Leaving Our Winter Storm Hole

2nd May

After a long winter and more rain than I can ever remember in Suffolk, we are back on the water.

Me n ‘Talisker 1’ are at anchor in Erwarton Bay on the River Stour.

1st May Suffolk YH to Erwarton Bay

2nd May the reassuring sight of ‘Tuesday of Ore’

A cable away, the reassuring sight of ‘Tuesday of Ore’ and David ‘Doc’ Foreman are at anchor.  They look every bit ready to set sail again to the Arctic and South America.  Doc is nearer 80 than 70.  Nine years my senior I can safely say my journeys as a single hander have been almost entirely due to my old friend’s fantastic wisdom.  Doc has been out and about for over three weeks.  It’s been awfully cold and the weather has been dreadful.  I was worried about the cold … for him.

Trinity House have not yet laid the buoys at the entrance to our river.

I did not haul ‘Talisker 1’ out this winter.  It has been a busy time at home.  A few days on the scrubbing posts at Suffolk Yacht Harbour will see us right until mid summer when I plan to haul her out for a long week end … hopefully in the warmth.

18th April Before

21st April After

22nd April ready to go

Talking of scrubbing posts!  I had to return to the posts a couple of days ago to investigate a faulty depth sounder.  My Raymarine ST50s are showing their age and everything pointed to the transducer.  Good advice from Olly at Sea Power Marine had me bricking it while crouching underneath the boat with my drill.  Olly had started work at 0430 and quite rightly, did not have much patience with my anxious whining at 0745 when I picked up the new Transducer!  “It’s easy” Olly said, “Get on with it!”

First a pilot hole, then a masonry drill to destroy the inards of the old tranducer and then a hole saw quickly removed the old transducer.  My chum Peter Buchan passing by, came on board and prepped inside the boat while I completed the preparation outside the hull.  The new transducer was installed very quickly and temporarily connected.  The tide was still on the ebb!

How do we know it works?  Olly?  “Put your ear very close to the transducer on the outside of the hull!  It should be making a ticking noise”.  I waded out with the flood already covering the bulb of the keel, the top of my wellies alarmingly close to lapping over and filling my boots and put my ear close to the transducer.  It was ticking!  I learn something every day in this world of sailing!

Yesterday evening the new cable was connected to the old, soldered and heat shrink tubed and neatly stowed.  I’ll have the headlining down to run the new cable all the way to the instrument next winter.  I have depth!  Something I cannot do without!

In retrospect over the last few weeks many depth sounders were reported as playing up.  A theory is nitrates off the farming land that, with the very very heavy rain had been filtered in to our waterways causing algae to form.  When that algae died, with warmth in the water, it forms a heavy blanket and the transducer will not see through it!  Or cause improbable readings.  Interesting.

I had a rather sad chat with a clever man yesterday.  His work on boats is highly skilled and having witnessed his attention to detail on ‘Talisker 1’ I am horrified to hear that his employers have told him he is too finickity in his work.  I don’t think it’s possible to be too thorough and meticulous working on a boat!  He also has the memory of an elephant and can tell you exactly what he has done on each boat he has worked on.

Owners are increasingly more gung ho with their boats.  There are more and more unsuitable people in command of vessels on the water.  Folk who don’t know the importance of doing the knowledge.  Very part time boaters.  What can possibly go wrong?

I’m pissed that the RYA have lowered their once high standards.  The MCA DoT RYA tickets used to be the pinnacle and highly prized and recognized.  Tickets used to be endorsed non tidal if they were successfully achieved in non tidal waters.  Not any more, provided you have been taught tidal, in a classroom!

I might have more to add on this subject.

But in the mean time reading Richard De Crespigny’s splendid book ‘Fly!’ I came across the Dunning-Kruger Effect.

Richard writes that ‘the Dunning-Kruger Effect describes how incompetent people lack the competence to recognize their incompetence.  It explains recursive incompetence and why a little bit of knowledge can sometimes be a dangerous thing.  Overconfidence in a field in which someone has little knowledge leads them not just to reach stupid conclusions and choose unwisely, it also removes their ability to realise it.’

