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Tour 2003


October trip in Straight Across from Ipswich to Hurley

Friday 3rd October 2003

Ian Clarke came round to Neil's at about 17.00 and we then took the tube from Hillingdon to Liverpool Street. Neil was travelling light, seeing as Ian had already taken his baggage to the boat on his last weekend trip to Straight Across, presently berthed in Ipswich Marina. We got the faster Anglia train from Liverpool Street to Ipswich, which left in 5 minutes after our arrival, but this was delayed by about 15 mins, seeing as the train before had been cancelled! 
We arrived at Ipswich at around 20.00 and legged it to the marina, about 15 mins. After settling in Ian went to get the pre-ordered Indian takeaway. John Chapman was to meet with us in the morning, seeing as if the weather was suitable, it would not be an early start. 
The initial plan was to go down the Orwell, Shotley Point, up the Stour to Mistley Point, then back to Shotley Marina for the night, ready for the first sea passage round Walton-On-The-Naze and into the Colne, probably stopping at Brightlingsea.

Saturday 4th October 2003

Ian was not happy with the weather, so we decided to take advantage of John's car being about (he and Pat had been visiting his sister in Ipswich) and do a reccy, to see the sea conditions for ourselves. Firstly we went into town, seeing as Neil had forgotten his camera memory cards!
We also had a look at Consantine Weir on the tidal River Gipping, where Chris Coburn got NB progress stuck. After lunch we firstly went to Landguard Point, beyond Felixstowe Docks, the mouth of the Orwell / Stour. The winds were Force 5-6 NW, so it was a bit choppy in Harwich Harbour, but it seemed fairly calm in the lee of the land looking up to Felixstowe town. We also went to Felixstowe Ferry and looked at the mouth of the Deben.
Next we went to Point Clear, opposite Brightlingsea on the Colne and looked across to Brightlingsea Marina. Here you have to take a buoy or moor to pontoons in the centre of the river. It is then a tender of ferry service to the shore. The conditions off shore from here did not look too bad seeing as the predicted winds had died down.
Next we looked at the fascinating little haven at St Osyth, which for most of the day dries out. From here we went back along the exposed coast, looking out at the sea from Clacton, upmarket Frinton, and then Walton. Ian and John went into the Walton-On-The Naze coastguard station to complain about the pessimistic forecast, seeing as from what we had see, it would have been OK to go round to Brightlingsea sea that day.
It was a long drive back again, passing Manningtree we saw the fixed EA sluice that cuts off the Stour Navigation. We then decided to go down to Shotley Point and have a meal in the "Shipwreck" pub, part of the marina complex. Rather calm views from here across Harwich Harbour.

