Fitting out done & shakedown sail.

I had made a start on the winter work schedule just about as soon as the lockdown easing at the end of April allowed me to travel down to the boat yard. I made a start and got a fair bit done but then was interrupted by a spell of cold and wet weather which put a stop to the work. It wasn’t until almost the end of May that finally we had some good weather and I was able to proceed with fitting out. Of course there is always far more to do than you first anticipate and it all takes longer than expected. There were few nonessential things I wanted to do but decided to put off.
Eventually it was all done and the Sea Bear was ready to go back in the water.
A few days after the yard told me that she was back on her mooring I went down to Pin Mill with Wendy for company. It was a lovely hot sunny day and after dinghying out to the boat we had a leisurely afternoon just settling in and relaxing.

Wendy & Sea Bear
Pin Mill Sunset

Next morning we slipped away from the mooring, there was no much wind but we did care about that, just sailed and drifted slowly down the river. It was Wendy’s first trip in the area so she was happy to have plenty of time to enjoy the sights. We decided not to go too far and once past Harwich we just headed for the Pye End buuy and hence to the channel to the Walton Backwaters. I though to anchor off Stone point, never having anchored there before but once there I wasn’t too happy with the Anchorage, it either felt too close in and too shallow for when the tide ebbed of far too close to the channel to be truly relaxing so we moved into Hamford water to anchor – much more relaxing. Not long ad after we had settled the wind increased and veered to the NE. This created quite a chop so it was a little uncomfortable for a while but it later eased.
Next morning we spotted a pair of Avocets working along the shoreline, it was the first time I had ever seen these distinctive birds.
Once the tide had risen enough we set off back out the channel and could just hold the line close hauled so had a good sail back to the mooring.
There was enough tide for us to go ashore and have a walk though Pin Mill woods.

Pin Mill views

Returning back I made a classic mistake in that I overlooked the old age dictum of time and tide wait for no man. Actually it was the lure of a pint in the Butt & Oyster, which was perhaps my downfall. Maybe after it was excusable, as I had not had a pint in a pub since before lockdown, October last year, and even so that was just once since lockdown had started way back in March the previous year.
Wendy queried whether we would have the time before the tide dropped but anyway the pint prevailed but sure enough back at the pontoon and the dinghy was high & dry. And so it was that I made my first acquaintance with Pin Mill mud – I won’t so easily make that mistake again!

A Pensioner’s Folly

No sailing over winter and it feels a long year in lockdown. I haven’t even been able to visit the boat since the end of October when she was shifted ashore for the winter, let alone do any work to prepare her for the coming season.
Meanwhile a fella has to do something, so I have written a book about some of my travels in my boat. Oh and I have published it too, available in either paperback or an e-book. It’s called “A Pensioner’s Folly” and if you wish you can buy a copy to read all about it.
I would appreciate any comments, good or bad and any feedback.

Southampton to Pin Mill

Sea Bear arrived back in the UK at Southampton docks and was unloaded from the ships deck into the water. Stepping aboard I motored the short distance to the marina. Here I set about preparing her for sea again.

Sea Bear on ship

Re fitting the running rigging, bending on the sails, refitting the canvas work, up the mast to refit the wind instrument and lazy jacks, generally checking things over and a bit of cleaning and all the other odd jobs that needed doing.
After several days of bad weather, gales, high winds grey cloudy skies and rain, which kept me marina bound, at last the weather looked to be improving. I was up and away from Ocean Village by 05.55 to catch the ebb down Southampton water. I skirted the edge of the channel on the mainland side to keep clear of ferries and the like. Calm at first but a light breeze from NW sprang up so up went the main & yankee. It was fairly busy passing Portsmouth with both IOW and Normandy Ferries but was able to keep clear easily. Past the Horse Sand Fort and I set a course for the start of the Looe channel. I was now catching the flood up the channel which I was able to carry almost all the way to Newhaven where I entered the harbour and tied alongside the visitors pontoon. A long but satisfying day, 63 miles 12 hours.

Sea Bear in Newhaven
Leaving Newhaven

A later start next day as I waited for the tide, My sister who lives nearby visited in the morning and we had a socially distant re-union, nice to meet up after being away for over a year and a half. I slipped away just after 10.00. I passed the notable landmark of Beachy Head and then I passed inshore of the Royal Sovereign Shoals. Off Hastings I hove-to to chat to a 40’ Motor cruiser who had put out a Pan Pan with engine failure. Assured myself they were OK, weather was fine, they had an anchor down and were quite content to wait for an arranged tow back to Bournemouth, so I carried on. Past Dungeness and so to Dover. Tricky to enter the marina of the inner harbour with the sun sun low and on my eyes. 56 miles 10 hrs

Approaching Beachy Head

Next morning I had a grandstand view of the Border Force doing their thing with what turned out to be a record number (over 180) of illegal immigrants crossing the channel in rubber dinghies. Again waiting for the tide for an afternoon departure for the short hop up the coast to Ramsgate. 15 miles

Border Force rescuing immigrants
Border force towing in rubber dinghies

An early start from Ramsgate the next day to catch the tide up past North Foreland and then catch the ebb across the estuary. I decided on the route up past the Tongue Deepwater anchorage then through Foulgers Gat through the London Array wind farm. Strange this to be sailing between the wind pylons. Thence up the Black Deep and across the Sunk, across the Gunfleet sands and so to the Medusa channel up to Harwich and so up the Orwell to pick up Sea Bear’s new mooring at Pin Mill. 48 miles 10 hrs.

Butt & Oyster from the hard at Pin Mill

So now I can look forward to exploring an area steeped in yacthing history which is new to me.