Orford to Oostende 6th & 7th May
We left the Ore at 1330 BST on Sunday the 6th under a cloudless sky and set full main and genoa in a light easterly wind and sailed SE in light easterlies.
The extra work below the waterline is paying dividends. ‘Talisker 1’ was slipping through the water very nicely and with a forecast of easterly 3 to 4’s, smooth seas, fair weather and moderate visibility we just kept going.
There is a narrow gap through the Shipwash about 2 nm ENE of Walker East Cardinal. I got a call from Sunk Pilot saying Harwich VTS were trying to speak to me so gave them a call on Ch 71. Did I know where I was? Was I happy so close to the Shipwash? I thanked them for watching and yes … I confirmed I had plenty of water and knew where I was. I never had less than 5 metres at the shallowest. That’s AIS for you. But a thank you to them for watching.
I was still not committed to crossing the North Sea but at this point I decided it would be a good exercise to coax her along for a few hours in light airs and in these conditions it did require fairly constant trimming of the sails. This is when you’d like lighter sails instead of my long distance very heavy cloth but I would not compromise on the weight of the sails as most of the time we are sailing in windy conditions for long periods.
It was quite hard work passing to the south of Galloper with the tide setting NE and the light airs being interfered with by the wind farm but we slipped past S Galloper Cardinal and with a puff more wind our speed increased for an hour or so as we made at times 5.8 through the water.
Visibility was improving steadily. We slowly crossed Noord Hinder South TSS on a 130 compass heading and both ‘Innovation’ in the SW lane and then ‘Autosky’ in the NE lane altered course for us. We had an exchange on VHF with the Watch Officers on both ships who were both sooo polite. We wished each other a good watch. Nice.
There was a lovely sunset.
I really thought we would sail all the way but about 15 nm NNW of Oostende there is the busy Westhinder anchorage for ships. Sailing through so many of them as the wind died and being set across them by a strong current was not going to be an option. Particularly if I wanted to get my head down in Oostende at dawn.
So with the engine on we motored the last few miles passing through the pier heads at 0400 BST with dawn on the horizon. It was daylight by the time we were moored in the Royal NSYC.
Much has changed since my first visit so many years ago. I had managed the unbelievably rude harbour master then for about 5 minutes. Simon is now the Harbour Master here! It is now a lovely place to be.
And I was delighted that Oostende Voor Anker was starting on Thursday together with the Oostende Ramsgate race.
I slept for a few hours. It was the first real day of the summer!
Its been a good few days in really lovely weather helped much by seeing wonderful friends. Pieter, Mieke and Aster. And a catch up with Jan, Els and their son in law Thomas. Jan and Thomas set off on Thursday morning competing in the Oostende Ramsgate race! Raymond came in to town on Tuesday and Thursday. Anne’s Mum is not so good and it seems she will not be sailing with ‘Drunken Duck’ this summer. Raymond is contemplating sailing alone so I hope our boats will meet up.
It’s also Oostende Voor Anker this week end although the event actually started on Thursday. Oostende Voor Anker is of course Ostend at Anchor. It is an annual event and attracts many many old boats and ships including the superb replica of the Russian Frigate ‘Shtandart’. The original vessel’s keel was laid in April 1703 and she remained in service until 1727.
The replica 220 ton three masted Frigate started construction in 1994 by a small group of sailing enthusiasts led by Vladimir Martus. Martus developed a new layout of the Shtandart wherein she was built with four bulkheads, dividing her into five compartments. The “Shtandart Project” (a non-commercial organisation dedicated to youth development) launched a replica of the frigate on September 4, 1999.
She entered Oostende on Monday and fired cannon. Quite impressive!
Tomorrow we are sailing to Harwich leaving fairly early in the morning.
11th May Oostende to Harwich
12th May 0945 BST. We are anchored in the River Stour above Parkston Quay on the south side. We dropped the anchor at 2100 last night in quite strong easterly winds. This morning there is not a breath of wind and the sun is shining.
Yesterday we sailed slowly across the southern North Sea from Oostende.
Engine on RNS YC at 0500 BST and we switched the engine off the moment we were clear of the Pier Heads at 0530 in light southerly winds with the genoa goose winged and poled out with just enough wind off the port quarter to set the stay sail behind the main sail. It was going to be another day of hard work in light airs to keep us moving under a cloudless sky with pretty good visibility.
At 0940 BST the wind had dropped and backed SE and we were struggling to keep going and an hour later passing Garden City I was vaguely tempted to fire up the engine. But in much the same was as one delays taking a reef out, I left it and with Noord Hinder South TSS approaching the wind backed easterly and we were now sailing on a starboard tack with the uncomfortable slap of the sails and not quite enough wind to fill them properly but with just enough to keep us underway.
But the wind increased a little from the east and it does not take much for ‘Talisker 1’ to do what she does best and with a F3 we were making 5 – 6 knots through the water.
Approaching S Galloper we were going well in NE 3’s and found ourselves in a large racing fleet all outward bound and going to windward. Serious stuff. Later I discovered it was the RORC North Sea Race Harwich to Scheveningen.
Approaching Long Sand Head the wind did die and at 1705 BST we finally succumbed to the engine. We were still 16 NM from Harwich. It was overcast with the visibility less good. I had listened to Dover Coastguard coordinating the rescue of a Dutch yacht with engine trouble.
But the wind did return and just passing Medusa we reset the genoa and switched the engine off. ‘Talisker 1’ gathered her skirts and set off and the last few miles were completed at great speed with ‘Talisker 1’ creating a terrific wake, her bow wave thunderous as she sailed in towards Languard and the entrance to the port of Felixstowe.
Coming in south of the channel the Harwich Lifeboat were towing the Dutchman in to the harbour from the north.
We furled the genoa and sailed in gybing to head up the Stour and sailing up the river with the last of the flood to anchor in this delightful river. It was blowing quite a bit, getting dark when the anchor went down. I slept soundly.
Today we head up the Orwell to the Royal Harwich. My first RCC dinner as a member!
Sunday 13th May
We sailed all the way back from the Orwell and right up to our mooring in Orford.
I sat next to a very interesting lady at the RCC dinner. Hilary Keatinge has given up sailing. She talked to me enthusiastically about sailing Ireland where she spent her childhood until she got married. She has been writing the RCC Pilot Book ‘Atlantic Islands’.
Doc, James Robi, both members and Harry Hitchcock, a guest, were at the dinner too. Doc and me were the only ones NOT wearing a blazer and tie. Sally had telephoned me early Saturday morning to ask me what I was going to do about clothes? I believed that because I arrived in a boat it was not important! So did nothing! I think it was!