I would question the ‘sometimes be a dangerous thing’ when it comes to boats and being on the water.

Richard further writes that ‘Knowledge is knowing what you don’t know’ i.e. be humble, know your limits, avoid narcissism and defer to expertise.’ 

So many people get their news and research from social media including of course when finding out what to do on the water.  Here is some more from Richard.

‘Resist placing blind trust in computers and software.  Even the best are still only programmed by humans to deal with known possibilities and their behavior may become unpredictable in unusual and unexpected situations.

Be sceptical of your sources for information.  There has never been a greater need to separate facts from beliefs, rumours, assumptions, fake news and subterfuge.  Understand the difference between opinion, anecdote and verified fact.  Beware of citogenesis (the circular process of creating reliable sources from false fact).  Don’t base any important decisions on blogs, Google searches or social media.  Look at who is providing the information and why they are doing so.’  

So don’t read this blog anymore! 

‘Use as many reputable and reliable sources as possible.  Get second opinions to harvest the knowledge of the creative and the experienced experts.’

Lies and exaggeration combined with sensationalizing news is a pandemic and the biggest danger to mankind.

And back to boating.  My mentors were proven experienced experts.  I will never stop learning and I most certainly do know my limitations now somewhat becoming greater with the frailty of age.

Just for fun here following is a question from me to the RYA regarding certification.

It is my understanding that having experience of, and doing practical courses in ‘tidal waters’ is no longer a requirement to gain Royal Yachting Association (RYA) certificates provided the subject has been classroom taught.

With the greatest respect to an organisation that does so much good work, this seems to me to be a mistake and short-sighted.

I didn’t begin cruising until I bought my first sailing boat aged 44. When my friends and I did our Yacht Master Offshore and passed, some 23 years ago, it was a fairly hefty achievement.

The sailing schools were strict and certainly locally the Instructors would tell candidates if they were not ready and cancel the end of week examiners. Even then examiners failed people.

MCA RYA meant something. When I was a Commercially Endorsed Yacht Master it was felt that we were good to work.

The last professional work I did was delivering a brand new Oyster from Ipswich to Mallorca.  Some time ago. My Commercial Endorsement had lapsed.  Nonetheless the skipper was endorsed and insurance required three out of the four crew to hold Yachtmaster Offshore Certificates. A recognition then. Would that be the same today? I’m told it would not be.

It seems to be a worrying, significant step back for all training schools and more money for the RYA. Is the RYA being leant on by sea schools operating out of non tidal waters to issue tickets indistinguishable from those from schools in tidal waters?

Why is the RYA lowering the bar? UK boating certificates and qualifications should be, and should remain … the pinnacle.  

I thank my lucky stars for the thousands of miles I’ve sailed in the Thames Estuary negotiating the many river bars, swatchways, channels, sand banks and estuaries.  So many take-offs and landings in shallow waters where the understanding of the tides, tidal streams and currents and how weather effects them is so fundamental to being safe. This vast experience has allowed me to venture much further.

My ocean miles mean nothing compared to my coastal miles. In the ocean with thousands of meters under the keel and no sight of traffic sometimes for days I’ve been very much more at ease.

 But it is my coastal miles I am most proud of, where land and traffic are in close proximity and where it is essential to have an understanding of the tides and their effects.

It is my firm belief that RYA certificates should still be endorsed “Non Tidal” if they are obtained in non tidal waters.

The RYA will send an unsatisfactory replay and probably say the Mediterranean is tidal.  Indeed it is … just … But try the Pentland Firth, for example, with only a rudimentary understanding of tides and tidal streams?

2nd May 1500


2nd May The Stour to The Orwell … the wind was going to back

2nd May “Tuesday of Ore’ in The Stour

2nd May tomorrow it will blow hard from the West South West

The wind has backed east and ‘Tuesday’ and ‘Talisker 1’ sailed from Erwarton Bay to just inside Orwell PH in the River Orwell.  Tomorrow it will blow hard from the West South West.  This is the spot to be.

