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Cruise to the Coln - 4th to 9th July

Our summer cruise this year was a little shorter than usual but we may be able to compensate for this by fitting in some more cruising later in the year. The map below shows our route. Five of us took part with three boats, one boat being sailed single handed. This was satisfactory given that we had light winds throughout the trip.

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Day 1: We started on Friday morning rather than at the weekend since one of us had to be back befor the end of the following week. We ran out of the Crouch against the flood and since the tide was by then well in we were able to sail inshore over Dengie flats getting a close up view of a coastline we rarely see from much less than two miles offshore since it is usually low tide when we pass this way. We reached the pontoons at WestMersea for a tea break and to visit the chandlery to replace the diaphragm of the bilge pump on one of our wayfarer dinghies then we camped in a rather remote spot at the end of the land between the Blackwater and Salcot creek. It is possible to land here up to about half tide.

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Camping near Old Hall Marshes Photo Mark S.

On beach near Old Hall Marshes Photo Mark S.

Day 2: Our boats were mud bound for most of the morning so we walked ar round Old Hall marshes, now all nature reserve, to get to Tollesbury for lunch. It turned out to be a longish walk in hot sunshine and we were glad to find a choice of pubs when we finally reached the village. The footpath into Tollesbury crosses an old railway embankment. I believe that this short lived railway was built to serve a pier constructed near Tollesbury on the north side of the Blackwater as a ferry terminal for a steam ferry to Holland. This was not a success and the ferry subsequently ran from Harwich. It is still possible to find the remains of the pier and traces of the old railway.  On our return our boats were well afloat so we sailed round Mersea Island to our usual landing at East Mersea Stone. The plan at this point was to join a DCA rally, but as it happened there were no DCA boats either at the Stone or up Pyefleet creek. However, since the HSC members on this cruise were all also DCA members we can count it as a reasonably well attended DCA rally.

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HSC boats at Rowhedge quayside Photo Mark S.

Sunset at Mersea Stone Photo Mark S.

Day 3: We first called in at Brightlingsea to visit the Coln YC for coffee and a wash then we sailed up the Coln. We thought of going right up to Colchester but with the very light wind Rowhedge was as far as we could manage before the tide turned and after a beer on the green by Rowhedge quay it was time to head back to spend a second night at Mersea Stone, again there was no sign of any DCA boats.

Day 4: Mark S. made an early start to sail one of our Wayfarers back to Paglesham single handed, the remaining two boats sailed up the Blackwater. We paused for lunch on the beach at the south side of the Blackwater entrance where there is clean landing right down to low water. The top of the beach is piled with sun bleached sea shells and might perhaps be a place to stop the night. Continuing up the Blackwater we anchored for a tea break near the end of Osea Island then landed near high water in Goldhanger creek. As on previous occasions, members of Goldhanger sailing club noticed our arrival and helpfully allowed us use of the club facilities. We chose the Cricketers for an evening meal.

Day 5: We had an uneventful return to the Crouch, stopping off for an hour or so to buy provisions at Bradwell Waterside (there is a post office and village shop but it is well hidden down a footpath from the lane through the village) and we camped for the night by the woods at Cliff reach on the north side of the Crouch just below Althorne.

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Returning to the Crouch - Left - The sometimes elusive Raysand channel bouy.   Right - Mark and Richard in Meander

Day 6: The weather was now really sunny and we had a long lunch stop at Burnham then an easy sail back to Paglesham. Mark T. and Richard headed home and Josephine and I spent one more night aboard, drying out in the saltings adjacent to Rushley island a couple of miles from Paglesham. On the way there we explored Shallford creek, one creek I had never visited before even though it is less than couple of miles from our base at Paglesham. It is not a particularly exciting creek and one cannot land from it since the banks on both sides are MOD property. The creek used to connect the Roach to the sea south of Foulness but it now terminates at a concrete wall adjacent to the military road onto Foulness. We did notice a colony of half a dozen or so seals in this creek, near the junction with the Middleway creek.

