Captain’s Log 2009 – Friday

Another fine morning, together with a fresh wind from the south. Some discussion about the possibility of lowering away and exploring the river south of the bridge before lunch. The tide was running upstream which was good, but to pass under the bridge meant getting downstream against wind and tide and then crossing to the other side to raise the mast as there is no mooring on our current bank. That combination was likely to be impossible as the river is too deep for quants in the middle at this point so the idea had to be abandoned.

Acle Rigging and Reefing

Acle Rigging and Reefing

Time to put in a couple of reefs and then to take off from the leeward bank with a good shove from a friend. So what did the last boat to leave do?

Fortunately Tarn was able to use her motor to get safely off as ‘last man’.Our destination for lunch was Upton, only a short distance upstream, but the wind was great so we sailed all the way to Windy Corner and back covering the measured quarter mile on the way upstream. Our time (2min 11 secs with the wind aft) was such that, despite two reefs, we were breaking the speed limit that applies to motor cruisers. Shame none were about.

Bure Two Yachts

Bure Two Yachts

Also, when heading upstream we passed Tarn and another sailboat heading back upwind.

Bure Mike C & Tony on Hustler 2

Bure Mike C & Tony on Hustler 2

When we turned and set off into the wind you could plainly see why these Hustlers are such a joy to sail. Both of the others were reefed for the conditions like us, but our Hustler just ate up the distance between us and each of them in turn.

A word about getting the best out of the boats is appropriate here. We were sailing against both wind and tide and so gaining distance along the river is the key to making good progress. If the wind is blowing dead along the river then, at the end of each equal tack, take the turn relatively slowly using the weight of the boat to punch a bit of distance into the wind. As you approach the bank or tacking point allow the tiller to slip out of your grip, the weather helm in the boat will start the turn. Haul in the mainsail as she begins to turn so as to squeeze the last bit of power out of the wind and also help the tuning as the wind pressure strikes the aft end of the sail. Do not allow the tiller to go over more than the corner of the cockpit coaming. As the boat turns gently through the eye of the wind, ease mainsheet back to its normal position and the tiller back to the centre and set off a bit below the course where you are hard on the wind; the boat will have slowed in the tack and you need some initial acceleration. As she builds back up to speed adjust the tiller to get best windward advantage.

If the river turns so, although tacking still you are now at an angle to the wind, you will be doing one long tack and one short one which will be almost directly across the stream. The short tack carries you both downwind and with the flowing stream, so you need to make this leg as short in time as possible. As for the other leg there are two parts to it. The first is when you are effectively in open water, i.e. more than six feet from the bank. In this position keep your speed up so that you are punching the current. When a gust comes through, ease off the main to accelerate and then pull in tighter as you pinch up to windward making best distance against the stream.

When you get close to the bank then, depending up the firmness of the bank you may have the opportunity to use the bank to pinch up further than usual, referred to as ‘ydraulickin’. If the bank is piled then you can sail a foot or two away from the bank and your forward motion builds up water pressure allowing you to sail a bit closer to the wind as the boat looses its sideslip. Push it too far and you will be stranded on a lee bank, but get it right and you can make several boat lengths against the wind and stream. If the bank is too soft or shallow/ sloped then the pressure cannot build up.

On our walk through the Eastwood Welpton yard we saw “Rebecca” being prepared for the season’s sailing. She is a modern yacht but built to traditional lines and in beautiful style. The tiller alone, a long snaking brass tiller, is a joy to see.The lad behind the bar was very helpful and efficient – and is an opera singer to boot. Also one of the guest beers (always an interesting selection here) was Nelson’s Revenge, so I was very pleased.Lunch over it was back to the Tarn ferry and over to our boats. By now the tide had turned and we had wind in one direction and the current in the other. As a result of miscommunication between me and my helm we did not make the most elegant of departures, but nonetheless set off safely for the yard but, because the wind was so enjoyable, we did it via Acle once more just for fun.In the evening we decided to stay local for once and went to the King’s Arms in Ludham. This too has been refurbished, the bar had been refitted American style with lots of dripping vertical chromed dispensers and the room at the far end, previously isolated from the noisy main bar, had been opened up. The beer selection was fair, even if served rather too cold, but the noise from the video jukebox almost overwhelming in this pub that is well patronised by “the younger set”.
And so ends another year’s voyage. Lots to hearten us with works on banks and dredging in evidence as well as improvements to several hostelries. The closure of three of what we would have thought to be among the more popular pubs was a blow, but I suspect that most of them will be open next year under new management.To see maps of this year’s voyage visit the Maps category.

Bure Opposite Upton

Bure Opposite Upton

Anyway, it was now lunchtime and our normal mooring spot on the end of Upton dyke was a strong lee shore, not a place to get stuck. So, taking the advantage of Tarn’s quanticanical we moored the engineless boats on the far bank of the main river and ferried crews over in Tarn.

Upton White Horse Fish & Chips

Upton White Horse Fish & Chips

On to the White Horse for the traditional enormous fish & chips with mushy peas (Fridays only if you are planning a visit).

Upton White Horse Parrot

Upton White Horse Parrot

I could not finish mine and was still not hungry by breakfast time the next morning, even though the resident parrot helped out with my chips.

Hunters Yard, Packing Up

Hunters Yard, Packing Up

And so to take Percy’s Ladies home once more. for unloading, cleaning and packing up ready for the return to the modern world.