Thursday, 30 August 2012

Overview of the expedition: written Monday 27th at Ramsholt.

In Tidemill 21st August - a family sculling - part of the classic boats / old gaffers meet. They maintain many of the traditional skills, including sculling.
The last few entries are proper 'seaLorna' - although only three days out at sea - the rest is riverLorna.

I wrote this waiting for the tide at Ramsholt on the way back. I wrote in pencil as it was too lumpy to type.

The best thing about being here is that, if I look up, I can see a flock of about 25 avocets feeding along the tide line on the mud bank. Impossible to photograph due to the ups and downs of the baot and the scene is directly into the sun.

When I set off I was aware that I have become stuck in my daily routine - a kind of comfort zone of visiting beaches, drinking tea or coffee in coffee shop and getting fresh food. Being ill over the winter and spring has had more than physical effects - it seems to have posed limitations on living where limitations are not really needed anymore.

I do seem to have stood up to the expedition pretty well, although no long, crazy passages. I am not yet clear how to alter the self-limiting things in life. But I am going off to the Pyrenees next week to visit Rhoda - not a lot of comfort-zone living there I suspect.
Day 7: Tuesday 28th August: Tidemill marina and home

I slept overnight on the boat to prolong the holiday. I did not really want to leave the boating life so I walked to the shops for lunch, grossed out in the cockpit until it clouded over, talked to a few people and admired various other boats.

I came back refreshed for being out of some sort of 'comfort zone' and for doing stuff like anchoring and mooring.

Immediately kicked out of any renewed comfort zone by finding the U3A web site (that I look after) has been hacked. So much head scratching and one late night and lots of worry.

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Day 6: Monday, August 27th: Ramsholt to Tidemill by way of the shallows in Troublesome Reach
Wind over tide at Ramsholt. The waves were shorter than at sea. A contrast to the calm conditions earlier.
Considering that today is a bank holiday, there was very little river traffic. I was told later that the conditions at the entrance to the Deben were rough - so I was glad to be on a mooring.

The idea was to wait out on the mooring until the tide turned and then sail up with the flood to arrive at the Tidemill with enough water to get over the sill.

It did not quite work out like that because I got tired and bored waiting for the tide, so set off a bit early. I also went faster than expected due to strong winds.

The narrow channel and mud banks extending out from the banks at low water.
The channel is quite deep most of the way upriver, so I followed the bouys and kept out of trouble.
But - - with increasing wind and the tide speeding upstream I arrived early at the shallows appropriately names Troublesome Reach downstream of Woodbridge. So did a few other boats and we all went aground on mud banks.

Moored boats almost afloat along the channel at the appropriately named  Troublesome Reach
I went aground in the channel itself in 0.7 M. As the tide rose, the wind pushed me off - but towards the shore and a moored boat (also aground). I dropped the anchor and sat it out for a couple of hours.
when I got the anchor up - the wind was so strong (gusts over 25 kn) that the boat was blown sideways towards the bank and I had little steerage - I got off in the end with a bit of reversing and a lot of revs.
I went aground again in the channel but got off easily with the rising tide.
I picked up a mooring, planning to stay until I could get into Tidemill at (as I calculated it) 18-00 hrs.
I still had to wait outside Tidemill, although I left the mooring at 18-00 - so some miscalculation there. I sat it out - had something to eat and got in eventually without hassle - I even got onto the pontoon without drama. All the messing on with anchor and mooring was quite fun and useful practice - and note that there were 3 other boats aground in Troublesome - one right over on its side.

Day 5: Sunday August 26th: I leave Titchmarsh and return to the Deben. The right choice.
Sailing past Felixstow. Even this does not capture the sea state, which was lump but no huge waves
I left Titchmarsh on a falling tide - to catch a day when there was no rain and some sunshine. There was some wind - up to 25 knots at the Deben entrance and quite lumpy sea between the Bacwaters and the Deben. I did not put the mainsail up, so crossed with just the genoa and the iron topsail.

