SV Laurin in The Netherlands

SV Laurin in The Netherlands

Thursday, 20 August 2020

18th and 19th August 2020: A false start then a quick dash home to Burnham.


Patrick and I were woken by our alarm at 3:30, an hour or so before the crew of Free Wheel had set theirs as we are so much slower... and more risk averse... the wind was due to strengthen as the day went on and we could get into Brightlingsea earlier due to our shallower draft. Looking outside at the glass like water beneath us it was hard to believe the 15 to 20 knots forecast, but a quick look at the Sandettie Light Ship actual wind strength showed 18 knots from the South West. Neither of us had had much sleep, the boat to our embarassment was not anywhere near ship shape enough to survive strong wind over tide in the Wallet without a good deal of tidying up first. We didn't want to do it! We felt bad that our friends really wanted to go, and that the kids would miss each other and perhaps not catch up again if we decided to head straight for Burnham the next day, but fundamentally as skippers we have to make the decision that is right for us.

We set our alarm for Free Wheel's wake up time and got up to wave them off... Esmé too although AJ was still blowing z's... before heading back to bed. On waking we were still looking at the mill pond outside and berating ourselves for being too cautious. I decided to check how Free Wheel were getting on by looking for their AIS signal on one of the internet based tracking sites. I couldn't see them but saw our friends Gordon and Ali on Alshira out in the Wallet making good progress which added to my feeling of inadequacy for not being out there too. I messaged Marika to ask how it was going and to mention I couldn't see them on AIS. Her response was unprintable and they were considering turning round. The Wallet with wind against tide is not called Vomit Alley for nothing. We decided to head towards Shotley so we could be there for when they got in and take the kids if they needed a break however once we were underway we got another message to say they were keeping going as they had put the engine on and were taking an inshore route which was more comfortable.

We enjoyed a lovely sail down the Orwell under headsail, with the wind steadily building as we went. 

Once safely tucked up at Shotley we relaxed before properly tidying up the boat ready for a lively trip the next day. It was only later that we realised we hadn't heard from Free Wheel that they had arrived.

Patrick messaged Dave to see if they were there and got a phonecall straight back. Their engine had died outside the Colne and they had had a bit of nightmare getting in to Brightlingsea... but that's their story to tell. Although in some ways it made us feel a bit better about our decision to wait, we felt bad that we hadn't been there to help our friends.

We finally dragged ourselves out for a walk/skate before an early dinner and bed ready for our early start the next day.


Low water was at about 6:15 so normally we'd leave just a little before that to take the last of the outgoing tide out of Harwich harbour, however the wind was due to start light and then build as the day progressed, ending with heavy rain. We rather thought we'd like to be out of the Wallet (AKA vomit alley) before the wind strenght rose to the levels of the previous day so opted for a 4:15 alarm call to make best use of the lighter winds (and hence flatter seas) for the early part of the passage. It was a beautiful ,morning and we felt somewhat guilty for not sailing straight away but when we motored quickly past boats that were trying to sail we felt a little vindicated for our decision.

Despite feeling a little tired after the second early start in 2 days, I still love the early mornings and watching the sun rise.

We made good time and made it to the Swin Spitway and out of the Wallet just as the sea state was starting to get a bit lively. We then hung on until the Inner Whitaker Southerly Cardinal and headed into the Crouch. The new course and a slight change of wind angle meant that sailing was now a viable proposition so we hoisted the mizzen and rolled out the genoa and enjoyed a lovely sail into our home waters. We arrived back in Burnham, moored, plugged in electrics and got the cockpit tent up and hid down below just as the first droplets of rain fell. 

Feeling guilty about not making it to Brightlingsea we contemplated driving round there for a last meal with the crew of Free Wheel. It's a pain of a journey but we felt neither we or the kids had had chance to say a proper goodbye so we booked a curry house, caught up on some sleep and then headed out into a wet and soggy evening. 

I'd like to say it was a perfect end to the day and the holiday... and in many ways it was, however the amazing food was marred somewhat by the exceedingly slow service due to staff shortages. People who don't have kids often don't realise the effort needed to  (quietly) entertain children in a restaurant when food doesn't arrive within 3 minutes and 47 seconds of them sitting down. Our table was booked for 6:30 and by 8:30pm the only food we'd received was popadoms! Still, it was nice to have a catch up before saying our final goodbyes.

Tuesday, 18 August 2020

Monday 17th August 2020 - Woolverstone Marina and Pin Mill

After our rest day we were now actively looking for a weather window to get us south once more. We were really hankering after another trip to the Rosebud in Brightlingsea but the continuous forecast for South or Southwesterly strong winds was a little frustrating. As it happened we also awoke to a thick blanket of fog!

 Eventually we realised that there might be a weather window that evening, and we could just about get into Brightlinsea before the harbourmaster went home. However I was feeling a little conflicted as although we needed to head south, I really wanted to explore a little more of the Orwell with the kids as we are reading "We didn't mean to go to sea" which is set in this area. We finally decided to head up to Woolverstone for lunch so we could at least sail past the famous Pin Mill where John, Susan, Titty and Roger continued their sailing adventures. We then needed to leave by ideally 3pm but definitely 4pm to make best use of the tide to Shotley.

