A cheeky play down the Orwell

The second May Bank Holiday was also the second time that Ipswich has hosted the Moody Owners Association.  As much as Maria enjoys the social element of this, she does miss the opportunity to go out for the whole weekend and to go a little further afield. However, she had plans to make sure she did get out for a while.

The event was similar to last year with a barbecue in the old Ipswich Haven Yacht Club followed the next day by a few drinks, nibbles and cakes.  This time there were fewer attendees with a few people popping up even if they couldn’t bring their boat.  This included a new friend with a Moody 54, Rene from Amsterdam, who’s yacht is currently being fixed at Fox’s Marina, having only recently acquired it.  We had spent a bit of time with Rene, who has some great ideas for looking after the Moody.  I suspect there will be more on these in future blogs as we ruthlessly copy his good ideas!  We had been asked to start the Saturday afternoon fun a little earlier than usual so at 3pm we are all set up with some music playing from Maria’s portable karaoke setup.  As always in these situations, you are either running late or ready with loads of time and on this occasion we were sitting around for an hour waiting for anyone to turn up 🙂 At least the weather that Maria ordered has arrived and it is glorious sunshine and warm, if a little breezy.

The event goes very well, with Maria’s salads all being finished, and we all know how much food Maria makes. I’m sure the alcohol we had provided also helps with the atmosphere but a lot of people have also brought their own drinks.  We had asked everyone to bring food for the grills and with two large grills set up, and lovingly cleaned by me for an hour, there is enough room for everyone to do their cooking. A236C7B7-1197-43A8-8EE3-4C71F64C91C9Towards the end of the afternoon, the inspiration of using the karaoke setup means that a microphone is available for a few short speeches by the branch captain, Giles, and then by Maria herself….  You can imagine. With a microphone in her hand, Maria kicks off with a couple of lines of “i’m coming out” and then settles into a short thank you speech, remembering to invite everyone over the next morning at 11am for cakes etc.  Fortunately, she keeps the speech quite short.  As the afternoon drifts on, the group start to head back to their boats but a hard core are still drinking and chatting.  A number of these are relatively new members, and with respect to all involved, young members too.  Previously we have attended Cruising Association events where we have been younger than most people’s children and although the Moody age range isn’t that extreme, it is nice to have people of similar ages, or at least as old as we think we are in our heads.  This also includes our friends Sarah and Russ who own a Westerley but have come up for the weekend to see us. Having cleared up, it’s nearly 11pm when we finish but at least the place is mostly tidy as we head back with a few stragglers to Mariadz. The wine and beer are flowing and we agree that Rene should not drive home and also that nobody else should drive him to Fox’s either.  This means setting up our bunk room, since we already have guests in the fore peak. This will be a first but it doesn’t take long to setup the top bunk and convert this room from being a storage area to somewhere someone could sleep. The night doesn’t end there with a few more drinks and eventually it is 1am when we fall in to bed. In fact, Rene decides that rather than sleep in the bunk, he will sleep up in the cockpit, fortunately we are on the quiet side of the dock at Ipswich!

The next day and there are a few sore heads. I have to go back to the yacht club to finish tidying up and leave it in a suitable state.  The yacht club area is offered to berth holders as a courtesy but has to be left in a tidy state or we will lose the privilege.  It’s nearly 11am by the time I have finished and Maria has also been busy getting the boat ready for the descending hoard!  Again we are ready in good time and the first few come on board asking for soft drinks or tea! They have clearly all been Mariadz-ed the previous day!  As more drift over, the beers and wine are out again and the nibbles are quite popular. 35C1BC93-5C8A-4BEE-BA10-37BEFD298B34 After some time, Maria whips out the two Victoria sponges and a carrot cake that she spent all Friday baking, she starts to cut large doorstops of cake whilst cutting off huge chunks for people to take home.  The cakes, made by Maria’s fair hand, are lovely and very popular…..just like her……. Last year, I must have been too polite since, despite my sweet tooth, I didn’t get any cake and none was saved for me – I was going to fall for that again and I am straight in this time.

After the unveiling of the cake, it doesn’t take long for the group to dispel and Maria’s plan to get down the river can be put into action.  We have decided to sail down the river into the westerly wind, it’s gusting a bit but we have decided with our guests on board that we will have a gentle sail down the river.  As we head into the lock it starts to hammer down with rain so we are not convinced that this is a good idea but we will keep on going.  Actually in the lock we see Easily Led 2, who are sporting a just married banner, about time Richard made an honest woman of Janet 😉 but we are really pleased for them as they head out for a mini-moon.

