October Sailing

6th October

Our track in green from our mooring to the sheltered anchorage inside Flybury Point 6th October.

1915 We are anchored just inside Flybury Point in the River Ore having first anchored in the lee of Haversgate Island in Abraham’s Bosom.  The wind is going to veer a little more westerly tonight so this is a much better place.

The weather is awful.  Still!

I went out to to ‘Talisker 1’ in the tender at lunch time empty handed and then brought ‘Talisker 1’ to the sailing club pontoon to load from my van.  I also put my tender ashore as strong winds are due on Thursday and I do not want Philip, our Harbour Master, worrying about my tender again.

While moored to the pontoon there was torrential rain, thunder and then a hail storm.  Hail the size of thumb nails.

Torrential rain, thunder and then a hail storm. Orford SC pontoon 6th October.

Heading down Long Gull to anchor in Abraham’s Bosum.  A rainbow over Orford to the right of the Church. 6th October.

7th October

At anchor in the lee of Flybury Point.  Morning of the 7th October.

Our beautiful Orford Castle and Church.

It was a quiet night in the lee of Flybury Point and today we left the river in bright sunshine exactly two hours before HW Orford Haven.  The westerly wind was a F5 gusting a F7.

Our track in purple from The Ore to The Orwell 7th October.

I tried sailing with a triple reefed main and stay sail but it needed a consistent 7 for it to work well.

Triple reefed worked in the gusts.

7th October … heading for the Orwell.

It needed a consistent 7 for it to work well.

So shaking out the third reef and flying two reefs in the main we made the Orwell on predominantly a starboard tack with just one short tack on port in towards Felixstowe Pier. ‘Talisker 1’ fairly … flew.

‘Talisker 1’ fairly … flew

Rounding Languard 7th October

We are now anchored just up above Orwell Port Hand Buoy tucked in to the bank.  There will be some wind over night but we will ride predominantly head to wind so close in to the land.

Anchored just up above Orwell Port Hand Buoy

Orwell Port Hand Buoy in the foreground.

View from our anchorage towards Suffolk Yacht Harbour 7th October.

8th October

Apart from a brief bit of discomfort when the tide turned in the early hours we were anchored in a good spot.  ‘Talisker 1’ spent the night head to wind.  I was awake when the tide turned tide early morning just to make sure all was well.  It was blowing very hard by daylight.

The strong south west winds were forecast to veer north west at 1400 so I wanted to time our arrival in the Wallet for the change of wind direction.

But first of all there were fun and games whilst getting the anchor up at 1115.  I’d taken the anchor ball down, folded it flat and foolishly placed it on the coach roof.  The darn thing made a bid for freedom and blew off in to the river and sped upstream with the flood.  I wasn’t having that!  Your not escaping that easily!  Having got the anchor up I retrieved the ball from the river.  It had already made its way 300 metres up river towards ‘Talisker 1’s’ winter home of Suffolk Yacht Harbour.

Our track in brown from The Orwell to Pyefleet Creek with it showing us returning in to the lee of The Naze to wait for the wind to veer south west to north west before making our way down The Wallet 8th October.

Leaving the port of Felixstowe under a double reefed main, the wind was gusting 7’s.  As we passed Cliff Foot I tried a rolled stay sail, about two thirds of the normal stay sail, sail area.  ‘Talisker 1’ instantly took off towards the Naze, punching her way through the short sharp sea.

Leaving Felixstowe Docks 8th October

‘Talisker 1’ instantly took off towards the Naze.

She was perfectly balanced.  The smaller rolled stay sail worked beautifully.  I will need to experiment with some sheet positions on the track if I’m to do this again.  The car was a tad too far back and set for full stay sail.

Unfriendly skies towards the Gunfleet Sands.

Blowing hard.

The smaller rolled stay sail worked beautifully

I will need to experiment with some sheet positions on the track if I’m to do this again.