It was more fun than I expected and I went at a reasonable speed, even with just the genoa. I arrived at low water and wanted a bit more depth and the tide pushing me in. So I hove-to for lunch with just the genoa out. This wa successful although I drifted half a mile with tide and wind.
Entering the river Deben in calm conditions. But the gravel banks and the banks under the water are still impressive and scary.
The sea was not at all lumpy inside the entrance and there was plenty of depth.

I did not head back to Woodbridge because the wind was on the nose and also I fancied an extra day out on the river. Picked up a mooring at Ramsholt at 15-00 and sat around in the sun even when it got rough.
Day 4: Saturday August 25th: Titchmarsh marina and trying to make decisions about whether to move on
The entrance to Titchmarsh marina - a contrast to the wildness of the anchorages. But good shelter and  lots of mud.
It rained heavily for much of Saturday, with wind and more rain forecast from Monday onwards.

I spent a lot of time thinking about when to leave. I had an internet connection and 4 weather forecasts - all contradicting each other. It was unclear which one the weather would obey. I did not want to be trapped in Titchmarsh for days because I needed to be back for an appointment on Friday to see if I am fit to fly to France. Otherwise I would have just sat it out and eaten too much in the carvery and read the newspaper on my iPad. It now looks an obvious decision - to leave on Sunday. But it did not feel so at the time.

Day 3: Friday 24th August: from an anchorage in the Backwaters to Titchmarsh marina due to bad weather.
Classic boats at anchor in Hamford water - I am anchored quite a way upstream from them - new camera has zoom lens!

I did not want to retreat from the anchorage but the forecast was not good from late afternoon and so I booked a berth in Titchmarsh.

Then I went sailing out to sea - a reach out and a reach back for a couple of hours - with all the sails up and no engine. I enjoythe sea. Then into the marina (engine and genoa for ease of manoevering in the confines of the narrow river up to the marina.)

At sea, with waves and classic boats sailing southwards.
I stayed for two nights in the marina and had a carvey meal on the first night.
Day 2: Thursday 23rd August: Leaving the Deben and anchoring in the Walton Backwaters.
Leaving the Deben in calm weather at low tide
I left the DEben at low water in calm weather. I followed a few 'old gaffers' down from Ramsholt. (They had been in Tidemill the day before and I know some of the boats.) We caught to end of the ebb tide and the note in my log is ' - - this is how it should be - - '. But it is scary to go out at low water and see the banks of shingle on either side and spreading into the channel. There is also a shallow patch (2.7 M) with disturbed water between a green and red bouy, just as you think you are clear of any nasties. I certainly do not intend to enter or leave the Deben in other than calm weather.
Over the bar in calm weather - glad not to be there in rough weather.
Thereafter - good wind and sunshine. So I headed off to the Walton Backwaters with full mainsail and no engine, going with the wind and the tide. (how it should be - -) and with lots of other boats heading the same way - which was good company.

Having picked my way between more shingle banks into the Backwaters, I anchored in the Hamford river. The wind then got up (over 20 knots) with the forecast for more wind and rain for several days. I spent a long time debating whether to go back to the Deben, whether to go to Shotley or whether to go to Titchmarsh (a nicer marina but further from routes home if I get trapped).

Day 1: Wed: August 22nd: Woodbridge downriver to Ramsholt:

View upstream from the mooring to Ramsholt. Such views are one reason why drifting down the Deben is a pleasure
I left as soon as I could get out of theTidemill, limited by depth of incoming tide over the sill - a limitation that controls all sailing into and out of my home port.

I was really nervous - partly I have not been out in Lookfar very often this season - partly the weather is very unreliable and I doubted whether I would like it out of my 'comfort zone'. And even whether I could make the right decisions about whether to stay or go, which one has to do in variable weather. I felt not-very-adventurous and wondered whether I would be better living in the comfort of home and sailing a dinghy.  It is right to feel nervous because the sea and the rivers are dangerous places and need respect, but I was more nervous than normal. 

It was quite windy - gusts to 24 knots. I went downstream against the tide with the genoa unfurled and the iron topsail (ie the engine) on a few revs. I picked up a mooring downstream of  Ramsholt overnight.
The bouy: notice the strong tide.

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Day 1: I set off to go sailing.

