Let’s start at the very beginning…
In March 2004 Max and I were in Antigua to meet up with family vacationing on the island: Max’s to celebrate his mom Eileen’s 80th birthday; my mom and Betty Loc to enjoy some warm sand between their toes. Rudy, our nephew who was nine at that time, spent a night aboard JUANONA where we practiced an ancient ritual:
Fast forward eleven years and Rudy was joining us again much to our delight, this time to make his first passage and help us take JUANONA down the coast to her winter berth in Ipswich.
Thursday & Friday & Saturday, September 3, 4, 5
We picked Rudy up at the Edinburgh Airport Thursday afternoon (that morning Max and I stopped at Melrose Abbey) and drove back to Amble where we were waiting for winds to blow in the right direction (a typical sailing ‘plight’). Friday was not favorable for sailing so Rudy and Max visited Hadrian’s Wall where we’d been in May and then again with Iain and Sarah. I should preface our time with Rudy with a warning: he, like me, is a history buff only he, unlike me, remembers well.
Anyhow, his and Max’s tour of the wall (near Housesteads fort)
and town (Vindolanda) occurred at the perfect time:
while scrutinizing the ongoing archaeological excavation at Vindolanda, they met THE lead archaeologist, Andrew Birley. His grandfather began the dig in the 1930s and it’s still a happening place. Matter-of-fact one of the archeologists showed Rudy a pair of table legs they had unearthed that day – a piece of furniture last seen by a Roman some 1800 years ago.
And, speak of the devil, a Roman soldier approached the site and asked what they were doing in ‘his house’. Andrew immediately replied, ‘Oh, right. The utility bills are due for the past 1,890 years.’ Who said archaeologists don’t have a dry sense of humor? :)
Like us earlier this year, Rudy was enthralled with the letters penned in ink on wooden tablets discovered at Vindolanda, which tell so much of daily Roman life and are now considered one of the top treasures in the British Museum.
The extensive display even includes the well-preserved leather sandal of one of the Vindolanda letters’ authors:
That night we headed for the local yacht club where we’d also taken Iain and Sarah. Once again, we were made to feel extremely welcomed. The club’s volunteerism reminded us of our own club back home on Orr’s (OBYC) as the Amble club’s commodore was serving as bartender.
On Saturday it was my turn to show Rudy an old site, only this one was a bit more recent: Warkworth Castle. Iain, Sarah and I had walked up from the marina along the Coquet River when they were here. It was wonderful being with those two young folk, and time with Rudy was no different.
My annual English Heritage membership had just expired, but the two kind people manning the ticket counter said no problem and then asked Rudy his age saying he must just be 16 (the cut-off for free entry there). He corrected them stating he was 20 only to have one of the women say, no, you’re 16.
After several repeats of this Q&A, they said my membership card still shows active, and he’s considered a child at age 16, so here are the audio guides and enjoy your stay. There must be something about Rudy for this happened more times than not.
We walked all over this castle, originally built in 1200, and serving as a Percy home back in the 14th through the 17th centuries. One of the Percys, Harry Hotspur, is featured in Shakespeare’s “Henry VI” and is the hero of many Border ballads thanks to his raids against the Scots. Their family history makes for an exciting read for anyone interested in old English families. For Rudy and me, we just enjoyed checking out the keep (main house) and exploring the ruins.
Back aboard Rudy jumped into boat chores. Washing dishes became his nightly ritual, just like Iain and Sarah.
While we prepped below, Max frequently checked weather and email. Because the wifi signal was weak below, this was the view the two of us often had of the captain when in Amble:
RUDY’S FIRST PASSAGE: Amble to Lowestoft
Sunday to Tuesday, September 6-8
We filled the tanks with water and then documented our leaving.
