Our First Sail!
We had planned our summer holiday, hoping that we would start to get to know Shearmyste and her ways on the water, below is pretty much my diary entries for the trip.
Saturday 15th August 2015
Final preparation and provisioning day. Slight hiccup, when Steve did his final checks the engine oil was very grey and gloopy. It was down to me to head to Halfords for spare oil whilst Steve drained it down. We did have enough for an oil change, but we wanted to be sure we had some if we needed to do it again whilst we were away.
Our plan was to take high tide Sunday morning – see how I feel and decide if we head direct to Holland, head to Lowestoft or just bob around a bit and come back or visit Grimsby!
Sunday 16th August 2015
Well that was an eventful day.
Woke up earlyish, nervous as normal, sick to the pit of my stomach feeling. Managed to eat some cereal bars for my breakfast and decided to try without Stugeron, just my pressure band.
No problems getting off the berth, through the lifting bridge and round to the lock. Got a bit ham-fisted trying to get ropes round the lines but we managed. Lock gates opened and we were off. 8.25am.
Hardly any wind and quite warm. I pulled the mizzen out and we motored down the Humber, listening to VTS. We had the tide with us and were making a steady 9 knots. Reached the entrance in about 2 and a half hours. Now was the time to get some sails up – mizzen, main and genoa. Engine off – we were finally sailing, probably averaging 4.5 knots to begin with. Every time I got that empty stomach feeling I had something to eat, crisps, hula hoops, flapjack, cereal bar.
She was a bit “rolly” but nowhere near as much as Pandora. I started to feel a bit muzzy and, looking back that was when I should have decided to take some Stugeron – but I didn’t. Kept having forty winks which helped some but not completely. We had a bit of left over bread from Saturday and I decided that was all I wanted to eat – it seemed to help.
Later on we had some krisp rolls with a cup a soup – which also stayed down!
The wind dropped to practically nothing and we were desperately trying to round a cardinal buoy – sod’s law, all that water and we wanted the same space it possessed! So it was time to fire up the engine again. And we kept bobbing along! My sleeps were getting more frequent and my steering less so – I wasn’t feeling great but not too bad.
We had decided to go to Lowestoft so Steve was busy following the chart. Steve found himself looking too far ahead on the chart, misjudging the scale of the chart so asked for my help – I wasn’t any.
Then the engine tone changed and we both thought “what was that?” but it kept running for a few minutes then cut out. He restarted it but it cut out again and then wouldn’t restart. Steve asked me to take control of the helm as he would put some sail out to stop us drifting to shore and then he’d call the coastguard to advise of our situation. Just before 1am Steve called the coastguard to advise of our issue but unfortunately we had become slightly disoriented and thought we were off Gt Yarmouth but our gps position said we were off Mundesley, we reconfirmed the gps position. The coastguard advised he would call the RNLI and then advised that Gorleston lifeboat would be sent to tow us and that they should arrive around 2 am. He then asked if we had an anchor and suggested that we put it down and wait. However, Steve thought we were better off staying under sail as we could still manoeuvre and we had plenty of depth. The coastguard said it was our choice as long as we understood his concerns.
By now I was a bit more “aware” as we bobbed around. Steve put fenders out on both sides in readiness. As the lifeboat approached Steve asked if they wanted us to take down the sail – which they did. As it arrived, they advised that they would throw a tow line. Steve went to the bow with the handheld radio and I had the main radio at the helm. They asked if we could advise “your man on the bow”, to which Steve’s response was “I am the man on the bow”.
We got attached and set off behind the lifeboat – sitting at the helm to keep her following along nicely. I kept dozing off again and Steve almost dozed a couple of times but being the trouper that he is he managed to stay awake.
As we approached Great Yarmouth the lifeboat advised us to get fenders on starboard side and lines ready. Coastguard people would be on the quayside to help us in. Fortunately it was now daylight so things were much easier. Unfortunately there appeared to be assumptions on both Steve’s and the lifeboat man’s parts. We saw the lifeboat crew putting fenders on starboard side and assumed they were going to drag us toward the wall and then pull our nose out and “sandwich” us to the wall. However the lifeboat man though we would stay on the helm (unsure why as he had told us to get ready to throw the lines) so unfortunately we hit the harbour wall nose on probably doing about 3-4 knots – Steve tried to fend off but stood no chance. Fortunately the anchor took the hit and the only damage was a completely bent anchor pin.
