The Naiad Voyages

Mark Austen

2017.10.27 - Return to the Hardstanding

The day started at the normal time, 06:00. We would be able to start sailing as soon as it was light enough to see where I was going safely. It is quite interesting doing one's ablutions in a confined space made a lot more difficult than it should be by the large, extra belly I currently sport. Still, I managed. Breakfast was my normal breakfast of banana, greek style yoghurt and a little granola not forgetting the cup of tea. I had boiled a kettle of water so that I could wash earlier but not used all of it making the tea was quick and I put the kettle back on again so that I had hot water to wash the dishes. I didn't rush so it was 06:45 before we were able to get going. There was little wind but I raised all sail anyway to catch any movement in the air.


Not enough wind to raise the burgee.


Nor the telltales on the shrouds.The water is mirror-like again and it is a beautiful day.

Like yesterday the task is to get to Ely and not the sailing so I started as I meant to go on and paddle-sailed most of the way upstream to the first bridge at Littleport. I suppose that the wind would have pushed us along at a slow walking pace and had this just been a sail, I would have been content with this, but it was not so I used the paddle to try and maintain a walking pace and we arrived at just after 09:00. No bad going for 2.75 miles or so.

After mooring up at a convenient point I rigged the boat for mast lowering by attaching a block to the top of the gammon iron and a rope tied to the forestay above the bottle screw, through the block and aft to the cockpit. This is to allow me to control the mast as it starts to lower but before I can reach it with my hand. And vice versa of course.

Once the mast had been lowered and I had cast off and paddled under the bridge I had the choice to either paddle up to the next bridge about 0.85 miles up river or to moor, raise the mast and sail up to the next bridge, lower the mast and paddle under it. I decided that since there was a lot of obstructions to the wind that I would paddle. It took about an hour and in retrospect I should have raise the mast and sailed since there was enough wind to paddle-sail despite the obstructions.

The next section of the journey is a long and nearly straight stretch of river just over 3 miles long to the first of the six bridges at Ely. It was 10:06 when I cast off and by now the wind had risen to the forecast strength of 3 gusting 4 and North-Westerly in direction. We raced up the river and after about mile I put a reef in as the wind was too strong. We continued racing up the river with little change in speed showing that the reef was the right thing to do. The wind rose a little more and initially I though about taking in another reef but in the end I just lowered the mainsail and sailed a little more slowly up river under the staysail alone. A much more sedate and genteel passage. I was even able to make a cup of tea as we sailed.

The first four bridges at Ely are quite close together over about half a mile so having arrived at 12:00 and lowered the mast, I paddled my way up river keeping close to the West bank as possible to shelter from the wind as it was now opposing me for some reason. Once under the fourth bridge I continue paddling as the first place that I could moor up to raise the mast was nearly half a mile up river and there was only a mile between the fourth and fifth bridges so I continued to paddle arriving at the marina at 13:15, the one and half miles from the first bridge to the marina taking me 75 minutes to paddle.

Before Naiad could be lifted out of the water I had to remove the bowsprit. This is not difficult, about 10 minutes work normally but by this time I was a tad tired from all the paddling so it took me a bit longer. Tina had driven the car and trailer up to the marine on her way to work so Naiad was soon lifted out of the water and on the trailer.

It was a slow trip driving back. I don't go more than 30mph when towing Naiad as she and the trailer bounce around a lot if I do and I don't like that.

So a successful journey but I really need to plan it more thoroughly next time. Many things in Naiad could have been removed before the trip started so that she was a lot lighter on the trailer, a few things were forgotten like the ratchet strops and although I have a lot of rope, this stretches even when pulled very tight and is therefore not as secure as the strops.

2017.10.26 - Overnighter

So far the plan is working. The yard can lift Naiad tomorrow afternoon, I just have to get her there. So, after work I cycled down to the mooring with my supplies, threw them all into the cabin and set off. I need to get to the Brandon Creek Environment Agency mooring before it gets dark. Unlike my previous sailing trips, this one involved paddle-sailing. Basically I sailed but when the speed dropped I paddled to keep a reasonable progress going. It took 90 minutes to get to the mooring and once the liens were set I tidied up the cabin so that I could get it, lit the heater as it will be cold tonight and brewed a cup of tea.

