Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Titchmarsh - and weather

18-10: The weather as I entered Walton backwaters yesterday - showing a mist forming over the beach. Why do I write so much about the weather? Need I say - I am totally reliant on it for fun - for comfort and for safety. This makes me much closer to weather than when living in a house and travelling on buses and trains.

Today I notice that most of the country is roasting in 30 degrees plus - whereas at Titchmarsh the temperature is a pleasant 22 degrees. This is due to sea mist, which is not a full-blown 'fret', with associated ultra-poor visibility and low temperature.

Pleasant day at Titchmarsh marina - cleaned the engine (to reward it having stopped) and cycled to the shops - now heading out to the local carvery for supper.

Monday, 29 June 2009

I go to Titchmarsh marina instead of an anchorage

20-15: But why?
I dedicate the answer to Andy Miller of Miller Marine - http://millermarine.co.uk

The answer is that the engine would not stop - yes - stop: most people have engines that don't start - today mine did not stop.

The day started with fog - but it cleared. I headed off with the tide to go a few miles to the Walton backwaters - pure pleasure - captured in the picture of a barge and the entrance to the Harwich channel before the nasties hit.
It continued good with a nice reach into the Walton river - and upstream to the shallow part of Hamford water - saw a few seals and lots of birds. Found a nice anchorage - - and then - - I tried to turn off the engine - - .

It would not turn off - - and I did not have any idea how to turn it off other than with the key - - . Mild panic - moderated by the idea of ringing someone - I tried Andy Miller who answered the phone although he was sailing past Ratray Head at the time. He identified the solenoid - I had instructions about how to frighten it into working (after taking all the junk out of the quarter berth to get to the back of the engine). The wire fell off the solenoid, so it was not going to work - at which point I rang Andy again and learnt how to stop the engine with a 17mm spanner.

At which point - common sense kicked in and I decided to keep the engine going and go to Titchmarsh - about an hour's chugging away. What luck to be so near a marina with an engineer to hand!

So here I am - the good news is that the solenoid connections were reconnected by a very pleasant engineer and I am good to go again. It is foggy again tho'. Typical of sailing - with things going wrong and then other things working out - like Andy answering the phone and there being an engineer in a near-by marina.

Sunday, 28 June 2009

Fog - and tides

19-10: The view across the Stour this morning at the time I was going to leave with the right tide. I am probably more afraid of fog than other weather - although I cannot claim to like high wind and ferocious surf! As I have decided to be prudent - I stayed put for a while and only chugged downstream (with no wind and 2 knots of tide against me) when the visibility improved. Anchored off another nice bit of shore, as I was going too slowly. I am glad I did as there seems to have been a sea-fog over the Walton Backwaters - which is where I am heading next. At least it is still shorts and t-shirt weather and no heavy rain here (forecast for Eastern England in places). I am starting to like the no-rush approach to (eventually) getting somewhere.

I did a bit of reading and planning - but not an awful lot else all day - apart from eating and drinking. I do seem to be managing the batteries more successfully than in Blakeney - I have been at anchor for three days and still have plenty of power left: I have not run the fridge all the time - just a few hours a day which seems to do the trick.

Saturday, 27 June 2009

River Stour

19-50: anchored in the bay in the picture.
Spent the day sailing - no engine apart from keeping the nose to the wind to get the main sail up.
The weather is how it should be - sunshine - about 12 knots of breeze from the right direction - suitable for wearing shorts and t-shirts.

Friday, 26 June 2009

Sailing up the Stour

18-20: Sailing again at last: the picture is of the sails set to goose-wing up the River Stour with a decent breeze - a bit of reefing - even the tide was with me. I am now anchored off the shore - just out of sight to the left of the picture. Nice views - warm and sunny.

A tiring day - getting out of the marina was harder than usual - the boat was a mess for sailing and took ages to clear up - I needed to get fuel - and managed to spill a lot on the back of the boat - much running about getting the warps sorted out.

Intend a bit more exploration and then going off to the next river - the Walton backwaters.

