Who Needs an Anchor?

The tide was already coming in as we finished preparing Sadaf for sailing; we had finished the outside work of preparing the anchors, dinghy, and various other tasks. As we floated, we set the mainsail and the genoa.

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Leila and I Leaving Port Carlisle

The wind was slight, 2-3 knots, and a sunny warm day, perfect conditions. We got rid of the mooring warp without problems and headed out past the harbour wall, into the main channel. The incoming tide was still strong, although it was getting shallower ever day, and we could not push against it so we ferry-glided across the estuary to Scotland and then back again to England; even so we were being pushed up the estuary and we had to wait for the ebb to bring us back to our original position.

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We did not make a lot of distance and we ran out of tide at Bowness-on-Solway and came to rest on the sands, just below the houses on the hill.
We had a nice walk on the beach to the viaduct and saw a beautiful sunset. We noticed pieces of tree trunks lying in the sand and we had seen some floating while sailing; also a metal stake was embedded into the sand just beyond Sadaf, which would have made a nice hole in the hull if she had landed on it.

We ate using the Trangia stove and then went to bed about 11pm. We woke before 4am and prepared to sail. It was dark and there was a strong easterly wind making out mooring for the night a lee-shore. The lee shore was not as bad as the mooring where I normally keep Sadaf, there it makes life on board uncomfortable, at Bowness it was more on the nose and the waves were hitting and glancing off. It remained dark as the flood tide came in and I decided not to sail as if something went wrong I could not see anything to fix the problem.

So I decided to stay until it was light and see what happened, the problem was I had not weighted the anchor warps and they have a tendency to go underneath the keels and snarl. So I went fore and kept moving the anchors if they looked like they were going under the hull, which they did do on occasions.

I have mentioned before in previous posts that the tides of the Solway estuary are strange, and on this occasion I was amazed to see how the anchors were useless. There was a fast flood tide which should have the anchor warps straining with its pull, but they were slack. We must have been positioned on a border line between the flood and a back current, as Sadaf was not moving (except from side to side) the flood and the eddy were keeping her in one position, no need for an anchor. She had positioned herself stern to the wind (east), with the fore facing into the flood (west), the anchor warps were loose (a Bruce and a grapnel), we just floated caught between 2 fast flowing pieces of water.

Eventually the ebb started just as the light came, we did not want to go further out with the ebb so we stayed anchored and did not sail. Sadaf turned with the ebb and she stayed on her mooring until she dried out, a short distance from the metal spike!

We slept until noon, and I noticed that she had dried out not too far from our previous position of last night. I prepared the boat and waited until 4.30pm when the tide came in. when it came it was a lot sluggish than before. I was wondering if Sadaf would float as the tides were getting shallower each day.

I had positioned the grapnel anchor in deeper water so to pull Sadaf in the right direction when we floated. The plan was to pull on the warp and float us out into the channel while reeling in the warp, but the grapnel warp anchor got snarled amongst the genoa sheet so there was no foresail at first.

With that free we sailed and tacked into deeper choppy water, wind against tide. Our intention was to get back to our mooring with this tide or we might be stranded on the sands for a week. In mid channel we tacked and again the grapnel anchor warp got tangled with the genoa sheets, wrapping themselves around each other making the use of the genoa useless. Stress, frustration and anger…

Once freed we tried tacking several times but the confused sea state (eddies, currents, waves) prevented us. We wanted to miss the harbour area as this had back-currents which would pull us back to Bowness. As we approached the harbour wall the wind died, on came the electric motor which gave us a little more way against the back-current from the harbour wall. I thought we had cleared the wall but we were pulled towards it with this back eddy. With the help of the motor we reached the shore and sailed and motored to the buoy of our mooring.

We dropped the Bruce (our grapnel was no longer possible to use as we had to unfasten it from the boat), but the warp of the Bruce anchor went underneath the hull as the wind pushed Sadaf onto the shore. I tried to back motor but the warp was firmly trapped underneath the hull.

There we sat, stern to the wind, as we waited for the ebb, and when it was shallower I jumped out, freed the warp and slowly walked Sadaf back to the mooring.
I noticed the propeller had come off the motor; the back motoring must have unscrewed the propeller nut. I thought I had lost it for good, but I later found the propeller in the sand, but not the nut.

We ate then slept, and the next morning we packed up and cycled home.

Here are more photos from the sail:

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Bailing Out…. a Folk Session

It was a wet night that I went down to the folk session at Bowness-on-Solway. I packed my concertina into a big black bag and cycled the 12 miles along waterlogged country roads. The weather in Cumbria has been particular wet these day (if you have been keeping an eye on the news you will have seen the flooding). I expected a bit of flooding on the roads so I was prepared to slow down and judge the situation, but as there was no moon and it was very dark I could not see the pieces of road that was underwater…the section of road which I was not prepared for.

