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I'll have salt with that

Guest plesbit

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I couldn't decide whether to put this in Holiday Tales or Norfolk & Suffolk Coast, but since we're not intrepid passage makers like some other forum members I thought I'd stick with here.

So far this year luck and boating have not gone together. Susan's rota at work has been particularly hard on our boating and prior to this weekend we had only managed two weekends out this year, one of them a complete washout the other a partial washout. Our luck seemed set to continue when, for the first time Susan was not required to work on the Friday before the weekend, giving us the rare opportunity to head out on the Friday night. This was crucial to our plans so I decided to take the Friday afternoon off - but no, for the first time this year my colleague had actually booked a holiday meaning I would have to be in the office. My hopes of being able to knock off early faded fast when a nightmare day of technical problems kept me working well into the afternoon. By the time I finally knocked off it was gone 1630hrs so a quick drive home to collect Susan and the baggage saw us pulling up at the boat yard around 1730hrs. And then (you couldn't script this!) the instant I switched off the car engine at the marina the heavens opened. We sat in disbelief, listening to the rain thunder off the car roof and passing comment on how Mother Nature was determined we should not have good weather for boating.

After giving up waiting for it to stop, Susan donned all over waterproofs and unloaded the car whilst I switched things on and got her ready to go. Finally, soaking wet, we were off. Barely out of the marina in Brundall one of the wiper motors failed and it was increasingly looking like a typical weekend for us. Plus our timing meant we were going to end up punching the tide for most of the journey, a nice waste of fuel. But underlying the problems and inconveniences, there was a sense of excitement about what was to come. Excitement and nervousness.

Due to reaching Somerleyton Bridge at high tide we were, for the first time ever, unable to pass. Realising this was likely in advance we radioed ahead and the bridge confirmed that clearance was insufficient but said they could swing in about 10 mins. So we put in on the moorings and after the train passed the bridge duly swung and so the first of many firsts for us this weekend took place. Anyone monitoring the bridge frequency will have had a laugh at my expense as I stumbled over my words on the radio when we cleared the bridge and inadvertently thanked him "for the swim", an error which then precipitated a brief discussion on how inviting the water wasn't.

It was very definitely dusk when we finally trundled onto Oulton Broad and dropped anchor mid way along the broad, the first time in nearly 12 months we have actually been able to moor on the mudweight, Mother Nature usually ensuring it is not possible. Could things be looking up?

After an excellent night's sleep in the most unbelievably silent conditions I woke early full of anticipation of the day ahead - our second outward transit through Mutford and first without any experienced hands on board. It was also our first with another boat in the lock, the first time we had required a swing of the railway bridge and our first time requiring use of a scheduled lift of the harbour bridge. The possibility of our first ever trip to sea lay ahead to add to the excitement. The air was still and the sun shining brightly, what could go wrong?

At 0850 the 31 year old Volvos stuttered to life and a minute later the VHF crackled with Mutford asking how far away we were. The other boat was hovering so we were informed to approach but hold station until the other boat was in position. As we approached we watched the confusion unfold. The other boat appeared settled in position with people having tied it on to the sides but there was no room for us to enter. Lots of people in hi vis jackets were scurrying about. "Try it now", crackled the VHF. Another minute or so of silence and nothing else. Then the boat in the lock radioed asking if there was a problem. Apparently there was - the footbridge wouldn't lift. Suddenly it dawned on me that if that bridge wouldn't lift our plans were as good as finished. So we remained, hovering near the entrance for a further 10mins and it was looking grim indeed. At that point the railway bridge was advised to cancel the swing and await further info. Finally, and to massive relief, the footbridge lifted and the big Broom 37 moved forward and we proceeded into the lock.

On exiting the lock we were then confronted by the very closed railway bridge. Because of the problems with the lock they had not swung open and because the bridge is undergoing repair the swings are manual. It took a long time for the process to begin but finally we were through and heading on down to the scheduled lift of the harbour bridge. But these things are never done in a hurry and the harbour bridge was going to lift when it was ready and not before. A flotilla of windbags from one of the marinas in Lake Lothing was tying itself in knots down by the bridge with the big Broom rumbling away behind them. Finally the bridge lifted and the convoy set off.

Putting in at the Royal Norfolk & Suffolk Yacht Club we stopped briefly to talk to friends. The plan was that under the experienced guidance of my friend we were going to do some maintenance on our engines before assessing the weather and putting to sea for the first time. But with the excellent weather, and some soul searching, we were keen not to waste the opportunity and lose the weather so, our friend jumped on board and we made her ready to go sea. He took the radio, I took the helm and Susan took the camcorder. As soon as clearance was gained we pushed out of the harbour and once out we headed south for Pakefield (sp?) beach and mindful, that the maintenance had not been done, we stayed only slightly above river speeds. At Pakefield we came in close to the beach and watched a couple riding their horses along the sand in the sunshine - wonderful. And then we headed back.

