7 August 2012

English Raid 2012 (58 nm 206nm total)

Big sail of the year, the English Raid on the rivers Orwell and Stour in Suffolk. The map below shows tracks from my mobile phone showing the basic sailing, with some glitches. (Claimed 54kts speed is unlikely, but I did hit 8kts at least twice.)

View English Raid 3, 2012 in a larger map

I started the outing by treating Daisy G to a lift out and pressure wash at the marina. Not strictly needed, but there was a special offer on and I thought it worth it. Certainly stress free, and there was some weed on the bottom.

I towed her home for the night (three hours drive plus the three hours in the morning to tow the trailer to Poole) and then the next day towed her over to Woolverstone near Ipswich, where we were launching, another five hours driving. Very easy launch there, with help from others to hold her whilst I parked the car and wheel clamped the trailer.. Then a gentle sail down the Orwell into Harwich Harbour and locked into Shotley Marina.
The setting is dramatic. Felixstowe docks occupies an horizon, with container ships being loaded and unloaded 24 hours a day, with commercial ships and ferries coming and going all the time. An enormous wind turbine erecting rig appeared one morning and was gone the next. Survey ships trundled back and forwards (I now know what a diamond over a ball over a diamond means. It was shouted at me in fairly clear language...)

Shotley marina, Felixstowe in backgrounf

Shotley marina is enclosed with access through a lock, so gives a very peaceful night. No waves or swell, although you can here the docks on the go all night. It is overlooked by an ancient Martello Tower with a water tank now perched on it. Nice to still be useful at that age.

In Shotley Lock
The lock is very easy to use as there are floating sides to it, which you tie tightly too and they slide up and down with you. We generally rafted up in a group to go through, but the lock keeper would let you through any time on your own. some of the  boats on the raid were beautiful. This little Iain Oughtred Elf Lara was my favourite. Not only gorgeous, she flew like a speed boat. She beat the 30ft whaler Molly to Manningtree, which I should  think is a record.
There were about 20 boats, but non from overseas. There were a few planned, but they cancelled when they discovered how much the ferry fares had been cranked up during the Olympics. I expect the ferries lost money on that.

The first full day we sailed up the Stour to Manningtree for lunch, then back down to Harwich for fish and chips before crossing back to Shotley. Beating all the way to Manningtree, then flying on a broad reach all the way back to Harwich. I hit 8kts on that run, some of the fastest sailing I have ever done. We raced from Mistley to Harwich. I did it in 1 hour 9 minutes. Molly did it in 52 minutes. The organiser said he had never known it to be done so fast. Several Bayraiders beat me, but they all had crew and were sailing unballasted. I didn't dare dump ballast, and had a reef in, but still beat several other boats.

         On the way to Manningtree, Lara carving me up. 

On the hard at Pin Mill
On the second day we were due to sail to the Walton Backwaters but this was cancelled due to strong wind forecasts. Andrew Wolstenholme did sail out there with Kite and confirmed that cancellation was the right decision. He said it became quite wild. Instead the Raid sailed to Levington on the Orwell, but I diverted to Pin Mill, where I anchored and went ashore for lunch. There was due to be an afternoon race from Pin Mill, but the wind really blew up. I sailed with a double reef for a bit, but wasn't enjoying it, so lowered the mainsail and beat back to Felixstowe under jib and mizzen. Big standing waves there, so I motored back into Shotley. A friend came to have dinner with me in the evening which rounded off a good day.

On the final day we raced up to the Orwell Sailing Club in Ipswich. I was very brave and went under full sail for the first time. But no match for Andrew Wolstenholme's Kite, which just flies. A gorgeous boat, but she needs a full braked trailer, which I have tried to avoid in my choice of boats.

    Kite sailing away from me. I just can't keep up with her in a strong wind.

Freston Tower, built 1597, from the Orwell
After Ipswich we sailed back down to Woolverstone to pull out, although I would actually stay afloat until the next day as I prefer to sleep on the water rather than in a car park. We passed Freston Tower, a six storey Elizabethan folly we stayed in about a month ago. It belongs to the Landmark Trust and is wonderful.
Coming into Woolverstone I had my only mishap of the Raid. I fouled up getting my main down and banged into a moored yacht. The poor lady on board was just minding her own business on a sunny afternoon. My towing eye did some damage to her topsides so I hope my insurers can sort it all out quickly for her.

Hauling out the next day was the easiest I have ever done. When I backed my trailer down to the slipway, the crews of two other boats took over and Colin Henwood (part owner of Kite and master boat builder) cranked Daisy G back onto her trailer. I just had to strap her down and then drive her home ( six hours...) Andrew Wolstenholme said he was very impressed how I have adapted her for single handed sailing, which was a great compliment from an excellent boat designer.

Daisy G is in the garage at the moment and we might take her on the Thames before I take her back down to Poole, dependent on the weather.

Some general thoughts. My electrics worked fine. I recharged my phone and VHF, ran the depth sounder and GPS all day and used the cabin lights every night, with no apparent loss of power form the 20Ahr battery. The solar panel was showing that it was charging all the time.
I recorded all my tracks with the Navionics app on my Android phone. Some hiccups (I am sure I never really hit 54kts)  but otherwise it worked OK. I couldn't use it for navigation as it was just too small. An iPad probably would be big enough, with a suitable waterproof cockpit mount.
Some boats on the Raid:

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