Sunday, 7 August 2016

North Sea Night Passage

21:30 on 5 Aug. I'm off watch. Roughly 20 nm out from Harwich bound for Ijmuiden. Two persons on board. Our bearing as advised by the North Sea Pilot is 077 degrees true. There's hardly any magnetic variation, definitely less than our steering error. We'll let the tide sweep us up and down over 4 tide sets then adjust over the last 20nm. 

The question arises as the dark settles in ... is this wise? We don't have a life raft so have the dinghy blown up on the foredeck. The chart plotter is going through a phase of randomly restarting. Apart from that the boat is in great shape, perhaps better than us. I guess this a mixture of challenge,  adventure and experiment. 

0300. You see some odd things at night. A steady red light with large white flash under, 2 short 1 long. Nothing on the chart plotter and the map is up to date and I can see a whole pack of trawlers ahead on AIS. Distance is impossible at night but as it's taking a long time to change bearing it's either stalking us or a long way off. Bearing 305 from 50 09N 002 43E

There's no appreciable wind. Have been motoring since 2300. The Beta purrs along at 1600 revs giving us 5kn in calm water. Rather a confused swell so we had 3.5-4kn against tide now 6-7kn with tide. We furled the genoa long ago but taking the main down means going forward in the pitch dark. We could do it if it was necessary but why take the risk. Let it slat. 

0400. Suddenly I can see beyond the bow. There's a tiny bit of light in the sky already. When Lesley comes on in an hour we'll get the main down if no sign of wind other than the current puff up the chuff which is no good to this boat especially in a rolling swell. 

0445. Autohelm had been occasionally losing connection. Cable needed a wiggle to get it going. Then it stopped unless some pressure applied to cable. A bit of string did the job for now. Only 14 hours to go. 

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