Category Archives: 2. Isle of Sheppey to Skegness

Second Leg

Ashore for 3 Days in Hunstanton and then Across the Wash

An interlude between one spell of strong winds and another had allowed me to enjoy a pleasant sail from Wells to Hunstanton (see previous post), but the forecast for the next few days was poor – with strong winds and periods of heavy rain. However, Hunstanton Sailing Club had said I could store Stacey next to their clubhouse and I’d found a very comfortable B&B nearby, The Shellbrooke, where the owners had offered me a concessionary rate. Friday was a day to catch up on blogging and planning and the silver lining was that the period of bad weather had again coincided with an opportunity to spend time with Katherine, who’d been able to drive from Southampton to spend the weekend with me.

The North Norfolk Coast had been a great surprise. Huge largely deserted wide sandy beaches and sand dunes hidden behind salt marshes with a profusion of wild flowers and birds. On Saturday we drove to Burnham Overy Staithe and parked next to a small creek running through the a marsh. An attractive array of traditional looking small boats populated the inlet and we visited the well stocked chandlers in a white painted barn where I bought some jubilee clips, another dry bag and some other boating bits and pieces. We then walked in the sunshine along the top of a sea-defence dyke running for one and half miles towards the sand dunes bordering the beach. Each side we could see pasture land, marsh and distant woodland. Along the dyke were an incredible array of thousands of poppies nodding in the wind, with colours ranging from pink, red, violet and on to a deep deep purple. We spent some time trying to capture this scene in photos before walking on to the dunes and over to a breathtakingly beautiful beach and the blue North Sea beyond.

One of the purposes of sailing around Britain (or at least attempting to do so) has been to get to know my native country better and to somehow join together some of the places along the coast I’ve known during my childhood and adult life.  As a child, lying in bed at night when staying with my grandparents in a cottage near Bamburgh (Northumberland), I’d watch the flash of the Longstone Lighthouse illuminating the room as I fell asleep. Also in my younger years were holidays on Arran with bike rides along lanes, fishing from beaches and walking up Goat Fell, over 2,000 feet high. Later, I’d walk along the Purbeck coastline, sail in the Hebrides, along the South Coast and in the Solent, and visit other coastal towns and ports by bicycle, car and by sea. Marking these locations as dots on a blank page would provide a sketchy outline of some of Britain’s varied and frequently beautiful coastline. So maybe what I’m doing is adding more dots to this outline and by sailing between them, joining up the dots to create are more complete picture of the British coast. I’m also creating a list of places to revisit, including Rye, Whitstable and the North Norfolk coast.

We walked on, along the beach in the sunshine, some five miles to Wells… where I couldn’t resist going aboard the Albatross again for a lunch of excellent Dutch pea soup with bread and beer. Sunday was spent writing and reading with a short beach walk and a pub meal before Katherine had to depart for Southampton.

The sailing prospects for the next day were looking poor. My plan was to cross the Wash at the first available opportunity and head for Wainfleet haven, South of Skegness. John, the Commodore of Skegness Yacht Club, had been texting me with his thoughts on the weather the crossing and how to navigate to the tricky entrance to Wainfleet Haven. Les, who helped me with boat storage at Hunstanton Sailing Club, had also provided much useful information about crossing the Wash with it’s complex tides, shifting sandbanks and rough seas. Both John and Les knew the area very well and the consensus was that I needed winds of no greater than force 4 and should time my departure to coincide with favourable tidal streams. I was feeling not a little daunted by the Wash, where buoys with names like ‘Sunk Sand’ and ‘Roaring Middle’ convey an impression of treacherous waters. However, by Monday morning the latest forecast showed and improvement making the Wash crossing just doable. I checked out of the B&B and a Peddars Way Travel taxi soon arrived. After hearing about my round Britain sailing attempt, the driver and owner of the company refused to take any payment for transporting me, numerous bags and bits of boat to the sailing club.

