few inches off the forward part of the gaff jaws. The jaws are a lovely bit of grown oak - but the boat was designed to use a steel 'saddle' and the jaws foul/pull on just about every halyard at one point of sailing or another...

Got into Harwich and sailed up the Stour to a lovely anchorage about a mile past the ferry terminal. There were 3 boats lined up (generously spaced by Solent standards) and a space - so we took the space! If only all rivers could be like that - so much space, a few, well-spaced moorings, good shelter from the wind. It just makes you realise HOW croweded with moorings/marinas/etc. the south coast rivers are. Steven asked me why don't people sail here instead. I said they do - but it's too far from London for the masses I suppose.

So, an easy sail - but sadly we still cannot get the windvane, a Svennovations Mister Vee Stainless WALT, to do his job. More investigation (and emails to the Sven, no doubt) required.

Dover - Ramsgate

21 June 2010 | Ramsgate

Left Dover a bit after the lock opened - I still had to make lunch and do the planning. I find that I am getting really tetchy at having no time 'to myself', The passage planning is a real chore. Some people love it, but to me it's just a necessary thing that needs to be done. The unpredictable parts (wind, time, nature of anchorage/port/mooring) engender in me a modicum of stress. I really should get my patience summoned and get Steven up to speed on doing it. Maybe when it's more Day Skipper than Coastal Skipper type stuff.... Should also get back to doing more of the berthing - I used to do it all,but when Steven's arm/shoulder was bad for so long, I had to handle the dockside element as he couldn't. No such reason now...

It was the wrong time to leave, tide-wise, but we had to finish getting that hatch sealed and get the job on, so we fought the tide round the point with the engine - which remained on all 5 hours of the trip. Ick. The wind was light, 2 or 3.

I had thought to get a jumpstart for Harwich in the morning by anchoring up round off Margate but the wave direction was still reflecting the weeks of NE and it wasjust looking too rough round N Foreland, so we retraced back to Ramsgate. We did get a spot - but the harbourmaster told us we had to leave before 7am when the dredger would be here. The berthing situation at Ramsgate has got a bit tight due to the windfarm and survey boats and the dredging work to keep the finger berths clear. The only real shame of it was that we were gone too early for the fuel dock.

More planning from me for the slightly tricky crossing of the Thames Estuary. At least the wind looked in our favour, but since we'd be getting to Barrow(ish) round low tide, I took no shortcuts and went Foulger's Gat into Black Deep for a stretch and round the end. Early start tomorrow - want to be off before 0630.

Rye Roads - Dover

20 June 2010 | Dover
Dover is full of French boats and full of steel boats, including one Joshua-alike complete with dome 'bubble'! We had a look at anchoring just to the west but the cliffs were whistling the wind down rather than sheltering so we fought our way through the rolly swelly chop through the Western entrance into the harbour. It's vital to get clearance from Dover Port Control as what is coming out til you are right on the entrance - and it is likely to be big ferries/cruise liners and as I say big roll/swell/chop/standing wave type things along the wall as you come in.

We had to wait upon the waiting pontoon til 3pm when the lock opened for Granville Dock, so we got on with a few minor jobs. Sunday, so we couldn't visit the chandlers where Steven wanted to get some nylon washers for the fore hatch screws as we were still having some leakage :-( After testing with one of my small squeezy bottles, we worked out that that's where the water was getting in. You'd drop some into a screwhole and it's get *sucked* in and appear on another spot under the supporting wood somewhere and drip in the bed. Crazy. He did set to with the goop gun to put Sikaflex under pressure into the screw holes and it was amazing just how far away the stuff would pop up. We were now pretty confident we had identified and sorted that last of the issues with that hatch - just needs the washers...

The next day, the lock didn't open until 1400, so we went to the chandlers (Sharp and Enright across the main road) - excellent, excellent shop, stuffed full of stuff and (many) helpful staff, all old boys in blue coats. Charming. No washers, but we got a few bits and bobs of galvanised gear, sewing needles, a Speedy Stitcher, couplabig screwdrivers (with spanner points - big ones aren't much use without them!) and a chart that covered the Margate area as I was thinking of anchoring up there the next day. Stevenspotteda bit of outdoor cable on the way back whoch wasusedfor the washers, whilst Iput on and wound up the bigger jib as the weather had gone light. A right palaver that was - I thoguth gettign it allout flat first would help,since i had a dock to reach the bowsprit, but no,it was more hassle. I really wish for a better solution - modern roller reefing or hanked onto a travelling stay???? A question we have yet to decide upon...

