Night passage.

Today i feel i should start with both an apology and a thanks : actually make that several apologies !.

My first apology is that i don’t have any new photographs to post with the rest of this weeks blog posts and that isn’t because i did something typically ‘me’ and forget to take the camera but that its battery is dying and the spare had somehow fallen out of the camera case when i was organising the kit. That’s a bit of a shame because i have just done a night passage in the river on an overcast night with almost no light and then gone on the have 3 days intensive sailing mainly in the way of sea trials with all the modifications and experiments. When i was sitting in the boat this afternoon as she settled back down into the mud i made a new list of about half a pages worth of titles for new posts….not that difficult now that i am in the habit of one word titles but it does mean that there is a lot of new content posts.

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As for the night passage itself, simple enough in that after work i dashed home to drop some things off, picked up some kit, went shopping and then went straight down to the boat.  It took me about an hour and a half to make ready to go which affected my timing in that i really wanted to do the downriver passage on a rising tide just in case i stuffed-up badly and leaving as i did on the top of a tide that is still heading towards neaps was a small additional pressure.  I thought for a while that i wouldn’t make the passage due to the light being so poor but that was simply because my night vision was continually being spoiled by having to use a torch outside the boat to do the jobs and then the automated lights coming on every time i to the car and back.  Once i just stopped and sat in the cockpit for a while i found my night vision rapidly improving : i am quite happy being out and about at night, i frequently used to go for night walks and practice my bush skills at night and have sailed plenty in the dark although usually offshore and trans-ocean.  The river hazards are just a bit different mainly in that there are a lot of ‘widow-maker’ sections of half submerged trees all down parts of the river and not good things to spike the boat on !.  The trick by the way is to use a bushcraft technique ie to use a good powerful torch but when doing so to only open one eye and only use the torch in short bursts just to orientate position and direction.  I did have to ‘handrail’ a couple of the very dark sections where there was deep shadow but generally it went ok, i am beginning to know the river well enough to know where the main problems are and where the few boats still moored out actually are.   I did have a farcical few minutes when the outboard cut out, its never done that before and i guess it helps when the owner remembers to fill the tank up : it did give me the opportunity to ‘crash’ anchor the boat by deploying my new anchor off the stern….seemed to go ok  and shortly after that i got to my actual anchorage, by then the place that i really wanted to be was too dark to gauge the position and of course the depth sounder decided to have the night off so i had to guess the depth by the amount of ‘drop’ the anchor took when i released it and guessed at a more central position than i would normally chose on that section of river.

First time out on the river at night this year and in February too : i was pretty darned cold when i stopped and finally got below, i don’t remember what i had to eat but that i was glad to get a hot drink and settle under my winter sleeping bag just listening to the sound of the river and the woodland bank.

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