Les was at the club where he gave me more advice about crossing the Wash and told me about his previous experience as a lifeboatman. We looked through the club telescope at Roaring Middle buoy (which looks like a lightship) in the far distance. Leaving as late as possible to give the wind a chance to die down a bit more, I departed at 5.15 pm and waved goodbye as I set sail into a grey and stormy looking sea. At least it wasn’t raining. Sailing westward, I hoped to be swept by the ebbing tide to West North West to Roaring Middle, which would confirm my position, before turning North West to cross the Long Sand Bank near high water. Once in the Boston Deep Channel I could sail North East up the channel to find the entrance to Wainfleet Haven. Largish waves coming from the South hit Stacey side-on and sheets of spray flew across the foredeck from left to right. A couple of breaking waves tried to climb aboard but, with Stacey travelling at about 6 knots, the self bailer soon got rid of any water in the boat. I was glad I’d not set sail in any windier conditions. I was relieved when I could finally see Roaring Middle. At least I knew where I was in the middle of the Wash.  After passing the buoy I altered course to cross Long Sand.

By around 7 pm I was running down the Boston Deep and could see a sailing yacht with tan sails crossing my bow in the distance. I was also aware, from VHF traffic on channel 16, of a lifeboat launch to a vessel called Alloa with engine failure somewhere in my vicinity. Shortly after the lifeboat appeared in the distance and I realised the yacht and Alloa were one and the same. As the lifeboat passed it altered course to check I was okay and we briefly spoke over the VHF before the crew carried on to Alloa. As the lifeboat towed Alloa back up the main channel behind me, I found the entrance to Wainfleet was not easy to find – but the waves breaking over the banks nearby were small, so I simply sailed over the banks in less than 2 feet of water before reaching the channel. It was apparent I’d arrived a bit late and even in the channel there was sometimes barely enough water to keep us afloat and the tide was falling fast. Luckliy, the high level of rain meant there was a large volume of water flowing down to the sea. The channel meandered about one and a half miles towards the security of the creek next to Skegness Yacht Club. I ran downwind, unfurling more and more sail to maintain speed as the mud banks of the creek became higher and higher on each side. The incentive of company and a night under cover, as opposed to a cold night in the boat on a mud bank somewhere, lead to an increasingly desperate gybes as I followed the downwind chicane of the creek in the failing light. As I neared moored yachts, a fisherman on a small fishing boat observed I’d cut it a bit fine. I agreed. John, Mike and Alex of the yacht club were there to greet me as I arrived and helped me tie up alongside John’s traditional yacht. We loaded my bags into a van and drove the short distance to the clubhouse. Unfortunately, Alloa was unable to get into Wainfleet and spent what I expect was an uncomfortable night at anchor just outside the entrance.

I had imagined the Skegness Yacht Club to be perhaps a grand affair with posh boats and a certain sort of formality. Not so, the clubhouse was more like a well-appointed, brick built scout hut, and I’d sailed into one of the warmest and most cheerful welcomes so far. Not only had John provided copious amounts of help and advice, but John, Mike and Alex had waited for well over two hours to help guide me in and help me ashore. We sat round a large wooden table drinking dark ale and chatting before they departed, promising to be back at 5 am to help Alloa back into the Haven. Tired but warm and dry, I fell asleep in my sleeping bag on the carpeted floor. I would be proud to be a member of a yacht club like this.

Approaching Hunstanton

A day in Wells Next the Sea and then on to Hunstanton…

North Norfolk Coast

North Norfolk Coast

The campsite and caravan park at Wells, with hundreds of mobile homes, wouldn’t have been my first choice for a stop, but as such places go, it wasn’t bad. There were plenty of trees to break up the rows of caravans and the showers and laundry facilities were good. Yet again, there was a strong wind forecast but Jon (a friend from Southampton) was coming to visit – accompanied by his mum, who lives in Norfolk near Kings Lynn. We drove into the port of Wells and ate lunch on the Albatross which was the last sail-driven cargo ship on the North Sea, unloading a cargo of soya beans at Wells as late as 1996. Whilst eating Dutch crêpes we looked out to sea at a line of breakers, white in the sunshine, over two miles away at the Wells channel entrance.

