Isle of Wight, Dover, Suffolk  (September 16 – October 22, 2007)


Overview of our last sailing ventures in 2007


Portland Harbour (September 16-17): 

We sailed overnight from Dartmouth to Portland to ensure we would not be caught in the Race at the southern tip of Portland Island (Portland Bill). Many of the major headlands on the south coast of England have “races and overfalls.”  The tidal currents in the English Channel are strong around these jutting points of land.  During the Spring Tides (a day or two after the full moon on the south coast of England) the tidal currents can run strongly (causing a race) and cause steep waves and eddies because of variances in the depths (overfalls).  The slack (time between low and high tide) when there is no current was not dovetailing with times we could be at Portland Bill if we left Dartmouth during daylight hours.  Therefore, we left Dartmouth at dusk and motor-sailed the 70 miles to Portland overnight. 


The Dartmouth to Portland leg avoiding the dangers of Portland Bill


We had an easy passage with favorable tidal currents the entire way.  As we approached Portland we had our first glimpse of white chalk cliffs in bay east of Portland Harbour and so prevalent from the Isle of Wight to the Dover Cliffs.


A dramatic view of pure white


On this passage we got to try out our new AIS system.  Commercial ships (excluding fishing boats) and some large pleasure craft are required to carry an AIS transponder and broadcast information about their vessel while underway.  Information includes boat name, latitude, longitude, course direction, speed, type of ship and destination.  Especially during a night passage it is comforting to know the big boats that are in your vicinity and if they are likely to collide with you.  Our experience has shown that a VHF radio call to a specific boat name gets a response, whereas a call to a cargo ship at an approximate location rarely gets a response.  As we approached Portland, our AIS system identified ferries from Weymouth to the Channel Islands.  We clocked them at 35 knots.


A screen shot of commercial traffic in the Channel … Pilgrim is the round circle with the large arrow


Portland Harbour is the largest man-made harbour in the world formed by the mainland and a natural causeway on the west, Portland Island on the south, and a breakwall on the east and north.  It was a naval base in First and Second World Wars.  The movie The Americanization of Emily portrays Portland as the launch site of the Allied assault on Omaha Beach.  The naval base was closed in the late 1980’s, but there are still several naval ships in the harbour.  Prisoners from a nearby jail built the extensive breakwater in 1872; it was further extended in 1894.



Portland is a superb man-made military harbour that will become famous in the 2012 Olympics


“Torpedo Pier C Head” … wonder if they will change the military names in time for the Olympics

The small town on Portland Island is Castletown and there is an imposing castle on the hill over the town that was reinforced as late as the Second World War.  There is also a housing subdivision along the west shore of the harbour.  The economic base of the town was not obvious, but there used to be quarries in the area.  People in the area were superstitious about rabbits because rabbit burrows caused cave-ins in the quarry tunnels.  References to rabbits are banned on Portland Island.


The castle walls… protecting the inhabitants from the Killer Rabbits … very Monty Python


The future holds great promise for Portland.  It is the site for sailing events in the 2012 Olympic Games.  During our time at anchor we watched dinghies (Hobicats, International 14’s, Wayfayers), Windsurfers (international competition quality) and paragliders in 25 knots of wind from SW, but little wave.  All were practicing for future international competitions.  After we left (Oct 1-7) was Weymouth Speed Week with 145 competitors.  All had sights on breaking the harbour record of 36.85 knots set last year by kite-boarder Nigel Bowley.  When we were in Portsmouth we discovered that a new 600-berth marina is planned to be open in 2008.


If its not ferries it’s racers using Pilgrim as a turning mark


We waited out 2 days of strong SW winds and then planned our route around St. Alban’s, another headland with strong tidal currents / races / overfalls, and also a range for naval live artillery fire.


Poole Harbour (September 18-21)


Portland to Poole, again avoiding live cannon fire and rough water


We had a good sail from Portland to Poole Harbour (35 miles) in 15 knots of wind until noon when wind petered out. 


