Ben helps Steve go up the mast, third time lucky so the halyards are all secure in their new blocks so should run more smoothly. Bev went shopping for the barbecue while Leigh and Steve go up to Robertsons to sail ‘Cachalette’ down to Waldringfield. Lovely sunny afternoon as Gaffers arrive by boat and campervan at Waldringfield Boatyard. Aileen and Bev park the van in ‘prime position’ by the barbecue and wait for Leigh and Steve to arrive – good turnout of Gaffers for the barbecue.
Friday dawns clear but very windy. The OGA plan is to sail down to Felixstowe Ferry for f&c at lunchtime, against the tide in both directions, but Steve and Leigh aren’t too keen. They decide to take ‘Cachalette’ back up the river to Robertsons.
The return sail is eventful, with a challenging departure getting off the shore at Waldringfield then getting tangled up with a mooring line in full view of the visiting melee on the Town Dock in Woodbridge! Freed at last, having had to de-rig and re-rig the sails, they finally arrived safely into Robertsons sustaining slight damage to two hull planks.
It’s still dull, chilly and wet on Monday but Ben and PJ are keen to join Steve as crew for the Regatta, so he’s determined to get the boat ready for Thursday, while Bev drives the Mazda back to Derbyshire for her ballet class and a dental appointment, aiming to return at the weekend. In bright sunshine, it was a great drive on country roads avoiding the A14, A1 and M1!
We take ‘Cachalette’ up to Robertsons where she’ll be permanently stored on her trolley with use of the slip for launch and recovery. Baz makes her a smart new fitted cover ready for the winter.
After a couple of trips up to Honolulu Beach we venture further upriver, under Wilford Bridge, in the kayaks. Claudia has kindly lent Bev a paddle until she manages to purchase one, and joined us for an enjoyable afternoon paddling as far as the water allowed us.
We decide it’s time to find a better place to keep the ‘little boat’ and check out prices and options at Eversons (Woodbridge Boatyard) and Robertsons Boatyard. We decide on Robertsons and, as we’re walking along the path Steve notices an inviting ‘for sale’ sign pinned to a long red kayak. That would be a good idea, wouldn’t it?
Sunday 15 August finds us on Robertsons slip with Neil, who is selling the 16’ kayak. Steve takes it for a trial and decides to have it – but what about Bev? No worries, Neil has a smaller one in his garden and, on trying it out we make an offer for them both. We spend the next couple of weeks exploring the river up and down stream from the Boatyard.
Now she has a permanent ‘home’ we also decide to invest in a proper, custom-made cover for ‘Cachalette’ and ask Baz to measure up to make us one. Watch this space for some pictures, but no, she still doesn’t have her new rig, just the spars!
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!
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.
On 14 July, Steve decides the time is right to go down to Woodbridge. The Marina has been open to bertholders for a couple of weeks, although some of the facilities are not available yet.
He loads the Freelander, with its newly-fitted towbar, with re-upholstered cushions, summer boom tent/cover, rigging and sails etc., then goes round to his Mum’s house to hook up the ‘little boat’. Stored in her garage, ‘Cachalette’ has had the benefit of a full winter maintenance programme and glistens in the sunshine, all ready for taking out on the River Deben. Driving quite carefully with such a full load, Steve’s impressed with the fuel economy of the Landrover as he arrives in Woodbridge having only used a quarter of a tank.
Jim joins him from his holiday caravan in south Norfolk to change the oil in the engine, the winter covers come off and the sails are bent on. There’s quite a bit of activity in the Tidemill after the easing of lockdown and after a very wet July, the weather looks set to improve at last! Looks like it’s time to bring the camper van down and get out in the river . . .
The newly upholstered cushions look really good, complemented by the pillow bags made last summer by Bev.
After a great week cruising with the gaffers, spending the last two nights in Ipswich, the passage back to the Deben aboard ‘Kestrel’ was cancelled due to severe weather warnings. James spent the night at Pin Mill and we returned to Woodbridge by car, tidied up the boat and drove back to Derbyshire late Sunday afternoon. After a week at home we return to Suffolk for the Tidemill annual barbecue on 11 August. Jim joins us for the evening and enjoys an afternoon on the river with Steve, sailing ‘Cachalette’ right back to her berth astern of ‘Cachalot’.
We’ve been checking the tides carefully this week as it’s Springs allowing us just over three hours to go out and back over the Tidemill YH bar during the daytime. The weather looks to be set fair too for a short trip out in the river to pick up a buoy and hoist the sails. It would be good to have another pair of hands and by chance, Leigh pops round to say he may be around to help after collecting his boat from the Orwell. So, today’s the day we go out in the river (with sails) for the first time!
The decks are cleared and everything stowed neatly in the cabin, sails are made ready, fenders cleaned of all the slimy sea squirts that have clung to them and off we go as the mark on the bar just covers 1.5m at 1400. Gently does it, but what’s happened to the engine? It’s making a horrible noise and Bev is keen to return to the marina. However, Leigh and Steve listen, take a careful look and decide it’s OK to continue with our project down river . . . we motor down past Loders Cut and pick up a buoy. We play for a while with the mainsail then motorsail back with the staysail.
We need to make sure to get back over the bar by just after 1700. Bev takes the helm on the return trip and motors upriver, over the bar and into the marina, doing well until the last turn into the berth, when a sudden gust of wind knocks her completely off course . . . thankyou, Leigh and ‘Mrs Brown’ (Richard and Eileen) for helping to get us safely back into the berth with damage to nothing but Bev’s confidence. Once the engine’s fixed, we need to practise tight manoeuvres under power.
Having been a bit neglected for a couple of years, ‘Cachalette’ has been on the front patio this Spring and is looking good as new! With help from Toby, Hugo and Joe, she was ‘launched’ over the wall and onto the road, then towed down to Woodbridge at the beginning of June.
She’s now in the Marina . . . and Steve tries out the outboard, but decides it’s much too heavy! When the wind and tide are right, ‘Cachalette’ is certainly a distraction from jobs still to do on ‘Cachalot’.