Sunday 5th October 2003

With weather predicted to deteriorate Ian had decided to "go for it" that morning, if the weather was OK coming into the Colne, then we would carry on through Wallet Spitway, skirt round Maplin Sands and up the Thames Estuary as far as Erith, where we would pick up a visitors buoy at Erith Yacht Club, to wait for the morning flood up through London the next day.
John Chapman arrived around 10.00 and by 11.00 it was the point of no return, Pat left for home and we trundled down towards the dock lock. A small tug nipped in front of us and clung to the rough old right hand wall of the lock, while Straight Across went for the far section of the floating pontoon that goes up and down in the lock. After a fair wait for about 4 yachts and motor cruiser we were locked down onto the Orwell. 
So at 11.30 we were off. Most of the commercial activity at Ipswich is below the wet dock, on the riverside. The Dutch tug soon overtook us, but most of the yachts lagged behind, seeing as they had to stop to put up sails. It was with some interest that Ian spotted an old Ramsom boat "Nancy Blackett", sailing upstream from Felixstowe Docks.
 It was a bit bumpy going across the harbour, but being stern on not that dramatic. So out into the sea (13.15) and across the bay to Walton-On-The-Naze. 
Going across the entrance to Hamford Water it got slightly uncomfortable, seeing as it was wind over tide, beam on, Straight Across certainly does like to roll! Once in the lee of The Naze it got more comfortable. It is deep fairly close to the coast along the next stretch, so we could hug the coast and get protection. The wind by this time had moved round from the NW to the W, around Force 4 - 5. 
Once at the Colne / Blackwater (15.00) Ian decided to go for it, seeing as the wind was meant to be increasing later that night. It certainly was interesting going "straight across" for the Wallet Spitway buoy. At a couple of points Ian had to brace himself with one foot stopping the wayward fridge from exiting it's enclosure in the cockpit. 
At this point Neil found his sea legs and attempted a brew up on the Taylors Stove. Successful ignition, going through the palaver of filling the paraffin tank, pumping it up, pouring meths in the pre-ignition tray below the burner, then coaxing the pressurised paraffin to burn correctly. All went well apart from the box of eggs flying out of the cupboard. This then went straight overboard, before much of a mess needed cleaning up. 
By the time tea was made we were at the Wallet Spitway buoy and things calmed down a bit. At this point we past close by to Thames Barge Gladys, inbound for the Blackwater, not under sail, but making rather easy work. Unbelievable clear evening as we steamed up the Thames Estuary, protected by the Maplin Sands to start with, but then getting a fair sea bow on. 
The clarity caused some weird visual effects. Trees on land seemed to float above the horizon, as did the forts out in the estuary. The curvature of the earth hid the bottom of passing ships, which were just visible as bits of superstructure moving along.
Shoebury was past at 17.00, at which point the fading light meant that pictures were impossible. Several very blurred shots of Southend were then taken. 
Not much commercial activity at close quarters, apart from the steamer Balmoral returning to London. Just as well, seeing as picking out navigation buoys / markers is not easy with all the light pollution from the many berths and industry around here. A modern cruise clipper was moored at Tilbury, rather impressive sight. 
Finally at 23.30 we rounded Crayford Ness, wrong side after checking with Woolwich for any traffic, to catch the second spare of the Erith Yacht Clubs mooring buoys. Ian had asked permission earlier to use one of these overnight. This was just as the rain started, so we only got marginally wet. 
After putting on the cockpit awnings it was straight inside to a joint Neil / Ian prepared steak, sauté potatoes and green bean rather late meal. The red wine then started flowing and I don't know what time we went to bed..................other than we had to be up at first light, around 06.30. Even though the wind was howling and banging the rigging and the ebb tide rattled on the planks, only a couple of inches from our ears, we crashed out immediately.

Monday 6th October 2003

It was indeed up at 06.30, seeing as we had to swing the mast down. Eventually we set off at 07.20, the Thames now well in flood. Another very overcast, but bright and clear morning. It was bottom of Neaps and Woolwich Radio was saying that the flood was so far a metre below prediction, so a very sedate trip up. No nasty tidal effects below Tower Bridge. 
The catamaran trip boats behaved themselves, a couple actually slowing down! There is now bridge works at Westminster Bridge and you are meant to ask for permission. Due to the arch we had to use a VERY close passage to the Palace of Westminster could have ensued! 
A detour was taken up Brentford Gut to drop John Chapman off at Thames Lock. Anna had just locked out a couple of narrow boats, bound for Teddington, so we must have our timings right to get through Richmond half tide weir. We trickled up to Teddington, not overtaking the pair of narrowboats until just before Richmond Weir (11.30).........which was still down! 
This must have been due to the tide being below prediction. After a wait of 5 minutes the river was level with the tideway and the barriers went down. A rather impatient narrow boat (who shall remain nameless, other than it rhymed with Ramrod) and was built by the Rusty Dustbin narrowboat manufactory) who had been waiting by the lock reversed out, narrowly missing the pair of just arrived narrow boats and heading straight for the stern of Straight Across. Ian obviously made a drama out of this after a burst of astern soon got him out of harms way  ;-)
After bombing up to Teddington we had the waiting lock to our selves and so ended the first big out of Straight Across, since being in Clarke family ownership, some 40 odd years on!!!
We stopped for the night at the new Staines visitor moorings (16.00), just before the bridge. Ian popped out to Waitrose for yet more steak, Neil played with spuds and the Taylors and another good meal ensued.