The lifeboat advised the coastguard that the “casualty” was now moored. We thanked the crew and provided our details.
The wall at Gt Yarmouth was metal sheets, wooden pilings with a stone top. With the tide we would be going up and down, in and out so we put plenty of fenders out including the two large inflatable ones. It took a while to make sure we were happy with our positioning then we sat down and relaxed. Steve with a glass of wine before 9 o’clock in the morning!! Although to be fair it was very late at night for him.
Steve decided to give Lowestoft Haven marina a call to see if they could recommend a “diesel man”. Dawn gave us details for Tim so Steve rang him.
Basically the call went something along the lines of: Hi Tim, my name’s Steve, I’ve been given your name by Lowestoft Haven Marina, we were heading there and had engine failure and the lifeboat towed us into Great Yarmouth. We’re just below the bridge next to a large orange and white boat with a heli-pad. “I’m just the other side of the bridge; I can get to you at about 12”.
I went off into town looking for a bakery and after a bit of a trek (and the assistance of a public loo cleaner!) I found Asda and returned to the boat. Steve decided to have a kip for about an hour and I was to wake him up when Tim arrived. Bearing in mind we were now in Norfolk/Suffolk we were expecting Suffolk-time. However just before 12 Tim rings and asks if we were near the lifeboat so he could decide which car park to use. I again confirm that we’re near the boat with the heli-pad and I think it is called Town Hall Quay or South Quay. “Ok, I’ll be with you shortly”. I decided it would be a good idea to wake Steve to give him a chance to come round. A little while later Tim rings back, “Can’t seem to find you”. So Steve says we’re right behind Lydia Eva of Great Yarmouth. Ah the penny dropped, we were in Yarmouth, and he was in Lowestoft! So after wasting probably a good half hour looking for us he said he’d come at about six, but Steve asked if he’d rather come first thing the next morning.
The rest of the day was pretty quiet. Just as I was cooking dinner (yes, me – it was only Chicken Kiev and noodles!) a small grey boat was coming in so Steve offers a hand and disappears. He wasn’t actually needed but he felt useful. After dinner, whilst Steve was having a cigarette the owner of the little grey boat walked past so Steve invited him aboard for a glass of wine. And that was how we met Max, who lives in Wells Next The Sea and is a member of the RNLI crew there. We chatted some and then he left and we went to bed. What a day!!
Steve got up at 6 but I stayed in bed! Tim arrived bright and early at 6.30 so I got up soon after. He was a talker, and after hearing “I’m not really built for places like this” I had to get up and have a look! Anyway it wasn’t diesel bug like he first thought so then he started tracing the pipework and came across a filter in the engine room entranceway (which Steve didn’t know what it was for so hadn’t changed) and that was our problem. The pre-engine filter/water separator filter was absolutely gunked up. Fortunately we had a spare so Tim changed it (put it in upside down until Steve pointed it out to him). He also showed Steve a few things about the engine so it was quite educational and only cost £80. Got straight on to ASAP Supplies for a couple more spares to be delivered to us in Lowestoft. As Tim had had the engine running for a while we thought we would take advantage of the hot water produced and had our first shower on board.
In the afternoon we went looking for the harbourmaster as no-one had come after us for payment but when we got to the office nobody knew whether we had to pay as we had been towed in by RNLI. We left our phone number and told them we’d be leaving on Wednesday.
We decided we would definitely leave tomorrow and go to Lowestoft. Only just over 10nm – easy trip.
Got an email back from ASAP saying they only had one filter in stock so they’d send that and then the other once in stock – explained we’d only be in Lowestoft for a few days so could they contact us before sending the second one. They were more than happy and Gary the customer service manager said that as he lived near Haven Marina he’d drop the first one off – what fantastic service!
Lentil, chick pea and potato curry with Sensations Poppadoms for tea – absolutely delicious.
Left South Quay, Great Yarmouth at 10.30. Motored to Lowestoft as wind was right on the nose! (Story of our sailing life there!) We wanted to get the 14.30 bridge opening so we could go to the marina so we arrived in plenty of time. There is a waiting pontoon in the trawl dock so we tied up there – took us a couple of attempts but we managed completely on our own – although I got a rope burn on one finger and thought I might have dislocated another (not that I told Steve that!) We then had a spot of lunch and did some practice cleat-catching. Steve suggesting I throw the rope further so it should catch the cleat as I pull it in. Did fairly well.
