Tuesday, 4 September 2018

Well the deed has been done.  I am now the very smug bugger who owns "Helena".  She is a Vancouver Pilot 34 and she is lovely.  As it happens this is the very boat that was on the market over eighteen months ago in Germany that I said I liked in my last post.  Due to some oddities in the German market she wasn't sold until I spotted her on the Vancouver Yachts Association site.  I was third in line but the first to get on a plane and see her.

So this is the end of Tutak's voyages with me.  I estimate we have done in excess of 16000 miles of the nautical variety and had a brilliant time together over the last 19 years.  

She is looking a bit worn and tatty now but her last big trip round Britain in 2016 showed  no significant problems or issues.  She just plodded on as normal.  Yes I'm sad say goodbye but excited to have more adventures with Helena.

This will be documented on helenav34.blogspot.com

All being well of course. 

Thursday, 2 February 2017

Yachts, yachts everywhere, but which one to get?

I love Fishers, don't get me wrong.  Tutak II, my F25, has taken me many thousands of miles in comfort and safety.  But there have been times when I would have loved to have turned the engine off and sailed that little bit better.  The Fisher 34 sloop is reputed to be the best sailor out of the Fisher range but my budget probably wouldn't stretch to a newer sloop.  I have looked at the older 34s and one would need to fix them up and sometimes that can cost many thousands.  I don't think I want a "project" boat.  I can do most stuff myself but the time involved is immense.

I want to go "blue water" and looking at yachts that fit the category with a shed (pilot house or wheelhouse) are few and far between.  I do rather fancy a Vancouver 34 Pilot.  They come from the same stable as Fishers and Southerlys so their breeding is 100%.  Their reputation as offshore or ocean sailing is good and they sail too.

They only made around 36 of these beauties so finding one at the right time can be problematic.  But there just happens to be three on the market at the present time.

Image result for Vancouver 34 pilot

I could be biased but I rather like the  cut of her jib.

Inside there is oodles of stowage and many many spaces to do things in.

 Image result for Vancouver 34 pilot

There is a midships double or lee-clothed single.  The galley is in the corridor so it is impossible to get chucked across the cabin, without going through the walls anyway.  There is no wheel inside on most boats.  Steering is done by buttons on the auto pilot.  Not a problem for me as Samantha (auto pilot on Tutak) always steers anyway.  Many V34Ps are already fitted with wind vane steering.  Monitors or Hydrovanes at the moment.  The German one does not sadly but it is rather immaculate.  Having the pilot house really takes the pressure of crew.  I get cold in summer in Great Britain and being able to "go below" and see outside and control the boat is so brilliant.

Tuesday, 4 October 2016

Maybe that was Tutak's last voyage - with me anyway!

We me and Tutak II have had a wonderfull 16 years together but this round Britain trip has highlighted a few issues with a waterline of 21 feet.  Mainly it is stowing all the gear and stores onboard.

Why am I bothered about this for coast hopping?  Well this year was a dry run to see what could be done.  The F25 class had a A Ocean rating and I have no doubt that it would look after me.  Indeed I do believe one Fisher 25 went to New Zealand - and back.  But with all the stores for three months, extra water and fuel, bike, liferaft, dinghy, spares, tools, sewing machine, etc etc there was barely enough room for me let alone the captain's wife.

It is with sadness that I have to say goodbye to dear old Tutak, she has served me well in the 15 odd thousand miles we have done together but I need a bigger boat.  So the barge is up for sale and when that goes I will move onto Tutak for a while until I find another yacht and then it will be Tutak's turn.

And what have I in mind for the next adventure?  Well I reckon Tollesbury to Eire, then to Madeira and the Canary Islands.  From there to the Azores and back to Blighty.  I have to see whether I actually like all this sailing first so it will be a half Atlantic, bit like a half marathon.

And the boat?  Well I do rather fancy a Fisher 34

This is Nuage IV for sale at the moment, isn't she nice.  But when you start looking there are some rather nice sturdy steel yachts out there.  Some are even build in Cor-ten steel, you know the steel that shipping containers are made of.  Rather resistant to the ravages of the sea, well a little bit anyway, but it all helps.

This fine Spray 38 is for sale on Apollo Duck in Turkey.  Cor-ten steel, nice inside too.  Oh descisions, descisions ...

But I have to sell the other boats first, so if you know anyone who wants a rather nice 55' barge.

Or even a well travelled Fisher 25.

 Then just let me know.

Do you think I could risk a name change on the next boat to Tutak III?

Saturday, 3 September 2016

Up Channel.and round the corner.

We fancied a change of scenery and it was an exceptionally long walk to the facilities.  So in the tail end of the gale we let go the lines and headed out of Portland Harbour into the bay, bound for Weymouth Harbour.  On the way we spied this naval vessel alongside.

And in the middle of the harbour the bunkership was refuelling a little coaster, if you look closely then.

We were allocated a berth in the Cove alongside another boat and made fast, opposite the harbour master's office.

A day in the holiday port of Weymouth was plenty for me so it was of to the next island and the pretty harbour of Yarmouth.

The Needles came.

 And went.

And as we were approaching the Hurst Narrows this wee gem turns up.  A proper steam ship the SS Sheildhall.

I reckon local knowledge would have made for an easier passage as other yachts seemed to avoid all the popply  bits where we were getting thrown about, proper like.  At last we passed the fort and it calmed down a bit.

