It’s not all plain sailing!

After sheltering in Ipswich for a couple of days a good wind was forecast for Wednesday 5th May so I motored down river to prepare for heading further north – Ipswich is not the most convenient for departure, being some 8 miles up river! The river was surprisingly choppy and there was quite a blow and on approaching a pontoon, which I had used previously, a wave dragged my prepared stern line under the boat and it caught around my prop. Engine stopped! Ouch!!! I managed to secure the boat and, after some gentle fore and aft use of the motor, the rope cutter (a “Stripper”) severed the rope and I had drive again. I moved to Shotley Marina across the river for a more comfortable overnight wait for early departure!

The engine and propeller were running smoothly the following morning to get me out of the marina and out to sea and then we sailed all the way to Lowestoft. I only used the engine again to enter the rather grand sounding Royal Norfolk and Suffolk Yacht Club. A first class Chinese Restaurant there does top quality take-aways!

An even earlier start was needed on Thursday to reach Wells-Next-the-Sea which has a drying sandbar and so timing the arrival is critical.

The reward for an early start!

It started as a day of mixed sailing and motoring with 2 other circumnavigators who left Lowestoft at a similar time – not singlehanded though! 5NM short of Cromer a loud rattle from the prop or prop shaft started and gradually increased. Not knowing how serious the problem might be I turned off the motor and I managed to make good progress under sail in some welcome (!) squalls. But then about 8NM short of Wells I was becalmed and the tide had turned so I was going backwards with no alternative port nearby to head to. I explained my situation to the very helpful Wells harbourmaster and he suggested deploying their Lifeboat to tow me in! I had no realistic alternative so I gratefully accepted.

A crewman came onboard and set up a substantial bridle to my Genoa winches for the tow. It was now going to be well past the tidal gate for entry and I was expecting to be left at anchor in a bay just outside the harbour for recovery in the morning but the coxswain decided there was enough depth to make it in – with my bilge keels and 1.2m draft!

Images courtesy of Wells RNLI Facebook pages!

Thalmia slewed through the breaking waves with the tow line snatching at each turn and then we bumped over the sandbar – there really wasn’t enough water! It was scary! But she is built to take the ground – just not like that!

After a much needed rest the next day and a visit from my elder brother, as planned, the following day I took Thalmia onto a sandbank (in a planned way!). I found a second entanglement of twine which was probably the cause of the problem approaching Wells. I also found the rope cutter partly loose and slightly distorted, probably from the first episode – it was a double whammy! I stripped and rebuilt the rope cutter using some spares, which fortunately I had kept from servicing it a couple of years ago! I had another visit from my brother and also my niece so it was not all work that day!

Back in service, thankfully, I sailed to Grimsby with a delightful F4 becoming a less than delightful F6-7, maxing out at 34 knots nearing the Humber which, with the very shallow water in the approaches, made for a bouncy approach. Humber Vessel Traffic Service (VTS) involves communicating with VTS over 2 VHF channels and then a 3rd for entry through the lock to the marina. Single handing, following lots of boat movements on AIS and visually and getting ones own directions to go via one route or another with a multitude of unfamiliar named buoys as reference points is challenging!

Grimsby was, well, grim! But the Humber Cruising Association was welcoming and had good showers!

Coming out of the Humber, I was surprisingly directed to use the outgoing channel normally reserved for large vessels and then cross the incoming channel off Spurn Head. There were not too many vessel movements that morning!

Fair winds!

Yesterday saw the first use of the cruising chute on this passage to Scarborough! Carried it for a couple of hours until the wind built to 16-18 knots and it was opportune to switch to the Genoa!

Scarborough is a quintessential northern seaside resort. Having been brought up in Bradford I have enjoyed hearing the Yorkshire accent again. The Scarborough inner harbour now has deep water pontoons for leisure boats including visitors. A walk around the outside of the castle had to be enough for me yesterday morning as entry has to be pre-booked and only the grounds are accessible for now.

Moored below a castle steeped in 3,000 years of history

Distance travelled so far is 548 nautical miles in just over 3 weeks. Maybe now is a good time to remind you that in doing this circumnavigation, with it’s ups and downs, I am also hoping to raise some additional funds for the charity Rainbow Living. I have a donation page at Rainbow Living. If you are able to support them and me I will be very grateful.

Published by Derek

Having started sailing later in life I have migrated from a 14ft dinghy via a Sadler 26 to a 32ft Westerly Fulmar. I sail mostly single handed in the South West from the Solent to the Scillies or across to the Channel Islands and ajacent French coast. In 2020 I planned to sail mostly single handed around Britain. Due to Covid-19 this was unfortunately not possible. I finally completed that challenge starting in April 2021: finishing in early July. You can check out my journey and experiences, good and not so good in the blog posts below or my YouTube channel - search for “voyages of Thalmia” -

6 thoughts on “It’s not all plain sailing!

  1. Reading the account of your adventures of your anti clockwise voyage around British Isles from the safety of the Lake District, makes the occasional downpour here very tolerable !
    Really enjoying reading your blog, even more so from the safety of dry land !.
    Best wishes for the rest of your trip.
    Why not plan something a little less challenging for next winter, like a weeks skiing?!
    Jeff and Meryl



  2. I’m avidly following your trip from New Zealand. As Jim said the detail is great and brings back many UK memories. I look forward to the next installment- keep safe. Phil


  3. In response to your two last blogs Derek I can only repeat my ‘Wow’ of two comments previously. But also thank you for giving the time to write such detailed, and to a land -lubber like me, fascinating descriptions of your journey. All the best as you continue your journey. Jim


  4. Good to hear of your progress, Derek! Quite an adventure & not without its challenges, apparently! Hope you’re able to enjoy some of your rest stops too. Happy sailing!


  5. Following you on App but your blog makes it so much more interesting. Hope the remainder of your journey is slightly less troublesome. Fair winds and stay safe.


  6. Glad to hear you are safe! So easy for relatively small things to go wrong and cause a BIG problem, especially single handed.
    Fair winds my friend


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: