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5/6 May - Mark and Gerald join a  DCA rally on the Medway

mark on susie

Mark S sailing 'Susie' - looks to be nice weather!

Account by Gerald

We had hoped to sail the HSC club boat over to the Medway from Pagleshap but with light winds and a late tide,  further exactabated by a closed Potton bridge, this would have been a poor decision.
 
So I towed my Drascombe Dabber 'Susie' by road to Kent, meeting Mark at Upnor where the Medway yacht club has their base at about 11:30, i couldn't make it any earlier.  We hurriedly rigged and loaded the Dabber, mindfull that the flood was beginning to run - LW had been and gone at 10:57.
 
Bearing in mind the forecast, and a light easterly wind over a strong flood, I had packed a Seagull engine, which I had cleaned and tested at home. It had started 2nd pull and ran untill carb was dry, job a goodun !  But now that we had to get underway to Lower Halstow, I tried to start the motor, but it just didn't want to know!  Desperate to get away, I started to row away from pontoon, whilst Mark continued to flagellate the engine. i had left the starter cord on Cateran,,not good! So we were left with using cordage aboard Susie, which was too long and thicker than ideal. My hands were beginning to get sore, but we had to clear the moorings to stand any chance of making headway under sails. We picked up a mooring to have a rest, the tide runs quite strong, then suddenly the recaltricant engine burst into life, much to my hands relief !
 
We sadly motored most of the way towards Stangate creek, having to heave too to replenish fuel, eventually spotting two other boats at the entrance to Stangate. At last we could hoist sail so the last couple of miles were without the incessant racket from the engine. 'Susie' made good progress under sail, now having all 3 sails drawing well. We arrived at the top of the creek at HW. We tied up to Lower Halstow Yacht Club jetty, unloaded and made camp. All attendees arrived much the same time, Dave Jennings and two other boats ,a wooden Gull MK1 and a Mirror ,which was based at the Wilsonian YC, just downstream of Medwau Yacht Club. All crew were DCA members,which made this a well attended DCA rally.
lower halstow yacht club jetty
 
At Lower Halstow Yacht Club jetty - Gerald's 'Susie' alongside the jetty and to the right of two of the DCA boats
evening at lower halstow
 
 
Lower Halstow at low tide later on the Saturday evening
We had to get up early Sunday morning to get away before the creek dried. With the morning dew it felt quite chill, of course the dew meant no wind,so we rowed / drifted out towards the main river, without a firm plan. We discussed a plan with the Mirror crew. Not wanting to go to Queenborough or fight the ebb up the Swale, I had a look at my OS map and reckoned we could land on Sheerness beach, which we did. The initial landing just outside the old naval base was good and clean, but the town would have been a bit of a walk, so we weighed anchor then landed where the Mirror crew were, between the groynes close to town. A short stroll to get a 2nd breakfast, it seemed a good spot.
 
sheerness 01
 
 'Susie' on the beach on the seaward side of Sheerness
 
We came back around 10:30, dismayed to see our boats grounded, not that would have been a problem, but we were beached surrounded by a boulder field of rocks. We couldn't clear the rocks untill the tide flooded and to make matters worse the Coastguard had come along to find out if we were OK. Sheepishly we confessed we were, just that we didn't expect the rocks to be there. So we had a banter with the Coastguard while waiting for the tide..
 
sheerness 02
 
 Tide has fallen and the beach now looks a bit rocky
 
Eventually got away with no leaks, with a flood tide and following light wind we made good progress up river on a run all the way, landing back around 16:00 for a well deserved cool pint.
 

 

30 March to 2 April - Easter Weekend at Wells-next-the-Sea

wells yha

Wells-next-the-Sea YHA (picture taken in pouring rain!)

Ten HSC members (Geof, Mark S, Mark T, Jo, John, Gerald, Frank,Esin,Barbara and Richard)  spent Easter weeked at Wells-next-the-Sea YHA on the north coast of Norfolk - an excellent turnout for our small but enthusiastic club!  Four of us traveled from the south west of the UK, John and Josephine taking three days over the journey and they did some boating on the way - they stopped at Woodbridge and launched Josephine's sliding seat row boat from the car roof rack for a row down the Deben to Ramsholt arms and back. 

Friday 20 March

Gathering in Wells on Good Friday we took a quick look around the town prior to a fish shop supper. It's a busy little town with quaint narrow streets and lots of little shops and cafes. I had the feeling that it had come a fair way 'up-market' since my last visit which was by sailing dinghy back in the '80s.