Our first sight of the white cliffs on the west end of Isle of Wight (the Needles) at first looked like a huge freighter, then a large city, and finally just high, steep white cliffs.


Not as high as expected but very white


The entrance to Poole Harbour is well buoyed, but confusing with various channels and permanent moorings in the Wych Channel (actually inside navigational aid stakes).  As soon as we moved outside the channel, the water was less than 10 feet deep, and we had to anchor in enough water to accommodate the 4-foot tidal range.  We anchored on the edge of channel, well outside the buoyed channel with our CQR and Danforth anchors as wind piped up again to 20 knots and stayed that strong for the next 4 days.  When the wind finally dropped, we were shrouded in fog and had poor visibility for our motor trip to the Isle of Wight. 

Shades of the Chesapeake and anchoring in shallow water… we had to stay right on the edge of the channel


We left Pilgrim at anchor one day to dinghy ashore to Brownsea Island; the short ride was wild and wet, but we wanted to explore the island, the home of scouting.  Robert Badan-Powell took his first troop of scouts to Brownsea Island 100 years ago.  There are monuments to Badan-Powell and signposts erected by various scout troops from England and other countries showing the distance and direction to their home.


Badan-Powell bronze                       mementos from troops                       Scout visitors centre


 Because the island is still used by scouts for camping, every 100 meters or so there is a collection of “fire-stompers” to put out brush fires.


Fire stompers … sure beats boots or bare feet


There is one church on the island, St. Mary the Virgin (Church of England).  It was built in the 1850’s, but not used during the last owner’s residence on the island in the twentieth century.  The owner was agnostic.  A Vicarage was built, but never used by the parish priest because his salary was not high enough to keep the large house going.


St. Mary the Virgin (Church of England) … this was a private church on a private island


 There are two images at main door to the church:  the Bishop on right-hand side is in good condition, but the King on left hand side defaced.  We could not discover why.


One of the island owners had no use for the monarchy but didn’t mind the Bishop


There were fireplaces in “family pew” bell tower and sacristy, but no other heating, electricity or plumbing.  The church is used today, especially for scouting events.  Badges of some visiting troops were mounted near the door.  A troop from Niagara-on-the-Lake was there in 1955 and another from Alberta in 1983.


Troop insignia from around the world


There is a Castle on the island owned by private trust and not accessible to the public, but there are current residents. 


The private castle … must be nice to have someone else pay for the total maintenance package


Rabbits, chickens and peacocks roamed the pathways.   The “rare” red squired with long ear tuffs inhabit the island and thrive on the nuts from Scots Pine.  When we finally saw a few we were surprised that they looked just like the red squirrels in Toronto with no ear tuffs.  Further inquiry revealed the squirrels suffer from a virus infection that causes the ear fur, and sometimes the entire ear, to fall off. 


Fuzzy chickens … wild rabbits … tame peacocks … a typical English Garden

Small-eared red squirrels … they look just like the ones in Northern Ontario


The Dorset Wildlife Trust manages part of the island and maintains pathways and blinds for viewing waterfowl.  Unfortunately we saw few birds from the blinds; we saw more from our own boat.  A family of ducks tried to follow us back to the boat, scampering down the pathway behind us.


Path to a bird blind … interiors of two different blinds … birders have a tough life in the UK


There are sand and chalk cliffs on west side of island, which are eroding.  Maryland was a village on the west end of the island and was used as decoy during 2nd world war and was leveled by German bombers, but saved the larger inland city of Poole from destruction.  The main industry on the island was a pottery factory.  It was an unsuccessful venture; pottery shards still cover the western beaches. 

A roadway seemingly constructed from broken pottery


What is left of the village of Maryland


Yarmouth, Isle of Wight (September 22-24):

We motored in calm foggy conditions the 22 miles to Yarmouth.


We took the easy route by the Needles unlike some other boats we saw


A convoluted entry into a crowded Yarmouth


There was a large yawl with 3 headsails sailing around the Needles trying to make their way against the current with no wind up the Needles Channel. 