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Dried out at Rushley Island


Broken Rudder!

The rudder of our Wayfarer dinghy Merganser snapped off while club members were sailing up the Crouch one weekend to stay overnight at Wallasea campsite. It was a bit windy at the time but we have sailed our boats in stronger wind than that. I don't quite understand how it happened since it was not due to hitting any obstruction. Indeed it was not just the rudder blade which broke, the rudder stock was split appart at the bottom and metal fittings were twisted and screws wrenched out of the wood. Looking at the bits that were left there did not seem to be any sign of wood rot or other obvious previous defect.  An unfinished wooden part for a new rudder stock was ordered and bosuns Mark and Eric completed the assembly with a spare blade we had in stock to get the boat back in working order as quickly as possible.


Isle of Rona

Although not an HSC event, John and Josephine went on holiday to the Isle of Rona near Skye in Scotland. We were made welome by Bill Cowrie, the only permanent inhabitant of the island, and since Bill would like to see more visitors (perhaps it gets a bit lonely there in the winter) we said we would mention this holiday venue to our sailing friends, hence this paragraph. The island has been purchased by a Danish lady whose intention is to preserve the natural beauty of the place whilst providing facilities for a small number of visitors. Bill manages the island, looking after a couple of holiday cottages which are available for visitors to book, a bothy (like a barn with beds and stove) and some cattle and deer. Visiting sailors are welcome to use the harbour which is sheltered from all wind directions and for a modest fee they may take a shower at Bill's house or spend a night in the bothy. There is a website at ISLE OF RONA BLOG


Barbeque Weekend - 20/21 September

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Cooking for the barbeque - picture from Eric

A fine spread was prepared by Eric, helped by Essin and Mark and was enjoyed by a good turnout of members (15 I think) at the Wallsea campsite. We were lucky with the weather, a fine day and warm evening.

Three boats sailed from Paglesham to the barbeque, our two wayfarers plus a Highlander dinghy sailed (and constructed) by David J. David is the organiser for the east coast DCA rallies and we invited him to come to our barbeque which gave us a chance to talk about possible future meetings, perhaps we could host a DCA rally in our sailing area.  One of our Wayfarers berthed in Wallasea marina, the other two boats anchored in Lion creek right opposite the campsite. This was the first time we have tried that and it worked out fine, a little bit muddy getting ashore but not impossible. The sail to and from Wallasea was very pleasant, stopping for tea at Burnham on Saturday and for dinner at the pub on Foulness on Sunday.


Laying Up - 25 October

Once again our boats are put away for the Winter and we enjoyed a convivial evening in StPeters Hall, Paglesham. Essin brought our main course all the way from a favourite Turkish takeaway in London and Grace provided delicious puddings to follow.


Annual General Meeting - 29 November

Our club made a financial loss this year, the income from subscriptions and sailing fees was simply not enough to meet the steadily rising costs of keeping our boats in commission. Reluctantly we had to consider an increase in subscriptions and after some discussion accepted an increase of £10 in the full membership subscription and £2 in the associate membership subscription. The daily fee for use of boats remains unchanged, perhaps that will encourage our members to make the most of their subscriptions by doing more sailing. The cost of keeping our boats is largely independent of how much those boats are used, hence more sailing would definitely help financially, and anyway it is supposed to be fun! Appart from the financial matters we elected Josephine as a chairperson and Mark as treasurer, Eric having stood down under our 3 year limit. We also made good progress in discussing and agreeing our winter walking program.

Our AGM weekends are also walking and socialising weekends. Saturday was a very wet day but a number of members managed a short forest walk prior to lunch in the pub just down the hill from the Epping Forest Youth Hostel. Sunday was nicer weather and we did a longer walk north from the hostel to Upshire and back. On the way we passed Copped Hall and met the architect who is a key member of the charitable trust which is undertaking a restoration of this Georgian mansion which a few years ago was a burnt out ruin. It looks like an ambitious project, to read more about it see: COPPED HALL TRUST WEBSITE