The Last Sail

Red Dawn IV

Red Dawn IV

I have mentioned before that we are selling our yacht ‘Red Dawn IV’, a Barbican 33. We have both been sailing for more years than we care to remember – my husband first sailed when he was in short trousers and I learned to sail dinghies in my teens. We have owned boats off and on all our married life, but all things must come to an end and my husband has decided to ‘swallow the anchor’ before we are too old and decrepit to maintain the boat properly, especially as it is a four-hour drive from home to the marina.

We have owned this particular boat for about 12 years and kept her all that time at Bradwell Waterside in Essex on the River Blackwater – not convenient for home but very convenient for sailing across the Channel to Europe as we have done many times. Having placed her on brokerage at Burnham on the River Crouch in Essex we decided to give up our marina berth in Bradwell and move her to the brokers yard. Our contract with the marina ends it the end of March so we needed to move her before then or risk having to pay a daily rate for our berth – expensive!

Frozen snow in the cockpit

Frozen snow in the cockpit

Last weekend we needed to go down to Essex for an important meeting so we decided it was a good opportunity to go on down to the boat and sail her round to Burnham. However, the weather was awful as the second instalment of ‘the beast from the east’ struck the UK. When we arrived at the boat late on Saturday afternoon it was bitterly cold, windy, and the boat was covered in frozen snow, as you can see from the picture of the cockpit. We hibernated in our cosy cabin – electric fire and our Taylors Paraffin Stove on full blast for Sunday, Monday and Tuesday while the weather slowly improved, but we were concerned that we would not get the job done before we needed to go home on Thursday and that we would have to return another time.

Wednesday, however, turned out to be milder with sunny spells and the wind had dropped so we decided to go. We left Bradwell at 10.45am, motoring with the mainsail up. It was still chilly but dressed in two of everything we were just about warm enough! After about an hour we were at the mouth of the Blackwater, drinking coffee and eating energy bars, sailing past the lovely little chapel of St Peter on the Wall (one of my Special Places) and on out to sea, noticeably cooler and several white horses in evidence.

There are two routes round the coast to the River Crouch, a long route which takes you out beyond the shallows and then back in again, or the shorter route across the shallows through the Ray Sand Channel. We opted for the short route so that we weren’t out in the cold too long and the later start fitted in better with the tide for getting out of the marina. This route, however, is something of a challenge. You have to get the tides right, arriving at the start in time to have enough water and yet to go through on a rising tide as it does get VERY shallow.

I remember the first time we went through, in our very first cruising yacht, an old clinker-built Dauntless called ‘Noom Zor Noom’. We had two of our three children with us then, a toddler and a small baby. We kept the boat on the River Roach, a tributary of the Crouch, and had been up the coast for a holiday. It was one of those situations where we had to get back for work but the weather wasn’t good. We chose the Ray Sand Channel route (probably a mistake in retrospect) for speed. We probably got the tide slightly wrong and in those days we had no modern gizmos – no Radio to call up with, no GPS, no mobile phones, no Chart Plotter, only a speed log and echo sounder. The wind and tide were pushing us off course and out of the channel – it was getting very shallow and you don’t really know which way to go to find the deeper water! It was also a bit rough, tossing us about. I was not a happy bunny, in fact I was scared (hubby now admits he was too!) and rather worried about how I was to get a small child and a baby safely off the boat if we came a cropper! It was with some relief that we made it safely through and into the river.

Red Dawn IV at Burnham

Red Dawn IV at Burnham

This time we arrived at the start of the channel at just the right time (12.45) for the tide, plus it was spring tides so we would have plenty of water, with also the benefit of the Chart Plotter to help keep us on course. It was a bit sloppy in the mouth of the Crouch due to wind against the tide, the wind also got up a bit and keeled us over badly a couple of times but I was able to make lunch as we went along. We took down the mainsail as we reached the entrance to the River Roach and motored on to Burnham Yacht Harbour in good time, arriving around 3.00pm. We then were able to tidy up, remove the sails ready for her to be hauled out onto the broker’s yard and drive home on Thursday – a horrendous trip, but that’s another story! The yard was not able to haul out this week so we will need another trip down when that happens. Then we have three months free storage at the yard while they try to sell her for us.

It was with mixed feelings that we left the boat; an enjoyable 4-hour trip round, despite motor-sailing all the way in order to keep up the speed, but tinged with sadness that this would be our last sail, unless she doesn’t get sold, in which case we will have to think again!

 

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10 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. elaine patricia
    Mar 26, 2018 @ 15:53:09

    Sadly a lovely story. All things must change and I think it wiser to make the decision before something else makes it for you.

    Reply

    • Libby
      Mar 27, 2018 @ 09:49:45

      Yes, so often people carry on sailing too long when they can no longer manage to boat and its maintenance – then when they finally decide to give up the boat is unsellable. We don’t want that to happen. although there are other reasons for our decision too.

      Reply

  2. Jules
    Mar 26, 2018 @ 20:13:40

    I can only imagine what it would be like to sail. Hoping you sale goes quickly so you have more time to enjoy the next stages. 🙂

    Reply

    • Libby
      Mar 27, 2018 @ 09:53:30

      We have enjoyed it for many years and will miss it but life moves on. We now have a motorhome and like to tour with that, visiting our daughter in Spain plus other friends and relatives on the continent – and with the boat not exactly on our doorstep it doesn’t leave a lot of time for sailing. Even doing maintenance requires a visit of several days, not just an hour or two here and there! I just hope we find her a good home. 🙂

      Reply

  3. Graham Weeks
    Mar 27, 2018 @ 10:23:59

    How about a narrow boat now?

    Reply

  4. Brenda Davis Harsham
    Apr 04, 2018 @ 14:39:25

    I love being on a boat, but sailing makes my stomach heave. I love a motor boat. I felt your pain reading your words, though. As we get old, we may have to move. Our long, steep driveway is getting too much for us to handle in big snowstorms. Makes me sad thinking about it.

    Reply

  5. Trackback: Haul Out | By The Wobbly Dum-Dum Tree

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