13 June 2010

Rudder blade refitted and voyage to Christchurch 32.5nm (141nm total)

Got to the boat on Friday evening and the first job was to refit the repaired rudder blade (job turned around in under four days by Swallowboats, thank you Matt). Motoring to the slipway from the mooring with no rudder was a challenge, but I had a bit of steering on the outboard and there was no current so it worked without a hitch. I pulled the stern onto the hard and rebolted the blade. A simple job, if you had three arms. An eye on an extendible stalk to peer through the bolt hole to line things up would have helped as well. But got there in the end. Had a near disaster when I let the blade drop down, only to see the downhaul rope get caught between the blade and the steel rudder head. Just like a giant pair of scissors... It cut half through the rope. I was concerned that what was left wouldn't be strong enough, but I managed to knot on a new length of rope. The knot disappears into the rudder head and seems fine after a full day's long sailing. (The next morning I disassembled the whole blade and managed to insert a PTFE disk either side.) The whole blade swings sweetly up and down now.

Anchored for the night off Green Island, one of the private islands in Poole Harbour. Fitted a couple of cork mats as a pin board and a big glazed white tile as a white board on the inside of the bridge deck bulkhead. Works beautifully. I use the white board to note tide times, critical in Poole. The tile wipes cleaner than any purpose made white board, for a fraction of the price.

Had a nasty fright in the morning. I was dried out at low tide, on a soft sandy beach. One yard to the left were 6" pointed stumps of the posts of an old wooden pier. One foot to the right were two old steel joist sticking out of the sand. If I had settled on any of them it could have punctured the hull. How I missed them I don't know. Maybe the Gods wanted to make up for slicing through my downhaul rope the day before. I stood by the boat as the tide came in and pushed her into deeper water as soon as I could. (The tide comes in amazing quickly. From being on dry ground to floating was not much over half and hour, if that.)

It was a lovely morning. (Really morning. I was up at 5:00 am having piered out of the port hole and seen those nasty spikes beside me). I thought of sailing south to Swanage, but the tide would be against me until lunch time and then against me on the way back. So I went the other way, east from Poole to Christchurch.
North east offshore wind, F3-4 all the way. Close reached on one port tack all the way to Hengistbury Head. Some gusts pushed me up into the wind, so I put in a single reef. No loss of speed and much lighter helm in the gusts. Speed generally around 5-6kts with surges over 7, but I did have a weak favourable current.

Then I was close hauled up to the entrance to Christchurch harbour, which is not easy to find. I watched out for local boats going in and then furled my jib and motor sailed in after them. It is almost impossible to enter against a full ebb tide as the current can be up to 6 knots. I was there at pretty well slack high water so it was easy.
I was very taken with Christchurch. Basically it is a river, the Stour, which widens out for a bit before it enters the sea. There is a well marked channel and there are some big yachts, but you really need shoal draft. I motored right up into the town, which is very attractive in the sun. The river is right at the heart, with moorings alonside the park, trip boats and ferries everywhere and everyone seeming on holiday. I must go back and moor for the night soon.

As it was I tied up to an empty mooring for lunch and then headed for home. Millions of swans. What attracts them I don't know. The water is fresh enough for horses to be drinking it from the bank.

On the return I was on more of a broad reach and with a good current was sailing at over 6kts most of the way, and well over 7kts at times. I sailed into Studland Bay and anchored for a while for a drink. Then motored back into Poole. That was a bit hairy. The engine kept cutting out. I had discovered a problem with external fuel tanks. Even though there was about 2 litres of fuel left in it, when you are sailing you only have to lean the smallest amount for the fuel line to fail to dip into it. I had to keep shaking the tank to keep going. Not fun in the entrance with chain ferries, cross currents and madmen in powerboats all around. But got back eventually. Must remember to keep the tank fairly full.

A very good day's sail. The boat handles beautifully single handed. Reefing is easy and makes her lighter in strong winds, with little if any loss of speed. But watch out for nasties sticking out of the mud at low tide.

No comments:

Post a Comment