Not long before the bridge lift a motorboat came in, sounding terrible. He had lost one of his engines so we offered assistance and they tied up alongside us. We were then called to get ready to go through the bridge. There were several powerboats and a couple of other yachts, we were about 5th in line, I think. As we were passing bridge control they called us up and asked us to get a move on so the vessels behind could get through. We were doing 4 knots (the speed limit) but obviously not quickly enough! Just a bit along we were told off by some workmen – for going too fast!!!
Pleasant route up the river to the marina where a nice young man was waiting on C hammerhead to take our lines and we’d arrived! Sigh of relief – no engine issues.
Booked in, nice showers – even a restaurant, The Third Crossing. Problem being it was a seafood restaurant!! Steve said they had lobsters in tanks in the restaurant when he went to pick up a menu. There wasn’t really a great deal of things that I would eat so we ended up not going there.
As the weather wasn’t going to be very good for sailing we thought we’d stay there probably a week – we had our bikes so we shouldn’t get bored. Gary from ASAP arrived that evening with our spare filter so all was right with the world!
The next few days
We went for a bike ride to Oulton Broad (not much there) so carried on into Lowestoft. Stopped for coffee/Dr Pepper and Chelsea bun at Heils Bakery – best bun I’ve ever tasted!
Made more flapjack.
Had a little row in the dinghy. Tetiana (and Dave) living aboard their Jeanneau ‘Grumpy Fish’ took photos which she emailed to us.
Went for a bike ride into Lowestoft and along the seafront to Pakefield back to seafront to play 2p arcade amusements! Back that day just before the heaven’s opened!
On the second Thursday we were in Lowestoft we decided that we would leave on the Friday so Steve went to Asda on his bike with the two large waterproof bags. He came back well and truly fully laden!! Wine, Pepsi, vodka – all the essentials!! Loads of other stuff too. I couldn’t really believe he’d managed to wear one, put one on his bike rack and managed to cycle back! I made olive bread and flapjack.
Paid up (£259.69) and then Dawn booked us our bridge out on Friday 0700 – early start!
We had wanted to go down to Bradwell marina, however on closer investigation they can only accommodate up to 50 ft so that was a no go. Also, after having spoken to Max, we fancied going into Wells as he made it sound like we could, so after a couple of emails back and forth that was our choice.
Leave Lowestoft at 7am; hopefully make Wells for the 18.37 high tide. 56 nm so do-able.
Friday into Saturday
Up at 5.30 am. (Mother Nature paid a visit yesterday but not too bad – so was a bit apprehensive about that). Decided not to take seasick pills again. Got ourselves sorted, the guy from Azimut threw our front line on for us and we manoeuvred off no problems at 6.30am. We were to be held by Asda as there were some commercial movements going on.
By this time I knew the second day of Mother Nature’s visit wasn’t going to be a good one – heavy was not the word for it.
We cleared the bridge and the harbour by 07.23, slight delay caused by the commercial ship ‘parking’.
Winds were quite good and in the right direction for a change although we were fighting the tide so we motor-sailed for approximately 12 nm to North Scroby then turned the engine off.
Steve had wanted to get four sails up but with the genoa and mizzen we were fairly romping along – maximum speed over ground 9.9 knots. I was having to make hourly visits down below and was amazed that I wasn’t feeling particularly seasick. I wasn’t feeling brilliant but not too bad. I think the cramps were so excruciating that I couldn’t spare the energy to be seasick as well. I took painkillers but after an hour they still hadn’t made any difference at all. Eventually after about 3 hours or so the pain started easing but it never went entirely.
We thought about having something to eat so Steve got himself a slice of olive bread and me two slices of day old Asda bread. The olive bread was too dry for Steve and the Asda bread too doughy for me. Not a successful lunch! I had been sipping my drinks, ginger ale, Pepsi and Ribena. Kept dozing between trips to the loo!
Steve commented that I hadn’t been drinking a lot so had a bit of Ribena. Shortly after that I knew I was going to be sick so reached for my sick bucket and promptly threw up stodgy bread and Ribena – very pleasant. To add insult to injury the retching to be sick caused havoc elsewhere and let’s just say I had to go and change my clothes while Steve disposed of my sick and washed down my seat area. – I really can’t wait for the menopause!!
Got fairly close to Sheringham Shoal before we had to motor again as the wind direction was not conducive to our route into Wells.
Just about 2 nm from the Wells leading buoy the engine tone changed and Steve and I just looked at each other and she died again. I took the helm and Steve went below and changed the filter. My main job was to watch the depth and even though we had no sails out or any engine we were still doing 1.6 knots over ground! The tide was pushing us in but depth was still at 12 metres so no issues.
