Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Summer in the UK

Hi everyone,
We've been here in Hull for over a month.  It's been a lot of fun.  The weather has been very good for most of that period with it only starting to cool down over the last few days.

Zen Again in Hull Marina
We've done a few bits and pieces of work on the boat including:

  • End-for-ended the anchor chain
  • Stowed away the mainsail, headsail and staysail
  • Fitted a replacement gas detector sensor
  • Fitted a replacement raw-water temperature sensor to the engine
  • Scrubbed the bottom (as far as we can reach in the dinghy)

While end-for-ending the anchor chain I discovered one of the pins on the swivel which fits between chain and anchor was badly corroded.  There was very little holding the pin in place.

The raw water temperature alarm had been misbehaving since Bermuda where it forced us to take a tow into harbour.  In the Azores the alarm was going off more often and we ignored it while keeping a close eye on the fresh water temperature (for which we have a gauge).  By the time we arrived in the UK the alarm was on continuously - even with the engine cold.  So it is now nice to run the engine without having to find inventive ways to muffle the alarm!

Most of our time here has been spent either at work (Mike) or looking for work (Nicki).  At the moment it looks like Nicki has found a job too - just waiting for final confirmation.

We've been using AirBnB to try out different localities in the Sheffield area.  We spent a week in Chesterfield south of Sheffield and a week in Wickersley north-east of Sheffield.  One was an apartment and the other a two up two down terrace home.

Chesterfield is famous for its crooked church spire
A week after I started work we collected our car.  We bought it from our friends Anne and Graham of sv Kakadu.  It is a Chevrolet Lacetti - famous only as Top Gear's "star in a reasonably priced car" vehicle.  Drive's great!

Our Chevrolet Lacetti
We spent last weekend touring the Peak District with my parents who are on holiday in the UK for my father's 80th birthday.  Tis a very scenic area and we had a great weekend.

Stream in Snake Pass
The tombstone of Little John in the churchyard at Hathersage

Riverside in Bakewell
Bakewell - home of the tart and the pudding!
Rural scene in the Peak District
The "garden" of our rented cottage
Tombsone of an old soldier in Longnor - what an amazing life! 
Another rural scene
Juvenile tawny owl at The Devonshire Arms in Hartington
We'll be driving down to Kent for my father's 80th birthday party this weekend.  On the following weekend (1st October) we'll be training down to London so I can give a talk at the Cruising Association on "GoogleEarth Imagery for Marine Navigation".

Sunday, 7 August 2016

Humber Estuary to Hull

Hi everyone,
Yesterday morning at the top of the tide we moved from our anchorage outside the mouth of the Humber estuary to a better anchorage just inside the mouth.  In the early evening we caught the flood up river to Hull Marina.

Zen Again tracks
The 6nm morning passage took a little over an hour.  Getting the anchor up was hard work.  It turns out we weren't anchored in shingle but in rocks.  The anchor had a large rock wedged inside its "roll bar"!

The anchorage just west of Spurn Point was much better.  Pity the tide and wind stopped us getting there on Thursday afternoon.  We put about 8nm on the log while anchored there yesterday as the tidal current of up to 2.5 knots flowed past.  Lots of small overfalls all around.

Spurn Point
View across the Humber from our anchorage - a wide river!
At 1630 (about an hour after low water) we weighed anchor and motored up river.  We had an average of 2 knots of current with us for the 20nm passage which took 3 hours.  There was plenty of commercial traffic including tankers, general cargo ships and passenger ferries.

Passenger ferry passing by
We called Hull Marina when 15 minutes away and the lock keeper had the lock entrance open for us when we arrived.  The lock has vertical cables to which the boat is secured while the lock operates.

The lock opens!
We moored overnight at the waiting dock just inside the lock.  It was great to have arrived at our boat's new home.

Zen Again alongside the Hull Marina waiting dock
This morning we moved the boat to her new pen.  The pens are good with long (albeit quite thin) finger jetties.  There are no cleats.  Instead metal hoops are provided which work just fine.

Zen Again in her new home
Another view
The marina is right in the heart of Kingston-upon-Hull.  The city has been selected as UK City of Culture 2017 and there is a lot of work going on in preparation.  We went for a quick walk around this morning and it seems a very nice little city.  Lots of nice looking pubs and cafes.  Many old buildings but many new ones too.  Hull was the most extensively damaged UK city in WW2 with 95% of buildings damaged.

The main church in the centre of town dates from the 1300s and has a magnificent tower.  It is the largest in England - all those larger are actually cathedrals.  Apparently the church will be promoted to cathedral status as part of the City of Culture events.

The weather has been spectacular today with barely a cloud in the sky.  We spent much of the afternoon cleaning and tidying up the boat.  The river side area of the city adjacent to the marina is staging a live music festival today featuring 30 local bands.  Lots of people about and a great atmosphere.

Thursday, 4 August 2016

Orwell River to the Humber Estuary

Hi everyone,
Early yesterday morning we departed Pin Mill on the Orwell.  Our goal was to sail to Hull Marina which is about 20nm up the Humber.  In the event we anchored close offshore at the mouth of the Humber since we missed the tide.  Tides on the Humber are fierce with up to 7m of range and flows of up to 4 knots!

Here are the passage plots...

Zen Again track
Zen Again speed
And here are the vital statistics...
  • Distances/Speeds
    • Route Distance = 150nm
    • Logged Distance = 175nm
    • GPS Distance = 153nm
    • Duration = 30 hours
    • Average boat speed = 5.8kt
    • Average ground speed = 5.1kt
  • Weather
    • Minimum wind speed = 10 kt
    • Average wind speed = 25 kt
    • Maximum wind speed = 30 kt
    • Apparent wind angle range = 0 to 180
    • Seas up to 1.5m
    • Overcast initially but cleared up gradually
  • Engine
    • Total = 4.3 hours
    • Driving = 4.3 hours
    • Charging = 0 hours
The passage was hard work.  For those in WA it was not unlike a Geraldton to Fremantle passage - lots of upwind work - but with strong tidal currents thrown in.  The speed plot shows the strength of the tidal currents but not the effect they have on wave shape!

From the Orwell to off Great Yarmouth we were broad reaching and that was pleasant.  Once we turned the corner we were close reaching into 25-30 knots of wind with very ugly seas.  We were down to staysail and double-reefed main for most of the night.  There was heavy traffic, with a ship passing every 15 minutes or so on average.  We weaved our way between the sand/mud banks which litter this part of the English coast.  All in all a very challenging navigational exercise, especially in the strong wind.

Overnight we passed several wind farms and could see many offshore oil installations out to sea.  We were overflown by several helicopters going to and fro from them.  Some of the wind farms cover a very large area and contain scores of wind generators.

As we approached the Humber the wind was down to about 20 knots but was blowing straight out of the mouth of the river.  And the tide was ebbing fast.  We gave it a good hard go but it just wasn't going to happen so we crossed the mouth of the river and anchored on the seaward side of Spurn Point, feeling a little spurned!  We are comfortably anchored at 53 36.9N 000 09.2E in 7m (at low tide) over shingle (we think).

The weather outlook is for winds to decrease overnight and tomorrow.  We plan to stay here overnight and head up the river to Hull Marina on the afternoon flood tide.  Wish us luck!