CIC to Orford - 27th-29th May - Simon Quantrill and Ian Perrett
Four Seasons in one weekend – or is ‘wet hail’ an actual type of weather?
As part of our thorough preparations, we made a detailed study of the impending weather for the weekend as all good sailors
should. With hindsight, this forecast seemed a little ‘light on detail’ versus the reality of the weekend. This is not
to say it was incorrect but the weather Gods really packed in the full spectrum of available weather options.
A good turnout for the cruise came from:
• Serenity (Simon Quantrill + crew)
• Eastwind (Nigel Seary + crew)
• Islay (Nigel Thomson + crew)
• Sekhmet (Sally and Stephen McCarthy)
• Marguerite (Charles Nisbet)
• Mornaque (Stewart and Wendy Wallce)
• Silmaril (David Cook + crew)
We met at the RHYC on the Friday evening to compare notes and for supper. We enjoyed the sight of 70 odd Dutch sailors dressed
up for the evening and having a great time dining complete with accordion accompaniment. We also enjoyed great food with
our drinks. Arrangements were finalised and we parted company with the next rendezvous to be the Kings Head in Orford
on Saturday at 18:30. What could go wrong?
We were enjoying loading up Serenity early on Saturday morning at Shotley Marina in the warm sunshine with a slightly wary
eye on the dark clouds looming. All other boats were departing from Woolverstone at around 09:00. We were all aiming
more or less for high water at Orford Haven. As we pulled off the pontoon in shorts and T-shirts, the first raindrops
started then increased to ‘wet hail’ as we manoeuvred into the lock. Trying to change clothing ‘under pressure’ in Shotley
lock is now mentally noted as a bad idea.
Setting off in persistent rain but nevertheless excited to be trialling Serenity’s new suite of sails, we were still optimistic
until the wind effectively died as the rain ceased such that we ended up motor-sailing then motoring up to Orford Haven.
Stewart in Mornaque made radio contact with us as he too motored up towards the Ore. On the positive, the weather brightened
somewhat and we were all looking forward to dinner. Crossing the bar is always a little tense and we could only find
around 8’ water depth at high water springs at the entrance which was not good for the nerves.
En route Nigel Seary in Eastwind lost engine power and we were sorry that he had to return to the Orwell and miss out on
the weekend. Charles Nisbet was solo and was one of the first to arrive.
At Orford, the HM was helpful and found us all moorings, including for Stewart and Wendy in Mornaque who could not anchor
having lost power to their windlass.
Our secondary purpose for the cruise was to act as a ‘shake-down’ sail with Serenity only having been in the water for one
week following extensive work over the preceding weeks – many long weekends and evenings spent at the boatyard but still
with many jobs not yet completed. We spent the afternoon on the mooring enjoying the excitement of close up dinghy sailing
action in the now fresh breeze at Orford. We completed some of the list of jobs on board then set off for the Kings Head
in our tender which looked smaller by the minute in the fresh breeze and wind over tide swell!
Most of us made it to the Kings Head that evening and had a great meal all seated around one long table with good service
and a warm welcome. Plans were made for Sunday to visit Orford Ness Lighthouse as our trip coincided with one of the
rare open days for the now defunct lighthouse which is due to fall into the sea within the next few years if nothing
can be done to save it.
Sunday dawned and the weather was fine and bright and we came ashore to enjoy breakfast on the outside deck at the Riverside
Tearooms – the full English is highly recommended! It was also the place for celebrity watching including Nick Robinson.
Later several boat crews assembled for the short ferry crossing from Orford Quay to Orford Ness at 13:30 which proved
to be very popular on a sunny bank holiday weekend. The lighthouse is clearly visible from the Quay but is still a 40
minute walk away. This was a fascinating trip, hearing about the Lighthouse Trust’s plans to salvage as much as possible
from the lighthouse and re-create a half-size replica on land near to the Quay in Orford. The plans include looking at
options to lift the light housing off the top with an RAF Chinook Helicopter but the weight is still currently in excess
of the Chinook’s cargo capacity of 8 tonnes.
Later we enjoyed drinks on board Mornaque kindly hosted by Stewart and Wendy before sampling the delights of the Jolly Sailor
in Orford – again very pleasant and recommended.
On Sunday, several boats had to return to Woolverstone due to other commitments. Originally Serenity, Mornaque and Sekhmet
had planned to anchor for the night on the River Butley and row ashore for a BBQ. But due to Mornaque’s windlass developing
its fault anchoring was not an option so we all remained for another night at Orford and for us another breakfast at
the café on the Quay.
On Sunday night, the storm that passed over at around 04:00 certainly woke us all up and the lightning illuminating the forepeak
through the large hatch felt quite dramatic. After a rain soaked re-check of our lines, the storm seemed to abate fairly
rapidly and we fell back to sleep on Serenity. We all felt relieved that we were not at anchor during the storm! There
was also a lot of activity on the Quay with the fire service and later the coastguard in attendance – someone needed
some help somewhere!
On Monday. we departed Orford at 12:00 and sailed gently downwind aiming to get over the bar no earlier than 2 hours ahead
of HW. Even so, we had more nervous moments when the depth read only 2’ at one point and although we did not seem to
slow, we should have been aground! The yacht ahead of us thought the same and put her engine into hard astern with plenty
of white smoke to show for it. The HM had told us that the depth at the entrance can be very varied this year almost
from day to day, ranging from plenty of water to almost nothing (in places), as we found out. That said as Serenity only
draws 3’10” we have less to worry about than some.
We then enjoyed a relatively uneventful but pleasant sail back to Shotley with some mist and a little rain and once we had
crossed the deep water channel, enjoyed the best sail of the weekend heading into Shotley giving the new sails a proper
try-out. It was also interesting, if not entertaining, to eaves drop on at least two distress calls from one or two yachts
running aground at the Deben Bar and then on the Horse Sands a little further into the Deben.