Then, on the horizon – like the scene from Independence Day with the camper vans coming across the desert – were a “fleet” of motor boats, which, once they got closer I could see were big fancy gin palaces! I counted 16 or 17 with a rib and further out (so might not have been with them) was another one! It was amazing to watch them. They were obviously also heading to Wells – busy weekend ahead! They made their way to the cardinal buoy and then single filed in. We called up the harbour and they said to call again once we were at the cardinal buoy and they would send an escort boat as it was our first time in.
The entrance to Wells is quite a narrow channel and we had to make sure tide heights were adequate etc.
We started making our way in, keeping close to the red buoys as directed (so close to one that we touched it with the dinghy – fortunately it wasn’t one of the ones with a metal top!) I started putting out lines and fenders and the Beach Patrol rib met us and we followed him. I looked up once and we were incredibly close to the beach – oh to have a picture of that!! There was one particularly tight corner (90 degrees) but Steve was like a pro and with a touch of bow thruster we were round.
The harbourmaster advised that if we wanted to stay one night we could go into the outer harbour but if we were here for longer we could go in the main area. As the flotilla of motorboats (NYA) had taken the pontoons 2-3 deep in places, they suggested they would move a motorboat berthed next to Albatros, a large yacht now a b&b, café, bar, restaurant, along and we could raft to the stern quarter of Albatros behind the motorboat. However after moving the motorboat they paced it out and decided that we wouldn’t fit so they moved the motorboat completely. We were to moor port-to which meant a full turn around. Once again Steve managed this perfectly and the only issue for me was the fact that I threw the line in the water instead of to the nice man on the boat waiting for it! I surprised myself at being able to deal with fenders; ropes etc. with an audience enjoying their food and drink on board Albatros. They told us there was about 2m depth so we would end up sitting on the sand at low water but with appropriately placed lines we thought we’d be fine – only low tide would tell!
Put plenty of fenders out including the inflatable ones (these have been an absolute Godsend) and hoped for the best.
Didn’t really feel like eating much – even though the fish and chips we smelt on arrival were heavenly so we had noodles for tea. Drank wine and went to bed!
Woke up during the night (well 11.30!) and we had quite a lean on. 15 degrees according to the clinometer! Woke again at about 3.30 and Steve got up and checked the boat. After a while I couldn’t hear him so started worrying. I got up (4.13am!!!) I decided he must have wandered off to the loo. And by this time the boat had straightened up!
We stayed up then and the only damage we had suffered was a slightly bent stanchion and a split in the tow rail – caused by incorrect placing of one of the inflatable fenders – every day’s a school day.
The Dutch owner of Albatros came and had a few words with Steve and told him where we should have our fenders and lines so that we didn’t lean too much on him. It was quite comical but Steve did as he was told with a smile. However, even though the Dutchman was a far more experienced sailor it was Steve who figured out why we leaned so much, it wasn’t our lines after all!! Albatros’ lines are long as she is against the wall although about 4 ft. off. Her depth is 1.8m so we were touching before her and pushing her towards the quay wall – hence our lean (our 30 tonnes pushing her 138 tonnes). So it was decided to place rudders hard towards the wall and that should help.
Got some fairly good photos of her side on the next low tide!
We went for a dinghy ride along the channel we came in on at low tide to see how it looked – absolutely amazed we’d made it in. Nice walk along the sand when it became too shallow for the dinghy.
We had received an email on Friday from ASAP saying the spare filter was in but I didn’t see it until after office hours and it was a bank holiday weekend! There is a chandlery in Wells so we asked if he could get us one and he said he should be able to get one for Wednesday. Emailed ASAP and asked if they could please send it to Wells Harbour Office but could we also have another one too – so hopefully by Wednesday we will have two spares. Steve is not prepared to leave without one at least.
Decided today was the day for fish and chips and we’d eat them on the quay. Joined the queue which suddenly became twice as long behind us – got our fish and chips – well Steve had fish, battered sausage and curry sauce. Decided that the quayside was too busy and didn’t we have the best seats in the house anyway so enjoyed them on the back of the boat with wine and vodka! Watched the motorboats refuel, sailing boats coming in. The place really comes alive at high tide.
