Schooner sailing: taster weekend from Ipswich

My farewell gift from my former colleagues was a long weekend tall-ship sailing on the schooner Trinovante with Schoonersail, a “taster weekend” from Ipswich.

Day 1

Trinovante – from the wrong side of the dock at Ipswich. At this point the right thing to do would have been to retreat to the car and drive round, but we walked down towards the lock, then ran back to the car when it became apparent that this was the wrong tactic and that I was going to be late.
Lucy’s picture of Trinovante from the pontoon as I had already got on board in rather a hurry due to being seven minutes late, although it turned out that it would be quite some time before we got underway.
7.40pm, and we’ve just passed under the Orwell bridge, motoring down the River Orwell, approaching Wolverstone Marina.
The boats, buildings and houseboats at Pin Mill

At Harwich Harbour we turned right at what I learned was the cardinal buoy into the River Stour and anchored out of the channel past Parkeston Quay. It was rather a late dinner, but set us up well for the next day’s sailing.

Day 2

Checking the charts
Saturday morning, and after a slow start to the day we are getting ready to get underway. The weather is cold, breezy and grey, with the promise of some rain later. In the background can be seen the pier at Shotley with the cranes of Felixstowe Docks behind them; just right of centre is a retired lightship, and some of the wind-farm construction works can be seen on the right.
Trinovante looking forward from near the wheel, past the mizzenmast, mainmast and foremast.
Helen, one of my two crewmates in addition to the skipper and mate, John and Su.
Paul gets ready to remove the sail-ties on the mainsail, with Su and John behind him.
Paul and I looking pleased with the sails up
Jib, staysail and foresail (with mainsail set behind me) as we make our way out of Harwich Harbour.
Looking back past the mainsail to Helen and John
Landguard Fort at Felixstowe as we head out to sea
Paul at the helm checking the compass, with Su keeping a weather eye on things.
John tweaks the set of the sails
Helen at the helm as the weather turns a bit wetter.
After a really enjoyable grand run down the coast, we turned into the River Blackwater, where the water was much calmer. We made our way up the river towards Maldon before anchoring for the night. Two Thames barges are in the distance.
The view from our spot for the night.
From the bowsprit, the view back past the staysail.

Day 3

Next morning, John and Helen at work winding up the anchor.
Some of the many ropes to be understood and worked.
The tide was with us until about 2pm, but it remained a stiffish NE wind, and so it was tacking all the way back, but we did at least get a growing amount of sunshine.
It was still quite chilly, though. But these foul-weather suits were superb – really comfy and water- and windproof. Not terribly easy to go to the toilet, though!
Above the foresail you can see part of one of the fishermans topsails which are rather unusual – perhaps unique among British schooners. They enable Trinovante to sail closer to the wind as well as faster, but do require lowering and hoisting again with every tack.
After a great sail up the coast, we come in to moor at Ha’penny Pier at Harwich. Two more retired lightships are on the right.
Trinovante moored on the other side of the pontoon, beyond a Dutch yacht.
Returning to the boat after a very welcome shower on shore.
And returning again later after an equally welcome trip to the pub for a drink.

Day 4

Next morning, and the skies are blue as we look across the Stour to Shotley.
There was time for a little walk around Harwich – this is the beach from where the dinghy sailing club operates, with Felixstowe Docks on the other side of the harbour
The Low Lighthouse, now home to the Harwich Maritime Museum. It was built in 1818 replacing an earlier wooden structure, and together with the High Lighthouse acted as the leading lights for the harbour entrance until 1863. It was subsequently used as a pilot station.
And a little further inland, the High Lighthouse.
Another view of Trinovante on the pontoon, now with the Dutch yacht gone.
We had a gentle sail up the Stour in relatively light winds. These are the enormous turbine blades for the Greater Gabbard offshore windfarm: the scale is huge – the rotors have a diameter of 130 metres and the top of the blades will be 170 metres above sea level.
The view of the river from Pin Mill as the onshore party waits for Trinovante to pass. (Photo: Winn Dawson)
Further upstream from The Strand, Trinovante coming up the Orwell under engines.
Passing beneath the Orwell Bridge
Coming into the pontoon at Ipswich Haven Marina – I am in the centre, poised ready to step ashore and receive the mooring lines.

So, a great little holiday, and a great introduction to schooner sailing. Perhaps more another time.

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