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

I am back at Shotley

20-50: I have been away from the boat for a couple of days.
I went to my aunt Pauline's funeral in Bury St Edmunds - talked to my numerous cousins and my uncle. I then went to London to see my children and got back here this afternoon - suffering from lack of sleep - London heat - and culture shock. So I have done nothing all day except lie around on the deck in the sun.

Sunday, 21 June 2009

Dovercourt - another beach

10-00 am: I added another beach to the collection yesterday (Saturday). From Harwich, I cycled along the coastal path and came to Dovercourt, complete with sand and beach huts. Like Harwich, this beach was unusually empty - the picture does not have a single person in it. The usual urban buildings behind it - mostly older houses - and a block back from the front - unusually run-down properties.

I go to Harwich for the day by ferry

9-45 am: Yesterday - Saturday - I got the ferry to Harwich with my bike. Fun ferry - passing the channel bouys and getting views of Felixtow container port. Harwich is - um - strange; a lot of twee cottages in the old town, but with an interesting heritage trail; it was virtually deserted - not at all like a Saturday morning. A lot of run-down looking 19th century housing reminded me of 1950s' Southsea. I eventually managed to find a shop and buy a loaf of bread! It then rained so I came back.

Most of the places I have visited on the East coast have had a 1950s' air about them in places - I am sure there is a story here - - .

Friday, 19 June 2009

Settled in Shotley marina for a while

20-30: View from the cockpit in Shotley this morning - different from industrial Lowestoft and the wonderful anchorages in North Norfolk last week.

This looks as if it will be a good and safe place to leave the boat for a few days. I spent the day doing boaty-things, including moving to another pontoon, scubbing the deck (a bit) and getting various bus and ferry timetables. The cappuchino in the on-site bar is the best I have had outside London - so plenty of potential - - .

Thursday, 18 June 2009

I go from Lowestoft to Shotley

Thursday - 20-50: now in Shotley marina. Picture is of Orford Ness on the way.

Very tiring passage - left at 10-30 - tied up here by 19-45 - too long! It was hard work because there were wind shifts through 30 degrees - sometimes a fetch - sometimes directly into the wind. Getting over the shipping lanes was fine but exhausting because it needed a lot of navigation and concentration. I managed to get in through the lock without problems and am tied up nicely.

Another day another beach - Lowestoft

Wednesday 17th June: (I lost connection yesterday so upload this Thursday evening). grr.

A strong southerly wind today, so I have cycled around Lowestoft - watched the waves - ate a very large lunch - visited Orton Broad - filled the water tank - planned the passage to Shotley - and so on. I even went out to the most Easterly bit of England - which is a bit of an industrial wasteland apart from the wind turbine. Lowestoft is very urban - even the beach is urban.

The wind is due to go round to the west tomorrow and I am hoping to catch the tide southwards and get to Shotley (38 miles or so) in reasonable time. The Plan is to stay there until after Pauline's funeral - for which I am able to get bus and train to Bury St Edmunds - and expect to stay over Monday night in Bury. After that I shall continue on southwards - and can then visit the places I have missed (especially the Deben) on the way back north.

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

in memory of auntie Pauline

9-50 am:
I dedicate this entry to the memory of auntie Pauline, died June 2009; I think she was 85. Pauline was my mother's (much) younger sister and was a teenager when I was born. She nurtured me as a child and gave me meals and love when I got older.

I had hoped to see her this summer - as it is I shall attend her funeral next week in Bury St Edmunds. This explains why I am going directly to Shotley and then Ipswich (only an hour from Bury). I will see my cousins and my uncle John - my mother's youngest brother.

I do not have a picture of her with me - but the mascot to my boat is a teddy she gave to my son 30 years ago - so I put it on the blog in memory.

in Lowestoft

9-20 am: This is the view from my cockpit. A difference from my previous views, but the marina is fine with the best showers I have used. Lowestoft is an interesting place to be - if only for the contrasts between the slightly run down air of the town centre, useful shops and the sea front. Today - I am going to get out my bike and cycle around - rain permitting - and also figure out how to get to Shotley.