Having promised to try to get footage of Perry and David exiting the harbour in the afternoon we again postponed the work on the engines so as not to miss the window. But in the meantime the wind shifted and our more experienced friends became unavailable as they ended up baby sitting for someone else. So with the 1430 bridge lift nearly on us, no maintenance and no experienced company, either aboard or in another boat, we reluctantly slipped our moorings again and put to sea - our second trip out but first unassisted. And what an important trip it was - this was the trip where the nerves were really overcome. Dull whether and a much lumpier sea made for a completely different trip, plus we pushed the revs a little to drive her through it. After a few zig zags back and forth outside the harbour Kingfisher and Kiki came into view, both waving briefly as they tried to weave their way through the racing windbags. With them safely away we returned to the marina and spent some time washing off SD before settling in for the afternoon / evening with friends.

Sunday morning saw beautiful weather but the maintenance could not be ignored any longer. A relatively quick easy job, as always, proved to be anything but. The old impellers in our raw water system had been there a long time and had no plans to leave. In the end we actually had to remove the entire water pump on both engines to get out the old impellers. Fortunately the new ones went in with less aggro. The impellers were worn and the decision to replace them good, though they were a long way from critical. But unfortunately the fun and games of lifting out batteries and boxes, removing the water pumps etc had taken up a lot of boating time and the wind had moved round to a NW from the previous W, meaning the behaviour of the sea was set to change, just as it had done the previous afternoon. The engines were fired up and tested but something was not right with the port engine. Steve's infrared / laser thermometer showed it to be heating up faster than the starboard engine, despite running the calorifier. Historical knowledge of this engine suggested this was not a good sign. When testing pipes and gaskets that had been replaced for any signs of leaks the port engine water pump was found to be extremely hot and the engine quickly shut down. After a moment or two of discussion Greg decided it was probably airlocked and, fortunately, the port engine has a very accessible strainer which is mounted high above the engine. A bucket of sea water was emptied into the this initially and then the engine fired up at which point a further bucket of seawater was emptied into it. The pump immediately went cold. The engine was quickly shut off, the strainer closed and the engine re-started at which point it was clear that the water was now circulating. After further testing, and with no signs of leaks, we all made ready to put to sea again.

And so out to sea it was again this time with Susan urging us to run up to Yarmouth and in to the broads that way. The others were heading to Scroby Sands but the weather changed considerably. The dark clouds ahead looked angry indeed and Great Yarmouth all but disappeared from visual range. It wasn't long before the rain started to fall. With my eyes constantly flicking between the sea and temperature gauges to watch the engines, mindful they'd only been back together for about 30 mins before we set off, Susan was left to do some filming. Before long she even found herself behind the helm as I phoned Mutford to cancel our afternoon lock. After a fair old run at sea we almost missed Yarmouth Harbour entrance so thanked our escorts and headed into the harbour. The run up the harbour seemed to take practically forever, especially punching a 2kts tide. It has to be said it was neither pretty nor interesting, a bit like running through the cut but without the good bits. It being low tide we cleared the Haven Bridge and headed out onto Breydon. It was absolutely mobbed with river cruisers so not much opportunity to open up but I wasn't unduly worried. The weekend had already used enough diesel to suit me, though we did have fun with a Broom 33 which was trying to pass us. Each time it caught up with us we'd throttle back to pass a river cruiser and they did the same, we then passed the river cruiser and opened up again, putting a gap between us which they'd then slowly close when they throttled up and then we'd meet the next river cruiser. Finally, they passed us, creating a wash that threw us around more than anything at sea had done!

Once off Breydon we put in at the Berney Arms and had some lunch before heading to the tea rooms for some tea and, as it turned out, a clock. Then it was on up to Reedham Ferry where, fed up with all the fuel we were wasting punching the tide at its strongest, we put in with the intention of going to sleep. Instead, however, we were greeted by a man off Topcraft hire boat who'd managed to sideswipe one of the red posts on the Cut and was asking if it would be safer to go up to Breydon and around the other side rather than go back over the Cut. The poor man had given himself such a fright that he no longer wanted to go up the river to Brundall, but just to turn around and head back towards Oulton Broad so he no longer had the passage of the Cut hanging over him. Unfortunately, despite our best efforts I don't think he left feeling very re-assured. We left shortly after, the tide having just turned, and headed on up to Brundall. True to form almost the moment the old Volvos took their final gasp before going silent the heavens opened, just as they had when we'd arrived by car. But this time it was just what I needed. Outside, waterproof on, armed with the mop the old girl got the most thorough scrubbing so far this year, aided by the deluge, and all that nasty salt was removed.

And no sooner did I get home and the camcorder footage was being transferred to the computer for editing. Unfortunately, the liberal use of the camcorder meant that very few photos were taken. However if I can figure out how to post to YouTube I'll put some clips up on there. At the moment it is uncompressed DV quality AVI files and the smallest one is over 100MB!

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Glad it all went well for you Simon.

East Coast weather is renowned and can change quickly, anything E of N is a no no in my book. We had a about 4 different days weather on the way down to the Orwell.

I have found the same problem with posting video footage Simon.

I have not got around to it yet but Megaupload will allow you 1024MB free


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Well Bruce, little by little more and more forum members are venturing out. Who knows, maybe one day we'll have an NBN trip to Southwold, or perhaps to Pakefield Beach on a nice sunny day?

