This year we will delivering Mariadz to southern Italy and the journey has now well and truly started. Having been in Suffolk Yacht Harbour for most of the last eighteen months, the majority of the boat jobs are now done. There are a few things left to do, most notably the toe rail which we had hoped to have redone perfectly before we left but looks like it will need to be started again unfortunately, more of that in another post.
On a boat there is always a long list of jobs to do and as you will find out over the coming weeks as I catch up on blogs, a lot of these have now been done on mariadz. In fact the usually extensive list has very few items on it!
We left Suffolk yacht harbour at Levington mid-April, a little later than we had hoped due to over-running works and headed to Burnham-on-Crouch. This was to be our base for a couple of weeks, while Maria got to spend some quality time with our granddaughter, Isabella. Since this was our last time in these waters we decided to break up the journey and visit a familiar haunt. Hanford water wasn’t possible due to tides and our need to do a long journey so we decided that Osea Island would be our anchorage for the night before moving onto Burnham.
The sail down the wallet to the top of the river black water was uneventful and we were able to get the sails out but had to keep the engine running due to the lack of wind. This wasn’t too bad since we are trying to get through our first 50 hours on the new engine and want to do this before we attempt the “big” crossing later in the year.
All is going swimingly until we decide to take the sails in. Mariadz has in mast furling which a lot of people swear at rather than swearing by. We have always got on with it and in eight years have not had a sail jam. As part of the refit, we had the in-mast furler completely refurbished. During our test sail we had noticed that the looped line for the furler hadn’t been gripping the jaws of the furler well enough so we had that changed for a thicker line that would grip better. We were somewhat dismayed to find that during the unfurling of the sail, this line had jumped off of the furler completely! I believe I may have been responsible for that. The furler has two modes: ratchet and free. Previously, we had always had the furler on ratchet which basically meant that the sail was always controlled by the furler and we could reef the sail or let more out using the furler and under control. After the refurb, the sail will furl in ratchet mode but seems to be locked for bringing the sail out. I realise this only after the line is under some tension and hence is quite a bit thinner than usual. I suspect this helped to throw the line off the furler. I am able to store the sail by going to the mast with a winch handle and doing it manually, tiring but successful. However, I can’t do that every time! I call Richard at Evolution Rigging and we are both at a loss. Clearly it needs to back but it is a small aperture and I have no idea how I will get the thick line in there – I really hope I don’t need to cut the line at the join of the loop and redo it. The internet is your friend in these situations and I discover that the furler is working exactly as designed, even if that isn’t as good a design as our previously faulty set up allowed. So I know what I have done wrong but not how to fix it, yet.
Osea island is quiet, as you would probably expect for April but it is nice to say goodbye, even if we refrained from singing Rehab from the bow this time.
The next morning, and the pull of Isabella is too much for Maria to resist. We are up and away early and back past Radio Caroline, heading to burnham. I am not letting the furler problem stop us using our new sails so we are flying along to burnham and arrive nice and early.
Prior to arrival, we have been told that we will be on the hammerhead at the entrance – “your usual table, sir?”. That would be lovely, and as we enter the marina, there are even some people there waiting. How kind, they are here to take our lines….. nope, the boat in front of us starts to turn back into us to go onto the hammerhead! I swiftly call out that the harbourmaster has told us to berth there, to be told they are just picking up their friends! Errrr, do you want us to wait here while you do that? Or maybe find somewhere empty to pick them up. The decision is made to take the berth and let the other boat pick them up elsewhere, something they handle very well so clearly know how to handle their boat. Maria demonstrates that she can handle Mariadz as well by “Captain Ron”- ing it. For those who don’t know the film, which is a classic Kurt Russell film, this approach to berthing is basically to aim at the hammerhead at speed and then, at the last minute, throw the wheel over, put her astern and let her drift gently onto the berth. This works well when there is a lot of tide or wind. Maria’s attempt was not far off the film although thankfully her crew knew what she was doing so there was no panic 🙂 well not much…
We are now berthed in Burnham for two weeks before the first of our crew members for Biscay, Richard, comes on board for the start of the trip south to acclimatise himself to the boat and us! Now where’s that list to clear some more items off it!