I had several long conversations with a friend, Ian, as he was in the process of buying a boat. For some reason he was looking to me for advice but also I suspect because talking with someone else over what to do with reference to sorting out an old boat can help decide one’s own mind about a course of action. He used to own a boat but years ago. Ian is another of those climbers who have taken to sailing. It is amazing how many older or ex climbers take to sailing.
In August I went down to join Ian and Abi on their boat in Wareham as he, feeling somewhat rusty wanted me to help them on a delivery trip to take the boat to its new home in Scotland. He had been down in the boatyard there for a month, working on and sorting out many little and larger things that needed sorting on an old boat. Anyway when I got there it was obvious somethings still needed sorting but could be labelled minor tweaks or improvements and the boat was evidently seaworthy. Ian was keen to leave on the high tide the next day so be it. The boat Duloe by the way was a Nicholson 31.
We were dogged on this trip a little by the weather, lots of strong headwinds, rain but we proceeded by day hops, Wareham – Portland – Brixham – Dartmouth – Cawsand Bay – Fowey – Helford – Newlyn- Dale. I left them at Milford Haven as I had run out of time, needing to be back home for an important appointment. Anyways I reckoned that they were competent enough to complete the rest of the trip and it would boost their self confidence to do so and of course they managed just fine.
My next time on Sea Bear, the tides and winds were right for a gentle trip up to the head of the Orwell. My last trip up there was back in 2001 or 2002 in my Wanderer dinghy. Anyway sailing up was fine, slow progress but relaxing but on the return beating back down the river I discovered how sluggish the boat was and barely responding to the tiller. It became apparent that there was so much growth on the bottom and I needed a scrub.
Accordingly a day later when the tides served I went alongside the scrubbing posts at Pin Mill. I must confess it was a pretty hard task to tie on to the posts single handed and I thought I was about to make a grand cock up and embarrass myself but by dint of a bit of lassoing I was able to save the situation, phew!
Then just a question of waiting for the tide to drop and when the water was about knee deep with wet suit donned , splash about and give the hull a good scrape and scrub. Job done, another wait which I occupied by cooking dinner. It was around midnight when there was enough water to float off and motor back to the mooring but boy was it a dark night so that was no easy matter.
Towards the end of the month I was back on the boat. Relaxing in the cockpit I had a surprise call from the Guardian journalist who had interviewed me about my trip and now they wanted to send a photographer to take some pictures of me and my boat. I said I would meet them next day. Alicia duly arrived and I ferried her out to Sea Bear in the dinghy. We chatted for ages and she took her pictures, never knew that posing could be such hard work.
The Guardian photographer Alicia
The article about me appeared in the Guardian on-line in a series entitled “A New Start after 60” .
Here is a link to the article
I had a couple of articles accepted and published in the yachting magazines, PBO & Yachting Monthly about my big trip & solo Pacific crossing I was quite pleased about that . If you are interested you can read them here.
Pensioner solo across the pacific.pdf
Learning curve – I just decided to go alone.pdf
For what turned out to be my last sail of the season I had thought to venture to the Deben but out past Felixstowe the winds were all wrong and then died away leaving me to wallow about in a slight swell for a while. The wind did return but too late to make the tide for the Deben entrance so a change of plan and I headed back in and up the Stour. I found quite a nice anchorage by Sutton Ness for a peaceful night and was astounded by the number of swans around.
Returning past Wrabness next day I was quite taken by the higgledy piggledy collection of bungalows and shacks. Thought it a shame that the beach here was private and landing discouraged.
Later rounding Shotley spit to get back to the Orwell near low water I was a slightly confused that Shotley horse bouy was missing, it had been there the day before. I later discovered that they had removed it as it is a seasonal mark. It was scheduled to be removed on or around the 18th but they had taken it away by the 14th.
Still I had a nice beat all the way back to the mooring.