Well, it has taken an age to get around to updating this blog. The trip to Brightlingsea was fantastic. We had rather stronger winds than we would have liked, F4 to F5 and sustained gusts of F6. Alex was wonderful, she felt safe and took our fumblings in her stride. Check out the video page for a silly film of the trip.
The trip down the R. Blackwater was straightforward. A bit lumpy at times and, with the undercurrent of nervousness, seemed to fly by. However, getting into Brightlingsea Creek was almost a disaster. We had a good 1.5m swell following us up the Colne and, getting abeam of the creek we totally misread the navigation markers. On board Alex we have the East Coast Pilot, East Coast Rivers, Imray charts of the Blackwater and the Colne, a Chart Plotter and not one but two iPhones running the Navionics charts for the area. AND WE STILL GOT IT WRONG! We sailed happily past the first marker, the one (if you know the area) with the tidal heights marked on it, happily past the cardinal mark and then turned hard to stbd, passing the cardinal on our stbd side. Big mistake, within moments the depth sounder alarm went off and I stared horrified at the decreasing depths. At one point we got down to 0.3ms. Our keels must have been leaving a nice furrow along the river bed at that point. Jamie asked what he should do and I shouted back ‘turn to port’ (which would have taken us into even shallower water) when from astern we heard a shout, the footferry skipper was coming up behind us gesticulating wildly that we should turn to stbd. We did so and the depth sounder quickly showed a much more respectable 1m, 1.5m, 1.8m and so on. Had it not been for that ferry skipper, we would have spent the night on that lee shore being buffetted by really large waves. Not nice.
Upon recovering our composure and getting up to Brightlingsea harbour the very helpful HM met us and showed us to our berth for the night. We went ashore, sunk several pints of bitter and ate a huge portion of sausage and chips. Lovely.
And then we had a good nights sleep. Well no, not really. To start, I had not secured the rudder tiller. It decided to wait until I was snug in my sleeping bag before it started banging about the cockpit. Then the halyards thought they would join in at some god forsaken hour. All in all I managed to nod off between 03:30 and 06:00. Still a fry up soon put a smile back on our faces as did the glorious sunrise.
We had a choppy but fun ride out of the R. Colne and a stiff beat up the Blackwater, arriving back home at slack water.
Can’t wait to do it again, maybe just a bit further next time. Jester Challenge, here I come…