Well there was some sun although nowhere near as much as we'd have liked. The sea was to be found in abundance. The sand turned out to be mostly mud. The rest I shall leave to your imagination.
|In the yard at Woodbridge where we purchased her|
Right away we had problems with the engine which would persist throughout the year. That aside all went well that weekend and a fortnight later we reconvended on board for a long weekend of fitting out. That too went well and cuminated in Rik and I taking Brigantia for her first sail up and down the river. We were delighted to find that she sailed well and we even managed (by a fluke) to sail her back onto her mooring without starting the engine at all.
|Launching for the first time at Fambridge in the Spring of 2011|
|On the pontoon at Fambridge|
The end of the month and into June saw persistent high winds and led to the cancellation of a planned weekend on board. There really was no point in travelling down as conditions on board would have been unpleasant to say the least. So it was mid-June before we headed down to Fambridge with Mark and Heather. We pottered downriver and pottered back again, nowt too ambitious.
|Drying out to scrub the bottom|
|Jane at the helm|
I stripped the fuel system down, dismantled the carb, cleaned everything out and it seemed to be running much better. We also sorted out a better spot on the tender dock with Toby after somebody nicked our existing hole whilst we were using the tender!
August was a no-go month due to other demands on our time and then in September Rik and I attempted our first cruise as a crew. The weather was not kind at all and we spent five days stuck at Fambridge before finally getting underway on the Wednesday afternoon.
A night at anchor in the Roach was followed by a mixed bag of sailing and motoring to end the day at anchor off Stone Point in the Walton Backwaters. With the forecast deteriorating for the weekend, it was unfortunately a case of heading straight back to the Crouch first thing the next morning. We lazed around on Saturday and went home on Sunday.
Bit of a bust from the sailing point of view but we did get quite a lot of useful work done on the boat.
We covered 86 miles (of the nautical variety) in 26 hours and 3 minutes at an average speed of 3.3 knots. We motored for 6 hours and 23 minutes.
|At anchor in the River Roach|
We covered 22.3NM in 7:40 at an average of 2.9kts on Saturday although 5:41 of that was motoring uunfortunately. On Sunday we covered 10.53NM in 2:52 averaging 3.7kts all under motor.
Jane hurt her back at work that autumn which effectively put paid to the season although we managed a static weekend on board in late October and I had an uncomfortable overnight trip on my own to measure up the outboard well in December.
And so ended 2011.
It had been a good albeit at times frustrating first year of our new adventures afloat.
We'd been to Brightlingsea, Bradwell, Paglesham (although we didnt go ashore), the Walton Backwaters and made significant progress learning how to handle the boat.
The weather though had been fairly rubbish all year, we'd coped but we hadn't had a single day of what you'd call nice weather. It had always been chilly, windy, damp or a combination thereof.
and so to 2012 ...
The year started with a big outlay - the purchase of a new 6hp 4 stroke Suzuki outboard. It definitely put a dent in the bank balance but we despertely needed a reliable, more economical and quieter engine. Well two out of three ain't bad since it turned out to be rather noiser than we'd hoped!
|The new outboard|
The first weekend in March saw Rik and I on board on Thursday evening and off to pick up the new engine on Friday morning. By the afternoon it was in the hole although some work still needed doing to the mounts.
Saturday, and with extra hands on deck in the shape of Glen and Mark, we dropped the mast, replaced all the blocks, rigging and the VHF ariel (running the cable down inside the mast instead of down the backstay as it had been) and made much progress on the engine well modifications.
|Some of the new running rigging|
Mid-April and I was crew on Sabre, a Moody owned by Rog Smith, from Bradwell to Shotley arriving, excitingly, in the dark. A social evening with the denizens of the East Coast Forum ensued followed by the return trip to Bradwell on the Sunday.
