Trip on Quartette starting 2015-07-25 in BSAAug15
East Coast Adventures on ‘Quartette’ 25 -31 July 2015 - report by Don Hirst
We must first thank Judith Hankey of PYC for her excellent guide which we found most useful. Chris & Ginny Watts and Don Hirst picked up Quartette from Suffolk Yacht Harbour, Levington on Saturday 25 Jul.
Sunday. Forecast Southerly F6-7 plus rain. Our plans to put out to sea were abandoned and we chose to sail the sheltered waters of the Orwell and Stour. We demonstrated our tacking skills to the huge container ships moored at Felixstowe. When we saw a large containership coming our way we departed the main shipping channel for the River Stour and went as far as Harkstead Point, then headed back for the Orwell, destination Ipswich. It might be worth noting that they have found a way of dredging which has steep sides, French style, so it is quite possible to go from 14 metres to 2 in just over a boat’s length. We entered Ipswich Marina through a lock. The Marina is huge - we thought we might pass right through Ipswich before finding our berth. On Sunday night Ipswich is dead. Fortunately we found a Wetherspoons, even they were fairly empty, they must have had food surplus to requirements as we had huge meals under their Sunday Club banner.
Monday. Wind still F6-7 Westerly so we put in a reef and had a gentle sail back to Suffolk Yacht Harbour, gave up sailing for the afternoon and took the car to Sutton Hoo to see the Viking long ship and ancient Anglo-Saxon burial site which was very interesting.
Tuesday. Wind still F 6-7 West to Northwest. We had a reefed jib and a very pleasant upright, relatively fast, sail to Titchmarsh Marina. The approach to Titchmarsh marina has an interesting, if not alarming bend, not unlike the approach to Noss Mayo without the leading marks. We had no worries slipping no matter what the weather as Quartette was wedged solidly between the pontoon and the adjacent yacht. The fenders on both boats were judiciously placed so the respective gel coats did not foul each other or the pontoon. The Marina restaurant had failed to get rave reviews so we set off to explore Walton and Frinton just over a mile away. At first we thought that both towns were shut or been abandoned, however when we slowed down to reflect the pace of life there we saw a few people emerge from four ranks of beach huts vaguely reminiscent of hermit crabs. We failed to find any promising hostelries. So we reverted to BSA tried and tested practice to go to the closest one to the boat. In the event the meal at the Marina was quite acceptable.
Wednesday. The wind dropped F5-6 North West. We set sail for Burnham, reversing our zig zag round Stone Point in the Walton Backwater, we made our way over towards the many wind farms which line this part of the coast to find the Wallet Spitway, the break in the sandbanks giving access to Burnham. Despite the strong persistent winds over several days the sea conditions were slight. We hove to for lunch which proved to be our undoing; by the time lunch was over we had lost so much ground there was a serious risk of having a late dinner at Burnham so we changed course for Brightlingsea. A large cat type motorboat passed and came to an abrupt halt on the Brightlingsea creek bar off the river Colne. We heard the conversation he had with the harbour master, over the radio, that he only drew 0.9m. We dropped anchor to wait for more water before attempting our approach, which in hindsight was a good decision. Although we easily cleared the bar there was only 20 cm below the keel where the harbour master directed us to moor. We took the water taxi ashore carrying our remaining supplies of Cobra beer to a ‘bring your own’ South Indian Restaurant “Kovalam” The meal was excellent.
Thursday. The wind was F3-4 variable, mainly northerly. We had a very gentle sail down the Blackwater as far as Stansgate Abbey. The wind was dropping so we picked up a vacant mooring buoy for lunch, before heading for Bradwell marina which had another interesting approach, even at half tide there was only sufficient water the wrong side of the red cans, the green withies were nearly high and dry. A local advised that no dredging was allowed of the short channel connecting river to the marina. The buoyage and chart can no longer be relied upon for a 1.4m draft approach +/_ 3.5 hr HW. When moored in the Marina, on the way to the Green Man pub for dinner we cheated and looked at the channel at LW to see if our exit planning required modification.
Friday. Wind F4 Southerly, good fast sail back to Suffolk Yacht Harbour in almost ideal conditions. We again got a narrow berth. They must have a thing about narrow beams on the East Coast. I have heard unkind comments in the past about the beam of some crew members, but not boats. When we told Bradwell our beam they put us on a hammerhead.
Saturday. Handover. I would like to thank Chris and Ginny for good company and a great sail in poor conditions. I saw many new places, a great adventure. In normal UK prevailing winds you can sail easily on the East Coast in conditions which might have deterred you on the South West Coast and did cause the cancellation of an America’s Cup race in the Solent.