The sea looks good and I am not intending to use the services of one of these excellent boats.
I may be off line and off email for a few days - depending where I go and whether I can get an internet connection. I am not planning to go far - down the river, out onto the sea and a short passage to the Walton Backwaters; maybe into Shotley marina and up the river Stour - maybe not. The weather looks a bit dodgy - everything from sunshine to quite a lot of wind. I don't need to be back for over a week - - .

I have cleared the worse mess and put together a large amount of gear to go aboard this morning and catch the tide downstream after lunch. I feel very nervous - have not done this sort of thing for a year and have hardly been out this season apart from in the streaker.

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Suffolk countryside: making the most of summer.
The countryside is usually less impressive for me than the seaside, but I had to stop to take a picture of this on Sunday.

Monday, 20 August 2012

Aldeburgh beach in its natural form

By contrast - Aldeburgh beach looking to the left- the carnival
On Sunday - I spent a very good day at Aldeburgh. I was there early enough to get a parking space near the beach. I did it all - walked the full length to the sailing clubs, sat around on the beach, ate an ice cream, walked through the carnival and walked through the shops. I came home refreshed and a lot less gloom-laden than I was on Saturday.

Friday, 17 August 2012

First blog picture on my new camera - the files are too large. Small fish eat at the surface in the river. You cannot see the fish but they disturb the surface. No idea why they have not been eaten by birds or bigger fish.
I saw the consultant today and reviewed a lot of Xrays. This was good as there are no signs of any nasties growing again and today was better than six weeks ago. And I am also feeling better than I have done for  some time. Apparently this is unusual so we don't know where it is going. The Plan is to keep a watchful eye on things - and carry on as usual. Even the weather is good and the meccano part of the new building in the marina is almost complete.
The framework was nearly complete yesterday.

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Concrete foundations for the meccano set being put in place
I have been out and about - I am still tired after the regatta - and added to tiredness by doing housework and going to the shops.
The  next stage is putting the meccano together, which requires a cherry picker for the man to bolt the bits together.
This was taken on my iPad as my camera has conked out.

Monday, 13 August 2012

Lifeboat launched at Aldborough - impressive demo for RNLI open day. At least I am watching from the shore rather than being rescued by it (as happened in Iris May when I went aground - 6 or 7 years ago.) I wondered if anyone else on the beach had actually been rescued and towed back to harbour.
Beach on Saturday with Aidan: bright sunshine, no clouds - as summer should be.

I am trying to recover from the excesses of the regatta - but my legs are still stiff. At least the sun is still shining.

Friday, 10 August 2012

Last day of regatta - Thursday- a day of special races and raft building  Actually I only did one - the non-sticker race -a short race for people who had not aquired a placing in any race - you get a sticker for the position you come in. So the race is known as non-sticker race.  The wind was shifty but stronger and I had a pleasant sail - a very bad start and some mistakes in spotting shifts. I came 2nd - and got two Mars bars - which I have hidden so I don't eat them.
I was too exhausted to sail another race, so came ashore and ate cake and drank tea until the prize giving. Very enjoyable except for the bizarre wind, mistakes in tacking, mistakes judging the shifts and tides, bad starts and remembering that I used to be a lot better. But I am getting more at ease with the streaker and will practice a few things - probably tacking. I think sea sailing is more fun and less difficult as you don't have to avoid moorings, shallow mud banks and strong tides.

A lot of aches in muscles I did not know I had.

Today - hair cut - shopping and lots of sitting in the sun - muscles now stiff.

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Here I am - sitting on the edge in a dignified way, concentrating on the wind indicator. Taken on Tuesday.
Race 7: Flat calm for the 14-00 start and so the race was postponed waiting for the wind to fill in. To mu surprise, the sea breeze came up the river giving a reasonable wind, punctuated by big holes, large wind shifts and a few gusts. And a sensible length race on an interesting course. I suppose I am getting used to the shifts and gusts as I came 6th - out of a smaller fleet because a lot of folks were not inclined to sail after yesterday.
Race 8: Similar conditions to the first race but the tide turned in the middle and the wind dropped so it was a bit of a struggle to get back through the much larger holes in the wind. I do not sail well in such conditions and I was tired by then. I also think I am not setting the sail right for runs and broad reaches. Yet  I got the best position of the week at 5th.