We rushed down the coast at an astonishing rate and followed the ferry into Yarmouth.  We were met by the boatman who showed us to our berth.  Sweet operation and made our life simple in this busy little harbour.

Later that day a small French fast yacht came alongside and it was like the tortoise and the hare.  We had a very bon soir, merci.

The next morning had us off and away passing the Spinnaker.  It was calm  enough for the telephoto to get us a bit closer.

The next stop was just inside Chichester harbour.  A pleasant, if busy, anchorage and the sun played out all day.
 Giving us a big firery ball of a sunset.


It would have been nice to explore but time was getting onAnother year maybe.  Next stop along the coast was Newhaven.  We did better than expexted with the tide and were able to make the breakwater at the turn.

What I had forgotton about Newhaven was the scrap metal wharf opposite the marina pontoons.  They were loading scrap all night with a 360 grab.  The rust dust coating not only the boat but our throats too.
And then of course there are the Dieppe ferries that seem to run far more frequently than I remember.  The noise of the screws and thrusters heard through the hull of Tutak was extraordinary and kept the Steward up all night, allegedly.

We didn't dally in Newhaven and set forth for the infamouse Beachy Head shrouded in a bit of mist.

Onwards past the Royal Sovereign tower, misted up too.

And into the River Rother and Rye Harbour where one does a handbrake turn to stem the fierce tide, ferryglide accross the stream and tie up at 3/4 throttle against the harbour master's staging.  Formalities done, one breaks away downstream at a rate of knots heading for the pretty town of Rye a mile or so upstream.


and Samantha were there to meet us.
It does dry out here but the bottom is soft mud, unless that is, the runoff doth meander under ones craft!


The river is trained from Rye harbour outbound and some of the walls are not visible so care is needed.

The firing ranges were not in opperation that day so we could cut the corner to Dungerness a little passing the the recent tragedies off Camber Sands.

The old ......

  and new ......

Lights on the Ness.

We had a force five/six up the transom all day and covered the 46 miles in eight hours, an average of a little over six knots.  A fine days sailing was had whilst larger fin keel yachts were broaching, we held our course surfing down the waves.

We turned into Ramsgate and went ashore for the bands on the Harbour Stage before the fireworks at Ten.  It was the bank holiday weekend apparently.  The inscriprion on the light tower is recreated in art on the opposite harbour wall.


 Translating to "Refuge for those in need".

The old harbour building was pressed into service for a seventies disco venue for the night and Northern Soul rent the sky.

Enough was enough and one can only take so much northern soul (ecccy thump like).  From Ramsgate we rounded the North Foreland.

And took the inshore route past Margate where we had a look.  We got withing a few metres of the harbour wall before we ran out of water and shook hands with the folk paddling on the beach.  We continued on, using the Copperas Channel which has changed a bit over the years.  The sun set as we neared the East Swale.

There we anchored for the night before taking the tide into Faversham.  We tied up alongside the Albion Inn but were asked to move as dredging operations were about to start on the ebb.  We crossed to the otherside of the creek for the Town Quay to take the mud behind the tug "Joker" and the adjacent dredger.

To our horror we found we were adjacent to this.

And because of this we decided to move at midnight and avoid the swinging charges.  We could find no facilites on the Town Quay.

We ended up alongside a rather nice wall with a ladder and bollards to tie to.  We settled in the mud well and finished the night.  The morning found us tollerably well concidering we had spent the afternoon shift at the Brent Ale House drinking Whitstable Bay Oyster Stout.  Guinness it is not but we did enjoy it!

Just above us a couple hailed to ask if we needed water or electricity.  Their apparment was a few feet away and they used to own a Fisher 34.  A session or two later and we had had our fill of Shepherd Neame Town and its liquid wares so we took the ebb down the tortuous channel back to the Swale.  From there we headed out past Shell Ness and bore left at the Columbine and took a shortcut over the Four Fathom Channel to cross the "precautionary area" into the Swin.  The sands around the Whitaker have migrated to the north and west and it is a long way round to get into the Crouch.  But make it we did and then took the long trek up river to reach the Fambridge Yacht Station to await the arrival of the rest of the Fishers.  And they came in droves, whatever that means.  Quintade, Gold Dust, Sam Steel, North Star, Panpipe, Sea Otter of Mersea, Mister Cat and last and least, good old Tutak II.  With a few more arriving by road, including Compass Rose and Merrilands.  My mast steps so carefully made before departure were eventually fitted and completed here, so I was able to ascend and snap the fleet.  Sadly Sea Otter of Mersea was out of shot but I'm sure Rosamund and Ian won't hold it agaist me.  She did steal my chips after all.


And what did we see tied up there, a Branson Katherine Class 55 aft cabin.  Sister ship to my home which rather made me homesick.


From Fambridge it was a tide out to anchor in the Roach.  Then across the Rays'n and into the Blackwater for home.  Just under three months/1900 nautical miles and a good time round Britain, OK via the Calley, but I have done the top already.  About 22 miles a day on average, so not an arduous trip by any means but the highlight had to be Rathlin Island off the island of Ireland with its wonderful Guinness.  Did I mention the dolphins in the Bristol Channel, t'riffic.

Oh, and this funny cloud.....

Now is it Margaret Thatcher or a Poodle?