Miles logged: 57
Total miles logged: 796
Days since leaving Fleetwood: 26
Days at sea: 17
There was a good 14 kt breeze when we left Lowestoft and raised our sails to head north. Whilst in Lowestoft we had met up with two crews from Wells-based yachts who would also be making the passage so for the entire run we were sailing more-or-less in company. Some miles into the leg we noticed a catamaran following us and she was also Wells-bound. We found later, on meeting the crew, that she too is engaged on a circumnavigation, having started at Swanage.
It was reassuring to approach and enter a new port with two yachts with local knowledge ahead of us but their assistance was hardly necessary because the channel is extremely well buoyed. There is a bar to cross but this was of no concern to us in the relatively benign conditions.
The passage was too long to carry favourable tide the whole way so we started from Lowestoft knowing that we would have to punch foul tide for a couple of hours. That was not really a problem as we were reaching in a stiff breeze so were able to make 4-5 kts against the 2 kt stream. As the effect of the tide wore off and our passage progressed past Yarmouth we enjoyed favourable streams for six hours, at times helping us to achieve around 9 kts over the ground. We passed Cromer and Sheringham but visibility was not great so we just sped past. It seemed likely that we might sail virtually the entire leg but after Sheringham the wind dropped; it was by now directly on the stern and, to add to our woes, the tide had begun to turn against us. The five yachts one by one gave up and started their engines. I did my best to pole out my genoa but, as is usually the case, was soon tired of having to go up on deck, in a lumpy sea, to gybe the poled genoa, so I too started my engine. The final three hours of the nine-and-a-half hour passage were under engine.
As we drew closer to the Wells Fairway buoy the weather deteriorated and became quite unpleasant; it began to rain, a cold wind blew up and the visibility deteriorated. It was a relief to see the Fairway buoy coming into sight and to follow the two local yachts into the Wells channel.
Entry via the channel would, on a fine day, have made for a most interesting and appealing video but in these conditions, though trying my best, the footage is disappointing and there is a lot of wind noise. As others might find the information within it helpful for their own navigation, I will upload some footage later.
The Wells channel is exceptionally well buoyed. Once joined, it takes one extremely close to the beach which, in fine weather, would doubtless be packed. There is a long line of beach-huts, all of which stand on stilts rather than directly on the sand; they would have presented a wonderful photo-opportunity had the weather been sunny. At one point there is a very sharp dog-leg turn to starboard which takes one within a stone’s throw of a shingle bank on the far side of the channel but after that the passage is straight and clear into the town harbour. Here there is plenty of space to turn and a long pontoon, of marina standard, is provided for visitors. There was plenty of space so we didn’t have to raft. It is a charming spot; we will enjoy a rest day here whilst be plan the next two legs which, it is hoped, will take us to Scarborough by Wednesday.
There is a video of the passage through the Wells Channel in the YouTube channel, here, with sincere apologies about the dreadful sound quality due to the high wind.