1st to 16th of September 2006 - Thames Estuary Tour
|Crew :||Helen and Andy|
|Destinations :||Shotley, River Ore, River Stour, Bradwell, Burnham-on-Sea, Queenborough, St Katherine Docks, Harty Ferry and Brightlingsea.|
|Distance :||300 miles|
1 st to 3 rd September
We drove down to Shotley and moved onto the boat. We had some trepidation about the weather as force 8 winds were being forecast for the weekend. We decided to spend the following two days exploring the area around Harwich harbour by car. On Saturday we visited Felixstowe and the fort on Landguard peninsula before returning via Woodbridge for tea. On Sunday we drove round to Frinton-on-sea for a walk on the beach. Andy was very disappointed as we found more mobile scooters in Aldeburgh. We then visited the Naze Tower where there is now an art gallery and tea shop selling bacon sandwiches.
4 th September Shotley-River Ore, Havergate Island
20.3 nautical miles
We had a late start today and sailed up the coast toward Orfordness. As we needed a reasonable rise of tide we spent some time sailing up past the lighthouse and then hove-to just outside the river entrance and had a cup of tea. It was still very shallow going into the river. Unfortunately the website does not advise on the shallow patches once you are the river and these can still be rather changeable and VERY shallow. We anchored in a stretch of river next to the RSPB Reserve, which we had to ourselves. We spotted: ringed plovers, curlews, oyster catchers, avocets, little egrets and lots of herring, black-headed and black-backed gulls.
5 th September Havergate Island-Slaughden Quay (Aldeburgh)
A nice sail up the Alde where we found a free mooring buoy. We took the tender and went into Aldeburgh for fish and chips on the beach and visited the shell sculpture, dodging the mobile scooters.
6 th September Slaughden Quay-Erwartonness
35.4 nautical miles
We had a fairly early start. Andy ran us aground briefly trying to dodge a non-existent sand bank. He really should listen to the navigator. As expected it was in the river rather than in the entrance. As soon as we were out we got the sails up. We were having a lovely sail, making fairly good progress toward Woodbridge Haven, via a load of lobster pots, when Andy yelled out, even before I could respond I realized I had no steerage and we were stuck fast on a pot buoy. After much faffing, which included bringing the fishy green slimey monster onto our beautiful boat, Andy managed to cut the rope going to each of the buoys. He very kindly tied them back together, but we were left with the middle section caught under the rudder.
We had some fairly stiff steering when we let go and were able to make up the distance we had drifted and sail into the River Stour to anchor. As we got into the Stour the wind gradually lessened and it took quite a few tacks to get up the river, at which point the wind died completely and we had to coax Ocean Mist into the perfect position to drop the anchor. Andy then dived under the boat fully kitted out in wet-suit, snorkel and fins. With the propeller now in no danger, Andy had a hot shower while I cleaned the decks.
7 th September Erwartonness- Bradwell
39.6 nautical miles
Another early start. We decided to head for Osea Island in the River Blackwater to see if we might be able to anchor there. We were aware that the tides might be problematic as some of the biggest spring tides of the year were expected over the next week. We got to Osea in good time for lunch and anchored, however after food we had a good scout around but couldn't find enough depth to keep us floating at low water. Instead we headed for Bradwell, where I was able to go on my only run of the holiday. We were starting to think about sailing into London and it looked like the tides would be right the following week.
8 th September Bradwell-Burnham-on-Sea
32.4 nautical miles
We managed to get up the Crouch fighting one of the strongest ebb tides for several years. We ended up surfing on a few occasions. When we arrived I was informed we were less than 8 miles from Bradwell. We could have walked!
9 th September Burnham-on-Sea
We spent the day in Burnham doing some sightseeing,chores and planning our trip to London. I was informed that the Thames Barrier would be on flood alert due to the high tides. If there was a North/North Easterly storm it could be shut. Anyway we were able to book into St Katherine Docks for Monday and Tuesday so decided to head off to Queenborough the following day.
10 th September Burnham-on-Sea - Queenborough
27.1 nautical miles
An early start in the dark. This time we had the ebb helping us. On the way out of the river we passed the seals on Buxey sand then managed to have the criusing chute up briefly.
We found a mooring buoy at Queenborough which we picked up at the stern. Getting it round to the bow was a bit more problematic but we managed not to swing onto the adjacent boats and eventually secured ourselves. Had a good evening watching the sunset over and over again by jumping up and down in the cockpit.
11 th September Queenborough -St Katherine Docks
33.5 nautical miles
Had an interesting trek up the Thames, followed closely by a French yacht all the way. We succeeding in missing any big chunks of floating debris of which there was plenty. The French people weren't so lucky although they were not seriously damaged. Tower Bridge appeared suddenly around the last bend and St Katherine Docks to our starboard. As we had a very strong flood with us at times we were making over 10knots over the ground, we were therefore early for the first lock in so hung around under Tower Bridge for a while along with a big old Thames barge which we joined in the lock. Once in the marina it felt pretty cool having Tower Bridge in our back garden.
12 th /13 th September London
We spent a couple of days in London. To Andy's delight we spent a morning looking at The hydraulic steam engine that used to make Tower Bridge open. We also had a number of visitors from old friends and my sister.
14 th September St Katherine Docks - Harty Ferry
41.6 nautical miles
Back down the Thames with the ebb tide on our side thankfully. We had a good sail and then headed for the Swale. We hung around briefly waiting for the bridge to open which also gave us enough rise of tide to get through this rather shallow river. We managed not to run aground with a lot of concentration on the part of the helm and good navigation on the part of Andy. Very happy to anchor at Harty Ferry in time for tea.
15 th September Harty Ferry - Brightlingsea
40.2 nautical miles
Wind direction meant that we motored a fair bit. Took a detour along the side of a wind farm as it was getting rather shallow to the north of the Swale. Had hoped to anchor in Pyefleet Creek on the Colne but sadly Ocean Mist was just a bit to deep so we went to Brightlingsea instead.
16 th September Brightlingsea - Shotley
25.6 nautical miles
Left to get the afternoon tide. Just managed to get over the bar at Brightlingsea. We sailed along the coast past Clacton briefly at 2.4 knots. As we didn't want to take all night and we believed the Shipwreck stopped serving food at 9pm (we were right), we decided to motor. We arrived in the dark and Helen finally got herself some more night sailing experience, navigating and helming into Harwich harbour and the lock at Shotley.
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