It seems increasingly likely that the sailing i do this year will be on the East coast, which is a bit weird when you consider i live within rock-chucking distance of the Tamar on the Devon/Cornwall border.
Before i begin the actual post today i would just like to explain a couple of things about the blog and the way i write posts now. Last year, in the early days of the blog i had so many things to blog that i spent entire days writing and i would put out several posts on the same day. Consequently many of my posts weren’t very good and since then i have learned to slow down a bit. Now what i do is quickly write the initial idea ‘fast and dirty’, schedule the post but then edit it at least once and more often re-read and edit just before i publish it. Right now i have 5 or 6 scheduled and another 20 in draft that i might use at some time. Just recently a whole group of posts became irrelevant simply because i have shelved 2 ideas : an ocean voyage with the Liberty and a cross-channel adventure with the even smaller Dayboat. Sometimes also you might hear me saying ‘today’ that something happened when in fact it might, in real time, it happened a couple of weeks back and things have already changed again. Thus at the moment, as i write, i have had my offer on the Deben initially declined, and then accepted so technically at the time of writing i am actually ‘3-boat’ Steve. However things have also moved on in that i have put the Dayboat up for a quick sale on Ebay and the Liberty on Apollo-duck. Possibly by the time you read this actual post i may be back to being ‘2 boat’ steve again.
Orwell yacht club.
Today i was down at the yard taking my personal gear off the Liberty and taking the opportunity to chat with Chris the yard boss . We had arranged that he would hoist WABI”’ and put her in a local race-boat’s cradle and i suddenly realised this morning that it wouldn’t work because of the Liberty’s bilge runners (keels). He would have worked that out anyway but it’s just one of those things that makes me sit up at night and go ‘doh’. Chris, a bit like me, is an experienced ocean sailor but unlike me is also a multi-skilled boat-bodger, last time i was down there he was welding up a frame spanning 2 boats that will work as a moorings barge. I had already mentioned the Deben and of course he was interested in that as he is the owner of 2 wooden boats….although very much ‘west coast boats’. Chris owns both Spirit of Mystery which is based on a Cornish lugger and a smaller Lugger (Veracity).
Spirit of Mystery looks ready to sail and Veracity has her new transom so all is well on that front. Chris and me were talking about the far-east coast and neither of us know much about it. I have made just 2 trips to Essex, one to Norfolk and so far just one to Suffolk. I couldn’t even bring to mind the layout of the area just to the north of the Thames estuary and then the Suffolk rivers. I have only seen Essex so far on grey miserable days when the mud, the water and the sky all had the same grey/brown almost non-colour.
Even the barge was grey.
Given that i get to sail often in the sparklingly clear waters of Cornwall and Brittanny it might seem perverse that i am drawn to muddy creeks and salt-marsh.
Norfolk seems to be a mixture of the 2 with shallow water, sometimes over sand and sometimes over mud. We really liked Norfolk and once again i had to call-up google maps just to work out where Wells would be in relation to the Suffolk rivers for example.
Mud and sand.
The common feature though is that all of the east coast that i have seen so far is low-lying to extremely low-lying compared to the coast here which is a bold coast of rocky headlands and sea-cliffs. Remember that i learnt to sail in the Irish Sea off Anglesey and it’s huge sea cliffs and suddenly the coasts of Essex, Suffolk and Norfolk seem like very different places. The boats, at least the native ones, are certainly a different shape, here for example is an ‘even further east’ boat….from Holland, which is similar. I wouldn’t even want to begin to imagine that head-butting it’s way up a channel-chop.
That, kind-of, brings me onto talking about the Deben 4 tonner which was clearly designed as a tabloid cruising boat for the east coast and named for one of the Suffolk rivers. The one i had before coped well with her upwind voyage from Chichester all the way to Plymouth even with her ‘wrong’ rig, awful sails and poor gear. I am hoping that Inanda will be a much more powerful sailing boat with that big gaff rig and that the rig matches the keel ie not as ‘tight’ to windward but consistently quicker. Exactly how she will handle in the short seas of the east coast and the bigger waves of the western channel i have no idea.
My only general impression of east vs west-coast boats is that the east coast boats seem lower and ‘chunkier’ when set against the deeper and leaner boats like the Falmouth working boats. Pete, the current owner of Inanda also owns a classic east-coast smack which i have yet to have a good look at. Pete said to have a search for photographs of ‘Transcur’ as she is known, sailing, and i have hopefully wangled an invite to sail on her some time.
I had to borrow these photographs from the OGA website until i can get some myself.
What’s this all about then eh….well basically that i am likely to be based at the Orwell yacht club with Inanda while i take her over and learn to sail her, shockingly i might even become a temporary member there if the commode will have me !
I have wanted to sail for a while in east coast waters so rather than throwing the gear aboard Inanda and immediately heading south and then west we might be keeping her in her home waters for a while and explore some of that area. It’s not exactly next door so it’s not feasible to nip over there for the day but rather to do the long drive just a few times but spend much longer each time there…and we both have leave due before my knee op will happen. I like the idea of her being in the mud berth that she is in now and that she will be under Pete’s watchful eye.