Sunday, 14 June 2015

Saturday, 6 June 2015

Gale Force

 Boats and land simply do not mix. However, for most of us, sailing near land (or sand banks) is where we partake in our habits of travel with a nautical nature.  When you've tied up and stepped ashore from another memorable cruise, gone home to tend the plants and walk the dog, during your absence a storm may be brewing, and heading your way. It's all you can do to hope you battened the hatches properly, cross your fingers and pray your boat will ride it out unharmed.

The image shows my little Shoal dipping and tugging, pulling and pitching.The kind of dance she's engaged in is not a voluntary, merry dance rather a dance of despair. Every year I hear new stories of a number of yachts that are broke away from moorings in perilous conditions just like these and left to the mercy of nature. My finger nails are chewed to the bone having to watch her like this but fortunately we survived, this time... In the past close friends and other sailor's boats haven't. Sadly, the small yacht behind us didn't make it and ended up on the seawall damaged to an extent she was ultimately broken up and skipped. For any owner this is a horrible business to have to deal with from start to finish, and I can say this from first hand experience. I believe in fate, however, and no matter what you do to avoid the worst, the worst will happen, sometimes. In the hope we can take something positive from a negative let it prompt us to look at our own moorings. The forces of wind and tide combined during a gale is immense therefore careful selection of a strong 'belt and braces' mooring set-up is something to aim for. If you already have a set up in place then to keep it in the best possible shape follow up with regular maintenance checks for the weakest link in your mooring.  A few pointers worth looking at.
  • Check the structural diameter of rusty riser/ground/sinker chain by knocking off any corrosion with a hammer. If its way less than the size it should be think about replacing it. 
  • Check shackles are torqued tight and moused with wire. 
  • Check mooring warps are a suitable diameter and breaking-strain, and keep an eye on chafing (see-saw) wear. 
  • Check aged warps for UV damage and replace regularly. 
  • Check that your boats' mooring cleat is A: big enough, and B: has a substantial fixings, with a backing plate wide enough to spread the load. Are you able to run a secondary backup line to the mooring and /or to another anchor point on the boat?
Last and by no means least do anything else you can think of to limit the odds of a break away.
And remember, while there is a serious side to cruising - sailing is fun. Enjoy it.

Saturday, 23 May 2015

2015 Small-Boat Sailors Rally

 

This year, the Small Boat Sailors rally will be on Saturday 13th June. As a reminder; we meet on a friendly basis in the memory of the late Charles Stock, the intrepid adventure sailor and former owner of Shoal Waters, who inspired many to take to the water in an inexpensive boat and begin cruising under sail. We have been meeting for the last four years now so this will be our fifth. Last year we met on the Broads in Norfolk. (see pic)
All sizes and types of craft are welcome to join us. Very relaxed itinerary made up as the day passes. Check your tide tables as tides will be neaps so we may sail down to Bradwell and raft-up in the area, with the aim of heading back upriver on the evening tide. Bring your puddings - I have the kettle to cook them in if you haven't! And wellies too.

Date: Saturday 13th June
Place: Goldhanger Creek, River Blackwater, Essex

Have a small dinghy and would need to launch nearby? We may be able to accommodate you.
Inbox or email Creeksailor on the address above in the sidebar.
Note: All weather permitting. Safety is paramount and it is up to each skipper to ascertain the suitability of his or her craft and experience of in tidal waters. Anyone attending does so at their own risk.

Friday, 1 May 2015

Waldringfield

The picturesque Suffolk waterside at Waldringfield - River Deben

Waldringfield Sailing Club's jewel of the Deben is the Dragonfly clinker dinghy. Beginning in the late 40s, 45 were built for the club over a 15 year period and there is still an active fleet sailing today. This one looks like its been home to more than one or two gulls but the views here are undeniably pretty. For us the sailing becomes even more interesting as we negotiate the numerous moored craft on our way further upstream. A closer look, just beyond the moorings, shows there's a pub, the Maybush Inn and also Waldringfield Boatyard.

Saturday, 11 April 2015

Bump! 2015 Small Boat Sailors Rally

This year, the Small Boat Sailors rally will be on Saturday 13th June. As a reminder; we meet on a friendly basis in the memory of the late Charles Stock, the intrepid adventure sailor and former owner of Shoal Waters, who inspired many to take to the water in an inexpensive boat and begin cruising under sail. We have been meeting for the last four years now so this will be our fifth. Last year we met on the Broads in Norfolk. (see pic)
All sizes and types of craft are welcome to join us. Very relaxed itinerary made up as the day passes. Check your tide tables as tides will be neaps so we may sail down to Bradwell and raft-up in the area, with the aim of heading back upriver on the evening tide. Bring your puddings - I have the kettle to cook them in if you haven't! And wellies too.

Date: Saturday 13th June
Place: Goldhanger Creek, River Blackwater, Essex

Have a small dinghy and would need to launch nearby? We may be able to accommodate you.
Inbox or email Creeksailor on the address above in the sidebar.
Note: All weather permitting. Safety is paramount and it is up to each skipper to ascertain the suitability of his or her craft and experience of in tidal waters. Anyone attending does so at their own risk.

Monday, 6 April 2015

Golden Hinde II - Sir Francis Drake

Flowing from the hinterland of a green and old England until it drains into the North Sea, the River Thames is awash with history.
However, for sheer density and variety I find it's hard to beat a visit to 'the smoke'. Those who know London and the area by the river will appreciate the amount of development and how this has opened up the Thames pathways to pedestrians.

A stroll along the waterside on a Sunday morning, for a drink in the Flounders Arms, The Anchor or the Prospect of Whitby, 30 years ago for instance may well have been taken alone. Today people come out in their thousands. And you cant blame them as some of the best views of London's city-scape can be taken for free along the waters edge.

For us salty types the city can be the proverbial sweet shop and the image below shows just one little treat that can be found tucked away in St Mary Overie Dock, literally minutes away from Shakespear's Globe Theater. This is a full size ocean-going replica of Sir Francis Drake's Golden Hind; Golden Hinde II. Built by J. Hinks & Son in Devon and launched in 1973, she's also sailed around the world but other than a visit to the boat show in 2003 she has been sat here since 1996. She was the dream of two Americans who wanted to celebrate the 400th year since Drake landed on the west coast of North America. Her story is a fascinating one, too long for this page but to share one small thought, to those who like to mix a little ale with their sea-salt - when Sir Francis Drake set sail on his epic round the world exploration, in 1577, he would have sailed right past the Prospect of Whitby as it was built in 1520. Tony

Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Port and Starboard



Port and Starboard
The clocks have gone forward one hour so summer is definitely here. If you are preparing a boat for the coming season I wish you well with it. For those that don’t own a boat but like to get a boat fix every once in a while, there’ll be more opportunities to boat-watch as the annual stream of pleasure boats up and down our rivers and creeks begin to take to their moorings on the water over the next couple of months.
Still under wraps, our new cushion
  Some of you may have come across the chain of thought that the word ‘posh ‘originated from the nautical terms port and starboard. This was in the days when well- healed 19th century ship passengers, on their way to India, would be able to afford the better bunks on the port side for the journey out (port out) and starboard on the homeward leg (starboard home). With the other passengers on board being mere mortals and gawking; ooh, there posh, as the cash-laden bashed past toward their favored bunks with leather-cased luggage. 
  Well, there is definitely no posh aboard Shoal Waters (we can do pie-mash but not posh) – she’s firmly at the working end of the boat scale and at 76000 plus nautical miles traveled, and counting, continues to be well used and cared for.
  Why all this posh tosh you might ask? Well, we have a new bunk cushion for 2015, it’s cherry red, and I couldn’t help commenting to the maker when I collected it that it was all rather posh-looking! I didn’t quite use those exact words but that was the jist of it. And yes, it may look posh set beside the other, now seasoned looking, cushions but the creek-sailors among you will know that a session of weighing anchor will have me scrambling below inevitably covered in dark goo from the bed of a creek, which will wipe away any glint of posh to our preferred ruddy and cheerful glow, like the rest of her.  
 Good sailing, and boat watching, Tony

Thursday, 12 March 2015

2015 Small Boat Sailors Rally

This year the Small Boat Sailors rally will be on Saturday 13th June. As a reminder; we meet on a friendly basis in the memory of the late Charles Stock, the intrepid adventure sailor and former owner of Shoal Waters, who inspired many to take to the water in an inexpensive boat and begin cruising under sail. We have been meeting for the last four years now so this will be our fifth. Last year we met on the Broads in Norfolk. (see pic)
All sizes and types of craft are welcome to join us. Very relaxed itinerary made up as the day passes. Check your tide tables as tides will be neaps so we may sail down to Bradwell and raft-up in the area, with the aim of heading back upriver on the evening tide. Bring your puddings - I have the kettle to cook them in if you haven't! And wellies too.

Date: Saturday 13th June
Place: Goldhanger Creek, River Blackwater, Essex

Have a small dinghy and would need to launch nearby? We may be able to accommodate you.
Inbox or email Creeksailor on the address above in the sidebar.
Note: All weather permitting. Safety is paramount and it is up to each skipper to ascertain the suitability of his or her craft and experience of in tidal waters. Anyone attending does so at their own risk.

