The Naiad Voyages

Mark Austen

2018.09.11 - Action Camera Mounting Clamp Progress II

The day's tasks was an easy one today as the forecast is for rain and wind, so no sailing.

The camera mounting clamp and spacer ready to be tested.

The spacer is 'U' shaped to prevent it from sliding off the side of the lower arm and also to restrain the metal tongue.

This is how it will fit on the boat although it may need some fine tuning so I'll take some sandpaper along with m this afternoon.

And here is the clamp in place. I didn't need the sandpaper, the fit was close enough.

I did need to bend the metal tongue a little.

Even without a spanner, just tightening the bolt finger tight, gives a good solid clamp that lacks the precariousness of the "official" mounts.

It is at times like this that I could do with a 3D printer. I could make up quite a nice clamp now that I have the prototype working. As it is I'll just have to use the prototype as the real thing.

2018.09.10 - Action Camera Mounting Clamp Progress I

At lunchtime today I knocked up a quick clamp based on the cardboard template I made the other day and after work this afternoon I went down to the boat for a cup of tea, a snooze and to see how the clamp fitted.

Here is the clamp almost completed.

The metal plate is held in place by a nail and can move as shown.

It fits over the rail well enough...

... but there is quite a gap between the lower arm of the clamp and the coachroof which will need a spacer.

Like this. With the spacer in place the clamp, when tightened up, is quite secure. Without the space the clamp doesn't work very well. I'll do that when I get back to the workshop and tidy up the clamp itself now that I know it will work.

So, a successful trip to the boat for all three tasks.

2018.09.06 - Non-Cooperative Weather

The weather forecast for this afternoon was both good and bad. The good part was the wind. Force 2 gusting 4 from the West and therefore a great sailing wind, at least for Naiad. The bad bit? Rain. Light becoming heavy. Drat!

But I wanted to spend some time on the boat, so I went down anyway, put up the cockpit tent as the forecast was correct and then made cup of tea and just pottered.

I suppose that at times like this, Naiad is my other “shed”.

Last Winter the spreaders for the cockpit tent were broken due to high winds causing the tarpaulin to press hard against the spreaders. so much so that the legs snapped. At that time I made two spreader bars to hold the spreaders apart but never finished them and certainly did not fit them. But today I tried them out.

Imagine my surprise when I found out that they did not fit. The aft one was too long the forward one too short. Here is the aft one in place...

...but look at the bend in the upright!

So I made a cup of tea and sat and thought about it. Then I noticed that the leg on both sides was in the outside of the top bar. I took the spreaders out, turned them the other way up and this time the bar fitted.

There is still a little slant on the leg but no bend.

Now the forward bar fitted as well... you can see here.

The cockpit tent is going to need a back since a the moment the wind just blows the rain in.

You can see that the poop deck is wet all the way to the end and I could feel a few drop of rain falling on my feet as I sat in the cockpit.


Whilst I was out sailing last Sunday I mounted the camera on a clamp thing which I fixed to one of the hatch rails.

It worked but it was a little bit precarious. Now I don't know about you, but personally I don't want to hear the word precarious used when referring to my camera so I decided to get a screw clamp that would be a lot more secure.

Well I search for hours and couldn't find what I wanted so in the end I decided that I would have to build one. Today I brought along some cardboard and while I sat in the cockpit with my tea I also cut out the shape I needed to make this clamp.

And here it is. The outside shape is not important, it is the inside shape that gives the thing its stability.

It hooks over the rail and under the coachroof. The screw part will push a piece of wood up against the roof and pull the top of the clamp down against the rail.

Here you can see the "hook" part over the rail. When clamped in place this will stop it from being able to slide off.

Once I have this made from a suitable piece of plywood, then I can make something that will attach to the clamp to hold the camera.

2018.09.02 - Sailing at Last!

I don't know what it has been like for the last 10 weeks in your part of the world but in mine the weather for sailing Naiad has been dismal. Lovely hot weather, granted, but either no wind at all, just a flat calm or too much. August is also our busiest month and every weekend has been us doing something else usually going away on the Friday and returning the following Monday. The week goes like this: Monday arrive back from wherever we have been. Tuesday back to work but unpacking, laundry, collecting cats is also carried out. Wednesday shopping day. Thursday evening start the packing, Friday off to the next venue. Rinse and repeat. Tuesday afternoon/evening is about the only time I would get to go for a sail but the weather has just not been right for sailing. It has even been too hot to go down to Naiad just for cup of tea.

Until today.

Today, 10 weeks and 1 day since I last sailed on Naiad, I had a perfect sailing day. Sun forecast, 24 Celsius and the wind forecast 2 gusting 4 from the South-East. I left home at 09:00 and at 09:45 I pushed back out of the mooring, cup of tea to hand, hoisted full sail and set off upriver. One I had settled down I remembered the video camera and set that going, only I forgot that the last time I had used it I had set it to 1 frame per second so almost the entire trip comes out in 4 minutes 51 seconds. I didn't set up the camera until about 45 minutes after I set off. Once of these days I'll remember to set it up before I push back out of the mooring. I've put the video below in its unedited entirety for your amusement!

