Sailing Trip

The second post Id like to write today involves a 2 (that ended up being 3) day sailing trip with a friend of mine, Ben. Last year we did a weekend trip on his little Corribee (a 21ft yacht with barely room for the two of us and gear but great fun all the same) down the Medway river to Chatham where we overnighted at the marina there before returning the next day.

The next step up from this we thought was a crossing of the Thames, over to Essex. The distance didn’t seem too much further than our last trip (about 30 miles we calculated) and so planning got under way. The only free time I had was the last weekend in May (4 days before my bike trip!) which meant I had no real free time so I ashamedly left most of the planning and preparation to Ben and his dad.

The 21ft Corribee, Evening Star
Ben at the Helm

This meant that on Saturday 28 May I got up a half 5, met Ben and his dad at their house and we were on the boat and away by 7. So much for taking it easy now Id finished work and no longer had to get up a 6 everyday.

The first day involved a slightly windy and rough crossing of the Thames with big container ships popping up all over the place, but we crossed fine and rounded a huge sandbank (that we hadn’t accounted for initially, this added many more miles and hours to our trip) before heading up wind. At this point the wind was STRONG, the waves were BIG and we were SOAKED. So, in a state of probable mild hypothermia we decided to take the sails down and get motoring.

Unfortunately motoring meant relying on a 3.5hp outboard that barely had the power to push us upwind into the waves. And needed refilling every 40minutes after it cut out and left us floating backwards. And spent half the time out of the water as the boat rocked backwards and forwards so wasn’t really much use anyway. Our speed over ground (after the tide and all that) was barely above 3 knots and it took us a good 4 hours (while still cold and miserable) to crawl into Burnham-on-Crouch.

Thankfully they had warm showers. Unluckily their tumble drier was pants. 3 cycles at 40mins (and 50p a time) nothing was dried, or warm, it was all just equally damp. The boat was soaked inside in most places but we managed to find a couple of cushions that weren’t too bad, and after some food and a few drinks we eventually slept.

Food and drying things out
Sunset at Burnham-on-Crouch

Day two we left a bit late (considering the previous day had taken 12hours, we were not on our way till 11ish) and had the tide and wind behind us down the river crouch. Conditions seemed perfect and we were making 6+knots with just minimal sail. Turning upwind past the sandbank, making progress became impossible. The wind was ridiculous, the waves were huge, and we didn’t like it at all. Clothes that were still wet from the day before became drenched, moral sunk and fearing for our lives, we decided we’d had enough. We turned to head back to B-o-C but couldn’t even get there. We ended up eventually (again many many hours later) crawling into Bradwell Marina.

This meant we were further from home than if we had just stayed in the previous marina! The boat was a state, everything was damp and the thought of another night on-board was soul destroying. Thankfully Bens dad had booked us into a local pub, so after a wash we headed there for a great meal and a few pints. All paid for by our parents as well, excellent!

We woke up the next day, conditions were much much much better and we headed home. It was a 46 nmile trip back, travelling at 4knots it did take a while but we eventually got back to the home mooring, packed up our stuff and got home. Phew! Although it had cost us an extra day (and a day of precious pre trip time less) it was a great adventure and tested us to the limits, which I loved as its not often I’m faced with a challenge like that.

The Forts, old military buildings, halfway across
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