Jon’s father had supervised the loading of the Albatross with Norfolk malting barley bound for the production of Guinness and Jon’s mother had many stories of Norfolk during the war and of the great flood of 1953, when a huge area of Norfolk was inundated by the sea when a storm surge on top of an exceptionally high spring tide breached the flood defences.

Jon explained how this area, before the draining of the fens, had much more in common with Holland (which was more accessible than most of England). Several large brick buildings with Dutch gable ends can be seen in Wells. It also seemed to me that there was a distinct, island-like and individual approach to doing things (sometimes referred to NFN or Normal for Norfolk). Shops still close for lunch and the general approach to life is much more relaxed. I later heard visitors to the area referred to a ‘inlanders’.

By the next day, Thursday, the wind had eased making it possible to sail on to Hunstanton, which would be a good location to later set off across the Wash. After packing up the tent and loading everything into the boat, a camping neighbour kindly helped me pull Stacey the half mile to the sea and I made ready to sail. The harbour master asked if I’d rather leave in the afternoon, when the tide would be more in my favour and the wind strength a bit less, but I was keen to get going, so assured him I’d be well reefed and would stay close to the shore (finding some protection from the fresh southerly wind).

I set off just after noon, and although the wind was strong and gusty, staying close to the shore helped avoid the worst of the east-going tide and meant there was plenty to look at as I sailed past wide and larely deserted sandy beaches, sand dunes and the occasional small inlet. Several black or dark violet butterflies flew across my bows from right to left, heading upwind towards the shore. I was surprised to see how they were able to fly upwind against a gusty 15 to 20 knot breeze and wondered if they’d flown from the other side of the Wash. Ocassional walkers on the shore looked seaward as I passed. Three hours passed this way before I rounded the corner at Gore Point and started to beat southward to Hunstanton. The wind freshened as I passed Hunstanton’s striped cliffs (made up of a layer of green-sand followed by red chalk and topped off with white chalk).

After another hour or so I was ashore, helped by Jon who’d come to see me before heading back home to Southampton. Hunstanton Sailing Club had kindly offered me a place to store my boat but there were no camping options nearby, so with Greg’s help we found a nearby B&B and transferred my bags from the boat. The weather forecast for the next few days was for yet more strong winds but Katherine would be coming to see me for the weekend.

Before we went our separate ways Jon, his Mum, Greg, Eleri (Greg’s daughter) and I sat in a local café drinking tea and gazing out over the grey wave-stewn expanse of the Wash. The weather was poor but I was very glad of all the continuing help received from friends and strangers.

Wells Beach

Winterton Ness to Wells – 38 NM and a very long day

At 5.30 am, after the trials of the evening and night before it was difficult to emerge from the warm cocoon of 2 layers of Merino wool, a fleece, sleeping bag and bivi bag. But as the sun rising over the sea gradually warmed the day I rose from my sandy bed on the beach, made coffee and contemplated the day ahead. There were still another 32 nautical miles to go before the first harbour at Blakeney, and the intervening coast, with the continuing swell from the northeast still softly exploding on the beach, was beginning to give me the willies. The day before my plan had been to land, sleep on the beach for a few hours and move on as quickly as possible on the next tide, but I would be late departing and the forecast had been for continuing light winds.

Stacey was at the top of the beach beside me. So, I’d have to pack up, drag the boat to the sea, transport drybags, anchor bag, trolley and all the other paraphernalia down the beach, load up and then pull boat and kit the last few yards down the steeply shelving part of the beach and into the water. This took a while and I then found the mast had jammed solid in the mast socket due to sand, no doubt from last night’s capsize in the breakers. Without being able to rotate the mast I would not be able to reef so I set about flushing out the mast socket with buckets of water and trying to also remove some of the sand by sticking it to the mast with suntan oil and then repeatedly withdrawing the mast and wiping it off with a bit of paper towel. After having more or less solved the mast problem I had a similar issue with the rudder with sand preventing me raising and lowering it. However, launching was a lot easier than landing and by the time I set off at 7.30 am the day was feeling appreciably warmer as a breeze was starting to pick up from the south-east.

