Sunday, 9 August 2015

ECC Part II: The Swale and the River Medway

This is the second of three posts covering the 2015 East Coast Cruise.  The first part is here.  The third part will appear in due course.  This post covers our time in The Swale and River Medway, 3-6 August.

The Swale
Conditions for our two days in The Swale were not ideal, with stronger gusting winds, particularly on the second day in the area with F6 and occasional F7 blasts coming over, matching predictions from the inshore waters forecast.  We were heartily pleased not to be making our trip across the Thames Estuary in such conditions.
On our first day, I took the opportunity to refill water bottles using a remarkable fresh water spring on the south shore at Harty Ferry.  We then used the flood tide to sail up Faversham Creek to its namesake town where a welcome pub served us and we made use of the local supermarket for both food and fuel.
Distant Drascombes anchored at Harty Ferry
Daisy II at low water, grounded at Harty Ferry.  There is a handy fresh water spring which was well used in restocking the ship's water supply.
Looking NE from Harty Ferry
Conditions in The Swale were becoming gustier, and we decided to aim for the shelter of creeks.  Here we are, moored for lunch at the town quay at Faversham
Unfortunately, The Albion pub in Faversham wouldn't serve us, despite having phoned through beforehand and us arriving in good time.  We found a much friendlier place in town serving very fine food.
Silent departure from Faversham
Ghosting past moored boats with the ebb
Back in The Swale, conditions had not abated and we had a hard beat under jib and mizzen against the ebb, aiming for anchorage in the South Deep in the shelter of Fowley Island
Some of the local fare from Faversham, home of the Shepherd Neame brewery
Sunset in the South Deep
Winds the following day were even stronger and, following a lazy morning at anchor, with strengthening gusts blowing over, we decided to slip into Conyer Creek, finding berths at the Swale Marina which was delightfully welcoming.  Afternoon tea, showers and pub grub represented a much needed return to 'civilisation' prior to further adventures ahead!
A gusty day, still at anchor in South Deep, resulted in various water sports.  Swimming featured strongly, including your author!  Here, we have the skipper of Valentine using his swim for some hull cleaning!
Meanwhile, in almost biblical manner, we have two skippers wading the deep...
And the skipper of Ultreia uses his inflatable tender to visit some of the other boats
After several hours at anchor in South Deep, the decision was made to seek shelter in the Swale Marina which was very welcoming - well worth a visit.
Berths in Swale Marina
Passage to the River Medway
Early the following morning, we took advantage of a better forecast to make passage through Kingsferry Bridge to Queenborough and the River Medway.
Drascombe Caravan...?!

Motoring along The Swale towards Kingsferry Bridge
The bridge represented the initial 'hurdle' and the bridge keeper was concerned about raising the bridge during morning rush hour.  In the event, with the skipper of Mellon leading the way, it transpired at this state of half-tide, there was sufficient head room for our boats to pass beneath the bridge with masts raised - but only just!
Passing under the unraised Kingsferry Bridge was 'touch and go'!
With tangible relief, Drascombes sample waters beyond Kingsferry
Mobile Drascombe raft
Temporary mooring at Queenborough
At Queenborough, we used the all-tide hammerhead jetty to venture ashore, and plan a trip up the Medway for the remainder of the day.

Coaster Mellon's transom mounted twin rudders.  More can be read about this intriguing modification in the Rudders for shallows thread on the Drascombe Association forum
Upnor Castle
Valentine passing by Rochester

A remarkable thing, finding a Russian submarine rusting in front of the limit of our navigation, Rochester Bridge.

I need to work out how to right this picture of Mellon.  It does strange things sometimes, this blogger site...
Following our sail upstream, we retired to the lea of Hoo Island, drying out for the night.
Panoramic sunset off Hoo Island
How lucky were we not to dry out with our noses in that creek?!
Zandloper high and dry!
Meanwhile, Mellon contemplates a night at some gradient (but actually managed to avoid this eventually, by use of oars and some levering...)
Valentine high and dry!
The following day, we sailed back down the river and sampled the delights of Stangate Creek, eventually working our way as far as Halstow Creek and the barge quay at Lower Halstow where we had another pub meal!
Swimming in Sharfleet Creek while we waited for the tide
Visits to all the anchored boats!
A fantastic beat up to Lower Halstow, reaching the barge quay with handy access to the pub!
Following the pub meal, a relaxing run back to the evening anchorage in Sharfleet Creek

Zandlopper snapped!
Anchorage in Sharfleet Creek
The third instalment of this report will follow!

This part of the cruise featuring:
Coasters: Daisy II, Valentine, Ultreia, Zandloper, Mellon

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