Tuesday 28 May 2013

Swell swimming down the Swale

Resident Historian, Mick, reminded me that in Nelson's day it was not only people that swam but so too did ships. The photo above was taken on Sunday 27/5 as we left the Swale with a boisterous following wind. The video below ends with a rather embarrassing squeak from yours truly as the swell suddenly made itself known and our hitherto smooth swim suddenly took on cork-screwing qualities as Arctic Smoke raced down the East Swale,

[Sorry about the videos I'll try and sort them out later - but Google's system appears limited]

Mick, Bernie and myself had a great bank holiday weekend. On Saturday morning we took the boat into the marina to give her a spring clean and clear out some of the detritus from thewinter maintenance. Bernie brought his pressure washer so we managed a pretty good job on the outside too. Before the tide left us stuck in the Hoo mud we moved back to the mooring to continue a succession of odd jobs mainly connected with the engine; oil change, filters etc. The local Dragon fleet passed by including a visitor from Belgium in a lovely wooden boat.

Bernie did the honours in the galley and cooked up an excellent feast and we were then treated to a gorgeous sunset followed by an even more splendid orange moon which unfortunately did not get photographed.

On Sunday morning we continued with jobs which included fishing Arctic Smoke's very deep bilge for a couple of long lost screw drivers. They stayed lost! We did though manage to extract a good deal of oily bilge water (into containers).

The turn of the tide brought a close encounter with a neighbour. Tony Cottis our mooring master happened to be around and we were given directions to an alternate mooring. Simon our neighbour was I think quite relieved to see clear blue (actually brown) water established between us.

We finally got underway around 1445 and in gentle conditions sailed and motored as required down the Medway with the ebb with Harty Ferry on the Swale our destination.

The engine went off properly at Garrison Point and we had a very enjoyable gentle sail round the outside of the Isle of Sheppy. The rare combination of a following wind, benign conditions and a three man crew was the perfect excuse to dig out the as yet unused (even unseen) spinnaker. Fortunately it had a stuffing chute so even we were able to get it up and flying without undue difficulty. It was in good condition too. Five minutes later the wind died completely and because we were keen to get to the pub in time for food as well as drink the engine went back on.

However, we were still motoring up the east Swale at 2000 and whilst the locals looked like they had had their dinner we were getting concerned about ours...

After a look at the seals we went and said hello to Howard and family who had arrived the previous day. Then we picked up a buoy.  Before rushing to the pub we were treated to another great sunset.

The trip was treacherous. A very low tide meant lots of Swale mud before we got to the slippery causeway. What a disappointment when we got there; we were there before 2100, no food no decent ale and a bar maid who was more interested in cleaning the tables than serving us. Eventually we got served with a pint of cruddy beer. We knocked it back as quickly as possible and headed back to the boat after vowing never to return. Next time we'll go to the Shipwright Arms at the head of Faversham creek despite the longer row.

Anyway back on the boat Bernie did his stuff again. Fortunately he didn't cook all the steak the previous night. This time bake beans had to substitute for fresh veg but we had great meal. I left the crew to wash up and went to bed

The next morning  I got up at 0730 to make the breakfast. After a quiet night a strong westerly breeze was blowing and I was keen to make the most of it to get out of the Swale before the flood got too strong.

We dropped our mooring at about 0945 and headed out. Decided to try the spinnaker again and once up it pulled us along at 5 k over the ground against a 2 k flood (the boat speedo which was working fine the day before refused to work). Bernie got lots of helming practice in.

To begin with it was smooth fast sailing. Having previously been on the quarter the wind veered right behind us and increased further against the strengthening flood. The swell got up and we were soon swimming along like the proverbial drunken sailor.

Once we rounded Columbine we skirted the shallows close hauled up the coast to the mouth of the Medway. 

Then a beat up the river and we picked up our mooring at around high tide at 1515 having cut inside Hoo Island. The new Sailspar furling gear worked well. The continuous line system being far easier to use than the systems that wind the line on and off the drum.

After a quick lunch I rowed Bernie ashore and then picked up the club launch so that Mick and I could move the boat's mooring tackle to the new buoy.

A very enjoyable first outing of the season.

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