Steve was up at 6.45 – I stayed in bed a bit longer but not much! Quite a grey day early on. All the motorboats left this morning so we might be able to move to the pontoon berths. Went looking for the harbour master but couldn’t find him so walked the footpath to the beach – nice walk and not too busy. There is a coast watch station there so we went and had a look at what they do. They had a log of our entry with 2 persons visible. They explained that they listen but are unable to transmit on the VHF radio. Things had improved for them as they are now able to speak to the beach lifeguards otherwise they have to call (by phone) Humber coastguard if they spot something. So in a situation where they spot a swimmer in difficulty they had to phone Humber who would call Wells RNLI – wasting precious time but with lifeguards on the beach it has improved.
We stopped at the Beach Cafe which is perfectly located next to the car park and provides café food; chips, ice-cream and even a doggy wash! Walked back for lunch – my olive bread with cheese, garlic olive oil and balsamic vinegar – very good. Steve went off to reprovision the essentials – wine and Pepsi.
Then the rain came. It was amazing just how few people the rain chased away! There was live music on the quayside, all ages crabbing – such a very popular place and still so beautiful. The only difference the rain made to us was we had to shut ourselves in as the rain was driving in the hatch!
Steve went and measured depths on the pontoon just before low tide and it was between 2.5 and 3 metres. He measured where we were – 1.7m!! If the harbour master wants we’ll move across to the pontoons at high tide – at least we’ll be on the level!
Funny moment this morning as, on our wander round Wells yesterday we saw 2 motorbikes with Bruges and other such stickers on and I jokingly said they belonged to the Hairy Bikers. Well today I saw if not the real Simon King then his doppelganger walking along the quay with a blonde lady. Been racking my brains since as to whether the real Si’s wife is blonde or not! I seem to make a thing of this. Matt Moran’s double in Ireland, Si King’s double here! Me and TV chefs!
High tide Sunday evening saw us make our shortest journey yet! All of about 20-30 yards! It didn’t matter how far for me as I was nervous about “getting off” then no time before nervous about “getting on”. The guys on Albatros helped with our lines and two harbour men waited on the pontoon to take them. Mission accomplished! I managed to pass my line across to one of the men. Steve threw his (into the water!! – that makes a change) but all in all a SUCCESS!!
A different perspective from the pontoons so it felt like a different place! The harbourmaster walked past and asked if we were all right. Steve said “perfect”, his response “you’ll do for me!”
Bank Holiday Monday
Very wet! High, high tides – part flooded car parks. A few hardy souls crabbing but not many. Typical bank holiday weather!
Steve rang ASAP first thing. Found they had two extra filters in stock so added them to our order. Decided to visit further afield today so bus trip to King’s Lynn. We’ve never been before but both thought it would be nice. Great bus trip to Hunstanton (where we could, and possibly should, have gotten off – apart from the torrential downpour as we pulled into the bus station!) Looked like a really lovely place. Reminded me of a wealthier Fleetwood. However we continued to King’s Lynn. Some nice buildings, a few visitor’s pontoons (1.5m draught so no good for us) and not much else. Quite disappointing. Shopping area seemed quite good – if you like that sort of thing – however we don’t!
The bus trip back must become one of the highlights of our day. A noisy bus, a guy with a thick Norfolk accent who was heavily into football and wrestling. You really had to be there to fully appreciate the conversation but it kept me smiling for the rest of the day!
Wednesday – Not everyone in Wells is really friendly
Received a text to say our ASAP delivery would arrive between 11.59 and 12.59 so we waited around. Still haven’t successfully managed to connect to Port of Wells’ internet so Steve suggested I speak to the harbour office. Went in and basically said can you tell me what I’m doing wrong, I can’t connect to your internet? To which they replied “Are you on one of the boats?” I confirmed that I was so one of the staff said she would try to access it on her phone so she walked outside, said she could get on and so that was that. So I stood outside and tried again – still no avail but I wasn’t up to going back in – chicken!! I must admit that if I had been the one in the office I would have checked if my customer had been successful.
Steve decided he’d wander across to the chandlery as we hadn’t heard from him and as he was about to leave he saw an Interlink Express van so suggested I wait and get my filters. Just before his official arrival window he arrived and ASAP had done us proud again. Amazingly we didn’t have to pay for delivery as when I first ordered they had had a free next day delivery offer on and they had honoured that even with us adding to the order – what a great company to do business with.