Brighton - Rye Roads

19 June 2010 | Rye Roads

A new day, another departure. Finally quit Brighton at 10 to catch the tide down the coast. I had thought we might only get as far as Eastbourne, but the wind turned N and we got all the way to an anchorage off Rye with only a tiny engine boost tp get us past a dead spot off Fairlight. We even managed to catch 4 mackerel for tea :-)

We were visited by the Lydd Range Safety Boat just before we anchored, who were very friendly and said they'd be starting up at 0830 and we should follow a route outside the range (which is marked on the chart) on our way out. We anchored in about 7m just outside the range. Not quite in the 1mmN of the fairway buoy suggested by the Almanac, but close enough. Spent a secure night (lovely, lovely Rocna) - but there is some swell, so not perfect. Another round of planning for me before bed. A chore, but what do you do? I suppose a lot of folks do a lot in advance - ideally in quiet moments at work ;-) I have just been too busy to do more than get myself a general route strategy and do the passages day by day.

I favoured going up the East Coast to Harwich or Lowestoft over going up the French/Belgian/Southern Dutch Coasts because although a longer crossing you aren't going across the mouths of the major shipping ports. Just a hop across the DWZ. Also with the NE wind tendencies, ifwe can just battle north we'd get a better angle - the continental coastal route would have it on the nose if it kept up like that. I had had my moments ion Brighton thinking the wind was going to be NE all Summer and we'd have to change plans and go down the West country/France instead - but that was just late night tired pessimism, so I planned us a course for Dover...

Brighton - contrasts, contrasts.

19 June 2010 | Brighton
After we pulled up in Brighton, we had a bit of a busy old evening, pulling out all the bedding etc, taking a trip to the marina launderette to wash and dry it, emptying lockers out to dry, wiping etc... (which was to continue through the next day). Not great fun, but got to be done. Looking at the offending hatch, The seal didn't look too healthy - but that wasn't the major issue. The hatch showed the typical issue that it is a flat hatch screwed to a not-quite-flat deck. That's just never going to work! Water will always find its way in.

We hadn't really done much 'hatch testing'kind of sailing,so we hadn't really noticed all that much of an issue up to now.

Also, the engine bay hatch was not at ALL waterproof and let streams and streams of water in and into the bilge from the cockpit. It flowed down the hatch corners and back quicker than down the cockpit drains, I'll swear!

So, shopping time. Lovely sunny day. First up we visited SMR chandlers where the manager, Mike was very helpful in tracking down the replacement for our hatch (so old it's not made any more). We didn't really want to be cutting a new hole. That wouldarrive tomorrow before lunch, so then we hot the town for more 'pods' as we call waterproof drybags.We've been calling them this since before buying one whose brand name was actually 'Pod'. I don't quite know why, but maybe cos they kind of look like some alien critter might hatch from them any minute. We have tons as they are handy for dividing your clothes within a larger bag or bin. Most of ours were form Cotswold Leisure outdoor shop. I have a sturdier PVC Ortleib dry bag for the laptop

Brighton Marina is a place of contrasts, from a large population of motorboats of all sizes, to the fleet of small fishing boats to the boats that have not sailed for some years, kept afloat as cheap accomodation for the free-spirited by a constantly running bilge pump... It's not cheap, but it has all facilities and you get your own washroom with sink and mirror not just a shower stall. There's also a hairdryer - at least in the ladies! There's a bank of 'touristy' reastaurants just above the marina and a huge Tesco's within 5 minute walk. The best place to eat looks like the Yacht Club though. We didn't indulge, being fully stocked with food. Also spending £467 on a hatch means economies really should be practiced! The old one was crazed and didn't prop open properly any more, so it's all gain I suppose. Still...(sigh)

The wind continued from the NE - it's not the best sign when the marina is full of boats from where you are headed TO - there were lots of Dutch boats, a couple of Germans, a Danish boat and a Finnish one.

The next day, the hatch arrived, and was duly fitted by Goopmeister Steve and his big yella gun. The idea was to bed it lightly in enough goop to flatten out the deck curve. We were not carrying enough hardwood to build a proper new supporting frame. Got tons in the shed at home....

