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 so 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.