3 knots of counter current and no wind or motor … yes they are going backwards


Yarmouth is a relatively small harbour with visitor’s pontoons (no direct shore access with most) and boats rafted 2-3 deep on Saturday night.  In mid-summer they are rafted 3-4 deep and there is a neon sign at the harbour entrance “Harbour Full” that is turned on when no space remains.  There is a car and passenger ferry to Lymington, and the usual pubs, inns and hotels, but little else in Yarmouth. 


We took a tour on a double-decker bus of the Western Isle of Wight.  We passed Afton Down, site of the 1970 pop festival, including Jimi Hendrix’s performance just weeks before his death.  It is also the site of a large apple orchard.  Alfred Lord Tennyson’s home is on Tennyson Down on the southwest coast.  


A weekend race at the Yarmouth Sailing Club …        Tour of the Island from the land this time

Thatched Roofed church and a view of the area we had sailed through


The most interesting site was the Needles Battery.  It was a battery on top of the white cliffs, 250 feet above sea level.  It was completed in 1863 to protect England from a French invasion.  In 1899 a tunnel was dug along the cliff-top to provide a secure access to a searchlight emplacement on the edge of the cliff above the Needles Rocks.  The view from the emplacement was spectacular. 


The Needles Rocks … as the military sees them and as the tourist views them


At the close of the 19th century the Old Battery’s role changed.  It was discovered that the chalk cliffs were suffering rapid erosion due to the weight and vibration of firing guns.  Also, it was too small for new weapons.  It remained a lookout while a more modern site was commissioned further up the High Down on the Isle of Wight. 


The old fort and gun placements … not a very popular tourist site due to the high entrance fee


Hurst Castle on the mainland, along with the Needles Battery, Albert Castle, and Victoria Castle on the Isle of Wight, guarded the west entrance of the Solent against French attack in the 19th century and German attack in the 20th century.


Alum Bay, on the northwest shore just east of the Needles, has dramatic cliffs with multiple colours of sand (up to 19 different colours, depending on the weather and erosion that has taken place).  It is quite a tourist attraction with a chairlift from the sandy beach up the cliffs, water sports, and tourist shops.


The cliffs provide multicolored sand that is collected and used commercially


We had lunch at the Royal Solent Yacht Club and exchanged one of our National Yacht Club burgees for one of theirs.


Royal Solent Yacht Club interior and view into the Solent … nice members, great food and Irish beer


Newton River (September 25-26):

Our next stop on the Isle of Wight was Newton River, just 5 miles east of Yarmouth. 


The trip from Yarmouth to Newtown River … uneventful


The river at high tide … floating boats and swimming swans … pleasant


Four creeks combine to form the river; at low tide there are large mudflats, and most piers / docks for dinghies dry out.  Trips to shore were greatly restricted by the drying areas 3 hours either side of Low Water.  Pilgrim’s cockpit provided a great view of the birds on the mudflats.  Birds seen:  Oystercatcher (addictive call, reminded us of the loon’s call that is also addictive), Curlew, Gulls (black backed, black headed, Herring), terns, Red shanks, ducks (Mallard and black), egrets, and turnstones.  The turnstones are well named; they flip small stones on the mudflats looking for food. 


The river at low tide … stranded boats and strolling egrets … a muddy mess


We walked around the site of the old Newton Village; it was a “rotten” borough and never really developed as a city.  It was also the home of a brick maker who declared himself fastest and best brick maker in the world.  The brickwork chimneys on houses showed his skill.

Newton Village skyline and the National Trust museum … interesting interior … no photos allowed, pity


Cowes (September 27 – 29):

We motored the 7 miles to Cowes, yacht regatta capital of England, with 15-20 knots of wind from the north, blowing straight up the Medina River, which is the Cowes harbour. 


