Brightlingsea Away Day

Post date: 24-Aug-2013 17:06:02

A five boat SESCA armada, led by Hon Secretary Alan Shaw, enjoyed perfect conditions for the Club's 'Away Day' to Brightlingsea on Friday.

After a very warm reception by Brightlingsea SC and stoking up with bacon butties, the intrepid party fought its way through the fleet of Shearwater catamarans, assembled for their national championship, and the queue of cadet sailors on the 100m slip way to get to the waters edge. Having successfully avoided sinking into the surrounding mud, Commodore Kieron Adams, sailing his newly acquired Comet Duo, was the first to hit the briny.

As local experts, Carl and Alan disappeared in their Enterprise in one direction, the rest of the party, namely Graham & Melanie in the GP14; Geoff and Sheila in one Wanderer and Jon and Mike in the other, set off in pursuit of the Comet in the opposite direction. This was slightly disconcerting, as we were going rapidly downwind driven by a force 3 breeze and a 2 kt tide. Having passed moored Thames barges; large navigation marks and being buzzed by kamikaze jet skiers, we were relieved to find that we were not heading out into the English Channel.

After heaving-to in a seamanlike manner to wait for the Enterprise to catch up and take the lead, we formed up in close convoy formation to deter attacks from enemy submarines. Weaving around withies and sailing into ever narrower channels, we avoided the Vice Commodore's attempts to lead us up a blind ally and eventually came to a set of lock gates, which rather resembled the entrance to Mordor. Passing through the gates, we found a series of water front homes, from which the locals starred at us quizzically, as we were driven onwards at a rapid rate by the relentless current. This was somewhat of a relief, as I had uncomfortable feeling that I could hear the sound of duelling banjos in the distance.

No sooner had we passed what I later discovered to be Wivanhoe, we found that we had reached the planned destination of the Anchor Inn at Rowhedge - or was it Rohan?! The only problem was that we had arrived 1 1/2 hrs ahead of schedule, so, instead of arriving at high tide, we were faced with the choice of a 20 ft vertical climb up a steel ladder or crossing 25 yds of mud to get to the pub. To make things even more interesting, the pub was on the lee shore and the strength of the tide was such that one could not make ones way against the current on jib alone.

The majority of the party, having acquired a good coating of mud, eventually decided that tying up under the 'No Mooring' sign on the ferry quay was a far better option, while Mike & Jon played through a good re-enactment of the commando raid on the Guns of Navarone.

Suitably refreshed with fish & chips; prawn sandwiches and local ale, the party returned to their boats to find the water level 12 feet higher and no mud in sight. The tide, however, was still flooding which made the return journey considerably longer and the short tacking through the gates of Mordor quite challenging - particularly for Kieron and the Jon/Mike team who insisted on trying to make the passage at the same time.

By the time we got back to Brightlingsea, the tide had fully risen which made the foreshore unrecognisable with the water now lapping at the entrance to the club. This did, however, mean that we did not have to drag the boats back up the slipway, which was a considerable relief. The afternoon was perfectly rounded off by tea and jam doughnuts courtesy of our excellent hosts.