The North Sea demonstrated its power as we steered our way out of Amble’s narrow and shallow entrance for the 210-mile passage to Lowestoft. It’s difficult to capture but you can see the waves surging under the pier below–the remnants of the storm that had kept us in port the previous few days:
Later, the seas calmed down and the sun created a delightful day of sailing. At one point, someone yelled, ‘Dolphins!’ resulting in the three of us being entranced by several of these synchronized swimmers.
After watching for a bit we realized there was at least one mom and baby pair keeping track with our bow.
Monday dawned another beautiful day as we settled into the typical routine of watches, reading, navigating, eating, and sleeping.
During this passage Rudy experienced the North Sea ‘game’ of dodge the oil rigs. Luckily they are well-lit at night and equally visible during the day.
The leftover seas made the passage quite bouncy causing a rare sight: Max with a seasick patch.
In spite of having to motor due to some lighter winds (which we rarely do at night unless far enough offshore to avoid the inevitable crab and lobster pots), we arrived on schedule Tuesday morning and pulled into a berth at Hamilton Docks, part of the Associated British Ports Haven (ABP) Marinas of which our marina in Ipswich belongs.
Rudy, as the Brits would say, was brilliant :) He completed his first passage with flying colors and, as he said, with the added bonus of not getting seasick.
We walked around the town, taking Rudy to England’s most eastern point
and enjoyed meeting up with our friends Helen and Gus Wilson of s/v WINGS who sailed in from Whitby where they had attended the annual Folk Week. We shared a dinner
and the next day (Wednesday, September 9) walked with them to The Broads, a network of shallow lakes and waterways formed in the 13th century by the flooding of medieval peat diggings. With promises to meet up again when in Ipswich, we parted and checked weather for our next-day departure to the Orwell River. Then took our usual positions after a full day.
HOME WATERS: Lowestoft to Ipswich
Thursday to Saturday, September 10-12
The winds were perfect for heading to our home waters Thursday morning, so we left on a strong breeze under bright skies. Knowing it’d be another seven months before JUANONA would be under sail again, we turned off the autopilot and took turns steering her home.
It seemed appropriate that the seas would be bouncy, almost as if JUANONA knew she was heading for the barn; and, with frisky winds come frisky waves resulting in Rudy’s baptism by the North Sea.
We entered the Orwell River on nearly the same date as we did last year. When the wind increased significantly Max furled the jib; however, all it took for the jib to be unfurled was Rudy’s and my comment that a sailboat under full sail was gaining on us. Out goes the jib and we maintained our lead with the sailboat behind us most likely oblivious to us Yanks’ machinations.
We were thrilled to be moored along this beautiful river again, and even happier to share it with Rudy. We snapped the requisite ‘end of voyage’ photographs…
and prepared for the night. Anyone who’s crewed with us quickly becomes indoctrinated to our dental ritual. We’ve even got my sister in tune with this. Rudy’s time aboard was no different as we merrily shared brushing time.
Friday we had arranged to meet up with our friends Anne and Peter of s/v SACRE BLEU at Pin Mill, a popular pub dating from the 1450s halfway up the river to Ipswich. It was wonderful being with them and introducing Rudy.
The day was perfect in spite of our dinghy being caught in the mud by a rapidly falling tide. Fortunately there was enough water for Max to push his way to a landing
where Rudy and I were able to hop on for the short ride back.
To ensure Rudy received as complete a cruising experience as possible, we decided not to enter Ipswich Haven Marina on the high tide when the lock gates remain open for ‘free flow’ (at high tide the water heights are the same both inside the marina basin and outside on the river). Rather, we’d go through the lock at mid tide. This entails hailing the Lock Master to ask permission to enter the lock… wait for the first gate to open… enter… tie up as the gate behind closes… let the water rise/fall to the same level as in the basin… wait for gate in front to open… then proceed into the marina.
While Max steered us into the lock, Rudy and I, being kindred spirits, broke out into a Bear naked happy dance (so termed by our friend Shawn) prior to entering.
We tied up,
then exited the lock and headed into our winter berth.
We were home! Or, as much home as one can be in foreign ports :)
More Rudy adventures to come!