OGA60: Jubilee Cruise

OGA60: Jubilee Cruise

Once again, we were thwarted in attempts to take part in the whole East Coast Cruise!

This year, the plan was to cruise south, ending up at Chatham Dockyard. We signed up and even had confirmed crew for the whole trip! After the stormy weekend, the forecast had improved considerably with westerly force 3-4 on Monday, 7 August . We departed our Suffolk Yacht Harbour berth at 1215, accompanied by new crewman Mark, who we met in Oban assuming him to be Irish since his boat’s kept in Carrikfergus, N Ireland. Turns out he lives just down the road in Derbyshire! We set out for the Passage Race to Stone Point, crossing the start line at 1258 for a short course Collimer (S), Shotley Spit (P), Harwich Shelf (S), Pye End (S) and self-timed finish bearing 225 off Walton no. 2 buoy. We had a most enjoyable run down with the other Gaffers joining the cruise, anchoring at 1530 and going ashore for supper and beers.

Tuesday morning dawned with a good forecast for sailing south to West Mersea and we raised the anchor at 0905. Motoring out, taking care to stay in the narrow channel on the falling tide, Steve was on the helm . . . and we hit the mud! Despite efforts by ‘Tempus’ to pull us off we were well and truly stuck and watched as the rest of the fleet set sail in the distance. Mark rowed out in the dinghy with the anchor on a line and we waited as the tide receded. Thankyou, Ben, for the photo!

With low water at 1048, we knew there wasn’t a long wait to be afloat again but, as we were thinking about what to do, James sailed back in, having turned back at Medusa. According to the WhatsApp message board, several others were turning back or motoring close to shore . . . the wind had picked up and the sail wasn’t as pleasant as the earlier forecast had promised. West Mersea was no longer an option for us anyway so we considered Shotley, Titchmarsh and Halfpenny Pier. A call to Halfpenny Pier confirmed there was no room and Titchmarsh is a bit boring so we set sail for Shotley which would leave options open for tomorrow. Arriving at Shotley in pouring rain we priced up a taxi to West Mersea. At £140 for the return, joining the Gaffers for a chilli wasn’t an option so we had supper at the Bristol Arms.

With sunshine and light winds on Wednesday, the tides were good for a sail up the Stour, back into Harwich Harbour then up the coast on a long broad reach to Woodbridge Haven. With high water at 1823 we sailed into the Deben with a southerly force 3-4 at 1600, perfect! Calling to ‘Miss Molly II’, another from the Gaffer fleet, we discovered she was heading for the Maybush at Waldringfield where we met up for supper after toasting the Jubilee Race with Dartmouth Gin! There was talk of going up to Orford Ness, but the weather over the weekend didn’t look promising so we sailed to Bawdsey, took the foot ferry ashore for lunch then back to Felixstowe Ferry to watch the boats, sailing back up to the Tidemill at 1715 to arrive back in our berth at suppertime. And so ends the East Coast Cruise, 2023 for us.