Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Ipswich Jaunt

   West force five gusting seven was the day’s forecast, a healthy breeze for making our way up to Ipswich. The aim of the cruise was to hopefully make it to Ipswich for a trip into town as well as to properly test out the boat in more challenging conditions after more sedate cruising during the spring.
Sailing Away from the mooring,( sorry it didn't allow
me to turn it round)
   As Sam and I trudged across the beach to get to the dinghy, we noticed the full force of the wind as it laid a boat beating up river to Manningtree on its beam ends.  We were not put aback however, for we would be sailing before the wind (most of the way at least). As we hauled the last of the kit aboard, we spotted a dark cloud looming over the horizon. For a few seconds I considered abandoning the trip but soon gave the idea up as the prospect of the sail became more and more exciting.
  We slipped the mooring and sailed off under jib only, Due to the touch of southerly in the wind we made sure we kept to the weather shore of the Stour in order to prevent us having to use the engine if we were caught too close to the lee shore,( not an inviting prospect).  Soon we were storming passed the Royal Hospital School making seven knots with the tide under us. I decided to pull on some backstay just to stop the mast leaning forward casing the luff of the jib to sag heavily to windward, (In order to prevent this happening I later bought a couple of blocks to act as a downhaul on the jib, in turning preventing the hair raising experience of the mast bending so much and also improving windward performance).
Soon enough we were round bloody point in Harwich and making our way up sea reach. Soon enough we realised` we had to get the main up in order to luff up enough and continue to sail. Luckily I had already fully reefed the main allowing it to be put up quickly and easily. By the time we got to Levington we had been sailing for just an hour and a half but must have sailed an astonishing ten or so miles. As we made our way in to the Orwell it meant we were now against the tide which was soon to been our downfall. The wind was now blowing down dead down the Orwell forcing us to beat up to our destination, but beating is not the preferred point of sail for my boat drawing only 18 inches very useful for ditch crawling.  We were soon also on our beam ends and needed to reef the jib. The problem is that reefing the jib on the move is a hard process (my boat has reef points in the jib and only one set of sheets) but all the mooring buoys were filled up. Unwilling to anchor among mooring buoys and now on a falling tide, I finally was forced to reef while moving, I ducked through the cabin and was able to reef while standing in the forehatch lowering the tack of the jib into place was simple enough however repositioning the sheets was a much harder job. Soon enough however, the process was complete.
In Wolverstone Mariner
  A little later, we realized that we had seen and avoided the same wooden yacht on her mooring quite a few times. Furthermore an uncomfortable chop was building up in the classic estuary style, and the first few drops of rain had begun to fall, continually increasing and eventually forcing us into full oilies. We decided that it had to be a mariner, (something I would rather not do if it was possible to just anchor and dry out). Soon enough we got the small mariner two stoke to splutter into life and pushed us gently into Wolverstone mariner, (in the back of our minds we both feared that we would run out of fuel as we had neglected to believe that we would have a need to motor. That night we cooked a fine chicken tika masla in the cockpit, the only problem being that the wooded spoon is now permanently died an orange colour even after countless attempts scrub it.
   That morning we were able to enjoy the full convenience of a mariner, after a hearty full English a must have on a boat. Dad arrived later with a full can of petrol and two stroke oil, allowing us to use the engine again, if need be. At midday we finally left Wolverstone for Ipswich, a strong wind still persisted however luckily enough the wind had shifted a 180 degrees allowing us to push on for Ipswich just under jib. By the time we had the lock gates in sight we had radioed the lock and had the jib down allowing us to manoeuvre safely into the lock and onto Ipswich haven mariner.
   Once inside and after a quick lunch we set off for the town namely pound land to buy a few quick essentials such as sweets and batteries. Later on we also went to the cinema to watch men in black three. However, we had to dash back at the end due to a quite a vicious rain storm. Once in the comfort of the cabin we were able to settle down and eat a vast quantity of pasta and enjoy games of chess and cards.

   The next morning we were up at five-thirty to catch the best of the tide. When the alarm rang we noticed that the rain still pattered lightly down. The night before I had already filled the kettle, allowing us to enjoy a quick hot chocolate and an instant porridge. As we climbed gently out of the cabin, avoiding the worst of the water; we were greeted with the sight of a mill pond, the wind had now completely disappeared. Thank god we had filled up with petrol the night before.

                As we came out of the lock we accounted our first problem, stupidly we knocked a rope overboard and it tangled itself around the prop. Luckily we caught hold of the pontoon again, allowing us to easily lift the engine on-board to sort out the problem. After attempting to untie the rope from the prop, we were forced to cut it and then continue.

   As we left the lock astern we spotted a seal swimming around. It was quite a sight to see nature so close at hand with the industrial heart of Ipswich.

                As we passed pin mill we encountered the second of the days problems, attempting to avoid the worst of the tide, we sailed in the shallows using the marked up boat hook to sound, (I find echo sounders ineffective at such depths and in less than six foot of water is the only time I need to now the depth; furthermore they are expensive), We were motoring along in less than 3 foot of water avoiding the worst of the rising tide. However we failed to spot a small sandbank ahead and ran gently aground. Soon enough I threw the anchor into deeper water and was able to drag myself back. We also turned the engine round, (it has no astern or neutral gear) and powered ourselves astern. After rather a dreary morning of intermittent showers this cheered us up and soon I went into the cabin to prepare toast and jam, a real delight.

                As we came up to Levington we were singing a loud rendition of Jerusalem, it was soon stopped by the spluttering of the engine as it cut out; it had run out of fuel! However we were able to get it too splutter into life for long enough to get us onto a nearby mooring. There we were able to fill up the tank again. This lead to my technique while motoring with my outboard that has a small internal tank of running it right out and then refuelling. Soon we were under way and in Harwich harbour. Just off Parkston quay we ran out of fuel again, refuelling was less easy this time in the Harwich harbour slop!

The final swoop onto the mooring under jib only
                Soon enough we were anchored under Sutton point for a final night. Sam swam ashore with a stern line in order for us to dry perpendicular to the shore. As we dried out on the harder ground the rudder began to rub and grind resulting in some minor damage to the pintless, ( the following week it was removed and modified allowing it to be lifted).We were able to go for a stroll ashore and then a handsome meal of rare sirloin steak and potatoes that were boiled for five minutes then thinly chopped and fried in plenty of butter, resulting in a something not dissimilar to chips.

                The final day let us enjoy a fine sail, for once under full sail. A perfect end to a very enjoyable cruise, showing that although the Mistley Prawn was not the most weatherly boat it still did what one wanted and as is said you have much more fun in a smaller boat. I can really understand this; I don’t understand why sailing a 25ft or 30ft or even 50ft yacht would be any better


  1. I had the pleasure of assisting jack on his voyage to Ipswich marina and back again, we encountered; strong winds, rain but luckily mostly quite pleasant weather and a seal. Jack’s boat coped very well with the pleasant weather but we had to use the outboard motor when travelling up a rather strong wind while it was raining.

  2. What fantastic stories and adventures! Will you be posting any more updated stories and journey's? With best wishes, Charlie