Sunday, 14 June 2009

I go to Lowestoft

The picture is looking back to Cromer, but is also of the sea.

In Lowestoft - the new pontoons in the outer harbour. I left the mooring at 8-30 and just had enough depth to get clear. Unusually - for the rest of the day there was a favourable wind from the NW and a favourable tide (up to 2 knots) all the way here. So (apart from getting clear of Blakeney harbour) I went at about 7.5 knots. Tied up to a pontoon by 16-20. 47 miles. The sun shone - but the sea was, as usual, lumpy.

Will be here for a couple of days - recharging the ships batteries and avoiding rain. I am then heading for another long passage - to Shotley Marina and then to Ipswich - for reasons I will explain in a later blog.

Saturday, 13 June 2009

Mooring in Blakeney harbour

Saturday: 20-50:
Today - very peaceful. I have watched boats come out from Morston and then the tides. Tried to figure out how to make the house batteries last longer (switch off the fridge basically). This is a very good place to stay - especially when the sun shines. The picture is towards Blakeney. Tomorrow - Lowestoft - - with (I hope) decent winds and tides.

Friday, 12 June 2009

A mooring - the Pit at Blakeney

19-20: Friday:
I moved from the anchorage as it was up on a sandbank. I found and managed to pick up a mooring in the 'Pit' and have spent the day doing nothing except sit in the sun - and watching the tides - and various sailing when the tide was in - many local boats with red sails.

I am planning to move on to Lowestoft tomorrow - catching the tide at 7-30 - because the wind is forecast from the West (more or less). I will leave Norfolk with great reluctance - and intend to return - - .
(Ran out of battery - charged overnight - seems OK)
7-10 am Saturday
I am changing my mind about leaving because the forecast for tomorrow is better than for today - and there is fog around (apparently) today.

Thursday, 11 June 2009

Blakeney at anchor

I have at last managed to find suitable tides and weather to sail five miles along the coast to anchor in Blakeney harbour. Amazing anchorage - it had water when I came in - with sunshine, followed by a heavy rain storm - - .

The sea outside the harbours is still very lumpy, as it gets when there have been northerly winds for a while. The entrance to Blakeney was perfectly clearly marked, which was just as well because there was impressive surf on either side of the channel.

Plan to leave when the wind comes round a bit more to help me southwards - probably Sunday.

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Question: is retirement harder for feminists?

9-50 am:
I have been retired now for nearly two years. I still don't like it, even tho' I have done a fair amount of contract work in that time. I do not like the loss of challenge, the loss of status, the loss of income, the loss of feeling part of the 'real' world.

But - you may say - you have surely gained. If you were not retired - you could not sail around and sit in harbours, pondering blogs, eating and drinking. This is true - and I would reply that I would rather have my working life back, especially how it was before the partial destruction of the University system c. 1994. I would exchange what I did then for even the good things about the now.

Question:- Is it harder for feminists to take to retirement than other people? Did we have to fight to get a career and thus find it hard to give up what was long fought for?

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Branchester (by bus)

Tuesday: 10-50:
Monday was sunny (eventually) and I got the bus to Branchester - walked a bit more coastal path; impressed with the large sailing club and dinghy park there with (apparently - it being low tide) no water. An old Hunter Liberty 23 - like my first boat - ashore in the boat park - I was tougher then - I went to St Andrews in it without an autohelm. It rained then too!

Today - I got my bike out of the locker and went to look at the channel (again). But it rained heavily and I have retreated to do some writing and indoors-stuff.

Monday, 8 June 2009

Wells - plus wind and rain

Looking over Wells beach to the channel - walk in the woods Sunday morning:
8-30 am: Monday:
It looks as if I will be here for a while yet - a re-run of what happens every year - but this time in Wells - rather than Eyemouth or St Andrews on the East coast of Scotland! I am waiting for a suitable wind for going East and a reduction in the surf over the bar - but the tides are good from tomorrow onwards for about a week.