4th May

We moved up river yesterday evening with the last of the flood.

3rd May moving again … the wind will back SSW

Both boats are anchored just up river from Colton Creek.  It did blow a bit yesterday but both boats were peaceful and wind rode, tucked so close in to the bank.  And my … did it rain.  It is a joy to look towards Pin Mill.

4th May anchored just up river from Colton Creek

This morning the sun is shining, the river looks beautiful, and the wind is blowing lightly from the south west until this afternoon.

5th May very early morning ‘Tuesday of Ore’ to right of picture

5th May The Steam Tug ‘Challenge’ in The Orwell.  She is the last surviving example of a large purpose-built, Thames ship-handling steam tug

6th May

I’m home this morning.

Yesterday I woke to a perfect morning.  Not a breath of wind early doors.  The possibility of warmer weather!  The Orwell was at her divine best.  Where did the water meet the sky?  Breathtaking.

5th May beating about

By lunchtime I decided I would go sailing and having raised the anchor and got underway we were joined by my chums David and Jill Robinson in their Moody 336 ‘Caveat’ and both boats had a leisurely beat down river with the ebb.

5th May ‘Caveat’ in The Orwell

24 tacks later, brought us up to Harwich and looking back towards the Orwell ‘Tuesday’ was rounding Shotley and turning in to the Stour on her way to anchor again for the night, this time off Wrabness.  We were then joined by Troy Batley and Simon Kerr in their Maxi 1000 ‘Sea Shanty’.  It was an enjoyable sail with my fellow Orford SC Cruisers.

5th May ‘Tuesday’ was rounding Shotley and turning in to the Stour on her way to anchor again for the night, this time off Wrabness

5th May

5th May ‘Talisker 1’

5th May ‘Sea Shanty’

5th May ‘Talisker 1’

The buoys are not yet in at the entrance to the River Ore and Doc and I had already decided we were not going in until they were in place.  Never have they been so late in the year!

Yes!  We could go into the river BUT if something did go wrong … what would our insurance company say?  With yacht insurance underwriters now being faceless it might be tricky.  I did have an underwriter who knew my sailing and never refused me anything I wanted to do.  Only sometimes was there a small premium to pay!  Sadly Mike has retired.

Troy and Simon invited us all to a curry on ‘Sea Shanty’ and because I wanted to check in at home it was back into Suffolk Yacht Harbour with ‘Caveat’ and ‘Sea Shanty’.

We had a lovely evening on ‘Sea Shanty’.  The promise of more convivial club cruising for the rest of the summer.

9th May

‘Tuesday of Ore’ and ‘Talisker 1’ are now back on their moorings at Orford.  We were told that the entrance buoys to the River Ore might not be back in for weeks.

9th May our return to Orford

9th May it was a lovely sail up the coast with “Tuesday of Ore’ in light southerly winds

Doc messaged me last night to say he was entering the river today and I went aboard and cast off from Suffolk YH very early.

It was a lovely sail up the coast in light southerly winds.

9th May ‘Tuesday of Ore’ back in her home river

There is probably deeper water but I did not have less than 3.9 metres one hour before HW at the river bar.  There is only so much you can see at LW from the beach.

So back home tomorrow.

10th May our wonderful HM Matt Smy taking me n Doc ashore.  ‘Tuesday of Ore’ & ‘Talisker 1’ are lying on their moorings astern


  • Candy Masters says:

    I was right there with you tonight as I read your latest…missing you, Doc and all our friends at OSC. I have become quite the vagabond wanderer this winter. Tomorrow I set off in my car to drive to Maine before Friday!

    Wonderful pix as usual, particularly the calm morning when the sky and the water are the exact same shade.

    Please take a squint at Endeavor and let me know how she looks…I hear nothing from the brokerage. A late season visit may be all I can manage this year

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