Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Wells-next-the sea

We have arrived in Wells, Norfolk, and the county underlines how close we are to home in Suffolk.
The photo is of dawn at sea off Grimsby.

I forgot to record one final joke the Grimsby lock played on us in the early hours of this morning after the previous day's trials. There is no pontoon in the lock or place to attach the boat so long ropes are dropped down to secure the boat, a process which needs careful watching and sometimes use of engines to ensure the vessel is kept in the right place. As the lock empties, the ropes are let out as the boat is lowered down on the falling water. One of the ropes became entangled and Alexandria began to be hung by the rope from one of its cleats. This is either a very damaging experience or a very dangerous one if the rope breaks under 10 tonnes of pressure and then snaps back against the unfortunate crew member. Fortunately, Andrew was quick enough to realise what was happening and shout out, and I immediately cut the rope with the rescue knife, the first time it has ever been used. Phew! No injuries, no damage.

Our passage from Grimsby to Wells passed uneventfully, sailing the first part and motoring another as the wind died. We needed to get into Wells for 1600 latest or abort to Wisbech as the next safe harbour is a further 8 hours away. Although the wind subsequently returned and sailing was quite possible as we were running ahead of plan, sea sickness had struck so I decided to run for Wells with all possible haste, and we motor sailed at 9 knots into Wells reaching the cardinal marker early at 1300. Wells has a tiny and difficult channel which is accessible over a very shallow bar, and because of our size the harbourmaster despatched a launch to escort us in. In fact, he was not needed, but the courtesy was very much appreciated. The approach to Wells, whose harbour is a mile inland, is winding and its sandbanks change with successive storms. The channel takes you very close to the beach and people enjoying the sunshine, and it feels very odd indeed to be yards away from small children sitting in the sea!

We tied up on the brand new pontoons in what has now been created as an outer harbour and left for a good walk into Wells aboard the restaurant ship which is moored in the inner harbour. Late lunch, very slow, very pleasant. Then for me, back to Alexandria to register with Wells Harbour, pay their modest dues, and plan the next day.

Tomorrow, we are up at 0330 to leave at 0400 with the last part of the tide. I have just scoped out the channel on foot to confirm I understand its intricacies, as tomorrow we shall be on the last part of a falling tide and cannot make any errors or we shall be stuck until the afternoon. Everyone has their own job to identify the flashing buoys in the dark, confirm position and direction and affirm depth, so all should be well. Teamwork is really important in these situations, as our Wexford entry in Ireland illustrated.

We are off to Southwold where we have a berth, all being well arriving around 1400.

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