My late launch would only give me 2 hours of fair tide in light winds. So I hoped for a softer landing than the night before so I could sit out the foul tide, catch up on a bit of sleep and writing the account of the voyage. Alternatively, I could drop the anchor and bob about for a few hours. Small towns and villages on the coast, each with an impressive stone church and square bell tower, passed by in the sunshine. I’d never seen so many churches along a stretch of shoreline and thought this must have been a coast previously populated by seafaring and god fearing folk and that maybe the particular hazards of the Norfolk coastline could have had something to do with this. As the northward tide slackened, the beach at Mundesley presented an opportunity to get ashore, but the small town dominated by a North Sea gas terminal didn’t appeal and I was also dissuaded by breakers along the strand.

Cromer Surf

Cromer Surf

However, the following wind had picked up so we ploughed on making 3 to 4 knots against the tide and there seemed a good prospect of reaching one of the North Norfolk harbours before the end of the day. At Cromer with its large church and  rows of brightly coloured houses descending to a small beach I paused (hove to) for a phone call to Greg, some lunch, to reef and also to take photos of waves crashing against a sea wall with white spray flying into the air in front of some multi-coloured beach huts. I pressed on passing a long stretch of grey pebbly beach before sighting the wide sandy beaches and dunes of Blakeney Point.

The following wind died and was replaced by a new wind and rain from the south west. So as I sailed on towards Wells I had the unusual experience of sailing upwind with following waves. Eventually at around 6pm I reached the entrance to the Wells channel and sailed over the bar in less than a foot of water. At about an hour before low water the channel leading to Wells with its important north Norfolk harbour was very shallow and at times only a few inches deep. Sailing or paddling against the strong ebb stream proved impossible so I slowly trudged alongside the 3 mile channel to Wells towing Stacey behind me.

I vaguely remembered something about ‘lining’ canoes along rivers, so experimented with twin lines attached to bow and stern and found it possible by controlling the pull on each, to steer the boat up the centre of the channel with me walking the bank. By the time I’d  passed the Lifeboat station I was exhausted and it was apparent there was another mile to go. I’d been unable to find anyone who could say whether there was a slipway at the harbour. Camping options seemed non-existent and after 15 hours on the go after limited sleep I began to have a serious sense of humour failure. At that precise moment the phone rang. Greg told me he’d been watching my progress on Spot Messenger, or the lack of it, and had made enquiries by phoning a few numbers in Wells. The principal of a local sailing school, Robert White of Oceanus Sailing, was on his way with two friends to help me pull Stacey out the water, up a very steep beach and on about half a mile to a local campsite.

So if you’re reading any of this guys, thanks for being the cavalry and helping hugely at the end of a very long day. Thanks also Greg for pulling that one out the bag when it was much needed. By 10.30 pm, after pitching the tent and some bread and cheese, I was spark out.

c/o AW: Departing Lowestoft

Northward from Lowestoft, and a Mishap

I’d arrived in Lowestoft late into Saturday evening feeling very tired after the toughest passage yet, from Shotley. It hadn’t been so much the duration of the sail, less than eight hours, but more the physical and mental demands of steering and balancing the boat in the midst of large following waves and a fresh (force 4 to 5) breeze. So I was glad to be able to rest up for a day and recover. Any thoughts of setting off again on Sunday had evaporated after hearing a wind forecast of force 4 to 5 gusting 6. I spent a very pleasant day in Arthur and Jenny’s company with Arthur kindly running me to a yacht chandler’s for another dry bag and to replace my hat (which had been swept overboard during a particularly strong squall the day before) and then to the beach at Winterton to look at the size of the breakers coming ashore.