The trip to the yachting centre of England


There was also a 3-knot current running up the Medina River, with ferries coming and going and water taxis whizzing about.  Making the turn into the marina was almost impossible.  We are pretty good at docking by ourselves (even docking Pilgrim), but with the wind, current, a ferries bow thruster wash and no hands on shore to help, it was 5 minutes of pandemonium before we got Pilgrim hogtied to the dock.


The ferry from hell with its bow thruster augmenting the 3 knot current … safe at last


We were underwhelmed by Cowes. Perhaps our expectations were too high.  The three chandleries are small and offered to “order in” parts we needed. 


Main street with an interesting poster ”Tack Gybe Responsibly” great comment on a sailing party centre


There was lots of nautical clothing for sale.  We found a good supermarket and a reasonably good butcher to replenish our lamb supply.  We walked the mile-long main street a couple of times. The Royal Yacht Squadron (the original “Royal” yacht club … but not the oldest club by far) is housed in one of Henry VIII’s castles and is surrounded by little cannons that apparently are used to start some of the races.  We walked along the shingle beach northwest of the town and found lots of good sea glass.


Interesting … first time I have ever heard of a random start gun for a race … wonder who reloads these


We went to the Cowes Library and Maritime Museum.  The museum occupies one large room and its exhibits are mainly pictures, model ships and Uffa Fox’s first International 14, built in 1928.  Uffa Fox grew up in Cowes and did most of his boat building / designing here.  There is a charming photo of Prince Charles in a Flying Fifteen getting sailing instruction; he does not look amused.  There is also a photo of Price Philip in his overturned dinghy just opposite the Royal Yacht Squadron, the most exclusive of the Royal clubs (Lord Mountbatten evidently could not even get in).  Prince Philip is the Admiral of the Royal Squadron Fleet.  The museum display was small, but interesting since we still love Brian’s first boat, Puff, a Flying Fifteen. 


Uffa Fox … designer of the Flying Fifteen and the Albacore … my hero


We took the Chain Ferry (Ferry Bridge) across the Medina River to East Cowes.  This is one of just a few ferries that runs on a chain strung across the river.  The ferry moves along the chain from one side of the river to the other, carrying passengers, bicycles, cars, taxis, and small trucks.  There is no charge for passengers.  The river is less than Ľ mile, so it takes about 5 minutes to make the crossing; more time is spent getting cars and people on and off than in crossing.


Notice the chain to the left of the walkway … notice the people that will trample anything in their way


We walked half way down the Medina River towards Newport, the capital of the Isle of Wight, to Folly Reach and had lunch at the Folly Inn, a most delightful pub with excellent food.   The walk took us through the southern residential section of East Cowes (we passed a house that had a sign on it “Sod the Dog, beware of the kids”) through land that is in the early stages of development as a residential subdivision, through 3 fields and two small forests (lots of rabbit evidence and one pheasant).  We made the return trip in the rain.


I’m really confused … the kids look friendly but I guess they can turn as vicious as the rabbits


View from the Folly Inn and from the pathway … all the fields had recent surveyor stakes


We went to the Island Sailing Club for lunch and exchanged one of the National Yacht Club’s burgees for theirs.  This club started out for dinghy-racers, but now is a substantial club and hosts an annual ‘Round the Island Race, which is supposed to be the largest race in the world with over 2000 competing boats.  In the evening we went to a performance of Handel’s Messiah at St. Mary’s Parish Church in Cowes.  The performance was a bit weak; choir members sang the soprano and alto solos with tenor and baritone soloists brought in.  The great thing about going to a Messiah concert is that we know the music and have heard such wonderful concerts and recordings that we could hear what we wanted to hear.  The acoustics were very good, and the church very lovely stone with elaborate brickwork. 


Portsmouth/Gosport (September 30-October 1):

Sunday morning we left Cowes at 7:30 to take advantage of the tidal currents and arrived at Portsmouth at 10:00 (11 miles). 



We motored the entire way in the drizzle with little wind.  There were 4 UK warships anchored in the Solent, and numerous other military craft engaged in some kind of exercise.  We went close by a barge with vehicles on it not realizing until we were upon it that it was military, but no one complained about our closeness. 