The car was a tad too far back and set for a full stay sail

We passed Medusa heading out towards the Gunfleet Sands and the Wallet was very rough indeed.  ‘Talisker 1’ was quite happy.  I tacked on to port and started to head for Walton Pier with plus 30 over the deck, before bearing away for the shelter of the Naze.

Bearing away for the shelter of the Naze.

The Wallet in the very powerful south westerly winds

We had ventured in to the Wallet slightly too early.

The Wallet in the very powerful south westerly winds, with wind over tide, was not for the faint hearted.  We had ventured in to the Wallet slightly too early.  We were three quarters of an hour early!

Very dark clouds were approaching from the west and suddenly the Port of Felixstowe disappeared as visibility decreased and the heavens opened to biblical proportions.  The wind veered to the north west and we came about and started to head back towards Walton Pier as torrential rain flattened the sea.

The Port of Felixstowe disappeared as visibility decreased and the heavens opened to biblical proportions.

The flow of rain water out of the end of the boom could have filled the fresh water tanks.  I don’t mind these downpours as I’m properly dressed and perfectly cocooned.

A white ocean going rowing boat was off the Naze with a support boat!

I took the furled reef out of the stay sail and hugged the Essex coast on starboard all the way to the Blackwater in strong north westerly winds.  There can’t be many times we have sailed down the Wallet so fast.

I took the furled reef out of the stay sail. Bradwell on the horizon.

And hugged the Essex coast

We crossed the Colne estuary and tacked on to port just past Bench Head and sailed in to the Colne and Mersea Stone Point.

And tacked on to port.

Sailing in to the Colne

The winds will drop further tonight.  We are comfortably anchored in Pyefleet Creek.

Anchored in Pyefleet Creek 8th October

9th October

1620 – We are anchored again just a hundred metres above Orwell PH Buoy, again, tucked up against the river bank.

We had a perfect night in Pyefleet Creek waking to a blue sky.  Westerly winds were forecast to help us back up the Wallet and even against a foul tide we rarely dropped below 5 over the ground sailing under main sail only as far as Walton Pier.

Our track in purple from Pyefleet Creek to the Orwell 9th October

Leaving Pyefleet ‘Pioneer’ was preparing to get underway.  We hoisted the main off Mersey Stone Point and ‘Talisker 1’ shot out of the river.

We hoisted the main off Mersea Stone Point

Leaving Mersea Stone Point astern.

No short cut today across the shallows close in to Colne Point.  We were leaving at low water and therefore had to sail in the estuary close to the Colne Bar Buoy before jibing on to port and heading north.

Heading up the Wallet under main only 9th October.

Tremendous power under main only … 9th October

Walton Pier

The beautiful morning was not going to last as ominous clouds headed in from the south west.  Setting the stay sail just past Walton Pier ‘Talisker 1’ tore through all the appallingly marked lobster pots.  Some are very difficult to see indeed.  The rain came down and with it some strong gusts but my boat was comfortable, effortlessly making 8 knots through the water.

Heading for Felixstowe Docks having set the stay sail … 9th October

We had experienced two quite contrasting days in our wonderful Wallet.  I have no idea how often I have sailed this stretch of water but it has never ever been the same.

It’s going to be windy tonight but we should be quiet and in the stronger stuff ‘Talisker 1’ will sit head to wind tucked in to the river bank.

James Robbie is heading for Shotley tomorrow to help a friend pick up a Westerly Storm he has bought.  I might sail to the Deben with them.

 10th October

Our track in sky blue from The Orwell to The Deben 10th October

Morning of the 10th October

At anchor inside Orwell Port Hand Buoy, River Orwell. The view towards Harwich.

I did sail to the Deben after a peaceful night in the Orwell.

Tonight the winds are from the north west.  ‘Talisker 1’ is anchored at the Rocks but on the south side of the river.  If the wind blows a bit stronger we are in a good spot.