The danger - apart from going nuts - is setting off too soon and finishing up in rough seas with wind from the wrong direction.

So here I am - - yet it is hard - I can amuse myself doing things like emails, blogging, reading, planning, cleaning, clearing up, eating - not to mention various expeditions by (free) bus up and down the coast. I study the weather forecasts and choose the best to believe - but even that does not stop the rain or cause the wind to come from the right direction. I am managing to ward off hysteria at the prospect of being here for days and days - - .

To add to the problems - the internet connection is fine in the morning but goes dead in the evening so I cannot even surf the web.

Saturday, 6 June 2009

Nice anchorage - pity about the wind

Friday: A frustrating day. I thought the surf had gone down - I even walked out to the channel buoy to check it out. I decided to move on to Blakeney and when I got back to the boat I re-positioned the anchor (which was not actually a good idea but it seemed good at the time) and prepared to go when the tide came in.

However - - before I was afloat - the wind came up from the East - the surf came back and the boat was not in a sheltered place any more.

After a bit of umming and argghing (why is it so difficult - even upsetting - to make the right decision when circumstances change - or maybe it was the wrong decision to think of leaving as the wind continues in the North and East - ) I decided to return to the comfort of the pontoons to sit out the forecast rain and wind. I had a big fight to get the anchor up - largely because I had moved it and had too much rope out as part of moving the anchor - and was pulling against the wind and tide.

So here I am - back in view of the webcam at Wells until the surf goes down and the wind changes.

Thursday, 4 June 2009

Nice anchorage - pity about the surf

19-30 pm:
At anchor behind the LifeBoat Station.

Watched the tide go out and in and out again - wandered around at low tide and took advice on the surf from the Beach Watch staff. Put in waypoints and studied the charts for the leg to Lowestoft - but otherwise have done nothing apart from eat and drink. Very cold - no sun. The weather forecast no better and I need to be self-disciplined to stay and not risk it over the surf - how wise - - .

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Another day - another place to have to anchor

20-20 pm:
The weather and surf has kept me in Wells. I tried to leave at 14-00 (two hours before high tide) - made my way down the channel and then saw the surf on the bar. I decided to anchor instead of going back - and try again tomorrow. I noticed a small area behind a spit of shingle - opposite the Lifeboat House - so there I am - with better reception on the Net than in harbour.

The weather looks much the same for tomorrow - I will probably investigate and stay at anchor; there have been northerlies for some days - so I suspect the bar will not improve until the wind really drops.

Sigh - at least I have moved.

Another day - another beach - and birds

8-45 am:
Monday - bus to Moreston - exploration of the creeks and boats and a walk along part of the coastal path.

Tuesday - bus to Cley - walked along another bit of coastal path to the beach - a gravel bank stretching miles along the coast. The picture shows East towards Cromer - the view behind me goes all the way to Blakeney point.

The coastal path passes through top birding territory - not quite my scene but saw many avocets, one wren, one egret and a heron, not to mention oyster catchers, gulls, geese and many that I could not recognise. Came back dusty and hot - to clear up ready for a short sail on Wednesday unless the weather does bad things.

Monday, 1 June 2009

Sea side holiday in Wells

8-30PM: Sunday - sea side holiday: train to the beach reminding me of a smaller one that ran in Southsea in the 1950s - yea - I was a child then. Walked along the beach and through the woods, which reminded me of the beaches in Fife - Tentsmuir forest and beach - in the 1970s and '80s. Walked back watching the tide go out and the surf over the bar. Very sunny: very windy: very cold. Grossed out in the cockpit for the rest of the day - and said goodbye to various people I have met here. Wells is now very empty - with the end of the school holiday - but the sun shines - -

I continue to feel strangely uneasy at staying so long - guilt at it being so pleasant and sunny - and safe. I have sheets of tidal calculations suggesting that I cannot get easily on the tide to Lowestoft until the end of the week. The weather forecast is for strong NE winds - which will be hard work - so maybe this is the calm before an effort.