Friday, 26 May 2017

The "We Didn't Mean To Go To Sea" Cruise

Stargazer rests in Stangate Creek, with the Barnacle Geese, at anchor on a squally 'sunshine & showers' evening. On her saloon bulkhead the barometer rises. A good portent for our first summer cruise from The Medway.

Morning brings a southwesterly force three. Stargazer spreads her wings and rides the northbound ebb out of the London River.

We sneak over the Swin Spitway with a meter under the keel.....

....and romp into the Colne. We are chased by a 30 knot line squall lurking beneath a glowering black cloud. I scramble into waterproofs, but there's no need. The rain rumbles off inland.

 A laughing sun picks out the colours in Pyefleet Creek. We sound in behind the Bawley 'Pioneer' and drop anchor in the lee of West Mersea Island

The breeze backs South Easterly for a broad reach up the Wallet and.....

.......into the River Orwell. Past the spired skyline of Harwich to port.....

.....and the outstretched cranes of Felixstowe to starboard. 

 We're in good company as we wind our way upriver, sails bellied taut in the breeze, bow wave chuckling.

Under a molten sunset, Stargazer drops anchor in the timeless peace of Pin Mill. One time home of Arthur Ransome.

The swirl of the tide and the calls of the Oyster Catchers stir deep held memories. My first cruising forays, aboard Missee Lee (named after Arthur Ransome's book), were from this river. We linger a day.  The wind swings West North West, now perfect for a North Sea crossing.

Night is falling as we slip into Oostende and pick up an unoccupied hammerhead by the glow of our navigation lights.

On the quayside, tall ships muster for the Oostende Vor Anker festival.

There's no time to tarry though - a fair tide awaits to carry us north....

...into the Westerscheldt. In the wake of Arthur Ransome's Swallows and Amazons, aboard 'Goblin' (after which my previous boat was named).They 'Didn't Mean To Go To Sea' - but accidentally cross from Harwich to Vlissingen when Goblin's anchor drags in fog.

Today is perfect sailing weather. a truly memorable passage. Hard on the wind, 18-20 knots of breeze and (a tide assisted) 9-10 knots over the ground. Stargazer barrels past the busy derricks of Zeebrugge and the matelot striped finger of the Nieuwe Sluis light.

We moor in Breskens

It's a short ferry ride over to Vlissingen..

....with its windmill on the harbour wall,

pilots at the ready, deep walled locks,

and bustling bicycles. Landfall of the Goblin.

                                        Stargazer waits patiently on her berth, whilst I indulge myself in a  Ransome inspired reverie ashore. She is ready to discover what the second half of our cruise will bring. Eager to be underway on new adventures of our own.

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