The old engine was sold on via the YBW For Sale forum and then the weather got in the way again. Plans to dry out on the slip to scrub and anti-foul were scuppered by high winds and with the whole summer season at risk we had no option but to get her hoisted out for a week thus blowing everything we'd saved by staying in the water over the winter.
|Paul under close supervision from Toby and Bru!|
|Drilling a hole (to let the water out?)|
Early May saw Rik and I on board but on dry land. We anti-fouled the hull, fitted the log impeller and ticked off a fair list of other jobs over four days despite Rik being a little under the weather.
Unfortunately, it was mid-June before Jane and I could next head to the boat. After travelling down on the Friday, Saturday was a shopping trip for foul weather gear for Jane and a new VHF for the boat. Sunday was a day of pottering around doing odd jobs.
|Relaunch Spring 2012|
We spent Tuesday night at anchor in the Yokesfleet off the River Roach and then headed into Burnham Yacht Harbour on Wednesday. Thursday saw us back at Fambridge - last of the big adventurers or what?! No, unfortuntely poor weather was once again in the offing so we resigned ourselves to going back into maintenance mode.
Friday morning saw the installation of our new tiller pilot completed before we jumped ship and went off for a drive to visit the antiques centres at Battlesbridge. Conditions on board were untenable in high winds with the
Saturday was more of the same so we called it a day and headed home.
Early July saw Jane and I on board again for the weekend and another visit to Burnham Yacht Harbour to dine with friends aboard their yacht and then the back end of the month saw the first of our two epic adventures to distant lands ...
The 2012 Summer Cruise
|At anchor in Abrahams Bosum on the River Ore|
|It's hell out there!|
|Rik introduces helmsman George|
|Royal Nofolk & Suffolk Yacht Club|
The first crimp in our plans was the loss of our third hand. No, he didn't drown or get keel hauled, he had to work and cried off the trip. Then the weather intervened. Rik and I did mighty well, I reckon, to sail to Lowestoft in two days via a night at anchor on the River Ore (although we did spend some of the night on the mud at a hell of an angle after we swung onto a shallow patch!)
The plan to sail overnight from Lowestoft to Blakeney went awry in the wee small hours when the weather turned foul and we had to retrace our steps all the way back to Lowestoft. Technically we made it as far as North Norfolk I guess but we didn't set foot on it or even see much of it!
|St. Peters on the Wall|
It wasn't quite the epic adventure we planned but actually it turned out to be a really enjoyable trip!
We visited Lowestoft, Southwold, the River Ore, Levington and Bradwell (including a walk up to St. Peters Chapel). We covered 323.1NM in 83:09 inclding 8:34 at night and 33:21 under motor.
The beginning of September saw another family weekend of going nowhere and doing nothing much and then the weather put the mockers on our planned long weekend later that month.October saw Glen and I on board for a day of drifting and motoring and a day of fixing and fettling then a fortnight later Jane and I were down for a weekend visit to Burnham Yacht Harbour and a meal in the Swallowtail with friends from the East Coast Forum.
To round off a busy month, the last weekend of October saw Tony and I making an overnight visit to lay her up for the winter after she'd been craned out into the yard the previous week. On the way home we dropped the engine in to Seamark Nunn for servicing and winter storage.
And thus ended 2012.
We squeezed in 10 trips to the boat, I spent 40 nights on board whilst Jane spend just 11 nights on the boat. We covered just over 400 miles, 321 of them during the summer cruise, at an average speed of 3.9 knots. The split between sailing and motoring was roughly 60/40
All in all not a bad result given the mixed weather.
And on to 2013 ...
Well almost. In fact 2012 wasn't quite done yet as the Bosun (Glen) and I made a brief visit at the back end of December to measure up for new sails. The weather being less than clement we didn't stop over and came back home the same day.
The beginning of 2013 was expensive to put it mildly. After some over-winter debate about possiby changing to a bigger boat we'd decided to stick with Brigantia for several years (a decision that wouldn't last out the season) and so that led to the decision to buy new sails and various other items of equipment etc. The bill went well into four figures!
