A short East Coast tour

So eight years ago I signed up for a life sentence when I married Maria in a “quiet” ceremony at Great Braxted. It was definitely not a quiet party and we had a fantastic time. Despite having already been together for over six years at the time, you learn a lot about someone after you marry them….. and if I was asked to do it all again? Absolutely, in a heartbeat! I’m not saying it’s all sweetness and light, but we don’t have crossed words for long and who doesn’t enjoy the making up 😉 . We are very comfortable in each other’s company and have a lot of fun as just the two of us. I think that has to be a pre-requisite when contemplating living on a boat and especially if you are thinking of going off cruising.

So it’s our wedding anniversary and we have decided to take a couple of days off and let the stress wash off of us by taking the boat on a mini tour of the East Coast for some of the best summer weather we have had in years.

But where to go? We shortlisted some options: Ramsgate, with its lovely Thai, French and Italian restaurants; Queenborough, on the Isle of Sheppey in Kent, Sharfleet Creek for a quiet anchorage; Osea Island, where we would get the chance to see some friends we hadn’t seen for a while or Pyefleet, where we could take the rib into Mersey Island for seafood. We fancied a couple of destinations so it was a case of decisions, decisions. The weather can normally help shape these decisions but with very light easterly winds and scorching hot temperatures expected, not even the weather could help us choose.

In the end, we decided to start our journey with a trip down to Osea Island and Maldon. It would give Maria a chance to try out her paddle board again and, fresh from her experience in Antigua, maybe even pump up the two man Kayak that she had bought a few years ago. From there we can take a view of whether we stay in the Blackwater and go to West Mersea or venture South to Kent.

Any trip is only as good as the preparation and a key element of that is provisioning. So with the requisite number of bottles of Prosecco on board, we were ready to go! Maria does get other stuff in too but also spends ages having another fishing lesson at the bait shop and buying bait. We’re going to be watching fishing rods catching nothing again! We have also gone to the lock up to get the kayak and the buoyancy aids, she seems to be serious about this…which of course means I am expecting hilarious videos. The final new addition is a snorkelling face mask, which is my anniversary present from the old romantic, and that means Maria plans to send me under the boat in the “crystal-clear” waters of the Blackwater :). It had better be warm!

Anyway, it’s Thursday evening, with a glorious weekend of weather on its way, and I am off to get a haircut while Maria readies Mariadz. An hour later we are ready to go and have decided to pick up a mooring ball opposite Levington despite our tribulations last time. In preparation, Maria has bought two more floating boat hooks and also replaced the shaft of the one that sinks. She deliberately didn’t buy the hook for that one. I suspect a lack of trust there, she thinks I will lose it again. The shaft also fits her fishing net and I think she wants to keep it like that. So now I have to store three new boat hooks in addition to the one I still have. Our friends Mike and Sue on FraZaz, a Jeanneau 45 on our pontoon, came up with a solution for this that I hadn’t seen before by slotting a boat hook in the bottom of the boom.  This is really neat and the boat hook is easily accessible. With the size of our boom, the hook is well away from any lines so we are trying this for a while.

There is barely any wind as we drift down river having quickly negotiated the lock. We are nearing our destination at Levington at about 8:30pm and approach the buoy against the quite strong tide, we are roughly directly between high and low tide when the river flows fastest. Later when we told our “friend” Amanda, she asked how many boat hooks we had gone through attempting to pick up the buoy….perish the thought. Despite a bit of a stutter where I decided to drop the buoy and got us repositioned better, we pick up the buoy fine. Quite lucky actually, as an American single handed boat expertly picks up the next buoy.  THAT could have been even more embarrassing than having your friends witness you messing it all up and then writing about it! Just before 9pm we’re settled nicely, but of course it wouldn’t be Mariadz if something unusual didn’t happen. I used one of the new boat hooks which was extendable with a locking mechanism. You can guess that having extended it, I couldn’t get the thing back together again! In the end I gave up for the evening, I will address that another time. That will test the length of my boom!

20180705_202834The evening is relaxed and short because we have decided that despite Friday being a work day we will travel to Osea Island.  That means that although the tides are not perfect, we will leave before dawn at 4am (ish) so that we can arrive at Osea before 10am and get a full day’s work in.

