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Burnham on Crouch Club Cruise 2010

We have a poor record for actually attending this rally and so it was with some pleasure to see the weather shaping up for a good out and back offering.  Previous years’ we have wimped out at the last minute owing to weather conditions.  Then I needed a crew, for strange reasons or quirks of fate, I either had surplus crew joining me at Burnham or people pulling out,  BoC is hard enough to get to by sea but from Hoo by any other means is no easier and so it was that my various crew options dwindled to zero.

Not to be beaten, I zapped a few hopefuls on the Sailing networks site in my lunch break and by the Tuesday afternoon three had replied, 2 would love to come another time and one hopeful.  Got in touch with hopeful and tried to reassure her I would find somebody else.  Then I went to a talk in the City and to network with Facilities Managers, I know how to live, on Tuesday, met the host who introduced me to the lady just in front of me on the stairs and before you could say, fancy sailing this w/e I had another crew member signed up.  As far as I was concerned we were quorate and I was at the actual numbers I had tentatively put down on Tony’s list.  Left it to the last minute to explain muster time and scheduled departure to the crew, no need to spoil it.

Did not ask Tony for his passage plan and did my own, 06:00 Montgomery, 09:00 Whittaker and 12:00 BoC, what could be more difficult than that.  Hopeful got to the bar at the club before us and met our resident Welsh raconteur and was well looked after.  Me and the newest recruit arrived soon after and with a midnight ferry booked (Rod L) we took advantage of the club company and ambience at the bar and even bought a Grande burgee!

So late to bed and up early, for me, the girls were allowed to sleep until we got to Monty, mooring slipped and set off down river.  Now I know I was missing something but could not quite put my finger on it.  Just past Monty I realised, no wind, yet the forecast had promised lots of it and we had none, 0.0 on my Windex.  Oh well, press on and it would soon arise.  Not a bit of it, some did show up [6.0 kts] as we turned at the wind farm, how appropriate and the EORA fleet was all coming out to play with spinnakers up.  Tacking up the Crouch was not my idea of fun as depths are pretty shallow in places.  12:00 arrival at H36 and no sailing, crew happy though, learned all about GPS and buoyed route planning.  Cathala was behind us and funny to see them across the spit out from Foulness, as we passed each other.  Have some lunch, fix bits of boat, stroll into town, afternoon tea, real ale pub, cinema [£3 each to see Blind Side!} not a bad life.  Agree to race Neil on the Sunday, wake up to heavy rain, Neil comes around for morning coffee and we postpone racing in the rain.  Drift through Sunday and reckon passage plan is a doddle, just reverse the original one.  Pull masterstroke by meeting Ian Hewett at the Marina, so lift to dinner at Royal Burnham YC, just as well, those of us in our LBD would not look so cute in wellies.  Walked straight into YC club old boy, at least he knew my friend Jamie and went to great lengths to tell us where Jamie’s dad was buried, next to this chap’s best friend!  Nice to meet you Alastair.

New one on me, one crew lady drinks pints of best and one only drinks champagne!  Soon get the hang of that one and settle for Cava.

So to bed, get up at 6:30 try to leave early but dawdle and so after 07:30 when we leave.  Easy, just follow the channel, ah channel ends, but Isolated Danger needs to be skirted, we are a bit too south as a result, that is funny, “Clouds” has suddenly gone sideways, and our depth alarm is sounding, lots of water by buoy, ah that funny mud feeling again.  No worries, it was so gentle we can reverse off, not a chance.  Entertain Coast Guard with our situation, CG responds and does all checks etc. With us, everybody happy, an upright sort of grounding and tide on its way up, “Clouds” even got off before us and came and towed us out of the swamp.

Now make haste for home, wind gusting to 35 kts, very nervous of depths as alarm constantly sounding but keep in channels and get angles right and slow progress against tide but some progress.  Now wind was really getting up Clouds fell behind, we did not realise we might have assisted!  Then followed, tough and very tough 15 hours in total day at sea.  Wind in background was 23/25 kts but gusting well into mid 30’s NE.  We were rolling around and bouncing about, getting wet, cold and sick.  Three crew, determined to stay out to avoid queasy feeling in cabin, so I kipped, knowing such crew wilt later in day and I could take Aurai up the Medway on my own if necessary.

Iron lady on the helm, for a near novice we had a heroic all day contribution on the helm from “fancy sailing this w/e”, equal to that task the other two kept up chart work and general observation to get us home.  I think we did some crooked miles as Clouds was in front of us in the Medway, sailing slowly on her jib.  We overtook, moored and spoke to Coast Guard who was keen for us to get one in before last orders.  Ah does he not know about the Hoo experience, if you miss the tide you are a million miles from the last orders world.  Spoke to Security Officer Gordon, who agreed to take us in at 05:00 and after an epic trip of the wrong sort, I got in to work at about 09:30 in Watford to hear about far less energetic Bank holiday w/e stories from colleagues.

Thank you to Rachel, Jacqui and Sean, the Thames estuary is a lot kinder usually!

Mel the boys send their love and the Contented Sole is.

Chas

Click here for pictures of the dinner

Next w/e

I hope to get to stay on board overnight and to be ready with a crew for a race on Sunday, Matt is available..  The race is two races and one gets us to a lunch stop and then we sail home, later in the day for the second.

Date Published 10th May 2010