Various other clean/mop/dry tidy up jobs were done by me. It's amazing just how long things take sometimes - I get quite frustrated with it myself- not good, must chill! I tried using foam tape make a better seal on the engine hatch but it wasn't really doing the trick. It only dogs in 2 places in the center of each side which isn't at all ideal as you can imagine.

18th and we got our thinking caps on to sort the engine hatch and settled for a 'seal' made from bungee cord (bends roudn conrners without twisting) bedded in Sikaflex. I got some 'non-slip' strip and put it on the new hatch. It doesnt' look very good in terms of its non-slip abilities - we shall have to see.... We also got the mounts for the dinghy oars installed (we'd made them at Wicor but had no stainless screws long enough to mount them. Fortunately SMR provided.

After all that I got stuck into the passage planning for the next leg...

Ah, Anchoring....

15 June 2010 | Brighton

Well, we spent a lovely night at anchor off Chalkdock Point, Chichester - despite my dreams of coming adrift and ending up in a shopping centre, we were not going anywhere. When we came to leave in the morning we had to break the anchor out with the engine - a job well done in my book! Not so much fun was the acres and acres of weed... the mud got thoroughly cleaned off - but you'll find that out later...

After a particular 'adventure' with the CQR last year, we fitted a 15kg Rocna, to which we added 50m of 10mm chain and 50m of octoplait (navy, for no particular reason - maybe it was cheaper). The anchor's shape, combined with our bowsprit required a few alterations to the anchor roller setup which I'll get round to detailing a bit later.

So, we rose bright and early (5am!) to get out of Chichester before low water, but try to catch as much of the east-going tide as possible, heading as my logbook entry says, "towards Brighton/Newhaven/Seaford Roads". I'm not much of a traditionalist in other matters, but stating an outright destination as 'to' in your log always seems to be tempting fate on a sailing boat...

We had a good run down to the Looe Channel, 1 reef in the main, full staysail, new "small" (i.e. working) jib. Suited the NE F4 beautifully, and as it was a lovely sunny day, we were enjoying ourselves just fine on a bit of a reach. As we came through the Looe, the breeze freshened to about a 6 and since we were going to have to come hard on the wind to head east, I called for the 2nd reef in the main. Well, by that I mean we hove to and I went up and put it in - but it sounds better the first way ;-).

This is the point where it became a little more uncomfortable - we can't really argue with a spring tide, so in going with it we were wind over tide in some fairly shallow water and we had a short chop that put me in mind of the North Sea - though with greeny-blue water instead of murky grey-brown. With leeway we were not tracking a great deal better than 60 degrees off our course on each tack, which is a bit dishearting. However, we made a very good discovery, which is that Molly will steer herself very well indeed when close hauled, guiding herself over the waves like the very best of helms(wo)men [and I am a pretty good helm upwind, so that's genuine praise for the boat's abilities]. Now, if only the windvane (which we hadn't put it on) can do as well for us off the wind...

Perhaps to balance out this good fortune, we also made a rather less good discovery - my trip to the loo revealed that the sink seacock had been incompletely closed and had siphoned/overflowed - cue some work with the saucepan to bail it out and check that it wasn't something more serious like one of the bronze seacocks.. Eventually I even got to have my pee! I also shut the galley sink seacock in case that cused us issues when we went about. That wasn't the end of it though, as an hour or so later I noticed that there was still water sloshing around, this time in the main cabin, which has never happened before. I asked Steven to pump the bilge pump but nothing much seemed to result from his efforts, so I thought maybe it was just left over from the heads sink. Later, I concluded that we were heeled too far for the pickup and thought about another heave to to level us off and sort it - but by that time the damage was done and we were nearly there.

I should perhaps point out that we were taking alot of water over the deck, over the cabin top, over my head.... (and the occasional splashback over the quarter). Probably too much sail up, but we felt we needed it to punch through the waves, and the helm was certainly well-balanced, since we were not even touching it! Steven, on his trip to the loo, discovered that water was "peeing in" through the forehatch. He didn't get his pee .... there were later contortions in the cockpit. Everything has its bright side though. Score one for XM oliles over Mustos (on the latter the zip on the dungarees goes right down but the flap doesn't... you'd have to be the start of some (ahem!) specialist films to manage to get it out over that. The XMs are better organised).

