3rd August 2014 Brightlingsea
Best laid plans and all that. Eventually I had to pull out of the sail to Lofoten in Norway because of the time I needed to devote to the Arthur Beale Project. Beale’s is hard work. With so much going on it involves working long hours for six days a week. To leave for a long sail just wasn’t going to work out. It was a great shame to have to abandon what could have been a great adventure but the Beales Project is actually great fun too albeit rather closely related to “work”. Never mind, Sumara needed a little sail to get some salt on her decks and I needed a bit of a breather so I took last week off to go for a sail with no plans at all. It was a modest affair but we managed to sail every day (if Pyefleet Creek to Brightlingsea counts). The usual routine of taking the tide down the Thames and up the Medway led us to Queenborough. The next day was filthy so we decided to visit the Ropery in Chatham. As we are clients of Chatham Ropery we were given a fantastic trip around this amazing building. I had been before but had forgotten just how the length of the building is so impressive. The Hearts of Oak exhibition is worth a trip too. Sailing in the Thames Estuary is quite taxing on the brain. There are impossible equations to work out – if we want the tide we must leave at high water and get in at low water but there isn’t enough water at low water so we can leave later but then it will be dark or leave earlier but there won’t be any wind and in any case who knows when we will arrive because if the wind shifts we will be headed but then we could lee bow the spring tide and maybe get a lift from it now my brain is very tired can we go to bed and just go sailing when we wake up? We arrived at Brightlingsea at the bottom of a spring tide and gently touched the mud trying to mooch up to read the tide gauge in the half dark. To be honest I don’t think I was on that 40 degree leading line so maybe we could have got in. However I always think it is poor form to shut a harbour by going aground in the entrance and we decided to drop the hook in Pyefleet and venture in with more water in the morning. We were kindly shown to a berth on the visitors pontoon by the Harbour Master and we sat in the sun in the cockpit watching life go by. A fine collapsable rowing boat with a couple and two children rowed across the harbour and I remembered how my friend Martin used to rave about his collapsable rowing boat. Then, just as two and two were adding up, (my brain was still tired after all that tide work) Martin stood up and waved! What a pleasant surprise, Martin and Katie with their much more grown up children Dylan and Tess were moored just opposite us. After a catch up, they decided to teach the children some sailing while we decided to go for a swim – my first sea swim of the year. We took the ferry ashore and the little pier was heaving with happy children pulling crab after crab out of the sea with screams of excitement. We had a nice chat with a boat yard owner working on a launch in a place of great character. We walked past the beach huts, the lido and the tidal pool and had a swim in lovely warm water between the groynes. In the evening we met up with Martin and Katie and children and had a tasty meal in the Yacht Club (although my friend Norman has just told me that we missed the best fish and chip shop in the world – next time!). The next day we sailed to Slaughter House Point to await a tide back up the Thames. South Dock shuts up shop at 5 pm on weekends so we needed to return a day early to make use of the bulk of the flood tide.
It was a good sailing week, but now some real hard work must start.