Posts in Category: Afloat! 2017-2019

One last night on the river before laying up for winter

Motoring back on the evening tide

We fit in a short trip to Woodbridge early September before Steve takes the van to Chamonix for ten days climbing with Simon. We creep out of the Tidemill at 1800, Saturday 7 September, with only just enough water over the sill and motor downriver, intending to go to Ramsholt. By 1845 it’s getting dark and windy so we call Tony and ask to spend the night on a buoy at Waldringfield instead. By 2000 the wind has calmed down and Sunday dawns a bit gusty but warm and sunny. We enjoy the spectacle of Waldringfield SC One Design Dragonfly fleet racing for their 70th anniversary then motor slowly back to the Tidemill just before dusk. Steve decides to go over the bar at 1:35m, we touch and clatter across the sill – hopefully no damage is done and we moor up at 1910!

There’s no Indian Summer this year and we scan the forecast to find a couple of days when we can check the new mainsail cover fits and then lay ‘Cachalot’ up for winter . . . Saturday 19 October looks promising. We drive down to Suffolk in the van for the weekend, get the sails bagged up and spars laid on the deck, but as we start to put the winter cover on the rains return with a vengeance!

It’s impossible to secure the cover tightly enough, so we leave it and return in the car to finish the job on 3 November and sleep on the boat. It really is quite cosy as a winter hideaway, and now the winter cover is on, the bilge pump is going off quite infrequently.

Laid up for winter, November 2019


Cachalot joins the OGA Deben Rally

‘Cachalot’ joined the OGA Deben Rally, 25 – 26 August 2019. This was our first event with the gaffers, and thanks go to Alistair for capturing us with all sails set. Two nights on a buoy at Waldringfield and a day sailing down to Felixstowe Ferry with James was all we had time for as we needed to drive up to Aberdeen for Ian’s funeral . . . it’s 600 miles from Woodbridge but we decided to leave at 0530 on Monday and do it in one day . . . Sunday was an early start too, leaving Waldringfield at 0600 to motor carefully upriver and just get over the bar at 0640.

Back to Larkmans for more caulking

Returning from the cruise, it’s clear Cachalot needs to come out for some re-caulking. The bilge pumps are going off every couple of hours again! We book her in at Larkmans and Steve motors up river for a lift out and a good scrub off.

He spends a couple of days with her out of the water, working with James on caulking and general tidying up of some seams. Before putting her back, she gets a new coat of anti-foul, so looking much more tidy below the waterline again . . . and he motors back to the Tidemill.

  • Lift out at Larkmans
  • Raking out seams for re-caulking
  • A new coat of anti-foul

Away for July and new bowsprit shrouds

New shrouds for the bowsprit

Dynema bowsprit shrouds

We pack up the boat on 5 July, leave the Mini safely parked in the Marina and take the van on her maiden foreign trip . . . first overnight stop Harwich Harbour, ready for an early morning crossing to Holland. Returning from our 2,000 mile tour down to the Swiss Alps and back on 23 July there’s just two days in Woodbridge before we leave on ‘Kestrel’ for the OGA Summer Cruise. We check the boat and find the bilge has started going off rather more frequently, the counter seems to indicate it’s maybe as much as three or four times a day. A bit worrying, but there’s no time to do anything about it now . . . securing everything as best we can, we meet James and sail from Waldringfield on 26 July, returning after a great ten days on 4 August.

Whilst we’re away, Steve meets a man in a van and is able to purchase some Dynema at a very good price, so the bowsprit is now secured with a new set of fine shrouds and pelican hooks.

Finishing touches, and decisions about the cruise

Whilst at home in Derbyshire, Steve made a beautiful set of new boom gallows which fit perfectly, allowing a full turn on the tiller as they’re set further back from the cockpit. With major jobs complete, it’s also time for all those fiddly finishing touches to the cabinetwork behind the chart table, including some hand-turned knobs for the drawers.