Thanks to all who attended and we all thoroughly enjoyed an eventful trip in good company!
CIC to London - 10th June - Allan Jones
CIC to West Mersea - 9th September - Simon and Georgette Harrison
Windrush, Allan Jones with David and Nick
East Wind, Nigel and Heidi Seary
Spree Three, Marcus and Caroline Bucknall with Brian
Folie Douce, Simon and Georgette Harrison.
There was much debate at the Friday evening dinner over what to do about the intense low forming over the Hebrides and the
associated front which was forecast to sweep across southern England on Sunday for our return from West Mersea. Winds
of 40 knots were mentioned.
The high tide at West Mersea on Sunday morning was 0324, a bit early for some crews, but a 0500 start would allow arrival
off the Naze soon after LW Harwich and the start of the flood up the Orwell to the club and that plan was agreed upon.
The strong winds were not due to arrive until the afternoon on Sunday.
Windrush, Spree Three, East Wind and Folie Douce set off from Woolverstone at 08.30 and motored to Harwich catching the flood
tide to sail in a f4 SW to West Mersea. Folie Douce hove to off the Langard buoy to wave the others off to West Mersea
before sailing back to the club.
Once off Harwich the wind picked up, sails filled and engines were silenced. The remaining fleet fetched the Nass Beacon
in between three and five tacks when engines were again needed. Fortunately the rain held off until later in the evening.
A most enjoyable evening ensued at the WMYC with our cruise leader having arrived by car. The welcome, meal and service were
all excellent. Crews took the water taxi back at 9pm so as to be ready to slip moorings at 5am the next day.
Windrush's crew found it difficult at 5am in the total darkness to thread their way out through the thin channel between
boats and mooring buoys. The others were moored almost in the Blackwater and with a little moon light found it easier.
All were rewarded with a delightful sunrise as they motored to Walton pier when the wind filled in allowing a lovely
2 hour sail right up to RHYC arriving together before 1100.
It proved a most enjoyable weekend with good company.
Simon and Georgette Harrison, Folie Douce
CIC to Woodbridge Tidemill Marina 23/24th September - Jim Grant
The weekend began with the usual supper in the Ashbury Room on the Friday evening. A party of sixteen enjoyed a pleasant
meal and plans were made for the following day.
Next morning, departure times were based on high water at the Woodbridge Haven bar, which was at 14.30. Later crews
were amused to see a large seal, fast asleep on a moored rubber dinghy near Pinmill, seemingly oblivious to passing traffic.
A total of nine boats set off – ‘Lochranza’, ‘Marguerite’, ‘Freiheit’, ‘Islay’, ‘Half Moon’ ‘Redwing’ ‘Callidris’, ‘Moeen’
and ‘Charlotte Sound’. The early boats enjoyed reasonable sailing conditions with a F2 from the S.E. This died away in
the afternoon and against the tide, the later boats were reduced to motor-sailing. All crews were keen to cross the bar
on the rising tide.
In the event, the entrance provided no difficulties and the fleet made its way up the twisting channel to our destination.
Berths had been arranged for the party and all boats entered during the access window around high water.
All twenty-two in our party squeezed on board ‘Lochranza’ for drinks before we made our way to The Table, a pub/restaurant
a short walk away, where we had an enjoyable meal in a packed private room.
Next morning, most crews went walking, to explore the riverbank and the attractions of Woodbridge, while we waited for the
tide to rise over the marina sill. Departures began around 13.00 and the last boat left at 14.30.
With a Force 2 breeze from the east, for most, it was a case of motoring briskly down river to cross the bar before the level
dropped too far. ‘Redwing’ and ‘Half Moon’ dropped out to spend the night at Ramsholt and ‘Moeen’ stopped at Felixstowe
Ferry, ready for her winter lift-out.
There was no difficulty for us at the bar but others were not so fortunate that day and a rescue was in progress as we passed.
The racing tide was clearly making the recovery of a capsized catamaran very difficult. All boats were able to sail back steadily against the tide in cooling conditions, as the evening drew in. The last boat arrived
back at the club just before it was dark. ‘Redwing’ and ‘Half Moon’ completed the return trip early next morning without
CIC to Walton Backwaters 7th/8th October - Anne Kell
What a weekend of contrasts! For our final cruise of the year a fleet of 7 yachts ventured over to the Walton and Frinton
Yacht Basin. The forecast for the Saturday was for SW winds, force 5 -6 occasionally 7, with occasional rain and
it didn’t dis
appoint. Most of us battened down the hatches, added significant reefs to the main and had a fast sail down
the river, against a strong spring tide, and across Dovercourt Bay. The iron topsail was then employed to avoid the need
to beat up the Walton Channel. As access to the Walton ‘pond’ is restricted to an hour before high water several of us
took up moorings in the Twizzle for a leisurely lunch before feeling our way up the channel and in through the lock.
Berths were available for all from the smallest (26 feet) to the largest (40 feet) and even the broad catamaran managed
to squeeze through the lock gates. We were entertained well by the Walton and Frinton Yacht Club in the evening with
a very convivial meal.
As our departure the next day was again restricted to high water we took the opportunity, as a group, to walk to the Naze
tower on a glorious sunny, autumnal morning. Suitably reinvigorated after our walk, we again felt our way over the sill
and down the channel before setting sail. Today the key word was ‘variable’ and that describes the wind, or lack of it,
perfectly. We had a very gentle sail, this time with a full rig, towards Harwich where the strong spring tides against
us finally defeated us and all had to motor back up the river to their moorings. A slightly frustrating end to a lovely
end of season sail.