He the time we are heading down river it is nearing 4:30 but we are on our way on a still and beautiful morning.  70E6942D-E460-41AA-96CB-FA4ABAE674D2The views when you sail at this time are stunning and even going through a slowly waking Felixstowe are fantastic as the sun starts to rise. We’re out and Maria is happy already knowing that despite a last day of work she is away from it all and sampling the cruising life.  The complete lack of wind makes the sea very still but does mean that we have to motor all the way, especially as we will be punishing a tide of over one knot the whole way.  This doesn’t sound too bad but when you consider that sailboats may go about 6 knots through the water, that is a difference in speed of 5 knots against 7 knots with the tide. 03552533-37F4-4FCF-9FEC-469692C73543For a 35 mile journey that is the difference between a five hour passage and a seven hour passage! It’s not as bad for a planing motorboat doing 20+ knots but explains why the tides are so important for sail.

As we leave Harwich behind us, there is a breath of wind but of course it is right on the nose. This is an unusual trip for us in that we see relatively few other boats as we travel down the Wallet towards West Mersea. That doesn’t stop me getting the camera out and snapping them all.  My normal rule is sails up if you want a picture but I make an exception if you have fenders out at sea….

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Normally when the weather is not so good we find that we see few other boats. Maria often remarking that we are the only mugs out in this. Today is just early on a week day I suspect.

We have taken the inside route on the Wallet which is a little shallower but 1E3D6302-82D8-4474-9842-19942E3E6D24cuts some time off the journey but it does mean you are close enough to shore to see the towns. Maria is a little concerned because we normally stay in safer, deeper water but being vigilant and keeping a eye on the route means this is safe enough.

I have my first work call at 10am and I am keen for us to have arrived and be settled in good time for this. We are making good time but our arrival is slipping from 9:30 towards 10am and after arriving at Osea I still have to drop the anchor and go through a long routine before I can get on the call.

E6FF15F9-2980-4BBC-8888-33A679BFE19DWe arrive at Osea and select where we will anchor, there are very few boats there so we have a good choice. One bilge keel is even up on the beach and a little later we see him working on the stern gear.  We can’t do this unfortunately, with our fin keel we would lay on our side and I would panic about us reflecting.

Maria is convinced we are in our normal spot but I am equally convinced we are slightly up river. Still there is lots of water as we drop anchor and put out thirty metres of chain to make sure we are secure all weekend, no matter what the weather does.  All done and with ten minutes to spare but I make a mental note to make sure I clear the weed off the anchor buoy before we leave, we don’t want a repeat of our fun and games last time.

Maria settles down for work in the cockpit as I am down below.0693779F-73C9-4AD8-861A-CB6CE0103406 Unfortunately our jobs require quite a few phone and Skype calls so we can’t work too close together without disturbing each other. Still Maria’s office looks good. We’re both very busy so there is not much opportunity to enjoy the surroundings but we both know that between 4pm and 5pm, the weekend will start! As we work though, the Thames Barges are starting to arrive, we hadn’t realised that there is another Barge race 037B2E7F-D47D-4793-BF2B-A288FD69AB3Bthis weekend which actually starts at Osea Island. It means we are even luckier that we arrived early because we expect this anchorage to be very busy later and at least we are in position.

We have also noticed that the wind has built during the day. When we left Levington there was nothing, even when we anchored there was little wind but now it is blowing over twenty knots so I am glad we have ample chain down and a good Anchor alarm app on the iPad that shows us how we dance around our anchor.

It seems a long day but soon enough work is finished and it is time to get ready for the weekend.  Maria wants to get all of the toys out… so we start by pumping up the paddle board and two man kayak.

This takes longer than you would expect since we don’t read the instructions and have to let it down in various places to pump it up correctly.  Maria also has her fishing rod out and within minutes has caught her first baby fish! The hook is easily retrieved and the little fish is returned to the drink.  20180707_094401Then within minutes she has another, larger fish on the hook.  What is going on? I haven’t even got a bucket or net ready yet.  This is definitely a size you could eat, so such a shame we are not allowed to land sea-bass at the moment….. assuming it was a sea bass of course….you know what our fish recognition abilities are like!