Steve returned from his trip to the chandlery none too happy. From what I can gather when Steve asked if he’d had any success the bloke’s response was: “No, they didn’t have any in Norwich. You’ll have to look elsewhere.” Steve’s reply was thanks and he walked out. Certainly not the way to do business. Surely he could have phoned us on the Tuesday (or Wednesday) to say he couldn’t help – but no, not this bloke.
We were so pleased we’d arranged for extra from ASAP and their customer service staff are excellent.
Time for another trip out on the coast hopper bus in the opposite direction (Sheringham). We had thought we would leave today – however the weather forecasts have predicted 6-7 possibly 8’s so we are chickening out and staying here until better weather.
There is even a steam train at Sheringham – yay!! We’ve been before, way back when the boys were young and we camped at West Runton.
Lovely steam train ride to Holt – picnic lunch, walk round the museum and the “Railway Cottage”. The guide, Margaret was very informative.
A Dutch yacht, Excalibur, left today even though the forecast wasn’t good. Perhaps they were more experienced than us, although Steve’s heart was in his mouth when he read on the Navtex about a yacht off Holland no longer under control. Although it wasn’t Excalibur but Big Spender, it wasn’t good reading. Not sure of the outcome as never saw any other mention of it.
Friday 4th September STEVE’S 50TH BIRTHDAY!!!!
Not exactly a major celebration day – he only got one card from his mum and dad! Both boys rang and his mum & dad and one sister sent texts. Did a little bit of food shopping – well fluid shopping more like it. Steve bought some scallops and cooked that with bacon for his own celebration meal and I had chicken goujons in wraps!
Steve had mentioned to the harbour staff that we might have to leave the boat due to weather then tides and work and that was fine as long as we’d moved by 20th September as they have the North Norfolk Triathlon.
As it was Steve was able to take more time off so we decided to stay for a bit longer. Steve then had a chat with the harbour master and it was agreed that if we moved to the outer harbour we would be able to get out on pretty much any tide and the weather looked good for Monday/ Tuesday. It was agreed that we would move on the lunchtime high tide on Saturday.
Time to move again – not too far – at most 2 nm! The Deputy Harbourmaster – Simon – assisted us off the pontoon and we followed him to the outer harbour where we were to moor between two windfarm cats (“they draw 1.5m and there’s loads of water under them”).
The wind decided now was a good time to pick up and 17 knots on the side were not going to make it easy to berth. After discussions with Simon about the best way to turn, Steve went against his preferred option – taking the local knowledge.
However Shearmyste does not really like turning to port and we started to struggle – she didn’t want to get round. Steve tried again and I got lines and fenders on the starboard side too in case that was the only way we would get in.
Anyway he managed to almost turn her and Simon and three men from the Wind Cats stood on the pontoon (one with his phone out – oh dear, You Tube here we come!). I went to the nose and threw a line and the four men tried their hardest to stop us hitting the front (not completely successful) and then there were shouts of “move forward” as we were close to the big rubber bumpers on the rear cat. The dinghy once again acted like a large fender however the dinghy wheel attachment came off second best, getting bent and pulling through the wood.
Steve, as graceful as a gazelle, managed to get from the cockpit, through the gate and onto the pontoon with line in hand – absolutely perfect!
There, we were moored again. The guys from the Wind Cats were mainly from Ireland but there was a shy young lad from Norwich too.
Two of them came aboard for a look – one far more interested in the engine room but they were the first to be impressed by my copper clip and rope finishing in the master cabin! Bhajis and samosas from the deli with dahl for dinner I think!
Don’t think a great deal happened but I think today was the day Steve made a quiche/pie thing, served with leeks and green beans – it was delicious. Eggs, onions, ricotta cheese and cheddar (I think) in a puff pastry pie – complete with lid.
At one point it felt like we were on the bottom so put on the instruments and?!!!
You really can’t trust a Norfolk man with measurements!!!
Steve has finally decided that real men don’t eat quiche as it obviously didn’t like him.
Worked through our plan to leave on Wednesday, high tide of 2.1m at just after 4am. With it being dark we decided to get up at high tide overnight (Mon/Tues 3am) to see how the channel looked.
Pasta and tomatoes or pasta and pesto for tea.
Alarm set for 3am. I didn’t sleep well as waiting for the alarm! Woke at about 2 and went off heavy so woke really groggy! Steve was his normal bright eyed and bushy tailed self whereas I was a lot slower to get going. Thought it was going to be cold so put on undershirt, sweatshirt and coat, trousers, socks and wellies! Steve was in shorts! Wish I’d followed his lead. We had a short walk to look at the channel – I found it a bit difficult looking at it from land but Steve didn’t see any real issues – so back to bed! Up again around 8, Steve checked his engine etc., I made flapjack and we had a relatively chilled day I think.