Ho hum, early March saw all the boxes and bags loaded into two cars - there were too many to get into one - and the maintenance team of myself, Rik and Glen convening at Fambridge over the weekend. Despite poor weather, much progess was made before Glen departed homewards on the Sunday but Monday was a dead loss - at midday it was still well below freezing and conditions on board were horrible. We jumped ship a day early and gave up.
What had originally been planned as a full week was now split into two with a visit to the Status Quo Frantic Four (the original 1970's lineup) reunion gig at Wolverhampton.
With that out of the way, Jane and I returned to the boat on the Thursday and spent the weekend fitting new carpet to the cabin and lining out the heads with wood effect vinyl. Neither job went quite as well as I might have wished but the overall effect was definitely an improvement
Mid-April and the Bosun and I spent a quick and dirty weekend in the yard slapping on a couple of coats of decent anti-foul. Enough of the cheap stuff that doesn't work, it was on with the Jotun Seaqueen which everyone who's in the know recommends.
The back end of April saw Mark and I on board and Brigantia back in the water. The weekend went well with the new sails bent on and looking great and everything ready and ship shape for our third season of sailing.
and then it was the big event of 2013 ...
Small Boat to Chichester
|Ramsgate at night|
I wouldn't have admitted it at the time but quite a lot was riding on this trip. We'd failed to get anywhere as far afield as I'd wanted to in 2012 and the year had really been a bit of a washout. If 2013 went as badly it would raise questions about the future and given how much we'd spent fitting out for this season that was not to be contemplated!
I needn't have worried! We had a storming sail along the South Coast reaching Hayling Island in just four days with stops at Ramsgate, Dover and Eastbourne. A couple of days in Chichester Marina and then it was a more gentle run back again adding Brighton to the ports list and a two day stopover in Dover.
The weather wasn't perfect it's true - it was unseasonably chilly most of the fortnight - but we didn't lose any days to bad weather (although we should have stayed put on the day we moved from Chi to Hayling Island on the way back, that was a bit extreme!)
We covered 357.5NM at an average speed of 4.1kts in 87:17 of which 39:03 was under motor
A bit less motoring would have been nice but the leg to and from Ramsgage to Fambridge accounted for a lot of that as we had to motor most of it both ways due to lack of wind.
A fantastic, if somewhat tiring, trip. Tiring, I felt, because of the rather chilly weather and the lack of space on board when spending a lot of time at sea three up.
|Tollesbury marina and saltings|
Saturday morning saw us dive into Burnham briefly to purchase an additional lifejacket having discovered that another piece of idiocy on my part had left us with just one on board and the rest at home. I wasn't prepared to chance my arm heading out in the estuary without a lifejacket for every crew member so it was a case of pick up the cheapest one they had in the chandlery. That jacket will live in the storage compartment in the boot of the car in future so I'll always have it to hand if needed
Then it was off round the corner to visit Tollesbury. We'd never been there and we'd long wanted to. In company part of the way with another forum boat Miracalee, we duly arrived and took up a berth in the marina. It's a nice spot with a nice club and a nice feel to it.
|Yes, it really is a British summer|
Monday saw us beating back into the Crouch as is so often the case and encountering a vertiable fleet of Police boats! Back home on Tuesday morning after the best weekend we've had yet!
Sailing was now interupted by our annual excursion to the IWA National Waterways Festival, this year in Watford, where for years now we've provided the PA, lighting and stage crew for the entertainment venues at the event.
Our summer cruise in August started off a bit windy so Sunday saw us having reached the epic desintation of ... Burnham on Crouch (again!). For the first time though we had a good explore down into the town. Monday saw us stay put before a slightly bouncy run around to pay a second visit to Tollesbury on Tuesday.
We wanted to go back as we had been considering a move to the moorings on Tollesbury Saltings. This would be slightly cheaper than our swinging mooring with the benefit of walk ashore access. However. the significant downside would be only being able to get on and off the moorings an hour or two either side of high water. Ultimately, we decided against it for now but who knows in the future?