The rib is down and it’s time to get it started.  We have recently topped up the fuel in all three tanks, one on the boat and two spares just in case.  I turn the ignition on the engine that always fires up first time to be greeted by the persistent whirring of the starter and little else. Hmmm, Maria asks me to check the fuel pipe is connected properly and I cast her a withering “don’t be ridiculous” look. Under the seat the fuel pipe is only partially connected so let’s sort that out and pump some fuel through manually. Retry still nothing. Much fiddling and looking at stuff I don’t really understand too well – a four cyclinder fuel injection outboard.  Let’s try some other stuff. Recheck the fuel line, repump the fuel….still nothing.  Now at this stage Maria mentions that shouldn’t the kill chord be attached to something.  D’oh. Quickly pop that in, and pump some more fuel in, it starts and purrs like Clyde eating prawns! Clearly that extra bit of fuel was what was required.  The toys are now ready for fun and games tomorrow and Maria is pulling in fish like a pro.

Part of the reason for coming to Osea, apart from the always glorious weather we experience, is to see our friends Sarah and Russ from Maldon who we have invited over for dinner. We were missing an ingredient which Maria has asked them to bring along and Maria decides we should get in the rib and meet them half way, pick up what we need so that she can get dinner fully on before they arrive. Maria does have a history of SAS style boarding of ships under sail but it seems she just intends to plunder this one for cream.  We get in the rib and having no idea when they left Maldon, head down river in search of their yacht.  We get a few miles towards heybridge and find them, having previously investigated several boats that “could”be them.  At least we didn’t miss them. 67DDC432-DBCD-458A-ACFD-40199071C260They aren’t far behind us but then have to anchor themselves but I think our change of position and the fact they wanted to be reasonably close has put them off.  We understand why they want to be close based on their last visit when the 50 metres to their boat took them fifteen minutes and a few miles as they went via Bradwell :).  The problem is that they seem to be dragging as one minute they are 25 metres away and the next I am grabbing our roving fender just in case.  They eventually decide to anchor closer to shore but I think it was all our fault.

The evening is great, wonderful food, some alcohol, lots of music.  It’s getting to the end of the night and I notice that the batteries are down at 70% of available power. That’s not really where I like it to be prior to bedtime and so I decide to run the genie for a while to top them up.  This works fine for a while but then there is a clunk and the generator stops.  Russ, who is an engineer, and I go down below to investigate.  The engine room is hot so it appears that we have a problem with the water flow.  Before checking the impeller we decide to check the through hull.  The input for the generator has a filter.  After closing the through hull, it takes a few tools and a lot of effort to release the cap on the filter.  In normal circumstances, we would be greeted by a fountain of water when we opened the through hull.  So once again we have been struck by the curse of the Blackwater weed. Much prodding with a coat hanger later we are starting to see water but not enough but after a bit more hammering away we are getting a good flow so close the seacock and reseal the filter. Quick(ish) mop up and we’re ready to get the flow of water going again and test that we have cured the problem.  After ten minutes running we can confirm that the temperature is stable so let’s not take any more risks since the batteries are ok now.  We can go up and celebrate our success with a few drinks, maybe some port – oh dear, this is going to be a hard weekend.

It’s quite a late night by the time we get to bed. However, we are woken at 9am by C416C741-9FD1-4AAB-9E07-548EDA3E88ECMaria’s friend Liesl, who has popped down from Brightlingsea to come and see us. Having circled the boat several times they eventually phone us to stir us from our pit.  Eventually we get out to be greeted by a bright sunny day, made even brighter by our hungover eyes, with no wind. It’s a fleeting visit but then we notice that the Thames Barges 6E0FF233-5CE7-4626-BA64-9B494B70467Ahave started to gather on the mirror-like water next to Osea Island. This should be an interesting race with no wind, in fact we heard at least one boat broke out the oars and started rowing their large barge! A little later the wind picks up but the start is on a glass like surface.

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We never get bored of watching the barges race and we see plenty of familiar boats that had raced just the other weekend in the Orwell.  We also don’t have too many boats in the way blocking pictures and with the reflection in the water, there are some pictures I really like.

It’s almost time to play with the toys but not until we have had an unhealthy breakfast. F0A47B63-BCC0-4513-8FC5-EF96CB4DA07D As we look out conditions are perfect for beginners’ paddle boarding.  You can see how still it is from the assortment of watercraft that are rafted up together.  It will be up to us to destroy the tranquillity then!

