The Eventider's News


Issue 14 Summer 2010 


Page 8


Summer sailing 2010



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Summer sailing 2010


First trip out...


Friend Phil and myself escaped for a few days in May, having failed to get to Kent to recover Glasstide twice earlier due to weather and other problems. we did not go far, the Pyefleet and back, but we bumped into some friends along the way and the weather was kind!  It was also a test of the new lead acid battery set up and X-Alt charging and X-Split spitting system installed. passed with flying colours.    

Off the Colne we cross wakes with this Barbican 'Passer by'.




Approaching the tidal barrier at Wivenhoe.



A barge gently comes alongside at Wivenhoe for a party !



At Rowhedge we are hailed, it turns out to be Nick Baker late of 'Noctaluca' the G 23.  He is still in touch and this is his new boat, 'French Herring', with the family!    

Gently motoring down stream we linger to look at the Priors boats, when Phil and I were working on the Tideway we knew most of the skippers!  Good to see the boats still working! For those who see them puttering across the sands wonder if they have any idea where they are bound.  They creep over the shallows, cheat the tide and end up unloading up Bow Creek only 6 or so hours after leaving, they dry out empty, then leave straight away they float to repeat the trip.

We have a quiet night in Pyefleet before returning to the Blackwater.  One of Priors boats powers past as we sail out!





The Summer Cruise.

Last Sail for some???



June 2010 we meet up in Bradwell Marina with Brain and Mavis, Doug and Jo and our crew for the week, Phil and Val.  Various ideas bouncing round.  Alan and Margaret with Nick as crew are supposed to be joining us the next day, so we opt to go out to meet them at the Spitway.    

We set off eastwards, only to find the wind increasing and heading us.  We then learn 'Bonita' is not able to get out and they would not want to be out with the wind as it is!

So we turn and run under genoa up river and seek out 'Right Eh Oh' who is anchored off Osea.

They motion us to raft up.  I am always a little chary of the holding ground here  and it is not long before the combined weight of the three of us have the anchor dragging.  We part.  Decide to stop the night across the Blackwater in  Lawling Creek and Dougaljo' comes along too, here we can raft up safely in good holding ground. we thread our way into the shallow creek.  'Right E Oh' shifts to the Mundon side of the Blackwater where the holding is much better, she will not follow us as she draws another half metre!


'Dougaljo' and 'Fiddler's Green' were rafted up in one of my favourite spots and stayed afloat for the night, but on the mud nearby was a very well known boat.

We watched when the tide rose that evening and the skipper moved the boat a little and settled in for the night.  Pic by Doug.



The next day he hoisted sails and after what appeared an age, hoisted anchor and sailed towards us.  Pic by Doug.    

Recognise him or the boat?  It's Charlie Stock of course with 'Shoal Waters'.

As he slowly slid past sailing on the faintest breath against the tide, he leaned on his tiller and admitted this to be his last cruise alone, as he realised he no longer had the strength to raise the anchor.  We thought he was just adjusting his mooring last night, in fact he was trying to leave.  Sad to think we shall not be crossing wakes and  catching sight of him  on the river and elsewhere.  End of a legend. 





The Cruise continues...


This was not going to be an epic cruise this year, but it was going to take us into new territory!  We had opted to lock into Heybridge Basin the next morning, something in all the years I have sailed the river I had never done, and nor had any of the others.  We had all been together in locks in Holland though, so were quite happy.  On our way up we were hailed by this happy chap, it was Tony Showell, long time Senior man, now retired to sail a Cadet, having passed on his Senior to his son!    


So here we are at 0830 approaching the lock through the well marked channel.




Moments later 'Dougaljo' and 'Right E Oh' putter in behind us.    

All snugged in and within a few moment we had risen the few feet to match the water level in the basin.    

We were at once surrounded by more assistant lock keepers than you could throw a rope to, one looked as old as Methuselah himself, and had a hound to match.  They were the volunteers turning out to help Martin the lock keeper, seen here on the right.  Martin is an ex Essex constabulary chap used to serve in Burnham and I had met him at work years ago, took a very early retirement and career change and was all the happier for it.  the Canal is now, after financial difficulties, run by the Inland Water Association and there are only two paid members of the team, Martin and another chap, Colin, who just also happens to be one of my Seagull customers!    

Within 30 minutes we were all berthed neatly in a row just inside and adjacent to quite respectable showers etc.  We soon were using them!



Jo already sorting the boat and finding something to polish!    

Mavis grinning from ear to ear as usual!    

Skipper already making devious and cunning plans to keep the crews busy!    

But first the kettle goes on, tea and coffee for eight, in shifts, kettle not big enough!    

After a snack lunch we set to launching dinghies, for I had another idea up my sleeve!

Do I really have to wear this?  I always insist and anyway she looks good in it!

With the crews of the other 2 boats sharing an inflatable and 4 in ours we set off toward the interior!


Making way gently so as not to disturb the natives the explorers putter up the cut!    

Civilisation!  The Tesco store has just had a revamp and the builders are still at work.  We see the newly constructed jetty and become the first boats to berth and go ashore to shop!    

Whilst Phil and I opt to look after the boats the other go off in search of scones and cream!    

