Steve spent the morning getting the boat ready for Peter’s arrival while Bev tidied up the van, stowing tools, bikes etc., as she’s spending the week in Derbyshire to catch up on jobs around the house and garden . . . Held up on the M25, Peter was a bit late, but there was still time to get out of the Tidemill just before high water. They spent the night at Ramsholt on Billy’s buoy, drinking rum and planning a passage to Brightlingsea.
Since her launch in August, 2017, ‘Cachalot’ has been out of her berth and into the river on several occasions, but never actually left the Deben! In 2018 we had a late start, problems with the hull, no sails until July and there was still lots of ‘fitting out’ to be done. There were too many family commitments elsewhere in 2019 and last year we were all ‘locked down’! In searching the archive it’s nearly 15 years since she last crossed the Deben Bar. On 1 September, 2006 we returned from the OGA Classics Cruise, joined by Hedley, and sailed all the way up the river! Donna Morgan caught us on camera as we passed through Waldringfield . . . so, she’ll definitely be going out this year!
During a trip to Dartmouth in May, Steve acquired a beautiful winch from Steve M. He’d taken it off ‘Cormorant’ and was about to sell on eBay. It’s now securely fitted on the foredeck along with the cowl air vent over the forepeak cabin. Winches, kindly given to us by John and Jane, are also now set up with two pairs of clutches for the foresail sheets.
Below decks there was a radical tidy up, removing anything not required for a passage.
There’s now a secure place to keep the electric outboard, hooks for hanging wet gear and an improved area around the stove with places to stow all the essentials for cooking.
Steve cleaned the bilges and on checking the manual pump found it was totally seized and needed taking out, cleaning and re-fitting . . . in a particularly difficult place under the deck!
Looks like we’re all shipshape and ready to go! Peter is due to arrive on 12 July to join Steve for a first trip out of the river . . . then we hope to join the OGA East Coast cruise at the end of the month with more crew lined up.
Earlier this year we received an email via the ‘Cachalot’ website from Tom Corbett: “Would appreciate seeing ‘Cachalot’ again. I sailed out of Bradwell on Sea until my health prevented the sheer physicality of sailing her! I will be 90 this year and still on the water, albeit the Norfolk Broads.”
Tom had owned her between 1970 – 1975, and we promised to arrange a meeting as soon as the Covid19 restrictions permitted. On Saturday 26 June, we had a most enjoyable afternoon aboard with Tom and hope to meet up again later in the summer . . .
We returned to Woodbridge on 8 June, bringing the sails and everything else for the boat that had been stored at home over winter.
It was a busy few days at home catching up with life in Derbyshire. There’s more work for Bev to do in the garden now, since all the work done, including new planting, during lockdown last year!
Before going up to Larkmans, Steve bent on the mainsail and replaced all the temporary ‘winter’ rigging.
He motored upriver with the tide to arrive promptly at 1220 on Thursday 10 June, as planned. After being lifted out on the crane, and scrubbed down by Aldon, there was some discussion about how long we needed to be ashore.
After consulting the tidetables, it was agreed everything had to be done by Monday lunchtime, or we’d have to wait another week for sufficient water. So, what was there time to do? The weather was glorious, possibly a bit too hot for doing the anti-fouling, but they’d found us a nice shady place for the weekend. James was enlisted to have a quick look at the hull and despite the pain caused by a return of toothache, Steve persevered in the heat and by Monday morning ‘Cachalot’ was ready for a return to the water.
Gleaming with new anti-foul, the waterline had been checked and corrected and a couple of small repairs below the waterline had been done. Her topsides were sparkling following a thorough wash down, and some touching up where paint had been rubbed off. There’s a few other jobs outstanding, but these can be done while she’s afloat.
A call to the dentist resulted in an emergency appointment for Steve on Wednesday, and thunderstorms were forecast for the weekend, so after motoring back to the Tidemill we packed up the Landrover and drove back to Derbyshire again on Monday 14 June.