After Yarmouth, around 10 nautical miles North of Lowestoft, there would be 40 miles of coast without any harbour before Blakeney on the North Norfolk coast. So my main options would be to sail 50 miles in one go or to get ashore somewhere for an overnight stop. Anchoring and sleeping in the boat was another possibility, but this would be likely to be very uncomfortable along this exposed coast. As my experiences at Hastings had shown, landing a small boat on a beach amidst breakers can be fraught at the best of times and attempting it alone more than doubly so. However, the breakers on the wide beach at Winterton were only a foot high and I concluded a solo beach landing the next day would be doable. Later we visited Arthur and Jenny’s very productive allotment where they grow most of their fruit and vegetables. Jenny had picked huge quantities of strawberries, broad beans and also some artichokes for an evening meal. Arthur and Jenny have sea kayaked in diverse parts of the world including Alaska, Belize and Mexico. They also own a Drascombe Coaster which they sail on the Broads. We talked of sailing and kayaking, and Arthur told me a bit about his second career in boat building. I was sorry to have to leave the next day.

The following morning, Arthur added a backup linkage to the flexible rubber joint steering connection between my tiller and tiller extension. I’ve never heard of one of these joints failing but I’d been concerned about how I’d cope if the joint did fail at sea in rough weather. Arthur later ran me and my kit back to the Royal Norfolk and Suffolk Yacht Club, which had kindly found a space to store Stacey free of charge, and I launched at around just before 3 as tide started to run northward. For a change winds were light and I mostly paddle sailed, tacking against the northerly wind. A strong swell from the northeast worried me and I could see lines of breakers to my left. Presumably, a storm far out to sea, off Scandinavia maybe, had caused the swell which was running in a different direction to the wind. I found a corner on the beach at Yarmouth behind the harbour to land clear of waves and change into my drysuit. A lifeguard helped me drag Stacey back into the water.

As the grey day wore on, the wind and tide died and progress slowed. I ‘d hoped to make the village of Sea Palling where artificial reefs running parallel to the shore would make a landing sheltered from breakers possible but the light was beginning to die so I prepared to put ashore at the slight headland of Winterton Ness. As a precaution I removed the rudder, which can be vulnerable to damage during rough beach landings. A seal kept popping its head out of the water and watched me curiously with large brown eyes as I paddled against the slight breeze and toward the steeply sloping shoreline. I hoped this was a good omen. Waves began to tip the boat forward as they passed and then just before I was about to land a large breaking wave roared up behind me, slewed Stacey across the face of the wave and tipped me headlong out the boat and into the surf. However, I managed to get onto my feet, right the boat and drag her ashore before further breakers caused any damage or swamped the boat. The seal emerged from a wave for a last look before going off to tell his mates about the spectacle. Getting Stacey above the high tide mark was challenging but unloading most of the sailing / camping kit and a 2 to 1 pulley system helped and then a passing  bird watcher gave me a hand, in the half-light, with the last 20 yards. Unfortunately, my mobile phone on a lanyard round my neck had disappeared without trace as I dived into the sea. I climbed to the top of the sand dunes to get a signal and made a few phone calls on a backup mobile to ensure others knew I was OK and that Arthur and Jenny, who’d been waiting for me at Sea Palling, were not worried by my non arrival.

I’d been shaken by the rough landing but set about preparing for the night before the last of the light completely faded. Although cold and moonless the night was cloudless and no rain was forecast. So, after a miniature bottle of red wine, reserved for such an occasion, and a brief meal of bread and soup, I put on extra layers of clothing and climbed into a bivvi bag on the sand. I looked at the stars and the inky black sky overhead before falling asleep. I awoke about four hours  later feeling bone achingly cold. Walking up and down the beach for twenty minutes helped to restore my body temperature. A seal like shape loomed out of the darkness and gave me a fright. Momentarily it had seemed the seal had returned to haunt me, but it then morphed back into a small tree trunk. After getting out of my drysuit and into a sleeping bag I fell asleep again just as the sky was starting to lighten before dawn.

