East Coast Cruise – the remaining bits

Day 4 – Woolverstone to Woodbridge

Very early in the morning, just before the sunrise we were up and making a breakfast.

Early breakfast on Galion22
Galion 22 in Woolverstone at sunrise
Our destination – Woodbridge, around 20Nm but entrance to river Deben is tricky and also there is very short window to get in to the Woodbridge marina.

Tricky bit is a bar across the river entrance lowering the water clearance and you have to pass it some time before high water if you want reach the marina. It takes about 2 hours motoring up the river, so good time and tide calculation is paramount. Also, what is an invaluable source of details is an East Coast Pilot book.
The river is beautiful with many turns and is very wide in places but shallow, so following it the right way helps to avoid going a ground.

Upper River Deben
At 7 o’clock we were off motoring down the river Orwell. No wind what so ever, so all the way up to the Woodbridge on engine. It took us 5 hours but the day was sunny and hot, so regardless we were pleased to be on the water sunbathing.
On arrival, around half an hour after high water the was a bit of congestion with many boats looking to get in to the marina and not much time left to pass over the lock. The harbour master was expecting one more boat to arrive but it didn’t happened. Later in the day we found out it was one of our fleet who has gone a ground. Yes, the river Deben is a bit challenging if you have no pilot book or local knowledge.

Woodbridge Marina
We had good time over there with nice meal and couple of beers in the evening. Next morning we took a very pleasant walk along the river to the Sutton Hoo, the Viking burial site. It takes an hour each way but was worth it. There is a local bus from Woodbridge running every 30 minutes excluding Wednesdays, interesting why.

Day 5 and 6 – Woodbridge to Fambridge

Initial plan was to stay in Woodbridge for two nights but after time and tide calculations it turned out that we have to leave around noon next day to reach the Fambridge marina on the river Crouch the day after.
So we left heading for Hamford Water instead. It was fairly short passage with wind allowing us to get there on one tack from Woodbridge Heaven. However, wind was pushing us a bit too close to the Landguard Point shallows but I took a risk to pass the Landguard tip very close. At some point we had only 0.3m under the keel, which scared my friend but we made it, saving a bit of time and distance. As it was another sunny day I got some sunburns with my lips suffering the most, last thing I would expect.

It was good decision to split the initial passage and anchor at Hamford. Wind died out over night and water became as a mirror. Quiet and lovely night with stunning sunrise next morning.

Stunning Sunrise

Again, early morning start but I would regret it if someone showed me similar picture as the one above. I felt privileged to see it my self, it was breath taking experience. And that was it, rain started soon after and was with us till Fambridge with very little wind if at all, so 38Nm on engine. Surprisingly, the rain stopped when we moored the boat. Soaked and a bit cold we ran for shower. Now, refreshed and dry again we enjoyed dinner and few pints at the local pub. Another nice place to visit.

Day 7 and 8 – Fambridge to Harty Ferry

In the early afternoon we left Fambridge for the river Roach. On the way we stopped at Essex Marina to refuel and at the Burnham-On-Crouch to restock water and food. Just after 5 o’clock we dropped an anchor.
For the next day we had a great plan: to follow the river Roach, go under the Havengore Bridge, cross the Maplin Sands and off we go straight across Estuary towards The Swale. Easier to plan than to execute. All depends on the weather, tide and the bridge opening time. The last failed to be happening at the right time for us get the right tide and enough water over the Maplin Sands. So, instead we left anchorage just before 07:00 going back to river Crouch and down around S Whitacker. A lot longer passage but at least enough time and water under keel to cross Estuary on right tide.

The weather wasn’t the greatest with light rain and not much wind initially but half way through the rain stopped and wind came making sailing possible. While getting closer to The Swale the same wind brought in heavy clouds and by the time we reached Harty Ferry it was pouring.
Without much hesitation we dropped an anchor and because it was high water, giving easy access to the shore, we jump on our tender and off we went to the Harty Ferry pub.
There was a wedding reception, so we had to wait 3 hours to be served some meals. Well, what else could we do than have few pints. Practically, we spent there 5 hours. First, it was meal and second we needed tide to get back on board.
All would be good if not the often heavy showers and an increasing wind speed. This added some unpleasant waves and bearing in mind we were sitting at the anchor, the boat was swinging, rolling and jumping in a howling wind. We barely slept checking our position over night. In the morning we found out that no one slept well and not every one held its position. One boat from our fleet dragged the anchor so they landed on a wreck.

Harty Ferry
Fortunately no damages to the boat and not a ‘broken nail’ for the crew.

Day 9 – Harty Ferry to Queenborough
After difficult night when the tide gone higher, the stranded boat was back afloat. It was time to move on toward the Queenborough. On our way a lifting bridge (how exciting), being open every 2 hours and a point where the tide changes its direction. Following narrow channel we passed under the bridge just in time. It was open only for 5 minutes!
As the distance to cover was fairly small we were moored at a concrete barge, Queenborough soon after. It will be our last night here.

Day 10 – Back to GYC
So, the last few hours of our East Coast cruise. The weather much better then last night and the one we had on day one. Wind rather slow, not strong enough to sail but around Tilbury some odd gusts and a bit more wind. This actually helped us arrive at the club one hour before high water.
Good, enough time to unload the boat and park it at our usual trot mooring.

I have to admit, it was my first time sailing along East Coast of Britain and first time with my friend on this boat. I didn’t expect anything special but it was truly great adventure with great people. We had fantastic time and learned a lot. I can’t wait for the next year.

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