Tuesday 7th October 2003

We started off at 08.45, rather a lot of noise in the car park above, seeing as some filming was going on. As expected quiet run up to Hurley, some lockies had to be woken from their slumber. Bacon and egg sarnies on the move - Neil was really getting into Taylors stove operation. 
We arrived back at Freebody's at 14.30. Not much of a clear up, seeing as the taxi arrived pretty soon, to take us both back to Hillingdon, for Ian to pick up his car and Neil for home.

Three Jolly Sailors.

Constantine Weir. Tidal limit of the River Gipping in Ipswich. You can see by the marks on the sheet plies how far Spring tides will rise over the weir crest.

Constantine Weir. Tidal limit of the River Gipping in Ipswich.

Constantine Weir. There is a lower weir a bit below. River Gipping in Ipswich.

River Gipping above Constantine Weir. Ipswich.

Three Jolly Sailors.

Ipswich Wet Dock, the end of which has been turned into Ipswich Haven Marina. Still owned and managed by ABP.

Walk up from Felixstowe Docks to Landguard Point.

Radar tower on Landguard Point.

Looking back from Landguard Point to Felixstowe Docks.

Looking across to The Naze from Landguard Point.

Looking up the coast at Felixstowe beach from Landguard Point.

Looking across to Harwich and Shotley Point from Landguard Point.

Harwich Harbourmaster boat coming in at high speed.

Felixstowe Docks.

What you don't want to meet coming out of Harwich!.................the high speed cat. (Photo Ian Clarke)

Looking across the Colne / Blackwater to Bradwell Nuclear Power Station.

Clear Point, looking across to Mersea Island.

Looking across to Brightlingsea from Clear Point.


The Ferry Boat Inn at Clear Point.

St Osyth.

St Osyth.


Looking across to Harwich from Shotley Marina.

Looking across to Harwich from Shotley Marina. The vessels are Trinity House support vessel and lightship under repair.

Looking across to Felixstowe Docks from Shotley Marina.

Shotley Marina.

The Shipwreck pub at Shotley Marina.

The custom house in Ipswich Wet Dock. Now ABP offices.

The end of Ipswich Wet Dock.

Straight Across in all her masted glory.

Approaching the entrance lock to Ipswich Wet Dock.

A tug whips in front of us at the entrance lock.

John Chapman and Ian Clarke on the floating pontoon in the Wet Dock Entrance Lock.

Looking back at the Wet Dock from the entrance lock. The first of the sailing boats arrive.

The masses entrance from the lock. Ipswich.

Looking back at the River Gipping and Wet Dock. Ipswich.

Ipswich. River Orwell.

Ipswich. River Orwell.

One of the "Hoo" coasters that we have seen all over the place. Ipswich. River Orwell.

Fox's Marina Ipswich. River Orwell.

A 45 Viaduct. River Orwell.

Looking back at the last view of Ipswich. River Orwell.

A 45 Viaduct. River Orwell.

Looking back at the A 45 Viaduct. River Orwell.

Looking back at the A 45 Viaduct. River Orwell.

Looking back at Woolverstone Marina. River Orwell.

Pin Mill. The building is the famous Butt & Oyster Inn. River Orwell.

Barges at Pin Mill. River Orwell.

A Fisher. According to Ian a rather RTBC motor sailer.

Suffolk Yacht Harbour. Levington. River Orwell.

Coming round Collimer Point. River Orwell.

"Nancy Blackett" an Arthur Ransom boat.

Felixstowe Docks on the left. Harwich Harbour.

Felixstowe Docks. Harwich Harbour.

Shotley Point Marina. Harwich Harbour.

Looking up the River Stour. Shotley Point Marina to the right. Harwich Harbour.

Felixstowe Docks. Harwich Harbour.

Looking up the River Stour. Shotley Point Marina to the right. Harwich Harbour.

Harwich. Harwich Harbour.

Heading down Harwich Harbour.

Exiting Harwich Harbour.

Looking back as we exit Harwich Harbour.