Launching at Shotley

Shotley to Lowestoft with large following seas


Apologies for the this late post but, very frustratingly, I had to rewrite these words after two careless screen touches on my small Android tablet.

The two days at Shotley, staying in Steve’s home had been a welcome rest after five days sailing. The strong winds had moderated slowly and Saturday’s forecast was still a bit on the strong side but the wind was predicted to be from the South West so it seemed I’d be reasonably sheltered from waves as I sailed past the East facing coast. I considered a short dash out of the estuary of the rivers Stour and Orwell, 8 nautical miles up the coast to the entrance to the River Ore and from there, up the river to the small town of Aldeburgh which, 8 meandering miles upstream, is only 200 yards from the sea. It would then be possible, after an overnight at Aldeburgh, to drag Stacey across a shingle bank and back to the sea. The alternative to this interesting and amphibious route was to take full advantage of the strong spring tide, running northward, and a fresh south westerly to take me some distance straight up the coast to Southwold or maybe even to Lowestoft, some 42 nautical miles away. I chose the latter and resolved to make up for lost time and get some miles under my belt.

So, after a lunch of soup and Steve’s excellent homemade bread, Steve helped me pull Stacey back down the hill to the sailing club slipway where I launched around 2.30pm.  Steve said he admired my idea of what was an acceptable wind strength for a long sail in a small boat. I had my doubts but didn’t say so. The wind was still whistling through the trees and clanging halyards against masts as I set sail, with not a little trepidation.

A short fetch brought me to Landguard Point and the port’s deep water channel running east. Soon after I turned northeast and toward the headland of Orford Ness. The wind was fresher and a little more from the south than predicted. A stronger than expected following sea meant I was sometimes planing down waves with spray flying, during gusts. Small black rain squalls chased and overtook me as I sailed on alone past Orford Ness with its red and white striped lighthouse. I edged further out to sea as I passed to stay clear of rougher water around the headland. Glancing behind revealed occasional breaking waves above head height rearing up towards me. This didn’t help so I gave up looking and concentrated on steering a straight course downwind and down the waves. Progressively reefing the sail down to less than half its full size helped to avoid the danger of slewing to one side and capsizing when flying down the face of a wave. The sailing was physically and mentally demanding but two Mars Bars and occasional phone conversations with Greg helped maintain my morale

After around 5 hours of waves, wind and passing squalls I neared the port of Southwold, where I considered taking refuge, but I saw an opportunity to press on another 10 miles to Lowestoft  before the tide turned against me. However, as the rush of the north going tide slackened the wind also started to die away and I wished I’d fixed the navigation light to the top of the mast as I neared the lights of Lowestoft in the increasing gloom. A large catamaran sailing on a parallel course came over so its crew could ask if I was okay. I attempted a cheery, but likely unconvincing, ‘yes I’m fine but thanks for asking’ response and gave them a wave as we parted company and they sailed on to Blakeney on the north Norfolk coast.

I’d also been in touch with Arthur from the Open Canoe Sailing Group, who’d provided much useful advice about the East Anglian coast, and I was glad Arthur and Greg would be at Lowestoft to meet me and help get Stacey out the water. Earlier in the day, there’d been a temporary exclusion zone around the port for an air show but this had ceased around four and a half hours before my arrival. However, just as I turned into the harbour in the darkness and heavy rain an enormous maroon went up followed by a huge explosion and then a further barrage of fireworks. I should have put back to sea and waited for the display, centred around the harbour entrance, to finish but, feeling exhausted, I sailed on directly underneath a series of further explosions shaking me and Stacey. I hoped not to be hit by any descending incendiaries or to be reprimanded for sailing through a firework display. Arthur, Greg, Gina and Eleri waved as I approached the inner harbour and I was soon up a steep green slippery slipway and on dry land. As we transferred kit to Arthur’s van, and with some justification, I was ticked off by the harbour master for entering the port against the two red lights I’d failed to spot under the fireworks, but I was cheered by the prospect of fish and chips followed by a comfortable bed at Arthur and Jenny’s home.

