London to Lowestoft

The two weeks spent in St. Katharine Dock were great fun and Paula and I walked to near exhaustion as we tried to make the best of the wonderful central London location. Among many highlights was a visit from Helen and David Harbour who are the editors of the Southerly Owners association magazine. The Association have very kindly awarded me the John Manley prize for contributions to the magazine in 2013 for the serialisation of my Email missives sent during last year’s cruise. David and Helen came on board for a very convivial evening and made the presentation of a fine, engraved Cross pen. Thank you David and Helen and thank you SOA ! My mail updates were not composed with the SOA in mind but everyone will have to suffer another season of delete button exercise as I am now inspired to do it again this year!

Tower Bridge
Tower Bridge

The 4 day Easter break heralded the resumption of my cruise and I was joined by my son Oliver and 4 of his mates. We left early on the afternoon ‘lock out’ which meant that we plugged the tide past the scenic and interesting London panorama at a sedate pace and flushed past the more industrial eastern outskirts.

Galleons Reach
Galleons Reach

Unable to find the changeable entrance to Ray Gut off Southend, the light Northerly wind allowed us to anchor off, with only the wash from the passing shipping to disturb a quiet night. Our passage up to Burnham on Crouch was notable for a good sail and Burnham Yacht Harbour was a welcoming destination with the charming Town only a short walk along the foreshore. The weather was so poor the next day that it necessitated contact lenses and navigation lights. We were not in the mood for taking our time in the rain and gloom so, having been given a ‘last orders’ deadline in the Harbour Lights restaurant in Titchmarsh Marina behind Walton on the Naze, we pressed on under engine alone and enjoyed a good meal after an uninspiring day at sea.

The pontoons in Titchmarsh Marina have loops instead of cleats and it must be difficult to quickly apply friction to control a yacht in a blow. It turned out that this is where the previous owner of my yacht (it was then called Katalian) suffered an awful accident and I can quite understand how it might have happened. It was spooky to be told that we were in exactly the same berth!

With my son and his mates departing to get back to their careers, I was joined by Dave Cooke, a retired Merchant Navy Captain. Our passage north took us through the commercial hubbub between Felixtowe and Harwich and we then ghosted up the river Orwell under jib alone with the flood under our keel. Picking up a mooring buoy at Pin Mill for a brief lunch stop, I learned another lesson and that is never to operate the bow thruster approaching a mooring buoy. An unseen pick up line was pulled into the thruster effectively securing us by the bow thruster propeller. Once secured as intended to the ring on top of the buoy, a short swim freed the line but the bow thruster fuse was blown. A call to the helpful Fox’s marina chandlery located a replacement (I will carry them in future) and a brief free (!) stop restored operation.

Neptune Marina Ipswich

A short passage upriver allowed us to lock into Ipswich Harbour on ‘free flow’ to spend a peaceful night in Neptune Marina after a few beers in the Dove, a quirky specialist real ale pub.

Moored at Bawdsey

Updated survey details for the Deben entrance proved invaluable as we conned our way in at low tide and a pleasant drift up stream in little wind was interesting but not as picturesque as the Orwell. A peaceful night spent back on a mooring buoy at Bawdsey inside the entrance prepared us for our passage north to Lowestoft in still airs but with the tide assisting our modest speed.

Sizewell Nuclear Power Station

The passage was only really notable for another encounter with the dreaded fishing nets. On this occasion they were patrolled by fishing boats and did not present a problem which was just as well as these did not have the line of floats to distinguish them.

So, Lowestoft achieved and a mooring in the Royal Norfolk and Suffolk secured for the week, it only remained to repair the generator (faulty exhaust sensor) and clean up. Train tickets booked in advance (Senior Railcard) for £15 will enable a return home for a family wedding and to put a cut on the lawn.

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