To cut a long day short, after more tacking, losing the favourable tide, nearly losing the bigger jib (lashed to the foredeck-now put on top of the hard dinghy) finding (to my suprise) that we can't point any higher with the engine on (we just get faster and wetter!) and some deft and timely use of the Mark 1 eyeball to counteract the slight GPS waypoint entry error of the night before (note: Brighton is still W) we pulled into Brighton and got a spot for the night. Shame it had only one bollard and one cleat - OK for a std bow-stern tie up but not our usual(easy) short spring landing. Still, we managed to haul her properly into the space and start to survey the sogginess....

I will get back to our anchor setup, honest!

And they're off!

14 June 2010 | Chichester
Fareham - Chichester

Finally off! After lots of hard work, far too much of it "last-minute", we got the boat all packed up neatly and ready to go late Sunday night. We have a few missing items and tasks not done - of course. As many a wise old sailor has said (and a few young ones too, no doubt) - if you wait 'til everything is ready then you will never go! So, whether or not it is indicative of wisdom we have not finished the cockpit tent or the big drifter sail. I hope to maybe get the tent progressed en-route, and get the sail at least laid out and cut when we are back for a few days in July. I just could not pack the fabric roll into the boat - one item too far. I did get the vinyl for the tent (and the spare white canvas). A few other thigns like proper mounts for my guitar and the dinghy oars etc. are still to come.

Had a good(ish) sail down to Chichester - took AGES as the wind was unfavourable (and got even worse for a time). We had too little sail up, I think - that's what I get for listening to the weather forecast -or more accurately, that's what I get for *believing* the weather forecast. We hadn't yet got the bigger jib wound up (it was all done, but the sailmaker had it out to check the luff length when he was making the small one). We could get it up - but there would be no certitude of getting it to roll away...

Anchored up off Chaldock Pt, Chichester, in about 6-7 m. Lovely calm spot.

Job of the day - putting snibs on the anchor locker door to make sure our 50m chain + 50m rope that only just fits stays in the locker and doesn't spill out into the bed.Not that it has, but I really don't want to risk it. (Eeeeeeeew!)


03 June 2010

With any luck, I will get round to discussing many of these on future updates, and the list is by no means exhaustive, but since the last batch of posts, we have done the following work on Molly.

* Chopped off the top 6ft of the mast (rot) and scarfed in a replacement. This of course meant taking off ALL hardware and rerigging afterwards.
* Stripped back all the spars to bare wood and varnished.
* Resprayed the topsides with 2-part.
* Reshaped, stripped and revarnished the old (shorter) tiller and refitted it.
* Repainted the coach roof, house sides, cockpit floor and heads floor.
* Rerigged staysail on 2:1 purchase.
* Fitted bowsprit tackle.
* Replaced all standing rigging.
* Replaced jib and staysail halyards and jib sheets.
* Altered anchor roller 'platform' to take the new Rocna anchor.
* Fitted Taylor's cabin heater.
* Various ongoing bits of sikaflexing on the deck (more to do).
* Assembled and fitted Mister Vee selfsteering (Stainless WALT).
* Had another reef put in the main, had the UV strip on the jib replaced and had made a smaller working jib (all great jobs done in record time by Peter and Martin at Lucas Sails)
* Put normal reef nettles in the main.
* Made 'topper' mattress for V-bunk.
* Made and fitted new, bigger pin'rail'.
* Wasted time building a small dinghy that didn't work (sound construction, rubbish design, my fault, that. Boat hull shapes do not scale down....)
* Wired in regulator for solar panel (panel itself still on this week's list)
* A LOT of work to make the alternator drive belt easily and properly adjustable and stop it chewing belts every 5 seconds - including a new engine mount.
* Usual ongoing maintenance, engine oil/filter/etc changes, seacock greasing, ongoing sikkens/varnish,whipping etc.
* Turned the side shelves in the cabin into bookshelves (*my* woodworkery for once! Seems fair, since I am the book fiend).
* Had the prop cut down to 13" (made an amazingly big difference).
* Got 50m anchor chain and spliced it to 50m nylon octoplait.
* Made and lettered nameplates!
* Got about halfway through making a cockpit tent in white vinyl...handsewn (I don't have a machine and don't get on with them)
* Made plastic mesh covers for some open lockers and a tooth brush holder of the same stuff.
* Fixed the battery carrier on the handheld GPS.
* Made and fitted Lexan door to the open-fronted shelf in the galley.

Barring the sail work and the prop cut down, all done by our own fair hands - yes, we are nutters!

Oh yeah, we have also done a bit of sailing too - but not enough! Hopefully to be cured soon.

Still here!