First up is the paddle board.  Maria has explained how difficult it is to stay on your feet and there is a current running so whoever goes on it will need to be able to paddle.  Sarah is the first brave soul.  She mounts the board from the swim platform and stays on her knees for a while getting used to it.  After a little while she decides to rise to her feet.  Now you will recall that this was the stage that Maria felt she cracked it, just to end up falling forward over the board into the water.  Sarah has her own unique take on this, in that she gets to her feet and then drops to her knees without falling in!  Paddleboarding is clearly something where a little practice goes a long way because she seems to get the hang of it after a short time.  AED72F28-FFE5-4B26-BDB6-C0049740C10BAlthough like all hard skills, the paddleboard does fight back and pitch her into the water. However, the photographs do not lie, and she is paddling away having fun.  Having seen Sarah’s success, the fear factor has gone and the rest of us are queueing up….first Russ.  Now it is safe to say that Russ has many talents but it is equally fair to say that paddleboarding is not, and on this showing is unlikely to ever be, one of them.  He is really struggling to get up on the board and when he does it pitches him off sideways like a particularly effective bucking bronco.  He later claims that he was checking the underside of the board for marine growth for us – what a gentleman he is!  Suffice to say that this is the best picture I have of Russ paddleboarding…..  DAADBEDD-D767-4D6E-8D40-753C791C8AF7Of course the fear is now back.  Of the people I know, the shorter, slimmer young ladies (Amanda and Sarah) have cracked it and everyone else (Mark, Maria and Russ)  have really struggled.  It could be that they are all a little top heavy 😉 Anyway, last up, Adam.  The initial mounting (is that the right term for paddleboarding?) seems ok, it is reasonably stable and I start to paddle off on my knees to get a feel for it.  I haven’t gone very far when I am reminded by my audience that the trick is to get to your feet – and I was thinking it was so easy.  88225665-F9FF-495D-9498-6F8AA91049ADBy the time I have got up off my knees, I look back at Mariadz and she is forty metres away as I drift backwards on the board.  The board felt very stable when I was on my knees but now I am standing on it, it seems to be a bit wobbly.  My knees are going like a scared character in Scooby Do.  Early in 2017, Maria and I tried surfing in Australia with our (my step) daughter Amie.  It was hard work at 50+ years of age but I was able to get up onto my feet…..for about a second and a half.  Well I have smashed that record on the paddleboard but it has been a close run thing.  I am still standing but drifting back because I haven’t had the bottle to start moving around to use the paddle to propel me forward.  The first few tentative strokes seem to work and then I start to get a little bit of confidence which deserts me completely after I nearly fall off.  I am concentrating so much I don’t notice if I have got any closer to Mariadz and then I look up and I am twenty metres away.  They could now see the fear in my face so look relaxed and confident as I keep paddling having got into a bit of a rhythm.  I am only ten metres away now and I am desperately reciting to myself you are not getting wet, you are going to step (nonchalantly) onto the swim platform. D0A46FFE-53A4-4CB2-9C1C-7D113992DC61 I get close, there is a slight wobble, don’t try and jump! Steady, and then I am back on Mariadz.  Unfortunately, nonchalance is rather overpowered by relief but I didn’t get my hair wet – my mum would have been so proud J.

I may have discussed previously that Maria is not competitive, and doesn’t race when we are sailing, but…. none shall pass! And none shall do better on the paddleboard so she decides to have a turn.  I suspect she must have been practicing when I have not been around because she has definitely got it and is actually enjoying herself.

Kayaking, especially after our recent experience of this in Antigua, holds no fears CEC0B247-1CAE-400C-AC9C-7344F859B631and so Russ and I go for a wander around the anchorage in kayak.  The only complexity with a two man kayak is that the rowing needs to be in sync or your oars clash.  This works well as long as the one in the back keeps the rhythm of the one in front and the one in front doesn’t decide to dip the same oar in the water a couple of times…..ay, Russ!  We have a good time with it though even trying our best Hawaii-5-0 back to the boat.  This is good timing for the girls to jump in to the kayak and for Russ, who will not be beaten by a paddleboard, to give it one more shot.  5F5C68D7-8551-447A-B08A-43EBBBBAA663They are all off having fun and racing back although Russ has decided that the most stable position on your knees is the limit of his ambition for the day – well sort that out next time we see him!  A quick blast on the rib makes him happier though.

It’s a roasting hot day and the cats have retreated to their own cool spots occasionally popping out to see what we are up to before going back to sleep.

But they aren’t going near the water. It can’t be a day for just watersports though.  It is the football world cup and with great team spirit, England have become more than the sum of the parts and have reached a quarter final.  We set up the portable TV on deck and get ready to watch the game al frescoFB_IMG_1529915449828.  Some other friends, Kelton and Nicole, who own a motor boat, have been invited and may pop over for the second half – not football fans but willing to sample the atmosphere.