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Old London




 There’s a bags of history at the Prospect of Whitby in Wapping, one of London’s oldest riverside Inns built in the reign of Henry the V111 at circa 1520. The pub is sited on the edge of the River Thames and neighboured by cobbled streets and converted old wharves.
The low ceilings are heavily beamed and a seat in one of the quirky, cosy little spaces is just right for sipping on a cold, crisp beer, a smooth drop of red or a fruity glass of white and soaking up this old world atmosphere. There’s flagstone and wide-board wooden floors that have the wear of sailors from far-flung places, dockers and watermen’s boots and if the time is anywhere near high-tide and the breeze is up an intermittent and somewhat disconcerting thud is heard, for the tide runs fast in these parts and although we may be far inland we could well be at sea for a fair old popple - a choppy sea, slaps at the brickwork on the buildings outer walls.
Criminals used to be hanged on the foreshore just along from here and as a reminder there’s a gallows in place on the back of the pub, which is a restaurant. The sight of the noose is quite enough to convince any would-be non-payer that in this establishment the bill is definitely worth paying! Tony

Monday, 23 February 2015

Winkler's Tales

Available now. Click the link on the sidebar image to get your copy.

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

All Quiet on the Oyster Layings



In 2014 there was a noticeable decrease in activity of local fishing vessels. The River Blackwater, usually buzzing with small oyster dredgers combing up and down the oyster beds, had an eerie lack of fishing boat movements. I launched Shoal Waters later than usual last year because we were up in Norfolk for five weeks but I noticed the silence in my local creek as soon as we were back. All was confirmed by the lack of dredgers passed when sailing downriver. After making enquiries with the Kent and Essex fisheries found the fishery had been temporarily closed from May 31st 2014 until 31st May 2015, to allow the Native Oyster stocks to replenish.   The total area under closure, north to south, is from Clacton down to Foulness Point. Let’s hope the stock has been growing and the Oystermen have been able to get by, be it in other ways or sailing further afield to work their dredge. Every now and again when cruising around the coast I’ve been lucky enough to witness a very ancient method of Sien netting. This happened again last year on a warm summer’s day while waiting the tide below Bradwell.  A chap set a shallow, but very long, net in an arc from the shoreline downriver and, in his small skiff, shot the net out into the river and then let it pay out back upriver  four or five hundred yards before working his skiff to the shore. He then stood on the sandflats for half an hour, roughly the last of the ebb-tide, before hopping back into his skiff. At once he set about retrieving the top end and began hauling. Each few pulls on the net, feeding from his outstretched right hand to the left hand, his skiff would move downriver and a large fish would appear flapping. These would be placed on the gunnel and put to sleep club fashion. He repeated this in a timely and well-practiced rhythm until all the net and at least a couple of dozen large fish was on board. This type of fishing is centuries old and is lovely to see the traditions carried on but the finale is not for the squeamish.

Saturday, 31 January 2015

Where Adventure Waits

Where Adventure Waits

Friday, 16 January 2015

CSCL Globe

I sail a 'small-un' but I'm a fan of a 'big-un' as well. Therefore, I took a trip along to Harwich to join the scores of people who turned out to see the arrival of the worlds largest cargo ship, called CSCL Globe, when it arrived on the East Coast last week. She weighs in at 187000 tons and was built in South Korea and four tugs, who themselves are as tall as a three story house, were dwarfed by her size, biffed the huge beast of the seven seas into a specially built deep water berth at Felixtowe Docks.
She's longer than The Shard in London and could lay out four full size football pitches on her deck. Crew members who would happen to be into track and field events, could keep timings pin-sharp running her overall length of 400 meters...
This occasion, along with the arrival in the Thames last year of Edith Maersk, the largest ship ever to enter the Thames, at London Gateway, and at the time herself the second largest container ship, have marked a momentus time for big ship happenings in our area. And lets not forget the ongoing Wallasea project and the Tall Ships event last year, and to be nit-picky, even on this very same day dock-lines were slipping over bollards, sitting further up the quay was a cargo ship a mere 1 meter in length shorter than CSCL Globe! However, these records are short lived as there is already a bigger ship near completion and ready to set sail on the world's oceans. I'd rather my 16 footer any-day... Good Sailing
  


Monday, 5 January 2015

Creeksailor FB Page up and running

FB users, remember to start the year by taking a look and following our new Creeksailor Facebook Page. To follow and not miss a thing simply click the Like button on the page which is here creeksailor/fb timeline. 1.23 billion users are engaging in communication there on a daily basis and the site is not geared for anonymous users, therefore if you are thinking of joining, and to have the best experience, open an account in your own name. The picture below was posted to our page yesterday. Here's the Creeksailor page link again creeksailor/fb timeline
A pigeon hops aboard for a breather