03 June 2010 | Fareham
Just very very quick one - I never intended to be offline here for so long. A LOT has gone on on and around Molly since I last posted (including comments which I never caught!). Work and rock bands (www.thegreedies.co.uk) got in the way of blogging...

I'll put together a quick rundown at some point, but currently we are trying to get the final details sorted for our summer trip to the Baltic. Maybe we will even be ready by the time there is any wind (not this week by the look of it!)

A coupla quick piccies...

On the hard, showing new Rocna anchor.


Splicing, varnishing etc.

05 October 2008
The flagpole is finished and back on the boat. Very shiny :-). I am just glad it was small as my patience with varnishing is not great. Steven is a bit more naturally gifted that way, so his larger project of the tiller is also just awaiting final curing before being refitted.

The tiller had several splits at the back end, where extra layers of wood have been added to the sides and top - all of which got worse when we sanded off all the old varnish. After sticking them all back to gether with epoxy and clamping, we found areas of soft squishy wood - which Steven dug out and filled whilst I was in the bath one morning contemplating doing it with Wet Rot Wood Hardener... Oh well, at least it was done. A period of drying out then followed before the varnishing commenced.


We used Le Tonkinois, which is quite thin, and suits my rapid technique. You can go back over it and it doesn't mind - in fact you have to, as drips often don't show up until a few minutes after you have finished. Contrary to the advertising it DOES need sanding between coats. It is a lovely, very shiny finish - shame there is always dust no matter what you do...

Steven has also turned into a splicing fiend - I am merely minorly competent. We made sail ties and Steven spliced the new bobstay tackle rope directly onto the block, as we found the hardeye/shackle combination too prone to jamming itself in itself and a pain to get to to fix. I am still the whipping queen, though (god does that sound dodgy....). I do palm and needle sailmakers whippings - why settle for less? :-)

Next project - knit your own lazyjacks....

A day with Tom Cunliffe

01 September 2008
We had the pleasure of Tom Cunliffe's company aboard Molly - it wasn't the world's most promising day for a sail (blowing a gale in fact), but we managed to pack a lot in. Including, of course, everything going wrong that could - fortunately nothing serious, and could be seen an illustration of the points we were trying to show - which is that we think a lot of things could be done a lot more easily!

Tom was extremely helpful, and as knowledgeable as you'd expect! A lovely bloke all round, really :-). A few things we sorted there and then (the lead of the line on the bowsprit we use to snub/keep the anchor away from the hull, lead of the topping lift)

We went for a bit of a sail, practiced a heave-to, had a bit of lunch and sailed back.

Tom agreed with us that the weather helm is excessive. Thinking about this later - Molly used to have a much longer bowsprit, which would have given the jib more leverage. When that was cut down, seems like the boom and gaff were also shortened, and the mainsail recut - maybe they were not reduced enough? There is, unfortunately, not really any scope to rake the mast forwards.

After a very informative and useful chat, it was time for me to take Tom back to shore - of course the tide would be ALL the way out - which meant rowing the last bit. I'll blame nerves, but it wasn't my finest hour (2 minutes). Of course the outboard wouldn't start and I had to row all the way back. Which was tricky in that wind - kept blowing me to shore if I messed up all in my stroke. Still, i made it back (vowing to clean or replace the spark plug!).

We now have a good list and a notebook full of sketches.

The abbreviated list of improvements:

2nd topping lift (for which Tom kindly sent us a Harp Shackle that he had in his garage).

Lazyjacks (subject of a future post!).

Tackle to enable us to crank the bowsprit down harder, plus new, less stretchy rope for it.

2:1 purchase on staysail halyard as we cannot get it up tight (even with Tom's not-inconsiderable help).

Pin rail (bolted to deck) to belay halyards to and get them clear of the mast.

New string and parrel beads on the string that retains the gaff jaws.

New, much bigger, tumbler block on the gaff jaws.

A new, additional, smaller jib. Apparently our "small" one is actually quite big....

Proper normal reef ties!!! (YAY!!!).

Smaller prop.

Talk to someone re: Rudder shape (it looks very inefficent, apparenly ...)

There will be progress reports of how we get on very soon!

Vessel Name: Molly Oxford
Vessel Make/Model: Heard 28 Falmouth Work Boat
Hailing Port: Fareham
Crew: Kirsty + Steven
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Molly Oxford's Photos -

Who: Kirsty + Steven
Port: Fareham