Suffolk Yacht Harbour Classics, 2023

Suffolk Yacht Harbour Classics, 2023

‘Cachalot’ is 125 years old this year and we’ve invested in some crew kit: t-shirts and caps made by Nathan at ‘Quiller’ in Matlock Bath.

They arrived just in time for the Suffolk Yacht Harbour Classics which we’d entered ‘for real’ this year! Tim and Rik agreed to crew with us for the racing, but we’ll need ‘Dolce Vita’ the ‘mother ship’ as well so there’s room for everyone to sleep (and eat if the weather’s not so good)! Ben entered with ‘Tannhauser’ and four Deben Cherubs went of the river to race for the first time in their long history! As the weekend drew closer, the weather looked a bit marginal for going out of the Deben, especially on the Friday early morning tide. We asked around about the new channel, on the Bawdsey side this year. The general consensus is that it’s good, but there’s a lot of surf . . . 

We departed the Tidemill 1515, Thursday 8, June when there’s enough water over the bar, in company with ‘Dolce Vita’, for a steady motor down to Felixstowe Ferry with staysail up. We arrived 1715 with a strong tide coming in and quite a bit of wind. John had assigned us two buoys on the Ferry side and it was quite hard motoring against wind and tide to pick ours up! Rik provided the water taxi service in his tender and we all enjoyed an excellent welcome and meal at the Ferry Boat Inn. Going back at 2130 it was much calmer, a lovely sunset, calm water lapping under the boat as we looked out to sea at the sandbanks we’ll be crossing tomorrow.

On Friday, the Cherubs sailed down from Waldringfield and were gone before we got up, on the early morning ebb tide. ‘Tannhauser’ had come down with them, but decided to wait until the flood. We chatted with John about the new channel and he escorted the three of us out at 1300, two hours before high water. The wind wasn’t as bad as forecast and we had a good motor-sail down to SYH, arriving at 1630.

There was already a ‘party’ feel around the Marina and some went out to race on Friday evening but we ate in The Lightship and spent an enjoyable evening in the bar. The race briefing was at 0845 Saturday 10 June with two ‘back to back’ races starting at 1040. We got a good start, but failed to get round the course before the cut off time so decided to retire. Same story for the second race, and Sunday . . . three good starts and three DNF! Quite disappointing but two great days out on the water in good conditions with bright sunshine and plenty of beautiful boats for our first serious racing event. Look carefully and you can spot us on several occasions in the official video!

We stayed in Levington on Sunday night and PJ crewed with us back up to the Deben on Monday. 1215 we motored out of the Orwell at low water, putting the sails up at 1330 to motor-sail up the coast against a strong tide, without much wind. Perfect timing for the Deben entrance at 1630 and sailed in. The currents were strong and there’s quite a bit of surf but the new channel seemed easier, a bit less daunting than being so close to the shingle shore and beach huts on the Felixstowe side.

Ended the day with a lovely sail up the Deben in company with ‘Tannhauser’, dropping the sails at The Rocks and treating ourselves to a G&T. Another investment for the anniversary year is a fridge – so there was even chilled tonic!