We docked at a marina in Gosport on the west side of Portsmouth Harbour. 


Our dock at Gosport  and the view across the river to the Spinnaker Tower and Portsmouth                             


When we got settled into the marina, we took the ferry across the harbour to the Historic Dockyards in Portsmouth.  First on our agenda was to visit HMS Victory.  It is awesome.  The beam of the ship is 55 feet, 13 feet greater than Pilgrim’s length.  The bowsprit is 110 feet.  The anchor rodes are twisted hemp, about 2 inches in diameter (imagine splicing that).  Three gun decks.  56” of hammock space was allowed for each seaman, but sumptuous quarters for both Nelson (Fleet Admiral) and Hardy (Captain).  Back on Pilgrim, we enjoyed watching the BBC Hornblower series DVD’s (based on C.S. Forrester’s novels) and were fascinated by the number of details we could identify after our tour of the Victory. 


The HMS Victory stern and bow sections … Pilgrim could sit sideways on the deck


Top gun deck                                                                 Miles of rigging



The Admiral’s study and dining room … a little more than 56 inches to swing the hammock


Monday our first order of business was to replace our propane tank.  In Europe, North American propane tanks cannot be refilled.  When we were in Falmouth we researched fuels for our stove and bought an English propane tank; we were assured a full replacement canister could be found anywhere in the UK.  WRONG.  We tried several places on the Isle of Wight and in Gosport.  The tank we bought in Falmouth is a brand that is not carried by marinas and chandleries in the UK.  SO…we got to purchase yet another tank to ensure we do not run out of stove fuel.  Why do the British enjoy leading us astray  (Could it be they never got over the loss of the empire?)? 


After we got our fuel issues settled, we went back to the dockyards to do the Harbour Tour (somewhat interesting to see the various UK warships, both contemporary and those being decommissioned.) 

Antarctic Explorer getting ready to set out                                       Military radar test bed



Warship that was sold to Chile … I hope it doesn’t sink on the way there like our subs almost did


We saw the topsail of the Victory (only sail that is still around), and then spent 3 hours on the Warrior, the first steel-clad warship built in 1860 that had both sail (8 knots) and steam capacity (17 knots maximum speed with steam and sail).  The topsides had two 9” shells of teak (one running horizontally and one vertically) covered by plate steel.  There were 3 sets of wheels, and each set consisted of 4 wheels. 

The overview and a view along the starboard gun deck


Wide-open decks with cannon pivot tracks … a galley to die for


Captains quarters  … the sitting room…                     and the laundry … agitation drums and wringers



The reconstructed Bounty in for a visit … with a rather fearsome looking figurehead


We got to see the Mary Rose, Henry VIII’s flagship that was recovered from the mud bottom of the Solent in 1982.  Only the starboard half of the boat remains (because it was encased in mud), and has been constantly kept wet, first with fresh water, and now with a waxy solution to ensure the wood does not shrink and disintegrate further. 


The Mary Rose in her preservation cabinet



Chichester (October 2-3):

We left Portsmouth at noon for Chichester (on the mainland, just east of the Isle of Wight), 10 miles away, to position ourselves in a free anchorage for a good overnight passage to Dover.



The Spit is used extensively for commercials since it can be made to look like a Caribbean Island


Add a couple of palm trees and the Spit becomes a tropical Isle


 The only problem with Chichester is that it could only be entered or left at half tide to high tide, since a bar crosses the entrance that is too shallow for us at low tide.  We spent much of the afternoon figuring out the tidal current dynamics of when we could leave and play the English Channel and North Sea currents to greatest advantage.  The Great Lakes never prepared us for such calculations. 


Dover (October 4-5):

We had an uneventful motor sail from Chichester to Dover ... 100 nautical miles. 


