Walton Blackwaters

Mai Rival’s first time out the River Crouch since arriving from Bulgaria. Out the Whitaker Channel, Back to the North Sea, across the Spitway – where the author touched ground so many years ago. Towards Walton Blackwater. Oh boy, and there is always an incident when out sailing. You’ll have to read on.

Day 1 – Saturday 26 August 2017

We spent anchored at the Cliffs, we left after six, and stole a mooring at Burnham-on-Crouch for the night.

Days run: 3.30 hrs

Log: 6.4 nm

Engine hrs: 3.30 hrs

There is something Bulgarian drying out here… a delicacy?

Day 2 – Sunday

We slipped our mooring at sunrise on a falling tide towards Bradwell Marina.

The passage plan accounted for reaching the Splitway an hour before low tide. It’s a slightly deeper part of a sandbank in the North Sea that allows for a dart north or south. A low tide crossing means there is ample time to ride the tide across a lot of Shallow on the Blackwater, without too much worry – and a guarantee to reach a mooring in deep enough water. We reached the Splitway about 30 minutes later than planned – and took a chance crossing anyway – almost at low tide – it’s neap tide right now, (which means there’s more water under us than if it were spring tide). And we’d be on a rising tide in no time if we got stuck. Bruce, a local in these waters says that’s where the expression comes from – ‘touch and go’. We didn’t touch this time, Our incident was still to come.

It came right after the Splitway. We ran out of fuel! Not out of poor planning – we sprung a fuel leak and six litres of fuel ended up in the bilges.

Fortunately wind (a gentle breeze) and tide, were behind us. Time to fix the leak, top up with fuel, bleed the engine and enjoy a sail before Bradwell.

Days run:8h 45

Log: 28 nm

Engine hrs: 6:45 hrs

Sail:2 hrs

Day 4 – Tuesday, 29th August 2017

BRADWELL MARINA – WEST MERSEY

Days Run: 2.18 hrs

Log: 3.8 nm

Engine hrs: 2 hrs

Under sail: 1 hour

Above: The storm threatened like a wave but avoided us

Day 5, August 30th, 2017

We sailed back to our home port, with many more incidents. All weather reports indicated force 3 – 4 on the Beaufort Scale, we got 6 occasionally seven. The BBC’s shipping forecast said the same although it was updated sometime we were out at sea. And more than 20 knots of wind in the North Sea is very different to more than 20 knots on the River Crouch.

Then, the influence of what other sailors are doing, always brings along doubt and confusion – never mind the passage plan. There was another yacht out on a similar course to ours, in fact on exactly our course, but he appeared to be waiting for something – what was it? Both his sails were reefed, but there was so little wind. Why? I could see Mai Rival’s confidence also influencing his decisions – We were pressing ahead, to cross the Spitway far too early – so he went ahead. Which meant we went ahead and turned too early, following him – forgetting about the cardinal’s we needed to go around according to our draft (not his)!

Oh, and one other. Don’t look at wind only, even though all the forecasts were wrong – rain matters too, particularly with crew. It’s been the wettest day out at sea ever!

Try interpreting this

Days Run: 8.14 hrs

Log: 31.3 nm

Engine hrs: 6 hrs

Log: 4331.5 nm

Engine log: 636 hrs

Homemade Bulgarian pastrami and red wine – something to get to port for!

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Oil Change

A British summer

A week aboard and a run of summer storms and generally foul weather got a few jobs done on Mai Rival

  • oil change
  • lockers painted (the first coat of International paint’s white dandelion on the port saloon lockers  And starboard galley locker)
  • New oven partially fitted
  • gangway stairs repaired
  • Shelves fitted (saloon & galley lockers)

Current log: 4230 nm

Engine hours: 606 (480 since leaving the Black Sea)