In the end we were a little delayed setting off, the sail was a little too lovely to motor for too much of it and we didn't arrive unti 2:30pm. The marina restaurant was on the "Eat out to help out" deal and had a lovely menu, and the prospect of an evening stroll to Pin Mill meant an easy decision to delay our trip to Brightlingsea.

A really pleasant evening of walking, rope swings, tree climbing, drinking and ice creams followed and Patrick and I headed to bed with alarms set stupidly early to check weather and consider a dash south.


Monday, 17 August 2020

Sunday 16th August 2020 - Another day in Shotley

The morning's excitement was the arrival of Esmé's new roller blades. She'd been playing on Clara's under the watchful eye of experienced skater Dave and so decided to buy some with the remainder of last years birthday money. We had managed to get a speedy delivery to Shotley and she was delighted to see David walking up the pontoon with a huge box!

 After lots of fun trying them out AJ cooked lunch for his friends and we enjoyed a chilled out day including a skate down to the Bristol Arms for ice cream before I cooked prawn thai green curry for us all for dinner.

Sunday, 16 August 2020

15th August 2020 - Lowestoft to Shotley

As low water wasn't until mind afternoon and we didn't want to punch tide for too long on the trip south to Shotley we didn't plan to leave unti about 1pm. I was looking forward to making the most of our last morning in Lowestoft but in the end just pootled round the boat making things ship shape for our journey... it's amazing how much the boat turns into house when you stay in one place for a few days.

The forecast for the forseable future held lots of southerly winds so we took the lightest forecast for the trip south as beating into wind against tide is not comfortable. The result was a pretty long and boring motor... with the added bonus of rain. Not quite the sailing holiday on a luxuary yacht I'm sure some of my friends imagine!

The rest of the trip passed in a lazy blur of bubbles, cards and Heinz beans and sausages with Esmé finally getting dressed and turning into a helpful crew member for mooring up at Shotley.


Saturday, 15 August 2020

12/13/14th August - Chilling out, eating out to help out in Lowestoft

Not going to bother splitting it into days. The last 3 have blurred into a haze of cheap eating, beach life, swimming, paddleboarding, crabbing and chilling on board. Finally feel relaxed!
(Feel free to use Esmé's photos wearing your gorgeous kit Tiffany Rose)

 And some more courtesy of our friends on Free Wheel:

Thursday, 13 August 2020

Tuesday 11th August 2020 - Shotley to Lowestoft


A 4am alarm in order to be ready to lock out at 4:30 didn't feel too bad, particularly with the prospect of a 7+ hour passage to catch up on sleep once we were on our way. I always love the early starts to take advantage of tide and this was no different. We pottered about getting ready and then put our nav lights on to show we were ready, Free Wheel's were on too. We heard the lock keeper respond to Free Wheel's request to lock out and radioed to let him know that we would be joining them. An easy exit from our berth in the still of the early morning and then a small drop in the lock before following Free Wheel out of Harwich, the sky turning red with the sunrise as we motored past the cranes at Felixtowe.

In the end the passage was a little frustrating. With a little too much north in the wind and not quite enough of it to sail efficiently we motored in the rolly swell. Free Wheel tried to sail and tacked offshore but we don't point very well so I chose to motor at least until Orford Ness where our weather app "Windy" suggested the wind would become a little more easterly, and we would change course, both of which would improve our wind angle. Patrick was catching up on sleep down below... I still didn't have my sea legs yet so stayed on deck. I get seasick  but manage it pretty well, however lockdown has meant that I haven't been at sea since this time last year and the swell was making me feel uncomfortable enough that I wouldn't have been able to sleep anyway. 

Once we got to Orford Ness I slowed us down, changed course and looked at the wind angle... maybe we could sail. Patrick came on deck and put the main and mizzen up and we gave it a go. The motion of the boat improved a little but we couldn't make anywhere near a sensible course so we motor sailed for a while and i got my head down for an hour or so.

The kids had arranged to try contact each other on their little PMR radios and Esmé tried to contact her friends however I think they were a little to far away to be in range. As we approached Lowestoft we were again hoping for a litte sail however by now the tide was starting to turn and this in turn meant that our wind angle was not good for a sail. By now Free Wheel had caught us up and overtaken us, radioing Lowestoft Port Control asking permission to enter and we followed suit.

AJ then radioed the Royal Norfolk and Suffolk Yacht club where we were booked in to let them know we were approaching and we were greeted by the crew of Free Wheel offering to take our lines.

David and Marika had not managed to get any additional sleep so we offered to take all the kids for a walk in the afternoon. We walked a little way to the second pier in the heat of the day before buying slushies/ice cream and bodyboards and retreating to the beach for a couple of hours!

On our return David and Marika weren't back from their post sleep walk so we bought some crabbing lines and the kids spent a happy half hour catching enormous crabs.

All tired from a long day we decided to take advantage of "Eat Out to Help Out" again and had tea at "The Harbour Inn" which was close by having not managed to secure a table at the Yacht Club until the next day.