I may have mentioned that we normally sail with the Bimini and most often cockpit tent up which protects us from the elements and for that reason we don’t wear wet weather gear very often.  Of course today, I am on deck in shorts and a t-shirt tidying lines and fenders and after a short period I am soaked. It’s warm in the cockpit tent so I take the shirt off and down below to dry but no point getting another dirty and wet. At least got ice to get my waterproof coat out in case I have to go out in the rain again, maybe I should have thought of that earlier. This is highly amusing for Maria who thinks I look like some kind of porn star with a coat on and no top! To be fair it doesn’t rain for long as we head down river and we are making good progress with the sails up.  Of course since my short isn’t dry yet, I am still sailing topless which is highly amusing to everyone who passes us in full wet weather gear 🙂  

As we pass Wolverstone, there are a number of two seater racing dinghies (I don’t think they were lasers but don’t profess to know all the different types). As is usual in this part of the river, they are all over the place.  They are usually so focused on their racing that they don’t think about how  larger yacht can avoid them.  This isn’t normally a problem and we give them a wide berth but when they are short tacking up river, it can be tricky working out what they are up to.  Today one in particular is tacking right in front of us setting off in one direction and then changing direction abruptly. It wasn’t the most seamless of tacks and their direction of travel seems to be random from one second to another.  They seem completely oblivious to the emergency turns we are doing to avoid them as they aim straight at us. They slip by our port side with no acknowledgement of the problems they have caused.

We have decided to stay out overnight but where is safe to go in a strong westerly?The Stour runs East to West so that wouldn’t be comfortable, not even in Mariadz. We decide to anchor adjacent to Shotley Marsh really close to Felixstowe docks.  It is a little noisy but we will be fine and it is well sheltered from the wind.  But first we will have some fun sailing.  With a westerly wind the best plan is to actually head towards the North Sea for a while where the path is north to south.  This is the same as the last part of the Orwell and I ask Russ if he would like the opportunity to hand steer Mariadz.  He jumps at this and with well-reefed sails we are soon going quickly through the water at over 8 knots.  This causes Sarah some joy since the other year when swimming around her boat she introduced herself to a buoy showing the speed limit of 8 knots adjacent to Osea Island. She may not have been completely sober at the time and was unfeasibly excited.  Since then buoys called 8 knots have been her favourite! Russ gets Mariadz up to 8.5 knots through the water as she cuts her way down river.  The lovely thing about the Moody is the balance she can get on the sails, the wheel feels very connected and the steering is light even in a strong wind. Russ is loving it.

As we make the turn towards Harwich everything slows down as the wind drifts round to the starboard quarter. The wind hasn’t dropped but the perception has because now we are travelling in the same direction as the wind so it is not as fast across the deck.  This can be quite unnerving especially when you turn around when the wind changes.  It can be worrying to feel hat the wind has increased by around fifteen knots, which is quite a stiff breeze, just by changing your course.  Anyway the north-south section of the Orwell has whetted our appetites and we decide we will do a similar section out of the harbour. It’s time for Sarah to take the wheel as we turn from Harwich harbour onto the same course as Russ had negotiated down the river.  The speed starts to build and there is a little more wind. Eight knots shoots by and Sarah is starting to look a bit nervous as the speed rises through the eights and over nine knots.  We get to 9.3 knots before Maria decides enough is enough and we should slow down.  That’s pretty good especially against the tide.  We all decide that it must have been 9.35 knots which makes everyone happy except Russ who is itching to have another go and beat the new “record”.  I’m sure with a following tide it would have been over ten, eh Sarah……

Ok it’s time to turn around and head back to our selected anchorage. Maria has decided that, with the wind strengthening, I will take in a little sail so there is no opportunity to beat our record for the day but it is still a really pleasant fast sail back into the harbour.  As we turn into the harbour to head towards the Orwell, we come up quite tight to the wind.  As mentioned, at any speed that is more uncomfortable than running with the wind with the faster wind speeds across the deck.  In preparation for this and knowing we will shortly be anchoring, I have reefed in more sail before we make the turn.