Early to bed 8 or 8.30, ready for 3am wake up and 4 o’clockish leave. Decided that this time I would take Stugeron!!
Woke at 3, tried to come round a bit quicker than yesterday. (Took my Stugeron with homemade flapjack. Made drinks – coffee and Ribena for Steve, water, Pepsi and ginger ale for me. Made sandwiches and also had 2 ‘day old’ crusty rolls – which would hopefully work like the stale French stick if needed!)
First thing I noticed was all the lights at the lifeboat station – they were obviously out on a shout.
After a while some lifeboat men came along the pontoon. The ALB was towing in a yacht which, once we’d moved, they wanted to put in our place. Pharalope had had engine issues.
Probably just after 4 we managed to get off the pontoon – lifeboat men helped us (one of the deputy harbourmasters and one of the chefs from Albatros) and we were off. Unfortunately we didn’t make it very far. Just at the outer harbour entrance we ran into some sand. Called the RNLI as some were standing by the boat house watching us. Steve got told off by the coastguard for going direct! They managed fairly quickly to get us off and we set off again. The channel markers are mostly lit and I was standing at the bow now holding the torch to illuminate each marker. Things were going ok until No. 4 buoy where, once again, we managed to find the sand! We were definitely in the channel as we ended up right next to the buoy (it kept rubbing along the side).
Steve once again called up the Coastguard/RNLI and a fishing boat – Charles William offered assistance. It took a little while to get a rope across and then he started to pull. We didn’t seem to be moving much then all of a sudden, the rope snapped so unfortunately he had to call the coastguard and say “sorry, I tried but I can’t shift it’. The RNLI had now finished with the other yacht and relaunched to us but also one of the wind farm cats, MPI Lucinda, came out with the deputy harbourmaster aboard. They managed to get a line on and after a little while we were free. I was on the helm so Steve could release the rope but wasn’t sure what I was supposed to be doing. Once the line was off it was very disorientating – I wasn’t sure which direction we were facing – whether we were risking another grounding or what. Steve didn’t appear much wiser and asked Lucinda which way we needed to head. By this time the ALB had arrived and they very kindly led us out. I can only imagine that they couldn’t wait to see the back of us. I went back to the front of the boat, shining up the buoys again. There wasn’t a great deal of wind/waves/swell but I seemed to be going up and down a lot. I went to kneel down at one point and then discovered the boat had dropped!
Once we were at the bar Steve called me back to the cockpit – but told me that I had to go starboard side – as this meant traversing my sail bag, I decided I was just going to sit down and hug my bag for a few minutes – shouted to Steve to let him know so he wasn’t worried (started to feel a little seasick).
Made it back to the cockpit but mainly sat with my eyes closed trying to stem any thoughts my stomach had of disgorging its contents!
We motored (expecting the filter to block – and we weren’t disappointed!) until 7.30 when up went the sails – just genoa and mizzen – seeing how I was, Steve didn’t want to put up the main. Working on the theory that if I was actually sick I might start feeling better I allow my stomach free rein. Might work for some people – not me! Still felt like the proverbial and chewed up Stugeron tables with flapjack leaves a horrendous aftertaste – like mouldy potatoes! So I sat eyes closed and dozed.
Steve said we had a lovely sail! I knew I would have to pull myself together so he could go below and change the filter and the closer we got to the Humber the busier I knew it would get. I took over the helm and Steve fixed the filter.
Due to the late leaving of Wells and our speed, slower today only really 4-6 knots Steve wasn’t sure whether we would make it up to Hull so decided it would be a better idea to call into Grimsby and the last leg tomorrow. We spoke to Fish Dock Island (Grimsby Fish Dock) and asked if we could have a berth for the night. He said he wasn’t responsible for that; we would have to call Humber Cruising Association by phone. I did but unfortunately there was only an answer machine – wasn’t sure about leaving a message so hung up and tried again. This time I left a detailed message in case it was checked and we headed in to Grimsby. Fortunately it was on free flow and the man on the radio advised us to put fenders low for the pontoon – got lines out as well – amazing that when I really have to I can be of some use. We came into the marina nice and slowly and funnily enough pulled up behind a ……………… lifeboat!
I just about managed to get a line on the centre and then Steve got the back line on and I went to the front to get the front line on – I was having to use our large boat hook to get it round but a nice man came along and helped. We were in!
