It’s not quite so magical today and last night the gods were positively livid. Gusts of 65 knots, which rocked the ship even in this sheltered harbour. I’ve had to run for shelter. So as I write this, me and ‘Talisker 1’ are about to spend our fourth night in Titchmarsh Marina. It’s not over yet!
I’ve been on board since the 17th and had only two days sailing!
I got thoroughly soaked in the tender going out to ‘Talisker 1’ on the 17th. The north and north easterly winds had just started. I should have checked before leaving home (for the conditions for tender to ‘Talisker 1’). But, once on board my ship, having dried myself, it was then too late to leave the mooring and head for a more sheltered anchorage.
It was going to be a bumpy night on the mooring. Doc’s tender was on his mooring. Where were they?
A text to Doc and he told me he and ‘Tuesday’ had already returned to the river earlier in the day and had sought shelter above Aldeburgh. He had wanted to get back in to the river before the winds really started.
A check of the weather confirmed we would not be leaving the river soon. The river entrance would be far too violent.
Having spent an uncomfortable night on the mooring we headed up river, with the flood, the following day to seek some peace.
On the approaches to Aldeburgh spray shot skywards as waves from a big sea running hit the beach on the seaward side of the spit. It was choppy enough in the shelter of the river with wind against tide.
Doc was anchored in the hole just below Brick Dock. We tucked ourselves against the bank a hundred metres or so further down towards Westrow Point. A withy was but 20 metres away. Doc had taken the prime spot but this was perfect too. ‘Talisker 1’ settled, head to wind, where together we were to spend the next three nights very comfortably as the wind blew from the north north east. I’d taken the tender so I was able to visit ‘Tuesday’ and the Doc each evening.
An Aldeburgh YC race entertained the Doc and me on the 19th September!
On the night of the 20th the winds were forecast to die down and I woke up to fog on the 21st. The sun would burn the fog off fairly quickly. Me and ‘Talisker 1’ could leave the river and put to sea.
‘Tuesday’ and ‘Talisker 1’ took the last of the ebb down river at 0900 with the visibility still poor.
By the time we were through the moorings at Aldeburgh the fog had lifted and we were greeted to a clear blue sky and a warm day.
We were both back on our moorings at 1015. High Water at Orford Haven was at 1450. ‘Talisker 1’ and me set off again at 1125 and in light winds motor sailed to the river bar. By 1300 we were at sea and in light southerly winds sailed to Buttermans Bay in the River Orwell where we dropped anchor at 1800.
A very strong spring ebb tide in the Orwell had us making hardly a knot over the ground as we slowly made our way up the Orwell. The wind was going to veer westerly overnight.
I do love Buttermere Bay if the wind is off the land. There is perfect shelter with the woodland along the bank. Pin Mill is as beautiful as ever.
We were still there the following night with yet another strong wind warning. A terrific low promised very strong winds indeed. The kink in the jet stream is causing mayhem. This one was going to be big!
I received a text from Philip, our wonderful Orford Harbour Master. He was worried enough about the weather to suggest bringing my tender ashore from the mooring. In the end he brought it ashore anyway. And quite right too as she would certainly not have survived the last few days.
What to do? I thought of a sail down the Wallet and contemplated either going in to Brightlingsea Harbour or even Bradwell Marina to hide. Either way the weather was going to be bad enough for me to opt for a marina berth by the evening.
So on the 23rd September I left all options open. The wind would increase as the day progressed. We were already double reefed and flying the stay sail passing Shotley. A SW5 with added gusts made for a great sail right out to the edge of the Gunfleet Sands and just before 1100 we were 2 nautical miles NNW of the old Gunfleet LH and it was time to make a decision.
The wind was going to increase. Then Dover CG confirmed what I already knew over the VHF. A Gale F8 was expected later for Thames. It was blowing a consistent F6 and with wind over tide, the Wallet was not that attractive, despite it being within our comfort zone. ‘Talisker 1’ would have relished the challenge and she seemed slightly disappointed as we came about and headed, very fast, back in to Pennyhole Bay and on in to the Walton Channel.
I was very disappointed with my arrival in Titchmarsh Marina. Allocated the hammerhead on C we were blown off the first time. I’d forgotten that the marina has rings. I therefore could not stay on board and throw a loop over the cleat on the pontoon from the centre cleat on the boat. I reversed out to try again. On my second attempt Julia from the harbour office had come to take my lines. I nearly took her hand off as I accidentally put the boat hard in to reverse. My oil skin trouser leg got caught in the gear stick. Thankfully Julia was far too sharp. That she still managed to make fast the line was very clever on her part. I hate making these mistakes. Sooo unprofessional. I must stop dwelling on it! I’ve woken with a start more than once since … and I’ve been up to the marina office to apologise.
The weather maps below show what the weather was like during our five days in Titchmarsh Marina.
Five nights in Titchmarsh Marina! That must be a record.
Tonight, after a lovely sailing day, me and ‘Talisker 1’ are tucked in to the bank just inside the Orwell PH Buoy. A gentle breeze is blowing overnight off the land.
I probably could not have been anywhere better than Titchmarsh over the past few days. It was quite violent enough in the marina.
Elsewhere, the Harwich Foot Ferry was ripped from her mooring on Halfpenny Pier and sunk.
The Royal North Sea YC, Oostende took a battering in the yacht basin. Me and ‘Talisker 1’ have been in the basin in strong northerlies and it was extremely uncomfortable. But nothing like the wind strengths of the past few days.
My friend Pieter had sensibly moved his boat in to the safety of Mecator Marina before the weather hit Oostende.
Not everyone heeded the advice of the Yacht Club to move. The whole of that coast saw terrific onshore winds.
More weather is due towards the week end so tomorrow I hope to sail back to Orford and abandon the ship until next week.
Today we took the ebb out of Twizzle Creek and down the Walton Channel and out in to Hamford Water. In varying north westerly winds we sailed to the Cork Sand Yacht Beacon before sailing round the seaward side of the sands to Medusa PHB. A circumnavigation of the Cork Sands!
Seven tacks later and we passed Cliff Foot on our way in to the Port of Felixstowe. Another sixteen tacks took us slowly up and in to the Orwell where we dropped anchor under sail.
I woke to the sound of rain. The boat was motionless. I looked outside and there was a glimmer of light on the eastern horizon behind the docks of Felixstowe. The only disturbance in the night had been a couple of passing coasters making their way up to Ipswich or putting to sea. Two large container ships had arrived overnight to fill empty berths in the dock.
I looked up river and the riding light on the only other yacht anchored for the night was still bright.
We had to leave at first light to get back in to the Orford River. At 0650 and now daylight we were underway. Not a breath of wind. The rain had stopped and it was overcast. The south easterly winds would arrive too late for us to sail today.
We cut inside Andrews Spit.
You practically reach out and touch the beacon on the end of the Languard breakwater and then hug the shore line with a shallow bank to starboard. This is something not to be attempted in an onshore wind. Anglers can get cross but today the beach was empty.
There was not a ripple on the surface of the sea until we closed on Orford Haven. A rare day in these parts not to be sailing.
A drizzle set in as we came alongside the Orford SC pontoon to offload and pick up my tender, so kindly rescued from her fate on the mooring by our vigilant Harbour Master. James Robbie arrived and we motored out to the mooring.
Doc came and visited from ‘Tuesday’. It was brilliant to end the trip talking to the two master mariners.
Twelve days away and only three days sailing!