Getting to the session I was a little late as I had to make a call in to see Sadaf. She has been sitting on her keels for 7 weeks and had been checked only a few times. She was ok, and has been ok amazingly over the weeks with all the flooding and rain. She leaks water above the sea-line from an unknown spot, it is rainwater and generally there is a trickle in the bilges, but because of the amount of rain we have had she has been full.

When I got there she was full too. I was surprised to see how much water had gotten into the bilges. It was not up to the cushions, but up to the floorboards. The only difference I could see that could account for the increase in water, was the front cover/plastic had blown off and rain was getting in from the fore section…I do not know from where?

Bailing her out took some time, each section had about 2 big buckets of rainwater to sponge out, and there was 5 sections. The area underneath the cockpit was dry! So I am thinking the leak is towards the front of the cabin. I will have to make some checks.

The Bowness folk session begins at 8.30pm and I just got there in time, the musicians were there and the pub was nice and warm to dry my coat. It is nice and relaxed, playing a mixture of southern English, Northumbrian, Scottish and locally penned songs/tunes. The songs are dominant and the guy who writes them was getting good responses to his humor. Besides the local musicians a guy called Steve came with his guitar to sing: and some tunes were played from the Playford’s manuscript.

The session ends roughly when they sing the “Haaf Netters Song” with audience participation, is has become a bit of a ritual there.

The session ended about 11pm.

Then the long cycle home, with the rain in my eyes, somewhere along the route I got a puncture, but the tired stayed up enough to get me home. I could hear the roar from the sea as it raced into the estuary.

Inverters and Electrics on a Small Boat.

 

I bought a new inverter for the boat, a sign perhaps of my change in function for Sadaf, not the ocean traveler i thought i was, but more of the stay at home kind and snuggled up in a warm bunk with a few home comforts. I bought a 500w 12v inverter to charge up my rechargeable batteries for my radio and mp3 player, and to recharge the computer; I have 3 car batteries and a solar panel which used to be for an electric motor.
The worst thing about the inverter is the noise from the fan, not comfortable. When everything is plugged in the wires are everywhere, and when i recharged the computer battery it must have taken a lot of power as the inverter shut down as the battery got near to the empty mark! I think it would be ok for emergencies but as a thing if relaxation and leisure it did not pass the test. 
I think I will stay with my rechargeable batteries and my speakers, there is no much volume (no amp with them) but it does OK if, like today, it is raining heavy.

Moving the Earth

As winter is coming I was surprised to see a new mooring close by to my own. When I say “close by” it was too close for Sadaf’s comfort. The new warp and the boat would have intruded into the area of Sadaf’s swing. As Sadaf’s keels are shallow she would have lifted first with the tide and slammed right into the stern of the new boat. I had asked in the village if the new owner could move the mooring away from my own, and as it was in my line of getting away from the mooring, could be positioned quite far away. Nothing happened. So today with some very kind help from Jerry, we dug up the new mooring and positioned it some distance up-tide, still in line with my boat (so not loosing any depth) but far enough away so the boat’s stern does not leave a nasty dent in my hull. I will eventually move my boat further up-tide away from the harbour and away from our new visitor, but for now I can be at peace that I will still have a boat to go to. I am playing with the idea of sailing in the winter, Jerry also gave me 3 sails which are a lot lighter and smaller than my present ones. It is much easier to reef and easier to handle, so I might chance a winter’s season, as I have done so little sailing this summer…what summer eh?

Gales, Peace and Kite Surfers

The wind was howling from the East, cold wind that made the boat stays sing. I found one of the mooring ropes snapped, it had been at a weak point.There were still 3 more warps attached and a loose chain, but it showed that Sadaf was still getting a battering at the end of April! The tide had been low barely lifting her off the sands. I spent some time fixing the warps making them as one so to add strength to the whole. I went for a walk beside the harbour and sat on the sand out of the wind. Another climate was there, warm sunshine, birds diving and singing, the lapping of the waves that were blown in by the gale, i closed my eyes and rested. Cycling home the ebbing tide was full of white-tops, wind-with-tide…just wait until it was wind-against-tide then it would be a mass of white-horses and crashing waves. I noticed a kite in the distance and nearing I saw kite-surfers bounding over the surf, it was the first time I had seen it close up, good fun!

