Plan or just happy coincidences?
The majority of members commenced the Club Summer Cruise together dropping down from Up River on the evening of Friday 6 July for a 6.30 – 7.00am start the next day. Warm, and the little wind there had been during the day, faded to nothing, becoming a perfectly still and calm night. In fact it was so calm we thought we were aground.
Saturday 7 July – very little wind at first which slowly filled in from the Southeast eventually allowing ‘the fleet’ to slow their engines and let the breeze fill our sails instead. Smooth water, warm, sunny. A fine reach all the way to Harwich Harbour under a cloudless blue sky. Choc Orange, departing from Brandy Hole that morning, caught up with the Club flotilla at Harwich. Permata got in touch by radio from Half Penny Pier at Harwich and Eric’s Beagle arrived there shortly after.
Idleflite II, Tripper, Mirari, Miss Clare, Tonto, Bacchante and Choc Orange continued up the River Orwell to Woolverstone Marina as planned. Finding somewhere to watch the England game proved easy when we were directed to a visitors lounge which is immediately below the marina office. Something none of us knew existed. More members turned up as the game progressed. Some went to the Butt and Oyster for a pint or evening meal, 9 members went to the Riverside Restaurant. Lovely location, sweeping views of the river, and even the pub fare food was pretty good.
However, we learned first hand why everyone you meet recommends walking to the Butt and Oyster for a meal instead! The Riverside Bar and Restaurant was chronically under staffed and plain daft management practice insisted our group sat 20 feet apart on two different tables so we could be served separately. Could we push the tables together = no, we booked a table for 8, but we wanted 9 = no flexibility.
Sensibly Gerry and Elizabeth booked a table at the Butt and Oyster and met up with Beagle’s crew there who had picked up a buoy and rowed ashore to the hard, no namby-pamby marina for these smack sailors!
Sunday 8 July – the plan was to go Ipswich. Tripper, Choc Orange stuck to the programme. Idleflite II, Mirari, Miss Clare, Tonto and Bacchante decided the ideal conditions were simply to good to stay in port and headed for the River Deben instead.
Having motored clear of Harwich this flotilla enjoyed champagne sailing to the Deben entrance. Fortunately because the weather was so nice with a calm sea, when Idleflite’s engine stopped just prior to crossing the bar it was a bit of fun and opportunity for banter when Mirari offered a tow in. This was gratefully accepted. Even in good conditions crossing the bar of the Deben between the large shingle banks, is not to be trifled with. Testing showed the weed that had choked Idleflite’s engine water inlet had fried the water pump, so Mirari continued the tow all the way to Woodbridge Tidemill Marina.
We entered the marina at about 18.00 in sublime warm and calm conditions. The group met up at the splendid Anchor Pub for celebratory drinks.
Monday 9 July – a day in Woodbridge. See picture at the top of the page. Idleflite’s crew were very impressed with the service from the marina’s mechanic Henry who stripped down and examined the overheating Honda immediately. We then chased around for parts.
The crew of Choc Orange and Tripper joined the Woodbridge contingent by bus. Later, we visited the Kings Head a highly atmospheric historic coaching inn in the heart of Woodbridge. For our evening meal following some ‘team building’ drinks in the Anchor, we spent the evening in the Cumberland Fish Restaurant. Highly recommended and the Turkish owner knew how to keep his customers happy with a complimentary dish full of ‘wallies’ and free beer! Why are they called wallies? Here’s the explanation.
Tuesday 10 July – Mirari, Miss Clare, Tonto and Bacchante depart Woodbridge enjoying some fine sailing all the way to the Walton Backwaters where they stayed at Titchmarsh Marina, meeting up with Tripper. Idleflite’s crew were bashing the phones tracking down a Honda water pump housing.
Wednesday 11 July – Day in Titchmarsh with an expedition to a pub to watch the Croatians knock England out of the world cup. Idleflite’s engine repairs were completed that afternoon and following a BBQ at the marina we headed to a lively pub to watch the match.
Thursday 12 July – we are back on track! With most of the flotilla meeting up at Shotley Marina. Very easy locking in and out, plus it’s like a lake inside. We found the staff very convivial and the discounted price for our group booking made this marina much cheaper for the smaller boats compared to Woodbridge who charge £25 a night for the berth (ie irrespective of the size of the boat).
Friday 13 July – Most boats head back to the Crouch for a final night on the razzle at Burnham. Idleflite II remained err… idle at Shotley. Her crew took bus and train back home for prior commitments.
Saturday 14 July – the flotilla make the final trip back to Up River. Choc Orange sailed back from Halfpenny Pier Harwich to Brandy Hole.
Sunday 15 July – Idleflite II, with some determined passage making, motor-sailed back from Shotley to Hullbridge. Taking full advantage of an increasingly strong easterly to push over the fierce ebb arriving at URYC two hours after high water.
Post script – fantastic weather and consistently light winds, smooth seas and blissful blue sky made for a memorable and enjoyable week. Some of us will need to ‘go on the wagon’ to recover from, shall we say, the social side of the cruise.