WYC, c/o JW

Thames Crossing: 35 miles from Whitstable to Brightlingsea…

Crossing the Thames

Crossing the Thames

I was sorry to leave Whistable. This North Kent seaside town is a delight and my idea of a proper seaside town with beached, brightly painted beach huts, a great choice of restaurants and pubs, and a fishing boat harbour. Everyone I met at Whitstable Yacht Club was friendly and helpful. Jason from the sailing school found a space in the boat shed for Stacey and Sally and Jane gave a warm welcome and found me a bunkroom for the night. Still, there was little choice about leaving and the conditions were ideal for a passage across the Thames Estuary to Brightlingsea. If I left it another day then there might be too little wind and yet another deep depression was forecast to arrive on Friday.

The evening before, feeling a little daunted by the combination of changing tides, sandbanks and shipping lanes I’d run my passage plan by Mark Saddler who has been providing wise counsel on the basis of his many UK circumnavigations and extensive sailing experience. I was reassured when Mark said I appeared to have thought through the issues of changing tidal set, wind strength and direction, route and various ‘what if’ scenarios.

I loaded up the boat near the wooden club slipway, in the sunshine. After saying goodbyes I pushed off, clambered aboard and sailed northeastward in a light breeze. Raising the rudder and ‘paddle sailing’ using my body weight and paddle strokes to steer added almost a knot to our boatspeed and was a satisfying way to progress upwind in a light breeze. A Thames barge with tan sails and on a parallel course to leeeward dropped behind as I ‘paddle sailed’ for the next hour and a half. With the tide pushing me westward, while I steered 030 (a bit East of North), my slightly crabwise northward course brought me close to Red Sand Towers. These strange looking Second World War rusty gun emplacements looked like leftovers from the ‘War of the Worlds’, marooned in the middle of the estuary. I hate to think what it would have been like, being stationed on these structures waiting for enemy bombers to arrive.

Red Sand Towers

Red Sand Towers

The shipping lanes presented no challenges with only three ferries passing in front, some distance away. As the tide paused before flowing back in the other direction, the wind began to increase. Two reefs were needed to avoid pushing myself and the boat too hard. As I passed Maplin and Foulness Sands, beating into the wind and waves became a bit of a slog and more layers of clothing under, my sailing jacket, were needed to keep warm. I regretted not wearing my dry suit which had seemed to hot for sunshine and paddling earlier in the day. As the sky darkened and I put in a tack to the East to keep clear of the wide stretch of shallow water to the West and eventually passed the entrance to the River Crouch channel, 6 miles out to sea. As I sailed through the shallower water of the Wallet Spitway the waves became distinctly shorter and steeper, breaking over the foredeck and occasionally into the boat. However, soon after I was able to bear away to the North West and an hour and a half later was ashore at Brightlingsea.

I was tired after the 33 NM and 7 hour passage from Whitstable so was glad to see two DCA members, Geoff and Penny Darby, who’d turned out to greet me. Having someone to meet in a strange port after a long day is great for morale and local knowledge of things like where to store my boat safely and where accommodation may be found is invaluable. Geoff and Penny found me a corner in a boatyard where I could leave Stacey overnight, securely. My sister Mary and brother in law Jim, had also come to meet me and there were able to take me back to their home, not too far away, as all the B&B’s were fully booked up with wind farm construction workers and folk festival goers. So another comfortable and warm and dry bed, before setting off again the next day. After a meal at a South Indian restaurant in Brightlingsea I fell asleep after about 10 minutes in the car as Mary drove us home.

A few photos from a memorable day.