Perry - there must be a way in my editing software to resample the video and compress it sufficiently that I can then upload it to YouTube. If not, it looks like Mega Upload is the way to go - though I hope forumites have nice high bandwidth connections. The footage of Kiki and Kingfisher leaving Lowestoft, even the edited version is 490MB. :o

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Well there was more than one comment from people in the yacht club that she looked very at home. She's a bit of tank though, not so much riding the waves as bludgeoning her way through them with those old engines making angry noises from underneath my feet.

I've researched the history of the boat as much as I am able. Our records, though patchy, go back to 1982 by which time she was on the northern canals (can you imagine putting boat like that on a canal?) and there she remained until moving to the Broads in 1997. We don't know much about the years 1997 to 1999 though the owner at that time appeared to dote on her. But in 1999 for whatever reason she was sold and hardly used again. The owner 1999-2006 kept a log, which I now have, and she didn't go out more than a dozen times, according to the log, and never further than the Beauchamp Arms. And after 2002 she wasn't used at all. It is obvious from the owner's log that by then hardly anything was still working properly and his interest appeared to be dwindling. So unless she tasted salt during that 1997-1999 period (seems unlikely) then there's definitely been none of it in the last 26 years. In fact we don't know for certain that she's ever been to sea, but the original invoice shows that the owner paid a hefty price for the twin diesels instead of the standard fit AQ145 petrols. The diesel option was usually for just the one, relatively low powered unit for displacement cruising. To have bought two, rather higher powered units at great expense (by the standards of the time) he must have had a reason. Plus there's that old Quasar VHF that Steve fixed and the Small Ships Register number on the cockpit sides, which hint that she was intended for sea use when new, but obviously by 5 years later that was all over. By 1982 the new generation of Volvo turbo diesels were coming to the market and, according to the 1982 MkII Mirage brochure that I have from Fairline the AQAD30 option was fastest of all engine variants ever available for the Mirage design with a top speed of 29kts, quicker even than the AQ145's. If the original owner wanted to get around quickly the new generation of diesels moved the goalposts a long way and that may well have spelt the end for SD's sea going days.

I've created a YouTube account and I'm uploading the first clip but at 275MB it'll be some time before it's there. The footage of Kingfisher and Kiki is unfortunately nearly 500MB and just too big to upload so I'll give it you on disc at some stage.

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Beach BBQ from the sea sounds good Simon and why not for the trip to Southwold, it is really nice to know that we got it right when we chose the Broads.

Congratulations on a succesfull sea trip, Glad it all went well :-D :-D :-D

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Okay, first YouTube clip up now. Unfortunately I had to squash the quality big time, then YouTube squashed it some more. And then some more. But you should get the general idea. Any diesel engine anoraks want to make sure they're running the sound through a nice set of hi-fi speakers not some tin pot computer ones if you want the full benefit of some 30 year old plus engines actually having to do some work for once! :ugeek:


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Not then, nor for some time after. :-D

There's more to come too, but even the compressed versions are 50MB upwards meaning the upload time to YT is pretty slow!

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I didn't even get within 500rpm of cruising revs let alone WOT which is about another 1000rpm on top of what we were doing. I wasn't taking any chances! I did think about winding her up a bit as we approached Yarmouth but I still had to clear the harbour, Breydon and run all the way back to Brundall so I decided not to push my luck. Speed was around 11-12kts.

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Simon those engines sound sweet giving me goosebumps :-D and the wash coming from the back neva seen that before from SD just the bubbling from those legs

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Nice trip Simon.

You should have tried for Yarmouth if you had time.

As for the video sizes, have you tried using Moviemaker that came with XP?

You can choose what size - within a bit - file and format types, you may wish to save it in before putting it on youtube.

A little bit of playing around may be worth while.

Very good as they are all the same.

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I'm using Adobe Première Paul which is the dog's danglies as far as video editing is concerned. Unfortunately, though, by design it tries to do things to the very best it can - it's not really wired to think YouTube type thoughts. I did discover a way to compress and resize video and managed to get the shot of Perry and David leaving Lowestoft down from 500MB to 50MB so I am on the right path. And we did make it all the way to Yarmouth and came in that way.

Yes Jonny, the concept is proved. We were aware of the Mirage's reputation for good sea keeping. We now need to look closely at where we go from here. The ridiculous sentimental side of me feels good for the old boat that after so long she finally had another shot at doing what she was built for, which is a bit daft really given that it's basically just a large lump of plastic. But I feel good for it, even if it doesn't. :roll:

All I can say is watch this space....

Oh btw Paul - can you do me a favour and PM a link to this thread to Mr Dibbler on the other side (I can no longer log in over there). He'll know exactly why when he sees it. Many thanks! ;)

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It comes down to what happens when you export the timeline. The usual setting is DV AVI which is full resolution and uncompressed. If you click on the settings option you can select a different format - I found one which reduced the resolution by half and added compression. I can't remember the exact options now but I found it just by clicking through the ones that there were until I found one which sounded smaller!

I'll double check later on when I get home.

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