Tuesday, 24 October 2017


My favourite view of London!

Ipswich Haven Marina is a locked marina very centrally located in the city of Ipswich on the River Orwell Suffolk UK. On the 12th of September we moved from the River Deben anchorage to Ipswich to organise surveys of the hull and rig for our new Insurers. Hauling out at Fox’s Marina nearby for the underwater examination all went without a hitch and we returned to the Haven with Adrian, our surveyor aboard.  We are now fitted with new fire extinguishers and flares and are all set to go again. The rig report was also handled smoothly with the replacement of the back stay, including insulators, being the major part of the job. The surveyors were thorough and professional.
Quick haul at Fox's Ipswich
Socially its been pretty busy with John and Kara and baby Dean aboard “Sentjin”  (ex Orca) in the harbour, together with Davids brother Andrew and his wife Christine aboard their Postpub Van (aka. Taipan support vehicle). 

John and Kara at work and baby Dean practices in the Bosuns Chair.

Chris Smither ex “Akwaaba” and long time friend from the UK who we met in Phuket years ago visited and spent a night aboard. David and Candy Masters, Canadians aboard “Endeavour” were also in the harbour and it was a brief but fun introduction before they left for London to spend the winter in St Katherines dock. We met James Tomlinson of “Talisker”, in Bergen, Norway, and he lives here and visited us aboard, One evening last week he picked us all up and we drove to his lovely home in Orford for dinner. We met some of his sailing mates and had a fantastic night swapping stories.

Christine Pollers great shot of Taipan in the Ditch! Check her work out on Instagram.

We interrupted our Ipswich experience one weekend with a 55nm sail north to Southwold. A narrow brown ditch leads between some pretty dodgy breakwater structures. Its not an all weather entrance by any stretch and we did choose fair offshore winds and medium tide for our entrance. Surprisingly there was plenty of water at all tides but this entrance fuels and drains a vast marsh inshore. Current can be ferocious and even in average current turning inside the river is challenging. This tiny community on the north side of the river and its quaint sister-town Walberswick on the south attracted us because some old family friends live there. David is immortalised in the Adnams Bell Tavern for his failure to  hold his Broardside many decades ago. A plaque marks the spot. 
Family photo!

Our new Genoa, a Tri-Radial, Hi cut, Dimension Polyant cruising laminate sail from Kemp sails was on order and we arranged to pick it up in London. Now we had to take on the mighty Thames and get there. 

Sailing south from Ipswich down the River Orwell its a good plan to make sure the tide is going out but as you sail south down the coast to the Thames over or between an impressive number of shallow sand bars its good to have a rising tide or the current will be against you. So the plan was to sail 10nm out to the mouth of the Orwell to Felixstowe then strike out south 45nm the following morning on the incoming tide. The plan didn’t quite work as the following morning when we should have left to go south, the wind was very strong and gusty and altogether unpleasant so we moved just 5nm down into the Walton Backwaters where we found a good hole and were very comfortable for another night. We had another yacht pull in late and found out next morning it  was James Tomlinson’s good friend Doc, on “Tuesday of Ore”. We had been shadowing each other since the Deben River so next morning we were finally able to meet, ever so briefly, with a promise to catch up properly when we returned from London.

Heading up the Thames crossing 00.00.00E.

The morning was fine and sunny and we stuck south to the River Medway. As it was a rising spring tide we were able to cross the Gunfleet Sand and shorten the passage a little. We had current with us the whole way and made it into the Dead Mans Hole well before dark after and extremely pleasant day on the water.

View of the Tower Bridge from the St Katharines lock

Next morning the weather was horrible but current was in our favour so after pushing current for about an hour leaving the anchorage we were in the Thames Estuary and riding the current upstream for almost 40 miles. 
St Pauls Cathedral.

Leaving the Medway there is the very well marked Dangerous Wreck of the Richard Montgomery  still loaded with 1400 tons of TNT, so unstable that they cant touch it, and it could very well go off spontaneously. If it explodes it will amongst other things…. break windows in London about 30miles away. We were glad to slip quietly past that! 