Single Axle Trailer

I came across a single axle trailer that belonged to a static caravan, I thought perhaps to convert it into a trailer for my Hurley Felicity. It needed some work of course, but the trailer was in good condition. It had the base of the caravan still fixed a floor of thick ply wood this would need to be removed as the sea would use it as a rudder and perhaps tilt the trailer with the fast tides races we have. There was lights connected but no jocky wheel and I was not sure about any brakes! The trailer was about 20ft the same size as the boat. In the end I decided I did not need it yet, perhaps after the sailing season is over and perhaps a single axle is not the most stable, but I think it would be good enough for pulling the boat to/from the mooring twice a year.

Hoisting the Mast Single-handed

On my 3 previous years I have had help in hoisting the mast, but this year I was alone and I was not even sure if I could do it successfully. It took me a long time to prepare the rig, halyards and stays to be connected and fitted correctly and it is amazing how quickly one forgets!

The lee shore had turned the boat so it sat on a bed of sand and with me trampling over it turned it into a quicksand..going was slow as I had to pull my boot out of the soup underneath me.

After 5 hours of of checking and rechecking the rig in case I had forgotten anything it was time to hoist the mast. I did a trial run and found that stays had lodged themselves under all manner of things, after freeing everything I connected the wooden pole/lever that I had fixed to the pivot axle where the mast rotated. This wooden pole had rope either side of it to stop it tilting too far over. The stay was fitted into a groove at the top of the pole and tied so it would not slip out. The end of the stay was tied to a rope and fed though the a pulley at the bows.

I hoisted the mast onto my shoulder and walked towards the cabin slowly edging the mast high as I walked and taking the weight with the rope. When I could not go any farther I tried to pull on the rope and hoist the mast by using the pole and stay…it did not lift due to the angle of the pole. It was vertical but the mast was not high enough.

I dismantled the rope and fitted another pulley to the stay end, so i could thread the rope through two pulleys so halving the strain on the rope. I repeated the process and when it came to the point where I could not walk any further and support the mast I pulled on the rope and the pulley system enabled me to hoist the mast vertical. It was up, I pulled tight and as it slotted into the base I threaded another bolt into the lower mast section, she was secured.

I jumped down, tightened the stays to the boat and made everything tight.

 

Broken Mooring Chain

As the weather improves I am preparing to put the mast up once more. I was down there today enjoying a coffee in the sun. I realised it is less of a yacht than a cottage by the sea where I can go and relax, do some maintenance and enjoy the nature. I like being there…I prefer being there.

I arrived at the boat the other day to find the mooring chain cut in two. It must have worn through with the high winds and just sheered off leaving the chain slack. Luckily, I had fastened two lengths of nylon rope just in case this happened so Sadaf as the chain was wearing thin, so it was still there and had not floated away with the tide. I have added an extra length of chain over the broken piece until I can buy a new mooring chain of about 25ft.

Cardurnock Flatts

A few days sailing off the coast of Bowness-on-Solway took us to the sands of Cardurnock Flatts. The wind died away quite quickly and we were left floating admiring the still currents as they still worked and changed which left the sea silent yet busy. We tried to paddle to the shore by using a kayak oar to skull but we ended up going round in circles, so reluctantly we used the electric motor.which took us to the sands where we dried out. We experienced an amazing mirage… it seemed like the tide was drying out very fast revealing an encroaching sand mass moving our way. We thought we were going to be left high and dry by this sand mass that seemed feet in height and drying out the sea. It turned out to be the ripples on the water as a slight breeze came at last, but the impression was of a sand barrier, very strange.

We dried out on the Flatts for the night admiring the expanse of sand and open sky with an amazing sun set in the evening. Sadaf rested without problems on the sand but a little too into the channel for comfort, a fast tide race would lift us tonight about 12 midnight so we would have to move later into the shore to avoid the anchor dragging. This we did later, but it was still amazing to feel how the power of the channel span us around and moved us fast down tide.

We prepared for the night, 2 people on a boat can always find things to do and there is always things to put away and prepare for the next tide.

On our last day the wind was fresher and Leila took the helm for the first time. She had been crewing for me and she did a good job to get us back to the mooring, but she complained there was not “enough wind”!!!

A Path of Colour – Summer Flowers

There has been a few entries in this blog about the journey getting to/from the boat in different seasons of the year. Summer is upon us and sadly disappearing. When I came back from Sweden I noticed how ‘green’ our roadsides and fields looked compared to the multicoloured equivalents in Sweden, “What has happened to our wild flowers?” I thought. 
Recently I have noticed a change in our country roads, there is more colour, more natural growth of different varieties. I do not know the names of these flowers (there is no need to know to appreciate their colour and beauty) I am just happy there are there; and perhaps they are becoming more widespread than compared to other years, I hope it may continue in years to come. I also notice fields being left and wild flowers growing, if this is EU policy or Farmers taking the initiative, so may it continue