Well,I now owned a yacht of sorts.
The next stage was to get her back to drying mooring I had arranged. I intended sailing her back although the time of year wasn’t ideal,early February and cold and windy.I had managed to get a brief stay of execution for the mooring she was on,but before long I was going to have to start paying,and the £50 a week short term fees were going to hurt!
The penultimate weekend in February came and I was out of time. The weather on the Saturday was lovely,sunny with a gentle breeze. I couldn’t get out of the canal and into the Blackwater until high tide at 4pm,so spent the day preparing the boat.
I had managed to borrow a nearly new outboard from a guy at work( huge thankyou to James!) so that needed mounting. I also checked all the rigging,lines,anchor etc to try and ensure a hassle free trip.
Did I mention I also drank large amounts of tea?
4pm came and I was off! Bit nervous but very excited about being sailing.Got onto the Blackwater proper and hoisted the working jib(no mainsail,remember?) and before I knew it was making 5 knots. Combination of jib,slow running outboard and a falling tide. I was happy!
Carried on downriver in the fast approaching dark until Bradwell power station came in sight and decided that was a good place to overnight.
Engine off(ah,peace!) Jib down and let go the anchor. Not too sure how deep it was(no working depth sounder yet) but I let about 25m of chain out. Seemed to be holding ok so got busy with the kettle!
During the evening the wind got up and it got a bit choppy! I decided to forget sleeping and busied myself around the boat.Made a good start removing rotting carpets etc,drank tea and checked gps every 15 minutes in case the anchor broke free.Needn’t have worried on that score,held position all night.
Sunday morning,wind had eased and it was time to go.Brightlingsea here we come!
First job,after tea,was getting the anchor up. Not easy. Took about 30 mins of back breaking heaving and left me absolutely shattered.(memo to self:add anchor windlass to wish list!)
Finally I was away,and again making good speed downriver.All plain sailing until I made the turn into the Brightlingsea channel. By this time the wind had picked up again and I was going in against the tide,as was the wind.
Had to switch engine off,with the state of the sea,the prop was out of the water more than in it,so progress under jib alone was slow.
Then,disaster struck. Don’t quite know how or why but an almighty crack was followed by me holding the detached remains of the tiller.
It had sheared where it was bolted to rudder stock. The air was blue and I didn’t even have time to make tea!
In vain,I fired up the outboard to try and gain some steerage but to no avail. Anything gained was lost by the rudder flapping about in the current.
A decision was soon reached and I put a call through to the coastguards. They in turn summoned a lifeboat to my aid and very soon I was under tow and getting to Brightlingsea that way. Not a good start!
Big thankyous to coastguard and the volunteers of the RNLI!
Needless ro say,whenever I see one of their collection pots I am duty bound to make a
donation. They do a fantastic job out there.
I left seal on a visitors berth and made my way home very dejectedly. Must have been a quiet day for news,my rescue made the hourly news bulletins on local radio. Next day at work I was teased relentlessly about my exploits,but not unexpectedly!
A week later I returned to seal with a repaired tiller assembly,and finally got her to my mooring at St Osyth. And I only ran aground twice…..
Well,I now owned a yacht of sorts.