This coincides with a noticeable drop in the wind, probably caused by the wind shadow from the land. So we are travelling through Harwich Harbour at a slow pace but we have had our fun so it is fine. We approach the area where the rivers split, we need to cross the river Stour entrance to head down the Orwell.  Suddenly, there is a call from the cargo ship following us.  Normally, we steer well clear of anything on the water even if we are within our rights to hold course.  It just seems a safer way to go since it is everyone’s responsibility to avoid a collision and there is no “in the right” when your boat is damaged! Therefore in ten years of sailing, and we sail a fair bit, I don’t think we have ever been called up by another boat in this way.  That changes today as the cargo ship, travelling somewhat faster than us, asks us our intentions. As we are sorting ourselves out to make sure we are not in anyone’s way, the harbourmaster also comes on the radio.  Maria is able to explain that we are going up the Orwell at the same time that they notice our route.  They can then turn behind us to head down the Stour with no problems but it is a reminder that you always need to look behind since we should have sorted this out a lot earlier, in our defence, more ships head up the Orwell but it is a reminder that we need to keep alert.

As mentioned we have decided to anchor near Shotley where we have tried, and failed, before. I have found a spot out of the channel and marked it on the chart and as we approach this spot seems to be exactly where a small motorboat is anchored and fishing,  we quickly adjust our views and Maria has found a new spot, which is away from the channel and not too close to the shore.  When sailing, Maria and I hardly ever have a cross word and actually never when we are on our own. There may have been a slight “difference of opinion” when I asked for depth at admittedly high tide to be told we were in 10 metres of water.  Generally, we like to have a metre or two under the keel at low water but this is excessive. I point out that we normally have it a little shallower than that…. once or twice. Of course I hadn’t thought of checking the depth prior to starting to drop the anchor.  I gently suggest that we sort it out and go closer to the land.  The second or third time I suggest this is enough for a slightly snappy reply 🙂 We “agree” to bring the anchor up, which is good since I had forgotten to attach our marker buoy to it anyway, so at least on the second attempt I can remember to follow our anchor routine properly.  We get a bit closer to land, which doesn’t feel right but the depth is fine as we swing round after deploying the anchor.

FB_IMG_1560185634773A few stern words between Maria and I don’t last very long, which I guess is lucky in a boat where you can’t really get away from each other, and we are relaxed as we watch a spectacular sunset.

It is another lovely dinner from Maria but we are all quite jaded from the night before and suspect we will be in bed by 9pm…. yeah right. By 8:15, it is looking like 9pm is a bit ambitious as we sit in the cockpit chatting and, unusually, without music playing. Having eaten, we are all noticeably starting to wake up though, and that is before we start on the port. A little bit more port and some of the gathering are wondering why Clyde is always moaning for cat treats. E1A7C598-463A-4CFA-9BCA-409A0789496BThey must be really tasty…..OMG,  Nooooooooooooo. Russ, Sarah and Maria all try the Royal Canine cat biscuits. These are apparently quite nice but you wouldn’t catch me trying them, not least of all because I couldn’t deny the cats! These greasy “yummy” treats are washed down with a little more port before Sarah informs us that she was “Cleaning my teeth with my tongue and a tiny bit of cat treat came out….”, yum, yum.  It’s clearly getting later and we are starting to run out of port so it’s time for a great nights sleep, nicely sheltered from the wind.  Well it can’t be later than 9pm, 10pm, 11pm, not 1:30am! Oh dear.

The next morning we are up at a reasonable time to start the sail back up the river to Ipswich.  Russ is confident that he will beat Sarah’s record but if this is possible it will be in that first section of the river which goes North so that the Westerly wind is perfectly positioned. You can see lots of sail boats are having fun in the river today so after a quick breakfast, we pack up and are ready to sail immediately.

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It’s a good wind but I still have a flea in my ear from Maria for having too much sail up yesterday so we are well reefed which means no faster than 8 knots – at least Sarah will be happy. Russ is not so happy but I am more scared of Maria than I am of him – sorry, mate 🙂

We make the turn at Suffolk Yacht Harbour, after which the Orwell snakes approximately North West, not ideal in a Westerly wind and we will be tacking most of the way home.  Maria and I rarely do this but Russ is keen and we actually start off the journey by tacking the headsail with the stay sail and main both out too! D1ACF413-41ED-4048-ADDD-5AE7ACC805A6 This is quite difficult since getting the head sail around the stay sail takes time and effort.  It does give a photo opportunity as our friends Christian and Elizabeth are on a buoy down the river and see us tacking so that’s good. You don’t get too many pictures of your own boat under sail.

After a while, Maria gets bored of winching this in and we are making less progress in a wind that is not as strong as it had been the previous day.  We bring in the headsail which means Russ can tack without anyone doing any work, that’ll make the girls happier.

We are able to sail all the way back home so we feel accomplished and have done quite a bit in a short weekend. Maria brings Mariadz into her home berth with no fuss and our friends can head home after a great weekend!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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