Looking across to Landguard Point as we exit Harwich Harbour.

Looking back to Felixstowe.

Looking back at Felixstowe Docks.

Looking across to Hamford water, entrance to Walton Backwaters.

Approaching The Naze.

Approaching The Naze.

The Naze.

Looking back to Felixstowe.

The Naze tower.

Walton-On-The-Naze. The building by the tower is the Coastguard Station.

Approaching Walton-On-The-Naze pier.

Walton-On-The-Naze pier. After this point we were on lobster pot buoy lookout.

Looking down towards Frinton.

Looking back at Walton-On-The-Naze pier.


Thames sailing barge.

Approaching Clacton.

Clacton pier.


Clacton pier.

Colne Point to the right. Bradwell Nuclear Power Station in the distance.

Looking back at the Wallet Spitway buoy and our beam on passage across the mouth of the Colne.

Thames sailing barge "Gladys" that we seem to meet everywhere on the East Coast and Thames Esturary.

Thames sailing barge "Gladys".

Thames sailing barge "Gladys". Notice the weird "floating" trees above the horizon on the Essex coast.

West Hook Middle Buoy.

South Whitaker Buouy.

Maplin Edge Buoy.

Maplin Cardinal Buoy.

First sighting of the Shivering Sands Towers.

Shivering Sands Towers.

Shivering Sands Towers. There used to be 7 as at Red Sands. the base of the missing tower can be seen. This was hit by a coaster in the 60's. Picture not take at this time.

Red Sands Towers. Anchor berth in The Warp.

Cobelfret Ferry anchored in The Warp. Light fading fast at this point.

Looking across to Sheerness and the Grain Power Station.

Moon over The warp anchorages.

Ian and John washing up after the steak supper.

Bleak morning at Erith 'anchorage.

Looking downstream at Crayford Ness. Thames Tideway.

Erith Sailing Club moorings. Thames Tideway.

Erith. Thames Tideway.

Erith. Thames Tideway.

Coming up to Ford's at Dagenham. Thames Tideway.

Coming up to Barking Creek. Canary Wharf in the distance. Thames Tideway.

Entrance to Barking Creek. Thames Tideway.

Plane coming into London City Airport in the old Royal Docks. Thames Tideway.

PLA boat doing what they do best - going fast. Thames Tideway.

Woolwich Ferry terminals. Thames Tideway.

Woolwich Ferry. Thames Tideway.

Woolwich Ferry. Thames Tideway.

Woolwich Ferry. Thames Tideway.

Approaching the Thames Flood Barrier. Thames Tideway.

Tate and Lyle. Silvertown. Thames Tideway.

Thames Flood Barrier. Thames Tideway.

Thames Flood Barrier. Thames Tideway.

Bugsby's Reach. the Dome comes into view. Thames Tideway.

The Dome and Canary Wharf. Thames Tideway.

Entrance to Bow Creek. Thames Tideway.

Entrance into Docklands. Thames Tideway.

Thames Tideway.

Deptford Power Station. Thames Tideway.

Royal Naval College at Greenwich. Thames Tideway.

Cutty Sark at Greenwich. Thames Tideway.

Entrance to Deptford Creek. Thames Tideway.

Cat waterbus coming onto Island Gardens. Thames Tideway.

South Dock Marina in part of the old Surrey Docks. Thames Tideway.

"The Grapes" at Limehouse. Thames Tideway.

Limehouse Cut used to exit here before being joined into Limehouse Basin in the 1960's. The terrace of cottages were originally beside the lock. 

Entrance into Limehouse Basin. Thames Tideway.

Entrance into Limehouse Basin. Thames Tideway.

Straight Across heads towards Tower Bridge. Thames Tideway.

Straight Across mingles with the narrow boats at Richmond Weir. Thames Tideway.

The nutty water tramp floating house at Richmond. Thames Tideway.

Floating Pennywort has invaded the Thames!!!................actually washed out of the River Mole.

Ian's RTBC wind lashed pennants. 

James Griffin's old barge - Apolonia

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