Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Breezy in Colchester

Last night we had plenty of rain and strong gusts of cold wind from the north that shook the boats even in the safety of the harbour. Ashore we could see whole trees swaying with the force of the wind, meaning it was blowing at least force 7. So we took the bus to Colchester, which none of us had visited before.

The picture shows (L to R) Geoff, Steve,Tonni and Dave, who between then have thousands of miles of experience at sea in all sorts of vessels. They are admiring Colchester castle, a fine Norman fort built on the foundations of an old Roman temple.

Colchester is a University town with many picturesque buildings and is busy with plenty of activity.  The bus returned us to Brighlingsea where the weather map in the harbourmaster's office suggested a patch of better weather coming through tomorrow. These pockets of better weather that are predicted sadly often fail to show up on the day, but we take comfort in the thought that summer cannot surely be too far away.

Monday, 30 May 2016

Bank holiday Brightlingsea

It was blowing a gale (force 7 - 8) from the North today, so after a brief discussion at 5am we decided to stay in port. Brightlingsea is usually quiet, and on public holidays it seems to be the sort of place that people leave rather visiting. It does have a quiet old world charm however as a reminder of its heyday as a centre of inshore fishing and boat building, both now gone.

We found that even the harbour water taxi does not operate in strong winds due to safety concerns, which made us feel that we had been wise to stay in port.
We are hoping for better, or at least gentler winds tomorrow.

Sunday, 29 May 2016

Heading North

Getting a boat ready for a cruise is a complicated process, whereby lots of different things -everything from insurance to antifouling paint - all have to come together at once to make a ship seaworthy. You can always worry about the vital things that might have been forgotten.

On Calismarde Geoff has got a very impressive crew, Steve and Tony both very experienced sailors. I have Dave Patuck so we are ready to tackle almost anything.

Unfortunately today bought a brisk northerly wind. Northerly winds seem to be much more common now, perhaps as a result of climate change. It used to be said that the winds blew SW 3 days out of 4, but we have had northerly winds for weeks. However we wanted to make progress, and you can't assemble an all-weather crew and loads of stores and then just stay in port. So we left our moorings at 5am and had a slightly tedious sail, against head winds all the way, eventually coming to rest in Brightlingsea.

The picture shows Bonita and Calismarde alongside the pontoon at Brightlingsea as their crews prepare to go ashore to sample the best the yacht club restaurant can offer.

Tomorrow offers the difficult choice of staying here hoping for better weather, or pressing on anyway.

Friday, 27 May 2016

Nearly ready for the 2016 cruise...

As with every summer sail, Bonita's starts with a good bottom clean & paint.
Here she is on her leaning post between tides on The Swale:

Below is Mike ensuring every boat knows who they're being passed by...
Afloat in the background is Bonita's companion on this trip - the 1956 Buchanan designed CalismardeYou can follow her parallel adventures here: calismarde.blogspot.ca/

More follows once Mike has found a moment to pause for creative breath.

Friday, 6 May 2016

First sail of the 2016 season

May bank holiday seemed a good day for a sail to make sure the gear was OK after the winter. All the running rigging gets taken down from the mast when we lay up for the winter and then gets re-rigged in the spring.  So the first sail of the year often brings a few surprises and tangles aloft that need to be untangled.  It was blowing a blustery SW force 5- 6 , but I had a reliable crew ( Allan) so off we went. We had a brisk sail with fair wind and tide as far as Herne Bay pier, then a rather longer and wetter  tack back into the Swale.

                                                         The remains of the pier

Herne Bay Pier was built in 1896, the third on this site and one of the longest in the world. As so often with piers the maintenance was difficult and as it aged the pier suffered from quite a lot of storm and fire damage. It never really recovered from having a central section blown up by the army during World War II to prevent it being used in the event of an enemy invasion. About 30 years ago the pier was derelict and almost all of it was demolished, leaving only the landing stage and pavilion at the end, as seen in the picture. These now stand in isolation, looking sad after decades of neglect and more than half a mile from the shore to which they were once joined. There is talk from time to time in Herne Bay of rebuilding the pier, but the likely costs seem to be escalating more quickly than the enthusiasm for doing something about it.

We returned to the Swale and decided we had given the gear a reasonable test. Nothing much had gone wrong apart from some floating debris in the bilges blocking the bilge pump.

Planning is well under way for the summer cruise. Bonita's furthest venture East so far has been when we visited Enkhuizen in North Holland. We may see if we can do better this year.

See our brisk sail and (magnified) view of Herne Bay Pier remains (click for larger size):