Saturday 31 March

Saturday was a thouroughly wet day.but we made the best of it with a walk westwards to Overy Staith, returning by bus - there is a frequent bus service along the north norfolk coast road, even over the bank holiday.  Leaving the hostel we first visited the town quay which is up a creek about a mile inland from the sea, or rather more than that at low tide. The creek actually continues east past the quay then doubles back towards the sea before petering out among extensive salt marshes. Years ago Josephine and I explored the area by sailing dinghy, following this creek at high water to the point at which the width of the creek was the beam of our boat, whereupon we let the boat dry out and put up our boat tent for the night. 

From Wells quayside we followed the path alongside the creek to the point where an extensive sandy beach meets pinewoods that fringe the shoreline.  We stopped here at a large beach cafe that despite the weather was packed full with visitors making the most of a wet bank holiday weekend. Continuing to the west, the well made path follows the pine woods along the coast, then we took the option to cross the sand dunes and continue along the broad sandy beach before turning inland to follow the creek up to Overy Staith, where we found a very busy pub for afternoon tea prior to a bus trip back to Wells. 

wells beach

Looking west along the beach west of Wells,  Scolt Head in the distance

overy staith

 Overy Staith, the end point of our walk on Saturday

Sunday 1st April

Sunday offered a bit better weather. There are basically two good coastal walks you can do from Wells - east and west, so on Sunday we went east.  In this direction the coast path is well inland from the sea, with a wide expanse of saltmarsh between the path and the sea.

norfolk coast path

Typical view on the coast path between Wells and Blakeney - extensive salt marsh to the right of the picture

Coming to the village of Stiffkey, we visited the Maritime Heritage Centre run by the charity Rescue wooden boats.   Alongside the Heritage centre are several workshops carrying out restoration and maintenance of the boats that they are preserving and also doing paid work on traditional wooden boats. The Heritage centre and workshops are housed in several large sheds that date from WW2 when the site was a barracks and gunnery training establishment. We were taken on a guided tour of the workshops which were packed with craft in various stages of restoration together with masses of tools, materials and nautical paraphenalia. The prize exhibit is the 'Lucy Lavers', a wooden motor lifeboat that was completed just in time to take part in the evacuation of troops from Dunkirk in 1940. This former lifeboat is now afloat each summer, taking visitors on pre-booked day trips from Wells.

rwb-01

One of the workshops at 'Rescue Wooden Boats'

rwb 02

Wooden boat builders know that you cant have too many clamps

We lunched at Stiffkey then walked on along the coast path to Blakeney, returning to Wells by bus.

Monday 2nd April

We all left Wells on Monday morning, John, Josephine and Frank taking a look at Castle Rising on the way home. They had lunch in the cafe at Castle Rising village, then found an up-market lady's clothing shop in a large converted barn opposite the cafe - Josephine was fascinated! (pictures below)

castle rising

 The massive keep of Castle Rising

 castle rising shop 01

 And ladies know that you can't have too many hats

 castle.rising shop02

Or too many shoes!

 


 

 

1 January - New year day walk

We enjoyed our traditional new year walk in the Chiltern hills, starting and finishing at Berkhamstead. Leaving Berkhamstead we passed through a tunnel under the town's bypass then followed footpaths south to Bovingdon. We skirted Bovingdon airfield, a sizeable WWII airfield first used by the RAF then handed over to the US Army Air force  - General Eisenhower's personal aircraft operated from here. We noted that to a casual observer the concrete runways still looked in reasonable condition and it seems that the site is now being promoted as a film location and a place to carry out film stunts.  A little beyound the airfield I was puzzled by what looked like several army tanks concealed in a wood, then realised that these were not real tanks but were something to do with a paintball game. 

bovingdon tanaks

 

We found that neither of the two pubs in Bovington was offering food that day, perhaps we should have made enquiries in advance. However, a couple of village general stores were open so we were able to buy some sandwiches then we went back to one of the pubs for a drink and a share of the log fire.

The picture below shows some of us entering the pub and the structure in the foreground is a well house that originally housed a hand pump. 

 bovington well

After lunch we followed footpaths in a north easterly direction from Bovingdon untl we reached the Grand Union canal, then followed the canal towpath back to Berkhamstead.  Thanks due to Geoff for refreshments at each end of our ramble.