We had a very good sail to the Deben in the company of ‘Force Ten’ on a new owner’s maiden voyage.  James Robinson was on board to help.  ‘Force Ten’ is an impressive ship and quite quick.

‘Force Ten’ off Felixstowe 10th October

‘Talisker 1’ off Felixstowe beach

Under a reefed main and stay sail

It gives some idea of her power

With the moody sky behind

James Robinson kindly took these pictures of ‘Talisker 1’

‘Force Ten’ leading the way. Approaching the Deben Bar.

I had not entered the Deben for some time and the entrance is very narrow and shallow.  We came in to the river in flat water in the westerly winds but very ominous dark clouds were approaching fast with heavy rain and a wind shift.  I had the main down very quickly just past the starboard hand mark.  The heavens opened with torrential rain, thunder and the wind strengthened and veered stronger from the north, before settling to a north westerly.

I had not entered the Deben for some time. ‘Storm Ten’ ahead. We dumped our main sails very quickly …

Safely inside the river and heading up to Ramsholt

It was lovely to see James Palmer sailing down river in his ancient immaculate ship ‘Kestrel’.  That he totally restored her too is incredible.  She looks brand new!

James Palmer sailing down river in his ancient immaculate ship ‘Kestrel’ 10th October

We had a brief chat when James passed the Rocks on his way back to Waldringfield.  James is an extremely clever shipwright and works at Larkman’s Ltd, my favourite boat yard, at Melton.

The view to Woodbridge having dropped anchor in The Rocks, River Deben 10th October.

James passed The Rocks on his way back to Waldringfield

11th October

At anchor.  The Rocks, River Deben early morning 11th October

Looking over towards Waldringfield

The beautiful Deben River

Our track in purple from The Deben to The Ore 11th October

We are anchored again in Lower Gull on the south eastern side of Haversgate Island.  The sun was setting as we crossed the river bar in to the Ore and this anchorage will be a peaceful place over night with the wind decreasing from the north west.  In the morning the wind will have backed a little and I’m hoping Doc will hoist me up the mast so I can take a look at the wind instrument.

I have not been in to the Deben it seems for years.  It was nice to see the familiar names of some of the boats as we passed through Ramsholt and experience the powerful flood tide at the ferry when outward bound this afternoon.  Bawdsey glows when bathed in sunshine with the sands positively golden.

Sailing in to the moorings at Ramsholt from The Rocks under main sail only

We had sailed down river from the Rocks under main only making 5 knots over the ground but having made it at a crawling pace passed the ferry we were forced to use the engine to first make way and then negotiate the very narrow and extremely shallow river bar.

We crawled passed Felixstowe Ferry against the strong flood tide

Looking back towards the moorings at Felixstowe Ferry.

Bawdsey.  Outward bound from The Deben late afternoon 11th October

The sea was flat with the north westerly winds.  I’d hate to have a mooring in the Deben with the entrance as it is at the moment.  The Ore is so much easier and for the time being, we have plenty of water.  It will be interesting to see what both entrances look like after the winter gales.

I dread getting older.  Not because I fear old age or my demise, but the prospect of not being able to sail is unthinkable.  It is a very depressing thought.  And it will probably happen just when I’m getting the hang of all this.  Although I’ve always messed about with boats it did not get serious for me until twenty two years ago.  I wish I’d started earlier.  I’d love to do some more long journeys by sea … alone.  I just love being on the boat!

There was an amazing rainbow over Orford this evening as, close hauled under full main and stay sail, we sailed gently up the coast over a flat sea.  From the Deben Bar I could see Orford’s Castle and Church, beautifully lit by the evening sun. Just past Boat House Point a squall had just passed through Aldeburgh and there was the rainbow, it seemed right over Orford Ness.  Incredible.