Steve’s been thinking about a simpler rig for ‘Cachalette’. During the ‘Lockdown’ winter 2020/21 he made a new mast, mast step and spars.
After a visit Dartmouth in April to see Steve M., and a bit more discussion over the design, he’s sent measurements for a lug sail.
Watch this space . . .
Simon, Ricarda, Katie, Simone and the children were camping at Shottisham for half term week in June and Giacomo seemed keen to put on his new buoyancy aid! He enjoyed his trip out in the river with Grandad and Uncle Simon . . . all smiles as they returned.
On 12 April, 2021, the Covid19 restrictions were relaxed to allow overnight stays . . . we took advantage of the freedom to travel, and set off for Woodbridge for a very quick check on the boat. En route, we called for lunch in the garden with Bev’s cousin Sue, at her new abode near Cambridge, arriving at the Tidemill just before dark, in time to collect fish and chips to eat on board. The boat was lovely and cosy with the heater on, but got seriously cold overnight – prompting a promise to Steve of a new sleeping bag before our next trip. The purpose of this trip was just to get away (now we’re allowed to) and make plans for what needs doing for ‘fitting out’. Driving home we called in for lunch with Simon and Ricarda who are now living in Cambridge.
Our next visit to Woodbridge was a family affair! Simon, Ricarda, Katie, Simone and the children planned to camp at Shottisham, just across the river for half term (31 May – 4 June).
We travelled down on 26 May, taking the campervan and towing ‘Cachalette’ behind the Landrover. The weather was glorious, the winter cover came off and we were pleased to share our berth for a few days with the lovely Albert Strange yawl ‘Nirvana’ . . . definitely raising the tone of the Tidemill!
Following a call to Richard at the Tidemill Yacht Harbour, asking to check on the bilges following the stormy weather during December, Steve received an email with photos today. It’s great news that the bilge counter remains set at zero, the bilges are pretty well dry and the winter cover, now serving its third season is standing up well to the rain and wind.
September was mostly sunny and bright, so we took the camper down to Hampshire for a ‘socially distanced’ family get-together in the New Forest. We also fitted in a visit to OGA friend Ben in Lymington before returning to Woodbridge for the end of a very unusual summer.
The forecast wasn’t promising for the last few days of the month, so we returned home, wondering when we’d be able to lay ‘Cachalot’ up for the winter . . . it seemed very likely that another full lockdown would be imposed before the end of October.
Scanning the forecasts, we looked in vain for a few days without rain or strong winds. As a second lockdown became more and more likely, we decided to take a chance on 29 October and drove down in the Adria and Landrover.
The following day Derbyshire Dales was put into Tier 2, then the second full lockdown was announced for 5 November. We’d made the trip with a couple of days to spare!
With sails stowed, spars brought on deck, engine winterised, bilge pumps checked and all the other stowing and ‘laying up’ jobs complete, Simon and Ricarda drove over from their new home in Cambridge to help put the winter cover on.
Just in time, everything was ready and we towed ‘Cachalette’ back to Derbyshire with a van full of sails for winter storage at home.
As Storm Ellen abated, the wind remained strong with intermittent showers and rain. We went for a bracing walk from RSPB Minsmere along the coast to Dunwich, and took refuge in the van for the chilly evenings.
Steve did manage to get up the mast to fit a new block and sort out some of the new rigging, but we decided to return to Derbyshire for a damp and windy August Bank Holiday weekend . . . very different from last year when we joined the first OGA Deben Cruise.
Early September found us back in Woodbridge and we collected our new ‘toy’ – an electric outboard. Ordered weeks ago in July, like many popular items in these strange times, it was held up by ‘logistics’ . . . so we finally fitted it onto ‘Cachalette’ for a test trip on 12 September, first for a trial around the marina then out into the river . . . it really is amazingly quiet!
Angela and Joe joined us from Derbyshire for a couple of days exploring the Deben, including a short trip out in ‘Cachalette’ with Joe and a sunny afternoon swimming at Bawdsey.