Thames Barrier

The trip up the Thames was pretty uninteresting, flat, and fairly industrial for most of the way. There was some shipping but nothing alarming. As we got closer to the city itself there was some tourist traffic and the Thames Barrier to negotiate. The route is covered by London VTS Radio and we monitored 3 frequencies during the trip. Calling the Barrier for permission to pass was just a formality but the Barrier is closed to all traffic at times so it pays to check the website for closures when planning a trip up the Thames.

Thats the Skygarden.

Once in sight of the beautiful Tower Bridge we were almost at our destination. St Katharine’s Dock. By now the river was fairly narrow and as a consequence of fast moving tourist boats, fairly rough with wind against tide. It being nearly high tide we didn’t have long to wait for the lock to open to provide entrance to the Dock. Inside the lock with the door closed, things were less frenetic and we registered at the office and were issued a berth. This happened to be alongside “De  Verleiding” with Ron and Joce, friends from Enkhiuzen Netherlands, aboard. 
St Katharines Dock. Taipan and De Verleiding.

St Katherine’s Dock is situated beside the Tower Bridge and the Tower of London. It’s not cheap at £470 per week but has to be cheaper than the adjacent hotels. The marina entrance Lock is easy to see but dries out on lower tides so timing is critical. Current in the Thames runs at up to 3 or 4 knots depending on the tide. There is a bit of a cross current at the lock. Facilities are good and security excellent. 

An Icon
With an underground station at Tower Hill just nearby, it was amazingly simple to see London.  Highlights included the Tate Modern, Skygarden, Natural History Museum, Soane houses, Damien Hurst Gallery and Borough Market. Mostly we just walked and walked in lovely weather. There is just so much to see we will go back again but it gets to the point where you just get overload! We had planned a week and it was enough for one trip.
Burough Market. Food lovers.
Ray and Jeananne Wells, old friends from Australia, now resident in the UK, met us on arrival and we spent two days exploring with them, and also enjoyed a fabulous evening at their home.  Andrew and Christine joined us aboard Taipan for a few days so we checked out lots of fun sites with them also. 

View from the Sky Garden.

Bit of silliness at Somerset House with Ray and Jeananne

Retracing our steps back down the Thames on a falling tide couldn’t have been easier with the change of tide at 830am we left the marina in daylight and coasted out on the current to River Medway in brilliant sunshine. A much more enjoyable ride in sunshine than the inbound trip. We had planned to explore Chatham Historic Dockyards and Ropeworks the next day but the forecast was not looking too sharp for later in the week so we overnighted in Dead Mans Hole again and caught the current all the way back to Ipswich the following day. We managed to ride the rising tide up the Orwell into the marina as well and all in lovely weather. 

Tower of London across the Thames
And on the opposite side of the Thames.

Back in Ipswich now and counting down until we can once again cross the Channel to France or Belgium to spend some time waiting for the winter to go away! The new Eberspacher heater the Captain has promised the Admiral is proving elusive. After nearly a year of tinkering with a second hand Webasto, only to have it work for one day, he has retired defeated!. The suppliers are all saying there is a wait of up to a month on delivery and the back orders haven’t been filled for 6 weeks. There are always other projects, running repairs, varnish, and maintenance to take care of so we are not just sitting sipping gin!

Taipan with my new favourite bridge.
The new Kemp sail was hoisted in the first light weather and although not as big as we were expecting, I’m sure it will be an improvement on the 30 year old Hood we have been using. Looking forward to the test sail and I hope it lasts as long!

Where are we going on the continent? Not sure yet. One of the problems with Schengen is that we can’t avail ourselves of the winter rates offered by marinas because we can only stay in Schengen for 3 months. This will mean paying for a full 5 or 6 months twice. We have yet to confirm the most cost effective place to stop. Or we could just keep moving and pay the monthly rate!