Orford’s Castle and Church, beautifully lit by the evening sun 11th October

We sailed gently up the coast over a flat sea

Close hauled under full main and stay sail

The amazing rainbow over Orford

Anchored in the Rocks today I thought of some of the places I’ve anchored.  In the crystal clear warm waters of the beautiful bay of Porto Santo, Madeira, the anchor set in golden sand, to the clear cold waters of the Islands above Scotland and in the warmer summer Kattegat Sea too.  I also have vivid memories of negotiating the narrowest and scariest entrance to an anchorage surrounded by high rocks on all sides near Bergen, Norway.  And in all those waters, the anchor would invariably always come up pristine and clean.  But today … it was the Rocks in one of England’s most beautiful estuaries.  And despite the anchor and chain pasted in black mud with the texture of glue, I could not have wished for anything better than that.

12th October

Our track in green from Flybury Point to Orford 12th October

I was alongside the club pontoon early this morning.

I was loath to motor the short distance from Lower Gull to Orford.  I somehow broke the peace as the sun came up over Haversgate Island.

Short Gull, the northern end of Haversgate Island, River Ore 12th October

As I rounded the bend in the river and turned towards the village the church and castle were bathed in a beautiful early morning light from the east.  So often I return to the river late in the day with the sun going down to the west so this was a light I have seldom experienced.  It’s such a privilege to sail from Orford.

Looking back down Short Gull

Early morning light from the east. Orford’s Castle and Church.  This was a light I have seldom experienced.

Doc came ashore in his dinghy and once I’d unloaded to my van, I took Doc back to ‘Tuesday’.  Doc and ‘Tuesday’ are heading to their winter home at the Tidemill Yacht Harbour.  I will go and meet them there and take their lines later in the week.

I had a brilliant morning with Doc!  He kindly hoisted me aloft so I could check and then remove ‘Talisker 1’s’ mast head wind instrument.  It’s quite a view from nearly 60 foot.  Looking over the Ness there is no Light House.  I’m struggling to get used to no Light House.

I’m right up the top of ‘Talisker 1’s mast 12th October

Thankfully Doc is in control in ‘Talisker 1’s’ cockpit.

The best of neighbours! ‘Tuesday of Ore’ on her mooring.  The view north from 60 feet.

A sad view out across the Ness to the North Sea and no Light House

The moorings virtually empty. Covid 19 and the end of the season! My home port 12th October.

“Let me down!” Doc in the cockpit of ‘Talisker 1’.

17th October

Doc and ‘Tuesday’ arrived safely in the Tide Mill today.

‘Tuesday of Ore’ and Doc in the Deben. Tidemill Yacht Harbour approaches 17th October

As usual I was superfluous to requirements as the master moored his ship perfectly.  In a few days I am heading to my winter storm hole, Suffolk Yacht Harbour.


  • Charlie Usher says:

    Hi James
    Great to read this, and wonderfulpictures; lots of inspiration for our first season with Forecten next year I hope we may sail in company at some time. For now, Forceten is ashore in Andrew’s yard at Felixstowe Ferry. We aim to complete a few improvements before spring.

    I was somewhat apprehensive as to what we would find out about the boat on our maiden passage; she’s 33 years old after all! However, my expectations were exceeded, particularly with respect to the cut and condition of her sails.

    It was great to observe you and Talisker 1, looking very ship shape indeed. We have much to learn aboard For Forceten!

    All the best

    • Hi Charlie
      ‘Force Ten’ is a fine ship and I can’t think of anyone who knows more about a Storm than James. You had a top crew with you that day. I’m delighted with ‘Talisker 1’. I bought her early in 2014 and it took two years before I felt ready to make a longer voyage in her. In 2016 we sailed to Shetland and Norway, coming home via the Kattegat and Kiel Canal. In 2017 we returned to Shetland and Norway but this time returned directly to Scotland from Norway. In 2018 we sailed to Madeira and the Azores and then home. The Storm has a similar hull to the Typhoon and although the rigs are quite different they are both excellent sailing boats. Ive found the the Typhoon to be stable and a fast passage maker.
      I look forward to sailing in your company in 2021.
      Stay safe. ATB James

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