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An Impromptu HNYC Cruise

It all started over a coffee! We were asked if we were taking some time either before or after the Tollesbury Rally to cruise the East Coast. Our reply was “both, before and after – subject to weather”. Before we knew it some six boats had expressed interest and agreed that we head for the River Orwell on the Wednesday prior to the rally.

Locking out at Chatham
Locking out at Chatham at 0700 hrs, photo by Carol Townsend

Wednesday duly arrived, the weather was reasonable and at 7a.m six boats (Ember, Sisu, Maia, Symphony, Elysium and Kailani) started motoring down the Medway headed for the Orwell. Just off Thames Port our little fleet encountered a large container ship coming in accompanied by two tugs. At least we thought they were both tugs! However one started to cross the stern of the container ship and at the same time play water from its fire hydrants into the air. Seems it was the first time the container ship had been in Thames Port so they were giving it a good welcome. Made a very nice sight but gave our small fleet some navigational problems!!

Firetug Display
Firetug Display, photo by Carol Townsend

Minimal wind meant that we motored up the Wallett, a short but nice sail from S Whitaker to the Swin then motoring the rest of the way to Woolverstone where we had managed to get berths for all six. Tony Chamberlain then negotiated with the Royal Harwich that they book all eleven of us for a meal that evening. The weather was warm so we had drinks outside overlooking the river before enjoying a very good meal. Next day saw us all gather on Symphony for elevenses when we enjoyed Sheesh’s homemade lemon cake and Tony graciously shared Mary’s delicious fruit cake. We missed Mary’s presence but she was waiting at home for the arrival of their ninth grandchild (who duly arrived on Keith Boddy’s birthday – more in the Rear Commodores report!). A pleasant walk through to Pin Mill for lunch and a drink at the Butt and Oyster. Early evening saw Ernie Slogrove and Hilary Norton join the group by land yacht for “happy hour” before we all went for dinner at Butterman’s. Again a very good meal.

Sisu at Woolverston
Martin and Annie Smith aboard Sisu in Woolverstone, photo by Carol Townsend

Heavy rain greeted Friday morning but the fleet decided to sail for Brightlingsea in the afternoon and the rain stopped in time for our departure. As we motored past Harwich we enjoyed the glorious sight of a large fleet of old gaffers sailing into the Orwell. The weather decided to drop very heavy rain on the fleet as we headed down the Wallet, but by the time we were off the entrance to Brightlingsea it was nice and dry. The harbourmaster in Brightlingsea (whom we had phoned from Woolverstone) managed to get all six boats on the same pontoon so “happy hour” was soon organised on Kailani for everyone and this later transferred to Ember. A very convivial evening for all!

Rain in the Wallet
The Fleet in the rain astern of Kailani in the Wallet, photo by Carol Townsend

Saturday dawned and we all prepared to sail for Tollesbury. Those with shallower drafts decided to skip across the shallows – well it was on a rising tide and a reasonable amount of water. Others decided to go the deeper route and had a good genoa sail out to the Colne Bar before motoring into wind towards the Nass Beacon, quite lively at times and with “holes” in the water. Having arrived at the Nass it was then negotiating the tortuous route through to Tollesbury marina where we were duly expected.

Tollesbury is covered by the Rear Commodore, so enough said!

Monday morning our little fleet decided to go back to Brightlingsea for the night so that we had an easier journey back to the Medway. A phone call to the harbour master in Brightlingsea and the berths were booked and with a further phone call, plus lots of negotiating, a table for the 11 of us was booked for dinner at the Colne Yacht Club. A pleasant sail using the genoa (F4-5 SW) at the start of an ebbing tide . All duly arrived safely around 1500 hours. Around 1800 hours we all met up in the Colne Yacht Club where we were given a warm welcome by the Commodore and the Chef (John Paul). The club already had a large party booked in for dinner and they had had to do some re-arranging to accommodate us. After an excellent meal we all retired back to the boats by about 2100 hours (the water taxi finished at that time!).

Symphony and Sisu
Symphony and Sisu heading Home, photo by Carol Townsend

Tuesday morning saw four of the boats, Sisu, Elysium, Symphony and Kailani, departing for the Medway. Ember and Maia had decided to stay an extra day. A motor sail out to the Spitway and then a close haul sail down from S Whitaker to just past Blacktail Spit with at times the GPS reading 8.5 knots when the log read 5.5 knots- certainly a high spring tide.

Kailanin off the Maplin Sands
Kailani bound for the Medway, photo by Sheesh Bloomfield

Across the estuary, past our “chimney” and up into the R Medway and we were all safely berthed come 1600 hrs. A final gathering aboard Kailani for tea and coffee to go over the past week. The conclusion was that it had been great fun, great food in all the places we had eaten at and although the wind and weather had not been too great, we had all thoroughly enjoyed the trip.

It just goes to show what a cup of tea or coffee and a chat can do!

Those taking part were, in no particular order(!)

Maia – Tony Chamberlain

Ember – Celia and Martin Richards

Sisu – Martin and Annie Smith

Symphony – Mark and Sheesh Bloomfield

Elysium – Brian and Ines Hayes

Kailani – Mike and Carol Townsend

The Crews from all the yachts
All of the Crews at Colne Yacht Club

See more photographs from the cruise

Date Published 4th Sep 2011