An overnight trip through one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world …there was no option


We were glad to have our AIS receiver, however, which identified cargo ships, tankers and ferries.  We were just outside the shipping lane the entire way, and it was constantly busy with 5-6 ships in the close lane (westbound) and another 5-6 ships in the far lane (eastbound), plus several ships leaving the shipping lane to go into / come out of port. 


AIS display showing a number of boats but none close to us


We stayed two nights in Dover.  It is a busy port with cruise ships, ferries to the continent, cargo ships and pleasure craft.  The high chalk cliffs dominate the shoreline, with the imposing Dover Castle watching over the English Channel.  We walked through the town, but did not visit the castle.  Entrance to it has become quite pricey. 


Dover … 3 marinas right in the centre of town but the whole place is very pricey

The mix of old and new architecture was well blended


We discovered that Patronne is here for the winter.  This is one of the boats that sailed from Bermuda to the Azores and then the Azores to UK/Ireland with us.  They bought a second-hand car for the winter and took us for a driving tour of the area around Dover, including Margate / Ramsgate, our next port.  It was great seeing them and catching up on their travels this past summer.


Patronne in Dover for the winter                                A guided tour


Ramsgate (October 6-7):

The run from Dover north to Ramsgate is just 18 miles. 


A short run but we had to thread carefully through the Goodwin sand banks


We timed our departure to take advantage of the tidal currents, but ran into steep waves with the NE wind blowing against the current.  Ramsgate is on the south shore of the mouth of the Thames River and used to be a Victorian holiday town with its sandy beaches.  Now it attracts some tourists, but mainly from the Continent (the Brits go to Portugal where it is warmer and their pound goes further).   We took the "inside" route from Dover to Ramsgate through the sandbanks.  Goodwin Sandbanks have claimed over 450 shipwrecks.  The whole southeast coast is full of shifting sandbanks that are a menace to sailors who cannot always sail through channels because of the wind direction. 


The ever present white cliffs                                   Calalou waiting for a weather window to head to London


We met up with Calalou in Ramsgate.  She is a US boat that joined us 2/3 of the way from Bermuda to the Azores, coming north from St. Martins rather than from Bermuda.  Then she traveled with us from the Azores to Ireland, but we had not seen Rick and Connie since Terceira in the Azores.  


Although Ramsgate is a tourist town, the tourist information office was closed, as were most of the shops.  We had lunch at the Royal Temple Yacht Club and spent the afternoon at the Ramsgate Maritime Museum.  Although it is small, it is very well laid-out and gave us a good history of shipwrecks on the sandbanks and on the evacuation of British soldiers at Dunkirk (making extensive use of small pleasure craft in the English Channel) during the Second World War.


The marina has silted in and half is unusable … local boat owners have staged protests without effect


Old merchant stalls still in use                                   Ramsgate to GMT time correction …for the anal


The Sundowner


There was a rugby match in progress and these fellows were a bit excited … don’t drink and walk


We decided that it would be best to sail directly to the Orwell River.  Fall storms are notorious, especially with north winds that make travel along the east coast difficult.  Most of the ports between the mouth of the Thames and the River Orwell have difficult entries through sandbanks that dry at low tide, and the ports had little exciting to offer.


River Stour and River Orwell (October 9- October 22):

We motor-sailed the 55 miles to the River Orwell with mainly light wind from the NE. 


The final leg of the 2007 journey



The mouth of the River Orwell is a very large container ship port and also the headquarters for the organization that maintains the navigational aids and lighthouses for Britain (not the coast guard as in North America)b.  There were also ferries for trucks (lorries) called ro-ro ferries (roll on/ roll off) at the mouth of the River Stour.  It was quite a busy entrance.  As we took the sail down in the River Stour near Shotley Point, we managed to run aground in the soft mud.  It was low tide and we miscalculated how far out the shallow water reached beyond the mudflat.  We launched the dinghy and kedged ourselves off using the Danforth anchor.  We were concerned that the wind may continue to push us toward shore as the tide came in if we simply waited for the tide to float us.  We think we have had enough practice kedging ourselves off the bottom. 


