Ktl Update 23/05/2011 – Slug sailor crosses the Thames

This is the email about the first of five vlogs - a small wash based on-going mini-saga

I went down to the boat the other day with a view to sailing over to Boston for a night.  Soon after leaving the pontoons at Wisbech the beast in the bowels of the slug started vibrating in an uncharacteristically enthusiastic way.  Forcing me to change plans.

This week I have five short vlogs for you guys and will be posting one every couple of days.  So here is vlog 104 -


which was recorded before the engine started causing problems.....ahhhh! those care free hours.

    I arrived at the boat late afternoon and went for a bike ride around town. Wisbech is a really great little town - architecture is fantastic - it has a complete circle of Georgian houses and there are boats everywhere and men who love boats as well... what more could I want?

I have also made a direct reply to this comment  on Vlog 103


which was about West Mark Knock. Forget the stuff about machine gunning Americans and the enlightenment about the tides, its the teaspoons you guys notice

cwillis says:

8 May, 2011 at 4:09 pm  (Edit)

"I love that you are concerned with dirtying a teaspoon when everything else on the slug appears to be filthy. Even the charts are covered in mold! You are definitely my kind of sailor. I’ve just renewed. Keep up the good work."

Hurtful or what!

I also have a number of ktl subscribers who email me with their sailing adventures. Richard is such an admirer of the slug that he went out and bought one for himself.  He is based on the Blackwater but his new slug was on the other side of the Thames. He emailed me the story of the one man's small adventure.. it summarises why we sail

My in box is a much more interesting place since I started making the films.

This is what he said

Hi Dylan,

Just spent the last couple of days bringing NIP the 'Spawn of Slug' over to Essex from it's mooring on the Swale next to Kingsferry Rail Bridge. Here's how it went


Plan was to leave the Swale around high tide (10.30ish) taking the ebb down the Thames as far as I could and then take the flood up the Blackwater to Maldon. Forecast was north westerly...that combined with following tides should be perfect....'phoned the man on the Kingsferry lifting bridge and he said next lift was after the 20 past train....train came and went... then all hell broke loose as sirens went off lights started flashing, barriers came down and all traffic stopped, then silently and majestically the bridge went up and under I went, all that for me and my little boat! ....so far it was going well.....then....coming out of the Swale around Garrison Point and into the Thames proper the wind really picked up.... the forecast being for force 4 gusting 5 but who believes the forecasts? It really got rough mid Thames, I mean really rough...short, very sharp cresting waves average 3ft and maxing at 5ft and with less than 20 yds between them, doesn't seem much for a bigger boat but in something the size of the Slug or NIP you are almost at eye level, at times I really was just about hanging on. I felt like I was in a washing machine! Suddenly the jib came away at the stem head and was flapping all over the place so that was quickly brought in and the main lowered. on with the wee beastie and I have to say it did not miss a beat for the rest of the trip, (more on that in a bit!), I soon learnt to 'corkscrew' my way over the crests but my God it was relentless. At last I rounded the Whitaker and decided to head for Brightlingsea for the night. Things calmed down a bit once inside the Colne and with the assistance of the harbourmaster (very helpful chap), I was found a berth on the pontoon.....right next to some of my fellow members from the Marconi Sailing Club who where there for the weekend! I was knackered! but not too knackered to go to the pub with them for some grub and a couple of pints of Sharpes 'Doom Bar' , (it seemed appropriate!): Swale to Brightlingsea just under 7 hrs...the log peaking at 6.8knots.

Tucked up in my berth by 10 and slept the sleep of the just.


Up at 5am for a bit of breckie ,brew and an early start to take the flood to Maldon...however, the early BBC forecast was for much of the same as yesterday... 4-5 and Westerly, the wind would be right on the nose all the way... sod it! I spoke to one of the professional fishing guys on the end of the pontoon and he said that even they had cancelled for the the day. Decided to stay on the pontoon and put the boat back together. Phoned Dian to come and pick me up a bit later on, I wasn't going through THAT again! and arranged to leave the boat where it was for a couple of days for things to calm down.

The other guys from the club (with 30 footers) were amazed that I had come across from Kent the previous day and showed much interest in my little boat. One of them ,Roy, admitted to having signed up with KTL so he was particularly interested in the Mirror. He was very helpful as were a couple of others in pointing out that I had installed the roller furling upside down, Doh!... no wonder it had parted, as I unfurled the jib it was unscrewing the bottle screw holding it to the stem head, Roy also pointed out that the mast shrouds were about to unscrew themselves, I can't begin to think what would of happened had the mast failed in those seas....all that rocking about had seriously loosened the lock nuts so I spent some time retightening, wiring and taping up all the bottle screws.