The berthing master was in the clubhouse and said it was ok for us to stay. We had a can of Magners each and I also had a lime and soda and we were invited to join the group sitting and chatting. Very friendly group, some just back from Holland – they’d also been to Russia.
We debated our meal options and left the clubhouse with a Chinese takeaway menu – but in the end we had peanut tea and were in bed by 8.30 and probably asleep 5 minutes later!
We’d had a discussion about depths with the berthing master – him recounting an experience in Newcastle where he got stuck and he commented that here they go around regularly with a stick checking the depths and that they were just about to begin dredging – Steve asked how much water we had beneath us and he said “I don’t know, haven’t checked lately!”.
As we didn’t want to leave Grimsby in the dark we were going to wait for the afternoon tide the lock gates there open 2 hours either side of high water and Hull opens 3 hours either side. Also high tide Grimsby is half an hour before high tide Hull so we had ample time to get from one to the other.
Our plan was to leave as soon as the gates opened at 15.15 so we had most of the day waiting.
We went for a wander and found Aldi so we could replenish Pepsi and wine stocks. I thought I’d try Aldi’s Cola ZX as I like Lidl’s XX – the Pepsi Max equivalents.
When we got back we turned the instruments on and discovered that we actually only had 1.3 m beneath us. This meant we wouldn’t be able to leave until the level had risen after the gates had been opened for a while! Never mind we should still have plenty of time to make it to Hull.
Not that I’m paranoid or anything but I suggested Steve phone Hull marina and check that there were no issues with the lock! There weren’t and they also confirmed that we basically had until 20.30 to get there – plenty of time!
Yet another lifeboat appeared!! Paranoia now!!! As it was the Spurn Head boat had had some repairs so the crew were bringing the relief boat so they could transfer back to their boat and leave the relief which was going up to Tynemouth in a few days.
We got chatting to a couple of the crew; one was from South Shields and the other from Scotland. Steve asked what depth they had and where they were, on the fuel pontoon was just about 3m so we wouldn’t have to wait too long.
The gates opened and water started rising and we prepared ourselves. Steve told me his plan and we made to leave. I had a little bit of trouble getting my line off (but again there was a man – in case I needed him – this time I didn’t!)
As it was only going to be a 3/4 hour trip (3 hours when we left Hull to the Humber entrance all those days ago!) I decided to go without the seasick pills.
In the back of my mind I kept thinking that we should have got to Hull before the filter failed again and also we needed to be sure we missed the sandbanks so every so often I’d say to Steve, “What’s our speed, what’s our depth?” I felt good; the weather was warm, dry and sunny so I kept checking the chart confirming we were where we wanted to be. When we were quite close to Immingham two tugs were getting acquainted with a large vessel, M R Leo. We were doing about 7.7 – 7.9 knots and Steve was not sure if we could pass in front or not so called VTS and gave all the info and we were told, ‘No you must not impede this vessel, it is limited by draught.’ so we turned around and passed behind it. No worries!
As we were approaching Hull we heard the ship, Eke Mobius, asking VTS the name of a yacht. VTS confirmed it was us, so Steve called VTS for additional confirmation. Then Eke Mobius called us and asked us to move more across to port so he could pass on our starboard side – he was going into one of the docks. Steve confirmed we would head to the red marker boys and we would expect him to pass to starboard. As it was they never passed us but we didn’t interfere with his manoeuvres either!
We were passed by a small motor boat, My Way and a survey vessel, Precision 1, so when we spoke to Gavin at Hull marina he said he would get them in and then turn the lock around for us. So we motored around (both of us worrying that the filter would decide to block again!)
We got the green light to enter the lock – first one since we’d left and I wasn’t really sure where to grab! We probably went a bit too far forward. I was watching the nose moving towards the wall and checking that the fender ball was positioned to protect us and it was! However I had failed to notice the shackle on the wall at the perfect height to take out our portside navigation light. Sorry Steve!
Made it out of the lock nicely and I did the run-round the boat putting the fenders down and getting the lines ready. Steve took it slowly as Gavin had to get from the lock to the bridge so we could get back into the Railway Dock.
An absolutely perfect execution of berthing – although my fenders were a fraction high! No shouting, screaming, just a touch of bow thruster – perfect catch of cleat and nobody watching – typical!!! Mind you we did have the wind helping us on to the pontoon.
WE’D MADE IT BACK!!!