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!

Tuesday, 2 August 2016

Ramsgate to the Orwell River

Hi everyone,
Yesterday we sailed from Ramsgate to Pin Mill on the Orwell River.  The 50nm passage took 10 hours in slowly increasing winds from 5 to 18 knots.  Since arriving the weather has deteriorated with  showers overnight and mizzle (misty light drizzle) all this morning.  The river banks are muddy but have nice woods and green fields beyond - a very pleasant rural scene.

Here are the usual passage plots...

Zen Again track
Zen Again speed
And here are the vital statistics...
  • Distances/Speeds
    • Route Distance = 50nm
    • Logged Distance = 57nm
    • GPS Distance = 53nm
    • Duration = 10.5 hours
    • Average boat speed = 5.4kt
    • Average ground speed = 5.0kt
  • Weather
    • Minimum wind speed = 5 kt
    • Average wind speed = 10 kt
    • Maximum wind speed = 18 kt
    • Apparent wind angle range = 0 to 120
    • Seas up to 0.5m
    • High cloud with a little sunshine
  • Engine
    • Total = 4.5 hours
    • Driving = 4.5 hours
    • Charging = 0 hours
We motor-sailed for an hour or so after departing Ramsgate due to the light winds.  As the chart above shows the Thames Estuary is full of mud banks.  It is also very tidal with 3m tides and tidal currents over 2 knots.  We timed our passage to catch the ebb.  As a result we were often heading NNW and tracking NNE.

We sailed between Thanet and London Array wind farms - both of which are quite extensive.  Yachts can sail through operational wind farms but the idea didn't appeal, particularly in light winds and strong tide!  The London Array is still under construction so both it and the approaches to it are prohibited areas.
Passing the Thanet wind farm
Once past the two wind farms we passed Kentish Knock and Long Sand shoals.  We were able to sail during this period as the wind gradually increased.  We had a great sail NW across to Cork Sand where our route joined the Felixstowe entry channel.  From there the W wind was dead on the nose so we had to motor.

Once into the port and heading north up the Orwell we were able to kill the motor and sail quietly up the river.

Passing Felixstowe container port
Sailing up the Orwell, passing Suffolk Yacht Haven
We initially anchored directly off Pin Mill which is an interesting looking place.  There are several Thames barges alongside in tidal berths.  In the river there are lots of yacht moorings.  These forced us to anchor on the edge of the channel.  We hurriedly moved downriver to a gap in the moorings when we saw a large cargo ship coming up river!

We expect to stay here for a second night before continuing our passage north.