As some of the other guys relaxed in their blue and white stripey jumpers and white flannels there I was arse upwards covered in oil tightening up the starter and belts, as a result it now starts without decompressing which is a very good thing. However I will decompress for the first start from cold, then on in it should all be done from the cockpit.

The rest of the 'posse' decided that the wind was dropping so one by one they drifted away leaving me, Roy, (he has a 20 footer) and Bob, (22ft Westerly) and a couple of others. I called Dian and told her that I would give it a go under motor and to pick me up from the moorings later on, I was not too confident with the sails after various nips and tears had been pointed out to me , I'll try them in lighter winds first . Roy and Bob set off with me just behind....100 yards out and the wee beastie cut out...bugger! I managed to turn and despite an ebbing tide the wind pushed me back towards the pontoon. I made it to the one occupied by the wind farm boys and their maintenance boats and quickly tied up. Check fuel was on etc.. and re-tried the wee beastie..... it started....so into gear and away....100 yards  out it stopped again...dubble bugger!! again was blown back and made it to my original place on the pontoon...double takes from the guys who where still there!....tried the wee beastie again and it started ! I then realised that if I opened the throttle to its fullest there seems to be a point where it either over-chokes the engine or there is another cut off point. Anyway I set the throttle to just over half and away I went, bumpy but uneventful return to mooring, (about 10Nm),  against the wind and with the tide now slacking. Uneventful that is if you ignore the temporary grounding on the 'Cocum Hills' on the S.E corner of Mersea Island  as I tried to pinch the corner too tight, (on the advice of the 30 footers...' ah you should be ok in that little thing...only draws two feet eh?....no need to go all the way out to the mark you can nip inside, saves you a couple of miles') ...yher right!!

Finally I arrived and moored up then into the dinghy and ashore......just as I was getting out I slipped on the wet floor and in I went...the air went just about every shade of blue! …..that just about rounded the weekend off, soaking wet and covered head to foot in Maldon mud........At that precise moment Dian decided to arrive, she didn't ask!! she just gave me THAT knowing look as I was hauling myself and dingy up the hard looking for all the world like the Swamp Monster dragging its prey behind it! It was going to be a quiet drive home!

As we loaded the car I was yarning with Roy and Bob who had arrived half hour before me to be told that a little earlier one member had dropped his outboard overboard as he was leaning over to fix it onto his dinghy, bit of a bugger especially as he was hanging on to it at the time! I bet that got his stripey jersey a bit messy! Shouldn't laugh as it could have been a very dangerous situation, poor guy was quite shaken up and had cuts all down his legs.

In retrospect I should have turned back once it started to get nasty but I was over one third of the way out and decided it would be just as bad to go back as to press on, I should have checked the fittings better and done a thorough check of every nut and screw before setting off.....I should have believed the forcast.....I should have..... yes...yes... I know!

Have to say I'm mightily impressed with the Spawn and the way it just took the big waves in it's stride, a good testament to the early fibre glass hulls in that I guess they were over-engineered as the technology was new back then and if in doubt they would just throw some more gubbins on...also the almost monocoque construction gives great strength. The entire trip the engine did not miss a beat, the aberration at Brightlingsea I put down to my own lack of experience in using the controls and just getting used to its 'ways'.

Yeah, all in all a good little boat........wanna buy it??

All the best , Richard.

so, vlogs, 105, 106, 107 and 108 to come over the next few days.

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3 Responses to “Ktl Update 23/05/2011 – Slug sailor crosses the Thames”

  1. 31 May, 2011 at 8:24 pmApplescruffs says:

    Just discovered that the lack of power and cutting out was due to a bad case of ‘Diesel Bug’ in the tank ! both fuel filters blocked with a thick black sludge, the engine could have stopped at any time!! Just one more thing that I should have checked before I set off…..sometimes we learn the hard way..

  2. 6 October, 2011 at 5:55 pmJoseph Ress says:

    Am seriously considering an inflatable dinghy (Intex Seahawk II) – I think you have some experience with this dinghy. Could you comment?

  3. 5 February, 2012 at 3:21 pmPhil says:

    Lovely.. I had to double check to see if it was one of my early adventures :~)
    We all make mistakes a hopefully we get away with them. So long as we learn from them. I always share my blunders as, a) They are usually amusing and b) they may help others to avoid making these little fo-pars.

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