The Naiad Voyages

Mark Austen

2017.05.19 - Launch Day

The day started at the normal time and I spent a hurried 3 hours getting the last items on my list crossed off and then packing the car. I was far too busy to be taking photos of the event but Tina took a lot so most of the photos on this post are from her.


One of my last tasks was to rig the tackle for the centre plate as you can see here but I did not really know if it worked until the boat was in the water. It did.


It was a fairly nerve wracking trip towing Naiad the 12 miles to Ely but the trip was uneventful and I had little traffic building up behind me. Most of the items required on the voyage were stuffed willy-nilly in the back of the car, I ran out of time to pack it neatly.


We arrived safely and parked beside the lift.


Within a few minutes of our arrival Naiad was being lifted into the water.


She settled back into the water without problems.


We manhandled her round to the quay...


...and unpacked the car. Some of what you see here will not stay onboard, the coils of rope for example but most of that heap will be stowed away somewhere. At this point Tina returned home with the trailer, drove to the station at Littleport and caught a train back to Ely. The river is only a short distance from the station.


In the meantime I put everything onboard willy-nilly, just like in the back of the car, paddled over to the path side of the river and started rigging the boat. I had the mast up but no sails fitted when Tina returned.


After a short discussion we decided not to put the sails on just yet but to get out of Ely first, so down came the mast again.


I think my mast is much heavier than the one on Shoal Waters as there is no way that I can lower it in the fashion shown in the video that her current owner has made. Instead I have to catch the mast as it comes down...


...and guide it into the crutches.


We had six bridges to navigate before the mast could be raised and this is the first just a hundred yards or so down stream. We found the paddling fairly easy and since we were going with the current we made visible progress. We have both paddled things in the past be that kayaks, canoes and the like so this was not new to us. I had forgotten my rowing gloves but even so I found that the paddling did not blister my hands. Tina had remembered hers.


The second bridge is a rail bridge and Tina goes over this twice a day. See that red narrowboat just the other side of the bridge?


It has birds of prey onboard. No, they are not plastic but live ones.


Bridge number three is a footbridge.


Number four is an access bridge from the road into a gravel distribution site.


We saw a number of these on our trip, none with a brood as yet but a lot of sitting swans. The Canada Geese all have broods at the moment and we came across several lots.


Bridges five and six are a rail and road bridge quite close together.


We found a spot to moor up just after the sixth bridge.


And the mast went back up again.


I only rigged the two headsails, there was very little wind and we needed to be getting on. Putting the mainsail on would take at least another hour of time. instead we unfurled the staysail and then paddle-sailed down to Littleport.


Time for a cup of tea.


Littleport has two bridges, this is the first.


Tina got out just before we reached the second bridge as the car is parked about 30 yards away over the river bank. The intention was that she would drive home and then later, when I approached the last section of the trip, she would drive to the cruising club and walk along the bank where I could pick her up for the last bit of the journey to the mooring.


So off I went under the final bridge.


We had thought that since there seemed to be no wind I would have to paddle all the way to the club, a distance of about 5 miles. Still, shortly after going under the last bridge I decided to put the mast back up and unfurl the staysail again and then any wind that there was would assist me. As it happened there was more than sufficient wind and I sailed for most of the journey.


I had to paddle for about half a mile just before this photo. Tina drove down to the club but found that the riverside path was so overgrown that she would have been soaked if she tried to walk on it so instead she drove back along the road and found a suitable spot on the river path to wait for my passing by.



She took a short video clip as I passed by. A beautiful boat!


The wind was quite fickle at this point, you can see from this photo that the water is almost mirror like.


I furled the sail as I approached my mooring but as you can see from this photo, the slight wake behind me show that even with bare poles I was being blown through the water. This was good as I could still steer without having to resort to paddling.


But although I could make the boat turn, without the centre plate down she just went sideways so I used the paddle to get into my berth.


Easy does it!


Safe on her mooring (photo taken the following day, I was way too tired to take one before) and the end of the saga of the restoration of Naiad.

This project log will now close but will remain available on my website which will now detail the journeys of Naiad.