A light ship at anchor waiting refurbishing             The river Stour and three of the multitude of Swans


A river barge … there are several still working and a few others that can be chartered  


Our first day we stayed anchored upstream from Shotley on the River Stour, letting the heavy rain rinse the salt from the boat.  Then we moved further up the River Stour to Wrabness Point and anchored just outside a large mooring field.  The dinghy trip to the top of the navigable part of the river was about 2 miles, and we found a small town, Manningtree, with a grocery store, organic food store, and a few pubs.  We were trying to find the Constable Walk, a 3-mile trail along the upper reaches of the river.  Several folks gave us directions, but we were unable to get to the walk.  John Constable, the English landscape painter, lived here and many of his paintings depict this countryside. 


Manningtree has a large population of retired folk … and beautiful scenery

There is a flock of more than 100 Mute Swans that lives near the town.  We continually saw their white feathers floating downstream.


According to one local expert the Queen owns all the Swans … bet she doesn’t have to pay to feed them


Our friend from Lizzy Bee (sailed with us from Bermuda to the Azores) keeps his boat in Lowestoft, just 50 miles north of the River Orwell.  He sailed down to spend some time with us.  He rafted off us at Wrabness Point. 


Richard from Lizzy Bee relaxing with and in watercolours


The following day we motored down the Stour and up the Orwell River to Pin Mill.  There is an excellent pub (The Oyster and Butt) at Pin Mill (and that is just about all there is).  We went ashore and discovered there is no good landing place for a dinghy, and with a 12-foot tidal range, the dinghy was quickly left high and dry.  We had a pint and lunch at the pub, with Brian leaving our table every 15 minutes to move the boat further out the beach as the tide went out.


Within 5 minutes the dinghy was high and dry and had to be moved further down the path


 We listened to the semi-final World Cup Rugby Match between England and France on the Radio.  Richard tried to explain the basics of the game before it began so we were not entirely lost.  England beat France, but lost to South Africa in the final game the following week.


The anchorage at Pin Mill was lovely.  There are extensive mud flats at low water and the Curlews and Oystercatchers, Egrets and gulls were plentiful.  The sun reluctantly came out from behind the clouds, and we had a relaxing day in the sun in Pilgrim's cockpit with Richard from Lizzy Bee. 


We stayed at anchor at Pin Mill for a bit more than a week and had bright sunshine, but cool temperatures to get a start on our winter to-do list.  Our teak rubrails suffered some damage during the Atlantic crossing; the combination of chaff and saltwater in the wood under the Cetol finish meant we had to scrap the Cetol finish off, rinse out the salt water, let the wood dry over the winter and refinish it in the Spring.  We made changes to our aft lazarette lockers so that rusty water will not leave rust stains on the transom when they drain.  Brian made a rope “floor” for our bowsprit to replace the teak floor we lost in the Atlantic crossing.  We were comforted at night with the warmth of our diesel heater and the hot water bottle in our bunk. 


Brian playing tug/push boat … untangling the two anchor rodes by turning Pilgrim 360 degrees


On October 22 we motored up to Ipswich on the River Orwell to Fox’s Marina where Pilgrim will spend the winter in a steel cradle on land.  We are spending our time here working on the very long list of projects and getting estimates for a new mizzen sail, shortening the mizzen boom, installing a new sheeting system for the mizzen, repairing errors Alex made when the boat was in Whitby 2 years ago, doubling our battery bank, moving our marine SSB antennas to the aft rail, and other smaller projects.  We continue to meet new boaters and had a joyful reunion with Jon from New Zealand.  Jon and his brother were in Cape Canaveral last January working on their boat when we were painting Pilgrim’s bottom.  They spent the winter in the Caribbean and were arrived in the Azores just days after we left. 

Pilgrims home for the next few months


We will be in North America for December, January and February.  Our plans are to do some motor touring in England in March, then launch Pilgrim in April and head of Holland and the Baltic via the Kiel Canal.  Our next log update will be when we leave England next April 2008.