Tina visited for a bite to eat after she had fed the horses and we had a pleasant evening. Bacon butties were the fare for the evening and Tina enjoyed sitting inside in the warm cabin.

After she had gone home I made up my berth and went to bed. Interestingly, I woke a few times during the night and noticed that I was slowly slipping further into the bows. Naiad must slope down a little forward when you are seeing forward. I think it may be better to sleep the other way round with your feet forward and not your head.

2017.10.25 - Mann Tracht, Un Gott Lacht

“Mann Tracht, Un Gott Lacht” is an old Yiddish adage meaning, “Man Plans, and God Laughs.”, only it rhymes in Yiddish. Still, why this adage now? In my last post I mentioned that I intended to keep Naiad in the water until mid-November before lifting her out, but the weather forecast for Thursday afternoon and all Friday looks to be be perfect sailing weather for a trip to Ely. So, the intention now is to contact the marina in Ely this afternoon and see if a lift out on Friday afternoon is possible from their end. Then I'll cycle down to Naiad tomorrow after work with enough food and drink to last me until Friday afternoon and set off. The aim will be to get as far as the Environment Agency mooring in the black hole just South of the Ship Inn. I'll sleep there the night and make a very early start, possibly even before daylight, aiming to be in Ely early to mid-afternoon.

What happens then is to be decided. One option would be for me to walk to the station and take the train back to Littleport where Tina will have left the car as is her normal daily practise. I drive home, pick up the trailer, drive back to the marina and Naiad is then lifted out and onto the trailer. The second option is that Tina, instead of driving the car to Littleport and getting the train to Cambridge, drives the car and trailer to Ely, parks in the marina, walks to the station and catches her train from there.

The first option has the advantage that Tina does not have to leave the house early so that she does not miss her train at Ely. The disadvantage is that if I am late getting Naiad to the marina there will not be time to go home and return with the trailer before the marina closes for the day.

The second option has the advantage that the car and trailer are already at the marina when I arrive but the disadvantage is that Tina could miss her train to work.

So we shall see. The first task is to arrange the lift and to work from there.

Of course, Mann Tracht, Un Gott Lacht.

2017.10.23 - Getting Darker

It is fairly obvious that it will not be long until I will not be able to sail in the afternoon. It is 5pm as I sit in Naiad‘s cockpit with my mug of tea and already the light is fading and I will soon have to get on my bike and go home.

After the hour change next weekend it will be dark by 4pm and sailing will only be possible at the weekend, weather permitting.

I can still come down to the boat for a cup of tea and to be perfectly honest the exercise will do me good, but sailing is right out.

I’ll leave it as long as possible, of course, but I think I will take the boat out of the water for the Winter after all. Then I’ll be able to work on her during the dark evenings no matter what the weather does.

I’ll aim to keep her afloat until mid-November and put her back in the water at the beginning of March. It should be light in the afternoon by then.

I hope!

2017.10.19 - Cockpit Tent

The forecast for this afternoon was windy and wet but even so, I decided to go down to Naiad for a couple of hours. My intention was to use the cockpit cover as a temporary and cut-down cockpit tent to see what it was like. When it rained I would be able to see just how waterproof the canvas was, or wasn't as the case may be.


The cockpit cover was lifted over the boom and tied down on the windward side with the bungee that normally holds it down and the other side was held down with thin rope as the bungee was too short otherwise.


Then I put the spreader in place which I'd forgotten to do first but it went in easily enough. The spreader is just the right hight to be able to sit on the seats and for me not to be continually touching the canvas with my head.

So, time for a cup of tea. I should bring some biscuits along for the boat. Some Rich Tea biscuits or Ginger Nuts wold be really nice. I think I'll go shopping tomorrow.


The view when sitting on the starboard thwart sheltered by the canvas.

Of course, having done all this it didn't rain but it did keep the wind off.

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