The game is easy to watch as England beat Sweden a lot more comfortably than we expected.  However, by this stage we have had a few drinks and so every boat that passes means we are calling out the score.  The irony being they probably are not interested or they would have been watching it!

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During the game, Maria is chatting to Amie in Australia who is watching the game in a casino with a lot of noisy Brits.  Amie and her boyfriend Tom have decided that should England win they will return to watch the semi-final and final!  Maria quickly changes the UK anthem “It’s coming home” to “She’s coming home”, one very excited mummy. FBA744D1-38D2-428C-B4A9-4122E6CB7715You also know that Maria will be stalking the plane all the way back, following it on one of the plane tracker apps.

It’s been quite an active day and with some alcohol and fun.  We are due to have a BBQ on the beach at Osea but that is starting to look unlikely.  We discover that Russ has been working seven days a week for a lot of weeks, the poor baby is tired and needs an appointment with Mr Pillow.  But like all babies (sorry, Russ 🙂 ), he is fighting it and wants to stay up.  He gets into his rib to go to the beach to start getting ready leaving Sarah with us.  Our other guests are going to have to rush off if they are going to catch the tide and rather than delay them, I offer to drop Sarah back at the boat.  Firstly, we’ll check on Russ who is at the beach, that is asleep on the beach….I drop off Sarah so she can take him back and we will cancel the BBQ and do something else.

So it is time for a proper impromptu Mariadz party with just Maria and I.  Sometimes these are the best.  We work out the food and are dancing, singing and drinking until quite late.  We clearly aren’t thinking too much about our decision to leave at a reasonable time the next morning to go to Pyefleet!

The next morning we are both quite “tired”. I have not forgotten that I should clear the weed from the anchor buoy, we do not want a repeat of the anchor stowing problem as the buoy, weighed down by tens of kilo of seaweed, pulled the anchor round.

I hop into the rib and try to start it.  The starter motor doesn’t even engage and the engine check light and buzzer are going, could it need oil?  Now where is the oil….. of course all of the oil is back at the pontoon.  We always check the engine prior to leaving and have never had recourse to add oil after we have left the pontoon so (obviously) it is stored at the pontoon!  That will change and of course we never do a rib engine check before we leave.  There is still a leak from the drain hole at the stern of the rib so that will be two things I need to fix.

The worst is that no rib means no seafood platter from the oyster bar at Mersea, grrrr.  We had looked forward to be able to drop the rib and go in to get some lovely fresh food.  We’ll work out a plan later.

So we have no rib to go over to the anchor buoy but it is only twenty or so metres away so I will swim over, clear the weed and then swim back.  Maria is health and safety today and she decides that we are only doing that if I am attached to the boat by a line and of course I am wearing one of the buoyancy aids for the kayak.  I dutifully tie a bowline around my ankle and I am on my way.  It’s going really well as I head towards our orange buoy.  Then I am stopped dead by the line, a few metres short.  Ok I am close enough so let’s lose the line and grab the buoy, I have to change course slightly to avoid missing it and that feels a little harder than it was at first.  But I am at the buoy, and there is a lot of weed on it.  Clear that and climb down the line to make sure that I get all of the weed even the mass that is a fair bit underwater.  The line is clear of weed so I am ready to swim back.  Now of course the reason it was so easy to get there was that the tide was running at over one knot, I could easily have just drifted onto the anchor buoy and didn’t need to swim at all.  Coming back is not going to be as easy.  Doing a front crawl with a large buoyancy aid isn’t going to work too well so I set off at a steady pace.  I am making barely perceptible progress across the twenty metre divide.  It is taking an age, and in a slightly hungover state, I am getting tired fast.  As I get to within five metres I ask Maria to throw a line and after a couple of attempts I am able to grab it and pull myself in.  That was a lot harder than I expected and I am relieved to get back on board Mariadz.  It is a long time before I feel good though since the combination of a hangover and a lot of physical exertion has really nailed me.

The anchor is up, stowed and anchor ball away with a minimum of fuss although with quite a bit of mud on me and Mariadz.  We’re heading up to the top of the Blackwater and Mersea Island although there is minimal wind and, as always, we are heading directly into whatever wind there is.

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As usual there are a lot of craft on the water and the super-fast small catamarans are making the most of the wind.  Its gives me an opportunity to take even more pictures.