I had also forgotten that the first Sunday in September is the West Norfolk Rowing Club annual marathon race starting from the club at Denver sluice and ending just outside Ely. Shortly after I had started I was passed by rowing boats in their hundreds. Well, probably only 50 or so but they kept on coming, a staggered start I would guess. Most of them keep a good eye out but one or two just did not look forward at all and required a shouted "Ware Ahead" in order for them to realise that they were heading for trouble. Technically, as a sailing boat under sail I was the stand-on vessel and they, as powered vessels, were the give way vessel but I did try to keep out their way as much as possible. Still, when the wind drops there's little I could do about it.

I did get a muffled Anglo-Saxon outburst from one gentleman when he was somewhat startled to find himself passing by a sailing boat but his call of "you should give a good shout" garnered my reply of "you should watch where you're going" and was not well received.

The wind continued to be fair all the way to the "Blank Hole" whereupon it went weird and then turned to blow from the opposite direction and then across the river and I could see a lot of calm further upriver, so I turned round and headed back to the club.

All in all a great sail on a lovely day.

2018.06.30 - An Unusual Trip

The weather was not good for sailing the river today, too much wind but even if it had been perfect I would not have sailed anyway since I had other plans. Those plans involved taking Naiad down to King's Lynn or more precisely, how to go about it.

Up river of the Denver Sluice is fresh water and non-tidal, down river from the sluice is salt and tidal and therein lies the problem. The tides between King's Lynn and Denver Sluice are odd in that it takes 9 hours for the ebb tide and only 3 for the flood tide and there are five bridges that I would need to negotiate.

A group of DCC members had decided to spend the weekend at King's Lynn and I asked the Chair and the Mooring Master if I could hitch a ride on their boat for a trip down river and for them to show me the route and the bridges. Accordingly I set off for Downham Market a little before 08:00 and drove to the station via Tescos for some ship supplies. I parked the car at the station and then cycled along the river bank where the footpath runs. It's only a mile this way but if I go via the roads it is just under three miles. The river bank is kept well grazed and mown, or at least the part that is owned by the farmer, the part owned by the Environment Authority is overgrown and unkempt and difficult to traverse. Fortunately I only needed to travel about 20 yards along the EA land to the pontoons below the lock at the sluice. There I met the flotilla where they were awaiting the start of the ebb tide.

We put the folding bike and stores aboard and then waited until the water started to fall and then it was off. The first bridge is just a mile away but even so, only two of the boats were low enough to be able to get under the bridge, the one upon which I was travelling was about 2" too tall. So we waited for about 10 minutes and were then able to creep under the bridge with about an inch to spare.

The ebb tide builds quite quickly even though it lasts for 9 hours and it was very quickly evident that the water level had fallen when the mud banks started appearing at the side of the river.

There was a small "book" published in 1992 with the title of "King's Lynn to Denver, a guide for river users". This was a simple sketch map of the river between Denver and King's Lynn with land marks and useful information of the river banks and, more importantly, where the shallow mudbanks lie in the river. Even though this booklet is 26 years old is is still amazingly accurate although the members of the DCC do walk the river banks at low water at the beginning of the year and make amendments to the location of the mud banks which periodically change.

Unfortunately you cannot get this booklet anymore which is a great shame. I may well ask one of the members with a copy of the booklet if they would lend it to me so that I can photocopy it for my own use. If it were still available I'd certainly buy one.

We had a very good run down to the visitor's pontoon at King's Lynn but it was quite apparent once we had all moored up that it would not be at all possible for me to sail the river in either direction. At only after three hours of ebb tide at spring tides, the current past the pontoon was much faster than I could possibly sail or paddle. That coupled with there being nowhere to safely moor for taking down and raising the mast make for a difficult journey downstream and an even more difficult one upstream with a very strong flood tide. It is normal for boats from the club to be making 10 knots through the water on the flood tide but in excess of 20 knots over the ground.

We sat and talked about it over a cup of tea and biscuits and decided that probably the best way to travel the river would be to lower the mast for the entire journey and to paddle a little where necessary to maintain steerage way and let the tide do all the work. Going upstream certainly this would work quite well. The distance to travel is just 11 nautical miles and with a flood tide reaching 10 knots at times, this would be quite a short trip. It would mean dropping the mud weight near the Sluice until the tide moderated enough to paddle over to the pontoons but that would probably not be that long. Travelling on a rising tide is fairly safe. If you run aground all you need do it to wait a while for the water to rise.

Going downstream, however, is a little more difficult. It would not be so quick but it is certain that I would still traverse the entire 11 NM is much less than 9 hours and that is the problem, how to stop at King's Lynn when the tide is still ebbing and quite fast. One suggestion was to leave some time after the ebb has started, say half tide, with the intention of arriving at the visitor's pontoon at slack water. However, this would be considerably harder to achieve due to the depth of water at half ebb tide or the lack of it.

There are some moorings buoys just under the road bridges a few hundred yards upriver from the pontoon, but trying to catch one of them whilst travelling at speed could be just a tad dangerous.

One suggestion was to buy an electric motor, something that would be the equivalent of a 2hp petrol outboard motor and use it for the ends of the trip. I'm not particularly keen on this idea, but it might be the only way to make the journey in safety. But I doubt that I'd be doing this since the cost of something suitable starts at around £1,300 and goes up!

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