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Bolt holes

Guest plesbit

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When planning coastal based passage making (such as heading down to the Thames, for example) rather than cross channel activities, it would seem sensible to have a list of bolt holes, a series of Plan B's if you like, to get you out of trouble if things suddenly turn nasty. Now you don't need to be an experienced mariner to work out that this is a good idea.

I have looked down the coast on Google Earth and similar and I really can't see any obvious bolt holes between Southwold and Harwich. Is that right? I was wondering if any of our experienced sea going colleagues could enlighten me as to the kind of preparation and plans needing to be made before undertaking a trip like this.

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You are not quite right Simon, there are actually two places you can go but if it turns nasty then both (and probably Southwold) are probably worse than staying out.

Preparation consists of making sure as much as possible that you will not need such bolt holes, choosing a weather window, ensuring all your boats systems are maintained to a very high standard are the main two. Harwich is not so far (at MB speeds) for the weather to change too badly except on rare occasions.

Also we are lucky on the East coast in that you can almost always just chuck it up the beach in a real emergency.

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Quite right Simon, good passage planning should cover what if's and plan B's.

As to bolt holes between Southwold and Harwich I assume you are referring to a change in weather rather than an emergency. There are none I know of other than the Alde & Deben both of which unless perfect weather are going to be significantly more dangerous than carrying on to Harwich and the shelter of the Orwell.

One of the down sides of the East Coast is that there are few sheltered havens but spare a though for those coming from the Humber to Yarmouth or Lowestoft, that really is an exposed stretch.

As to preparation, careful study of the weather on more than one site or source, course planning (with plan b's), fuel load etc. Ensure your craft is mechanically sound and have relevant spares kit.

Tidal Streams can be a significant factor around for instance the Orford Overfalls and Aldeburgh Ridge planning passage across these at the 'right' time will assist in a more comfortable passage.(assuming going further than Southwold)

Passage making does not always go fully to plan but if you have pre planned well you will a) feel more confident and B) be in a better position to deal with any issues arising.

Lowestoft to Southwold is circa 11 miles (course dependent) Lowestoft to Harwich is circa 48.

The benefit of Lowestoft as has been mentioned before is the ability to 'have a look' and if you don't fancy it get back in on the Trawl Dock to wait for a bridge lift back in additionally you are 30-40mins further down the coast. With Yarmouth you are a bit more committed.

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Not sure I like the chucking it up on the beach option, aside than it's better than being dead. But how do you get it back again?

I'm not too keen on it either Simon, a bit like chucking your car into a field instead of a truck. You worry about sorting the hardware afterwards, all the while being thankful that you are still around to worry about it.

Funny thing is I used to love beach launch & recovery, scream in on the back of a big one, dump it on the beach and have the tractor coupled to the winching eye before the next one hits, the boats were smaller and I was younger and fitter but it was exhilerating and the odd broach in the surf just seemed part of the fun. :dance:dance:dance

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