Its approaching low tide, as we get to the top of the river and around Mersea is quite shallow.  Even with our shaol keel that draws on six feet, we will not be taking any risks.  We see a large catamaran on the inside route going past a small boat with all of its sail up and stationary.  Definitely glad we didn’t take any risks even though it probably adds an hour to our journey.  The whole way back maria is stalking her daughter, following her every move as she boards the plan and flies home.

We arrive in the Colne and near to the Pyefleet channel at 4pm which is later than we normally like to finish. D9CF54BF-963B-4728-9D4E-E9E5B3CC5A26 It is like Sainsbury’s car park, there are over twenty boats in a reasonable thin, shallow channel. We could try and tiptoe our way through and see if we could find somewhere but the problem would be extricating ourselves if we changed our mind.  It is too busy for us to contemplate going in especially at low water where our manoeuvers could be restricted by the depth of the water.  661F70E0-EFA3-42E6-BBE5-B08425149F22We decide to anchor in the River Colne opposite Brightlingsea and near to the beach where it is a bit quieter. We don’t often have to consider where to anchor with respect to other boats because we arrive before a number but today we have to pick our spot. We did well, on this occasion, and there is a large gap between us and everyone else, which continues even after a change of tide and direction. EAC0606C-C93F-4FCE-985F-25A4A3A7628BSunset is lovely and it is amazingly quiet, you can even hear the birds twittering on the shore. It’s a good anchorage apart from the occasional motorboat on the plane heading towards Brightlingsea and not thinking about the wash they are creating but I guess you can’t everything and you are on a river. We have had couple of late nights so tonight will be a quiet one as Maria gets to preparing a Sunday Roast to eat on deck.

The next day, we have light winds and, despite still having a couple of days left, decide to head back to Harwich.  I later find out that this is so that Maria can go and get the seafood platter that she had wanted.  The winds are a little light for Mariadz but as we enter the Wallet, we agree that we will sail up as much as we can.

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After we have left the River Colne there are only a few boats out, a catamaran that has come from near where we anchored and a smaller yacht.  I have some work to do so the sails are up and I start working as Maria guides us back to the River Orwell.  We are not making much progress but we are not in a rush.  However, after a couple of hours we are clearly going slower than we should, and I am sure the little yacht is in front of us. So I put the laptop down and address the sail situation. To this point we had been doing about 3.5-4.5 knots but I set about trimming the sails and I have us up to 6 knots.  That’s more like it.  Although when we turn at the top of the Wallet the wind will go across our beam and I suspect we will lose all speed.  That is exactly what happens and we don’t want to be arriving at Ha’penny pier too late especially as we can’t anchor off and take the rib in.  We decide to motor-sail through the Medusa channel which keeps our speed up and still feels like sailing as we generate our own wind.

As we head into the harbour the wind is picking up so I am quickly taking down all of the sails as Maria starts to bring Mariadz in towards Harwich.  The tide is flooding in and the wind is in the same direction and so Maria and I agree that we need to turn Mariadz around and approach into wind and tide.  I have to quickly get the fenders and lines in place as Maria holds station and then we are on approach.  As we get closer it is clear that the wind is slightly blowing us off the pier, and we have had problems with that before.  I know I need to get the bowline or midline on quickly and then Maria can then use that and the engine to bring the stern into the pier.    Maria has brought her in close but the bow is beginning to be blow off and the stern is still ten feet off.  A quick burst of bow thruster and a turn to the left brings her close enough that I can lasso the cleat and tie off.  A turn away from the pontoon and tick over forward brings the stern in as the line stops the bow moving out.  Fender touch and I am off and the stern is tied on and finally the bow.  We are done! And actually quite pleased with ourselves.  Ha’penny pier has had some problems recently with people untying the lines of visiting boats on the pier but they have responded by putting a security gate up that is closed outside of the hours of the ferry running.  There has been a slight increase in the charges to fund this but it gives you piece of mind.

After our failure yesterday, we are going to head to the Alma, famous for its steaks and lobster, to get a seafood platter but have decided we won’t eat it in house but will have a takeaway.  I suspect that is the first for the staff we met on the day but you can’t stop Maria getting what she wants merely with a broken down rib!, can’t keep a girl down for long!

Once back on the boat, we settle down to eat our food and are joined by a very inquisitive Clyde….did someone mention seafood platter, prawns….hmmm.