I came 8th overall out of a fleet of 21 signed up for the regatta week.  I was just behind the people I would expect to do better than I do.

The amazing victory was to finish any races at all - let alone 6. And to feel well after it all - I wonder what this means - why should quite hard physical effort result in feeling almost normal. Probably the absense of horrible toxins and the good fortune that cancer cells seem not to be growing again (yet) - against many expectations. So I dedicate this victory to the oncology department at Ipswich hospital for their care and choosing the right treatment.

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Toppers and the slow handicap fleet coming ashore. This illustrates the horrors of the slipway, which is worse in high winds.
Race 5: I got lost on the course and lost a bit of time + a bad start + a big gust blew me off a mark rounding. Crazy long course (it took 1 1/2 hours in strong and gusty wind. BUT I came 9th (out of 17). Just behind the good people.
Race 6:  Same course - even crazier length of race - 2 1/2 hours (the tail end was over 3 hours.) The wind dropped and we had to sail back against the strong ebb tide. BUT (inspite of being tired and angry by the end) I came 7th out of 17. Extraordinary.I am not sure whether I enjoyed it or not. One thing for sure - I love racing - even when it is also horrible.

I got onto the ramp OK and parked up on the pontoons for lunch - something of a victory in itself.

I am now running 7th in the slow handicap fleet.

BTW - I prefer fleet sailing to handicap sailing - so apologies to people in Tynemouth with whom I have argued about this. You are right - - .

I am tired but nothing like as exhausted as I would expect. Maybe the streaker can be sailed in a less hard work way than the Laser.
Brian and Lorraine getting onto the slipway.

Monday, 6 August 2012

The start of the slow handicap for race 2. My boat is like the one heading towards us.

Regatta: This week is the sailing club regatta and I have managed to sail two races. Weather - very shifty winds and not quite enough wind.
Race 1 - I got a very good start and kept up with the other streakers and then took the wrong side of the beat. But finished in the middle of the fleet in 10th position.
Race 2:  I did not try race 2 - too tired.
Race 3:  I was over the line at the start - but managed to keep up with the other streakers until I got tired. I came 9th.
Race 4 - I started but was too tired to finish - so DNF (which scores more marks than Did Not Start - a bit of gamesmanship here so that they will calculate an overall result as 6 out of 8 races have to be started to qualify.)

Main snag is that they are macho about the length of races and the first race of the day (1 and 3) lasted about 90 mins which is too long for me - and the back of the fleet barely had time to get ashore for a bite to eat.

Second snag is getting ashore to sign off the first race. The slipway is too narrow and the pontoons very hard to get onto without falling in.

Fun - fun - fun - and reminds me how much I like racing. Muscles ached yesterday, but visits to the gym have paid off.

Friday, 3 August 2012

Camping holiday - Cornwall c. 1955
1950s: Camping: One of the recurring pleasures of my life has been camping and the outdoor life, including some bad weather. Sailing my smaller boats is a form of camping.

This was started by my parents and the picture shows their tent; my brother and I had our own little tents - one of which is just in the picture.  This was not our first camping expedition (which was a crowded Bank holiday when it rained all the time - but we were not put off.). We learnt to camp in farmers' fields and out of the way places. The white tents leaked of course - and no integral groundsheets. We had a trailer behind with all the gear.

Here we are setting off - I think to go on holiday in 1954.

Thursday, 2 August 2012

Progress by today.
The mechano set that will become the new buildings.

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

The start of work for new buildings at the Tidemill marina
This was taken last week - I have not been down there since then due to dubious weather and other things to do. It is being built up above the likely water levels. More as it happens.

I had hoped to get out on the river but the forecast of high wind and rain has put me off - I want it to be easy. I am also feeling a bit under-par. It is always worrying when I feel like this as I assume that it is something unpleasant. But I improved performance in the gym this morning - so I am assuming I have overdone it again. I really want to be on good form next week for the sailing club regatta.