But will we be ready for the East Coast Summer Cruise . . . decisions, decisions and just as we’re thinking about it, James calls to ask, ‘Will you be joining me on ‘Kestrel’ this year?’ We haven’t got time for any ‘shakedown’ trips, as the cruise starts 48 hours after we return from our second sojourn on the continent. This time it’s to join Simon and Ricarda at their wedding party south of Paris, taking in a trip to the Swiss Alps to make crossing the North Sea from Harwich to the Hook of Holland with the van worthwhile!

So, sadly, we decide that ‘Cachalot’ will not be ready to join the Cruise this year and James sends off the entry forms . . . we’ll be crewing on ‘Kestrel’ again for the OGA summer cruise, which starts at Stone and continues south this year!

New set of boom gallows


Bending on the mainsail

Steve climbs the mast with help from Pete

Setting up a couple of new blocks

Hoisting the mainsail

The weather means we can take the winter cover off at last, relying on the summer one finished off perfectly by Baz.

With sunshine forecast, and only light winds, Steve decides it’s time to bend on the mainsail.

Once that’s done, there’s a bit more ‘rigging and reeving’ to do and Pete offers to come round and lend a hand. Steve climbs the mast to set up a couple more blocks and tidy the new rigging.

Painting the deck and family matters

With storm force winds forecast for Saturday, 8 June, it’s going to be difficult to find a suitable ‘window’ to bend the mainsail on properly and swap over the covers, so we decide to leave the winter one on for now. Steve takes advantage of a sunny day to paint the rest of the decks, making sure to leave time to replace the winter cover before the rain starts again . As the storm arrives, as forecast, we have to leave the boat to concentrate on family matters [there’s a funeral and two weddings this summer], and putting together the 100th issue of Gaffers Log. After four days in Aberdeen, making plans for Ian’s funeral, we leave Matlock Bath by train for a long weekend in Paris to celebrate Simon and Ricarda’s civil wedding. Back at home, we send Gaffers Log to the printer and return to Woodbridge at last on 27 June, bringing the car and the van as we’re likely to be away from home for the rest of the summer!

Winter, summer and mainsail covers

Baz calls round on Wednesday, as promised, with the summer cover. Started by Bev last autumn, it was reluctantly handed over for him to stitch the reinforcing panel and tapes as she couldn’t manage to do them on Mum’s old sewing machine. To allow us to measure up, Steve’s temporarily taken the winter cover off and laid the mainsail and gaff in place. We also measure up and send dimensions to Steve at Ratsey & Lapthorn for the new mainsail sailbag.

Final fitting out of the forepeak

After a week at home, it’s time to return to Suffolk. Bev brings her bookbinding materials to start work on the wedding book for Simon and Ricarda and Steve starts work on the final panels to complete fitting out in the forepeak. The new van makes quite a good workshop, and is warm and cosy when the weather’s bad. We call Baz who will come round mid-week to talk covers. The weather veers from beautifully warm, balmy and calm to torrential rain and high winds – flaming June meets March winds! Dodging the rain, and making use of the winter cover for protection, Steve’s finished fitting out the forepeak, including routing and painting the plywood bulkheads. “That’s the last time I’ll have to do that!”, he exclaims [the routing to make it look like tongue and groove]. Just need to collect the cushions next time we’re home. They’re being re-covered by Andy, the furniture restorer back in Derbyshire.

Back to Derbyshire


Painting the deck

Several coats of varnish!

Steve’s very pleased with the varnishing, all still protected by the winter cover, and has masked up ready for painting the deck, starting with the rather grubby cockpit and cabin entrance!

After another good stretch of fair weather allowing plenty of work to be done, we decide it’s time to find out what’s going on in our other ‘home’ and drive back to Derbyshire on 21 May, stopping at Wicken Fen for afternoon tea.

Owned by the National Trust, it makes a better place to stop than the services on the A14 and we take a stroll along the boardwalks through the tall, swaying sedge grasses.