We are settled in our surroundings and one of the things I love about boating life is the friendliness of everyone.  Everyone you meet is friendly.  You may meet and decide you don’t get on but everyone is keen to introduce themselves and today is no exception.  A family of six arrive on a small motorboat and are coming to Harwich to celebrate a family birthday.  It’s already starting to get dark and after dinner the parents decide to return via taxi rather than braving the motor boat in the dark.  They are all very friendly though and have had a nice time as they prepare to return to Brightlingsea.  Similarly a smaller yacht on the inside of the pier has two gentleman on board and they pop over to introduce themselves with what can only be described as firewater! A shot of this and we needed some port to wash it down.  All in all a lovely last evening of our time away.20180710_000748

The wind has definitely strengthened and it is a rocking and rolling night on Ha’penny pier and not in a nice way! Even Mariadz moved around a little and we were rocked gently to sleep, neither of us having a problem with a little bit of movement.

When we awake in the morning, the wind has turned around Northerly which explains why it was quite so bump and we are pinned to the pier with our fenders working hard. The tide is coming through quite quickly and I wonder whether we can use that and the bow thruster to overcome the wind and push us off the pier.  We start the manoeuver and the stern comes off nicely but she doesn’t come off completely and so we decide there is too much risk involved in that approach and we will try and old favourite.  We decide to spring off the bow and so I put all of our port side fenders protecting the bow and Maria steers into the pier swinging the stern out to 45 degrees as the line holds the bow, almost exactly the opposite of the way we got onto the pier in the first place.  Once there, she can switch to astern and pull Mariadz away from the pier before flicking everything round and leaving Harwich behind us.  Of course we have had to do this in front of an audience and so the pressure was on.  Apart from having to move some fenders amidships, it goes without a hitch and we coordinate me removing the line as Maria changes direction.

However, the previous evening our guests, or more precisely the bottle of port we drank, have killed Maria off so there will be no sailing today even though there may be enough in the wind to get us going!  5E363059-3212-4820-A454-3A7762B1971ASince it is now a Tuesday, there is very little on the water….apart from that big cargo carrier coming right at us, obviously.  Actually, it is a very nice trip back up the river without a care in the world and a short working week to come.  We’re even able to finally get a picture of the cottage that looks like a smiling face. 88EC79B2-0022-4C6C-878C-A2CC34F33239Well it does to us and I guess that is important. The weather is still great though and Maria’s hangover is starting to go. It’s been a great few days and we have had some sociable times but also some time for just the two of us. We think that will be a little like when we are cruising full time.

We had wanted to rush back to make sure we were in Ipswich at the time the RAF100 memorial flight, celebrating 100 years of the RAF, flew over Ipswich on its way to London.

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It looks like we will be a little late as we are still five minutes away from the Orwell bridge at the time they are meant to come overhead.  Then it happens, all of the jets that constituted the fly-past are directly overhead every few seconds.  We are able to get loads of photos but unfortunately we have missed the older slower planes which must have come earlier or gone a different route.  It is still very exciting though as we, and a couple of other boats do little circuits within the river so that we get the best view,

Soon after, we are home and I set about cleaning down Mariadz while Maria drives to South Woodham Ferrers to visit Amie, who has landed and been driven back home.

One of my jobs is to sort the rib out.  I quickly uncover why it is not starting, some fool left it in gear, some days later I realised it was I that was the fool!  The warning buzzer is still going intermittently but I later find that it indicates that the engine is due a service, a bit like the flashing light on the dashboard of your car.  Fixing the drain hole is a little more tricky.  I had initially suggested we bring Mariadz in astern onto a pontoon and then drop the rib so we could work on it in the dry.  That didn’t happen.  So I decide I am going to sit on the paddle board and adjust the fitting while the rib hangs from the davits.  What could possibly go wrong.  I have discovered that the rubber chord that holds the bung near to the whole has a rubber washer which has come out.  So I need to unscrew the bung hole a little, bang it through so that I can refit the rubber washer and then tighten it up again.  All whilst sitting on a paddle board. I need to get some tools out and put them on the swim deck, what’s the betting some of them will in Davy Jones’ locker by the end of this little job.  Actually it goes fine and after a couple of tests, I have tightened it up enough to seal the gap and stop the leak.  Now I  just need to work out how to service the outboard and switch off the service indicator but that can wait.

It’s been a great few days and it has reinforced the belief that Maria and I share that this is what we want to do for a long period.

On the other hand the blog is a lot of words so hopefully I haven’t lost you.

Is anyone out there still?


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