|Daisy II cruising into the evening sun, coaster Valentine ahead together with the imposing nuclear power station at Bradwell|
|Another picture, this time taken from Valentine, of Daisy II cruising into the sun on the first day.|
|Overall: 123nm; Season's total 600.9nm|
Departure from Pin Mill at 10.30am, taking the last of the ebb out of the Orwell, and picking up the flood as Daisy II rounded the Naze Tower and sailed down The Wallet. Winds were variable but generally northerly, and light in the morning, turning south easterly in the afternoon. I used the engine to speed up the process of reaching the Naze Tower, but sailed the remaining distance.
|I never cease to be amazed by the size of these container ships at Felixstowe|
|Never easy to capture with my 'point and shoot' camera, but I have always enjoyed the patterns made by these offshore windfarms. This is the array on the Gunfleet Sands, opposite Clacton on Sea.|
|Images of coaster Valentine|
After an enjoyable reach up the Blackwater, Valentine retired to West Mersea, and I sought anchorage for the night off the north shore of Osea Island.
|Day 1: Orwell to the Blackwater, 34.8nm|
It made sense to use the tides. I used the morning ebb, in light winds, up to Stone Point off the east side of Mersea Island, where I anchored for lunch. Subsequently, I took the flood up the Colne to Wivenhoe and Rowhedge, before sailing back down the Colne, into the estuary and ending up anchored just west of Bradwell on the south side of the River Blackwater. Winds were SW, reaching an F4 peak around 2pm, but generally light F3.
|Distant Drascombe Drifter from West Mersea|
|Approach to Wivenhoe|
|Lugger 'The Old Blugger' perched on mudbanks at Rowhedge|
|Gunfleet Sands wind farm has that sinking look from behind Brightlingsea|
|Day 2: Blackwater and Colne; 32.5nm|
The last full day gave an opportunity to enjoy sailing in the River Blackwater. I also wanted to stop at West Mersea over lunch (low tide).
I began by beating west, originally with the intention of reaching Maldon. Winds were too light, though, to achieve this, and I had set off too late (6am!). So I settled on the much reduced target of Goldhanger Creek, where I saw two boats whose lately deceased owners and creators have been a huge inspiration.
John Sheldrake's much modified Dracombe Driver Mantra is now moored here. John was a great Drascombe modifier, and had loads of ideas about how to make these boats sail more effectively. He was also a thoroughly pleasant chap, and supported one of my early rallies at Hickling Broad in 2010. It was so sad that he lost his life earlier this year.
|Boats at Goldhanger Creek, including Mantra, the former Drascombe Driver heavily modified by the much-missed John Sheldrake.|
|Shoal Waters, the late Charles Stock's widely travelled pocket cruiser, now moored at Goldhanger Creek.|
|Drascombes at Stone Sailing Club|
|Drascombe coaster, Maid of Stone|
|Daisy II briefly beached off Stone Sailing Club, St Lawrence Bay|
|Daisy II washed-up at West Mersea|
|Moonstone IX, a Bay Cruiser 23|
|Is this the world's ugliest-looking craft?|
Following the trip, the new owner of Valentine sent me some pictures of Daisy II:
|Images of Daisy II taken by the skipper of Valentine|
Finally, it was time for me to retire to my planned evening anchorage off Stone Point, poised for the return trip to home waters.
|Day 3: West Mersea; 29.9nm|
The return trip was every bit the exhilarating sail I had hoped for, up until I had, for the sake of time, to resort to engine east of the Naze Tower. I woke up to fresher, NW F5 winds. I hauled in the anchor at around 7.15am and, with reefed jib and double reefed main, cruised down the Colne and around Colne Point, and then east along the coast. Under much reduced canvas, in the gusts, I was reaching speeds well in excess of 6 knots. As the coast veered towards the north, winds moved onto the nose, but also diminished slightly in intensity. I hove too opposite the Ro Mast between Holland-on-Sea and Frinton-on-Sea to shake out a reef, pull out the mizzen, and for various refreshments. Once clear of the Naze tower, I faced the prospect of winds on the nose in mounting seas, and a commitment to make it back home in time to visit London in the evening. So, I switched on the motor and worked my way back to the mooring.
|Day 4: return to the Orwell; 25.3nm|