As we had planned for this trip, Wednesday was spent at our leisure in port. It would turn out to be a very expensive day! For want of something better to do, we decided to do some tyre kicking in the boat sales area and have a look at a couple of boats that might be of interest in the long term. We had no intention of buying any of them. Ahem!
Thursday saw us heading up the Wallet to Shotley being chased by "Apogee" and beaten to the lock at Shotley by "Sirenia" (both ECF forum boats). After eating on board, all three crews repaired to the Shipwreck for beer and banter.
After a day in port on Friday, a run up the Orwell on Saturday took us to Fox's marina where we had a look over our friend Lisa's new ship (it's too big to be a boat!) and a good meal followed by some singing of songs in the marina bar that evening.
In amongst all this much discussion and thought had been going on about "Erbas", the Sabre 27 that Jane had fallen in love with and that I had to admit to quite liking too! By now we'd made up our minds to push the (ahem) boat out and try and buy her come what may.
So given our schedule and the need to do a deal, Sunday saw a mad dash all the way back from the upper reaches of the Orwell at Ipswich to Fambridge. It started off with no wind at all and ended up with far too much of it and for only the second time on board Brigantia there was a period when I really wished I was somewhere else. Never mind, the job was done.
Monday saw us back at Tollesbury by car to negotiate the purchase of "Erbas" before heading home on Tuesday
After weeks of paperwork, organising surveys, sorting out insurance, kicking the bank up the bottom over delays on the loan and so on, finally in early September Jane and I drove down to Essex and after a night on board Brigantia drove up to Tollesbury to sign the paperwork and pick up the keys to Erbas. A visit to the now former owner Nic up in the village filled the boot of the car with lots of extra gear and bits belonging to the boat and then it was back to Fambridge and the pub!
Two weeks later and Glen and I were at Tollesbury for a short weekend patching the antifoul where it had been scraped off for the survey, sorting out lockers and generally making sure everything was OK for the launch.
Now my focus was all about trying to sell Brigantia. I'd advertised her on Apolloduck and what have you but there hadn't been so much as a sniff of interest. So onto Ebay she went with a low reserve. After an initial flurry of interest things went quiet and she was well short of the reserve with barely a day to go when I had a cash offer for her from somebody based in Tollesbury
The offer wasn't great but it was just enough and the deal was duly done. I guessed from the outset that the buyer was intending to make a profit by selling her on but that wasn't any concern of mine - some money in the bank and getting shot of what could rapidly become an expensive liability suited me just fine!
At the begining of October, we moved Erbas from Tollesbury to Bradwell to escape the tidal clutches of Woodrolfe Creek and the following day Rik and I embarked on the final cruise of the good ship Brigantia taking her from Fambridge to Tollesbury to hand her over to her new owner.
Well to be honest I can't be bothered to properly crunch the numbers! Over the three years we covered all told maybe 800 or 900 miles or so and spent the equivalent of nearly five months on board (or at least I did, Jane rather less). I might get around to working out more detailed stats at some point but don't hold your breath!
We visited a lot of new places and found out what we like and what we don't like (and thus can plan better in future). From Lowestoft in the North to Chichester in the South wasn't bad going although I'd have liked to have made the trip to Norfolk that we so narrowly missed out on in 2012
We spent too much money on Brigantia, especially at the beginning of 2013 but overall the costs spread over three years have not been ridiculous. Had we spent the roughly £3k a year on luxury package holidays abroad nobody would have batted an eyelid.
Small boats are all very well and good, and there are many things to be said in their favour, but the reality is that as it turned out a boat the size of Brigantia offered very few advantages for us (and I emphasis for us) over a boat the size of Erbas. Even costs don't rise significantly (although they would rise rapidly if we went much bigger again)
Brigantia turned us into sailors and taught us what we needed to know to make the right decision on our next boat. The latest news is that she's off to inland pastures on Rutland Water and we wish her and her new owner all the best for the future