The crew returns to find the boat watch crew have had too much sun!  Shorts found for Phil in the shop are large enough for Val to get in too!  So any excuse to go back in...  A large bag of ice is then also purchased to keep our perishables cold!    

The others opt to return to the basin, but we set off to find the head of the navigation, or at least the first set of locks!  The bridges are so typical of canal architecture where ever you go on the inland waterways..  but this canal is different, in places it is just 2ft deep, that's the depth it was dug to, as opposed to 3 ft for most other canals, but the locks are wide, for the barges were designed to be wide but shallow.    

OK that's as far as we can go, Beeleigh Abbey Lock.  The gates at the other end of the lock are closed of course. Very weedy here and the Seagull has to be lifted every few hundred yards to clear masses of weed trapped round the drive leg!  Lots of wildlife, coots and Moorhens, water vole and birds a plenty.    

We return to base, trying to work out which road bridge is where in Maldon, all a little confusing.  Getting back aboard we are no sooner aboard than scones and cream appear!  A pleasant way to spend an afternoon.  That evening we take a short walk to the Jolly Sailor and enjoy a slap up meal, very nice!    


Back in Salt water.


The next morning bright and early we lock out into the Blackwater, to be met by a couple of boats we know, including 'Evenstar' the Vulcan. and this Eventide 24, 388.    

We sail and motor in very light breezes all the way down the river and round into the Colne, heading up into Pyefleet, but not stopping in the 'popular' anchorage,  as the holding can be tenuous here, too many anchors ploughing it up I suspect..  but instead work our way right the way up past the oyster layings to anchor in total seclusion.  It was not long before the rods were out!  Within seconds the fish were biting!    

At one stage there were 6 little school Bass hanging on the line, no sooner the line went back overboard another lot were hooked!  Pleased to say they all lived to swim another day, much too small for the pot, great to see them all in the creek though.    

The ladies here are tucking into a desert made by Val with fresh strawberries and meringue, absolutely delicious.  The rosy faces tell you the sort of weather we were having too!    

That evening we were treated to yet another brilliant sunset. peaceful and quiet with just the birds and the seals for company.  Late that evening 'Bonita' joined us, anchoring a short way off, Doug set off in the dinghy to see them as they touched bottom about half a mile down the creek from us.  We would sail in company as of the morning!    

The next day 2 WW's, a GH and an Eventide slowly left Pyefleet in company, we must have made a splendid sight!    

 We met up with Brian and Mavis as we came out.    

The tide was right for a slow run up through the Wivenhoe barrier and on to Rowhedge.    

Though the skies looked dark and foreboding it was warm and sunny as we trickled past Rowhedge near top of the tide.

That day we sailed down the Colne, crossing the sands and eventually making for Bradwell, though 'Right E Oh' peeled off and made her way north up the coast, heading for home. 3 boats and crews met up in Bradwell Marina bar that evening for a great meal and evening.  the weather was supposed to break the next day so 'Bonita' and 'Dougaljo' called it a day. I was determined to eek one more day out of the week...


Though we used all the tricks in the book and even used our own Buddha to invoke more sunshine and fair breezes, it was not to last....    

The next day we took a brisk genoa run up towards Maldon, on the way we spotted this craft, a flying moth on hydrofoils.  There are two sailing locally, they belong to the two sons of Darian's boss Jane!  They liked the pics!    

All manner of boats were out today, turned out to be Heybridge regatta day! Bit busy on the water a bit further up!    

There were smacks of all shapes and sizes and with the increasing breeze, tearing about like lunatics, we are hailed from a couple of them, EOG members Brian and Vic!    

There are gaffers of every shape and description, all impeccably turned out and sailing fit to bust!    

Smacks with chaps hanging out as if they are on trapezes!    

Beautiful boats, Classics of all sorts.    

'Sunbeam' thunders past, she is a Tollesbury boat I have known for years...    

Colchester Smack, almost my colours too!    

Here comes Vic and crew again!    

We eventually drop our hook just past the windward mark, there are a few near missed as they power round, no quarter given here!  Over lunch we watch crew after crew round the mark....    

Slowly puttering back after lunch we spot Geoff, one of my Yachtmaster students and former colleague on his way down river.    

Passing close by Heybridge, I'm pleased we are not locking in there today, it is a bit busy!    

Motoring slowly back down river on the ebb we are passed by a friend with a rather swish Swan.  He is single handing her, tacking through the Osea and Steeple narrows as if she was a dinghy. We have know Dave for 20 odd years, he was our builder when we had extensions etc added to our little place in Pilgrims Hatch!  Often cross wakes, but can never keep up with the changes of boats, from speed boats, ex Fishing Vessels, smacks, racing trimarans you name it!!    



We plug on through the Osea narrows, into a rising F6 as the afternoon sea breeze sets in to add to the F4 we had earlier!  spray everywhere!    

Again Dave crosses wakes with us, reefed down and powering to windward, the short sea has little effect on him!  He peels off to pick up a Mooring off Steeple, and several others appear on deck for the first time, waves all round it is Dave's wife Janet and Anna and Arthur another couple we know!    

The last pic has to be a sunset.  This one taken in Pyefleet.  Great week, did not go far but with good friends and different sorts of destinations, a good cruise.

John and Darian

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