I had decided, after a wobbly moment, that it was time that Sumara had a refit. I had become increasingly nervous about the engine after an engineer told me it was on its last legs and my teak decks were beginning to look a bit shabby. Even the varnish was now rather patchy. For convenience, I decided to have the work done in Ullapool, being about the furthest place in the UK from where we live. The reason for this obscure decision was that my friends Tim Loftus and Dan Johnson run Johnson and Loftus Boatbuilders and I could trust them completely to make a fine job of all the work. More on that later.
The plan was to sail Sumara as far as Inverness where I would run out of holiday time to go through the Caledonian Canal. I would then arrange for her to be lifted and trailed the short drive over the mountains to Ullapool. The canal will have to happen another year!
It was so useful to have the boat hauled out for the 2018/2019 winter in the boatyard at South Dock as it is right next to where we live. It means we can slap on some primer in the morning before going work to get those coats built up. The only snag is that it is so incredibly expensive. The price increases the longer you stay. Sumara, being wooden, likes to be out of the water in the winter to regulate the moisture content of the timber. The South Dock boatyard isn’t really geared up for wooden yachts sitting under their covers, with the price rate racking up every month. Once we had finished the work in the spring, we were put back in the water but had to escape quickly as we were put on visitors’ rates which are oligarchy pricey.
So on the 5th May we sailed the 45 nm down the Thames to Queenborough. It is a sail where you need to hold that tide. With all the sails up and a northerly force 4 plus a good belt of tide we were soon clocking 8 kn SOG. We picked up a mooring in Queenborough at 20:00 GMT.
The next day we left at 05:35 GMT heading for Shotley, near Harwich. It is a 50 nm trip but with a NW force 4 and a flat sea we were sailing at 5 kn through the water. We moored in Shotley Marina at 17:15 after a cracking sail. We always a lovely friendly welcome by the Shotley staff. It became our favourite departure point for all our trips to Norway.
As I needed to give a talk at the RHYC about Arthur Beale, we sailed Sumara up the Orwell and made use of their moorings (£21.50 per night). The Orwell is a lovely place to sail with options for most weather. I do miss the old Pin Mill mooring with Harry King but hope to return one day.
On 27th May we sailed up to Lowestoft in a brisk westerly breeze on a neep tide. We moored in the RNSYC moorings. It cost £420.00 to cover the three weeks that we needed before we could return. It is a very fine yacht club!
It wasn’t until 17th June when Philip and I were free to sail Sumara north. Our first port was going to be Grimsby. It was blowing a strong SW breeze with a very confused sea off the entrance to the harbour. We decided to get all the sails hoisted in the outer harbour but became slightly confused because a fat seagull must have bent our Windex so it got jammed. Now using the tips of our ears to judge the wind direction, we got the sails up and headed out into a very wild sea.
By the evening the wind died off and eventually the donker was started. It was making a strange smell! By early morning we were sailing again under full main and yankee. Philip and I have both wanted to visit Grimsby but sadly the tide was so inconvenient that we decided to skip it and head for Whitby.
On 19th June we were sailing so fast we would arrive too early for Whitby so we continued with two reefs At 02:37 we started the engine as the tide was slipping out of our grasp. We motored towards Whitby Harbour at 05:00 and when we were in the entrance the motored failed entirely. We tried rowing and hoisted sails but it was no use we were beginning to drift helplessly. Luckily a friendly fisherman in “Boy Andrew” threw us a line and we were able to tie up alongside. We eventually restarted the engine to give us enough way to reach the marina pontoon.
We enjoyed our stay in town, visiting the fine museum and seeing William Scoresby’s House.
We managed to spend £48.00 on fish and chips in The Magpie Café and climbed the hill to drink craft beer. We also changed the engine oil which was badly diluted with diesel. We reckoned the engine would be up for a short run enough to get us into a harbour.
We left Whitby on the evening of 20th June for the 65 nm trip to Amble. There was a good breeze and even with a slightly lumpy sea we were making 4.7 kn. Of course, that would mean we would arrive bang on low water! Which is exactly what happened, so we anchored in Coquet Road for three hours before risking the entrance. Once secure in the marina, we managed to spend £76.00 on Fish and Chips in The Old Boathouse! That’s a bit unfair as we had chowder and halibut and it was very tasty. Northumberland is a lovely and overlooked part of the country and I wish we had more time to explore.
We left the boat in the marina and returned a few weeks later to have her lifted by Amble Boat Company onto a John Shepherd Transporter. The cost to trail her to Ullapool was £1,500.00 including VAT which I thought was very reasonable. We followed her up in our new camper van.
In Ullapool the boat was shored up and we put on her winter cover ready for the refit later in the year.