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Bank holiday weekend - 25 to 27 August

This bank holiday the two HSC Wayfarers sailed north to the Blackwater to meet up with the East coast group of the Dinghy Cruising Association. We left Paglesham about 10am with the last of the ebb and had an easy and sunny sail to Bradwell. The tide was flooding by the time we crossed the Ray Sand. We were not quite sure about the exact details of the DCA plan for the weekend but a few minutes after we pulled into Bradwell hard we spotted Peter Small, the DCA organiser, arriving by car with his Wayfarer on a trailer. Peter fixed up berths for our boats in the marina even though it was supposed to be full. Even more miraculous he found us a spot where we were allowed to put up a couple of small tents, something we never achieved on previous visits to Bradwell. By evening about four more DCA boats had arrived and about 10 of us enjoyed a meal together in the Green Man.

Sunday morning dawned grey and looking like it was about to rain. We were just a little tiny bit shocked when Peter Bick, ex president of the DCA, arrived in his outboard powered fibreglass speedboat - (must say no more, Peter does such a good job of producing the DCA magazine!). But I think it is true to say that the two HSC boats were the only boats in the combined fleet without some kind of motor. One of the boats had an electric auxiliary which despite being connected to a large battery ran out of juice halfway through the weekend. This seemed a nice quite kind of motor and apparently it could give 30lbs of thrust but the owner admitted that he might not have chosen it had it not come with the boat.  Anyway, after breakfast one boat sailed to Brightlingsea to make an appointment on a golf course, the others set off for West Mersea, the destination agreed in the pub the previous evening. The engine equipped boats motored into Mersea creek and did arrive a little ahead of the HSC Wayfarers. We used one boat to ferry everyone ashore, the others remaining tied to a visitors bouy. The sky darkened, motor cars switched on their lights and the rain poured down. The whole party headed straight for the bar of the West Mersea Yacht Club where we stayed about 2 hours or until the rain started to ease off. Next stop was Goldhanger creek where, thanks to Peter Small's organisation, Clive, the secretary of the Goldhanger Sailing Club was standing on the sea wall waiting for us to arrive so that he could open up the club compound for us to set up our tents. Thank you Clive and GSC, with the rain about to start again it was wonderful to have such a friendly and helpful reception. The evening was spent in one of the two pubs in Goldhanger.

On Monday morning Clive was again on hand as we loaded and got underway. We had a very quick sail back to Paglesham, force 2 to 3 northerly with warm sunshine is hard to beat for this passage. Richard and Len in one wayfarer continued on up the Crouch to extend the trip by a day or so, myself and Josephine took the other boat directly back to Paglesham.


Annual Cruise - 17 to 21 September

This year we left our cruise till late in the season. We knew we were taking a chance with the weather and sure enough we were confronted with heavy rain and a forecast for force 8 gales. Despite this four of us still wanted to go cruising but starting from Paglesham was not an attractive prospect. We could probably have managed some sailing on the Crouch and Roach but I think we would have ended up wet and bedragled. We stayed at home until the Tuesday of the alloted week then decided to go to the Norfolk Broards where sailing should be possible in almost any weather. We took my 15 foot dinghy on its road trailer and intended to hire another boat to make space for our party of four. We arrived in Norfolk after dark and found a campsite near Martham. It rained all night and although our tents did not leak we found in the morning that they were splattered in mud where the rain had bounced up off the soggy muddy ground.  The first boatyard we tried for boat hire refused to let us take a boat out on account of the dodgy weather forcast but we had more luck when we tried Hunters boat yard at Ludham who were most helpfull despite the short notice. The boat we hired was a nice one, a carvel built 20 foot lug sail boat with a fixed ballast keel quite recently built by Hunters yard from iroko on oak. The boat is shown below with two of us sailing it gently on the sheltered waters of South Walsham Broad.

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This type of boat hardly tilts when you step on the gunwhale, quite different to the dinghies we are used to. Having a good size sail it glided along nicely once it got going but you had to think ahead about stopping. Although I think that most hirers would take this boat out only for a day trip the boatyard are quite happy for hirers to camp on board and the heavy canvas cover which fits over the boom and gaff makes a fine camping awning with sleeping space on the broard flat planked floor of the boat. We had a modest cruise from Ludham to South Walsham Broard, Ranworth, Horning and back to Ludham. The first day was pretty wet but after that we had some sunshine and the wind eased off.

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Our two boats tied up near the entrance to the main part of Ranworth Broad, now a nature reserve and closed to boats. From the staging here you can walk a few yards to the nature reserve visitors centre.

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Christina and Josephine sailing back along the Bure towards the end of our short cruise.

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In Thurne dyke, our last overnight stop before returning to the boatyard at Ludham

On arrival back at Ludham we found that there was a party to celebrate the 75 years existance of Hunters boatyard. This boatyard is now a charitable trust set up to preserve a fleet of traditional sailing hire boats many of which date from the 1930s. The trust makes these boats available for educational purposes as well as for private hirers such as ourselves. We shared a large birthday cake with the freinds of the trust, many of which had dressed 1930's style for the occasion. Then we drove to Winterton, a coastal village a few miles away, for a walk along the beach  and back through the sand dunes and after that we headed home.

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Beach at Winterton


Laying up - 3 November

A few photos sent in by Richard Farr:

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Meander ashore in Paglesham boatyard.

At that stage we had not realised that there was gallons and gallons of water in the forward bouyancy compartment - no wonder it was such hard work manhandling the boat into its winter storage location!

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For the last few years we have been grateful to a local land owner for providing winter storage for our boats

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We had to do some gardening to make a place for the boats

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We did stop for lunch at the Plough and Sail

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Laying tables for our fitting out supper in St Peter's Hall

After the work was done we held our fitting out supper in Paglesham Village Hall (St Peter's Hall). After the supper a slide show, one member had slides of an adventurous walking holiday in Bulgaria, another of a holiday on the southern irish coast aboard the new square rigger operated by the Sail Training Assocition.


AGM Weekend - Castle Headingham - 1/2 December

The minutes of our AGM will be reported elsewhere but as a summary and leaving out the appointment/reappointment of committee members etc:

Eight of us stayed over night at the hostel and in the morning we took the opportunity to visit the Hedingham castle a few hundred yards up the hill from the hostel. The castle would normally be closed this time of the year but it happened that this weekend it was open for a special Elizabethan Yuletide weekend, one of about 10 special events held at the Headingham castle each year. Other special events include jousting weekends, a seige reenactment etc., they all sound fun - see HEDINGHAM CASTLE WEBSITE. The Yuletide weekend featured live medival music, lute, hurdygurdy, the opportunity to chat with an armour maker, a bow maker, caligrapher with quill pens, a knight of the order of St John, weavers and others, all dressed in period costume and acting their parts. We spent all morning in the Castle and still did not get to look at the grounds and gardens. We then lunched at Claire, a pretty tourist attraction village just over the River Stour into Suffolk. After lunch we realised it would be getting dark in an hour or so hence we had just a short walk around the village taking in the castle ruins, the disused railway station and railway line which runs along the river bank and the still active priory. Claire castle is much more dilapidated than the one at Headingham but similarly positioned on a high mound. 

Photo showing three of us at the Castle Hedingham village sign headinghamsign
From the castle brochure hedinghambroch01hedinghambroch02
Elizabethan instruments demonstrated at Hedingham Castle hurdygurdy
Clair village, Essex. View from the castle ruins. claire